Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Accidental Homesteaders

It's not easy around here to find a 5-bedroom house on a budget.  I love living in the country and all, but I never intended to go down this farming path we now seem to be on.

Sometimes life doesn't give us what we want we get something else instead.  God knows what we need in our lives better than we do, I think.  The right house for us happened not to be a pretty new one on a regular-size lot, the right house for us (and the budget) was an old, brown, 1968 house on three acres with a barn, a pond, a creek, and blueberries.

I am not a morning person.  I wake up with good intentions, but often find myself a little overwhelmed.  After I get going, I realize my neck is sore, my kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes, there are piles of laundry waiting to be done, and bills to pay.  What do I find myself doing first?

Of course: I am feeding the ducks, the chickens, and gathering the eggs.

I slip on a robe, still in my morning pajamas, pop on my garden clogs and I walk. Down the back stairs, across the driveway, past the barn, and out across the green field.

Then something happens: no matter the weather or rain, I stop and slowly breathe in fresh air. My body feels stronger after the walk out to the pond.  If there's sunshine I feel it on my back, if there's fog, I notice it's beauty.  I feel the natural world all around me. No seasonal change goes unnoticed.  The first spring flowers are seen, as are the first golden leaves in the fall.

I forget what was bothering me before.  I listen to the happy quacks of my ducks as I let them out of their night shelter, and I feel their joy as they fly off the bank to dive in the water.

I hear my chickens in the coop calling to be let outside as well.  I let them free to forage, and peek into the nesting boxes to see how many eggs have been laid. The eggs are beautiful in all their natural colors.  It is a miracle, to be a part of this.  I never felt like eggs were a miracle before, but these eggs I gather here feel like little, round, blessings.  I gather the blessings each one, feeling grateful, and put them into a pretty basket.

Some mornings when my four-year-old struggles to get my attention, I'm a little cranky about it.  Very often though, I take her out with me for that first round of animal chores.

She laughs at the ducks.  She cradles each egg like a treasure.  She holds her favorite chicken.  She runs in the wind, she doesn't mind the weather, either. Sometimes she sings made-up songs along the way.  She draws me into her world and I feel her joy. We share this joy together.

All told, it usually takes me about 30 minutes of every morning to do the animal rounds.  Some mornings things take longer. Waterers must be refilled, nest boxes refreshed, grit put out for the chickens, feed hauled out to the barn.

Most days it's not too bad, this poultry stuff.  But sometimes, when we are tired or sick or busy, we all wonder what we got ourselves into.

Yet each morning, I go out the back door overwhelmed and come back enlightened. The dishes and laundry don't seem like such a big deal anymore. My little ones aren't annoying, they are endearing.  I feel peace.

I feel like my life is in tune with an old time-worn rhythm of things as they are really supposed to be.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year, New Hats, New Hope

I haven't knitted or blogged much this fall and winter because of one thing.

We have a fussy baby.

Having had five other babies before, I thought, well you know "thought" that I pretty much knew how things would be.
The baby phase is always and by far my favorite.
Baby smells, baby snuggles, and nursings that allow a break to stop and watch TV, something I rarely do when I don't have a babe in arms.

And, I must confess,
that I am one of those mamas with really easy babies.
The kind that sleep through the night at about 3 weeks old.

Yep, that's been me.

But sometimes, your baby expectations go awry.  For some moms it a case of the baby blues, or worse.  For us, the culprit has been a case of acid reflux that has led to many months of crying, day and night.

It has really taken a toll on the whole family.  My kids, so in love with her at first, quickly figured out that it's no fun to hold a cute baby that's screaming at you.  The pure lack of sleep I've endured over the past few months is enough to drive any person insane.  This last baby, I figured would be my easy one, especially since I knew what I was doing.  While some weeks are better than others, they fool me into thinking baby is better, and then it's back to crying we go.  Many times I have laid in bed crying with the baby.

I had plans for this last baby of ours.

I would knit a million baby things.
Take a million pictures.
Savor and enjoy each and every last baby moment.

But the reality has been different.  She's already 6 months old, and I feel like I've missed so much. I'm still trying to savor the moments, to make the most of a difficult situation. I think I never really appreciated before how wonderful it is to nurse a baby off to sleep peacefully in your arms. Now I know how truly amazing that is, because it doesn't always happen.   And I also know, I know, some of you mama's out there have even more difficult babies than I, and births, and my hat is off to you!

Which leads me to hats, of course.
It's amazing how a small success can spur you on...........

It's a New Year full of New Hope.  This week, baby has been sleeping better, and while I don't know if it will last, I'm amazed at how a little thing such as SLEEP can make you feel like you can conquer the world!

While I was in line at the store to purchase yarn for hats, I was wrestling with three of my littles, and an old lady behind me in line asked, "How do you find the time to knit?"  My answer:  "When your 13-year-old boy says he wants his mama to knit him a hat, you knit him one!"

My boys, so often watching me knit girlie, pretty, things for their sisters, or special gifts for other people, have been patiently awaiting their turn for some mama knits.  First on the list of finished projects for the new year:  Three hats.  And now I have three happy boys that feel special.  They have grown-up watching their mama knit.  They know the work that's involved.  Despite all of the fart noises, the wrestling matches all over the living room couches, the dog and farm poo that gets hurled at each other, the noise, the climbing of the walls, I love these boys of mine so much.  There is nothing like the happy laughter and fun energy of those three boys in my home.  Oh, those boys of mine!

Posing with the animals was THEIR idea.  However, the cat had other plans.

Even though I've done pretty good with knitting lace and cables, colorwork is my weakness.  I never get the tension or the floats right.  I finally gave it another shot on the Tolt Hat, from my favorite yarn store, Tolt Yarn and Wool. Though it's far from perfect, it was just the right amount of colorwork to get my feet wet again, and make me want to try more!

So here's to a New Year full of hope, and that hope for me, is that I will have time for lots and lots of knitting, happy farm-living, and enjoying my family and my sweet baby!

God Bless all of you who read my little blog and I wish with all my heart that you meet with success in your endeavors in 2015!

I forgot to take a picture of my book, but I'm reading, The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency used by the Mormon Pioneers, by Caleb Warnock.  Seems the Homesteading books are on the top of the pile lately.  Sharing today with Ginny's Small Things.