Friday, August 30, 2013

Saying Yes

With a neighbor taking care of the animals, we are off to northeastern Connecticut for a family get-together this weekend.  Excited to see family that we so seldom see as we chose to move way up here to northern Vermont without any family around.  We are thankful that both my mother and father choose to visit us fairly often but we haven't always been so good about getting down south to see them.  

Enjoy your weekend and thanks so much for the kind birthday wishes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Turning 44

 (Nolan created this masterpiece for me.)

I feel like the most blessed person on the planet to have such an amazing family to love.
That is what I focused on yesterday, on my 44th birthday.  
I thanked God over and over again for giving me each of our children and also for my husband as we grow and change and experience this journey of life together.

Over the last year I felt a shift in myself, something like restlessness (not discontent as I do love my love), but more of a wondering about making even more of it and thinking about using the full of my gifts for the remaining years I have here on earth.

But just focusing on this coming year, my goal is to have more fun, even in the struggles, to be sillier, laugh more and say yes more.

My new favorite song is Can't Complain  from Reliant K's new album, Collapsible Lung  (is album still the right word?) that my sons introduced me to.
I love the words - 

But I can't complain
I can't complain
Every days too short to let it go to waste

Now I can't complain
I can't complain
You gotta treat every day like a holiday

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crocheting and Planning

Crocheting granny squares with Peace Fleece DK weight yarn.  Two of the colors I hand dyed - the sage with a low impact dye, and the tan with ferns.

My brain has been filled with homeschool plans and I am working to get most of it down on paper.  So mostly my reading has been on supplementing the various main lesson blocks we will be doing.

We are following a waldorf inspired curriculum this year which I am hopeful will allow for focused learning without the traditional segmented method of cramming in 5 subjects each day.  I think it will also give me enough to present to the state at the end of the year while still allowing plenty of time for the children to develop and work on their own projects and interests.  

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Note About Breastfeeding

(our very own corn! - a first for us)

This morning, out of the blue, our fifteen year old son asked, "Mom, do you know the one and only one thing to eat  that could sustain a person?" - I thought for some time, trying to think of what food contains a lot of water, protein, etc... and didn't come up with anything.
the answer:  breast milk

Wow!  To imagine that is is so rich in nutrients that an adult human could live on it.  (It did get me worrying a little, though, if there was ever a food crisis where we lived and I was still lactating... a selfish thought I know.)

This little fact reassured me as well as a bit of a better night's sleep (I think she nursed "just" three times last night) that Emmy is getting both physical and emotional benefits from breastfeeding for now.

Monday, August 26, 2013

She Is Sucking Me Dry

My sweet, happy, joyful, almost 2 year old Emmy is actually a very needy child and really has been since birth.  Her wonderful bright personality often overshadows her intense need for attention and physical contact.

I wasn't going to write about this but this is exactly what is preventing me from blogging, being as productive during the day as I like to be, feeling a bit down, and what is causing me to be so tired. 

I also wasn't going to blog about this because I know that if I wanted to, I could do something about it so I shouldn't be complaining.

But then I read this.

For the past five days, Emmy has been nursing almost as much as a newborn during the day and maybe even more often during the night.  

My mothering instinct tells me that because she is especially needy, this would not be the right time to start weaning.  Also, if I tell her "no",  then a power struggle would follow and I am not ready to go down that road.

So one deep breath at a time as I continually remind myself that she really does need this for right now.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Around the Homestead

Each year our gardens produce more than the previous year and not just because we increase the size of them a bit each year, but because we improve the soil by adding compost from our animals.

I started over four years ago just with a hand shovel,digging one shovel full at a time, turning over the soil (if that is what you want to call the clay we have), shaking out the soil from the grass or weed clump to feed to the chickens or goats, throwing out the rocks - over and over again.  Then after planting, when the plant is fairly mature I fill around the plant and the walking rows with compost.  

This year our two new things to grow were garlic and corn.  The garlic turned out amazing with really large heads and we were happy with our first go of corn.  There are about 50 ears out there with the first batch just about ready to be picked.  Some of the ears are on the smaller side but I grew the corn in the most neglected garden and will plan to fill that same area with all corn next year with squash growing in between.  

I did plant some of our winter squash in between the corn rows this year (as well as some in each of the other two gardens just in case) and the squash seems to be doing just fine, although sooooo slow.  I am just hoping that it will have time to mature before the first frost because I love butternut squash and it provides for us for at least a couple of months after harvesting.

The onions did amazing this year.  I am just finishing the harvesting of those and should have enough to last through January I am hoping, so will have to plant even more next year.  We use onions and garlic in nearly every meal.

