Keep up with the goings on around the farm!

Keep up with the goings on around the farm!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Something for the little farmers...

Yes, it is a rather long video but it was just too hard for me to cut any of it out. Their excitement was contagious.

Day 1 with new mini farm rig.

5 trips to the compost with garden debris, kitchen scraps, and pecan shells.

1 trip back from the pecan grove laden with nuts.

2 trips bringing wood from the shed right to the front door.

Two big fights resolved the driving roles, Ben resides at the helm now with Simon a happy co-pilot.

Simon was only run over twice, maybe someday soon he will learn to stay in the vehicle. He kept jumping out when he saw trouble ahead thinking he could pick up the truck and reorient it in the direction he wanted-hasn't figured out the steering capabilities yet...

Ben graduated from the slow speed and can now shift from low to high and maneuver reverse.

Day 2

7:30 in the morning, Ben is ready to go. He tells stories in bed to pass the time while I refuse to get up so early on my Sunday. By 8:00 he is out of bed, dressing himself in warm clothes, digging around for his boots, and out the door. First chore, we need some firewood to spruce up the morning fire. He is on it with a smile!

8:30 Simon gets out of the shower with Daddy and happens to spy Ben out the window as he laps the house. All of a sudden he remembers the truck and demands to get dressed. After much Simon decision making about which clothes are appropriate, digging for just the right mittens and jacket, he is out resuming his role as co-pilot.

9:30 The cold winter weather forces boys inside for a little breakfast. Mom and Dad drink coffee and stoke the fire. Mommy sneaks into the office to share.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Mommy, you are one year older."

Well, Ben certainly understands what a birthday is. This was evident when on my birthday he said, "Mommy, you are one year older." Yes, I am, I guess. Talking about growing up is so hard to do. As children we dream and play grown-up. As adults we shake our heads at our children, our hearts filled with envy for their innocence and endless opportunities for play. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!

I am pretty pleased with my year. I wish I had worked with the fleece more. The story of my life is big ambitions and very little time. I stare at that beautiful fleece everyday in my classroom. Yes, I brought it there thinking I could sucker my students into carding it all. They love the carder. They loved felting beads for necklaces. One of my students even felted a patch for his backpack. Most of the wool still sits uncarded just because there is so little time in the day when the kids are free to explore. That strikes me as incredibly sad. I will get to it though.

What else, my garden. Pretty successful this year. I had of course dreamed bigger but the reality is that I am caring for two kids and teaching full time so until my kids are more independent I should say that I am quite proud of our progress. We are still eating garden tomatoes that we froze, bags of zucchini are in the freezer as well. Our supply of freezer pesto has been restocked. The pantry is full of pickles. I have almost 100 cloves are garlic sprouting. Salad greens, spinach, and beets are still growing in the winter garden. The strawberries didn't show out well this spring at all, I think we got them in too late. I have replanted them and they are doing well, so well that this warm December weather has spawned some blossoms on several of the plants. We are picking buckets of pecans and munching on those is simply heavenly. Hopefully we will have a good rain one of these cold days if they ever come so that we can burn the large brush pile. It is currently residing on space designated for perennial edibles like asparagus, raspberries, and other things yet to be determined. Adam is feeling juiced to work on some of the rockery he has planned. I am looking forward to planting that with him. Georgia is great for the gardener who likes to inspect their work all year long.

My house. I am learning how to live with busy kids. I was able to keep the place spit spot when they were infants. Now it is pretty common to step on a train, slip on a book, or stub a toe on a tricycle. I keep telling myself these days won't last forever and I should enjoy them while I can. Simon is just too cute riding that little red trike down the hallway nude as can be, can't stay mad at the trike forever. The dogs have re-entered the building. It was definitely too much when the kids were super small but as Rama ages his presence inside the house is nice. I wish his hair would stick to his body but again, his days are numbered as he approaches 13 this January and I have learned how to walk by the fur caught in the corner with a deep breath knowing I will get it later. Sounds so silly but this is growth for me. Growing up in the environment I did I would never have expected a neat freak to surface but upon owning my first house I realized there were several obsessive behaviors that had been buried. For a while I vacuumed twice a week. Now I am proud if I get to it twice a month. My life is fuller than ever and I think I like it that way.

