Thursday, July 19, 2012

If You Build it, Sheep Will Come...

  Or, excuse me while I go Google electric fencing, and pasture raising!

First off,  how is everyone's homesteading situation going? Is everyone else getting annihilated by this horrific heat dyrness brutality?  I'm hearing so many unfortunate stories of farmers already being advised, and having to, plow under their crops. So, so sad.  I'm disappointed when a cucumber plant that I planted from seed dies, I can't imagine investing all of that time, manual labour, and obviously financial input, into financing a crop, planting it, beam as the rich brown starts to fade to a brilliant green, and then watching as the plow churns that same lush green, and all the time/effort/money in represents, back  into the warm soil once again. Farming is not for the faint of heart.  But then you already knew that. 
I definitely think we (I) had our expectations set far too high for our first year on the farmette, and it was making it unenjoyable for everyone (Farmer Dave aka Mr Pretties). So I picked myself up, gave myself a  slap in the face and decided to do what I can do this year, and provided the Mayan's are incorrect, God willing I'll have next year to do more!

So in that line of thought, we really haven't done much at all this year. It kind of makes me feel like a huge slack ass when I'm sitting outside nursing the baby with my glass of iced tea and the neighbours are out there plowing row after row of corn infront of our house. They probably think we're slack asses too. My main objective this year was to get our own vegetable garden planted, and for it to be heirloom and organic.  In my head I also had envisioned delivering wicker baskets to everyone we know brimming with vegetable goodness week after week.  The reality? Hopefully we'll get a few salads out of it LoL  Probably not quite that bad, but we kept it pretty basic (tomatos, cukes, potatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots, pumpkins, watermelons, honeydew melons, onions) and our flemish giant rabbit kept it even more basic.  It's a little of a kick in the ass when you spend the weekend putting your teeny tiny heirloom lettuce seeds (all 800 of them) in the ground, water the crap out of them, watch them sprout, then get a bit bigger, then have them almost disappear because the rabbit jumped the fence.  Curse words were exchanged with the rabbit.  He was told in no uncertain terms how fortunate he was not to be going into the crockpot with a bottle red, and only because his 20lb carcus wouldn't fit into my crock pot! Butt head. 

One of the more exciting (to me) things we accomplished so far, is talking the landowners into allowing us to bring in sheep next spring.  I'm not positive we will, I'm still doing the farm math on how long they can eat on pasture, how much it would cost to hay them for the winter, feed, etc... too see if it's financially feasible for us (as we don't plan to use them for meat).  I'm also researching a breed that will be cold hardy, but also produce a warm, soft, strong fleece.  If at all possible, we'd also like it to be a heritage breed.  Because you don't ask to much, kwim?

We also discovered a huge patch of black cap berries, and raspberries.  So fun! The girls and Ethan have been our there each morning with their enamel pots collecting all the newly blackened berries. They are delish, we've been eating them in smoothies for breakfast. I'd love to be all romantic and wax some lyrical magic about the sun warmed berries being such a delight, but truthfully, it kind of grosses me out that they're warm LoL It just seems wrong. I really kind of prefer the cooler ones that were all tucked up in the shade under the leaves, you know, the sun conscious ones ;) We also went from 11 hens and 2 roosters to 2 roosters and 20 hens (and two clutches of eggs under the hens due today and tomorrow), and three goslings.  Goslings make fabulous pets.  They also make a lot of shit on my walkway.  Why did I not expect that?! How many times have I gone to the beach and seen the mass quanitites of Canadian Goose debris?! So something needs to be done about that situation.  I can only tell Farmer Dave that it's 'goose manure tea' for the lawn so often before the fact that it's on everyone's shoes outweight that little anecdote.  I'm thinking they're going to be needing a pen in the big barn with a pool.

So more or less, I guess that's where we're at right now.  The garden is growing, the hens are laying (and hatching) eggs, and I'm hoping to see some white fluffy fleeces out my kitchen window next spring!  We did end up getting and LGD.  But I think he's broken.  We are the only people on this planet who could ruin a perfectly good LGD.  We got Max, a Great Pyrenees, in April.  He was 14 weeks old, so I don't know if he was too old, or if that matters.  He was quiet lovely, quiet, obedient.  He is now six months old and he is attacking our dachshund (who is attacking out chickens), biting the kids, taking food out of our fridge, and all manner of other things he isn't supposed to do.  It isn't his fault, obviously we're just dog training handicapped.  I tell him no, and he gives me the paw completely with his canine version of the finger.  I see how it is.  I spray him with the hose because he looks hot, he goes in the house and rolls in my clean sheets on my bed and takes an afternoon nap.  I'm not thrilled with this game of canine chess we're playing here, I'm hearing a lot of 'check mate' going on. Something needs to be done about this. Maybe a dog whisperer?

So there we are.  Next up, we're looking into bringing in a Tamworth pig, or two, for our freezer, and some family.  Getting the wet dog out of my GD bed, having Mr Owen who is already four months old, stop nursing every 30 seconds of the day, and cross our fingers for some farm fresh salad.  Because that's everyone's goal, right? Salad?

Hope everyone got a touch of this cool weather and rain that we're looking at today, we all deserve it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Got SO Much ccoplished While MIA...

... Is what I would like to be saying right now! Truth be sold I have go so much of nothing done it's depressing.  Okay, that's a tad dramatic, but it is fairly irksome.

   So far, into our first spring living on the farmette we have.... cut the lawn.  The least farmy chore ever.  We have one acre of grass that needs to be cutting, seemingly on a bidaily basis! I would love to fence some of it off for livestock use, but alas, it's not our lawn really, so we can't be doing that.  Instead we bought a lawn tractor because that would make managing the amazon out there tons easy.  Or, it could just make it more of a pain when we have to run around ordering new tires because one bent right away, then finding someone to fix it when it started backfiring, etc... etc... all in all I think we've devoted a full 24 hours to the lawn tractor, and this does not include the part where it is actually cutting grass (which seems to be a smaller fraction that the time it spends not cutting the grass....)  I suggested we just buy a pair of ewes to do lawn duty, but, My. Pretties hasn't come around to that idea, just yet.  Give it another broken spark plug, or a fuel pump crack and I'm sure we'll see this grass plenty dotted with fluffy white sheep. He should have listened to me when I suggested this plan three months ago.

