Wednesday, December 25, 2013

On Christmas Day in the Morning

Merry Christmas and God Jul to all our dear ones, near and far!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


None of the children or animals seem to mind the snow, but snugness is important for animals, according to Will. Now is the time to show you the beautiful shelter he's making for them:

The pictures are from November. Cold, sunny November. At this point, the goat shed was still looking scrappy, built, as it is, from scrap wood and ancient rusty roofing from the barn. I can hear him saying, "I told you that roofing would come in handy!" (Our one incompatibility is over what to hoard and not to hoard. He's the hoarder, I'm the non-hoarder; he's usually right to hang onto things in the end, but, at the same time, my cup of contentment is perfectly full without crap everywhere) Anyway, you can see the makings of a sod roof which we'll plant with grass and wildflowers in the spring. It will be lovely! I anticipate the goats standing ON the roof, not under. Because goats can fly, you see. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

St. Nicholas!

A Happy Feast of St. Nicholas, from the elves in Canada to you!

Around here, St. Nicholas' Day gets a little more festive every year. We are very fond of this good kind bishop and we take the excuse to eat chocolate coins and read our new St. Nicholas day books, all day long, without getting out of our pajamas.

I made the boys some new St. Nicholas day hats. They are very good sports to wear them, for five seconds, for the pictures. I understand, I really do, that they are big boys now and mama's silly hats are not quite cool enough for big boys. 

I mean....ears? Seriously, mom.

I'm also smart enough not to say "oooooo, how cute! It's killing me!" whilst taking pictures... There's almost nothing worse to a boy's dignity than being called cute. Still, look at them!

Here are the tomten hats:

Hugh is taking his chocolate up to his room, in this picture, to consume it privately, quickly, and silently. He's no fool, Hugh.

St. Nicholas Day tomtens. OOOOOOOooooo, how cute!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


cozy snugness

What, you might ask, do we do with ourselves, buried away in the country and staring into a newt tank? (with thanks to Gussie Fink-Nottle, even though the quote doesn't really apply....we've got P.G. Wodehouse fever!!)

Well, naturally, we do a lot of home schooling and goofing off and gluing bits of garbage together to make art.

And we are really, truly buried. The first snow has fallen in a heavy, deep blanket. It's here to stay, with the delicious promise of crafting by the fire, cutting paper snowflakes, binging on audiobooks, baking, and all the other cozy indoor activities of winter, only dashing outside to get firewood or give withered kale leaves (the very last of the season) to Hannah, who doesn't seem to mind. Well, I dash. Will does real work, the boys love snow and play outdoors happily.

Finn has killed a chicken, which brought down the wrath of Will...not a pretty sight. Still, for the feather collectors of the house, there is a bright side to everything.

Hugh's "birds" —I'm in love!
I asked if they could be angels for our Advent shelf,  but he was firm that they are birds.
Fortunately, our log house turns out to be snug and toasty.
winter afternoon light
For the first time ever, I enjoy being in the kitchen...Mary's menu has expanded from soup to...different kinds of soup.

Will and I spend our evenings like two old gnomes. I knit, he carves. As soon as the children are tucked in, we burrow ourselves into our study/bedroom with jumbles of wood and wool.

Will is carving deliciously

every surface of Will's study looks like this
I forgot to add: we also watch movies at this time. We haven't had much luck avoiding our traditional winter serial movie binge...last winter it was James Bond; yes, all of them. A cultural icon, right, we had to educate ourselves! This winter it's the "Mentalist". Who is Red John, who? We must find out!) But we make the time productive. Here's one of the little somethings I've been working on: (I also fold laundry and patch pants, less exciting).

Tomten hats! I'll do a proper show-off in another post. They knit up fast and are super fun. Elizabeth Zimmerman writes, "Tomten is the small Swedish elf who specializes in good deeds, and your child will resemble him strangely, if you put a Tomten jacket on him..."

I've made tomten jackets before, but I prefer hats. Matthias is the family tomten, hence the blurry pictures. Matthias is always dashing around, never in focus. Now all the boys are calling for tomten hats. Hugh has requested a red one "that stands straight up"...What a mercy these boys are home schooled!

