Monday, December 10, 2012

Finding peace during the darkest days

In the mornings when I'm milking goats or walking my chore routine solo, I think of so many topics I want to write about and so many discussions and debates to begin; Selecting chicken breeds for cold climates; winter hardiness vs. behavior indoors and tolerating coop confinement, or perhaps, Are show goats being bred for production and looks at the expense of other significant traits such as easy kidding? Alas, by the end of the day, which is generally when I sneak in a few minutes of computer time, all I can come up with is what I've been doing daily; chores, lessons, crafts, food, snow removal....

I have fallen off my blog writing routine, and in case you are wondering what I've been doing instead, I can sum it up in one word: crafting. Yep, since early November I've been spending at least an hour and sometimes three, knitting or sewing, after the kids have gone to bed. And I'm pretty proud of myself as it means I've been doing a fairly decent job fighting off the constant urge to sit down and dive into the nearest novel. I often reward myself with some reading after my crafting quota has been filled, and this past week I fell of the wagon completely for a couple nights and did nothing but read, ahem, I read four novels and two novellas in the last ten days and that was without reading during the day, much:)

So what have I been making? Well, I am skin sewing my first pair of high top moccasins for Noah. The bead work just about killed me. I use to love beading and now I no longer have the patience for it, and it shows. But, I made it and am now close to finishing the sewing on the second one. They better fit!!! I have knitted Avery one slipper or "felt clog" and I'm starting second one tonight. After I felt and shape them I'm going to embroider a design on the top. I'm working on a couple other small knitting projects for family members which I cannot elaborate without spoiling surprises. During the day we've been wet felting and needle felting. A girlfriend stopped by with her basket of needle felted amanita mushroom ornaments, crocheted snowflakes and little pinecone acorn people which were all so lovely and special, that I went on an ornament making spree and tried my hardest to replicate them, pictures coming. I'm also hoping to get some wet felted/needle felted doll clothes, and simple toys; fruits, veggies, small dolls, made.

It can be challenging finding the right projects that the kids can do and enjoy each year. Even folding and cutting paper snowflakes can be hard for Avery, and I end up doing most the folding, and cutting... Noah has been doing some needle felting. Avery is big into beads, although only a fraction of our bead stash has big enough holes. I have to sit with her but she has made a couple necklaces for friends lately. She has also been doing some wet felting and is able to complete small projects on her own. She is going to be so crafty as she gets older, I can't wait. I can just see it now, us doing embroidery together, knitting and crocheting, weaving... I've been trying to get Noah to do some knitting and weaving, it is all about my timing.

So I have to brag about our dark winter days as they are just so beautiful and peaceful. We've had some cold weather and some warmer weather, the warm weather (above zero) brings with it snow, which fills out the nooks and crevices of the white Birch and makes for contrasting layers on the dark green spruce boughs. We are in hibernation mode, as much as I try to fight the later bed time, inevitably we are sleeping in and staying up later and later. So my mornings are flying by and by the time I've finished my chores it is often time to make lunch. Dustin is home all day every day this time of year. As he was working too much during the warm months to get our firewood stockpiled, he spends a couple hours a day outside hauling, sawing and splitting wood. He is just now taking a break from working on the house, as we were able to move in to our new quarters and are content with the almost finished rooms.

My favorite times of the day have been our meals which we've been eating all together, usually with the oil lantern or a candle lit on the table. The kids have been playing amazingly well for hours and hours each day, so well that I have to be determined to stick to our schedule and get our lessons done right after breakfast before the kids get down to play, otherwise I have a hard time getting them back up to do schoolwork. Then we've been water color painting, dipping candles, felting and crafting in the afternoons. We hollowed out gourds that we grew with rattle making in mind, but we failed to let them sit and cure for the year they needed to do so, oops. The kids play. I tidy and cook. Often they come join me after dinner for more wool work. I must say that my very favorite time of the day is when the kids have fallen asleep and I'm done being productive. I lay out a few yoga mats on top of each other and prop up some pillows and bean bags in front of the wood stove and lean back and put my feet up, and read. Add to that some hot buttered rum and homemade kettle corn  or a glass of red wine with crackers, goat cheese and olives, and well, I feel slightly glutinous.

