Life

Auld Lang Syne

December 31, 2015

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

What a year. A year that has held so much, both heartache and joy.

Woolful started as a blog, and it began as a very personal place. A place for me to share my love of fiber, but also to share our journey, my journey, however it touched our lives and wherever it took us…in the hopes it would encourage, inspire and help inform. In many ways it has done that, especially with the podcast, however with the podcast I intentionally do my best to focus on the guests and less on me. And while it has/is great fun, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by me that this blog’s focus has become very much the podcast and less about personal journey and things we’re learning and going through. So, that’s a long winded way of saying that I want to keep myself accountable to my initial reasons for starting this blog and dedicate more time to sharing where we’re at and what’s going on. So all the folks that come here for the podcast might be surprised by some of these posts because they will be very much intertwined with Woolful…and that’s because ALL of this is Woolful.

As many of you know, in 2014 we bought a ranch in North Idaho. At the time we were living in San Francisco for my work, having moved from Seattle where we’re both originally from. We had moved to SF for a great opportunity and while it all seemed to make sense, it didn’t take long (a few weeks) to realize it was not our home nor our place. We spent the following two years discovering new things about ourselves…our interest in farming, fiber, self-sustainability and we were surprised to find a lot of that in the Bay Area and meet some incredible people who encouraged us as we began realizing our dreams of buying property and doing something awesome with it. I’m really not sure how everything fell into place like it did, I guess you could call it providence, but last year we were able to buy our ranch, along with my parents who we split this amazing place with. As you can imagine, since that time it became increasingly more difficult to balance these two lives…the Idaho farming life and my career driven SF life, but manage it we did for a little over a year. We continued to focus on gaining more skills, learning as much as we could and preparing a place and a life for us here (Idaho).

You can’t really prepare for life though. In April this year, while on one of our trips to the ranch I had a late miscarriage. It’s a strange thing to talk about and I still feel uncomfortable sharing, however I’ve learned some about grieving and I see many women through an entirely new lens…a much softer lens. You don’t know what someone is/has gone through and grace is key. This is all so very fresh in our lives and something we’re processing each day.

Through my own experience I had a new realization of what my values were and the next few months were spent in deep conversation and prayer as David and I began to feel it was time for us to make our move to the ranch permanent. But as with many big decisions, we put it off and kept telling ourselves that financial security was most important…and although it is important, it’s not the only factor and definitely not the most important one. We did however begin to figure out our living situation, where we would live when we did make the move. We have grand plans of building a stone masonry home on the property, but we know that will be a ways off, especially since we plan to build it ourselves. We had given the existing house on the property to my parents who moved here soon after we bought the ranch, so where were we going to live?

This past Summer, we bought a yurt. Again by only what I can call providence, we found an incredible deal on Craigslist for a yurt that just happened to be 2.5hrs from us. It was around this time that I found out I was pregnant again. Happy, so nervous, but hopeful. Unfortunately a few weeks later I miscarried again and while it was far less physically traumatic, it changes you. It was through this and several other things that happened over the course of the Summer that we realized it was time for us to make the move. I remember one night sitting on the floor of our apartment in SF and feeling this complete peace about the decision. I hadn’t yet talked to my boss at work, but I knew somehow it would all work out one way or another, either how we hoped it would or in another way completely. So I went in that following Monday and sat down with my boss and told him that we were moving and asked if he’d allow me to work remotely. We agreed to give it a go and so far it’s been pretty great. I travel to SF once a month to spend time with the team and be present. It’s been a bit of deja vu back to a previous life where I traveled frequently for work, funny how life goes in circles sometimes. And it’s also been revealing of how much I’ve changed since that time. I have major workaholic tendencies, something I try very much on a daily level to maintain, and with the recent launch of our product and new routine of working remotely, I’m struggling with this work life balance, but learning everyday how to adjust and maintain.

