Go Wild , For a While

Go Wild , For a While

We’ve become strangers to nature. And the best way to live longer, healthier lives is to re-wild ourselves by returning to nature whenever we can.

 

What a wondrous and ever so beautiful time of year Summer is. How lush and green and full everything has become with sunshine, heat and evenings showers. How wonderful is it to watch the plants pop their heads from the ground, and raise their arms in praise of the sun as they stretch towards its beaming face. To hear the chatter of birds and squirrels busy in the yard, of birds and bees buzzing about in their busy hastes. There is so much to see and be heard in the days of summer.

Life has sure been busy here on the farm with the coming of the summer months. Keeping waterers full and fresh is a number one priority as the heat moves its way in during the days now. On occasion we do like to add an electrolyte and vitamin supplement on those days were the heat seems to be unbearable. This gives everyone an extra little boost and helps to keep away any kind of heat stress or fatigue. Shade is also a big part of fighting off the heat and we make sure that everyone has a shady place throughout the entire day to be able to retire to.

We have made some additions to our little farmstead, adding seven little piggers to the bunch. These pigs will be raised throughout the summer months and then butchered to fill the freezer come fall. We have also had some interest from friends and family, hence having seven mouths to feed this year compared to four last summer.  While it’s hard to not get attached to the little snouts and curly tails, I find peace in knowing that they will be raised with love and care here on the farm before they serve a bigger purpose of feeding families. They currently are taking up residence in a blocked off portion of the pot belly pig pen. They will stay here until we get the last bits of fencing done, and then they will be moved across the way to clear the bush and become forest dwelling pigs until fall.

Our three little pigs are doing well, and this past week marked the one year adopt-iversary for the three brothers. Who knew one could have so much love for three little pot belly pigs! They greet me at the gate every morning and evening as they wait for dinner. They accept a scratch here and there from me. They really have come such a long way from the day we picked them up at the rescue.

With the completion of the fencing we will also be able to move our donkey boys out onto pasture. We had been letting them free range the back yard at their leisure when we were home on the weekends, but after several strawberry plant casualties and the loss of my sweet pea planter, this plan has been rethought! It wont be long now until they can be out on the green grass in the pasture and not perusing about the lawn leaving little presents as they go.

Our chicken littles are growing like weeds and the divider has been put up in the chicken enclosure so that they can get out on the grass and meet the other flock through the fence. I am afraid we have too many roosters in the bunch, as at least four or five are heard trying out their cock-a-doodle-doo’s in the evenings. If they can’t be sold as additions to someone elses flock, we may end up having a large batch of chicken soup! Here’s hoping the rest are hens, because I sure am excited for some blue and green eggs this fall! The rest of the bunch are happy to be out ranging in the enclosure, picking on grass and bugs and lounging around. We are on an egg surplus at the moment, getting almost a carton daily! I can’t even sell them fast enough as they are laying. I think this means there will be a big batch of pickled eggs in the near future!

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We’ve been busy bees ourselves working in the garden. While sometimes starting your own seeds and seedlings can be a challenge and some times heartbreaking after so much time and work, seeing the growth and reward from the ones that survive helps you to push on. Our garden seems to be doing good thus far, in need of a little weeding TLC, but so far we have most of everything coming up in our rows. We added a little fence along the sides from old tamarack posts we had sitting here on the farm. We refer to it as our donkey deterrent. It adds character and along with our new ‘re-purposed’ gate, everything seems to be really coming together. 

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Along side the garden I have little herb gardens planted in old wash tubs I found in my travels. Fresh basil, parsley, sage, chives and oregano. Our mint has come back with a vengeance this year in our old tire rim we planted in the ground to keep it contained to one area. Our rhubarb patch was full until I found a recipe for rhubarb cordial and have now become addicted to rhubarb mojitos! We also are trying our hand at our first batch of purely home made rhubarb wine! I couldn’t be more excited to see how it turns out!

I’ve also put some more time into our flower beds this summer, digging out some older flowers that had started to take over and replacing them with some perennials that are going to grow beautifully over the years. We had a sale at work on half wine barrel planters and so two of those came home with me to make planted decorations at the end of the driveway by the gate. The side garden has so many baby hollyhock coming up, I am so excited for them to fill out and grow tall. Some of the plants are reseeded from the plants last year and some are from seeds I got from my Mom. I am so curious to see what kind of colours pop up! Besides the front flower beds, I had also seeded my wild flower beds in front of the vegetable garden and my ring of sunflowers. While not as many seeds have sprouted as I had planned, I still think it will be beautiful and the wild flower mix around the outside is starting to fill in as well.

patioI had a little make work project I decided to start this summer that I am finally finishing up and couldn’t be more overjoyed to be finished. I had started collecting pallets from work and thought that I should build myself a little backyard oasis, and create a pallet couch on the deck. Arranging and placing the pallets was the easy part. After a quick coat of stain and a little table creation, the couch was there and an umbrella placed.

