Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Standing on Abundance

Mom made the comment today that we're finally starting to feel the abundance of our homesteading efforts. The list she made lifted my spirits and hope for the future, so I thought I'd share:

-It's almost June and we're still eating our own berries in the freezer from last summer. It looks like we'll close the gap between our harvest and new crop, which is a first for this berry hungry family!

-Our gardens are abundant and maturing in some ways, but we're still learning and trying new things and not all of our efforts pay off. Still, berry bushes, trees and vines are maturing nicely.

-Rhubarb. Ugh, anybody want some?? We also have tons of perennial herbs and and so many walking onions that they're literally walking all over the garden. ;)

-Mom says flowers. Pssht! So, maybe some of my hollyhocks and violets have spread a little, but there's no such thing as an overabundance of flowers so that hardly counts! :)

-We have eggs coming out of our ears. We don't really have more chickens than previous springs, but Mom said that they seem healthier than they've ever been, so they're all producing daily.

-Milk. Soooo much of it! With the new heifers calving we could practically take milk baths. Poor Mom is swamped with kitchen work trying to process it all.

-Our pasture, once stripped of it's topsoil (a few years before we arrived here) is finally starting to produce better grass thanks to our efforts of intensive rotational grazing and mowing. It's a very slow process, but today Mike was able to put cows out on a section of pasture they had just eaten about a week ago. Score!

-Horses and cows. Sometimes we feel that the overabundance of our four legged friends is a bit excessive (because it is) and Theresa is working on thinning down the horse herd, but they're all very healthy, valuable, beautiful animals!

-Maple syrup. We had two good years in a row and now have all we want.

-Kittens. Naturally, there's an abundance of them on the farm, but we never have trouble selling our colorful and ridiculously people friendly kittys.

-Dandylions! Of course. Actually, these are a fairly recent sight out in our stripped pasture--hopefully a sign that the soil's doing better! Mom wants to make wine and Donna is just in love with them all. I caught her planting some in my flower beds, haha!

-And lastly, mosquitoes. Holy freaking wow! Didn't really need an abundance of those, but 'abundance' is stating it mildly. Hope they don't stick around...

Abundance can make a person feel rich and after so many years, it's nice to start feeling the payback for our homesteading efforts, but it's also difficult not to feel overwhelmed. We want to make the most of everything coming in (as in, continuing in cheese making experiments instead of taking milk baths) but it's hard not to feel overwhelmed with everything there is to do here, and all the potential there is to do here. Just have to keep taking it one gallon of milk at a time...


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nature Princess

"I drew this rough sketch last night... I was feeling creative and wanted to do something out of the norm. I was going to do a swirly crazy tree but that didn't go, then this just came to me and I knew I had to draw it, and I am very happy with the results . I really want a land like this, where there can be princesses without gold around their necks, and we can be one with nature, everyone is innocent and we all get along... where there isn't money to keep us selfish and fearful, where everything you do is helping the earth bloom into what it really can be... I hope you like the pic!" 

Edit to add:

I'm sharing this (with permission) from Lizzy's art gallery. I found it so beautiful that our quiet little nature princess has such heartfelt and profound thoughts that I wanted to share. It also reminded me of this post that I did a few years ago and the boy's movie that they filmed with Lizzy at the end.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Sheep Shorn and a Shower!

Sheep are shorn!

It's a great feeling to have my little flock all done and I've gotten so much better/faster at doing it the blade (hand) shearing. Unfortunately, my Icelandic sheep's wool has never been great. I don't know why, but they matt up so fast. Ugh!

Thankfully though, my CVM, Jolie, had a very nice fleece on her and I'm excited to process and use it! (that's a fleece, not a dead animal). ;)

 Mike always helps me with catching and holding the sheep and then when I'm finished, he quick trims their hooves while we have them down.



After everybody is out of their coats, I am all hot and stinky and yucky, (as you can imagine) ;) so it's time for a glorious solar shower!!!

Andrew fixed it up a bit this spring, to include a nice new floor...

I forgot how much I enjoy showering under the sun. It's incredible!

