Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Black and White Kind of Evening

Milk House Cleaning

Its not a job I dislike, matter of fact I might just even admit that I like to clean the milk house. Scrubbing it down is satisfying work and the pine cleaner makes it smell so good. Today I even polished up the trophies and washed the window. With the window so clean, it made me think that some curtains would look nice out there, but curtains would probably be good hiding spots for creepy crawlies. The goats stood and watched me work, a bit confused when I arrived out there with a bucket, since it was way too early to milk. I hayed their barn too and decided that next week I will give it a good cleaning too. Scrub the walls and take out the old hay and put down all new stuff. New hay in a barn is a smell like none other, its a good smell.
My apron is dirty from all that barn work, but will leave it on until I have gathered eggs in a few minutes. The chicken house is not a place I like to clean, so walking in there today will not lead me to some moment of inspiration to clean it. I leave that job for Emery since he doesn't mind doing it.
We have had sprinkles on and off all day, and gray skies, just like I wanted. The birds have been flocking to the feeders all day in great numbers. The nearby trees seem alive with fluttering wings. I watched for a while, deciding it was my break time. But the break is over. Time to gather eggs and then start cooking for supper. Corn bread sounds good to me tonight, with beans and franks. Simple stuff. Life is good.

A Little Dunkin Donut Girl

Wanted to share this photo taken with my iPhone of Mei-Ling enjoying her first chocolate donut.
She enjoyed every single bite of it and then wanted my toasted coconut donut ! All she needed was a big cup full of "gooats milk" to go with it. She calls me on the phone to let me know when I need to deliver some more "gooats milk" for her. She loves the stuff.

Greenbeans in the Garden - The West Girls

Love this ~

Nothing But Sunshine...but wait, is that a cloud I see ?

It would be nice to have a gray cloudy day with some rain, just to change things up a bit. Its been hot and sunny for so long now. The gardens are scorching, and lawns are turning from green to a rather burnt grass color. You find yourself almost in hibernating mode, staying in from the extreme weather. Triple digits on the thermometer, make you sigh. Iced water my drink of choice. I get my laundry done early, it dries faster than in a clothes dryer and you bring it in as soon as you can, hoping the heat from the sun doesn't rot the elastic in things.
I start thinking about autumn in July, longing for it, lighting apple cinnamon candles to refresh my memory of what fall smells like. I dream of winter time, and woodstove heat and cold on my face as I do my outside work. We humans are a funny lot, always wishing for something different than what we have. Maybe though, if I lived where the weather was perfect, I wouldn't be thinking about the next season to come. Is there a place on earth with perfect weather ?
Thinking about weather and such makes me think about how our area has had 6 small earthquakes in one month. So strange considering this are has no recorded earthquakes prior to these. We all seem to wonder the same thing, do these earthquakes have to do with all the gas wells being drilled in this county and the injection wells that result from the gas drilled. We mess with nature far too much in my humble opinion.
The sky seems to be clouding over, as if God heard the desires of my heart. It was almost cool outside doing chores this morning. The lack of blasting heat lead me to wash the windows in the milk barn and linger outside a bit to tidy up out there. I love being outside, so much to see and hear and smell. To experience living things all around you.
Breakfast this morning was a tall glass of cold goat milk and a banana. The milk topped with bubbles as I had to shake the milk bottle to mix the cream in. It tasted so good. I actually took a picture of my glass of milk with my iPhone, to remember it by. It was extra good this morning. Simple stuff really. Nothing fancy in this day. Ordinary, just the way I like it.
Life is good.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SORI Part9/11

