July 30, 2014

Most recently..

I finally taught Jude how to sew (: He made himself a nice little secret pocket.

And he was very proud of himself!

Next, he asked me to make him and Ollie eye patches so they could be pirates (:

Wild mama turkey and her babies have been visiting our driveway each morning (: Last summer, I saw her and her little ones across the road on the grassy hill. A fox was killing each poult in turn while the mama screamed and flapped about, hopeless. It was a horrible sight to see, both from the viewpoint of a mother and an animal-lover. I hoped so strongly that she would raise this years' brood closer to our barn and home for safety and it would seem that this is the case. Before the babies arrives I saw her frequently in the pasture not far from the chickens and now they are meandering up the driveway and across the yard (:

The kids and I made some gluten free banana bread. Yum!

Jason harvested all the lovely garlic (this is just a small bit - We have lots this year!)

Jude and I set up the tent, and he and Daddy slept in there while Isabella and I had 'girls' night' and watched a movie (:

We brushed out Ollie's curls, just to see what he would look like and oh my goodness!

Lots of walks have been taken down our forest-path of a road. At the very end, we can see the lake and watch the loons on the water (:

We had a certain fluffy visitor outside our front door! (eating the cat food I forgot to bring in)

Outside sewing! My new favourite thing!

I have had lots of orders for woodland blocks and aprons so the kitchen table has been perpetually full of evolving creative projects!

And gardening, yes. Jason does the bulk of it, but on this particular day I managed to spend 4 hours in the tomato garden and weeded all five beds (:

Next up, the making of chaga tea, chicken noodle soup and spanish omelettes, more sewing, picking the blasted burrs out of the sheep's wool (and then cutting down all the burdock plants), reading books and hopefully some drawing and gardening (:

July 21, 2014

Jude's wonderful to-do lists

Jude is the type of child who feels at ease when he knows what is going to happen. He likes rhythm and reliability, while I am more easy going and tend not to be much of a planner aside from the main regular occurrences of any day (food, laundry, showers, barn chores), so we started this new morning activity where we sit on the outside wicker bench and brainstorm all the things we would like to take place that day, and Jude writes them down on his chalkboard. Ollie runs around and plays and I snuggle the lambs who stroll by to visit us while Jude and I work together to write his to-do-list. He can't actually spell yet and we are still working on letter recognition and sounds, so what I do is write a letter and then he writes the same one under mine. We practice the sound, and then work on the next letter, blending sounds as we go until we read the entire word, and then the caption. Then I erase my version and we work on the next line.
It's actually very fun, and we refer back to it throughout the day when we 'forget' the important things we had planned! 

July 18, 2014

lunch from the land

My lunch yesterday consisted of a salad and a smoothie.
It was both delicious and beautiful.
I am so busy most days that I often forget to eat, or I eat tiny bits of this and that and end up feeling exhausted by early evening. No wonder!
So I thought I would make myself a decent lunch that afternoon, with lots of food from our land.

In the salad: lots of purslane, nasturtiums, red clover flowers, peppermint leaves, pumpkin seeds, fresh cherries and creamy dressing. 
In the smoothie: homemade yogurt, water, banana, strawberries, blackberries, mustard greens and swiss chard.

Today I kept to the same simple lunch design: a salad and a smoothie.

In the salad: garden leaf lettuce, purslane, havarti cheese chunks and nasturtiums with creamy dressing. 
In the smoothie: homemade yogurt, a touch of maple syrup, banana, strawberries, mustard greens, swiss chard, water. Same as yesterday but no blackberries, and I used wayyy more swiss chard. The kids wouldn't touch it because of it's greenness but I thought it was quite yummy! (-;

July 17, 2014

our gardens!

Our gardens are just absolutely flourishing with all this glorious rain we have been blessed with. Most of our food was hand-sewn, but Jason also started many different perennial flower seeds and tomatoes in the early, cold days of spring and they are all now establishing their places in the outside gardens, of which we have seven. We are growing many new heirloom flowers that will help to promote pollination and I can't wait to see them bloom! There are two smaller flower gardens nearer to the house, and an evolving garden in the front yard which is fenced in very cleverly with Jason's seasoning firewood. When that garden has exhausted its harvest (cucumbers and tomatoes) we will dismantle the firewood and move it to the porch.

In the front yard we also have a circular garden, beautifully embellished with invasive vines that were choking out many of the trees in the woods directly behind the house. Jason ripped them down and then fashioned a beautiful whimsical-style fence, weaving them in and around the established sheet wire fencing. This garden is devoted to tomatoes, of which we have many heirloom varieties. We grew tomatoes in the same garden last year and they did really well.

