Thursday, April 24, 2014

The barn goes from 5 does to 14 in eight days!

 This winter we managed to bring our goat numbers down to six does. I did attempt to have them all bred last fall with the plan to keep my three to four favorite milkers and just milk them through for a couple years without re-breeding in an attempt to scale down the farm chores and feed costs. Five of the does ended up bred. The sixth doe was a two year old that never cycled this past fall. I have a theory (not just mine I'm sure) that when I wait until the second year to breed, that sometimes the yearling/one and a half year old gets too fat and then she doesn't cycle. I've had this happen twice now and wasn't able to ever get the doe bred. Both times we ended up butchering the doe and sure enough, in the words of my friend who did all the butchering work,"She was the fatest goat I've ever seen". If I had it my way the younger goats would just get brome hay, but as I have them all in together, they all got a majority of Alfalfa this winter which probably didn't help. Moral of the story, is that I'm more inclined to breed the first year.

So, here is everyone's kidding stories.

Zuri: I had already been doing midnight or rather 3 a.m. barn checks for over a week when Zuri came into labor. It was a couple days before she was due, but it was full Moon which tends to help things out sometimes. Her udder hadn't gotten enormously full or anything, but I noticed her ligaments were completely gone Sunday morning. My family was coming over to celebrate Noah's 8th birthday. We've had at least two other goats kid on Noah's birthday, and we knew it would be likely this year as well. I got to visit for a few moments with family but then had to leave D to cook burgers, prep hamburger toppings and heat fries etc. while I played mid wife. We have a security camera in the goat stall that connects to a small t.v. in the living room, so everyone got to watch Zuri push out a healthy black and tan buckling and a solid black doeling with white frosted ears and nose. I went in on the buckling when I realized he had a leg back, but it was quick and smooth to get the leg forward and pull him out. Both are good size and vigorous. I named the doeling Ember. She is a darling and my overall favorite of the season. She is just flashy, long and level.

Camelot: Later that night it appeared that Cammie was in labor. This was a surprise because I had bred her so many times that I didn't even bother putting her due date on the calendar as she had never seemed in heat or had been receptive. I grabbed some sleep and then went to sit with her around 4 a.m. She kidded to a small buckling. I was a little surprised to see how small he was as I would have thought that she'd either have one big kid or two small ones. But she seemed done and was interested in her baby. I bounced her (a technique where you stand behind and lift her belly to feel for kids/bones and knobby parts) didn't feel anything so proceeded with newborn care. Cammie was being very attentive and started passing placenta. The buckling was nursing fine so we called it a night.

Denali: Tuesday night Denali went into labor. I thought she was going to make short work of it so I invited Noah to join me as they are close. Little did I know that we'd be up late into the night. It was one of those kiddings where she seemed to be pushing and you'd think she'd progress quicker but she didn't so you wonder constantly if everything is alright and if you should go in. While we were sitting with Denali, all of a sudden Cammie started pushing like she was kidding. I figured right away that she must have another kid inside - (who would no longer be alive by now.) Sure enough, it took a lot of work with Noah holding her, but I finally pulled out a slightly decomposing buckling. And boy did that feel good when I finally got it out as I was beginning to think I'd need to call the vet. This was the first time we've had a doe retain a kid after delivering one. Afterwards I was worried about Cammie's health. After consulting my goat herbal I gave her olive oil with cayenne tincture, echinacea tincture, fresh rosemary, goldenseal and fresh garlic orally and cayenne, rosemary, garlic and an antiseptic herbal blend into her uterus. I also gave her low bush cranberries which she ate as well as warm black strap molasses water. The next day I repeated this dose three times over the day but I was worried that she had a uterus infection and that it may not heal completely or worse, that she might die. So I consulted with my vet and got antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory and a calcium injection for good measure. I was feeling like I was not in the mood to mess around - or lose a good doe. I've continued giving her the herbal treatments as well. She is on day nine of her antibiotics and seems almost back to normal. Her buckling is growing solid. She is a great first timer mom despite the circumstances.

Denali kidded to a super cute black and white doeling with fun white markings. Unfortunately Denali rejected her doeling after the stress of labor. We have had this happen before with first timers and they have always come around. We kept Esther in a kennel inside her mother's pen. For a couple days we held Denali every few hours so that Esther could nurse. After three days Denali had decided that her daughter was pretty great after all and she is now taking care of her daughter and they are both doing well.

