Thursday, December 22, 2011

It Has Landed

Barnheart By Jenna Woginrich

      As I brought the littles back from the bus stop this afternoon I noticed a bulky white air mailed envie taunting me from the mailbox.  I knew exactly what it was.  It had landed.  Barnheart was here.  I had originally intended for Mr. Pretties to have it mailed to the farm so that I would have something there when we moved in in the next 2-4 weeks, but he was afraid something might happen to it with the mail not being checked regularly and so many different people doing the checking right now, but I knew if it had gone there it I would have a better chance of indulging in it later, because I have no self restraint what so ever, and think I'll probably have to drive it to the farm tomorrow and ask the contractors to please lock it in the house for me.  That's how sad and pathetic my self restraint is.  I also know that I have a few Christmas gifts left to finish for the girls (Waldorf Dolls anyone? Why do I commit myself to things that revolve a fair amount of sewing when I know my sewing skills are sub par and my patience for sewing is even worse?) after they're in bed and I'm now going to have an internal debate about how I need to finish these gifts, my children's joy and innocence depends on it, and my desperate want to fill the tub up with 3' (yes, feet) of bubbles, a good cuppa and Barnheart.  There's something to be said for those with no self restraint and a complete lack of ablility to reason with ones self, and it's not good.

   The main reason I want to hold onto this book until after the move is that it has a purpose.  I have big plans for this books life.  It's going to be the first book I read on the farm.  I have waited to move to a farm and start our new adventure for several years, and read Jenna's blog Cold Antler for two and a half of them, her blog kept the internal fire burning when it otherwise might have smothered out due to overwhelming complications, the apparent impossibility of finding a farm to rent, various personal trials and I want to feel like I've made it.  I'm going to be reading Barnheart in my downfilled chair, with a cozy blanket and a cup of tea infront of a roaring woodstove while the snow swirls heavily outside.  I have waited for that moment for so long, and it's going to happen.  When it does I'll know we're at the beginning of the road we were meant to travel. 

  For years I've felt like we were simply treading water, just keeping the pace in a destination we hadn't signed up for while we should running marathons somewhere else.  It's almost suffocating, to feel that while we should be happy with what we have, you feel like you're wasting precious time in your life doing what you were never intended to do.  Like something is hovering anxiously over your head with a 'wrong direction - turn back' sign while you keep on heading down the wrong road. Winters would pass by filled with seed catalogs and copies of Small Farms on the table, spring would show up with nothing to sow in the earth, summer would pass by with drives out to rural areas where we could catch a peak of the life we're supposed to be living, even just for an hour, and fall would blow passed with nothing to harvest. It was a constant feeling of being missing a season, being behind.  I've never experienced anything else like it, but it's like a winter without a garden to plan, chicks to order and a beehive to build is just another long, bleak drift of cold brown snow on the side of the road.

   Now that we're traveling at the right pace in the right direction I feel like there are so many more things I'm capable of accomplishing.  I've always wanted to write children's books, but 'couldn't' in the place we were in, but I feel like that is a complete possibility with our new lot in life.  It sounds silly but I feel like this situation is going to be the balm our emotional scars are in need of, and once theyre healed our possibilities will be endless.  We're looking into joining the local Farmer's Market for the 2013 market year, hoping that we'll have a handle on our gardens by then and having a good idea of  what products we'll be able to offer people.  We don't have a huge amount of land (no I will not disclose how much, I can't take the hysterical laughter), but I'm hoping we'll be able to do a lot with it and touch a few other families along the way.  Being that we will now have extra 'work' space, I will now be able to pick back up with our antiques as well which I've always thought mixed fairly well with farming. 

   So while the idea of a book in the mail may seem simple, a sweet little package made to delight, it is so much more symbolic than that.  And for that reason I want to savour it on our farm.  Too bad I'm now having an internal debate about whether it would be so wrong to enjoy it for the second time on the farm.  It doesn't have to be the first, does it?  I'd give it to Mr. Pretties to hang on to for the next couple weeks, but he loses stuff (seriously, everything, all. the. time.) and I would never, ever see it again, and while I would like to put off reading it, I don't so much want to put it off indefinitely.  So instead,  I'll just ignore it.  Maybe I'll put it in my purse, which I never seem to take out with me anywhere, but will take special care to bring during the move, and this might ensure that I'll both forget about it temporarily but be able to find it sooner rather than later... 

   Does anyone else have this complete lack of will power? Help!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Your Tribe

... or when you realize you're weird.

  Six years and ten months ago we had one child.  And our family was complete.  We shopped for housewares at Ikea, bought groceries at Sobey's or wherever the almighty flyers told us to, and used Pampers and formula faithfully (not that there is anything wrong with that, obviously).  Our daughter was born in a hospital, delivered by an obstetrician, and the only farm association we had was that we enjoyed a nice drive 'out in the country' on the weekends where we would throw out half hearted desires to one day live there.

