Our Notes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dreams of Autumn Past, and Project Plans

 
                              

Autumn has finally arrived here in my pocket of the Deep South. Sure, up north, autumn means chilly days and lots of color, but down here it's not quite as obvious. Our temps have finally dipped out of the mid-80s and that in itself is a harbinger of autumnal changes. Anyone who knows me even a little bit though knows I dearly miss the 'big change' of seasons. That color change in the grasses, leaves and flowering pots. The smell in the air of dried flowers, pumpkins, and apple cider. My hands-down favorite seasonal change...the harvesting of the fields. There's a true beauty in the sight of a combine rolling thru a bean field or a corn field. The dusty scent in the air as they make their rounds in the large fields, the hum of the dryers going, the blackbirds coming far and wide to glean from the fresh cut fields. I miss those scenes. 

Don't get me wrong, there is a certain amount of beauty in a southern cotton field as the cotton pops open and the leaves die back. Almost looks like a blanket of snow scattered around the fields and fence rows. And the big, block bales of compressed cotton all lined up, waiting to be collected has it's seasonal appeal. 

My northern heart is comforted by acres and acres of corn field being harvested. I long for visits across the countryside to the pumpkin farms and the apple orchards. Walking into those barns, dried flowers hanging from the beams, the scents of hot apple cider and cinnamon carried thru the air, those delicious apple cider donuts...I can't help myself this time of year as the calendar pages turn and herald in the cooler weather. My mind travels and my heart starts to long for those scenes and noises that only the north can offer. There isn't enough autumn...or winter...season down here for me. No matter how I talk it up and try to convince myself otherwise, I start getting an ache in my spirit and a bit depressed this time of year.

                                              

Around the homestead here we are planning out the pantry. No garden that reliably produces in this clay muck, so I rely on the bounty of those wonderful southern gardeners who have tamed the land. The farm markets fill my larder with white potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and more. I'm working up the next big meat order from the butcher to fill the freezer for some winter canning time. I need to revisit the pantry/kitchen binder and straighten up recipes, add in new ones, cull some older ones we haven't put into the rotation in a while, review the pantry stock and so forth. Time to review some cookbooks here and gather some new ideas. Winter is my big cooking season. I'm all about the comfort foods...big pots of thick soups simmering on the cookstove, my big roasters filled with chunky stews, pans of caramel corn, beef roasts, whole chickens, etc. With the cookstove in use daily as our only heating source, there is always something simmering or baking away. We prep baking potatoes in the morning and let them cook in a large pan in the oven until lunch time. Delicious :-)

                                                 

Another seasonal goodie here is the increase in project ideas. As the weather cools, I start planning outdoor projects like fence mending and barn repairs. The girls and I start thinking holiday projects like Chrostmas gifts, decoration ideas and crafts, special baking projects like cookie and bread baskets. I start realizing the amount of sewing I have put off and feel an urgency in finishing the piles of patterns awaiting me. 
Yes, I put off sewing for other projects like quilt making, crocheting and knitting, but let's face it, as the weather cools, you start to get that urge to be clothed, LOL. I've got a huge SEWING MUSTS list here and times a-wasting!

                                                

In my project basket right now I've got baby bonnets and booties for friends, a couple small afghan requests, slippers, and the always-in-progress hats, mittens, and scarves. There are several dresses, aprons, head coverings, and undergarments cut and ready on the sewing table, and I need to do new nightgowns and pajamas this year as the kids have certainly sprouted a good deal in the past couple years. 

                                              

Always projects waiting on a homestead, but as the weather cools, those projects really climb the ladder of importance. What's better than adding some wood to the stove, grabbing a cup of cocoa, and curling up with some yarnwork or hand stitching on your lap in the evening? I don't think you can find better than that for a cool autumn evening.

