Saturday, 31 March 2012

Feel The Heat

With the temperature soaring, the snow is quickly disappearing...

 The dog is mesmerized by the warm tingles...and he succumbs to long afternoon naps.

I'm busy finishing my garden plan, using my VERY worn out, soil stained copy of this book as my guide.

The kids hauled a camp chair up to the deck to soak up some sun in their swimsuits, complete with my famous "Lemon Squeezies"

Lemon Squeezies

Fill blender half way full with ice
add approx. 1/2 - 1 cup sweetener of choice (I use sugar)
add the juice of 2 large lemons
add the zest of both lemons
fill with water leaving headspace for blending without overfilling

Blend on high until slushy and taste test with a spoon.  Adjust sweetener to taste.  Serve with a fresh lemon slice, a mint leaf garnish or even some lavender... (none of which I have currently).

Be prepared for a refreshing taste explosion that once you experience for the first time, will compel you to make this EVERY SINGLE summer day...  ALL summer long.  Sorry, but be prepared and buy lemons by the bagful!

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Just as sure as these tiny chicks are hungry, so are we.  Hungry for the clean, fresh air of Spring and the feel of the warm sun on our face.  Hungry to work in the soil and the for the fresh green food that comes from that.

We've planted all we can indoors.  This little (Freecycle find) greenhouse is groaning with the weight of new life.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate so that we can build a proper greenhouse this coming week.  The (largely scrounged) materials are ready and waiting, the snow has receded, Kelly arrives home on Monday and I am itching to get cracking on it.  


 The daily work of our life progresses on.  Schooling, baking, sewing, cooking, creating, cleaning, planning, washing, seeking, answering, nurturing, giving, taking, loving.... the endless circle of our days.

My challenge for 2012 was to both try new things and stick to hard things... at least until they got easier.   I had learned to knit when my lovely Mom showed me the ropes, but my distinct lack of patience and the requisite stillness required kept me from mastering it.  I was afraid to sit still for that long.  Scary, isn't it?

I'm slowing down now - not really because of age, but because I need to...  we all do.  So now, I sit and work at it, slowly and patiently, gradually getting better, but more importantly, losing myself in it.  My shoulders sit lower now.  The brow that was once furrowed is relaxed and the jaw that was clenched is slack.  My mind wanders here and there, full attention no longer required.  All of a sudden, another row is done.  I don't know what I'm knitting and it doesn't matter.   Turns out, all I was really hungry for was to be still for a while.

Slow is good :)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

"Cheap" Chick Brooder

We picked up a dozen 2 week old chicks today!  They're a mixture of Black Copper Marans and "Olive Eggers", so some beautifully coloured eggs are in our future.  It became quickly apparent that the set up I had carefully prepared was NOT going to last longer than a day due to the active, curious nature of these critters (not to mention their large size).  I forgot how big chicks can get in just 2 weeks!  

 Some quick thinking that tapped into the recesses of my mind resulted in copying a straw bale brooder that I saw online ages ago (where, I don't remember - sorry!).  Essentially, a cage is built using straw bales as the perimeter boundary.  I have these on hand for our hens anyway, so it took only minutes to put this together.  Loose straw and pine shavings on the bottom insulate from the cold concrete floor of the garage and our trusty aluminum ladder was used to securely hang the heat lamp from it.  I made sure to fasten it 3 ways so that it won't move/slip and cause a fire by coming in contact with any straw.  The temp is holding steady and the chicks are happily eating, drinking and pooping which is a very good sign.  As a bonus, they seem to really like pecking at the straw walls which keeps them busy and out of trouble!

The water is raised up on a platform on the cool side of the brooder and is staying quite clean so far...  

and of course, food is the main attraction!  Like teenagers - these chicks eat constantly.  

Check back soon for updates on the new brood :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012


 A frosty, chilly morn means indoor breakfast for the hens.

Our back tree line has a magical opening leading out to the field...  doesn't it look like a gateway to Narnia or some such place?  I love misty mornings...

The sun worked hard to burn through (and eventually did).

 The thrift shop was most kind to me... offering up this lovely English donut maker 
(that I can't wait to try)...

 a selection of handmade cards that will last us the year at just 10 cents each... 

and these beauties...  

...not to mention, yardage, clothing for me and the kids and a lovely cake plate just perfect for my needs.

And cleaning... OH the cleaning!  

 The craft cupboard in the kitchen went from SCARY to inspiring,

...and my hall closets went from Chaos to Calm.  

