embrace- January 24th

Embrace.

20140123-233736.jpg

That is what I want 2014 to be all about. I need to get past looking for perfection, for everything to happen at just the right moment, in just the right way. So, I’m going to actively work at embracing it all.

Truth is, with a change in life circumstances I can’t expect for things to always go the way I want. The nature of this disease of mine is the proverbial crap shoot (at least for now while we are still figuring it all out.) One morning I can wake up feeling like a million bucks and the next I can be zombie. So it is imperative that I change my mindset. I’m not someone who has ever been able to go with the flow, now, the current of life is getting even stronger and I am no longer capable of fighting against it.

Every week  month I would like to come here and jot down a little list (hey, have I ever told you how much I love lists? 😉 ) and work at the practice of embracing it all. If I check in here, with all of you, it will help to keep me on the path of moving forward and gaining perspective.

Great! So, now that you have agreed, here it goes…

::All of my people got sick this past week (as did the dog). Thankfully, it was staggered (except for the dog). It helped me realize how lucky I am and just how much Kevin does on a daily basis. None of this would ever work without a partner like him.

::Also, the dog never had an accident in the house and she has mastered ringing the bells by the door to let us know when she needs to go out. Major win! She is feeling much better now, by the way.

::While Kevin was sick I got some one-on-one alone time with each of the kids. It still amazes me how different the interaction can be when all of your attention can be focused on to just one of them. While there were moments that were exceptionally hard, I loved hanging out with them and doing nothing else. I think we will be scheduling more of that into our daily lives now, especially solo dates between all of us.

::This past week, as many of the farm animals moved on to their new homes, I realized I was feeling a little more relief each time I watched tail lights leave the barn driveway. Everyone who has picked up animals seems more than nice and totally invested in giving each of their new charges a good and comfortable existence.

::I found a local organic CSA about 10 minutes from us. They offer an excellent variety of fruit and veg (except for potatoes.) If we do decided to buy a share, or two, we will only have to plant a few things in one of our 4 garden plots- giving us an opportunity to compost the remaining three heavily and amend the soil, which will pay off in a few years when we can get back to the business of growing all our own.

::With all the tending to the sick, which forced all plans that would have taken us outside of the house to go on hold, I was able to finish another Fair Isle hat, this one for PJ.

::In our attempt to whittle down the livestock count we decided to cull 4 sheep and take them to our local butcher. It was a hard decision, one we did not take lightly and something we were not thrilled with having to hire out. However, I am grateful that soon we will have a freezer full of lamb, especially since our stock of beef and venison will be gone at the end of this week.

::Our week of convalescence also afforded me a lot of time to sit and think. I was forced to be still (with the exception of rocking one sick kid or the other) and work through all the things that have been swirling around my head for a weeks now. There is still more I need to sort out but, for now, I am riding the momentum and moving forward- as opposed to wallowing in the stagnation I had felt a couple of weeks ago.

And now, I leave you with this face. Happy Friday. Here’s to embracing it all next week!

D7K_6633

What did you embrace this week? Leave a comment and share, you just might inspire another lovely soul. 🙂

well that’s that…and a word

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you all!! So, I had the intention to ride the lovely momentum that the Capturing December project had created for me here in this space. However, the fates had other plans. This post has sat in my draft box, in one form or another, since the day our last holiday guest left. I contemplated not ever hitting publish on this one but then I stopped and realized I had spent the entire last month of 2013 opening myself up, sharing authentically (whether the day, the shot, or myself was perfect or not) and accepting, no, embracing all the beautiful/ugly, ideal/imperfect, helpful/inconvenient everything. Picking a word of the year that speaks to you is something a lot of my blogworld friends participate in annually, my beautiful and talented girl Tracie is the one who introduced me to the practice. So, I’m hitting publish, speaking truth and choosing to EMBRACE it all, with a little help from you, I hope. 🙂

D7K_6816

With the first full week of the new year coming to an end, so did our holiday celebrations (with the exception of one, which had to be postponed until a later date.)

