story by Lambeth Allen, photos by Sophie Minta True
Homesteading is a life style of self-sufficiency. Last Saturday before lunch we broke into multiple groups. The idea was to show us, as new students, what we could make out of the resources found in our new home. There were multiple options of what we could learn to do, such as: making yarn from our sheep’s wool, making cheese from the cows milk, carving silverware out of the wood on campus, making salsa from the farm tomatoes, making homemade lip balm from honey, weaving a basket, and many more. I signed up to make cheese with our kitchen manager Bill, and then make lip balm and salsa with our French teacher Esther. Some processes were harder than other, but because all of our resources were provided here on campus it made the overall process shorter and rewarding.
Nothing feels better than making use out of the resources provided. Right after breakfast and dish crew, I walked to the kitchen with two students: Sophie A and Dillon Kelly ready to make cheese with Bill. Little did we know making cheese is a long process. You have to heat the milk to a certain temperature, and since our milk is pasteurized we had to add back in the good bacteria, wait for the milk to harden, spoon out the milk that turned into cheese, and then leave the cheese in a mold to harden for a few days. Most of our work required waiting for the bacteria to settle and harden, so in the mean time Bill taught us about other cheeses and why it is important to make cheese a certain way. Later in the week we had a sandwich bar for lunch, at the end of the table sat slices of feta cheese ready to be crumbled on someone’s salad or lunch. It felt great to know that something three students made in around an hour was being used to feed around 60 or 70 students and faculty a few days later, and the source of that cheese came from our milking cow here on Chewonki.
Besides making cheese, I also got to take a walk to Esther’s house with seven girls and make homemade lip balm and salsa. All the girls sat around on table putting different ingredients like honey, coconut oil, and bees wax into one pot that would be placed on the stove. Sitting with all those girls and having our only worry be if the lip balm hardens or we got the recipe wrong made it the perfect Saturday morning to catch up with everyone after a long week of classes. Luckily for us most of the lip balm hardened and cooled perfectly in its container and we were ready to start cooking something else. We chopped up multiple peppers, tomatoes, and onions that made me tear up, but in the end we had the perfect amount of homemade salsa all from fresh veggies from Esther’s garden and the farm.
Even though we all had different tasks to take part in that Saturday morning we were all doing the same thing: making something out of the simple pleasures in life. Whether it was something for yourself or something for the whole community. Here are some other examples of the different outcomes from our homesteading weekend:
Nellie weaving her basket
(Left) Buckets filled with hot water and plants from around campus create different colored dyes for wool.
(Right) Some of the wool made by students here at Chewonki.
Diana dipping her wool into some of the natural dyes.
Talia and our math teacher, Lilly, spinning the sheep’s wool into yarn.