  Yesterday I went to my midwife appointment, where we discussed my desire to birth our fifth child at the house (I mean, the farm! Sorry, couldn't resist). We discussed our chickens, and she was so excited to hear about them (I've become accustomed to the glazed over look people tend to get when we mention that we may or may not have poultry in our backyard) and was eager to share her contact info for her 'milk and goat man', something I'd been looking for for the last year or so.  We discussed the local homeschooling groups, her other patients with larger than average families, my cloth diaper order that was coming in, and how long I planned to nurse.  While I was sitting in that cozy room with the late morning sun filtering in through the large front windows I was almost knocked over by the realization that I am absolutely not who I used to be. Or who I thought I was.

  I know we'd made family changes in recent years, we usually buy our furnishings and what nots by thrifting them from stores or auctions, we buy 90% of our family groceries at the local farmer's market, or directly from local farms where we know what went into our food, how it lived, and how it arrived on our plate, we're making the move to a farm where we plan to grow our own food, and were now entertaining plans of a homebirth.  But I hadn't really realized how far outside of mysef I had stepped.  I've always been the 'weird one' in the group, and usually have very little in common interest and moral wise with the people I encounter on a daily basis.  Usually people just find that I'm 'different' and are okay with that, but it always kind of troubled me that I didn't seem to fit in anywhere.  But sitting there and discussing homebirth and raw milk in the same paragraph with someone who would come to my house to deliver my child made me realize, these people are my tribe.  There are families out there who practice all the same parenting and lifestyle techniques we do, I just hadn't realized we were one of them! How do you not realize who you are?

  It's such a breath of fresh air to realize that you aren't alone after all,and you might be different, but you're not different from everyone, because after all,  you've just been looking in the wrong places. 


Saturday, December 17, 2011

And Then There Was Nothing.

Photo courtesy of

   It's funny how something like that can sound so dismal and depressing, but something so important and positive.  Why does there always need to be something?  Sometimes it's perfectly adequate, if not more desirable, to be nothing.  Or to simply just be.

   We needed to vacate the house for a few hours this afternoon so the owners could find suitable tenants to take over our lease so that we could move on to greener pastures (literally, eek!).  So we did what any sensible folks with four young children would do.  We drove an hour, in the -5 degree weather, to go pay our future homestead a visit.  Nope, we don't have any keys to the house, nor can we do much aside from sit in the car, or better yet, freeze our keisters off sitting outside the car, and dreaming the sweet,  sugar glistening dreams of those who are finally on track to start living their lives (which mostly means those that are celebrating the fact that they will no longer have to scrape chicken crap off their garage floor as part of guest preparation). The house has been under going some surprise renovations this month, so we can peek in the windows and see what progress has been made.  We were actually in it last weekend and did a walk through to see what had been done, what still needed to be done, and how completely fabulous it was to realize that even when this house looked a little, well, 'loved' when we first trotted our farm sick selves through, we truly loved it and saw it for what it could and would be (and not the fact that some how it had ivy growing from the outside of the house into the livingroom...), and now that all of the things we thought we were going to have to bandage up and kiss better for it are being done for us, we love it even more.

   How can one love a house, let alone one they don't even know?  I think because houses neither physically speak, nor are able to obviously hint at their feelings, that they've been granted the power of exuding feeling. With all their histories, the years they've stood watch over their growing and changing families, and the feelings that have been expressed inside their walls, they are able to process all of these energies, times, emotions and release them in their own unique way. This unique perfume of feeling is then either appealing to others, or it isn't.  Maybe some time of house pheromones, if you will.  This house definitely appeals to us, on a very primal level at that, and I can only hope that we appeal to it in kind.  We hope to have a happy relationship with this home for many, many years.  It has truly made all the waiting, all the farm disappointment, and all the Barnheart worth while.

   While we were up there we enjoyed the few inches of crisp white snow that had already fallen into a tidy blanket of winter on the ground ( as we have no snow in town an hour away) and the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard (or not heard).  Nothing.  Sweet, wonderful, clear, nothing.  No local traffic, no train, no partying neighbours nextdoor.  Nothing.  It was as pure and crisp as the winter snow, and as cozy and heart warming as the blanket it immitated..  It might sound silly, or even frivolous to some, but even though we have lots (and lots, and LOTS!!!) of plans for that acre, and no doubt will be making a fair bit of noise (sorry new neighbours, I really am!), I am really looking forward to nothing.  To taking some well deserved time to just be. 

  Maybe this is how people go about finding themselves?  If you 'be' long enough, you just might come knocking?  If so, I can only hope the person I think I am, and the person I strive to be, are the people on the other side of that proverbial door.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Good-Bye City Life!

