Monday, September 28, 2009

This weekend my mom came into town for the Flock and Fiber Festival. On Saturday our whole family went to look at the animals and pick up some yarn, wool for spinning, and a spinning wheel maintenance kit so I can tune up my spinning wheel. It was fun to see all the different sheep breeds. We hope by next year to get a few sheep. I like the little Shetland sheep, and Brian is partial to Icelandic. There were also alpacas, angora and pygora goats, and angora rabbits. On Sunday my mom and I took a advanced drop spindle class. During the class I really was able to improve my spinning and learned new techniques. I learned how to spin while walking, spin the spindle with my feet, and special plying techniques.

It was really fun to get back into knitting and spinning again. This summer I didn't do any fiber work; there just wasn't time. But now that it is getting darker and colder, I am going to have more time to knit at night. I am working on socks for Brian, lacy socks for me, and the kids will need new mittens this winter. So I better get busy!

Our radishes, lettuce, spinach and leeks are coming along, and we are getting ready for garlic and shallot planting. I have several fruit trees that I will plant when the rainy season starts in earnest. I have been trying to get the indoor plastering and cobbing done while it is still warm and dry; it will dry a lot slower as it gets colder.
Brian has been chopping firewood. We heat entirely with wood, so our woodpile is really important.
I took the kids with my mother-in-law to the Oregon Garden's homeschool day. It was fun but tiring walking around the garden visiting their education stations. My kids' favorites seemed to be the compost station where they looked at worms and bugs in compost with a magnifying glass, and the wildlife station with animal tracks and signs. They also liked the children's garden with a model train and a kid sized hobbit-hole. I liked their vegetable and fruit garden (I fantasized about having a crew of volunteers to work in my garden) and the One Green World garden. One Green World is my favorite nursery for unusual edibles that do well in our climate. It was fun to see all the mature plants; paw paw, dwarf pomegranate, figs fruiting.

This Saturday, October 3rd from 10:00 to 2:00, is our first indoor market at Wellspring. We will have seasonal produce, with lots of kale and greens, soap, salve, honey and more. This is a once a month event. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Despite the return to high temperatures today (high 80s) at night it has been getting very chilly. The kids woke up a few nights ago needing an extra blanket. We only heat with wood, and heat sparingly at that, so as the weather cools we begin pilling on the wool blankets and comforters. The first winter we lived in our home, the upstairs was just a shell; roofing and plywood without insulation. Downstairs we had the strawbale walls to keep the heat in, plus the thermal mass of the floor, but upstairs was cold. Some nights I would look up and see frost on the ceiling. We kept the kids in warm jammies, under mounds of blankets, and put hot water bottles on their feet, so it was tolerable, but stressful. This winter should be a lot more cosy, with ceiling insulation and dry wall in.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not too much new here on the farm. Just making tomato sauce, sauerkraut and eating lots of dishes with eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash and green beans. Inspired by a customer's idea; I made sauerkraut with red and green cabbage, some red onion for flavor, and some red-fleshed crab apples! Experimental but I think it will be yummy. Brian planted beds of spinach, lettuce and greens this week too!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Homestead homeschooling

This week we have been focusing more on homeschooling. Our older kids are in 1st and 5th grade, so we keep pretty busy. Our 10 year old does most of her work on her own these days, with me checking her work, and doing some one-on-one teaching for things like math. My 7 year old still needs lots of mom directed time. I don't know if it a boy-thing or just his personality (or just a kid-thing!), but he would way rather be running around outside than sitting still and working on reading. He really seems to like math though. Our 3 year old insists on doing homeschool too so I have lots of workbooks and manipulatives for him to do while I work with the older kids. We do history and science all together, with my 10 year old doing more extensive reading and writing on what we are learning. It is amazing how much home schooling is a full-time job. I love it, and I love spending so much time with my kids, but it can be draining sometimes.

With getting ready for our last market, getting back into schooling, and getting the house under control after a summer of letting things slide a little; I haven't got much done except for the daily maintenance work. The kids do help a lot with chores and I consider this an important part of their schooling. I would like to raise kids that can grow and prepare a meal, do laundry, knit a sock, sew a seam, chop wood and start a fire... as well as being able to do algebra and read Shakespeare. Thus far they are interested in learning what we do and lending a hand, and I hope that if we have the patience to show them now while they are young, they will continue to be willing helpers as they get older. Our 10 year old has a knack for intricate work and has been knitting and sewing projects since she was seven. My 7 year old has a real kinship with animals and is talented at building and fixing things. It will be fun to see what gifts our youngest develops.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We put our pigs out on pasture this weekend. It was amazing to watch them root around with their snouts. Our son said "They're just like a rototiller!" Which is funny, because we decided to get pigs to use them for tilling and weed control, not just because they are cute. We were delighted to watch them chew on thistle roots.

We had lots of rain the last few days, which is great for my new seedlings and onion sets. We use only solar power and the well pump drains the batteries quickly; so it is great to not have to irrigate. We hope in the next year or two to put in a rainwater catchment pond and use gravity for irrigation.

Today I took my son to the orthopedic doctor to get his arm checked and his cast off. The doctor was asking him what sort of chores he does that he could use to strengthen his left arm. He asked if he empties waste baskets or vacuums? My son replied that he didn't do those things but he does empty the compost bucket. I could have added that he hauls wood, collects eggs, waters the animals, etc, but I think the doctor thought we were nutty enough already!

This Saturday is the last of the weekly Saturday markets. We will have an abundance of produce, as well as our soap, salves and honey, so come out and see us!

Friday, September 4, 2009


We picked up our two pigs on Saturday. They are eight week old girls and they are hilarious! It seems every time we get a new animal we spend hours hanging out with them, finding their antics hysterical. Pigs are especially funny. They grunt back and forth and root around with their snouts, and they can really bite when they think your fingers might taste good! Their first morning on our farm the kids ran up saying "The pigs are gone!" I ran down to check and found them burrowed into the thick straw, sleeping. They also have made one escape attempt which required all five of us to work together to get them back in their pen. What fun!

Brian has been manuring new and empty beds in the gardens and I have been canning like crazy! We have about 150 tomato plants so I am making lots of sauce. Hopefully I will put up some salsa this week too!

For our market customers: No market on Saturday, September 5! But we will be back for the last market next week. Hope to see you there!