Friday, May 17, 2013

All In A Day

Sourdough pancakes made by Kane (his new favorite thing to do) means I get to start off my day sitting and eating while he does the flipping. I'm liking this new turn of events around here.

Playing cars in the mud and on the old barn beams is the best way for a muddy little girl to spend her day, as well as show off her farmer's tan.

Visiting with the new fun outdoor "pets," our two five-lined skinks that have moved into an ant-ridden wood pile, is always a must.

Oh, and how a touch of the tail can make everyone so excited!

A trip to the upper cattle field, with adorable babes at my skirt, one begging to be up,

one showing off her snapping ability,

is quite the perfect way to end the day. It does so with sun and open space. So good for the soul. Like boys, off doing their boyish things, and hearing the tractor make it's way up the woods paths to meet up with us.

And from the trees they emerge, a girl and her Papa on their tractor.

And there's a dog to chase them, rip-roarin' through the fields like a bird on the wind. She loves these trips as much as we do, I'm sure.

I love these trips because it gives me pause to do wonderful things, like grab quick snaps of a perfect baby-Papa-smooch-fest.

You just can't beat those smiles.

Or that sky, when Bella takes to the fields with a little one trying to follow along in the warm, glorious sunlight.

These girls love their sister so much, and it's no doubt why. She is the best big sister, I'm fairly sure.

Mostly because she loves them back the same.

She's my girl, long and tall, growing just like one of those blades of grass. Oh so fast.

And at the end of the day, she's even my photographer, my self-portrait assistant.

These days can be so so full. Full of activity, of beauty, of warmth, of love, and of life. All in a day. And even when you didn't get accomplished anything that you set out to do - that wood pile is staying in place as skink-home, and that tree we went after for firewood was rotted, darn it all - it's still all good. Because you got done just what you needed most, to take it all in. And that is worth it, every bit.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


I wake this morning to find a note on the table. It is a protest, made and signed by Bella. A "protest against taking trees out of the woods, risking the life of perfict little trees who should not, repete, NOT, be interfeard with." She came to me last evening, distraught at the fact that her Papa, when removing a pine from the woods that needed cleared, had run over a small dogwood, scraping its bark and killing it. My daughter, my little carbon copy, my empathetic, sensitive, anything-living-deserves-the-chance-to-live activist. Her make-up has made this transition into farming slightly heart-wrenching. She is my daughter, no bones about it. I am proud of her. I know full well the heartache that such a gift of empathy and love is going to bring her, and as a mother, that part is hard. But I know that it is a good way to live, to love, and to be. It is what we are called to do, to take care of the least of these, and it has been stamped on her heart just like mine. I grew up in a family of hunters, and can remember raising the same protest about the life of the squirrel lost. I now have a lifetime to teach her how to be at peace with her design and live it to the best she can, to balance that empathy and heartache with joy at life and love. She gets the joy, also. I think she'll be fine.

Monday, April 22, 2013

So Much Good

There is so much good going on around here these days.

Loads of sourdough. Gluten-free sourdough. Sourdough bread, sourdough biscuits, sourdough pancakes. And a table-full of happy children to enjoy them.

The last of the spring yard-full-of-flowers on this old homestead. The first spring that we got to enjoy them daily.

A greening understory out of the kitchen window, as seen past the Narcissus on the windowsill. Seems Old Man Winter has finally let go of us here in this valley.

A tractor, and sunsets. Both good for a Mama's soul.

A boy, growing, learning to be a man, and a yard getting graded flat(ter).

He has a good teacher.

Another boy, learning that he doesn't necessarily get everything his brother does. Even though that is a hard, hard lesson for a 5-year-old, high-spirited, super-emotion boy, it is still a good thing.

Rabbits in their new hutches, with more room to move about, and fresh outside air.

Wait, those aren't rabbits...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

{My Favorite Things}

This is a little section I will try to update quite frequently. It's always nice to share My Favorite Things about this adventure on this homestead, as well as having a little reminder of how wonderful we have it. So, without further ado, because not many words are needed:

{My Favorite Things}

1. Daily finds from a hike with friends.
2. Looking out my window to still a sea of yellow, after the daily finds, AND after sending our friends home with a huge bundle of yellow as well. And it's just beginning.
3. TWO turkey eggs, the second laid in the barrel without throwing all the bedding out, therefore not cracked as well as perfectly formed (way to go Pavo!).
4. Cookie bags made into "Terkey Egg" holders, complete with easter grass, and their careful labellers. Those big eggs just don't fit into an egg carton by any means.
5. Happy ears with adorable speckled eggs on them (mine and Bella's - our little spring pre-chickens gift to ourselves), thanks to a wonderful Etsy find from Australia.
6. Evening bunny socialization and feeding time viewed from my window, with a quiet house and a sleeping baby behind me.
7. Our new adventure into gluten-free sourdough bread. A little mix between this and this, and a whole lot of yum.
8. Hearing our youngest, walking across the field, calling "MOO!" Not because she thinks turkeys say moo, but because she wants to get her hands on Moose (our nickname for our Muslo).
9. Onions, onions, onions, and having enough left even after my (three youngest) onion theives eat their share of what I try to plant. Sylvia, dear baby, spitting them out into the dirt is not planting them.
10. Turkey vultures, back to hang out with is and sun on the old chimney. They used to sun and roost on the barn roof, but we decided to turn that into a house, so they have been relocated, but they still come and visit us often.


