Friday, March 2, 2018

Time...

As I trudge out in the mud in the morning I have a few moments to exhilerate on being free to breath the fresh air. Morning and night I milk and feed the goats. Afternoon I feel strong as I carry water to the animals, gather eggs, and check to make sure everyone is okay. I don't want to take too long as I have the boys all waiting in the house. But, it feels good to be doing something physical outside.

When I am in the house the duties of keeping order are consumming. Boys are rambunctious, busy, loud, and sometimes rough. I have meals to make, laundry to do, general housekeeping to try and keep up with.

Schoolwork somedays is a struggle. Juggling instruction/homework while trying to get things around the house done. Trying to instill habits in the boys of making beds, getting dressed, doing chores, helping with breakfast and clean up. Then of course letting the boys play. Play is so important to the wellbeing of a child. Right now with the thaw, the boys are all about playing in the stream in the woods. One of our favorite family times is reading books together. I remember how much I loved gathering around my sister Rachel as she would read us "great" books.

Yesterday Franz put taps in the Maple trees. I made sour dough bread, raw goat kefir, acorn squash pies. With the weather changing we are getting more anxious with outdoor projects. I have ordered and or bought all my garden seeds, fruit plants/trees, etc.

Today I will start my onion seeds. Spring is coming and soon we will all run wildly in the great outdoors, myself included....
Cornelius keeping tabs on all the going ons in the house.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017 -- with a pictoral year in review

Dear Family and Friends,


Christmas greetings from snowy, blustery Wisconsin! Most of you already know about our move from North Carolina last spring to take over Rosemary's parents' farm. Between the change of location and the plunge into full-time farming, we've had quite the adventurous year. Then came the birth of a healthy, 8 lbs., 11 oz., baby boy just a few weeks ago on December 7th. Cornelius Michael Ambrose was baptized after Sunday Mass a few days later at our parish, St. Peter's, Middle Ridge. Both mother and child are doing well.



The boys adore their new sibling, vying for turns to hold and entertain him. For his part, Cornelius is a calm baby who likes nothing better than nursing and being cuddled. Chrysogonus doesn't mind not being the baby anymore because he is too busy chasing his older brothers and making sure that he's not left out of any of their games. Cletus is the hardest worker on the farm, spending most of his time outside with the animals and his “forts.” We only wish that he had gotten all his scraps of lumber and random tools picked up before the snow began to fall!

Rosemary has done a great job planning out the year for our “Little Flowers” Homeschool. Every school day begins with all the boys gathered around the kitchen table for Scripture reading and prayer. Cyprian and Clement then toil away at their various subjects. Maybe someday Cyprian will realize that he could be done in half the time if he put his nose to the grindstone. But really, he's dreamily burying his nose in books and even corresponding with a penpal from Texas. At St. Peter's, Cyprian is now an altar server, and Clement is eager to join him once he receives First Holy Communion in the spring. In his schoolwork, Clement is starting to read. His favorite subject, though, is math, and he may advance to a whole new grade level in the spring if he continues at the same rapid pace.

Both Rosemary and Franz are very busy with the farm. After successfully navigating the organic certification process, we had a tough first growing season. The winter squash that we grew for Organic Valley did poorly, and we are continuing to struggle with parasite issues in the goat herd. But there are also some hopeful signs for the future. We raised more than two dozen turkeys on the pasture, processed them ourselves, and sold them locally right before Thanksgiving. We also shipped off more than half a ton of premium quality organic seed garlic this fall—counting many of you among our online marketplace customers—and we doubled our garlic planting for next year after securing Filaree Garlic Farm as a wholesale buyer. We will also try again with the squash, planting three acres of it in the spring for Organic Valley, together with half an acre of beets.

For now, though, Franz's off-farm work is important for the family's financial stability. He has done some freelance Latin translation work for an archdiocesan matrimonial tribunal and is thoroughly enjoying his part-time online teaching for Mother of Divine Grace, a classical distance learning school. Next month he will also begin commuting to La Crosse three days per week to teach for Providence Academy. It will be a busy spring, but it will leave us in a good place financially as we turn our attention to spring planting. Yes, we will be around to fight the good fight as farmers again next year, even if the first year proved a rough introduction. The boys are thriving on our homegrown food and maturing in answer to their chores and responsibilities. We strongly believe this is the place where we will be able to raise them to know, love, and serve God in this life. So pray for us, as we pray for all of you!

God Bless....


Franz, Rosemary, Cyprian, Clement, Cletus, Chrysogonus, & Cornelius

A Pictoral Year in Review!


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Our North Carolina house goes on the market


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Packing up for Wisconsin!


