The lake had been frozen over for about four days, so yesterday the kids and I did a little exploring along the shoreline. We walked along the ice and all my axe tests showed 6-8 inches of ice. Still, we stayed close enough to shore that we knew we could touch if we went through. Just before supper Zach spotted three wolves out on the ice! It was quite exciting to watch them.

The wind howled through the night and all that ice was broken up and mostly blown somewhere else by this morning.

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A Few Bits of Summer

I’m not even going to try to catch up on what I’ve missed of summer. Truly, the goats sabotaged my summer without even being here. :-) It was quite a production to get ready for them with terrain challenges, lack-of-skill-and-know-how challenges, and all the fullness of life without getting ready for goats. If Dad didn’t end up coming up to help I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have pulled it off. Even with his help, I found myself finishing the gates after supper the night before we were leaving to pick up the goats! Ah… the trip was extremely peaceful and I enjoyed the time with my husband, Gabe, a visit with Paisley and Rob, and finally – picking up my goats! Now that they are actually here they are easy. At least, so far.

Let’s back-track a little, though. This photo was taken on an outing with a neighbour to dig up sugar maples. See the bear scratchings on the old cabin? Looks like he’s claimed this as his own. Glad we didn’t see him.

Chocolate Tube Slime



Somewhere I have another photo of it “opened” but I couldn’t wait for Flickr to load my photos again to find it.

Breakfast at the cabin on the first sunny morning.

Heading out to catch some pickerel.

It was a cold, rainy trip to the cabin, but we got a couple of sunny days at the end.  We came home with trout, pickerel, and a few lobster mushrooms.  It was a good time.

Katie and Gabe

A nearby hike – this is taken from the US side. (You can hike in on the Canadian side or the US side.)

The mini barn. I’d like to get some better shots that show a fuller view. On either front corner of the building you can just see the gates attached (bucks on left side, does on right side). Inside the “barn” the closed in part is the goat shelter (one opens on each side for the bucks and the does), and the rest is hay/straw/supplies storage and we’re sticking all sorts of implements in there that haven’t really had a proper home anywhere else yet.

Here’s a view from the does’ side.

The first breakfast at their new home.

Walking the goats! The kids know to watch those bucks closely and keep them at leash length from the does if they start getting any ideas!

Carpenter ants fastidiously emptying a large spruce of its contents. We need to make a plan to take the tree down before the ants (and a wind) do, as it will naturally fall either on the mini barn or the sauna.


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Katie – checking out the chickens in their new enclosure.

Building gardens.

Testing the depth and size of the apple tree hole.

She calls it her “birthday skirt” but after this hike I think we’re calling it the “tick skirt”.

At the falls.



There have been a lot of pirates around here lately.

By the cooking fire.

There is never-ending brush to clear and burn. Everyone does their part.


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More Pottery

The two mugs missing from the set are now complete. The set may grow, but for now it’s up-to-date. (Until I get my own glazes and kiln.) I missed a step on the plaque, unfortunately, and that is why the letters look a little melted.

All six of the mugs have different patterns on the handle.

These are the last of my pieces from the last set of lessons I did.

You can see how much more crisp the lettering was on the first batch.



This was a fun project.


A teeny casserole dish…. too small for much.

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Last Week

Nature journaling.

Heading to the river mouth.




Puff balls.

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Do I really need to say it?

“Can she be one already?”

She was rather silly when I took her “one year old” shots.





The birthday pair at one and six!


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Birds, Snow (Again), Sap, Greenhouse, Etc.

Balto and Mystery (our only named chicken) sharing kitchen scraps. We’re not quite ready to leave Balto unsupervised with the chickens, but we’re close. I don’t think he thinks about eating them any longer.

The warblers started to show up right after the big dump of snow. It seemed as though they knew spring was on the way.

Those happy chickens got to enjoy about three snow free days. And now we are under another 15cm or more as of yesterday!