Our new buck, Dante, is doing just fine in his new surroundings.  He is our free-range goat as we let him wander around whenever we are outside.  He prefers the weeds in the gardens, which is great.
The older does, though, are definitely envious.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Knitting Mittens

Knitting mittens while the tomatoes ripen.

The grey and peach are knit from Peace Fleece yarn and are for Emmy.
The green one on the needles, are for Abraham, the color is green at his request.

Joining in with Ginny today.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sundays and Church

Our Sundays generally begin more slowly than the other six days of the week.  I slept in until 7:30!

We had a simple breakfast of oatmeal and corn muffins because Mike also had to get down to the farm to pick up some raw milk
and a couple of errands as Thomas had requested the use of our one car immediately after church for the day.

Church...I wasn't going to to blog about this but it is something that has been on my heart.  This is my own personal take on it, my own walk with the Lord. 
 I am not judging others, just my own thoughts as I sort out why I don't look
forward to going to church every Sunday morning.

As I get ready for church I find my vanity creeping in as it does each Sunday morning.  Better bring the scrub brush in to the shower and get the summer black off the bottoms of my feet (although it doesn't all come off).  Make sure our clothes are ironed, everyone's hair is brushed and neat.  I surely wouldn't want anyone to think we were poor or didn't take good care of our children.

Then church itself.  This is something I don't have the easiest time with, never have felt comfortable with many kinds or organized groups.  
I felt most at peace with Quaker meetings but realized they weren't what the rest of my family needed. 

So, we go to a local, growing, thriving, Christian Bible based church and I usually volunteer 
to care for the little ones which makes up the second half of the service.  My spiritual needs are met through reading the Bible and supportive books, and most of all through some quiet moments I savor each day.  

I feel closest to God in other ways such as when I have my family around me at the dinner table and when I am walking outside picking the night's supper, for example.

I understand the benefits of church and am thankful that that many in our small church alone have come to know the Lord.  

I just see sometimes that church seems to get in the way of or be a substitute for the real work that Jesus calls us to do - such as caring for the those that need to be cared for whether they be hungry children in far away countries or right in our back yard or caring for the earth, or truly loving those that you don't feel like loving, practicing forgiveness and most of all promoting peace.

Sometimes I think if everyone stopped worrying
about themselves and just started serving that there would be much less depression, loneliness, and greed. 

 I just don't see church, at least
our church, teaching these things.

Not sure what my "perfect" church would look like but I do know that it would never exist because there is no such thing as perfection
here on earth but at the same time I think we are to continually strive to do better and to improve.

As Jesus taught in the Lord's Prayer -
"thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven"

We weren't but on this earth to just stay out our time until we can go to heaven. Oh no - God would not have wasted His time in creating
human beings, each with unique and amazing gifts, only to live to die.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Facing My Fear

Mike and some of the children went to pick up little Dante yesterday. 
He is a Nigerian Dwarf buck that we hope will be breeding with our does in November or December.

Our does are already two and a half years old and we bought them with the intention of milking.    After they turned one, knowing they were ready to be bred, I delayed.  I let fear prevent me from moving forward with the next step.   It is hard for me to pin point the exact source of the fear, but I think it has been the combination of keeping a buck (I have heard how smelly and disgusting they are in rut), birthing, and milking.  
Yes, I am sure some of you are thinking I have been doing this myself for about 20 years (birthing seven children and breastfeeding for who knows how many years), but for some reason breeding and birthing goats right here on our little homestead seems really scary.  

I am sure, though, that like any new experience, if I avoid it because I am fearful, then I will simply stop experiencing some of the most awesome of experiences.  That is not the way I want to live.   

So I move forward despite the stinky buck (hopefully by November), the birthing worries, and the tied down feeling of morning milkings.  Instead, I am working on  keeping my thoughts focused on the sweet baby goats we will have and the morning routine that I will begin in the spring of heading down to the barn with the stainless steel bucket in hand and put each girl up on the milking stand in turn as the milk bucket slowly fills.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Natural Dyeing - Brown

This picture really doesn't show the color well.  After making a dye bath from collecting what looks like dead wild flowers (who knows what these are???) and using alum as the mordant for the wool yarn, I made a great color - a golden tan, but it is definitely more on the brown side than the yellow side, which I am glad about - to finally have something turn out anything but yellow!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I finished up this Plain Vest for Emmy in yarn from Peace Fleece that I dyed in soft shades of blue.  The buttons Mike made from a small Elm branch and then I wood burned flowers on them.  It is a bit big and will probably fit for two years, but that is just fine.

I have started to think about what Christmas gifts I would like to knit and I think that many of my family would probably not like wool unless it was super soft and they tend to like a bit more trendy things... so I need some suggestions for my Mom, for example.  Have you started knitting any Christmas gifts?

