Hand sewing

There is something so sweet and satisfying about hand-sewing.  I am a very beginning sewer (like, I still need the instruction manual to operate my sewing machine). But somehow the idea of stitching something by hand seems infinitely more do-able. I can pick it up here and there, it makes no noise, and it is something I can do with two kiddos underfoot. Perfect!

So this week, in the spirit of keeping calm, crafting on, I worked on two little handsewn projects.

The first was from a sweet little tutorial over at Clean.  Ella was excited about the idea of a treasure hunt, and these little pocket eggs can be filled with whatever kind of treasure you wish!  She created the adorable triangles and cut out the hot pink egg herself!

The second project was for a new baby friend of ours.  A lovely little baby sister for Ella’s best friend.  I tried my hand at my second Waldorf baby doll, using an upcycled t-shirt for the body and hat.  She is so soft and squeezable!  I would add a bit more wool to the head next time, so the chin skin doesn’t pucker so, but I’m totally in love with making these little dolls.

Happy Crafting!

The garden dance

The garden is positively bursting with new life and vibrant color these days.  In one of my favorite beds, the steady bronze foliage of a perennial grass contrasts with the vivid newness of a hellebore in full bloom.  And tucked here and there, variegated columbines and heuchera tentatively send out new growth.

Around the corner, these lovage sprouts start small and red.  By mid-summer, they will tower over me with light green foliage and huge umbrella-like seed heads.

And of course, this is the time of year when the weeds grow faster than the vegetables, and we try to keep up.  Yesterday we tackled this overwintered garlic bed…

As we were weeding, I was thinking about the dance we do as active homesteaders and parents of two young children.  It’s the dance of “what do we have to get done, and how can we do it with two kids?”  It goes something like this:  Need to transplant some brassicas in the greenhouse?  Plop the kids in the sandbox!  Have a few beds outside that need weeding?  Hand Everett a trowel, give Ella a container to catch some pillbugs, and get weeding!  Need to feed the chickens?  One kid on the backpack, another with a bowl of chicken scraps. What about milking the goats?  Bring along the jog stroller and let Everett thrown hay on the ground!

The garden dance.  It looks something like this:






Knitting and reading, and reading and knitting

It’s officially Spring.  And the ground is covered in snow.  And there is a huge alder tree down in the yard, and a grand fir down in the goat pasture, and a huge cedar branch in the driveway.  And it is COLD!

Good thing I have my new Valentina Hat to keep me warm! (Ravelry details here).  This hat was the result of our women’s knitting weekend, held at a friend’s family’s cabin in the mountains.  A gorgeous hand-built cabin, a crystal clear creek, snow falling everywhere, amazing food, five women and two babies, and lots and lots of wool.  Utter bliss.

I feel so embarrassed to report that I’ve sported the same blue fleece hat for 15 years.  Even though I sold my hand knit hats for 9 years at the local craft market, I’ve rarely taken the time to knit a special hat just for me.  But last weekend was the perfect time to knit this quick, satisfying project. Not too fussy, so I could knit and take care of the baby, and using bulky yarn and size 15 needles to boot!  A final push in the 11th hour, and I got to go home with a finished product.  The wool is Puffin from Quince and Co. and is leftover from my deliciously warm Oatmeal sweater.

Today on Ginny’s Knit Along, folks are sharing what they are knitting AND reading.  As I have been doing a lot of reading, I am so happy to share!  (Notice a common theme emerging here…)

Just finished Sheepish, by Catherine Friend.  It’s not often that I am laughing out loud by the second page of a book, but this memoir kept me giggling throughout its pages.

And now onto a more practical, how-to book:  Living with Sheep, by Chuck Wooster.  I really enjoyed his Living with Pigs, and this book is proving to be equally entertaining and informative.

It’s sort of making me want to live with sheep, actually!

Happy Spring!

Peck, Tiny, and Snow Angel…

Are the names of our new chicks!  Ella has been asking for a “bird in a cage with a perch” for several weeks now. Chicks seemed like the perfect solution.  So we did a quick call around to our local feed stores and scurried on downtown to pick up a few chicks!

