Autumn Came, With Wind and Gold

Autumn Came, With Wind and Gold

We find ourselves already in the middle of September, wrapped up in the turning of the seasons and the beginnings of the Autumn season. We find ourselves in the midst of harvest, garden clean up, canning and preparing for the inevitable winter months that will follow.

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Our garden has suffered from the hands of frost that touch it in the early mornings lately. The leaves have turned to a soft yellow almost brown colour as they dry up and wither away, taking away with them the last thoughts of summer and all of our hard work. We harvested all of our carrots and beans, pickling them and finding them a resting spot in our pantry. We ate the last of the zucchini, and shredded the rest of what we could to freeze for baking. We pulled all of our onions and leeks, letting the onions dry out in the pantry and chopping and freezing our leeks for soup later. The potato boxes have been dug up, the tomato plants pulled, and the tomatoes are ripening in the garage on folding tables. We had three folding tables worth of tomatoes to ripen, from cherry to roma. We have made several batches of tomato chutney, tried out hand at our first salsa and are now saving up to try out our own ketchup! All we have left is our little mini pumpkin patch with three whole pumpkins, our row of beets and the surprise cauliflower that has survived the odds.

The flower gardens are on their last breath of life. I have been able to collect seeds from the hollyhocks, cosmos and poppies to use for next year. The sunflowers have flowered, and although they may not be as big as they were last year, they are just as beautiful. I now need to dig up my gladiola bulbs to dry for next spring and collect the seeds pods from my sweet pea. It was a wonderful year for flowers and I am excited for next spring to carry forward with the knowledge I learned from this year.

20160915_132242It is once again time to deworm our chicken flock, so we had saved up a
bountiful supply of eggs to carry us through and
even had enough to do several jars of pickled eggs to add to our pantry collection. It has been a really wet summer for us here and so deworming and delousing is just a precaution for us heading into winter. The girls have been laying us almost a dozen eggs a day and George is just such a gentleman to have around.

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The pigs are growing like crazy. They are taller now than the pot bellies but are still being told who runs the show. Tui is and always will be the “boss hog“ here. While he may be a cranky old man, he always loves some scratches behind the ear and a nose rub. It is good to see that everyone is now able to sleep and share the pig haus and nobody is left out in the rain under a tree branch.

We also added some new additions to the farm and adopted two little kittens. We have decided on them being named Milo and Otis (only my favourite childhood movie of all time). Right now they are living in the garage as we get them used to where home should be and get ready to introduce them to the dogs. Here`s hoping they will be good mousers for us!

img_20160905_105405Even here in the house we have seen the turn to fall. From fall decorations to tiny pumpkins, we have gotten into the autumn swing of things. It is after all my favourite season! From pumpkin everything, to maple flavoured goodies, I just cant seem to get enough. Now I am waiting ever so patiently for the season of woodfires, sweaters and tea all day!

 

 

 

And, Just Like That,Summer Fell into Fall

And, Just Like That,Summer Fell into Fall

It was a busy week here at the Farm, as we had my Mom and Dad visiting us for ten days from Ontario. Time always seems to go by too quickly, but we made some great memories and had some great adventures with them while they were here.

We started the week out with farm truck tours around the property, showing off Dan’s hard work on all our cut lines and trails we have carved out of the bush. We took them to each of our trail cams to change pictures, later looking at all the deer we had caught on camera on the computer. We had lots of help for chore times, getting Mom and Dad right in there to help feed the pigs and collect eggs from the chickens. I was able to show off my flower beds to Mom and I think I got her stamp of approval! She has quite the green thumb so I had lots to live up to.

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Next we spent a day on the Pembina river fishing. Beautiful scenery, hot weather and a couple cold drinks made it the perfect day. Dad was the first to catch a fish, pulling in a decent sized Jackfish (Pike). He’d go on to the be the fisher of the day, pulling in five Jackfish and one Walleye (Pickerel). I even caught a small Jackfish right before we left for the day.

