Saturday, 20 December 2014
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
I know most of the time I sound like a totally competent farm lady, right?
Nope. I grew up in the city. I had an aunt with a farm that we visited. For a while my dad had a vegetable garden, but when I was 10 we moved to Illinois and then Iowa and it wasn't until I was an adult living across town that he took up gardening again.
No chickens. Every dog we ever had ended up "moving to the country" and cats don't count.
Truly, my born and raised in the suburbs husband is more country than I am in practise.
Love of the prairie, the open sparkly night sky, deep desire to raise my children in a safe environment with complex experiences- that is what brought me here. It isn't enough though to just read about experiences and then teach them to the kids, especially things like kayaking that one just cannot learn from a youtube video- not safely, at least in my case.
When the local county conservation office to the north of us advertised a women's only camp out and day long workshop, I was eager to go. I signed up for things that pushed my anxieties and fears, boldly faced them.
Stupid fear of boats first. Fear of boats you say? Then how on earth did I make it to Ossabaw island last February? White knuckled, lots of spiritual negotiation, and mediation. Flying? No problem, bus ride from hell? Take that over even shallow water any day. I HATES IT.
My kids are all water babies like Chad. They love it. We have a gorgeous pond on the farm, more like a lake. I needed to learn to at the very least navigate water like that. Kayak seemed like a good first step? I have taken our flat bottom with oars out before with Lily, but that requires my focus to be on keeping her safe instead of facing what makes me so afraid of water.
Some people are afraid of spiders, have nightmares about zombies, or the like. I have nightmares about drowning. Slowly. In filthy, mucky, swampy water. Tangled in rusted chains or algae. Taking a boat out in the deeps is like tempting fate to make that reality.
I also took a lovely nature walk and geocahed. It was fun, like where's Waldo or those hidden picture puzzles. I think Lily might like it, but I loves the opportunities for macro nature pictures.
I ended up leaving a few hours early. Not sleeping combined with heat and anxiety over leaving Isaac at home with his breathing problems last week (Chad totally had this btw, he's DAD of the year....) that landed poor little Zap in the ER one night....all of that combined to make he feel really sick, too sick to play with bow and arrow equipment. I headed home mid afternoon.
I think I may do this again next year. When Lily is old enough, I hope to bring her along too. Actually, this is the camp we are thinking of sending her too this summer with her church group. She can pick horses or fishing and she chose......fishing. Of course. It is LILY after all.
Saturday, 31 May 2014
Meet Millie and Addie, our two new ewes. They are Jacobs, a primitive goat looking sheep. They can also run fast and jump really high. Fences? They bah at them.
Lily and Holly worked hard to get them home, get buckets and cars washed, and then helped get ready for shearing day. Life on the farm.
I will have more pictures up later that Lily took of shearing, but I cannot find my card reader.
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Sometimes we have to get things done for the farm. This means hours and hours in the farm truck, hours of beautiful days that the kids long to use for adventures, exploring, and soaking in sunshine. It is unfair, but it is part of our life. This is how we homeschool, how we run our business, and keep home. They come with me, work along side us. I usually use the long car rides as an opportunity for a "captive" audience and tell them stories or play podcasts about science and history (because I love them!) and make up alternative lyrics to songs on the radio, or even talk about the body politics ever present in the popular songs. Let me tell you, explaining Blurred Lines was NOT fun and now they pay attention to lyrics and call out when they hear something that is disrespectful to either women or men. This week t here is a song with the lyrics, .....Don't go crying to your mama, sung by a women and Lily was outraged that this woman was telling someone that his mother shouldn't comfort him when things get tough. Humans need comfort! They need someone who loves them to support them when things are hard!
That's my girl.
This week was no different, except that it was Holly's birthday. The weight of the unfairness that she should spend her sixth birthday running errands on a gorgeous Spring day, bothered me for the days leading up. So how to make this work? Ah ha! Just add water.
I try to break up our car trips with short park breaks, something fun, or a food break. Luck for us, the first stop, an enormous load of firewood, was at a house that had BABY TURKEYS. And C. let the kids pet and hold them. Oh, that was fantastic!
Next to the nearby park with splash pad! Isaac had not been to one this year and last summer he was really too little to play in them. He wasn't even walking at the time, remember that! He laughed and played and even floated on his belly to try swimming in the 18 inch deep center part.
Then it was 2pm and she wanted crab rangoon. The two places of choice were CLOSED. Oh the injustice. We will attempt then, to get her special food later this week, maybe before recital rehearsal.
