Monthly Archives: December 2012

Crazy winter days

yep, dropped that ball again. I think for the most part if it wasn’t expected, it is probably understandable. Right? We have had a slightly busy last few weeks. Yet, in busy, well it is not the same busy I am used to. For a part of it is because we don’t have very long days and part of it is because no one is very motivated.

Last Wednesday I had every intention of posting. However, Nature had a different plan for me. We were to get a big snowstorm starting that night. Of course that meant that I did not sleep Tuesday night. Oh I fell asleep fine, I just woke up in the middle of the night thinking of all the things that should get done before it started snowing. So we all woke up Wednesday morning to me telling everyone what they were going to do. It worked out alright. Natalie brought in wood and I stacked it. Little did we know that we brought in a weeks worth of wood. Our cabin preforms wonderfully as long as it is sunny. Even with it below freezing outside if it is sunny we get to about 60 degrees inside. It is nice. Anyway, Gwendy went around the farm and picked up things that could fly about and put all the tools, buckets, hay forks and such in one place so we could find them after it snowed. Layla brought in our canned goods that were still in the tent since we didn’t have a place to put them yet in here. We really did not want everything freezing and not only breaking our canning jars but ruining all the work I had done canning. Then Jack and I worked on trying to insulate our water tank. It didn’t work by the way. Our tank froze and now we have no water. That is interesting. We are hoping to get a 55 gallon barrel in here soon so we can have water again. Let me say that not having water means I don’t do dishes much. We got straw to bed down all the animals. Then we moved onto fixing the pig structure a little so when we got the insane winds they would be more comfortable. In all, we woke up and were out the door by 7:30 and were working hard until after noon. We got things done and it was good. Though at one point while we were working on the pig structure I told Jack that even with all the things we had and were doing there was probably something that we forgot. We were sure that we were going to have to go outside at some point during the blizzard and have to do something. Well, turns out we were wrong. Everyone was fine. Of course, we did not get the foot of snow that was called for. However, we haven’t seen above freezing since this happened either.

That night we got to unwind and not think about the coming storm. A birthday party was happening at DR. So we all got to go. It was great. It was a fancy dress party. There was also a contest involved. Jack, even gimpy, participated in the dance part of it, so did the girls. Gwendy also particpated in the talent portion. Well, Joan asked her for help. See, Joan is the strongest person in the world. You may not know this and that is alright. But now you do know. So, since Gwendy is made of iron and Joan needed someone to show how strong she was, she picked up Gwendy. Joan also picked up a man who is somewhere around 275 pounds and twirled him around, but that obviously is not as impressive as picking up Gwendy. Gwendy made quite an impression on the judges. Her poise and confidence was astounding. Gwendy won first prize. Oh and Gwendy was also wearing Layla’s old halloween costume of a rose fairy. She was simply stunning. Really it was great fun with many laughs and the crazy surprise of Gwendy winning over all the wonderful talent and beautiful dresses that were there that night. It was cold and rainy when we got home but it hadn’t started snowing just yet.

Of course, I didn’t sleep that night either waiting for it to start snowing. Oddly, the snow didn’t start until around 7:30 the next morning. We only got somewhere between four and six inches. It is hard to tell since the wind was insane. Which also made it really hard to start a fire come morning. We were decently toasty during the day though. We got to look out the windows at the amazing sight of wind and snow and were comforted by the fact that the animals all seemed to be doing just fine. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like the snow. I do have to say that looking out at our leasehold was a sight that almost took my breath away. Seeing the animals out grazing and well at least the sheep and the cows didn’t care at all was amazing. Since the temperature hasn’t really gotten above freezing the snow is pretty hard packed. We have layers of ice which makes things interesting and slightly dangerous. The girls have had a lot of work when it comes to getting the animals water. We have also had issues with our buckets freezing and then breaking. It isn’t fun. We actually had to go out yesterday and buy different buckets and hopefully they hold up to the weather here. It is tough for the girls though. They say that shortly after they get water from the cattle waterer it turns to slush in their buckets. The animals seem to be doing fine though. Even with the cold and the wind we have only seen the ducks with a little bit of frostbite on their legs and a few chickens with some frost damage on their combs. It has been cold though. This past week has also been cloudy. I have been checking the weather obsessively hoping that soon we will get above freezing and/or the sun will come out again. Today is starting out sunny but it is supposed to cloud up again very soon.

Since it isn’t very sunny that means our power has been low. Not so low that we can’t get online when we need, but low that we can’t use the freezer. This was bothering me for awhile. I mean, geez, it is cold and cloudy and we need our freezer. That is when I thought I was being really silly. So I cleaned out our freezer and put everything in a box outside our window. So now our freezer is a box outside our window on top of our frozen water tank. So part of me is glad that we aren’t getting above freezing, but another part of me still isn’t happy.