It was, all in all, a relatively calm holiday season.

We visited, we ate, drank, laughed and reminisced. We gave gifts we produced right here on the farm or, at least, with our own hands. We weathered two below zero forecasts and two snow storms. I completed a goal of recording a picture a day in December, while at the same time cultivating some beautiful friendships with some lovely ladies who joined in, kept me company and kindly provided encouragement throughout the process.

In the quiet pockets of time, between meals to prepare, waiting for visitors to arrive, caring for livestock and children, healing from one illness after another and contending with piles of snow, we brainstormed. We talked about what we wanted to plan on for the coming year, what we wanted to eliminate, what we had to do, what we no longer wanted to participate in and how to arrive at that oh so beautiful place we call balance.

With the hurricane of the holiday season dissipating reality is becoming quite evident in the light of the new year.

D7K_3793

I am not getting better…yet. My Hashimoto’s is actually progressing rather than remitting, as are my symptoms. The past few weeks are apparently going to take sometime to recover from, evident in the fact that today I didn’t drag myself from bed until late morning, spent most of the day under a blanket, on the couch, snuggling with either a puppy or child all while dirty dishes laid waiting to be washed, laundry baskets overflowed and decorations begged to be put away. I barely even touched my latest knit project (which is very unlike busy-minded me.) With each passing day it has been a little bit harder to get out of bed in the morning, my joints have increasingly ached, throbbed and swelled, my mind has become more sluggish and my mood has swung sadly low again. The worst part is the normal healthy me is trapped inside this wasted, sad excuse for a 31-year-old, watching it all plummet and feeling as though she can’t do anything to stop it.

I think I did a fairly good job of hiding it throughout the season. However, those of you who visited might not necessarily agree. I know while we ate very well at most meals, I did indulge in more sugar and refined flour than I would have any other time of the year. I also slept less and was on the go more, which probably hasn’t helped. Many changes are being instituted in the hopes of relieving symptoms, maybe, if I am lucky, reducing my antibodies, but they are going to have to be big changes that require a lot of support, often readjusting of everyday occurrences and instituting of new habits.

On top of all my health issues not only has my mother been suffering from health problems the last six months but now my father is also. None of it seems to be life threatening, thank goodness, but all of it is pervasive enough to put both of them out of commission. Not only are they unable to help around the homestead but they are both in need of help from Kevin and I for, not only everyday needs, but also in their non-farm business. My parents still do their best to help, in many different ways, but currently have neither the time nor the energy/ability to do what we had all initially intended. (It was, of course, always the plan for us to care for them as they grew old, which was the entire point of us all agreeing to cohousing, I just don’t think any of is expected that need to happen so soon, nor occur all at once.)

Circumstances have drastically changed since our move here two years ago. Not only am I less than helpful with our usual farm task, leaving most of that on Kevin’s shoulders, but our attention is now desperately needed in places that are, albeit just as, if not more important than our dreams of homesteading and self-sufficiency.

So the short of it all is, things are quickly being recalculated and rearranged in order for Kevin and I to have the time and energy to continue raising the kids in the way we had always intended and something has to give. That something seems to be the majority of our homesteading lifestyle.

D7K_6818

Sadly, I am selling almost all of my sheep herd and as of Saturday 10 will already be off to their new homes. I am just not physically capable of tending to a herd of 20, nor am I able to process as many fleeces come March. It also seems unfair for their care to fall mostly to Kevin, as it is his least favorite job here on the farm. (Most of our sheep are just that, sheep and with the exception of about 6 they tend to do the opposite of what we want them to.) So, we are aiming to sell most, butcher a few and, for now, keep only 4 ewes as pets/lawn mowers/fleece providers.

We are also selling or culling the majority of our laying hens. The plan is to put some meat in the freezer, decrease the amount of feed and care needed and keep only the best layers to meet our personal egg needs. Then we will add in maybe 3-6 new chicks to replace those layers next year. It will also mean a new, smaller coop, closer to the house which will facilitate in the kids and I easily taking over their care (no matter how I feel on any given day) and relieving Kevin of that chore, as well.