Dahlia lost her ligaments and starting behaving oddly on Friday, but waited until Saturday afternoon to kid. Which in some ways was considerate of her if I had not been waking up every hour to check on her, afraid that I'd miss being there for her. Her labor went well. She had a small black and tan buckling followed by a small black and tan doeling, both with white marks on their foreheads. Dahlia has been a great first timer mom. Her kids were nursing well from the get go and she has been very protective over them and not wanting to leaver her pen. So, I've just been leaving her to do her thing.

Xanadu usually kids on day 153 which is three to four days later than most my does. But she is usually consistent so I was planning on her kidding on Saturday day 153. She was HUGE! We were pretty sure she was having triplets. Sunday morning she had lost her ligaments completely and she was acting strange. Of course it was Easter and we had big plans to share Easter dinner with family away from the house. I was pretty sure that she was going to wait until later in the night to kid so we went ahead and left the house. By the time we were on the way home I was on the edge of my seat. However, we hadn't missed anything. Sunday night passed, we watched her closely all day Monday. She did lots of up, down, up, down, pawing, pacing etc. She ended up waiting all the way until Tuesday night to kid. Of course by then I was already sleep deprived from the past two nights. I was headed to bed around 11 when I noticed a long trail of goo hanging from her backside. I stayed up to watch her for an hour and decided I could head to sleep for a couple hours. Ended up in the barn at 3 a.m. First came a solid light brown/grayish doeling of good size. I went in to see what was up and found a head, so I reached down and pulled forward both legs to help her come out easier. A second bubble started coming out shortly thereafter and I pulled out our first Chamoisee (the fancy term on Xan's registration that describes her coloring) doeling out of Xanadu. We've had bucklings that have looked like her but never a doeling so that was fun. Then the third kid was solid brown, darker than the first. And it was a female too! So our first set of female triplets born here on the farm, and all with different coloring than we usually have. Mama was very attentive and the doelings were strong and quick to catch on to nursing - although Xan's big teats always poses a mouthful for new kids.

The next day we noticed that Xanadu was rejecting the brown kids and favoring the Chamoisee kid. We held her so that everyone could nurse. I put the kids in a kennel so that they would be safe at night. Today she was favoring a brown kid and rejecting the other two. I think she may just be overwhelmed by all three of them. By tonight I saw her nursing the kids on her own, so hopefully she'll stop being such a stinker.

It has been a while since we have had first timers kid. Camelot is a Xanadu grand daughter. She is out of our buck Zoro. Denali is a Xanadu daughter, also out of Zoro. Ironically enough I did not think Zoro made a very good buck. The only reason we kept both Cammie and Denali is that they were the kids favorites, and as a result are well handled and friendly. Both does look really nice. Their udders are lovely. Cammie's teats are perfectly plumb; even and hang straight down. They are nicely placed on the udder. They are pretty small, but they'll get bigger. Her udder has a nice shape and attaches smoothly to her body. Denali also has a nice looking udder. She looks like she will produce less than Cammie, and her teats point out just a bit, hopefully not enough to bother me when I milk (I hate having to tweak teats in towards the pail - just a pet peeve of mine). Dahlia is a Zinnia daughter, Rose grand daughter. Unfortunately I think she is the least quality of any offspring either ever had - but most of their daughters were very impressive. Dahlia came out of Xavier, our nicest buck. And her Dam was a beautiful doe. So I think that she will grow into her body. But right now I don't like the looks of her rump - not as wide or level as I'd like it. Her body is is short in length and height, but then she is only a yearling. Dahlia does have a nice looking udder. It has the shape of her grand dam's. I have a feeling she may be the best producer out of my three first fresheners, as her lineage have been my best producers.

 My camera broke recently and I have yet to replace it. Worst time of the year to lack a camera! I've taken a few pictures on my husband's work camera but as he takes it to work I have not had the chance to take many or upload them yet. So, here are a few I managed to get with my Ipod, but they aren't very good. More pictures coming soon of all our beautiful adorable goat babies.

 Cammie's buckling

Ember, still wet a wobbly.

