Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Around the Homestead

Today is one of those amazing days where you don't want to be inside for even a minute.
The air is warm, in the seventies and there is a gorgeous contrast of colors with the evergreens, the browns of the bare branches, the yellows from the leaves still hanging on, and the bright blue sky.


I have been digging up new garden areas.  Loading up and dumping compost.  Thankful for our animals that provide the nutrients for the soil which in turn provides food for our family. 
We are planning a flower cutting garden for next year, perhaps even selling bouquets. Sarah is wanting to work on this with me.




The most exciting news around here has been what is going on with the goats.  Dante is finally in rut and Sparky is in heat!  Babies in March?  Milk in March?  We are hoping so.
It has been a long wait.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Nurturing Her Passion




Sarah has asked to ride horses since she was four.  She has always picked out horse books at the library or bookstore.

We promised her when she was nine she could start lessons - nine came and we worried that we wouldn't be able to afford them.

Ten came and the desire hadn't waned.  We probably still can't afford them really, but we are going on Sarah's passion and our faith that God will provide.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

You Don't Have to Keep Growing


Mike and I got away over night Saturday to attend the Forestry weekend in Woodstock, Vermont.

This, by the way, was the first time just the two of us have had a night sans children for three and a half years.  

With regards to the forestry part, Mike and I both enjoyed a guided walk at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park about George Perkins Marsh and we bought his book Man and Nature which was written in 1861.  He is considered one of the first environmentalists by some, although known by very few.   I will, perhaps, share more of his writings here as I get through his book which is not very easy reading.

We also attended the woodworking show where woodworkers and forestry types showcased their goods.  There were several different organizations represented and Mike and I did talk to a couple of people about our business and where we are and where we would like to be with it.  I have written here before about where we are at a point of desiring a new homestead with land to selectively harvest for both our business and firewood and to increase our food production and also one with a suitable workshop and studio/office space.   One of the men we talked to was just amazed about what we do with so little and practically no overhead and very little expenses and that we did it all without going into debt.   

The hard part for us right now with our business is that we really don't want to grow it - we just want to make it more efficient.  And the thing is, all the organizations that give loans and grants want to hear is how we would expand, market, hire, increase, etc.  starting with a business plan detailing how all this would happen.   

I, on the other hand, want to share with people that you don't necessarily need to go into tons of debt, don't need to do things the way the world tells you you should do business-wise, and that there is nothing wrong with having a modest business that allows you to be at home with your family, gives you time to work on growing your food, get a year's supply of firewood cut, split and stacked, learn and discover with your children, help out in the community, and pursue creative outlets (need more time for this though!) - or whatever your own priorities are for you.  

This isn't to say we won't change how we do things with our business, or learn new ways of marketing, or even need to get a loan at some point, but it is really the thought process behind the typical business model in our country and probably elsewhere - that you have to keep growing, growing, growing.  For our family, that just doesn't fit.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Non Intrusive Learning

Snapshots from yesterday - 

I bought this book last Friday at an independently owned bookstore in Johnson (I am trying to support small local businesses, but books are really hard for me because there is usually at least a 30% difference in price between Amazon.  But then again, a book store on Main Street with a real person to talk with, real books to look through, I think the extra money is worth it.)

Anyway, I was looking through it at lunch and Sarah was interested in looking at it herself the minute she read the title.  She spent the better part of the next hour or so figuring out how the book was set up ("oh they are alphabetical mom", she informs me as I am cleaning out the side barn).  She grabbed her side kick, Abe, and off they went foraging.   One thing we have a lot of on our property is cattails (which you saw the other day - oh, we also learned that cattail fluff does not make a good pillow stuffing - worms, little white ones - yeck!).  So she pulled one up and cut off the root and boiled it and tasted it.  She told me it was ok - not bad, not great, but ok.
I, of course, noticed the nice brown water it left after boiling and tried to dye some yarn, but it didn't take.




Sarah collected some leaves while she was outside to do some rubbings.



Abe relaxing after doing some spinning - surely his brain is spinning too.



Abby made these rabbit toys.  She took two maple branch slices and drilled 6 evenly space holes in each (she had to divide fractions) and then hammered down the dowels.

I am working on documenting what goes on each day so I don't forget that lots of good stuff really does happen without my interference but with my support.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Creative with Cattails




This activity has been keeping Sarah and Abraham busy the last two days.  They have now collected enough cattail fluff for Sarah to stuff in a pillow she hand sewed today.

I love watching and observing them as they go about their days and am grateful for the time, space and freedom they have to explore and discover.

I am not always sure how all of this will carry over in their adult lives, but my heart tells me it is all good.

Here is an interesting article about how Steve Jobs limited his children's screen time.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Over the Weekend



Emmy turned 3 on Saturday



and Nolan was baptized on Sunday.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Interconnected




Friday I felt it - I felt it more than I ever have - connected - connected to family, homestead, and Creation.   

Today wasn't all that different than most.  But the air was very cool, crisp and energizing.  
I felt quiet, at peace, knowing that what I am doing to care for our family and homestead is full of meaning - not in terms of money - but in terms of the interconnectedness and results.   

Between shoveling the compost we get from the goats to put on the garden bed I am preparing for the garlic planting next month, to pulling and peeling the outer leaves off the leeks and feeding them to the goats.  The leeks will be used with our cabbage to try out the Cracked Pepper Leek Kraut recipe from the most recent issue of Taproot.

By having our son, Nolan, and his wife Rachel come by while their car is being repaired.  Nolan goes down to the workshop to work for our business for a couple of hours and Rachel picks apples from our trees and makes apple crisp with Sarah and Emmy.

By eating our first butternut squash for dinner and giving the guts to the chickens for a treat.
Jars of dried calendula and lemon balm ready to be used for the winter's tea.

Simple but not easy.  Hard work but rewarding - both for the soul and body.