The boys are really beginning to play really well together. Sometimes I find myself telling myself to hurry up and get something done, seize the opportunity. But what I find myself doing is listening in to their little conversation, role play, and laughter. Being a mom is my biggest blessing.

Yes, one year older. There are a million cliches for growing older. They all make perfect sense, life happens and we can't change that. Enjoy it while we can.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Taking time, to remember.

I just recieved news that my high school guidance counselor passed away today. I happened upon the news as I mindlessly scrolled through my facebook newsfeed. Strange how so many miles separate me from so many people that have influenced me yet the endless stream of data keeps me a way. This spring I learned of another long ago friend passing on facebook. Someone I occassionally exchanged emails with, but whose spirit left an indelible mark on me. It sounds gross for me to thank an entity like facebook for allowing me the opportunity to know and open myself up to the process of remembering and honoring.

Jeff. You passed away in a maple grove, checking your lines, alone. I think of you often, and an image of you in that grove weaves it's way in and out of my consciousness. Your friendship kept me going. Just the thought of knowing a man could exist as good as you makes me feel better about the world. You loved your family so much, respected nature so much, pursued happiness, and got tangled up just like we all do. You were like breath of real fresh air. I remember your laugh and I am glad that silly little me was able to drum it up so often. I miss you.

Alan. I am picturing you with your very long pony tail, probably totally grey now, taking a quiet hike with that little springer-was Emily her name? I remember Ethan taking me to your house the first time. It somehow validated all the craziness of my home. I felt relief to see another family navigating adolescence with pretense. Just doing what we are here to do, live. I remember pleading my case to you when I wanted to go to Highgate to see the Grateful Dead, "please help me reschedule this final, I have to go this show." Little did I know at that time that you would have hopped in the van too! Did you go to that show? I can't remember. My heart goes out to your family. They were so lucky to have you.

I should go to bed. I know I have lunches to pack by 6:00 am, a four year old to wake up and dress, strap into the car and be off by 6:15. I hope that my two year old sleeps through my morning so I don't have to close the door on a crying boy or explain to my principal again that I am struggling with being a good mommy and a good teacher. I hope my husband can forgive me for cutting down a small tree that I thought was nothing, it wasn't to him. I wish I could just figure it all out. Why do I feel like I need to have it all? Sometimes I just want to escape to that cabin in the woods, not for a weekend but forever. A gypsy caravan sounds great right now.

I know why. I know why I left the woods. I can't turn my back on the future. I am not sure Alan loved his job but he affected so many teenagers growing up. Where would we be without those people helping us see the lighthouses, teaching us how to read our own compasses, loving us?

All through high school, (actually I think the fantasy began in fifth grade, maybe earlier...) I dreamed of the life alone. Sometimes it was that cabin in Alaska, completely off the grid, barebones survival. Other times me and a backpack, first the AT, then Nepal...

My husband misses the freedom of his twenties. I think he feels trapped in responsibility. So many times I have dismissed him, isn't this what life is about honey? Is there really any other way? Don't we all have to survive, make a living, find joy in the mundane? I understand his perspective, he still holds on to those lonesome backpacking adventures, daring rivers, new places. When we are working so hard on a daily basis to keep our bills paid it is so easy to forget that we are not squandering our life's precious minutes in the mundane, we are in fact investing it. Every good meal we provide for our children is an investment that helps secure the future of our planet. Every lesson I teach is a drop in the bucket for our planet.

It is so hard to live each day in the present. Everybody always says to do it, but it is soooo hard. I started this off to remember. In remembering these two great men, I am once again reflecting upon the meaning of my own existence.

I need to remember that...

I am one woman who was once a girl.

I make mistakes like everyone else.