In other news, the house is once again filled with the sounds of chicks peeping, some Ameracaunas and crosses that we hatched as well as some black sex links from the feed store. And in even bigger news, we have had a Black Lab puppy for two days now! We have been open to the idea of a puppy for a while now, but wanted to get one going into summer. We also didn't want to be pursuing puppies and instead were kinda hoping that it would just happen, and this one did. She is only about six weeks old, a little too young, but that is because her mom was hit by a car and died. Dustin was able to observe her for a while with her brother and three sisters. He was drawn to her right away. Needless to say we have all fallen in love with her. Her name is Kira. I managed to get a few shots last night.

Is there anything cuter than a six week old black lab?!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring is Here

 Well, of course it depends on your definition of spring. Snow still blankets the ground but bright warm sun fills our house and melts the roof, drip drip. Above Princess Spring battles King Winter, and ya know she always wins eventually.

Last week I helped put on a Spring Equinox celebration for Children of the Boreal, our Waldorf influenced home-school cooperative. In advance a girlfriend and I got together and made pussy willow nests, dyed eggs with onion skins wrapped around them among various other tasks. For the celebration we had a Time walker story accompanied by drumming and performed by an adult time walker. The children planted calendula and sunflower seeds in egg shells and had their faces painted. My children are still talking about how the feast was the best feast ever! The kids got to take home a "branch of spring"; a pussy willow branch tied with a pastel ribborn, an egg candle and a water color painting with a spring poem called Mother Earth Secrets.
 Eggs dyed with onion skins

And on the right, non dyed eggs from the Welsummers and Ameraucanas
 Here is a nest with Avery's beeswax egg candle and her Imbolc blessing.

 Seasonal Spring Table. I adore it!

 Avery so carefully helping in the kitchen.

 This weekend we went to the North American Dog Races. We have friends that have an Arctic BBQ each year and it has become a family tradition for us to join them. This was the warmest, least windiest day I can remember looking back at past years. (I think I must have had a smudge on the camera lens).

We have spent most the month of March battling one cold and then another. Thankfully despite having colds this week, the kids have been in good spirits. They decided it was time to ditch the snow pants and wear their water pants outside this week. I sat on our south facing back porch almost every afternoon during the heat of the day while the roof dripped and the kids played. One day I pulled out my banjo and tried to play but I did have to tune it twice in the space of just a few minutes. 

Due to a sinus infection that just won't go away, I haven't had much extra energy. D has been gone this week so meals have been simple. I am feeling behind on spring cleaning and seed starting, but there will be time to catch up after I regain my strength. Today I am setting eggs to hatch a few days before Easter. We have two weeks till the first goat kids are due. Almost time to put up the kidding panels and plug in the tv/goat stall surveillance camera. New udders are forming on at least one if not both doelings as well as a yearling. I think we have three if not four does kidding in the space of a week. So Exciting!

May your days be filled with sun, warmth, inspiration and energy!

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Week of March in Pictures

The sun is filling our home and we are thankful. Thankful that the long dark days are behind us and warm sunny days are ahead. We are thinking and dreaming of spring. This week the kid's and I made nests. The pictures above are of the kids making nests out of yarn, hay and other natural materials. I made a few nests using wire and Pussy Willow branches that turned out well.

 One of the best decisions I made this year for our home school days, was to have individual circle time with each of my kids. Last year there was daily strife during circle time; throwing bean bags too hard, intentional bumping or roughness, arguing or belittling each other, and I realized that their needs and wants were so different that they each needed their own circle and story time without the other around. As a result, Avery's circle time is cozy gentle preschool time with finger plays and lots of fairies. We do various nursery rhymes and basic introductory letter and number work. Above she is jumping over copper rods to Jack be Nimble Jack be Quick, she goes backwards or forwards depending on what I call out.

One, two, buckle my shoe as we toss a bean bag back and forth. Her catching skills are improving.
 Our alphabet song that we do motions and sign language to.

Noah's circle is a more rough and rowdy and challenging. Above he is balancing a copper rod on his head and then he sees how far he can walk with it. We do several bean bag activities that are tricky and take a while to learn. We are beginning to work on juggling. I think it would be great if we were both able to juggle.
 After circle, Noah reads me a couple first readers and then depending on the day, sometimes I read to him. Other days we do a story recall and then write out story summaries.

This week in school Noah worked with spelling stories and geometry.