On Sunday we spent the day over at Dan’s dad’s farm and down at the cabin. We took Mom and Dad for a tour around on the quads, Dad got to catch a big trout out of the pond and we had a wonderful roast beef dinner with everyone. It was great to introduce everyone and have the Neabels meet the Burches!IMG_20160824_082100.jpg

Monday was my favourite day, and a day that will not be forgotten. We had woken up to rain for the second day in a row. Things were getting mucky. We went out to get our chores done first things. We headed for the muddy pig pen and after feeding both groups, I turned around to fine Dan down on one knee in the mud holding a diamond ring. He asked me to spend the rest of my life making a life with him. I couldn’t have asked for a more real proposal, and of course I said yes!!! I cannot wait to become Mrs. Hadleigh Burch!

Tuesday we left for a little road-trip. We started in Jasper National Park, spending a night there and visiting one of our favourite little restaurants Syrah for dinner. We walked around the town visiting little shops and boutiques. In the morning we were BC bound. We stopped to do a river safari where we spotted two black bears. We took a back mountain road through Wells Gray Provincial Park and hiked back to Myrtle Lake. It was a beautiful hike with great scenery. Not to mention the side of the mountain trail we rode down that ended up giving Mom nightmares of falling off of cliffs! Oooops! We spent the next night in Kamploops and the next day we meandered through a couple of wineries, stopped at my favourite attraction The Log Barn and found a little dairy with the best ice-cream. Our last stop in BC was Golden for supper and then we trucking on home. It was a late night back but an amazing trip, and ever better to have shared it with Mom and Dad.

Friday was a low key day at the house. Mom and I picked goodies from the garden, including beans, carrots, zucchini and cucumbers. We managed to pickle three jars of dill pickles and one jar of dill beans. We had fresh beans, carrots and zucchini for dinner. We cut fresh dill, mint, sage and basil to hang and dry for preserving.  Dan and dad built supports for all my flowers that had fallen down as a result of all the rain we got and also built new racks for our wine room! It was a great way to spend the last day with them.

Saturday we were off to St. Albert to spend the day with my Aunt and Uncle and to leave Mom and Dad for the night so they could take them back to the airport. We visited the St. Albert farmers market, Holes greenhouse and ordered in Chinese for supper. Goodbyes are always the hardest part. After some big hugs, lots of tears and a promise of visits soon, we were heading back home.

This morning feels like we have awoken to a very fallish day. I guess as we said goodbye to Mom and Dad we also waved goodbye to Summer. It is crazy to think we are heading into September already! But there are no tears for this girl, I am so ready for sweater weather, tea and pumpkin everything.

Hello Fall!!!!

 

 

Some Old Fashioned Things like Fresh Air and Sunshine are Hard to Beat

Some Old Fashioned Things like Fresh Air and Sunshine are Hard to Beat

Things on the farm are a buzzin.

We find ourselves already part way through the month of August and Summer is in full swing. From the gardens, to chicken coops and the pig pen in between, life hasn’t been better here at the Burch Ranch.

Garden:

After what has seemed like months upon months of rain, which I cant really complain about because we have been a dry dry province leading up this Summer, we have found ourselves with some Summer sun and heat. Our garden which we started over the May long weekend was in a sad state after all the moisture we had been receiving. We lost our crop of peas, which we planted twice, and everything else seemed to bloom a little later than usual. But it is with large hearts, grateful minds and full bellies we can say we have finally started to see our hard work pay off.

We have had the chance to indulge in garden fresh spinach, lettuce, onions like nobodies business, tomatoes coming out the wazoo and our own grown strawberries. We have squash and pumpkin on the vine, melons flowering and the first sight of beans making an appearance. Our corn is almost as tall as me and has tasseled out on the top and we have a lovely row of carrot tops. Our beets have taken off in their row, we have several cucumbers and our dill is flourishing, can you say dill pickles?! And of course not to be forgotten are Dan’s two potato boxes that are as tall as we are…and hopefully full of potatoes!

And just let me toot my own horn a little here, my flowers have taken off too and I couldn’t be more happy with them! How gorgeous mother nature is in all her natural beauty. I have seven foot tall holly hocks, glads for days and my sweet pea wheel turned out fantastic. My mother always has the most beautiful gardens you ever did see and when she arrives later today at our place for the first time, I think I will have done her proud with my flower beds.

