Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bed and Play Area for the Goats

Today, the young ones and I brought some birthday cheer to our homesteading friend and neighbor, Pati.  I was so grateful that she asked if we had a little sleeping shelter for the goats in their barn area.  We had not made one and we followed her suggestion of using two hay bales with a board over the top.  This keeps any drafts off them at night and gives them a cozy area to snuggle in.

The goat kids and human kids enjoy jumping on and off.

As I walked out to the barn this morning in my flannel nightgown, barn coat, and rubber boots with Abraham beside me, each of us holding a bottle to give the goats their 7:00 am feeding, a wonderful peaceful feeling came over me.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Evening Feeding

After an early supper I went out to the barn with Sarah and Abraham to give Madeline and Sparky their third feeding for the day.  They are getting half goat's milk and half raw cow's milk right now that we warm up just a tad.

(Abby, Sarah's older sister, cut her bangs the other day.....)

And my view on the way back into the house.  The last heavy rain had past and the sun was shining from the opposite direction, everything shined so beautifully.  There was actually a faint rainbow behind the pond.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meet Sparky and Madeline

Sorry for the blurry picture, but today has been a bit of a blur.  Madeline is the mostly black doe kid.  The woman we bought them from had named them and the children decided to keep those.  We are bottle feeding them three times a day (right now 1/2 goats milk and 1/2 raw cows milk). 
More to come soon, I am off to bed after a very full day.
Thank you so much for all of the great information.  It has been really helpful.
Warm wishes,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Are Picking Them Up Tomorrow Morning...

 two doe kids.

After thinking and reading, and thinking and reading, I  made up my mind to go with alpine goats from an organic cheese maker that lives right in our community.  My back and forth thinking was between this much more expensive option (which actually turned out not to be) which I had heard from others was  up to $400.00 each from what I had been told
versus -  buying the somewhat expensive nigerian dwarf breed that would be smaller, easier to get used to, give rich butterfat milk, but we would not have enough for our family with just two. 

The Alpines come from a closed herd that is so well cared for and knowing that just two would even give our growing family a surplus of milk, and finally, I knew that if I had questions, she would be close by to help.

We went to visit on Monday morning and I just felt so good about our decision.  Her goats were obviously so loved and cared for and they were really friendly.  The owner let me know which kids were available and told us that we could practically "have" one that was born tiny and is slow to growing, but otherwise very healthy.  After I asked questions and then finally I asked how  much they would be, she offered me an amazing price for both and I felt so blessed. 

Today we gathered more of the supplies we will need ~
2 heavy rubber buckets for water
2 collars as we still have to finish the fenced in area so we will be leading them around for a few days
2 nipples to fit on 20 oz coke bottles
Starter Milk - we will be using this just a bit as we were advised that raw milk is best and we have a farm right down the road where we can buy that from - the kids each receive 20 oz, 3 times per day at present.
8 bales of organic hay
Grain I will be buying tomorrow from the goat farm

I am pretty nervous about this as I feel as though I know so little, but I am also excited (as are the children).  It will be wonderful to care for them and get to know them as well as enjoy our own milk next spring.

Looking forward to sharing more tomororw.
Warm wishes,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Simply Together

Each child receives a small basket awaiting them at their seat Easter morning.  Truly, it is just a token gift - usually one or two pieces of candy, a nice new pen and some pencils, a hand knit toy for the younger children, and a bag of Smartfood popcorn for our oldest, Thomas, because he doesn't like candy.

Another tradition we have is hiding the plastic Easter eggs (yes plastic, but they are used year after year), filled with some coins.  Each child has their own color and they are hidden in appropriate level of difficulty. This is the dear husband's job.  Sometimes he makes the hiding spots so challenging it can take quite a long time for them all to be found.

We had our Quaker Meeting for worship at 10:00 am.  It was nice to have three other sets of people come.

And then we enjoyed the beautiful day outside.

Sarah and Isaac practicing their casting in our pond.

Brought the chairs out.

The sap buckets were taken down and rinsed out, left to dry.
Giving the bikes a tune up.

This beautiful sunny morning, some of the children and I are off to see some Alpine doe kids...
we are all so excited.

Warm wishes,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Allthough the Weather Outside is Frightful.....

Yes, it is snowing today (big sigh.....)

But, I am taking pleasure in adding simple Easter decorations.