Today was a similar chore, taking us 3 hours from home. At the half way point, a friend invited us for a play date AND she has a kid pool! Oh the joy of being water babies. This one was too deep for Isaac, but she had baby goats, chickens, and a cool playground so he was fine. He also decided that riding a push car down a steep hill was a fine idea. I let him, he was so happy and proud of himself.
We made it through our work days, and they ended up looking a lot like our at home play days. It is all about perspective, choosing joy, and making our own fun as we go. Taking time to make dandelion crowns and enjoy the blue sky, the green canopy of trees, the laughter and dreams of our children.
That's the cool thing about life, it is full of choices and opportunities for friendship and joy. I am really glad I know the two women we visited this week. They are inspirations to me, doing interesting things, and embracing the dandelions in our fields.
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
This kid. Oh how I love her!
Today we decided to do Daddy's farm chores so that he could spend more time studying and reading to them and generally make his life easier, while also assessing our own ability to complete the tasks without him when he travels.
We loaded two bales of hay in the truck, breaking them down first because they weigh 60lbs each and I cannot lift that. Lily busts out her pocket knife and got to work cutting twine, like it was no big deal and what she was supposed to do. I mean, it was, but I didn't ask her or instruct her on that.
Then we filled a bin with water in case the tanks were still frozen. They were not, but better safe than sorry. Fed the pigs, the dogs, and then loaded the little kids up in the truck and headed to the pasture.
Once there, up in the truck bed, Lily and I tossed the bales over the fence and poured the water together into the tank. Fed Zim. Next was to check on the weaker lamb and assess the state of the inside of the shelter. All was fine.
Clean up stray twine left in the grass, lock up the gates.
She was a quiet and helpful chore partner. We will make this a daily outing and I plan on letting her take the lead soon, asking her to assess and make decisions. That's how we roll on the farm, the chores start as just watching, then helping as able, soon helping side by side, and so forth.
Still, she has earned her farm cred today and I thought I'd make note here.
Friday, 7 February 2014
When we deconstructed the holiday tree, Lily took the ornaments and lights upstairs to storage, only the lights did not make it.....
She already had a strand of LED lights under her bunk bed, she thought three more would be that much better!
Truly, it is magical. She has a bean bag, her art supplies, her nature displays with bones and shells. It is a lovely and calming place to be. Somehow she found my Good Will Hunting soundtrack and chose Elliot Smith as her background music. So so soft and cooing.
I will look for more things to help her create this sacred space for herself. Having a special, calming space is so very important. One of the reasons we made the office into her own bedroom was to give her some of this for herself, a place she could have her not baby safe things, a place to be the big kid.
She still finds her way to the little kids' room in the night, so not to be alone. That doesn't mean she doesn't need this other place though.
Monday, 27 January 2014
Lily insisted that I take action shots of the whole process. Future food blogger!
Blueberry muffins= math lesson in fractions, chemistry in cooking, reading instructions, bonus sanitation and life skills lesson. Learning is life. Life is learning! And yummy.
Sunday, 15 December 2013
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Art class ended and we can't attend the winter session because of the weather in Iowa in January and February and the fact that we live 1.5 hours away from the city where the class is. If it was a day class, maybe, but travelling Iowa roads in the dark and ice is just something I would rather avoid. Plus, winter chores are a problem and we just need to be closer to home more often.
She was sad, but said stoically, "Mama, I just like best that we have alone time together, like we used to before the other kids were born."
She had almost 4 years of being an onliest child and I forget that sometimes. Knowing that she needs that extra connection, that special time where she is not responsible for being an example, a big sister, or a playmate is important. Being the oldest is hard. Being the oldest in a family with special needs is more so, I think.
So now, instead of just watching television with her before bed, I picked up a couple art projects that are too complex for the little kids and only she and I can do together. We started earlier this week and so far so good.
I watch for lectures and events we can attend. Tonight we are attending a lecture on American Gothic by art historian Wanda Corn. It may be way over Lily's head, but that's actually a good thing. She will be challenged, maybe even a little bored, but maybe not. She will have to learn to mingle and socialise with people who are a "big deal" and are of different social classes than we are eventually and this is a safe place to do that and for her to see me do that too.
These are more than just decorations and outings, these are relationship building. Every moment I get to know her better. I may be her mother and it is easy to think that I know her best, and maybe I do, but much of her is still ever changing and a mystery to me and possibly to her as well. My job is to be here for her and help her get to know herself. It is a gift if she shares even a tiny bit of that with me.