Rosie vs the Cougar

Cougar 1

The very first photo of a cougar at Canadian Acres

It is a rare thing to hear a story these days that holds some truth, let alone a story that becomes truthfully grander as time goes on. Most hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventuring type stories become farther from the truth each time they are told, each time the audience reacts and each time the story-teller gets excited to share a tale. Well folks, around these parts, we take our story-telling very seriously, as well as our wildlife and apparently, as well as our barn cats.

As summer started to dwindle and nights became darker and colder, the family found it’s way to a fun-filled wedding weekend in Edmonton. We got to trade our muck boots and mud for high-heels and tuxes and left the farm to it’s own devices for just a few short days. Upon return, my husband reported that everything looked ok. The horses looked fat and happy, our Mama cat Rosie and her new kitten were good and the only problem was that we had lost one chicken by his account. There were feather’s everywhere on the lawn (that is the extent of his account because my husband has absolutely no idea how many chickens we have, what their names are or what color they might be). Bummed for the one loss, I was happy that our only issue was this. Our initial assumption was that a hawk had found it’s way into the chicken run and that was that.


An adorable reminder of what our chicken coop/run looks like

Our chicken coop is a revamped sea-can with a large, fenced, partially covered outdoor run. The fencing is buried into the ground, but does have open areas above. The run itself is nature-scaped with plenty of natural trees and shrubs for cover, and for the most part, the chickens are pretty safe in there. When I returned home the next day, I did some sleuthing… checking out the feathers on the lawn (odd place for a predator to stop for a snack?) I realized it was one of my current Mama hens, so it would have been very strange for her to be so far away from the coop. The predator must have carried her to this place. Her chicks were accounted for and thankfully an Aunty had stepped in to care for them. Upon further inspection, I noticed a large hole in our run door that hadn’t been there before, and surmised that a coyote or fox probably got into the run and grabbed Mama. Well, mystery solved and farm life is hard and all that jazz. We stapled up the hole and moved on with our lives.

A few days later, I was sitting on the couch feeding my son. I heard the unmistakeable sound of my rooster Rollo alerting the flock to danger. I got up and looked out at the chicken run, where the chickens were all running and showing major signs of distress. Last summer we lost a few chickens to a black bear who I had to shoot (this is a story for another time) and I knew exactly what I was seeing… there was a predator in our yard. Thinking that the coyote had returned, I put my flip-flops on and headed out to scare it away. Typical day on the farm!

Coyotes aren’t the bravest animals on the planet and they usually just run off at the sight of a human. If it was a bear, I’d see or hear it and could run back to the house for the gun. As soon as the chickens saw me they booked it to the front steps (save yourself!) and left me for dead. I couldn’t hear or see anything, which was odd. I got up to the front of the chicken run and started to look around. It was very quiet. Too quiet.


Rosie & Rollo

Suddenly I saw our barn cat Rosie fly out of nowhere into the air behind the run and go after something like a Mama bear on a hiker.  Rosie had previously kicked the sh*t out of a friends dog after having her kitten in July so I knew she was in full-on Mama bear mode. Then a very large animal jumped up out of the bush and turned tail to book it, with Rosie tasmania-deviling it out of the yard. Now Rosie is not a large domesticated cat, far from it. She is an itty-bitty thing, but has never had much fear growing up with two pit bulls, a toddler, a big ole rooster and the wild. But man did she just go toe-to-toe with this thing. Full body throttle.

This all happened very quickly and I immediately ran for the gun. How odd, I thought, for a coyote to just sit there and watch me as I looked for it, and how badass for Rosie to chase a coyote out of the yard! I grabbed our lever action 30-30 and headed back out to the road towards the Wolf Woods area of our farm. For those of you who remember, the Wolf Woods are where our pit bull Wyatt fought off several wolves about 100 ft from our house and lived to tell the tale (story here – I told you we take our wildlife seriously). Rosie came prancing back into the driveway, puffed up tail wagging and quiet proud of herself and I wasn’t about to go traipsing in Wolf Woods by myself. I gathered the chickens, locked them up and headed back for the house. But I couldn’t shake something… that it very much looked like a large cat turning to run, like, it used both of its back feet to push off and coyotes, and wolves and bears don’t run like that. Hmmmm… weird. Had to have been a coyote.

The next night, Clay went off to hunt for elk and I was outside at dusk doing evening chores. The kids were in bed and the chickens were tucked in and I was having a nice moment of enjoying the fresh air and night befalling the farm. I thought I saw something odd to the right of our house and headed that way to get a better look. Nothing scary odd, just, out of place, different? I don’t really know. As I started off in the direction of the oddity, Rosie cat came running up to join me. It is not unusual for any of my walks to be joined by some sort of farm critter, wether they have hair, fur or feathers so I was glad for the company. But she wouldn’t let me walk. She started attacking my legs and biting my feet, hard. I tried to shake her off, telling her she was a silly cat, but she persisted. After a particularly hard bite, I knew something was up. I stopped walking, told her (loudly) “okay, we won’t go that way anymore” and turned around for home. We both ran to the porch and I quickly went inside. A rush of panic flowed through me and I just didn’t know why… but I knew there was something out there and Rosie knew it. Clay soon got home after a scaredy pants text from me and all was well once again.