We must first see the vision in order to realize it; we must have the ideal or we cannot approach it; but when once the dream is dreamed, it is time to wake up and "get busy." We must 'do great deeds' not dream them all day long. We can work our dreams out into realities of we try, but we must be willing to make the effort. Things that seem easy of accomplishment in dreams require a lot of good common sense to put on a working basis and a great deal of energy to put through to a successful end.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 1918

                                            



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Is it really October??


                                    

I can't believe September is gone. The weather hasn't exactly caught up to the calendar page yet, but October is here nonetheless. I'm glad. It was a hectic September here. We had Dewey home more often than not last month...a blessing and all, but when he hasn't been here very much and all of a sudden is here, it's a bit of a scheduling mess. We are all out of whack with schooling to say the least. Oh well, that's one of the beauties of homeschooling right? We aren't slaves to the calendar. We can catch up later. And it is t as though we did nothing all month. We just lost the routine of daily books here. We life skill (as a dear online friends calls it) and that means we are always learning something, book in hand or not. 

As the month closed out, we picked up the more stress-filled bits. October 20th my daughter and her boyfriend were in a car accident. They came off pavement onto a gravel road with quite loose gravel, lost control/over compensated, and went off the road into a tree. He banged up his leg a bit, nothing too bad, thank The Lord. My daughter, the driver, literally split her head open. Despite seat belt and airbag, the impact sent her outward, catching her head on the open window/door frame. She ended up with a nearly 7 1/2" long, 3/4" wide slash from eye up and over to the top of her head just behind her ear. She got out of the car and walked over 1/4 of a mile up the lane to our house to come get us because she couldn't find her cell phone. Praise The Lord for protecting and guiding her to us safely! I cannot wrap my head around damage she sustained in the accident and the way The Lord held her and protected her. She literally opened her scalp all the way to the skull itself, yet did no damage at all to her skull or brain.

To call it a miracle and His Mercy is such an understatement. 

She spent just 2 days in the hospital and surgery to repair the scalp damage went really well. The Lord provided us with an excellent plastic surgery crew to oversee the stitches along her forehead. When the stitches and staples were removed, the resulting scar line is very light and very narrow. She stayed home with us 2 weeks to recover and is back at work now with her Dad. Praise The Lord!! It was very close to being a whole other story. The Lord has plans for that girl. I pray every day she realizes that and opens her heart to the future He has planned for her.

                                   
                                                    

Around the Homestead:
The same day as the accident, we had friends come out and pick up Judy and Bo, our Jersey pair. It was upsetting to come to the point they needed to go, but they did. We aren't set up as well as we should be for cows at all. I miss the milk and the butter for sure, but it was near I possible to get Judy bred out here, and I definitely have not got the space for a bull. I debated quite a while over finding them a new home, but in the end, it all worked out. 

In this day where I'm preaching preparedness to all who listen, here I am getting rid of a valuable homestead resource. Crazy, huh? A dairy cow is a huge resource for a family. We will miss that bounty Judy provided, but we aren't a cow kind of homestead here. We are woodland, not pasture and grazing space. We don't have access to breeding stock to keep her in milk. We will go back to focusing on the goats here, and perhaps get some meat rabbits later. We've talked about them for several years now. Maybe now is the time for that direction here.

                                     

With October upon us, I must get more time in with the sewing machine here. Not only do we have a few Christmas project ideas, but the clothing needs are always a work-in-progress with a large family. We also have a couple quilt projects we'd like to work on together. October starts leave little time to really work on things for Christmas, but that's how I roll. I wait until the last minute then stress about finishing on time. So entires it works out perfectly that way. Other times....well, not so much. I'm always hopeful though.

                                          

I'm anxious to see the weather meet up with the calendar so we can move from fans and air conditioning to the woodstove. So far, it's still in the mid to upper 80s around here, but cooler days are coming and I can't wait! There's just something extra special about those cooler days...audio books lending their voice to our schooling, children scattered around the cookstove with various projects in hand, my yarnwork basket and the rocking chair near the fire. I truly LIVE for days like that. 

If only it would snow down here...

                                        







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