It is okay to be tired and nap with my children.

Dog hair and dust is no big deal.

Simon's tantrums will end.

Someday my students will remember me.

Balance is essential.

Effort beats intention.

Love heals.

Morning will come, it always does.

Goodbye and Goodnight.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh my, summer days.

One might think that a lack of posts means a lack of news. Not so in my case. Busy is the best word, overwhelmed maybe a bit better. I know for sure that I have absolutely no idea how to relax. The second my under exercised bottom hits a chair if a dimpled little hand doesn’t give my finger a tug it is my mind doing the pulling. Even our family vacation, which we are currently engaged in, seems so far from restful or relaxing…I think since parenthood and careers have taken over two otherwise over active recreationists, vacations seem like the time to catch up on all that was missed during diaper changes and commutes.
The last time I wrote I was incredibly excited about my first wool fleece purchase. That seems like lightyears away. School was still in session, summer excitement -still just a tease. Here summer is and in full swing at that! At the present moment I am sitting across from Simon at a small table in a tiny cabin nestled into the steep hillside of a Hot Springs North Carolina mountain. Ben finally gave into exhaustion and is sleeping on the fold out couch. Adam is kayaking down the French Broad River. I am scheduled to bring the kids, a couple cold beers, and energy to meet him in about an hour at the take out. We are both hoping that the kids will be up to a small evening hike along the river before we melt into the mountainside for burritos, marshmallows, and sleep. No phone, cell service, or internet. I finally feel the inspiration to write and for a moment mourn the loss of the internet. Then with an inner smile I realize I can still type here, post later because even though I forgot a few things during packing I did remember the laptop!
So yes, here we are in the super small town of Hot Springs. The Appalachian Trail crosses here. Hiking is idolized. There are lots of outfitters for boating trips. Adam and I stopped here on our first road trip down south about seven years ago, in the Subaru, with Rama, a couple boats, backpacks, and a leaky tent. We stopped here because we were both hit with an intestinal virus while hiking a small section of the AT nearby. Neither one of us wanted to continue squatting in the woods or hanging out in a stinky outhouse while our systems purged so we stopped in Hot Springs to recover. We have always wanted to come back. So far our visit here has been nice. We rented the cabin after a night in the tent in the Uwharrie National Forest. Adam and I learned there that it is too hot to camp in the summer in the south. We managed and it was fun, our campsite was beautiful and bug free, but we quickly realized that an extended camping episode would be very difficult in this heat with two kids who still take (and need) naps.
After the night in the tent we attempted to explore Badin Lake in the canoe, brutally hot and dusty. After sending Ben, Adam, and Simon overboard on the return to the boat ramp I successfully navigated the canoe to the dock. I had a minute to chat with a local as I always do in a desperate attempt to learn more about the object of one of my deepest southern fears, the water moccasin or cotton mouth snake. As I watch my older son swim happily towards Adam this friendly fisherman tells me the last time he was here there were three sightings in about an hour. My heart starts to race of course, images of the young Irishman in Lonesome Dove bitten to death by an onslaught of angry snakes. It helps that his girlfriend is happily paddling around on a float fifty feet off the dock. He shows me a snakebite kit, I shave now set my mind to purchasing one to keep in the first aid kit right next to Simon’s Benadryl.
We retreat back to the van, buckle two naked boys in and set our course for the US National Whitewater Park in Charlotte. We struggled to find a motel outside of the city that was not a total dive, ordered pizza in, and crashed. After morning snuggles and a good breakfast we hit the Whitewater park. Adam was skeptical of a man-made whitewater course and almost managed to talk himself out of checking the place out. Good think he didn’t because he had a lot of fun surfing some waves and battling a super big class IV rapid that wore him right out! It was of course still super hot and the boys and I tried hard to stay in the shade while Daddy played on the river. Loaded up again in the van and headed for Hot Springs.