   We've come to find that our barn is inhabited by insanely nasty raccoons and their kits.  They will not allow us to enter said barn.  Essentially I'm paying rent on a house for us, and a barn for my homies the raccoon family.  Aren't I generous?  I thought so too.  And stupid. But that's neither here nor there.  Our chicken coop is attached the the raccoon barn.  This has raised concerns about putting the chickens in the coop (they currently reside in the garage still.  What? Don't yours? Oh.  You park your car in yours?  That sounds nice...) and in addition, our coop needs a crap ton of work done to it to make it liveable, which we haven't been able to do yet.  It needed to be done three months ago.  And we're supposed to pick up ducklings this weekend, so it needs to get done stat.

  I marked out our veggie patch and started shaving the grass off it.  Mr. Pretties interrupted me and it still isn't finished.  He's making claims of picking up a rototiller this weekend and getting it done before I have a mental breakdown about it.  I hope he is.  We need to be planting in a couple weeks and I need to put the fencing up and install the rain barrels at the foot of the beds. I tried to stick with heirloom seeds for the garden, and since I hear they're more difficult to grow, I'm a little worried.  But I really didn't want to do hybrids, or the like, so we'll just cross our fingers, toes, eyes, whatever.

   So we'll see what we shake out this weekend, hopefully little Owen's wrap comes in the post this morning so I can wear him all weekend and be a bigger help than I have been with only one hand in the past ;) I'll come back and let you know how it goes.  I wanted to post some pictures, but someone, dropped my new camera and it's DOA.  Add that to this weekends list, replace camera.

  Have a great Mother's Day weekend!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

And Baby Makes... Woah!

First things first, here is Mr. Owen, the newest LP around here:

   Unfortunately Mr. Owen did not get to be a homebirth after all, which I thought was totally fine.  Then again I thought pretty much anything that involved me being released from the hospital was a plus.  You're having an eye lash plucking and eye gouging party? And it's not at the hospital? I am SO there! However, over the last two weeks (TWO weeks!!! Already!!!) I've realized I'm becoming increasingly (as in the opposite of decreasingly, which would be something a normal person would be experiencing...) disappointed with this tid bit of fact.  It's almost as if I hadn't realized that this was so and then reality decided to press send on his iPhone with this:

Reality: Hey Jenn, this is reality calling!
Jenn: Oh hey reality, so great to hear from you! FYI my Unicorn Farts came in the mail the other day, so eat that!
Reality: Right... Anyway, I just wanted to take a second to touch base with you re: Owen and all your hopes and dreams via the homebirth.  That you didn't have.  Because you were at the hospital instead...  You ARE aware of this, am I right?
Jenn: Uh... Ofcourse I am.... Yeah... Oh... Ugh... *Insert Wicked Witch melting into a puddle of green ooze scene here*

I don't think I've ever beat myself up after a delivery.  I've always been happy with how things went down, and most of all, how things turned out (ie. we got to take home a healthy baby - for which we are forever thankful) and never really thought back on it with anything but those warm fuzzy feelings that you like to replay in your head from time to time.  Good stuff.  This time I'm disappointed about being referred back to the hospital (thank you pregnancy induced hypertension) for an induction (with my midwives - yay!) and THEN for getting an epidural.  I've had one 3 out of 4 previous deliveries, never thought much of it, and now I'm all 'You frigging wuss! What was that about??  If you already feel like you're being ripped in half, what's another 90 minutes of feeling like you're going to be ripped in half?! Honestly!!' which is hurting my psyche. Or whatever.  So I'm not sure what those internal affairs are about, but I'll let my mental being and emotional being sort that out.  I'm sure we'll all be on the same page in a couple weeks.  Or something. I'm also sorting out my emo issues concerning the fact that in four short weeks my midwifery care will come to an end.  I, however, am not ready for it to come to an end. Ever. I tried to tell Mr. Pretties about this dilemma this morning but was unable to verbalize these feelings without choking up and getting teary eyed.  I decided I'd just talk about it with myself.  In my head.  Where I probably wont cry about it.  Okay, I probably will, but only in my head and I wont feel like a huge tool.  So to sum things up, our baby is deliciousness wrapped in a blanket and we are loving on him big time.  Unfortunately (wow, this post has a lot of unfortunately's... how unfortunate for you readers!) with each baby we bring home, after I swear I will never care, or deliver another baby, I get one step closer to understanding why the Dugger's have as many children as they do.  I am not comfortable with being that close.  I'm making an appt with a psycologist, or therapist, or mental ward on Monday to sort through these concerning thoughts.  Hopefully they have wifi there so I can tell you about it.

