Wednesday, May 27, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Wild Mint

Big mounds of wild mint in the low, wet spots in the pastures. Oxeye Daisy for size comparison. 

We Bought a Farm: Birds of our Farm (Pictures taken by our kids)

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher: Elijah
Tree Swallow: Elijah
Great-Crested Flycatcher: Abigail
Downy Woodpecker: Elijah
Brown Thrasher: Elijah
White-Breasted Nuthatch: Abigail
Yellow-Breasted Chat: Elijah

We Bought a Farm: True "Farm Decor"

Here are the things that have, at any point, lived on my farm counter:

Enough said

Three dead cedar waxwings that they kids wanted Dad to autopsy.

Kombucha brewing

Local honey

Random seed packet

Always eggs on the counter!

A millipede

Daisies that Abigail collected

Chicken scraps


Quaratine Update

I want to remember what nearly three months of COVID-19 looks like when we read this decades from now. This is something nearly no one alive has ever had to deal with. And the hope is: we won't have to live with it again. 

Our grandchildren will ask us "about the quarantine." And I want to remember what it looked like.

For a solid two months nearly everything that wasn't "essential" was closed. As of today, things are opening more, in different ways but it depends on where you live -- how strict your government is and how bad the virus is where you are. Mostly ... the world is trying to avoid big groups and limiting indoor activities. 

We've done everything with the Kotysnki family, and we've decided to take another month before doing any real emerging. We are taking kids to the stores more often just so that they don't get too "afraid." We are wearing masks when we go out. The kids are too. But a lot of people aren't. When you go into stores now, there is always hand sanitizer and masks available.

So for March and April, here is what we have been doing:
  • Church: We watched at our house in the beginning but the last few weeks, we've been going to the Kotysnki's house and watching the 10:40 service live online. The church has done a lot of "fun" things to make this incredibly unique thing ... feel less isolating. For example: each week there are videos of fellow congregation members reading the memory verse and things like that.
  • Ballet: Abigail and her cousins (Kari and Ana) have been taking online classes. I actually helped the director, LoriAnn, set up a quick Facebook page where they could record classes live. The girls have done a lot of those, but they actually really missed the interaction that classes offer. So the last month, we've been doing "Zoom" classes with our friend Elizabeth, who just graduated from high school and Central Ballet a year ago. The ballet studio has opened for small classes (under 10 people), but we've chosen not to do any indoor activities for another month.
  • Karate: I've tried to keep the boys doing stuff at home, but it's hard. So this past week, we've started doing private classes with our friend Ky-Le (a second-degree black belt) is coming to the Kotynskis and leading a class outside.
  • Homeschool Co-op: Like all schools, it was cancelled for the rest of the year. We are hopeful we can go again in September, but right now, no one knows.
  • JB Work: JB has continued to work as normal. 
  • Shopping: We try to avoid shopping too often and to be very deliberate when we shop -- getting what we need in a "safe" way. 
  • Restaurants: We have not eaten in a restaurant since all this happened.
  • Take-out: A lot of people have continued to eat take-out. Living out in the country, this isn't really possible. In the last few weeks, we've grabbed some pizzas a few times, but otherwise, we are mostly still just eating at home.
  • Trips: We had a LOT of things planned for the last few months. Ballet camps, conferences for JB, getaways for John and me. But everything has been cancelled. We are hopeful we can go to Vermont this summer (our happy place) but we are taking it week by week.
The one thing that really "sticks out" to me during this time is the fact that the only way to not worry about getting behind or having a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is to have everyone feeling the same way at the same time. And that's what this quarantine has done. It's made EVERYONE stop. I mean, the Olympics were cancelled. There was NO March Madness. All major sports teams are on hiatus. When else has anyone witnessed an entire country (and a LOT of the world) shutting down ALTOGETHER! It's just crazy. 

It's odd. It's surreal. But it hasn't been bad. In a lot of ways it's been nice. I've tried to get a lot of cleaning up done and organizing and things that have been put off. 

We are doing well. I miss my friends and seeing them, but overall, most of us here on the farm don't feel in a hurry to get "back to normal" anytime soon ... we miss a few things but we actually have enjoyed just BEING.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Homesteading Mama Videos

I've been taking daily or (more than) daily short videos of our life during this time. Trying to remember what this quarantine was like for us. Tonight not the farm, we had to wrangle chickens.

It's strange. While everyone tells me things are very different, where we live I can see ZERO changes. We get a couple of cars past our house a day. The animals do the same thing. The sky looks the same. It's a wonderful place this farm. Especially now.

Enjoy this video and scroll down to see more if you'd like!

What a time it is in our world. I know we will all NEVER forget the Coronavirus -- ever. It will be a BIG deal for our lifetime. 

Even more important? Our kids WILL remember how we handled this time. What did we do with our time together? How did we behave? How did we help each other and the community.

I encourage you to come join my Facebook Group: Homeschool Hugs as all of us parents who now have our kids home WITH US together ... stick together. 

I'll be posting DAILY short videso of our life on the farm during this time on that page. But I will also share it on the Blog too.

Here's a list of all the videos I am doing from the start of our quarantine onward: 

Homesteading Mama videos: 

Guest Post: Meeme's Garden

This is a picture of my friends: Daniel and Meredith and Meredith's parents. As an only child, she was very close with her parents. I so enjoyed her youthful Mama and our conversations when she'd help take Lilly to ballet. 

A few days into the new year, I ran into Meredith's Mama, Jan, in Walmart. She was her usual self: youthful and bopping from one kid in the toy aisle to the other. 

A few days later, Jan went in for routine back surgery and while in recovery, after eating a meal and chatting with her husband, she coded. They revived her, but her brain had already died. 

Daniel (a local pastor and missionary) and Meredith had been busy working on a farm "venue" site. A few days ago, Meredith shared the following picture and words about her losses this year. 

With her permission, I share them with you here:

I remember the first few days of 2020. Do you? There was an excitement to what the year would hold: a dream realized, a trip to take, and growing children to marvel at. But then 2 weeks into the year it all crashed down: my mother passed away suddenly and tragically: I lost a job I enjoyed, and our son was diagnosed with hearing loss (all in the same week). Then we entered a pandemic and the world stopped. 

When life takes a hard right turn. it can be easy to just want to pack it all up and quit, to walk away, throw in the towel on everything, even your dreams. And yet, hope remains, good remains, if we have eyes and a heart to see it.

This is “Meeme’s Garden” which we just finished in the front of our venue at the farm. My mom, Meeme, loved flowers of all kinds and she was so excited about watching Greenwood Oaks take form. She also loved birds and birdbaths. We planted this garden in her memory and to honor her. As the flowers grow this summer it will look like a rainbow blanket as they fill the space between them. I hope it reminds all who visit that there is a rainbow after the storm, always hope and good and beautiful things in life, even in the midst of hard and uncertain times. 

We Bought a Farm: Farm Flowers

I am going to be keeping this post updated with FLOWERS of our FARM!

Field Penny-Cress
Common Yarrow
Lance-leaved Coreopsis
Common Nipplewort

Oxeye Daisy
Nanking Cherry
Sulfur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)
Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa)
Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)
Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)
Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre)
Climbing Rose
Climbing Rose
Climbing Rose
Black Locust
Crimson Clover
Climbing Rose

Hope Trefoil


Marsh Mallow

Musk Thistle with a Honeybee


Deptford Pink


Lemon Thyme

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Clove Currant





Red Clover


Lance-Leaved Coreopsis



Meadow Buttercup

Sulfur Cinquefoil



Oxeye Daisy
Leeks at Twilight
Multiflora Rose