I’m back! Goodness, I really didn’t mean for it to be so long before I got another post up. I had started a few, but never wrapped them up, and by the time I got back to them, I decided to scrap them and start over. We’ve spent our time from the new year until now wrapped up in seeds, school work, sickness, and planning. Scott and I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about the blog and the purpose it serves, and I walked away with a deeper appreciation of why I take the time to journal all that we do, so I really hate that it took so long to get something else posted!
We have been sick 3 separate times since the new year. A cold, the norovirus, and then the flu. Thank heavens, they did not all happen at once! The flu still has a lingering grip on the household in the form of a cough that won’t quit, and Scott was sick last of all, but we are no longer contagious or feeling week. While it wasn’t pleasant to feel so achy and tired, or to feel like we lost half of our hearing, it wasn’t too bad. I mean, we all felt terrible, but it wasn’t a stomach virus this time, and everybody just rested a lot. We slept and slept and slept some more. I probably had the mildest case in the house, so I was able to make use of the quiet time in the house. I guess that counts for something, right?
We had a warm spell starting the week of Christmas, and it lasted through till my birthday in mid-January. Then winter made a comeback, and we’ve had plenty of snow since then. For the most part, it hasn’t been too bad. I think we had one event that we skipped because of road conditions. However, between sickness, winter, and other things, it’s been quieter in our home than it has been in years! We’ve stayed busy, but we also haven’t had this much down-time in ages.
Part of the quiet is due to schedule changes. Miss Lady was taking violin lessons, but she wasn’t practicing enough, and then the lesson schedule changed, and it was just getting to be a lot to juggle with the running around and bringing all of the kids in for her half-hour lesson. So we decided to stop lessons for now, and if life permits later on, we may pick it up again. So that cleared up one of our days.
German lessons had been on hold because the family that we do lessons with was dealing with the loss of a loved one. We just began again this past Wednesday, but we may have a sporadic schedule for the remainder of the semester as they help out family. In addition to that, milk pick-up is on hold. The farm we get our milk from had to dry up some of the cows as they need to freshen for having babies in the spring. So we have been enjoying the lighter schedule, and it has allowed me to get a little bit more work done around the home.
I recently started to build the first of the bookshelves for the living room! This project has been on hold for over two years now, so it felt really good to make some progress. I’ve had stacks of books on my sewing room tables all this time, but now I finally have some space cleared off to work! So far, the first phase of the first shelf is finished. We have the materials for the upper portion, but between the recent cold snap and recovering from the flu, it’s had to wait a little longer. Hopefully, I can start working on it again this week.
One of my to-do tasks has been to clean up the pantry in the basement. We built a large shelf for all of our canned goods down there this spring/summer, and I just hadn’t had the time or ambition to work on sorting through all of our jars and whatnot. I finally got around to it while the kids were sick. We lined the shelves with vinyl table cloths. I used two that I had unintentionally melted a bit of, just to get me started, and then I spent another $12 to buy 3 more to line the rest of the shelves. The liner help make it easy to dust off the shelves and wipe up any possible messes from jars that break or leak. Now I just need to go through all of the jar lids and rings and come up with a better storage solution!
I began tackling the sewing room (yet again… it’s constantly a mess). Messes accumulated after Christmas, and I had wanted to clean the room, but I realized I needed to start by removing all of the things that didn’t belong in there, and that meant getting all of the building supplies for the bookshelves out of the room. So that’s what spurred the bookshelf project on to begin with. I just wanted the materials out of the room, and I desperately wanted all of those books off the table! It’s still a mess, but it feels a lot more manageable
One of the things that has been sitting in my sewing room for too long is a pair of boards that are supposed to get carved for a homestead sign. I work on that kind of project in the sewing room, but still, it was extra clutter that should be cleared out by spring, and it’s on my to-do list anyway. So while the kids slept off the flu, I got to work on the sign. It’s not done yet. The words “Spring Lake” are mostly carved out, but I need to finish tracing and outlining the word “Homestead” onto the second board. Then it needs to be carved out and both need to be cleaned up and finished. I haven’t decided if I will do paint and stain, paint and varnish, paint and paint, or some other combination, but I need to make the words pop, so something of the sort will be happening to make them stand out.
We’ve slowly been working on plans for the nursery and orchard. We just ordered our rootstock, and recently we purchased some other supplies for start-up. I’ll dig further into these plans as we work on the actual establishment of the fruit tree nursery and orchard, so stay tuned if you want to learn more. Right now, we are waiting for everyone to be completely healthy before we go outside to collect scion wood for grafting.
One of the things we ordered for the nursery was a big box of beeswax pellets (affiliate link). We don’t need it all for the nursery… I had a few other plans for it. One of the things Scott wanted to use it for was to try our hand at dipping our own candles. We did this project despite feeling sick and terrible. We needed something fun to lift the mood. The wax took a very long time to melt since we were melting so much, but once we got going, it was pretty fast, fun, and easy. There was a little trial and error, and while we don’t have all of the kinks worked out yet, I think we’ll have better results next time.