this is from my all time favorite movie

Less than an acre and in the city limits

There was a time when I was almost embarrassed to say we owned just under an acre of land, I wanted to have a full blown farm, not a tiny speck of land inside the city limits. But now, how we live on such a small bit of land, and in the city is perceived as a "wow" type thing, and no longer are we hearing "oh you poor thing" because we have such a tiny speck of land to live on with our homestead life. Times and mindsets change as the world circumstances do.
We use our land carefully, and if we wanted, we could even transform the front lawn into a usable garden like these urban homesteader folk in California . There was a time when the children were all home that it seemed every inch of our land in back was used in some kind of productive way. The girls raised show rabbits, had a pony and cart for transportation. We had sheep, angora goats, quite a few milk goats, a buck and a couple goats trained to pull a cart. We had chickens, ducks and yes, we had a good sized garden along with fruit trees and berry bushes. Wood stacked neatly for our heating needs, and of course the clothesline. The children made forts behind the barns in what they called the woods and life was busy and productive. Of course there was our working dog Speckles then and more than a couple cats. We didn't have beautiful fences and wonderful barns, but we had such fun making do and creating what we needed from scraps and cast offs. The children learned how to be creative and that is something of great value in life.
We made our soap, made our clothes, made our candles and had a family life that has built ties so strong and good. There was no television or any need for one. The girls learned how to tend sheep, sheer them, spin their wool, and knit a sweater from that very wool.
We have slowed down a bit, two goats, only 15 chickens, no rabbits, no sheep. The garden spot is actually bigger and so isn't the herb garden. There are more fruit trees and more berry bushes. Lots more shade trees now.
When we lived in Southern California we had a yard the size of my dining room now. But still we planted grapes, had a garden and a rabbit or two and a dog. We made the most of what we had to work with. Same here. A little bit of land and yes we are fortunate to live on the side of town that still allows critters. We keep things clean, and have neighbors that enjoy looking at our farm animals. Our dreams may have been to have 20 acres way out in the boondocks at one point and I must admit there are times I still think about it, but what we did do, is live within our means, not going into debt and made our life work with what we had. Found a place to live that allowed animals, found a house that was not perfect but we could fix up without having to sign over our soul to some lender. In my dreams, I never imagined living on less than an acre but compromise has worked well for us. We will retire in a home we love, land we can care for, in a small town where folks know us. We have no wild traffic to deal with, and the places we need to go are not far to drive. We have no debts, not one. Our expenses are minimal,so there is no fear for us on how we will live when Emery is retired. We raised our family on one income and it wasn't as much as it is now, that is for sure.
Two of our children are close by, which allows us the joy of watching the next two generations and fills our lives with love, and we hope that soon all three of our children will live in Texas !
I can wander outside, watch birds, hear nothing but nature sounds. See the stars at night fill the sky. I can milk my goats and gather fresh eggs. I can dig in the soil and harvest organic veggies and fruits. We will be able to grow old here and stay fit and healthy by the work we do and the simple life we live. Less than an acre is not a bad thing at all, and I guess we can say we have been a new kind of pioneer for a long time now.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Morning Ramble

