Hello December!

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This morning I woke up to find just a sprinkle of snow dusting the ground. We did get snow in late November but then it quickly all went away again. It's been a busy couple of weeks and I've been taking each day as it comes and trying to remember to take each day for what it is, and nothing more. And just be grateful for it.

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It was cold today, but the sun was shining. So far our weather has been very reminiscent of the year Braveheart (Lambie) our blind ram was born. On the 5th he'll be eight years old! I can hardly believe it. That winter we had no snow until the end of January and even then, only a tiny bit. The ground was bare all of December and I remember taking Lambie outside on Christmas day to visit the "animals" at the barn which freaked him out since all he knew was the house, his play pen, and dogs.

After chores, me and the small boys went for a walk to take advantage of the nice day...

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We walked through the thick bush a bit as I was hoping to stumble upon some deer antlers. But I had overdressed and it was hard to walk with my heavy coveralls on, so we worked our way back out to the trail where the walking was a lot easier.

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Rollie was not thrilled as you can see, when I asked him to sit for a photo. He loves running so it's hard to get a picture of him outside that's not a blur. What a look I got!

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In the maples I decided to sit down and take a break and just enjoy the crisp air and sunshine.

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It was perfect... except I could barely get up because of my layers. I was dressed for snow even though we don't have any. But Norman enjoyed using me as a comfortable bed for a while anyway.

This weather is perfect for walking, cold but sunny and with the ground nice and firm...

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The boys LOVE their walks.

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Last week we walked in an area I had not been to in a long time. Last summer the dam went out so it was interesting to see the new much bigger dam that the beavers have built quite a way back from the dam that got busted.

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That red grass Rollie is running in used to all be under water and part of the pond, and the dam was where that black spot is behind Rollie, one part of the dam on the right side remains, the rest of it got pushed out. It took out a lot of trees as the water rushed down the creek. We are not sure what caused it to go since it happened in August when we were in Texas.

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I haven't walked along the creek in ages and I wasn't planning a big walk, but we ended up walking for a few hours. It was a BIG walk and it was rough on my body but it felt so good to be out in my forest, hiking, and it's really the only time I feel completely content and peaceful.

My mind rarely shuts up, but in the forest I naturally meditate without even trying. The only thing I focus on with my eyes and mind is the world around me.

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That day there was a thin layer of ice over the pond and I had to keep yelling at Rollie to stay off it since he didn't know better. He wanted to get out there and run so bad.

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It's hard to believe a week ago it looked like this...

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We didn't have a ton of snow and it was nice walking snow, fluffy but firm enough it was great for getting around in.

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The goats were not thrilled about it however...

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Even though the weather was still beautiful they didn't really see any reason to be outside.

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Bedtime is always a favorite time of day but especially this time of year!

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Mostly I think it's got to do with the treats though...

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I thought for sure the snow would be here to stay, but it left almost as quickly as it came.

After we came home from our walk today, I put some beef and barley stew on and made a batch of cookies for the guys. They spent the afternoon out hauling in rounds of wood they had cut from the forest to the wood yard. I make cookies for them pretty much every day they work outside. I wish I could be helping with wood, I tried to talk Kevin into cutting smaller rounds so I could lift them but we both know that's not a good idea for me to be doing yet. Well it's not just a bad idea, I can't physically do it. But a girl can dream. Someday I'll be back at it.

I have been knitting up a storm still and have knit several scarves, some for gifts, some I'm hoping to sell...

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But I needed a break from that and I wanted to accomplish something new today, so I took the plunge and pulled out all my tools and made a batch of soap. I have had everything I needed for a while now, and I've been freezing goats milk and keeping it aside for soap making. I haven't been able to tackle it because my health has been so unreliable I was worried that I'd start a process I couldn't stop and not be able to continue because of pain or fatigue. Well today I went through all my basic notes (I've researched a ton, but sometimes you need to not over load yourself with information and just get to the facts.) I've made lots of lotions, bars, candles, etc, the only thing I haven't done is work with lye. 

The weather was great so I did the lye work outside with my frozen goats milk ice cubes and everything went fine. I had all my protective gear on, I had no splashes, no spills, the lye did not jump up out of the pot and grab a hold of my throat or burn the house down.

So at that point I already felt accomplished.

It's funny how lye is so terrifying to us now when how many homesteading women used it every single day without any protective gear at all? The main thing with using lye is just common sense, protect your skin, and eyes, but also, just don't be stupid. It's that simple really. 

I used coconut, olive, and pumpkin seed oil in my soap and added some honey and oatmeal. I wanted to keep it basic as I figure out what the heck I'm doing. But learning is in doing, not just reading or thinking about it.

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I started teaching myself to knit years ago. And just in the past two years did I really start properly understanding the foundations of why you do things in knitting, how the patterns are formed, and how to build things. I figured this out not because of all the books I've read or videos I've watched (which of course were the foundations and very useful) but I learned this from just doing it. You actually start to understand the process better, why you are doing certain things and what those certain steps will lead to. 

After blending my soap with a hand blender, I put it in some milk cartons I had saved for this purpose and set it aside. I wasn't going for looks with this batch, I just want it to work. In 24 hours if it sets up as it's supposed to, I can take it out of the mold, slice it, and then let it cure. We'll see what happens. Maybe it worked. Maybe it didn't. But the point is, I did it

Finally I felt that sense of accomplishment that I have not felt in so long. Sure I cook A LOT almost everyday. I've been finishing knitting projects like a crazy person. But today I felt like I actually really accomplished something, and that made me feel great. I know I'll rest well tonight and I can't wait to hopefully cut the bars of soap tomorrow so I can let them cure!

I'm amazed December is already here, it seems like it arrived so quickly. But I'm grateful for it, and despite things I'm still dealing with, I'm a lot happier and stronger this December, and I can see how far I've come. I am also looking forward to how far I can go - and that is something I hadn't been doing for a couple of Decembers now.

This year, I welcome December with an open heart, a ton of knit clothing, and maybe some good moisturizing soap!  


The JR said…
what a beautiful place to walk around, I could do that for hours

All the critters look good. love that picture of Norman.

it's weird that you can use something as caustic as lye in soap........good luck with it

love the knitting. i don't knit, but I have been crocheting up a storm

good to hear from you!!!
Bobbi D. said…
I am SO glad at how far you have come since August! (Tell lambiemhappy birthday, mine is the 6th, but i will be 55, lol)
Do you have a store you sell your goods in? I may be interested in a scarf...or some maple syrup, soap? lolol. Love, love, love the pictures, as usual. Xoxoxoxo
Mary Ann said…
Donna, you haven't mentioned Jim by name in a while... is he still with you?
I haven't visited in a while so I had to stop by and see how you are doing. Love seeing Rollie and Norman again! They sure do love their walks. Sounds like you're still struggling with pain and fatigue. I hope you get to feeling better soon. I'm pulling for you :)

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