Friday, November 13, 2015

I Can Do Anything, But Not Everything...

~David Allen
Last year, my motto was, "Not my circus; not my monkeys". Cute and relevant for those of us who are born the eldest child and besides that, are completely convinced that we can fix the world's troubles- one crisis at a time. I name no names. *cough cough* Me.

woolart Monkey
This year, I am adopting a new saying, "I can do anything I want, but not everything I want". We have less than a week before this year's pop up shop, Creatively Maine, opens in Bucksport with me in the roll of ring master and all around monkey wrangler. In the midst of trying to get ready for winter here, and doing all the regular activities it takes to help Sean make this homestead work, I have significant time and effort poured into promoting not only myself, but 45 (and that list is growing daily) other talented local artisans. Most of these folks are people I've met working markets and shows through the year. They are people whose craftsmanship I admire. They are people, like Jean Fink of woolart, or Shea Rolnick of Gentle Meadow Goat Farm that I genuinely care about. I know what this venture's success or failure means to our family and to the artisans and their families. Sean assures me it is not the case, but sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, I feel that the success or failure of *all of this* depends solely upon me. On the choices I made on who is involved in this year's shop. On the price I negotiated for  the rent of our space. On the advertising and promoting I can do. On the appeal of our website and whether people "like" our Creatively Maine facebook page. On whether a shelf looks better on this wall or that. On each and every display arranged to encourage someone to spend their hard-earned money with us instead of at Walmart, Target, or wherever else they might be inclined to shop. Between you and I... I am not sure that I am enough.

I started getting massive tension headaches a week ago, stressed over trying to help everyone in my path. I took a couple of aspirin (okay, a bottle of aspirin) and ignored the headaches. "This initial set up phase is relatively short. Once the shop actually opens, the stress level and list of things needing to be cared for will ease", I convinced myself. Last Tuesday's full-blown migraine with all the bells and whistles, gave me the wake up call I was in desperate need of. Sean warned me I was taking on too much. I knew I was taking on too much. But, sometimes it takes a little "congnitive recalibration" to reset a body. Well, this body. I *am* the kind of person that sometimes needs to be "hit over the head" to stop and think about a situation and then make some changes.

Oh Rachel. What a face! ♥
One necessary change for me was learning to say the hardest word in the English language... "No."

I am still determined to make a success of all the projects I am involved with, but I sat down and mentally figured out some guidelines for myself and some boundaries. I gave myself "office hours" to care for things shop related. No one complained about my not being there 24/7. I said "No" to some special requests asked of me. And, the world did not stop. The people asking managed to work their issues out and life ticked on. I asked other artisans to pitch in when the need arose. And, they did. I allowed myself time to spend with Sean and our daughters. I threw a stick for Molly. The "chore" of feeding the animals (which I had released to Sean a week ago) was taken back. I like spending that time with my animals and releasing that to Sean made me feel disconnected from this homestead and my life. I captured some video and took some pictures to share with you. Without the unnecessary stress, I painted some new pendants and that felt wonderful. (They'll be posted to our facebook page later today). I added in time for myself to eat and sleep. This coming Saturday morning I have plans to spend time with our family in our ministry. So, it has only been 3 days. And, I know me. The other things will come encroaching. But, Sean is here to help me to be balanced and to take care of me, so that I can keep helping others.
Our Pop Up Shop is only open for 7 weeks, but I can tell you that it will be filled to the brim with wonderful, quality hand-made creations. We get the keys on November 19th and Open our doors for the first time this year on November 23 at 11 am. Local friends, we are looking forward to sharing our work with you in person. Far Away Friends, please visit us online. We'll gift wrap and ship! In contrast to last year, we won't be updating "shop news" here. This page is remaining dedicated to all things homesteady and farmish.

That is what is going on in our world. Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. I am so happy you are here.

~Sonja ♥

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sweater Mittens: A Gift to Warm my Heart (and Fingers)

 I got a package in the mail on Monday. I wasn't expecting anything and I didn't recognize the address. Strange. I opened the package to reveal hand-made sweater mittens, created by my friend, Jean Fink- just for me.

I have brown hair and often wear browns with purples, so she could not have chosen a better color combination for me. The sweet embellished flower on the cuff made me smile. I tried them on immediately and modeled them for Sean.

Sean remarked, "That Jean is good people." And, she is. Not because she took the time to make me a pair of mittens, but because in making me mittens, she took the time to show she cares about me. Every time I wear them, I will think of my friend, Jean, and remember her thoughtfulness.