The Hot Springs cabin reminds me a lot of my little “cabina” in New Hampshire. Of course this one is more equipped coming with running water and a flushable toilet. We walk onto the little porch and Adam spies a wasp nest hanging over the door. After that is dealt with as we wander around and check out our new space, cobwebs and all, I wonder if I actually did live in a tipi for a year in a bitter cold NH valley? 4 years in a cabin with no water, rain water collection for bucket flushing, toting 14 gallons of water up a steep trail for showers, dishes, and drinking-did I really do that? My how my life has changed…Then I ask myself another question, would I go back to that mountain lifestyle? The answer, in a heartbeat! Adam and I are always hashing out our alternatives to our current situation, which on the surface is so far away from what either one of us ever imagined for our future, we struggle to find like minded people and we miss the endless opportunities for escape that the mountains provide. We both loved mountain life but had no land and no money to buy any. I loved my cabin but it never really felt secure, I always felt a fear that the old man would be convinced to sell, or worse die and his kids sell the property, the result being a very homeless me. I was never completely comfortable and to be honest I like stability.
Then there is my career. This I have been pondering a lot on this trip. After dropping Adam for his run down the river I stop at the Hot Springs Elementary School playground for the kids to play. The preschool just happens to be walking by going into the school and one of the teachers asks us to join them for a puppet show! A few minutes later I am sitting “criss-cross apple sauce” in a pre-K or Kindergarten classroom with a group of moms, dads, teachers, and probably 2-6 year olds patiently waiting for a marionette production of “The Princess and the Frog”. I note how quietly everyone is sitting and imagine my own students in this situation definitely thinking they would not be so quiet and still. Then I take notice of the people in the room, the parents all look pretty crunchy sporting Birkenstocks, hairy legs (both men and women), long hair (again both men and women)…this thought enters my mind-boy would I like to teach here! I would fit right in. Then this thought enters my mind, and it is by far a more meaningful thought-these kids don’t need me, my students need me.
I am by far a black sheep in my school, I come from somewhere far away in so many ways (I am so lucky to have an administration that appreciates where I come from and gives me the opportunities to share it) I didn’t become a teacher because I liked kids. On the contrary I remember exactly when I chose my career path. I had just set up the tipi at the bottom of the Kinsman Ridge Trail in Easton Valley. I spent my mornings running up the trail with Rama, dangling my toes in chilly creeks, and thinking those young and amazingly philosophical thoughts. I decided during one of those thinking sessions that I wanted to go back to school and become a teacher, so that I could share all of this earthly beauty, connect kids to their roots, and perhaps even make a difference in preserving it, through the children. Now about ten years later I am living that dream teaching in a semi-urban school jam packed with kids who know more about video games than where their food comes from. When I look at it that way there is no way I can run away to the mountains again. I will continue to visit and honor them. I will continue to protect them the only way I know how, live by example and teach.
I love the mountains! They always lead me to great thoughts…maybe I am getting the rejuvenation I need after all. What Is more meaningful than rediscovering who you are and realizing that in fact you are living your dream? Writing too helps, I notice as I re-read this post how incredibly divergent it became, beginning with perhaps a synopsis of seemingly trivial family episodes and ending with the spirit juice I need to return to the farm and school.
I think I will end with this, a run-on sentence and slideshow of highlights from the past action-packed two months!