I just spoke to the conservation authority and... the farm is ours!!!  He sent me the nicest email about it, and I don't know whether it was my overwhelming pregnancy hormones, the fact that we've been looking for a farm for over two years, or all of the above, but I cried.  It's such a surreal feeling.  So many of the things I've read about, researched, priced, and dreamed about can stop being a 'someday' and start being 'soon'.  Amazing.   And to top it off  I can now use 'The Farm' in a conversation at will.  We've talked to the kids about the impending move and they're all okay with it.  They were always ready and willing participants in anything to do with visiting a farm, keeping chickens, or the like, and were thrilled at the prospect of moving to our own farm, don't get me wrong.  But BLP was absolutely terrified the last few times we drove out to 'the farm' (see? Isn't it awesome!) because there is a lot of wooded area around us that looks rather gloomy, being the time of year that it is, and is extremely concerned about getting eaten by coyotes. So much so that she has refused to leave the refuge of the car everytime we've been there.  (you know, 'at the farm', hehehe) I thought it might be difficult for her knowing that we would be living there, but she was totally fine with it.  We looked coyotes and wolves up on YouTube and watched them, listened to what noises we might hear at night, read about what things they eat in the wild, so armed with that I think she feels a lot better.  Otherwise we're going to be sporting a spare room in the house (the FARMhouse) while she resides in the car. 

I feel like I have so many exciting things to do now!! I want to get a cord of wood sent up each pay from now until then so that we have something when we get there (I do, however, feel like we're starting a few steps behind, being that we didn't prepare for winter over the summer...), phone the oil company to discuss filling the tanks ($1800 - ouch!), getting some straw and hay sent up for the chickens/rabbit and whatever else we end up with.  Good stuff! The highlight of my weekend was when we drove up to the farm to get some measurements and another resident was out walking their dog on the back road and gave us the two finger wave.  Yes sir, we were two finger waved.  Mr. Pretties two fingered back with a head nod, and I was incredulous, I was all 'Did you SEE that?! Did you see what he DID?! We got the two finger wave!!!'  I was seriously stoked.  Is that wrong? Or weird? Or both? Probably, but it so made my day.  And to that I say:

Good-bye City Life! Green Acres We Are There!!!  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Agony...

... Of this wait is KILLING me!!  We've now clearanced the library debatacle and are awaiting on reference checks.  Normally this would be a non-issue as we have some fairly fabulous references (which, by the way, happy to be real), however when your previous-previous landlords change their number and even their son doesn't have the new one, your previous landlords changed their number (seriously, our landlords don't run off to the witness protection program after we leave, I promise) and sent it to you via email, which you then deleted and are having a hard time getting ahold of them via email only, and you don't want your current landlords knowing you're planning to vacate right away.  Something that should have taken a mere 48hours is now going in to day 8. EIGHT.  The BIG eight.  Not two, eight.  *Sigh* I find myself being unable to make any kind of decision due to this 'hold' we're now in.  Mr. Pretties is all 'Do you think we should get LP ____ for Christmas?' and I'm all 'well how can I possibly know what Santa should bring if  I don't know where I'll be living in February?!'  Add to this my nasty pregnancy hormones and you've got a recipe for I don't know what, but whatever it is, it isn't good.  I'm all 'Pfft... I so hope we don't get that crappy old farmhouse, man that place sucked' on the outside, and on the inside I'm all 'pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease...  I'll never swear again, I'll start being more frugal,  I'll never buy another Bath and Body Works 3 wick candle...' on the inside.  What can I say, it's a constant battle.  In my head.  Which leads me to be very thankful that my email is no longer linked to my blog where the rental company could read what a mental case I am ;)  It's all about the small things! 

In other news, egg 1 of 12 I believe has quit, but 2 of 12 is filling up his egg completely and getting ready to bust out on Monday or Tuesday (SQUEAL!!!  Hatch day is coming friends!!!) and out of our second clutch that I am hoping beyond hope Browna continues to sit on after Brownie's egg hatches this week as this clutch is 10 days behind this baby.  Out of seven eggs six of them are developing beautifully, they look like little swimming fish with black eyes, you can actually see them swimming around in their eggs, I seriously doubt there is much cooler than that!  So we've got some fun stuff to look forward inside the next two weeks.  The only down side to this farm is there's a house between our farm and the next that is quite close, I'm concerned this will cause reason to be sans rooster, which means sans chicks, which means I will cry.  We'll see, but I have this feeling...

I'll keep you posted on that crappy farmhouse I totally don't want anything to do with, as well as hopeful hatchling!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Still Waiting...

... This just in, there has been a flag on our credit report.  A nasty, heinous, repulsive flag.  Apparently, there is a $27.31 overdue balance at the local library from 2001.  This is the first I am hearing of this, but no doubt it's true.  I'll march myself right down there and pay them this afternoon.  In the meantime, this 'flag' may have cost us the farm...  evidently inorder to obtain a farm such as this you must prove that you are a low risk tenant, and when you're running around doing scandulous things like running up library fines, well you simply aren't low risk anymore.  Yikes!  Luckily we've got a second farm on the back burner, our 'just in case' scenario.  Hopefully my library fine will be resolved by then :) What a week.  It would have been so much more normal to have been born sans 'Barnheart - Jenna Woginrich' and could be perfectly content in a condo somewhere with a container of tulips on the balcony.  Life is tough ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Modern Miracle?