In addition I think I've found my calling in life (luckily this call did NOT come from a small voice inside my head.  I don't think). Which is kind of a big deal because I've always had the insecurity of not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Except I grew up.  Which makes people look at your funny.  Or like you suck. Or both.  Usually both.  I went through school, took something that I knew I could tolerate for the most part and that would pay the bills, and left it at that.  I always knew I would eventually go back to school for something, I just wasn't sure what it was yet.  There have always been situations I wanted to implement in my life.  I am a huge fan of antiques, antiquing, and selling antiques.  This is something we still do on the side, and will always be a passion.  I believe at some point, possibly years down the line, participating in antique markets will become a reality.  I'm excited about that, but now is not the time for this experience.  I'm also wildly addicted to anything agricultural.  We're going to homestead this house as much as we can, and fully plan to purchase a full out farm in the next couple years.  But I feel that homsteading will be a nice counter part to the new plan.  I want to go back to university and become a certified midwife.  MmmHmm.  A midwife.  For some reason this option didn't show up in my options booklet back in highschool.  Then again, even if it did I doubt it would have earned a second glance from my 18 year old self.  Such a true testament to the ever evolution of the human mind and what it holds near and dear.  I registered last week to upgrade a few of my science courses and hope to apply next February.  Only 30 applicants are admitted to this fabulous program each year, so I'll be crossing my fingers.  I think this would be an excellent direction for our family, and compliment all of our other goings on nicely.  I've ordered some really great 'memoir of a midwife' type books and cannot wait to read them!  And just think, now that we're done building our own family, I could move on to helping others add to theirs (not in the way. obviously) and how glorious that would be!  I think preparing to register for a four year program in midwifery is the final peak in becoming crunchy.  I think if my 20 year old self met my 28 year old self, she would drop dead.  On one level I'm so thrilled that I'm finally coming into, my own, and on another I'm deeply disturbed by just how much one can change in a handful of years (yes, eight years IS a handful!) and truly hope that's all the change I'm going to have for a while. 

How's everyone else doing out there?  Is everyone still experiencing the early spring, or have you been bombarded by a second wind of winter too?  We're expecting snow tonight.  Last week I had to go out and buy the LPs new shorts and Ts.  I guess the weather needs to come into it's own too ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You Know Your Marriage Is Awesome When

Jenn: What if I applied for the Midwifery course in February?
Mr. Pretties: That would be great! Except... no offense... but, you're not really a sympathetic type person, and, well, not that nice either...
Jenn: ......................

Please. Try to contain your jealously of our (non) awesomeness.

I think Mr. Pretties but still wounded that I pointed out our now matching post partum bellies (we had a baby last week!! Woo!! Don't want to type about it until we name him though! Doh!!!) which I thought was quite obvious.  Evidently, it was only obvious to me...  I guess that's where my non-sympathetic and not nice personality came into play.  Maybe, just maybe, I'm only nice to those who are having babies...  and seeing as Mr. Pretties is not, has not, and is unlikely to do so in the near, and not so near future, he would not be in the know about this fabulous feature I hold.  Just saying.

How's everyone doing out in blog land?  Is everyone getting spring this week?  We're ready to till up some soil and make some gardens over the next couple weekends - good stuff!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Who Needs A Mood Ring?

Or how I can determine my current mood via Kijiji...

I probably visit Kijiji once or twice a day (obviously my vices in life are online places inwhich I can spend money, atleast in my head) usually for either livestock, antiques, a new farm dog, or, rarely, fluffy cats.  When the fluffy cat searches start showing up in the internet history we have a problem.  It's time to bust out the liquid Prozac, or something. I noticed today that I was searching for cats on Kijiji, and then ventured over to PetFinder to look for more when that failed.  And I thought to myself, what on earth is wrong with me?!  Then I remembered.  We are a one vehicle family until next weekend.  Both of our families live a fair distance away from us now.  These items alone are total non issues.  But the biggest little had a really rough go at the last school she was at and spent the first half of grade one sans friends, anyone to eat lunch with, or to talk to.  This was tough (read: devastating) for all of us.  So we were super relieved when we moved here and the kids in her class were fantastic! Within the first week in her new class she had three friends and her first invitation to a friend's birthday party.  She was beyond stoked.  She coveted that invitation for weeks.  We RSVP'd. She showed everyone.  We discussed what we would buy as a present and what she would wear (not only was this a party, it was a Monster High DRESS UP Party!!!).  Then. Friday night happened. Mr. Pretties, god rest his soul - I mean god BLESS his soul, haha, yeah...*cough* moving on...  announced that he signed up to work overtime on Saturday (today) and wasn't that great.  Sure, I mean it's always fabulous when I say 'Hey, Mr Pretties don't forget the little has a b-day party of extreme importance going down on Saturday so clear the day...and whatever you do, do NOT sign up for overtime.' and then you come home and announce you're going to work and all of the littles excitement is dashed. I'm stoked! Who wouldn't be?1And you know who else I think would be stoked?! The little.  So why don't you go outside and let her know that the party she's been coveting for the last four weeks is now a no go.  Let me know how blowing up that rainbow works out for you.  He forgot.  Straight up. And there was no way to back out of work and no one else could take the little to the party. It was tragic.  I might be over exaggerating, but seriously, it felt (feels) tragic. 

No one explains to you that being a parent means spending a fair amount of time wanting to punch yourself (or your spouse. just saying) in the face repeatedly to distract yourself from the all consuming acidic guilt of disappointing your children.  And the more children you have the more opportunities you have to experience this great pleasure.  Over and over. So needless to say we feel like vile puddles of the worst parents ever and I've found that this directly corresponds to how I use  (abuse?) the internet.  Th is is how I rate my moods based on Kijij searches:

Antiques = Woo!! I love this house so much I'm going to pretend that I can totally afford that $1500 jam cupboard that we'd have to drive to Quebec to pick up!! Wooooo! Think of all the sweet ish I could put in that puppy! I'd have to buy more antiques just to put them in the cupboard because normal stuff wouldn't be good enough!

Livestock = Yay me! We live somewhere where these things are a real possibility! Who wants a cow?! Me! That's who!! Mozzarella, Farm Cheddar, Riccotta, butter... I'll be kicking some regular dairy ass! Hazzah!!!

Fluffy Cats = Boo... Can't quite pull myself up off the floor of suckingness. Man, a jam cupboard would be heavy. And I'd probably have to paint it, or put something in it. That sounds like a lot of work. I'd also have to go out in this craptastic weather to milk the cow, and I'd probably just spill the milk on the way back to the house... I don't even like cheese... but fluffy felines! I don't even have to get out of bed to enjoy that, and they totally don't care if I don't get dressed ever again, and they're free. Free fluffy balls of happiness. I'll take a dozen. But I'll need them delivered as I can't get out of bed, or get dressed or anything...

