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

 

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15 thoughts on “Our First Year in Review – 2014

  1. Awesome !! Awesome!! Truly enjoyed reading ..Whew !! you two have really been busy but good busy am totally impressed .. Thanks for the update keep them coming Love reading them ..Love Uncle Leo & Aunt Judy

  2. Awesome article! Well written and fun! I will have to try to get out and see Canadian Acres one day, as I work nearby.
    Keep up the good work…both on the farm and on this blog!

  3. So fun to join you for some of the goals this last year in August! I have never plucked a chicken until the opportunity on the farm and we am amazed and proud of the amount of work you and Clay accomplish on a regular basis . Looking forward to the 2015 re-run. We are so happy you could be home for Christmas and that we benefited from the outcomes of your work this year with presents – jerky, Saskatoon and Chokecherry Wine and my personal favorite Chokecherry syrup! Yay, keep ’em coming (presents and blogs) 🙂
    ld&m

    • Thanks Simon, it was so great to meet you and I’m so glad you had the opportunity to get to know our land a little bit. You’ll have to report on if your elk meat is as tasty as ours 🙂 Cheers!

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