When I read other crafting/child related blogs, I'm always amazed at how clean and tidy their surfaces are. Do they really have kids, or do they just borrow them for the pictures?

Here are a couple of my surfaces:

And that's after I removed the compostable matter from the table and floor. (and ceiling?)

Still, I love it. Happy cozy November, dear ones!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

By the way....

I appreciate everyone's comments so much! I love replying to comments, but I managed to switch something off (I think...) and blogger isn't letting me. But thanks for all your kind and encouraging words, and thank you especially to family and friends-far-away. You are so missed and so loved!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Billy Goats Gruff

"Mary, I'm going to Peterborough tomorrow."
"OK, that's nice, dear."
"And I'm buying three goats."

Poor Will. In the course of our homesteading adventure these past months I've had to apologize several times for failing in awesomeness. If I were awesome, I'd be totally into goats. Also into wild cows, like Galathea the Devil Heifer.

Yes. We bought a cow. I haven't managed to photograph her because she is so terrified of people that she hides in the barn, invisible but for her glowing green eyes. The Devil cow.

But Will has been so sweet and so persistent in becoming a cow whisperer. He's been scything hay for one thing. (Yes...scything...with a scythe.) And a very adorable sight it is, I must say, to see him working in our hilly little pastures....under a blazing sun....sweating, smiling, and singing! He hand scythed, raked, and stacked several hundred pounds of hay for the delectation of Devil Heifer.

We continue to haunt the internet for information on taming wild cows, and the Dexter breed in particular.  (Dexters are a sturdy Irish breed, ideal for small acreages. They're also very pretty). I'm afraid halter breaking might be our only option, but that's a discussion for another day.

In the meantime we've brought her some company.

Hannah the milk goat....

and Mathilda and Morris....the pygmy/Alpine pair.

They are as sweet, funny, and friendly as puppies. They follow the boys everywhere....

...put the dog in his place....

and seek out human company whenever they can.

Their antics keep us in stitches all day. I knew goats were mischievous (ours aren't) but I had no idea they were such good company. They're very smart and trainable. The only animal that compares, in my opinion, is dogs.

But the best surprise by far is the sweet, fresh milk! Hannah gives us a litre plus of beautiful milk every morning and evening, and it's creamy, beautiful, and not even a hint of goatiness. Which is odd, because she's a goat.

These little friends have given a real boost to us two YouTube farmers and our problem cow. I've also decided to persevere with my commitment to smile sweetly when Will drops animal related plans on me. (I really shouldn't be arguing with a man with a scythe anyway). Will does all the work, builds all the equipment and shelters, feeds them and brings us fresh milk twice a day. He understands and interprets all the bizarre animal behaviour for me, especially Morris (the male of the species...oh my!), builds fences, fixes fences, innovates fences, just to placate his wife. He's a good soul, that Will Pemberton. And not one bit boring!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chicken Tractor

Introducing Cornelius Cob and his twelve little wives....

Will built the "chicken tractor" by eye from pictures he found online. I'm inordinately proud of it (even though I had nothing to do with it) especially now that it's red....

Bonaparte Red. For these birds—nothing but the best, nothing but the best.

Hugh hanging out in the nesting box

better than tv
A scene from rural appalachia. This impoverished, naked child survives only on belly fat stored from his third breakfast. Actually, I added this picture to show the cool branches Will rigged up inside the coop for roosting purposes. As soon as the sun goes down, the chickens crowd to the highest and most desirable perch and squabble over it for half an hour or so. The other night I heard Matthias shout out his bedroom window, "SHUT UP, CHICKENS!" But Matthias, we LOVE our chickens! 
...and Will added wheels borrowed from a dump lawn mower. Whew! earth conscious, that's my man.

Finn hangs around, keeping an eye on things

Finn is our sweet little red heeler puppy, which we got earlier this spring while we were still living at mum and dad's. I can't say he's terribly fierce with strangers, and he's a bit jumpy-kissy-nippy, but we love him and he's shaping into a good farm dog. See how he loves me?

 The latest excitement is the new door on the back of the trailer, and the lovely lady whom we're expecting some time this week....

I somehow managed to fug up the layout in the tiny space of blogging time I'm allowed. Stay with me! There's more farmy goodness to come....