A Day Outdoors

After two rainy days, the sun came out today and shone brilliantly all the day long. A perfect day for working outside! With everything that’s been going on around here the last few months, we’re horribly behind on our farm work. So, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze keeping us cool, the children and I spent the day getting things caught up.

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Lynden helped me prepare the onion bed for planting. Who would have thought rolling spikes along the ground could be so fun and exciting? Little clumps of grass became “monsters” that needed to be eliminated, with Lynden the Brave coming to the rescue.

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Robin carefully dropped each little onion-in-waiting into its hole in the ground. He took this task very seriously indeed, hollering at anyone who came near the bed.  Our little green thumb was totally delighted when I raked the soil over and tucked the onions in to grow.

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Later, when it was time to put the trowel and rake away, we discovered a broody hen in the garage! Well, well, well – a torn old bag for a nest! And in the corner of a damp, dark garage, to boot. What a silly lady! It looked like she was sitting on eight eggs or so. Now we wait. How many will she hatch?

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For a while I tried to get some pasture seed sown in the goat/sheep yard, but quickly realised it was an exercise in futility. The chickens gobbled up every seed they could find. Pasture seed is not inexpensive! The seeding of the goat/sheep yard is going to have to wait until the rest of the chickens are confined in the almost-finished chicken tractor (the finishing of which will have to take priority this weekend!).  I did get lots of peas in the ground, as well as a large bed of beans (this year we planted Cherokee Trail of Tears, Aunt Emma’s, and Cranberry). The chickens don’t dig up the legumes like they do with smaller seeds, thank goodness.

ImageThe goats and sheep got a new salt lick today. This wouldn’t be an event worth mentioning, if not for Day Lily’s reaction. Apparently this was something to be excited over – Day Lily pranced around like it was Christmas morning, and kept returning to the salt lick to have a little nibble. You’d think the silly gal had never had a salt lick before.

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While I worked in the garden, Robin followed me around with the leftover onion starters. He refused to believe that I didn’t need to plant another onion bed, and was pretty mad at me when I said “No, thank you,” as he attempted to put onions in the bean bed. He brought this bag of leftover onion starters into the house with him, and sat down to dinner with the bag still clutched in one hand. When he realised that it would be difficult to eat with only one hand free, Robin sat on the onion bag. Oddler got quite a surprise when he sniffed at the bag and received a whack on the nose!

ImageRaina quite adamantly did not want to help in the garden today, which is quite unusual for her. Instead, she took her shirt off and ran through the fields, then spent much of her afternoon swinging and climbing. She scaled a tree, then cried for me to help her get down. She spun herself silly on the tire swing. She found a muddy place and squished her feet in, getting nice and dirty. I think it’s safe to say that Raina enjoyed her day.

So, while we’re still behind in the garden department, I did get onions, peas and beans into the ground. I got several beds weeded and ready for planting. And while it’s not as much as I would have liked, I have to remind myself that I did all of this with a month-old baby slung on the front of me and had to accommodate for several nursing breaks throughout the day. I’ll count this day as a success, however small my accomplishments.

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The Swing of Things

My recent pregnancy and birth took a lot more out of me than I anticipated it would, and Jae has shouldered the vast majority of the farm work for many months now.  Today I woke feeling much more like my normal old self than I have in a long time. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm, and I really wanted to get back into the swing of taking care of this little farm.  After getting appointments (for mama and baby), speech therapy (for Raina) and grocery shopping out of the way, the kidlets and I spent our evening out in the yard, getting things back in order.

ImageLynden and Raina had picked out some bird houses from the dollar store a little while back, and today we finally found some places for them. (This one is sitting on a slab of concrete that protrudes from the tree – the tree actually grew around the concrete over the years and engulfed almost half of it!) It puts a smile on my face to see these cute little bird houses nestled in our trees. Whether the birds make use of them or not, they sure look sweet, and the kids were so excited to put them out there.

