Way back in January, when the snow lay deep and cold, I came to a realization. Not the sort that is ground-breaking for the masses, or in any form unique, but one of those simple and obvious realizations we all experience which has the ability to change everything.
My realization was simple...why wait?
My answer came in the form of my inner voice shouting...well then, let's dive in!
And so we did just that. We decided we were not going to wait any longer to bring to our humble little farm the animals I have wanted since I was one year old and clutching my own dear Lambie Pie stuffy all day long. This mama needed a hobby (and another baby was out of the question) and what better way to feed my fibre addiction than with acquiring a flock of sheep?
But first, we had some practical issues to deal with. Like, creating pasture, fenceing, building shelter, and setting up a water system. You know, little details! (wink wink). Yes, it seemed rather daunting the whole list of things we needed to do before the sheep arrived, but it seemed manageable with five or six months to go. And that is just what we have been doing over these past long months, almost every weekend on the farm, digging, hauling, building, sawing, hammering, dreaming, and stretching our roots a little deeper into our homestead.
Please come along to see our vision manifest over the past several months.
March...even before the snow melted, we began clearing land, burning stumps, envisioning. The site we chose is in the corner of our property, close to some neighbours, but the easiest to clear and close to our creek. In total, it is about half an acre for this first pasture, or really a paddock, for the sheep.
May...installed our water line to the pasture and erected our cedar fenceposts
June...begin seeding the area roughed up by diggers and an old driveway, and welcomed the efforts of anyone willing to lend a hand or two
July...the perimeter is fenced with rough hewn cedar slabs and I am busy hauling hoses around several times a day watering the seeded areas and nurturing the pasture grass. The beginnings of the shed (later to be elevated to the status of "barn") begin with the laying of the foundation. All the barn wood is harvested and milled by my husband...the only cost was the nails.
August...working on the barn, there has been a steady stream of curious neighbours and friends stopping by to give advice or lend a hand...and encourage us to do a proper barn raising next year or the year after involving the community (thanks Corky!)
September...the walls went up quickly, followed by a barn door and a temporary tarp roof
October...my husband, with his nostalgia for hand-made buildings, was insistent (in his patient, quiet way) that he wanted to make his own cedar shakes for the roof. A very tedious job (in my opinion), but the result is worth it. With almost half the roof finished, it is beautiful and simple and hand-made.
And next time, I will introduce you to another member of our farm...but not yet the sheep!
Still waters do run deep. My boy, on the threshold of nine, is mostly still water. Yes, often he is runnig about, wildly brandishing this sword he carved himself, and then labouriously sanded. But more often than not, he is quietly inhaling one book or another.
And if he is not reading quietly, lost in the adventure of another time and place, he may be found at the shores of the nearby river, casting into the pool of fish, alongside his best buddies.
It is not surprising to me that the colour of his eyes reminds me of a deep lake at the end of summer. He is my beautiful mountain boy, inside and out.
And I am continually surprised at how swiftly he is growing up! This fall, I knew he would need a new mama-made sweater, hopefully with some room to grow. He loves the sweater, but I'm afraid it won't be worn for all that long...
He keeps on stretching, this love of mine! Seeking to expand beyond the flimsy limits of my wishes, proving just how deep and strong the intensity of his stillness runs. Oh, the force of an eight year old boy...there's no reigning in his expanding self!
ravelry notes here
joining Ginny and the yarn-alongers here
Back to homegrown schooling here, with my big boy in grade 3 and my daughter in Kindergarten...
Sunshine tells me as we are walking around our property, "You know Mama, it is the first day of school and I'm not nervous at all. I think it is because I am with you all day!" Which tells me that we need some back-to-school kid's books that focus on homeschooling!
Forrest with his learning tree on the first day of Grade Three.
After a summer of absolutely no classes, we are back into the swing of programs like...
And guitar for Forrest, as Sunshine begins recorder/piano. We have a busy schedule, gone for two full days a week right now, with swimming lessons beginning, too, but then there are so many homebound days which we cherish...
And we have begun a half day of singing, stories, crafting, and playing with our neighbours once a week. We call them Marigold Mornings and they are a highlight of the week for Sunshine and Huckley whose two favourite friends come over for some sweet activities...
Forrest acts as a helper and "big friend" to the littlest of our group, a 3 year old boy who thinks Forrest is pretty great...which he is! Forrest also helps support our circle with enthusiastic singing and sometimes reciting a poem he has learned, and he lends a hand with crafting and organizing games...there are indeed many ways for an older child to participate in a "younger" activity...empowerment is a wonderful and constructive gift.
This past September, there were also times for Forrest to include some of his public school friends on shelter building activities that make up a large part of the grade 3 curriculum...
We have been easing into the Kindergarten curriculum with Sunshine, focusing on our daily and weekly rhythms, with a regular nursery rhyme learned and illustrated into her Mother Goose Book...
Forrest has been focusing less on desk-work and more on gardening and farming and building...he is outdoors working on projects, moving his body, not sitting still. Though, I admit, we have picked up on some Form Drawing that we neglected last year, inspired from a wonderful book called Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools ~ Classes 1 to 8 by Thomas Wildgruber. It is a fantastic resource that I recommend for any homeschooling family with a Waldorf inclination.
this is tricky stuff!
