Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The ABC's of Thankfulness

The Pioneer Woman did this post this morning and I was taken by the idea so here are my ABC's of thankfulness.

As I did this exercise, I realized that the ABC's of Thankfulness are rooted in Abundance.

Brian, my life mate, nuff said.

Charles, our boy so full of life.  He is energy personified,  with his quick wit, thoughtful observations, and constant activities, there is never a dull moment.

My Dad is a big kid at heart and one of the most generous people that I know.  It is always a treat to watch the kids see the holidays through Papa's eyes and vice versa.

Emerson, the most energetic of 18 month old puppies is at once a love, frustration, {{squirrel}}, guard dog, and innocent.

Our little Farm has been the center of our life for over eight years now and I am so thankful for the lessons we have learned.

Girlfriends.  They say it takes a village and it most certainly does.  I am fortunate to have a village of strong women in my community who are phenomenal at stepping up and lifting one another up.

Our Honda has been work horse for us and with over 170,000 miles on it still going strong, I hope I am still thankful for it next year! :)

I love that the kids still have active and vibrant Imaginations.

It has been 16 years since we've had a kitten in the house and our little Juno is quite the handful.  I love that she has both of the dogs wrapped around her little paw, she is quite the partner in crime!

In late fall or early winter I always pull out my Kitting.  Since I always seem to need to be engaged, I love that keeping my hands busy can also be relaxing.  This year I have branched into new things, beanies and infinity scarves, short projects that pack a lot of punch!

This year we had an abundant Lavender harvest.  I love that we have this surplus to play with!

My Mom is such important figure in my life, a week does not go by that I do not talk to her multiple times.  Funny, as I get older the more we look alike, and uh the more I find myself like her.

The days continue to shorten as we near the solstice, I love the urge to Nest as we circle around hearth and home.

Learning about essential Oils has been a journey and something that has enhanced our goals of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

Our Pigs, a new adventure this year and what fun they have been.  They have such personality, you cannot help but smile.

Quiet moments, always something to be treasured.

Family is A-number one in our book, and I love that we are able to be with our Relatives for the holidays.

Sidney, one of the most creative people I know.  She is an old soul who awes me every day.  We are forever blessed for our first born.

Our Tastebuds group for being our second family.  Such joy this dynamic group has brought to our lives.

I'm afraid that it is Utterly impossible for me to come up with a decent 'U' word. :)

Vibrant fall sunsets.

I so enjoy sipping a little Whisky on a cold evening.

Xander, farm poodle extraordinaire

I am thankful for Yoga, it has given me more balance, flexibility and strength.

I am always thankful for a good night's Zzz's.

Monday, November 16, 2015

In the Garden ~ November 15

I never thought that I would have the opportunity to write an in the garden post on November 15!  Yesterday was a gorgeous 65 degrees,  rare for mid-November.  After last week's 'final' push outside winterizing I decided that if we could not squeeze anything else in, then I was perfectly happy with the clean up and jump start that we had on the garden for spring.  We were fortunate that he weather stars aligned this weekend and we finished everything!  Every single garden bed has been top dressed with compost and covered.  The hugelkultur, garlic and sun chokes are heavily mulched in straw.  The compost is cooking, and the French Lavender is still giving us a fragrant hint of green.  We have kohlrabi, kale and leeks still in the ground and there they will remain while they are perfectly happy.  We will re-move the leeks and plant them in a bucket of peat moss this year, we have heard that they will last a couple of months that way in our root cellar so we will give it a try.

Though very tardy, we got the pool closed.  We trimmed the large pines that are on our drive and around our entrance, picked up fallen sticks and had the final bonfire of the season.  Finishing up gave us a huge sense of accomplishment, I do not think we have ever had a season when we have been able to button up so thoroughly before the weather turned on us.  Even better, we both came in the house with pink sunburned faces....on November 15th!