The next morning, Clay went out for an early elk hunt. Just as the sun was shining it’s full morning strength and the kids and I were having breakfast we heard a large “BANG!” from the driveway. I rushed to the door and saw Clay with his gun drawn staring into Wolf Woods. I opened the door and shouted “The coyote? Did you get it?” He looked at me and said “Nope. It was a cougar and I f*&%ing missed.” WHAT?!

He stayed out a few more minutes searching but figured the cat took off after being shot at. He came inside, sat down looking a bit shaken and told me he had run into a cougar coming out of our cabin road onto the driveway. He slammed on his breaks, grabbed his gun and his shells and ran up the road to see if he could still see it. Once he got around the corner, he had a split second to take a shot as it jumped into Wolf Woods (damn freaking woods!) and barely missed it. This was the first sighting of a cougar on our property in the five years we’ve been here and he was in shock.

All of a sudden it all made so much sense, the series of events over the past few days came together like a puzzle piece. A freaking big-ass-cat puzzle piece. WTF. Ok, cool, so I just had a cougar taking out my chickens, watching me like a sneaky bastard while I hoedy-doe’d around in my flip-flops, hanging out on the farm like it’s no big thang because I’m a mutha-effing COUGAR! I don’t trust a small house cat let alone a large man-killing cat just hanging out ready to maul me and my kin at a minutes notice, what the what. Wait, scratch that, I TOTALLY TRUST A SMALL CAT BECAUSE ROSIE IS A BADASS!!! We were officially on high alert. We tracked cougar tracks all over the yard and into the bush. The Conservation Officer that we called wasn’t interested in our story, just told us to keep the chickens enclosed and make sure we supervise our children (really?). We didn’t really know what to do other than hope that it had been scared off and be extra aware. The 30-30 was hung above the door (Pa Ingalls would be proud) and we did what we could, but to say we were shaken in a whole new way on the farm is an understatement. I did a few stories on my instagram, word got out around town, there was talk of hounds and hunters but mostly, things quieted down.

A few weeks have gone by and no new sights or incidents have occurred that we know of. The chickens have been free ranging again without incident, our guard puppy is growing, Rosie got spayed, we have a dead bear hanging from the tractor, you know, back to our farm normal (bear season is open and we have a plethora on our land). We finally had time to switch out some game camera cards last night after a busy week of hosting my parents and we were excited to see what we got (Game cam picture viewing is a big deal at our house). Like I said, in the five years we’ve lived on our property we’ve never once seen a cougar or captured one on our many game cams. It’s actually pretty unheard of in this area to do either. We know that they’re “around” but they’re cats, they are supposed to keep to themselves. Well ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our findings from a game cam posted about a quarter mile from my front door, just past our horse corrals:


Mama Cougar, a few hours after Clay’s shot


Oh sure, just lay down for a bit


No rush


Wait… what?!


A big-ass cub

Not one cougar, but two. Two. Cougars. As in more than one cougar. Like, two cougars. TWO COUGARS.

So, here ends my truthful tale, one in which ended up grander than where we began. Never in a million years would we have guessed we had a problem cougar let along two problem cougars. We think it’s probably a Mama cat and a yearling “cub” (ha!) and hope to hope that they have moved on out of our neck of the woods. I guess we can now start calling it Cougar Wolf Woods? Sounds like something a hipster would name their child. Good lord. It’s a good lesson in following your instincts (I knew it was a cat – I knew Rosie was trying to tell me something) and to always, always listen to your Mama.

And Rosie cat… you have forever earned my respect and fellowship and I am so honoured to have you on the Canadian Acres team. You are an original gangster and a legend. Wyatt would be proud.


Stay safe folks and always have your 30-30 handy.





Wild Rose Jam

IMG_7989Well, it’s been ages since I’ve last written, but I promise you I did not put waste to that time. Life got in the way of my writing time, hell, personal time and the blog was one of the first things to suffer. But I hope to remedy that as I find some new pockets of time after having my second baby and our summer season finds more rain than I’ve ever seen in this country.

It’s a bit intimidating coming back to the page… where to start, what to say, how to catch you up on the last hundred years of my absence…so here’s a general run down: I went back to work, we got turkeys, I started a small-batch gourmet canning business and started selling at local markets on the side of my town gig, we built a greenhouse, we had more colts, we had more chickens, I shot a bear who ate said chickens, we made, grew, foraged and hunted a bunch of our own food, we butchered the turkeys, I got pregnant, I got my Permaculture Design Certificate from OSU, we went to Hawaii, our first baby grew into a full blown toddler, we got a LDG puppy, I had the other baby and now, here we are. Phew. Some other stuff happened too, but I’ll get to that later. Or not. Let’s be honest, I’m in no position to make any promises to you. For now, I want to share a recipe that recently bloomed on the farm.