 Avery has a Explode the Code primer work book that she likes to work in while Noah and I do his math lesson. I try to sellect letters for her to work on that I've already introduced via story and that she has had a week to work with already.

 I think gelled bone broth is a beautiful thing. I am consuming it almost daily in the form of various soups. I have miso or light vegetable soups for lunch most weekdays.

 Happy Geese eating their daily wheat grass.

 Afternoon goat walk. Gotta exercise those pregnant girls - and ourselves.

 "Come on, you guys want to run down the hill?"

Playing on the hill above the goats. The kids roll and slide and make-believe play on this hill just about every day while I milk.

And that pretty much sums up our first beautiful week of March.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Signs of Spring

It is beginning to feel like spring here. No, there is no mud or daffodils and yes, we still have two more months of snow. I guess signs of spring are relative. Here, the first signs of spring include the return of the sun, warmer temperatures, sighting more Red polls and Pine Gross Beaks as well as hearing a change in the bird calls, a noticeable increase in energy and optimism by all humans and animals alike, vibrant blue skies, pussy willows, dry roads and icy driveways. This weekend I started sowing the first seedlings, including onions, celery, slow growing herbs and some flowers for early flower pots. We also pulled out our electric incubator. My goal is to get eggs to hatch on Easter Day this year. I had the idea last year around Easter but it was too late - so what would be better than new little balls of fluff to make a day special?

We have about one month till the first goat kids are due. We currently have two milkers, two yearlings (almost two year olds) and two doelings (almost yearlings). I tried to breed them all, however the two yearlings never seemed to come into heat and I am concerned that they may be too fat - despite their limited diet of hay. Xanadu and Zuri - my two veteran milkers were in standing heat, and from what I can tell appear to be pregnant. One of the two doelings, Dahlia is forming the cutest udder you ever did see. My goal for the goat herd this year is to keep four milkers and sell the rest. Single kiddings would be fabulous but not likely. The only dry doe allowed to stay would be Denali, as she is still a doeling and she is very friendly. I am beginning to look into trying out a different breed of goat. I love my Lamanchas and my only complaint is the kidding difficulties that I have had. I don't know how much has been genetic as opposed to diet related. There is not a lot of information available on the subject. Most of our kidding problems have been kids with their heads turned back. I have a hard time getting and keeping their heads straight so that they can come out. You would think that having their heads turned back alongside their bodies is just poor luck, but we have seen it over and over again in the last three years in unrelated does, and it is becoming frequent enough that I'm beginning to think that there is some other cause. I was hoping that if we end up with four milkers, that I can try milking all four through next winter and not have to breed anyone until fall 2015 and still have plenty of milk for our needs. I would miss taking a spring of goat kids, but it would really simplify a year in goat care not having to deal with breeding, drying off, kidding, registering and selling.

I am enjoying these sun filled days immensely. I don't know that I've ever felt so full of joy in early March. It almost feels unnatural to be so perky this time of year. I wonder if it is all the fat soluble vitamin D and A that we are taking via the fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter supplements. Our days are a contrast of productive home days filled with lessons, spring cleaning and cooking and then days where friends bless us with their company; the kids play and I enjoy Mama soul time, singing and banjo playing. The highlight of our week has been Fridays, where we meet up with friends to ice skate, play hockey and visit at a playground and seasonal outdoor ice- skating rink close to our home.

March in Fairbanks means dog sledding races to watch, arctic barbeques, outdoor ice park with ice sculptures and a killer sledding hill; lots of winter fun to be had outdoors in the sun. If you are feeling the winter blues, I sincerely hope that my optimism will be contagious rather than irritating! (I've been on the other side) If you live nearby and need a dose of enthusiasm, come up for a soul visit!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Finding the balance between a Remineralizing diet and a Homesteaders diet

For a short time this winter, on the darkest, coldest days when my children moaned and groaned about coming outside for farm chores, I began to fantasize about taking a break from raising goats. I flirted with the notion of purchasing both a goat and cow share from the same farm. I could pick up a gallon of goat milk weekly for drinking and a gallon of cow milk for cream and yogurt making. I went on with my planning thinking that maybe we'd take this summer off raising meat birds or getting new layer chicks and let our chicken population drop so that we have just enough eggs for ourselves but not have to buy, haul, move and make so much chicken feed. I thought to myself how nice it would be to not HAVE to get out each day. Instead of spending our outside time doing chores, the kids and I could spend our time taking peaceful walks (I would not describe goat walks as very peaceful) together and going skiing.