Thankfully, none of the cows ended up being bred this past summer (Yay, for the combination of being too busy and having a little bit of brain fog thrown in) so we do not have calving to worry about and the herd was already due to be decreased with the butchering of one steer in spring and the second in fall. We are also considering selling the three girls if things remain the same by late summer.

The ordering of two more pigs and a batch of meat birds has also been put off and we will be forced to outsource those meats to other local homesteaders and farms, along with our milk needs. That will leave us with our goat heard, which are fairly easy keepers, and our garden/orchard. The garden planning has not yet begun but I think I am going to have to force myself to keep it even smaller than last year and possibly supplement by buying a CSA share.

It is sad because we have all of this land and all the possibilities it holds and we are now back to living a not so self-sufficient life. I am beyond frustrated and swing from beating myself up for seemingly failing at our dream and curling up in bed wishing we had never tried. I have so many things I want to do, learn and become better at (as does Kevin and which I wish I was better at facilitating, or better yet, not interrupting!) but I can’t make my body or our current life situation mold to those needs and head in that direction.

I am also a little sad because I feel like this blog will no longer have a voice. There won’t be much homesteading occurring for at least awhile and that is really what the space was supposed to be all about. I do not yet know what the future holds for my writing here. Maybe a different blog? Maybe some time away while we regroup? I really don’t want to stop writing, photographing or sharing as it feels cathartic and I have met so many beautiful, wonderful friends through it, but this doesn’t feel like the right place to air all of that. Then again, maybe this is just another chapter in our story that needs to be told?

D7K_6813

So, how does one arrive at a place of acceptance when they feel like their body is abandoning them and their self is mostly unrecognizable both physically and mentally? Or when their dreams, at worst, fall apart around them, or, at best, get put on hold for an indefinite period of time?

They feel sad, they cry, they get angry and they ask why. Then they wake up and pull themselves out  of bed and start making an alternate plan. They sit across from their husband and talk about it, all day if necessary, until his outer dialogue becomes her inner dialogue because, heaven knows, the awful words she has been telling herself are not helping.

And then we make a plan, one that allows everyone to work on healing, keeps the kids from getting lost in what was becoming a manic shuffle and keeps an eye on that thread of a dream, until another day, when we can pick it back up and weave it into our lives again.

D7K_6825

January is Thyroid Awareness month. The butterfly is the symbol for thyroid awareness (as the gland is shaped as such.) My mother-in-law gave this ornament to S and left it nestled in our tree (yes it is still up) and I found it there earlier today. Approximately 1 in 1000 people suffer from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a disease that is, at least, 10 times more common in women than men. It is also a hereditary disease. Please go here to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of the illness because chances are someone you know is suffering.

december 30th- {libation}

20131231-084815.jpg

A rare moment where both kids went to sleep and both stayed asleep. We each grabbed a drink, took a little time to recharge before the next round of celebrations begin and discussed 2013. Here’s hoping your 2014 is full of love and good things.

Cheers!

december 28th- {together}

20131228-223726.jpg

Together he and I went out to run a few errands. He needed to go to the feed store, I to the mill who processed our fleeces from last year.

Sans kids, just the two of us taking a short ride intending to quickly check things of that never-ending list of ours.

We laughed and joked, stopped for less than kid friendly snacks for the road, enjoyed a leisurely perusing of the wares being offered by our local farming outlet (yes, the things that excite us these days- Muck boots, water bucket deicers, goat minerals and so on.) We had unintentionally stumbled into an impromptu date.

As we loaded up the Jeep to head home I noticed the setting sun appearing just under the overpass, next to a rather ugly spot where the railway runs past the far side of the store. The rare winter sun shining warm and bright through weeds growing up the incline on the side of the road, next to a freight train sitting quietly on the tracks nearby. In the least likely of spots, where the unattractive surely outnumbered the attractive, such beauty that I asked him to wait while I climbed the hill and crouched awkwardly to snap the above picture.