IMG_7554I am a huge lover of wild foraging in the Peace River Valley and just recently the Wild Rose came into bloom. I’ve used the Wild Rose in many creations over the years, my favourite is its use in my skin salves and skin products as it’s a highly beneficial plant. But lately I’ve delved into the wonderful world of the wild flower culinary scene and I can’t get enough. Fireweed was my gateway “herb” and I haven’t looked back since. Oh to be an adult.

IMG_7157I started by making some Wild Rose Sugar which is a staple in my morning (and 2nd breakfast and elevenses and afternoon and evening) tea. Hey, I’m breastfeeding and running around behind a toddler and running a farm and a small business, I need a lot of tea. I’ve also used it when baking delicious deserts and dusting anything frosted in this wonderful stuff. But how could I take that to the next level? I NEED MORE WILD ROSE IN MY LIFE AND IN MY BELLY! I won’t calm down, you calm down.

And so it was born, the combination of a few different recipes, but ultimately my favourite – my Wild Rose Jam. I LOVE the combination of something wild but delicate and ladies and gents, this is IT. So far I’ve mostly eaten out of the jar and on homemade bread, but hope to slather my cookies, my cakes and my meats with it real soon.

For those of you lucky locals, this product is coming to a Farmer’s Market near you real soon! It’s been pH tested by a lab to ensure that it is safe to can in a water bath method.

Wild Rose Jam – Makes 10 – 125ml jars (ish)

4 cups of fresh wild rose petals, cleaned

4 cups of sugar

4 tbsp lemon juice

4 cups of water

1 pouch of liquid pectin

Take some time on a beautiful day to harvest wild rose petals. Sort through your bounty and separate the petals from any pollen, stems, leaves, bugs and dirt. Rinse rose petals in a salad spinner and spin dry. Add the lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar to rose petals in a bowl and massage until makes a paste. This will release the colour and perfume. Let sit while you combine the water with the remaining sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved and add rose petal paste. stir well and bring to boil. Revel in the intoxicating scent that fills your kitchen, dancing encouraged.

Boil for 20 minutes and add pectin. Hard boil for another 10 minutes. Test jam in freezer on frozen spoon for consistency. You don’t want to cook for too long or you will lose the delicate colour of the jam. Clean and sterilize your jars, rings and lids by either running them in the dishwasher right before you fill them or wash in hot soapy water with a good rinse. Pour jam into hot jars, wipe rims clean and place lids. Tighten rings until finger tight. Place in water bath for 10 mins.

This jam is slightly syrupy and won’t set up as a hard jam. Once placed in the fridge overnight though, the consistency is divine and spreads beautifully on some home made whole wheat bread.

As for me, we continue to be as busy as bees on the farm and I will do my very best to bring this blog back to life. Happy Summer folks! It’s a beautiful day.



Finding Joy in the Things We Do


Farm Boy 

Spring has sprung! Just kidding, it snowed 5 inches last night. But I guess that’s the North’s equivalent to a March shower. Thank goodness it turned into a gorgeous bluebird day and all faith was restored in knowing that spring is just around the corner. Although I realize that many of the people I follow on instagram should go ahead and suck it because they remind me constantly that spring actually exists right now in other, nicer, prettier places (not that I’m bitter. My husband told me I sounded bitter, and I had to remind him that, well, yes, I am bitter). All I want in life is a greenhouse that I can putter in during these low temps, but noooooooo…. I don’t even have a south facing window to spare anymore because I have what I like to refer to as Hurricane Toddler living in my tiny indoor space. I also have chickens living in my spare room… You know, normal people springtime problems. Le sigh.


The roommates got some fresh air today and the ladies got some gossip material…

My last post was all about the many things we have to do on our goal’s list for this year. After creating this list, I noticed something… it all weighs a little heavy on my mind. I love planning and doing and working hard, but with the addition of our son last February, life has taken a new twist. I find myself wanting to surround myself with the things that bring me joy more often. It also could be due to the fact that I celebrated my 35th year on this planet recently, but life is just too damn short to be worried and stressed all of the time. Can I get an Amen?!

So I sat down and made a list of “things to do” of another kind – one that focused on my emotional being rather than the logistical reality that is our homesteading life. Because it’s all related, and I needed to start looking forward to our tasks instead of feeling heavy and dreadful. Dreadful. I like that word. Fun to say. Sucks to be.

Anywho… here’s the list:

  • Grow
  • Enjoy
  • Explore
  • Be present
  • Be kind
  • Listen
  • Practice patience
  • Find balance
  • Encourage
  • Laugh
  • Breathe deep
  • Celebrate Spring
  • Savour Summer
  • Focus in Fall
  • Welcome Winter
  • And my most favourite – DON’T DO “MORE”… DO “DIFFERENT”

This was huge for me. I’m always pushing myself to do more. I run a homestead and work a real job, so I’m always needing to do more, to be more… unless… Maybe I don’t. Maybe the key is to not “do more”, just “do different”. Take the things that don’t bring me joy in my everyday life and replace them with the things that do. Sounds simple right? Alas, not always so. Because life has a way of being a cock blocker and keeping you from happiness… and by cock blocker, I mean running defence on my frisky rooster Beatrix because he was being a dick today… or something like that.


