Monday, May 30, 2016

Ten Things

The lilacs are in bloom...need I say more.

The garden is growing. We have had some pretty incredible weather the last ten days, making it feel more like July than late May. With the heat comes lots of growth, and seeds sprouting much quicker than usual. I will take it. The only problem, we have been a little short on rain, which means lots of hand watering.

I am harvesting food from the backyard daily. Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, violets, chives, and nettles are all finding their way into our meals.

I did a large nettle harvest on the weekend, and it is currently drying. I have plans to add some simple tea blends to the shop this fall, and nettle will definitely be in the blend.

We have made the shift, and are spending more time outside than in. Reece gets up in the morning, gets dressed and heads for the front door, and that is him pretty much outside for the rest of the day. All our meals are being enjoyed on the back deck, under the glorious sunshine, and I am spending time in the garden, in the yard, and on the deck. It feels good after such a long winter, to be outside soaking up these summer like days.

I cleaned all the windows in my house on the weekend. It is amazing what a clean window can do for your home and for your perspective. Every time I look out one of the windows I feel like I am outside, they are so clean, and clear. I love it!

The chicks are growing. They spend most of the day outside, free ranging in a small run we created on the grass. When I bring them in the house at night, they eat, drink, and then snuggle up, all twelve of them together, and I don't hear a peep from them until morning. So sweet.

There have been lots of fires in the fire pit. Friday night Reece and I lit a fire, and sat around it chatting and laughing. He would run off every now and then to play, and I would sit and stare into the flames, letting my mind wonder. It was peaceful, and calming. Saturday night we enjoyed a fire with a friend and her kiddos. The classics were playing on the radio, there was dancing as the sun faded into the night sky, there were marshmallows and sparklers, and lots of laughter and great conversation. Oh, and there was wine, for the adults, not the kids. It was a great night, and I am pretty sure we will be doing it again soon.

This weekend I held the first in a series of workshops I am running this summer on putting food by. We chatted all about local food, and putting it by. In the next session we get busy in the kitchen, preserving food together. I can't wait!

Baseball season has started, and while Reece is loving his practices, he isn't enjoying game night too much. I am hoping as the season goes on, and they all understand the game a little more, he will come to enjoy it. If not, he does have the option of just attending the practice, and I think he would be very cool with that.

Wishing you the most beautiful start to your week, my friends.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wild and Free

There is a magical feeling that fills the air when you see children running free and wild, and hear them laughing, deep laughs, as they chase butterflies in a springtime meadow. It was that magical feeling that filled the air as I stepped onto the trail on Monday morning. As soon as I parked the car the kids were gone, off and running along the trail. I grabbed the backpack and followed.

In the meadow they chased butterflies, discovered the first dragonflies of the season, and stopped once or twice to check out something close to the ground. I stood, in silence, letting them be, and soaking up the beauty around me.

We moved on from the meadow to the water where the frogs serenaded us while we enjoyed our picnic. The kids explored the water, watching the fish, and trying to find a frog. They wondered through the woods while I sat by the water. A little hide out was found among the trees, and a tree was climbed, and then we hiked on.

A long, slow climb on the trail lead us to the high point, a beautiful spot looking out over the water. We all needed a drink of water at the top, and there were tent caterpillar nests to be explored before we made our way back, through the high meadow, to the car.

As I watched these two on Monday, exploring the natural world, learning in their own way, and developing a deeper appreciation for Mother Nature, two words came to mind...wild and free. I love that I can give Reece and his little friend the time and space to be wild and free, to experience adventure and freedom and to fully embrace the wonder of their childhood.

Monday, May 23, 2016

And So It Begins

While we do eat from the garden year round, in the winter months it is food put by from the summer garden, nothing quite beats the first fresh meal from the backyard in the spring. This weekend Reece and I enjoyed that meal, on the back deck, in the sunshine, and it was delicious.