Chicken Coop:

We made some adjustments to our coop in the last month, as we found we weren’t getting the egg production we wanted and had worked for. Albert found himself a new home with some lovely ladies and Pierce went to Dan’s dad’s farm to strut his stuff with the turkeys. That left us with George, our Copper Maran rooster, our five Copper Maran hens, four Polish hens, four Gold Cochin hens, two Black Cochin hens and our four little sizzle/frizzles. The coop dynamic hasn’t been better and from our 19 hens we average nine to eleven eggs a day.

We even have our green eggs back from our Little Black Hen after she stopped laying back in May. And the newest eggs from the Copper Marans couldn’t be a prettier colour of brown.

Pig Pen:

Last but certainly not least, our little piggies.

We had rescued our three little pot bellies: Tui, Pudge and Oscar. They settled in well to their new home and have warmed up slightly to us as well. Tui is definitely the boss, and Oscar is our gentle giant. He is still the most timid of the three, but he will take a treat from your hand if you are patient and slow.

We also added four little farm pigs to the mix. These four will not be getting names as they will be butchered in the fall for meat. No getting attached, which is much harder than one would imagine. I just love pigs. Their big ears. Their pig snouts. They have a kiddie pool filled with water for drinking and cooling off, a mud hole which they dug up and we filled with water for them. They get apple treats daily and roam about their pen, rooting up mud and roots and bugs. They all get along well for the most part, Tui still must show he is the boss when it comes to dinner time. I am sure as they continue to grow the leadership role may shift.

I am so happy to finally have pigs in my life again after all those years wishing, waiting and hoping after working at the pig barn.

Winery:

Dan and I have been busy busy since Spring trying our hand at making all sorts of homemade wines. We started with wine kits, from Dan’s reds to my fruity spritzers, onto the whites for winter, we may have a new found addiction. For Dan’s birthday I purchased him a Port kit and we have since bottled it. We always keep one bottle of each in our “Reserve” cupboard so they may age and become our vintages. Dan’s favourite so far was his Malbec and mine was my Stonefruit.

Just a few weeks ago we decided to try our hand at making mead. I had purchased honey of a farmer at work and we mixed it all up to ferment. The mead will have to sit in the carboy now until Novemeber before we can bottle, but we are both looking forward to trying something new!

 

We couldn’t be happier with our little farm life. We are so excited to see what the future keeps on bringing for us!

And now for me, I am off to the airport to pick up my Mom and Dad to bring them to our home for the very first time. I cant wait to show off all our hard work!

 

 

The Lessons that Country Life has Taught Me

The Lessons that Country Life has Taught Me

I have vague memories as a child of the farm that my grandparents owned in rural Ontario. They had dairy cows, pigs and several chickens on the farm. My dad was the oldest of five children. When my grandpa was diagnosed with Leukemia in the early 90’s the family made a hard decision to sell the land and farm that had been the center of their lives for years and make the move closer to town. My dad always kept his love for the farm life, and instilled that upon me at a young age. He would help out friends every Spring with planting and Fall for harvest. That meant afternoon tractor rides and rides in the big combines for me. It meant afternoons spent with the kids out in the hay mows, or chasing the goats around the barns. I always wished I had been a farm kid. My dream was to one day make sure that I could give that lifestyle to my children. That someday my children would grow up to appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that went along with farming.

Throughout the years I have worked at different farms, with different animals and in different settings, including vet clinics. It wasn’t until last Spring when my boyfriend invited me to come live with him that the country life really began for me. I moved six hours north from my apartment in Lethbridge, where I had been staying and working at a tractor dealership (once again trying to fill the farming void in my life), to 160 acres of land in Central Alberta, two hours West of Edmonton.

This past year has been an eye opener for me, in both the good and the bad, as to how country life is. Although we are just getting started with our farm, there is lots that has been learned. I know one day this land we own and this land we have worked so hard on, will be what teaches our children the life lessons that are most important. I know I have been learning lots!

