Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pulling weeds from the ground up...

I stood Sunday on the edge of the overgrown weeds, ready to make something on the earthship home feel like movement again. So many thick tall stalks of shriveled up flowers, and seeds all hanging ready to spread with any gentle breeze. We finally got a good soaking rain that luckily was going to make this job a much easier one.. and that, I could really use... easy progress... is there such a thing?!

Starting on the edge of what was the flower bed, I began pulling. One at a time, getting poked with thistle needles, and the puffs of cotton-like seed swirling all around me. Every time I stood up to look.. I became completely overwhelmed with this "small" project.. So, moving forward with my head buried where all I could see was what immediately surrounded me, I kept pulling. Slowly I was able to uncover the flourishing flowers, the overtaking mint, and the stones that had managed to stay in their formations since they were placed there just before the lavender festival. Just before the festival already feels like another lifetime ago.. I guess really it kind of was. The deadline to be out of our home in the woods was the Monday after the festival weekend.

The many months ahead of that Mike and Jason, who had come back to live with us, had been rebuilding our barns, fertilizing the fields, pulling weeds, keeping up with maintenance, and were both completely time consumed with all of that. Pain medication kept Mike moving forward in what we really had no other choice with.. we knew the time was quickly approaching and we needed somewhere to put our things. I spent all of my time making as many products as I possibly could, packing up and going through our belongings, getting into market season, and keeping up with full harvest, like many other crops was earlier than normal. It was the middle of May and I was already working my way down half of our oldest field, slicing with the sickle the sweet and sticky lavender stems.. working on another harvest which I remind myself over and over is truly a "labor of love". Even the famous phrase from Shade "I didn't choose to live on a lavender farm" may have only been said once this year. With all of the changes this year has brought, the kids all really seem to have this unspoken understanding, with lessons wrapped up way beyond their short time here. Lainey put in ten hour days with me in the field, even in the close to 100 degree temperatures. Phoebi became an amazing mini mommy, helping to take care of Mesa, who was around 6 months old. Shade, being an almost teen, really only needed a little push to kick in and help more than any season, ever.

Our Monday came quickly, the last of the move was at around 3am, with the kids asleep on the floor in the last night of being in that home, Mike screwed the lavender bundle hemp onto boards, and several rows at a time Jason and I balanced them, arms shaking from the weight of the fresh bundles, standing on the tailor of the quad runner. Mike drove us out and in several trips, we hung them in their new home in the earthship. We awoke the kids, made the move out to our tent village home in the lavender fields.. and this is where we called home, for a while. The heat was a little much, for our little Mesa, but besides that we had finally made a shift and somehow it felt really good. We have camped so much in our lives that this could just be our vacation for the year. I got a phone call from a dear friend during this time, she explained that someone I don't even know was a manager at the Holiday Inn Roberts Center, and he was offering us his free nights to get out of the heat. I finished up some work at my moms that day and the huge wind storm came through just before we were leaving. Our little tent village, our canopy covering all of the garage sale things we were trying to make some money on, our pop up canopy's, mesas toys, all bent mangled, thrown all over the fields.. This was definitely a moment of throwing my hands up and saying "really!!!?!", and at the same time seeing these big giant hands wrapped all around our lives and everything we do, knowing we are protected by something so much bigger than this. The hotel stay was amazing and perfect, and exactly what we all needed to keep our sanity that night. We stepped away from life, into a two room suite, and it still completely chokes me up every time I think about it...
They were gracious enough to let us stay on employee rates for the rest of the week while we drove back and fourth to work on our barns, and make products, and do everyday work, having another place to call home and soft comfortable beds at the end of each overwhelming day.. Again, the timing was perfect, and my mom was going out of town for the next week. We moved all of our things packed in bags and bins, and made our new home in her's while they were away.

I really am trying to not write a book on here, so without all of the details between, we are now working on coming up with the money for our earthship plans to be re-done, and just really trying to figure out how in the world we are going to keep momentum going.. Making progress again on the building permits and everything needed in order to turn our original dream of wellness retreat and gift shop into the new dream, and necessity, of becoming our home. We really are glued to the farm, so many times we talk about how much easier life could be if we just sold it all and started over, living in a simple home with a simple yard. But following what I feel in my heart does not involve that kind of simplicity for sure, at least not now. The original vision for this space was not just about lavender. It was about providing a space for people to step out of their reality, and into a field of pure purple bliss and be surrounded by simplicity and healing... I just hope that those things do not become out of reach for ourselves in the process... This Prell family definitely gets a lot of exercise, and normal every day tasks truly have become more of a family job. We do our dishes, laundry, and use the porta potties down the field from where the laundry is hung, and down the gravel driveway from where our solar shower is. Things like hot water, and going in the next room to take a bath, or popping the dishes in the dishwasher truly are things that have now become a luxury.  I will have to say I am looking forward when we have the supplies and the energy to make a suitable outhouse. That will be a big step up from the chemical filled portapotties that I can say confidently none of us will miss when we look back at this time in our journey.