   After over two years (Really?! Two YEARS?!) of looking at farms, and "farms", and 'you call THIS a farm?!'s, I *think*, with extreme caution, and zero breath holding on my end what-so-ever, that we've found a farm.  I'll let that information digest, I know I'm still digesting this on my end and this has been a possibility since Friday.  That's like four days, I've actually kept my mouth shut about it for FOUR days.  Anyways...

   So I think we found a farm.  A 'real' farm.  A farm that isn't absolutely adorable but with uber scary owners, a farm that isn't super duper scary itself with super nice owners, a farm that doesn't have a barn full of rotting garbage/an entire episode of Hoarders/human remains, a farm that isn't already up for sale, a farm that the owners plan to retire in - next year, or a farm that is on the side of a main highway in the city.  It is so none of those things, and we have seen so many of those farms we were developing an extreme phobia of farmhouse viewings. At this point in my life I cannot give thanks enough to Google Maps.  I have taken many virtual 'drives' around potential rural neighbourhoods only to realize some of the above, as well as that the farm is situated beside a very busy cistern cleaning company, that it backed into a major highway, that the roof was falling in, that the barn had no roof, or that the farmhouse itself had no roof.  Since we hadn't limited ourselves to something necessarily local, this saved us a ton of time, gas and 'they call that a farm' melt downs in the car from my end, that we normally would have wasted driving out to look in person.  So round of applause for Google Maps. 

  This farm is awesome in so many ways, it's owned by a local conservation authority who was gifted the property many years ago.  It doesn't sound like much, but this implies several important things to us, 1) it is never going up for sale, we will never have to move for this reason 2) it does not have 'owners' per se, so we will never have to move because someone wants their house back (this has happened.  It sucks)  3) due to it's ownerage (is that a word? probably not) it will likely be maintained quiet while, as it hardly shows any abuse, above any beyond typical wear and tear for 150 years, from being rented out for the last 25 years.  Infact, they're currently having the ceilings taken down and replastered, as well as the walls, stripping and repainting all the woodwork (which is all original - hooray!) as well as having the house reinsulated.  That is some exciting stuff!  We have a whole acre for our use (stop laughing, I know you're sniggering over there, but I'm hoping I can do a fair bit with one acre.  I could be wrong, and might be joining you for a snigger fest in about six months time) as well as the barn that as long as they don't want (which they haven't in the last 25 years) we're open to use.  If everything sails smoothly (please oh please oh please let this all sail smoothly, no choppy waters, no choppy waters!!) we'll be moving in in February.  Our neighbour is a real farmer, one who's won farm awards and is on the Federal Association of Agriculture.  I feel like I'm moving in next to a movie star or something.  He'll probably hate us with our silly city folk ways of 'farming' but we'll see.  Maybe he'd like some farm fresh eggs (he farms pigs, no chickens).  So, if everything is yay, this will be allllllll ours:

   In other news, our silkies have gone broody already.  Browna is sitting on 2 eggs (we had 12, 10 were either clear or ended up quitters, we now have 2 happy eggs waiting to hatch on the 28th.  Except that I accidentally dropped one.  I fixed it will nail polish and it's still swimming around in there, but we'll see.  I feel insanely, insanely bad about dropping that egg, just so we can all be aware of that.  Brownie (The Pretties named the chickens, clearly) is sitting on 8 that according to my earlier candling session this morning are all veining and developing wonderfully.  Luckily Browna is more than happy to sit on a few of Brownie's eggs during this egg insanity, so it all works out.

   We should know what's what by next week, but in the meantime I'm all about using the garden planner on Mother Earth News, scouring Kijiji for antique farm sinks, clawfoot tubs, cupboards, dexter cows, and vintage tractors.  You know, because we would totally need a tractor on our whole huge acre.  We might, however, need a tractor with a wagon to get the Pretties to the bus stop which is 'just down the lane' which translates into a 10,000 mile walk along a gravel road in 5' of snow with five kids.  We might need to investigate homeschooling a little closer...  

  Hopefully this time next we'll be making arrangements to fill our oil tank and have several cords of wood dropped of for stacking 'on the farm'.  I've never had a lease that including vegetable gardens, poultry (and other fowl), and small cattle.  Even if we don't get it, I think I'll frame the draft lease as further motivation to make it happen.  It's easy to get plowed under with what can feel like the impossible, but you need something to pull yourself off and keep on it, especially when your destined path is farming, anything less and you'll never be satisfied.

