Now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, the days are lengthening (at long last!), and the temperatures are rising, it is time for a Barley family update. We’ve been at Barefoot Meadows for nearly a year now, and I think we’re all finally feeling settled in. It has been a huge adjustment for our family, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve been struggling, personally, with a whole new way of grocery shopping and budgeting. There are no more “quick trips to the store” for that one ingredient I forgot to buy. It was much harder in the first months that we were here. Slowly, I’m getting the hang of things. We recently had our first pig butchered, so our freezer is full of pork. That has been incredibly handy, as I’ve gotten my van stuck, several times, on my way out to get groceries.
Andrew and I have also had to deal with frozen plumbing. December was a bitterly cold month, and many of our pipes froze. The worst issue was with our livestock waterers. When they work, it’s great, and we don’t think about water too much. When waterers freeze, however, then we have to try to locate the source of the freeze, fix it, and haul water by hand, using 5 gallon buckets, in the interim. It’s been cold.
The kids have been hanging in, but they’re looking forward to spring. Much of the last month and a half has been too cold for outdoor play, and our little home has been pretty claustrophobic. I am extremely thankful for the warmer weather. There’s nothing quite like the endlessly repeated refrain, “I’m boooooored!” We got a pretty good dump of snow this past week, so Andrew got the tractor out to plow and made a nice snow hill. I imagine it will soon be burrowed into and become a magnificent ice castle.
Lucinda, who turned two in October, is gaining new words daily. This may be my very favourite stage to observe. I love watching the babies learn to speak and join the rest of us in conversation. She enjoyed Christmas time so very much, and she just went wild for the presents. As Andrew had to work over Christmas, we drove up to Spruce Grove, for the day, and celebrated with my parents. Then we celebrated when Andrew was home. The kids just loved it – TWO Christmas trees! Lucinda goes by many names, these days. Her biggest brother often calls her “Beetle,” and I call her “Lu” just as often as “Lucy” or “Lucinda.” She answers to none of these names, and the best way to get her attention is to quietly sneak off to make a phone call. Alternatively, pouring a fresh cup of coffee is sure to bring her running with an urgent and time-consuming issue that requires immediate resolution.
Elijah is well into his fourth year and continues to draw obsessively. He loves to draw pictures of his family going on adventures, fighting bad guys, and hunting for treasure. Submarines, ships, and castles are common themes, these days. Elijah is super chatty, and we spend many hours discussing his plans for the future (many of which centre around the castle he plans to build). This year is the first year that Elijah and Lucy have lived away from my sister, Patience (or “Baba,” as the kids call her), and brother, Nathaniel, as we all lived under the same roof in Fort McMurray. Elijah is especially confused, and continues to ask when Baba will be coming home. Elijah has been learning to read, this year, and he’s been doing so well. He has 11 lessons left in the 100 lesson book we’ve been using, and he is reading all the books he can get his hands on. Many of our picture books are full of tricky words, so I will soon be going on a hunt (through my book boxes) for easy-to-read books to encourage this new skill.
Jude is half way through grade four (and his first year of public school), and he’s just loving it. He doesn’t care for the early mornings, and he especially dislikes catching the bus in the dark, but he loves his teacher, his friends, and the general experience. I couldn’t be happier. Jude is very excited about the reading program his teacher does. For every five or six books that the kids read, they get a fun dollar store prize. Already a voracious reader, Jude has really kicked it up this year, thanks to a competitive streak. He and another student have been pretty evenly matched readers, and he is determined to read more. There are definitely worse things to compete over!
On a completely different note (shameless farm plug ahead!), we are just getting ready to sell some of our farm products. Namely, pork. Blackberry Lily’s piglets have gotten quite large and will be ready for processing in February or March. Having already had one of our pigs butchered, I can vouch for the fact that our pastured pork is delicious. If you’re interested in pork, please get in touch. Our first market is limited to 4 or 5 pigs (which can be split between families, if needed).
Any other updates will have to wait. Elijah is drawing a picture, and apparently I need to watch the process.