Friday, November 13, 2015

The New Normal

It is hard to believe how briskly our world is changing, or maybe this new normal is just reaching its adolescence.  My daughter is a 2001 baby and had but a few short months before the world as we knew it changed forever.  Dates or location names are now adjectives reflecting what happened on that day, by terrorists of all stripes.   Security measures change as new tactics emerge, grow and develop.  What for this generation began as a massive coordinated attack now changes to somewhat smaller, yet no less devastating ones.  As a moody teenager pushing boundaries, the nature of these terror groups have changed, whether scattered or splintered, the tactics are being refined.

Our kids have had active shooter drills since Kindergarten, it is as normal to them as a fire drill.  I have the responsibility of training my staff on what to do or how to best attempt to react in an active shooter situation.  These are all things in our new normal.

I try to keep perspective, that statistically these things are rare.  I try to remain positive yet my heart aches for so many affected daily.  There was a threat, though found not credible, at my child's school earlier this week.  It all does feel very real.   We cannot live in fear or stop living, paralyzed by it.  We will travel next year and introduce our kids to the beauty and history of Europe.  We will send our kids to school as we trust that our wonderful educators will do all they can to keep them safe.  We will continue to go to movies or concerts. We must live fully even in this new normal.  The hope is that these volatile teenage years will pass and a new understanding will emerge to drive our world forward.  My heart goes out to Paris.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sunshine and Compost

We have had an absolutely beautiful fall.  This past weekend we were able to finish all of the mowing and leaf collecting while soaking up some vitamin D.

We still keep our old tractor around and hot wire it to work each season as our leaf collector fits specifically to it.  It does a fair enough job, the leaf collecting is a slow tedious process and the speed is about all that old red can handle.   We mow and mulch up windrows with the big tractor and that moves rather quickly, then do the collection.  We were able to add at least 8 loads of clippings to the compost.  As it turned out this year was the latest that we have gotten the collection done, and there are only two trees that have any leaves left and they are few.  The yard looks ready for winter.

We were able to add compost to and cover ten of the fourteen garden beds, and it looks like this weekend will be another nice one so we should be able to finish the rest.  Also a first, to get all of them done in one season before the snow flies.  It is a good feeling, because at this point we are just banking our hard work now toward an easier re-entry next spring.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wrapping up and Getting Cozy

We have been fortunate to have an Indian Summer since last Sunday, and it appears that today will be the last hurrah before the cooler temps and wet weather returns, I suspect for the duration.   This week has been about drying out from last weeks rain, leaving the fleece at home, and a last few days in flip flops.

We have spent spare moments basking in the warm fall sun, coming at us from that lower angle that makes everything golden.  Last weekend we finished a little winterizing in the pig barn giving the girls a new heated water tank.  We will begin our massive mowing and debris collection today to make next seasons compost.  We will also utilize our time this weekend to finish buttoning up the garden.  Yesterday afternoon we harvested our first horseradish.  It is a very cool plant that will come back from the remnants of root that we left in the ground.  I do not think I have smelled anything so striking as the fresh horseradish!

Sidney has been brainstorming and doing much of our cooking as late and has started to meal plan with me on Sundays for the week ahead.  Last night we made flat bread pizzas.  The dough is simple and delicious, you just need to plan a bit for it so that you leave yourself time to let it rise.  Once the bread was made, we each came in and smothered it in our toppings of choice and them baked them in the oven.  I must say that spicy mango chutney is the perfect base for a pizza!

Yesterday I got a book in the mail written by a blogger that I follow called The Year of Cozy.  I have just begun to page through it, but it is full of great recipes, crafts, and homemade projects by month/season that are all about slowing down and enjoying each day.  I think it will be the perfect inspiration as we head into the holiday season.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Icing on the Cake

This year we decided to try our hand at a halloween party.  The kids were each able to invite a handful of friends, and between pinterest and our imaginations a party took shape.

For teenagers we decided lots of food, treats, and a handful of games would give them plenty to do. Sid created a Halloween playlist on spotify that was full of great tunes.  We began with one before dark activity, a scavenger hunt where clues led the kids to all areas of the farm and in different directions.  This was my first experience with a scavenger hunt.  One clue led to the next and it turned out great, however it was a comedy of errors to get it laid out and make sure that each teams clues worked!