I laid in bed just a little bit longer than usual this morning, looking out the window, feather pillow under my head propping me up so I could watch the birds at the feeders and admire the way the yellow sunlight mixed in with the greens of the juniper tree, it reminded me of a well thought out batik pattern. Along the fence, mustang grape vines flutter in the slightest of breeze. The only sound in the house is that of the fan in front of my dresser.
Emery is soon off to work but walks so quietly, with a tender heart, as not to disturb my moment, letting me savor the gold and green view from bed just a bit longer. I think about how gentle my life is, no rushing around, never has been, except for when the children had an Irish Step Dance competition, then it was a little hectic getting things in order for the four of them.
It often took planning to avoid that stress of rushing. When the children were all home, I would spend Saturday nights preparing for church, have 6 pairs of black shoes lined up to be polished for the next morning. Clothes all ironed, children all scrubbed, bibles lined up on the table by the door. Breakfast planned and the table set before I went to bed. Sunday mornings were a breeze, things were ready, and there was no chaos. I think my whole life is a bit like that, planning from early on for a life without chaos. Living simply, this homestead sort of life, for over 2 decades now is a bit like preparing for whatever may come. I have recently worked on my fear driven aspect of this homestead life and putting aside all the scary "what ifs" and am just enjoying the road we are on. It feels good. It feels right and I know now that this is what I so badly wanted as a lifestyle way back when I was 14 years old. To live with purpose, with the bigger picture in mind and all the while, live according to my conscience.
I smile, not smugly, but with a good feeling, when I see on the news all the folks that are now taking steps back from the rush and stress of mainstream existence and see them finding joy in having a little garden in their city back yard, enjoying family meals, learning that your children do NOT need to be in 4 activities each, finding out that being a taxi mom to 9 million different places just stresses everyone in the family, and seeing some young families in NYC have tiny chicken coops with a couple of laying hens. I love it ! It warms my heart to hear of more and more women that are hanging up clothes because I know what you see when you are outside doing that task, I know you can see the sky, the sun, hear a bird, see a new kind of insect, feel invigorated from that 2o minutes of aerobics and smell the scent of fresh air on your clothing. I know the satisfaction you feel by doing something good for the environment and for yourself and your children all at the same moment. And you get time to think, time to pray, time to just be, while you are hanging clothes or digging in the garden. You can put on a big floppy hat and feel so alive, so real.
I have laundry to do today, and gardening chores and all the other chores too. I have swept the house already, we don't vacuum, since we have no rugs. The house is still, it is holy ground, it feels sacred this morning. There is peace, no rushing, no stress, just this deep connected feeling to all that is good in life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Ramble

I just heard one more time that one thing over so many small things has been the major player in why this country and so many of the nations are where we are today, in a deep recession. The word I have heard is greed. Greedy people wanting houses they can't afford, people demanding bigger salaries than they need, greedy bankers, investors, anyone that has a list of "I wants" that is much bigger than whats in their wallet and desires for more than they will ever need in life. Children that have no concept of money and parents that give in to all the demands made on them. It seems that just about everyone has a deep sense of discontentment. Whats that all about anyway ? This high level of discontentment... what are we really hungering after ?
Even though we live this rather simple existence, we still fight the "I wants" the ones that have nothing to do with need. Emery makes really good money and everyone seems to expect us to live a certain way, a way that shouts how much money we have. It really is peer pressure of sorts. Folks question our sanity in driving older cars, having wood heat, no clothes dryer etc. For some reason that and the lack of a dishwasher are big things to people. So, I do understand this pressure to have and have and have. I watch those same home shows that others do and yeah, I find myself looking around the room thinking, "oh that would be nice" or "we should move into a newer house". But, I know deep inside of me that money and bigger and better do not make you a better person or happier. Stuff is stuff, not happiness.
Who I am is not to be measured by the logo on my car, or by being able to say I shop at gourmet food stores or eat at certain high end restaurants. We should be deeper than that, more than that. Greed drives us to loose who we are in so many ways and just seek some shallow definition of success. Money does not fill an emotional need just like food doesn't.
We all seem to admire those that are self contained, happiness on the inside, peace within, not dependant on the externals to achieve what is held in our hearts and bring joy. But so few of us work towards achieving those goals. I think we have taken an empty road by seeking things instead of the things that are lasting and not dependant on what we own. Seeking peace and joy within, is never achieved by shopping, working 60 hour weeks, spending what we don't have or by a heart filled with greed or fear of looking like we don't measure up to some worthless standard set by those that wish to get us to buy stuff .
the photo is of our front door bell, pretty simple isn't it

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Simpler Living

"I believe we would be happier to have a personal revolution in our individual lives and go back to simpler living and more direct thinking. It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature. There are not hot house blossoms that can compare in beauty and fragrance with my bouquet of wildflowers".
~Laura Ingalls Wilder~

Harry, a wolf in waiting ?