Friday, March 2, 2012

You Have To Know It's Going To Be A Bad Day...

Or... Why do I want to buy a product called 'Unicorn Farts'?!

I love Etsy.  Really love.  I used to sell there quite a bit.  I used to buy there quite a bit more.  But this pregnancy has made me indecisive (that may or may not be the biggest understatment ever typed by human hands) which has seriously hampered my ability to purchase things online, particularly on Etsy.  I probably lurk Etsy everyday atleast once, because you just never know what farm/chicken/french country/vintage type thing may have been listed in the last, oh, hour.  But I can't purchase.  I can put stuff in my cart, I've had a cart full heirloom veggie seeds that I've thinned and thicked out so many times the cart is ready to explode.  But I cannot utilize the 'Pay Now' or whatever that button is that arranges to have large sums of my money turned into large sums of someone else's and a happy jaunt to the mail box.  I just can't.  Not that I don't intend to purchase, I just intend to do it 'later, after the littlest is napping...'  I obviously have issues.  Have I mentioned I can no longer answer my phone either? It's getting pathetic.

So some how I ended up logged onto my dear friend Etsy this morning (does anyone else find themselves on the Etsy home page and have no idea how they got there, don't remember typing in the address or conciously thinking they'd like to be there?!) and there was exactly what I needed without even running a search. Unicorn Farts. I snapped that puppy up and threw two in my cart (I seldom buy more than one of something, but I was quick this morning - could not chance one of the littles tossing it in the dryer/garbage/out the window/in a diaper) and slammed on that 'Buy It Now'  button while images of skipping to my mail box (which is no less than 500 miles away from our house) while rainbow sparkles trickled from my feet, finding the little red flag up and waving at me, throwing back the little door as golden beams spilled out of box interior where a perfect little package laid waiting, encasing what would no doubt be the much coveted Unicorn Farts.    But what's this?  What is the computer screen trying to tell me?  It's saying something along the lines of 'Aww... too bad, we have just single handedly dashed all your future hopes and dreams.  All of the Unicorn Farts lip balms of Etsy have already been purchased by those far more awesome than yourself.  There will  still be skipping to the mail box of golden glory, but it will not be by you.  But, while we're on the topic, would you like to mark this item as a favorite instead, so it can be a constant reminder of the epic fail that is your purchasing ability?' Umm... I'm going to go with no on that one...

When this typeof  situation brings tears to your eyes, you have to know it's not going to be a good day. For you, or anyone else in your immediate vicinity.  And you should probably think about Googling 'therapy' in your immediate local area. Just saying.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Buried In The Yard...

Or... the conversations I get to have because we live here.

Yesterday afternoon was one of those super sunny, non-artic type days that fool you into thinking spring is just around the corner.  Today, on the other hand is one of those days where it is snowing, the wind sounds like we've relocated the house directly under Niagara Falls, and it's cold enough in my house to not want to know what temperature it is outside.  However, back to yesterday! So the littles wanted to go out and play, and the littlest little needs my aid in this department. So out we went.  When Mr. Pretties got home from work we did a walk around outside, in the bush, the barn, the corn field adjacent.... you know, the usual.  So as we were doing our own thing (Mr. Pretties trying to organize the random piles of wood around the property and me complaining because I'm too fat and ackward to be milling about in the brambles) Mr. Pretties and I had the following exchange:

Me: Hey Dave, remember when I said I wanted to replace the kitchen sink with an antique cast iron one?
Mr. Pretties: Uh huh...
Me: Great! Grab a shovel, I just found one buried in the yard!
Mr. Pretties: ......................

Love it.  I think Mr. Pretties thought this was another example of my extreme sarcasm, or off the wall humour.  He did not however, think that we had an old cast iron sink stinking partially out of a bunch of tree remains at the end of our property.  I love that about having sprawling property, you just never know what you're going to find!  So far (you know, in the last month) I've come across an old wagon part, a rusted through trough, numerous rusty oil cans, an enamel pot with a hole in it, an antique javex bottle, and a stack of windows from the original barn.  And we don't spend that much time outside right now, as I said: Artic. Weather. Have I mentioned we still have not received our oil delivery?  And that we're heating this old house with only wood (okay, and two electric oil heaters, I know, bad homesteaders, bad!) which is costing us a small fortune.  Because we're dumb and keeping picking it up at the grocery store until we can find someone willing to deliver the wood here - and that appears to be no small feat around here!  We've been doing a lot of character building around here with these new situations.  So far my character is huddled in a corner beside the woodstove with three pairs of socks, two pairs of pants and four sweaters.  While debating the feasiblilty of puchasing a king sized electric blanket, making a tent out of it, and proceeding to live inside it until we find a more efficient way to heat the house.  Mr. Pretties however, has brought it to my attention that we frequently lose power in the evenings due to the wind and that in the case the heated tent would no long be a heated tent.  On to plan B!  It involves having a woodstove installed in the livingroom so that our one small stove isn't busting it's rear trying to heat the entire house, which is impossible.  It also involves and EcoFan if I can ever locate one.  I got laughed out of two TSCs last week when I went looking for one because I was in the wrong season.  Apparently I thought I was in winter, but I was mistaken because as we all know winter is over and it's time to start buying lawn seed and patio furniture. Duh!

In other news, one of our white silkies is broody again!! Hoohoo!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Joys of Power...

... Or the even bigger joy of not having it!

After my last post it got so windy outside it blew our power right out.  Fortunately, I knew where I put the candles and the matched.  It was great.  We sat infront of the woodstove with a couple candles and watched Green Acres reruns on the laptop (why to rough it, right?) and ate pitas.  The littles were so disappointed when the hydro blinked back to life, I have to admit I was disappointed too.  Partially because we were having such a lovely cozy time sans lights, and partially because you can't clean when you can't see the mess ;)  I might change my mind in the future, but I hope we lose power more often, I think it's healthy.