19534300_1186254484853373_3650309519667363840_nCushions was next on the list, and this turned out to be the most tedious part. They are finished now, they look and fit great. I know there is going to be a lot of time spent out enjoying our creation, so I am happy in the end we stuck it out! I have a long list of books to be read this summer, and I am thinking this is going to be the perfect spot.

19425262_129519674296359_1502284662838394880_nAmidst all the hustle and bustle that the farm life has brought for us, we always try to take time to be able to enjoy ourselves and our hard work. We finally made it for a little drive out to the back corner of our property to check on our trails cams and to just get away and enjoy what nature has to offer. It is so beautiful out back right now, the paths are hardly recognizable overgrown with grasses and wild flowers.

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We stopped along the way to gather a wild flower bouquet full of tiger lilies, daisies, blue bonnets and indian paintbrush. And when we finally remembered to sit down and see what was caught on the camera, what a busy spot we found we have back there. From spotty fawns to budding bucks and bull moose, it was a real spectacle to capture it all on camera. Perhaps my favourite was the picture of the cow moose and her calf. How blessed are we to live on this beautiful land we call home with a front row seat to all the beauty mother nature has to offer.

 

 

Petrichor

Petrichor

(n.) the smell of earth after rain.

There is actually scientific proof behind this word to describe how when rain drops hit the earths surface, they gives off that earthly smell. How tiny bubbles form as they hit the porous earth trapping gasses and the scent from chemicals released by plants and bacteria in the soil. These tiny bubbles make their way to the surface, breaking and releasing the gases trapped inside. Thus, petrichor, literally the scent of the earth after rain.

But there is so much more to it than the science behind it. It’s not just a scent or a smell. It’s something deep within the body that awakens in one’s soul. That deep breath of damp air that reminds a person that they are grounded, that they are one with nature, that they are alive.

I have smelt enough wet earth lately to know.

20170516_080520It seems we have skipped from the cold, long winter into what I can only describe as a monsoon kind of spring. The kind where the skies open wide, and the flood gates release and the rains falls….for days and days and days on end. Days when the sun peeks it’s head through the cloud cover are coveted days. They come and are gone all too quickly.

While things have started to kind of dry up in the in between days, I still feel as though any time I find to be outside, seems to come with clouds and rain drops. It’s awfully hard to plan and plant a garden when you can’t step foot in it without sinking. Our lawn had started to look like maybe we were saving it for pasture land, it had been too wet to get out the lawnmower.

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20170511_202039Since then the sun has come out, we have now had two rounds with the lawn mower, and the best part, we got to seed our garden! We were so fortunate to be able to enjoy a beautiful May long weekend, and have a couple days off together to smash out some of our plans! After rototilling the garden a couple times over, picking out seven or more wheelbarrow loads of weeds and picking out rows and pairings, our seeds are in the ground. We switched things up this year and gave our garden rows a quarter turn, so they now run North to South. This way as the sun crosses the sky during the period of the day from the East to West, it will always shine down between the rows keeping the soil nice and warm. We are so excited to see how Garden 2017 turns out! We are feeling hopeful!

We moved things around a little as well with our potatoes as we have given up on the potato box method. We tilled up a new area and planted six rows of three different varieties of potatoes: Kennenbec, Sangre and Yukon Gold of course for Dan. All the old farmers at work say the Sangre potatoes are the way to go as they store the best over the winter months. Here’s hoping we get a bountiful enough harvest to test this out!

Beside the new potato patch Dan also tilled me up a circle where I will plant my sunflowers this year. Of course it was an idea I found while browsing Pinterest. You grow sunflowers in a circle and as they reach up slowly tie them to lean together. This creates a little sunflower fort and it will be the perfect summer reading spot! I added some hollyhock seeds around the edges as well as some wild flower mixes. I am eager to see if this will be a Pinterest win or fail…I have faith!

Through out the weekend while we were around the yard and house, we took the opportunity to let the donkey boys out of their pen and let them have free roam of the yard. They loved it and it filled my heart with so much joy to watch them run around the yard bucking and I kid you not, grinning from big ear to ear! The dogs I think also enjoyed having the company and everyone got along so well. At the end of the day, a little scoop of sweet feed and the boys were back in their pen for the night. I can’t wait to get in the rest of the fencing and let the boys free range out in the pasture.