…carding, dying, felting soap with first graders, garden growing, cucumbers, cucumbers, cucumbers, pickles, more pickles, pickled peppers, dump truck harvest, Grandpa, hot, fix it up Subaru, getting old Rama, rivers, splashing, sun and sand and waves, road trips, miles and miles of beautiful land, Hot Springs=Poison Ivy, Balmy Boone, Simon and his wagon, Ben photographs trees-it is artistic Mom, canoes, kayaks, paddles, strap it on the van again, burritos, homegrown salsa, needle felting turtles, knitting again, maps, hiking little kid style, endless joy at throwing rocks into mountain creeks, mommy had homework, tadpoles in the pond=more loud frogs on the farm, wasp bites, late nights, long afternoon naps, so much more, still learning to be present in how wonderful it all is…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Fleecy Beginning

Friday brought a smile to my face, bringing me home to memories of the front porch at Millwood. My sister and I at the drum carder turning, and turning, and turning the handle while my mother sat quietly behind her wheel, fingers adeptly guiding the oily fibers into a tight spin while her foot kept the beat spinning the wheel. Wool. It peppers almost every memory I have of my mother. Spinning wheels, carders, drop spindles, looms at Julie's house, their yarn shop The Dancing Ram, the ever present knitting projects beside every chair in the house, new hats under the Christmas tree every year, visits to the Nadeau's farm to check out the sheep...When I think of my mother, I think of fiber. It wasn't that fiber was her life, afterall she was a full time nurse, part-time midwife, mother, wife, gardener, reader, friend, and on and on and on. My memories of my mom when she was knitting and spinning are memories of her smiling. It made her happy. There are so many lessons and skills that I learned from her even though my living relationship with her was so short. Friday began a re-awakening for me with my childhood, my mother, my cultural heritage, and my own happiness.

I met the boys at a local farm. Thank you Mema for graciously picking the kids up and meeting me. I desperately wanted to share the beginning with them.

When I arrived there was a freshly shorn sheep getting her nails cut by our hostess. Behind her the rare sheep shearer working his art on another soon to be fluffless friend. Simon's eyes were fixated on the shearing, Ben's eyes equally as large and fixated. I almost feel badly for my arrival because it was inherently distracting for Mommy to arrive. The boys enjoyed the barn, the dirt floor and exposed beams, got to pet a baby goat, feed it's parents, observe horses grazing in the distance, and of course witness a sheep lose it's coat.

As the afternoon wore on, and I began to feel more and more like we were getting in the way of the end of a long hard day's work, we picked out a fleece. Both the boys were excited and worked together to tug the rolled and bagged fleece out of the barn and towards the van.

I left it in the back of the van as the evening routine of mommyhood beckoned. It's presence floating around in the back of my mind.

Saturday morning arrives early of course. Ben and I make waffles. I enjoy a hot cup of coffee. The fleece is in my mind but so is the list of chores I have neglected throughout the work week. I continue to neglect the list as I pack the boys into the bike trailer so that we can ride downtown, return our library books, pick up some dog food at the market, and pedal uphill to the park. Worth every second of it. As the boys show signs of wear, I load them up and pedal home, thinking that naptime is near and I can tackle that mountain of laundry that needs folding and hang the next one on the line. Lucky me the boys pass out before my legs do and I park the trailer in the shade. Do I go inside and fold laundry. No. I walk around to the back of the van, pop the trunk and tote the fleece towards the veggie garden. I dump it out and see if I can figure out how to unroll it. Of course I did a cursory reading of a few articles as to how to wash a freshly shorn fleece (it has been far too many years for me to remember the details), but afterall this is about exploring, and I can't help but jump right in, hoping that a little instinct and common sense will guide me. So here it is. My first grown up fleece, stinky, greasy, and just plain beautiful.

As water conscious as ever I opt for washing the fleece in a large garbage pail using natures best, water only, thinking that with every gentle rinse I can put that filthy (maybe nutrient rich) water on my thirsty garden. I fill the pail with clean water and immerse the fleece.

The thought crossed my mind to let water do it's work and let it soak, but impatient and not wanting to lose any minute of my precious naptime I begin gently immersing a smaller pail into the water, filling it, and walking it over to each individual plant, an offering of love. I have to say I felt like I was living my adolescent dream. I can't pinpoint exactly when I developed this dream, but it was defintely before 10th grade because I remember writing a narrative for Mr. Rode that he read to the class for it's imagery. It resembled something like this...cottage in the woods, gorgeous herb garden, antique cauldron over a fire pit bubbling with some natural dye collected from the forest, skeins of home spun wool hanging from lines strung from tree to tree, a woman of course presumably me in the future flitting about stirring the pot...