We added a corn patch in the pasture and are growing the original old-world corn. It's name is Floriani red flint corn and it was apparently used by the Native Americans. After contact with European settlers, some of this corn was taken back to Italy where it was grown exclusively in a remote area for hundreds of years! Now, it's making it's way back to it's original home. So far we have been very impressed by it's growth; Jason planted it and it literally rocketed; it grew so fast and tall! Every seed sprouted too, and the plants are all very healthy and robust. I can't wait for the harvest!

In the back of the property we have an herb and flower garden, another one devoted exclusively to garlic, and our main (and very large) garden, where we grow tons of vegetables. We fenced it in this past spring with stakes and chicken wire in the hopes that all animals, both tame and wild, would keep out, and it does seem to be working. There are many beds in this garden and a few structures and trellises for housing the beans and peas and squash. For the first time we are growing potatoes, and on the lush hugel garden there are gargantuan pumpkin leaves bursting out. I cannot recall all the goodness that is growing in there, but I will try to list everything: potatoes, pumpkin, squash, peas, sweet peas, mouse melon, beans, lettuces, ground cherries, swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, fennel, garlic, purslane, nasturtiums, comfrey, calendula, turnip, radishes, tomatoes..That's all I can recall right now!

The apple trees are growing sweet baby apples, and we are enjoying a tiny harvest of wild raspberries and blackberries. The rhubarb was coming up small so we left it to strengthen and hopefully come back stronger next year. We left the asparagus alone this spring too.

I cannot tell you the amount of dedication that Jason has poured into these gardens. I try to help when I can, but the boys make it a tad difficult for me to put a good chunk of time into any one task (-; Everything - from the tending of seeds in the closet under a grow-light and the seedlings hardening off on the deck, to the building of fences, to the compost he worked to create with our red wriggler worms over the past year, to the digging, planting, watering and weeding of each bed - he has done all of this. He's amazing.

July 8, 2014

sheep, grass, wind, kids, life

In the past weeks, significant milestones have been reached. We celebrated Jude's fifth birthday which was simple, as is suited to my very sensitive boy. Grandma Jude and aunt Tashy came to join in and share the gluten-free cupcakes he made himself. It was a happy day (: The age of five is a heartbreaking one for a mama, as the child is little still, yes, but starting to lengthen and lose any last traces of chubby baby-ness. 

And very notable was Isabella's graduation from eighth grade! 

She is going to high school next year, geez louise, and I feel like I am entirely NOT ready for this stage of development! Where did that sweet pink-cheeked, goofy little cherub of a girl go? The one I wuld read 40 books to in one sitting (really!), the one I played dolls with, and drew pictures of fairies and bunnies and her favourite doll doing fantastical things? The mama gig is tough. I cry a lot, if only inside, mostly at the fleeting quality if innocence and the rapid pace at which your children cling to you and then gently start to turn away, finding their own path, edging their way out into the wide, wide world.

Besides these singular events, daily rhythms remain the same. Feed the lambs and chickens in the morning, let the sheep and goat out to graze, collect eggs, wash eggs, sweep the floor, cook and clean and walk outside with the sheep while the boys play in the long meadow-grass. Lots of crazy, wild, loud play, exploring outside and creativity at the kitchen table. Jason tends the gardens and I tend the animals. I make iced tea and sweeten it with his amazing maple syrup.

On Sunday afternoon I visited the grandmother of Isabella's friend. I had never met this woman before, but the stories and descriptions of her by her granddaughter had gotten me curious, so I called her up and she warmly invited me to her place. We shared a great deal in common, including a love of sheep, natural living and a back-to-basics lifestyle. She was making cheese when we first arrived, carefully arranging bricks in a cast iron pot precariously perched on the cheese to press it. She has 30 or so sheep which she raises for fleece, milk and meat, numerous gardens and a few mulberry trees, a gorgeous white horse and an adorable old farmhouse filled with antique and creative treasures including an old wood-fired cook stove, large loom and a spinning wheel. Needless to say, I felt joyous to connect with this lovely woman clad in overalls and filled with wisdom. She gave me my very first spinning lesson on her wheel and it was so much harder than I imagined but also what I expected, but I am hungry to keep working at it and now that I have my own spinning wheel, I can!
Isabella came with me that day, just us girls. It was a perfect afternoon spent, and driving home I spotted a pioneer cemetery so I pulled over to read the gravestones of those hardworking people who lived so long ago; One was dated back to the 1700's and I thought it amazing that I could still read the etched numbers after so may centuries of wear and weather. I do love history.

And with that, I have a feeling Ollie needs a diaper change, and as it is raining (thank you, clouds!) I suppose it is a perfect day for some book reading and drawing with the boys (:

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