Wild is the Music of Autumn Winds

Wild is the Music of Autumn Winds

Autumn slipped away in the dead of the night, leaving behind the barren tree branches naked of their leaves. She blew a kiss farewell to all creatures who scrambled through the brush, the last call for foraging. And in the morning when the world awoke, their eyes were greeted by Winter. No time was wasted as she painted the world white, and the frigid chill in the air was a sure sign she was here to stay.

While we have definitely settled in here for the long haul of the Winter months on the farm, there was so much left of Autumn to share with everyone. So before the pictures of the snow fall appear, and we talk about wood fires and temperatures dropping to twenty below, let’s take a step back and recap October.

October was a busy month here on the farm as we played catch up from our September holidays. There was garden harvesting to be done, fall clean ups and animal prep for the cold to come.

Before we had left for the East, we had tarped over our tomatoes in the raised beds in a hopes that should there be frost while we were away, the tomatoes would be saved until we could return home to pick them. It worked! While most of the plants themselves had started to wilt and turn to brown, we salvaged the tomato fruits and laid them out to ripen on newspaper in the man room off the garage. It was a slow process, but I would say over half of what we picked turned to a brilliant red and was used up. Whether it be in a home cooked sauce, canned for salsa or even turned into chutney, we were lucky to not have them go to waste.

It wasn’t our best year for the garden by any means, but we learn and appreciate it even more for that. We had only a couple of zucchini survive, a handful of cabbage, some carrots and onions, a few cobs of corn and a couple of pumpkins. But let me tell you, we will never go hungry because can we ever grow potatoes! We had planted six rows of potatoes in their own area of the yard, and we couldn’t keep up with digging them out. I think its safe to say, we’ll be eating potatoes all winter.

Gardening doesn’t stop in the Fall either. It’s the opposite of Spring gardening when you are breaking the ground and getting ready for new life. In the Fall, you cut back the dead plants, spread your fertilizer source and let the Winter prepare the soil for new life again come spring. A day was spent cutting back flowers, hostas and grasses. Cutting everything back from little garden circle of happiness was bittersweet. I had so enjoyed the sunflowers and wildflowers that had grown over the Summer months. But even in the last breaths of life, wildflowers are just so beautiful. I am excited to see how the circle will grow and fill next season!

Fall brings with it some bittersweet moments on the farm as well. Since Spring we raised seven hogs who would be for butcher. While I go into each year knowing this, so far it hasn’t made the task any easier when butcher time comes. I spend my Summer months caring for the pigs, feeding them each morning and night, watching as they run about the wooded pen they had this year. I am so thankful that my freezer will be full for the season and that we have helped to also provide for our friends and family. But I don’t participate. Not yet anyways. Perhaps as the years go on that will change. But for now, I am just happy to know that I raised them with love and care and that there is now pork for a year in my freezer.

But that is why we have an array of animals here on the farm to love! We were on the ball this year and were able to get the chicken coop winterized before the snow hit. We cover the run of the coop with plastic for wind protection, run heat tape around the nesting boxes with insulation to cover and keep them toasty and have to plug in a heated waterer. We also have heated waterers for the pigs and donkeys which are plugged in as speak. The chickens have all been moved to one coop for the Winter season and we said goodbye to all of the roosters. The three little pigs have lots of straw in the Pig Haus to keep them warm and the donkey’s also have straw bedding laid down in their shelter. Everyone on the farm is ready for the cold and snow!

We’ve also been busy catching up on all of our Home Brews. We tried out first ever batch of apple cider, with apples we had collected over our holidays across Canada. It is now in bottles and should be able to taste test for Christmas! We also bottled our first  batches of fruit wine, including one of rhubarb and one saskatoon berry. We sure are excited to try them out!

The chill in the air also means its time to get back into the knitting! If I am to have dishcloths ready for Christmas gifts its best to get a head start. I always have so much fun trying out new patterns and seeing how all the colours come together. Once I get a stash of dishcloths I am itching to get back to knitting my first pair of socks which are still on my circular needles from last winter. Who knows, maybe there will be time for a blanket or two , or even an attempt at a sweater! I’ve also got a new favourite spot for knitting, on my comfy cozy sheepskin rug by the wood fire. It was perhaps my favourite purchase of our whole holiday! I’m also trying out my hand with my new sewing machine and making my first ever quilt. Stay tuned for the final project!

