2016 Goals

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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.

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      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.
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      First day on the farm

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      First baby born this spring

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      Timber’s brand TT

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      First branding on the farm – 24 horses

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      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.
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      New baby on the farm

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      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.
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      Working on the fire pit

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      Ta-da! 

  • 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.
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        Clay and our friend Liz prepping the garden

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        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.

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      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.

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Oops

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.

~Katy

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Practicing our tummy time!

 

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Winter and Wild Horses

IMG_7339Autumn is in full swing and slowly fading to winter. We have lucked out in the weather department as October has been relatively warm and nice, though we’re losing daylight which makes the work/farm/life balance more difficult. It’s hard to get home at 5:30pm and get things accomplished before the sunset at 6:00pm. But thus is life in the North and as always, we’ll adapt… time to find the headlamps!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and we had much to be thankful for this year. Plus, it’s only the first of the double Thanksgivings we get around here, so cheers to that! Clay, his dad Timber, brother Taylor and friend Fernando spent all day Sunday working on our horse corrals. Looks like we may get wild horses on the property this winter if all goes to plan.  And then we’ll be completely prepared to brand, cut and buck them in the Springtime… Hopefully right around March 12th since, y’know, we won’t have anything else to do. Except for that whole birthing-and-raising-a-baby thing. Minor details.

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Timber wants one more round of rails on the top – these horses don’t know what fences are and the last thing I want to do is chase them around the farm if they escape!

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Timber and Taylor working hard. Wyatt trying to act big and tough to his friend Cubby… although off the camera, every time she barks at him he falls over backwards. Real tough guy on our hands

As the boys worked hard on the fences, I took the critters on a nice long hike to one of my favorite parts of the property. It was a wonderful day.

The Mighty Peace River

One of my favorite spots and view on the property. The boys seem to like it too

Thanksgiving Monday, Clay and Timber headed across the river to check on the wild bunch.  If you’re new to the blog and are wondering why we have these wild horses or where they came from, check out one of my very first posts here.They found about 20 horses and everybody looked pretty fat and happy heading into the winter. Makes me excited to see them on the property soon.

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I’m in love with this little guy ❤

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This one needs an epic name… Harry Trotter anyone? (thanks Laura;)

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This group of horses is one of my favorites. I love the roans and the greys

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A different group of paints

Next steps will be to finish the fencing and install gates on the corrals. Then we’ll set trip wires on the “horse traps” across the river (which are basically just smaller corral enclosures baited with salt blocks and hay). Next we’ll accomplish the very simple process of loading and transporting them all in horse trailers to our house. Easy peasy. Now I feel queasy. I’m sure it’s just the pregnancy.

There’s always something happening on the farm and I can’t wait to see what new adventures bring our way. A very gracious thank you to my husband who took the photos for the corrals and the wild horses – 3 hours both ways in a truck did not seem compatible with my bladder this time around… maybe next time.

~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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The Wild Ones – Update August 6, 2014

This weekend brought the mess and chaos that canning brings to my house annually. It was hot, it was sticky and most importantly, it was magic.

More on that whole scene later,  the real reason to bring it up is because while I was so busy storing away goods for the winter my father-in-law got a chance to head across the river and check on the wild ones (jealous).

He found 29 horses in all, and everyone looks happy, fat and healthy. The teeny tiny babies I fell in love with this spring are growing into fine horses and it’s so nice to see.

Here are a few select photos from Timber’s trip (thank you for taking them in my absence). Clay and I will attempt to canoe across the river to check them out ourselves this fall, somewhere between kayak trips and hunting trips and all the work in between.

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Loving them oats

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Two little foals growing up fast

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Beautiful colorings

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Enjoying a gorgeous day

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Someone has some very similar markings to Mom

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Looking pretty healthy for wild horses

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Sweet

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I want to call this one Bambi because I think the mark on it’s side looks like a deer…

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The Bachelor Bunch, aka Clay’s idea of our future pack string

Hope you enjoy the updated photos as much as we did. I am itching to get my Nikon D5100 back into commission and over the river and through the woods.

~Katy

Springtime on the farm

We’ve been busy around here at Canadian Acres. Spring seems to finally have sprung, and with it brings terrible farm road conditions. Will I ever be able to wear shoes other than muck boots again? Oh well, no time to worry about that now, there is so much to do!

This weekend we burned the land around both our house and the guest cabin. Now that’s what I call a hot date on a Friday night. Burning rejuvenates the land, clearing old growth to generate new growth. It also adds nitrogen to the soil and it’s good practice to keep wildfires at bay. The weather has warmed and I finally enjoyed my cold beer without freezing my hand. It’s the little things in life, y’know. This is the beginning of our lofty landscaping goals and we had a wonderful evening enjoying our backyard.

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Burning the hills

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Wyatt enjoying some dried grass and a warm bum

The farm has plenty of wildlife visitors as the fields clear of snow and uncover wheatie goodness from last falls harvest. What joy to wake up to such guests daily. The whitetail deer have become regulars (I just love those tails), and flocks of Canadian geese bed down at night and leave for the river early, making sure to wake us with their calling. Geese! It must be spring! Our dog Wyatt is unimpressed by all these new “intruders” and finds pleasure in his guard duties. Oh how thankful I am that he is slow. One of our trail cams captured our first predator, a wily coyote that has been eluding Wyatt for sometime now. My hunter husband is itching to spot him with his gun handy. I am adamant that we keep our upper field as a sort of refuge which means no killing things on purpose, so we’ll see how that goes.

I am most offended by the temperature on March 27th...