A recurring theme I have found in my life. The most beautiful things, most beautiful moments, catching me of guard, occurring in the least likely of places.

*Everyday this December I am striving to post a picture-a-day in the hopes of capturing the little moments that may seem ordinary at the time but, when strung together throughout this naturally hectic month, become the extraordinary ones that keep me ground until the new year. If you want to join me go here. I would love to share in your days as well. 

december 18th- {handmade}

D7K_6335

Kevin’s hands crafting holiday gifts for the ones we love.

I am so grateful for this lifestyle that allows us to pursue our passions.

I am grateful for this husband who is strong enough to wrangle farm animals, throw bale after bale of hay, fix a tractor and chop wood.

I am also grateful that he is gentle enough to create such a delicate craft, as well as help raise our children just as gently and peacefully.

Thankfully, when I need it the most, I always find his hand, wrapped around mine, ready to walk alongside me- no matter how rough the path may be.

*Everyday this December I am striving to post a picture-a-day in the hopes of capturing the little moments that may seem ordinary at the time but, when strung together throughout this naturally hectic month, become the extraordinary ones that keep me ground until the new year. If you want to join me go here. I would love to share in your days as well. 

december 8th- {a cuppa}

20131208-190138.jpg
A holiday parade that we were 15 minutes late for. (I was never late, until I had kids. Now, I am never on time!)

A tree lighting ceremony that we missed the moment of lighting for because we were standing in line for refreshments and facing the wrong way.

And finally, fireworks, which we managed not to screw up, enjoyed with an obligatory cup of hot cocoa for all.

While my first inclination was to beat myself up for fumbling my self-imposed parental duties, Kevin reminded me that the only thing they are going to remember is the cool light show, the huge Christmas tree aglow in the middle of town and spending it with us- nibbling on chocolate chip cookies and sipping their sugary concoction.

Of course, he is right. For that, for them and for him I am thankful!

*Everyday this December I am striving to post a picture-a-day in the hopes of capturing the little moments that may seem ordinary at the time but, when strung together throughout this naturally hectic month, become the extraordinary ones that keep me ground until the new year. If you want to join me go here. I would love to share in your days as well. 

december 5th- {love}

D7K_5973

His anniversary gift to me. We celebrated 6 years of partnership this past Sunday. He is my love, he helps me see the things I need to love in myself and has given me the two people who have made me capable of loving more than I ever thought was possible.

Friends, I know I am posting this one after the day has changed, but I am going to go ahead, as I am still awake and it still feels like the 5th to me. The picture is also not exactly what I was hoping for but my model is tired and would only stand still for so long. 😉 The last couple of days have been, well, interesting. A little good, a little not so good and a lot tiring. I am hopeful that things are going to slow down soon. Again, I am glad that I have this little daily ritual to shift me back to center.<3

*Everyday this December I am striving to post a picture-a-day in the hopes of capturing the little moments that may seem ordinary at the time but, when strung together throughout this naturally hectic month, become the extraordinary ones that keep me ground until the new year. If you want to join me go here. I would love to share in your days as well. 

a gift

20131111-112901.jpg

He goes by a few different names in this big house of ours, Dad, Grandpa, Pops and most recently Pop-Pop, which evolved from the mind of a little guy who couldn’t get the hang of great-grandpa and was a variation on “double grandpa,” a joke told to him by his Papa. From what I’m told, this man has mellowed with age but to me he’s always been my one and only grandpa. The one who played baseball with me in the backyard, who set up the sprinkler in summer whenever I asked and who made silver dollar pancakes when I stayed overnight on the weekends. Watching him take great joy in my little ones everyday is like reliving my childhood. The memories of walks up the street to the playground, trips to the library with him and grandma, a day spent across the street swimming in their friends pool or maybe just simply lounging in the shade of the huge maple in their backyard, eating raspberries I had plucked from the bush by the house. (My kids do that too, but at our house now, making sure none make it inside.) He was also the Pops who enthusiastically dressed up as Geppetto the year I wanted to go as Pinocchio for Halloween, holding my strings all the way around the neighborhood, going into to almost every house to have our picture taken, calling it a night only when I was ready to head back.