 We have been going longer stints without going to the grocery store (about every two weeks) we've been trying to buy less. I've been having fun getting creative and trying to use what we have in the house. We've been eating lots of oatmeal or eggs in the morning, meat and vegetables at night.  We have an abundance of milk, goat cheese, eggs, meat and bulk grains and beans, potatoes, carrots, cabbages, beets, winter squash and frozen berries. We just finished up the last of our own onions, garlic and celery. When we go to the store at the top of the list is crackers for the goat cheese, spinach for fresh salads, apples or clementines and olives for our late night olive addiction.

Our meals have been pretty simple as I've been crafting late into the afternoon. I'm looking forward to our Christmas break where we are going to let go of all thoughts of lessons for a couple weeks, and I'm going to make elaborate meals, I'm thinking of cheese blintzes and bread pudding for breakfast and homemade noodle dishes and dumplings for dinner. So, now it is your turn. I'm looking forward to hearing about your crafts and what you guys are making for gifts or ornaments or what other special things you are doing with your family. Happy Dark Days. Happy early Solstice! And stay warm and let your light shine wherever you are!


barefootmommy said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and was happy to see another post up today. we've been felting like crazy over here too. We had a craft sale and sold most of it, and now to the Christmas presents. Thanks for sharing your very fun and also inspiring life with us!

Buttons said...

Oh Emily it is so wonderful to hear from you again. I LOVE your posts.
Crafting is a great way to put in the winter as my Grandma used to say but she was a quilter.I love that you are doing moccasins and embroidery it sounds challenging and fascinating both great things in crafting.
Your meals even though simple sound wonderful, it sounds like some time in the future you will never need a store, a true pioneer woman for sure.
Enjoy your time with your children and your husband and lie in front of that fire and eat whatever you desire because my dear Emily you truly do deserve it. B
About crafting projects I alas have not been doing to much as I am helping my 84 year old not well Mom, next year maybe. I did make pillow covers:) B

off grid mama said...

Though I love to read.. lol I just don't have time. The reading I do is about farming, permacultue or animal husbandry. I read some blogs but not a lot. I look over fb a little but not much. Anyway, lol, craft-wise I'm knitting a pair of wool socks for a person who ordered them. But I need to knit mittens for my boys. I like to line them with fleece for extra warmth. My problem being they lose or destroy them... ah boys... farm boys...

Emily said...

B, I have to say that I love your comments, they are encouraging and very sweet and thoughtful - so thanks so much. I look forward to them, E

Anonymous said...

Wow! What perfect timing! To find you just after moving from the city to 21 acres just beyond an easy trek into town. I love reading about how this time of year is a challenge for others that live out in the "boonies" too. I'll definitely be back to read up on your adventures. The start of our adventure was getting a kitten and an English Mastiff puppy. Now I'm nailing down my choices for chicks that we'll order in March or April. We are going to have hens and broilers. I read a few posts of yours about making your own feed. (Back in early 2012) Have you posted anything recent about what you're doing now for feed? I want to make our own feed to avoid processed feed. Thanks. Tiffany

Emily said...

Tiffany, I should do a recent chicken feed post. But in a nut shell, the chickens get a lot of scraps, anything but poultry and citrus, and big chunky veggies or onions. I give them a small amount of leftover sprouted goat grains daily. For their feed, I free feed them. I can't tell you off the top of my head how much they eat. but here is my mix - roughly: equal parts whole oats, whole barley and cracked corn, 1/2 part wheat berries, and for every hundred pounds of mix I eyeball: 1 pound of salt, 4 pounds of kelp and 6-8 pounds of fish meal and about 5 pounds of sunflower seeds. Sometimes I add in other things, nutritional yeast, other stale grains that need used up. I'll try and write a thorough post on the topic sometime this spring. E