Friday, January 30, 2015

A Beaver Kind of Day

By some odd coincidence, our day revolved around beaver findings. After many long days spent working inside, we took the afternoon to enjoy the bright blue sky and the ever-so-warm 35 degree day. Taking a quick detour, we went to a favorite thrift store and found a beaver-felted hat, circa 1925, for $2! My husband being the mountain-man/fur-trapper enthusiast that he is, recognized the beaver felt right away. Later, we tore away the lining, giving us the date it was made (in Germany) and to be used for "camping". Then, back to our outing, we found a small plot of beach to explore. There we found an immense beaver dam in it's beginning stages, complete with a half dozen entry ways and plenty of scat to exemplify the current use of the lodge. As an observer, the location of the lodge seemed a strange one, being that it was downstream no more than a couple thousand feet from an industrial man-made dam….
So back to some more busy days of work and I'm aching for the slowing down of the season. It will surely happen one of these days. In the meantime, we're planning the chick order and making the list of seeds for the garden this spring. After feeling warm sun on my face yesterday, spring feels like it's just around the corner.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Family Fraktur

Our home is now adorned with these beautiful fraktur wedding and birth announcements my husband gifted me on Christmas. Shaun grew up in Amish country and is highly influenced by the Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. These fraktur announcements were commonly made for newlywed couples and babies from the 17th to the early 20th century in German-speaking countries since they did not have legal documentation of these blessed events. The tradition was carried over to the United States by the German-Amish communities.

After a few years of threatening to create these familial announcements, Shaun spent the long December evenings with pen, ink and water color in hand, unbeknownst to me. What an amazing surprise it was to open these up on Christmas day. We still have many blank walls in our new home and it felt like a ritual trying to find the right place, hang the frames, while stepping back to admire the art of our heritage.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sacred Sunday

A day of rest, family, connection, friends and relishing in the sweetness of life.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Shepherd Days

I'm not sure I could live without sheep but sometimes I wonder if I should just break my deep attachment to them and sell them off. Our first real Idaho winter is proving to be a more expensive endeavor to raise these sweet creatures due to the cost of hay and no supplemental forage. Our hay stash is getting pretty low and I'm busy searching craigslist for the best deal, which is hard to find in the middle of January. Note to self: buy double the amount of hay that I would normally purchase in the fall next year!

My hesitations have also risen from a the sad, premature death of one of our ewe lambs. We found her about a week ago in the back of the pasture and she may have been dead for two or three days. We have never had an animal die without an obvious cause. I worry that it is due to some kind of neglect on our end but then, it's difficult to find a lack of responsibility on our part. I think we're pretty good shepherds..Could it have been pneumonia? Overdose of tansy? Malnutrition? A congenital disease? I wish I knew in order to prevent any issues that could arise with our remaining three sheep. We thought we might at least salvage her fleece but the few days she had been out there was too long and the wool was coming out with just a tug of the hand.

For me, the greatest responsibility comes in the lambing season- perhaps March- but we'll see what this new flock does…As a mother myself, I want the ewe mothers to feel safe, warm and comfortable. A small barn with a jug is what we need but the lumber for their pallet barn will have to wait to be erected until spring.  There was an oscillation of warm and cool weather in the month of December here and I thought I might be able to at least get the posts in, but with work outside the home and crafts and baking this project wasn't a priority and will just have to wait for the great thaw. Whenever that is...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In This New Year…away from the homestead

In this new year I have only spent one day at home thus far and it was amazing! My dearest friend and her daughter were visiting and we spent the first day of the year crafting, snacking, and moving through the day in utter slowness, meditating on the wishes we were to prepare for the evening ritual of the New Year. 

My work as a massage therapist has kept me from home almost every minute of the day lately and I'm beginning to feel a deep sense of loss for the days that I have not spent at home with my family, especially in this holiday season. The thought of cooking a full meal or washing the dishes and folding laundry sends a longing for the simple pace of being home. The simplicity of being a home-maker and mother sounds truly luxurious at the moment but with work winding down, this should be possible within a week or so. Despite knowing this, I've never missed home as much as I do this night. 

I've been reading some old journals of women homesteaders in western Montana, close to our Idaho home, to get a deeper look into what it was to homestead in the early days. Many women left their farms for up to five months in the winter months, went back east and worked as nannys, cooks, laundresses, and took on other domestic work to earn enough money for the remainder of the year living on their Montana homesteads. The law permitted this leave-of-absence for those women who were granted "free land" but they could not be away longer than the 5 months of late fall and winter in order to comply with the regulations one had to follow to become sole owner of their government-issued land.
I do hope my daily absence from home is not as lengthy….