I felt it appropriate to use my first post of the year to announce my Word of the Year. Last year my word was Create, and boy did it create things in our lives. We bought a house, became homesteaders, put down roots for the first time in six years, and started to create the life we have been dreaming of for more than sixteen years!
This year my word is:
We never really expected to settle in California. To tell the truth this property kinda blindsided us. But now, now is the time when we need to get real about it. We will soon be seeing our first year on the homestead, and we want to this property to be the homestead we always dreamed of. So far, it has been mostly about clean up and getting to know the land. I’ve been writing down a wishlist of what I want to see here: a potage, fix all the fencing, keep cleaning up the lower half of the property, build a guest cabin in the back…Lots of ideas. Going forward, I want to make sure I take action to get things going. There is a LOT I don’t know. I spend time reading and watching YouTube videos to gather ideas on things which may work for us.
So, going forward, I am approaching each day with intention. This is not going to be a quick or necessarily easy path. I just need to keep focused on what I want and move forward with that intention in mind.
This past week we have hunkered down and avoided going outside if at all possible.
Yes, I am getting a bit of cabin fever, but at lease I am hunkered down in my own home.
My heart is just hurting for all my fellow Californians who have lost their homes, loved ones, workplaces, businesses, pets, and lives to the fires.
I have avoided going to the news sites to read anything or see any video about the fires. The one time I did so was to be greeted by the grizzly image of a dead deer.
However, I have broken my social media ban to check on people I know. I have quietly gone on Instagram and Twitter to make sure they are OK. Unfortunately, some of those people have lost everything.
Around the homestead, we have let any outside work go undone. We can rake leaves and pick up chestnuts later. The garden won’t suffer any for being mulched a couple of weeks after we had planned. Our lungs are much more important to us. The only real outside time we spent was doctoring one of our chickens. Chewy got attacked by some sort of canine, but Helios and Sol, our roosters fended the predator off and herded the all the girls back to the barn.
I am taking the time to knit like crazy on D’s Chicane sweater. I bought the yarn for him back when B was a few weeks old, so it’s….thirteen years past due. Thanks to the smoke, I have only half a sleeve left, and then I can wet block all the pieces and sew it together.Then it’s just a matter of sewing on the zipper. It can’t be that hard, right?
I’m also taking advantage of the enforced seclusion to put together a curriculum of sorts. No, not for the kids. This one is for me. I went into the garage and dug through our still-packed book boxes to get all the homesteading books I have bought over the years. There are many! Most of them I have read or leafed through, but this winter I am really going to study them.
This is exactly what I need to get me through my long cold winter days: knitting, books and a warm cuppa coffee/tea/apple cider/mulled wine….mmmmm, mulled wine. A kitten sleeping on my lap doesn’t hurt.
This morning I was so excited to get up and play with the watercolor set I got myself. It is the Sakura Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box. I’ve heard it recommended by quite a few planners, art journal keepers and artists on YouTube. The best part was using a 50% off coupon. This one is the 24 color set and it looks to have more than enough to keep me going.
I’ve been using my Tombow markers, but this is something I wanted to learn how to use, especially since it gives me a greater range of color saturation and dilution. I only have three of the Tombow sets and it does limit my color choices.
I took a little time this morning swatching all the colors on some Fariano dot grid paper I have.
Yes, ‘Lanta spends her morning napping in my lap while I do my planning and journaling.
Today is one of my favorite types of days. I get to spend the whole day at home, just working on the property and the house.
I really am a homebody. I swear, if it weren’t for the kids activities, I would only leave to go grocery shop once a week.
We are still in the thick of harvesting chestnuts and cleaning up the fall leaves. The trees are only half through shedding and the it is a daily job keeping up with it. To top it off, the wind has really kicked up over the past week.
What we need now is some rain. There is currently a 17 acre fire burning on the other side of the range from where we live. Even a heavy fog would be welcome at this point.
What about you guys, have you had a good fall? Have you started something new? or is the approaching holiday season the only thing you are gearing up for? Please post to the comments. I’d love to hear how others are spending their fall.
The first of our four chestnut trees have started to drop nuts. I can already tell you I’m going to be eating a ton of these! They are sweet and perfect. I’m also going to start looking up chestnut flour baking recipes. It’s a perfect alternative to our Celiac household.
Fall is my absolutely, hands-down favorite season of the year!
This weekend I had a perpetual grin on my face because knitting season has arrived!
We are settling in to our little homestead, but when I say that it’s not the kind of settling in where there is a respite from doing.
Not. At. All.
It’s more about us starting to find our footing in the rhythm of work needed to make this property into what we see in our heads. It comes with ups, like the beautiful, heavily ladened vines of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And downs, like the vines getting decimated by birds and resulting a very poor harvest. It’s about figuring our how to work around D’s new work schedule. It’s about despairing our chickens were cannibalizing their eggs, and then finding the hidden nest with thirteen eggs. It’s about a disastrous first attempt at making jelly, and the triumph of finally getting a perfect gluten-free, made-from-scratch apple pie…with apples from our own orchard. (It’s not pretty, but the taste was amazing!)
So, now I have the freezer packed with local, grass-fed chicken, beef, and pork. My knitting mojo is letting me get through long neglected projects such as these two pairs of Stepping Stones for my parents. And I have also thoroughly cleaned and re-oiled my Ashford Traditional. That’s a braid of undyed Shetland wool Atalanta is trying to spin.
