Monday, October 5, 2015

First Heavy Frost




Early yesterday morning these two asked for all of their winter attire and headed out trying to scrape up enough frost to make an ice ball.  They succeeded and its home is in our freezer.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Moving Forward






We are under contract now to purchase our new home in Central Maine.  There is much to look forward to - having wooded land, making plans for guest cabins, making gardens, and building outbuildings.  

Speaking of outbuildings, there is only currently an attached garage which will become the workshop right away.  But we are wondering what will work best to shelter all of the animals on the day we arrive.  What can we do for their immediate needs and then what kind of small barns can we build inexpensively and simply?  Any thoughts?  We will have 3 goats, 14 chickens (two of which are special needs and need their own separate area and a rooster and his girlfriend that need their own space) and one duck.  We are planning to close our shop for about two weeks when we move so we can concentrate on building.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Knitting and Reading


More of my favorite knitting - baby vests.

The Ria is a  new pattern for me and I love the simplicity of it.  I have a question, though, it seems as if my yarn overs don't result in as obvious of a hole as there should be.  Any thoughts?

My friend shared these copies of the publication, Plough with me and I am so glad she did.

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things today.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Common Ground Fair






Something on my wish list for many years, we were able to go to this past weekend.
We went on Saturday and it wouldn't surprise me if there were record crowds that day.  With a brilliant blue sky and the temperature about 68 degrees, one couldn't have asked for more.
So many people, but most with happy faces, smiling, enjoying one another and their children.

There is a whole separate area designed for children - hulling and thrashing beans, hammering nails (children hammering with full size hammers within feet of one another - imagine that!).  There was cardboard hill sliding by the band tent.  So many children laughing, forming instant "friendships", and getting along.  Dust flying up everywhere because it has been dry for so long.

One of the highlights for our entire family was the sheep herding with the collies.  We also enjoyed some demonstrations about making sunflower oil and of course, I was drawn to all of the wool.

My purchases included the yarn pictured from Hope Spinnery that was naturally dyed with indigo.  I am using it to knit the the Ria Vest Pattern.  I also loved the artwork by Toki Oshima and found out that she teaches classes to homeschoolers nearby.

This fair is huge and we certainly didn't see everything.  By mid afternoon, we knew that our younger children had reached their limits for the day so we headed out to the trail through the woods that leads back to the hay field that had become a parking lot.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Feeling a Shift


Since our little homestead here in northern Vermont went under contract this past July, we have been praying and searching for where our next home would be.

On September 18th, our home became officially not our own - as we formally closed on it and the new owners took ownership.  We are more than blessed that the new owners are wonderfully kind and are fine with us staying here until the spring when they will move here or until we find our new home.  Knowing that we don't want to look for homes in the winter nor move during mudseason, we have been very busy looking.

We have been looking around where we live now - putting offers on a few different places - weighing pros and cons - praying - offers  not being accepted - minds changing....

Do we stay here with our church or do we move on to a new area - with new adventures and people?

We spent this past weekend in the midcoast area of Maine but inland a bit, close enough to attend the Common Ground fair (something that has been on my wish list for years!).  We stayed at a Christian summer camp and retreat center, staying in a little cottage right on the lake - so beautiful the setting.

We had two properties on our list to see.  Maine has been in our minds for some time because of the little bit of a higher population, more culture, and the lower property taxes.  The first home we saw, made us not want to see the other.  We saw it on Friday afternoon after our long drive over.

Saturday was spent at the fair and we did a little more exploring of the area after.  There is even an Amish community in Unity.  We felt at home among the people, among the rolling hills and farms, and learned that there is a strong homeschool community there - where there is none where we are now.

We told ourselves to enjoy Sunday, arrive home, see how we felt at home, sleep on it, pray some more, and then make a decision this morning.  Unfortunately, God can't make decisions for us, He has left that up to our feeble human minds.  We know that wherever we live, we are to bring glory to Him, put our family second, and then serve the community.

