Farming

Stopping to Say Hello

Life on the farm is extremely busy lately.  The vegetables are finally coming on, and I have been spending a lot of time making jams and jellies from flowers and fruits collected round and about the place.  We’ve even tried a new delight – mulberry jam.  I’ve never had a mulberry before in my life, but William discovered an enormous mulberry tree out by the barn.  It is LOADED with fruit.  Like other such berries, they aren’t all ripe at once, which means that I’ve got to make lots of smaller batches.  Now, if I can get the black raspberries to co-ordinate with the mulberries, we’ll alternate the two until we’re done.  Chance would be a fine thing!

A gorgeous bowlful of mulberries.

We’ve harvested lots of nettle, which is being dried in the carriage house, along with elderflowers and catnip.  We’ve got chive seeds harvested from the little clump at the corner of the schoolroom, and soon I’ll be doing the same with the catnip seeds.

I thought that I was done with flower jellies, but I’ve got just one more to go – Queen Anne’s Lace.  I always grew up believing that it was poisonous.  It’s not.  But you have to be careful that you’re indeed picking the right thing.  So, I’m off to do that, perhaps this weekend.  While I’m out there, I’ll look to see what we have for chicory root.  And OH! I forgot that I’ve been collecting burdock and dandelion root.  So, so much more to harvest from teh wild while we wait for our pokey veggies to get up and ready.  Blossoms everywhere, and wee bitty vegetables.

Queen Anne's Lace

It looks like we’re going to have a spate of veg all at once, rather than the steady stream we had originally planned.  But there it is.  Nothing can be done about how the weather behaves.  And God is good.  He knows what we need.  Our job is to have faith and always and everywhere to give thanks.

I have been working on two knitting designs. 

I had to frog back and re-work the Brendan longies I started several weeks months ago.  But I think that this revision will look much better.  I also decided to order a new skein of yarn to work it up – “Moorland” Madelinetosh Tosh DK (my current fave yarn) – it will go so well with a co-ordinating jumper/vest in Mad. Tosh DK “Filigree”, which I still have skads of from Georgie’s romper.  The green is very, very similar to the “Kiwi” Lamb’s Pride that I began with, but much softer.

The second is a pretty pair of socks that I’m calling “Métro”.  It’s a two-at-a-time toe-up sock.  Lacy and pink.  But it would be lovely in any colour.  I can’t wait to photograph my progress and share with you.  I am the world’s.  slowest.  knitter.  Or I was.  Until I rediscovered the Scottish style of knitting, also called Irish Cottage Knitting.  I knit this way when my oldest ones were little, but gave it up when I started knitting in the round.  And today, I discovered that Bulgarian babas knit Turkish or Tunisian style – with hooks!  Holy smokes, how much faster must that be?  Yep.  I’m going to try it.  The special, wonderful bonus is that it has a built-in lifeline in case you make a boo-boo.  At least, it has a lifeline for the previous row or round.  That’s enough for some of us. 🙂

And speaking of Bulgaria, we’re still beavering away raising funds for our adoption.  Our little gal just turned 10, and our little fella is about to turn 11.  We have been told that we have until the week before Christmas to get everything done.  Looks like a trip for Christmas-tide.  It’s coming really quickly.

Really.  Quickly.

I have applied to Reece’s Rainbow to see if we can get some fundraising help from them.  I hope we’ll hear back sometime next week.  In the meantime, we’re planning a little online fundraiser of our own.  I was given a loving nudge by my friend Cassan to have the kind of fundraiser that has a little progress graphic and would possibly make all of the asking a little easier to manage.  But because I can’t resist making a PROJECT out of a project (will I ever learn?  Don’t answer that.), I have made a project out of it.  LOL.  My intention is to bless more children, more families with it.  If I can do it for us, I want to use the same project to help others.  I’ll share more when I can.

In the meantime, we have to get a whole new term life insurance for parents.  It’s no problem, I said.  It’ll take about 5 minutes, I said.  WRONG.  Oy.  So worth it, though.  Can’t wait to see those two beautiful faces for real.  And hug those babies up.