Nature has such a funny way of relaying such simple powerful messages.. Clearing the weeds of life one stalk at a time, really trying to keep focus of the end result hidden in the back of my mind. I do know I am so drawn to the path that is not cleared, like my walk today in the field. Completely full of goldenrod stalks and packed full of growth, I of course felt the need to go to the center of it all, soaking my legs with dew, and carrying along all kinds of seeds and bugs because the path that was mowed down was not where I felt drawn to go... This journey in this life has definitely not been an easy one, for sure, but it is such a beautiful thing to follow what brings you passion and purpose..and having complete trust in the journey... even if at times you feel completely lost trying to hold it all together....

Monday, February 13, 2012

What a wild winter for growing lavender!

Finally, a few days below freezing with slight accumulating snow overnight. No sense worrying about the winter weather advisory. Oh no, we're going to freak out and drive like a 9" snow day. And it's not like anyone has to work tomorrow, it's Saturday. Well I do but that's because I'm addicted to the internet. Hey, what a great improvement to be in the winter season again. Winter Socks rock!

Spring, fall, winter, spring, ICE, spring, back to winter.....get how this lavender growing season has been? It just wasn't enough time in a deep icy deep freeze. The soil is well saturated, swamping some row ends while we we are fortunate to have little damage to our new lavender fields. More than an acre thrives of Grosso, Dutch and Province lavender varieties, escaping Mother Nature's teasing. Three separate soil amended plots have yielded only 8 dead lavender plants. Non-treated raised beds had 4 Grosso plants half wilted. These had dead sections turning grey, not crispy but wilted down stiff. We'll have these plants sent out for testing in spring. Our field with #57 gravel/sand has only only plant showing signs of wilting. And field with #8 gravel/sand has no death in the field.

I wonder how the hooped plants are doing under that plastic. I do worry humidity will be a concern as 100% humidity is present. Ventilation would be an added testing method next season when we re-cover these rows. Our research project ends in 2013, yet we will continue to provide feedback on our findings for 3-5 years when full maturity sets in and the difference from hooped and non-hooped show any significant improvement in growing methods long term.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Ice storm I've been waiting for!

What a perfect scenario outside today. Feeling iced in from the greatly anticipated wrath of mother natures arrival. Ice=damage=experimentation under way to distinguish the best winter protection methods.

Many may already know what we do here on Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm and that's research. Taking our experiences growing lavender and turning it into examples of what not to do or in better cases what to do to prevent winter elements from destroying your perennial crop. This specific project follows our plans written in our 2011 SARE grant (Sustainable Agricultural Research Education). Find out more details about this project here “Increasing lavender production and oil producers through the use of hoop housing and soil amendments.”

Today is the day of a wide range of variables that could cause severe crop damage.
January 21, 2012 Iced over fields

  1. ICE
  2. WIND
  3. Consecutive Iced over days

ICED OVER every single part this Grosso Variety
The worst case for any lavender farmer is the extremes of thick ice. This morning as I walked the SARE funded fields sampling the Oil producing varieties I saw nearly 1/4" of think ice covering the entire plant's leaf structure. As I touched one single leaf it broke off, whole leaf and all. These are very brittle plants when they are frozen through. The longer these plants stay under 32 degrees the higher probability we will have some issues. Second the wind, if the wind kicks up and beats the lavender plants the chances of damage increase tremendously. The wind causes issues similar to windburn and breaking (wind trimming) or pruning of the frozen plants. Not only do they break easily but the plant's oil  freezes. Our experience has show when this happens entire plants will die.

2008 Ice Damage-4' bush more than half gone
What can be done? Added to our research we are experimenting row covering for one 100' row of each treated soil amendment plot. We have three soil amendment plots with one row covered of each plot.

The positive, we get to compare the hoop house row covers to non row covers. Will this increase 2012 harvest?