No, this water isn't exactly some magical dye brewing away but it might as well have been in my mind. I felt like I was there, or maybe it just held the promise that someday I would be...

I made it through that whole bucket and began to fill it again when I heard "Mommy" from the distance. We prepared our nap delayed lunch, ate together, played together, and not until Adam arrived home did I get to revisit my fleece, this time it got a chance to soak. This time the boys joined me in distributing the water that was getting clearer with every rinse.

The evening wore on and little eyes began to droop. We called it a night, filled the tub up one more time, and headed to the family shower (yet another attempt at frugal water use!).

I fell asleep with Ben to one side of me, Simon nestled near his coveted breast, spooned by my husband, and literally counting sheep in my mind.

Sunday arrived and there was no avoiding the chores. My little family worked away cleaning, organizing, maybe disorganizing a bit (Simon...), and I think I found my way back to the fleece mid-afternoon. I moved my operation to the herb garden so they could recieve some of the gift too. After another rinse that was quite clear I decided to hang it to dry. I could still see bits of hay nestled between fibers, and it still possessed an oily coat, but the weekend was drawing to a close and afterall this is all about exploring.

I decided to put up a few plant cages to drape the wool from over the herb garden, letting a slow trickle of water drip over the plants. When I was finished it reminded me of the caves we visited last summer in Montana growing stalactites and stalagmites. The colors resembled each other and of course the shape and steady drips. I think it is kind of pretty.

So stay tuned as the exploration continues. For now we are dripping and dreaming.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This Farm is for the Birds (except chickens...)

(except chickens...) please refer back to post titled "Not Much Farming" for a complete explanation as to why this is the case. I am not ready to revisit it yet...

However depressing our chicken story is, our songbird population is healthy and growing. It is a daily blessing. Outside our kitchen window is the coolest birdfeder I have ever seen. The couple that built the house put it in. It is a tray that spans the distance of the two windows, with a seut feeder on each end. Every morning while sipping coffee we get to watch the birds literally right infront of our noses! There is a constant stream of feathers at the window and we all enjoy it. We added two feeders in close proximity to this one and it is constantly in use. It is 8:30pm and I can still hear the steady chirping of our birds.

Not the best picture of it, but you can see the driftwood collection. We put it everywhere in the gardens and the birds just love perching on it. We actually had one at the old house that a bird found a little hole and began living in it.

Adam's grandfather recently gifted us a beautiful birdhouse. Yesterday, while Ben napped I loaded the birdhouse, cordless drill, and Simon in the wagon and headed out towards the muscadines to set the house up. Simon was thrilled to be a big helper and Ben was surprised to see it up when he awoke. The excitement of these two little boys over a birdhouse got me thinking about the environment that we are trying to create here at our farm. So, today after the boys hunted their Easter eggs (which I also took as a sign that it was time to think about birds) I took the camera out to photograph all of our little homes and feeders.

So beyond the patch of forest behind us which is home to so many birds, cardinals, tufted titmice, pine warblers, to name a few, we have an assortment of homes scattered across the farm.

This house is home to a lovely bluebird. She has three eggs in there, I spied. I tried very hard to get a picture of them but it was just too impossible to do without disturbing them. I wish I could share with you the amazing color of those teeny tiny eggs.
This nest in inside one of our large Camelias. Simon has adopted this Camelia as one of his play homes. Today, he pulled me in and we discovered two nests amidst the branches.

We got this from a client of Adam's. We haven't spied any birdies coming in and out yet.

We inherited this one in the muscadine vines. We moved it though and had to do several repairs. Ben picked the colored nails. It is a nice touch. This one reminds me of the little cabin I lived in when I met Adam, equally as ramshackle and repaired in much the same way, a nail here, maybe one there, yup I think that will hold it!

Ben painted this itty bitty house last summer in Gatlinburg Tennessee.