Hope everyone's ready for the winter, it's starting to get chilly out there!! Time to pull up the woodstove with a warm blanket, a good book, and a cup of tea.  Maybe some knitting, except for the part where I can't cast on and my Grammie isn't around to do it for me anymore, and for some reason my brain can't comprehend what it is I'm seeing when I watch 'how to' YouTube videos.  I think it's pregnancy brain, it also can't comprehend why I'm in Wal Mart, how I got there, what I'm supposed to be buying, and how to find the car in the parking lot again.  I imagine the little chick embryo in the eggs outside have more brain cells than I do at this point and it makes me afraid...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Turning Back The Dial

   Alright, so it's probably been fall for a little while now... but we're finally getting the full of crispy gold and crimson leaves, frosty mornings, and my heat is on more often than not.  I have mixed emotions about fall, on one hand I think it's my absolute favorite season, I love the smell of woodstove in the air (and am frequently extremely jealous that it isn't coming from my house), fabulous colours, apple cider, and fall festivals.  On the other hand, it seems like fall is just setting in when winter takes over with it's disgusting snow, wet grey road sludge, sub zero temperatures and getting into the car to go out at a dead run, sometimes forgetting kids/dogs, you know, typical parent stuff.

   We picked up four more silkies for our 'flock' last week.  I came to the conclusion that we have four silkies, one is a roo, two who both lay almost daily, and one that I'm not sure what's up with.  My instincts tell me that he's a silent roo.  I had thought he was going to be my roo all along, until the one 'hen' I thought for sure was going to be a hen woke up crowing. With two roos, someone's going to have to leave, I think the farm we got these chickens from will take the roo back and replace him with a hen, which is awesome, something we'll think about in the spring as long as we stays silent over the winter.  But with only two pullets laying I'm still having to buy eggs from an outside source which seems ridiculous, so clearly the less ridiculous solution was to purchase my chickens... Don't shake you head at me, or ask why I didn't just buy a breed known for it's prolific laying ability, I'm pregnant and entitled to doing things that make zero sense to others, including but not limited to, Mr Pretties.  So we picked up 'Part Two' of our flock and ended up with a group of solid white ones.  I like this because I would really like this arrangement for several reasons (none of them at all ridiculous), I would really like to hatch out some chicks this spring and our first flock is all related, so this brings new non-related members in, and second I would love to experiment with breeding the 'Paint' or 'Splash' type silkies and whites are an integral part of that process I believe. 

  I don't think we're any closer to finding a farm.  Not to rent, and certainly not to buy.  Every farm we've looked at that was available for rent either didn't include out buildings, didn't want any kind of farming taking place on the property, or is 2hrs + away from our families and Mr. Pretties job.  Purchasing looks even bleaker as we definitely can't afford the kind of acerage we would love to have.  I also left out the part where what I'm looking for is insanely particular.  As in, it probably doesn't exist and we'll never find it.  I am really looking for an old 5 bedroom farmhouse that isn't A) falling down on itself or B) been 'renovated' (Read: ruined) of it's character and charm.  This farm needs to have 5+ acres, an old silver barnboard bank barn, and I guess that's it really... I'd even be happy to find an old farmhouse that had all it's outdoor charm, and things like baseboards/doors/floors that haven't been touched inside and then we could just go to salvage auctions and purchase cupboards/counters/etc... from there and 'un-renovate' rooms like the kitchen and bathroom that way.  I'm just always disappointed when I see an old farmhouse, get super excited, and then look at the pictures inside and you feel like you're looking at a brand new model home, no character, and lots of stainless steel, granite, and ceramic tile.  While I can appreciate how nice it feels to have a home like that, it's just not me.  I guess I just want to 'turn back the dial' on life and head back to the farm, back to handmaking soap (I'm taking a course - eeee!!!!), spinning fibre (I bought a drop spindle, we all have to start somewhere!), knitting, and eating out of our backyard. We'll get there, and in the meantime we'll enjoy some mean free range eggs!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Renting A Farm Is HARD...

If not impossible...

Wow! Mr. Pretties and I have been mercilessly searching for 'the one' for the last couple months - partly because we're desperate for a farm, and big partly because the current homeowners of the house we live in want to move back into it.  Which is a little bit on the inconvenient side for us.  So we've been searching.  And driving through rural communities I had no idea existed.  And looking at livestock ads on Kijiji.  Let me tell you - looking for a rental farm is like trying to find a unicorn.  I don't think it's because we're picky, because really, we're not.  Okay, maybe I am a little bit in that I want an OLD farmhouse.  Not a farmhouse someone built a few years ago when they bought some acreage.  And I'm picky in that I have to like the home owners.  I know, why?!  Because I'm a freak like that.  I don't know what my problem is but I've found that anytime we've rented from people I felt 'off' about it hasn't worked out.  The last three people we've rented from we really liked and became friends with.  We will always have a relationship with those people and I'm so grateful that they came into our lives and that we were fortunate enough to get into a business deal - such as rental property is - with people like them.  I guess maybe I've been spoiled?  Or unrealistic? Or both probably.  But the fact of the matter is, I want to like the people we rent from.  We found a couple we thought were fantastic, totally got what we wanted to do with the house/land and even came up with ideas we could collaborate on together which were fabulous.  When we went to look at the farm however, it was beyond awful.  And I'm very open minded.  It wasn't a place we could have children living in, even temporarily and it crushed us.  Then we've found all the 'farmhouses' without land, and the farm land without a house, etc... and we found a beyond wonderful farmhouse not farm from here that was everything we wanted and more, but the homeowners were so completely unprofessional in the way they verbally attacked their current tenants infront of potential ones that it was uncomfortable.  They had no respect for the house or land they owned and couldn't understand their 'hick' neighbours and the animals they kept.  It breaks my heart everytime I realize that so many of the people who are owners of 100's of acres at a time are basically just sitting on it until a company offers them the big $$$ to sell it to them for development site.  Then we wonder why the future or farming, and thus food in general, is doomed.  Their needs to be some responsibility about who's allowed to buy up big lots and what they're allowed to do with it.  Then again, I think all current agriculturally zoned land should be green belted.  It's the necessary thing to do. 