We gathered eggs from our hens, harvested asparagus, spinach, nettles, chives and violet flowers and headed into the kitchen. Eggs were scrambled with nettles and chives, asparagus was lightly roasted, and spinach was tossed with dressing and violet flowers. We grabbed a jar of dilly beans and gingery pickled beets from the pantry shelf and headed outside to enjoy our meal. We offered our gratitude for the wonderful food, and started eating. It was satisfying beyond belief, and every last bite was enjoyed by both of us.

This is just the beginning of a summer full of food from the backyard, and I am so looking forward to each and every delicious meal shared with my little man, and hopefully with friends and family too.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Rhythm of the Earth

I find comfort in the rhythm of the earth, it never seems to let me down. I hold tight to the knowledge that no matter how cold and dark winter is, spring will come with it's light, colour and warmth. In the heat of summer when the sun feels relentless and the earth is dry I know that soon autumn rains and winds will show up bringing with it a vibrant show of colour. You see no matter what is going on, I can trust that Mother Nature will continue to move through each season, showing up as herself, no apologies, no regrets. The trees will bud, the leaves will unfurl, the lilacs and apple blossoms will bloom. The sun will shine, the rain will fall, and in between the wind will blow, and the skies will share the most beautiful cloud images. I don't have to hope these things will happen, I just know they will. It's magic, in a way, beautiful magic that never ceases to amaze me.

This week Mother Nature's magic took my breath away. You would think after 19 years on this land, 19 years of moving through the rhythms of Mother Nature, there would no longer be those moments of awe and wonder, but you are wrong. Yet again she took my breath away as I stepped into the woods on my neighbours land and the forest floor was covered in trillium. I am well aware that the trillium blooms this time of year, I look forward to it every single spring, but nothing quite prepares me for the first walk in the woods when the ground is covered in endless white. It is stunning, and always feels like such a gift.

I stood on this land, among the trillium, and instantly felt calm and peace. I breathed in the scent of spring that fills the forest this time of year. I looked across the woods, and as far as my eye could see the trillium grew. I heard the happy song of a variety of birds, and the drumming of a ruffed grouse. I touched the earth with my hand, and felt the power and strength of something much bigger than I.

Nearby, the chatter of my little man and his friend made me smile. They, too, see the magic and awe of the trillium, recalling memories of blooming trillium from years past, and finding beauty in each individual flower. Gratitude flows from my heart as I stand there among the beauty of Mother Nature, children laughing and engaged in the wonder of the woods, and yet again, I find myself wrapped in the comfort of the rhythm of the earth.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Peep, Peep!

There are a few new additions to our little homestead...chicks! Twelve of them. They arrived here on Friday, and have been entertaining us ever since. At the moment they are living in a big plastic bin, inside the house. The nights are still pretty cool, but once they warm up I will move then out to the cottage, and eventually into the coop with our other flock.

This year we did a large chick order with a friend which allowed us to order a variety of chicks making both Reece and I very happy. The breeds we settled on are: silver lakenvelder, buff orphington, new hampshire red, white leghorn, ameraucana, barnevelder and welsummer. It is quite the variety, and I love seeing all the different breeds with their markings and different colouring. So beautiful.

We set up a little run for them outside today, and they had a wonderful time frolicking in the sunshine, free ranging for the first time. They spent just over an hour out there and when I brought them back in they were exhausted. I can't tell you how cute it is to see twelve chicks snuggled up, soundly sleeping.

As with all things in the spring, chicks offer a sense of hope, and promise. Welcoming them onto our homestead, watching them grow, tending and nurturing them, and waiting patiently for the first eggs they lay. They bring hope to our bit of land, and a little magic too.

Welcome home little chicks.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Around the Garden

It's time, my friends, for a first peek around the garden. I honestly can't tell you how happy I am that gardening season has returned, it feels so good to be out there soaking up the sun, planting seeds, tending and nurturing the soil. It's good work, soul filling work, and I am enjoying it immensely.

For the most part, all the beds were ready to go, prepped last fall so they would be all set to go this spring. It took me years to get into this rhythm, and now that it is firmly cemented, it makes me so happy. In the spring I can literally walk out there and start planting seeds in the earth. One bed needs a little tending, the fall/winter garden, and that will get some time this weekend.

