Theater Week, and A Tiny Rant

Last week the girls once again took part in the Missoula Children’s Theater program at The Paramount Theater in Charlottesville.

This year’s production was “Treasure Island”, and they spent all week rehearsing their little hearts out.

As for me, I got to spend the week downtown among civilization!  It was nice to have an excuse to eat out for lunch every day and to meet with friends.  We don’t get into town very often, so afternoon gelato for no good reason is quite a treat!

One of the things I really enjoy about the pedestrian mall downtown is that they allow dogs.  Oona was overwhelmed with excitement at seeing so many different kinds of dogs and puppies all week.





Oona made a very sweet little Seagull. And she was easy to spot with her bright hair!


Emily played a “Pirate Clown”.  My normally very introverted eldest child had a blast dancing and singing with a cast of 57 other kids, only 2 of whom she knew besides her sisters).


Neve cracked me up with her funny faces.  She played one of Jim Hawkins’ “Ruffian” friends.


There’s not a single introverted bone in THAT kid’s body!


Our friends Jessie and Keith had their two kids in the play as well (that’s Brett on the left next to Emily) so we were fortunate to have company all week and at the performances.

These theater weeks have been an incredible experience for my kids. It’s helped them become more confident in their singing and has helped them with taking direction and being responsible to a team.

All the same, this has made me feel even more strongly about homeschooling them and given me less patience for the one bullshit question I get all the time.

What about socialization?

My kids don’t go to school with other kids their age, it’s true.  They are not forced  into artificial social situations that are strictly monitored and controlled by adults who want quiet (yes, the local schools have “quiet lunches” much of the time).  They are also not confined to spending time only with people their own age.  Being homeschooled has meant they get dragged along with me wherever I go, and being part of whatever project I have going on, and interacting with many different people.   This has meant that they know how to speak to all kinds of people and are comfortable in just about any social situation.  When we arrive for theater camp on the first day and they get on the stage to audition with the other kids, they are fine. Even Oona is not daunted by it. My kids might be weird, but they are not socially awkward.

They are not subject to peer-pressure. They do not suffer from low self-esteem. They are curious about the world around them and have many interests they like to pursue.  They speak their minds.

And let me tell you, when they get on that stage and throw themselves into their roles with their fellow actors, we couldn’t be more proud to be the parents of these weird  kids.















Movin’ To The Country….

…gonna feed the pigs lotsa peaches.

Our awesome friend Trina works for the big local orchard and today brought two big bushels of fallen peaches and apples for the pigs and chickens.

Brace yourselves for lots of pictures, because there’s nothing I like better than pictures of happy pigs!


Churchill tried to nose into the box as soon as she set it down, but I wanted to keep track of how many peaches (and peach pits) they were eating.








Even Bertie got in on some apple action.


As did the chickens.


Agnes (who we are now fairly certain is actually a male) partook of a few figs.

I just love seeing them all share in summer’s bounty!

Flowers and Berries, Oh My!

First, Happy Solstice weekend, everyone!  It’s been rather off-again, on-again rainy this weekend, which put a damper on our bonfire celebration, so we’ve put that off until next weekend.

We did celebrate with fresh basil pesto and basil-lime-gin cocktails, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Oona and I spent time wandering around the farm and looking at all of the plants growing in that we never knew were there before (it’s been easier to take inventory of things growing back slowly after having scraped it bare).

We found a wild rosebush (which I hope to transplant to a better spot), and lots of Brown-Eyed Susans popping up.

There’s plenty of Queen Ann’s Lace and little Daisies.  Near where we keep the hay there’s also plenty of this:


Butterfly Weed.  It’s quite lovely, actually, and it’s a nice compliment to the Butterfly Bushes I have that have spread and volunteered in places far from were the originals were planted.  Whatever I can do to attract more pollinators is a good thing!

Then we found the berries.  Now, I knew we had a decent amount of wild blackberry bushes scattered everywhere, but I didn’t realize the full volume of what we are dealing with.  SCORES of bushes. EVERYWHERE.  We picked a good bowl-full of berries, and left many, many unripe berries on the plants to go back for later.



Most of the plants are just starting to grow back in from where the land was cleared a few years ago and aren’t in berry yet.  This means that in a year or two we will have more berries than we can handle.  I am so looking forward to making jam and vinegar with them!  For today we simple ate the berries out of hand.