Monday, March 25, 2013

We Own A Tractor

Last night, we waited, and planted some of what we want to grow this spring (forty roma tomato seeds and some sage, to be exact). Yes, spring, if it ever gets here in full. And finally, as the snow came to a hault, Papa called to say he was coming home with a tractor. It's a simple statement, really. "We own a tractor." I had no idea it would have the effect on me that it did. My goodness. We have been searching for months, looking for the right tractor at the right price, and I have to say, it had become such a lull, a norm to be looking, that I forgot once we found one we would own a tractor. Last night, in the dark, just before the second wave of snow came our way, I could hear the rumble of the truck and trailor, borrowed, coming down the drive. In the darkness, all I could see were lights and blurs. I scurried from window to window, peeping out and trying to get a photo that could capture my emotions.

And then it hit me. We own a tractor. I felt slightly rediculous, the range of emotions that were scattering all over the place. But we're here, we have turkeys, they'll be laying eggs soon, and we have a tractor. Seems this life may just really be happening to me. Hmmm. After years of loving this place and this life, now I'm living this place and this life. No wonder I was a blubbering mess.

And this morning, as soon as food was consumed and dishes were washed, there was a trio packing on the snow suits for the last time (hopefully) and heading down to the tractor.

And this is my view from the computer, with all three piled on.

And although the girls are now all inside with me (Bella did make her way out - she wasn't feeling up to it early), the boys are still out there, climbing all over it. Getting familiar, that's what they're doing. I know that is a good thing. It will be the first thing they drive, I'm sure. And soon we'll all choose a name for our tractor. A good name. Seems these days we're surrounded by good things.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waiting and Snowing

My, my, it is March 24th, and it is snow, snow, snowing again.

Snowing even on the dogs prized finds from the woods. We don't need to buy bones around here.

And while it is snowing, we are waiting. Waiting for Papa to let us know if he's coming home with our tractor. There has been much time devoted to searching for the right tractor at the right price, IN OUR AREA. Yes, this has been the issue. But we believe we have finally found a tractor of the proper size that can do all that we need it to do right here in our area. So, now the kids and I wait. And hope. Hope that when Papa gets there, he finds that it really is all that we have been looking for, and that we are done searching. Perhaps when we have a tractor, spring will finally be here in more than a calendar date way, and we can stop with this snow business and get on with dirt and seed and coop business. So just to help that process along, while it snows, and while we wait, Bella (my child-after-my-own-heart, my co-conspirator of garden joy, my spring-fever-sister) and I will be starting our herb and tomato seeds with the soil that she collected from our rich-soil woods. With a little help from the siblings, expert stackers, cup-fillers, and hole-punchers that they are.

Waiting and snowing - the perfect backdrop for spring seed planting.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Awaiting the Turkeys

There have been many discussions about the animals we all want on this homestead of ours. After all, we're not embarking on this adventure of homesteading without all having ideas of the life we want to lead. We want to be as self-sufficient as possible. We want to raise all that we put into our bodies. From each one of our varying personalities sprouts varying ideas of the ideal farming life. Bella wants horses and ponies. As many as she can get her hands on. This daughter of mine has a lot of me in her, she does, and gets her horse-craze genes honestly. My mom has even told her she'll try to find her old horse collection for Bella when we have moved upstairs where she will have her own safe space for them. Yes, horse loving runs in our family. Kane wants more dogs. That's all he has expressed. He is a quiet, easy-to-please soul, he is. Max wants anything that is orange. I think some orange hens will do. Laini wants 5 baby cows and 5 baby sheep. There's no doubt about that. She tells us every day. Papa wants to raise rabbits. Fast, easy food source. And I may have talked him into pigs. Mama wants her chickens, goats, bees, pigs, sheep, alpacas, oh, for a cow or two... (really, it is my dreams that need to be cut down to moderate expectations, not the kids) And on and on we go. Chickens and goats were first on our list, but as it goes, we don't always get things just as we plan them in this life.

Adam came home one night, many moons ago, and asked "Would you like to raise turkeys?" Honestly, I'm not sure that sentence could end in many words that would make the answer no for me. Maybe snakes. Don't get me wrong, I love snakes, we've had many, but I don't think I would want to raise them. But turkeys? YES! I would love to raise turkeys! We had a friend who was raising them, and she could spare us a mating pair. Our mating pair ended up being pardoned from butchering day several times before they came to us. Adam decided it was best to get us living at the farm before the turkeys, logical as he is. So after we moved in, the focus was on the turkeys and getting them here. We took our old, well worn building and made it acceptable for a short-term coop for them until we build a larger barn area this summer. Then we brought them home. After months of awaiting our turkeys, we brought them home. So in the falling snow, on Sylvia's first birthday, with the little girls napping at Nan's and Pap's house, all it took was a quick capture, wing clip, and crating, and we had our flock loaded up and heading home. (Any photos with me IN them taken by Bella, my budding photographer)

Headed home, that is, after chicken catching by Max and Kane. It took awhile and some cunning plans, but they finally caught one.

Then all had to feed the birds that were left.

And of course Bella had to visit with the horses.

I had to admire the other breed, the Narragansett. What a handsome bird.

Our first venture at self-sufficiency and farming was underway in one short trip. These turkeys are sweet, gentle, much-handled and well-mannered birds. Tame as a turkey can be. They are settling in well, and getting used to us. We named them Muslo y Pavo (Drumstick and Turkey in Spanish). They are Spanish Black turkeys, an heritage breed, and they will produce many babies for us, growing our flock, providing us food, and giving us the opportunity to sell some of the poults to offset their expense (which really is little - you'd be surprised how little a turkey eats). I couldn't be happier that this is the way we are beginning our homestead farming life. Now for that chicken coop... It's in the works, y'all, as is another project that will come along with the Easter bunny, I do believe.