Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a 7-day Journal of Living off-grid at Maple Valley Farm WINTER

The only photo I remembered to take at 4:30 pm our daughter having hot cocoa after ice-skating with her friend. More photos tomorrow!Day 1 January 5, 2010 Winter chores are always easier!

Around 4 AM The Great Him is brought to our bed from a restless sleep. I have abandoned the genius idea of cloth diapers for overnight due to the wetting through. I had found no logic on an off-grid farm to have 2 babies wetting through double cloth diapers, PJS, aka waking up cold, wet and crying, and wet sheets and blankets that must be washed in a wringer washer with water heated up by a wood fired kettle and then lined dried each an every day with the hope that they would be dry in the winter months by nap time :). Trust me, I already tried it WAY to long! GG reloads wood stoves to get a hotter fire for later and makes coffee to be ready later.
Around 5 AM the GG (Gentle Giant) lights the oil lamps, gets up to check coffee (we can tell how far along the coffee is by the "sound" of the wood cook stove) and He gets ready for the day. He awakes our eldest to get ready for a road trip to pick up the cottage workers 2 communities over.

At 6:30 AM I awake with 2 babies in my bed that are stirring and feel like I have been run over by a large farm implement, horse drawn of course! The GG and eldest are leaving to pickup the workers for the cottage and say a quick goodbye. Our 12 yo son gets up to start the daily morning choring. I have 4 helpers inside with me. (ok only 2 are really helpers that are left inside)
Winter chores that our 12 yo son pretty much manages on his own with some help at times are feeding the beef herd, rolling round hay bales to the hay ring (this takes about 3 kinner or 1 kinner and a father as they are HEAVY)... must be careful not to have real hungry cows in a herd or they try to eat the hay as you roll it! Drinking the horses. We bring the horses to water and drink them about 4 times a day manually to a spot in the barn. We are very excited that this year (so far :)) we have mastered the art of keeping all water in barns and to the house (our holding water tank for the house is in the upstairs of the barn to gravity feed to the house) UNFROZEN! Last year, we had frozen water most of the winter aka NO WATER TO THE HOUSE :). He then feeds the chickens, pigs, the best organic grass hay to our horses right from this farm, feed goats, cats, dogs our best alfalfa bales to our beef herd. Checks all waterers for fresh water. LOTS of shoveling of the mish! 1 full size Belgian horse poops about 1 barrel of poop a day at least!(yuhp, those big barrels) We have 2 Belgains and then a small beef herd. Lets just say POOP is a big part of our lives. Great for fertilizer and great for compost and we need to find other great things for poop. Any ideas would be appreciated. We already sell it :) Which brings me to our son coming in to change into his 2nd pair of clean pants for the day due to poop...

The GG and eldest end up eating breakfast with our friends. They leave to go to a few farms over to see if they can barter rubber wheels for steel wheels. It ended up not being a good fit so they went to another farm and it ended up not working so they head home for the cottage work.