  1. Anyone can find the dirt in someone.

    While some will cast judgement that perhaps I was given this property and this life without having to work for it, that I just got to step right into this life, there were sacrifices made. When I moved from the city, I had to say goodbye to my feline friend and watch him go back to the shelter I had rescued him from. I had to say goodbye to a job I loved with amazing coworkers that were more like friends and family to me. I had to move to a place where I knew no one, where I would have to try and make new friends and where, in a time of economic downfall, I would have to find a new job.
    I was lucky that at the time, Dan was at a place where he could support me while I set out on all these new ventures in my new home. I was able to get settled in and get a hold of my new surroundings. And while I didn’t find a job right away, I wasn’t a big investment either. I had my own vehicle that was bought and paid for, I came with no credit card debts and I like to think I am relatively low maintenance in day to day life. We were able to get started at creating the life we both were wanting.

  2. You don’t get anything you don’t work hard for.

    Projects done on the farm here are done as a team. If I want something, then I have to help out to make it a reality. When we decided that we wanted to have animals, Dan was not going to just build me a chicken coop. We spent weeks, in the evenings and on our weekends, putting together the coop of my dreams. It was an experience, a way to really get to know a person, but we survived and it only made us stronger. And when it came time for another animal dream of mine to come true, I was there every step of the way to build the pig house I wanted.
    The vegetable garden I wanted to plant so bad, also had a lot of hard work and sweat put into. Afternoons of shoveling top soil, sand and peat moss. Days of weeding and digging and tending. Then came the raised beds, measuring and cutting rail road ties, lining them up, drilling them in. Nothing in our yard came from sitting on your butt and wishing away the day.

  3. Don’t dig up in doubt, what you planted in faith.

    Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to or had it planned. Last year we had a bumper crop in our vegetable garden. It was weeded to perfection and the plants were proliferating. This year, our garden is a little sad. While we still have lots of growth and while we will still be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour, it will be no where near what it was last year. You cant control the weather. You cant predict how much rain you will get, how hot the days will be or that random frost that will hit after everything is in bloom. What you can do is appreciate what you are given. Learn to accept what you have and use that to better yourself in the years to come.

  4. Patience really is a virtue.

    In life, just because you want something doesn’t mean you are going to get it right away. If you plant seeds in the ground, they will not sprout the next day no matter how much you water them or how much sunlight you provided. They require time to grow and break free of the soil.
    Waiting for the first eggs from our chickens felt like forever. I was having my doubts. Were we doing it right? Were we feeding them right? And then one morning we woke up and, Voila, our first egg. The best things in life take time. And when they are meant to happen, they will happen.

  5. Always keep the gates closed.

    This is the one lesson that is going to stick with me now for a very long time, and I am sure will be a mistake I will not make again, no matter what species of animal may be living within. We have 3 little pot belly pigs with us now, living in their own little enclosure with a gate and chain holding them in. It would seem as though yesterday someone ( we won’t point any fingers because let’s be honest it was me) left the gate unchained. I am in the chicken enclosure checking in on everyone and turn around to find pigs right outside enjoying the lawn! Rounding up three pigs, with two very excited dogs, is not an easy task.
    Lots of apple treats, a few bowl fulls of their pellets and an exhausted and sweaty me later, everybody had found their place back in the pen. Not before we had made a couple of rounds of the pens, decided to check out the feed shed and the area where the trailers are all parked. Thank heavens nobody headed for the bush and we have fence around the 16 acres at the house. I am now checking and double checking the chain any time I am in or out of the pig pen!

  6. In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

    Raising animals, I have learned, is not for the faint of heart or those weak in the stomach. It has taught me a lot about patience, about staying calm and collected and about showing compassion. I am one who tends to get worked up a little more easily. I can be excitable, I can jump to conclusions and I can be pessimistic. When dealing with farm animals, you have to be tough and you have to be collected.
    There are days when you come home to an injured chicken who was in a rooster fight. You clean him up best you can, and if you must, you find him a new home where he wont be picked on. We had to say goodbye to our Albert for this exact reason. While he was a bit of a jerk, he had a special place here because he was our first rooster and one of the first chickens we purchased last summer. But we couldn’t have him picked on and I didn’t want to come home to find him dead one day. So he found a new lovely home.
    There will be nights when you do bed time checks and find that one of your pigs is limping funny on a front leg. You’ll spend hours wondering what to do, what could be wrong. You’ll resort to Google and regret that decision. And eventually you will call the Vet to set your mind at ease and get some rest for the evening.
    You do all of this because of your love for animals, and for the compassion and care you want to provide for them. Because they give back to you and shouldn’t they at least have that respect.