ImageGaia spent some time swinging in the shade of an old maple tree, which was just fine by her. She gazed around the yard, watched shadows dance on the blanket next to her face, and stared for a good long while at her brothers & sister playing nearby. Indoors, Gaia doesn’t usually want to spend time in her swing, but out in the yard it was another story altogether. I enjoyed having my body to myself for a little while!

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Dinosaur and the sheep were tethered in the front yard for a while to graze down the grass that is already becoming pretty darned long! They seemed to enjoy the fresh greenery and the shade of the maple. Dinosaur’s winter coat is shedding out, and she’s pretty patchy looking these days. I really ought to shave her, but the memory of Daisy’s recent shaving and all of the tiny bits of goat hair that stuck to me for days is a bit of a deterrent.

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Because the gardens were put to sleep for the winter and it wasn’t necessary to keep chickens out, our chicken tractor was out of use. Now that we’re almost ready to start putting some things in the ground, it’s time to confine the chickens. They can tear up a garden pretty fast! Jae and I filled the top of the tractor with fresh straw and moved it to a shady, thickly grassed area. The tractor doesn’t have wheels yet, so moving it is quite the labour-intensive task. That thing is heavy! We put six birds in for the time being. A second tractor is in the works, almost finished and soon to be filled.

I got a lot of debris raked up around the yard – twigs, branches, stray bits of straw, chicken poop – and we had a roaring fire going. The kids sat around on their little chairs, making plans for camping this Summer and having sleepovers. I managed to nearly fill the compster with chicken waste, which I’m sure the gardens will love in a few months’ time.

It was an unremarkable evening, much like other Spring evenings past, but it felt superb to be outside & working again. I haven’t moved my body this much in many months, and my limbs & back were rejoicing to be bending and lifting and working again. Physical activity sure does feel good.

Sisterhood

What a joy this weekend to have my sisters home. They live several hours away, and I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I’d like. It warmed my heart to see them holding our sweet baby Gaia, and the children had such fun with their aunties.

I’m grateful to have so many people to love in my life. Sisters are one of life’s greatest blessings.

She’s Here!

It’s been six days of wonder and awe for this lovestruck mama. Our sweet fourth baby, Gaia Claire, was born at home on March 28 in the early hours of the morning.

Since Wednesday, life has been a bit of a roller coaster, but we are well and happy and the kids are totally in love with their new baby sister. Read on for her full birth story, with photos.

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Waiting for Baby

Because Braxton-Hicks contractions are keeping me awake at 3am, I’m using the computer while my children snore soundly a few feet away. Of course, this means I’m going to be all the more exhausted come sunrise, but such is life.

We are getting so close to the arrival of this new little person, and I am filled with anticipation. Boy or girl? Big baby or small? Bald like the other three, or lots of hair? Who is this little person growing inside of me!?

To keep myself occupied (not that endless laundry, household chores, and three children don’t keep me occupied…), I’ve been knitting & crocheting baby stuff. These little newborn vests are so quick and easy and fun, and a great way to use up leftover stash yarn. I’ve done a few already, and want to do more with different cables and colours. I’m bursting with ideas on how to maximize the cuteness! I’ve also got some crochet longies on the go, which may actually end up being shorties or capri pants instead, since this is a Spring baby and we may not get much use out of long-legged wool pants.

This is my view, looking down. My lap is rapidly disappearing and it’s increasingly difficult to get footwear onto my feet. Lynden has often said, lately, that he can’t wait for this baby to be born so I can stop groaning every time I have to bend over, and so I can finally hold him again! Of course, he always throws in, “But I’m actually excited to meet the baby, too,” which is evident by the way he’s been cradling his doll while singing lullabies when he thinks nobody is paying attention.