20170524_120218The three little pigs took advantage of the sun and warmth too, out sunbathing in their yard and lounging under the trees. We took the sod we dug out from my new sunflower garden and placed it inside the pig pen. The boys loved munching on fresh grass and seemed quite content! I just absolutely love how our little farm is growing into the homestead we dreamed of, and we just continue to grow. My heart couldn’t be happier, it’s already almost bursting!

With all the warm weather and sun, we finally got our baby chickies moved outside into the Pickup Palace Coop. The Littles as we call them, are loving it and even ventured outside over the weekend. I just love watching them grow, seeing as their colours come in and seeing peeks of their personalities coming through. I just love the little cheeks on the Amercaunas!

And of course we can’t forget about our big ladies and George. We did have a sad day here on the farm as we said goodbye to one of our big Gold Cochin mommas. They were the first chickens we had here on the farm and they lived a wonderful three years here with us. The others are doing well and enjoying the sunshine and being back out on the grass. They are so funny to watch and coop sits is one of my favourite evening past times.

I was able to get a little work done in my flower beds, and got my gladiola bulbs and zinnia bulbs planted before the big rain came again. While there is still lots of weeding to be done, the flowers are in the ground and the waiting game begins. I have some pictures in my mind of how the beds will look this year, but we will see as the summer goes. I really wish I had paid more attention when my Momma was out in her garden. I have a lot to live up to! It also appears as though our berry bushes have survived the winter and my Haskap bush is even in flower. We are excited for our own berries this year and adding a little more variety to berry row!

We had two new wines that we were busy 20170521_114445bottling over the weekend as well. One was a White Zinfandel and the other, which I am most excited about, is a Melon Berry Merlot. Hello Sangria!  I had fun creating new labels and we filled yet another shelf out in our “wine” room off of the garage.

We’ve been staying busy, busy here on the farm and making good use of our time with the sun. It feels great to have accomplished so much and to have so much to look forward to this summer. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

This girl is pretty excited for a little mini holiday as well…back to Ontario! It has been much to long since I have been home to see family and it is much overdue. I get to spend a whole ten days and am looking forward to every minute of it!

Until I return…..

 

➳You Keep Me Safe, I’ll Keep You Wild ↟↟

➳You Keep Me Safe, I’ll Keep You Wild ↟↟

March was a whirlwind of a month for us.

For those that know us personally, you’ve already heard the great news, and for those of you who follow along with our journey here on the farm, I am proud and ever so happy to announce that Dan and I got hitched! I am now Mrs. Hadleigh Burch and I couldn’t be more happy to say that, because it sounds so wonderful together, am I right?!

We had decided on an elopement as this was just the perfect way for us to intimately exchange vows and make our promises of a forever. It was killing me inside holding in such a big secret, but we managed to pull it off. We escaped just the two of us to Canmore for a lovely weekend, getting to spend four days in the little mountain town. It was a great little break from life and work, that was well deserved.

Dan & Hadleigh-0010.jpgOn St. Patricks day, we flew by helicopter out of Kananaskis to Marvel Pass, an area nestled inside the mountain range close to where the Alberta and British Columbia border would be. Mount Assiniboine towered in the background and the snow was deep and untouched. We even saw a herd of mountain goats while we were flying over!
It was the most beautiful setting Dan & Hadleigh-0130.jpgI could have imagined to make my promise of a future with Dan. We had along with us the commissioner to perform the service, our photographer and the pilot. Our photographer and pilot stepped in as our two witnesses on the ceremony.  We said our own vows, exchanged rings and spent some time doing photos. It was a perfect way for our two wild hearts to proclaim our love and our promise of a future together.

20170318_182244.jpgWe spent the next day touring the local brewery, The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co., sampling beer and sodas. We walked around down the main street checking out local galleries, shops and boutiques. I found my favourite breakfast place, The Great Canadian Bagel Co. I’m craving a maple bagel as I write about it!

All in all, was the best weekend of my life!

And then it was home and back to reality. Dan was whisked away back to work where he has been on a night shift. It sure makes things a little lonely around the house, but I have been trying my best to keep busy and occupied!

With Spring into full swing here at the house, we are back to the season of MUD! It’s everywhere, on everything and has not  escaped any corner of flooring in the house. It’s drug in on boots, passed on by pantlegs and clinging to everything these days. It’s a 20170330_102317sure sign that the snow is on its last leg of life, as it melts and disappears and turns the ground to a brown soupy mess.  But I’ll take it, because that means spring planting, gardens and sunshine are on the way!

