The precious few hours of daylight are cherished to their full these days, and I often take my boy out for a stroll before nap time.
Every walk is full of little wonders: Today, two choppers flew over our heads, big and black and loud. Then Albertine (our filly foal) tried to eat Falks hat, then we did some climbing, before we found the hole of Superworm in our field. (Superworm is a big and very heroic worm from a children's book.) Then, in the end, we almost fell asleep in the sun there, on the ground (waiting for Superworm to come out).
Lovely, lovely moments, with a lovely little guy.
As the years move along, as we grow in both size and number, it is a wonderful thing to do a family photo every year. Being a photographer does not make it any easier - I would probably say the opposite - because I'm a control freak and would want to both be in front of and behind the camera in those shots. Alas, I am not the yogini I wish (you know, some of them can be on more places than one simultaneously), so I have to settle for being in front of the camera this time. Luckily Grandy is visiting this week, so she was hired to push the button - and after the normal caffufle to get everyone in place, we actually managed to get two good ones!
So here we are, the Paynes of 2014.
Some things just have to be done to get that good Christmas vibe going, and we did a very important one today: We baked gingerbread cookies. I made the dough from scratch this year and it was so much yummier that the one you buy (yes, we ate it while baking, it's compulsory!), never going back to the pre-fabricated stuff. So us girls cheekily waited until Falk was taking his nap, (yes, very cruel) and then the baking was a go. The Christmas music was on, the sun was flowing through the windows, it was really lovely. Just as we finished up, Falk woke up right on cue, and we all rushed out to sledge down our hills one the snow. One of those perfect winter days.
My three; the ones who make me feel so rich. They are different and yet fundamentally the same: Wild and free and independent.
Lucky, lucky me.
It's that time of year again, where things not entirely in my taste happen on our farm. It's slaughtering time, and this week four male lambs and two pigs have gone from being fed to becoming food. I have not eaten meat for twenty years or so, and still find it strange and curious how anyone would want to eat a being that they once knew (or any being, for that matter). I have asked my husband and other people about this, and the answer is always: When it's dead and cut up, it becomes meat, a general thing, a pork chop like any other pork chop, a leg of any lamb, a slice of any animal. It goes from being an individual - Jon Hamm or Kevin Bacon (I am referring to our pigs here, not the actors), to a generic mass, ok to be processed for food. It's strange and very interesting to see the transformation from living to dead, and how obvious it is that the spirit that once inhabited that body has travelled elsewhere.
Which leads me over to something else I thought about today: How can I explain the concept of soul to Freja? She wonders a lot about death and dying and what happens after and what about the body and where do we go - and we try to explain and talk about it in ways that will make her feel less worried, without covering too much up either. Tricky balance! We tell her that when we die, we simply go back to where we came from, that we return to being a star in the sky. And when the time is right, we will come down to earth again. This seems to make her less fearful, but then the big question of the body arises. Of course she knows that people (and animals) are buried in the ground, and she is very much acquainted with the process of composting, being a farm kid, but it's difficult for her to accept the fact that she will also go that way. So I have introduced the soul. And how does one explain what the soul is to a four year old person? (When one doesn't even know it themselves?) I'm still laughing at my own allegory from earlier on today: It's like an egg! Your body is the egg shells that stay on earth, and you soul is the...yolk. And the yolk flies up to the sky. Ok, not great. She just looked at me with a weird look in her face. A friend of us (she's nine) said it better: The soul is your thoughts, your feelings, everything that is you. I guess I'll settle for that, for now.
Note: If you're wondering about my thoughts on being a veggie and also a farmer, read this post from last year - it explains my thoughts on the subject. And yes; our animals are slaughtered in the most humane way possible, free of any stress (for them), only a few metres away from where they graze and live.
One of her favourite times of day are when she's having supper and daddy's there, telling stories. We have a series of stories going around in our family, magical little tales that we've made up, they repeat and expand all the time. I'm thinking that one day, when I have time and space, I will get the daddy to tell them again, record it, and start writing them down to form a book. Perfect project for those cold and dark winter days. Until then, those evening sessions will do just fine.
Sometimes you discover people who will come to mean something extra special, and who inspire you on a fundamental level in your life. I cannot remember how I stumbled upon this woman, but Ina May Gaskin has become one of those people in my life. (The fact that I can't remember is killing me a little, by the way.) She and her husband Stephen were at the core of self-sufficiency and hippie project The Farm in the late 60ies, where they drove a caravan of old school buses from the west coast of the USA to Tennessee, and bought a piece of land there. The village - The Farm - was started from scratch, and they did everything themselves - including midwifery. Ina May became one of the head midwives there, and in the years following she became a political advocate for natural birth. She talks and writes about the power in women and the way our bodies will guide us in birth, promotes home birth and proves that it is safe. She is wise, funny, cheeky and smart. Her books are written so that anyone can understand, they are about birth but essentially about love. I recommend her books Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery and also the wonderful and very touching documentary Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives, if you are having a baby now or in the future, or if you're just remotely interested in birth care. It will change you, it will create trust, it will remove fear.
This Monday, I was a part of a conference where the midwives of Jordmorteamet gathered a bunch of amazing people under the header Human Rights in Maternity Care and Birth, and Ina May Gaskin was there to talk about women's power in birth. It was wonderful! She's got that special kind of energy and it just made me so happy to have the chance to see and hear her in person. In a break, I gathered the courage to ask her for some portraits, and she happily consented. I was a bit shaky, yes, but I think they turned out fine. She's already replied to me (I sent them to her), and says she likes them and will use them for press. Ah, what a boost!