When you've had a steady supply of your own eggs and milk for years and haven't had to buy any, you forget how much of a pain that is. Usually there is a month each year where we are only milking one goat that we were milking through without re breeding, or some years we have had a month or two where we stopped milking completely to let the does rest before kidding. As much as I think it will be nice to take a break from milking, it only takes till we use up the last jar of milk in the fridge before I realize how much I already miss it. Yes you can freeze milk, but for me it generally involves lots of frozen cracked jars and thawed milk that was once frozen never seems to be quite the same as fresh milk.

My fantasies about downsizing lasted less than a month and came to an abrupt halt the night I realized I had a mouth full of cavities. As soon as I started reading about the tooth re-mineralizing diet I realized how unique our position was. Instead of trying to find a source for grass fed organic milk or for grass fed liver, I just changed my habits and began drinking more milk and saving the livers from the chickens we butcher. Obviously they aren't grass fed this time of year. But the goats eat dried grass in the form of hay (not at all the same thing but better than primarily grain fed). I've started making changes to the goats and chickens diet. The chickens are getting wheat grass almost daily. I've started reducing the goat's grain ration and have increased the dried herbs and fresh vegetables they are getting. Thanks to my kale chip addiction (I average a bunch of kale in two days) and our every other day carrot and vegetable juicing schedule, we have a steady supply of kale ribs and carrot vegetable pulp coming out of the kitchen. We've also been feeding some of the small garden carrots and some of the withering cabbages to the goats as well. My goal has been to make sure the milkers get a couple big handfuls of fresh vegetables on top of their grain daily.

When we first started reading about eating liver, instead of getting online and ordering it, we butchered four roosters and saved all the organs to eat. In the past we have gone back and forth on what organs we save. I always save the feet, heart and neck for chicken bone broth. Sometimes we take the time to clean the gizzards for stock and sometimes not. From now on we will be consuming the livers as well, although I have to say I have a hard time with the texture still - it is just different and I'm hoping to get more accustomed to it.

So I've been thinking about the tooth remineralizing diet (which if you don't know what I'm talking about just scroll back a few posts), and how that coincides with a homesteading diet. The remineralizing diet recommends lots of seafood. However, we live in an Arctic Desert, hundreds of miles from the sea. AND seafood is expensive.... and as each year goes by I am beginning to think that our seafood has higher levels of mercury and other pollutants that at some point may outweigh the benefits. We do have our own Copper River Red Salmon that Dustin hauls out of the Copper River each summer. We have upped our Salmon consumption to Salmon dinner once a week and have started incorporating our canned smoked salmon into our lunches and snacks multiple times a week.

Thankfully we have our own raw goat milk that we drink daily. I make a half gallon of yogurt weekly as well as chevre that we eat daily - all highly recommended foods. We have our own chicken eggs and hope to have some goose eggs this spring. Thankfully we can supplement and play with our animals diets to make our own diets more healthy. Our freezer is still fairly full of goat, moose and chickens. We make bone broths every time we have leftover bones and I have been consuming it in soups almost daily. As far as vegetables go I roasted our last squash today. We are still enjoying our own fresh carrots, beets, cabbages and potatoes. In the freezer we still have stewed tomatoes, frozen thyme, zucchini, scallions, basil concentrate and greens. We still have our own honey on the shelf as well as flats of raspberry and blueberry jam as well as crabapple sauce, all sweetened only with our own honey.

As thankful as I am for our own produce, meat and eggs, I am also thankful that we have access to fresh produce from thousands of miles away. D went to the store today and his list looked like this: bananas, apples, oranges, grapefruit, kale, cilantro, scallions, spinach, lettuce, avocados, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, sour cream, nutritional yeast and pickled ginger. He added cauliflower, ham and sausages to the list and forgot the pickled ginger. We are consuming significantly less fruit than usual but way more vegetables. The kids use to eat fruit in the morning and in the afternoon and now we are down to about a fruit a day. I went most of the last two months without fruit with the exception of the occasional grapefruit, but it has all caught up to me and I am really craving fruit right now. I caved when I passed the Minneola oranges at the store last week and decided I've got to enjoy some fresh citrus while it is at it's best.

