december 5th- {love}

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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. ūüėČ 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. 

ready…and still waiting

Our Easter/Welcome Spring celebration was small, quiet and relaxed. It was filled with:

new experiences for the littlest of us.

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Much needed time to play outside in the sun for those of us more susceptible to cabin fever.*

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And partaking in highly anticipated family traditions with one another.

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It was also sprinkled with many runs to the barn to check on the ewes. Honestly, I thought hoped that we would have a birth on Sunday (wouldn’t it have made for quite the pastoral scene, baby lambs on Easter Sunday and all?), but in spite of many of the girls looking as if they had dropped (some even seem to be nesting now) no newcomers have arrived.

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So for now there our boots sit, our flashlights at the ready, waiting for something to happen. We have added a middle of the night barn check to the routine and have found ourselves lingering longer and longer, watching them all mill about, hoping to hone our farmer instincts to provide us with a keener eye for next year’s round of lambing. Something tells me that the future years’ experiences will never top this one. There is nothing quite like the glorious, ignorant bliss of the unknown and the anticipation of a completely novel (at least to us) occurence, you know?

*The following day we awoke to an inch of snow on the ground and, with the wind chill added in, single digit temperatures. I had a few choice words for April Fools Day, which I will now keep to myself! Come to think of it, it probably explains why the sheep have yet to lamb, they are waiting for this weekend’s 50 degree days. Smart sheep! ūüėČ

waiting…

Yesterday was the first day of the range in which all the lambs are due. We have begun our schedule of barn checks, popping in at least four times throughout the day (morning, noon, dinner time and before bed) to see if anyone is showing any signs.

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The lambing jugs are ready, individual feed and water buckets prepared, and fresh straw down. As you can probably see, Kevin made the jugs (a place where each ewe and her lambs can go to bond and be away from the bother of the rest of the herd) from pallets we had lying around and some extra panels of sheep fencing. That’s five free jugs that would have otherwise cost us $400 to buy new. When I went in to give everyone their snack this morning I let the girls know that we are ready whenever they are.

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Hum, I don’t think they were paying any attention.

Have a very happy holiday weekend if you are celebrating. We will be spending it, here at home, anxiously awaiting our new little arrivals!

Autumn Surprises

Here are some beautiful sights we stumbled upon on the farm this week. A week that started off wet and dreary, then morphed into a replay of summer. Before we were done in the garden Friday afternoon, a cold wind started to blow in from the west and the mercury dropped 20 degrees within an hour. All standard operating procedure for autumn in Western New York.

We are now settling in and waiting to see what the hurricane might possibly deliver. We have heard everything from snow with freezing temperatures to gale-force winds or just a gentle rain shower. I am actually more than willing to welcome a week of weather that keeps us inside, to be together, rather than being strewn about these forty acres, sprinting to get all of our individual chores done before darkness or winter (depending on the nature of the current chore) sets in.

I think it is safe to say that we are all feeling tired and worn from running this marathon that is the first year of starting a homestead. However, there is plenty of beauty and joy, most often in the unlikeliest of places, sneaking up and grabbing us when we need it the most, keeping us motivated, looking and moving forward.

Here’s to Sandy changing her mind at the last minute and taking a sharp right-hand turn! And if she doesn’t? Well we will pick each other up and just keep running, together, toward our future.

I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys their last weekend of October.

The weekend

This weekend was a good one! We worked in the garden, tended the animals, went to our local arts festival, and spent time with, much missed, family. We put a dent in the list but, as usual, there is just more to be added. Ah, the life of wanna-be-farmers. Here are  some extra beautiful moments, from the past few days, that I wanted to share with you.

Kevin spotted them and I snapped the picture, just before they flew away.

The large egg in the front is our first full-sized egg from our girls.

…and when I broke it open for breakfast, out popped two yolks!

“Wow, when will I be that tall?”

Who knew it was this pretty close up?

This girl loves all of her animals.

Marigolds, a gift from our neighbor, whose daughter planted the original seeds when she was 3. She’s in her 30’s now!

In the garden at dusk. Great way to end a great weekend!

I’m working out a tomato recipe to share with you on Wednesday, so stop back and check it out. Hope everyone had a beautiful and relaxing weekend!

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.  

The weekend

The storm rolling in.

Is there really ever a weekend when you live on a farm? Certainly not in the sense of two days off at the end of your work week, but on the other hand, we never suffer from a case of the “Mondays”, so there’s that! The past two days here have been low on productivity with Saturdays highs reaching the mid 90’s and the heat index reaching well into the 100’s (not feasible with two babes that must follow us everywhere.) Sunday brought a, much needed, downpour that chased us all inside.¬†

The view out of our kitchen window.

We did manage to move the mobile chicken coop to a new swath of pasture, which ended up taking two extra people and two extra hours and ended in us darting for the house before the sky opened up. Because really, who wants to be handling electronet fencing in a thunderstorm? It is all quite hilarious looking back on it now, possibly even post worthy. I also harvested some produce, the most notable being 2 pounds of beans destined for pickling and was able to put up 8 jars of pesto. Outside of those accomplishments, and the usual daily chores, nothing else got done.

Waiting for a trim and pickling.

It has also been hard getting back into the swing of things after being away for 4 days. Upon arriving home, it seemed as if, the only thing that had grown were the weeds and I think we are both struggling with being extremely overwhelmed by how far behind we feel. So in that vein, and to please my Type A personality, here is our “To Do” list for the upcoming week:

  1. Make and can Dilly Beans.
  2. Weed herb garden.
  3. Harvest some lemon balm, parsley, basil, cilantro, sage, thyme, tarragon, and marjoram.
  4. Dry, freeze or otherwise process said herbs.
  5. Weed, weed, and more weeding of vegetable garden. Problem here is, by the time we get done weeding the entire garden the weeds are growing back in where we started.
  6. Create some kind of support for the sweet corn.
  7. Tend slicing and cherry tomatoes – prune, snip, re-tie/support.
  8. Come up with a way to trellis paste tomatoes. These have gotten quite out of hand and we are at a loss for a good way to support them that also allows us to easily harvest the ripe fruit.
  9. Try to train pole beans back onto their respective poles. I have never had a problem with this in the past but this year they just seem to have a mind of their own.
  10. Pick and trim swiss chard.
  11. Freeze what chard we do not use this week.
  12. Pick lettuce, beets, eggplant, peppers, squash, possibly fingerling potatoes.
  13. Weed sweet potatoes.
  14. Plant fall crops. We are kind of late with this but I would like to throw, at least, some peas and spinach in.
  15. Weed asparagus and rhubarb bed.
  16. Fence in pine trees in front pasture and move sheep into said pasture.
  17. Move Lilac out of front pasture, break-up middle pasture and move her into first section.
  18. Move pigs to other end of, what will become, the garlic patch.
  19. Lay down manure to “bake” in sun on the section pigs just rooted.
  20. Muck out chicken coop and lay down new litter for “deep bed method.”
  21. Muck out stalls and big section of barn.
  22. Pick up peaches from local orchard.
  23. Jam, can and freeze peaches.
  24. Pick rest of boysenberries off bush by barn and process.
  25. Name lambs and send in registration for all sheep.
  26. Find a Ram that fits all of our criteria and set up a plan for getting him here by October 1st, to use for breeding in November.
  27. Order hive and have beekeeper relocate the bees that have taken up residence in barn wall.
  28. Place grass-fed beef order for winter. Hopefully this will be the last time and next year we will be running our own steers.
  29. Go over budget and accounting for farm books.
  30. Work out plan for winter food storage.

Well, what do you think? Can we get it all done by next Sunday night? What is on your “To Do” list this week?