Inside we had slices and bat wings to eat, along with a number of spooky libations.  There were blood samples, a caramel apple making station, and a guess how much candy is in the jar station

B lit a Swedish torch.  Of course there was an energetic game of hide and seek in the dark and the boys did a late night trampoline jumping session.  It was much harder to try to get any pictures of the boys because they were constantly moving!  They are really turning into little men with varying degrees of deeper voices, laughing as they jump and solve the worlds problems.

To top off the sugar high, Sidney made a birthday cake for her friend Mia.  This was a bit of a different party.  Charles had a great time with his friends, but this was the first time that Sid wanted to be very involved in the planning, setup and execution.  It was fun to watch her going around making sure everything was just right...Icing on the cake.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pampered Pigs

A co-worker of our has a black walnut tree, that drops a prolific number of nuts each fall.  This year B decided that he wanted to take them off of their hands to use as pig fodder.  Black walnuts are pretty protected and you have to work quite hard to get to them.  When they fall they are covered in an almost tennis ball size husk.

B dumped said husk covered nuts on the drive and proceeded to run over them with the tractor.  Then you have to pull the nuts out of the husks by hand.  The inner husk has a green colored dye like substance so you have to wear gloves for this part or you will be carrying remnants of your adventure around with you all week.

What we are left with are loads of black walnuts drying out.  Pigs are supposed to be quite partial to all kinds of nuts.  We have been a bit disappointed in how picky Mabel and Penelope are when it comes to kitchen scraps, so I remained skeptical.

Yesterday, B began to crack some nuts for them and they absolutely love them!  We haven't been able to get them to crack them on their own yet.

As with raising many an animal, it is a labor of love, and the gleeful pig sounds as thanks were worth it!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Medicinal Honey

Raw honey has any number of health benefits on its own.  It can be helpful in anything from wound treatment to seasonal allergies.  This cold and flu season in addition to diffusing essential oils and in light of last Christmas' nightmare making sure everyone had their flu shots, I decided to infuse some honey to aid in pesky sore throats and coughs.

I filled a pint jar about a quarter full with Cassia and Ginger chunks and dried orange peel.  Then I topped it with some of the honey that we harvested this past January.  I left it on the counter for two weeks, and inverted the jar a few times each day.

This morning I strained the honey and oh my what a wonderful flavor!  It will be the perfect comfort in a cup of hot tea or the occasional toddy!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Frosty Sunrise

There is no better time than the fall and the show put on by first frosts.  Happy Sunday!

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
-   George Cooper, October's Party

Friday, October 16, 2015

Freeze Tag

Fall with all of its beauty and activities also hits you with the urgency brought by the change in seasons that every living thing seems to feel.  Wild animals have an urgent need to put up their winter stores whether it be the squirrels going like crazy collecting and burying nuts or mammals like raccoons, foxes and coyotes trying to pack on a little extra insulation.   If we are going to have a predator problem it will be in the fall.   We have been fortunate in the last several years, but this fall we have had a pesky raccoon (we think) that has culled our egg laying flock by four in the last month.  The most recent a straggler who didn't head for the coop to roost last night and was inadvertently locked out.  Fall is the time of year when extra little tasks, like re-fortifying small flaws in the chickens' fenced in yard, get piled on the list of busy harvest and closing down related chores.

Today, we have the added frenzy of freeze tag.  Our first and season ending freeze will happen this evening.  I do not remember having a freeze warning this early before.  We have certainly had frost advisories this early in the past, but the term freeze warning makes gardeners do double time.  We have been pretty close to done with the garden for a little while now, grabbing a straggling tomato for a sandwich from time to time.  But today, TAG, we are it!  So off we went to harvest the remaining green tomatoes, those peppers that we let continue on for fresh, and though perennial, our abundance of delicate sage.

So, mowing or weeding be damned!  In today's little game of tag, plans are changed up a bit because once you harvest certain things, they just cannot be left to sit.  So I spend time bundling sage to hang and dry in the basement, and also put together a few smudges.  As with any game of tag, freeze tag does leave you invigorated and perhaps a little more motivated to push on.  Oh!!  And Mabel went in to heat yesterday for the first time.  So perhaps in about 18 days or so, we will see if we can't inseminate her and have our first farrowing experience this winter!


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