April 13, 2014

April is a month filled with so many good things!





















April always seems to be something of a whirlwind. We wait soooo long for spring to arrive, and then when it does we can barely catch our breath; There is so much going on, such activity! But oh my goodness, when I take a moment to stand quietly in the pasture, I nearly burst with happiness at the sights and smells of spring! Joy! The chickens are delighted to be roaming about, as are the goat and sheep. The pasture is  flooded due to the immense amount of melted snow running down the hillside and the boys have been rowing their boat around it for days. The water is only a foot or so deep so it's perfect for them and Jude has been perfecting his paddling. Three feral ducks have taken up residence in our temporary pond, swimming around while the chickens wade at the edge (: 
Our walks on the woods have been frequent, and each day brings with it less snow. It has been raining today and will tomorrow as well, so hopefully that will be the end of the white stuff! Ahhhh, spring! 
The lambs are getting along beautifully in our home and family (: They are beautiful, loving creatures and I am so grateful that they have come to live with us! They came to us from a kind and lovely woman who 'rescued' our naughty Matilda-dog from running around on the road (she jumped over the fencing and ran away when Jason turned his back for a moment). She got Matilda into our car and drove her to our place, it being the closest farm, and she was so delighted by our animals and approach to livestock-raising that she returned a couple days later asking me if I would please consider taking her Aunt and Uncles two bottle lambs. Jason was in the forest cutting wood so I couldn't converse with him; We went straightaway to see the lambs and of course I took them home a half an hour later (-; As it turns out, they are part Leicester, a breed I have been interested in, so on that particular day the universe was truly bringing a beautiful and magical blessing to my life (: Jason is anticipating their soon-to-be life outside with the other sheep by building fencing to keep them away from the gardens. He built a wattle-style barrier at the bottom of the split-rail fence and it looks mighty pretty. I hope to have a flower garden bursting with hundreds of gorgeous heirloom blooms that no goat or sheep can get at! We have started tons of plants inside, in egg shells. both vegetables and flowers. The are happily starting their lives cozy in our pantry and are doing quite well. 
Yes, spring. All good. I am happy!


April 9, 2014

Shady Grove and Turnip!



In the matter of a half an hour, I ended up adopting these sweet babies. Serendipity!
I will write more later. We are boiling tons of maple syrup today so I'm off!

March 29, 2014

recent homeschooling adventures




Jude thought this was loads of fun.
I drew letters on a big piece of heavy cardboard-type paper and he filled in the shapes with his bingo marker. This, for him, was a totally cathartic experience (and those are very rare in the life of such a busy boy, I assure you!) (Ignore the robots and strange creatures; we were doodling for a while first!) Jude loved the activity and wanted to take it further so he drew arms, legs and faces onto the letters. The next day he wanted to make a whole new bingo marker alphabet, so we did so on regular paper, and after finishing their shapes with the bingo marker, he cut them all out so he could play with them. Very fun!


We also brought out these little wooden alphabet letters. The boys drew on them, giving them smiling faces and decorations and then played with them, calling them by their letter name prefaced by 'Super'. Everything in our home seems to acquire a superhero persona these days (-; Ollie played with his 'Super R' for the entire morning!


Jude loves to draw, and he also loves to copy words onto his drawings. In the above photo he is drawing a rescue airplane. 


Ollie is very good at puzzles.


And here is Jude's very awesome fire-breathing dragon (:



March 26, 2014

Superheroes and bad guys




Depending on the mood of the given moment, hour, or day, these little fellas of mine become completely immersed in their characters. Most days they spend their hours as superheroes and fight off an endless supply of invisible bad guys, and on other days they are the bad guys themselves, or as in the case of the bottom photo, little devils (-; Whatever they decide to "be", we generally go along with it.  Jason even made Jude a devil mask and pitchfork when he developed an insatiable urge to act out some devilish plans (and Jude, in turn, made a set for Ollie). They are little boys; they are crazy, wild and loud and outwardly exploring the concepts of good and evil, right and wrong. It's a good thing!

