Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 in Review Family Style

2014 brought many changes to our family and farm.

Chad joined a punk band, got his Permaculture Design Certification, and quit his corporate job to farm full time. (He is NOT unemployed, he is self employed, CEO of our farm. It really bugs me that folks keep saying he is jobless. Haters.)

Lily took pottery, started piano lessons, chopped all her hair off to a hair cut she has wanted since she was 2, and really matured into her own right as an artist.

Holly danced. She danced and danced some more. She danced through chores, through church, and through the pastures. She walks in a dancing hop. Dance is everything to her right now.

Isaac learned to walk last year, but this year he learned to run, to jump, and to spin! He got his own cat. He bottle fed a lamb and a piglet. He explored caves and language.

I took my camera with me everywhere. I wrote. I submitted. I published. I took my own writing seriously.

There were tears of loss and love. There was death on the farm. There was new life. Flooding. Fighting. Forgiving. Because of the things we have fought for our farm continues to grow and change and thrive. We were held up by our friends more than we held others up. We scrabbled. We took time to swing on the porch swing. We took time to hang the porch swing and create a margin in our life that allows for this quiet time that we build our relationships instead of hauling hay bales and digging holes and chasing livestock, though we did plenty of that too. Perhaps too much. Damn fences.

This was our 2014.

2015? We have bigger things planned.  You'll see.

A Look Back, Travel 2014

 Ossabaw Island was my first adventure in 2014. This was way, way out of my comfort zone. I made every excuse I could to talk myself out of it. A wonderful group of friends and a select few family members kept me on the path to go to this.

What was this? This was a writer's retreat, sure, but it was also a returning to poetry, to writing, to taking myself seriously, to finding out who I am now that I have children and years of experience under my belt.

I took a bus. I saw the country through the highways. I also experienced helplessness and poverty in ways that shook me to my core. I arrived on the island and the quiet and the spiritual quality of the wilderness brought me home. It was from this place that took heed. 

I have more to write about this experience, but I blogged it live here: Ossawbaw.

Next up: Rio, Wisconsin. Madison Area Permaculture Convergence. This year Chad took a certification course for Permaculture design and we shifted our farm goals to meet this design theory. I had been pushing towards Permaculture since we bought the farm and my friend Sabbath first used the word in conversation with me, my curiosity and discovery led me to embrace it. Convincing Chad was another challenge all together.  He finished his design certification work, attended a week long work shop at Versaland, and then he really wanted me to attend this weekend in Wisconsin. Only he wanted me to go alone or with friends. Nope. I wanted to go together, as a couple.

He said yes.

This may not seem like a big deal, but the truth is that we do not travel together. We just don't. He's a food miser and hates touristy blah blah. I love it. So honestly, I was not expecting him to say yes and I was not expecting it to go well. How sad is that? Very. Like I said, we didn't travel together before kids, and children and farm livestock certainly make travel complicated even when we leave them home. Chad's parents volunteered for both duties and we were off!

Camping. Vegan food (which was admittedly a huge challenge for me), and lots of hiking. I even had Lego foot (that condition of tissue swelling that happens post stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night). I brought my camera and adventurous spirit.

One of the things I began to see is missing from our farm operation is the second tenant of Permaculture- Care of the people. Oh sure, we care for ourselves and the people on our farm, and others in our community but we are hermits at heart. So this coming year we have ideas that have rooted that will involve helping others begin farming too, teach skills, and build more community.

 Late August our friend Jessica called and said, "Hey lady, wanna go cave exploring? Today. Leave now?"

Normally, this is where I hesitate and make excuses. Nope. Loaded the car in under an hour, the kids in less than 5, and headed north. It was challenging physically, but amazing and totally worth it. This really drove home the idea that we can adventure closer to home too and easily. I have some pretty big travel ideas for the next year, actually, and I know my kids are up to it.

And last but certainly not the least.......I flew to Europe. This is a trip I have dreamt of since I was little, but more recently the last two years.

I have always said we should create our lives to be so good we don't need to take a vacation from it. I stand by that. However, I thrive on the beauty of landscape and art and history. I wanted to visit my friend who has lived abroad for the last decade.

This trip was not easy. Just getting a passport took me 2 years and a government shut down, a new drivers license, and so much paperwork that I thought for sure it was just not meant to be. Passport in hand though, I booked the tickets. Could I afford this? Nope. Responsibly I should have remodelled the downstairs bathroom that I ripped out last summer. But I didn't. I bought tickets on Air France and told Chad to figure out child care (he quit his job instead! Ha!). And then I did it.

I went to Prague. I visited Wencelas Square, The Bone Chapel, the castle, and so many churches. I did karaoke, walked the streets of Prague in the rain, took a paddle boat on the river, and rode a train through the country side.

Did it change my life? No. I am the same me. Unplugged and open to adventure, camera in hand, I saw the sites, hugged my friend when she needed it, and now I have a passport and 3000 amazing pictures.

How will 2015 ever live up? Oh, it will.

Where will the year take you?

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Good King Wenceslas

 Lily has been taking piano lessons since late August. She's doing great. Reading music, memorising songs, and practising every day, well, playing every day at least. She really likes her piano teacher too. This was her first public recital and she was really nervous. We took her for a haircut, lunch, and treated her as special as we could to help her feel at ease.

It went great. Just great. :)