  7. Loading more than a washer and dryer.

    Moving to the country meant there was now a risk for wildlife that I had never had to encounter before in my life. Cougars and bears could be a real threat, not just something to stop and take a picture of on the side of the road anymore. They weren’t only threatening to me either. We had chickens now, pigs to protect and our two beautiful farm dogs who I know would hold their own. But who wants to take that chance?
    I had never had anything to do with guns. I didn’t know the first thing about loading one, let alone shooting one. But Dan was a great teacher. I also decided it would be in my best interest to take a gun safety course as well and get my firearms license. You can never be too safe when it comes to firearms.
    This past Fall, I took my knowledge of rifles with me out to the bush and decided to try my hand at hunting off the land. I landed my first buck. As exhilarating as it was, I had utmost respect for this beautiful creature who’s life I had taken with my own hands. We butchered that deer, used every part we could and fed the rest to the dogs. The meat lasted us all winter long, and it gave me a new appreciation for survival and for providing for myself and a family.

  8. Keep close to nature’s heart.

    There is so much beauty in the wild and the quiet if you are willing to stop and listen and take it all in. I feel blessed every time I walk out our back door and I get to stare out across the land that we call our own. How neat is it that you can spot a deer off in the distance from your back deck? Or catch a moose travelling across your path in the  bush?
    How beautiful it is to watch the sun set across the forest tree tops, listen to the days noise turn to nightfall murmurings. To catch a ruffled grouse sprinting across your driveway, or come across a baby rabbit on your morning walks. In the dead of winter to actually hear the snow flakes hitting the ground, catching every footstep or bird call with it.

  9. Be humble in the good times, and strong during the bad.

    I am so thankful to have taken the dive off into the unknown and accepted the chance to move here with Dan. Throughout the past year we have worked at making this place our home instead of just a house. It is filled with love, with hard work, with determination and a hope for the future. And though this new year has brought with it its own challenges and defeats, we are working together as a team to see it through. We will not let it get the best of us. We will wake up each morning, thankful for the roof we have over our heads, the food that we can put on the table and the love that we have that holds us together.

  10. The importance of having a good man in your life.

    Some people will search their whole lives to find what I have found with Dan. To find someone who understands you is gold. To find someone who understands you and still puts up with you is what true love really is. We are living real life. We are normal people. We have our moments. We have our days. But at the end of it all, we always have each other. He is my rock when I need support. He is my calm when I am flying of the handle with worry and stress. He is my voice of reason when I cant think straight.
    He is the one who had given wings to so many of my dreams. He is the one who makes it all possible. Who works with me to make it happen. His little notes hidden around the house, in my lunch bag and in my car are what keep me going some days. The way he treats our animals, even when he is trying to be mister tough guys, melts my heart. It makes me excited for the day I can watch him with our children, showing them all about life. It makes me confident they will grow up to be good people, because they have a good man to guide them. It makes me excited for our future. And it makes me have faith in all that we are doing with our lives.
    Every day I count myself blessed to hold this kind of man’s hand in mine.

 

 

 

 

Oink, Oink

Oink, Oink

“Once upon a time you were a little girl with big dreams that you promised you’d make real one day. Don’t disappoint yourself.”

 

When I began college to become a Vet Tech at the age of 21, I had wanted to expand my animal experiences to large animals to help prepare me for jobs out of school. I had worked at a dairy barn, had seen chicken barns and had wanted to expand my horizons. My first summer of college I took a job at a local pig farm, working in the farrowing rooms. It was a commercial operation with 1200 sows who circulated from the breeding end of the barn, to the farrowing rooms to deliver their litters and then back to the open side of the barn. I was in charge of daily feedings, monitoring the farrowing sows, assisting with births, processing the babies and general upkeep of the barn. When I began this job, I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into. I would come home crying, in a fit of tears. While the barn I worked at was by no means anything like the terrible videos you see on some PETA ads, it was a commercial operation.

