18 days until spring

Despite having 3 feet of snow on the ground, I am dreaming of digging up dirt, planting seeds, hatching chicks, yoga sessions on our back deck and making herbal tinctures in the summer sun.

I am eager for spring. At work, I sneak in a few blog posts from the Elliott Homestead just to satisfy my appetite for blooms and homesteading projects. At home, Mosi sleeps in my lap while I scroll through local hatchery sites. Charlie draws maps of our garden and keeps our houseplants alive. I think we are ready. Ready for warm, thawing winds and new growth.

Every once in a while - when I get too excited - I have to remind myself: “baby steps Laurel. Baby steps. Slow down. Celebrate the small victories.”

Small victories like surviving a full work week.
Finding good books at the library book sale.
Trudging through deep snow drifts on a sunny afternoon.
Watching my tulips and paperwhites grow tall and green.

This afternoon was especially a victory. I went out to take care of the chickens and collect eggs. The usual brown eggs were tucked away in round nests, but in one dark corner I noticed a solitary, olive-green egg. At first I thought it was a duck egg left behind by our recently deceased duckies, but on closer inspection I realized it was a genuine Joanna Egg.

I could have not been a prouder homesteader than in that moment.

After 12 months of the most nurturing care, nutritious food, warm housing and companionship, our beautiful ameraucana (Joanna) has finally figured it out and laid her very first egg!
I am almost too proud to actually eat it - I’ve waited too long to have a lovely green egg!! Here’s to hoping she will keep laying and not give up.
Yes. Today was most certainly a small victory.

So even though winter still resides in our hills, Charlie and I give thanks for each day. And we both lean on the promise of spring.


frost on the farm

This morning I woke up to a world of stunning frostiness. Winter has finally come to our part of the world and I am totally okay with it. I mean - look how beautiful our yard was while I was doing chores.
I’ve been thinking about how Winter encourages slow living. Daylight hours shorten, temperatures drop and sometimes deep snow makes it impossible to leave the house. So we invest our time in projects like home improvements, crafting, cooking good things, music and reading thick books. Out of necessity we go outside to split wood or shovel snow, and even though we grumble about such things, we secretly enjoy the vigorous exercise. Not to mention how satisfying it is, to come inside from the cold and make ourselves cozy with hot tea by the heater (or wood stove).
Already Charlie and I are slowing down, bundling up against the cold and preparing for our human version of hibernation. Charlie has started a batch of pumpernickel bread he learned to make from a gentleman in Sweden. The bread takes 5 days to make - from mixing the dough, to setting overnight, to baking loaves. I have started learning how to knit. (Charlie says this makes me an old grandma - which I take as a compliment.) I love the rhythm of the needles - the texture of wool yarn. To me, knitting, or any kind of handiwork, is relaxing. Therapeutic.
Last night, I rummaged through our closet to find hats and gloves, and we donned four or five layers of clothing to go for a night hike. Even though the sky was cloudy - threatening to snow - I could see the Big Dipper, hanging low and bright near a line of treetops. Our breath came out in clouds and my toes were numb, but we were happy walking hand in hand.
I guess what I’m saying is this: use this season as an opportunity to slow down. Don’t hesitate to start a creative project or pick up a stack of reading material. Make the most of cold evenings at home, but also go outside to admire Winter’s frigid beauty.


like a comfy old chair

How simple is the careless freedom of summer. Happy little ducks on the pond. Cutting the grass with a temperamental push mower. Picking fresh cherries for a pie. Lighting sparklers for Independence Day. Camping in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon. Small moments and exciting events alike accentuate the goodness of this season. 
A couple weeks ago, Charlie and I celebrated our second year of marriage. We both had to work long hours on our anniversary and then rush across town for Bible study. But afterwards, we made a point of eating a good meal and building a campfire in our backyard. Mosi slept in my lap while Charlie roasted some old-fashioned frankfurts and kept the mosquitoes at bay. Of course we looked back on the past two years and laughed at the seasons we've been through and the things we've done. We were living in Nebraska during our first anniversary, which is crazy because surely that was many many years ago!? 
"Remember when we climbed the water tower with Greenville friends?" Charlie asks. Of course I do. Someone had called the cops on us and I ran into an electric fence multiple times trying to get to our car. 
"Do you remember the first breakfast we ever had as man and wife?" It was at a very mediocre Bob Evans in southern Missouri. Even as newlyweds we seemed like an old married couple. To this day, we play scrabble and cribbage. I collect houseplants and Charlie is always puttering around the house. (I've seen him more than once, walking across the backyard with drill and hammer in hand.) We've changed a lot in the past two years, (hopefully for the better), but I pray we will always have a sense of laid-back coziness in our marriage. Kinda like an comfy old chair you can sink into. 

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