Adventures with Rare and Fabulous Guests at the Homestead

July 15, 2012 · 13 comments

Sorry for the radio silence on the blog this week. We had our first-ever batch of overnight guests (Henry’s aunt, two cousins, and cousins’ boyfriends) staying at the homestead from Tuesday until yesterday. While their visit did require some planning and preparation, it was totally stress-free thanks to the fact that these folks were super low-key and understanding, willing to put up with our minimal facilities and help out however they could. They’re actually some of my favorite people, and we hadn’t seen them since we visited them in Georgia over two years ago.

Luckily, the weather was beautiful, so our guests had a fairly pleasant camp site down by the pond. We prepared almost all of our meals out of our tiny kitchen, and somehow that worked out just fine. Our guests even got to experience the outdoor shower in all its glory (even if it wasn’t all that private).

I made a conscious effort to stay away from my computer this week, and I tried not to let my sporadic photo-taking interfere with my enjoyment of moments with family, so I really don’t have a whole lot of pictures to share. In addition to the photos below, I also took a few with my phone that are on Instagram (follow me @waywardspark, or you can also view them by clicking on the “Instagram” link over in the sidebar).

All day Sunday and Monday, I cleaned and cooked. Having folks come stay with us was just the motivation that I needed to attack certain cobwebbed corners of the cabin that hadn’t seen a broom in way too long. In the end, my house was still not anywhere near spotless, but it was very comfortable, and I didn’t feel like I needed to impress anyone with a fakely perfect home anyway.

I did want to make sure that we had on hand both ready-to-eat foods as well as ingredients to cook up big meals. I started by baking up some whole wheat-oat bread, a marionberry-strawberry-rhubarb pie (my best pie yet!), and a big pile of naan. I also brought home some vegetable loot from my parents’ garden and more from Gathering Together Farm.

We spent a fair bit of time kicking back and enjoying each other’s company at our place, but we also got out and about a little. We started with a hike at the Fitton Green Natural Area that has a trailhead just down the hill from us.

We spotted lot of birds, a couple snakes, and this western fence lizard along the way.

Henry’s family hadn’t visited Oregon in 13 years. Henry’s aunt and one cousin came out from suburban north Georgia and the other cousin is currently living in southern California, so I think they all appreciated the drastic change of scenery and the quiet of the forest.

One afternoon, we drove into Corvallis to walk around downtown. It was pretty fun to play a tourist in my own town. We did a little used book shopping at The Book Bin, got coffee at Oregon Coffee & Tea, strolled on the waterfront, and ended up at the playground in Central Park.

Back at the homestead, the goats were a big attraction. Everyone got a kick out of feeding them empty pea pods, and I had an audience while milking everyday.

It took a little while for my kids to warm up to these people that seemed like strangers, but after a few hours, they were demanding piggyback rides, cozy-lap book reading, and light-saber battle reenactments. (Charlotte was particularly proud of her goat-skull hobby horse creature that she liked to ride around the driveway.)

On Friday, Henry had to shoe a horse for my boss at Gathering Together Farm, so we all tagged along to watch him in action and then followed it up with lunch in the farmstand. I got the bianco pizza (of course), but the whole table was full of some fabulously good food.

Henry brought in a few frames of honey, so we had a group extraction session. This honey was made from blackberry and poison-oak nectar.

Charlotte had her first s’more. Boy, do I love s’mores.

Aunt Sue invented the goat cheese-pie breakfast sandwich (one slice of whole wheat bread slathered with plain chévre and topped with a smear of berry pie). We all drank a lot of coffee (and beer) and cooked and ate some really great homegrown meals (fresh-pasta lasagna, chicken curry, etc.).

We sent each guest home with a chunk of beeswax. (That’s what the yellow thing on the table is.)

Really, we had the best time ever. I felt like I was on vacation even though I never actually left home. I’m already looking forward to our next gathering with this branch of the family that’s tentatively scheduled for December. I’m so grateful to have them in my life. xoxoxo

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane July 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

You can tell a good time was had by all! I know they enjoyed getting away from the hot, dry weather we’ve been having around here (I’m in Chattanooga Tn. at the north Georgia border)! You are so blessed to have such good family to spend time with!


catie July 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

looks like the wayward spark bed & breakfast was a blessing for both you and your extended family.
i especially love that it is a beards-only destination ?


Camille July 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I’m trying to think of the last time a clean-shaven guy came over to visit. It’s been a long while for sure.


Katie Miller July 15, 2012 at 11:40 am

Poison oak nectar!?


Camille July 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Yep. The bees harvest it off poison-oak flowers.


Katie Miller July 16, 2012 at 8:17 am

Interesting! I did some googling and I’m intrigued with the notion that the eating the honey can help people (like me) with severe reactions to the plant.


Baby Aunt Sue July 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

It was wonderful in too many ways to count. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!


Camille July 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I’m so glad y’all finally made it out here. Please know that you are welcome anytime (though I’m not sure you’d want to camp in the winter mud).


Becky July 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Allen and I just looked at this together and laughed so hard. The pictures are great. We had so much fun. Thanks!


Camille July 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Tell Allen that we’re really glad we got a chance to meet him finally.


Beth Hammergren July 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Love all of the pictures. Looks like everyone had a great time.


Maggie July 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm

How fun!! I am so impressed by your cooking skills with minimal equipment. Holy cow that just blows my mind. I love visiting Oregon for the change of scenery, definitely….although I’ve really grown to love city life, too! I used to think I would always be a small-town kind of person. Funny how things change. :) Thanks for sharing these!!


Eleanor July 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm

With the poison oak honey, can someone have an allergic reaction to it? I have read that it is possible for certain plants to make honey poisonous, like oleander.


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