My Dad once told me that if I had wanted to make a difference, then I needed to get involved, I needed to learn and I needed to be that change. So I kept that job for 3 years, working during the summers when school was out and coming home every other weekend for shifts. I came to love my time at the barn. The pigs all had their own unique personalities if you took the time to see it. The baby piglets absolutely warmed my heart. And while it had its unpleasant moments, I grew to have a love for pigs so large in my heart. I knew someday, my life would bring me back to pigs of my very own.

A few weeks ago I spotted a story on Facebook about a local rescue that was over whelmed by pigs needing homes. I may have told Dan, once or twice, about this rescue before he finally caved. It took us only two days to build ourselves the perfect little winterized pig house. Another two days and we had a 2200 sq ft area fenced off with hog panels. It consisted of half lawn and half bush area with the pig house tucked back between the trees. The pig house even came with a covered front porch. Part of me wanted to throw a rocking chair out front and call it my she shed.

20160712_104051Yesterday we hooked up my trailer to Ruby and we were off first thing in the morning. We arrived at the rescue and walked the pens. There were lots of pigs, a few sheep, baby goats, chickens and more! We even met a 15 year old tortoise. It was such a beautiful thing this lady was doing there at her farm. It didn’t take us long to figure out who was coming home with us.

As we walked around learning the names and stories behind the pigs we came across three brothers who we were told had been at the rescue for three years. They were a little more shy or timid compared to the others and that’s why they had been overlooked so many times.  It was then I knew they were coming home with us.

We made it back to the house, got everybody unloaded into their new forever homes and I think they are settling in quite well. It will take some time to completely gain their trust, but a few treats and back scratches should help us out there. We are so in love with out three new boys. I couldn’t be more excited to have them here with us. My pig dream has finally come true! Never ever give up on your dreams. Find someone in life who helps you and supports you to make your dreams come true. I am so lucky to have an amazing man in my life who has made my dreams of the farm life come true. I wouldn’t trade this life for any other.

So a big welcome to our three pot belly brothers: Oscar, Fudd and Tui!

 

Dirt Tired – adj. (dərt′tīrd′)

 A condition that occurs after spending all day in the garden.

I find myself writing this with one week left in the month of June. Where in the world has the time gone and for that matter the month of June?!

IMG_20160624_100554.jpgJune for us is filled with birthdays; from brothers to close friends to both Dan and I, it has been a busy, fun filled month. We started the month off with Dan’s youngest brothers birthday on the 1st of June. We spent a lovely evening in the city with his family, having dinner at The Keg. June 6th followed shortly after and was my birthday. Twenty six was a hard one for me.IMG_20160625_123029.jpg Maybe because twenty five last year sounded so fun and was the quarter century mark. Twenty six just feels old.  My birthday was followed by my parents thirtieth wedding anniversary on the 7th and then my best friend Logan’s birthday on the 12th. Dan’s birthday was this past weekend, the 24th. We had a BBQ here at our house on the Friday evening and then spent the day Saturday in the city, throwing axes and checking out a unique Turkish dinner place. Today, Sunday the 26th, is my good friend Megan’s birthday.

After a busy weekend of go go go, we decided to spend our Sunday a bit in the lazy fashion. We slept in, had a big breakfast, watched a movie on the couch and then couldn’t waste anymore sunshine and headed outside this afternoon. It was a gorgeous day, warm weather and sunshine made it optimal garden weeding weather. While Dan took to roto-tilling between the rows, I worked on the rows themselves, picking out thistles, grass and clover between our vegetable plants. It is looking so much better already.

Our garden is in desperate need of some heat and sunshine and a little break on the rain. IMG_20160622_214711.jpgSome of our plants have slightly yellowed due to all the moisture we have been having. But this hasn’t stopped it from flourishing and we already have several plants flowering and getting ready to offer us up the fruits of our labour. We have big yellow flowers on some of our squash, pumpkin and cucumber plants. Our strawberries have also began to re flower and I even have a Cosmo flower with a little pink bud. In the flower bed, I have one peony bud that the ants have been busy chewing away on to open.
I also started a hanging basket with morning glories that have already started to break soil and sprout. And our sun flower row…look out! We have so many seedlings and I am so excited for a big tall wall of sunflowers.