September homeschooling has been full of jumping back into our rhythm, and shuffling things about to make sure everyone's needs are met. I wouldn't be so foolish as to think we are all content all the time (my neighbours know how vocal we can be in this household!), but I do feel we are working well at having something for everyone, at least for a chunk of each day. It is a balancing act, this homeschool gig, and one I am continually struggling to make work. But it is good work...it is indeed. I see it in so much of what my children embody and exude and talk about. We have begun our fourth year of homeschooling and the journey continues to enlighten and enrich our lives.
September Homegrown Schooling
Sunshine ~ Mother Goose book, seasonal stories, piano/recorder, rhythm of the week
Forrest ~ poetry, times tables (1 and 2), spelling, reading, shelter building, gardening (putting it all to bed for winter)
If we aren't outdoors enjoying this glorious autumn weather, we may be found tinkling about on our new-to-us piano! A local homeschool mama tipped me off that her church was selling all sorts of things, including this piano for $50...just in time for Sunshine's new recorder/piano music lessons. We are awaiting a visit from the local piano turner...but until then, there is jamming to be done...
And back to the gardens we go...making garden beds, see?...
Have a great weekend!
With the first hard frost behind us by a few weeks, followed by an autumn filled with sunshine, there is still lots going on in our gardens. This is my first real attempt at fall plantings that are yielding us plenty of food...rainbow chard and beet greens, while the peas are flowering...in October! What an amazing way to extend the harvest by planting in early August...and such fun to keep peeking out there. Also, I planted a few green manures to boost the quality of our soil...a little buckwheat, vetch, and fall rye. I already turned under the buckwheat and vetch before seeds were set, but the rye is left to overwinter, and to turn it under in the spring.
kitchen garden being put to bed and transformed into a flower garden
With grade 3 in full swing, my oldest is spending a lot of time working a large garden bed of his own. He has weeded the area, turned it over, weeded again, and today he added some composted manure. Forrest could hardly wait to plant a few bulbs and plants that we had available ~ irises, a poppy, and chives ~ while planning out the layout in the spring. Next week he wants to add twelve (!) garlic cloves when we do our family garlic planting.
We've spent the majority of September afternoons working in the gardens, with the two youngest ones wanting their own beds, too. Sunshine loves to garden alongside me, and is very proud to have planted her own lavender, geranium, and a fairy plant as quickly as she could. Huckley didn't want to miss out and with some help from big sister and mama, he also has some asters, lavender, and pansies already set out. Feeling like our Big Garden is large enough to be entirely veggie producing, I transformed a large part of our kitchen garden from veggie plots into perennial beds...and I'm so excited to see it all grow next spring!
And in the kitchen, our canning marathon is slowing down as we begin to make applesauce for the winter. The house is filled with the steamy, sticky smell of apples cooking...such a comfort to my senses. I reckon we will be fed well this winter, with plenty of time to indulge in slower paced activities like reading, games, and knitting. Yes, autumn is in the air and we are putting it all to bed.
Somehow, the seasons mingled and exchanged places while I was busy in the kitchen harvesting from the gardens and trees. I looked up from a stew pot of simmering yellow plums, the air sticky from the evaporating juice, and saw the sumac trees clothed in scarlet brilliance. I was a little surprised at the suddenness of the shift ~ I'm not even sure when this happened...perhaps with the early frost ten days ago? Perhaps when my children unconsciously began wearing pants outdoors with long sleevers? Perhaps when we lit our first evening fire in the cookstove last week?
But seasons have a way of merging, almost gently, so we don't feel the harsh reality that summer is now a fading memory and winter is approaching.
Truth be told, I so enjoy each and every season, particularly when they are a novelty of fresh perspectives in touch, taste, smell, and sight. And oh! the colours are magically transforming our green world into a wondrous fiery landscape.
In celebration of autumn, and with some friends, the children splatter-painted over leaves onto wool felt to make into a banner. A rather messy craft, just right for a warm autumn afternoon...
These were strung up into an autumn bunting, hanging from our beams. Every seasonal shift, we craft in celebration. After such a beautiful and glorious summer, the change into autumn is gradual and wonderful...I'm thinking it will be a lovely few months ahead!
May Autumn bring you bountiful harvests of happiness, health, and laughter.
relaxing with besties
This is my birthday pie, cooked on the BBQ in a cast-iron skillet. My husband was set on giving me my traditional birthday blackberry pie despite the fact that our oven was out of commission for 2 months. I love his determination...and he surprised me with how good it tasted!
Well, hello...here I am. There has been a whole lot of life going on around here that leaves me little time for anything but dragging myself to bed once the littles are tucked in. But I miss this space, and the connections I've made. Thank you to those who reached out...I am well, my family is well, my heart if full of so much productivity and new experiences and settling into fall rhythms. We've welcomed some new critters to the farm, which I'll share at a later time. For now, these everyday moments that I managed to capture pretty much sum up what has been rolling on through our lives out here.
these two are pretending we are canoeing so fast their cheeks are streamlined from the wind
it turns out this was our last swim of the summer
garage sale-ing...simplifying after seven years of accumulation
late afternoon pony rides with the neighbours
first day of ballet for my dancing girl
practicing with a knife...he is so grown up!
In the blink of an eye, my kids are stretching upwards in body and in spirit. I no longer have any babies, though I'm sure they will feel like that to me throughout their lives ~ much to Huckley's chagrin! I realize how important it is to me to continue to pick up the camera, share the beauty and wonderment that is unfolding every day. And perhaps one day, if I'm lucky, they will cherish these memories that are being created moment by moment, week by week.
I'm happy to have re-surfaced. The view is nice from here.