Sometimes life gets in the way of how you thought your day was going to go…

It’s the small things in life that make all the difference and the small changes I’ve made have already lightened my load and brought me joy. I don’t need to plug-in to social media for too much time looking at too many things that make absolutely no positive impact on my life whatsoever… I’d rather be cuddling my son or hiking with my dogs (and cat) or training the chickens who live in my house. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I just make sure I am present and practice intention in making those decisions. You know, like doing yoga instead of drinking wine at night. Hahaha…. just kidding. That would be ridiculous. I can definitely do both of those things and have them equally me joy. I haven’t lost my mind completely. Yet.

Using this model I began to reshape our 2017 list of Goals to emphasize and focus on bringing more joy to the farm and spaces we live in. Things started to pop out – like how the acre garden has been too much work and not enough joy. Solution – creating a better and more useful space for me to spend time down there, especially with a toddler. Farm chores can be a hassle, so now we are brainstorming ways to make them more efficient… easier for us to accomplish them while enjoying the work we do. I realize this is no new concept and that there are a hundred ways to go about it, but for me, this has been a revelation and I am joyfully looking forward to the work at hand and ahead. And sharing it all with you.

So even though this morning brought 5 inches of fresh snow, the afternoon brought sunshine and blue skies, so me, my son and all of our critters set out and found lots and lots of joy.


But everyone loves a cuddle ❤


Chicken chores


Between starting work and cold temps I hadn’t spend time with these guys in a few weeks, so today it was oats and encouragement


My father-in-law caught 16 wild horses this weekend and they are in the corrals adjusting to life on the farm


This group of geldings from last summer returned to the farm, which brings us up to 32 horses on the property – the spring roundup has begun

How do you find joy in your everyday life or work?


2017… And so it begins.


Reminiscing about greener days on the farm

I almost just shot a coyote!

My god… how life has changed. But if a creepers gonna creep on my flock, I’m going to have to take them out. Just call me Laura Ingalls effing Wilder. No, don’t do that. I don’t think she’d approve. Plus, I don’t know if she’d actually shoot a coyote, but it’s 2017 baby, and this farm girl’s got a gun!

Hey all! It’s me, y’know that sweet sweet blogger you’ve missed hearing from? I can officially say that I completely failed all of you in the year of 2016. Like, seriously. I had three blog posts. Three. Ugh. The worst. But I’m back! And better than ever! Well, I don’t know about the better part, but definitely back. More prepared maybe. After having a kid, I seem to have snacks on me at all times so that is an improvement.

In the past, I’ve started the year out with a recap of our past years goals, how far we’ve come and what life is looking like for the New Year. I did a great recap of 2016 already, and for the most part it covered our goals and accomplishments. You can catch up here if you missed it. You will see in our current list of goals and aspirations, we seem to have lost our minds and decided that we can, and should do all of the things.

Who needs sleep anyway.


“We do Mom. We need sleep. The baby is mobile and he is everywhere!”

I’m headed back to work a real job in March so things should get so busy that we’ll be taken down a few notches, but for now, here’s our list:

  • Install deck railing and child gate – we attempted to get this done before winter hit in 2016, but it just didn’t happen. But we need to get on it because we have the busiest little boy on our hands and he is just raring to get out there.  So definitely #1 on the list.
  • Landscape and clean up the farm for the family reunion – Every three years, my husband’s family has a family reunion, which is awesome! We were, um, voluntold a few years back that our farm was picked to host the family reunion and we were very excited… when it seemed so far away. Now, it’s here! In July.  And we have some things to do. The theme is Pioneer Days though and I am already planning a pack horse race so… it will be a good time regardless if our farm is presentable!


    Luckily, I know a decent landscaper ❤

  • Honeybees – this is happening this year. Even if we just have to get some bees and learn the hard way. It’s happening.
  • Horses – Currently we have 20 horses on the property: 12 mares, 4 geldings, 3 colts and 1 stud (Thor is back!!!) We’ve been keeping everyone fed and the colts are finally weaned. They are hanging out with our stud horse Thor and learning that humans aren’t so scary… which means we’re actually managing our wild herd! My father-in-law is brining hay across the river to the remaining wild ones and we plan on bringing more across this spring. We still don’t have an exact count of how many total there are, so we’ll just have to keep catching them.

    So. Fuzzy.