March 25, 2014

The woods in March


We have been going for forest walks, keeping an eye on the woods, checking for signs of spring.


Bear tracks! If our black bears are up and about, then surely spring is here.


The tracks were large, much bigger than my hand.


This is one of my favourite places to walk; up the hill and alongside our maple grove. 


Little feet! 


More little feet. A squirrel I think.


The woods are so peaceful in March.


Beautiful fungus!


White Birch


Soon, walking this way will bring with it a million mosquitos and an overabundance of poison ivy. For now, I am glad we can enjoy it in this wintery quietness (:


And here I am, with Ollie on my back (: The small yellow dots were left by honeybees that woke and plummeted into the snow. We watched them wake in the sun, crawl, and then fly back up to their wild bee hive in the tree.


March 20, 2014

Chicken aprons for sale in the shop





I am offering handmade chicken aprons for sale in my etsy shop!

I have been sewing these for my own girls for over a year now, and they are very happy with them.
A lot of back-pecking seems to go on in late winter, what with the hens feeling so bored and cooped up. A simple apron did the trick; their feathers were able to grow back with ease, and they looked beautiful in the meantime. Additionally, chicken aprons (or chicken saddles, as some folks like to call them) protect the hens' backs from the dreadfully sharp claws and spurrs of roosters. I keep aprons on my ladies when they are in molt too. Every little bit helps!

I use vintage-inspired fabrics that warmly evoke the images of chickens in vintage storybooks. If I could dress my hens in bonnets and pinafores, I really would. But as I cannot, these lovely back aprons definitely do the trick. Plus they are functional (: They are also reversible and easy to put on. Some of mine have been in use, non-stop, for the past 4 seasons and they are still going great. They are sturdy, constructed with three layers of breathable fabric and strong elastic for fastening.

Size small, medium or large, they'll fit any hen who needs one! For more info, kindly pop over to my etsy shop.




March 18, 2014

We find our peace in the woods


I don't make it out into the woods nearly as much as I should. It is a profoundly healing place, and filled with immeasurable peace. We have a wondrous gift, of living here. 
Today we walked in the forest. Jason took the boys out yesterday as well.
They found a decaying fallen log with a large hollow and played there for what seemed like an eternity.
The log was a car, a snowmobile, an airplane, a house..
Jason and I walked quietly within view but left the boys to their play until a squabble broke out.
In our travels we saw the tracks of coyote, bear, squirrel, chipmunk, raccoon, turkey, grouse, and deer. Our woods are rich and full of life! We are working on learning to identify the various trees that grow here on our land. We know them in this season when they only show their bark and branching. There is lots of elm, hickory, birch, maple, ash, and black locust.
When everyone was hungry, we traveled back through the woods, passing by the maple grove where our buckets hang, waiting. The maple sugaring will be the next exciting step on our path (:

March 16, 2014

Rocket stove, part two





Jason got to put his rocket stove to use this afternoon when he boiled down the small bit of sap he collected over the past two days from our maple grove. The weather hasn't given us a proper maple syrup harvest yet, but we tapped a couple trees last week and collect the small amounts of sap whenever we get a warm day here or there. This way, we are learning the process slowly, and when the trees start to really run, we will already have a sense of everything and will be more prepared and organized. This is the first time we are making our own syrup, but like all other things in life, we tend to just leap in head first! You can learn a lot of things really fast that way!

So far, the syrup we have made has been AMAZING. It doesn't taste like any maple syrup I have had before; it is sort of smokey with a hint of chocolate to it. Really! So I am excited to harvest a whole bunch more.

Jason built this rocket stove from scratch, never having made one before. He modified it from his original basic design and when we put it to the test today, it was very efficient. It cooked that sap down super fast using just sticks! It is really quite amazing. 

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