The whole conference left me moved, energised, happy and so inspired. It also taught me that we have a long way to go to get back to recognising birth as a gift, and not some sort of hell we have to get through to have babies. Our bodies are made for it, and if we trust that and stop being afraid, we will not only birth easier, but also reduce the risks involved and the interventions which have become so normal (c-sections, forceps, etc.). Stop thinking, and "let your monkey do it", in Ina May's words. It doesn't matter where you choose to birth (and yes! It is a choice you should make, not an automatic thing), what matters is what your experience becomes, because it will stay with you.
Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions,
your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.
(Ina May Gaskin)
See her webiste inamay.com for more.
When your first child travels earthside and into your hands, you are also born as a parent.
Ten years ago today I became a mother to a chubby, beautiful, strong baby, and my life, this life, began. I remember one thing very strongly from the first moments after birth: The feeling of having been given an enormous privilege. This baby is my daughter. I had won the lottery, I was the luckiest mother in the world because this child had chosen me to be her mama. After ten years, this feeling is just as strong. That chubby, dark haired baby has grown into a tall girl with hair the colour of sand and the most beautiful smile. She is funny, open, caring, strong, independent, crazy, smart, artistic, sensitive, reflected. She is still my baby, she still snuggles up close and lets me in, and yet this new person is emerging, all the time. At ten, I have to accept that her childhood is in transit, and that we are entering a whole new path together. It is so exciting and I'm so curious, and still: There is a little lump in my throat that won't go away. I think of all the hugs, kisses, i-love-yous, all the lullabies and mornings, all the meals, conversations, the laughter and the tears, the arguments, i'm-sorrys, of the every-days and all the moments, those moments that were ten years, the moments that make a life.
I think of us holding hands and walking side by side, and in that image lies a promise, the promise that I won't let go, not ever, not in ten years or a hundred.
Happy birthday, my lovely, wonderful girl.
It was raining cats, dogs and rhinoceri today, so I've only left the house twice; both times to get stuff from the garden, carrots for soup and kale (grønnkål) to try something new. I've read on several food blogs about how amazingly delicious kale chips are supposed to be, so I had to try them, with the abundance of kale in our garden this year. And the verdict? They are amazingly delicious! Crunchy yummy healthy treats, and easy to make, too.
In other news, the kids redecorated the living room today (photographic proof below). They made a cozy den under the lounge table, and the house was quiet for a whole fifteen minutes while they played in there. Then they left to play in the rain, and I was left redecorating it back again.
Ah, the joys of domestic life.
How happy I am about making the decision to go into photography full time. It's only three months ago, I made the phone call to my boss at the school I've worked at for eight years, and told her that I was going to go for it. When we said goodbye and hung up (after she had wished me the best of luck), I got the shakes big time. What on earth was I thinking? Three kiddos and a farm and a husband who's a freelancer too?! We'd thoroughly lost it, I thought.
Then fast forward to any day this autumn, for example today, where jobs are lining up and I'm basically doing exactly what I dreamed of doing (but almost didn't dare to). It's busy, but not stressful in that "sucking all your energy out"-sort of way, and I'm enjoying every second of it. The human contact, the creative challenge, the freedom, the way it keeps me sharp and connected, all the time. I honestly never thought I'd have my own business. It makes me laugh sometimes to think about it, that I did it, I suffered a moments crazy bravery and jumped, and now I have this new baby, and it's all mine.
I think the photo pretty much speaks for itself, but don't get me wrong: Today was good. There is something nice about being surrounded by wet, slushy and cold weather, spiting it and going out there, well clothed and determined to have a good time, and then after a while, surrendering to the soft heat of the indoors, with wet hair and cold hands, hanging your dripping clothes up over the wood stove to dry, walking around in your long johns, having tea and feeling like you really accomplished something, you did it, you went out in that weather, and the roses in your cheeks are there to prove it.
What makes me happy: Being outside with all three of them in the afternoon, when Ronja is back from school and we have time to do anything we want. We play, explore, pick stuff from the garden to cook for dinner, visit our animals. Suddenly they will come up with a fun game and lose themselves in it for a while, and then we'll all go in and warm up. Stuff like this makes me calm and happy, it makes me feel that this works, this family life is good. The fact that all three of them are sporting the same classic farmers overalls too, well that just makes my heart burst a little at the seams.
I could go on and on about how great our gardens have been this year, because it really has been overwhelming. I wrote in a blog post here sometime about what sort of magic dust someone had sprinkled on our soil, and when Mr. Payne read that, he dryly reminded me of all the horse/cow/chicken muck he spent hours spreading around the farm in autumn and spring. That is magic dust, actually. (Although I wouldn't go so far as to say a fairy sprinkled it on the soil.)
So yes, the pumpkins were due their harvest yesterday, and a good pile of them and the remaining courgettes/squashes, were taken out of the field. Any great pumpkin recipes are now welcomed!
(And I love it.)
...of joy, hard work, excitement, hardships, bonding, laughter, tears, doubt, bliss, wonder, and love. Most of all, love.
You've been beautiful, kept us very busy, and given us so much fun. Thank you!
(click on the images to see them big)