Well, the pink moon has passed but any opportunity to quote Nick Drake 🙂
The weather is WARM and the sun has been gracing us with his presence! I am happy, so incredibly happy. A little sun burnt and exhausted but so full of the cleansing, full happiness that fresh air and manual labour brings. I’m back to communing with the land, with roots and branches, robins and bluejays. April is a muddy and plan brown (or red on PEI), drab time of year here, but as soon as you get outside and take a wee closer look at the earth, the trees the colours of life on this green earth are just abounding.
The work on our 1.25 acre is endless. Especially since our plans include using every inch of space for flower, vegetable and herb gardens, animals and trees. We have a huge checklist which includes new gardens, a ton of raking, preparing wood for next winter, tending to our forest (really a small wood but the forest just sounds so much more majestic ;)), mulching, digging, burning, felling trees (I’m starting to sound a little destructive but it’s all part of the process!).
This week has been g l o r i o u s. I completely disconnected from instagram and feel as free as a bird by just removing myself from social media. The earth is speaking to all of us, if we listen and work with her.
At this time of year, we are not even touching vegetable gardens because the earth is too damp to turn. So, it’s mainly raking, woodland, and clearing up flower gardens. I even started to plant some chestnuts that have sprouted in our basement. I hope you enjoy the photos of our work and can not WAIT to show you the contrast of now and a couple of months!
I N S I D E
And on the indoor front – it’s getting a little wild! The plants are shooting up and need daily care. The tomatoes are strong and the herbs already fragrant. The lupin seeds I collected on the side of the road last year have sprouted and I am beyond excited to give back to the insects of our world!
A P R I L P I C K S
I’m reading OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon and I can already say that it is fantastic. A friend of mine suggested it when I told her I was watching the show and felt like it was made for us (plants, magic, Highlands of Scotland, yes please!). I stopped watching it immediately and started the book
I’m also reading through some Norwegian Folk Tales as well as our man, Ronald Hutton’s Witches, Druids and King Arthur.
TV / PODCASTS
Other than repeatedly watching Tales from the Green Valley, I’ve been listening to The Higherside Chats with Greg Carlwood – about fringe topics. He has an episode on PLANTS that I definitely suggest called “Earth Alchemy, Plant Spirits, & Engineered Abundance” with Shamangineer. My sister suggested it to me and I am hooked. It’s available both in his website and youtube.
Maybe I’ll reveal a part of myself I don’t tend to share on the internets but, I was thinking of making a compilation of books/videos/documentaries on modern fairy lore. I’ll start with a really fun documentary that hits very close to home here on the East Coast ❤ ❤ ❤
Rejoice, rejoice! It’s cold outside with a north wind. I’m sitting on a cushion on the floor while the animals sprawl out on the couch. I felt like just doing a quick post, to share a few pictures of our last weekend of winter.
Despite the cold and the wind, I still feel spring in the air. This past weekend, we didn’t just hear the crows cawing but all kinds of birds and geese honking overheard. The bluejays have returned to our compost pile and the tips of the maples have buds. Spring is a late bloomer here and we likely will be in an in between state for another month. We are all itching to get outside.
The sun was so strong this Saturday and the temperature so pleasant. Jamie and I had a busy weekend going for walks with Henry, working outside and going on aimless country drives. It was a really beautiful end to this winter and I wanted to share with you little bits and pieces.
The outdoor work on this little piece of land seems endless! This weekend, we focused on picking up sticks that have fallen during the winter gales. We had a bonfire and let the chickens and Henry free (Henry is pretty good with the chickens, although she occasionally runs as fast as she can at them to scatter them to the wind ).
The end of winter! I can barely believe it! It does go by so quickly. I would like to do more posts about gardening and despite the cold, I have started quite a few seeds already indoors. But the extent of our gardening this month is cleaning up the yard and starting a few seeds. I am ecstatic for the growing season!
The moon is out. Four beams of light that form a perfect cross (or X) illuminate the sky. I often think about the people of the past, how incredibly impressive and important symbols in the sky would have been for them. Right now, I am warm and safe sitting with mounds of blankets before a window with the full moon and a cross. I wanted to write about my morning rituals (or attempts at morning rituals) but am honestly in awe of the sight of the moon at the moment. And while I was distracted by the brightest light in a dim sky, I looked to the East and the horizon is orange, so time to dive right into the ritual!