The negative, only 3 rows are covered exposing over 2 acres of lavender to these elements. The oldest fully mature fields have already lost 1/3 to 1/2 of their bush structure from previous 2008 & 2010 weather conditions like today. see image....

January 21, 2012 FORECAST below

929 AM EST SAT JAN 21 2012

10 MPH.

5 TO 10 MPH.




Friday, May 27, 2011


We are three weeks away from our third annual Summer Solstice Lavender Festival!   We have many updates on events and activities to share with you:
FREE OUTDOOR YOGA:  Instructors from Main Street Yoga and Wellness Studio will be leading free yoga classes in the lavender fields from 2:30 to 3:30 both Saturday and Sunday.  Adults and Kids welcome to participate!
FACEPAINTING: Professional facepainters will be on hand Saturday and Sunday creating complete face designs of any animal or character!  Check out photos of their awesome work online.
MUSIC: We are excited to host Douglas Blue Feather, Internationally known performer of Native American flute music.  He will be playing from 2-3 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.  Rob Stuckert of Clinton County Live will be at the festival all weekend sharing his awesome musical talents.
FOOD: General Denver has confirmed to cater our event!  We are huge fans of their food, and can't wait to try the many edible lavender creations that will be prepared by the incredible Chef Jennifer Purkey and her staff.  On the menu this year will be lavender chicken salad on crossiant, lavender lemonade, lavender desserts, and many other festival grill items. 
TAI CHI:  Our regularly scheduled tai chi class will be held on the farm at the festival on Sunday!  Class will be held in a private setting on the farm at 3:30 p.m., led by instructor Dave Crowell. 3:30 p.m.  $15 registration.
See you at the 3rd Annual Summer Solstice Lavender Festival June 18-19!  Tell your friends and family, this is an event that you absolutely cannot miss!  Click here for complete event information, RSVP to our Facebook Event Page, and register here for our workshops!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wellness Studio welcomes new Massage Therapist to staff

Peaceful Acres Wellness Studio is pleased to announce the addition of Tabitha Speiaght, Licensed Massage Therapist, to its staff.   Tabitha is a 2008 graduate of the Dayton School of Medical Massage and received her State License for Massage Therapy in 2009.  She specializes in Deep Tissue and Swedish Massage, as well as Trigger Point Therapy and Positional Release.  Visit Tabitha's profile to learn more about the services she offers.
The Wellness Studio now has both male and female Massage Therapists on staff.  Tabitha is available for walk-ins on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the studio from 11-6 pm.  To schedule a session, fill out our online form or call us at the studio at 937-488-0006.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!

Rain, rain, go away, if not, the lavender will not stay! I hate rhymes, but with all this rain it feels like a never ending life in Washington state where they receive over 150 days of rain a year. I always wondered how they grow lavender in Sequim, Washington. It must be the elevation and location to the coast that keeps the rain inland more. As for our wet Ohio, this is the first time in  more than 5 years that I can remember a true April rainy season. That's the least I can say, we actually are way above our records and the lavender fields are feeling the challenge.

As some of you know, lavender does not like wet feet/roots. And with all this rain, we are keeping our fingers crossed and sending dry warm energy to our lavender fields. Our two ½ acre plots are two years apart while our oldest field is going on its fourth year. Root rot is the disease we are trying to avoid and as of now (knock on wood) we have avoided such damage and disease. Only the ice has affected our production killing nearly 200 plants in our fields. That’s a 10% loss in 4 years.

This year Peaceful Acres was approved for a SARE (Sustainable Agricultural Research Grant) which funds us to research better ways to help increase production in Ohio. With this backing by SARE and the dedication of our farm staff members and volunteers we will better understand how to avoid wet and icy weather. How will we do this? By utilizing different soil amendments to drain water from our raised and flat beds.  We will also utilize low hoop house tunnels during the winter and rainy season to avoid as mush moisture as possible. We believe with our research efforts we will be able to collect enough data to help other farms in the areas grow this healing crop.

In the long run the idea is to feed off our current production and determine a feasible way to extract oil in Ohio using oil producing lavender varieties. As of now these Lavundin oil varieties will not live long enough to produce oil over the plant’s 8-10 year perennial commercial cycle. When our research is complete we will have answers on how to help produce lavender commercially in Ohio. Being Ohio’s largest lavender farm we hope others can achieve the same goals we have set forth. And that would be producing a high income, low acreage crop of lavender.

Like we always say,

Peace, Love and Lavender!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Journey of this life and new turns always in sight.