Or, oil experiment gone wrong...

Before we moved into this house a new furnace was installed, as was a new woodstove and the entire house was reinsulated.  Good stuff!!  Our oil was quite low when we moved in and the conservation area we rent the property from suggested we let it run right out so that we could get an idea of how much oil is left after it hits E on the oil gauge (Exactly three weeks with very conservative use), and that because the oil company services the entire conservation area and it's properties we would have no problems getting them out to fill us up immediately upon running out.  Plus, we haven't really been having a lot of winter lately.  Lots of sunshine, days above 5 and mushy lanes. Also good stuff! So no big deal!

Yesterday we arrived home after running some errands before Mr. Pretties needed to leave for work.  When I got home the house felt a little cool.  This house is on either side of 120 years old, it's always cool.  So I went into the livingroom and turned up the heat, cozy heat immediately blasted from the grated orfices in our floors!  Oh wait, that didn't happen.  Nothing happened.  No hum. No rumble. Nothing that sounds like a locomotive is driving through our dirt and stone basement.  Crap. No oil. But! That's not a problem for those of us in the know, who can have the oil company pop over on an oil guzzling whim! Oh wait, that wasn't the case either.  There was a misunderstanding and Mr. Oil cannot possibly bring us anymore until Monday.  But the beauty part of this house is that if our gas furnace died we would have slowly froze to death between now and Monday (Trust me.  Our gas furnace did die in our non-insulated 1910 victorian last winter - it was unpleasant to say the least) but instead we just popped some wood in the stove, put on a sweater and carried on with our day!  Very few things can beat the option of secondary heat. Love. It.

So we're hanging around the house this weekend babysitting the woodstove and doing cozy things.  We really need to be doing buying baby things, type of things, but we'll work that out.  In the mean time we'll listen to the howling wind outside and the freezing rain hurling itself at the windows and be thankful that we have the shelter of this mighty yellow brick farmhouse, piles of down blankets and a woodstove that's crackling awayin the kitchen and pumping our house full of heat.  It's a good time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What a Novel Idea!

Or, aren't midwife home visits supposed to be less stressful than going all the way into the office?

I'm going to have to go with no.  This isn't going to be a long post, or a great post (okay, or even a mediocre post) but it'll be a post.  This morning was our scheduled midwife home visit where they come and tell us that our house is too cold (I'm sorry, doesn't everyone have their thermostat set at a balmy 66 degrees?) which made me sad, I had even made the effort to turn UP the heat so that others would think we live in a civilized environment...  and point out that if you move your bedroom upstairs (where it SHOULD be, don't ask) to the room that's designated for you, that it doesn't have a heating duct... (Got to love that conversation 'Where's the heating vent in this room'  Me: 'Psh... why it's right over... over... over... what the hell?  This room HAS no heating vent?!') and follow it up with 'And where is the closest bathroom? There's one up here right?' Uhh... No.  Sorry.  Our one and only bathroom is downstairs, on the opposite end of the house down the narrow steep stairs.  For some reason keeping our bedroom on the main floor until baby gets here seems to be the most feasible plan at this point.  See? This is why they do home visits, so they can think of all the stuff that I hadn't!  So that's settled!

Then all the kids were home today, conveniently, for my visit.  You know how you watch A Baby Story and people either take their children to the Obs office, or the midwife comes over and they sit their angelically listening to the babies' heartbeat, asking sweet questions, and talk about how excited they are for their new sibling?  In real life, that doesn't happen.  Lamps get knocked over, chickens wind up in the house, and the dog and the rabbit get into a giant raucus, all while asking the probability of bleeding to death in the near future.  It really wasn't what I had pictured for this appointment... Which has brought me to the decision that if something some how derails in our plan to have the children out of the house for the birth, we will infact relocate to the hospital immediately because a peaceful, relaxing birth will not be a possibility under those conditions.  Maybe I'll also rethink my distaste for long hospital stays and make it into a vacation, maybe a week, a month?  The first six months of baby's life?  We'll play it be ear ;)

Things are simply not always as you expect them.  It's kind of our life theme song (you know, if quotes could be theme songs...).  I also didn't expect a barn full of dead raccoons, Hotdog to turn into demon spawn, or that having a much larger house would do nothing to decrease noise and insanity inside of it.  You could have a McMansion and the littles would still insist on congregating in one area while fighting and being as loud as humanly possible.  I don't understand it myself, but such it is.

Now I need to go locate the bowl with the remaining pink fluffy icing from lastnight's Valentine's cake and have it for lunch.  And pick up the bowl of fruit the littlest little just tossed all over my floor.  Cleaning up canned fruit is actually a difficult, if not ackward, task that I'm not looking forward to.  Too bad Hotdog has no desire to eat fruit... 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Getting There

Or, why are we the Ingles?

   I so badly want to write all these wonderful things about 'farm life' and because I can't (you know, because we're currently buried under a wasteland of snow and COLD again) I feel like I have nothing to write or contribute to anyone (ha!) reading right now.  Which is not right.  I also feel like I can only share all the wonderful Little House on The Prairie thoughts I have about it.  Also, not right.  This is my blog and I don't want anyone reading to think that everything is cozy fires and homemade cookies all the time.  And trust me, with fours kids (And another on the way), 13 chickens, three cats, a dog (and another on the way), it isn't. It so isn't.

