A fast becomes a feast of family

In planning for our family’s Lenten devotions for this year, Roy and I remembered back to the blessings of the hurricane last year.  I say blessings, because despite the fact that we were without power for 5 days, there were actually blessings that came from this deprivation.





So to recreate that to a very small degree, we decided to fast from light and electronic entertainment devices on Saturday evenings during Lent.  Last night was our first attempt.


There is something quiet about turning off artificial light sources at night. And because the light we used (kerosene lanterns) was centralized to one location, the family was naturally drawn to be together and to interact. 


As we dined by the lanterns, I told the kids how people pay big bucks to dine by candlelight!


After dinner, we gathered around the fire and played games that didn’t require light but got everyone involved.  The younger children then headed off to bed, and we read quietly at the table by the flickering lamps.  


There’s a natural desire to turn in early when the lights are low and the house is quiet.  


It’s all a good thing.  


One of the boys just asked if we could do it again tomorrow!


And so our Lenten “fast” has turned into a somewhat longed for weekly feast of the family, in this day where families are so easily scattered by so many distractions both outside of and, perhaps more importantly, right inside our own homes.


We have discovered that deprivation can yield a surprising harvest.  May your family’s fast become a feast.



Kerlin Kids winter project

What do Kerlin kids do for fun in their spare time?


Well, their absolute favorite thing to do is to dress up in costumes and role play, but when they have tired of that they get ideas.


Two of the boys were inspired with a bright idea.  


A couple of weeks ago they asked to borrow the branch loppers and a little saw.  I said it was ok, after clearing a maximum-tree-diameter chop-down-limit.   They were all smiles as they headed on down into the woods, and they told me how surprised Daddy and I would be when we found out what they were doing.  


I have to say I was a tad bit worried…


Their plan for a surprise came to an end last weekend when they let the cat out of the bag.


We’ve been doing a bit of hiking this fall/winter in North Stonington, with the winter being so mild, so I guess that seeing all of these nice hiking trails inspired them to try to create one in our own backyard!


So today eldest daughter went down to snap some photos.  I begged her to write this blog, but I couldn’t convince her to.  Of course I had to give her a bit of a break, because while she was down there snapping photos, she had baking in our oven the most awesome peach cobbler, and she won’t let me have any if I’m mean to her.  (just kidding — she will have no choice!)


We’ve started a road down there.  Eventually we hope to expand our pasture back into our 6 or so acres of hardwood forest.  It will be a wooded pasture, which the sheep will adore since Icelandics love to browse like goats and they also love shade on a hot summer day.


The path will begin from the road and cross over the old stone fence that crosses our property.




They decided to incorporate this fallen tree as a bridge over a gully.  Cool!




It goes past the old tree stand that was here when we moved in.




And past the hollow tree that, from the interior view below looks as if it’s ready to fall down in the next big wind storm!



It’s an awfully big tree.  I hope no one is hiking during the next big wind storm!




And then we come to the creek.  I do believe the the whole aim of this path is to have a quick way to get to this creek on some hot summer afternoons.  


I do predict muddy, happy kids walking up from here some hot summer afternoon.




And here was a surprise.  Oldest daughter was just remarking about
how they could make the path a bit scarier, when she practically stepped on this, lying near the creek!




Of course the skull and an assortment of bones are now in my garage awaiting some use…guess that will be their NEXT project!


One of the boys was already testing his artistic ability by posing the skull for this shot!




Preparing the chick "nursery"

There used to be a day in Roy and my life when “getting the nursery ready” meant assembling a crib and painting the walls pink or blue.  As those days seem to have gone behind us, getting ready for babies has a whole new meaning!


Of course our first babies to arrive this year will be the lambs in April.  That involves it’s own level of preparation, as we detailed last year on the blog.


We’re taking advantage of the winter months to get things ready for spring.  This weekend’s project is to build a brooder for the chicks that will be arriving in a few months.


When the chicks arrive they will only be days old.  They won’t be ready for going out in the chicken tractor for a couple of weeks, so they’ll be living in our basement under a heat lamp.


This was such a nice, simple project for the younger kids to do, with Daddy’s help on the table saw of course.


Here’s the project, from start to finish:




All it needs is some nice pine shavings, a heat lamp, water jug, feeder and 50 red broiler chicks and we’ll be set!

Shameless advertising…

Dinner last night was AWESOME!


Saturday was a wash-out weatherwise, so we took the opportunity to visit the Stonington Farmer’s Market.  


Some of the kids were begging for Kelly dogs from Stonyledge Farm, so we brought home Kelly dogs (hotdog-sized kielbasa) and all beef franfurters and enjoyed them last night.


Here are some pics…




Are you hungry yet?




Well, this one ought to do it!