Now, here is the irony. Sean and I planned to take the girls mitten and sock shopping this weekend. We already have coats, hats, scarves, and boots, but we could all use new warm socks for our feet and at least one good pair of gloves or mittens for our fingers. I hadn't publicized our plans. How did she know what I needed? Perhaps she didn't. Perhaps this was just a happy accident. I don't really believe that. I look at every opportunity to act in kindness as a way to be used as a blessing to someone else, therefore every kindness done towards me is a blessing, too. I doubt Jean knew how deeply touched I would be by her thoughtful gesture. I hope she knows now. Thank you for taking time to create for me my favorite pair of mittens ever and for reminding me to continue to look for blessings wherever they might be found.
If you know of someone in your life who might love a heart-warming, hand-crafted pair of mittens, Jean's creations can be found on her Etsy shop, woolart.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit today, friends. I am so glad you are here.

~Sonja ♥

Monday, November 9, 2015

Autumn Turkey Coop Prepping

Before Sean's Mom and Dad returned home to North Carolina this year, Sean, our friend, Matt, and Daddy Dale gave a mighty effort to move a large ice shack from its home in Swanville to our homestead. The building hadn't been used at all in a couple years, but it's last purpose was as a chicken coop. Vinyl siding and asphalt shingled roof in good condition, large windows for light, linoleum flooring for easy care, a door for people and one for the feathered animals, it would need just a little TLC to make this into a very serviceable Turkey coop for my babies. The only trouble? Getting it out.
Despite their best efforts:removing small Sumac trees and birch branches grown up around the shed and using metal runners as a lever, the shed refused to budge.

The guys attempted to use Matt's truck to pull it out. This moved the shed diagonally about a foot, but the stubborn shed refused to give up. Then the metal rings ripped out of the sill, taking siding and wood with it, there was nothing else to do, but call it for that day.

Matt suggested that he and Sean return with some tools another day to cut off the roof and the four side walls. With the shed dismantled, the guys would load it into the truck in large pieces and reassemble it once they got it safely to our homestead. I was not in love with this plan, but there did not really seem to be an alternative.

The shed on the left cannot be used another winter. The yard is a good size, but needs to be
moved to give the Toms more fresh greens- while they last. As you can see, the teens 
come and go as they please. 

So, the Turkey Coop project was put aside for the time being. We really need that shed for our turkey birds. We have been able to extend their yard to a decent size for them, but their shelter this summer will not work once the weather turns. They are using one of the small, square coop boxes gifted to us a couple of years ago. These are really no longer habitable. It was built with a flat top and after a few years of usage, that top is no longer in good repair. We'll still salvage any usable 2x4's, the vents, and any screws that we can from it, but the rotting plywood top and base will be burned in our next bonfire.

The weather this fall is cooperating with us and that is a blessing. I am worried, though. Winter is not long off and besides resolving the turkey situation, we still need to build new doors for the barn stalls, move Ebony up to the barn, and cut and stack our firewood for the season. It is the time of year when we start getting phone calls asking us to take on animals that need to find new homes. At this stage, we are full when it comes to providing for large animals. It is going to be a hard winter just to provide for those that we already are responsible for. We can do it and will, but only if we continue to be careful about our herd management. So, no new mammals being added to the homestead.

On the other hand, there was a little room for additional birds. In addition to our two new muscovy ducks, Chapelle and Boris, we agreed to take care of two new adult turkey hens, Riley and Maggie. Miss Riley has a tassel on her chest. They are a cross between a Royal Palm and a Naragansett. Right now, they live next to the main turkey area while they get accustomed to their new flock-mates. Also, I am given to understand that these ladies have a habit of roosting high up in the tree tops or on roof tops. We want to make sure they are happy with their new arrangements before releasing them where they can come and go as they please.

Besides these four, Sean and I went for an adventure day two weeks ago to collect our four new Silkie pullets in Augusta. Our lone Silkie has been living in our family room because the other hens in our flock bully her. The thought of living with a chicken inside all winter long was not one I relished. We hope that adding several other hens of her same breed will give her some companionship and stop the others from chasing her. If it doesn't work, the Silkies can take up residence together in the barn. Phase One went as planned. All the Silkies are getting along well, living next to the main coop. Phase Two will happen on Saturday and we'll see how that goes.

Billy Roo was very interested in the new ladies.
Yesterday, a neighbor friend stopped by to ask us to take his flock of six hens; four Rhode Island Reds and two Barred Rocks. His family is heading south for a bit and has decided not to have chickens at this point. They are large, lovely ladies. And, they help to solve the problem of having a few too many roosters on the homestead right now. We still need to find homes for a couple of boys that came with some straight run chicks earlier in the spring, but having a total of ten new teenaged-young adult hens to add to our flock will spread the attention somewhat.

We have not given up hope on our Turkey coop project. I will keep you posted with that saga as it unfolds!

Thanks for stopping in to visit with us, friends. We're sure glad for your company.

Sonja ♥