20131111-112916.jpg

20131111-113045.jpg

Those are the mile markers of my youth. The moments that I forget until they come rushing back with a little nudge from a familiar word or glance, no longer meant for me but for my babes.

By the time I showed up on the scene he was retired and more laid back. More relaxed, less stressed and more fun. He was the only one I remember seeing plant a garden each year, lining tomatoes along the kitchen windowsill to ripen just a little bit more. The one who blew my little eight year old mind when he showed me how garlic grew under ground. And while it was a small garden, tucked against the back of their split-level house in the middle of suburbia, looking back now it was still amazing to me that you could grow food like that right in your backyard.

20131111-113029.jpg

Now look at us!?!

He has been so many things in his 91 years, a devoted husband who took care of her, night and day, until she quietly and peacefully slipped away with all of us around her. A hardworking dad who often had two jobs and gave up a management position for a factory position because he couldn’t fire the guy down on the line who, like him, had a wife and kids at home. He was a son who took care of his mother for another 20 years after his father past away. A son-in-law who didn’t think twice about having his mother-in-law come to live with them. And a grandfather, who loves each of us and who proudly displayed photos, school papers, and letters we had written him, in the house he owned for over 60 years, until you were unsure if there was even a refrigerator underneath them.

20131111-114434.jpg

20131111-113000.jpg

20131111-114352.jpg

But before all that, before all of us, he was a kid at a time when the world seemed to be falling apart. He signed up and ended up stationed in England, facing backwards out the end of a B-17, sitting on a milk crate, a gun between his legs watching the enemy fly right at him. He finished his 25 missions, only ever sustaining minor shrapnel wounds, and came home alive, unlike so many others.

20131111-113015.jpg

He came home and grew a family.

And while I don’t agree that war is ever the answer, I do respect the hell out of our Pop-Pop because I don’t know many other people who have the fortitude to do what he did 25 times in a row.

When PJ was an infant we had the pleasure of accompanying him to the WWII memorial in DC and be witness to an extraordinary event. After we had finished our walk around and were about to leave, a large class of high schoolers were making their way into the memorial when their teacher spotted my grandfather, and upon realizing he was a veteran, asked if he would speak to the students. They talked for what seemed like over an hour, him telling his stories, the students engaging and asking questions unlike any high schoolers I had ever encountered. They took pictures with him, shook his hand and thanked him, not only for his time that day but for his service decades before. I sat near by in the shade, rocking my firstborn, in awe of the gift I was witnessing. These kids, who were likely, at least three generations removed from that time, experiencing history right before their eyes and a man who had come home after a scary, albeit extraordinary era, who had gone back to living his everyday life (creating three new generations of his own in the process) being honored by them.

DSC01866

DSC01854

DSC01909

My children have the great honor of spending some part of everyday with this wonderful man. How special it is for them to have a tangible link to a time that now seems like the distant past. How beautiful it is, that through them, he has a window into the future.

DSC00161 2

D7K_5549

Today we thank you for your service…our Veteran, our Hero, our Pop-Pop.

Happy Veterans Day to the hero(s) in your life.

spring’s lesson

DSCN0135

DSCN0143

Signs of new life here on the homestead have been abundant. Stepping outside this past month you were immediately inundated by her fragrances which hung even heavier in the air thanks to a many days of hot steamy weather. Our Cortland apple tree, the one we so fondly wassailed to back in January, was blanketed in hundreds of these beautiful pale pink blossoms and judging by the amount of pollinators dive bombing my head while I snapped these pictures I am hopeful that come fall she well be laden with almost as many sweet, red fruits .

