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Month: November 2012

Walking the Woods

Walking the Woods

It is the littlest of things that give the most pleasure I think, small moments that live long in the memory.  On Thursday (after Stephen had been away with work for a couple of days and flew home overnight) we had the rare pleasure of a weekday walk together.  Our friend has cut a hunting trail through our woods, which can also be used for a delightful amble in the late afternoon light.

For me this was the first time I fully walked the woods we’ve owned for 2 years.  So many little delights there were, discoveries and inspirations; but mainly there was just walking, enjoying the fresh air, golden light and the freedom of the sky above us.

Today the sky is burning blue, the ground is white with snow but it will have to remain unexplored as the second of my two boys has fallen victim to a horrid tummy bug (poor Neirin had it on Friday).  So today is about rest, tlc and remembering that walk.  Knowing, of course, that there will be many more in our future.

A Single Moment

A Single Moment

We were walking in our woods through the bare trees and leaves that crunched underfoot.   Then we turned a corner, the world was alight with the lowering sun.

 

This week has been extremely full, both good moments and ones I’m happy to leave behind.  But this is the single moment I choose to remember, a walk in the woods with my family.

Have a lovely weekend.

Catching Up

Catching Up

Well it’s been a crazy busy week here, it feels like all we’ve done is dash from one appointment to another.  Dentist, science club, naturopath, and of course the children’s hospital.  A 3 1/2 hour session at the children’s hospital was needed to sort out Neirin’s cast (it might not be a fracture, yay!), which can come off for baths to let him move it and get some mobility back.  I arrived at Wednesday night feeling pretty exhausted and very grateful to have a full day at home to look forward to.  

It’s nice to be out and about but I love the feeling of not having to rush, no shoes and coats to get on, no hustling to the car, no worrying about portable snacks.  Being home today has given me the chance to catch up a bit on regular chores and some processing work that needed attendance.  After about a week in it’s cure our side bacon is looking rather fabulous, it has firmed up and has made that magical transition from pork to bacon.   I’m looking forward to adding it to all sorts of foods and of course eating it as is.  

After curing I soaked the bacon overnight to get out some of the salty water, it is sitting on the sunny counter drying out a bit before I bag it and freeze it.  We have some ideas about a mini smoker this winter but until then the freezer it is.  Next to it on the counter is one of our lovely chickens.  The last batch went to slaughter last week, filling our freezer with yet more goodness.  I’m cooking one up for our dinner, smeared in the rendered lard from our own pigs and just a nice dash of  seasoning.  It really needs nothing else.  

 

Sorry if that is a bit of a raw meat overload for anyone, I know that’s not to everyone’s taste!  But honestly, I don’t see it like that.  To me this is the bounty of a year of hard work (and a decade of dreaming, planning, reading and searching), it represents security, warmth, nourishment and independence.  To know that we have a year’s worth of meat in our freezer and that it all came from right here on our farm gives me a feeling of such accomplishment I really can’t help bragging.  

There have been many times when I’ve doubted our course, I’ve wondered if it is just too hard, too lonely, too exhausting.  I’ve wondered if we should have opted for an easier existence where we had leisure time each weekend to do just as we wished.  But those moments are far out balanced by the ones of joy and pride.  When I can roast a chicken we raised on our own pasture, when I can have the fun of curing our own bacon and the satisfaction of eating a truly home made meal, why would I want to do anything else?

 

It may seem terribly priggish of me to even question my good fortune, but I lay no claim to an excess of virtue or any great spiritual purity.  When it is too hot or too cold or too lonely, I feel grouchy and sorry for myself.  But then I have those moments of boxing up the eggs we sell, washing them carefully and nestling them in their cardboard crowns.  I have a Saturday afternoon shredding cabbage for our very first batch of Sauerkraut, washing, cutting, salting and jarring up; pushing the jewelled shreds into the glass so that it looks like a little garden all smooshed up.  

On days like this, catching up with the loveliness of just being at home, I know I would never trade this life.  I am grateful for a day with no schedule but the one we set ourselves, for the abundance of food, for the chance to just be here.  