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Good-bye, North Carolina!


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Breaking ground... The farming adventure begins!


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Squash planting at the beginning of June


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The boys with great-grandma and grandpa Crawford.

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Cyprian serves his first Mass.


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Adventures up North in Hurley for the Paavo Nurmi Marathon.


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The sibling relay at Paavo.


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Fun at Xavier and Lauren's wedding.



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Cyprian's favorite past-time.


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The monster squash.


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Squash harvest and packing.



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Ready for the grocery store!



Little Flowers "Homeschool" gets underway, music lessons and all.



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Hunting season, 2017.


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St. Nicholas' Day fun.


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Trying to induce labor by mulching the garlic.


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Cornelius Michael Ambrose, born Dec. 7 at 5:11 p.m.


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Cornelius meets his brothers!


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Cornelius' baptism on Dec. 10.


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Friday, October 27, 2017

It has been a busy several months...

Franz was good to write a post right after our move from NC to WI. I started several, but never seemed to get one posted.

I feel I should at least give something for those who might be wondering what we have been up to.

Kleinshire, what a summer! From the ardous journey getting our kids, animals, and stuff here, to now. Whew! I keep telling myself that we just need to get the garlic in and then baby Klein can come. I am not due till December 8th, but feel that baby Klein may not wait that long to join us on the outside. It seems we have been a on a pretty much non stop rollercoaster in regards to our farming. The weather has been crazy, late snow in the spring, torrential rain causing flooding this summer, and most of the summer being cooler, and then recently really nice warm spell, back to right now freezing.

Garlic, which I planted last fall has been a blessing in disguise. It was a lot of work to harvest and clean, but we made good connections for selling and sold the amount we needed to. We are expanding and hoping to continue a great garlic venture. We currently are planting now.

It was not the greatest year for growing squash. Winter squash was our crop for Organic Valley, spagetti, acorn, butternut, and pie pumpkins. We did get squash, but a large majority was undersize. What we have brought to Organic Valley was great, just not a large quantity. So we have plenty of small sized squash to keep us and family happy through winter. Harvesting of squash is done for this year. Too, we have gotten ourselves 3 piglets that were raised organically to help us with our leftovers. Two of the piglets will be for butcher and one is going to be kept for breeding.

I planted a large garden. Again, the growing year was not the most ideal. I put many hours into the garden. We are thankful for what have been able to harvest. Earlier in the summer when we really weren't getting much from our garden, a lovely elderly couple from our parish brought us veggies from their garden. From our garden I have made dill pickles, and canned tomatoes. We have sacks of potatoes and onions. We froze sweet corn, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, and scapes. We ate all we could of fresh veggies. I still have carrots, beets, cabbage, and celery to harvest.

The orchard was wonderful this year. Besides making many different desserts, we have canned many jars of apple sauce. Franz picked nice apples, wrapped them in paper and put them in bushel baskets for winter time. We have done several grindings of apples, making cider, wine, hard cider, and raw apple cider vinegar. The animals and the boys have been enjoying the apples at will. Our cherry trees produced well, and I made pies and cherry jam. Franz harvested the grapes making wine and jam. The grapes were also a favorite snack with the boys. An awesome friend allowed me to pick raspberries from her prolific patch. We ate fresh raspberries, made desserts, and canned jam. Franz also made currant wine, which we have enjoyed some with family and friends.

Our animals have had mixed results from our move. Tarcy Franz's horse, has done wonderfully on the pasture and has filled out and looks absolutely gorgeous. I am hoping over the winter months that we can finally give him the time and attention he needs. We are looking to find a large pony for the boys to ride and to be a companion for Tarcy.

The goats have not had an easy transition. Some have adapted to our new farm well, but the lower end ones have not fared so well. We have lost several and it is not easy to admit it. It seems that our goats have naturally culled out the weakest. We have one homebred doeling born here in Wisconsin, "Kleinshire Wood Violet." Unfortunately her mother was one who later in the summer died. But, thankfully Violet was old enough to be weaned and is doing well, even thought she is such a little thing compared to all the other goats. We also purchased a registered LaMancha doe in milk. Belle our Saanen who had been milking for well over a year came down with something. We successfully threated her, but had to dry her off. "Qilin" our LaMancha is our only milk source from the goats right now. One of our biggest challenges is that we have only one pasture. Next summer we plan to have several more pastures, for rotation, and to help with the parasite problem. We have 5 meat does bred for kidding in January. There are two Nigerians bred for kidding January as well. Our two bucks "Tuff" the boer, and "Matthias" the Nigerian are happy fellows who seem to have had a successful first breeding season. We can feel babies in some of the pregnant does.

