Oh hi there! Sorry it's been a while. Between work and a mini vacation in Niagara Falls I haven't had time to read my favorite blogs - never mind write my own! Last week I took a 4 day weekend to celebrate my 40th birthday and at the same time treated my daughters to 3 days and 2 nights away from the farm and the computer and the cold. I have to admit, I'm having a little trouble getting back into the winter chores when it's so bitterly cold outside. My work schedule has me away from the farm for 48 hours this week and when I finally do drag myself through the doors all I want to do is put on cozy clothes, catch up with my girls and sit down a bit. My wonderful husband has been picking up the slack by keeping the horses and chickens happy and I've been doing my best to make wholesome meals in the crock pot or in advance.
On turning 40...I have a few things to say. It is very liberating to be this confident in myself at this age. To not care about what people think of me, my weight, my hair or my clothes. To say what I mean and feel instead of what I think people want to hear. Am I obnoxious or is that what 40 is all about? I've got enough grey hair for everyone over here...why not opinions too.
On it being hard to get out there and work...after working all day and still having more work to do in the house and a family to care for...and a dog and external obligations. Someone suggested to me at work that it was too much. Too much work for us, how are we handling it all? How do we ever rest, go to the gym, find time to play??? I had never really thought about it before. I knew this would be more work and I welcomed it. Along with that work comes exercise and sometimes play and always more time together. We work together and we make it work like we always have. The most amazing thing to me is that we are the happiest we've ever been with this arrangement. To think I actually doubted we could handle it all. Yes it's hard at times and my house is often messy but we are happy and that's all that matters.
I write today from my kitchen table. I'm in jeans, socks, a long sleeve shirt with a t-shirt on top. Warmth is something I do not associate with a big drafty farm house in winter. I go to bed with a duvet and a comforter and when I wake up I put on slippers, grab my clothes and make a dash to the bathroom for a hot shower. We've worked out ways of staying warm in this house - taking your clothes with you to the bathroom is one of them! Thankfully the house has all new windows and that does seem to help keep the warmth in. Last year we didn't heat the mud room that joins the outside to the kitchen. It's a 10'x12' room and it was so cold all last winter that we had to shovel off it's roof. This year there is a little heater blowing in the mud room and it's making a nice difference. And we have the electric fireplace going in the living room as well. We don't have a wood stove so we heat our house with an oil furnace. It's not the most economical ways to heat but it's what we have. There are other ways to stay warm - lots of home cooking, a walk with the dog, warm slippers, wool sweaters, hot chocolate, layers of clothing and lets not forget all the work that needs to get done around here. Only 6 more months of this to go! So until the snow melts, stay warm my friends.
This is one meal done two ways. First, a cottage roll - very Canadian and essentially it's cured meat - like a very fatty ham. Slow cooked in the crock pot for several hours. And the squash cut sideways - which is just so pretty. Then the leftover sandwiches my husband made with coleslaw, pork and squash. YUM. This week there was also pumpkin seeds, chili and pea soup made from the boiling of the ham hock. Linking up with www.beautythatmoves.typepad.com
We moved to this property in September 2013 knowing nothing about horses. Part of the agreement of our tenancy was to board 2 beautiful horses for the winter. We spent most of last September watching them saunter from pasture to pasture, always amazed at their beauty and grace. And when Danny would run...the thunder of his hooves pounding the ground. Then finally the time came where they were put into our care - they were "our horses" now. They came from the neighbors pastures to ours for their stay with us through the winter. We made big beds of straw in their stalls, learned to pick their feet, gave them oats each morning and combed the burs out of their manes. They are like big dogs these horses, you have to show them who is boss or they will push you around. They are always lured by carrots and Danny is somewhat saucy, which both of us have learned being bopped on the head by him with his chin on one occasion each.
Our instructions for winter care were simple....bring them in every night once the temperatures hit below zero and put their coats on them if temperatures are below -10. Feed them oats in the morning and a bale of straw in their stalls at night. Keep the breezeway covered in manure so it doesn't ice up.
The first couple of times we brought them in with the lure of carrots and were amazed as they walked right into their stalls and waited while we closed the doors. That was easy! The next morning we fed them oats and let them out and they dutifully walked back outside and off into the pasture. The next night they wouldn't come in. We found them at the bottom of the pasture and no carrots or calling would bring them in. So my husband got Rosie's halter and led her to the barn and Danny followed. The night after that was the same story. Then one night, after chasing them through the pasture - as they were wise to our methods by now - we just left them out. And they survived! But the weather was indeed getting colder and we certainly couldn't allow them to stay out overnight when it hit -10 and colder at night so we decided to switch their oats to a night time feeding. And guess what - no more chasing horses. We've learned a lot from these two along the way. When I open the barn door there is a good chance Danny's face will pop down over the wall of his stall - and while it is startling I no longer scream when he does it. And that I really don't mind cleaning up horse manure...which is one that really surprised me. And that when we lead them from pasture to pasture to keep the silly dog inside because he will make Rosie buck and scare the little girl leading her. It's really all about the confidence with horses, they could easily pull us off our feet and drag us or mow us over with their size but a firm, confident grip on their lead and they will follow you anywhere. And I'm so thankful for the experience.
The farm is almost ready for winter - and good thing too. It's November and we had our first bit of snow on the weekend. Last weekend we scrubbed out the chicken coop. Our chicken coop is inside the barn in a room that is 15'x15'. We usually use wood chips for the floor and straw in the nesting box but my husband wanted to try out a new product called flax stock. It's a bit more expensive that wood chips but it's better for the chicken's and us, it repels water and it spread very nicely. Not to mention is smelled really nice and is keeping the chicken coop fresh smelling longer. I should note that fresh smelling and chicken coop are not something I would ever put in the same sentence but it's all relative people. lol.
We also cleaned the windows and swept down the cobwebs in the stables. The only thing left to do is rake up all the leaves. ALL THE LEAVES. Our driveway and side yard is bordered by 6 gorgeous maple trees. So far I've filled 10 bags with leaves and my husband thinks we'll need to fill another 30. We've been mowing and blowing and the tree's pictured below? Still full of leaves waiting to fall.
I've been making soups, using up all the kale and making stock. Big trays of roasted veggies and crock pots full of meat are on the menu lately. My big wool sweater has been pulled out and I'm off tonight to hunt for new winter boots and warm socks for my girls. I'll be back Thursday to post all the food I've been making.