   We're going through a the motions right now of deciding what we want to get from this experience.  I am very good at deciding what want from things, and Mr. Pretties is very good at agreeing and going along with those plans, but I would like very much for everyone in this family to take something away from this experience by achieving something that's important to them.  Let's just get this out there, Mr. Pretties is not the farmer in this family.  This was probably not something he ever thought he would be doing at any point in this life (come to think of it, that probably applies to a lot of things he's agreed to do with me, starting with having a brood of five kids LoL).  His grandparents farmed, but his family is mostly removed from such things.  This does not, however, mean that he is not open to the experience.  He's just not sure what exactly he wants from it, whether it be dairy cattle, a beehive, a wood working shop, who knows! But I don't want him to be so tied up in doing things for my interests that he doesn't have anything for himself.  It's something we're working on.  I would also like the kids to feel like they're achieving something and have something to call their own and be proud of.  It's something we're starting to discuss, I don't know if perhaps having their own gardens is what they would like, or to have a certain breed of chickens that are their own to show, our oldest is going Wednesday night to meet up with a riding coach to see about riding lessons for her, and then she wants a pony.  I do not want a pony, at this point, as I would like to see us with animals that are contributing to the farm (unless she wants a draught pony... of a fell pony...) but it's something we can plan for in the future. 

   So we're at the stage where we need to decide who wants to do what, what is in the budget to do this year, and what needs to be tabled for next year and start doing it.  I still have to order my vegetable seeds!!  We're also in a position this year where we're in a house that while it has had quite a lot of work done on it recently, there is still a lot that can (and should, and will) be done to it to meet it's full potential.  So far we've been white washing the floors upstairs (trust me, they were awful, and I take reassurance that when we have the time and money we will rip up the tile up there and sand down all the floors and have them restained), ripping out garbage laminate flooring that the previous owners used as puppy pads apparently, repairing doors, and getting ready to repaint pretty well everything in this house.  If we can get all this done we'll can concentrate 100% on outside this year and get all the annual gardens cleaned up, the barn cleaned out, the 'secret garden' cleared out (pigs anyone?), the veggies in (and preferably growing...) and the coop up and running.  We're just having trouble taking it a one piece at a time, making a plan, getting it done, and moving on to the next.  We're too busy seeing the whole picture and freaking out because 'nothing is getting done!!'.  But we'll get there, and we'll get done what we can.  Ideally, I want everything done, and done yesterday.  Realistically, I'll be happy if we get the coop built nicely, the veggies in, and the house interior  repainted.  That would work for me for this first year.

   Also, it's funny how you try to conserve on heat when you're trying to keep the oil man away.  We use our woodstove regularly, but we're also finding it spendy (to the tune of $300+ a month in addition to oil) because we've been buying it in dribs and drabs because we haven't found anyone who wants to deliver it yet.  I woke up this morning and the thermostat happily let me know that it was 56 degrees.  Yikes.  It's also funny how balmy 66 degrees feels after waking up to a 56 degree house.  Or how down right hot, let's open the windows, 70 degrees can feel with the woodstove fully cranked.  When I used to read on Cold Antler Farms about waking up to temperatures like that, wearing sweaters to bed, and being thrilled by a 65 degree house, I couldn't believe it.  I'm happiest when our house is 72 and I'm wearing a sweater.  But realistically, I don't find these new norms unpleasant! We just throw extra quilts on the beds at night and I wear a sweater to bed anyway.  Not to mention the three cats and a dog that sleep on the end of it ;) And the woodstove does a nice job of sending the heat right up the stairs off the kitchen keeping the littles bedrooms nice and toasty.  This all seems a little rustic to us right now, but I love this new norm and I can't wait to see what other things we'll be adjusting to and how much we enjoy them! 

   We're also looking into a livestock guardian dog for the chickens, kids and whatever else we end up with, does anyone have any suggestions? Has anyone ever used a St Bernard as a LGD?  Please share!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

We're Here!

Or…  More or less…

We officially arrived with our gear at ‘the farm’ Friday the 27th.  It is lovely. Words simply cannot describe what it’s like to have a dream, spend hours discussing it (to death), acquiring skills that will allows you to be more efficient when you achieve it, and then to actually be living it.  It’s still in the surreal stages I think, but it’s starting to feel more ‘normal’ everyday.  Or, as normal as can be when you still have a flock of chickens residing in your garage because your barn is currently too over run with dead raccoons…  not that I would know anything about that…
The time we spend here seems to be of such higher quality than when we’re anywhere else.  Everything smells better, tastes better, the water is softer, the scenery is fabulous, and you truly cannot beat having a woodstove.  Our enjoyment has become such that no one (with the exception of Mr. Pretties, because he’s a freak) wants to leave the house to go out.  This says a lot as we were very much an on the go family, spending a vast majority of our free time in the car.  Now I can’t see the point in leaving.  Why would we want to go spend time in civilization, noise, pollution, aggravation?  When I could be home watching a YouTube video on knitting (which, btw, is not going to help me, I’m beyond help), baking bread, snuggled up infront of the woodstove with my new copy of Joel Salatin’s ‘Folks, This Ain’t Normal’ (and I am SO enjoying this book, I’ve already ordered a few more of his books which I plan to devour as soon as they get here), or making Valentine’s with the littles.  We had to go into town to buy groceries Friday night, and that was only after we promised the littles that if we got all our shopping and errands done Friday night (they wanted to go home) that we could stay home for the rest of the weekend.  I never though we’d be having that discussion!  And stay home we did.  That was something that we were physically (mentally? Emotionally? Ridiculously?) incapable of accomplishing before.  A weekend at home only took place if the car was in being taken care of or we all simultaneously were suffering from food poisoning.  Not. That. Often. I love it! If I never had to leave the house again I would be a happy girl.  Funny, no one mentioned that moving into a rural area can quickly unleash your hermit instincts.  Or that it becomes almost impossible to stay awake past 10pm because the air is so fresh, and the atmosphere is so relaxing.  I used to have to play an hour of crappy iPod games just to be able to fall asleep at night, usually ending my day at 1 or 2am.  I longer have this dilemma.