    This little one is very friendly and just wants to be loved by me

  • Garden – Oh, the project that just keeps on giving…
    • Organic Certification: Our commitment to producing crops organically is going to be official! Clay and I decided to go pesticide free on our commercially farmed 88 acres of farmland when we moved onto the property, so the first summer would have been 2014. We need a minimum of three consecutive years of no pesticide use to qualify and plan on having certification by 2018. We are initially going to certify our crops and have plans to move into certifying our poultry, eggs, honey and any other products we may venture into on the farm. So. Exciting. We will continue to practice organic methods of fertilizing (compost, worm tea, cover crops) and pest control, as well as continue to strive for a permaculture balance on the property as a whole. Organic certification will mean that we are going against the grain of the farmer’s and fields around us to provide a healthy ecosystem for our family, our critters and the wildlife that share this land. It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time and I’m beyond thrilled to be learning and living the process.


      The grass and weeds had a very healthy year in 2016. I promise you there is food in there somewhere!

    • CSA Farm Boxes: A long-term goal of the farm is to become a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation. Basically this means that people in our community will invest in shares of our farm and crops at the beginning of the season to help us buy the supplies we need and then, in return, will receive a share of our harvest throughout the harvest season. Eating local at it’s finest! So this year I want to commit to selling 5 boxes per week for 10-12 weeks… gotta start somewhere!

      2016 dinner harvest


      I am planning on getting some of my preserves tested this year so I can offer them through my farm boxes at the end of the season

    • Set-up small greenhouse, prep, dress and mulch 100′ beds, install drip lines, manage pathways, work on grass issue, plant 5 fruit trees (pear, plum, apricot, honey crisp apple x2), plot 2 fruit tree guilds in the food forest, fix raspberry bed and prep remaining 100′ beds on west side of acre garden. All while keeping a small child from burning and overheating in the open field…there’s going to be a lot of dirt eating this summer. Yup.
  • Chickens – my small little flock needs some filling out and my egg basket needs more colour (did you know that egg colour is addicting?). As of now I have 1 rooster and 9 laying hens, a mixture of green and pink eggs mostly with one blue one thrown in for good measure. I received an incubator for Christmas this year (thanks Mom and Dad!) and have my first set of eggs incubating as we speak! If all goes well and I don’t absolutely kill all of them, then I will be hatching many many more. Eggs on order include: Black Copper Marans (dark brown egg), Ameraucana’s (blue egg), Silkies (small white egg), Blue Isbars (green egg), Cream Legbar (blue egg), Icelandic (tinted white egg), Lavender Orpington (light brown egg), Wheaten Marans (dark brown egg), Olive Eggers (olive green egg) and silver and blue laced wyandotte (light brown egg). I think I can officially claim that I’m a chicken farmer…. or a crazy chicken lady? Same difference in my book 🙂 We are also embarking on the world of turkey ownership this year… it could go either way. They could be super awesome, sweet and fun to have on the farm or I could have to face one down and hit it with a shovel like that one time I was 12 at my friends house. Could go either way…


    Current egg basket. Just set 24 of my gals eggs in the incubator and expect a hatch on February 28

  • Cabin – there is much to do in our 16×20 cabin on the property. After meeting with the bank regarding the build of our dream forever house it’s been determined that we must live in the cabin for up to 12 months during the actual building process. That means me, my husband, our toddler and 2 large dogs will be moving in and living that REAL homesteader life. So yes, much to be done in the cabin. But stoked to be planning our dream forever house!


    Work in progress…

I suppose that sums it all up. Seems doable, and if not, definitely a lesson in patience. I must say, I can’t remember a time when I have ever felt more fulfilled with my daily life or with where I am. It truly feels as if we are in the exact right place at the exact right time. And with the state of the world today, it feels good to be connected to our land, our family, our community and our happiness. 2017 will be a year to learn, grow, be kind and over all else – love.

What’s on your plate for 2017?


Farm Life with Baby


Garden helper

So apparently, I can’t do it all.  I apologize, as you all seem to get the brunt of that. Life has been amazingly good, but oh so busy and it seems that sitting in front of a computer in my office area does not make it high on the priority list these days. I’m saving for a laptop to change those ways hopefully soon, but until that day, pardon my manners and allow me to attempt to catch you up on what’s been happening on the farm. So.Many.Things. I suppose I’ll start where our biggest challenges began this summer. Managing a new baby on the farm, getting stuff done and keeping our sanity. We seemed to get at least two out of those three things accomplished.


He fit great in my baby K’tan early on, but quickly out grew it. We moved up to our Mountain Buggy carrier and really enjoy it.

Bowman is growing fast and keeping us on our toes. He decided to crawl at 6 months and hasn’t stopped moving, and now it’s a whole different level of parenting around here. The dogs have warmed up to the idea of having him mobile – well Wyatt mostly tries to poach his food and Maynard has become a full duty Nanny, which includes 20 minute check-ins, constant face/hand/area clean up, warning growls in case of intruding baby snatchers and judgmental stares if he thinks I’m being neglectful of the cries coming from the nursery. I finally understand the whole “pit bull nanny dog” title. So there’s that. The chickens seem curious and the cat is super tolerant. He also loves to hitch rides in the stroller on our walks. The horses too are curious, and nothing brings a smile to Bowman’s face faster than one of the animals. All in all, life has continued on the farm and our little one fits right in.