So it's been a little bit impossible and a lot disappointing.  Hopefully it all works out the way it's supposed to, but perhaps because we're going through a lot of changes in the Pretties household I'm just not sure what way that is right now.  Renting is a hard world when no one wants to rent to families with children, or pets of any kind.  Not to mention the average price of monthly rent has gone up approximately $500 since we moved into this house less than a year ago.  Ouch.  Obviously this isn't great blog material, but sometimes things just need to be aired out in the open.  I so much want to be on a farm doing things that give me daily blog fodder, I love blogging and I miss blogging, but the only thing I want to blog about is our chickens, what great farm activity we did, what's growing, what's not, etc... instead of 'Went to look a farm today - no dice' every day of the week.  No one wants to read that, and I don't want to type it.  I feel like there's a place we're supposed to be in in this point of our lives and we aren't there and I'm not sure why, or how to get there. I feel like I'm constantly using the life GPS and receiving the 'Cannot find exact location...' error and can't find anywhere that sells a paper map to my destination.  Waahhhh...

On the other hand, meet the ladies:

I think they were 5 weeks old in the picture.  They're now almost 12 weeks old and big huge fluff balls of fabulousness.  They live a happy life in our backyard and our neighbours love them. Part of the reason we're uber sad to leave, this will likely end our chicken keeping for a little while.  But they have been SO much fun.  And completely do NOT smell. At all. Seriously, my guinea pig smelled worse by far.  The little pretties are completely in love with them, and unfortunately they are completely in love with the fluffy orange tabby, Wilma.  They think she's the big chicken.  Clearly we would have some survival issues on a real farm ;)  So that's been a nice spot light for us this summer.  We have a friend with a farm who will happily taken them temporarily until we can have them back again, so they'll always been taken care of.  Any one considering chickens should totally go for it though, they are as enjoyable a pet as a cat or a dog (we have both) and are less noisy!

Hopefully they'll be a blog post soon about the new farm we're moving too.  Crossing our fingers and our toes, and buying our lottery tickets ;)  Hope everyone's enjoying some gorgeous weather today like we are!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Have Given Birth - Again!

Not really.  Well, really, but not really in the sense that I went off and had another unannounced baby ;)  Really in the sense that the heirloom cherry tomatoes and black tomatoes have sprouted!  I've had them in their Jiffy pots for maybe a week now (I'm trying not to obsess over them, that usually leads to destruction) with their little baggies-come-greenhouses on sitting in our south facing windows on the landing.  I decided I'd mostly ignored them long enough and that I could sneak a peak at what was going on in there, and low and behold, little spouts!  I am SO proud, it's like giving birth all over again!  However, I had written labels nicely on the pots so I would know which ones were cherries and which ones were regular so that I could plant them together accordingly come warmer weather.  I noticed today that all the condensation from their greenhouses has washed the majority of those 'markers' off.  I have no idea who is who.  Crap.  Hopefully I can sort them out when they have, say, more than one miniscule leaf poking out of the ground.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

HotDog! Get Your HotDog Here!

Or so Animal Control told me this morning ;)  Some kindly fellow knew we wanted HotDog more than he did and turned him in late lastnight and we picked him up early this morning.  SO relieved, words cannot even say!!  Thanks for listening to me whine lastnight though.  Yay!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anyone Seen A Hotdog?

Oh please, oh please, oh please say you have!!!

Today we ended up with a completely FREAK snow storm that resulted in a snow day.  A snow day in Canada is a big deal.  Seriously.  So we had a lot of snow.  We had blizzard like conditions upon arrival home from work tonight.  It was disgusting. It was freezing.  It was starting to freezing rain.  And our sweet little Hotdog went out for a bathroom break.  And noticed someone left the gate open for him. Unfortunately Mr. Pretties didn't put two and two together for almost an hour.  We've spent the last three hours combing the frozen tundra like neighbourhood to no avail.