We had a nice Yule celebration. It amazes me and I sometimes wonder what is so different about my kids. That they are happy with the simplest things. We have our tradition of cinnamon rolls that are shaped/decorated like a tree. This year I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls and used colored sprinkles to make a tree. We also have a tradition of painting our tree. This started when we lived in Hawaii and could not have a tree because our living space was so small. It was definitely a good thing this year too. It is nice to see how our trees have changed throughout the years. When we started Natalie was the only one painting and she was three. Now Gwendy is the youngest at five. Our trees have changed A LOT in those years. Still, Yule is a very quiet holiday for us. We exchange gifts. This year the girls made everyone something. I got a very nice headband. The girls have grown out of me making them gifts and have now started to ask for their own craft stash. They got a lot of sewing supplies this year, including their OWN fabric shears. It was a quiet day of sewing and knitting and reading.

That is another thing that has been happening. Jack has been making shelves and we have been finally taking things out of storage. Things we haven’t had or seen in over two years. The girls, after getting all their books, talked me out of doing school this week, it wasn’t hard. They promised to read at least three books a day. The first day they each read over eight. They also got a lot of their toys yesterday. Gwendy has been reunited with Minotaur. She has had a fascination with Minotaur since she was just months old. It is great to see them so happy and for us to finally be settling. So wonderful.

So that is what has been happening here. I would say it is a calm craziness. It isn’t really calm, but sometimes something happens and it takes away all the crazy. Right now the thing that takes away the crazy is the moon. You would not believe it and I shudder to think of what it would be like if the nights were clear. I know I have talked about how bright the moon is on a clear summer night. How you can distinguish color and almost read. Well, the past week with the snow on the ground the moon has been giving off so much light it is almost hard to sleep. There have been a few times I have woken up and thought the sun was coming up. Looking outside on these nights and seeing the snow sparkle, it looks like some sort of fairy land. That takes away my crazy. Seeing my children come in freezing and sweating at the same time and sit down in front of the fire to read books they have been missing takes away my crazy. Seeing things finally having a place and being settled. There still is not enough daylight hours. We are still heading upstairs around seven or so and getting somewhere like ten hours of sleep a night. I am looking forward to more light and glad that Yule has come and gone and we are getting some longer days now. I keep hoping that this will give us some more time to get the things done that we need to get done.

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Oh life is interesting!

Could you ask for anything more?

Really this post is starting out happy mostly because of Layla and Gwen. Layla is helping Gwen with her school. Layla prompted Gwen, “Gwendy, what is daddy that ends with “an”?” Gwendy, “A pan?” Of course I am also fighting with my Esme. She is trying to be on my lap, which also means my computer. That makes it a little difficult to type when you have a cat butt in your face and a lot of keys being pushed that shouldn’t be.

Anyway, not much has happened this past week. We got the animals moved and two big bales of hay put in with them. I wish we didn’t have to do that, the hay I mean. We have plenty of pasture still out there but no fencing. The animals seem happy though. They like the green grass more than the hay, but they eat it all the same. The goats seem all fluffy like. It is totally sweet to see. It is like they have their winter clothes on. The sheep, well, of course they have wool, but it is just different to see the goats all winter like. This past couple of days has seen some frost damage to the chickens. They are fine. They just have a little bit of black on their combs now. That is pretty much to be expected. We have had issues with the dogs. I think I touched on this last week. Part of our problem is that people have been playing with them. Part of the problem is that our neighbor had been butchering deer in his yard and leaving deer parts everywhere. Part of the problem is that they are puppies and have way too much energy. We are working on lots of things with them now. Not getting any better yet though. We didn’t get any fence work done this week. It has been cold/rainy/yucky? Yeah. It hasn’t been fun, so we haven’t really worked outside.

However, we have gotten some things done inside!! We have a bookcase in our bedroom now. Also, we have the start of a closet for me. I will be glad to not be living out of suitcases and baskets. Yes. Other big news is STAIRS!!! They aren’t done yet, but they get us up and down. Eventually, there will be storage for food under those stairs, right now it is construction storage. Oh, when we won’t have piles of wood and nails stashed all over the cabin… One day, right? Other big house news is RUNNING WATER!! Okay, well as running as we get it. Yes, this was already done, but it dripped. So it was totally redone and actually looks much nicer. Also, ooooooo LIGHTS!!! Or at least one light, which is a big thing. We have two hooked up but we can’t find the other light bulb. Hopefully that happens soon. Really though, one lights makes such a difference. We are trying to not let it affect us too much. I don’t want to become dependent on lights. So we are still going up to bed at around 6:30 and still turning off all lights around 8. Jack also hooked up a bunch of electric stuff. I have no idea what this stuff does. I do realize that this will eventually mean that we will have outlets and lights in other places. That is also big news. It just isn’t news yet. I do have to admit that I do not like all the stuff that is now on the wall. It isn’t pretty and I don’t think I will be able to ever make it pretty. I like pretty. Our place isn’t very big and I feel that it needs to be pretty.

