Category: *cino

Farmer’s Market, a birthday celebration, and a new kitten

Farmer’s Market, a birthday celebration, and a new kitten

June marks the beginning of our farmers’ market season at the Huss Project. For the second year in a row, we’re hosting a market on-site, where we sell our own produce as well as produce, sweets, and other goods from local producers. It’s a lovely way to connect with our neighbors and share healthy, local food.

Huss Project Farmer's Market
Huss Project Farmer’s Market.

This year, some of our folks have designed super cool activities for kids during the market, including a “mud kitchen,” where kids can make mud creations and “serve” them to each other. There’s also a giant sandbox, a fairy garden, a reading fort, and so much more.

Another addition to this year’s market is the Fresh Food Initiative, which is a partnership with a regional food bank. During market hours once each month, families in need can come pick up a box of groceries that includes fresh fruits and vegetables.  We really enjoy creating a fun, welcoming space where everyone has access to fresh food, no matter what their circumstances.

Fresh Food Initiative
Fresh Food Initiative at the Huss Project.

Between market days, we did manage to get away for a few days to celebrate Rob’s birthday. Lake Michigan has so many beautiful beaches and we try to enjoy the lakeshore at least a couple of times each summer. We spent three days in a row on the beach, despite some cooler temps and rain.

At the beach
Enjoying the sunset at Lake Michigan.

One unexpected surprise this month was a new kitten to join our menagerie! She showed up skinny, dirty, and hungry after a big storm with tornado warnings. She called for help and we answered. We haven’t quite settled on a name yet, but she tends to go by Stash (short for Ms. Mustache) and she charms the socks off everyone she meets!

New kitty friend!
Visiting parents, new animal friends … plus mushrooms and eggs!

Visiting parents, new animal friends … plus mushrooms and eggs!

May started with a sweet visit from Rob’s parents—our first time together after all being fully vaccinated! It was lovely to be able to share a meal together, and then take a walk at GilChrist to visit the goats. Little Bert is new to GilChrist, but he’s a sweetheart who loves attention and fits right in. Puck’s only a little jealous of the new guy.

Puck and Bert
Puck and Bert

In a bittersweet milestone, we enjoyed our first fully vaccinated, post-pandemic meal in person with our friends and co-workers from the Huss Project, but it was a goodbye dinner as some of our folks finished up their year-long term and made plans to move on to other work. We’ve SO missed sharing meals around a big table!

*cino community 2021
*cino community 2021

At the farm as the weather warmed up, we worked on a number of projects in addition to starting seeds and transplanting. Thanks to our friend Jonathon who harvested some oak logs and ordered mushroom spawn, we were able to start a variety of edible shiitake and wine cap mushrooms. It will be a couple of years before they’re ready to harvest, so it’s an investment in future deliciousness.

Forking hay
Prepping a mushroom bed.

We weren’t the only ones excited about the warmer temps. The chickens are glad to be out of their winter home roaming the greener pastures of the farm, eating insects and fertilizing the beds. We’re really thankful to have so many animals in our lives, especially these ladies who kindly give us so many eggs!

Huss chickens
Chickens at the Huss Project.
Grief, vaccines, and new life

Grief, vaccines, and new life

April has been a hard month, with both new life and loss. Less than a year after Kirstin’s Grandma Beverly died, her Grandpa Duke passed away. A man of great kindness, generosity, patience, joy, and faith, Grandpa Duke was a huge influence in both our lives. He was one of those people who was always so happy to see you and made you feel unconditionally special and loved. So many of us will miss him dearly, and it’s now our job to keep bringing that remarkable love into the world.

Getting our second COVID vaccination shot!

On the day of the visitation and funeral, it was lovely to see our families, though we had to buzz right back home to receive our second vaccination shots. We both felt pretty crummy the day after and hunkered down on the couch for the day with movies, soup, and the cat, but we felt very glad to do our part to help our world emerge from the devastation of the pandemic. We’re especially thankful that being less susceptible to the virus ourselves helps protect the kiddos in our life who don’t yet have the option for a vaccine.

Daffodils in our back yard.

And even in the midst of grief and the pandemic, new life is emerging! Spring is always a reminder that there is hope and life all around us. The greenhouse at the Huss Project is full of seedlings, and we’ve got a few on our windowsill at home, too, sprouted from pepper seeds that Kirstin’s dad gave us.

Pepper seedlings
Pepper seedlings.
Syrup, garlic, and a goodbye

Syrup, garlic, and a goodbye

In late February, the sap started running which means: syrup time! Our friends Dan and Margaret are conducting an experiment tapping black walnut trees on the Huss Project property that we all help tend. Most folks tap sugar maples for their high sugar content, but we recently learned that black walnuts make excellent syrup as well. It’s been nice to spend time around the fire with friends watching the sap boil and thicken while there’s still a bit of a chill in the air.

