Venison Bacon BBQ Pizza

I am always looking for new ways to use wild meat since we have a freezer full of it. I don’t buy red meat at the store anymore, but most anyone who has tried wild meat knows, it can be difficult to find the right recipes. I usually just substitute wild game for beef in a recipe, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out… like burgers for instance. But sometimes, it works like magic and our taste buds are delighted at the very thought of tasty, wonderful wild game meat.

This is one of those recipes.

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We received a pizza stone for a wedding present a few years back and have been celebrating “Pizza Fridays” at the farm since the move. In an attempt to recreate some of the delicious pizza creations known to Anchorage, I’ve found myself on a Pizza-delic journey. Many things can make or break a good pizza and believe me, our town lacks in the good pie take out category. Same sh*t, different day. Where’s the creativity, the love, the basic Italian formula? Thus, more of a reason for “Pizza Fridays” at our house. The one thing I’ve learned, I truly enjoy making pizza.

Thursday rolls around and I realize at 4:00 pm I don’t have anything planned or thawed for dinner. Crap. Goes to show me that I can’t just start volunteer coaching a girls basketball team without consequence. But… I did have mozzarella, flour, yeast and bbq sauce… Ah ha! “Pizza…ah… Thursday”! (What can I say, I’m a rebel).

The meat component is always a factor as my husband is not one to go vegetarian anytime soon. Well, I did have pepperoni, but wanted to kick it up a notch, so leftover venison from our fall Mule Deer came to the rescue… at least I hoped so. I decided to do a version of my favorite Moose’s Tooth pizza (an Anchorage pizzeria and brew pub), the Avalanche, complete with BBQ sauce, bacon and red onion, but make it a little more Canadian Acres.

This recipe may look a little daunting, but it took me less than 45 minute to put together and bake so all in all, not a bad way to do dinner. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Venison Bacon BBQ Pizza

For the Crust:

I use a bread machine to make my pizza crusts. Nothing like throwing some stuff in a box and heading out to do chores only to find beautiful dough 1:20 minutes later. My kind of kitchen appliance.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 TBL sunflower oil (I’m sure any type of vegetable oil will work, but EVOO is too heavy)
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Put everything in the bread machine following the order, turn it on to your “dough” setting and leave it until it’s ready. Yes.

Whilst the dough was being mixed, I made some roasted garlic.

Roasted Garlic:

  • 1 head of garlic, pointed end cut off, about 1-2 inches from top
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (Pink Himalayan is my fav)
  • Pepper
  • 1 piece of Aluminum foil

Place the cut garlic on the aluminum foil, cut side up, and drizzle with EVOO. Salt and pepper generously. Wrap foil around garlic and place in 400 degree F oven for 40 minutes. When finished and cooled, remove garlic cloves from paper skin. Yum.

The Pizza Part:

  • 1/2 cup sliced cooked venison tenderloin – I sliced the chunks of meat thinly to lay flat on the pizza top
    • Venison tenderloin tips made the night before: Take thawed chunks of venison tenderloin and generously season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, a little bit of crushed red pepper and flour. Toss and let sit for a few minutes. Fry in EVOO until medium rare, about 5 minutes. Do in batches so the meat has room to brown.
  • 4 slices of bacon, crisped and crumbled
  • 1/4 – 1/2 of red onion thinly sliced
  • Pepperoni slices, enough to go around the pizza top 2-4 times
  • 1 head roasted garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s original)
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese (don’t skimp… cheese rules)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper

Place pizza stone onto a cookie sheet and place into oven. Preheat oven (with stone) to 400 degrees F. Spread about 1 TBL of corn meal onto a large cutting board. Shape crust on top of cornmeal (it helps it glide) into a large circle that will fit onto your pizza stone. Prick crust with fork in multiple places to ensure the crust doesn’t bubble during cooking time. Slide crust off of cutting board onto the pizza stone (carefully… vewy carefully) and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove cookie sheet (with stone, crust and all) and place on top of a burn proof surface. I used the cutting board I shaped my dough on for this. Slather that BBQ sauce on like you’re from Texas or some other BBQ lovin’ state and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of your mozzarella cheese on top follow with the chopped roasted garlic. Put the remaining mozzarella and cheddar cheeses on. Place your pepperoni in a circle, starting from the outside and working your way in… make it look like a real pizza. Legit. Add your venison, bacon and red onion. Pop the pizza back in the oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Start to drool in anticipation. Clean up drool. And Wyatt’s drool too while you’re at it, thanks.

