I am finding that there’s something oddly addictive about burning brush and building up a big bonfire. I think it speaks to something primal in our collective subconscious.  Something about our beginnings as a species and our first experience with flame.

Then there’s the layers embedded in our own individual memories; nostalgia for campfires and parties in the summer, or huddling around a big fire in the colder months, maybe with a mug of hot cider.

It’s cozy and wild at the same time.   At night after a long day of working at clearing the land it’s been mesmerizing watching the flames and the sparks dancing up into the sky. (it also makes me happy to think that this means progress, that we are closer to our animals coming home).

With the air beginning to chill the smell of the woodsmoke is the perfect thing to make it feel like fall.

The Harvest Moon is September 29th this year.  I can think of no better place to enjoy it than right by this big, beautiful fire.


Happy first day of fall!

It is decidedly UN-fall-like out there today, but that’s okay.  Paul’s working on brush burning and I am working in the craft room.

You ever get mostly done with a dress and realize you have to tear out the zipper and re-do it? No?  Just me?

Yeah, that’s what I am working on.

Also, these:

Halloween – colored socks.

If I get this dress sorted out I’ll be making more couch pillows from this:

Love those fall colors.

Soupy Fall Day

Y’all might want to sit down for this one.

I finished a pair of socks.

I know, shocking.  A finished object.  What’s more, I immediately cast on another pair of socks that’s been waiting in the wings for a few YEARS.

If you can believe it – these are from the same ball of yarn.  This is just the way it knitted out.  Crazy.  I wasn’t sure I was okay with the difference at first, but honestly, a pair of hand knit wool socks is a pair of hand knit wool socks.  They will be well appreciated in my boots come winter.

They also fit quite comfortably inside my new orthopedic shoes.  (Orthaheel – I love them!)

The pattern is Grumperina’s Jaywalkers (this is my 4th pair I’ve knit – I know the pattern so well now that they are easier to whip out).  The yarn is Schoppel Wolle (Zauberball, I think) that I picked up at Maryland Sheep & Wool last year.

It’s been awful and dark and rainy and very windy (we are under a tornado watch until 7 tonight) and thick out  so the kids are snuggled on the couch watching movies and I am working on the next pair of socks.  On the stove we’ve got some Butternut Squash and Apple Soup bubbling for dinner.  This is my favorite go – to fall dinner because it’s easy, delicious and terribly in season.  You can find the original tutorial I posted for it a few years back  HERE.

Make yourself a big pot (it’s gluten – free!!)  and serve with a salad or some hot sweet potato rolls.

Go! What are you waiting for???

Creature Feature

When you start clearing out woods and burning brush piles and moving things around and well, just being outside more – you are bound to see more of the wild things that also call your land their home.

Sometimes these are lovely little encounters, like the snails and the praying mantis we’ve been seeing.

Furble unfortunately also found this guy – and ate him. She also recently left us part of a wild bunny. The kids weren’t too thrilled.

Sometimes it can be quite amusing – now that the culvert is in and the stream is running through it we are seeing a proliferation of frogs and tadpoles.  I love walking down to the bridge and hearing the various cries of “Eep!” followed by a splash as the frogs all try to avoid me.

And sometimes, it’s just creepy.

This copperhead snake tried to escape a brush pile we were burning.  He didn’t make it, and we are glad of that because it saved us the trouble of having to kill this very poisonous creature.  This time of year the snakes are looking for dens in which to spend the winter – usually with other snakes.  We are keeping this in mind as we continue to burn brush piles and clean out the debris from the stream, because there are sure to be more where this guy came from.

On Meat Birds & Other Farmy Things


Meat birds.

Birds that are engineered by us humans to grow at an alarming rate so that they are ready for “harvest” by about 8 weeks of age.

Mine are now 14 weeks old and they are still not ready for harvest.

I have to admit, I was getting really, really worried about this.  We’re spending WAY more on feed than expected and it has been feeling like we’ll never get these birds into the freezer.

Internet to the rescue!

I found some message boards for chicken farmers talking about this very thing.

You see, I’ve been feeding a combination of commercially – prepared and processed feeds along with fresh pasture.  We don’t generally leave just a huge feed bin out constantly full of food.  If you do, they won’t forage.  We wanted a better tasting, healthier bird.  Less commercial stuff.  Apparently, when you limit the processed grain and turn them out onto fresh grasses regularly, they grow a lot slower.  Their mortality rate is much lower.  And – get this – they end up tasting better.

I am feeling a lot better about these birds, if not poorer, given that we’ve fed them several weeks longer than anticipated!

I’ve also recently been spending more time over at Juniper Moon Farm.  As you may have read, Susan has been ill so I have been helping out.  It’s been wonderful spending some quiet time in the mornings and the evenings with the animals.

Only the dogs seemed to want to cooperate for photos, however.  Everyone else was too busy taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and dewy grasses.

Oh great, not the paparazzi again.  Can’t you see I am eating here???

I have been trying to make friends with little Stella, as well, but is has been mostly in vain.  Her mother is so friendly and approachable, but Stella is much more of a tease.  She looks all sweet and cute and cuddly in the pasture, but try to approach her and she runs off to mama, tail between her legs.  She doesn’t look back until there’s a giant Luna safely between me and her.

Nanny nanny poo poo, you can’t catch me!!!!

It’s In The Air

Can you feel it?