For Thanksgiving we made a special trip with friends to the local corn maze. It was such a fun day of getting lost, sipping on hot chocolate and of course feeding all the animals at the petting zoo. And while we may have wound up stranded on the side of the highway in our friend’s “Wittalbego”, it honestly couldn’t have been a more fun day spent with any better people. If I was going to be stranded, it would be with them any day!

Halloween wrapped up the end of the month, and while we don’t get trick or treaters out in our neck of the woods, we always pop in to see our god son’s costume and drop off some halloween books. He was the cutest little troll and his mom Jackie put in lots of work to their costumes. I look forward to those days for us, especially incorporating the animals on the farm into the pictures. My mom even sent me some old photos of my kick ass costumes from when I was little, she did a great job too!

We look forward to a little quiet time here on the farm as we make our way into Winter. Everyone is ready for the cold and we can finally relax and enjoy each other’s company. With little projects here and there to finish up and the beginning of hunting season, I feel like this will be a great winter!

 

 

The Burches Cross Canada Trucking

The Burches Cross Canada Trucking

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”  –Miriam Adeney

 

On the Labour Day long weekend in September, Dan and I packed up the truck, hooked on a trailer and pulled out of the driveway for a three week trip that would take us across four provinces in Canada. This would be the longest period of time that we’d been away from the farm, and I was a little bit nervous to say the least.

I had scoured online ads and Facebook groups looking for a “Farm Sitter” for months before the trip. I was being very selective on who was going to be taking care of our critters while we were away! A local girl in highschool came out for an interview, and then once again to do a run through practice. I had made up signs in the feed shed with instructions on feeding, how much and who got what food. We left emergency contact numbers and names, and also had some close friends who popped in on occasion just to double check all was well on the farm. With the animals in good hands, it was time to hit the road!

The first leg of our journey was taking us to Manitoba, where we would be making a weeks stop for Dan’s family reunion on his mother’s side. A pit stop for the evening was made in Saskatoon where we met up with Dan’s brothers for the rest of the trek. The next day it was on to Falcon Lake, which lies on the border between Manitoba and Ontario.

We arrived at Falcon Lake in the mid afternoon, giving us day light and time to unpack the truck and make ourselves at home in our cozy little cabin. We were right on the lake, with our own dock in the water, hot tub on the deck and wood burning stove. Each family had a designated cabin to stay in, and a main lodge where group dinners and family events were to be held. After unpacking, throwing a couple lines into the water off the deck, Dan catching his first and only fish of the week, it was time to head to the Lodge and meet all of Dan’s Aunts and Uncles I had heard so much about.

It was a busy, fun filled week, getting to know Dan’s family and spending time playing games, canoeing the lake, hiking the trails and eating way too much good food! Each night dinner was prepared by one of the families and it was never disappointing.  Mornings came with fresh scones or cinnamon buns always, and a whole morning was designated to making pies! I think I probably gained back any weight I had managed to lose leading up to this point.

One quiet evening, Dan and I snuck away from the group to enjoy some time to ourselves down by the water as the sun set. I had a feeling it was going to be special evening. Seeing the Northern Lights has always been a dream of mine. I have seen bits and pieces in the sky here and there, but that night sitting by the lakeside was magical. It began with wisps in the air. I was wishing we would see them, and just like that they started to dance across the skies in brilliant greens. The still, black lake was the perfect reflection of their brilliance. It’s a night I won’t forget.

After a week at the cabin, it was time to be hitting the road, this time, heading East to Ontario. We were off to spend the next couple of weeks with my family at my Mom and Dad’s.

First order of business when arriving was finding Dan some sweet corn to indulge in. Was he in for a treat! Then it was off to my favourite little farm for a visit, Mapleton Organics. We had fun wandering around looking at all the critters and indulging in some unique flavoured ice creams. Dan tried the Dandelion and I, as usual, the Lavender.