The chickens are fine, though not as happy as they were in NC, where they were free range. They are in a coop with a fenced yard. Some of my Americanas have become smart and can fly out, but come back for the night. I have plans for making four yard/pens off the existing one. Every month we will open a new yard/pen area, to help give the chickens fresh ground to work. We have raised two batches of meat chickens here. Franz built a moveable tractor for the meat chickens. Seriously, we have never had such good meat chickens as we do now. Moving the tractor everyday to fresh ground has made a noticeable difference. We decided to try Turkeys this summer. I was skeptical, but must admit that Franz has done a wonderful job of raising them. I thought we would lose a good amount. Out of 30, we lost only one during the wild storm mid-summer that collapsed our milk house wall.

Our dogs have all adjusted well. Leche and Lilly are very adept at watching over the goats and turkeys out in the pasture. Lilly has especially filled out and looks like a different dog than the skrawny teenager we brought from NC. Snowy our farm dog has taken to her role with serious relish. She has claimed the farm as hers. When my sister brings out her dog Daisy, who is one of Snowy's puppies, there is a definite struggle of who is alpha. They for the most part avoid each other, but once in awhile have a scuffle.

The cats, "Siena" our beloved orange matriarch was doing very well, till she decided to sleep in the hay baler. Sadly she was baled and so ended her reign over all the other cats. We had rescued a kitten from our local bank. All children loved the kitten who was extremely fond of attention. Franz accidently hit the kitten "Boots" while backing up the van. Thankfully it was a quick death, but it devestated Cyprian who had claimed the kitty. "Cat," Siena's daughter was not faring well as her mom was very dominant. But once Siena was out of the picture, she has flourished and become very happy with being the oldest kitty around. "Camo," Cat's kitten came from NC pregnant. At the end of April Camo gave birth to 3 kittens which she hid. We found them and then she hid them again. Two of the kittens survived, and the boys tried catching them and taming them. They come around but are not friendly. One is male "Spike", the other is a female "Sasha," so we are looking to fix one or both quickly. Camo the hussy cat, has already had another litter in September. Four beautiful kittens that we found and she kept in one spot for a week. Then she annoyingly moved them. I was worried because we do not want a bunch of wild inbred ferral cats around. We were fortunate to find them a couple weeks ago. We set them up in the stock trailer and the boys daily play with them. They have gone from spitting little hiss balls, to fluffy little cuddle bugs. We are wanting to keep one of the kittens.We will be giving the other three kittens and Camo away. Camo (the hussy) can hopefully go to a home where they will appreciate her prolific fertility.

Louis and Zelie our parakeets are well and living in a bigger cage than we had in NC. Zelie still likes to bite hard if you grab her, but Louis is not so viscious. Cyprian has now gotten four goldfish from his godmother. We bought an aquarium earlier this summer, but due to some irresponsible behaviour, waited till we felt Cyprian was ready for getting fish. The goldfish are named, Mo, Hawk, Goldie, and Flake. Cyprians favorite is Flake the smallest who is half silver half gold.

This post is ridiculously long. We have so many plans and ideas for next year. The last I want to mention is that we have been in session with our homeschool for two months. It is the first year I finally feel I am not failing my boys in their education. We have a system and structure. I think having Franz teaching in the office at home four days a week, has in a way helped keep us on track.

A simple break down of our school day goes. Everyone getting up, making beds, getting dressed. The three older boys all have their respective animal chores. After helping Chrysogonus make his bed, I help him get dressed. Then I make breakfast while animal chores are being done. We sit down to eat. Quickly we clean up after breakfast and get the table ready for school. I get schoolbooks out and layout the days work. We start with attendance then prayers. Subjects go as follows, Religion, Math, Phonics/English/Reading/Copywork. Clement usually is done before Cyprian and gets breaks between. Most times we are done with these three subjects by lunch time. I make lunch we eat and the boys have recess. Mondays and Wednesdays we have History and Music in the afternoon, Tuesdays and Thursdays we have Science and Art. I have to this point faithfully recorded all that we have done. This is huge as I tend to have good intentions in this regard then forget to follow through. Not every day is easy, I have a temper and sometimes I get very impatient. We are a work in progress, but I do feel that our boys are where they should be. Thank God!

A photo montage will follow hopefully soon. The end for now.
Three little girl piggies!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Iterum incipit; or, Kleinshire 2.0

It is an anniversary of sorts for Kleinshire, as Rosemary’s and my first blog post was on an April day three years ago, shortly after we bought our little farm in North Carolina.