In the meantime I am getting ready, feeding breakfast to others and log into computer to do some farm checks and make calls around the area for extra round bales for the farm. We feed some of our hay to the herd but the team always gets first dibs of our hay so we will have to buy some more round bales SOON!
Eldest and GG come back and deliver workers to cottage. I am ready to leave with eldest to go up the road to get more cocoa for hot choc for 11 guests coming inside the farmhouse for lunch (a sliding, ice skating party for the kinner) and a game plan for lunch for the cottage workers, all 5 of them (ended up being only 4 of them)
We stop up the road for cocoa and have a request to pick up a few things in town. We go into town (7 miles) and get the stuff and come back to the community to trade it for homemade bread and smoked meats instead of cash (aka I did not have to make the bread and butcher the hog and smoke it :) much better use of $1.80!)
I remember I did not read the Psalm I planned on today :( yet...
We return home, make a quick lunch for the cottage workers. 2 eldest girls run lunch to cottage workers, son is drinking horses again and checking for eggs. I am making lunch for the 11 guests. elder girls return and start a recipe (**NOTE again to self, try NO new recipes before company is coming) The Lazy Day Wife Cake (weird name, we thought it must mean easy) was very complicated and not real tasty but later when the guests arrived the children did seem to enjoy it. Guest start arriving at 1230 PM and we all ate at 130 PM, for lunch we have homemade chicken bologna from our chickens, rye bread, zucchini jam, lettuce, cheese and water. I am dodging farm phone calls. Some I take, some I don't. One call is for an appointment this evening at 730 PM to finish up 2009 farm business. We will attend this appointment later in the evening.
Meanwhile (this is actually right before our 11 guests come) (we still are on bookwork school vacation till this Monday) 12 yo son is building in cottage with 2 other young men (what a treasure at 12 to learn to build with some older boys that are like minded! and with your Dad!) He is having a lot of fun, I run out to check on them and GG has a gun in hand and I ask him what he is doing thinking an animal is in the cottage or something and he says he is getting water. Getting water? The well pitcher pump has been out of use for about 4 years so he shoots a 22 down the pipe 3 times and HOUSTON! We have a geyser of water in the cottage kitchen! YEE HAW! BTW, did you ever imagine any and ALL remodeling here goes on off-grid! It is VERY challenging and I always think about when we had electricity and did our addition on the old place how much easier it seemed. But, we seem to have mastered it now through an OLD generator that shuts on and off constantly :) and the kind gesture of our friend letting us use a newer generator! THANKS KEITH!
Children are sledding. I am still praying always in my mind for courage for the life we live. There is a lot that goes on here I choose not to write about...
Our guests have a great time talking about remodeling, NOURISHING TRADITIONS eating, homeschooling and more.
The kinner come in from the cold (see photo above) all 14 of them :) and enjoy getting warmed up. The Great Him has not taken a nap nor played outside and is being a healthy 2 year-old by trying to stand on the treadle sewing machine with matches and more.
NOTE dishes have been washed 3 times now!
Woodstove has been reloaded at least 12 times...
GG comes into tell me he is taking cottage guests home and that they got a lot done. This is at about 5:15ish and 12 yo son starts night choring with another sibling. I should note it is nice that the goats and cow are dry and are waiting to freshen. It is very cold and even thought the teats warm your hands, it is easier not to worry about milking twice a day!
The kinner and I eat leftovers for supper and clean up. GG gets home from farm errands and drop offs. He eats dinner and we both leave together for that 7:30 PM appointment.
We have the farm appointment to finish up 2009 farm business and it went REALLY good, PRAISE the LORD! We arrive home about 9:45 pm. All kinner are up and energetic. We decide to wake baby girl to feed and change her so she sleeps ALL NIGHT HOPEFULLY! Of course all kinner are hungry again so we make 2 frozen yucky pizzas that we get from our fridge on the front porch. We sing a hymn, "Power in the Blood" and then talk and then get into bed. This all wraps up at 11:15 pm! All of us stay by the kitchen table where the brightest light is.
This was a long but good day... I fell asleep FAST!


Farmgirl Cyn said...

Courage. That is a good word, Ang. Who else among us prays for courage to live the life we have chosen? Courage to stand up for what you believe. Courage to speak the truth, in love. Courage to take the Word for what is says. I like that word. I think that is my word for 2010. I think I will need every ounce of courage He will give me.

Home Sweet Home said...

Wow....I don't think I even have words to describe my feelings after reading your post...What a day you had. You also have a beautiful spirit about your life on the farm..and like Farmgirl said, courage...I learned something knew today for my own life.

Thank you so much for this journal.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your journal and realize that there is SO much to be done. Even for the kids. Are there enough hours in the day to do what all needs to be fun to run the off-grid farm? I absolutely love reading about it. Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us! Blessings to you and your entire family...debbie

Alice said...

Wow! Now that's a journal! I took a moment to reflect on the fullness of your day and compared it a bit to what my day is like. So I work outside the home, children go to an organized school and yet we both have the same fulfillment of providing for our families! I come home and prepare a from scratch meal each evening, bake my own bread to carry sandwiches to school and work, work a full sized garden in the summer to use all winter. And we both get contentment from the lives we have chosen! How amazing that is! Keep up the journal as I love to hear about how your day takes shape! Say "hi" to the family from us--especially the AA girls from my H & J girls and J boy!


Jenni said...