At least that is what it looks like....Harry sits licking his chops as the kittens temp him to a chase. If you look close, you will see that there are two kittens hiding under the rake. Harry is really quite gentle with the kittens but it doesn't look that way in the top picture. Reminds me of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood !
Morning chores provide me with such entertainment : )

Singing praises of Creation

“But tomorrow, dawn will come the way I picture her, barefoot and disheveled, standing outside my windowin one of the fragile cotton dresses of the poor.She will look in at me with her thin arms extended,offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.”
~William Collins~
High up in the cottonwood tree a disheveled bird sang to me, rejoicing it seems in the beauty of the day, and beside him in the Black Walnut tree, another great singer, rejoicing in all of creation. Life is good ~ moments that capture you, hold you, and change you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mushroom Onion Quiche

There was no real recipe for this but I can tell you what I did to make this quiche. The recipe made two. My grandmother and mother cooked without using recipes and they taught me to do the same.

I used 3 packages of sliced mushroom and 5 onions (small) sliced and sauteed with the mushrooms in some olive oil until tender. I sprinkled in some oregano too.
In a large bowl I whisked 8 eggs and a hefty cup of sour cream, to that I added about 3/4 cup of shredded swiss cheese. When all cooked, put the onions and mushrooms in the pie crusts,
Fill to the rim of the crust with the egg mixture and sprinkle with more shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then turn the oven down to 300 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted, comes out clean.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goodwill finds of the day

There are some days at Goodwill that you just hit the jackpot and today was one of them. I found a wonderful service for 10 of Johann Haviland China made in Bavaria Germany, complete with a covered vegetable dish. I believe the pattern is called, "Forever Spring". I also found two beautiful International Silver "Early American" serving pieces that have been very well cared for. Just a bit of a polish and they sparkled. The dishes were $12 for the set and the silver was $6....not bad at all but even better since I had a coupon for $10 off ! Not so sure I NEEDED another set of dishes but maybe one of the girls would like them if I can't find room for them : ) Oh yes, I also picked up a sweet little dish that just begged to be brought home.
Melanie found a beautiful set of China, service for 12 that is white with silver around the edge. Beautifully made and of a good quality. I believe it was made in Japan. Very delicate and simply beautiful. I would say, It was a good day to shop at Goodwill. The dishes are on the internet for $400 for service for 8, no serving pieces and the vegetable bowl lists for $60. With my coupon, I paid a whopping $2 for the lot.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Golden Simplicty

There is something profoundly beautiful about the morning sunshine filtering through the windows and casting gold rays on the mundane, the ordinary, the very things we might otherwise fail to acknowledge on any given busy morning.
Stopping as if I was in an art gallery, standing still, to study, to admire, the pure gold of the morning sun grace the dinning room.

An Irish Weaver's Rugged Remote Life

This is the real simple life....

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Let Us Go Back "

Let Us Go Back
~Thomas Curtis Clark~
Let us go back
To the simpler and better things.
Let us retrace our steps
From our greed-born bickerings
Back to the quietness
Of plain, good friendliness.
Let us go back
To the old roads of beauty's quest.
Let us again find joy
In the fields and the woods, possessed
By the thrill of the spring,
And of summer wandering.
Let us go back
To old-fashioned content, our wealth
Found in the garden nooks,
And beneath home roofs.
Let the health
Of the trees and the grass
Be ours, as the seasons pass.

My Maternal Grandmother Alexandra Mae Neil Heckbert born 1902 Noel, Nova Scotia

Some Happy News

God is blessing our family once again with the joy of a new baby on the way. Melanie and Casimir are expecting a baby ! We are so happy. Melanie is 8 weeks along and doing well, except for terrible morning sickness which for her brings some very low blood sugars. She had to go to the hospital the other night for dehydration. They have heard the babies heartbeat already.
We will be on bended knee for many months now, praying for Melanie's health, and for the baby. Please keep them both in your prayers.
I am anxious to find out if it will be a boy or a girl so I can start knitting and sewing in pink or blue. What a blessing grandbabies are and we would be happy to have many many of them.
Proverbs 17:6 Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
May Emery and I live to be the pride of our children

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...