Then it’s done! And freaking delicious. Not gamey, just lovely, just the way we like it.

Now eat people, eat! I’ve got plenty of chickens who would love your crusts.

~Katy

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Wild Wednesdays: The Wild Birds of Canadian Acres

Is it Wednesday again already?!

The topic for today’s post may not be as exciting as bull elk in our field or a black bear mystery, but the wild birds of Canadian Acres have become a huge part of our day around the farm. Last winter I hung up two bird feeders in the poplar trees outside our back door and filled them with black sunflower seeds.

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I can’t help but sing “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag…”

The first year, we mostly had black capped chickadees and woodpeckers frequent the feeders with the occasional finch and snow bunting. This year, I’ve noticed a huge increase in not only quantities, but also different types of wild birds and I couldn’t be more delighted. There is just something so soothing about watching wild birds feed and fly around in their natural habitat. Wyatt has taken to being a full time old man who constantly watches the birds out the window. It’s pretty adorable. Although, he may just be upset that they are eating “his food” since he has an acquired taste for bird food. Weirdo.

Photographing these guys can be difficult since the feeders are so close to the house, but I do try. Here’s a little peek at some of our most frequent visitors:

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A pretty little female dusky grouse visits our back porch from time to time

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I’m pretty much obsessed with her feathered feet

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And mohawk…

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I’m not sure what this little guy is. Best guess is some type of finch?

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I love the texture of feather patterns

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These guys are pine grosbeak’s with an unidentified bird on the right… I should get better at birding… y’know, in my spare time

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We also have a bonafide bird hunter on our hands as Miss Sake has been known to not only patiently watch these critters, she’s also lumberjack climbed a tree or two. I don’t think she’s landed a bird just yet (and leaves the big chickens alone) but I witnessed her first mouse hunt last night so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

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Ever so focused in the chicken yard

These birds were feeding on a grey winter day, but don’t despair, as most grey days turn into magical evenings and we couldn’t feel more blessed than sunset time on the farm.

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Goodnight farm

I’m so lucky to have such a diverse habitat to call home.

~Katy

Wild Wednesdays – Bull Elk

One of my blog goals for 2015 is to post “Wild Wednesdays” highlighting the wild life on our property as well as our wild horses. It’s always amazing to me how beautiful morning coffee is around here… and evening time wine. Most of these photos were taken from our back deck, a perfect pairing with a nice cup of macadamia nut roast coffee or glass of my favorite Syrah.

These elk were very interested in our horse feed and were giving the horses a hard time. I chased them off of the bale last week and we haven’t seen them since. It’s warmed up a bit, so it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve seen the last of them…

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Suggestions on anything else you’d like to see more of or learn more about are most welcome as I finalize my blogging plan for the year.

Hope you will enjoy “Wild Wednesdays” as much as we enjoy this wild life.

~Katy

Homesteading Goals: 2015

1-IMG_2292After writing the summary post of our first year on the farm I am amazed at how much we accomplished… and also a little overwhelmed because I mean, how in the heck do we top that?! But with the New Year brings a refreshed sense of over achieving and I think we’re up to the challenge.

Earlier this week, Clay and I sat down to sketch out our farm goals for the year and my oh my, how do we still have so much to do? Ah yes, it’s called homesteading and there is a reason that not everyone else we know is doing it. Starting from scratch takes time, patience and a crap load of work. Also, mistakes. You have to be willing to make mistakes and not kill each other over it. So far, nobody has died (save a few critters here and there). Well, we’re pretty good at making mistakes so might as well continue to do what we’re good at!

Here is a breakdown of our 2015 homestead goals:

  • The Garden:
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    Maynard in the garden site last summer

    • Triaged from last years list my major focus this year will be implementing my garden. I have big plans, big plans I tells ya… to the point of maybe too much but I am committed to taking it one step at a time and starting with a well thought out, drawn out plan. The hard part for us is starting small, so we will be practicing that.
      • Design, design, design… I am designing my garden based on permaculture principles that incorporate many different ideals on how to best work with nature to accomplish our goals. The back 1/2 acre will focus on an integrated food forest design and the front part will consist of hugelkultur beds, suntraps, keyhole beds, mandala beds, microclimates and herb spirals.
        • Books I am currently reading or have read for research are: Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips, Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway and Integrated Forest Gardening by Wayne Weiseman (just to name a few).
      • We have to build an 8 foot elk fence around the acre section. For a while I figured we didn’t need it and all would be fine, but this winter has proven me to be a liar.

