Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Comings and Goings

Please excuse my absence in blogland these past few months. I've been really busy savoring every nanosecond of not being frozen to my core. I'm so glad it's not winter anymore. I'm so happy that even though we don't have central air and it's been a million degrees, and even though we've sometimes gone into town just so we could cool off in the van during the drive in, I AM NOT COLD. I'm not cold and that is a glorious thing.

A lot has happened since we've thawed out. Almost all of our chickens are dead! We started with eight hens last fall. They made it through the winter with nothing more than a little frostbite on their combs. They really did well. Then this spring as it started to thaw out, one of them got sick. She stayed sick for a long time, then suddenly one day she looked like she was completely better. It was amazing! The morning after that, I found her dead in the coop. Really sad. Another of the hens was beginning to show the same symptoms, so we killed her. We think it was coccidiosis, and we got the medicine to give them. Nobody else died from sickness. But then we got this dog, Ricky. He's a fantastic dog--five years old, raised in a family full of little kids, a truly smart and fantastic dog. His one problem is that he likes the taste of freshly killed chicken. And so even though we got two more chickens (Silkies!) to replace the two who died from disease, Ricky has eaten all of them.  He's eaten eight chickens. Very distressing. So, we are trying to rehome him and holding off on chickens until that happens. It's sad because we haven't had him very long and he really is a great dog, but it's necessary because, obviously, we can't have a dog eating our animals. And it doesn't help that Brynja (the goofy newfie, who was a puppy in that last picture but now is HUGE) opens the gate to the chicken yard because she likes to go hang out with them. She's such a nerd. I love her. Today Elka and I went in to feed the rabbits (because now we have three rabbits as well) and Elka just fed Brynja scoop after scoop of chicken feed. Brynja loves the chickens and they don't seem at all afraid of her.

Then there are all these cats. We are like cat collectors. You might remember that last fall after the tornadoes a calico showed up whom we (Greta) named Calick. Then the boy kitten, Simon came to us. In the very early Spring we took in an orange cat that we call Marmalade from some friends who couldn't keep him. All these were added to the two cats (Mary and Matlida) that we already had. Well, they all survived the brutal winter. They've taken care of our mouse problem in the garage and the house and have eliminated the voles that were tearing up the front yard. They were good hunters! But then the inside ones (Mary, Matilda, Marmalade) started peeing on everything and peeing in the bathtub and I said "No way," and I kicked them all out. Mary and Marmalade still hang around but Matilda has kind of disappeared and Simon and Calick........ well, Simon turned into a great big tomcat and it appears they might have run off together. I think they're bunking up in one of the sheds in the pasture. Is that considered "shacking up"? Those buildings certainly are shacks. I'm not going to be a bit surprised if Calick shows up one day with a collection of little ones in tow. And just in case that doesn't happen, Martin found a tiny stray in his mom's driveway today that he brought home and now we're bottle feeding it kitten formula.

And we got meat rabbits. We're feeding them from syringes.

Do we sound like crazy people yet?

Let's talk about humans who are able to feed themselves.

My kids are growing up too fast. Anja and Greta are riding two-wheelers now. As with all their milestones, they've been late, but because of that, they just have done it without effort. We got them two free two-wheelers by chance from two different people on back-to-back days, and they both just hopped on and started riding. It's been so fun. They are both reading now and Greta especially has been writing stories. It's so fun to watch this stage of creativity... Anja still seems to be really into poetry. She always has been!

Elka is two now. She is my challenge child, as everyone says third children tend to be. But, she has a smile that slays you, so it's ok. She's got her own two-year-old language and funny way of dancing with her arm up in the air, and really I can't put into words how weird and great she is, so I'll just stop talking about her now.

Little baby Ing is three months old now! She is what people would call "a good baby." She's really beyond good though. Elka was a good baby.... Ingrid is a sensational baby. Right now as I type this she is lying on the couch next to me chewing on her fingers and kicking her feet and cooing happily. It is a rare night that we walk her while she cries, even when she was a newborn. She (*gasp!*) sleeps through the night!!! Her naps are not regular and she doesn't sleep a whole lot during the day, but I can usually put her down for long enough to accomplish something like switching the laundry or pouring drinks for small people.

It's been interesting to experience this new place over what has now been almost a full year. It looks pretty different than it did when we first moved in... we have let the front yard go wild up to the firepit, with the intention of making it a pasture with stone walls somewhere down the line. For Father's Day (he's never going to hear the end of this) I built (ALL BY MYSELF! GIRL POWER!) a patio for Martin as something he wouldn't have to do. In the "backyard" Martin has kept a large square mowed, then made some mown paths connecting the backyard to the front. It's really beautiful and fairy-like. My parents (who generously gave us the marble slabs I used for the patio) gave us a porch swing frame, which we put down by the giant playset, under some trees that look like they should be fruit trees but are actually just nothing trees. It's nice! Improvements inside are slower going, I guess because it's summertime. We need to get our woodstove installed, we need to work on insulating the windows better and we need to build a dividing wall in the bedroom to make it into two bedrooms. That's the short-term goals. Long term is an addition, refinishing the attic, and renovating both the bathroom and the kitchen. We are constantly having to remind ourselves that this is our forever home and that perfecting a place takes lots of time, especially when you have small kids and not much time or money. But we are doing what we can with what we have!

One thing I miss about living in town is walking everywhere. I have definitely put on some pounds since moving here (pregnancy didn't help) but I've recently started walking down to the stop sign, which is .75 miles from our house and back. It's a nice walk, a pretty walk and a great way to snag 20 minutes of "me-time" at the end of the day.


  1. Your comment about it being a forever home and taking time is so true. I was talking to another homestead friend about that this summer because she was asking about my parents house with all their fruit trees and berry bushes and animals, flowers, etc. But I told her it didn't look like that at all while we're were growing up. They've been there for twenty years!!! It is so awesome to know that you can make it your own in your own sweet time!! And it's already wonderful anyway!

  2. I am working on a new documentary project about homesteading in America, I was checking out your blog and Instagram and I think you would be perfect. If you're interested, email me at