Sunday, December 27, 2015

A bobcat, a new puppy, and a happy new year to you!

I don't know what to be more excited about, so I don't know which order to tell this in. Maybe the most dramatic one first.
Last week, a bobcat killed six of the chickens we share with our neighbors. The bobcat stayed in the coop, hissing and spitting at us as we watched it through a window covered with chicken wire. We kept watching, the bobcat didn't run away, and after a while it started munching and crunching on one of the chicken carcasses. We kept observing it while it dined on its chicken dinner special, growling at us and staring us down every now and then. I didn't know if we should be scared because this wild animal was not scared of us. Did it have rabies or was it just really hungry?


Although I'm mad at the creature for killing our chickens, I am grateful to have crossed paths with such a beautiful creature.  We are also a tiny little bit relieved, because our old-ish chickens had slowed down in the egg laying department, and we kept buying expensive, organic grain for them in exchange for one measly egg a day.  And then we had to buy expensive organic eggs from the store on top of that.  We had been wondering about what to do with these chickens.

Well, the bobcat took care of it.  The lone surviving chicken was captured by friends, and it will hopefully live out its days in their pasture, without being eaten by ravens or eagles or raccoons.

The other exciting news (this one the bubbling-over-with-joy kind) is that we will get a puppy in February.  We met the litter of a Chesapeake-Labrador dog and fell in love with them all, and since we can't have them all decided to adopt one of her daughters.  The puppies are only three weeks old, so we have to wait til the middle of February to take her home.  I think this will give us enough time to get used to the high-impact, high-energy idea of a puppy.  If this one turns out as well as my beloved dead dog Pluto, we are in for heaven.  If not, then... well, there will be a lot of chewed shoes, I imagine.




More excitement this week: snow.  Lots of it.  While our family and friends in the midwest and the East coast are basking in spring-like weather, we are sledding, building snow forts, drying heaps of wet clothes in front of the wood stove, piling lots of wood into said stove, drinking tons of hot chocolate, and sweating in saunas and rolling in the snow afterwards.











With all this snowy weather, Steve is making progress improving our home.  He added on a second bathroom (a good thing with five people in the house), and best of all, a loft for me.  For ME!  No kids allowed!  Since it's high up, it has an amazing view.  I love it and start my day there most mornings, to meditate, count my blessings, and set intentions...  Can you see why I love it so much?

Also, our friend painted Eva's bedroom.  Pink.  Yup, it's officially a girl's room now.




Saunas:  Steve wanted to build a cordwood sauna for a long time, but then kept having children and other projects to finish.  Our neighbors' son got interested in the sauna idea and borrowed some books from Steve.  And this is what happened: Steve gave him the posts, cordwood and woodstove he had squirreled away over the years, and our neighbors' son built the sauna.  It is gorgeous.  We get to use it whenever we want.

Our little family of five took a sauna on Christmas Eve, and we sat and sweated, pounded on drums, and sang Christmas carols in the sauna.  I got choked up when I looked at their beet red, glistening faces, listening to their voices, feeling my heart might burst - not from the heat, but from love.  I feel so lucky to have these beings in my life.



I will leave you with images from the ocean on the boys-only-fishing-trip to the Olympic Peninsula a couple of weeks ago.

Have a happy new year!!!



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Merry-making, snow, and a big-ass carrot

Look what happened! It looks like we'll have a white Christmas – hopefully without getting snowed in. We live a mile up an unmaintained forest service road, so if it snows too much we are stuck, which is fine most of the time, except when snow-laden trees knock down power lines. Then we have to melt snow on the woodstove for water, use the outhouse, and hope that our oil for the oil lamps doesn't run out since it gets dark at 4:15pm around here. Actually, some days it never really gets light at all, what with the grey cloud cover and all.


Our new obsession with cut-out paper snowflakes makes our windows look so pretty, if I do say so myself. I think I need to write a tutorial on how to do this on the blog some day, don't you think?