I wake. Not always at the same time, although I am working on that. This morning it was 6 am. Winter mornings are quite different than the rest of the year. They are darker and colder for one and require a lot of warmth for a joyous beginning. Fire starting, thick wool socks, hot teas and oatmeal and warming scents (I basically just told you everything!).
B U T F I R S T …..
S A D L Y N O T C O F F E E
I was once a coffee drinker – I struggled with coffee. I loved coffee. I loved the ritual of making it, the smell (most of all) and I had a conflicted relationship with the taste and the way it made me feel. I finally decided to stop completely and have honestly found a quiet peace in my day that I never had before. I think I ultimately was experiencing caffeine overdose, from ONE small cup of coffee. I could not focus, I would be productive in a frenzied kind of way for maybe an hour and then I felt like just a wreck. I could drink a cup at 9 am and not sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning. The last time I drank it was Christmas and that was just because it was Christmas.
It was never this bad when I drank it everyday, but I slowly started to eliminate it everyday and that’s when it really, really started and that was when I decided the best thing for me would be to simply stop drinking it. So many benefits, the biggest in my mind was obviously my health and well being but also, the money saved! Jamie is still a big coffee drinker but his work provides it so I still get to smell it on the weekends 😉
E M B R A C I N G T E A
In the mornings, I drink peppermint tea steeped with a green tea bag for that little caffeine kick and added health benefit. I love peppermint tea, it’s my absolute favourite tea (peppermint and ginger) and find it very cleansing first thing in the morning. I often have a smaller cup of Earl Grey later in the morning, but first thing I really enjoy a cleansing large cup of herbal and green tea. I know we’ve been told for years the benefits of green tea, but peppermint tea is incredibly good for you as well! I know it sounds like the most basic of teas but it’s a digestive aid, full of antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is even known to improve alertness and memory! It’s awesome and so easy to grow!\
A F F I R M A T I O N S
Something I am trying to do (although I don’t always remember) is ‘bless’ my water or tea. I essentially pray or send positive affirmations over my drink and then by drinking it, am taking those positive directly in my body. The affirmations can be anything from having a good day to confidence, to security and protection, to creativity. I find that it really, really helps.
During this time, I’m with the cats and have the diffuser going (currently ylang ylang for mood and frankincense for focus). I often take this time to knit a little bit and just collect myself before the sun makes his grand appearance (which now is around 7 30). Depending on how cold it is, there is usually a pressing matter that needs to be attended to. Starting a fire. I am always SO grateful when Jamie does this first thing.
B R E A K F A S T & C H I C K E N S
Eating breakfast is another struggle of mine that I have only recently begun to conquer all thanks to something a wee bit weird… Our chickens! I never felt like eating in the morning and waited until lunch ( completely aware of the damage this was doing to my day) or I would just snack on something really small. But since we have had chickens, especially since November when the temperatures began to dip below 0, I have been making them hot oatmeal. I would make it for them first thing in the morning thinking “wow this is sooo good for them… they are going to have a great day!” and realizing… WHY am I not doing that for myself? So I essentially started making a batch for me at the same time as the chickens. The chickens get a little bit of a more rustic version. I actually gave them the end of our beets the other day with oats and that made them very happy.
I usually eat before I go out to let the chickens out and feed them. Since it’s been so cold, I have been giving them hot water in the morning too with a little bit of apple cider vinegar. I hope to make a post about keeping chickens in a very cold climate, probably later this month!
K E E P I N G H Y D R A T E D
Once the chickens have been fed, it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done for the day. I usually make a to do list the prior evening. Today, it is Saturday so I am making a blog post (yay!). Regardless, after breakfast and tea, I have a large mason jar of water with a little bit of apple cider vinegar to drink throughout the duration of the whole morning.
We made a large batch of apple cider vinegar this past fall so I feel very happy using our own. It’s also SO easy to make and I highly recommend making it yourself if you are interested (especially if you have access to an apple tree… even a rogue apple tree that you have observed while walking past has many rotting – not used – apples lying about it). Apple Cider Vinegar is extremely beneficial for your ~g u t~ which is the master of your overall health.
