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!