The more I look at our "old" diet, the more wheat and grains are really seeming more and more out of place. I do adore baking and eating bread. However, after my mini grain growing experiment this summer I am realizing that there is no way we could grow anywhere near enough wheat or other grains to meet our needs. Or if we did grow enough, I'd never have the patience to clean and process it. If it was up to me to grow and clean our own grains, we would hardly eat any because I do not make the time for tedious tasks such as that. How is it that whole grains have become such a big part of our diet? Mass machinery me thinks... Does grain have a place in the homesteaders diet?

In case you have any doubts, I am no longer fantasizing about downsizing. We are currently budgeting for bees, turkey poults and drip irrigation supplies. We are planning on hatching a small number of our own layer chicks and hoping that the Geese will hatch some goslings as well. I am hoping that all six of my does are bred but having a feeling that we got four out of six. Which will still give us plenty of milk, but will make it harder to sell the dry goats. My Fedco order is in and I pulled out the seedling rack this weekend to begin dusting off.

I know that a lot of you are homesteaders as we are. We think of ourselves as having common sense and not being easily swayed by the current diet trends. We eat real food. Food that we've grown, harvested, canned, dried, frozen, butchered, cured and smoked ourselves. We enjoy the challenge of seeing how much of our diet we can grow ourselves and how long we can get that food to last us through till the next growing season. The good news is that most homesteaders are already eating a diet high in raw milk products, healthy eggs, vegetables and self harvested fruit. It is gratifying to find compromise in what initially appears to be a very strict diet. I realize that I have a limited view of the homesteaders diet as I am thinking of our lives here in Interior Alaska and what we can grow and harvest ourselves. So feel free to jump in and share the foods that you consider to be your homesteading staples.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mother Intuition and tackling colds

Avery started coming down with a cold mid week. We cancelled our play visit for Wednesday afternoon. Then on Thursday we stayed home from a special Imbolc celebration that our home-school cooperative organized. That was a pretty big disappointment, especially for Noah who was not sick. Then today the kids were invited to spend the night at their Grandma and Grandpas with their cousins and mom and dad were going to have date night. So we are all disappointed that we've cancelled that as well. I told the kids today that their is an invisible cord that links me to them that allows me insight into what is best for them. I told them that while their umbilical cord is severed at birth, there is still a connection, and if I listen very carefully I can hear and see what each of them need. I told them this invisible cord is called Mama's Intuition. After this they asked if I could hear their thoughts and of course I didn't really want them to think that I could always hear their thoughts. But I did tell them that sometimes this connection allowed me a pretty good idea of what they were thinking. Then they each wanted me to say what they were thinking and how they were thinking and from the expressions on their faces, they were pretty impressed with my accuracy. Of course it wasn't difficult because we'd just been weighing the pros and cons of leaving the house to spend the night elsewhere while having a cold, and I knew how they each felt about it. Avery was disappointed because she was really looking forward to socializing with family. Noah was relieved because he'd rather spend the night in his own bed, especially if he is sick.

This has been one of our best winters as far as not being sick very often and when we do get a cold it is very short in duration. We've had a couple colds that we started to feel better by the second day and felt back to normal by the third, never having symptoms stronger than light headedness and a mild sore throat. We managed to make it through cold season without any colds and I thought it was because we were taking so much Colloidal Silver and Echinacea at the start of any sign of cold. We've been out of both for quite a while now. I decided that since I'd made my own Spilanthes tincture and glycerine that I'd try and use that instead of buying Echinacea tincture and glycerine. So I have been and it seems to work just as well which I'm excited about. This was our first January that I can remember where none of us had a cold.  I've started thinking that the reason we have not had any big colds is because we are all taking such high doses of High vitamin butter oil and fermented cod liver oil which has high really high amounts of the best source of fat soluble vitamin D and A.

My mothering intuition is strong and when I listen and follow through accordingly I am almost always thankful.  Sometimes I second guess myself, but I'm learning to trust myself more. Staying home and babying ourselves at the first sign of sickness really helps our colds not turn into monster colds, and we also recover quicker. Neither the kids or I have had any sinus infections or chest colds in at least a year or more like two. Not only that, but I was thinking how uncommon it is for children their age to never have had antibiotics for anything. Neither Avery nor Noah have never had a cold that was bad enough that I took them to the doctors and were prescribed antibiotics. Now I'll confess that part of this is my mistrust of western doctors and a stubbornness that if a cold is properly taken care of there should be no need for a doctor's interference.