Not only that, but…


My blueberry plant is finally producing!  Sadly, it is but one crummy little plant.  However – I bought several more blueberry plants  plants from The Arbor Day Foundation that we will plant this fall (along with 3 more apple trees, 5 cherry trees, 2 peach trees, a Damson plum, and 2 chestnut trees!).  There are also plans in the works to put in a terraced strawberry bed along the lower edge of my vegetable garden (thanks to my friend Lisa at Red Row Farm for the idea!).

I’m grateful I took the time to slow down and really take a look around at what we have to work with here.  This little homestead has served us better than we thought it would, and I’m glad we’ve decided to put more into it rather than dreaming of somewhere better.



June Days

It’s nearly the Summer Solstice and we are finally settling into our slower summer rhythm.  With lambing done, the flock moved out to summer pasture, and the garden more or less planted, I’ve had a chance to breathe a bit and enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of June.  I’m getting excited for a wild raspberry harvest, and thrilled to have discovered wild rose bushes growing in a few spots.

The chickens are laying well (including our new blue egg layers – thanks, Lisa! I owe you dinner!), the beans and peas are flowering.  My bee balm has finally blossomed and I made a few recipes from Marisa McLellan’s Food In Jars. (Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam and White Wine Mustard).

We have one more quiet week before theater camp starts the 23rd and life gets a bit crazy temporarily. For now I am going to enjoy my slow summer evenings with the sheep and in the garden.










Fresh Pastures

This evening after feeding we opened the gates to the big field.  As the light was fading, all the mamas and lambs found their way out to fresh grass and weeds.   On the one hand, it feel so wonderful to be able to put them out onto pasture; on the other hand it makes me terribly anxious sending our babies out into such a big space!  At first there was much commotion and noise as the lambs frantically called after their mamas, who were so engrossed in the new green foodstuffs that they paid no heed to their babies’ distress.

Eventually everyone fell in with their little family units and felt a little braver, jumping and nibbling and sniffing.


It was hard to get many good pictures with the light so poor; in fact I took about 500 and only wound up with a handful that were usable. It was much, much darker than it appears in the pictures.






Cini is back with the sheep after a good brushing.  He and Oona are thick as thieves; pretty sure they’re plotting something.






I’ll be nervous the next few days while everyone gets acclimated to the pasture, but it’s lovely seeing them among so much green.

Tag Day!

The new Vet came out today to take care of tagging the lambs’ ears and banding their tails and (for the boys) testicles. The boys weren’t overly pleased with the process, but the ewe lambs were vocally pissed.  They threw themselves on the ground, flailing about and yelling as though the world were ending.

In reality, they were fine.  A bit of initial discomfort, and then their tails (and testes) go numb.  The blood stops flowing to those extremities and they become dessicated and fall off. In fact, by the time we did evening chores they had gotten over it completely.


Don’t they look spiffy with their new tags?


Bennett with her boys, Keswick and Brunswick.


Lamb pile on Wren!





Miss Wembley, looking mighty pleased with herself after throwing an epic post-tagging tantrum.

The vet gave all these beasts (seriously, they’re HUGE) a clean bill of health and approved putting them out into the pasture this weekend.  We’ll be letting the goats out first to test the fences (juuuuust in case.  If there’s a weakness, goats will find and exploit it) overnight and if all goes well, the babies and mamas will be frolicking on fresh green tomorrow night!

Saturday in Lambs

I cannot believe how fast the lambs are growing! They seem huge to me now!


Wembley is quite a character out there (and yes, they have all started nibbling on hay already!).  She enjoys hopping on top of the dog house and chewing on clothing.


You can’t turn your back on that one!


Everybody loves a good lamby cuddle.


That X!




Who, us? Troublemakers?


Wembley the nibbler strikes again!



Some of the lambs are already getting too big for Oona to pick up.  Actually, I struggled a bit picking up Staunton today.  We’re trying to enjoy their little-ness while we can; soon they’ll be headed into the general population with their mamas, and after that, everyone will be put out of the winter pen onto……..GRASS!!!!!!

Yes, we are finally getting nice and green in the pasture.  I can’t even tell you how happy this makes everyone.  I can’t wait to look out and see a happy flock grazing on grass.


Lamb Update

At the last update we had 9 lambs.  At the conclusion, we have 15.  It’s quite a nice number; we could have wound up with so many more.  As it turns out, there were ewes that we thought were bred that were not, and not many twinned.


Our last lamb to arrive, Esmont (ram)!  He is Margaret’s lamb.


Knightsbridge.  See his “X”?  It kills me!  He and his twin Wimbledon are Lyra’s babies.


Cant enough enough of him!


