Monday, October 21, 2013

Celebrating October with kids, pumpkins and music

We've been having a late fall for us. Fifty degree weather in mid October is a blessing, and we are trying to make the most of it. Oddly enough, as nice as it is outside, I am ready to be indoors cooking and crafting and making music while the kids play peacefully on the floor. We do get outside every day for chores, but I struggle with getting back out to enjoy the afternoons, mostly because the afternoons are my productive house time now that we are doing lessons until early afternoon. I don't have as much time for meal planning and house cleaning as I'd like. But these golden brown days are numbered and we are trying to make the most of each one.

 The past couple weekends we've gotten together with family and enjoyed some evenings around the bonfire. One night we cooked in and around the fire. This weekend we celebrated my nephew's 1st birthday with pumpkin carving, chili and cornbread. I've been playing my new banjo daily and while still an early beginner, I haven't been able to resist the temptation to bring it along and play a little during our family times together. This weekend my sister in-law got her guitar out and we both managed to play I'll Fly Away together. I think we are starting a new tradition, bringing music making into our family gatherings. I'm pretty excited about that. 

 My brother and his son, Atticus Ezra, holding a new ball his Auntie spent the week making.

Here's to making the most of each and every day with friends, family and music!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Celebrating our morning farm chore routine

The kids and I have been enjoying getting out for farm chores right after breakfast. I don't even do the dishes anymore, since that tends to lead to just one more kitchen chore followed by another, meanwhile the kids start playing and don't want to stop and the morning get's later and later.I'm savoring the ease of our walk; in the daylight and unencumbered by snow and ice.  As the kid's finish their breakfasts, I line up toothbrushes and vitamins on the counter and then coats, gloves and boots by the hallway. I begin humming our Come Follow song as we get dressed and we start singing as we head down to our milk room. We sing 'This is how we mix the grain, mix the grain, mix the grain, this is how we mix the grain so early in the morning" And then add other verses as go along. Avery mixes and rations out the grain for the young does - they get a handful, not much. The only reason they are getting any is so they will look forward to getting tied up at their tree and not rush the gate every time we go in and out. Noah helps me tie up the goats and bring the milkers in.

The kids started off milking with eight ounce jars and then moved up to pints. Today Noah milked into a quart. This has built up their confidence as they don't have a big pail to move out of the way of hooves that may suddenly step up and back down. Nor do they have to worry about aiming the milk into the narrow pail opening. They have been milking Zuri out completely while I milk Xanadu. We use to sing some rhyming songs together while I milked. Now, milking takes all their concentration. I'm still in the habit of starting up a song or two while milking, but I've noticed the kids don't join in anymore until they're done.

While we wait for the milkers to finish their grain, Avery and Noah measure out the grains, kelp and water for soaking for the next day. Then we haul water, toss hay and bring in a few armloads of firewood for the downstairs wood stove. Often we let out a couple does to join us on our walk. Today we let out all six does, but that can be more hectic and crazy getting everyone put away in a timely fashion. Also we have to decide whether to let the geese out or the goats, but the two species do not mix well at this time. Daisy and Dilly are now located off to the side of our driveway right in front of the house. As they are very social creatures, and I enjoy seeing them every time I poke my head out the door, and I can haul their water much easier now, it should be a good arrangement for all.

Mixing feed on the weekend with a little help.

This is one of my favorite songs to sing as we walk up the hill, especially when the geese are with us;

"My paddle's keen and bright, flashing with silver.
 Swift as the wild good flight, dip, dip and swing. 
Dip, dip and swing her back, flashing with silver.
 Swift as the wild goose flight, dip dip and swing.

We also sing Birch Woman, Land of the Silver Birch and Mother Earth to you we're singing
all songs I included in my last post.

 As of this past month Avery now has her very own pet chicken who she has named Elsa. We have fairly strict rules about naming animals that we may possibly eat someday. Generally we don't name anything we know we'll eat for sure like male goats or roosters. Then most hens only get to stick around for one to two years so they don't usually get named either. Noah named one ornamental Cochin, several summers ago, and she is still with us. Up until now Honey has been our only named hen. We will not be running a retirement chicken home. Elsa probably thinks she is very unlucky as she gets singled out, caught and carried about daily. Avery proceeds to carry her up the hill in her arms while I feed the bucks. They sit and swing together and then we walk back down and put Elsa away. Noah fills the chicken feeders, Avery usually gathers the eggs and I fill waters and guard doors.