Planning for this year’s homesteading endeavors is going well, albeit slow. We are committed to starting a fruit tree nursery and orchard this year (it will be an orchard for our own purposes, and the plan is to hopefully sell fruit trees from the nursery in the next couple of years). That will take up a good deal of our time. Our vegetable garden will be doubling in size once again, making this by far, our largest planting endeavor. On top of that, we are planning to plant a sunflower patch, a pumpkin patch, expand the kitchen garden by another tier, and work on the Secret Garden. I feel cautiously optimistic about our plans. It’s undoubtedly going to be a lot of work, but with God’s blessing, the planning I put in now should pave the way for success. I was telling somebody about my plans recently, and they said, “Well, if you accomplish even half of that, I think you’ll be sitting pretty.” And of course, they are correct.
For the veggie garden and the pumpkin and sunflower patches, the seeds have either been ordered or are sitting in an online shopping cart until we can afford to place the actual order. With any luck, we’ll be able to place our order by the end of this week. But ordering seeds started with making a list of what we want to plant, how much we hope to plant, then taking inventory of our seeds, and of course, placing the orders. So far, we ordered seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Seeds for Generations. I’m waiting to place my Territorial Seeds order. We’ve also picked up some seeds from various local stores, and I’m waiting until the local co-op has seed potatoes in to get those rather than paying for shipping.
As I said, I am hoping to add another tier to the kitchen garden this spring. We put in two tiers last spring, and I loved it so much that I want to add another. Having those fresh herbs right by the door really brightened my mood every time I came and went from the house, and even though we grew a lot, it was a bit crowded and I want to be able to add more.
The Secret Garden has seen perhaps the biggest breakthrough in the planning process. I’ve had a vision of that space since the spring after we moved in. The snow knocked down all of the tall grass, we could clearly see the little stream, and even though it’s more visible during certain times of the year, it’s kind of hidden from view, particularly from the road. If you don’t look for it, you don’t notice it’s there (hence the name for it). I could envision it filled with flowers and I saw it as a place to rest and enjoy the peace, but I still didn’t grasp it’s full purpose.
Planting in the Secret Garden has been much slower than I had desired. Actually, the whole establishment of it has been. The issue was part financial, part time, but the biggest part of it was a lack of vision. I still didn’t fully know it’s purpose. I figured it would be best to bide my time until I knew what to do with it, and just do my best to maintain it until then.
About a month ago, Scott asked me if we could plant things for making our own loose-leaf tea. Of course, I said yes right away. And it didn’t take but a minute for me to register the fact that the Secret Garden would be the perfect location for planting those things. If seeds fall and spread in the Secret Garden, it’s not a big deal, but if they would in one of the other garden spaces, it could end with me battling chamomile for years to come.
The second stroke of inspiration came while I was reading Helen Taylor’s “Little Pilgrim’s Progress” to the kids a couple of weeks ago. (That book is fantastic, by the way… if you live nearby, you can borrow it from our church’s little library outside the church doors.) Anyway, there is a part in the book where little Christian arrives at the Land of Delight after a long and difficult journey. He is walking in the King’s land and is invited to come into the King’s garden where he essentially spends time in prayer and meditation. I stopped mid-sentence and said “That’s it!” It was the final piece of the puzzle I had been looking for.
I needed the Secret Garden to have a concrete “why.” If I didn’t, I should be focusing my energy elsewhere. Perhaps now wasn’t the right time to work on that garden. But this answered my question. It absolutely should be a place of rest, a place of quiet. It should be a place of prayer and healing. So, even though I am so excited to work on all of our many, many projects this year, I think I may just be most enthusiastic about the Secret Garden. The planning is still slow-going, and I am sure it won’t all take shape overnight, and very possibly will take years to establish the way I can now picture it, but I am looking forward to putting love and attention into that space. There’s a little more to all of it that I would like to discuss with you, but it would probably be better to wait until we are working on it to do so, or perhaps it’s supposed to be an unspoken thing.
Homeschooling has been going really well. We are currently reading about the Oregon Trail and learning about trappers and traders of that time period. The kids have been digging into math a little more and quickly getting caught up from our delayed start at the beginning of the school year. We’ve started to do journal prompts on a regular basis to have a way that I can work on writing, penmanship, grammar, spelling, and all of the fun things that go along with the language arts without losing my mind trying to teach 3 kids at three different grade levels. That has been pretty successful so far, so I think we’ll be sticking with that. And the kids will be doing a “shop class” with me soon as I start working on the rest of this one bookcase.
We went to visit the Holy Family Convent on Friday. It’s something we’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but it was such an enjoyable experience for us all. And we really learned a lot! The kids’ favorite part was playing hockey with one of the Sisters! We also went to visit my mom for her birthday. It’s been awhile since we’d gotten out of the house, what with having been sick, so it was good to have a field-trip day. And yesterday, we to a Valentine’s Day party at church. One of the religious education classes hosted the party for two of the parishes, and the kids had so much fun. There was musical chairs, a mini-pie eating contest, cookie decorating, basketball, dancing, and food.
This week I’m hoping to start seeds, maybe finish the homestead sign, and get working on the bookcase. I’m having to hold myself back from working on it today, but I know if I don’t rest today, I’ll pay for it late this week! I should really start to work on getting everything ready for maple syrup season, too. It might still be a month until it’s time to tap, but I don’t want to be caught off guard and wasting precious time to get ready.
Well, I hope that wasn’t too long! What’s going on in your neck of the woods?