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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