The variety of birds at the feeders right now is incredible! Juncos of all phases, all sorts of sparrows (Bird nerd though I was, I never got the sparrows down; I’m learning them now, thanks to Zach.), thrushes, and the exciting spot of the day – a rusty black bird that, under the conditions of food scarcity, is attacking and feasting on the other small birds! The waterfowl variety has been very interesting too. On the drive to town this morning Zach and Graeme saw a woodcock surrounded by smaller birds of all varieties. They said it looked as though the birds were holding a council.

Rusty blackbird: a shifty looking fellow.

Rusty blackbird enjoying a meal.

A sampling of how many birds are congregating around any available food source.

A LOT of dead bees. There is still a live cluster in the hive. We have yet to determine if the queen is alive. We need a warm day to look for her. Even if she is, the hive will be getting a very weak start.

The birch sap is flowing.

Zach at work in the greenhouse.


These are some of his own personal bedding plants.


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House of Potters

Waking up to another blizzard yesterday, my list of outside to-dos got cancelled. The kids voted (not that it was put to a vote) for finishing the set-up of the pottery wheel. “The pottery wheel?” you ask. My husband has an every-seven-years or so birthday gift plan. Apparently I was due for one this year! He surprised me (big-time surprise) with a pottery wheel! He ordered it in time for my birthday, but his call week prevented him from picking it up. Finally, he got it and then the last blizzard prevented him from driving his car down our driveway (it’s a long driveway) for several more days. One evening – on my way to pottery lessons, in fact – I noticed a rather large box filling the back of his little car. The following day I asked him about it, and he said “it’s a box”. The driveway was still deep in slushy, snow, so he and Zach unpacked it at the car and carried the parts back to the house where I was let in on the mystery of the large box.

Well, we started setting it up the day before yesterday only to discover there were still some parts in the car! When Grae got home from work I was sure to get them, and yesterday we finished the set-up in the morning. After that the day was all about pottery! I did a couple of demonstrations followed by each boy having a lesson and a good chunk of time to play with clay on the wheel! If pottery wasn’t enough of a joy already, it’s even more fun now that I can share what I’ve been learning with my enthusiastic little potters! They all really loved it! Here are some shots of the whole affair. Danica was quite content to make a few little items by hand, thankfully. She’ll have to do a little more growing first!











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Snow. Snow. Snow.

Monday morning – 6:30am. Shovelled enough to get truck turned around so Graeme could take it to work. Kids and I cancelled plans for the day and hunkered down at home. Electricity was out from about 7am to 12pm.


I think we set up the trampoline a bit prematurely. By Friday (above) we were cleaning excessive weights of snow off of it for the fourth time in one week!

Hmmmm…. will we make it out the driveway to the music festival?

Yep. Because my dad is driving.


No amount of pleading from the back seat could change his mind.

And do you know what? The festival was great. Now that we survived the trip – both ways – I can say it worked out for the best. The adjudicator was fantastic, and it was a nice conclusive ending to all the work (and struggles and issues) that was involved leading up to it. It will leave everyone with a better idea of whether or not they want to do it again next year.

Back at home we all had fun playing and exploring in the deep snow (which by now was measuring, on average, 28″ deep)!

There was going to be more to this post, but all the photos aren’t uploaded yet. So I’m going to bed.

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Streamlining, Simplifying, Slashing, Slowing

It’s so easy to get too busy, to get spread too thin. It’s not healthy.  It brings no glory to God. It bears little fruit.  Slowly, year-by-year, month-by-month, we are learning this lesson and remembering it.  There are so many things that look alluring, that look good, that we are tempted to get involved in.  But I’m recognizing more and more, and earlier in the thought process, which of these things are time-suckers with little fruit to bear, and which ones are worthy investments of time, energy, and resources.  I’ve come to the conclusion that much of the stuff we can fill our schedules with is pointless, fruitless, busy-work with little or no fruit to show for in the end.  This is not how I want to spend my time.  This is not how I want my husband nor our children to spend their time.  So over this winter and “spring” we continue to consider “how should we fill our time?” and “what are our priorities?”.   I’ve spent far to much of my life bouncing from one idea to the next; flitting here, flitting there – settling on one thing long enough to taste it, before hopping along to sample the next!  And although I feel like I am slowly changing my habits, it’s something that I must be vigilantly guarding against.  For a few unthoughtful moments plunges us into two weeks of over-the-top busyness.  Everyone pays.