Time has been moving by so fast... I had to go back to my last post in here from January to even remind myself where everything was then, and what I felt needed to be shared in order to know where to begin. I have felt very called to write again, and to share what has been going on with us. Many people we have seen this year are asking why we did not make our move out west.

Last year at this time, we had decided to sell the farm. We had given it all up for the universe to move and allow the winds of life direction to lead us where we were meant to be. All I knew at that time was that we could no longer continue at the rate we were going. Physically for Mike's health, and emotionally for me, trying to keep up with everything that needing to be done.

When we moved into our woods and built our home 7 years ago, Mike was working full time. We had a successful fitness equipment repair business and our dreams of having a farm and living in the woods was becoming a reality. We sold our pop-up camper, and used every spare dollar we had to create a lavender farm. Soon after we planted our first half acre of lavender, driven by the beauty of the plant, and the amazing benefits it contained, Mike was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. We knew before this that his physical body was not able to keep up the way it used to. Initially we had thought it was from his back. We were already in full motion to create a way of living on the land and creating a space of sanctuary for people other people to escape stress. So, with his
diagnosis, along with a normal process of accepting this new way of living, there was a lot of worry around how we would keep doing all we needed to do.

We always knew we were meant to go down this road. As the more physical work took more of a toll on Mike's health, the more I was urged to take over. Honestly it was a chance for me to feel empowered. I have always felt I could do anything if I just set my mind to it, and running the field, doing all of the markets and events, creating product, still running a repair business, and being a good mom, and wife, was a perfect chance for me to really test my strength and my limits. We all had to go through a process of acceptance and knowing there were many things that needed to shift in Mike's role in order to ke
ep him healthy. Life is always changing and creating new directions. I have always had trust that if you follow what you feel is right and truly listen to what you are being told, then everything will always work out, somehow.

A lot of trust, a lot of faith, and a lot of us listening, led up to making major changes and simplifying what we could. Gradually leading up to the point of selling everything,
last spring. We had really loved what we created here, loved the earthship coming into form for the wellness center, and loved living on land that we knew could support our family for food. At the same time we loved the beauty of life, and being able to take the time to breathe in every moment and appreciate everything about it. We knew even more that life is so precious and enjoying every moment while the kids are little is something you can't go back and re-do. We were losing our home, and wanted to make a conscious choice for our future instead of waiting until we didn't have the choice. I wrote about it all before, but we stepped out of life last summer and took a month long trip to really search and decide where we wanted to start over. We used the money from the lavender festival, fed ourselves along the way, did a lot of camping and slept in our van. We had some wonderful people along the way who offered us places to stay, and we knew we needed to take this trip. We always like to look at the good things in life, and wanted this to be an exciting change f
or our kids, an adventure, and not something scary. The journey that we took led us back to understanding that starting over somewhere else, where we did not know anyone, trying to create a sustainable future was not looking like a very logical way to go. We had Eric holding together the farm while we were gone, and he helped convince us that he would be able to take on more for us. He does so much for us in all of the little things needing done, that it really ads up to a lot or weight off of us here.

Spending the time away with our family was such a beautiful experience, something I know in my heart that will be something they remember, and something I will cherish the rest of my existence. When we got back last July we knew that finishing the earthship as our home was the way that we could still hold onto this life. We had put all of our time, and energy into following creating this farm. We still held the vision of creating buildings for people to stay in and escape, adding meditation and prayer areas, and having enough food planted that many families c
ould come and pick to keep themselves fed. We also still had decided to help other people live sustainably, and knew in our hearts that getting in touch to inspire, guide and help to support and heal people are wrapped up in the whole existence of the energy that was flowing with the farm.

So, we went full force into working on the earthship. We were able to get the roof finished, plumbing in, and most of the walls cobbed. We did finally seek out help and ask for i
t, we had wonderful people who came and volunteered time with us to help keep it all flowing. Accepting help is something that both of us were not ever very good at. We ran into some issues with permits because of it now being a residential home, and somehow everything seemed to come to a halt.

