Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crocheting 9 Patch Squares

A side project I have going on right now is making these little granny squares and then sewing them together in 9 patch style and then adding one more granny border.

I will then crochet the squares together to make an afghan.  It is a great way to use up bits of yarn.

I finished reading White Goats and Black Bees and wanted to share a quote:

"So is the ability to enjoy life, minute by minute.  Despite our long hours of physical work we learned from our neighbors the value of stopping work - for a cup of tea, talk, or simply to watch a flower or bird or the way the sea broke over the rocks.  It was easy for city people, watching a farmer stop in the middle of some task to think him lazy: 'There's the Irish for you.'  It is difficult for people whose lives are broken into segments to understand what life can be when it si of one piece."

Joining with Ginny and so many other for the Yarn Along today.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Watched a good movie last night, Promised Land.  Far too much bad language but we managed to watch without the little ones.  It was about big business and fracking, but really it was about living an authentic life - with your actions and livelihood in line with your principles.  

Getting some short lessons in each day with Sarah, keeping it as interesting as possible with the goal of producing something to show the state for the end of the year portfolio (I hate this!)  

To this end I am reacquainting myself with the Charlotte Mason methods as her goals included short lessons in the younger years, forming good habits, and making life-long learners.

Making sourdough bread and pizza crust.  So glad to finally have starter again.  This is also part of the recommendation for remineralizing teeth and preventing decay.  The soaking and natural culturing process helps to break down the phytic acids in the grains.

I have been cleaning the goat barn of its winter build-up (a very sore shoulder to show for it).  It was a good chore to do this past rainy raw weekend.  Emmy is my consistent helper.  She uses her own shovel and rake and doesn't tire of helping.  She does get a ride in the wheelbarrow to the compost pile with each load.  I just throw an empty feed bag over the manure, put her on top and we are off.

Getting the milking stand area ready.  Put a wooden platform down on the barn dirt floor and cleaning it out to white wash the walls and finally put the milk stand together.

Despite the fact that neither of our does our bred. (Dante, the Nigerian Dwarf Buck, has yet to go into rut despite being about 1 year old but we still love him.)

I figure if I keep imagining myself milking and continue to get everything ready, it will happen.

We are thinking, then, to see if we can find a lactating doe to buy.

Planting - kale, lettuce, and snap peas with turnips and beets to plant today.

Love seeing the garlic and chives coming up!

Heard the frogs in and around our pond for the first time the other night and was filled with chills as I thought about the amazing cycle of seasons we get to witness each year.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I was going to come here and just say how I have decided on yarn, finally, for Nolan and Rachel's blanket - colors I wouldn't choose for myself, but colors I know she will like and with cotton yarn as I don't think either of them would appreciate wool.  But as soon as I typed the title - Decided - I realized that maybe I should share about a much bigger decision we have made.

Mike and I have been going through a nearly year long process (which has led to lots of stress) of deciding whether or not we wanted to stay here on our little homestead, working on our handwork business, building our homestead or for us to sell and Mike get a "regular" job in a more populated area.
Some of the reasons we were considering a change included:
neither of us loving this business, I mean it isn't our passion,
only having 3.5 acres with the majority of it being wetlands,
being very isolated (4 miles down a gravel road in a very low populated area),
having no access to high speed internet,
getting tired of wondering if our income can continue to sustain us and keep up with the improvements that need to be done (new roof being very important)

But over the course of the year of going back and forth, thinking we would put our house on the market and then changing our mind, we have decided to stay because:
- our home is home to us and probably worth very little to anyone else, so moving anywhere wouldn't make sense financially
- starting over somewhere else would take a lot of energy.  Our soil is finally beautiful.  When we first moved here there were no gardens and it was mostly clay.
-we have unlimited, delicious water that continually flows outside because of any overflow from our well. Even if the electricity goes out or there is a drought, we will always have water.
-it is very peaceful here.  
- we still have so much we can do here.  Work on the drainage to help the water issues, make more fenced in areas for the goats, build a new chicken coop, plant more blueberry bushes and apple trees, asparagus and rhubarb.  
- Mike and our son, Nolan, are going to rebuild our trailer and start a side business doing odd jobs for people in the area, mostly outdoor type yard jobs so that should help to relieve a bit of the financial pressure of having the handwork business being our only source of income
- We just need to be more balanced with our handwork business and work on reducing our income needs over time, such as growing and making more of our food
- Although we live in very low populated area, only around 500 - 600 people, we know so many people and that is reassuring and we do truly have a community here even though it can often feel very lonely
- With our two oldest sons just about on their own, Thomas has two more years at nearby Johnson State College and Nolan and his future wife will be living right down the road from us.   Family is too precious to pick up and leave right now.
-Finally, and most importantly, we  have freedom right now.  Our own business provides us with the flexibility to care for one another when there is sickness, go to a one of Thomas' productions on a weekday afternoon, work on homesteading chores off and on throughout the day.   
Our time together is really what is most valuable, something that if taken away can never be given back.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday

This stomach bug has continued to work its way through many of us with Nolan in bed today.

A couple of days ago Sarah and Abe needle felted some butterflies.  
Abe told me the lighter colored one is a swallowtail and the darker orange one a monarch.

I crocheted Emmy a little fox basket for her Easter morning treats.

