Tuesday, October 7, 2014

'Twas the Wee Laddie's First Birthday

Dear Friends,

Can you believe a year has gone by since little Hyrum made his entrance into the world? He is already walking like he's done it all his life, and is a little ball of energy, getting into everything already. We won't be bored any time soon!

For his birthday celebration, we visited a nearby historical village called Missouri Town 1855. They were having an autumn festival, so we were able to witness cider-pressing, sorghum-making, apple butter-stirring, blacksmithing, and lots of musicians playing fiddles and dulcimers. Two of the volunteers there told us we need to come out and do some reenacting, since we were already dressed the part!

We fell in love with these hand-made dulcimers, and plan on buying on once we save up a "few" pennies (Tasha wants one made from Sycamore wood)~

Hyrum enjoyed getting up and personal with horses and oxen, since he loves animals but doesn't get to see them much in the city.

It was a cold and blustery day, and the birthday boy needed a nap, but we surely enjoyed the old-time atmosphere, and we do plan on learning more about becoming volunteers.

There are several buildings which have been lovingly transported and restored from around Jackson County. We loved being inside them, especially with cozy fires burning in the fireplaces.

Becky had fun with this horse, too, till she discovered its pick-pocketing tendencies!

My father had a dream of owning a string of mules to use for hunting expeditions, so they hold a special place in my heart. These mules were very patient with all the work they had doing tours~

Old dolls that were loved by a wee miss a long time ago~

We pray that you are having a wonderful autumn, dear friends. Thank you for celebrating little Hyrum's first birthday with us!



Friday, October 3, 2014

Harvest Days

Dear Friends,

We've been enjoying beautiful fall weather lately, including a nice big rainstorm that has perked up our flowers, and brought mushrooms to life.

We have had two successful Giant Swallowtail butterfly released so far (we had to euthanize one with a crippled wing), and are waiting for the last crysalis to be a butterfly. It takes six weeks or so from caterpillar to butterfly, which is a long wait, compared to a Monarch! We definitely don't mind waiting, with the beautiful creature that comes forth.

We have been collecting and processing many bushels of apples lately, and see piles of apples in our dreams at night. The freezer is full, the dehydrator is full, there are roughly four dozen quarts of applesauce on the shelves, and another box full to put by before they go bad. It is a true blessing for us to have such abundance, and we are grateful for always being provided for in so many various ways. We had enough apples to make plenty of juice, and we learned a trick of drying the pulp after juicing, then grinding it fine in the blender to use as a sweetener. I love making use of every good thing!

Every time I put food by I feel a real presence of my grandmother ancestors, as well as millions of other women around the world who are sharing the same task with me. I imagine us all sitting around a giant bowl, knives and fruit in hand, showing the love we feel for others in a tangible way. The need for nourishment, both physical and spiritual, will never end as long as the earth shall remain. May we always be true to our loved ones and do our best to provide these things, praying over each meal we prepare or food that we put by. May the Lord continue to bless us all with His great abundance, and with eyes to see it.



After Apple-Picking

By Robert Frost
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Of Butterflies and Tea Parties

 Dear Friends,

Our last Monarch has come and quickly gone, joining the others for their epic journey to Mexico. May they arrive there in safety!

We were invited to a dress-up tea party by a sweet friend from church. Her husband used to work at a tea house, and he spoiled us with a real proper tea, down to lemon curd and Devonshire cream.

While waiting for the water to boil, there was time to enjoy a game of croquet (you need not supposed any of us are experts at the mallet!)~

 After tea (which was scrumptious) we went for a promenade along the shore of the lake nearby. It was jolly good fun! Won't you join us as we stroll? Our photographess will be sure to get your good side!

 May you enjoy this day, dear friends, wherever you are, and may life bring you many little happinesses along the way.



“It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little
ones--I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be
for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this
very instant."

Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Annual Doll Fair

Dear Friends,

We are in the middle of "butterfly-hatching days" here at Birdsong Cottage. There have been 24 Monarch crysalids in all, with one or two going off on a new adventure each day. Soon we will be suffering from Empty Butterfly Cage Syndrome. :)

The small dolls had their annual fair this past week, and it was another fun one. Hyrum and the chickens made it a little difficult outside, but everyone worked really hard to make it all come together!

The queen and several princesses~

The Animal Show~

The horses before the big race~

The quilts and aprons were lovely, as usual~

And some wonderful foods were made for all to enjoy!

I wonder what next year's fair will bring?



Monday, August 25, 2014

Wild Abundance

Dear Friends,

I recently had the opportunity to teach a class on wild edibles to some ladies from church. I had a fun time teaching, and I hope that I inspired at least some to go out and partake of the wild goodness around us.

I made pine needle popsicles and dock leaf pesto, which everyone loved. I shall have to write out recipes next time!

I am working on a sketchbook of wild edibles for the Kansas City area, which is coming along at a snail's pace. So many books to write, so little time!

There is always something new to learn about the world around us, and always surprises coming up in the garden. This "mystery plant" has turned out to be Evening Primrose, which is exciting, since I've wanted to grow it for some time, but never did (or so I thought). I guess the fairies must have been busy helping!

We are busily feeding about 20 Monarch caterpillars, plus a few other caterpillars (question mark, giant swallowtail, and black swallowtail). This Tiger Swallowtail was just passing by, since we don't have the kind of food its caterpillars like (yet). The two tropical milkweed plants I overwintered in my kitchen windowsill last year have been a great investment.

AnnaMarie and Audrey have started up their early morning scripture class at our church again (it runs 9 months out of the year), so they will have the opportunity of seeing many beautiful sunrises, such as these below. I am sure that they will learn many wonderful new things while growing spiritually as well.

Love to all,

''Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;
Let fortune's bubbles rise and fall;
Who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants a tree, is more than all.'' 

~John Greenleaf Whittier