So to say the least, we are so stoked to be here.  The girls are loving school, I think they fit in a lot better with their current school mates, as they have more in common and are more instep with our lifestyle.  Everyone who comes over doesn’t want to leave (and because I’m becoming a hermit, I want them to leave more) because it’s just so quiet and relaxing to be here.  Well, except when I’m cutting fishing wire off the rooster’s feet.  For the fourth time.  Because they keep finding a ball of it somewhere that I can’t locate.  That’s not relaxing or quiet…  Or when I spent two hours trying to start a fire in the stove because Mr. Pretties bought damp firewood by mistake.  That’s not relaxing or quiet either.  Quite the opposite, usually involving a lot of four letter words from my mouth.  But I think we have that sorted out ;)

So yay us, we’re here!!!  And we have wild turkeys!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Feeling The Crunch...

Or, holy crap! In less than two weeks we're making the move to the farm and my due date was eight weeks yesterday!

I think every pregnant woman gets that sudden jolt at some point in their pregnancy where they realize 'ohmygodimgoingtohaveababyandihaveamillionthings to do..............'  and I had mine yesterday.  I was doing some light packing while Mr. Pretties (not so pretty today, kind of mad at him actually ;) )  was at work and thinking about how in two weeks we would be making the move. To a farm.  To live out our dream.  And then I was like 'What?! We're moving to a farm?!  To live our our dreams?! When did this happen?? Where was I??' followed by the next series of revelations that A) My next midwife appt is going to be an at home appt on the 2nd of February and my house is going to pile a of boxes 'Hi There, thanks for driving all the way out here, please, pull up a box...' Nice.  and B) Oldest Little Pretties 7th (!!!) birthday will be requiring a party mid February, when hopefully our house is no longer a box storage facility, which got me to C) My due date was eight weeks yesterday!!!  Which will be down to six weeks by the move, and three weeks by the party!!!  Then I had to hyperventilate into the nearest paper bag (fortunately I'm a crafter, I think I pack paper bags in every moving box because I continuously find packages of them around the house that I'm going to use for some craft or another).

Eight *gasp* More *Gasp* Weeks *Bigger Gasp*. 

 Clearly, this is not my first pregnancy, or delivery, why am I reacting like such a weiner head?  I have no idea! Other than I think I've put so much focus on the moving aspect (and purchasing glass hardware for the kitchen cabinets, and stalking Pinterest for new ideas, and Etsy for buying heirloom seeds) that I was under the impression that while ofcourse we were having a baby, that was light years away.  And by light years, I obviously mean eight weeks, which doesn't some so luminescent or annual...  I have cribs to sort out, clothes to buy, all those little odds and ends to replace, supplies for our homebirth to pick up, major organization, mental prep, tiny clothes to wash, cloth diapers to buy, a pump to find, a place to purchase newborn caps, and Argh!!!

Beyond that freak out I've also started worrying that we'll finally get to the farm, the one that we've talked about moving to for the last few years, that I have monsterous plans for, and we'll fail.  How you can fail at living on a rural property, I'm not too sure.  But I think it involves having access to a fair amount of land which can be used for all these great things I've been planning (food gardens, chickens, bees, canning, homemaking, meat raising, homesteading, etc...) and becoming so overwhelmed by the potential that everything has and complete control we've been given that we do... nothing.  Our property has no preplanned or preestablished vegetable patch, so we need to figure out where/how/when that happens, get our chickens set up in the barn, which requires critter proofing, clean up all the unkept parts of the property, clean up the 'Secret Garden' that I don't even want to think about right now because it has a scary amount of crap in it currently and where to put outdoor items like furniture, where in this vast yard we'll be spending the most time (I didn't realize how much I relied on a square backyard that was fenced in... take a way the square and the fence and apparently I'm lost).  I addition to these semi-superficial concerns, the more immediate issues of finding someone who will deliver wood to the house for the woodstove, having the oil tanks filled, starting our hydro bill (and subsequently cancelling this one), renting the truck, registering the girls for school (and getting their vaccines up to date), and so on and so forth are creeping up  This doesn't even touch on all the packing I still have to do. Or the trips to donate. Or the trips to the dump we have to.  And with all of this to do, what do I want to do more than anything?
Take a nap. 
I am such a huge help to myself it's amazing

Me: 'Hey Self, we kind of have a lot of stuff to do, want to pack some boxes today?'
Me Again: 'Uhh... while I see the value in your idea to pack boxes,  I feel that it would be more beneficial to my person if I took a nap for a couple hours and then reevaluated the box packing situation at that point...'
Me: 'That's great! Thanks SO much for all of you help here...'
Me Again: 'Hey, I'm fat, leave me alone.'

I am my own worst enemy.  BUT I'm thinking that I will get stuff done today. I'm fuelled by aggravation and I'm feeling fairly aggravated with Mr. Pretties today (Hey, I'm just keeping it real here) so that just might be the kick in the get moving department I need to make a big dent in the packing.  You would have thought the stack of apple boxes that are taller than me in every square foot of my bedroom to the point where I can't move, would be motivation enough, but apparently not.

Here's wishing me luck!! Maybe if I finish enough boxes I'll reward myself with a nap :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Farm Dog Is Coming...

Or, is this not the most awesomely adorable puppy picture you've ever seen?!  *Squeel* 

 If all goes according to plan (Crossing all fingers!), we will be picking up our St. Bernard/Great Pyrenees cross puppy from a really fabulous farm not far from ours.  I am SO beyond excited.  A big dog will be completely new territory for us, and we obviously need to add puppy training to our 13 chickens, 4 kids (and a soon to be newborn) and a completely new move.  Clearly.  It's going to be chaotic, and insane, and so, SO much fun! Can. Not. Wait.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Did Someone Change The Season Already?

Or why is my lawn green(ish)?

I just thought I'd share a few quick photos taken at the farm over the last couple weeks, just to show how dramatic the weather's been up here, it's insane!

These photos were taken New Years Eve...