 We have so much hot water being generated right now that you don't have to feel bad about standing in the warm water and sunshine allllll afternoon. But just so I don't paint too pretty a picture, you do have to check for spiders on your towel before drying off. ;) ;)

We were going to run down to the beach yesterday, but the arrival of a new calf interrupted our plans. Yet another girl! Mike's been training the young ornery new heifers to stand for their milkings out in the pasture (with help from Lizzy) and getting up to feed babies at 1am and 7am. Such a farm boy. :) But he really loves his girls, so he doesn't complain. :)

This is the first (older) baby, Roxy, with her helmet getting her horn buds burned off. No pictures of Poppy in yet, but she looks just like Roxy.

Before I sign off, a quick happy 19th birthday to our garden princess today! 
Love you Therese :)

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Spring: how to put it into words?

Spring is truly so wonderful, words simply cannot do it justice. I've been wondering why, on those moments when I'm looking and taking it in, and I think that the reason is because spring is so much in the sensory, in the background, it's hard to coax it out into words.

It's in the smell: 
The bittersweet tinge of buds, mint, evergreens, grass and warm earth...

It's the sounds: 
Birds, birds, and more birds, gurgling waterfalls and branches that are finally starting to rustle again with their budding foliage.


What you feel: 
Dirt under your nails, calluses on your palms, sun on your shoulders, ache in your muscles, soft wind on your face.


What you see: 
Sprouts, buds, blossoms, babies and other signs of new life everywhere you look, horses galloping out to pasture, sheep bouncing with glee, kids running, kids riding, kids working, kids laughing (and even sometimes arguing! lol. ;).

Mom and I walked our property lines and when we got back, we were treated to the news that we had a new baby calf!

Cute little girl. Not sure on her name yet, but after Kady and her pup helped to lick her dry, she followed them around on shaky legs thinking they were her herd (too cute!!).

Puppy kisses!

Rest after so much walking.

That's all for now. Enjoy your background spring sensory!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Taking in the Spring

I've been thinking and really trying to put the beauty of this spring in words... its just so awesome!! Rain storms at night, bright lightning and very loud thunder, rushing happy creeks, long horse rides everyday, fresh green grass, warm sun, gentle warm breeze that dries the wet ground, outside in t-shirts, playing volley-ball, putting up laundry is even fun on a day like these! Spending the whole day outside!!! I am just in love with this spring!! We've been collecting the rain water and mostly every night we get enough water to last two days for the animals. Yes there is a LOT of mud but... things are actually drying up pretty well! :)

Went hiking for mothers day! :) It was actually REALLY awesome!!! We spotted an eagle's nest when we were on the mountain! We were looking down at it and we saw the babies and everything!!! It was super cool! Some turkey vultures came over and were circling the nest when the mama eagle was down getting food, she saw them and flew up and was chasing them away! It was really cool to watch from above!! To bad my camera battery went out, and right before we spotted the nest too! :(
This awesome mountain view is only like twenty or some miles from where we live--we can see it from our road!

I am so happy! :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Spring Polar Plunges

The kids didn't really get into the whole polar plunge thing going around on fb... I mean, not really. Some of them refused. Others...

Steve saw his nomination as an opportunity to create some fun content for his blender youtube channel.

Theresa saw hers as an opportunity to show up the boys (they both maturely refused her nomination).

Donna saw the 70 degree weather yesterday as a great opportunity to "polar plunge" and try out her new water goggles in our creek! ;)

And lastly, Johnny saw Donna's attempt as an opportunity to make his own polar plunge at home, though a little more full on (and what 11yr. boy would pass up an opportunity like that?).

Ok, now back to work!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This Little Blog of Mine...

With the busyness and beauty of spring having sprung up around us, I've been considering my blog in the back of my mind. Since I've been blogging for several years now, sometimes I feel like I've already said everything. I've been walking my readers through the seasons on our farm since '08 and sometimes I think my posts sound repetitive and dull…

But as I sat on the porch after our family volleyball game this evening, stroking a puppy and watching the sun set while the kids went about their farm chores, I felt so completely happy and suddenly my desire to share that was back, along with a renewal to keep up this blog. For the very same reason that I started it back in '08 and that is: sharing the joy.

