The Sunday of Summer

The Sunday of Summer

When I wake in the morning, the sunshine is no longer greeting me through the bedroom window. I stumble through the darkness, hitting the light in the closet and finding my chore clothes. I slip into my cold jeans and pull on a sweater and make my way outside to greet the day. You can feel the cool now in the morning air, that fall chill that is lifting with the morning dew.

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This is my favourite time of day, when the world starts to come alive as the sun crests over the horizon. First comes the crow of the rooster greeting the sun, and alarming the farm yard there’s movement in the early morning hours. This is followed by curious snorts of a little pig snout, telling his brothers and sisters that food is on the way. The chorus erupts with squeals and barks of hungry hogs. The next pen over is filled with grumpy pig groans as the three little pigs wait (not so patiently) for their breakfast to arrive too. The last note on the morning air is the loudest, as the donkey boys give the finale with a loud bray of morning welcome. The barn yard is alive and awake.

This particular morning, after feeding is done and waters are topped off, I stand to appreciate this land we have tamed and the sweat and tears we have put into all the pens and out buildings holding our many farm animals. I marvel at the way life falls into place and how with hard work and determination, dreams do come true. My thoughts are broken as low overhead four whooping cranes pass by in flight. The beating of their wings on the air and the call of their whoops beyond beautiful for words. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude for this life I am so blessed to live.

There is no doubt that fall is in the air, peeking it’s head from around the corner. It is true that the month of August is like the Sunday of summer. That last little glimpse. The end of one and the beginning of another.

And I am totally OK with autumn making it’s way in. It is, after-all, my favourite season of the year!

The summer has been a busy one here for us on the farm. It brought with it many changes and challenges, but here we are, we survived! We were able to find a dry day or two, between the days when it felt like the rain would never stop, to get the rest of our fencing done. This meant we could move over the hogs to their own enclosure to grow until fall and move the donkey boys from their winter pen back into the back pasture on the grass. We set up an area with electric fencing that they have full range of, and I have to say, they are loving life. Who knew these two donkey boys could make one girl’s heart so full of love. Most sunny evenings I can be found out fraternizing with my boys, enjoying a cold drink, reading a book or just goofing around. My shadows are never far behind. I even made flower crowns and was able to snap a couple quick photos before they became snacks. These boys are always up to something and there is never a dull moment with them around.

2017-07-29 11.31.37 1.jpgThe pigs are loving their new pen too. They have a large area now in the bush they are inhabiting. They’ve wasted no time in turning over as much ground as possible. We call them our bush hogs. They are growing like weeds, on a diet of pig chop and apples that we received. They’ll stay in the bush pen until later this fall when they make the trip to the freezer. While some don’t agree, you just really can’t beat knowing where your meat is coming from and that it was raised with love and treated humanely.

There was excitement this past week during evening chores when we got to the chicken coop. The Little’s we purchased in the Spring as babies have started to lay, and there is a blue egg layer! I had had my fingers crossed that we would get some new colours in our egg basket. Along with the beautiful blue we also are getting a new fun green. Now to wait for our Olive Eggers to lay! From the thirteen babies we brought home this spring, eight have turned out to be roosters. With the ladies looking a little worse for wear, we made the decision to cull most of our roosters and give the ladies a chance to get their feathers back before the winter creeps in with the cold. Even old faithful George didn’t make the cut and he joined the others at freezer camp. We processed the birds and used our new chicken plucker which worked like nobody’s business. We are getting that freezer full again.

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This hasn’t been our best year for the garden, whether it be that Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating, or that our seeds didn’t sprout like they should have. While some things are doing better than others, we really can’t complain when we have anything at all to be able to harvest. It was another year without peas but our beans exploded. Our lettuce was a no show, but we won’t be planting it in the same row next year. Our corn has grown tall-ish and has cobs starting and tassles growing. There is a lack of cucumbers, but the beginning of zucchini. We may or may not get brussel sprouts, but our beets and carrots are there growing under ground, or so I hope. I have three cabbage that are absolutely beautiful and I am rooting for them as they will be the first cabbage we’ve had from the garden. Our dill has grown and is starting to flower, along  with our other herbs that are nearly done and gone to flower. We have tomatoes starting to ripen on the vine and more celery than we know what to do with.