The pigs are living in a muck hole, that is basically what the pig pen has become, one giant muck hole. My three little boys do not disturb the ground as much as those big pigs we had last summer in there, and so it has had a slight chance to settle and does not suction to your boots as you try to walk your way through during feeding time. I am thankful for this. And Tui, Oscar and Pudge really don’t seem to be too phased by any of it.

Once the ground thaws enough to be able to pound posts, our next course of action here on the farm is going to be finishing up with some of our fencing. We have a big field area out back behind the pens that will be fenced off and used as pasture for the donkey boys, and whatever other creatures we can find to keep them company back there. We also will be fencing off a section of bush  that borders the west side of the property and wraps around to where the donkeys pen is at the moment. Here we will move the pigs over for a bit to give their pen a chance to dry up and harden. Once they are good to go back, that area will house the donkeys, and with some luck and pretty pleases to Dan, a few goats and sheep too! We are so excited to be expanding our little farm this summer.

The chickens aren’t letting the mud and wet get them down, they must just be loving the warmth we are having. While our egg production tends to decrease drastically in the winter due to shorter days, less day light and cold weather, Spring is like the jack pot time for farm eggs. Our Polish had really only begun to lay once winter came so we never did recieve many eggs from them last summer. This Spring everyone seems to be in egg overdrive. We are getting anywhere from 10 to 14 eggs a day! I usually take a carton or two to work for the ladies, and even have found a couple ladies in town who buy some of our farm fresh eggs. It’s so great to see all of our hard work paying off! We will be making some additions to our flock this summer, but have had a slight set back on timing. Hatching eggs is tricky business. It takes time, care and attention. While one day we hope to attempt some hatches of our own, this year we are getting day old chicks. A power outage has caused our batch of eggs to unfortunately no longer be good, and so we are waiting on a re hatch for some Olive Egger and Amercaunachicks. These new additions will lay olive green and blue eggs! So excited to be adding some colour to our egg basket along side our beautiful (and my favourite) Maran eggs.

Having the evenings here to myself has given me lots of time to finish up on some of my dishcloth projects. Over the last couple of months I have worked away and completed seven little knit dishcloths, all in a different pattern. Its been a great opportunity to practice my stitches for future projects. At this rate, I’ll have lots saved up to giveaway with our Christmas baskets! I’ve also bought my first skein of sock yarn, which Dan and I spent a half hour rolling into a ball this afternoon. I have a beginners pattern for a pair of socks using a three needle approach. I think tonight I will sit down and dive into a new project, I need a break from dishcloths!

With Easter just around the corner as well, all this “Me” time has given me the chance to get out all my spring decor and set up my Easter decorations. One of my favourites is my version of Easter eggs, which are our own farm eggs, hollowed out and planted with little succulents! They are just too cute, especially when displayed in my colourful egg holders.

When Dan and I cross paths during a weekend or evening, we take full advantage of our time together. So mostly that entails of us creating, starting or bottling our homemade wine! We just finished two batches we had on the go and they are all in bottles. It has been one year since we started our first wine kit, and we are now around 400 bottles of wine in! The last two we bottled were a Blackberry Malbec and a BluePom Merlot. can you say summer sangrias?! We are so excited for this summer to try our hands and making some batches of wine from scratch. Now that we have the ktis down to a science and we know the process, we are looking forward to branching out on our own. That and we are so looking forward to some more of our Honey Mead!!

And of course not to be forgotten, Spring means that gardening is just around the corner! I can’t wait to get out and play in that dirt. We are switching things around a little in our vegetable garden and trying some things a little different. From switching up row directions, to moving some of our plants out to the back field, we are excited to see what this year’s garden will provide us. We have decided to scrap the potato boxes and move our potatoes and pumpkins out back into the pasture field. This will give us more space to hill and heap potatoes and for large pumpkins to grow, fingers crossed! It also means we can have some more space to play around in our garden by the house. I am excited to be trying some new herbs this year as well as a couple odd and unusual veggies. Here’s hoping Mother Nature is going to play fair this season. It also means it’s time to start thinking about flower beds! I can already see some of my tulips cautiously popping out of my front flower bed. I have some interesting seeds to start and try this year that my Momma Bear saved for me and some rearranging I would like to do once things start to pop up. It’s been a huge transformation for the front of the house and I am excited to add more to is this year!

