We're Still Here!

I  definitely set a record that time, for length of time without a sign of life on a blog - but we're all still here, chugging along, life's just been in overdrive for a while!

My last post was early November, so a quick roundup of happenings since:

Around Thanksgiving we had hardwood floors installed in both house additions, one the week before Thanksgiving and the second one the week after.  So, I brilliantly invited 2 sets of friends over for dinner Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday, while most of our house was piled in the central room and on the porch!  The end result, though was amazing - we have a new house!  

The impetus for finally just hiring this done (rather than continuing to pretend we'd do it ourselves "soon") was to move both boys into the larger room.  We did this, eliminating our spare room but giving the boys a much bigger bedroom - that can (in theory if not practice) actually contain all their toys!! The rearranging involved actually resulted in a much better use of the wall space of the house, and we were able to move things around in a way that enabled Caleb to then make 3 sets of built-in shelves that we've been wanting for the entire 7+ years we've been here.  I finally have a second bookshelf in the house!!  

The second huge improvement resulting from the new layout is that Liam's old bedroom is now my studio/workroom/storage room.  I have an entire room, dedicated only to fleece and soap! I still can't fit any of my raw fleece in there, of course - that's still piled on the porch in towering stacks of plastic bins, but all my yarn, carded batts, and wheels are in my studio, as well as all my cured and curing soap and farmer's market paraphernalia.

So that's the new floors.  Just before then, our WWOOFer Jacob finished his time here and moved on, and we had a new set of WWOOFers for aa day and a half (they got the hoophouse cleared of dead/spent plants) before they decided it was colder than they'd been expecting for living in their van and headed for South Carolina.  Since we've eliminated the extra bed in the house, we really can't take WWOOFers until March or so, when they can stay outside comfortably.  This is the main reason you haven't heard from me in over 2 months - notice that coincides with when our help left :)  It looks like our next intern will be arriving in April, right around when the goats and sheep start kidding.

December was a flurry of getting ready for Christmas ("how did that sneak up on me AGAIN?!) and knitting things for other people''s Christmases - again.  However, this year I did actually get a pretty awesome knitting project worked in there for my own Christmas - I made all 4 guys Dwarven bearded helmets, knitted (all handspun of course, 3 of the yarns just for this project) and felted in time for Christmas.  Well, I finished Ewan's Christmas afternoon, but close enough...  I'll put a photo in the Family gallery, go check it out :)

I'm now in the middle-to-end of my annual January refreshing/evaluating of my soap and lotion line-up.  I've reformulated my non-goat milk soap recipe, added a couple of fragrances, removed one, and for the first time in the 10-ish years I've been soaping, calculated what it costs me!  I feel much more confident that I am priced both reasonably and logically, based on my input costs, and jut have a better feel overall for the financial aspects of my soap.   I've also been making soap, probably ~2 batches a week for the last month until I'm pretty close to stocked up - although then I rounded up everything I could spare and made a huge batch (65 bars) of felted soap.  That'll probably last me a month or two of stocking my store displays, and of course depletes my stash of regular soap, so I'll still need to keep making some periodically - but it certainly got me closer to caught up!  

I've just started working on my lotions, but that should go more quickly.  I've reformulated my solid lotion recipe, and think I'll be adding a few whipped body butters and a new deodorant recipe and a couple of new essential oil blends for those as well.  I also calculated costs and am reassured on my prices and inputs as well - no, I don't need to match the exorbitant prices I've seen onn similar or identical products - I now know I'm not making a fortune, but it's a fair price and I'm not unwittingly giving it away, like I was starting to wonder.

Once that's finished, I'm tackling fleece!  Aside from my non-shrinking pile of fleece I haven't processed and my rapidly-shrinking collection of spun yarns, my wake-up call was literally a phone call - the shearer setting the date (April 6) for shearing!  Yep, it's only a few more months until I have TWELVE MORE FLEECES piled on the porch.  Except they won't even fit there as-is :( And now that I've (almost) finished knitting for everyone else, I have several projects I'd like to tackle myself (Caleb got me a Shetland lace book for Christmas...) 

And sometime really soon I also need to do my annual seed-stash inventory, catalog-perusing, garden-planning and seed-ordering!  

Oh yeah - and I still have 3 kids - they're the other BIG reason I've been MIA here.  School is getting much better with Liam, he's finally settling into it after the intial phase of I-don't-want-to, and realizing that there's really no magic way out of this.  He's getting old enough to really be a help around the farm and with his little brothers.  Ewan is settling into being a baby, he's out of the nursing-12-times-a-day phase (although still plenty!) and has figured out rolling over.  He's just desperate to sit up, just lies around attempting futile sit-ups all day, and is improving his front and back muscle control - but still topples right over to the side when I let go, so we've got a while before he's truly sitting.  And Malachi is still trucking along, quietly growing and turning into a "big boy".  He's started picking up letters and numbers, and often sits with Liam "reading" a book too.  

That's the news from here, in a large and not comprehensive nutshell :)  I'll try to post again sooner than last time - we'll see how that goes!  My calendar is still incredibly busy for the forseeable future - farmer's markets and board meetings, market-organized panel discussions (why did I say yes, and to both?!), our Certified Naturally Grown inspection today, seed ordering, garden prep, soap, lotion, fleece and shearing, kids and lambs in April, milking and cheese, planting - oh yeah, and I have kids and a house that need a little attention :)  Ahhh, the simple farm life...


sheep shearing et al...

CAn't wait to see Ewan rolling over, I suspect he will have mastered sitting up by the time we arrive. Sorry to hear we will miss the sheep shearing, but since it ended not so great for e last year, perhaps it's better we pass on the event this time. Great report!

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