Some of these gourds came with us from our garden in Newnan, the vine overtook the backyard, very stinky flowers but very cool fruit. One actually began growing between the boards of the arbor and was flat on two sides, we called it the pancake gourd. It didn't make it here though, I think it cracked and rotted instead of drying out. Too bad. The white ones we discovered in the corner of the shed here shortly after we moved in. One afternoon we tied them all up into the Sycamore tree. That big white one has constant traffic in and out. There must be babies.
This one I just think is pretty. It looks so natural and I think if I were a bird it would be the best choice.
Today, the new birdhouse witnessed the boys hunting Easter eggs. Simon spied an egg to high to reach on his own and his Pop-pop gave a little needed assistance. Can you imagine the tales a birdhouse would tell if it could talk? Just think, all the different birds from year to year, babies hatching, and then the goings on of all the humans raising more humans.
Thank you Great Pop-Pop, for giving us a beautiful home for our birds and for inspiring us to contemplate our relationshiop with our feathered friends.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day

Earth Day has always been one of my favorites. I grew up outdoors, from an early age I learned the value and to value what Mother Earth provided for us. I have always taken pride in my conscious efforts to make choices that promote a sustainable lifestyle. I even gave birth on Earth Day, a sure sign that the collective conscious recognized that I really was trying to put our eco-system first!

Then, while searching for some Earth Day ideas on the web for my 20 first graders I ran across a Footprint quiz. I took it (and yes some questions were very general). By the end I learned that if everyone lived like me it would take 4 1/2 Earths to sustain our lifestyle. I made two green pledges (which I feel confident that I already do and were not factored into the quiz) which reduced my footprint to 4 Earths.

So much for the idea that I thought I was making gains in sustainable living.

I guess I just need to work harder, 4 Earths is too many, we only have 1.

On the flip side. I do know that I work hard at sustainable living and if I take up 4 Earths, how many Earths do other people use?

At the Painting House we live by this code of sustainable living, which we are preaching to our offspring.

  • lights off, off, off.

  • line dry he clothes...that is when the pollen count is down!

  • we pick furniture off the sides of the street...and find ways to use it at home.

  • most clothing purchases are from second-hand shops.

  • we avoid purchasing anything packaged (hard to hit 100% here, but efforts are made)

  • gardens are in and growing-local produce

  • wood heat

  • Ceiling fans in every room.

  • Dr. Bronners, safe for the septic, safe for humans.

  • AC at 78 during the summer.

  • old adage "if it's yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down"

  • we use magnets to wash our clothes.

  • we use the "eco" light bulbs.


  • Re-usable containers everyday.

  • our boys have been clothed almost completely in hand-me-downs.

  • Cloth diapered both boys (that is almost 4 years of diapers spared from the landfill)

  • High efficiency low water use washing machine.

  • Heavily insulated attic space.

  • Re-cycle everything we can!! And according to Ben we can even re-use shrink wrap...see endnote for a silly story about that!

  • we plant things, let's not forget that green things clean the air.

Plans for more sustainability at the farm...

  • insulate the floor.

  • raise chickens for manure and fresh eggs.

  • bigger garden and more fruit trees.

  • new windows

  • solar power

  • Sarah needs to find a human to carpool with...very hard to do...observed that people like to work on their own clock, come and go when they want.

  • continue to raise conscientious children.

Ben's 3 R's Story...

The boys and I are reading books. Ben finds a set of books wrapped in shrink wrap. "Mommy can we read these ones?" Of coure I say yes and we open them up. I ever so nicely ask Ben to throw the plastic in the trash, he looks at me and says flatly "no Mommy." I reply, "Ben, please throw it away like I asked." Again, "no Mommy", but this time he adds, "Mommy, reduce, reuse, recycle. We CAN reuse this." I am looking at the balled up shrink wrap wondering how I am going to explain that it is hard to reuse plastic wrap. Then Ben informs me that we can use it on the sail that we are planning on sewing for his driftwood pirate ship. So, I acknowledge his thoughts and instruct him to go set the balled up plastic on the sewing table. He was happy with this and we went on to read two fabulous Robert Munsch books. Ben won't be four until August but he sure is thinking like a little Earth Soldier.
This is one proud Mommy signing off, wishing her little boy Simon (Earth Soldier#2) a very happy birthday tomorrow, and pledging to make every effort to live a more sustainable life everyday.

