Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Christmas in January

Okay, I know it's not really Christmas in January. I was going to write, "Christmas revisited" but since we've already revisited pumpkins this week, that didn't sound too original.

I'm the first person to preach, I mean say, that Christmas isn't about gifts -- it's about spending time with family, friends and appreciating all the good in your life.

But I gotta say, I got some pretty neat stuff for the farm this year.

My dad and step-mother gave me this basket.


It's a twin-bottomed egg basket, also known as a "gizzard," a "butt" or a "hip." You can guess which name my kids use to describe it.

According to the artist who handcrafted it, it's most commonly used for gathering, storing and transporting eggs as the depressed centre is useful for carrying the basket on the hip or on the backbone of a horse or mule.

While we own both of these animals (well, two donkeys rather than a mule, which is the offspring of a horse and a donkey) truth be told, I'm not sure if I'd risk carrying eggs on either one of them... crazy creatures, they be.

But I know someone else who is more than willing to step up to the job.


I highly recommend checking out the artist's other work at Smallbones.ca -- it's gorgeous stuff, that. (Yes, the picture in the top right-hand corner is one of my daughter collecting eggs. And yes, she's wearing her pyjamas.)

My dad and step-mother also gave me this. It's a rather unflattering picture of a U-bar digger or broad fork.

It's used to loosen beds at the beginning of the garden season. Since mine will be an organic vegetable garden, it's all about deep soil preparation. I mean, who knew that happy carrot roots burrow deeper than six feet underground?

With its 10" tines, it digs down deep but without disturbing the soil strata. Studies have shown that turning the soil over completely can cause soil compaction, upset the balance of microorganisms and causes layers of organic matter to be buried too deep, below where beneficial insects can break it down.

I could use a rototiller and perhaps I'll resort to that if I'm faced with hours of back-breaking work wrestling with stubborn soil. But there's something appealing, even intimate, to working the soil by hand and leaving the fossil fuel-burning, noise-belching machinery in the garage.

Check back in the spring to see this bad-boy in action.

My brother-in-law gave me this -- an antique spinning wheel.


I've got this romantic notion of one day raising sheep for their wool (though the owner of the "local" knitting shop -- it's a few villages east of here -- is trying to talk me into raising alpacas.)

I think we've got our hands full right now with the goats, donkeys and horse but one day, I hope to see woolies munching their way through our barnyard.

In the meantime, I'll practice my knitting (I'm great at hats, scarves and basic sweaters using simple stitches-- gloves, socks and cabling, not so much) while I try to find someone who can teach me spinning.

And last, but never least, Lucas gave me this.


He lovingly and carefully carved it by hand -- giving new life to an old post that might otherwise been cast away. It's meant to be out in the garden but I've placed it beside an armoire in the living room. It exudes wisdom and timeless contemplation, two qualities that are desperately needed in this crazy world of ours.

The common theme of these gifts that I hold dear is they were all made by hand or facilitate work by hand. In these days of mechanization and mass production, I find there is something satisfying with going back to the basics and simply experiencing the world through one's fingertips.

7 comments:

Mama Pea said...

Boyoboyo, did you ever score at Christmas time! You're one pretty lucky lady. Talented hubby you have there to do that wonderful carving.

My husband has been talking a lot lately about getting sheep for keeping the place looking a little tidier without having to do so much mowing. Then we would eat 'em. Lamb in the freezer sounds like a lot less work than processing their wool!

Fiona said...

I thought so too -- about being so lucky, that is. I like the idea of getting sheep to tend the lawn -- it's much more fuel efficient that the mower! I'm not so good at the eating part, though ;) But you're right -- processing wool *is* quite a lot of work, or so I've read!

farmgirlwanabe said...

Great gifts - love the carving

I have been meaning to email you with information about a magazine that I love to read - BackwoodsHome http://www.backwoodshome.com/

I have noticed over the past few years that they have articles from folks just like you across Canada and the US. They do focus on the US but I have seen letters from people across Canada.

Have you stumbled upon their website before?

Fiona said...

Hi farmgirl, No I haven't seen this website. Thanks for telling me about it -- I'll check it out today!

farmgirlwanabe said...

Fiona

Further to my comment re backwoodhome magazine

The really great blog is the Jackie Clay blog.

Lots of wonderful information of food and food storage storage - canning, gardening, tending goats etc

Jane said...

Thanks so much, Fiona, for the nice words about the basket and other things I make. I was tickled "pink" when your Dad sent me the pic of your daughter collecting eggs in it. I'm going to visit you some day to see all the wonderful things you blog about!

Fiona said...

Hi Jane, The thanks is all mine... I think your basketry is just wonderful! Thanks for visting us "virtually" and you're more than welcome to come see us in person. Cheers!

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