Monthly Archives: December 2012

fawned friday

01) Oh my bee bum, how I love wee bees.

02) Dreaming of open shelves and pretty labeled jars.

03) True story.

04) Note to self: find more mirrors and plants.

05) Love this image.  A deeply embedded smell and scene from days at work with my dad.

06) For a good laugh.

07) I love me some beets.

08) What a wonderful reminder.

09) Lusting after all things cast iron and enamel these days.

10) I am quite certain this book will be under the tree this year.

P.S.  I am  grateful the world didn’t end today.  I mean 99% of me knew it wouldn’t end, but the other 1% of me thought we were being awfully arrogant considering we are fragile creatures hurdling through space on a giant rock and that our very exisistence is due to some well timed chemical reactions.  Afterall, Science is magic that works – Kurt Vonnegut}

There is so much beauty in the world.  Snow, glorious snow.

 

{fawned fridays inspired by miss fawn}

 

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with a heavy + grateful heart

This task has been hanging over us for some time now.  We knew when we bought these chicks from Andrew and Kira back in June that we would be putting the roosters in our freezer.  They had a happy and natural life in every way.  They free ranged by day and roosted in a large coop by night.  Aside from the odd game of harmless chase with the children and dogs, they were free to be chickens.  Because they had lots of space they very rarely even picked fights with each other.  It really was a good life punctuated with a not so great final 30 seconds.

Andrew and Kira had offered to show us (by that I mean Mike) the process they use.  They arrived early, we chatted, sipped coffee while the kids played on the ice and followed our tame outdoor rabbit Sugarfoot,  and then proceeded to get ready.  I thought I would stay away entirely, but decided at the last minute to watch the process.  It ended up being Kira doing the task and the teaching.  There is something comforting to me about a woman doing the job.  She is a calm and gentle soul and it gave me an even deeper sense of peace with the whole process.  Once the ball was rolling, the task went quickly and Mike told me later that Kira makes for wonderful teacher.

Poppy was a bit confused, but we took turns explaining what was happening in the simplest terms possible.  She seemed to understand to some extent and innocently said to me “No, you can’t eat animals, that’s yucky”.  Silas took that time to have a complete melt down so I took our kids inside for a snack where we checked on things from the window from time to time.

I was relieved when it was all over and now that we have 7 chickens in our freezer neither of us have an appetite for chicken.  I remember my dad telling me about my Gramma not being able to eat her chickens for quite some time after processing them herself.  I guess we just feel it proper to give it a window of grace.  A moment of quiet gratitude.  A moment to process our own emotions.  A moment to allow it to cross some arbitrary threshold where it becomes meat rather than a living, breathing creature that once grazed on our land.  Mike was a bit quiet and reserved for the remainder of the day, perhaps processing his first experience with killing something himself.

My issue is not in this method of raising and killing animals ourselves, but more with the bigger question of if I should be eating meat at all.  I came to the realization that if I am to eat meat, I am responsible for the death of an animal regardless of whose hands do the deed.  To send them away or to buy from the conventional market simply makes it easier for me to continue with the easy disconnect.   That being said, if it were left to me and me alone, I would not eat meat again and wouldn’t find it to be a grave hardship.  I have always struggled with eating meat on a personal level and this practice has brought me face to face with that issue; just as having a responsible, respectful organic beef farmer for a father and a responsible, respectful hunter for a step father has done throughout my entire life.  I believe that chickens and other animals are capable of forming bonds and “friendships”; they know the primal sense of pleasure of warming themselves in the sun; they break off into their own groups and have roosting buddies; comforting bonds if you will.  It may be on a primal level, but just because they cannot contemplate these bonds and attachments, doesn’t mean they don’t occur.

The Hoff and the ladies laid low under the cedar tree for the remainder of the day.  Usually Mike shuts the coop door each night, but that night I went out to say goodnight and thank you.  The 4 Barred Rock ladies were sitting on one roost while the 5 Wyandottes sat on a much higher roost.  The Hoff sat alone and alert on his own looking a little disoriented.  He watched me cautiously as I talked in a soft voice.  I told him I needed him to remain a gentleman and he curiously cocked his head and looked me in the eye.  I hoped we had reached an understanding and so far he has held up his end of the bargain.  I went out again a little later just to look in the window and he had snuggled right in with the older girls on their roost.  I was glad for that.