Something I seldom purchase, but did yesterday, some flowers from the market.  I added a birch bark sleeve to cover the plastic pot.  They sit on our kitchen counter.

The children's watercolor painted wooden eggs in a thrifted bowl on a thrifted vintage napkin - our dining table centerpiece.

The children are ~

creating with pattern blocks

and needle felting on wool.

While we delight in the simple indoor pleasures, I can't wait to get back outside and feel the sun's warmth.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Planting Time

Yesterday I planted both of these as well as some lettuce. 
There has been such a nice rhythm to our days, these last few days.
In the morning I am mostly inside, working with the children, baking, packaging orders, cleaning, etc.
After lunch, after Abraham's nap (and sometimes a nap for me too), we head outside to do the garden work usually - a few wheelbarrows of compost hauled each day to the planting areas, a little  more digging in a new garden area, mending of fences, and just yesterday, planting.
It feels so good to use my muscles again, and to be building them up a little bit more each day to meet the demands of the coming season.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Ordinary Morning

Our lives seem quite simple and perhaps even a bit boring as we go about our day to day activities.

Just this morning ~

Washing eggs - we have been collecting 12 - 14 each day now.

Sarah and Abraham watercolor painting wooden Easter eggs.

Bread rising (still on the mantle as the woodstove is still going.)  Also chocolate oat cookies and cinnamon muffins prepared to bake with the bread.

I cut pussy willows, gathered from our property,  to put in a crock on my secretary.

With robins, mallards and juncos visiting this morning, the children decided to consult a bird book.
Although ordinary, this morning I see it all as extra special and I am grateful.  Yesterday we delivered a basket of home baked food from our worship group,  to a family in our community that tragically lost their two year old.  I take time to see the beauty in our children's play, in a loaf of bread, in a single soft pussy willow.  I also take the time to thank God for these moments and work to be a little more patient and express my love a little more often. 
Love, Tonya

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fixing Fences and Cleaning Up

Although the thermometer reads just 39 degrees today, that didn't stop us from continuing the work that needs to be done outside.  As the snow has melted in the sunny areas, revealed underneath are the bits of trash, mittens left behind during the first cold days of December, and endless rocks and sticks.

With the soil mostly thawed, we are also able to repair fences.

The children throwing rocks from the yard on to the pond, tyring to get the rocks to break through the ice.

I came across a great blog post about living an agrarian based lifestyle.  Shannon has lots of wonderful recipes and insights at her blog Nourishing Days.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On Our Work Surfaces

I thought it would be fun to snap a picture of what each of our most commonly used worked surfaces looked like the other morning.

An order that needs to be packaged up, walking blocks waiting for their rope, one of our sons' favorite catalogs - Musicians Friend, and out of the oven - jam bars and granola.

On my secretary - birch signs waiting to be wood burned and various yarn to inspire.

On the dining room table - an in process needle felted ball, daffodils given to me by a friend, and Sarah stamps and pads from making thank you cards for her birthday gifts.

What is on your work surfaces?

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Visitors to our Pond

It was so nice to see this pair return again.  (I am not really sure if it is the same pair but they have been given the names of Carlotta and George again.)

Sarah went outside yesterday morning, still in her pajamas to get as close as she could to them.

It sure would be sweet if they bring their babies here later this spring.  We are certainly blessed to have this little pond just about 50 feet from our front steps.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fiber Love

I so enjoy working with wool - knitting, crocheting, needle felting and dying it.

Our neighbor has sheep that he breeds to raise lamb (for meat).  He recently sheared his sheep and because he really doesn't want to bother with the wool, he offered it to us (for free!).

Oh, the possibilities....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sarah is Seven

Our sweet Sarah turned seven yesterday.  She is so alive and full of energy - rejoicing continually in the wonders of life.  Just this morning during a thunder storm she shrieked in delight with every thunder clap and lightening bolt. 

We gave her all handmade and and one vintage gift.

She requested the needle felted hen and chick in a nest from the spring Living Crafts issue.

Her crocheted top blanket for her bed.

and, a vintage pillowcase.
With her Poppa visiting from Massachusetts and a wonderfully warm day outside to play, homemade pizza , at her request, for supper - she truly had a special day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring! Robins, Chickens and Gardens

This morning I heard Isaac yell, "I see one!", as he was looking out the window. 
"What?" I ask, a bit worried.
"A robin!"