So we put an offer on the house this morning.  The amazing part of it is that the asking price is so much less than anything else we have looked at.  It has seven acres, is an older cape but in good condition with an attached garage for the workshop.  Our payments will be much less than what we had here in northern Vermont and if all goes well, we will have our own wooded acreage to supply our business and maple trees to tap for a year supply of our family's syrup, plenty of grazing room and garden space (although I will be starting from scratch again).

I will keep you posted as our life takes a new direction - a new place but really just a continuation of what we began 6 years ago when we took the leap to support our family with the works of our hands.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Life's Joys and Sorrows





An abundance of apples from our trees - two apple pies, two batches of apple crisp, and apple muffins so far.

A sweet little baby goldfinch  with one bad eye that Sarah nurtured and took care of for three days before Emmy brought her outside and our dog ended her life quickly.  

Emmy's 4th birthday yesterday!  Abby made the cake.  Emmy is all about princesses right now and she still loves singing, dancing, and delighting us all with her bright big eyes full of wonder and delight.  Four is such a wonderful age.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Beyond My Comfort Zone


Do you ever feel like it would just be easier to keep your mouth quiet - to not work at change - to not try to help - to not listen to those crying out in need.  To just not get involved.  I mean why risk feeling alone, uncomfortable, isolated, or like an outcast?

Instead - wouldn't it be so much easier to simply go along with what our leaders (both in the church and government)  say or what the culture of our day dictates?  Wouldn't it be easier to justify inaction by being content, enjoying  the beauty that is all around, and by finding the simple joys in everyday life? 

I know down in the deep parts of my heart, though, that it must be possible to do both.  To both stand up for change when there is injustice, and to also be content at the very moment where God puts you - noticing the simple joys of the day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Making with Apples


So, I have quite the wonderful thing going on here on our little homestead.  We have two old apple trees that are just loaded with apples this year.  Emily, Sarah and I pick a basket full in the morning.  Sarah enjoys peeling and chopping - so that job is taken care of.  Abby enjoys the baking aspect.  So she prepares the topping for apple crisp.  All I have left to do is a little bit of clean up in the kitchen and enjoy the eating!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Special Afternoon



Sarah and I are on an overnight get-away.  My father invited us to spend a night of his vacation with him in Woodstock, Vermont.  He treated Sarah to a private falconry class.  She was in her element with the hawk, Niko, a trained Harris hawk.  They felt at ease with one another.  She helped him hunt for crickets in the field and he even stayed perched on her arm as she walked.  Birds are one of her passions - perhaps you have noticed if you have been reading this blog for years how much she loves her chickens.   A special time.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Not to Please Others but to Serve


Beginning to Harvest

Mike being baptized.

Jesus told us, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." - Matthew 16:24

To some of the closest people in our life, our decision to stay up here in northern Vermont after selling our home, doesn't make any sense to them.  Don't we want to be closer to family?  Shouldn't we provide more opportunities for our children?  Don't we need to buy a house?  Last week Mike and I traveled down to central/southern Vermont, put an offer on a house in a village and then realized that we simply weren't listening to God's call for our life.  We will probably lose $1,000 but know that following God's will for our life is more important.

Yesterday was  a day filled with tears as we received hurtful words after hurtful words from family.   I am thankful for my father, that even though he was disappointed, understands.

Over the past several years, our family has  begun the hard work of serving in our community through our church mostly, but also just by letting our life speak.  Our pastor shared with us a few weeks ago that he feels God calling us to work here in this small town for right now - to take on leadership roles.  For the past year or so, Mike and I have felt God nudging us to a life of ministry.

So for right now, we don't have a home to call our own, but the buyers of our house have graciously let us stay until April when they move here from Wisconsin.  We will simply keep faithful that God will provide us a house nearby and we are still praying for a modest home with wooded acreage.  But God knows what we need, we really don't.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Knitting and Reading


So happy to be joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along again.  We finally have high speed through our telephone line out here in the middle of nowhere!