Pause

Pause

I’ll be taking a break from this space for a couple of days to look after a certain poorly 3 year old.  He fell off a hay bale and has fractured his elbow so needs some extra tlc while he settles into the new restrictions this is placing on him.  After 8 hours spent at hospital waiting rooms we’re all feeling pretty wiped so we’ll be laying low for a little bit.

Any good, healing wishes you can send our way will be greatly appreciated.

 

 

Back soon.

Wet Felting Soap

Wet Felting Soap

As sun poured in through the windows, I decided now was the time to get out our wet felting kits and get soapy!  I know there are lots of tutorials on the internet about how to wet felt (there’s a lovely one here) but I decided to take the easy option and buy some kits at the same place I buy my wood roving.  We’re really lucky here in Ottawa to have a diverse range of businesses and Wabi Sabi is one of my favourites.  They sell beautiful wool, wool roving and all the supplies you could need.  They also have some very cute kits, easy to pull out and know you have everything you need.

The process was really easy, wrap soap bar in lovely roving, wrap supplied piece of yarn around that to help hold it in place, then dip in a bowl of warm water.  After that the instructions recommended using a ziploc bag to felt the soap in.   I found this worked really well and helped prevent the soap whizzing off and frustrating small people.  Mummy got involved helping with this part as it took about 10 minutes of rubbing to felt the soap which is a long time to little peeps.

The finished pebble of wool is so tactile I know there will be a lot more hand washing going on around here!  The soap in the kit was more perfumed than I would usually buy so I’d definitely reserve it for hands only, but what could be more fun than lathering up with soft wool?  Lovely.  Now that we’ve worked through the process once I’d be confident doing it again and am thinking these would be great Christmas gifts that the boys could make themselves.  Plus it’s an excuse to indulge my soap fetish an opportunity to purchase locally made products.  Ahem.

What favourite wooly projects have you tried recently?

The homeschool breath out

The homeschool breath out

This week I decided to call a bit of a halt to our more formal activities and ‘just’ live for a week.  Back in the UK we have a week’s holiday in the middle of each term, it always helped to stop everyone tipping too far into exhaustion, so I thought I’d implement it chez us.  Though we’ve not been ‘studying’ as such that doesn’t mean we haven’t soaked up some good old life skills.  It’s been cold but sunny here and the boys have been enjoying some outdoor romps, climbing on hay bales, chasing chickens and planning anarchistic revolts against a police state.  Seriously.

And of course there are the inevitable hours (and hours) in the kitchen.

I find it hard to get away from the idea that learning all has to take place at a table, that writing and reading are the only skills that matter.  But of course that isn’t why we homeschool.  I want my children to write creatively, to read with joy, not just because Mummy is telling them too.  We’ve worked hard on some core skills over the last weeks and we were ready for it all to sit, we were ready for a breath out.

So instead of writing and maths skills we’ve focused on chopping, running, climbing, measuring, making and being.  I’d hoped to achieve a ton without the extra work of school but really I’ve just been emerging from a cloud of tiredness that’s been bogging me down these last few weeks.  A cold that lingered, a little person making night times less (ahem) restful than we need.

I’m trying not to categorise everything we do in terms of how it matches up to a ‘curriculum’.  Chopping – fine motor skills, cooking – life skills, measuring- maths, ipad spelling app – phonics, IT, documentary on Meerkats – science and nature….it is tempting but it doesn’t feel quite right.

Instead I want to think that we spent the week nourishing our family, working out some kinks, finding our balance.  That the children playing is justification enough, that the cooking of soup is just soup.  That the bacon frying in the pan is our home raised, home cured bacon; a satisfaction that can’t be quantified.   That my boys belong to a family where the lines can blur between school and life, where learning is in everything.  This is something I forget, it is worth remembering.

So whether we are heading out to the library, meeting friends, working on math skills or trying (desperately) to catch up on the laundry, we are together.  We may not always get along, it may not always be easy, but we’re in it together, a family, a team.  If we can all keep that lesson in our hearts, I think we’ll be ok.