I am finally reading Simplicity Parenting.  I think I put it off because I figured how much more simple can we live, but our house is just far too chaotic and my goal for this fall is to do a better job of meeting each of my children's needs and to work on daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms.  To help me to this end I have been taking a wonderful Waldorf homeschool planning class that you can read more about here.

Joining in with Ginny today.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Moments from the Weekend

* hiking
* beautiful mountain views
* family
* gorgeous weather
* not wanting it to end

Friday, August 9, 2013

Using What I Have

We do our best to use what we have available to us instead of buying.   

I wanted some simple curtains for our kitchen and used some linen and eyelet (both given to me by a neighbor moving).  Mike made a birch branch rod and hooks to the hold the rod.

I am really excited about this rocking chair.  I have wanted one for forever and now I do, so I will at least be able to rock our grandchildren some day.

It was perfect timing.  Mike arrived at recycling at the same time as a person was throwing it away, it just needed a new seat.
I had been saving hay bale twine knowing that eventually I would come up with a use for it.

I have just a little bit more to go to finish, but I like how it is turning out.

Sometimes I wonder what our family would do if we didn't live in a country of excess....benefiting so from others' cast offs.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Angora Business

Abby's  newest baking creation - eclairs.  

She enjoys baking and is not afraid to try even the most challenging recipes.

Abby, is a self-starter, independent, and one who sets goals for herself and usually accomplishes them.  

She has taken on the project of building herself a tiny house.  She is almost done!

Now, she is starting an Angora fiber business and has made a campaign at indiegogo.

Whether she makes her monetary goal or not, I do believe that she will find a way (using some of her savings) to get her business going.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Knitting (just a little) and Reading (just a little)

Life is so busy and full right now with planning the school year, harvesting from the garden, finishing up the fire wood, and trying to remember to embrace these beautiful August days with some special activities.   In addition our business is busy with fall wedding orders.

So... knitting has been very scattered (kind of like my brain).  My current projects are filling the fruit bowl - the two vests from last week and a cuddle doll that needs finishing.

Mike and I have been discussing more from The Resilient Farm and Homestead, in particular, growing rice.  It also just so happens that  a homestead friend mentioned the idea to me as well knowing we have a lot of wet land on our property.    Shortly after we moved here, I took on the job as  the librarian at our local library (open just 8 hours each week) and  I was able to meet many of the "locals".  Which  resulted in becoming friends with some of the more hard core "living off the land" types as they still use the library computers:)  I am thankful for their wisdom as most of them have been around since the 80's or so living up in the hills and have lots of experiences to share.  

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

All in a Day's Work...

... or play, depending upon how you look at it.

I bought an unwashed fleece and we are washing bits of it at a time on clear sunny days.

After dyeing the wool, I laid it out on some bubble wrap to make a scarf and then rolled the wrap up and dunked it in and out of hot soapy water to try and felt the wool.    It actually came out pretty well.   I think I will just need to needle felt it in a few spots.

wanting to help

Mike grabbed some science text books at recycling and Sarah decided to do one of the experiments showing how a cell membrane works.  I love self-directed learning.

future rock star

The first thing I am going to make out of Rosemary Gladstar's new medicinal herb book is a calendula salve.

I love seeing this.

Our first cabbage which will become sauerkraut and I saved the outer leaves to try some natural dyeing.

Monday, August 5, 2013


 The beautiful Haskell Opera House is the only international theater - physically located in both Canada and the US.

 Abby as the orphan, Pepper 

A cast picture after the last performance after everyone had changed.

In January Abby auditioned for a part in QNEK's summer production of Annie and got the part of an orphan, Pepper.

Now this is our painfully shy 13 year old daughter, Abby.  She has a hard time talking to people and is very quiet (except of course at home among her siblings).

Once she is on stage, however, all changes.  She is loud, expressive and a wonderful dancer.

Sunday was the last of six nearly sold out performances and although it was a sacrifice in some ways for our family to drive her 45 minutes each way to rehearsals, we all think it was worthwhile.  She had nothing but a positive experience working with all the other actors and was able to be a part of an excellent show.
(Now maybe we can all stop humming and singing the songs from Annie - they stick in your head!)

Friday, August 2, 2013


"August is the year at early harvest, a farm wife with a baby napping in the crib, preserving kettle on the stove, fryers in the freezer, new potatoes in the pot, and a husband in the hayfield baling the second cutting.  August is tomatoes ripening and the insistent note of the cicada punctuating the heat of midafternoon.  August is the smell of corn pollen, and the taste of roasting ears, and the stain of blackberry juice on the fingers."

From - Sundial of the Seasons by Hal Borland