I can account for a majority of this account. I was blessed to be included in the lunch/sledding party. We all had a wonderful time. Thank you Ang.

Heather said...

Wow. You will laugh at me (or think I'm daft), but for some reason I equated living off grid with a slow moving, easy-going life. I now see that a lot of your day is spent doing hard work. I feel a bit chastised (though I know that's not your intent) over how little I accomplish each day. God bless you in all of your endeavors!

Faith Marie said...

We had a great time yesterday! I enjoyed the conversation and food and Faith loved the sledding and playing with the kinner. Thank you Ang!

matty said...

Hi Brave Gal,

I've lurked and posted some, but now I have to say, you have a glorious life, but a very full life. God blesses each of us in so many ways. You have certainly been blessed with good health, friends, love, courage, and determination....not to mention humor. Your days sound wonderful, hard, challenging, complete....and a glory to our Heavenly Father!

About the little wetting issue... have you tried soakers?? They are felted knit 'panties' that go over the diaper and soak up the wet to keep it from going every where.

You are in my thoughts and prayers as you continue living with principle, courage, and dignity.



Carlton Family Farms said...

wow I loved your day you had today. May God bless you and your family. I look forward to reading more. I also have a fried who uses cloth diapers but they are a little different. They are really thick and they have snaps and some velcro on them and she has some kind of coverings that go over them. I will try to find out for you what they are. They hold the wettness and poo very well.

Mancelona Woodswoman said...

There's POWER in the Blood. Love it.

Ironically, as I well know, it is much more difficult to live simply, than in the fast-paced world ~ chocked full of conveniences. But the tradeoff makes it all worthwhile.

Mumsie said...

Loving this! I know of the challenges that this lifestyle can present..know , too of the blessings and contentment..hard work, the little compromises..cloth diapers not very recently...but paper towels are still my big splurge..that I give myself guilt free permission to use with abandon! We have lived off grid before..not now, but still choose to live with less modern conveniences...and with an old fashioned emphasis..I would not want to ever give up my wood cookstove...or even my outhouse...but then I'm known to have some quirky ideas. Thank you for such inspiration to this lifestyle..not just the physical..but the spiritual as well! Courage my friend...for us both!

Renata said...

Ang, I enjoyed this post! Thanks for the glimpse into your busy life. You are amazing with all you do!
I do have one question - do you still use your car for getting around, or is it all in the buggy?
I hope you slept well that night
God bless
Renata :)

gail said...

Well bless you all. I think you're all amazing.

Blessings Gail

Renee said...

Thank you so much!!! I love the post, it was exactly what I needed!! I agree with Heather that somewhere in my mind I thought that in your lifestyle the running would be cut down tremendously, but I see there is still running no matter what! I have been struggling with that so much. Your attitude is AMAZING and that is surely something I will be focusing on for myself this year! I realize it is the choices we make as we are going through this life that matters so much, and alot of those choices have to do with finding the joy in everything we do! Thank you so much again for taking the time to do this for us!!

Jenna said...

I loved reading about your day! Winter is also the slow time for us in the barn, but we're to have a calf born soon (and a cow milking!) and 10 goats that are going to freshen...lots of animals to milk! Yes, life definitely "picks up" as the year goes on! From babies, to garden to breeding season and over again:)


Homemaker Ang said...

Hi, Renee and Heather, I would still say the running is much different that the normal life. Running back and forth to the outhouse or woodstove is a little different than running in and out of a car here and there, etc. I get your drift to what you are saying though :)

we use the team for most driving now with the sleigh or wagon but we do use the car too.

Our buggy horse is at another farm to get worked each day driving and when we get him back in the spring he will be that much better for us and then we can get a carriage to drive him possibly. we are not looking to be wannabes :) i think you understand :)

I do believe even with the harder work it is still more quiet, more peaceful and more rewarding. one man came to our farm and says, "i thought you didnt want to be busy" we said "we did not want to be busy in the things that didn't matter like running here and there" but we do run here :)

Homemaker Ang said...

thanks for all your fun comments!

keep em coming :)

Cinnamon said...

I enjoyed reading your journal of living off grid. Very encouraging and inspiring~ Thank you for sharing~


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