31 December 2013

2013: The year in pictures

Sometimes it feels like you haven’t got much done. Then you look back at pictures and realize you’ve had an amazing year that encompasses the full depth and breadth of the human experience.

Joy and tears.

Progress and setbacks.

Challenges and solutions.

 

2013 was a year of getting to know this land. The way the rain falls. Then trickles, or flows, across the yard and fields. Where the wind whispers, and where it howls…

We learned about ourselves. As a family, and as individuals.

We learned that we need less than we thought to be happy.

We learned that the sweetest moments almost always happen when we are outside, together. We learned that self-care and self-development must be nurtured with the same care and forethought as the crops you hope to harvest…

The year’s highlights did not include the things a materialistic society might define as important…

The moments that made our hearts sing were all about connection to each other, friends and community, and to nature.

 

They were the times when we watched the kids savouring a freshly-pulled carrot from the garden. Or when they skipped happily through a field of wildflowers. Or when we looked up at a night sky full of blazing stars…

My husband and I agree, those were the times that made our hearts feel like they might burst with love and pride. Those were the times when we thought: “This is it. This is what it’s all about.”

 

Here is what some of those moments looked like in 2013….

 

On a little homestead on the prairies, the year might just start in the snow…

 

Often outside, in a nearby thicket of trees. Drinking hot chocolate in the woods…

Jan 2013 hot chocolate on the trail

 

And favourite pastimes might be simple…like leaping across bales of hay with friends in the crisp, wintery air…

bale jumping

 

Of course, there are plenty of unexpected sights too. Like beloved laying hens who so dislike the snow that they have managed to flap their way to the top of a coop…

This is Mavis.  She brought nourishment- and lessons about life and death on the farm…She was the kids’ favourite. And the first of our chickens to die…

mavis on roof

 

Almost from the start, we got sweet on sunsets. From the dining table, or the edge of the wraparound porch, this is what we see…

sunset 3

 

Brilliant streaks across the prairie sky. It sets our hearts soaring with wonder…

sunset obsession

 

The winter went on forever. Until we just couldn’t wait any longer to indulge in spring’s pleasures…

winter kite-flying

 

And then it came to stay. Spring emerged in her fertile wisdom. We were ALL ready to range freely again…

chickens

 

Winter had not been a time of idleness. As we went inward, an idea had germinated and taken root.

The DIY Homesteaders’ Festival was all about a desire to give back. It was about cooperation and vision. It was a team effort that culminated on June 1st with more than 300 people flocking to the land we call home- all to re-skill and reconnect.

2013 DIY crowd

 

They learned about everything from raising chickens to beekeeping…

2013 diy beekeeping

 

From making soap to spinning fibre…

spinning

 

And of course, they were nourished with delicious, local, food from amazing farmers and artisanal bakeries…

2013 diy lunch

 

In the days following the festival, the kids celebrated a birthday with some unexpected guests.

duckling

 

Wild mallard ducklings nursed to life by the little missus, who found abandoned eggs scattered throughout the yard.

duckling 2

They kids took to nurturing them like a duck takes to…well, you know how the story goes.

This was their first swim…and the day the conservation officers came to pick them up and take them to their new home at a wildlife rehabilitation centre…

ducks first swim

 

2013 was a summer of learning and building. We hosted a cob oven workshop with the talented folks of Urban Eatin’ Gardeners Worker Coop, leading the way.

cob oven 1

 

cob oven 4

Playing in the mud, sand and straw – it was a 9-year old’s dream…The finishing touches involved adorning the hearth like a beloved mother’s full belly. She was glowing, round and jewelled!

working on cob oven

 

I (Adrienne) couldn’t help but to keep creating in my own way. Sometimes out of necessity. Like this simple, homemade electrolyte drink that restored cob oven workshop participants toiling in the blazing sun.

elctrolyte drink

 

We learned just how abundant this land is. With a skilled wildcrafter as our guide, we learned how to identify, harvest and prepare the wild food and medicine that grows here…

nettle

 

It felt so beautiful to see our friend, and wild edible workshop host, Laura Reeves, pass some of those gifts to the next generation. It was a highlight of the summer when she spent an afternoon with our fearless 6 year old who shows a knack for all things herbal.

Here they are, about to leave on a 3 hour trek through field and forest. A time of eating wildberries and inhaling the sweet, cream soda-like scent of milkweed…

laura and Hannah

 

And of course, marvelling at butterflies that danced across fields of goldenrod…

butterfly

 

The exploration continued throughout the summer. Every day was a reminder that beauty is everywhere, Even hidden among the gravel.

nourished roots sign and h

 

We learned that all the animals like to have fun. And that bale jumping isn’t just a winter activity. Or just for kids…

bale jumping dog

 

Sometimes we just got plain silly. And had debates about whether to call this:  ‘Dog tired in the shade’. Or ‘Tired dog in shades…’

dog in shade or dog in shades

 

Then came the gifts of harvest …

Noah with veg harvest

 

…and its lessons. Like the importance of calculating your family’s food needs

And how much zucchini is too much? (Answer: It all depends whether you have enough interesting zucchini recipes…)

 

zucchini

 

The house filled with the scent of herbs drying for winter teas…

tulsi on dehydrator

 

The bounty of harvest came from our own land and from that of neighbours. Like the Kerr apples from farmer Betty Kehler’s orchard…that make the most undeniably delicious, cider…

apples

 

Processing harvest was a family affair. Some gadgets were so very much fun. And made things so much easier!

apple corer

 

Eventually, the promise of summer blew into the beauty of fall…

make a wish

 

We all felt a natural inclination to slow down…

under the tree

 

And to learn…A three day goat school inspired us to dream of all things goat. It was clear the kids loved the kids…

h with goat 2

 

And then Mother Nature let us know what was coming….

snowy pumpkin

 

The first snowfall gave us a hint of what this winter would be like…

first snowfall

 

And although it’s been bitterly cold, we’ve basked in the warm embrace of celebrating the year with friends and family.

advent spiral

 

And with the longest night of the year behind us yet again, we’ll turn our faces to the sun and to the promise of the year ahead…

advent spiral by day

 

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