Saturday, March 21, 2009

I spoke to soon...

It would seem ol' mother nature got a kick out of my 'spring themed' post yesterday. (It was the first day of spring after all!) This morning we woke to 5-6 inches of snow on the ground...

The creeks have slowed, but are still moving undauntedly towards the lake, hopeful like the rest of us that this will be the last dropping of white fluffy stuff that we have to witness for a while...

And still the pine trees will remain the only bit of green in the woods, hopefully just for a little while longer...

With spirits dampened only slightly, we look forward to a warm day today so that all the snow may go away!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Taste of Spring!

 Spring decided to pay us a little visit last weekend! It's timing was very punctual too, as it was on the heels of a nasty storm that blew through here days before. The guys took advantage of the warm up by spending the day out in the woods getting 30 some taps in our maple trees. Yum! Our first taste of spring. The icy cold, mineral rich, sugar water tasting sap is a favored treat as well as a sure sign that spring is near! The kids decided to take advantage of the warm temps too, by following the guys about the woods in their tee-shirts, running at every opportunity. Bikes were dug out of the snowbanks and the sleds were kicked aside. However, I noticed that even though they so willingly traded their jackets for tee-shirts, a good pair of gloves and their trusty hats were left in place. I'm sure the gloves were in the event that an unexpected snowball fight were to break out and the need aroused to defend oneself, but I'm not sure on the need for hats. I guess old habits are hard to change when it comes to the farm fashions. Johnny keeps asking if they can herd the sheep now that we can see patches of grass here and there. Overeagerness seems to be the correct term for these kids!

The boys have been getting into archery all of a sudden. They played with a friend's bow last week and were inspired to make their own. What started out as a simple toy has become a test of survival skills and competition. They're making their arrows with real chicken feathers and artificial sinew. Andrew went further yesterday by pounding out some real sinew, making a pine pitch glue and fashioning an arrow head out of bone. They steam bended their arrows over the boiling sap they were tending outside. They compete against each other for distance and accuracy which causes them to dig deeper into their wilderness survival books and internet sites to further refine their arrows.
They've made some quick and dirty bows too, but since they are a more complicated and time consuming project, they haven't delved into those as much. They use an old bow that we got a rummage sale to test their arrows on.

We girls are content to just be outside. The warm sun feels so good that we've been finding small jobs outside to take precipice over the inside duties. We've been enjoying long walks together, filled with silliness, singing and snowballs. Theresa, Mom and I have also been catching up on all the horse hooves, giving them their spring trims. That job is almost done now. Theresa is shearing her bunnies again, (she has four baby boys and one adult female for sale, too, if you're interested!) and I guess that means the sheep will be next to loose their coats. House keeping has the added disadvantage of the mud season hitting it. We have to mop at least once a day to keep up on our floors.

The kids also found a spelling site ( online that they've been playing in turns against each other. Not quite sure how this one came up... probably an older sibling questioning a younger sibling's spelling abilities. Using the site and turning it into a game has made it a lot more fun! They take turns making a list of words to test their opponent with, the only rules being that they have to know the words themselves off the top of their head. Education at it's most fun!

 The creeks are running high again. Their roar of new life can be heard as soon as you take a step outside. That body of fast moving water is so fascinating to sit down and watch. Who knows whether the burst of energy and life that rippled through the farm this past week was caused by the warm temperatures, sunshine, new patches of grass or the first taste of sugary sap (spring tonic as Mom calls it). Regardless of the reason, the ripple was contagious and easily tapped into, as it sang out with new life! How good God is to bless us with yet another spring with which we can experience new life once again.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Come Tour the Workshop with me!

The other day, while out lollygagging around the farm, I took a break from an idle snowball fight with the 5yr-old to visit the shop where the guys were working. The little green building with smoke curling lazily out of its rusty chimney doesn't account to much upon first glance. Perhaps a closer inspection would raise a small amount of curiosity due to the odd and varying sounds coming from within. The snow packed path leading up to the door is littered with small trees, freshly cut out of the forest. A black farm cat is sunbathing in a pile of sawdust outside the door, his tail twitching idly in your direction. A step has been carved out of the hard-packed snow to prevent one from sliding down headlong into the door (as I have done).