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        Thor stands down two bull elk directly next to my garden site

      • Our water system will be a major project as an acre is a lot of ground to cover. Whilst I’ll be designing the garden with plenty of water saving techniques (swales, hugelkultur and mulch) we will still need a reliable source of water. The garden plot is currently located between two existing dugouts so we will need to figure out a way to best use these resources. And also will need to get ducks, obviously…
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        Dugout located on the right side of the garden site… perfect for ducks, right?

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        An elusive Peace River water hippo and some sort of creepy water goblin enjoying the dugout on a hot day

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        The second dugout is located to the left of the garden site in the section of trees

      • Then it will be time to dig and dig and dig and move and lift and haul and plant and water and plant and water and…. spend so much quality outdoor time with nature my soul will fill to the brim.
  • Building our horse corrals:
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    Corral site

    • We will continue on our lovely log peeling journey to finish up the rails we need to start construction on our corrals. The land will hopefully start to turn into pasture as we finish the last 150-200 rails. Then it’s time to put them up!

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      Clay peeling logs with two very hard working supervisors

    • Once the corrals are finished, the goal is to load up the 50-60 wild horses from across the river, transport them 3 hours to the farm and let them get used to the idea of being contained. We’ll host a big old party to entice people to come help us with the cutting, branding and breaking and will hope that all goes well and Wyatt doesn’t get killed immediately by a wild horse… some will be sold, some will be kept and the mares will be transported back across the river with Thor as their new stud… I hope he’s up for the challenge!
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      Our Fjord mix stud Thor in the front

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      The wild ones last summer

  • Install my clothesline, keep muddy dogs and loose chickens away from it
  • Install gutters on house and add a few rain barrels
  • Landscaping:
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    The fire pit area in need of some finishing touches

    • Finish fire pit area
    • Lattice the bottom of the deck
    • Chicken yard and area around well
    • Re-seed patches in lawn
  • Chickens:
    • I want to add some Ameraucanas and Blue Copper Marans to the flock
    • Going through our first winter with the coop has pointed out some flaws with the interior design so we’ll be working on remedying some of these issues

So there you have it… doesn’t seem so bad…. right? Oh who am I kidding, it looks really bad, but in a good way. There is a reason we don’t have TV.

I’ll be looking for full-time work and have many personal goals in mind this year as well, so it all could go either way. But this is the path we’ve chosen and we enjoy the good life so here’s hoping we don’t collapse in a heap of exhaustion, or even worse, end up with goats 🙂

Ever optimistic and always on our toes. Cheers to the new year!

~Katy

 

 

The Wilderness Way

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Happy for some oats

After December hits it’s time to start making the 3 hour drive across the river to start feeding the wild horses. We load up 6-8 round hay bales (1200 lbs each) on the trailer and hope for decent weather and good road conditions. Living in the North, both wishes rarely come true.

This past Sunday Timber and Clay loaded up and headed out. Since it was -36 (both Celsius and Fahrenheit… at temps like that they seem to both agree it’s effing cold) I decided to stay home and attempt to organize my life after the holidays. The horses are located on a remote grazing lease across from our land on the Peace River. It takes 20 minutes to canoe there, and 3 hours to drive as there are no bridges for a direct route. Only accessible by an oil field road, conditions can vary from crappy to we’re all going to die. So down the road they went at 6 am.

Around 11 am I get a phone call from my husband via his father’s cell phone. “Um… so, the transmission over heated and the truck caught on fire. We’re stranded just past the corrals. We are okay physically but my phone is dead and my dad’s is losing battery. The only person who knows how to get over here is Blake and he’s not answering his phone. Can you try to get a hold of him?”

I glance out my kitchen window where Blake’s truck sits as he is currently on the islands below our house loading out an elk they shot the day before. Not likely to show up anytime soon. I call and leave a message. I then call Clay’s Mom and let her know what was going on. My main concern was the cold, but I knew they were both mountain men and would be comfortable for a few hours. My next call was to Clay’s uncle Ross who I knew had never been over to the exact location, but knew the area better than me. I asked him to try to call Timber before his battery ran out to see if we could get directions. If we couldn’t reach them, the plan was for me to drive to his house (1 hour away) and we’d both head over there and use my sense of direction to (hopefully) find them. Luckily, Ross got a hold of Timber, Timber sent a photo of a drawn map and since Ross was closer, he headed out with a friend to save the day. Phew.

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Timber digging a turn-out, keeping busy. Cubby is supervising

Eventually they remembered a battery charger Timber had received as a present from his wife (Yay Arlene!) for Christmas and were able to fully charge their cell batteries. Clay assured me he had plenty of warm clothes and a fire and they were gearing up to walk 2 km to meet the truck.