And the BEST thing about these all-natural sausages is that they are nitrite and nitrate free!  They’re also made from all meat — no animal by-products!  You really KNOW what you’re eating — they’re not just ground up pig or cow bits!


We’ve actually been enjoying a variety of Stonyledge meat products lately.  We purchased a side of beef and have a whole hog in our freezer now.  


When I bit into my first Stonyledge hamburger, I had one of those “taste” memories sparked.


You know how certain smells can evoke memories from 30 years ago?  Well, the taste of that hamburger immediately was familiar to me — but not because it tasted like the hamburgers I’ve become accustomed to, but because it actually tasted like the hamburger of my youth!


The other beef cuts are equally flavorful!


As for the pork — I kind of wondered what to expect when we grilled our first chops.  I could actually tell a difference even in the raw meat — much more fresh feeling than the supermarket pork.  The chops were moist and tender — none of that dryness that you get used to with the pork chops from the store.  The country style ribs melted in our mouths!  Their bacon is also nitrate/nitrite free — thick cut and oh-so-tasty!  The hams are lower in nitrates/nitrites than the average ham, and for what they thankfully lack in preservatives, they make up for in taste and texture.  The hams at the supermarket are so pumped up with salt water that the integrity of the meat is no longer meat-like!  Not so with these hams!


And don’t even get me started on how amazing a fresh pastured chicken is!  You read about that in a previous blog post.  They sell whole broiler chickens whenever available.  The store-bought chickens don’t even begin to compare!


Anyway — I guess what I’m saying is that you simply MUST try some of their meat some time!  You can call them at the farm, visit them at the Stonington Farmer’s Market, where you can buy individual packages, or order via the CT farm fresh website.  They also sell CSA shares of their meats.  


I promise that you won’t be disappointed!  There truly is a difference!  You will get healthy, tasty meat that’s good for you.  And there is nothing like supporting small farms in the process!



Belated Christmas present!

Boomer’s doing much better!  We’ve changed his silver duct tape bandage, and now he’s sporting a stylish color-coordinated black one to match his wool– so much more dignified!  He still has a long way to go with the healing process, though…


Meanwhile, his slightly younger twin sister, Bruna, and her girlfriends are enjoying a gift from the Steinhagens.  They’ve saved this beautiful and still lush and green tree for us since Christmas, and the lambs are LOVING it!

Thanks, Erich and Janice!

Boomer’s 9 lives…

First, the good news…


Millie is better!




But, why is this little guy now behind bars?




Boomer had a little run-in with the hay feeder!


Yesterday afternoon the kids came up to tell me, “Boomer has a red horn!”  


I had a pretty good idea of what might have happened, and I didn’t like the thought of it.


Boomer has gotten himself into trouble too many times.  This time he must have hooked one of his kooky little horns into the mesh fencing that is part of our hay feeder and then pulled so hard to get free that he pulled the outer horn off of the bone beneath.  You can see the offending bit of wire bent out of shape here:




And here’s what I found lying next to the feeder.



Lucky for you I’m sparing you the gorey “before” photo.  But suffice it to say that there were little red drips everywhere that the chickens LOVED pecking at!



Who, me?


Yes, YOU!


Anyway, the bleeding seemed to be relatively light at that time.  We cleaned him up a bit and put some caustic powder on the horn to try to stop the bleeding altogether but he basically shook it off.  We started him on antibiotics and prayed that it would be looking a whole lot better by today.  We debated somehow bandaging it, but felt it was not really necessary at the time.


So you can imagine how displeased I was to see it even bloodier today because that foolish little ram had somehow banged the end of his horn into something overnight and now the bone was split open at the end.  Now you should REALLY count yourself lucky that I’ve spared you the gorey photos!


This new development definitely merited bandaging.  We pulled the split part back into line with the main horn and stuck in lots of absorbent pads and wrapped him up well.  He now looks like a little goof with a space helmet on, thanks to the duct tape.  WHAT would we do without duct tape??!




The poor guy is a bit anemic from blood loss.  We’ve dosed him with some iron and B vitamins.  And so that he can get to food and water easily and not have to compete with the other boys, we’ve put him in “lock-up” for a few days.  


His old roommates don’t seem to mind his absence at all!



Rabbits and sheep?

I’m not sure what’s more amusing about this video — the video itself or the lyrics to the song that accompanies it! 


Regardless, this is probably a great segway to announcing another species that will be joining our farm this summer/late spring…rabbits!


I don’t think our rabbits will ever accomplish this feat, but it’s funny to think that maybe one of them could!  I never knew rabbits had herding instincts!


Shirley is clearly NOT amused.



And here’s a couple of photos of where our bunnies will live.  The boys have been working on it with a very talented friend of ours over the past few months.  I was teasing that it needed window boxes, but apparently they’re already in the plans!



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