Knitting Right Along

We’ve had such a busy year that my knitting has suffered.  I watch our daughter, Catherine knitting along every day.  She’s already got  her Christmas presents finished.  I’m still working on my autumn projects.  Back in September, I finished Joséphine’s pixie hat and I’ve nearly completed her little wool vest.  I have James’ hat on the needles now, and found a beautiful co-ordinating green wool in my stash for his vest.

Meanwhile, I’m reading the Marriage Rite – old and new – in order to compare and write a commentary for my column at the Catholic Free Press.  It’s beautiful stuff.  Classes are done for Brian and me until after Christmas, so pleasure reading is back on the menu.  Friend and fellow CatholicMom columnist, Cay reminded me of a title on my wishlist: Radical Hospitality

Which is winging its way to me along with the companion guide.  But I have also ordered a course on Raw Food, which will complement my Wise Traditions certification.  I have a feeling that the nutrition studies are going to come in handy heading into Advent and Christmastide.  I’m hoping for a healthy winter with less sugar than usual.

I’m not sure how much knitting or reading I’ll actually accomplish this fall and winter with all of the finish work to be done on the farmhouse.  I have lights still to buy and install, a tub to have restored and placed, tiling and floors to refinish, and LOTS of painting to do.  But just this week I’ve decided to see if I can get this sweet little sweater knit up for one of my little ‘uns.  I was enabled by another friend and fellow string {and fabric} addict, Rachel.

What are you creating and/or reading this week?

{Making a Home} Getting Cozy

Six weeks of restorations has stretched to nearly twenty six.  Six months of commuting twice each day to tend animals and land.

The heating system is nearly complete.  There was a delay in finishing the ductwork and plumbing because of a fluke late-October snowstorm which dumped a foot of snow on us – and knocked our power for just about everyone.  In fact, as I write this, there are still people without power.  So we’re behind by about one week.  We are hopeful that the house will be warmed up in the next few days.

All of our exterior walls are blanketed in insulation, and the gaps sealed around windows and doors.  Vapour barrier has been applied.  Even the bathrooms are being insulated for sound-proofing.   That’ll be something nice.  No more loud sounds of showers, toilets, and sinks draining.

Once the house is all warmed up, the plasterers can get to work finishing our walls and ceilings.  Then it will be our turn to prime and paint, refinish and lay floors, do the bathroom tiling, and hang lights.

In the meantime, Brian and Jack are building winter pens and separating the two halves of the barn into individual spaces.  The gilts (female pigs), geese and chickens will be sheltered over winter in the back barn.  Fortunately, our hay is selling like hotcakes, making plenty of lovely space!  Our herd of Oberhasli goats and our new Shetland sheep will be housed up front, closer to the soon-to-be renovated milking parlour and milkroom.

Once all of the critters are settled into their new spaces, we’ll begin cutting trees and harrowing as much of that land as we can before the ground freezes solid. We lost a lot of the cluster birches in the snowstorm – about 80%.  Fortunately, the single trunk black birches that will be tapped in the late winter/early spring came through just fine.

We hope to be moved into the farmhouse in time to Give Thanks and begin the season of Advent.  We’re all looking forward to being snugged up in our new nest soon.

Did you know that milkweed is supposed to be better insulation than goose down? I just love the way it looks when it pops out of its pod.

{Making a Home} Quiet Time

It’s been a quiet span of weeks with restorations.  Several of those were spent waiting for windows to arrive.  Then there was a momentary flutter of activity as they were put in and trimmed.  There is still a dozen or so to order, but those will have to wait until the coffers are refilled.  The heating system is being installed this week – not the geothermal system we had hoped for, but one that will do the job economically and have us geothermal-ready when the time comes – the best possible compromise.

Our contractor ordered doors that were almost an exact replica of the originals, which I have begun to paint.  Light fixtures are gradually being procured and stored for installation after walls and ceilings are up.  We expect that to happen in about two weeks, after the heating and insulation are completed.  Then there will be furious rush to get lights and fixtures installed so that we can finally move in.

For now, we’re enjoying the beauty of this place, caring for our animals, planning improvements and crops.  We expect a pair of beautiful Shetland sheep, called Jemma and Susan, to be joining our growing farm family.  Hopefully, they will have settled so that we’ll have little lambs come early spring.  And we’ve got to work on making a quarantine pen for our new goats.

Our barn is filling up with equipment, too.  Not ours, but our friends’.  Hay and bedding straw are stacked high at the back.  The year is winding down now. We’re gathering in for the winter.

I am looking forward to sewing some beautiful Shetland wool blankets and woolly sleepers for my five youngest ones.  The yardage is on its way. Hats and vests are keeping my hands busy in the meantime.

I hope that your family are keeping well.  What projects are occupying your golden autumn hours?

Be Still and Know…

Grace.  In the midst of a very stressful time, He sent this grace.

Pigs in the neighbour’s corn, and out overnight.  A house restoration schedule we can’t seem to get a handle of.  A three-hour commute for chores.  Sales that have fallen through.  The waning of his work-year.  The return of a demanding school schedule.

And William and I were on our way to the veterinarian to collect some medicine to try to save a sick goat.

Worry has a way of charging me, like a surge of electricity.  My mind races trying to think through every possible solution to every possible problem, seeking ONE answer that will solve them all.

It was a beautiful autumn morning: crisp, windy, bright.  As we approached the causeway, around the bend in the road, my eye was caught by something I hadn’t seen before.  I drove on while it registered.  I stopped, incredulous.

A pair of swans.

“Trust in Me.  All shall be well.  Slowly, slowly.”

So I walked to the rail and watched for a time.  And let peace settle on my heart.  Allowed Him to gently remove the burden from my shoulders.  And left with a heart full of thanksgiving.

A swan song of gratitude as I die to myself – just a little – and let Him work.


It is believed that mute swans sing only once.  As they are dying. Sweetly, calmly singing themselves away.



{Making a Home} Deconstruction

We’ve had several surprises with the restoration of this old farmhouse, most of them pleasant.  This particular problem was not pleasant – nor was it a surprise.  In fact, it’s the piece that worried me most before beginning.  It turned out that my worry was needless.  Our contractors skillfully and swiftly put everything right. The new walls are up now, and it all looks as though there was never anything amiss.


One of the biggest, and most amusing, surprises. Grain. In the walls. It was either used as insulation, or stored away here by mice through years and years of human vacancy.


This is the wall between the library and first floor bathroom. It was rotted through. The floor and baseboard were completely gone.


Looking through the bathroom floor to the basement below.


A closer look. You can see the old plumbing.


The next morning, this was the view from the library.


The entire wall was removed, revealing a view into what will be the mudroom on the right.


Looking through the library wall, down the hallway to where the schoolroom will be.

Rotted studs, v-groove panelling and a new subfloor.


A closer look at the studs. I see a certain beauty in the decay.


Sunshine through the library window illuminates the happy progress of new floors while the walls await fresh reinforcements. A hopeful sight.


The work at the house is about to slow down a bit as we wait for heating to be installed.  We’ve settled on a forced hot air propane system.  Not the geothermal we’d hoped for, but it is efficient and economical.  And it sets us up perfectly for a future geothermal system that will tie seamlessly into our existing ductwork, plus give us a propane back-up.

The new windows are on order, and we’ve been shopping for lighting fixtures, wall and floor tiles, appliances… and fabrics. Yes, I’ve already begun shopping for fabrics for windows and furniture. That makes me quite giddy.

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