Being purposeful about this sometimes means we don’t see friends as often as we might like to.  It means we don’t sign up for some things that might actually be fun.  It means we drive less, spend less on gas, stay home more, and focus on the many home-projects we’ve got going (or want to get going).  Even these (consider my long list from the last post) must be carefully considered and weighed in the balance.  We can’t do it all.  What is the priority?  Where do we begin?  Do we begin a little bit of every project all at once and hope for the best? Let’s hope not!

Consider food.  With every large order I like to consider which added items I can buy in bulk next time.  Every food item I get in bulk cuts out one part of the grocery store I have to visit.  Building top bar hives, expanding our bees may not sound like a step toward simplification.  But once our bees are producing enough honey it is another shelf in the grocery store I can skip.  To me, this is simplification.  I hate shopping.  I can skip the eggs.  Soon the milk. Chickens.  And if we can’t grow or raise it ourselves, supporting a friend or local farmer who can is the next best thing!  Besides, all of these “preparing the field” projects are work and life and fruit of the hands.  It’s not just another form of entertainment packaged as “educational”.

Consider toys.  Another form of entertainment.  Several weeks ago I was tired of the impact they were having on the household and I packed them all up.  Alright, maybe a few got left out.  The Lego is still accesible.  There are about two stuffed toys and a few plastic animals floating around.  But pretty much everything went into boxes and bags.  And do you know what?  Everyone is happier, busier doing crafty things, inventing, building, going outside.  I thought there might be a transition period, but I think it was almost a relief.  Phew.  Now we don’t have to waste inordinate amounts of our day playing with, protecting, fighting over our toys!  What are we going to do with the toys?  I’m not sure yet.  We were dealing with constant messes (which, inevitably, Mariet cleaned up before I had a chance to make sure kids did), which was the main motivation for packing things up.  I think we might do a sorting, get rid of a bunch of stuff, and keep a few things in organized bins that can be taken out – one bin at a time – to be played with.  But for now, and maybe for the summer, this is a good arrangement.  We’ve been doing sewing lessons instead, we set up the trampoline (a little premature, the snow-load is taxing it), and so much  more.

Consider mealtime and who eats what.  This is an area that has been improving quite dramatically lately.  For a long time I’ve been more consistent in some mealtime rules about tasting things, “you don’t have to like it, but you do have to eat it”, no substitutes, etc.  But more unexpected and dramatic changes have taken place more recently.  Trust me, some of the pickier eaters still have lots of room for improvement, but things have been hopeful.  This is no doing of my own.  All I will say is “fasting and prayer”.  What a huge blessing and encouragement!

Consider really enjoying one another.  I have a real problem with being busy.  I get so focused on my agenda (or even lame things…. like blogging) that I don’t really pay attention to someone who is talking to me, I don’t slow down and look in the eye of the little person who is bearing their heart or seeking my comfort, I don’t stop and laugh at the joke, the funny face, the delightful discovery.  And…. having to wind this up in a hurry…. this brings me to mentioning how unloving I am.  It really struck me on Saturday, actually, while I was at the food buying club dividing.  How impatient I am with people who I view as “slow”.  How irritated I become when I feel someone is working inefficiently, when I know I could do it better myself.  How low my threshold is for people who don’t seem to be able to solve problems independently.  How proud and arrogant I am!  Oh, God, help me!  Conform me to Christ’s image!  I was talking to my family about this and we came up with the thought of how to God – on the extreme high end of the scale of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding – the rest of  us are all on the low end of the scale!  My “intelligence” compared to God’s puts me right in the same group as the lowest human intellect on earth!  There’s a thought to ponder!  So as I consider my lack of charity, and meditate on God’s words about charity, I am pricked again and again and again thinking of interactions I’ve had, in ways that I daily respond to my children, my husband, friends, strangers. In the thoughts that pass through my heart.  I want to be simple.  I complicate things.

Must go.  A little person needs me now!


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