capturing december

Ok blog peeps, it is that time of year again. December is upon us and the holidays are shortly approaching, or for some already in full swing. December around here is far to busy with numerous holidays, anniversaries and family commitments to expect myself to write much of anything in this space. So here is the plan…

Last year I challenged myself to not get caught up in the manic rush of the season but rather to catch a moment in time that I wanted to document here, hoping that it would keep me grounded, slow down the holidays to match our slower paced lifestyle and chronicle a time of the year that I fear spins by far to fast.

I’m going to up the ante this year because there is nothing that will ground me more through these, soon to be crazy, days than stopping and taking a moment to soak it all in. So, I threw together prompts for each day this December in the hopes of not only keeping me honest to the promise I have made to myself but so that some of you might join in and share.

If you’re game, grab your phone, dslr or point-and-shoot. It only takes a minute to snap the ordinary extraordinary moments in your day. You can do all the prompts, just one, or stop in every now and again to share. (We aren’t big on rules around here, obviously!) Then share a link to your blog, Flicker, Facebook page (or wherever you plan on journaling your moments) in the comments section of my daily picture so we can all enjoy your month of photos as well. A link back here, on your post, would also be much appreciated, that way if anyone else wants to join in they can find their way.

You can also use the hashtag #capturingdecember2013 if you are using Instagram.¬†**Edit: Someone grabbed that previous hashtag and another one between when I wrote this post and today. ūüė¶ So, if you are using Instagram, hashtag your photos #decembercaptures2013.¬†

Here are the prompts. I hope you find time to join in. I’m looking forward to sharing my month (and yours) with you. Happy shooting!

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Below I have provided a nifty little button for the challenge that you can grab and add to your site for the month. Just copy and paste the text in the scroll box below the button and pop it in your sidebar or onto you page. ūüôā

My Button

<a href=”http://bighouselittleprairie.com/2013/11/25/capturing-december/&#8221; title=”December Photo-A-Day”> <img src=”https://bighouselittleprairie.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/photo-a-day2013button.jpg&#8221; width=”125″ height=”125″ alt=”My Button” style=”border:none;” /></a>

Oh so thankful

I have no idea where the past two weeks went! (I am beginning to think that this has become a recurring theme here.) Between a holiday that quickly snuck up on me, two littles who have seemed to hit a developmental growth spurt at exactly the same time, and just the general chores of everyday farm life, I feel as though I move from one thing to the next, at a fast pace, knowing that December, and all it brings with it, is going to be here in a blink of an eye..again.

I’m not sure how it works for others writing blogs, but for me an idea for a post usually begins with photographs I have taken and then snowballs from there. But alas, I have been so busy that my poor camera has sat lonely in the house while I have been running about. As I sat here, bemoaning my lack of photos, and trying to finish a post that had no photography to go with it, I absentmindedly began flipping through photos on my phone. I suddenly realized that I had documented a good portion of the last two weeks (except, of course, for our thanksgiving feast, apparently I was too busy then, even for Instagram) using my phone’s camera. Snippets of our busy life, caught in an instant, almost without care, and when looked at can transport me back and piece together the last couple of weeks.

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Finding the beauty in the shifting light of the season and trying to embrace the shorter days.

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We have been loving watching Bert grow bigger every day and seeing his mama turn into the wonderful and patient dairy cow that we knew she could be.

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More often than not, we have been greeted by frosty mornings. The boy awakes almost every day asking if there is snow on the ground yet.

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We pasteurized our first batch of milk…makeshift style!

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Watching the deer that hang out across the street The ones that seem to refuse to cross over onto our land.

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Making, and crafting, and making some more in anticipation of the season.

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We have been spending a lot of free time in front of our beautiful, new wood stove. It has officially erased any memory of being cold!

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Finding refuge in the van, out at a family dinner, with a toddler who has entered a developmental growth spurt. One whose patience (and mine, at moments, for that matter) has yet to catch up.

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I’m in awe of the boy my first baby is becoming, and reminding myself that he is only trying to learn who he is when his stubbornness comes out.

I just love those little red x's.

I just love those little red x’s and how, when put together, they make such a pretty picture.

