Winter Adventuring

January 2012 was, perhaps, the strangest January I have experienced yet. We were inundated with more rain than I thought possible for mid-winter, with only a few snowy days. What a surprise to wake up on the final day of January to a forecasted 13 degrees Celsius!

We took advantage of the warm, sunny day and headed out to our local conservation area with my dad. The kids brought their bikes; it thrilled them to no end to be bike riding in January. It was Raina’s first time riding her two-wheeler (with training wheels!) outdoors.

(You’ll have to excuse the quality of the photos. My camera is out of commission and I’ve had to rely on my phone for pictures.)

My dad pushed Robin in the stroller, so all this pregnant mama had to do was walk leisurely along and enjoy the sunshine!

We came upon a swan who was being forcibly outcast from the rest of the flock. Two other large swans would attack it whenever it tried to rejoin the flock, and drive it toward the boardwalk. At one point, the outcast swan was a mere three feet away from Lynden – if he had stretched out his hand, he would have touched it. We spent quite a while marveling at the swan, watching it closely and appreciating its magnificence and beauty. It didn’t seem frightened of us at all, and completely ignored our dogs.

In his younger days, Oddler would run off into the woods and have grand adventures while we slow, two-legged folk ambled along. Now, at 11 years old, he is going deaf and losing his sight. Now he prefers to stay close by, and we sure do appreciate his company. I can’t help but wonder how many nature walks we have left with the old boy. He’s been a central part of our family for so long…

Robin was pretty thrilled by the beach. As soon as his feet hit the sand, he was digging and collecting shells. Each new shell was held high in the air with an excited exclamation. (Although he rode in the stroller, Robin insisted on wearing his bicycle helmet because his older siblings were each wearing theirs – a warm woolly hat just wouldn’t do.)

Despite the balmy, early-spring-like weather, the shore of Lake Erie was still a mass of ice. The wind had created incredible ice hills and caverns, which made for some totally awesome exploration.

In total, we spent about three hours at the conservation area. By the time we returned, we were muddy, hungry, and thoroughly happy – proof of a day well spent!

And to think, we would have missed the glorious sunshine and the wonders of Nature if the kids weren’t homeschooled. How blessed we are to have our days open and free!

Uncooperative Weather

My garlic desperately needs to get in the ground before things freeze. There’s a problem, though – we have had the wettest Autumn that I can remember. There’s been so much rain that the ground is totally saturated. Each time that I think we’ve had a enough dry days to actually get the garlic planted, it rains again. It’s getting rather ridiculous!

Today is a perfect case in point. Two days ago, I went out and turned the soil a bit in the would-be garlic bed, hoping that exposing the soil would help it dry out faster. It was pretty wet, but not so wet that another day or two wouldn’t make for perfect planting conditions. Fast-forward to today: RAIN. Heavy, heavy rain. It was raining when I woke up, and after a slight mid-morning break, it is raining again now. The wind is whipping, leaves are flying, and the ground is soaking wet.

Oh, dear readers, I fear that I will not get the garlic planted in time. I’ve never experienced an Autumn like this before! I thought this past Spring was horribly wet, but now this Autumn is rivaling for the title. My sheep and goats are ankle-deep in mud, the fields around us are perpetually water-logged, and the garden is a soggy mess. What to do, what to do? Farm-fresh garlic is near the top of my list of things to look forward to for next season. I need the ground to dry out! I need the sky to stop pouring on us!

A Favour, Please?

Dear Soil, Dear Sun,

Please, if it isn’t too much to ask, PLEASE could you do your best to dry up a bit so I can get the garlic planted?  I worry that if the beds are still so saturated from all this crazy Autumn rain, I will be too late getting the garlic into the ground.  And if that happens, I will be one very unhappy farm mama.

Just a little bit drier, that’s all I ask.



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!

Getting Seedy

My dear boy has been waiting patiently to get started on his very own garden, but alas, we have been rained out again and again.  Every spare sunny day has had Mama and Daddy working in the veggie gardens, in a mad dash to get things planted before the rain settles back in on us.  So, while Lynden has decided exactly what he’d like to grow in his garden – sunflowers, beans, cucumbers, carrots – and where he’d like his garden to be, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to want to make it possible for him to get out there and plant.  (Who knew we could get this much rain!?)

In an effort to satisfy Lynden’s desire to get gardening, I purchased this nifty little book, “Good Growing – A Kid’s Guide to Green Gardening“.  It comes with two packets of seeds and two little trays for sprouting – instant gratification! A perfect project to start on tomorrow morning.  Lynden loves sprouts (heck, we all do!) and his interest in growing his own sprouts has been piqued by the bright, fun photos contained within the book.  I hope this little side project will be enough to satisfy him until the ground dries up enough to get his garden going!

Soggy Soil

I’m in a state of utter disbelief at the amount of rain we’ve had this Spring. I haven’t been able to get much into the ground, for even when it’s not raining out, the soil is just too saturated to work with. My seedlings are desperately wanting to be outdoors! The few cucumber starters I saved from the wrath of the rabbit are now starting to flower in their trays, and my sunflowers are much too large for their little starter pots.

