Staying Warm

So very cold….an Arctic Blast. At Noon the temperature was just 23-degrees.  This is an early reminder of what Winter feels like.

Today is a much-needed ‘day off’ and I am staying warm with wool draped around me. This hooked rug is not far from being finished.

Hit And Miss hooked rug

The rug has taken me about 2 years to get this far but I’ve enjoyed the entire process. It will measure about 3 feet by 5 feet when I have finished it. In the meantime, I get to escape the Arctic Blast by staying warm under the finished portion while I hook thin strips of colorful wool through the rug canvas.

Hit And Miss wool rug in progress

 

 

 

Such A Sensible, Normal, Quiet, Simple Way of Living

Are you there yet?

There is an honest-to-God self-reliance movement across America now — a simpler lifestyle is being pursued by countless families. People are trying to make-it-work while learning to either do without or do-it-smarter in this awful economy. People are redefining and reassessing while trying to find meaning and sensibility from all of the turbulence and chaos. Many realize they just want out, they want to leave the rat race. They want to try living the good life. Chances are, if you are reading this post, you want a simpler lifestyle, too.

For us, living the good life means happiness and personal freedom. We rely on ourselves to provide what is necessary for a basic lifestyle. We grow much of our own foods, we do all of our own repairs. We build it ourselves.  We didn’t create this good life overnight, it was a process that came about through our values, our dedication, and our labors. But through it all, we found that our goals and our determination gave us a better meaning to our life. Along the way, we found our purpose.

Kale from the gardenOur homesteading lifestyle in the country is centered around simplicity and self-reliance. We enjoy the work and the daily chores. We find that routine and solitude offer us both security and comfort, much like an old friend. Routines, chores, and even the pursuit of our hobby interests give us meaning and focus.

Treadle

 “Life is enriched by aspiration and effort, rather than by acquisition and accumulation.”  Helen and Scott Nearing in Living the Good Life

That’s it.  That’s how a sensible, normal, quiet, simple way of living really is.

 

 

Miss Maggie And Her Twins

Maggie EatingSunday, Maggie was hanging around, doing nothing but lingering in the barn. I figured she was going to kid and since Sunday was Day 150, her due date, it was time to keep a close eye or two on her.
After lunch, Maggie was locked up in a stall so she could have some peace, away from the other does. By late afternoon, Maggie was scratching at the floor and was too uncomfortable to lay down. All afternoon and into the evening, Maggie scratched away at the floor, nesting. After a quick evening meal, I gathered up a few things and made plans to stay at the barn until she kidded. She finally kidded around 9:30pm and Maggie had twin doelings.
After I cleaned the babies off and bundled them up, I brought them back to the house to spend the night. The temperature outside was going to drop to the low 40s, so the little girls were going to spend their first hours in our house.

Here they are in the computer room with my Granddaughter entertaining them:

Maggies DoelingsThese doelings are from Briar Mtn Aine Maggeah  x Aibrean Brendan Dunne. Our 2014 “kid count” is 5 kids total since we only bred 2 does, having downsized our does last year.

These are big girls and they have found their vocal cords. :-)  For a week or so, we’ll keep them separated from the 3 bucklings who are a month old. Then we’ll move the girl kids in with the boy kids so they can play and romp together.

 

Homestead Granola

Quality cereal is just too expensive to purchase, so I make my own. Homestead Granola is one of the cereals I make — it’s my favorite cereal of all times. Most mornings, I usually eat a bowl of homemade Homestead Granola. And when I have fresh goat milk, I eat a large bowl of the stuff.

Homestead Granola

Over the years, I’ve come up with a recipe that combines some of my favorite foods and if you don’t have your own recipe for Granola, I hope you’ll give this one a try — and be sure to adjust the ingredients to suit your own taste buds.

This Granola has coconut as an ingredient but it’s optional and can be omitted. And there are a few other ingredients like the Sunflower seeds, dried fruit, chopped nuts, and cinnamon that can be substituted. When making your own Homestead Granola, be sure to adjust any ingredients to your own taste.

Homestead Granola

In a large mixing bowl, stir together:

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (adjust for taste)

In a small saucepan, melt:

  • 1/2 cup oil (a half-and-half blend of coconut oil and butter is my favorite)

Pour the melted oil over the dry Granola ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Add:

  • 1/2 cup local honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Stir all ingredients together well. Pour into two lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dishes.

