Wallace is slightly in love with the chicks and slightly terrified of them. He runs over to their box saying “Chick! Chick!” and wants to hold one . . . until we put one in his lap and then he says, “Back! Back!” pointing urgently for us to put it in the box again.

Cousin Cora, on the other hand, is a born chick whisperer!

Chick Days

We brought four feathered babies home this week. On the first day, I thought Ellen might smother the chicks with her love. She just didn’t want to put them down. When she wasn’t holding one, she was dancing around, begging to hold one. We had to have a few little talks about giving them space to eat and drink and sleep and grow. It was a good reminder for me too, actually. We all need a little space to thrive.

April Joys

I never grow tired of this scene! Give little Wallace a screwdriver and a few rocks and he will entertain himself while the girls and I plant seedlings.

Right now we’re still bringing the baby plants inside at night, but during the day, it is a perfect plant nursery and toddler playpen.

Marching Along

I have been taking photos (almost) every day this month — I just have not been posting them. Now I am sitting here wondering if my blogging break has caused, or at least contributed to, the feeling of blah that is hanging around me.

Well, just in case it is a contributing factor, I’m going to break out and share daily photos of where we’ve been . . . Marching along through this month.

I just finished reading “Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World,” by Ben Hewitt. It is a deeply satisfying book about homesteading, homeschooling, and paying attention to the vibrant world around us.

It is rare for an author to be both deeply sure and openly uncertain about his path in life. In this way, Ben Hewitt reminds me of Wendell Berry. I’m very grateful to have read his story and for the way it is helping to buoy me during these final weeks of winter.

“Like most people I know, I experience moments of uncertainly about choices I have made. There are so many permutations of what it means to live a good life. There are so many ways to be. How can I ever choose between them all? But then summer comes, and I’m riding the hay wagon behind Martha, and I’m dripping sweat and my arms shake as I pass another bale back to Penny and the boys, and I feel the quiet comfort of knowing there is nothing else I want or need.”

— “Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World,” by Ben Hewitt, Roost Books, 2014: p. 156.

We usually wait until the first day of spring to collect Pussy Willows. But . . . what can I say? We are especially eager this year!

We had to rescue the branches from Wallace pretty soon after I took this photo because he was more interested in ripping them off than in “petting” them gently.

Thanks to Jeffrey and the girls, the greenhouse is up. Tomorrow, on the first day of spring, we will plant our first seeds.

225 :: A Girl and Her Hen


Last spring Ellen had a writing assignment to describe her favorite place. She wrote about our chicken coop. There were quite a few lines, but I particularly remember the ending: “My chicken coop is brown and dirty. It smells bad. And the chickens love it!”

This girl loves her chickens almost as much as her chickens love their coop!

190 :: Nestled


I needed a walk.

Surrounded by so much undone —
dishes unwashed; laundry unfolded;
conversations unresolved; stories unfinished.
Hands full, heart heavy.
That distinct feeling that I’m unravelling . . .

Why? WHY?
The question lingers,

But a walk helps
every time.
Discoveries outside
simply revealed when we arrive,
willing to witness.

173 :: Morning Walk


I am walking with Amabel in the morning, before breakfast.  Ellen likes to sleep in; and we like to go out early and greet the day.

First we let the chickens out.  We extract a couple of broody hens from the egg boxes and dump the bucket of kitchen scraps.  Then we walk along the edge of the driveway and watch a killdeer mother and two babies.  Another killdeer appears and pretends her wing is injured — hopping and trying to lead us away from her nest.  But we do not follow her.  We turn right onto our favorite trail, picking wildflowers as we go.

It is different without Harry.  We both notice his absence.  He doesn’t bark at the chickens and tease the neighbor’s dogs.  He doesn’t bound back and forth between us, encouraging us along.  He doesn’t wag his tail and look at us with laughing eyes.  We talk about him.  It helps.

Amabel collects flowers and notices a patch of delicate fern-like moss covered in drops of dew.  We see a vine overhead, hanging on a dead tree.  Then she shows me a fairy house she and Ellen built in an old stump.  We pick a goat’s beard puff for Wallace to clutch in his little fist.

Later that evening, when the moon is rising, I will think back on our morning walk and realize that this time together framed our whole day.

puffy bird

fern like moss

bug on his head