And Raina, sweet Raina, so anxious to become a 2nd-time big sister. She is positively giddy with excitement, and absolutely certain that she’s finally going to have a sister. I hope, for her sake, that we do have a girl, because Raina’s heart is set on even numbers of males to females in this house.  Raina has wished harder than I thought possible for a little baby girl to hold – if only wishing hard enough could makes things come true…

And so, now we wait. In the corner of the dining room sits a laundry basket filled with homebirth supplies – freshly washed towels, compress cloths, hydrogen peroxide, receiving blankets, a flashlight with new batteries, a large plastic container for the placenta, and other things that likely won’t be used (we never used our entire birth kit for the previous three births!). Two large flannel-backed table cloths have been placed under the bed sheets, “just in case”.  The kids have been drilled on keeping the house nice and clean over the past few weeks, for the sake of mama’s sanity and being ready for a birth. The toilet’s been scrubbed to shining, the floors are mopped every few days with lemongrass essential oil in the mop water for a lovely & refreshing clean feeling in the house.  And we wait.

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny from Small Things this week for the Yarn Along.

I’ve got a sweet little baby vest on the needles right now, in anticipation of baby #4 (it’s a free pattern on Ravelry, if you want to make one of your own!). This vest was in my Ravelry queue for quite a while – I think I intended to make one for Robin, but never got around to it. Now that the countdown is on for baby #4, all I can think about is the list of precious little baby patterns I’ve been wanting to make.  This vest is coming along very quickly – hooray for the instant gratification that tiny baby garments bring! It helps that the entire thing is done in a very fast stockinette stitch, with no major counting or fancy charts to keep track of. Perfect for late-pregnancy brain!

I’m delving into my baby books lately as well. Right now I’m enjoying Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer. We’ve cloth diapered all of our other babies, but this time around I’m determined to carry through with elimination communication. I figure a refresher course is in order.

Baby’s due date is April 3. Anyone want to guess as to the actual birth day?

Awakening

Oh, dear! We’re almost in mid-February! It occurred to me this morning that it’s time to start planning the gardens for Spring, time to decide which seeds to order, time to plot out which plants will grow where. It’s time to start looking at incubators and decide how much we want to spend to hatch our own eggs again this year (last year’s homemade incubator, while it did give us chicks, didn’t have the hatch rate we had hoped for).

I love this part of Winter, when suddenly it feels like it’s time to come out of hibernation and start living again. It’s not quite Spring, we can’t feel Spring in the air just yet, but I do feel a restlessness and a tug to start preparing. It feels wonderful.

This year, Spring will be extra special. We’re only about seven weeks away from the birth of our newest family member, and my nesting instincts are hitting hard! I am driven to mop the floors every day, almost compulsively, though I only seem to manage mopping twice a week or so. I wash the dishes a few times a day. I am becoming neurotic about the laundry. My house is still a mess (my children have a funny way of creating chaos in a room I’ve just finished cleaning), but I’m busier than ever with chores and preparations. It’s funny what an impending birth will do to a mama.

Yes, mid-February. A glorious time of year, a time of renewal and awakening. Thank goodness it’s here.

Giving Thanks

Tonight we enjoyed our most local Thanksgiving dinner to date – a stuffed chicken from our flock, mashed potatoes from the neighbour, wild peas foraged by Jae, and grilled zucchini from our garden.  Our absolutely delicious meal was followed by an even more delicious pumpkin bread made by my mother-in-law (thanks!!). We couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Our list of gratitudes is very long this year. We have been so blessed, in so many ways, and I’m overwhelmed just thinking about everything we have to be grateful for:

~ New life. This year we’ve been blessed with another pregnancy and the anticipation of a new child joining our family. No matter how many times I go through this wild experience of growing a fetus, I never cease to be amazed by the miracle of life.

~ Garden bounty. Despite the craziest growing season I’ve ever experienced – flood-worthy rains late into the spring making it impossible to plant “on time”; a mega heat wave sweeping through in July (with not enough rain); a record-breaking wet and cold September causing the last of the garden not to ripen – we still got quite a lot of food from our garden.  We enjoyed tomatoes throughout the season, mountains of cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini, salad greens, dry beans, peas, garlic, several varieties of chives, basil, and so much more. Mother Earth is amazing and we are so thankful for every bite of food She has provided.

~ Healthy children. ‘Nough said.

~ A strong roof over our heads.