Under our shade sanctuary, Maynard on guard. Oh the easy days of him not being mobile.




New lap in town.


Big smiles, all around.

In the beginning, we were unsure how life, let alone farming life would happen with a baby added to the mix. It seemed… overwhelming I guess, to haul around a little person and get what we needed to accomplished done, especially outside and safely. How would we get chores done? Plant the garden? Tend the animals? Harvest? There was so much to do, and we lead such busy lives, how could we possibly do it all?

Well for one, I started drinking coffee. That helped.

But as I said before, even with coffee, we couldn’t do it all.  That was the first thing we had to accept as new parents. It just wasn’t feasible to get it all done. I also had to relax a bit more on my level of perfection I’m used to. I had to learn to live with the weed infested gardens (very weed infested), the un-washed floors, the piling up paperwork in the office, the un-sent birth announcements (sorry) and the un-made beds (just kidding… I’m not an animal). Not an easy task for me, but with practice, patience and a few tears, I learned to let go. I also had to maximize nap time. That was huge. On nice days, our baby monitor could reach most places around the house or he would sleep outside. On rainy, stormy days I got a hell of a lot of canning done. Prioritize and maximize people.


Like, a lot of canning. This is only the half of it.

Baby wearing has been a lifesaver for both of us. Yes, that’s right, my husband (proudly) wears his son, often.  It frees up our hands to get chores done and is also a convenient way for me to ride with him in the SxS. We also relied heavily upon our Pack n’ Play, our stroller and a shade gazebo we put up on our deck. The days get very sunny and hot in the summer and it was imperative that I had a sanctuary for the baby as well as the dogs and me. We also made adjustments so I could have some garden areas closer to the house which made it easier to tend and gather dinner supplies. It all worked out to be a great system for us.


Tractor chores!


Swing with a view.


My garden supervisor, well one of them. I actually have 4 – two dogs, a cat and a baby. Why can’t any of them help weed! On a side note, that weed infested bed right there was calculated as a total loss until the end of the season when I pulled 50 lbs of beets and 30 lbs of carrots out of it.


He’s an excellent harvest helper.


Fencing with Dad


And an even better egg gatherer.


Summertime naps.


Supervising Dad build me my kitchen garden.

As we did more, we grew more confident and learned new ways of doing things. We also learned that our little guy is definitely a farm kid. He went with the flow for most things and took this lifestyle in stride. Our productivity went up and we started to get more things done. We also took time to enjoy ourselves, our new life and our newest family member. I think that was the most important lesson of all. We went on hikes, to parties, swimming, on picnics, lounged in the sun and even went on  a quad trip into the mountains for the long weekend. And you know what? The farm thrived! The gardens produced, the animals were happy, projects got started and finished and the weeds lived happily ever after. It was a glorious summer and we took full advantage, and it turns out, living our life with a baby isn’t hard. It’s just our life, except now we have to remember to pack diapers.


Ready for our 6 hour trip into the mountains. It poured rain on us the whole time and he didn’t cry or fuss once. That’s our boy!

So we adventure on and head into the winter months! We have lots of travel coming our way and I hope to update you more on our busy busy summer soon. Have a great day and remember, keep love in your heart and kindness in your thoughts, rise to meet your challenges, remain optimistic that anything can be done and never, ever underestimate the power of coffee.


2016 Goals


Our backyard

We’re baaaaaaaaack!

So apparently we’ve been through some sort of Space-time Continuum here on the farm. Like seriously, what day is it?

It seems like only yesterday I was 8 months pregnant and reminiscing to the slow pace our lives once were in 2015. Fast-forward 5 months and holy.crap. Things have gotten very interesting at Canadian Acres.

After such a long absence, I started to get subtle (and some not-so-subtle) reminders that people missed the blog. But as so much has happened in these last few months, I honestly didn’t really know where to begin. So I’ve decided to start where I meant to last January, which is to review the goals we set for 2016, plus give you a short review on how our lives have been over the past few months. Sound good? Good, because I don’t have any time to argue with you. Shit’s gotten real, and the one thing I do not have time for is extra time. Also, some days I have trouble finding time to get pants on. But that’s besides the point.