This way of doing things isn’t for everyone, nor is it emotionally easy, but for us, it is right.  When I think of how conventional meat ends up on the table the decision is easier.  This was not something we took lightly.  We are grateful for the meat, we are grateful for organic farming parents and friends who help and support us so fully along this path we are choosing.

go gently + be wonderful

e,

Posted in celebration, ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homesteading, life, Uncategorized, wellness | Leave a comment

an hour in the day in the life of

damn dog

All of my furniture looks a bit like this...

Pulling EVERYTHING out of their toybox while I do damage control in the other corners of the house

Sitting on the stove with a cheese grater trying to pry open the bottle of vitamins

I never thought I would be one of those greasy pony tailed moms, and yet here we are. That aint product ladies and gentlemen.

Where do you figure all that apple peel is going? Why it is in a little pile at my feet of course.

Annnnnnnd, he's out.

 

Just in case you forgot, I don’t have all my shit together.

This morning I woke to find that the dog had tried to pull the homemade bunting garland off our tree sometime in the night.  I looked over and he was laying on his bed, clearly exhausted from being up all night.  Thankfully we had the foresight to anchor that shit to the wall or I am sure it would have been much worse than cockeyed and disheveled.

Before I had kids I would read blogs and articles about the insanity of motherhood and the peanut butter smeared on every imaginable surface and I thought I would be different.  “Oh no!”  I told myself.  “I will be pretty and fit and always always shave my legs.  I will never, ever give them sugar or processed foods.  My house will be clean and perpetually smell like apple pie.  Oh and I shall knit all their clothes and let them play only with homemade wooden toys.”  Yeah, I was a douche bag.  It wasn’t my fault really.  I know friends and family members who have no kids are thinking the same thing when the read this stuff and witness it first hand.  I just bite my tongue when I feel the urge to enlighten them.

I never thought I would be the frazzled looking mom with the greasy pony tail buying stupid toys because I just don’t want to deal with the meltdown.  And yet, here we are.  I can’t recall the last time I washed my hair.  Monday maybe?  Wait, what day is it anyway?  I never thought my body would ever be this doughy.  The other night I was going through old photos and I realized a few things; 1) just how much I had neglected my eyebrow manicuring since Silas was born; 2) I had no idea what a messy house was back then; 3) how perfectly wonderful my pre baby body was (yeah, the same one I loved to loathe back in the day) and 4) what the hell did we do with all our spare time and energy?!

Fast forward to today, and it would appear that Huck and kids are in cahoots to make me mental.  After nearly four years of being a mom, I am still astounded by the damage they can do in very short periods of time.  Every time I take 15 minutes to do something that isn’t perpetual sweeping, picking up, or tidying, any semblance of order quickly dissolves.  It is ridiculous.  I know my attempts are futile, but if I were to stop, I am quite sure our house would look like an episode of Hoarders in about 48 hours.

I am certain our children are no different than any others in their mess making abilities, though I like to believe they are rather gifted in this category.  They paint windows and tables with their food and leave trails and piles of apple peel in every imaginable place.  I have a pile of dirt, fur, glitter, cereal, and paper in the corner that I feel isn’t worth my while to pick up with the dustpan until it resembles a small mammal.  What is the point, a new pile is only an hour away.

I brush Poppy’s hair at least once, if not twice per day, but you would never know it.  It resists order just as much my two children do.  I fold blankets and stack them on a chair to place in a cupboard only to turn around and see that someone has efficiently flipped them off and unfolded them while I was changing a diaper, sopping up spilled milk, or filling a snack request.  I clean one side of the front room while they pull the opposite side apart.  And so goes my day.

I’d like to get out more, but that is a feat in and of itself.  Even when they are strapped into a double wide jogging stroller with books, toys, drinks, and snacks the demands are endless and I can’t fit through most store doors or aisles anyway.  I always think I am going to be uber productive, but my nerves (and therefore, my brain functioning) are usually shot after about an hour or two.

I am a rumpled mess 98% of the time and I sometimes fantasize about what we would do if we didn’t have kids, but then I remember the wise words of my very favourite comedian Louis CK, “What the hell is an adult without kids?  What’s the point?”.  Someday my house will be quiet and orderly and my brain functions will return to normal and I know I will get weepy just thinking of their sweet little jam covered faces and the way they smell after a bath in their fresh jammies.  My only hope is that they give me loads of grand kids, visit often and forgive my parenting blunders.

Until then, I have a glittery creature in the corner to either name or dispose of and a toddler who has unraveled a spool of thread and needs detangling.

Posted in family, life, our cabin, Uncategorized | 24 Comments

some days are better

Yesterday was restless and rough.  Paint smeared across furniture, Huck stealing homemade pizza from the counter top, and yarn unraveled.  T’was not a stellar day in my parenting career thus far, that is for certain.  It ended with me laying rumpled on our bed in a dark room wishing I was more patient; better; different.