Incipit was the title of that first post, Latin for “It begins.” I remember writing about how we would be trying to grow as much of our own food as possible. It would be more than a hobby farm, I wrote, but not quite a real farm either.

Iterum incipit, Latin for “It begins again.” How things have changed!

Fr. Tim Welles, our new pastor, blessed the flocks and the fields
This April has been a month transition: A nice young couple made a cash offer in March and closed on our North Carolina house in early April. Then Rosemary loaded the boys and a few of the pets into the minivan headed to Wisconsin.

I followed over Palm Sunday weekend, with the assistance of two of my brothers, one of Rosemary’s brothers, and one of her nephews—assistance for which we are immensely grateful. All told, our caravan was comprised of a 26-ft Penske moving truck, a pick-up truck borrowed from one of Rosemary’s brothers to haul our 16-ft stock trailer, and another pick-up truck borrowed from yet another brother.

Our two livestock guardian dogs, love all the space.
It was ordeal, to be sure: Stories could be told, for example, about how we finally got the horse in the trailer. The brother-in-law and nephew left early Saturday evening with the stock trailer. My brothers and I stayed behind to finish cleaning the house. We left in the early morning hours, with me driving the moving truck and with them taking shifts driving the other pick-up truck, with the two full-sized dairy goats, two cats and the second livestock guardian dog in the truck’s covered bed.

Praise God, 20-plus hours later all the animals were safely in Wisconsin: all 17 chickens, all 20 goats, 5 guineas, 3 dogs, 3 cats (one being pregnant), 2 parakeets, and 1 horse.

Yes, that’s a lot of animals!

The goats absolutely love all the pasture.

But we are only getting started. Iterum incipit, it begins again: for this spring marks the beginning of our full-time farming adventure.

I took three days off from school during Holy Week and the entire week off following Easter break in order to get things started on the farm.  These three weeks have truly been a whirlwind.

Belle, our Saanen dairy goat.
First there was the business of moving ourselves into the farmhouse and, simultaneously, moving Rosemary’s parents into their new house a hundred yards up the road. Then, for me, it was off to finish the barnyard and the electric fence for the first rotational pasture while, for Rosemary, it was continuing to work on making the house into a home. With four boys in tow, that makes for one hardworking, tired mother. Did I mention the exciting news that Rosemary is pregnant?!?!

Farming, in any case, requires some major purchases. The first of them came this past week: a 1964 Massey-Furguson tractor, diesel engine, 62 hp. I had never driven a tractor before, but after a brief tutorial, I managed to drive it 10 miles back to the farm. Later in the day, I moved 20 or so hay bales out of the field with a hay spear. I think my father-in-law was smirking as he watched me learn not to lift the bales from higher on an incline. Never mind that, I got the concept after the first four or five slid off the spear!

For his part, my father-in-law has been an immense help. He and his brother went with me two days later to purchase a three-bottom plow and a ten-ft disc. We had to drag the disc sideways off the trailer when we got back to the farm, and I’m still not sure how we did this without breaking any of the discs!

Well, that would be besides the two discs that were already broken. That’s used equipment for you.

My "new" Massey Furguson 180 tractor, with the disc implement attached.
Speaking of used equipment, the next day I learned first-hand why a good deal of a farmer’s time is spent fixing broken equipment. The hydraulics to raise and lower the three-point arms stopped working, and after exhausting every other option I drove the tractor to Cashton in the frigid early morning air, and there it sits at Portland Implements. Prayers, please, that it’s not an expensive fix.

Snow covered garlic on April 26th.
Did I mention that was snowing on Thursday and Friday?!?! I think that it was 90 degrees in Raleigh at the same time, but I digress. Prayers, too, that some of the blossoms on the cherry and apple trees make it through this unusual cold snap.

 There is so much left to do. I am back in North Carolina for the final month of the school year. Rosemary is holding things together back at the farm. Prayers, please, that things continue to come together during this momentous transition.

Iterum incipit.












Thursday, March 2, 2017

And so the fierce battle begins....

The battle is real, it is hard, it is every day. What is it I am speaking of.... Why of course, the battle of keeping a house clean when you have children.

With our house on the market now, it seems I might have to keep the house always clean. If I look at the positive, I have never had a more compelling reason to make sure my house is so presentable. Not saying I wouldn't like it always to be beautiful, but I am just sometimes tired of fighting the battle of mountain laundry, splattery cooking, slippery muddy floors, garbage collecting (boys treasures they find), and so on. There are many different battles in the fight of keeping a house.