So we’re here at the ranch now and it’s more than we could ever imagine. David’s been working day and night to get the yurt platform built and yurt comfortable. We’re on the final stretch of installing the wool insulation (yes, wool! More to come on that. ). We picked out a gorgeous spot nestled in a small pasture surrounded by cedars, birch and tamaracks, with a beautiful view of the Western pasture. I can’t wait to sit in front of the window next to the fire, knit and watch the snow fall on the pasture…that will be a dream come true. We did have a slight setback with the yurt platform setup, which we plan on doing an extensive post about to help others who may be building a yurt in cold climates. We spent our first night in the yurt last week and while it’s pretty cold still, we’re happy as can be…clad in wool from head to toe.

And have I mentioned firewood? Holy smokes..literally. Thankfully we have a splitter so that is helping things drastically, but there is A LOT of splitting we still need to do for this Winter and next Winter in order to allow the wood to season. With two stoves on the property that will be run full time during the cold weather, it’s a lot of wood. One really cool thing we found while exploring the property is many seemingly random firewood stacks. It would appear that when a tree fell, the previous owners back in the 60s and 70s would cut and stack the rounds under a cluster of trees, and surprisingly much of it is still good.

As for the animals, those too have been a great learning experience. We learned this past Summer that our ewes were indeed not pregnant, but just getting woolier and maybe a tad fat. So they were on a diet and we hope they will lamb this coming Spring. Which brings us to the newest addition to the farm, a ram! We welcomed Henry a couple months back and he’s figuring out what his job is. Our plan is to steadily grow our flock and I’ve been speaking to some local women who milk their Icelandics…oh man, don’t even get me started. We also recently welcomed our Dexter dairy cow Lulu and 6 Alpacas to the farm…Mary, Martha, Madge, Margaret, Millicent and Mabel. In the Spring we be adding hogs to the farm, we can’t wait to pick them up!

Most days I drive into town and work from a little space I found and my mom and David split taking care of Coltrane. During the days I work from the ranch, it’s pretty great to share lunch or snacks with my little guy, something I’ve missed so much and every now and then I sneak in to put him down for his nap which is even more wonderful.

I’m learning to get back to taking care of myself with intention. Taking time that’s needed for whatever the task is at hand. Learning more of what I value most and how I can set a better example of pursuing these values. I’m excited to explore Woolful more and see what the podcast has in store this next year. I can’t wait to take an herbal course and to make more. To start our homeschool journey. And, I’m looking forward to being present for all the seasons here on the ranch…becoming a more experienced farmer and welcoming all sorts of new critters to our ranch.

There’s so much more to share, about the mill, other exciting plans, yurt ‘stuff’ and some farm lessons we’ve recently learned…and I’m looking forward to sharing more of this, more often this next year with you.

I am so thankful and grateful for this year and all that it has held and for what it’s taught me about myself. All the parts of my life, being a wife, a mother, a career woman, a podcaster, a burgeoning farmer and homesteader, a daughter and a sister…they’ve all come together somehow and for that I’m a bit in awe, but so very grateful…to so many for their grace, encouragement and guidance, but most of all to my Father in Heaven.

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19 Comments

  • Reply ErinJoelle December 31, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Ashley, I have been enjoying your posts all year, and am looking forward to following along in 2016. Making the decision to move to your ranch full time must have been very exciting and also scary, but sometimes we just know in our hearts that something is right! Very best wishes.

  • Reply Sonja December 31, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    So thrilled you’ll be posting more like this! You are on an incredible journey and one I wish I would have happened on at an age closer to yours. I learn so much from you and love how your Father uses you!!

  • Reply Sallyhp December 31, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I have really loved following the podcast and ‘meeting’ all the people in the community but I also am really glad you’ll be including more posts on your life and process-the yurt is really fascinating!

    I’m so sorry to hear of your losses-may 2016 be full of love and light!

  • Reply Tamara White December 31, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Dear Ashley: You’ll never be sorry for working hard, for listening to your heart, for praying. Love this share, love all that you endeavor to do. No matter your choices, I’m a fan. Hugs from Vermont.