DSCN0157

DSC_0849

Last year’s odd spring weather did not allow us to enjoy the true beauty of all the flowering bushes of a home that was new to us. This year, however, the lilacs and other flowering things were spectacular and we have enjoyed the surprise of hues splashed about the property.

DSC_0848

DSC_0880

Every night, right before dusk, a pair of geese guides their gaggle of goslings to our front pond for swimming lessons. While I was out taking photos the other night I got to see them all hop in, do a lap around the perimeter, mom and dad jumped up onto the bank and then waited patiently as their little ones struggle to do the same. On this particular evening all but one managed to climb out and started to follow their parents back to the tree line. I watched as the last gosling flapped and fluttered, trying its hardest to scale the bank and reach dry land. I looked at the mother and father who seemed to pay no mind as they continued on their way and then back to the gosling who refused to give up. Eventually one of the pair (I chose to think it the mother) did stop and waddle back toward its baby but only to a closer proximity, not to help or solve the gosling’s problem. Patiently the goose waited with no evidence of worry or concern (unlike me who was seriously becoming nervous that the gosling would never make its way out) until the little one was able to make that one big enough leap to stay out of the water and find its way to the top. Away they waddled, the little one working its tiny legs to catch up with the rest of the family who had all stopped and waited a little further ahead.

DSC_0873

Some days I am the mama goose, reminding myself that I need to let my babies make their own way, while I watch (seemingly full of calm) while they try and fail and try again. Other days, I am the gosling, feeling like no matter what I do and how I try I can’t make any headway; every step forward results in two steps back, ending with a great big splash into the water I had just previously escaped. Nothing, however, beats that confidence gained, both by mother and child alike, when success is achieved, obstacles are scaled and small steps forward or, perhaps in some cases giant leaps, are taken. It’s so hard to sit quietly and wait, it’s often too difficult to keep getting up to try again. But summer is coming, there are things to be taught, lessons to be learned, experiences to be had and things to be accomplished. There is a growing garden to be tended, newest additions to train, projects to be started…and finished. Luckily, I have a great big brood that I get the privilege to watch over, who will wait for me to get it right and we will swim the perimeter, always together.

a much needed reminder

Discloser: This post discusses the processing of one of our feeder pigs. The butchering of our meat sources is a part of our everyday life and I have struggled with a way to share it here both accurately yet gently. While it is not the main subject of this post and I write about it in a very general fashion (no photos of the process), and without much detail, I believe I should let you know in advance before you begin to read. If it is a subject you don’t agree with or would just prefer not to be exposed to please skip this post and come back another day.

We processed our first pig this past Sunday. But this post isn’t really about that. It is about finding something, something I really needed, in the most unlikely of places.

DSCN9700

Let me start back at the beginning. You might not have noticed but I have been very quiet in this space for the better part of this month. I want to blame it on being busy, on the downhill slide that inevitably follows the holidays, on the cabin fever that is setting in after being stuck inside for so long, on my obvious lack of Vitamin D or maybe on spending the majority of January swimming in a sea of tax paperwork but I don’t think I can. Truth is, I have been questioning our entire lifestyle. It has felt really hard lately. It has felt like we run from one thing to the next, doing none of it particularly well. When I spend time doing farm stuff I feel bad for not spending time with the kids. When I get caught up with the kids I feel bad for not putting more of an effort into making time for just Kevin and I. When I put time into cleaning the house I feel like it’s a complete waste of effort because I know in an hour it will be a mess again. Don’t even get me started on the lack of time for my much loved hobbies (writing this blog being one of them) or the fact that I haven’t been taking very good care of myself. It’s been a long winter! Personalities, which this big house of ours has in spades, are bumping up into and pushing off of one another. I feel like I get nothing accomplished in my day but by evening I’m in desperate need of a break, and from what? I’m getting nothing done during the day so why should I deserve a break at night? I have nothing to show for a whole day’s worth of busyness except for the fact that I usually manage to get dinner on the table (breakfast and lunch don’t have to be eaten at a table to count, right?) and have kept the kids from mortally wounding themselves before we tuck them into bed at night. One of them is more apt at getting into precarious situations but that is another story for another day.