If you would like to help us get those hugs a little sooner, you can make a gift of any size through PayPal (nissa_@_gadboisfamily_._com), shop at our farm shop, or book a portrait session or hire me to photograph your next event.

 

Saturday

An early start for us today.

sons

Brian and Caroline are off to New Hampshire to pick up our new evaporator pan, the last piece of our sugaring outfit before we can start making syrup.  Jack is doing some last minute work on the sugarhouse – getting the arch bricked up and the firebricks primed.  It’s a heavy job, that.  But he’s amazing – strong and hard-working.  I am so proud of the man that he has become.  His future wife will be blessed in him.

Maple Sap Boiling

The rest of us are inside doing Saturday chores and preparing for keeping the sugaring crew fed through the long days and weeks ahead.  We are baking bread, and preparing meals ahead wherever possible.

Buckwheat Flax Bread Dough

Buckwheat Flax Bread

12 hour days up in the sugarbush and in the sugarhouse – back and forth with sap and empty buckets – makes everyone really hungry.  I won’t be participating much in the actual sugaring the first couple of weeks because I am smack in the middle of a nasty flare.  It is messing with my mobility and fine motor function, to say nothing of the pain.  Tylenol is about the extent of the medication I can take (which is fairly useless) while I wait for the insurance to clear so that I can increase my infusions.

I’m hoping to have enough good hours here and there to finish the longies that I am designing for Georgie.  I’m loving them so far.  The yummy green is so appealing.  We have been longing for spring and something GREEN.  It has been a lovely long winter, and I love the snow, but it is time for some colour, no?

These longies will be joined by a jumper (sweater) and a hat, perhaps some wee socks or booties.  Once I have the draft pattern completed, I’ll be looking for three or four beta knitters to make up sets and see how the pattern works for them.  You can leave a comment below if you’re interested in knitting along, and sharing your progress.

Brendan Longies

 

And in other news (perhaps you saw my announcement on Facebook), Brian and I are pursuing the adoption of a beautiful brother and sister from Bulgaria.  We have to move very quickly – something we are not very good at here. I beg your prayers.  We have had our hearts broken so many times in the past.  The story of how they came to be known to us is truly amazing.  I will share it at some point.  Really, truly the hand of God.

We have decided to set aside all of the proceeds from our remaining birch syrup for our adoption fund, if you are interested in having something sweet on your table, and doing something sweet with that purchase.  I will also be putting all of the proceeds from my portrait photography toward our adoption, and getting the house ship shape for our new additions.  That means clearing out the room that I have been using for my sewing and crafts to use as a studio here on the farm, so that I can increase my available hours.  I’ll figure out later how I’m going to get my sewing accomplished (two first communions coming up and lots of photography props to make).  Nearly everything is portable, so I can have some sweet soul lug the machines down and back as needed.

The younger children don’t know anything about the adoption plan yet.  But I am preparing a Bulgaria unit study for all of us.  We will learn about the history, culture, music, art, language and food, about the geography and industry and government.  Jack, Caroline, and I previewed a beautiful video about Bulgaria this week and are completely smitten.  What a beautiful place and people.

I am finding so much to be inspired by for my artwork and photography.  I’m sure you will begin to see hints of it on the blog.

 Coffee Filter Flower

Maple Syrup Time

Well, nearly.  Thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered syrup through our little shop, we were able to purchase a complete sugaring outfit.  We should easily manage 500 taps for this year.  Next year, we will max out at closer to 800 of maple and perhaps 1500 of birch.  We may even be able to pick up additional equipment that will increase our production and efficiency.  Like, perhaps a log splitter?  Because poor Jack is already pooped out from all of the hand-splitting.  He has been braving the bitter cold to get wood cut up in time to start up the evaporator (we hope) this weekend.

And because we like multi-tasking, we are awaiting goat babies in the barn any day.  Lots of goat babies.  A couple of our older girls look like they might be carrying triplets. HUGE, they are.  And a couple more look like they may twin, and the first fresheners we expect singlets from.  If we’re lucky, we will double our herd in one go.  And if we’re luckier still, they’ll be mostly doelings like we had last year.