Now that I knew they were safe, I wanted to know – HOW ARE THE HORSES?!

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Morning hay

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Pretty mare with black stud in background

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I love this horses coloring, and we are happy to see that so many little ones have survived thus far

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Oats for all

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The bachelor boys – aka Clay’s future pack string

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This guy was the most curious and Clay almost got close enough for a pet

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Using their extra time wisely

They all look happy and fat. Cold, but shaggy enough it didn’t seem to bother them too much. Clay and Timber spotted 23 in total and many yearlings were seen amongst the crowd.

Ross and Larry showed up as the rescue crew and everyone made it home safe and sound. Clay and his dad waited from about 10:45 am after putting out the truck fire with a shovel and snow until 3:30 pm when the A-team showed up. The situation could have been much worse if they weren’t so prepared and we still had some lessons learned:

  1. Bring excess food and water
  2. Bring warm and appropriate clothing + extra
  3. Bring an axe and a fire starter
  4. Know where your fire extinguisher is
  5. Always have a charged cell phone or a charger that works without truck power, make sure you will have cell service
  6. Leave a wilderness plan: more than one person should have access to a detailed map, a time when you departed and a time when you expect to be back
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See, he doesn’t look too worried

All in all a successful day on the farm. Everyone lived to tell the tale and the horses look great. 2015 is off to an interesting start and proving once again there is never a dull moment here at Canadian Acres!

Stay warm people.

~Katy

*all photos credited to my handsome husband Clay

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Our First Year in Review – 2014

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I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE year on the farm! Actually, I can because let’s face it, it’s been a crazy amount of work, time and effort. But boy, what a way to spend our time.

Earlier this year I wrote out our goals for 2014 and looking back, we
were ambitious… very ambitious. I suppose it’s better to be ambitious than aimless, and we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished. So take my hand and I’ll take you on a magic carpet ride through our year. Although my magic carpet looks more like a horse and smells more like a chicken… we can’t all be perfect.

The original list: Homesteading Goals 2014

  • Install workable gates throughout property fences
    • Done! With the help of our favorite farm hand (Go Timber!) we managed to finish the fencing surrounding all 160 acres of our property, added working gates and fenced off about 40 acres for the horses.  
  • Clear trees & debris in horse pasture, secure fences (40 acres)
    • Done! A logger came out and cleared about 2 acres of that area (up by our future corrals) for horse pasture and we piled and burned the remaining debris. Fences are secure.
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Clearing trees

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Timber busy as usual

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Thor looking for treats as his future pasture is cleared

Build horse corrals & tack shed, move in horses, give them treats and scratch their ears

    • Half done? This goal started with a delivery of about 500 “rails” (aka logs that need to be peeled by hand) and lots of sweat. Seriously, peeling logs is not easy work. We probably got 300 peeled by early summer and then quickly ignored the remaining pile every time we walked/quaded past. We put up a make shift corral with some panels Timber had, moved in a “tack shed” (a large yellow moving van container I lovingly refer to as the Yellow Submarine) and moved in some horses. At the most we had 9 horses on the property and they all got plenty of ear scratches and oats. 
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Friday night ride with friends… see we did have some fun 🙂

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Peeling logs with my custom painted Alaska axe

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Maynard overlooking the newest additions

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Our two horses, Thor (left) and Tyrion (right)

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  • Build chicken coop, raise 25 chicks & figure out what to do with all the roosters at a later date
    • Done! Probably one of our largest projects of the year. We started out with a seacan, 14 chickens and Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor. As of now I have 8 laying hens, 1 rooster named Beatrix and 5 “littles”, 4 of which are roo’s. I didn’t have much success with my rooster/hen ratio so we also got to learn the fine art of butchering a chicken. Next year I may have to find a Mennonite family who would like to complete this task for me… not my favorite. But I DO love my chooks! We also taught the dogs to love them and moved in two farm cats just for the fun of it. We average 5 eggs a day during the winter and have an array of brown, green and pink eggs. 
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Clay hard at work on the chicken coop

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My view from the kitchen window… I just love it

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Chooks first time in the snow… Beatrix is killing it in the back

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Green eggs and ham anyone?

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Finished coop ready for the chicks

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Sake’s first day with the ladies

Build compost areas, figure out how to keep Wyatt out of compost areas

    • Done! I proudly built myself two beautiful compost bins out of pallets complete with hinging, securable gates to keep the Wyatt’s out… keeping the chickens and kittens out has proven more challenging…
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Booyah!