We spent an afternoon at a new local brewery that had recently opened in Blyth, called Cowbell Brewing Co. It was a self guided tour through the brewery followed by lunch, and a couple flights of beer for tasting. Right up our alley!

Our next adventure took us to Niagara-on-the-Lake. While it’s a little busy, the quaint, historic town and beautiful homes make it so worth the visit. Not to mention all the wonderful little wineries along the way! We made a stop at Rosewood for some honey mead tastings, a stop at my favourite, Caroline Cellar, where the Plum wine is always a must and had lunch at the most beautiful historic old barn. The Cesar served here was basically a meal in itself! A stop at the local cheese store was also on the agenda, for their famous Guernsey cheese curds. We made a pit stop for fruit on the way out of town, bushels of peaches and pears for canning! Then it was on to Niagara Falls!

While Niagara Falls is mostly a huge tourist trap, Dan had never been before and it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. So we made a stop and lucked out with a fairly calm day for tourists. We meandered along, taking in the views, seeing the Maid of the Mist below and finished with a drive up Cliffton Hills on the way out of town.

After some day trips here and there, it was nice too just to hang around the house with family. Mom and I got creative with our #eggvignette, playing around with the farm fresh eggs we had brought with us and all the beautiful fall leaves. We spent an evening over at my brother Kenzie’s new house, staying up until all hours of the night around the fire with him and his girlfriend Alexis. Mom and Dad threw us a lovely “Wedding BBQ”, and we got to spend the day catching up with my Aunts and Uncles, Cousins and Grandma. Mom and I even found the time between it all to preserve and can 25 jars of peaches and pears that we had brought back from Niagara!

We made sure to take Dad out for a day of fishing, and while we may not have caught any big “lunkers”, we didn’t come home skunked. Tiny little basses was all that was biting that day. But spending the time by the lake watching the sail boats roll in and walking along the river banks was refreshing.

Like always, time flies when you’re having fun, and before we knew it, it was time to be packing up the trailer and heading back West. We took a couple of extra days to drive back so that we could make some pit stops along the way. We made several stops along the shores of Lake Superior, walked along the beaches and dipped our toes in the water.  We made sure to stop in Wawa and snap a selfie with the giant Canada Goose.

Our last stop in Ontario was to a sheep farm we had passed on the way through the first time. We purchased a sheep skin rug from the shop along with a gorgeous wool sweater, and paid the extra $4 to tour the farm. Weren’t we in for a treat! Baby donkeys, Emu’s and Elk! The farm tour may have been my favourite part!

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In the town of White River, Manitoba, we stopped to see the monument for Winnie the Pooh. It was here in this small town in Manitoba, that the beloved childhood story began when a hunter rescued an orphan bear cub. The bear cub was sold to an army soldier who kept her until he was deployed on mission. The bear, named Winnie after the soldiers hometown of Winnipeg, was placed in the care of the London Zoo. It was here at the zoo the author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin fell in love with the bear, starting his beloved children’s book Winnie the Pooh. It was an important stop for me, and even though it was pouring rain, we tracked down the statue for a picture. I always loved Winnie the Pooh as a child, and my Dad has called me Pooh Bear since I can remember, even to this day!

Our last stop on the journey may have just been my favourite of the whole trip (sorry family!). Dan and I spent the night in his childhood home town of Gimli, Manitoba. We stayed at the resort his mom had once worked at, visited Tergesen’s, the gift shop that he had so many memories of as a child and walked along the pier taking in all the sail boats. We skipped across to the next town of Sandy Hook and drove by Dan’s childhood home, his old school and Winnipeg Beach. It was such a special day to spend seeing all of his memories from childhood. We stopped at the local coffee bar for drinks, and then it was back onto the highway for the final leg of our journey home.

The last day of driving was spent with one goal in mind, getting home! And what a beautiful sight it was pulling the truck into our driveway that day. While we had so much fun with our families, exploring each others home towns and making our own adventures along the way, we had been away for too long. Pulling into the drive, being greeted by smiling, wiggly dogs, roosters crowing, pigs snorting, and donkeys braying really just made it all sink it, we were home!

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!