Toast Granola in a preheated 350-degree oven. Stir well after 10 minutes, then every 5 minutes until desired toasted-brown color has been reached. I usually toast my Granola a total of 20 minutes.

Homestead Granola ToastedAllow to cool completely then transfer and store the Granola in an airtight container. If dried fruits are desired, add them into the Granola after it has cooled.

Notes: This Granola can be tweaked for your own taste. It can be sweetened with organic sugar, if desired. Also, Sunflower seeds (or other seeds) and dried fruit(s) can be added in (1 cup or so). And additional spices like Nutmeg can also be added.

My Grandmother’s Aprons

I still have a few of my Grandmother Woodard’s aprons. They were made with cheerful cottons many decades ago. Each of her aprons were machine-stitched and each of the aprons that I have are different.

Apron from my grandmotherMore than likely, my Grandmother’s aprons were worn when she cooked and washed dishes. And she probably wore an apron when she canned vegetables in the kitchen.

Apron from my grandmother

My paternal Grandmother wore aprons when she cooked. In this 1952 photograph, she wore her apron to the dining table while she shared a family meal on Sunday. I can also tell that my Aunt (who is ready to eat a large bite of mashed potatoes) also wore a kitchen apron to protect her dress while helping in the kitchen.

Wysong familyMy Great Grandmother Maggie McFann wore an apron when she worked in her kitchen and she kept her apron on throughout the day. Here, she was holding a House & Garden magazine as she posed for this photograph in 1960.

Maggie Mae McFann, 1960Some of the aprons worn by my Great Grandmothers were different — they were purely functional, solid white, and often they were soiled from hard work. The aprons from that generation may have been made from sturdy cotton, white linen, or even cotton feed sack cloth, and were probably more durable. Living in rural locations on farms, their daily work didn’t end in the kitchen, but extended outdoors to tend their family’s livestock and gardens. Their aprons were functional and had no ruffled frills.

My Great Grandmother Addie Woodard was wearing a torn apron when this photograph was taken of her. She was in her vegetable garden. More than likely, Addie’s apron was used to carry garden vegetables and gathered eggs into the kitchen. Having a reputation of being a good cook, her apron probably served as a type of oven mitt to protect her hands from the hot pots and pans at her stove.

Addie Woodard at her GardenMy great Grandmother Minnie Crawford’s apron was very dirty in this photograph. What had she been doing that day?!

Minnie Farley Crawford

From Ma Dear’s Aprons, by Patricia C. McKissack wrote:

Ironically, the first aprons were anything but girly-girls stuff. In fact, they were quintessentially ‘guy stuff’. Blacksmiths wore ‘em, armor and weapon makers, gardeners, carvers, furniture makers, leather smiths, cobblers, tailors, jewelers, metal forgers, fishmongers, and clock makers. When you see old pictures of these craftsmen, you see men. Guys wearing leather aprons, duck cloth aprons, and canvas pinnies – barbers, stonemasons, and the Masonic society all wore aprons. Which makes you think that expression about a man still being ‘tied to his mother’s apron strings’ is really kinda current – because for the longest time, aprons were masculine wear, not feminine. 

Women ‘officially’ wearing aprons came about the turn of the 20th century, in Victorian England, although most pioneer matrons wore them, and wore them for all the right reasons: to keep their clothes clean from all the hands-on tasks they did. But Victorian England matrons, at home, were the first to wear aprons, on the domestic front (and not really need to wear them at all!) and these were delicately embroidered and stitched. As the 1920’s roared around, women no longer wanted to be solely associated with the home front and aprons, once a symbol of ‘domestic pride’, according to apron author Teresa Coats, were adopted more, as they were first intended, with a utilitarian purpose by those serving the upper classes. In short, the matrons went out to play; the maids stayed in and were bequeathed the aprons.

Throughout the years, aprons were almost always homemade and as women began to sew with an electric sewing machine, apron patterns were sold. During that era, women were proud of their sewing and domestic skills. And as author Teresa Coats believed, aprons were a symbol of domestic pride.

Apron patternsUp until the early 1960s, it was common for many stay-at-home women to wear aprons every day. The basic kitchen aprons have always been very functional but many had detailed handwork, almost as though the aprons were a fashion statement.

Kitchen aprons almost disappeared when so many housewives turned towards careers outside the home. Aprons are becoming popular again as people are making an effort to return to the basics. And what is more basic than a simple kitchen apron?