 I hadn't realized, but realize quite well now, that Hotdog was actually our fifth child.  We've lost cats before, and cats are smart, cats will come home on their own if they're able.  They'll catch a mouse if they're hungry and they'll outwit any human/dog/car, so although I do worry, it's not necessarily the end of the world.   Except for the time our cat Pickle got out and got attacked by a new neighbourhood beast of a dog and died.  That was actually the end of the world.  I'm still dying inside over that.  But dogs don't know how to take care of themselves.  Specifically Hotdog is a miniature dachshund who is afraid to go on his leash and as a by-product has no interest in going for neighbourhood walks.  Thusly, he is lost after moseying two houses away. 

The thought of him out there alone, cold and scared is literally teetering on the edge of self implosion.  It actually completely explains the phrase 'I just can't handle the thought' because really, I can't handle the thought, any thought, that doesn't involve Hotdog sleeping in his warm bed with his dachshund lovie.  This is the dog that shivers when it's cooler than 20 degrees in the house.  It's -3 tonight.  The snow is twice as deep as he is tall.  I honestly don't think we'll ever see him again.  The kids are going to be absolutely crushed in the morning when they wake up and he's not there.

 I said to Mr. Pretties I just don't think I can go on without him in our lives, he's like trying to live without an arm or a leg (if arms or legs constantly stood right infront of where you were trying to walk at any given time and barked maniacally at any sound that could possibly be someone knocking on a door within a 50 block radius) and even though people DO go on to live without arms, or legs, or both, I don't want to. 

We adopted a puppy before Hotdog, a basset named Turnip who we adored, but who came to us unknowingly with Parvo and within six weeks had to put him to sleep. It killed us.  Hotdog lit up our lives again, he made the hurt not so bad and helped us heal.  And now he's gone.  The big city snow plows are up and down our street every half hour which is ripping me apart, he's either going to freeze, get run over, get buried in a snowbank or get found by a family who wants to keep him for themselves.  Of all the scenarios, if it came down to it I would choose a new family for him so long as he was healthy and happy.   Tomorrow I'll put out all the calls to the shelters, vets, and pop up signs.

 I knew we loved Hotdog and that he was family, but I didn't realize how impaired we'd feel without his presence.  Just knowing he's not in the house somewhere makes it so silent and lonely.  Above all, Hotdog was a fabulous companion.  Who really liked to ruin my stuff.  A lot.  But I still loved him.  Even that time he wrecked my brand new, more-than-I'd-Tell-Mr-Pretties-I-Paid-For sheets. 

Here's hoping for a miracle, because that's what it's going to take to get our weiner back.  I absolutely dread the thought of having to deal with the reality that he wont be back, ever, and having to pack up his stuff because it's too painful to bare.  The thought alone makes my insides feel all slithery.  I'm not even being dramatic. At all. Okay I am, but it's how I work through the pain.   

Monday, March 14, 2011

What goes around comes around...

Or so it's seems...

Mr. Pretties and I looked at an old farmhouse last spring (scare alert: a year ago to the EXACT date) and had a month long debate about it (No joke - a MONTH. LONG. DEBATE.  I wouldn't suggest it personally) because it was at a time when Mr. Pretties didn't need to be close to work anymore and my job was fairly disposable at the time.  We also needed more bedrooms.  Come to think of it, we still need more bedrooms...  Oh, and it was 120 years old.  And a farm.  Those should have really been the only two factors going on.  Seriously, based on that alone I think we would have made the right choice.  Instead, since I was in near-end pregnancy nothing-doing phase and couldn't grasp a two hour away moving situation we decided to move exactly 11 houses away from our current one, to a house with twice as many bedrooms and a full attic.  It's old.  It has charm.  The basement floods.  The dirt in the yard is equal parts non-fertile soil and what I'm fairly sure is imitation soil.  While I can't say that I don't like the house, I do, it's had a hard life and no one loved it. I take a fair amount of pity on it and help it esthetically where ever I can.  But last week just did me in. An unsuspecting mouse found it's way into our new mattress.  And died.  I believe this crossed about 200 lines for me.  Let me just say, I don't have a problem with mice in general.  I will wrestle the cat for one if it's caught and put it back outside (where it promptly comes back inside no doubt). I even think on a cute scale they score about an 8.  However, when I go out of my way to be respectful of them and the mouse community does something like shacks up in MY bed and then DIES?!  Oh no.  We're through there buck-o.  So these small things are what I use as moving ammo/moving motivation.  I also hate the neighbourhood - but that could just be me... 

Okay so where were we here?  Oh right.  The House.  With a capital H.  For 'Hell yeah!' because it's awesome. And, because, house starts with an H....  moving right along here... so I was doing my nightly house search online (I do this EVERY night.  I figure anything good will pop up and be gone right away so I stay on it) and I was reading an ad about an old Heritage Home in Olde Rural London and thought 'Hmm... that sounds about right...' and went to view the pictures.  They all looked so nice, very 1880's typical, but something about them seemed familiar.  Until I got to the picture of the outside of the house (who posts the outside house picture last anyway?) and nearly fell out of my chair.  While screaming 'My House!!! My House is Back!!!! Mr. Pretties did you hear me??? My House is BAAACCCKKKKK!!!' in my outside voice.  I love this house. I. Love. This. House.  I Love. This House.  It doesn't matter how you say it!