When Clay and I sat down together to map out our 2016 goals on a quiet, non-hectic day in December, we wanted to keep things short and simple since we knew our lives would certainly change once our new son entered the picture. You know, make sure we didn’t over extend our expectations because we couldn’t possibly get it all done with a baby. Hahahahahahaha. Anyway, our list promptly grew and grew and although we’ve almost murdered each other a few times, we’re actually figuring out how to make it all work. Mostly. We’ve definitely had to readjust our level of expectations, especially the day-to-day. And we’ve definitely had a steep learning curve. And we’ve definitely felt absolutely nutso and insane and cried for an hour over an egg we dropped on the way back from the chicken coop while carrying the baby. Well maybe that last one was just me. But mostly, mostly, we’re very much making it work 🙂

So…. here’s the list and a review on what’s been accomplished thus far:

  • Birth and bring home a happy and healthy baby boy:
    • Success!! On February 24, 2016 our son Bowman Tuchodi Peck was born. I went into the hospital on my birthday, the 23rd, for a routine check-up and never left. He was two weeks early and delivered by C-section as I had pre-eclampsia (which is *SPOILER* how Sybil dies in Downton Abbey which didn’t freak me out at all!!!) We were the parents with the car-seat still in the box at the hospital. It was scary and real and crazy and amazing. And then we came home and never slept again. But I’m happy to report that he is the greatest baby on the planet and by far the most handsome human being I have ever laid my eyes on. We just took him on his first camping/Hot Springs adventure and it was awesome.


      My heart

  • Wild Horses: capture and bring at least one wild horse from across the river to the house (I literally wrote that down on our list… boy was I naive)
    • So, funny story. On February 21, my father-in-law went across the river and through the woods to feed our wild horses. He found a few lingering in our corrals set-up and decided to catch them. So three days before our son was born, 10 wild horses showed up at the house. This is my life people. I was obviously thrilled and very very slow at getting down to see them. We were officially in the business of horses. The corrals held up, though we added one extra rail around the top and after that, more horses just kept showing up. We’ve had anywhere between 10-35 horses on the property since, had one major branding, one horse cutting, four babies born and too many stud fights to count. I will write more in depth on this in a later blog. I guess you could call this goal accomplished.

      First day on the farm

      1-baby 2

      First baby born this spring


      Timber’s brand TT


      First branding on the farm – 24 horses


      Thor, our wedding present stud finally, FINALLY got some time with the ladies… they were impressed I think. He chased them around the fields for days like this and we laughed and laughed

  • Finish hanging the gates in the corrals: Done
  • Chickens: Keep them happy and add a few to the flock
    • For the most part we’ve kept this up. We’ve lost a few to predators this year, but they are a free-range flock so I suppose that’s bound to happen. There has been some talk of perhaps getting a Livestock Guardian Dog in the future (and goats!!) so we will have to see how that turns out. But the chickens live great lives and always keep us entertained.

      New baby on the farm


      Clay built me double doors in the coop which I love! I also set some Welsummer eggs (that I did not have luck with) but the ladies kept hatching their own so we had baby chicks this spring

  • Finish fire-pit area:
    • This was a two-year project for us as we collected all of the sandstone by hand off of the property. We have some pretty amazing date nights around here. Clay spent a good portion of a week getting everything measured out, some weed barrier laid down and the stone all placed in sand. It turned out spectacularly. I spent most of this time trying to figure out how to do farm chores with a 2 month old.

      Working on the fire pit

      1-finished fire pit


  • Cabin: Clean-up for summer guests, install septic tank
    • The cabin is nice and clean for guests and now sleeps six. We have a propane stove and fridge and a large bear rug covering one wall. The septic tank remains on the to-do list for this summer.
  • Garden:
    • Get whatever we can planted with a newborn
      • So far we’ve planted flowers in all of the house beds, a small kitchen garden in the hugelkultur bed Clay built for me last summer, 100-ft of potatoes, 150-ft of onions, 36 asparagus crowns, 75 strawberry roots. beer hops and numerous amounts of veggies in containers on the porch. I still have some planting to do, but I call all of that a win.

        Clay and our friend Liz prepping the garden


        My wonderful helper planting asapragus

    • Kill as much grass as possible
      • Last year we really struggled with the amount of grass that came up in the garden. This year we are focusing on killing the grass bastards with lots of black plastic, sheet mulching and wood chips. The struggle continues.
    • Focus on one guild of the food forest at a time
      • This years goal is to plant one large guild under one fruit tree of the food forest and see how that goes. I have plants and plans, but we’ll see how time factors in over the summer.
  • Honey Bees:
    • I have always fancied myself a bee charmer (I’ve never been stung) and it’s been a dream of mine to be an apiarist some day, even if it just means I can say that word more often. This year, we received a beehive as a gift and we will be taking a bee course as soon as the weather cooperates. We were scheduled for May 28th, but then it snowed so… welcome to the North.


      My legit bee keeping set-up

  • Install clothesline: fingers crossed for this summer.
  • Continue landscaping: y’know, in our spare time.
  • Install deck railing: since we will soon have a mobile baby and our house is less than baby-proofed.

Whelp, I think that’s it. See, were are totally sane and within reasonable expectations… The real test has been how to keep the baby safe, warm and alive during all of these things and so far, so good. Sleep is overrated (NOT) and we’ve only had one “oops-we-fell-asleep-and-left-the-chicken-door-open-so-a-fox-massacred-a-few-in-the-night” incidents.



We left the dog’s 2016 goals to them this year, which basically consists of not getting attacked by wolves. Once again, so far, so good.



Practicing our tummy time!


2015 in Review

New Year sunset

2016, it is upon us!