DSCN9696

It’s been hard. There are days when I have wanted to quit, when I wished I could pretend like I didn’t know all of the things I had spent the last 6 or so years learning. The same things that brought us here in hopes of providing a better quality of life for our family. It has been lonely as well. We are relatively new to the area and are still trying to find people with common interest to interact with. I worry that the kids will be too isolated, that I will be too isolated, by the fact that so much of our new life revolves around taking care of this place, producing as much as we can for ourselves, and putting the majority of our energy and time in to our home and land. “Did we make the right choice” is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately and probably asking Kevin more than he would care to remember. We weren’t born into this farming life. Everything we have learned so far has been gleaned from a book, read on the internet, taught to us by an unsuspecting farmer/homesteader or some convoluted combination of all three. I worry that if I buy a loaf of bread at the store, or feed the kids yet another box of mac and cheese (organic of course) that I have failed at our chosen lifestyle.

DSCN9741

Kevin, the wonderful man that he is, does his best to reassure me, telling me that it is just a side effect of the annual mid-winter slump that we northeasterners refer to as the months of February and March or that it will all get better, and have more of a rhythm, when we are truly settled, when we are no longer doing all of these things for the first time and it all just becomes second nature. Part of me knows he’s probably right, and that my need for him to constantly remind me is purely due to my innate lack of patience. However, there is the other part of me constantly worrying that we just can’t do it, the learning curve is too steep, we aren’t smart enough or knowledgable enough, that we aren’t made of the “right stuff” for living self-sufficiently.

DSCN9747

So about Sunday. Every weekend this month we have planned to processes at least one of the two pigs that has reached market weight and each weekend we have had either below freezing temperatures or an epic snow storm foil those plans. So this past week when we saw that they were calling for highs in the 40s for the coming weekend we wrote it on the calender. Our neighbors were nice enough to introduce us to another neighbor who was not only willing to help us through the process but who also agreed to lend us use of his personal butchering facilities and walk in cooler. We read and watched and read some more, hoping to learn all we needed to know to proceed properly. We talked and planned, running through what we would do and how we would do it. Together he and I, with the help of a new friend set to the hardest farm related job we have done yet, not because we had grown attached to the pigs like one would a pet, but because we wanted to do it properly, doing our best to honor this animal who would feed our family for many months to come. We wanted to treat him with as much care and respect in his death as we had during his life. In the name of full disclosure, I was simply the helper, the encourager, the extra hand and the cleanup crew. Kevin was in the thick of it. He dispatched him quickly, accurately and cleanly. He took his time, he took care to do it right and as humanly possible. He worked carefully and methodically, insuring the best results one could have from butchering a pig, nose to tail, for the first time.

DSCN9764

And at that moment, in the most unlikely of places, standing outside in a snowstorm with the wind howling and the mercury racing toward 20 degrees (oh yes, I forgot to mention that it was indeed 40 on Saturday but not so much on Sunday) and him, literally and figuratively, elbow deep in this homesteading life of ours, I realized that I had chosen just the right person to walk this unusual path with. He’s everything that I am not. For all the research and fact gathering that I have ever done and my ability to put a plan down on paper, he is the one who makes it all happen in real life. For every issue or worry I find, he leads me toward a solution. I’m not sure if he is ever scared or concerned when we walk into yet another new and seemingly unusual situation (goodness knows I am) but none the less, forward he goes, holding my hand and taking me with him. When we first came here it never crossed my mind that, on most days, living this dirty, grity, back to the land life would would turn out to be a love story, our love story.

DSCN9694

I’m not sure that we will succeed at being farmers, homesteaders, self-sufficiant livers but I was reminded that our only chance hinges on us doing it side by side, together. Me and this man of mine.

DSCN9761