When we feel a cold coming on we take immune supporting tinctures or glycerines of Echinacea or Spilanthes. We take extra vitamins and garlic supplements which prevents colds from going to our chests. We juice carrots and other vegetables, and drink herbal teas. We eat light meals, lots of bone broth, vegetable or miso soups. We limit sweets, dairy and grains even more than usual. We have easy, lazy days spent reading on the couch, but still get out for fresh air and movement, and we go to bed early. I use the netti pot multiple times a day if I feel off. I also drink fresh ginger root tea all throughout the day and eat spicy kimchi which helps with any congestion.

 If anyone has some more cold care tips leave a comment. Since we've had a battling cold sort of week, I realized that I've never written about what we do. I know that people get colds for a reason. There are theories about them helping our bodies detox or for those who never rest without encouragement, they force rest. I really hate being sick. Mostly it's because I don't get to take a break when I'm sick. Sometimes I do fantasize about being sick and getting to bury myself in my bed for a day or two without interruption. But farm chores, and two kids and wood stoves and meals and being sick all combined at the same time? No thanks. So, we'll keep looking for the most efficient and effective ways to battle our colds...while making the most of our forced home weeks.

Our homeschool week in pictures

 Avery, coloring in her main lesson book. This week we worked with letter R.

We are hitting that late winter hump, where my son says he doesn't feel like doing some of those things that we just have to do, like math lessons. I count myself lucky in that up until this point I have had two mostly willing and eager students. Last week Noah said he wasn't in the mood for our morning circle time, so we scrapped it. The next morning I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea; I thought we'd take the week off our normal circle activities and all three do yoga together. Yoga followed by our Mr McGregor/Bunny chase game lasted one morning, and then the next day was met with we scrapped that and just got to the meat of the matter which was probably also met with groans.

This week went a little smoother. I abbreviated our circle time which usually includes an assortment of movement verses, finger plays, songs while running and skipping, alphabet and counting verses, bean bag games, string games, clapping games,  copper rod games and a Yup'ik language call and response segment. This week I made sure to plan out our math so that I squeezed two lessons into the first three days of the week; busting out six lessons and still getting the end of the week off math.

 Noah worked with subtraction facts this week. Here he is playing a subtraction chain game.

 Yesterday Avery asked if she could do some needle felting. She ended up making herself a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato, a lettuce leaf, a blob of ketchup and a white plate.

While I had computer time and while Avery needle felted, Noah set out several game boards that he combined to make his own strategy game. He spent hours playing it. I am ignorant of the rules, but it seemed pretty creative and clever of him.
 Here is Noah drawing Stars in his form drawing journal. He worked on drawing them all week at the chalkboard and at the end of the week he draws them into his book.

 This morning Avery sat down with her potholder loom, and then Noah went and got his and they both spent an hour on the couch crafting.

Over the past few weeks Noah and I have been reading the Enki Sage story of Harriet Tubman. Next week will be our last week working with this material and then I think we will expand it and take a deeper step into African American culture through dance, music and maybe a southern meal. Each day after Noah's circle time he reads word family flash card or spits out memorized sight words. Then he reads me a first reader or two. As long as we stick to this schedule I notice weekly improvement. I'm so ready for him to be able to entertain himself by reading what he wants when he wants.

We got outside each day this week for at least an hour and usually more. The kids spent my milking time rolling and sledding down a small hill outside the milk room door. We got the does out most days for a walk to the chicken coop and back. Today was about ten degrees, the coldest day this week.

Avery came down with a cold this week that had us cancelling multiple engagements that we were looking forward to. Despite battling colds and overcoming disappointments, we have had an enjoyable week around the house.The kids just took a long bubble bath together with their playmobile pirate ship. Now I've promised to do some special design painting on Avery's finger nails. Then I'll be blending some green soup and frying sourdough bread croutons. That's right, I'm counting tonight as the weekend, so some diet cheating is about to begin. Then something tells me it may be a well deserved movie night for all.