We came home with three cuties:  Peck, a Rhode Island Red, Snow Angel, an Americauna, and Tiny, a Speckled Sussex.  They are living happily right next to my desk in an old fish tank!  Not that they spend that much time in their tank.  Ella is perfectly happy being their human perch.

We’re all enjoying watching our “chick tv!”


Tour of the Homestead, Part III

It’s been a glorious week of sun here on the homestead.  Almost makes me think that spring is truly on its way.  Almost.  But the days have been warm and sunny, my seeds in the greenhouse are sprouting, perennials are flowering, bees are buzzing, and grass is growing.  Yes, the green grass is growing. And that makes our goats so very happy.

Our sweet goats.  Currently, we have a herd of six American Alpine dairy goats.  They represent three generations of does.

Nimbrethil is the alpha doe.  She is 6 years old. She is spirited and strong.  Much like my sweet little girl in the background there.

Her sister is Calypso.  Calypso and Nimbrethil came to us as 3 month old kids, when we had to replace a yearling that had been killed by a cougar.  She is easy going and a great milker.

Sable is Calypso’s daughter.  She is 4 years old and so sweet and gentle.  While her dam Calypso is super easy to milk, Sable has been a bit more challenging to milk. She has tiny teats.  So tiny that it’s really hard to even wrap your hand around them.  (Don’t tell any of the other goats, but Sable may be my favorite!)

This is Gilly (short for Galadriel).  She is Nimbrethil’s daughter, 4 years old.  She is the only goat that we bred this year. Can’t you see how gorgeously round and pregnant she looks?  Her kids are due in late April.  She is a fabulous mom and easy milker.  A goat-owner’s dream.

And lastly, we have “Jump in the hayloft Rose” and “Black Black”, our yearlings.  We make it a policy never to name a goat until we’ve decided if we’re keeping them in the herd – too easy to get attached.  But Ella had other ideas!  They are Gilly and Sable’s kids, respectively.

That’s our herd!  Six goats for a small family is a bit overkill, but we do love our caprine friends.  If you have any questions, I love talking about our goats – ask away!

Happy Weekend!

Fun with sharp needles

With all of the seeds to sow, beds to prep, potatoes to plant, and snow to play in, there has been a shortage of crafting here at the homestead.  But I love that my involvement in the Tuesday Craft On over at Frontier Dreams keeps me motivated to create and share. I found time to have a craft date with a dear friend, who was kind enough to introduce me to the super fun art of needle felting!

I can’t tell you how fulfilling it is to repeatedly jab a sharp needle into a clump of wool and somehow come away with this…

A sheep!  A real, honest to goodness fuzzy wooly sheep.  (And in the background, my friend’s super adorable creation).  I’m so hooked. Fun, quick crafts are where I’m at these days.

What are you creating these days?

Sunday snow play

After a week of snow, and a promise of gorgeous weather, we headed up to the mountains to play in the snow.

Snowshoes on and ready to go!  Ella was beyond excited to try out her new snowshoes!

It was really quite warm!  When we made it up the hill and to the shelter, we had to peel off a few layers. Some of us peeled off more than others!

Lots of snow was eaten…

And enjoyed!

Snow mountains were climbed…

Puddles were explored…

And giggles were shared.  It was a good day.

Tour of the Homestead, Part II

Animals are an integral part of our homestead.  Over the years, we’ve cared for ducks, chickens, bees, goats, and pigs to supply us with meat, eggs, milk, honey, and companionship.  These days, we’ve pared it down to chickens, goats and bees.

First off, the chickens!  My handy husband created this awesome chicken house (the blue structure) that is mounted on bicycle tires, and fully movable.  Sticking out of the sides are easy-access nest boxes, and you can access the interior from a big fold-down door in the back, so mucking out the coop is a snap.  They have a little lean-to and a plastic covered tunnel in which to hide out from the rain and snow(!).  And the rest of the time, they are scratching and pecking in their big old grassy pasture.  Pretty sweet digs for chickens.

Our flock was just recently dramatic reduced by a series of kills by hawks and raccoons.  So we’re down to one handsome rooster, and three hens.