Saturday, December 28, 2013

this Christmas

We're having a delightfully simple and low-key holiday season with a lot of time in my favorite place - home. The babes and I are slowly falling into a restful winter rhythm, and I try my best to encourage enough sleeping and gentle activity. Winter is such a calming time for me. Everything here feels quiet and hushed. There is still plenty of chaos with mouths to feed, housework ever-in-progress, and the needs of so many breathing beings to tend to, but it's gentler somehow. Here are some highlights from our Christmastime:

I finished baby's pebble vest just in time for Christmas Eve mass! (no time for blocking, though)

There was no shortage of kitchen helpers in the cookie-making department this year.

Just in from morning chores and snuggling up for a nap - my favorite way to ease into the day. (And yes, my baby boy is wearing a pink bunny hat - my grandma made it for me when I was a newborn!)

I made my first goat's milk mozzarella using Leigh's recipe. This cheese is so fun to make, and it's amazing how the curds eventually become like taffy after kneading and heating! It is wonderful, and pizza is on the menu tomorrow.

In other goat news, Abby recovered from her bout with bloat, which did my heart such good! (a couple drenches with wheat germ oil, lots of rumen massaging, and some baking soda left out free-choice and she seems to be healthy again). I usually kind of freak out when one of the animals gets sick, and I spend so much time fretting about what might happen, but this time I had a peaceful feeling about the whole thing. I did my research calmly, said my usual prayer to St. Francis (the patron saint of animals) and just went with my gut (ha!). I think I'm just becoming more at ease with the natural cycles of life. There is one inexplicable thing that happened in the course of dealing with this issue that still has us a bit awe-struck - one night when Abby seemed to be at her worst and we began to contemplate interventions, we called the large animal vet to ask for some advice. We left a message for the on-call vet, and when she called us back she began the conversation with, "So I hear Abby is having some trouble?" We are certain we never told the receptionist the name of the goat (in fact, I was chastising my husband a bit for referring to her as "it") and we've never before spoken to this doctor. She was so kind and seemed to imply that things would be okay. An angel? A Christmas miracle? Call me crazy, but Oh Yes, I'm certain they do exist!

Grandparents miles away were visited, and I plan on spending the majority of the next month at home - no travel plans, big errands, or appointments pulling me away. I'm really looking forward to fluffing the nest a bit and hibernating for awhile. Anyone else out there feel the need to do the same thing in the depths of winter?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vietnamese-style fried eggs

A simple breakfast, but also a bit festive-looking, don't you think?

1. Melt a Tablespoon or so of butter in a skillet
2. Add a bit of finely chopped onion, jalapeño, and red pepper 
3. Crack 6 or more eggs on top 
4. Cook 1 minute, or until eggs set a bit, then fold the eggs in half like you would a large omelette
5. Finish cooking to desired done-ness

We eat this with rice and some "nuoc mam," which is a fish sauce for dipping or drizzling on top

To Make the Nuoc Mam

In a jar, mix together:
5 Tablespoons fish sauce
5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
10 Tablespoons water
10 teaspoons sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small Thai chili pepper, minced
(optional garnishes are green onion and shredded carrot)

You'll have extra, which stores for a long time in the refrigerator. Just give it a good shake before using.

Friday, December 13, 2013

(un)finished objects

Working on this doll blanket for my girl, and a pebble vest (pullover style, no buttons) for my boy

Still working on this blanket (oh my. Did I really start this back in April?)

I met a lovely neighbor a few months ago who keeps fiber goats and dyes her own yarn. She so kindly gifted me the shades of red skein on the left, which I plan to make into this children' shawl. And I have several skeins of this gorgeous gray yarn from Grace's shop, waiting to be turned into a baby sweater, maybe like this one. 
I have no idea when these knitted projects will actually be finished (certainly not by Christmas), but it's fun to share works-in-progress anyway! Almost everything I'm doing is happening at a deliberately slow pace these days. Whenever I leave our home, I feel an uneasy type of energy around - noisy, hurried, stressed - as most people seem to be rushing about here and there. It's hard not to get caught up in all that momentum toward completion (of what, exactly, I'm not sure). So, I'm making an effort to go slowly. Do less. Hurry less. Wait more. Celebrate in-completion. I'm feeling more peace in my days this way as I simplify more and more. We light our advent candles, wait to bring in a tree, and don't fret about buying the perfect gifts (opting to give books and homemade cookies instead). We're holding off in this season of excess, wanting more of only one thing - time together.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


His big sister loves to "dress him up"
And he obliges her
With big grins
And belly laughs all the while
Pure and simple joy, this baby of ours
Through and through 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

around the (frigid) farm

It is cold! So, so cold. The kind of lingering cold that makes me fret about my first year pullets in our un-heated barn and our goat who just happened to come down with a small cold right before the freeze and our ageing pup with bad hips and a blind eye and the fact that we don't yet have a woodstove in this house in case the power company fails us. Whew. I'm not exactly sure why, but tiny troubles certainly seem to magnify when the days are shorter, don't they?

The following are pre-Thanksgiving photos. Were I to take a picture today, things would look much more bleak! Or perhaps that's just my current attitude talking ;)

Two garden beds were amended with compost and planted out with garlic on All Hallows' Eve, as is fast becoming tradition here. I mulched these beds with leaves, which were promptly blown away by our strong westerly winds. I admit I mulched with a thicker layer of leaves a second time (which also completely blew away) before coming to my senses and laying down heavy straw like I did last year.

We're continuing to milk Spring a bit through the winter, and I'm getting better at making chèvre with each batch. I mixed a little salt, honey, and sun-dried tomatoes in my most recent version, and I think it's the best yet!

We also had a bit of a farming milestone here, as I was able to sell one of our harvested turkeys for someone else's Thanksgiving table! A real-deal customer! And how gratifying that there do exist in my real life people seeking out local, humanely raised meat.

We're drawing inward to home much more as this season progresses, and I'm finding that balance is an illusion while caring for my little nursling and my big girl and also trying to manage the rest of my daily work. For the first time ever, I have two unfinished knitting projects in my basket, with a third about to be cast on. I've always finished one thing before beginning another, but somehow this is not the easier path these days, when I'm short on time and need shorter (and shorter!) rows to work. 

I'm letting that advent candle burn just a bit longer tonight.
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