Such a contrast but a wonderfully fun contrast. My friends at work can hardly believe I come home, put on rubber boots and tromp around an old farm. Or that we have chickens.
The little peepers are doing well.
I commute 4 hours a day for work. When I tell people that they recoil. "That's a long commute!" And my response is "It's worth it." It is. It helps that I love my job, I look forward to going into the city and I get a lot of reading (and sometimes sleeping) done on that commute. I am blessed to have what I feel is the best of both worlds, work and play. It's not easy or glamorous at times but at my age, it's what gives life it's extra little kick. Have a great week everyone!
I've been thinking a lot about this blog lately. About it's format, how frequently to update it, whether I want to try to make money with it, how personal I should get, if anyone reads it and how long I should do it. I started it so I could share my experiences working a full time corporate job in the city and being a full time mother and part time farmer. A few months after we got the farm I was drafting blog posts in my head and taking pics to share online. I enjoy writing and there's a certain satisfaction with completing a post, like I've accomplished more in a day. I want this blog to be about life and experiences on High Hill. It really is it's own little village of animals and people living together - far from the city. I commute an average of 12 hours a week on top of working 40. I am not out to make money from this blog (I'm still contemplating AdSense) or to promote myself. I know of a couple of blogs where the authors are literally asking for money from their readers - to start a project or to buy something they want. That is never going to be me. Sometimes I need advice or guidance and I hope to get that here. Some camaraderie from the farming folks out there would be nice. For right now, I'm not going to make the commitment to write everyday. I'm going to write when I'm inspired to write. My life is much to full right now to spend a lot of time scheduling posts and finding advertisers. If you take the time to read my blog, welcome.
What a lovely weekend! It was cold but we had lots of sunshine and our new BBQ was delivered so I had a smile plastered on my face all weekend. We had steak Saturday night which is rare in my house and then steak and eggs Sunday.
The double yolk isn't from our girls - grocery bought.
The chickens are starting to produce more eggs everyday so I will soon be able to stop buying them again. With 19 hens I'm sure we'll have more than enough for friends and neighbors as well. We integrated the 10 new hens into the existing 9. So far the new ones are steering clear of the older ladies. We've all been out checking on them over the weekend and everyone still has all their feathers.
This girl "escaped" from our temporary pen in the coop and stayed well away from the others.
"This is my turf"
Our little group of baby chicks are doing well. Their current mission is to escape the rubbermaid bin. The girls and I are having fun collecting the lady bugs and flies we find and feeding to the troop. They tear them apart in seconds, it's quite funny how excited they get.
And last but not least an update on my Sugar Snap peas - they are doing well! I am so glad they sprouted as this gave me confidence to start my tomatoes and peppers.
Other than a couple of hair cuts and getting a room painted, that was my weekend. Can I just say, I'm so glad the sun is out later in the evenings? I don't mind leaving for work while it's still dark when I get to look forward to coming home to the light.
Welcome spring! Welcome chicks and chickens! Welcome pea sprouts! Yes there is still snow on the ground and the seasonal temperatures are well below normal but the Farmers Almanac is calling for a warm spring and a hot summer - and that's good enough for now. The weather is something my husband and I are always watching and talking about on the farm. Thankfully it's been warm and sunny enough that my pea's finally sprouted and this makes me very happy ...(edited to mention that I'm growing peas inspired by Jenna at www.ColdAntlerFarm.blogspot.com.)
I'm also happy to share a pic of the new chicks. My girls are in love with them, how could they not be? We've been singing to them, holding them and watching them run around. They are so fluffy and make the cutest peeping noises. I asked Donny what kind of chicks they are and he has no idea! Next year I'm ordering the chickens if we get more. I think they are Brahmas.
We made a temporary run for the new chickens inside our current coop. We are hoping this will cut down on the stress for all of them when the time comes to integrate them. We will do this Saturday night and I'm really hoping there is minimal impact to the new girls. Happy first day of spring!
What a wonderfully busy week last week. It was March Break for my girls. We had my nephews for 4 nights and a good friend and her two amazing kids overnight too. Lots of great memories were made last week. When my friend is over she always insists that we continue with our farm work and not save it for another day. So on Saturday I asked them if they wanted to help clean out the chicken coop. I am always pleasantly surprised at a child's willingness to do manual work. I had 4 kids and my friend helping and not one complaint. Afterwards I bought them all hot chocolate at the local coffee shop to thank them for their hard work. It made me happy. Oh and we did get away from the farm for a show and lunch in the big city.
I planted my sugar snap (grocery store) peas for the sugar snap pea challenge from Jenna at Cold Antler Farm (soaked and put into planting mix in the window in indirect sunlight) and I received my little Marvel Pea's from Annie's Heirloom Seeds. Planted March 12, no sprouts yet.