So while I settle in here for the evening, start to think about what I should be cooking for dinner and what lays ahead for the night, I am so thankful for everything that March brought me. It was the best month of my life and one that will never be forgotten. It makes me so excited to continue on this journey here on the farm, with my husband by my side. I look forward to what lay ahead for us this summer and for all of the fun and exciting changes awaiting us!

 

 

 

The In-Between Month

The In-Between Month

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.  – Charles Dickens

I am sure you have heard of the saying “In like a lion, out like a lamb”. March begins with the tailings of the winter months and leads us into what will become the months of spring. It’s the transitional period from those short, cold and snowy days into the sunny, warmth on the breeze and sunlight into the evenings kind of days of spring.  It’s what I like to call, the in-between month. Because let’s be honest, most days in March aren’t sure if they’re winter or spring.

February had left us with a tease of warm weather, peeks of grass and lots of sunshine. Just enough so to awaken that spring fever hiding deep within. We have found ourselves into the second week of March with two new feet of snow on the ground and temperatures dipping below -20 degrees Celsius. Despite the chill in the air and the unwanted snowfall, I have hopes of spring as the pussywillows out back of our place start to bloom. Pussywillows are a definite sign of spring!

17075799_165550763954057_5248523492537663488_n In an attempt to keep spirits bright around the farm, we decided on starting some of our
Spring garden planting indoors. If Mother Nature plays fair this year, we will be on track for what may just be the best garden we’ve had yet! We had dug soil from the garden during a bit of a thaw we had and had it drying out in our heated “Chicken Shed”. We brought in trays and containers from last year and filled them with a mixture of soil and peat moss. So far we have planted our bell peppers, brussel sprouts, giant pumpkins and so many onions I’m not even sure what we’ll do with them all if they all sprout! During the next month we will work on getting our tomato seeds planted indoors along with our melons, cabbage and perhaps a few flower varieties as well.

I was lucky enough to have Dan home from work early one day last week and so we took the opportunity to drive back to the back of our property to check on cameras and fences. I always say we should spend more time out there because once you are back there you don’t want to come back to real life. It is so serene and peaceful out back, where the snow lays untouched except for animal tracks and birds prints. What a surprise it was for us to find big moose tracks scattered around the paths. It was so much fun loading the photos from the trail cams onto the computer and finding out that just that morning we had had a beautiful cow moose pass through. I love all the things we get to see on our trail cams out back!

The animals must be feeling the change in the seasons as well. Our egg production from the ladies has certainly taken off and we are seeing more and more eggs each week. The best day we had this week was a 10 egg day, yes you heard right, TEN EGGS! Who would have thought that the most exciting part of my week would one day end up being counting ten eggs in one day in the chicken coop. Let me tell you, I really do believe that owning chickens becomes somewhat of an addiction. We are already talking about and planning for the little baby chicks we will soon be buying!

Our donkey boys are feeling spry and sure are looking forward to the new pen they’ll be getting once the ground thaws enough to pound in fence posts. They are quite the characters and are always brightening my days with their antics. And we mustn’t forget about the three little pigs! They are quite the hams too. Always meeting us at the gate for feeding time and snorting away until their food is in their dishes. We are starting to have a real barn yard feel here. When you walk out the door for chores George the rooster starts the chorus with his cock-a-doodle-doos, followed shortly there after by snorting pigs and finally finishing off with the hee-haws of the donkeys. It makes my heart so happy to hear our farm choir sing!

I brewed my first batch of my own home made Kombucha. If you haven’t heard of Kombucha, it is a fermented tea that you make using black tea, sugar and ferment with a scobey. A scobey is a weird living organism that breaks down the tea and sugars and creates a carbonated, very slighlty alcoholic tea with many health benefits. Its very high in amino acids and vitams. The scobey reminds me of some kind of organ and I find it very interesting, as it grows and develops as you continue to brew your tea. My first batch was made with a maple vanilla black tea. The one fermenting now is a PomTango black tea. I can see this has already become a new habit!

I have been trying to finish up some knitting projects I had on the go, including the very first hat I knit. I used a yarn my mom gave me back when I first started knitting. I had been waiting on a fur pom pom I ordered in the mail to complete my project. And I must say for a first timer, I am so happy with how it turned out! I also had the opportunity to sign up for Fibershare 2017. You fill out a crafting survey about yourself and then get paired up with someone with whom you share fibers, yarn or tools for crafting with. I am so excited to see what I get out of this exchange and so excited I get to share my love with someone else who loves knitting!