For several years we have let everyone know that our Earthship wellness center would open this spring. This winter brought about many dreams of bears, time of nourishing and an urge to emerge with our new babies in the spring. We were feeling overcome with guidance and a knowing that even though this center was not going to be at the farm in the original intended space, that this was still THE time that we needed to move forward with it. We knew that we had to stay close, and we hoped that adding this type of a service and central space in Wilmington for guidance, nurturing, healing and helping... would be able to fulfill even more of the need I have deep inside to truly help and make a difference in other people's lives. Anyone who knows me knows that I feel so blessed by every experience I have ever been though, my entire life. Everything hard, everything good, is a chance to grow and to become a better person. Many times in this same life I was at a point where I really didn't think I could go on any longer, that I couldn't take any more. Seeing life from where I am now, gives me so much desire to help people to grow as well, and to see their life for what it is, their own path and their own power to make it wonderful, no matter what they have, or feel they don't have.
Working on people through the energy work, Reflexology/ Reiki , is so amazing for nurturing and helping their physical bodies bring about balance and healing. Living with someone who has been through a lot of pain, I know first hand how different life can be if you can get even some relief without having to take medications that have sometimes unfavorable side effects.

With all of this said I had SO much back and forth about taking another step forward. We are on a path to really try and simplify life, get very basic in living, and here we are, being guided to do what? Open another rent, electric bill and gas bill, new internet... you can see where my struggle was in all of this. Also knowing my kids, whom I am working so hard to spend more time with are going to have to adjust to a lot of time in this new space, away from the woods and the farm they are used to exploring in. I REALLY had to step back, pray, breathe, meditate, listen to my dreams, and again, LET GO.. in a different way this time. As soon as I felt the bigger picture of what was happening, and truly felt how much this is completely not about me, I knew it would all work out and be taken care of. Being divinely guided can be a beautiful thing when you let go of ego, and self and worry about it all and just listen.

We have now been open almost 2 months. The week before our opening I know we were being tested to our limits. Many things re-surfaced in me that I thought I had let go of years ago. Our oldest dog child, Sage, who was going to be 13 this summer had to be put to sleep the day before our opening. We worked (with the help, again of wonderful people, the Guindons, and Pierre Nagley-an amazing artist from Yellow Springs) so many days, long hours, and until 5am the day of our opening! But it all came together because it was meant to. We now have a space for so many gifted people to share their gifts with the community, and providing this space of sanctuary right in the middle of town feels so good for me. We have many people from all over the area wanting to come and teach classes, hold workshops and share so much, which we will be able to add to what we have now as soon as we have more space in the upstairs of the building available. This has been a huge adjustment and test for me, regaining balance of time to make products, having enough of my time truly giving to people who need it , getting new clients, and not having the kids always at the center. They got burnt out pretty quick there every day!
We also have been wanting another baby, and there has been a little baby soul wanting to come into our family for quite a long time too. (If my beliefs are off from yours on this, please don't let it scare you.. just the intuitive side of life and feeling my way through it all) We finally decided there will never be a perfect time to have another one, and now is always time for anything when it involves the higher good of everything. Our kids are the most meaningful beings in our lives, and we will be blessed by another one in November....

So here we are, the farm is waking back up, the plants are becoming green, markets will soon start, planting will need to begin on the grant funding. Eric will be taking on much more of the farm and if the mud ever dries up from the earthship we will slowly start the progress again on our home. We are in the final stages of a short sale of our current home with a new family on their own life quest. We will be digging out the collapsed trenches of plumbing pipes, and moving forward as quickly as we can on the earthship. We are really trying not to get overwhelmed again, and know it is all part of a transition period with opening this new space. We are pushing away the thoughts that keep sneaking in reminding us of the money we put into our new wellness studio and how that could have been our new windows, or another permit completed, and again just trusting this path and where we are. Eventually the time will come when we can be in a fully sustainable place and support our family, but for now this new direction on the path is leading us to be there to help in other peoples transitions.

I can see a vision of living simply, showing the kids a true way to live with the earth. I can even feel it, it is just not quite in reach yet. Part of the path with this new baby growing inside has been really forcing me to listen to my own body, and acknowledge for the first time in many years that I am not superhuman and that I do need to have limits. I got so used to taking on so much to keep Mike from doing things he shouldn't. Self care and taking time for your own healing and own nourishing is what I love teaching other people... guess the universe is calling me on another new level to practice what I preach on every single level of my existence.

By the end of the summer, somehow we will have the earthship sealed in, floors and walls mostly done, and the necessities in. The window sun will keep us warm along with the ancient woodstove we got from our woods, and even if we cook by a coleman stove, primitive living will feel like the most amazing thing in the world. Going from feeling like the world was going to end because I felt like I was losing many things I was sure of, its a powerful place to know things will always change.I now enjoy taking a ride with the winds, and the shifts of this life, and guiding the sails gently to a better place... and it is so humbling to know none of it is just about me...