L A S T L Y
Henry girl (our dogg) and I go out for a walk. This is the key really for me to have a good, productive day. Walking, without headphones, early in the morning. We often try to get out at around 8 am. Since it’s the weekend, we will probably drive out to a trail somewhere later in the day but on weekdays when I’m working from home and Jamie is at work in town, we just walk the country roads around our home. I kind of consider the morning over when we get back. It’s therapeutic even though I often have to force myself to get out, especially lately. The wind and cold has been biting.
Rituals! Simple rituals! I am a creature of the home – a true cancerian – and need the stability of a solid morning ritual even if it’s just tea and breakfast and scents floating through the house. This morning, I have some basic house and animal chores to do before I think I work on a drawing I had planned. I give myself the freedom of not having a schedule on the weekends.
The sun is rising! Peaking over the barn at the top of the hill by our house. Two cats are with me probably wondering why their food dishes are empty. Pangur jumps to where my attention is directed, to the window, to the knitting basket. I can hear Henry moving around upstairs ready to get up on this lazy, cold Saturday.
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! **stay warm if you’re in a cold part of the world! That is what we will be doing today (for the most part).
Pangur with the sun
Pangur with the knitting basket this morning
**P S . I am thinking of starting a video blog – something very dull to most I am sure, but just to do little videos on what I’m working on etc, it would essentially be me just sitting there talking because I have NO knowledge of editing videos or anything. Would love any feedback on this idea! **
This fall has been so busy with preparing future gardens, harvesting and preserving produce and stacking wood. Even though we only have over an acre of land, the work seems endless. As I work, my mind does one of two things: zones out completely or thinks constantly about the other work that needs to be done or future projects.
An acre of land definitely doesn’t sound like a lot when you think of homesteading, but believe me you can do SO much on it (we have 1.25 acres). I’m currently turning over the soil for a new garden, putting the other gardens “to sleep” and stacking wood.
GATHERING AND PREPPING
Fall has brought the most bountiful time in our garden. The maritime climate is strange in that we have rather miserable springs and summer begins later than the south of Canada (something rings strange about that phrase…) but fall is glorious. We still have carrots, parsnips, beets, chard, squash, kale and an abundance of fresh herbs growing. However, this will all come to an end very, very soon. I have been so busy, picking, drying and preserving our produce and herbs so that we have organic, homegrown food for the winter that we can eat with a sense of peace and satisfaction (I don’t know if anything is more satisfying than eating your own grown or foraged food).
PREPARING GARDENS FOR WINTER & TURNING OVER SOIL FOR THE NEW
Over the summer, I learnt a lot about our plot of land. Our raised beds are surrounded by pine trees that block a lot of light. So, I’ve decided to turn the soil over in a different spot for a new garden. Why am I doing this now? Well, I wanted to expose the soil to chicken poop, dead leaves and rotten wood before the winter. All of these are excellent for the soil. While I turn over the soil, I let the chickens eat their hearts out. There are SO many worms and grubs and other insects that I couldn’t name. As soon as the chickens see me with a shovel they come running over to me, knowing there will be a feast (Chickens are very intelligent animals)! Our yard is covered in dead leaves as well and we have many rotten tree stumps. I’ve been raking the leaves and mixing in the beautifully rotted wood with the freshly turned soil. Next spring I’ll add in our compost and hopefully have some nutrient dense soil!
PREPARING GARDENS FOR WINTER
Once the above garden is ready, I will cover the beds with decaying leaves, pine needles and place birch bark on top. This is to protect the soil from our incredibly frigid, snow filled winters. It will also prevent weeds from growing in the spring before I actually start planting and working with the earth (I turn the soil over again in the spring). I really enjoy this part of gardening. I think of it as putting the gardens to sleep. Keeping them warm and safe.
PERHAPS NOT GARDENING… BUT FALL WORK ALL THE SAME!
And lastly… the WOOD PILE! It is never ending. But… I love it. So much. I love having the pile of wood outside of our home, waiting to have some meditative hardworking labourer strain their back over it (i.e. me or Jamie). The quintessential northern home. I have spent the majority of my life living in the country or in very small towns in eastern Canada (I grew up in Eastern Ontario) and there isn’t a spot that doesn’t have wood piles and smoke curling out of chimneys as a common feature. My favourite human landscape is a small town, covered in snow with a church steeple and smoke curling from the chimneys around it… I digress.
The work doesn’t end. I have a lot more to do before winter starts. But I wanted to share with you a couple more pictures before I say goodbye! Happy Samhain weekend 😀