IMG_20160621_205039.jpgOur fruit trees aren’t having their best year. We are not sure if it was due to the late frost we received while there was buds, if they didn’t get pollinated enough or if perhaps all the moisture is to blame. thankfully we do have several trees with little baby apples that seem to grow each time we see them. Now we have to be very diligent in getting them picked before the birds can get to them!

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Needing a break from the garden, we hopped in Randy and went for a drive out back on our property to put up a new trail camera Dan got as a birthday present. We decided to put it back by where we believe their to be a den of sorts. We still don’t know what animal it houses, but we have had several lynx sightings. Hopefully this will help us to solve the mystery. We made the loop around and collected cards from our other two cameras we have set up. I love getting back home and turning on the computer to see what lovely creatures have happened across our land. Just in the last month we have had a bull moose, a cow elk and her calf and a plethora of deer spotted on our cameras.

This evening will be a quiet one as Dan and I get back to work tomorrow. I am glad to have Tuesday and Wednesday off so I can get back in the gardens for more weeding. The work is never ending when you have gardens and animals to tend to.

Speaking of…stay tuned for a chicken update later this week!

 

Life is Better With Chickens

Who would have ever thought that the little feathered dinosaurs we call chickens could have such personalities that they just completely capture your heart. I know I didn’t. Growing up, chicken was a food source. They provided eggs for eating and eggs for cooking. They provided a meat source, a means of making broths and yummy meals. A chicken was a chicken. A, what I thought at the time, was just some small brained bird that didn’t know much of anything but was just placed here on earth for us as humans to consume. At this time, I hadn’t know about backyard chickens. I didn’t even know there were so many different breeds of chickens.

IMG_20160603_221617When Dan and I decided to start a little flock of our own, my eyes were opened. I now have 22 chickens living in my very own backyard, who each in their very own ways, have captured my heart and taught me so much more about chickens than just being a bird. And while we still eat the eggs they provide us, and while some day some of them may end up being on the dinner table, it will be with a new understanding. It will be with respect, thankfulness, love and hard work. Our flock as of now is here for the eggs. Dan is in the progress of getting our set up ready for meat chickens. But for the time being, all my little chicken babies can live happy knowing they will live a long and prosperous life here in the coop.

When we first started with chickens last year I was elated at the new adventure we were embarking on. We got to build our coop together, pick out our own hens and ended up with a little rooster who’s crow woke us in bed each morning. It was my first step into the farming life and I will never be looking back. This past Spring we had decided we had the space and time to expand our flock. We tried something a little different and decided to get our chickens this time as day old chicks. This is an experience one definitely gets hooked on. While I love all my big ladies in the coop, raising chicks from day olds gives you a whole different kind of bond with your hens. You can interact with them, get them used to being handled and have them not be so flighty around you.

When we got the chicks home there was one in particular that stuck out to me. My little Chick Norris as we refereed to it. Norris has now grown up to be a beautiful Polish hen, and I like to think we are fast friends. She knows her name, will come when called, and will even jump up into my lap when I tap my knee. All without using treats as a bribe. I have even had her on my shoulder. She is a special little hen who makes my heart so happy. I know picking favourites isn’t fair, but she may just be up there on the list!

All of the babies are growing up so fast, but they each haveIMG_20160520_194851 their own personalities. I could sit out in the coop all day watching them. Exploring their new chicken run, chasing the dogs around the fenceline and bothering our Big Momma hens. Everyone is out now in one enclosure and it is going much better than I could have anticipated. Its so funny to watch them interact. Even when we are outside they all come running to the gate to greet us, expecting some kind of treat I’m sure.
Even Albert, our sometimes nasty little rooster, has his place in my heart. With his funny little dance he does around the ladies and the way he herds them all up when he gets spooked. They have all truly stolen my heart and are one of the better parts about my days. They start my mornings with chores and end my days with a quick night check and egg collection.

I really wouldn’t have life any other way!