When I read through old posts on my blog, I feel renewed and uplifted. From time to time, I've been encouraged from a reader saying how much my posts have inspired them. I see that as a complimentary bonus, but definitely not my primary reason for sharing. I try to share truthfully, which can sometimes be downright discouraging at times, though admittedly, I tend to feel the desire to share more when I'm in a good positive mood. ;)

 I've got a picture dump for you here, with (just a little) further ado...

 These pictures date back to include about two months worth of history. Back in the day (lol) that would mean A LOT of photos, but since we haven't had the dedication towards photography that we once had, that means only a mere 25 or so pics ;). And these are largely thanks to Lizzy, with just a little input from Steve. So thanks Liz, and now onto the sharing...

 Alright, we'll start off with a little sleepy raccoon hanging out in a tree... because why not, right?

Johnny turned 11 in March and has been spending a lot more time in the horse pen this year...

Spring sprung slowly but surely...

Of course Easter included painted eggs and (homemade) chocolate bunnies. The essentials. ;)

Earliest of the chores was to repair the greenhouse. Apparently roadside windows weren't suitable enough, and had to be replaced after water leaked into their seals and froze, slowly cracking them.

 A new frame (increasing the interior headroom) and plastic later, and we were starting seeds!

Oh, and Mom's experiments in aquaponics have been moved out here. This is a yet unfinished and experimental system and definitely a topic for its own blog post... hopefully. I think I said that before...

Also inside the greenhouse is Steve's revamped wheat grass growing system, for supplemental animal nutrition. The slanted shelves means only the top trays get water and it runs down through the rest. The huge metal roof pieces are also a big improvement to the little plastic trays for growing the wheat grass in.

Indoors we also have seeds started. You're looking at my flower starts here, but I promise we also have tomatoes and peppers, thanks to Theresa.

So Johnny's been riding Missy this spring, and thoroughly enjoying himself and his new-found four-legged freedom. 

Nut. ;)  
I mean, he likes riding, but this is a little exaggerated posing for the camera, methinks ;)

 Water. Spring means a lot of it.

Little boys love water. Girls too, apparently. And not even little ones. I think my shoes finally just dried out again... (hehee!)

Pretty photogenic Icelandic ponies.

  Got eggs?
I just heard Mom say we've never had so many, ever.

Lots of shop work goin' on too, of course. This was a pretty custom sign someone requested.

Theresa's been working like a mad woman in the gardens. She completely weeded and hauled manure on just about every bit of garden space we own, (with some help, of course).

I don't know what we'd do without her garden gumption, honestly!

 ...Annnnd these are some flowers.

 That's a chicken...

 And an Angora goat/sheep that I reeeeeally have to shear!

Along with this little girl and her itchy bum...

 Oooo and puppies! Boy have they been a fun addition to this spring.

 We only have one left now, waiting on his owners to pick him up (sniffle!!)

You simply can't walk by when this guy runs up and gives you those pet-me-puppy-eyes.

 Mother's Day didn't fail to include our first hike in the Porkies of the season.

 It was lovely, but still pretty wet. I shared a special moment with a huge old tree when I leaned my head against it and could've swore I heard a pulse, like it was breathing.

 Such high energies up there!

 My brothers are all getting so tall, I can't tell them apart from the back (that's Steve, not Andrew!)

Also on Mother's Day, Mom woke up and looked out the window to see this pretty rustic arbor that Mike made for her, adorning her garden gate. I plan to plant some climbing flowers on it. It goes without saying that she loved it.

 Lizzy's made a new riding buddy (I mean, in addition to Johnny).

The farm cat, Chubby, (I forget his real name at the moment, but he's Mike's cat, so he endures goofy nick names) loves catching a snooze on the horse's bum.

 So much sun makes a cat sleepy...

Lizzy took the camera on one of their daily rides, for your viewing pleasure...

Showing off...

Growing up fast and learning so much from his four legged friend lately.

Onward we ride, good fellows, to yonder sunset and mountains...

 And until then, farewell dear readers!