And Wednesday we are picking up 10 ready to lay chickens and 5 chicks. We are reading a lot about integrating them into our existing brood of 9 chickens. If anyone reading this blog has any advice, I'd be happy to hear it. We are getting the new 10 from the same breeder and we've talked about quarantining them but have decided against it.
What we've decided to do is:
1. Create a space in the coop where the new chickens can hang out and our current chickens can see and smell them on the day they arrive but they are separated.
2. Hang a cabbage from the ceiling of the coop to distract the hens.
3. Create hiding spaces for the new chickens so they can get away from any excessive bullying.
4. Let the new chickens into the full coop at night.
Our chicken coop is not an outdoor space, it's indoors right now with a run to the outside of the barn. The run outside needs to be secured and have some work done to it so coyote's can't get near the chickens since we have a lot in our area. We figure our current coop can hold 30 chickens so the 24 we will have after the chicks have grown and we fix the outdoor space should be more than enough room for all of them. The chicks I'm not so worried about. Keep them dry / warm / fed / clean and with lots of fresh water and we should be fine. We don't have a brooder for them and instead are going to keep them in the downstairs bathroom until they mature and then integrate them as well. I just hope our home raised chickens don't get hurt or upset the pecking order too much. Wish us luck!
I would be honored to be called one but I'm not one, not yet. I have not yet dealt with death (my husband has gotten rid of the three hens we lost this winter), I haven't had a growing season, I haven't pickled anything and I've never tasted fresh milk. Oh and I don't knit or sew or play the banjo. And I'm not sure I could kill anything to eat it - I may have to outsource that one. Here I sit, with my seeds and my plans, in a snowstorm, patiently waiting for spring so I can learn to farm. And I wonder, should I get a seed mat? Do my seedlings need extra light? These are precious things to me these seeds. I don't want to waste them or kill them. So I'm planting my sugar snap peas first - a welcome challenge to grow something in this dreary March. And that will be a start.
In other news, our hens and chicks come next week and other than an old heat lamp and a rubbermaid bin and some cedar chips, I don't have anything else ready. Another confession? I'm quite worried about my garden, about preserving, that I will fail. But enough of that. Chin up, because surely this is all part of becoming a farmer - worry, trial and error, failure and success.
I am a firm believer of visualising of your goals to help you to make them happen. That is to say, anything you want in life, you just need to dream it / picture it / put it in a frame and on your wall and you will get it. It will come to YOU. You will subconsciously make decisions in your life that will push you toward that goal. You'll tell people your dreams and they will help you achieve your goals. That is not to say that I've have never written down a goal but I'm amazing at how many things have come to me simply by putting a visual image in my head of what I want for the outcome. This is true for my career, for my car, for the farm. All are things I had a vision for, a specific idea of how I wanted those things to be. It helps that I've always been a glass half full kind of girl and that I have no trouble putting myself out of my comfort zone at times to get what I want.
I've spent years reading farming blogs, about living on the side of a mountain in the middle of no where. These are my favourites: www.soulemama.com, www.coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com, www.fuoriborgo.com.
After I stopped reading blogs about being a mom it was my natural progression of reading, I was drawn to it. We started looking at properties on MLS that were out of the city- but not too far out of the city, that had a larger property but wouldn't break the bank, that we could get groceries within 30 mins of our door but nothing was popping out at us as realistic. And then one day this opportunity fell in my lap. A lead from a friend who I had not known long, but who I had told about my dream. We lived in a lovely, large, modern townhouse in the city surrounded by stores, neighbours and family. I had no idea what I was getting into with a 100 year old fixer upper. With chickens and horses. But I jumped right in, how could I not? It was paradise to me. And I didn't want to spend the rest of my life thinking "what if." I knew it would make my commute a nightmare - but this year my boss encouraged me to work from home 2 days a week. Serendipity. But it hasn't been easy. It was a big move, stuff got broken, the girls missed their friends, I miss my family, we have leaks, the house is drafty and we really need a wood stove. What I'm saying is that you should just put it out there, send it out into the universe and see what comes back. Right now I'm trying to figure out if I will raise chickens and pigs for meat and visualise how my future will look at this farm and I'm having a hard time. So what I'm going to do it put it out there, leave it up to the universe and see what comes back. Maybe someone will offer me a pig.