New roofed chicken coop.

New layer flock. How many roosters do you see?

We sing "Spiraling into the Center" on our way down to the house. We each gather a load of wood to carry inside for our upstairs wood stove. When it gets colder and the wood chopping gets easier, I have ambitions for Noah and I to chop the wood together. Farm chores with these two just gets easier and easier. We make it through most mornings without tears or bickering.

 Both the kids have been accompanying me on our farm chore routine since they were born. We've always had our ups and downs. Sometimes we've had friends help out with the milking in exchange for farm products. What has changed recently is that we are celebrating it. We are singing songs, playing games, smiling, laughing. I'm trying not to rush or urge the kids along as I use to. When they get inspired to do something else, or walk off the normal path to explore something, we now go with it.

I'm no longer concerned if the milk spills and we have to take ten extra minutes to mop the floor; I no longer have to come up with a certain amount of milk for shareholders- it's just whether I make cheese for ourselves or not that day. There were things I use to do because I could do them quicker without making as much of a mess, or I would do them to eliminate the fighting over each job that would ensue. Most importantly I'm trying to set a space where we not only get the chores done and the animals fed, but we enjoy doing so; we have quality time with each other and enjoy being outside. That being said, I'm already looking forward to the days when I can send these two out on their own to do chores while I stay inside and make breakfast.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Children of the Boreal Michaelmas Celebration

Last week we celebrated Michaelmas with our home-school cooperative; Children of the Boreal. The day was filled with light, beauty and friends. After hearing a story, we headed out on a treasure hunt where each stop included tasks for the children followed by a treasure. The treasures included capes (silks) of light, Brooks range quartz, water color painted crowns, Birch bark medallions and finally, when we walk a spiral singing Spiraling into the Center, the kids each get a candle to light when we get to the fire pit. The walk ends at a fire pit where there is a fire and a feast laid out. This is our third Michaelmas. I hope that someday when I look back on these celebrations, I can keep them from blurring all together. I'm going to include in italics the songs we song at different times of our walk. They are songs that we sing weekly in the fall, on our own while we do farm chores, as well as on our Home-school cooperative days. You might be able to google them. Some of them are in the Enki as well as Christopherus curriculum.

Birch Woman
Leaves turn from green to golden to brown
As Birch Woman dons her Autumn gown
Cool breezes blow by to help her let go
And she drops her gown to the floor below
Bare arms reach expectantly to the sky
And she smiles to herself as the geese fly by
Her heart tells her she won't wait long for snow
With a deep sigh of peace she lets her sap flow slow

Indian Harvest
Mother Earth, to you we're singing
Listen to our song!
Thanks for golden harvest bringing,
Listen as we sing to you!

Sing to you! Sing to you!
Songs of rain and sunshine true!

On the trail where are we going,
Ever will we sing!
When the winter comes with snowing,
Still our hearts will sing to you!

Sing to you! Sing to you!
Songs of rain and sunshine true!

The Birch bark medallions turned out beautiful. We had one parent stay up late one night cutting all of the Birch circles out punching holes in them. Then the children six and under gathered leaves and were able to brush the medallions with Mod Podge, place the leaves on the circles and paint over the tops again with the Mod Podge. Another parent took them home and made sure they all turned out. I brought locally made and naturally dyed yarn and helped lead finger knitting with the kids and parents over a couple weeks and then finished assembling them. I think these would make beautiful tree ornaments as well.

Land of the Silver Birch
Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Land where the wild moose
Wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore
I will return once more
He yana ho yana he yana ho.
Swift as a silver fish
My canoe of birch bark
By mighty waters
carried afar
Down by the blue lake
I'll build my wigwam
Under the shining stars
I'll sing my song

Spiraling into the Center
Spiraling into the center
the center of the shield
Spiraling into the center
the center of the shield

I am the weaver, I am the woven one
I am the dreamer, I am the dream
I am the weaver, I am the woven one
I am the dreamer, I am the dream

There is a woman who weaves the night sky
she how she spins see how her fingers fly
she is within us beginning to end
she is the weaver and we are the web

 She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches changes
She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches changes

Change us, touch us, touch us, change us
Change us, touch us, touch us, change us