It has been cold here.  When I walk out to the barn to milk the goats in the morning, my footsteps crunch the frozen grass like glass shards.  The hungry goats greet me impatiently, looking all fluffed up with their bushy winter coats, waiting for their morning grain.
The goats' and ducks' water buckets are frozen, as are the trillions of puddles on our walks around the neighborhood.  
If you're wondering what our neighborhood looks like, this is it (on the only sunny day we've had for many, many days):





Steve took the boys on a fishing trip to the Olympic Peninsula for four days (where they hired a fishing guide and froze their butts off, only to catch zero fish.  But they still had a lot of fun, and the old, seasoned fishing guide was in awe of our unflappable, uncomplaining sons).  
Having all the male members of my family gone and hanging out with my little girlie at home was pretty special.  It's so much quieter, cleaner and peaceful in the house when it's just Eva and me.

We invited her friend over and baked cookies and home made pizza, listened to Christmas music, and after dinner I got to knit and drink a green smoothie by the fire while the girls played happily.  

I'm knitting Seahawks hats for my sons, even though I hate football... (Sorry if I'm offending any blog readers with this confession.  I grew up in Germany with soccer, so I'm not used to scary men with mega shoulder pads beating each other up...).






Last week, we said goodbye to Steve's parents in Seattle, where they boarded a flight after we had a lot of fun doing tourist stuff, like hanging out at the Pike Place Market.  There's an excellent German store with real authentic German food, where we gorged ourselves silly.  And a living statue tapping Kai on the shoulder?  It ain't Marblemount, I tell you that.





I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures of this week.  One shows my sons cooking dinner while Grandma looked on.  I had a wicked headache that day, so my boys cooked.  I love these guys.
The other picture shows yours truly, holding a carrot I dug in the garden, just as it began snowing like crazy.




In case I don't "see" you before Christmas: Merry Christmas!  May you experience the peace and love that this season actually stands for!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mother Nature is showing off again

Do we look happy?  Of course we do.  And why shouldn't we?  After all, Grandma and Grandpa gave us two days off and took care of our children and goats so my sweetie and I could escape without kids.


Steve and I did what we usually do when we have time without kids: hike in beautiful scenery, eat insanely good food, read, knit (that would be me, not Steve), and other activities related to these sorts of circumstances, nudge nudge wink wink.

Mother Nature put on a show for us, with some dramatic cloud formations and colors.  We hiked at Bowman Bay, Ebey's Landing State Park, and then went to Coupeville to a lovely Air B and B.  In case you never heard of this sort of thing, it's a great alternative to hotels and can be quite a lot cheaper (and funner).  Google it.









It's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life, taking care of all the thousands of details involved with making a living, raising children, and running a farm and household.  How quickly we slip into predictable routines where we take each other for granted, or worse, where we resent each other.  

Does this ever happen to you?  Sure it does.

Without wanting to come across as preachy, and realizing that I am basking in the afterglow of having spent two very relaxing, bonding days with my husband, I want to encourage every couple to spend some time without kids.  I know, I know... it's really hard to do, especially if you don't have reliable people you can trust with your kids.  But if you can make it happen, do it.  It's so worth it.  Even if you can only get away for two hours to go on a walk, or to drink coffee together without any interruptions.

Our getaway ended at Deception State Park with this big finale:









Back home, life is back to its busy pace.  Baking Christmas cookies features big on the list, as well as our new obsession: cutting out paper snowflakes (Thanks to Brooke at the Upper Skagit Library for inspiring us!  See?  You created monsters!).
I made a Christmas wreath from materials cut in our and the neighbors' yard (cedar, hemlock, fir, holly), and if you want to make one yourself, check out the tutorial I wrote about it last year.











I will leave you with an image of my son Luke, who is starting to help with milking chores.  Finally a kid who is interested in milking the goats!  He did great, milking an entire two quarts from our goat Quasar while our other doe Dandelion looked on.  Luke even managed to get most of the milk into the pail!  Go Luke!



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