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.
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.
The 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.
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!