We spent the day stitching quilts and learning about stitching leather. We took a step back in time to experience how homesteaders of the 1800’s mended harnesses, shoes, sheaths and all manner of leatherwork; and also helped the women hand-stitch a quilt that they had pieced last year. It was a fun day for everyone. Roo got to color a quilt square. Jack got to jump around on stumps. We saw the pigs. Walked through the garden.Learned about salt curing pork.
I have a love/hate relationship with chickens. I love their eggs. I hate their poop. I love to watch them scratch in the yard. I hate to watch them scratch in my garden. Chickens were the first thing we added to our homestead, six years ago. And we will never be without at least a few feathered friends. But this particular breed of chicken, the Buff Orpington, is one of my favorites of the barnyard. They are a beautiful pale yellow color and they make the best mamas. Whenever we have a hen go broody and hatch out a clutch of eggs, it’s always a Buff O. This new mama is a cross. Her mama is a pure bred Buff. Her daddy is a beautiful Americauna. They live in the pasture, scratching for grubs all day. They don’t come down to the coop/roost area at all. Last spring we were surprised with a batch of little baby chicks. Most wandered away and, I surmise, met with a fateful death. But this one stuck around. Still in the pastures, not in the coop. And now she has surprised us with her own little brood of chicks. I love this picture of her making sure all her babes are lined up. I don’t think there’s much cuter than a little yellow fluff ball.
So much work has been done in the garden! Jeremie spent the whole day helping me out. He put up trellises and arbors for my cucumbers and southern peas and tomatoes. He tilled up the hillside for corn. He helped me lay down plastic because I want to plant my pumpkins and gourds in the plastic and train the vines to grow down the hill, into the corn. We have a huge garden this year, but the wood chips keep the weeding under control. We have spent an hour or so out there, pulling weeds and freshening up the garden for the new growing season!
Mia had a chance to visit Nashville a few days ago. She had a fantastic time watching the legislative sessions, meeting congressmen, seeing the Parthenon, drinking frappuccinos, touring the state museum. She seemed to be on a first name basis with our representative, who gave her a hug and passed on greetings to her folks. My, my, isn’t she important! Mia is a blessing to us and a huge help around the house. We were all thrilled that she got to enjoy a day out in the city!
Although not a new revelation, recently it has been impressed upon my heart that these years with the children are flying by. There will always be work to do. Another fence line to run. Another hay bale to unroll. Another row to weed. Another tree to prune. Another floor to wash. But these chores become such drudgery without the occasional night off. These cool spring nights are perfect nights for camping out! And for roasting marshmallows! And for making torches! I want my kids to embrace the work that comes with living on a homestead, not to dread it. I want my kids to embrace the fun that comes when the entire family hangs out, laughing and talking. That means that mom and dad have to intentionally set aside time to turn a blind eye to the never-ending work. And turn a soft, tender eye towards the children’s hopes for s’mores! Mia and Katie were experimenting with camera lenses and shutter speeds and captured some great shots of “liquid fire” and “fire drawing”. Gloria seemed to enjoy her night by the campfire as well!
The lettuces I planted in the garden just are not coming up very well. I do have some nice brassicas, but look how weedy. I just haven’t been inclined to head out there to weed. Perhaps I’ll get to it one day. Perhaps not. Now I don’t think we could make it through a winter without all my canned tomato sauces, so I have been taking these little seedlings a little more seriously. They are doing very well, nice and strong. My greenhouse has been taken over as a brooder for the baby broilers, so the
stench aroma is quite piquant as I care for these plants. Snow peas coming up, racing the hot weather. Onions. Sweet candy onions. I’ve never grown them before, as I much prefer red onions. I love to try new things, though. Healthy cucumber plants. The mornings spent hunched over cucumber plants picking off squash bugs seem a distant memory. Maybe, by God’s good grace, it will remain so.
What a lovely day we’ve had, hanging out by the river. This is a beautiful little oasis right in town. A pleasant shady spot of water, sand, pebbles and endless hours of fun. My children never tire of splashing, wading, floating and climbing around such places. The weather turned out to be in the high 70’s, such a warm day for April. We visited there with friends and there were 17 kids there, between the two of us busy moms! Nice shallow little “rapids” for Roo to play in. Even Gloria enjoyed her day in the sun! There was fish catching, snake watching, tree climbing, rock throwing and lots and lots of splashing fun.
No! Gnocci!! A delicious, plump potato-y dumpling. Amazing. And homemade bolognese sauce. Oooooh, it was good, let me tell you. The girls have a friend who is from Brazil. But Ms. Gina also has spent time in France and Italy. Her cooking is out of this world! She spent one afternoon teaching the girls how to make gnocci. It is quite an involved process, but so worth it. Potato, cheese, flour, eggs, rolled together, cut into small pieces, boiled, cooled, covered with warm sauce. Mmmm! All the kids enjoyed it. And they enjoyed her fancy desserts..chocolate mousse cake, coconut pudding with prune sauce. It was like eating at a delicious ethnic restaurant, plus we got to spend time with an amazing friend.
While we were up north a few weeks ago, we had the chance to visit my paternal grandfather. In his 90’s, Grandpa doesn’t hear or talk too well. But the kids coaxed a smile from him and were able to visit with him for a while. We told him stories of the farm, and family news and were rewarded with a signature, “no kidding?!” from him. He was quite charming, back in the day, and his funny little phrases and expressions will go down in our family’s history. We were glad to be able to spend time with this special man!