Amidst the cold days I have still managed to get in some “Me” time while Dan settles into his new job. He has gone back to consulting and that means no more weekends for us together. It also means I have to fend for myself again! When you want a wood fire to curl up next to you quickly learn how to chop your own kindling. It’s also allowed me to catch up on some reading, new TV shows and  sappy movies that require Kleenex boxes and no boys around.

March always brings with it too the memories of home as my home town of Listowel, Ontario starts into their Paddyfest celebrations. Each year for the two weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day there is a giant Irish festival held. This year will mark the 40th year of Paddyfest. There are arm wrestling competitions, card tournaments, concerts and fundraisers. Each year an Ambassador is named to represent Paddyfest and host and support different events.  It was ten years ago that I was named the Paddyfest Ambassador for 2007. I still to this day do not know how I ever won, but it was such a great experience and such a fun filled day that taught me so much about myself and made me break out of my shell. So here’s to all those back home who will be celebrating this year, CHEERS!

I have this feeling that March is going to be a good month. With Dan starting out with his new job, with spring just around the corner and with so many things to look forward to this coming year,  I am so ready for Spring to arrive and to deliver us into the Summer months. I am ready to kiss this winter goodbye, to start planting and gardening, putting in fences and watching our little farm grow and grow!

 

 

Winteress

Winteress
That which is wild moves to its own law,
always changing, always hot, cheating death.
I learned early I was a cold girl – nothing more,
unyielding, fixed – unreachable, unchangeable.
A being like me wilts in the sun –
leave me in my winter,
here I am powerful.

The cold moves it’s way into my body. Lifts the hairs on my arms,15876905_1705023153121477_7999731159825121280_n brings on a shiver. I watch at the snow falls silently from the sky, hitting the ground and covering it like a blanket made of white. I watch the birds out the window as they fall and rise, bob and land. Sifting through the snow and dirt for left over seeds and grit. The blue jays perch on the railing, sweeping down to collect tidbits of dog food left from the girls breakfast. The Whiskey Jacks take note from their branches in the Spruce trees. The yard is alive. 16463952_1197454810375447_1399448031782240256_n

After a deceiving week of warm temperatures and melting snow, of sunshine and spring vibes, Winter has come back to us. The ground which had thawed and turned to brown, is now disappearing once again to white. And the cold….

16464649_1839814536306431_7017616033519239168_nWinter will soon run its course. Come to it’s end. Spring will greet us with her warm open arms. Winter coats will be stored back into closets with boots and mitts. They will be replaced with rubber boots, rain slicker coats and sweat shirts. And of course everything will be generously covered in mud, especially here on the farm. The season of MUD.

Until then, it’s time for finishing up those winter projects. For enjoying the last of winters beauty before the thaw. Here on the farm we have managed to stay busy busy even with the changes Mother Nature has thrown our way.

Last week we took advantage of the warm weather to get the donkeys out of their pen and out for a little stroll. They do so well on their leads that we took them for a walk out back. Come summer I am sure we wont even need the leads, that they will just follow us about the yard. Until then, our little evening strolls are fun and even Lily comes along. Everyone is getting along so well.

My little donkey’s are just the sweetest. Deuce is always looking for hugs and head scratches, and my quiet little Prince has come so far as well. He loves a scratch behind the ears, carrots treats and a little handful of sweet feed from time to time. I can’t wait for summer and all the fun we will have with these two!

The warmer weather had everyone wishing for Spring, including the pigs and chickens. Everyone was out and about the coop, venturing out to the run for bread treats and even getting in sun bathing. Poor George is welcoming the warmth after his long winter battle with frostbite. It was our first winter with chickens who have big combs and it was a learning experience. George unfortunately got the worst, and will lose all the spikes off of his comb. I am sure the ladies will still love him!

And we can’t forget about the three little pigs! After a nail trim, some warmer weather and lots of loving these boys have come leaps and bounds from when we picked them up from the rescue last summer. Tui is still bossy, but he loves a back scratch and any kind of treat you offer. Pudge is more and more curious, meeting us at the gate for feeding and even allowing a snout scratch here and there. While Oscar is still a little shy, he is doing so well. He no longer runs away when you come close, he will stand right beside you. And while he isn’t one for pets, he will gladly take a treat from your hand.

With the disappearing of winter comes the knowing that soon the time for wood fires will also be coming to an end. So I have been cramming in as many as possible when the weather drops enough to permit it. Sitting by the wood fire knitting has been my winter comfort. I have managed to finish a couple of projects. I attempted my first couple of toques, knit a blanket for a friends anniversary present and am back on the dishcloth train. Getting prepared already for next years gifting season!