This dog of ours, my goodness we love him. He is a big, sweet baby still, only 6 months old. I've been working from home a lot this week and he follows me upstairs to my office everyday and is a complete distraction. He jumps on my bed (Murphy down!), grabs the kids toys (Murphy bring it!), tries to eat everything in sight (Murphy leave it!), and brings me all sorts of things he find that he know's he isn't allowed to have. God love him he's into everything. Yesterday he brought me two stuffed animals, a compact mirror, a barbie jacket, a magnet and ate a receipt before I could get it from him. I do enjoy his company and snuggles when he finally stops but boy is he a handful!
You don't actually need to work at home do you mom? I'll keep you off that computer.
Today is my husband's birthday. He said he can't remember his birthday ever being this cold. But he got up this morning with a smile and a whistle on his lips and started his day without a complaint. He's a great guy and he loves us dearly and we him. We are both tired of this snow, of the cold, of having the horses indoors. We made our chicken order yesterday, 10 ready to lay chickens and 2 chicks. We've never raised chicks before so this was our safest bet. I may even order 1-2 more chicks in case one of them dies and leaves one child without a chicken to raise. We've been reading about pecking order and how to integrate the new chickens and chicks into our current brood. And of course this makes me think of spring. Have a great day everyone!
This last one is the stalls, fully cleaned and scrubbed, ready for winter.
Looking out my office window towards where the fire pit once was, I see a picture of what this winter is. Snow up to my knees and branches that fell during the ice storm. If anyone needs sticks for firewood, we will have plenty in the spring!
I wrote a draft post two months after we moved in and read it again a week ago and giggled to myself. Oh I've learnt so much since then. I am learning all the time on this farm. Not just about the animals but about this life. Sometimes it's discouraging and sometimes it's eye opening but most of all it's rewarding. I want to write about what I've learnt every Tuesday because I know when I look back in a year from now I'll smile and nod to myself and realize I've grown.
What I've learnt - September 2013 to February 2014.
1. Cleaning out a horse stall takes 10 mins but you'll smell like horse pee forever, so you'll want to wear the same jacket every time and probably wash it once a week.
2. Those black, sturdy rubber boots with the red bottoms. They are the best. Nothing fancy needed here - and they even make great winter boots with the right socks.
3. My dog may never learn how to walk on a leash. It's the beauty of training a dog to be obedient but a worry when you think about taking them into the city for their vet visits.
4. I've learnt to climb a ladder and not be afraid to do so when required. On the same note, lifting a long ladder is heavy and dangerous. If you are on the bottom end of the lift, do not lift UP.
5. Straw makes great bedding for chickens and when it's covered in their poop, is easier to lift off the layer of frozen poop in the winter than to scrape it off bare wood.
6. I will wear layers. All. The. Time.
7. My kids appreciate a hot water bottle or a heating pad in their beds at night in an old farm house.
8. To make the most of my trips to town.
9. Electricity is expensive in the country. Do your laundry in the off hours and on the weekends.
10. Your neighbors will help you. With advice, with manpower, with resources. It's the way it was meant to be. And in the summer I'll bring them eggs and produce to thank them.
But I guess what I've mostly learnt is to be adaptable. To enjoy the snow days indoors. And that the work is never done, and that's the best part.
Oh and auto correct has informed me that learned is not a word, it's learnt folks. Learning all the time.
I felt some frustration on the weekend with my old house. I was cleaning out the mud room (which still needs drywall and proper flooring) of the accumulation of recycling etc. After that was done I started in the kitchen and I realized, the kitchen needs a LOT of work. There is wallpaper on paneling and under the chair rail it's green, and not a pretty green.
The black bedroom needs to be painted - even the ceiling is black, and the wood floors upstairs need to be refinished. The carpeting needs to be taken off the stairs. And lastly, my husband has already mudded a wall in the living room - that I actually liked the color of - so that needs to be painted too, along with the window frames in that room. I've resigned myself to the fact that this house is never going to look like new but I can't wait for it to look like ours.
The one partially finished corners of the house! Still missing the quarter round from when the floors were done.
This beauty was given to me by a friend last September when we moved in. It seemed a long way away at the time to having my own garden so I shelved it. Last night after I made my seed order I pulled it out to read about the basics of home preserving. This book starts off with an introduction to how preserving is done and the different types of preserves you can make - pickles, chutney's, jelly's, jams and sauces. But it also gives you much more than that, soup and stew fillings, ice cream recipe's and wine and cordial recipe's. No, this isn't a sponsored post! I just wanted to tell you how great this book is. Some of the recipes that I will try are pickled carrots, beets and zucchini but there are so many more in here - the book is
very inspiring! Coq au Vin, ratatouille, cassoulet are a few recipe's I've never tried and this book makes them look easy. I look forward to sharing my experiences this summer as my garden grows and I try my hand at preserving some of the delicious food we are growing.