(it's had work done - it no long looks so scary and abandoned) 
It's like my kindred spirit, but instead of my skin and bones it has brick and mortar. Which I'm cool with.  It's in the country.  It's surrounded by corn (which I have a small anxiety inducing concern about with the Littles - however I think electric fencing will solve it) It has an old barn.  It has an old chicken coop.  It has old farm fencing.  It has an already tilled vegetable garden that probably has REAL soil in it.  Did I mention it's old?  And charming?  And has TWO staircases?! You know, for those times when you wake up and are all  'Hmm... which stairs should I take today?  Newspaper or kitchen first?'  Or for when the kids are burning off energy, they could run down one set and back up the other and do like hamster wheel exercises.  Please note I sad said 'could' not 'can' because if that actually happened they'd be outside in the pasture faster than they could even say hamster. It has mainfloor laundry.  Even the kitchen is nice and I find that most old houses have crappy renovated-in-the-70s kitchens.  This has a renovated in the 70s kitchen, but they used classic wood for the cupboards, painted the rest white, kept the hardwood throughout the entire house, and put in new counter tops. That makes it entirely acceptable.  Did I mention the main staircase is curved? 

(I love that they labelled the picture, just incase there was any confusion about exactly this picture was about...)
And it has a veranda.  It might also have Coyotes.  Two words for that though. Electric.  Fence.  Amen.  Wait, that was three.  Oh well...  But there's this stickler of a dilemma.  I work here.  Two hours away from there.  I cannot drive to work everyday.  I would have to quit my job on the whim that I would find one just like it in London.  Which may not be so...  But part of me doesn't care....  We have to decide soon though.  Unfortunately it's the same realtor we dealt with last year and he already thinks/knows that we're mental and is learly that we're wanting back in LoL  I don't blame him.  I'll bring him a box of chocolates.  Or 100.  Before I quit my job ;)  Did I mention the school bus stop is at the bottom of our driveway? Or that I ordered chicks last week? Or that I'm afraid of squirrels?  Uh... never mind the last bit. No one needs to know about that. 

So hopefully we wont have another month long 'discussion' about this house.  Mr. Pretties is actually a lot more open to the option this year than he was last.  Something about me telling him 1,000 times that we should have moved since, and that he's agreed every time.  I think he's seen the light.  Or got tired of hearing about it.  And chickens.  And pink Wellies.  Or maybe he's tired of hauling all four pretties everyday to school twice ;)  A bus stop at the end of the driveway does sound pretty sweet... unless you take my neurosis into account, and then it's just one more thing to worry about, you know, because bus accidents are so much more common than car accidents...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Antique All The Way...

The Pretties want to go rural.

 I'll give you a minute to digest that morsel of information.

You good?  Excellent!

After a year long hiatus from the blog, and approximately 300,000 life changes (including, but not limited to, a new 2010 baby girl

 Mr. Pretties retiring, moving houses, and going back to work) we've (meaning, I've, because Mr. Pretties is a lot life tofu in that he will adapt to most things that I want to do. Which is awesome. Clearly) decided that with being aware of where our food comes from and the quality of it's life has lead us to want to not only know where it lives, but want to live nearby.  I don't think we want to take on raising our own meat (beyond the odd chicken), simply because we don't have the knowledge, the money (lol), or the man power, but would love the opportunity to live in the same community and join a local CSA that allows for farm visitation, volunteer time on the farm, etc... I think that would be awesome and all around 'right', if there is such a thing.  Although I don't altogether love the part about eating animals in general, it appears to be a fact of life for us, and any part I can play in supporting those who give their animals a happy, quality, fairly natural life would be fabulous.

We'd (I'd)  also really like to try my hand at raising various things too. I'm not saying we're going to get rich, or break even, but I've been doing tons of research this past year (as in our Google browers now only has the capability of showing my farm related entries, it doesn't know any other exist anymore...) and a few things that've really caught my eye (and heart, most of my brain waves, and most of  my very being, to name a few) have been alpacas as fibre animals, angora rabbits for fibre and show, bees, and Jersey Giant chickens.

How giant is a Jersey Giant?  Glad you asked.  Here's come vintage perspective for you:

 I love the idea of caring for heritage breeds and planting heirloom/heritage fruits and vegetables in our garden (why wouldn't I? Who doesn't love an antique veggie seed?!).  I know part of me is very much in love with the romanticism of swinging a basket in the sun while collecting fresh eggs, but I strongly believe a much larger part is in love with spending the day mucking out stalls, making trails through the snow to bring my animals food and water, and for providing them with a good life while they provide for us as well.  It would be a great trade off. 

With that all said, these few, poorly worded paragraphs have taken me three days to complete.  I'm not joking.  Did I mention I'd also love to write a few children's books?  I figure if I start right now I might have them finished sometime in the 30th century.  If I type fast.