Now I am suppose to keep the house clean so that prospective buyers can see it for its charm. Whew! Please Saint Joseph, help us sell this cute little farm quickly! If you by happen chance read this, please pray for us to sell our house to the right person, at the right time, for the right price.

God bless!

P.S. It would be even more awesome if you could add that I keep sane as we try to keep the house presentable:')
The day we bought our little farm.

Back pasture and the barn.

Our three original Nigerian Dwarf does.

The barn has been a huge blessing to us.

Backyard

Such a cute place!

The front. Now there is a fence and gate over the drive.

Garage

The inside of the barn. It looks a bit different now.

Behind the garage. There is a cloths line and the fence is gone from this spot.

Front pasture

Fond memories, Franz mowed a track to bike on around the back pasture.

Breaking ground for our first garden.


 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Let's Party!

We are party central at Kleinshire. Two boys with birthdays back to back and triplet goats born too! Whew, some days you just have to keep the party going strong.

Chrysogonus turned two on Wednesday February 8th. After doing school work early in the morning, we spent almost the rest of the day outside. We did have to run and return something to Walmart. So, while there I let Chrysogonus pick out his present. Of course it was a gun and lightsaber. I started regretting the lightsaber, as it makes noise and lights up. Chrysogonus pretty much non-stop kept pressing the button. I got a big thing of bubbles, and found a brownie cake for 4 dollars. The cakes sell by date was February 8th. I had planned on making a cake, but rationalized that I would make one the next day for Cletus's birthday. On my way home from Walmart I picked up a young lady who comes and helps me once a week or so with animals and barn chores. The day was absolutely beautiful! Chrysogonus did not take a nap after lunch like he is suppose to. I gave Cletus and Chrysogonus the big bottle of bubbles. Both boys were getting overly tired. They got some use out of blowing bubbles, before a fight broke out and the bottle got knocked over. Oh well. I really didn't mind as it was on the screen porch. It is an easy way to mop the deck, pour a bucket of water and "tada" kids think it is fun to slip and slide on. While I was doing the last of the animal chores I let the boys sit down and watch the "magic school bus." Apparently the boys were exhausted as the three youngest were asleep on the couch when Franz got home. Because we all had worked up an appetite, we necessarily agreed the birthday boy needed to be awoken. Cake and ice cream were on the menu, but could not be touched without the presence of the birthday boy. I held Chrysogonus till he was fully awake. Then we had cake and ice cream to every ones relief and enjoyment. Thus ended the first birthday of the week for us.

Next day February 9th, Cletus turned four. Boy he was excited as we had talked about it being his birthday next. The day before seeing Chrysogonus's presents and cake, made Cletus anticipation high. Cletus woke up early like he usually does. It does not matter how late he goes to bed. Like the day before we did school work early. I got a text with a picture of a sweet baby girl. My newest niece was born to my baby brother and his wife. She was born February 8th right before midnight. It seems this is a good time for babies:') I was constantly going out to the barn because Brownie our goat was due, and she was in early labor. It was really windy Thursday so the boys stayed in the house for most of the day. They would come out occasionally to check Brownie with me. So, time spent inside was, nerf gun wars, forts, building bridges and towers, flying from bunk beds and shelves unto the love seat in the boys room, and a LOT of BATTLES. Seriously, the boys were enjoying their wars. In the late afternoon I made Cletus's cake and put it in the oven to bake. I went out to the barn to check Brownie. I was getting anxious as she had been uncomfortable all day. Immediately I knew the real action of birthing was taking place, as she had a mucus string hanging. Sorry if this offends anyone, but this is a part of farm life. So, I had Cyprian run back in and get me clean rags and my phone. Just after five Brownie pushed the first kid (a buckling) out. Brownie was not extremely large looking during her pregnancy, so were anticipating a single, or maybe twins. Then she pushed out a small doeling. Done I thought, but no. Brownie then pushed out the biggest of the triplets, a huge doeling. Whew! After clearing their faces, I let Brownie do her mothering. Cletus will get to name at least one of the kids as they were born on his birthday. That evening after all the animal chores and settling, we had Cletus's birthday supper, cake, and ice cream. It was nine or so when we got the boys in bed.

This has been a week of partying!
We have attitude!
Playing hard all day on your birthday, makes a tire boy.
Don't worry we couldn't let Chrysogonus sleep through having cake and ice cream. He seems to agree!
Blow out those two candles!


Who wants cake!

Look at the force!

Seriously, watch out!

Come on it is another cake!

Brownie the proud mama of triplets.

Left: 1st born buckling. Middle: 3rd born large doeling. Right: 2nd born little spunky doeling.


Cletus is very excited to hunt. Especially his brothers:')