The morning egg hunt is now over.  Mike hides about four eggs per child.  They each have their own color and they are each filled with coins.  He works very hard to find hiding spots to match each child's seeking abilities and often hides them in spots that might relate to that specific child, such as one of Abby's eggs in the flour.

With most of us in various stages of recovery we are home today and I am making spinach bacon quiche for our main meal.  It is actually relaxing and peaceful here.  I am looking forward to getting out a little bit and seeing if I can get my muscles going again by cleaning out the chicken coop.

There is talk of going fishing.  Worms were collected last night.  Surely the water is still cold and running too fast, but that won't stop them from trying.

Wishing you a happy Easter and a beautiful spring day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Last Week


Although I didn't get around to blogging last week, both Isaac and I did take some pictures.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Knitting and Reading and Blogging Again

I thought joining in with Ginny's yarn along would be a good way to get blogging again.

Life is just so busy right now - working outside (yeah finally a day reaching nearly 70 on Monday, but back to a few inches of snow this morning), addressing wedding invitations with pen and ink, keeping up with some simple home school lessons, getting over a 24 hour bug (oh - this was the worst thing I have ever experienced and would rather give birth than go through this any day), Sarah's 10th birthday last Thursday, lots of extra visitors for meals, and more.

So as far as knitting goes, I have knit a little Kina sweater.  
Little Kina (free pattern)
Size 8 needles
DK weight wool yarn from Peace Fleece that I hand dyed last summer
I cast on 54 stitches.

The next one  I am working on was cast on size 7 needles with DK weight yarn from Peace Fleece.  I cast on 70 stitches to start and adjusted everything accordingly in the pattern.
If you want a simple pattern this is it!

I found White Goats and Black Bees by Donald Grant at our little library.  It was written in 1974 and is about a year in the life of two Americans (former journalists) who bought a farm in Ireland.  I am really enjoying it.

What are you reading and knitting?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Around Here Lately

The three oldest making pancakes on Sunday morning.


A chicken in the windowsill outside.

 Sarah made a nature table.

Abraham sun bathing on the chicken coop.

Madeline getting some sun.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Feeding Our Families :: April

Oh I am so happy to be here in this new month - April - sharing with all of the other inspiring women a little bit more about how we feed our families.

Since last month there have been two new additions to our regular food offerings.  

The first is the abundance of eggs, including one little green egg every other day from our little duck.

Here is my favorite simple and quick egg recipe that I cut out of the Burlington Free Press last April and have made many, many times since.

Impossible Spring Quiche
A couple of anything you fancy for filling:  Such as scallions, ham, goat cheese, spinach, etc...
1/4 c melted butter
1 c. milk
3 eggs (I actually use 5 - 6)
1/2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
pepper to taste
(I also add various seasonings depending on my mood.)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 and lightly butter a 9" pie plate.  Slice and chop your fillings and scatter evenly in the prepared pie plate.  (Sometimes I just slice cheese and put on bottom of pan and serve with a salad or grilled veggies.)
2.  Whisk melted butter, milk and eggs, baking powder and salt.  Season with seasonings.
3.  Pour batter over fillings and bake 30 minutes.

The other new addition to my food routines is making butter.  I am in the process of working reversing my tooth decay that has been going on for nearly 15 years or longer perhaps, following the findings and research of Weston Price.  So one of the important things to do is to eat butter from pasture raised cows.  Of course this time of the year it is nearly impossible unless we had our own cow and made and froze butter all spring/summer/fall.  But we don't.  So the next best thing for me to do is buy cream from Butterworks Farm which happens to be located just miles from our home.   While the cows are certainly not out on pasture yet, they are at least not fed grains and the hay/silage they eat is from organic, mineral rich soils. (at least that is the what the farm is always working towards).  

Making butter is fun and actually quite fast in small batches.  The picture above shows the butter I made next to a piece of store bought butter.  

Please visit the others joining in ~

Renee, from Heirloom Seasons.
Melody, from Bespoke
Jules, from A Little Crafty Nest
Taisa, from Small Wonders
Sarah, from Our Island Home
Mel from Our Ash Grove
Heather, from Shivaya Naturals

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Good Life

(Pictures courtesy of Isaac)

Yesterday was one of those days where all was well.

The sky was blue, the air warm, the snow melting.

For the most part I think our family lives a pretty idealistic life.  I mean we get along for the most part, truly love one another and usually enjoy being around  each other.   We have a cozy house (yes it needs tons of work, some of it very important like a roof in really bad shape), a business that allows us to be together and thus far has modestly supported us, at least our true needs and a little extra. 

Sometimes as I bask in the glow of my family, the deep love I feel, I wonder if I am being selfish.  I can't help but think of the children that don't even have a pillow to lay their head down at night or may not have received one hug all day.

I then find myself wondering some more if the good life can't be too good.  Is it ok to be insulated, to be safe, to be well fed when so many are not?  I don't think we should not have shelter or food or live without love - no - I don't mean that at all.  But I keep praying if God wants something more from me, something more from our family, if we might have some more to give if only for the one reason that we are capable of doing so.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This Morning

Leftover eggs and bread rising

 Boggle still on the table from the night before

 Beautiful bright sunshine

 Abby cooking

Me talking with my Dad

Isaac being Isaac, making steam I guess.  I like the little log holders Mike stacked on the mantle to dry.

Life is back to being very ordinary but I still have what we went through last week with Mike fresh in my head and I am taking every opportunity to enjoy the moments like cranking up the classic rock on the way to the library today.