And of course, I had to include the photo of a kitten falling asleep in a shoe.
Unfortunately, the last month has proven to be horrid for my fiction writing. The story I was working on is just…gone. I’m not ready to give up, so I keep approaching it from different angles, but it just doesn’t seem to want to let me continue.
Actually, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know. My summer…my summer was a bit on the horrible end of crazy.
Now, how I ended my summer. That’s worth a read. Here on the Grace Homestead I’d like to introduce you to our two newest members.
Hercules (A.K.A. Herc or Boo Cat), who came to us at four weeks old and in the mouth of our kill-everything dog Cassie. I was shocked when D sent me a text asking be to bring home kitten formula and some litter. This is the only cat Cassie-girl has not tried to kill on sight. He came from our neighbor’s property (the had two stray litters), and due to an injury we figured we would keep him and nurse him back to health. Farms do need a cat after all.
and Atalanta (A.K.A. ‘Lanta), from the other litter on our neighbor’s property. She’s three weeks younger, and the mom abandoned the whole litter. We took her and the rest went to a neighbor down the street who works with kitten rescue.
We have also added our flock of chickens back into the homesteading dynamic.
The business of raising orphaned kittens and caring for a flock has given this place a bit of a boost as far as how our days are spent. The garden ended up producing a little bitty zucchini and three giant yellow squash plants. We have so much squash, I don’t even know what to do with it!
As far as the writing front goes, I am getting back into the swing of things. I did a ton of reading this summer, and it has fired up my juices to get back to my story.
I’ve got my BuJo all set up to get back into the swing of our regular school year and to make sure I start looking at my work as a writer as my WORK.
Hello, lovelies! This has been an event filled week.
I said I would write up what happened to the well, so here we go….
Last Saturday, I was in the midst of putting the kids’ new beds together, when there was suddenly no water. Nothing. Nada.
Doug and I went out and started troubleshooting. We ended up in a hard and fast education about our well system. We checked the one thing. It wasn’t that. We checked another. Nope. Not that. And so we worked our way from the tank to the well until we realized that the power to the well had not been turned on! The system had been shut off during the sale because the house has sat empty for a year. We had assumed the system was turned on because the house had water (city-slicker waving!). Hope was high we had found the problem, but no. Doug checked control panels and pressure switches. All of it seemed to be working. the only place we had not checked was down in the well. Replacing a well pump is hard and expensive. We had eliminated everything else.
By this point, we already had a neighbor coming to help us, and were on the hunt for a water truck to come fill our tank so we could function in the meantime. My real estate agent (bless her!) lent us the key to their old house (on the market) and let us shower there. She also got us some extra drinking water.
There were calls made to the sellers. Neighbors offering advice, tools and helping hands. This is when you learn that country living really is about the community.
Finally, Wednesday morning the water truck showed up and filled our tank. The driver was local and super nice.
Then, Doug and I got on our farm clothes, and pulled the well pump and line up 120 feet. No winch (flex pipe, so no need. YAY!). We pulled up the ten feet of PVC, and then I walked that down the vineyard as Doug hauled up the rest of the line. It was hard, intense labor. It felt like a brutal CrossFit WOD, talk about functional fitness.
Finally, we had what we suspected was the culprit, and low and behold…the pump worked! The problem was the water line had come undone. Please note: after we pulled the pump, we had professionals come up with a pump and all the fittings in case the pump was broken. They were the ones who checked the pump and reattached everything. We saved ourselves some labor by pulling it up. They saved us an $800 well pump. We also watched everything they did so if we need to replace the pump in the future we can do it ourselves. Doug is pretty good with electrical systems, but he’s still not a pro.
And here was the problem.
Moving into a new house always exposes problems. Always. This is our third house, we know this. It’s just that country homes expose issues that most people don’t think about.
And it also exposes the community who lives around you, and we are in a great one.
So, I had a post I started to write, between putting together Ikea furniture for the kids’ bedrooms (Am I the only one who likes doing that? It’s like giant Lego sets!) and getting the house cleaned up for my parents’ visit next week….
….and then the water stopped running and we realized the well was not working.
Right now I am just too tired to say anything more. We got everything working, and I will write it all up once I get a chance.
On the up side of things, I finished my Rikke hat. YAY! Nights here are going to be in the 40s next week, so it will be great to wear it while I drink my coffee and watch the sun rise over the vineyard.
Thursdays are always the day I put the most time in behind the wheel. By the time dinner rolls around it’s all I can do get something on the table. This is tonight’s effort, a fry-up. I cannot remember where I learned to make this, but it’s a lifesaver when your too tired to be creative.
When I called them in from the dinner, my boys came in bearing a sprouted chestnut they found out in the side yard. We have two chestnut trees in front of the house. They are beautiful and big, but I haven’t a clue about what kind of chestnut tree. Chestnuts are not native to California. The American chestnut is actually called the “Redwood of the East” and is native only east of the Mississippi. In trying to figure out if mine are American, Japanese, Chinese, European or a hybrid I’ve become fascinated by these trees.
The day we came to the open house, and first saw what would be our new home, we had to wait for the selling agent to sweep a path from our car to the front porch due to the thick carpet of chestnut burrs all over the ground. The trees are only just now starting to show signs of waking up after their winter sleep. Green is peeking out from the buds here and there.
I’m looking forward to roasting chestnuts for yule at the end of the year. If anyone knows anything about chestnut trees, please help me figure mine out!