The chickens are loving their freedom.

The snow has melted in one of our garden areas.  The chickens and children have been enjoying hours of digging in the soil.

I worked on organizing some fencing and planning where I would plant the snap peas under the beautiful blue sky with the warmth of the sun on our faces.  Pure joy!

Wishing you spring joys wherever you are,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preparing for a Birthday and Easter

We had a several years old Ukranian Egg Decorating Kit and while it was a bit too much for these guys, Abby  did enjoy adding some wax outlines.

They blew the eggs out, which was quite a sight to see.  And then using cotton swabs, they applied the dyes directly to the eggs.

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along, I am making good progress on Sarah's crocheted blanket for her bed and we are enjoying this beautiful book - the illustrations are wonderful.  It is also nice how they used cursive writing, which will probably be a lost art in our lifetime or the next.
I am looking forward to reading about other's book recommendations today through the Yarn along, as I need a new book for myself. 

Sarah has also requested these needle felted chickens she saw in the spring edition of Living Crafts.  She is our chicken girl, and I look forward to making them for her.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nuclear Energy, Conservation and Love - Just Thinking

 I have been thinking a lot about my reaction to the earthquake in Japan and the resulting malfunctions at some of their nuclear power plants. This has led to thoughts on how little media I actually absorb, but how it seems to be enough for me. Which has led me to think more about leading an insulated life which our family does live to a certain extent and then to what my reaction should be when I do have strong views about something.

When I first heard the news about the problems and dangers of what was going on at the nuclear power plants, my first feelings were those of anger. How short sighted people are to build such plants without taking into account natural disasters, problems that will someday occur but are ignored because the percentages of them occurring do not match the benefits of providing power to the people. Nuclear power simply makes no sense to me. Then again, neither does so much of the coal mining and oil drilling. So what is the answer?

These strong feelings overwhelm me at times even with only NPR as my media source and our local newspaper which doesn't really cover national events. Jules recently wrote about her thoughts on this. I have yet to see an image from Japan of the devastation and I don't want to. With an aunt and uncle living in Tokyo, having no other choice but to sometimes drink the drinking water contaminated with radioactive iodine (the government has assured them it is ok to drink for two months), I am well aware how the natural disaster has reached nearly every citizen of Japan. I cannot imagine how those who watch television or look at news clips online can handle all of the sadness - do they become numb?

I know I do not feel numb but instead am so affected by what I hear. I rarely hear talk of conservation and less consumption. Even the "green" energy alternatives are not truly green. We have a large wind power colony coming just a few miles down the road that will devastate the mountain range. The hydro electric plants destroy a way of life for Native Americans in Canada and disrupt natural habitat.

Why is there so much destruction? Shouldn't our actions only be agents of love and peace?

Do I, as a mom of many children, take the time out of my days to actively oppose nuclear power? I worry about the earth we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. Shall I write my elected leaders? Do I organize a rally? Do I write editorials about conservation and living with less? Or do I simply continue to live my days by taking small steps by conserving and being with my children and loving them? How far do we go with conservation? Can I manage some combination of activism and living deliberately? Do we go back to having a block of ice to cool our food and wash our clothes by hand? Adrie recently wrote a wonderful blog post about not being able to do it all. Is it ok to live a somewhat insulated life? I believe it is. And ultimately I think the best we can do is live what we believe, keep a loving attitude even towards those we oppose and find a balance without sacrificing the love and care we need to give our family and community.

Warm wishes,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Preparations, Planning, and Patiently Waiting

Over the weekend....

Abby working on a sewing a skirt for Sarah for her birthday.  I am trying my best to work with her and guide her, but I am truly a sewing novice.

I bought some fabric to make myself a skirt - this will be my first attempt and I will share how I go about doing it in a future post.

After nearly two weeks of not getting anymore sap, the trees starting flowing again, and we enjoyed some more syrup.  We are up to 2 quarts, 1 cup so far this season. 

Adding the yarn and packaging  to the spring newsletters (thank you for your patience to those that are waiting).

Mike replaced a broken ugly curtain rod with a birch branch rod and birch hooks to hold it up.

And this morning, I was blessed to see a beautiful sunrise out our windows.

Now we are patiently waiting for the snow to melt, just dreaming of playing in the soil.  But in the meantime, we can spend just a bit more time on projects inside.

Warm wishes,