Remaining maple sales will go toward restoring the dairy so that we can apply for a license, remaining birch sales will go toward our adoption fund.

Jack, splitting wood for the evaporator

 

First you get the buckets ready, clean the pans and gather firewood,
Late in the winter, it’s maple syrup time.
You need warm and sunny days but still a cold and freezing nighttime
For just a few weeks, maple syrup time.
We boil and boil and boil and boil it all day long,
Till ninety sev’n percent of water evaporates just like this song
And when what is left is syrupy don’t leave it too long –
Watch out for burning! Maple syrup time.excerpted from “Maple Syrup Time” by Pete Seeger

Moving Day Approaches

The old hydrangea on the southwest side of the farmhouse. We pruned it back really hard the first year and it has rewarded us with a glorious profusion of blooms ever since.

Many of my friends will remember that we have had a lot of trouble with uninvited guests on the farm since purchasing it.  We are convinced that it is these hunters and others who are responsible for letting our animals, and our tenant’s animals, out of their enclosures.  This has been a source of significant consternation to us, as well as to our neighbours.  Recently there seems to be an increase in the number of people ‘visiting’ our farm without permission or invitation.  Either that, or we are just fortunate enough to be catching them.

Last weekend, I met a hunter driving down from our upper field on our tractor road.  He had to drive around me.  He had to drive around farm equipment that was parked in the tractor road.  He had to walk or drive around electric fence and a herd of cattle.  He had the audacity to smile and wave at me.  I turned around and followed him to his home after asking Brian (who was at the farmhouse working) if he had spoken with him.  We phoned the police, who sent out an officer to speak with us.  He turned out to be a friend of ours from high school!

The end result is that moving into the farmhouse is more urgent than ever.  Trespassers with firearms, and those on foot, as well as those on ATVs pose a danger to our animals, our family, and our neighbourhood.  If we are there, we can stop people who don’t belong on the farm before any more damage is done.

We have spent most of the last two weeks – at least every minute we can spare – finishing up projects at the farmhouse and preparing the pack-out of the little house.

Happily, the entire family is excited about finally moving into our farmhouse and getting to work on the plans we have for the farm, for our ministry, and for our precious family.

{Making a Home} : More Floors and…

While I sat in a chair and knitted, Brian, Jack, and Carrie continued working on the floors downstairs.  The dining room floor is made of a totally different flooring material and is wearing out the sanding pads right-quick.  But the wood underneath is gorgeous.

 

{Making a Home} | Floors

{Making a Home} | Floors

The library floor is being patched with salvaged pieces which will be sanded, oiled and waxed soon.  If you remember from when we first started the restorations, this room was in the worst shape – the floor, joists, and wall in here were all rotten through.  It has been the one room that has given me nightmares from the beginning – even after repairs.  It was that bad.

{Making a Home} | Floors

Here you can see where Brian has trimmed out the hearth with new red oak pieces.  They aren’t the same species of wood as the floor (which is Douglas Fir), but they’ll do nicely for now.  Later, Brian is thinking about making a beautiful marquetry border here.  Fancy!

{Making a Home} | Floors

The countertops, salvaged from interior barn board walls in what is now the mudroom are getting a filling (with saved sawdust and wood glue) and a final sanding before they are rounded over, oiled and waxed.  If the waxing method doesn’t satisfy our needs, we have bartop varnish waiting in the wings.  I hope we won’t have to use that.  The fumes are awful and we’re a little freaked out by the chemicals.  But you knew that.

{Making a Home} | Floors

After a day of working at the farmhouse, there is only one thing left to do: eat chocolate cake.  JoJo enjoyed hers… thoroughly. 🙂

{Making a Home} | Floors

The last of the paint is on the way to us now, as are a couple of gallons of Soy Gel stripper to get the gunk off of the stairs and floors.  If there is any gel left, I’ll start stripping the white mantel from the living room, and the built-in china cabinet in the dining room {which you can see in the first photo}.  nearly there now!  I really think so.

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