Monday, April 20, 2015

April decisions and pictures

This April has been less hectic than normal here. April is Noah's birthday month. For the past seven years April has also been our biggest month for goat's kidding. So usually I'm up at all hours watching the goat's closely, helping with kidding and then the after care that goes along with balancing a barn full of mama's and their little ones. Most years goats kidding coincides with Noah's birthday which also coincides with chicks hatching, hiving bees and filling up the indoor seed rack. This year our chickens weren't laying when it was time to set eggs. I ended up getting reckless and setting ten Toulouse goose eggs instead....even though I have no idea what I'll do with them if any hatch. I haven't been able to make up my mind about bees. I have the registration form filled out and ready to mail. Each paycheck Dustin get's we've been paying for one big spring/summer expense. Seeds, soil and fertilizer, check. Noah's soccer, check. Avery's creative dance camp, check. Chicks and chick food, check. Next in priority is swim lessons followed by either another camp Avery wants to go to or Bees. 

This has been my spring for indecisiveness in regards to animal husbandry. The reason being, is that we may be moving sometime during the summer or in the fall, hopefully before winter. This homestead we have made our home is beautiful and I love it dearly. I love our view, the warmer winter temperatures, the gorgeous Birch trees all around us. I love our garden and I could just go on and on about how much I value this home and land. We have decided however, that we want full southern exposure, a well and a bigger, finished house with lots of windows. It has to have a garden space. And we'll want to continue to keep layers and honey bees.

I wrote recently of shifting priorities. I want Dustin to be able to spend his evenings and weekends with us doing fun things and not repairing fences, building or fixing animal shelters and all the other odd homesteading chores that pile up. I want to spend most of my energy homeschooling, keeping house and planning fun activities and trips for my family.

The dilemma remains; how is one to plan a garden and and the summer livestock raising and butchering schedule when you don't know if and when you may be moving? I'll be taking it easy this summer. We currently have nine new layer chicks in the chicken house. The current layers are doing well. We will butcher them in the fall. We may or may not toss in a few meat chickens into the mix. And if I pick up bees, I'll be hiving them at a friend's house in town.

Here are some pictures of our last couple weeks:


 First goat kids of the season, at a friend's.

 Noah, tapping Birch trees.

 Birthday Boy! Nine years old!

 Xanadu kidded to a nice pair of twins, one buckling and one doeling. Her seventh season kidding! Zuri and Denali also kidded two twins, also a buckling and doeling each. Ember kidded to a single buckling and is a great first time mom. All does and kids are doing well.

 Noah helping make his birthday cheesecake.

Kids reading dad their journals and showing off their workbooks from this past year. They finished writing their last journal entry this morning.

We have had such a great home schooling year. I'll have to sum it up in an upcoming entry. We still have about five weeks left to go before we start letting up a bit for our summer schedule, camps and planting the garden. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

So long Winter, Hello Spring!

We are saying a slow goodbye to winter here in Fairbanks Alaska. We did have a pleasant drippy last few weeks of March, followed by a week of cooler weather. There is still a good bit of snow in our woods though, as there usually is at this time of year. Indoor we are thinking spring though. Our Spring tree has sprouted leaves, chicks are peeping from their tub, the incubator is filled with goose eggs and the seedling rack is filling up. My last few weekends have looked like the top picture: me, sitting in the sun, carefully selecting which seeds to start, and then getting my hands dirty for the first times since last fall, sometimes even with a glass of wine or cider in hand.

The other day we pulled out water pants and rain coats. As we got ready to meet friends for ice skating one last time, the kids declared that they were done with winter and done with their snowsuits. The following pictures are from a few weeks ago. Hopefully they'll be the last snowy pictures I share for a while, because we are all done with winter here.

Change. It's that time of year. A time of re-birth and re-newel, and I am feeling it like never before. A strong desire to create, make, change...  Being a mom and wife has become my sole focus this winter. Trying to do my job to my utmost ability. Being in the present with my family. Tuning in. This entire past year has already been a time of change for our family. Before we had kids, Dustin and I wanted to be self sufficient more than anything else. We wanted to live on land we owned, build our own house, grow our own food, raise our own meat, honey, milk, make our own cheese, and in general harvest, forage, and make anything we could and to have as much control over the products we put on and into our bodies and homes. This is a noble goal, and continues to play a strong role in our lives. BUT, now we have other goals; spending as much time with our children as we can, homeschooling, doing fun things together as a family on the weekends, traveling together. As with all things, we are trying to find the balance.

Dustin has been working more this winter than usual and as a result has had less time at home. When he is home he is busy plowing the driveway, chopping and hauling firewood, hauling and pumping our water and if he has a block of time, trying to finish some aspect of our unfinished home, this spring he has been mudding and taping our bathroom.

 I had an epiphany this spring. And it was this: We could sell this homestead and buy a finished house. A house on less acreage but south facing, with a well and a shorter driveway. A place out of town where we can still have a flock of chickens, but doesn't involve as many winter chores to keep running. In this home there would be no ongoing construction projects indoors. We would have more time to do fun family things together on the weekends and not have to share Dad with as many outdoor chores. We have always planned to sell this homestead and move lower down and have "real" farm land, as only when we can grow our own hay, grain and legumes and put our animals on summer pasture, will we be truly self-sufficient. I'm realizing we don't have to go from this to our dream home. We could have an in-between home while we continue to save up, work towards and plan for our "dream homestead". So, we'll see. I tend to feel this way every spring and as soon as I'm in the garden I'm content until winter. This year I'm hoping to keep the momentum rolling. I am ready for change.