  • Reply Connie January 1, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Thank you for sharing Ashley. Woolful is a calm, caring placefor me and I love listening to and reading about your journey and our fiber world. Wishing you a blessed year with your family.

  • Reply Carol January 1, 2016 at 5:24 am

    Thank you for sharing your journey and your service to the fiber community. I enjoy your podcast and now feel a greater connection and understanding of who y are. Bless you and your family(the lovely animals, too!…love the pics!)

  • Reply Genna January 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Thank you for your beautiful podcast and blog! Happy new year and best wishes for 2016 : )

  • Reply Alina January 1, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey! I love coming to this place to be inspired by you an dyour guests. Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!

  • Reply Katie January 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Ashley, I have really enjoyed listening to Woolful throughout the year. I have learned so much and – even though I now live in Austria – the podcast makes me feel that I am still connected with the fiber community in the US.
    I wanted to thank you for also sharing what has been going on in your personal life, not just the exciting developments with the farm, but also the soul-wrenching challenges. I had a miscarriage in November, so I know the heartbreak it entails.
    I wish you and your family all the best for 2016 – here’s to new beginnings!

  • Reply Elizabeth January 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    oh, Ashley– thank you so much for sharing your heart and truths with us here– all of them, the beautiful and the sorrowful– it is a healing in the world when we can share our stories– a full circle of healing— it takes such courage and strength– so, again, thank you– and BEST wishes for such a magical year in 2016 in this whole new chapter of your life. xoox, elizabeth

  • Reply Ama January 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – we’re all rooting for your happiness and success, wherever you are and whatever you do! Don’t forget you bring joy to so many of us by just being you, too. That is enough. xoxo

  • Reply Cary January 2, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Love love love this. A very happy new year to you and your family:)

  • Reply Claudia January 3, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Thank you for sharing all this. Sometimes blogs are little like cars who need a new alignment; they slowly start pulling you one way until you realize that they’ve taken you on a slightly different route (okay, the metaphor is also kind of all over the place), but it’s great to find ways to realign. I really admire what you’re doing and am hoping to find wool insulation for our house in Hamilton, ON. Happy new year to you and your family.

  • Reply Tonya January 4, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    So beautiful and so real Ashley. Our family has followed a very unconventional path, but even so, I have to constantly remind myself of what is most important and to be fully present without letting too much of the world creep in. Wishing you and your beautiful family a year full of joy and blessings.

  • Reply Carrie Proulx January 4, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Ashley, May 2016 bring you and your family much Joy and Furry friends. Your labor is bearing fruit and it is so exciting to see everything unfold, I can only imagine experiencing it all first-hand. Thank you for bringing your podcast to us each week, I do wonder how you get it all done. I look forward to sitting back and listening, and being enlightened by your enchanting episodes!! Ever your fan!

  • Reply hd January 6, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Thank you for sharing your story; it means a lot to me that you’re willing to share so much. Wishing you much joy and fulfillment in 2016.

  • Reply Sheree January 6, 2016 at 11:24 am

    What a beautiful post. I did arrive here seeking the wonderful podcast that soulemama mentioned, but I am equally interested in hearing about your farm life, etc. Praising God with you.

  • Reply Ophelie January 9, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    What a lovely post. To be honest I’ve missed hearing your voice on the blog — as you put it, the podcast is about the guests, but you have such a beautiful way with words, and such an interesting life. I look forward to more posts. May the year ahead be everything you want it to be.

  • Reply Beatrix oetting January 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Dear Ashley, I wanted to thank you for your podcast and for sharing your extraordinary journey. I followed it all year through (from France, where I live) and am waiting impatiently for any new episode. In the meanwhile, I’m catching up on your blog, which is also such a pleasure to read. Your journey is so very motivating and I wish you all the best for this coming year, which I will be following on your blog 🙂

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