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When all else fails, and the day seems like it just can’t get better, go back to bed and have a snuggle. Everything looks better after that!

For those of you who celebrated last week, I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving and for those who didn’t, that you were able to catch a few everyday moments of your own.

My goal for the month of December is to not get caught up in the “doing” and stress that the holidays ultimately bring. I want to stop and soak in the moments, the special traditions and this time of wonder when my babes are little. As it seems that this blog is always the first thing to be left by the wayside when things get crazy on the farm (in life?), I need to make a change for the season. Not wanting to leave this space idle for a whole month, I am going to set a goal of capturing those moments, with a picture, and hopefully post one every weekday until January! Anyone want to join me?
I am sure there will be a few full post thrown in. Or maybe not. We will just have to see. 

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.  

Pretty things

We are away, spending some time in the woods, with family and friends. So here is a short post, with lots of pretty things. These things inspire me and remind me of how special this place and life of ours is. Moving to a new home is such an adventure, one filled with surprises and many discoveries to be made, for both children and adults alike. When spring rolled around, these were the things we discovered.

Hundreds of geese on our ponds, who gave birth to many fuzzy babies and then paraded them around every morning and evening.

Does anyone know what these are? Tiny flowers, growing in bunches, on the side of our rock wall.

Crabapple blossoms.

Early morning fog.

The early spring light, that streams through our windows, every afternoon.

Hens and chicks…another inhabitant of our rock wall.

Another beautiful sunset.

A surprise batch of Poppies, tucked in the back of the garden.

The clematis by our front door. It grew all the way up onto the roof!

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -Anais Nin

Catching up

I had been tossing around the idea of starting this blog for awhile, as a way to chronicle all the goings on around here. I kept coming up with reasons to put it off, “I can’t come up with a good name, I don’t have extra time to sit down and write” and many other excuse that are too numerous to count. Thanks to constant bugging prodding from Kevin and gentle nudges from other friends and family, here it is. So, I needed to find a good way to catch everyone up on what has happened here on the farm since last November and this picture post is what I came up with. My hope is to be able to focus, in more detail, on the individual aspects of our homesteading life in the coming weeks. You know, in the spare moments between preschooler requests, toddler needs, animal chores, garden weeding and harvesting, food preserving, meal making and all the other “to-dos” that come with this simple life.

I’m also slowly working on the look of the blog and have been constantly tweaking it, so, if it seems to change every time you stop back you’ll know why.

Okay, here you go, the quick version of the past 9 months here on the farm. The amount of time it will take you to look through the photos is about how fast it felt while we were actually living it. Time flies and all that, ya know?

A little bit of our little prairie, covered in a morning frost.

Not long after moving in we discovered that there were gorgeous sunsets almost every night.

The first animals to arrive at the farm were the guinea fowl (above) and 10 Cayuga ducks. (Below)

During the heat wave, in March, we were able to get a head start on tilling up the garden and Dad’s hops yard, with help from our neighbor down the street.

The veggie garden, which we calculate to be about 2/3 of an acre, plowed, tilled and ready to be planted.

Planting peas, the first seeds to go in the garden of our new homestead.

The next arrival on the farm was Lilac, our someday dairy cow. We bought her from an organic dairy farmer, her farm happens to be right around the corner from us.

Next to arrive were the heritage breed piglets who will be pasture raised to market weight and then put in the freezer. Any extra meat, exceeding what we can eat in a year, will be sold.

Here are the first three, of our now 18, Shetland sheep. From Left to right, Hershey, Dessie and Hope. They are here not only to eat grass, giving Kevin and Dad a break from constantly mowing, but to also provided me with fiber to process and spin into yarn. Hopefully, this will make feeding my knitting habit much less expensive.

The growing garden in May.

Some of our laying hens outside the mobile coop that Kevin built for them. One hen has started to lay tiny brown eggs.

Free ranging on pasture will make for tasty and healthy eggs.

The first pullet egg next to Henrietta’s pale blue egg. Henrietta is the Americauna hen we inherited from the previous owner.

Some goodies, picked from the garden just a few days ago.

What’s new in your neck of the woods?