Alas, today is another grey and rainy day, and it looks as though the rest of the week will be much the same. I’m trying not to stress about the super-wet soil and the fact that I’m now about a month behind in my planned planting schedule. I’m trying not to fret about having nothing ready for the market, which opens this coming weekend, and to save myself too much stress I’ve decided to hold off on the market stand until June.

Too much water, yes.

My mountain of laundry grows as I have had so few days that are decent enough to hang the washing on the line. I haven’t had a chance to set up an indoor drying area, and I don’t want to use the dryer, but I may have to cave and rely on the machine again after all.

The kids are stir-crazy, the chickens are slacking in the egg-laying department, the goats have retreated to the barn. Someone needs to have a talking-to with the skies. My pleas for sun have apparently gone unheard.

Days Like This

We have had a LOT of rain here this spring. I can count three – 3!!! – decent, sunny days over the past three weeks. The rest of the days have been overcast, grey, rainy and cold. The ground is absolutely saturated, with some areas of lying water on top, and this means that I am now about two weeks behind schedule in my garden.

Now, normally I enjoy a rainy day. I like the break a rainy day gives, the chance to kick back and have a lazy day & read lots of books with the kids. But week after week of rainy days? Come on! I’m starting to feel pretty down, truth be told. I miss the sun and I’m getting anxious about the gardens. Additionally, my sweet baby is cutting four molars at the moment, which means that I’ve now had six consecutive nights of less than five hours of sleep. I’m cranky!

On days like these, I just have to remind myself – “This, too, shall pass.”

So Much Rain!

We have had more than our fair share of rain around here. For days it has rained, and in the middle of it all our basement sump pump went kaput. Our washing machine empties into the sump pump, so we couldn’t do any laundry, and with all the rain coming down our basement just filled right up with water. Every box of photos stored in the basement, ruined. Boxes of books, art work, business files, journals – all ruined. Soaked. Saturated.

The rain continued heavy through last night, and this morning I discovered that not only was our basement flooded, but also the barnyard, the driveway, and the ditch. So many sticks and twigs and leaves had piled up in the ditch that a dam had been created. My mama came over to help and spent a good two hours pulling blockages out of the ditch. Boy, did the water ever flow! Without the dams, the water gushed like rapids.

The good news is that we replaced the sump pump and all of the water has been pumped out of the basement. The barnyard is still saturated, and the animals are all mucky, but the sun is out today and I have hopes that things will dry up fast.

Spring sure does bring plenty of adventures! Never a dull day around here!

Waiting for the Sun

We’ve been without internet for a little while, but there’s not been much to write about anyway. The days have been dreadfully dreary, grey, rainy and cold, endlessly. I wish for sun and warmth as I do my farm chores each morning. The gardens need planting, but the ground is absolutely saturated and the rain keeps coming. I shiver my way through egg collection and animal feeding.

Thank goodness for the warmth of the barn and my milking goat, Caprice (from the Latin for goat, “capra”). She keeps me toasty while I milk her, even when the wind is whipping outside and the puddles are growing. It is cozy, sitting next to the milking stand, talking to Caprice as I fill my bucket. It makes this soul-sucking weather bearable, and I look forward to milking time each morning.

I’m hopelessly impatient for lovely spring weather, and so anxious to get some plants in the ground! Come on, sunny sun, we’re waiting for you!!

Wild & Wacky Weather

This morning we awoke to rain, and lots of it.  Our front yard was flooded, our back yard was flooded, our driveway was flooded – and the rain kept coming!  We had been planning to boil down syrup over the fire with a group of our friends, but Mama Nature clearly had other plans for us today.

Jae and the kids made origami paper boats and pulled on their galoshes to sail them in the flooded yard.  The current swept those sweet little boats away to the ditch, where they picked up speed.  The kids were overjoyed by their fast-moving paper boats and went running along the side of the ditch in pursuit until the water got too deep and poured over the tops of their boots.  Of course, wet boots were cause for further glee, and my very soggy children tromped back to the house with their daddy, all of them laughing.

The rest of the day we spent indoors.  The kids played in a hot bath for a very long time, while Jae and I did some household chores.  I spun up some yarn, nursed the baby, and lounged around in my pj’s.  As the afternoon wore on, the rain kept pouring.  My brother came by for a visit.  We ate pancakes smothered in our homemade maple syrup (yum!) and played Chinese Checkers.  My brother read some books to the children.  It was a lovely, relaxed, laid-back afternoon.

As the wet afternoon gave way to a wet evening, the weather took a nasty turn and suddenly it was snowing – hard!!  The snow fell fast and furious and what was earlier a flooded yard is now a snow-covered yard.  Craziness!

I just love a day like today – no obligations, nowhere to go, nothing to get dressed for.  Every so often Mama Nature reminds us that we need to slow down a little, rest and rejuvenate, be lazy, have fun.  What better way to do so than in the company of my most precious people, my family.