With the start of the garden harvest happening marks the beginning of canning season! Using the oven, I was able to dehydrate the herbs growing in our herb garden tubs. I have jars of dill, mint, basil, chives, parsley, oregano and sage. I am excited for mint herbal tea this winter! We had an overload of apples on one of ours trees and to save any of the branches from snapping we thinned them out a little. With the apples picked I made my first ever small batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Mmmmm! We’ve done a small batch of pickled beans to start with and I am sure there will be lots more to come. Today with our plethora of eggs we’ve had collecting in the fridge, I used up nine cartons and made the first batch of pickled eggs for the season. And one of the best parts of canning and preserving, is the labels. Can’t wait to share what I’ve come up with this year for our labels!

Where the garden has been lacking my flowers have been thriving. While Dan just loves all my flower we don’t eat, he can’t help but appreciate their beauty. In front of the vegetable garden we have two wild flower patches to help draw in the bees.  Around the house we have several flower beds filled with perrenials. And this summer, with the help of an idea from Pinterest of course, Dan dug me out a circle garden which has come to be called my flowerchild garden of happiness. Around the circle is planted sunflowers, wild flowers and poppies. It is my favourite place in the yard and is buzzing with life right now. I am sure next year it will be even more developed and we have the perfect thing to sit right in the middle, our new bee hive! We were gifted a flow hive as a wedding present from our close friends and we are so excited to try our hands in the apiary field next Spring.

Summer has also been a time for collecting berries here on the farm. We stumbled across a large patch of raspberry bushes out back along our cut line in the bush. We were able to collect 8lbs of berries from out back and used them to make a batch of our own raspberry wine! We’ve also used Saskatoon’s collected from Dan’s dad’s farm to make a batch of Saskatoon berry wine. I think it will be absolutely delicious! The other batch of wine we have going at the moment is a rhubarb wine from our rhubarb patch here. We have had so much fun playing around with our wines this summer after all of our practice with kits. It’s just too bad we have to wait so long to sample them! We look forward to maybe getting to make honey mead from our own farm honey next year!

Throughout the business of the season we have been sure to make some time to have fun as well as work hard. I started a new job at the beginning of August and the change made for a week’s break before starting. Dan also had time off and so we used it to do a few things we’d been waiting all summer for. We took a day trip to the Calgary Zoo. I had been asking Dan for years to go and we had never been able to make it work. We had a blast and couldn’t have asked for better weather that day. My favourite was probably the new penguin exhibit. It felt like the Arctic with the ambiance and lights. The penguins were so much fun to watch gliding and swimming through the water. Of course we also found pigs of several different varieties. My next favourite was the meer cats. They were so adorable and so funny to watch!

We found a day to get down to our favourite fishing spot on the Pembina river and although the rain followed us down there, we didn’t let that stop us! Dan caught three jack fish and I was there for the moral support. We made it back to the river during our week off and threw the canoe in for a float. It took us five hours from bridge to bridge. We made a couple pit stops, fished for a little and even got in a canoe nap. It was a great day and a great voyage along the river in the canoe.

Finally we were able to get around to celebrating our marriage with our friends and family here in the West. Over the long weekend we hosted our “I Do” BBQ. It was a great weekend filled with great food and great company. We had a pig roast, cooked up a ham, deep fried two of Dan’s dad’s turkeys and had the most beautiful cake to cut. Followed by bonfire and lots of drinks for many, it was a beautiful day for Dan and I. We are headed to Ontario in September and will take some time to celebrate with friends and family there as well.

As the summer winds down, we are so thankful and blessed for what life has brought us in the last couple of months. We look forward to the fall and settling in to a new routine around the farm. Garden harvests, more canning and even a vacation for the two of us. We are headed to Manitoba for the September long weekend for a family reunion and then we are continuing on to Ontario to visit with my family for a couple weeks. I am so excited to be able to share this with Dan!

 

 

 

 

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!