Ryan Hanning Ph.D
Ryan Hanning

Family Blog

The Hanning Homestead

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Family Update #6 - The trees are broken

What an incredible Fall. The forest is baring its leaves and giving way to a further horizon all around us. Or as David explains “the trees are broken”. Piles of leaves have become a cheap source of entertainment for the kids as well as mulching for the garden. We are beginning to feel very much at home, with work, school and homesteading.

Counting our blessings.


We began November remembering those who passed before us and the sacrifices they made to impart lessons and character that no doubt has shaped our family over so many generations. We celebrated All Saints and All Souls at St. Lawrence by gathering together after Mass at the parish cemetery. The blessing of grave sites spanning 150 years was done by candlelight. The solemnity of the event was also met with levity as Nathaniel and Ezra attempted to keep up as Father and Deacon whose brisk pace increased with the descending temperature outside. After the blessing, the solemnity gave way to festivity as we enjoyed chili and desserts in the basement while chasing overindulged children.

Counting the Sheep

Three icelandic sheep arrived mid-month. We were blessed to locate 1 pregnant ewe and 2 older lambs a few hours away. This bred serves many roles. Their incredible wool be sheared in the Spring. Their milk is perfect for cheese making. They are also known for their excellent meat which we should be enjoying by the summer. Plus they have an excellent temperament. Our neighbor has generously allowed our sheep to mow her back pasture. Unlike our goats, they get stress when touched, so we’ve had to learn how to quietly move them without pulling/pushing. We were sure they were going to escape on the first walk to the pasture, so we had a wall of people just in case. We are using an intensive grazing rotation to keep the sheep happy and the pasture well manicured. This time of the year growth is slow, so it means moving the sheep every morning.

Two truckloads of freshly cut logs have been dropped off including sassafras, white oak, hackberry and sycamore. We are sorting through these to see what becomes firewood, mushroom bolts, fencing, crafts, or cut into slabs for future projects. As Jacinta’s favorite place is sitting on the hearth, it wouldn’t be safe to use our fireplace this winter, so this wood has plenty of time to season. In the meantime we’ll close in additional paddocks for the goats and stretch our creative muscles with the rest. All of us have something we want to make, so these 8 trees will find a purpose this winter.

Part of the joy of living in a more agrarian community is the fellowship we all share in stewarding God’s creation and receiving the benefits—often delicious ones.

Ryan Hanning2 Comments