Landscaping: Lawn, perennial flower beds, fire pit area, figure out how to keep Wyatt out of the growing lawn area

    • Half done… Preparing the lawn site took the longest amount of time and the most amount of work, but we successfully laid down grass seed and attempted to block off the areas from Wyatt… Fail. Also, the Canada Day party we had probably didn’t help. At the end of the season though, it was looking lush and hopeful so I guess we’ll see how it looks this spring. We put in a U shaped hugelkultur garden bed alongside the north, west and south ends of the house as well as a small one in front of our chicken coop. The fire pit area has been established and we need to make a decision on how to finish it this summer. All in all, we have much more in landscaping to come, but for the most part we kicked ass.
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Lawn prep and fire pit area

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Clay is hoping I’ll do more work and take less photos

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Lawn growth after 2 months

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Not bad for my first time hand seeding a lawn

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Hugelkultur bed on west side of the house

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  • Finish cabin for guests, entertain said guests
    • Fail? We didn’t touch the cabin this year but did have guests stay in it as they passed through to Alaska. No one was offended or eaten by mice so I guess that counts for something…
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Even with no work at all, she’s still adorable

Build garden/orchard fence: 1 acre of 8 foot elk/deer fence

    • Fail…. Triaged until 2015. We decided this was such a large project that has so many variables we just couldn’t do it the way we wanted to this year. Okay by me as I’d like to really focus on the beginning stages of this to create my soon to be dream garden. I still grew some veggies in my garden beds so was happy with that. 
  • Plant garden: Include raised beds, permaculture design principles, sheet mulch beds, hugelkultur beds
    • Fail… I told you it was a big project.
  • Install orchard: Northern hardy varieties of apple, pear, plum, apricot, cherry and variety of fruit and nut bushes
    • Fail… please see above. I told you we were ambitious. 
  • Plan and install garden watering system
    • Fail… Now it feels like we didn’t accomplish anything… failure is not in my nature.
  • Continue to improve and upgrade the farm road
    • ????? Not sure how to rate us on this one. The road washed out twice this year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. As of now, no real lasting improvements have been made and we still don’t know what it will look like. Life was full of quad and side-by-side rides and we managed as best we could. 
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Hello Spring…

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Hello Fall…

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This was a “What the hell was I thinking moving to the middle of nowhere” moment for me… on our way to the airport with a washed out road!

Install clothesline

    • Fail… on the list for this year.
  • Paint and finish power shed
    • Done! And it looks fabulous (note to self, never ever ever build something out of OSB board and try to paint it… it sucks. Literally. It took me 4 coats of paint and I still steer people away from looking too closely. Thus explains why there is no photographic proof.)

We met some “off the list” goals as well this year which included:

  • Stained both the front and back decks
  • Put up a pretty decent harvest that included: elk, deer, chickens, saskatoons, jams, jerky, smoked salmon, oven roasted tomatoes, peaches, pickles, wine and cordial.
  • Installed a beautiful wood stove in the house
  • Entertained lots of visitors
  • Burned our overgrown grassy areas and our growing burn piles
  • Enjoyed ourselves thoroughly
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Staining the back deck

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Hooray for the wood stove!

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Supervising our burn sites

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And just in case you thought we’d ever allow ourselves some downtime, we accomplished some pretty great personal goals as well:

  • I started this wonderful blog!
  • Traveled to Vancouver, Canmore, Banff, the Caribbean, Alaska, Texas and Calgary.
  • I completed a 30-day yoga challenge in the month of November
  • Clay was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Peace Valley Environmental Association
  • I took an art class and found out I can actually draw… kind of
  • I had my first magazine article published
  • Hiked, biked, skied, rode and snow machined all over our property and then some
  • Wyatt survived his many adversaries including: barbed wire, the horses, the deer, the quad, the elk, the horses, a marmot, the side-by-side, that one tree that looked really scary that one time, the horses, the kittens and Mom. He very noticeably ignored all coyotes…
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He leads a rough life…

Well, we won some and we lost some, but mostly we just worked. Everything was a learning process and could probably have been done better, but hey, I’m a rookie so lay off!

As we sat down to pen our 2015 Homesteading Goals, we started with two main ones as we really wanted to be realistic. Well those two goals quickly turned into 15 so there you have it… we might be slow learners but at least we are optimistic!

Cheers to a new year and plenty more things to do.

~Katy

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Happy New Year from Canadian Acres