Today has been better.  Christmas crafting, roughhousing and hugging, soup warming on the wood stove, and sitting cuddled under a creamy blanket watching The Sword in The Stone.  The tree line out front is hazed by heavy layers of falling snow.

I am looking forward to the slow days of our Christmas vacation; a visit to the farm (and if we’re lucky, a horse drawn sleigh ride), puzzles, books, afternoon coffee, all day snacking, perpetual Christmas movies and music, visitors, walks in the woods, campfires, sleeping in front of the fire, and gingerbread houses.

Yes, I intend to savour every little morsel of Christmas goodness because I know January, February, and March will be good, but oh so long.

In other news, I am very excited about what 2013 holds for my wee photography business.  I am feeling inspired and hopeful.  If you haven’t already, be sure to “like” my new Facebook page to learn about mini sessions and other updates.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to book a photo session for the new year.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Have a merry day, folks!

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Posted in celebration, craft, ellenberger organic farm, family, feather + anchor, homeschooling, life, photography + writing | 5 Comments

wood warms you thrice

There is a saying that wood warms a person three times; once when you cut it; once when you stack it; and once when you burn it, but we are quickly learning the other benefits of heating with wood.

Mike and I both have fond memories of wood heat in our childhoods, but there was a long stretch of time in which we lived without one.  When we moved into this house it was early spring and shortly after, we had our insurance adjuster through for an inspection.  He found that the WETT certificate we received during the purchase of the house was in fact for a different stove.  He told us it would need upgrades before we could safely use it.  It was going to cost over $500 dollars to fix it, so we decided to wait and simply use our propane furnace.  After our first $600 tank refill in November we decided we needed a new game plan.  We hadn’t ordered wood so we only had what the previous owner had left.  We were paying through the nose to keep it at a chilly 64 degrees.  The windows and ceiling upstairs was getting condensation on it due to poor insulation.

In January we shelled out the money to have it fixed and WETT certified.  In February we ordered our $825 truckload of logs.  In March, we paid $450 to have our furnace fixed when it conked out in the middle of the night.  We ended up spending $1600 in propane last winter.  We were using approximately 1% of the tank each day and refills usually cost about $400.  It was an expensive winter to say the least.

In an effort to save money this year, our goal is to not turn on our furnace until we absolutely must.  So far so good,  though it has been a mild Fall.  We still have some late winterizing to do such as creating a room around our water tank in the cellar basement, putting plastic over our drafty front door, and adding insulation under our floor.

Yesterday, my step-mom came to take care of the kids so Mike and I could get out for some Christmas shopping and time to ourselves.  It was so very much appreciated.  When we arrived home she told us she cooked supper (potatoes and sausage) on the woodstove.  I was thrilled.  After all, I had been meaning to try it, but thought it would take hours just to cook some potatoes due to the double plate on top of it, so it hadn’t been a priority.  Today was a rainy day and it felt fitting to heat our lunch on the woodstove.  It worked brilliantly.

It occurred to me how intricately wise the old ways can be.  Our wee, basic, and rather inefficient woodstove warms our house, dries our clothes, resolves the humidity/condensation problem, and now cooks our food.  At first glance one would think that technology has streamlined and simplified our lives, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here does it?  For it has effortlessly replaced or reduced the need for our furnace, our dryer, our dehumidifier, and our stove.  Depending on the type of day we often hold temperatures around 70 to 75 glorious degrees.

Over the winter I will be making it a new habit to turn our electric stove on less and using the woodstove to make what I can.  I am thinking morning oatmeal, Christmas day cider, and hearty soups.  The one “issue” would be that it is at the opposite end of the house to our kitchen so it means a lot of running back and forth.  It also requires a bit of counter space.  To fix this, I will be digging out my cast iron frying pan, creating a makeshift counter top on top of the woodbox, and gathering a few essentials such as a cutting board, oven mitts, salt and pepper, wooden spoons and a flipper to hang on the logs for easy access.  Someday, we will upgrade our stove and I think a small cookstove will be in order, but that won’t likely be anytime soon.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a rather perfectly rainy December Sunday awaiting me.  Lasagna to heat up, crocheted washcloths to make, and two wee ones to cuddle.  Perhaps we will end off with a little more Christmas caroling as Mike learns new tunes on the ukulele.

Happy Sunday, friends.

 

go gently + be wonderful

 

e.

 

 

Posted in ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homesteading, life, our cabin | 4 Comments