Perivale, a ewe lamb born to Bootes.  Neve calls her “Bat Lamb” because of the coloring around her eyes.  She’s technically colored flock since her mama is a colored ewe and she’s not completely white.


More “Bat Lamb”!


Keswick.  He and his twin, Brunswick, are Bennett’s babies.


Jubilee and her hilarious ears, with Brunswick peeking out from behind Esmont.


Staunton and Chesapeake.




More Jubilee.  Because I couldn’t help it.


This was the best picture I could get of Wimbledon; he kept nursing off of Willoughby, who is decidedly NOT his mama.  She didn’t seem to mind.

As I’ve mentioned before, the best time to check in on lambcam is after 6 pm.  That’s when they have their “play time”.  It’s really not to be missed!


The Garden Report

I know I’ve been woefully quiet over here.  Lambing officially ended with the birth of our last lamb last week (more on that soon! I promise!), and then I slept for days.

Since then I’ve been preoccupied with the garden, and I am very late getting it all established this year.  It’s now a mad rush to get everything into the ground right now in an effort to catch up.

We also were dealing with lambcam having been hit by lightning, causing it to be down for about a week.

On top of it all, Neve, my super – helpful shepherd apprentice, turned 11 this week.


She’s a dynamo with the sheep and goats.  She helped deliver nearly all the lambs this year, and got to check “getting a lap-full of amniotic fluid and blood” off of her “life experiences” list. Grossness aside, she’s loved every moment of it.

But back to the garden.


Lots of lettuce is growing out front, along with radishes, beets, carrots, peas and beans. Even the broccoli still looks to be doing great, and I’ve never had much luck with it before.

My quinoa sprouts are getting bigger by the day, and the leeks seem to be doing really well also.


The rose bush next to the beehives looks amazing this year.  I’m sure the bees like it, too!


This crazy jungle is actually my raspberry plant.  I got it as a small, single cane plant two years ago, and it has gone wild with growth.


It is just now starting to flower, so I am hoping for a bountiful harvest in the coming weeks.  Even so, we have discovered that our entire property is just filthy with wild black raspberries.  For the first several years we were here we thought they were just prickery weeds and pulled them out wherever we found them.  Happily, that hasn’t put even a dent in the amount of them all over.  They are currently in flower (lovely drifts of white amongst dark green leaves everywhere!), and soon we will have more berries than we can eat.  There are also plans to add a terraced bed alongside the back garden for strawberries.  If we get them into the ground this fall, we should see plenty of fruit next spring!


The other thing taking over? Honeysuckle.  It has created a natural wall all around the front chicken yard, and when the wind blows it carries the sweetest scent.  This may be one of my favorite things right now.


Speaking of chickens… awesome friend Lisa gave me two new chickens – these will lay blue eggs. We’ve named them Petal and Posy.


Next to the back vegetable garden I’ve started a small flower garden around this lovely twig bench.  I love this spot because it’s about halfway between the house and the pasture, and on nice days you can sit and watch the sheep. It doesn’t look like much now (except that we need to get the weed whacker out!) but we’ve surrounded it with lovely white quartz rocks we’ve found all over the farm, and there are three peony bushes starting to spread along with a few dahlia plants and some alysum.  I’d like to get some lavender in there as well, but we’ll see.  The area directly behind the bench will soon be planted with cherry trees that we hope will fruit abundantly in a few years.


In the back vegetable garden I’ve left the volunteer sunflowers where they’ve sprouted.  I think they will be nice among the squashes and corn.


The cucumbers are sprouting!  I planted three different kinds: one large variety for eating out of hand and chopping into salads, and two pickling types.  I’ve got trellises for them this year, as well as for all of the other large vining squashes.  I don’t have a lot of square footage for them right now, but there’s plenty of room to go UP.  Everything except for the big watermelons and pumpkins will be trellised.


Sadly, this is what all of my tomato plants look like.  They are still rather small, due to my very late start.  I may try to find some bigger plants to put in with them so we are not waiting until August to see fruit!

BUT, I at least got my basil planted at the appropriate time.  It would be a crime not to have fresh pesto this summer!


I have planted several of these all around the gardens, along with lemon thyme and rosemary.  I’ve been reading up on what I need to do to try and keep them going through the winter so I don’t need to buy new each year.  I’d like for the lavender at least to grow and spread out a bit.

I’m pretty excited about the direction the property is going.  We are learning that there is a lot here already that is wonderful, and we are doing what we can to improve the soil and plant growth.  It’s very slow, but it’s going to be so worth it.