Which actually brings me to my current problem. Yes, this is actually a problem. Our place is small, 20×24 around the outside. One sixth of that is the stairs, which while functional take up floor space, you know? Jack and I have been going around on this for a good long while, the need for a vestibule. We could wall off one sixth of the downstairs by the door and make a vestibule. It would give us more room to hang up the insane amounts of coats, hats, mittens and shoes. I would also not have to yell as much to tell everyone to SHUT THE DOOR ALREADY!!!! However, it would mean a lot less room down here. It would also be pretty pointless in the spring, summer and fall. Or, we could build something outside. That is what I have been hoping for. Jack isn’t fond of the idea since, well something with the roof line. I don’t do building. I can’t even build a chicken coop. So, that is our problem right now. I am worried that we won’t come up with anything until summer:)

As for Jack, he is doing alright. His ankle still is bothering him, but he is getting around a little better. It is crazy how fast those weeks went by. He has a lot to do, between two jobs and getting stuff done here. The girls are doing well, though not liking the amount of light we have right now. They complain that they wake up, do chores, eat, do school, eat, school, chores, eat and then sleep. There is no time for fun stuff!!! Well, yeah, we only have so many hours of light right now. There really isn’t a lot of time for extra right now. Another month might see more fun in our life, maybe…The biggest news we have here is that today is Natalie’s last day of being ten. I don’t know how this happened. It is amazing to see the person she is growing to be. I am super proud that she is my daughter. However, I am having issues believing she is about to be eleven. I mean mid twenties, maybe, but eleven? How?

Dropping the ball

and picking it back up again…

So you maybe have noticed that I suck. It has been slightly overwhelming lately. I will try to be better though. I am going to get my act together and keep writing weekly. It is going to be hard trying to remember what all has happened but I will try.

Right now as I write this, I have two girls reading together on the couch, it really is true that kids teach kids much better than adults teach kids. Natalie is amazingly patient in helping Gwendy to read. I so love seeing them read together. Also, today, for the first time ever, Layla got all 100 of her spelling words correct. I actually started crying. Yesterday, we talked about natural, human and capital resources. This wasn’t the first time, but it still amazes me how much they get these concepts. They continue to amaze me. Of course, you may be able to tell that we have had good homeschooling weeks lately. It is not always this way. I feel the need to say that because well, I wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that homeschooling was always unicorns and rainbows. Truth is, after Jack broke his ankle things have either been going smooth or really rough. Okay, maybe not rough but insanely overwhelming. It is really only overwhelming when I think about the fact that it is December and we don’t quite have done what we thought we would.

Jack jokes though that he is more effective broken than whole. I don’t agree. I would actually say that Jack, when he asks for help, is more effective. We are getting help though. People have come and helped us put up fencing. The pig fence area is almost done. The inside partitions are not done yet, but they will have to wait. One paddock of the livestock fencing is close also. I will feel relieved when we get adequate fencing for our animals.

As for the animals themselves, they are doing well. We think that almost everyone is bred. Good news there. However, we may have shetland crosses everywhere. It seems that Imriel is a randy ram. I am not sure if the girls were joking but they claim he even tried to have sex with the cows and the ducks. I wouldn’t put it past him either. I am hoping that Billy did his job to a point though. He sure stunk enough this year. I am not going to put up with that stink for nothing either! We are still unsure about Luna. The girls thought they felt babies and well if she was just bred a month ago they would not feel them. I have read a few places that does can get a little randy and have a false heat during pregnancy. We will see. I am no longer obsessing over this now though. We are having puppy issues. I am not sure what started it but we are working hard to fix it now. Of course that does mean that the puppies are contained for a good portion of the day. They are at least partly the reason for my insomnia. I sleep lightly as it is, when a dog barks, one who is supposed to be protecting everything out there, I wake up. They used to be great and only bark when there was a threat. However, I refuse to believe that there are that many threats out there right now. Who knows, maybe there are. I am starting to think though that they are barking at birds and squirrels. So there have been a few sleepless nights of going out there and seeing. My eye is starting to twitch again. It is all good though. These sleepless nights will be worth it when I can once again sleep without worry, right? That is what I have been telling myself.

Jack did get our water hooked up, so now we have kind of running water. Okay, we have a bucket that is hooked up to a faucet. I still have to pump water, but it is easier. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. He also got the wood to do the stairs. I am excited for that. Let me tell you, going down a ladder in the middle of the night to go yell at puppies, well not fun. Stairs might take longer but I think I would be less likely to fall. Stairs, oh stairs… I will say that starting out in a tent and slowly getting a house just makes you appreciate every little thing. In some ways I wish more people would do this type of thing. It changes your outlook on life in ways you could not imagine.

Weather. Oh my goodness, the weather has been pretty crazy also. It has been days since we have had to have a fire. Not only that it got up to 80 degrees in here yesterday. It is December!!! I am so happy that we have so many windows to let the light in and heat it up in here. It is currently 38 outside and we are sitting comfy at 60 in here. How wonderful is that? We had to open windows yesterday too. Okay, I know that it isn’t likely to happen again this year, but still, it is nice to have warm periods.

I think I am going to leave off there for now. The girls are still working and I have things to do also. I will say, I was right, things don’t slow down this time of year. We really do have a whole lot less time to do it in also. I think if we had lights it might be different, but we head to bed around 6:30 or so. I am looking forward to long days again.