As Clay and I sat down to draw out our 2016 goals, we had mixed feelings on how we did on our 2015 goals.  I was disheartened as I felt with a full-time job and a pregnancy, I wasn’t up to the standard we’re used to. But after some time and reminiscing, it seems we actually accomplished a whole lot in 2015 and should be proud of what we could get done between long work hours, 40 minute commutes and growing a fetus.

So here it is… our list of goals we started with in January of last year and what we did and did not do, plus some extra items that got squeezed in there along the way:

  • The Garden:
    • This was one of our major goals of the year, and I must say, we worked our tail feathers off for this one. And to be honest, we could not have gotten near where we are today if my good friend Laura hadn’t sacrificed a week of vacation to come be our farm hand for a week – THANK YOU LAURA!!!1-IMG_4279
    • This included: Months and months of planning, sketching and plotting, fencing roughly 1 acre of land with 8 foot elk fence, digging and installing a 300 yard water line from our well, down the hill into the garden, rototilling the whole damn thing, multiple times with multiple machines, planting 15 fruit trees, 10 fruit/nut bushes, 10 raspberry canes and multiple perennials in the start of our food forest, creating 15 4′ x 100′ raised beds, implementing soaker hoses and planting most of them, and growing a mass amount of food for our first, very dry year.  I attempted to keep all of our beds mulched with straw but this was difficult because the grass and the weeds put up a good fight, but our little garden wouldn’t be discouraged! Sake and I ended the garden year by planting a mess of garlic bulbs so I’ll be happy when spring arrives.1-fencing 1Waterline1-IMG_4605harvest
  • The Corrals:
    • This was the other “major” goal of 2015 and has been in the works for the past 2 years. Remember all of those logs we had to peel? Well they’ve finally been put to good use! With the help of some family and friends, the corrals have been built with half of the gates hung. These babies are ready to house our wild horse bunch that we will (hopefully) soon  begin to transport from across the river. Canadian Acres is wild horse ready! Although the nightmares have started regarding wild horses escaping into our neighbors fields… lord help us all.IMG_7148 IMG_7146
  • Horse Management:
    • This was a goal we didn’t necessarily get to other than feeding during the winter. But I feel like getting the corrals done is a big first step!
  • Yard Landscaping:
    • We spent many summer weekends on this project and Clay built me some beautiful flower beds, one large one that we turned into a hugelkultur bed, an archway with stone path to the fire pit, we gathered stone from around the property to fill the fire pit patio area and planted/grew some grass in the front of the house. Clay did a lot of level work and I planted some perennials on the west side and the front of the yard.finished arch
  • Lattice:
    • We found a deal on white lattice, installed it around the bottom of our back deck and it looks beautiful! It also gives the chickens a secret, cool hangout in the summertime that they just seem to love.
  • Harvest:
    • I had enough energy to put away some food for the winter. 60 lbs of saskatoons in the freezer, 2 batches of smoked salmon, strawberry jam, blueberry peach preserves, dill pickles, pickled beans and carrots and a wild rose, plantain & calendula salve. Wish I had gotten more done in this department, but thus is life.saskatoons 211863331_10153601638502959_4713058634279907157_n 11811440_10153562589107959_8584941880818532417_n
  • Full-time Job:
    • At the end of March I got a full-time job as the Business Manager at the local Cultural Centre in town. It’s a great place to work and I really enjoy my co-workers, but it has definitely put the word “busy” in a whole new category.
  • Extra Project: Clay built a large woodshed that wasn’t originally on the list, but is coming in handy during this cold weather.IMG_6849
  • Extra Project: We got pregnant in June, found out in July and I’ve been dragging my homesteading ass ever since.


Goals we planned for but didn’t accomplish:

  • Clothesline –  Not this year, but I’m optimistic for this spring when we’ll have plenty of baby clothes to dry!
  • Install gutters on house – this should be interesting come break up and with a new baby… hopefully things don’t get too slippery.
  • Rain barrel watering system for house area and chicken waterer – there’s always 2016.
  • 50 year plan plotted out on map – maybe someday.

All in all, I feel like we did pretty good. Thank goodness the major garden work got done before I got super tired in my first trimester.  It is important to keep up with our goals and at least write them down for we have so much to do on the farm, and well, in life.

My family members often ask – how do you find the time to do all of these things? And I have to chuckle to myself because I guess we don’t look at it that way. We don’t have TV, we don’t like to sit idle, we like to work to exercise. We try to focus on building a life that keeps us active, on this beautiful land and living life to it’s fullest. Plus, with a view like ours, it hardly feels like work. Though, this 20 pound belly I’m carrying around can put a damper on that quickly. 12119090_10153697948357959_6322904418634194563_n2016 is all about new adventure and new challenges and we are oh so excited to see how we handle it this time. Stay tuned for a list of our very realistic and not-overwhelming-at-all goals for when baby Peck arrives in March…. are we really dumb brave enough to try cloth diapers?

And because I always love to hear, what goals did you accomplish last year?