simplifying

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Right now, I am…

Enjoying the sites and sounds of seven little chicks nuzzled up with their mama in the coop. The first new life on our land, besides little Annabelle, and we are so thankful to be able to see the process from start to finish. The eyes of wonder that little boys get from seeing them is just as exciting as the chicks themselves.

Making all sorts of sourdough, soups, and fizzy, fruity kombucha. For a few months, at least, it feels like kitchen weather.

Savoring the homemade butter brought by friends and neighbors. Made from fresh jersey cream and slathered over sourdough English muffins I’m not sure which is better – the deep yellow color or the rich, fresh flavor.

Feeling the warmth of a wood stove radiating through our little home. Hot tea, pancakes, french toast, and soups all taste just a little better when they’re cooked with wood carried in by little hands.

Hearing a continuous stream of chicken antics. Still need to off those roosters!

Watching Annabelle become a little girl. A girl! It’s just as wonderful and fulfilling as watching those two boys grow into toddlerhood was, but just different enough in the way that little girls with dresses and hair falling into their eyes can be. And, oh the way her Daddy looks at her.

Realizing that these 300 square feet just got a whole lot smaller now that Annabelle is crawling underfoot (ahem, wood stove).

Planning to really get organized and settled in this little space but it’s a bit like shoveling in the proverbial snow storm. Little bits here and there are starting to add up, I hope.

Trying to keep straight all of the various projects we are juggling. All are exciting and wonderful, but I am starting to drop some of the balls as they fall.

Thankful for the opportunities we have been given to work together, from home, while trying to build this little homestead and raise a family. Us adults each have our roles in keeping the ship afloat, but to be able to come together and collaborate on various things has been such a blessing.

 Thinking of you all, or y’all, and wondering who you are, how you are doing, and how you got here… but thankful you are!

The early morning was gray and overcast, but late morning brought sunshine and a sky with a shade of blue you only see the day after a rain. It had rained four inches that Sabbath and by Sunday our land was soaked, muddy, and puddled.

The ground was perfect for planting. There was a cool breeze that swept through from time to time, a reminder that we were on the eve of October. Seeing as how our dirt road was impassable we were to remain at home for the day and we were delighted to do so.

We were ready for the garden, or rather the garden was ready for us. After a dry, too-hot summer not much was left standing save a row of sweet potatoes and some beans that had given all they had to give.

We set to work. I, seeds in one hand and shovel in the other,carefully hacked the stalks of the beans down so as to leave the roots in the ground. The shovel pulled the mulch back revealing our not-so-friendly milk chocolate colored clay soil.

In a nod to the need for diversity per the permaculture concepts, I mixed the seeds of herbs, roots, greens, and brassicas in my hand. A row of kale, carrots, cilantro, and onions was already pouring forth green and I knew that the soil, if you could call it that, wouldn’t always be this amiable. These rows needed to be planted today.

Seeds of cabbage, collards, lettuce, turnips, black spanish radish, chives, parsley, and peas found their home in that clay. The layer of mulch was replaced and a raining down from the green watering can finished the job.

By this time I was needed back in the cabin, the baby stirring from her morning nap. But the men remained out in that late September sun planting row upon row of garlic, tending to an almond tree, and making a boat for the stuffed animals children to float down the puddles in.

And then it was inside, only to devour big plates of salmon salad and roasted potatoes dipped in homemade kefir ranch. A cup of tea, more tidying, bread baking, and a supper to make would fill my afternoon. The men would return to the land to do a bit of tidying and tending of their own only to break for a quart of ice cold goat milk and again later for supper.

It’s not everyday that we’re all on the homestead together working, living, and learning together. After Papa’s long illness and with our intense freelance schedules, these types of days remind me just how good it is to work with our hands alongside one another, pursuing the simple life and the nourishment it brings. 

I know that there will come a day, Lord willing, when my children will look back on their childhood and remember.

They will remember big things like how mama’s attitude could make or break the atmosphere of the home – was she cheerful… or not. They will remember the ideas and ways of life that their parents taught for and against… and they’ll remember whether they were hypocrites in their own lives… or not.They’ll remember that without explanation or complaint their Daddy was always present – to guide, to answer tough questions, ever present in love and in teaching.

But they’ll also remember a million little details that will shape their character, their minds, and their lives. This is a heavy realization for me as I thumb through the catalog of my own childhood memories. I see how we are all shaped by these small details that add up to big ideas and the principles that guide our lives.

Will they remember the simple joys of hauling firewood, wet t-shirts on hot nights, and learning to go slow in the hot summer sun?

Will they remember the newness of coming here, the sadness of leaving those behind, and the "unconventional" months and years that were to come?

Will they remember walking down dirt roads at dusk, running freely through open land, and the unabashed joy written all over their face?

Will they remember the moments they first held her, watched her smile, helped her grow?

Will they remember endless blue skies, clotheslines blowing in the breeze, the rhythmic "tink" of fence-building?

Will they remember the way the waist-high flowering broomweed feels as they run through it, heads cocked back and laughter pouring joyously from their grins?

Wake up just feet from one another. Feed the chickens. Breakfast. Feed baby sister a bottle. Haul firewood with Daddy. Inside chores with Mama. Help make lunch. School time. Watch your sister. Supper. Walk to the neighbors’ for two quarts of goat milk. Tickle fights. Wash up for bed time. Squeezes goodnight.

These are the kinds of days that they will remember.