A good weekend so far with a little more to come...

Friday, 23 March 2012

The week

Although the sun tried VERY hard to burn through, it didn't quite make it.  The heavy grey took over. Not the kind of sunrise I'm used to but beautiful nonetheless...

 The power was out recently for an entire afternoon.

We had raspberry pie for lunch that day.  It came out of the oven just minutes before the power outage, so we took it as a clear sign that it was meant to be eaten right then and there. Wouldn't you?  *Ahem*

 No matter about the lack of power, we slowly roasted her 15th Birthday chicken dinner on the BBQ and celebrated gracefully.  Take THAT electricity!

In other news...

The year's first clothing dried out of doors

looks a little crispy, wouldn't you say?

 Schooling continues with a renewed push - we ALL want to finish BEFORE the lovely late Spring days beckon us outside...

and these need to planted.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pinch me!

There's so much to do, my mind is spinning.  Garden plans to finish drawing up, more seeds to start, water collection systems to plan and implement, a large list of indoor finishing work, some painting, 2 sheds to fix, a greenhouse to build, a quonset shed to re-purpose and re-cover, fruit trees to prune, bird feeders and bat houses to build, a strawberry bed to create, a new compost structure to build, chicks to order, a natural wildflower meadow to seed, a back patio to construct, a coop to clean out and disinfect, a new deck/front entrance to build (the last of the major renovation work), an outdoor wood fire brick oven to build...  The list could go on forever and ever!

 I'm coming to realize how truly complex this simple living journey is and it's truly incredible how challenged I feel on a day to day basis.  Boredom simply doesn't exist in our lives.   Problems and challenges present themselves constantly and require tremendous creative thinking to solve.  The added challenge of sticking to a tight budget adds a whole new higher element of creativity and tenacious persistence to the mix.  

Patience never was my strong point, so it's fitting that I'm squarely in "Patience Boot Camp".  LOL.   Things don't happen quickly here.  We've got a lot going on and because we can't (or won't) spend a small fortune to buy ready made structures and equipment, we employ a healthy dose of good old fashioned elbow grease and we learn to be patient.  Good things come when we work slowly and steadily.

Put simply and succinctly, there is always something new to learn about and always something to do every single moment of the day.  The challenge is to force ourselves to rest in between it all to enjoy the beautiful moments that present themselves...

This just never gets old.  Every morning it's different, every day more beautiful than the one before.   I'm in paradise at long last, on our modest little parcel of 2.5 acres.  

Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

cleaning and sewing...

I spend my early mornings just like this.... 
reading by candlelight with a hot cup of tea, waiting for the sunrise.

Is that not something to get up early for?  It's my favourite time of day :)

The kids set the hammock up - a sure sign of Spring!  There's no better place to read according to Paige.

The dog enjoys his afternoon siesta on the sun warmed deck, just out of reach of the melting snow...

I'm busy putting my burst of "Spring Energy" to use ~ washing walls, scrubbing floors and cleaning light fixtures.  Everything is dirty and thickly coated with the dust and grime of the winter heating season.

Door mats and the dog bed cover are laundered and Lincoln's bed is aired... 

...and I'm sewing.  Sewing like a woman who has Spring nipping at her heels...  knowing full well that there will NOT be time for such things in another month.

Dotty and Lottie have joined me in the sewing room, 

A new peg bag that I can't WAIT to use.  As soon as the ice melts out of the hole in the ground I can set my rotary line back in place.  No more dryer after that!

New PJ's for Reece made using the same pattern that I used to make pj's for my oldest boys (now 20 and 18).  How time flies...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Signs of Early Spring

The way the truck looks filthy from our slushy, "soupy" country road

 The way the light has changed

 The way the chickens find the warmest spot to gather

 The way the cat gets into a whole new level of frisky trouble

 The first day we can bring the poultry water out for the day without it freezing

 The way the window bird feeder stays attached instead of falling off from the cold contraction of winter

 Bikes.  Oh yes, they ride bikes on the ice

 The first Spring fire on the garden

 The ice floes melting

 Short sleeves outside

 Barely keeping up with the filling of feeders

 Basking in the tingly warmth of the welcome rays of sun

The annual "washing of the pegs"

 and the subsequent drying in the sun

Oh yes, Spring is here!  We will surely have more snow, but at this point in the year, it's known as "spring rain" around these parts...  

We've made it through the worst :)