Seeds have been planted, and are sprouting already...kale, Swiss chard, spinach, a variety of salad greens, carrots, snow peas and sugar peas. We enjoyed our first harvest from the garden last weekend...nettles. Did you see the patch above, it is amazing, I could just stare at it all day. The garlic is up, the strawberries have been uncovered, the raspberries and blackberries are unfurling, the blueberries have buds and the asparagus is peeking through the ground. It is such an exciting time of year in the garden, and I love watching it all come alive.

The herbs are doing well. Comfrey and motherwort are growing well, yarrow, bee balm, lemon balm, and St John's wort are green and vibrant, and the chives, well they look amazing.

Life will definitely be a little different on our homestead this summer. Not only will I be tending and nurturing all the gardens, but the work of cutting the grass, and keeping up on general yard work now falls to me, and my little Farmer Boy. We worked together last weekend to cut the grass, him using a push reel mower, and me using a self propelled gas mower. It was fun working together, cutting the grass, and tending our land. Let's hope that fun carries us through the summer.

So there you have it, a first peek around the garden. If there is one thing I know for sure about this coming summer, it is that Reece and I will be spending a lot of time out in the yard and gardens, it is how our summers are usually spent, and I can't wait.

How are things around your garden?

Monday, May 9, 2016

On Mother's Day Morning

It's Mother's Day. It's 5:30am. The sky is lightening, the sun slowly rising. I can hear the rooster cock-a-doodle-doing, he's a little eager to get out of the coop on this beautiful morning. I put the kettle on, and head outside. A chill is in the air, and the wind from last night has blown the outdoor furniture around. I breathe in the fresh morning air. The dog, Shelby, knowing my routine, makes her way to the porch to be fed. As she happily eats, I scoop up some chicken feed, and make my way, slowly, to the chicken coop. Along the way I walk pass the front gardens, the ones I worked on Saturday morning. I remember the feel of my hands in the dirt as they planted little bits of magic and hope in the earth. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, salad greens, sugar peas, snap peas, and carrots tucked into the damp earth, waiting for just the right moment to burst forth with life. The rooster calls again, and I make my way to the coop. As I open the door he is the first one out, full of life, and ready to take on the day. The hens, still a little sleepy, slowly make their way out, a few take a little longer, like they themselves are taking a deep breath before stepping out into the world for the day. I sprinkle their food on the ground, add some to their feeder, and then make my way to the little cottage in the backyard. The back garden, with garlic shoots popping through the straw, and strawberry leaves slowly unfurling, catches my gaze. The herb garden, cleaned out on Saturday, has blossomed to life. The yarrow, lemon balm, bee balm, chives and catnip seem to be saying thank you with their vibrant green leaves. I spy the first planting of peas, planted three weeks ago, sprouting, reaching towards the sun. In the cottage, the cat is still snuggled warmly in her bed. She peeks out at me, and tucks in again, not quite ready to join me. Strolling around the yard, I pick up chair cushions, and put chairs back where they belong. The chickadees are singing their morning song, a rose breasted grosbeak lands on a branch not far from me, the first one of the season, and the red winged blackbirds are sitting high in the lilac bushes, their beautiful call filling the air. As I top up the bird feeders, my wild feathered friends wait patiently, high above. A few have courage, and hop down from up high to get a little closer, to check me out. It feels special to be this close to nature on this quiet morning, to connect to the earth, this place, this land. I am deeply rooted here, planted, much like the seeds I put in the earth on Saturday, and over the years, like those seeds, I have grown, changed, unfurled, becoming more of who I am, and who I want to be. In that moment, I smile, grateful for the journey that has brought me here. As I slowly make my way back to the house, I feel alive, my heart is happy. I quietly sneak back into the house, hoping I don't wake my little man. I make a cup of tea, and I sit for a moment in silence, and then inspired, find myself writing, sharing with you the start of my day, Mother's Day, my first as a single mama.