~ Sheep and goats. We love our livestock. We enjoyed delicious, rich, raw goat’s milk in the Spring and I’ve carded up some delightful locks of wool for spinning. These lovable ruminants keep our grass (somewhat) in check, provide great company, and always give us a laugh.

~ Family togetherness. I never could have imagined how much I’d come to appreciate having Jae home every day. Quitting the rat race has been the best thing for our family, and I am so grateful for everything that comes with having two parents at home. With my horrible pregnancy sickness (which seems to be passing, hooray!), I’ve come to rely on Jae more than ever before, and I am eternally thankful for everything he’s done over the past two months. I can see how much the kids love having him home, too, and it fills my soul.

~ Abundance. Despite living on less money, our cupboards are filled with healthy, wholesome food. Our freezer is full of free-range, organically-fed chickens. I have a closet full of yarn for knitting winter wear. I have a sewing machine for creating new clothes. We have everything that we need, and everything that we want. Life is very good.

~ Loving and supportive family, on both sides. We are blessed.

~ Loyal egg customers. We’ve had so many steady & supportive customers purchasing our eggs, that our chickens now pay for themselves and bring in a some pocket change each month, in addition to feeding our family. We’re SO grateful for the folks who buy our eggs week after week, who send emails with awesome feedback, who spread the word to friends, and who support local & organic food. Thanks, guys! You add such an element of awesomeness to this life we’re living!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. I hope you are just as overwhelmed by the blessings in your lives. May the Earth always provide well for you!

Ramblings on Summer and Farm Life

Can we really be in August already?  These summer days seem to be slipping away from me much too quickly!  We get going from one day to the next, so busy and with such a long to-do list, and before we know it the days are getting shorter and I realise that Autumn is closer than I thought.

All my life I’ve struggled with this desire to slow down time, wanting to hold on to everything for just a little bit longer.  It’s only gotten worse since having children – they grow way too fast, change too fast, and throw too many curve balls.  We are approaching my first-born child’s fifth birthday, and I am certain there must be some kind of mistake, because there is no way nearly five years have passed since his birth.  It can’t be true!

So, where has the time gone, since I last updated this blog?  We’ve been busier than ever, mostly with errands and running around, market days and the preparation that precedes them.  The garden has not received as much attention as it deserves, but things are growing well and the Earth is bountiful.  Chickens are laying eggs, goats and sheep are grazing in the yard, Miss Molly is excelling in her training, and the children are growing like weeds.

Between the errands and farm chores and children and market, we had a very nice surprise here on the farm.  Baby number four is joining this family in the Spring!  Early pregnancy makes for a very tired and nauseous mama, but I’m determined to make the best of the rest of my summer and not let this ill-feeling bring me down.

There has been such joy in every day.  I’ve been totally wrapped up in love for my children and gratitude for this little farm we live on.

On a Hot Day in July

Oh boy, is it ever hot out there!  When I step outside, I feel like I’m melting!  Nevertheless, today’s been a day of getting things done (despite the many times I’m interrupted by a baby who’s decided he needs to nurse).  We enjoyed fresh cucumbers from the garden, played in the shade, hung clothes on the line, and tried our hardest not to make ourselves hotter than we needed to be.

Raina’s got it made in the shade.  This child loves to sit up in trees, as high as she can get.  Her beloved kitty usually follows her up.  Today she was higher than I could reach!

 

Sunflower has settled in well here.  She grazes on a lot of the plants the goats leave behind, which makes them perfect companions.  Sunflower is a sweet, gentle soul with bright & curious eyes.  And guess what?……

Sunflower has a new friend!  This is Day Lily (“Lily” for short), who arrived here on Sunday afternoon.  The two sheep immediately became chums.

Quail eggs – aren’t they lovely?  They are so small and beautiful, each one uniquely speckled.  Our quail flock has been laying like crazy, much to our delight.

Look how little those yolks are!  We enjoyed a lunch of scrambled quail eggs today.

 

 

I hope you are staying cool on this hot day in July!