Drive side of the house

Looking into our neighbours cornfield

The barn - such as it is

Now these photos were taken January 7th - a mere week apart

Front of house

The previously snow clad driveway

Our treed area

Same neighbours cornfield

Front lawn

   It was a balmy 9 degrees when we went up on Satuday, had their been no wind it would have been really and truly warm!  Such a lovely day, days like that are truly a treat this time of year, especially for those of us itching to skip right into spring and get some food in the ground, chickens on the lawn, and a cow in the barn.  Sometimes the only thing pulling us through is those periodic days when the sun beats down on us with open abundance.  I have winter issues, can you tell?

 So as it stands the count down is on for the move - with any luck we'll be out of here and into there by the 28th, but I'm crossing my fingers it'll be sooner.  My 8.5 month pregnant self doesn't want to push it any close to 'the time' than they have to, and while three weeks doesn't sound like much, I could very well be a complete and total whale by then with little to no ability to make myself mobile, let along any furiture or boxes.  We've done it before with mere weeks to spare, and I don't still have nightmares about it.  You know how they say 'someday you'll look back and laugh!', so far it's been 5 years and I still don't find it funny.  We're also hoping beyond hope (and this will infact jinx it) that this whether keeps up (or simply returns, I am totally okay with fabulous returning weather) for the move, I am so scared I'm going to wake up on the 28th to 3' of snow and ice and an hour long plus drive to the farm navigating back farm roads in a scary moving truck.  We have never moved in the winter and there are so many more variables in the winter than the summer!  But we will be SO thrilled to get there.  Although I have this niggling, irrational fear that after years of wanting this I'm going to get there, get settled, and hate it.  Realistically I don't think it'll be that big of an adjustment though, we aren't huge city people, so we should be okay. 

   So here's to appreciating fab weather, and looking onward and upward to scary/exciting moves!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Difference of Opinion

Or what to do when your parents want to each chicken from the grocery store.

I hadn't realized it until recently, but a large part of what I visualize when thinking about 'the farm' (would farmette be appropriate?) is packing up wicker hampers, piling them high with fresh bread, picturesque bundles of veggies, sun warmed berries, eggs, and a wonderfully large, free range, organic chicken to pop in the oven for dinner. A home grown feast, and I want to deliver one to each of those who are dear to me.  While it will be fabulous to eat out of our own yard and not have to travel to the local fruit market 3+ times a week to keep the littles in carrots and apples, I really want to share the bounty with others (this is where I over estimate both my ability to grow food as well as process meat, then give away everything that did grow and end up buying ours from the farmer's market).  But what do you do when those you want to share it with not want it (other than not share, obviously)? 

Knowing where our food comes from, how it was raised (far more than humanely - and the fact that that label is a 'luxury' is really sad to me), and what it ate, is becoming increasing (and obsessively) more important to us.  We (when I say 'we' this usually pertains to just me, but I like to pretend Mr. Pretties is half as mental as I am) assume that everyone else feels the same way.  Well brace yourselves folks, they don't.  And while this particular opinion isn't wrong, I find it particularly baffling when it's presented by my own parents.  The people who (presumably) my genetic make up originated.  We must be the same, right?  If not your parents, than who?  So when we were discussing the impending meat chickens that will arrive in the spring, and again late summer, and how wonderful it would be to eat our own happy brand of chicken, my dad pipes up about how he wont need any, he'll keep buying his at the grocery store. .................   Alright then...  They also will not eat our chicken eggs.  Whether it's because we keep a rooster and they are sure they're going to crack open an egg to find a chick, or because they're under the (false) impression that they are less sterile than those of the grocery variety, I'm not sure.  Probably all of the above.  I've come to discover that my parents are of the school of thought that while they know bads things happen at factory farms, and that the risk for contamination of commercial foods is higher, they don't want to know/think about it and would rather enjoy their piece of ignorance is bliss pie.  Mind you, they will eat all of these things while dining at my house.  Likely because they don't think about the fact that the cookies, quiche, and cakes they enjoy here contain our own eggs.  And obviously they haven't come down with any cases of salmonella lately, or complained of half formed chickens in their piece of cake, but 10 to 1 if I pointed this out they would also be more conscious of what they're eating here and stop enjoying it, which I don't want. 

But it's a funny realization all the same, when you come to the startling conclusion that not everyone is going to be a happy, or even willing, recipient of your home grown goods.  It's even more startling when these are the people you were most excited to impart your gifts to.  I feel like I have such a different mind set than those I know that it's becoming hard for me to relate appropriately to others.  In my mind I'm thinking 'this will be great, this will be like giving them a FREE CSA membership to our little farm, with some bread, pies, preserves, fruits, veggies, meat and eggs, this'll be a total win, they must realize how spendy a CSA membership can be, what a great gift!' and in reality I'm receiving polite silence. 

So this has been a good trip back to reality, much like any gift you give to someone, they simply may not enjoy it, appreciate it, or want it because it just isn't there thing.  I know we have some people who will be beyond thrilled to receive such baskets, and I'll really enjoy supplying them, but I'll still be a little disappointed that my parents wont be one of them, I thought I'd found a wholesome way to show them how much I appreciate all they've done for us over the years, and now I'm back to the drawing board.  I'm hoping, in time, and when they see how happily, and sanitarily things are run in our neck of the woods they'll come around.

Now I need to find a way to obtain fully grown fruit bushes.  I knew that fruit is usually only born after two or three seasons, but I hadn't thought about how that related to me and my need to have fruit THIS year.  Seeing as we rent, I'm always leary of investing in things that produce years down the road as I always feel I'm making an investment for someone else to enjoy.  Usually I'm right.  This time I hope that isn't the case as we would like to stay at this house for a very long time, unless we buy, but I would really like to be able to enjoy some of our own fruit this year, so we need to explore our options, we can't be the only ones lacking in patience ;)

So that's where we're at in the last couple of weeks before the 'big move' (please god don't let it be a blizzard), not everyone cares if their dinner was happy, and I want fruit damn it!!