I am most offended by the temperature on March 27th…

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Whitetail tail

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One of my chickadee friends that frequents our feeders

The wolf pack came through again at the end of March and judging by the size of their tracks… my, what big wolves we have. I caught a photo comparison of our dog Maynard’s paw print next to a wolf track and it’s crazy! Maynard is not a small dog, a greyhound pit bull mix weighing in at 75-80 lbs, so that’s a big freaking wolf. Both dogs were on high alert for a few days and peed on, well, everything.  We’re hoping to catch the pack on one of our trail cams, so fingers crossed. Clay got his spring bear tag and the season opened on April 1st, so we are hoping to find signs of waking bears soon.

Maynard track vs wolf track... it's like he has creepy little bird feet

Maynard track vs wolf track… it’s like he has creepy little bird feet

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Scouting for bears

Today was the last feeding of the wild bunch for a bit since the road is thawing and does not make for easy transport of large amounts of hay. Good news is that we have another baby! An adorable pinto baby that I love and want to keep forever. It’s a good thing I always listen to my husband and don’t get too attached. Our corral plans are coming along nicely and I just found out I get to learn a new skill – peeling logs for our corral rails… sounds fun, right? Well, except that there are 500 to do. At least once it’s done, it’s done. Next, we’ll be clearing the 40 acres we’ve designated for the horses of trees and finishing the fencing. Which will coincide with the building of the chicken coop and putting up the garden fence and planting said garden and teaching the dogs to love chickens and wearing our muck boots and occasionally sleeping and… Like I said, we have much to do.

Newest little

Newest little

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Hungry bunch

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So sweet

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This little has grown!

Speaking of chicken coops, I finally ordered my chickens! Come end of May, we’re adding 25 little chicks to the family. I can’t wait to figure out how to keep Maynard from eating them. Ah, adventures in farming… where the mud runneth over and the work never ends. Happy Spring!

~Katy

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The frozen Peace

Feeding the Wild Bunch

Yesterday, Clay and I headed out into the clear cold day to feed our wild horses. My father-in-law feeds them every Sunday throughout the winter to help supplement their natural grazing. This would be Clay and I’s first time over there without him, and we were pretty excited about it.  We were loaded high with 8 bales of hay, 2 bags of oats and a 1 salt block. Now I was eager to go initially as a) I love the horses and b) it was supposed to be at least 20 degrees (according to the lying cheating weather app on my phone) but as we closed in on our destination after 3 hours in the truck, the temp hadn’t gotten above 3 degrees. Seriously! It’s almost freaking April! I mean, come on Mother Nature, can’t we be reasonable. I always get testy with her this time of year. Ah, the joys of being a northern girl. At least I dressed for the occasion in a very fashionable three layer ensemble.

We were a little worried we wouldn’t see any horses as per their typical range activity, but sure enough, early on the road we spotted a group of three – a stud, a mare and a new baby! Oh my goodness, my favorite thing. Days old and as tiny as can be. We drove to a pullout and opened some oats. It amazes me how quickly they correlate us with glorious tasty oats. The stud was a gorgeous boy and I think Clay may have his eye on him for a possible ridding horse. He keeps warning me to “not get too attached” to the littles as it is early in the season and there were plenty of wolf tracks to be found. But alas, it’s just a reality of having a wild herd and the circle of life (enter Elton John music here), and I feel fine with getting attached and taking lots of photos as I feel they have the right to be oohed and ahhed over, to be documented in our herd history even if it’s for a short time.

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Handsome stud

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New little

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Clay the oats man

After plenty of oats and a goodbye, we headed down the road to our actual hay drop-off spots (clearly marked on the map for us by Father-in-law). The first few stops we were alone, save a woodpecker and some squirrels. But this is beautiful country, albeit cold, and there is a soul soothing sense in the quiet wilderness of it all. This was my first time actually moving hay and my god, why do they make them so heavy? Seriously, 1400 lbs?? I mean, wow, that’s a lot of awkward pushing and rolling. I was happy to help though and Clay is so fun to watch in his role. He just loves it.

As we approached our final set of corrals, we were content in finding at least three of the herd and anxious to see more. Much to our delight, 17 more were waiting for us and their goodies to be delivered like a line at a buffet. Even more delightful was that we had found the second herd group we hadn’t seen the last time! They are beautiful!

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The herd happy for some hay

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Clay enjoying the view

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Curious

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A favorite mare in the middle

Clay got out and started pouring oats as I walked around and  climbed on top of bales to start taking photos, attempting to document as many as I could (WAY easier said than done since they kept following me around thinking I was the lady with the oats). Adorable little buggers. We counted 16 adults and one teeny tiny brand new baby. Again, my favorite. We identified the stud as a beautiful bay instead of the pale face palomino we first thought. He was in fine form and being quite the show-off. Our three preferred mares all seem pregnant so we are very excited to see the new babies to come.

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Another favorite mare

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Love this mare! I call her Katniss because I think her mark looks like a mocking jay

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Favorite mare

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Baby!

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love love love

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Feeding time for littles too

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Those eyes

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Feisty bay stud

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These two are some of my favs based on their wild hair and sweet, curious dispositions

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Okay, okay… last baby pic

We dumped the bales and just took a moment to watch and interact with them all. I love how they are so expressive and each have such differing personalities. I’m already having personal preference for some. The young ones are very curious and I’m always drawn to the ones with kind, gently eyes. Clay was attempting to feed them hay out of his hand, but maybe it’s too early for that. He didn’t have any takers. But they really don’t seem to mind having us there, as long as we have oats.

As we headed back for home, we ran into the first three and stopped to give them some leftover hay from the trailer which they seemed happy for. With that, we settled in for the long drive home. Although it was a cold day, it was a gorgeous one and held with it so many miracles and so much hope, I think I can wear more layers for a bit longer. Plus, we saw swans on our way back, so maybe spring isn’t too far away after all.

~Katy