Fall is on its merry way, and I couldn’t be happier.

I turned 36 this weekend, and I spent the day thinking about how fortunate I am at this point in my life, and I realized that unlike many people I know, I look forward to each birthday.  Maybe it’s the time of year; my birthday means fall is coming.  September is easily one of the most beautiful months.  Or maybe it is the knowing that I got through another year on this crazy planet and came through it (hopefully) another year wiser.  Either way I am happiest when the days get shorter and cooler and when the nights are crisp and long with the smell of fallen leaves and wood fires.

My truck full of rocks came and Paul spread them out over the culvert.

It still looks like a big old mess down by the stream thanks to all the rain we’ve gotten, but he drive the tractor over the new “bridge” several times and it is good and solid.  We’ll be able to drive hay over it soon enough.

I haven’t spent too much time admiring it, though.  Since there is still a large pile of brush in the stream next to it full of frogs I am wary of the snakes that surely infest it.  We spotted one in the mud on Sunday, but couldn’t be sure if it was poisonous or not.  I haven’t been down there since.  Next weekend we’ll finish getting it all cleared out for the fences.

I  ventured out Sunday and bought a couple of bottles of french wine in town and an assortment of cheeses  and had a wonderful evening with the book club ladies.  The perfect way to cap off a beautiful weekend.

My friend Jessie brought me this:

A cake with a Dr. Who Tardis on it, decorated by her very talented husband.  Do they know me or what!


Even the weather has been in on the wonderful: it’s been much lower in humidity and temperature, making for lovely fall – ish days and nights.

The mums are blooming.

The persimmon tree is fruiting.

I think it’s about time for a mug of hot apple cider.

Back To School

Two days of school are behind us.  I think we are getting close to figuring out our rhythm for the year, and I am rather pleased with how well it has been so far.  Oona has taken to it like a dream (as long as I get her lessons done first thing.  She gets antsy if she waits too long).

Last year we did a lot of work on letters and sounds, shapes and colors, so this year we are expanding on that with sight words and counting and basic geometry.

Neve is starting off reading the first Harry Potter book.  I’m excited to see how much more she’ll enjoy the books than the movies.

Emily doesn’t really care what I put in front of her to read; she’d just be happier if she could sleep till noon first.

Maddie’s working on some advanced math and chemistry that terrifies me.  Good thing I have teacher’s guides.  And a husband who is a whiz at both.

And to complete our cozy little schoolroom, we even have a class bully.

Hey kid.  Gimme all your snacks or I’ll come sit on your book.

Labor Day Laboring

While most everyone else we know is barbecuing and relaxing for the holiday weekend we’ve been working our backsides off inside and out.

Paul’s been playing in the mud rescuing the stream from the mangled tree debris that our less than wonderful landscaper piled there, and I’ve been cleaning, working on lesson plans and making pasta.  There was also a brief time out for the new season of Dr Who.  Because we’re still obsessed, y’all.

We had to install this culvert so we could extend some logs and mud over to stream as a land bridge without interfering with the water.

Did I mention that neither of us has any idea how this kind of thing is supposed to get done?  At least Paul is having fun with the backhoe attachment on our friend’s tractor.

Now all we need is more dirt and maybe some gravel to cover over it all.

The side Paul has finished up is flowing nicely again.  We even saw a fairly large crayfish (crawdad for you Southerners) hanging out on the bank.

See all the debris still on this side?  Don’t you love it when you pay someone to do a job for you and then you end up having to re-do it all?

All I know is it’s getting done.  Paul even thinks we may start fencing next weekend.

What a fabulous birthday present for me!

As for inside the house, there is pasta drying in preparation for the freezer.  September is when the basil in the garden has grown into a giant, bushy shrub and must be harvested before the first frost.  My favorite thing to do is make up a huge amount of pesto and make ravioli with it.  I can freeze enough to last all winter if I don’t get sick of making pasta before I’ve used it all.

I use Susan’s pasta recipe – in fact if you click that link you’ll see my hands creating the last big batch of pesto ravioli we made last year at this time.

Sweet heavenly pesto.  I could eat it for every meal.

Little pillows of delightfulness!  I let them dry on a cheesecloth or clean dishtowel for an hour or more (until they are not sticky anymore) and then toss them into a ziploc freezer bag.  They can be tossed in boiling water from frozen or fresh and take very little time to cook.

For my pesto I fill a blender with fresh basil leaves, toss in a handful of cherry tomatoes, a handful of parmesan cheese, a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic, about half a teaspoon of sugar, a handful of pine nuts, and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  These are all approximate values, and I adjust according to taste.  Not everyone likes sugar or tomatoes in their pesto, but I find it gives it an extra something.  You can also substitute walnuts if you don’t have pine nuts, but I prefer the pine nuts.

Happy September!!!!

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that it is the first of September.   Not only does this begin my favorite part of the entire year, but this fall promises to be more exciting than most.

Right now there is excavating happening out in our stream, in preparation for a culvert to be placed.  This way we can actually get over the stream with things like hay and feed.

This is the last big push before the fencing goes up.

While Paul digs out the stream I am busy preparing lesson plans and getting everything ready for school to start on Tuesday.  This year we have a new addition to our class: Maddie.  She’ll be joining us as a student and working hard to get ready for college next year.    She’ll be bunking with Neve in the former playroom, and I am looking forward to having an extra set of helping hands around!