Swinging with Henry

We’ve continued to stay close to home during the pandemic, but we did venture out this month for a lovely outdoor, socially-distanced visit with Kirstin’s family. Her sister Alyssa came out with the kids all the way from Idaho to spend time with our grandpa as he gets up in years, and Kirstin enjoyed hanging out with nieces and nephews on a sunny afternoon.

Garlic at Huss
Garlic at Huss

More sun and warmer temps have meant that things are starting to get busier on the farm for Rob. The garlic we planted last fall is starting to pop up, and we’ll harvest the scapes (a sort of mini-garlic that grows out the top of the plant) in late spring, and the full bulbs mid-summer.

Hand salad
Hand salad!

One of Kirstin’s favorite spring rituals is the first “hand salad,” which is a bite-sized collection of some of the first tasty greens to come from the soil. This one contains lemony sorrel, oniony chives, and savory parsley—hum!

Minna at GilChrist

While so many things are coming back to life, we also experienced a very sad loss when the pony where Kirstin works died unexpectedly. Minna was a sweet old gal generally in very good health until one evening when her heart started shutting down. We’ll really miss her a lot, though no one will miss more than her goat pal, Puck.

Big tree!
Big tree

In happier news, we enjoyed the annual pancake breakfast at a local alternative high school that makes maple syrup from the trees in the forest next door to the school. We’ve lost count of how many years we’ve gone to this breakfast—it’s a lot!—but this year was the first time we visited the nearby county park, which has many HUGE old growth beech and tulip trees. A hike in the park will definitely become part of our annual pancake pilgrimage!

Work and personal retreats

Work and personal retreats

Each fall, we go on retreat for a weekend with our close friends who work with us at the Huss Project to look at the year past and plan for the future. Knowing we’d need to gather outside this year for COVID safety, we pushed up the date to the first weekend of October, which was our first weekend since June without a farmers market. Little did we know the temps would drop suddenly, leaving us camping out in 30-some degrees overnight! But we kept hot water on for tea, stoked the campfire, and managed just fine, with lots of good conversations. It was actually quite fun to sleep out in the woods on the property, which we’d never done before. We’re really looking forward to including our kiddo in these kinds of events and seeing them enjoy having so many honorary “aunts” and “uncles” in our community!

Campfire with our community

Of course, the following weekend was warm and sunny, so we took advantage of the weather to spend the day at the beach. We brought snacks and books, took naps in the portable hammock, and skipped stones into the lake. Lots of families were out enjoying the beautiful day, and we stayed long enough to enjoy the gorgeous sunset.

Skipping rocks at Lake Michigan
Skipping rocks at Lake Michigan

Though the farmers market is done for the season and we’re starting to put the beds to sleep for the winter, there are still quite a few veggies coming on, so we’re still canning and freezing for the winter. Kirstin’s also been busy coordinating COVID-safe activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the retreat center where she works.

Preserving vegetables
Preserving peppers

At the end of all of this busyness, we rested and renewed our energy with a two-week retreat at the center in our favorite guest house, which sits at the edge of a small pond near the pasture where the resident pony and goat live. We took lots of long walks through the woods to the nearby monastery and enjoyed rowing around their small lake (see above). We even saw a mink on the pond by the house! All in all a much-needed time away from the year’s noise, especially as the coming election grows near. We’ve spent a lot of time at this house and can’t wait to enjoy quality time here with our child, exploring the woods and shorelines, putting together puzzles, and snuggling up by the fireplace with a good book.

Puck and Minna
Puck and Minna

Connecting through art and water

Connecting through art and water

We can’t believe summer is starting to wind down already! In the midst of the pandemic, time has been very strange—moving so slowly at times, and moving so fast at others. Our fuzzy little chicks that arrived in June have gotten so big! They’re scratching around for insects and gobbling up any veggies we toss in, though it will still be a couple of months before they start laying eggs.


One of the few social events we’ve been able to host at the Huss Project this summer has been Open Mic Night, which would usually take place the first Thursday of every month downtown at Lowry’s Books. There’s always a variety of genres and ages represented at the mic. This month, Jordan Hamilton returned for his second feature performance—such an amazingly talented musician. Between Open Mic Night and the downtown theatre and art center, we’re grateful for all of the great art we get to experience right here in our small town.

Open Mic Night, socially distanced

Kirstin has spent a lot of time in August and September in the bittersweet task of packing up the family cottage on the lake to prepare it for sale. As many wonderful memories as the family has had at the lake, the time has come to move on. Thankfully, we have many other connections on nearby shorelines as well as our own kayaks to continue enjoying the abundant waterways in our area. We’ll never be short on places to boat and swim with our kiddo, including a great wading river right outside our back door!

Saying goodbye to the cottage

In addition to the river being so close, we’re also grateful that even though we live right downtown, we have a sweet back yard with lots of room to explore and play. As we continue to stay safe during the pandemic, it’s been a great spot to relax with friends around the fire pit…or you know, take a nice nap in the hammock.