The sounds become louder as soon as the door is opened. Under your foot the cool cement floor is blanketed with wood shavings. The air is warm with a combined smell of fresh baked bread and newly turned wood. Delicious. Mom had sent the bread out earlier to be baked in the wood cook stove that also provides heat for the shop. The building is packed to its limit with odd looking tools of every kind. I know they each serve their own purpose, but I have, on occasion, wondered why a huge tool that can do everything has yet to be invented. I will be the first to admit that the workshop is pretty foreign territory to me.

Andrew occupies the first section of the shop where the work benches are. There, stools and end tables as well as other sets of small furniture are daily being created. The next section of the garage is Michael's. As he is just learning some woodworking, he gets advice and help from Dad and Andrew who are overseeing his first creations (which have been pleasantly impressive, in my opinion). The next section of floor space in front of the stove is Stephen's, where the rails for another rocking chair are being pounded into place. After making several small things, plaques, signs, bird houses, etc., Stephen surprised us with a big, beautiful rustic rocking chair. It turned out encouragingly well for his first attempt. The few imperfections in it are being pounded out in the next one that he immediately started constructing. The last available space in the shop appears to belong to Dad, where the whirring of the lathe fills the room with a dull noise. The lathe has to be one of the most fascinating tools to watch in action. The wood spinning, chips flying, tool moving back and forth, and suddenly something is taking shape. After a few more moments, you can usually tell what it is. And a few moments after that, you realize you too have been mesmerized by the machine and have been standing there idly for longer than you anticipated. The finished products are also addictive to the hands. I find myself still palming the darning egg he made me long after the socks are repaired.

My unproductiveness becomes obvious in the productive surroundings and I find myself feeling bad for taking time out of the day to take an idle walk around the farm. However, coming back out, the beauty of the day more than chases away any regretful feelings I may have had. Forgetting the laundry, mending, sewing, and slightly (blush) dirty house, I invite my younger siblings to take a walk out to visit the animals with me. Like Mary in the Bible, there are some days when I feel like choosing the better part. Glancing at the sun, I knew the boys recreation hour was approaching, as they seem to be addicted to tearing up the snow covered field with their wild evening football games.

Anyway, this post wouldn't be complete without sharing tons of pictures!


End table with drawer. Cedar slab front and spruce top... No cheap partical board or veneer in that drawer!

Simple end table with shelf.

Coffee table.. You can see a little shine on the top. Andrew's been using Shellac to finish his work, a natural, hypoallergenic coating that won't off-gas toxic fumes!

We've got a nice stool collection going.. He's made several taller bar stools as well.

I just love the detail in this cute piece!

A humorous birdhouse.. Good thing birds can't identify a cat without movement!

Steve's especially proud of his rocking chair.. I can testify that it's as comfortable as it looks!

A rustic end table.. It's just dying to hold a pot of my flowers!

Pretty self-explanatory.. A handy addition to any hallway!

This is the kind of work that we hope to sell, both locally and online (through our country store) to support our homestead, and decision to break away from the world and live simply on the land as God intended. The boys' creations that you see here are made of all-natural materials mostly gleaned off our land (with, of course, the exception of some finishes or glues, etc.). I just love the way our living room looks and feels decorated with these pieces (now to get some cushions and curtains made up!!). They look great and hold up really well under our heavy abuse. If you or anyone you know would be interested in purchasing the boys' furniture, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's Done....WOW!

Look at the fantastic job that Mr. Stewart did painting Stephen's house at night photo!!:

To compare:
We're just thrilled with the outcome. A huge 'thank you' Mr. Stewart! Stephen was flattered that you chose his picture and I'm so glad I decided to join your contest!  It looks like my home...