Friday, January 27, 2017

Outdoor Winter Activities

Since I talked about some indoor activities on my last post, I thought I'd share some pictures of our favorite OUTDOOR winter activities on this post. 

Firstly, winter in Alberta means feeding cattle.  This year, we started bale grazing for the cold winter months, so we placed bales in the pasture, cut all the strings, and have electric fence to limit how and when the cows get them.  It's working great so far!

We have really, really great neighbors here.  And our great neighbors have been toys tools.  Just before Christmas, they came over and lifted Art up in their picker truck so that he could put snow stop on the shop roof.  This chore also involved rides for the kids.  Naturally.

We spend lots of time going on walks out in the pastures....

....sometimes to check cows.... exercise the dogs (and ourselves!)...

....or to enjoy a sunset!

We spend some time spreading straw for the livestock, so they stay warm and dry(ish).

....and rush outside to catch a picture of the sunrise!

We have spent many hours combing the woods, doing some shed hunting.  For those that don't know, this means looking meticulously under every tree and branch for antlers that have been shed by moose, deer or elk.  The great thing about shed hunting is that it's extremely beautiful in the isolated bush that we walk.

Sometimes we take the dogs, sometimes family who is visiting gets roped into coming....

....and The Girls always want to go!

Lastly, and perhaps the most favorite winter activity of them all is skating.  Art and The Girls have been working faithfully on getting our skating rink up and running, and the Girls enjoy it every day they can, along with friends and neighbors.

So there you have it.  Winter activities around our ranch.  Always beautiful, always fun, and we (mostly) stay warm!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Indoor Winter Activities

The great thing about winter is that it gives us a chance to relax, and instead of working outside all the time, with short days and long nights, we spend the majority of our time inside.  It feels good to start a fire and hunker down inside, while the cold wind and snow blows outside. 

One of our favorite inside winter activities include Lego (lots and lots of Lego!!).  The Girls have collected much Lego over the years, and they also have Art's from when he was a child, so their imaginations run wild with Lego!  Thankfully, I've only stepped on a few pieces this year!

Every year, around Christmas, we pull out a puzzle.  We do a new puzzle every year, and it usually stays out until it's complete.  Not all of us are puzzlers, so those that aren't can often be found curled up the couch, reading a book, while the others puzzle.  It's just nice to be in the same room, hanging out together.

We also enjoy baking.  Lots and lots of baking!  Truth be told, this happens all year round at this home, but it's fun to work on special baking projects, especially around Christmas!

This year, I taught The Girls to embroider.  I sat down to embroider a few flour sack tea towels as gifts, and a couple of the Girls asked me to teach them.  I was surprised at how quickly they caught on - the little girls especially.  They enjoyed embroidering some tea towels, and especially loved giving them away to friends.  I thought they did a fantastic job, and I'm always a little sad to see the towels go, after spending a few hours working on them.  An extra fun thing was that when my parents came out after Christmas, my Mom also got in on the embroidering bug, and her and I spent time visiting and embroidering together.  After my Mom went home, she was talking to my Grandma, who is 97 yrs. old, about flour sacks, and this is what she had to say: 

Flour sacks were precious as they were used for many things like aprons, boys boxer shorts underwear.  They were always in short supply.  Curtains were made from flour sacks and cut them with a scalloped edge, then crocheted around the edges.  They were the prettiest curtains and really make the old rundown house more beautiful and homey.  Nothing was ever wasted so even the thread from the flour sack was used to crochet around edges.   Women crocheted around edges of almost everything like tea towels, tablecloths, pillowcases, and aprons.  Anything to make it look pretty and some items were embroidered like the aprons.  My Grandma said she did a lot of embroidery even before 10 years old.

I'm fairly certain my Grandma could out-embroider me any day of the week, even when she was 10 yrs. old!  I really didn't learn, as a child, to embroider, so this is my attempt to try, and also to teach my Girls.  I think embroidery is such a lost art (as is baking such things as pies and bread!), but I'm thrilled to pass it on.  Here's a fact about me: every time I go to a thrift store, I look for hand made items such as embroidered table cloths, linens and aprons.  I just can't help myself from buying them, knowing how many hours went into making them.  And to buy them for a dollar or two.... it seems like they're grossly undervalued!

Of course, many hours are also spent reading, playing games, doing crafts and watching the occasional movie....

The great thing about living in the Prairies during our long winters is time spent together!