We bottled our newest wine, a Riesling ice style wine. So we stuck with our theme and called it the Mad Albert Frostbite Ice Wine. We tried out some new labels and they were a hit. We will be using them again for sure! We spent a Valentine’s day at home relaxing, cooked a nice meal of stuffed venison backstraps and just enjoyed the company of having each other. I am so lucky to have such an amazing man in my life and couldn’t be happier that I get to marry my best friend. I finished up the tanning and curing of my rabbit pelt and was able to put it out on display. It was nowhere near perfect, but for my first try I will take it. I know more than when I started and can carry that with me for next season.

And to help with the spring urges, our seed order arrived in the mail and we have already began planning for our 2017 Garden! We have did some rearranging with our layouts, added a few different veggies and herbs and are hoping to add some berries to our crop this year for our own wine making. We look so forward to the summer months and tending to the garden. It wont be long before we are starting our seeds in the house and getting the greenhouse ready to go!

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So as we watch winter start to fade away, we appreciate it in all its beauty, in all it has brought to us and all it will hold in store for us for next year!

 

FIND ME WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

FIND ME WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.

-J.R.R. Tolkein

 

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas gone around here, and the New Year started, we had thought we would find ourselves with some time to enjoy life and to slow things down a little. Who were we kidding?! Our weekends have been filled with baby showers, family dinners and classes.

For Christmas, I signed up Dan for a class that would fulfill a lifelong dream of his, bladesmithing. He, his Dad and his brother Joe all participated in a two day course of knife making and each brought home their own 4″ hunting blade that they designed and made. Each knife was unique and they all looked great. It was a great weekend for the boys and a nice treat for Dan who works so hard and is always making sure everyone around him is happy, that he deserved his own happiness as well!

Yesterday we had a gathering at our neighbours across the way to celebrate the birth of their new little baby boy. After the baby shower, we had Dan’s family over for dinner and enjoyed Dan’s renowed Wellington with a twist, using the back strap from my deer this year. Venison Wellington may just be my favourite, and how neat is it that I can say I provided that meat!img_20170115_193456_650

15876367_650582398447215_5997462409097248768_nWe have found ourselves finally getting a break in the arctic temperatures and the days couldn’t be more beautiful outside. We got to open the door up on the chicken coop so everyone could venture out for some fresh air and sunshine. It took a little coaxing with our left over pancakes, but before long George was out crowing and calling his ladies to follow. We have seen a big increase in our egg production over the last couple of weeks and are up to usually anywhere from four to seven eggs a day. Even the pigs have been spotted outside the house more, venturing around in the snow and taking in the sunshine. Everyone is loving the warmth! Our little donkey boys are doing great too and their Hee-Haw’s are getting louder with each week.

Throughout the chaos, I have been able to find img_20170113_175252_743the time to slip out to be with nature. Each afternoon when I get home from work, I jump in my little truck Suzi-Q and venture out beyond the fenceline into the woods in the back. Out back I have set up snares in several different areas for rabbits. So far, we have caught two snow hares. I am in the works of preserving the skins to use at a later time.

15877169_144699936026893_6337895686075318272_nGetting out into the woods has been my escape as of late. Walking through the brush trails, listening to the birds and squirrels and even as the warmer weather sneaks in, listening as the snow falls from the branches of the trees above. We had a chance to get back to the very back of our property to retrieve the cards from the trail cam we keep back there. What a wonderful surprise to us to find a couple of Lynx on the camera just this past week. They are such beautiful and solitary creatures it was such a blessing to have seen them on our camera.

img_20170106_094053_299I have also made sure to find time for my other passions, including finally picking up a book I had waiting on the back burner to read. I stumbled across the words of Aldo Leopold this past November while I was “pinning” quotes for hunting season and being outdoors. His writing took my breath away and left me with goosebumps. The way he describes nature and his surroundings is unlike no other. So I had to get his book A Sand County Almanac. It has been a great read thus far and it is encouraging my love for nature and for preservation. img_20170106_102308_554

And of course, there is always some kind of knitting project on the go! Michael’s had a big yarn sale over the weekend so I was able to pick up yarn for a few new and old projects. I have been attempting my first hat, I have a new blanket on the go and of course picked up some cotton yarn to make up more dishcloths!

Last but not least, we bottled a new Syrah here on the farm and our custom labels are my favourite yet! Inspired by custom etched glass bottles we received as a Christmas present, we may just be onto something here with Mad Albert. I see a brand in the future of our wine journey!madalbertwine

So while our lives have seemed kind of crazy as of late, it has been so important to us to make time for ourselves, to make time to get outdoors and to make time to do the things we love. Because really, that’s how one retains their sanity in this crazy crazy world!