So I am knitting this Kyoto Vest with some yarn I had on hand, Peace Fleece.  But this is just a trial run and I hope to knit more of these in some softer yarns.

On my nightstand are several books - some I am rereading. But really I have been falling right asleep each night and haven't been doing too much reading except home school planning throughout the day.  I am hoping to come across a good book while reading through the other yarn along posts today.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

God is Awesome


You know how really cool this is - that so many of you that read this little blog are such wonderful, kind people.

Nolan called us this morning, feeling very discouraged.  

Shortly after, I followed up on the two comments from the previous post about offers to help Nolan and Rachel in anyway on their new journey and God is just working through all of this to bless them.

Brenda, thank you so much!  You didn't probably know that Nolan had started his own etsy shop making items out of wood.  He loves working with wood and tools to create.  So, the owner of the cabinet making shop - well, he and his wife graduated from the same college - and he called Nolan and is going to see if Nolan might be able to get some hours in at the shop, working around his class schedule.  And Nolan and Rachel are going to attend his church on Sunday to meet each other... and well... who knows.  (of course God does!)
Thank you Janet!  For the tips about apartment hunting and for offering your husband's assistance with auto repairs.

Warm wishes,
Tonya


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Off to College










We had all seven plus two here last night for dinner and fun.  This morning Nolan and Rachel left for Lancaster, PA where Nolan will be attending Lancaster Bible College as a full time freshman. They are brave as they will be navigating Nolan's college work, looking for jobs, and getting acquainted with a new area all at once.

It was hard to say good bye for now - knowing he is 9 hours away - but also so wonderful to know that he is pursuing his passion.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Today







Minecraft Drawing

Stair Climbing

Garlic Pulling

Bread Baking

Ash Sanding

Heart Wood Burning

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Enjoying the Summer




Each day I wake up and thank God for breath, for the sun coming up, for our home and for our family.

This summer has gone by especially fast as we have been in the process of selling our little homestead and figuring out where to go from here.  We experienced some hard times this past spring when our business slowed way down and we felt quite isolated with very few options.  While not really knowing exactly what we would do if our house did sell, we felt that at least a property with a bit more land, woods, and outbuildings could serve our needs better and give us more income possibilities including a bit more farming.

As we have not found "our " place yet, we are going to be staying here through the winter as the new-to-be owners are not planning to move here from Wisconsin until April 1st.  This will give us time to perhaps find a property that includes our wish list:
- an old farmhouse
- 4 plus acres, mostly wooded
- a barn
- a workshop

Not sure if there is such a thing in our price range, but we are praying that we will find it.

Our business is super busy - we are so thankful.  We have come to appreciate that while the work itself may not be our passion - the flexibility allows Mike and I to live out our life with passion - serving our family, our church, and our community.  We also have time to continue with the simple pleasures of cutting, splitting and stacking firewood, gardening, and keeping animals.  I also have maybe just a wee bit of time - or do my best to make some time, for my own personal creative pursuits.

I am planning our homeschool year - getting back to some basics and a plan for  some-what structured mornings.  I have come to accept that I am not an unschooling mom.  Maybe because we have a large family and I need to attend to the needs of many  - Many because I simple haven't been able to completely trust.  Whatever the reason, I finally conclude after 12 plus years of homeschooling, that some structured learning time is what works best for us.  The children's afternoons will still be their own - to follow their passions.

Just wanted to catch up a bit.
Warm wishes,
Tonya

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Fun



A friend dropped off this canoe for the children to use in our small pond. 
Perfect timing because we have been spending so much time working on our house that this has been wonderful for them.



And if you stopped by our home, the children would pick you some fresh peas to eat right
out of the pods.

Tonight both older sons are coming for dinner with the wives.  I can't wait!