Peace Mother Earth, may we at the Painting House Farm continue to observe, honor, and protect you.

Happy Birthday Simon!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Escape to Lake Wedowee...return to babies on the farm!

We had wonderful weather for my Spring Break, which meant zero housework got done! Instead of tackling my mile long list of things to do I sat back and did some relaxing with the kids. The first few days we spent at home, making dinosaur tails for the boys and homemade pizza, yum!

Yes, Simon got one too! He has a great growl!

Ben made a self-portrait.

Adam knew I would never sit down if we stayed home for the whole week so he bartered a trade...stonework for some time in a beautiful lake home on Lake Wedowee in Alabama (which I might add is an unbelievably pretty place). Everyday we took the boys out on the lake in the canoe, finding little nooks and crannies to search for new driftwood for the gardens and watch the boys find endless joy in tossing rocks into the water. Rama and Leo were excited to be part of the adventure and eagerly awaited the return of the canoe (Leo tried to follow us once and thank goodness he changed his mind because I really didn't want a repeat of the the time we were on the same lake, in kayaks, me 8 months pregnant with Ben, dragging a huge driftwood raft that we couldn't seem to part with, Leo tried to jump into MY kayak, which filled it with water, and made me swim to shore toting a super heavy kayak, a tired dog, and too much driftwood).

Can't get enough driftwood!

The last day was quite hot and Adam surprised all of us by running off the dock into the water. Of course the boys were eager to join him until they realized the water was really rather cold! Ben was out faster than he got in and Simon just enjoyed it. We left after that bring home too very tired boys!

Once home Ben noticed the backdrop of our farm in the spring (white spirea, dogwoods, native azaleas, and formosa azaleas) and insisted on taking pictures of all the new blooms with his brother Simon. We witnessed some exciting pollination by a bee in the azaleas and a butterfly in the lilac! We also discovered that two of our young peach trees have baby peaches! Yippee! After the peaches we decided we should check on the pear trees and they too are sporting lots of fruit, which is great because we just finished last season's pear sauce! The clematis on the swingset is blooming and we have some super tall bearded white iris that I put in last summer, in crazy hot June, not because it was smart planting time (it wasn't, nor was it smart to work a rototiller that weighs more than me in 90 plus degree weather), but because I just needed to plant a garden! Let's see, we also have columbine in bloom, blueberries, diathus, and roses! The best part for me is to witness the excitment my children have for what is happening outside! They are eager to count the seedlings as they pop up and jump up and down a the thought of picking our own fruit!

How cute are those baby pears?

And fuzzy little peaches?

Life is GOOD!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting the Farm on!

Spring, Spring, Spring!

Everywhere we turn there are new blooms.

Days begin outside and end outside.

We are all enjoying each other, playing outside, and checking up on all that is growing!Kale! Lettuce!
New mulch, plants from house #1, boys enjoying their Daddy!
Peach blossoms...thoughts of mouth-watering fruit in the fall!
Dogwoods, gracefully dancing in the wind like ballerinas. What is not to love about this delicate tree.
Apple blossoms, maybe this year it will actually produce! We can hope!
Figs anyone? Already showing themselves...we need favorite recipes if anyone has one!
Swing set with two trellis for peas this spring and beans when it is too hot for peas! Clematis in the center of both already blooming. Hoping this strategy will provide a little extra shade for the kiddos when we are working in the garden.
Boys, still enjoying the giant pine tree Grandpa cut down. Daddy moved it this morning out of the front yard and into his little "man" grove fire pit area. Great climbing and imagining for the boys.
What is left of the big pine tree in the front yard...Adam trying his hand at chainsaw sculpture...I have requested a giant mushroom. It is coming along. We plan a big garden bed around it. It is so much fun having acreage to indulge in garden fantasies!