December 31, 2016

December 31, 2016

And now  we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.

– Rainer Maria Rilker

 

What a year 2016 has been here for us on the farm. I can’t believe we have already celebrated Christmas and that tonight when the clock strikes midnight, we will be welcoming in the new year, 2017. Where does the time go?!

We can confidently say that we accomplished a lot here in the past year. That we faced our fair share of challenges and obstacles, that we met and exceeded goals we’d set for ourselves and that we’ve created new opportunities and dreams for our future.

Perhaps my favourite memory for 2016 is that the manIMG_20160824_082100 I love and want to spend the rest of my life with, asked me to marry him! That he got down on one knee, in the rain, in the mud and asked me to spend the rest of my life making a living with him. And I can’t wait to do just that! While we don’t have anything set in stone yet, there are 365 days in 2017, and I am sure one of those days will come to find us married. I cannot wait to become Mrs. Burch.

This year brought with it too its fair share of hard times and challenges, that together we weathered through and grew because of. This time last year was one of the last days of work Dan put in with a company he had worked hard for for ten years. When the oil slump hit Alberta, it also hit us hard as well. Unforseen finanacial costs put a dent in savings and a life lived comfotably had all of a sudden taken a turn. It was a great learning experience for us. Learning what the most important things in life were, that together we could make it through anything and that we maybe really were meant for the simple life after all. We made it through the slump, and after a year of no work, Dan has found himself in the perfect job for our future. I am a true believer that things happen for a reason.

In this past year we have watched our land grow from a piece of property to a homestead in the making. What started two summers ago with six laying hens as a birthday gift, has turned into twenty laying hens, two different coop setups and a big chicken enclosure. We rescued three little pot belly pig brothers and welcomed them to our farm this past summer, as well as four pigs we raised for butcher in November. We just got all the meat back and we will be heading into the new year with a freezer full! Last, but certainly not least, for Christmas I received two miniature donkeys as a gift. Our little farm is surely growing and I couldn’t be happier about the direction we are going.

We increased the size of the vegetable garden in the summer, and while Mother Nature may not have been on our side, we found Fall with lots still to harvest and add the the pantry. We planted a few more varieties of fruit trees, a couple fruit bushes and new flower beds. We tried our hand at some new preservative recipes, including a family favourite Tomato Chutney, from Dan’s Grandma Sweetie Pie. We are hoping this year to make the move into exploring life with bees. It will be a work in progress and a learning curve for sure, but we are excited to move forward with our little farm and to help out nature by raising bees.

More land and cut lines were cleared, new trails forged through the bush and a big watering hole dug out in the back. This year will be a year for adding the last touches on fencing, planning out corrals and new barn plans to be thought of. It may find us with a few more critters in our care, you just never know!

msjeanThere was also sadness brought with the past year. We lost my Grandpa William who had battled with lung cancer and kidney issues. He was a strong man who held on. My Grandma is even stronger for continuing on with life and for being there for our family. We also said goodbye to my little Emma Jean, my first and only dog, my little pugger, my shadow my best friend. It was so hard to be out West away from family while all these losses happened, but I have an amazing support network and could feel the love all the way across the country.

We are playing this New Year’s Eve low key, as we have had a crazy couple of weeks celebrating the Christmas holidays. We are not venturing far from home, and plan on spending the day tending to the animals, perhaps checking some of our game cameras out back and even getting in some snow shoeing. With the sunshine the last couple of days I have been out shoeing around our back fence line. It is one of my favourite winter past times! I love creating a set of tracks in fresh untouched snow, listening to the way the shoes crunch along. And of course having my side kick Lily to guide and keep me company.

May everyone enjoy their evening, may you be surrounded by friends, family or the one you love. May you look back on 2016 with happiness and accomplishment and look forward to 2017 with hope and eagerness. A very Happy New Year to all!

Here are my resolutions for the new year:

A new skill I’d like to learn: bee keeping, shearing, and fibre spinning.

A place I’d like to visit: Bora Bora, Nashville

A book I’d like to read: I have a pile of books I received through a book exchange, I want to have each one read before the summers end.

A letter I’m going to write: I want to make sure I send more letters to my Grandma and more phone calls. I want to make it a Sunday evening thing.

A new food I’d like to try: Not really a food but I want to try Kombucha and try making my own.

I’m going to do better at: Being patient, being kind and being me!

 

See you all in 2017!!!