Saturday, March 19, 2016

Around the Farm ~ Early Spring

With the approach of the first day of spring this weekend, we are itching to get back outside again.  Part of our trip preparations is getting early spring work around here wrapped up before we leave.  We are typically home over spring break and with the exception of maybe a long weekend away with the kiddos, dedicate this time to preparing for the garden season.  Thankfully we got ourselves well ahead of the game with our fall wrap up, so the pressure is down.  We did evacuate the winter's straw layers from the hen house this morning, cleaning and prepping their digs for warmer weather to come and some added roommates in early summer.  Our compost heap is cooking away and growing nicely with the addition of chicken and pig litter.  We should have an excellent batch for late summer top dressing and fall bed replenishment.

We are rewarded in early spring with the first buds, and baby plants poking through the soft wet earth.  The maple trees branches are beginning to get heavy with deep burgundy flower poofs, that do not put on much of a show, and make a huge mess when they drop, but are a welcome sign of spring none the less.

The giant rhubarb plant looks like it enjoyed its winter nap covered in compost, I suspect this will have just burst in growth by the time we get back.

The garlic is doing beautifully with rows upon rows of shoots finding their way to the surface.

The horseradish plants are also looking robust early on, and as I mentioned earlier this week, the spinach in the cold frame should soon be ready to eat.  Everything seems to be running right on schedule!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Crunch Time & Friday Randoms

This week has been full of tying things up before we head to Spain.  We never leave town for more than a week and it seems that being gone an extra three days really makes a huge difference when planning, arranging, and packing (which I haven't begun to do yet).  The kids are playing hooky for three days next week, it is a partial week before spring break and we decided that a few days at the end of break to recover from jet lag before school started again was a smart move.  However, I didn't anticipate when I booked the trip six months ago that next Wednesday would end the quarter at school.  So the kids have had their own crunch time getting things finished or done in advance to turn in early.  Ah well, it's Friday and we are in the home stretch!

:: I purchased a dryer ball felting kit from lil fish studios a couple of weeks back, and it is progressing nicely.  This is my first attempt at felting and the methodical needlework is quite relaxing.

:: How can you go wrong with iced whiskey coffee?

:: Just a couple of weeks ago I was lamenting with my sister in law about what facial products she had found tried and true.  We had both been disappointed and as we begin to age were looking for a bit of a boost.  Then perfect timing!  A Cup of Jo had a post about this face oil.  It is pricey but was at a discount through the post with a special bonus.  I have only been using it for about 5 days, but it is absolutely amazing!  You need such small amount on a damp face that the bottle will last forever, making it a great value too.

::  I have been in a bit of a reading slump and am looking for a great airplane read.  What are you reading?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Working Towards Your Dreams

About seven months ago, Sidney took over a good portion of the household cooking.  She has always had an excellent palate, and cooked from time to time for our tastebuds group.  She also has never had any interest in following recipes.  Myself, I need a recipe, especially for baking.  I have learned over the years where I can add my own flare, and to make up simple mains, but with Sid it is different.  She has a voracious appetite for tasting every element, she likes to experiment with  an array of spices and eyeball ingredients.  She told me that she finds being in the kitchen calming and she does not mind in the least trying over and over again (that would frustrate me to no end!).

We moved to the homestead when she was six and Charles was four.  She has only shadows of memories from before we lived here.  Though she loved her show chickens and the space to run, neither of the kids had taken a tremendous interest in why we garden and preserve food as we do.  Though we told them ad nauseum, it has just always been there, something mom and dad did.  As I mentioned here, this year Sid is extremely interested in cooking seasonally available things, and was key in picking many of the seeds for the garden.  One of her favorite sweeteners is honey, and as it happens we just harvested a ton of it.  She is working on a position paper for school about the plight of the honey bee, and has expressed an interest in learning the ropes from the inside looks like we will have to get her a bee suit so she can help B when our new packages arrive.  

All this said, she has aspirations of Culinary School, and has always enjoyed writing and taking pictures.  This weekend she launched her own blog to record her journey.  We are so proud of her actively working to make her dreams a reality.  Introducing honey and spice [and everything nice]   Please take a moment to look at her initial post and click the follow on bloglovin' box in the right column!  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March's Orders = April's Arrivals

March always brings with it a flurry of planning activity.  Just seeing the spinach begin to grow in the cold frame sparks garden fever.  The seed and chick orders are finalized and placed, and bee packages have been ordered.  As March is for planning, April will be for arrivals.  With Sidney's growing passion for cooking she took a special interest in the seed selection this year so that we could grow what is most tempting her culinary appetite.

Sadly, we lost our hive, so this week we harvested all of the remaining honey stores.  It left us with just over 2 gallons of fresh honey to use for the next year, which is a sweet reward for a sad outcome. Such is the circle of life, that teaches us unending appreciation for all of the hard work our busy bees do in helping our garden grow.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tilting at Windmills- A Re-Introduction

As we approach the spring, I have tasked myself with completing an A-Z Blog Challenge in the month of April.  April also marks the beginning of my ninth year in the blogosphere.  After eight years, 1243 posts, and over 105,000 unique views, I find myself circling around new ideas.  My brain is percolating what is important.  The original premise of this sacred space remains.  A place to journal our growth in no small part because our families live afar and it is a way for our loved ones to keep up with our daily life.  Our collective experiences are allowing us to grow and evolve together, and that metamorphosis will also be captured here.

What is Tilting at Windmills??

Some may think that running a small business and raising kids is enough.  Some may think that purchasing a 130 year old farmstead on six acres so that we can work tirelessly in our gardens, eat seasonally, preserve food, take care of farm animals and reach for a sustainable lifestyle in our 'spare time' is just 'Tilting at Windmills'.  That we are reaching for some unattainable ideal of the past.  Well, if raising our kids in a contemporary world while teaching them a simple appreciation for what is so often taken for granted is that, then we proudly tilt.  This blog is a reflection of our family's life adventure balancing a modern world with the simpler things.  Taking a more sustainable and less travelled by road.

Thank you for all of those who have listened to me over the years, and I welcome those new to me, come along and join us on our journey!

Friday, March 4, 2016


Sidney has been working extra hard on her Spanish in the months preceding our trip.  She is in high school Spanish II and has been supplementing with Spanish lessons on Duolingo (where she is also learning German).  She has been watching some novelas and as we leave at the end of this month, she has also begun listening to Spanish music channels on Spotify.  She decided last night that we need to sharpen our skills, so armed with a pile of sticky notes, began to label the house.  What topped the evening off was the Spanish morphing to German text conversation that she had with her grandparents last night.  Her dedication is admirable and a bit infectious, I am feeling the urge to brush up on my Spanish. Hmmmm, I wonder what I can get accomplished in the next three weeks?!


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