Happy Holidays 2015

IMG_6960It’s the 23rd of December and here I sit, 29 weeks pregnant, wondering where the year went. Heck, I’d be happy to know where my 2nd trimester went if I had to choose. But all in all, 2015 was an amazing year full of challenges, unexpected journey’s and most of all joy. And exhaustion…. lots of that. Also, Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake, but maybe mostly in the last few months. I don’t really remember.

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Enjoying the unusual warm weather and gorgeous landscape on a walk

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Second trimester, yay!

Anyway, since I’ve been rather busy with the whole full-time-job-plus-running-a-farm-and-growing-a-human-inside-of-me thing, I did not get a chance to send out Christmas cards to friends and family this year. Though, I do hope that this blog gives you a chance to feel connected to us and the farm all throughout the year, so maybe that’s even better.

My second trimester was spent getting organized for winter and starting to focus on the holiday season. I gained back a bit of my energy but started to feel a lot more aches and pains with the growing of my belly. We tried to keep up with our projects though and looking back, I do feel like we accomplished a lot.

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My clean-up crew

The chickens helped with the yard clean up from fall and very much enjoyed the delayed cold weather and snow. But alas, the snow came and with it the below zero temperatures. These past few weeks have been very dark and I’ve been feeling bad as I rarely get to interact with the critters, let alone struggle snuggle them, when I leave for work and it’s dark and I return home and it’s dark. But Winter Solstice has come and for Christmas I promised them more light, so be it. I’m very giving in that way. Sake gets to warm up in car with me when I get home some nights and receives lots of pets and hugs and the horses seem to be wintering well with lots of feed and little snow to compete with.

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Our first snow

Clay spent the unusual warm weather building a woodshed and we tried to soak up as much non-snow time on the farm as we could. I took the opportunity to plant 140 cloves of garlic in the garden, with much help from Sake who thought pulling the newly planted cloves and using them as a toy was great fun. So… maybe we’ll end up with a few less garlic bulbs in 2016. I’m always thankful for the company. I harvested the last of the calendula and put it in oil to steep, took a 6 week quilting course and brewed my first batch of beer (which took me like 7 hours and better taste like unicorns).

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Woodshed: before

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Woodshed: after

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Garlic plot plus conspirator

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Garden calendula

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My first quilt pieces

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The ingredients to magical unicorn beer

We took a break in November to meet my family in Hawaii for American Thanksgiving and loved the much needed break. December brought hearth and home and all the great things of the season.

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Myself, my mother and my sister in Hawaii

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Christmas at Canadian Acres

So all in all, as we wrap up our 2015, we are feeling very blessed, accomplished and just a wee bit tired. This lifestyle can hard and it can be challenging, but mostly it’s full of laughter and joy and beauty and the simple things in life. And really, with the state of the world today, who could ask for anything more.

Wishing everyone a holiday season full of laughter and love, and a joyous New Year.

~Katy, Clay, Baby Peck, Wyatt, Maynard, Sake, Thor, Tyrion, Beatrix, Stella, Ruby, Betty, Thelma, Florence, Pearl, Georgia, Izzy, Sophia, Rose, Blanche, Dottie, Mildred,  and Annie.

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Peace on Earth

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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

All work and no blog makes Katy a…

Pregnant lady.

Yep, that’s right folks. We’re expecting, and I don’t mean a hatch of chicks this time. Life has been FULL of work, farm chores, gardening and sleep these days and I will admit to blatantly ignoring all of you.

For that I apologize. But seriously though, I mean like a lot of sleep.

At the beginning of the pregnancy I thought something was seriously wrong with me. I had never been more exhausted in my whole life and I was seriously slacking on the amount of work I get done each day. Unacceptable! I mean, I could barely even climb a mountain during our Tuchodi trip… what the hell?! I stilled climbed it though… one or two. If something was wrong with me, I wanted to be sure I went out of this world on a mountain.

So here we are… the picture perfect family…1-DSC_0280-001

16 weeks in and counting!! Realizing that life, especially our life, will never be picture perfect… and that’s the way we like it 🙂

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Just when you thought this picture couldn’t explain things more… look in the tractor 🙂

Winter is looming and with it brings more time spent indoors, so I promise as I gain some sanity and more energy to spend more time on the blog… I’ll re-negotiate these terms when March hits and all hell breaks loose.

~Katy

 

The Young and the Nestless

eggsIf you know me in my new farm life, you know that my life is never without chicken drama, most of which I refer to as The Young and the Nestless. It is a never ending cycle of broody-bitchy hens, obnoxious egg songs (some hens actually “sing” after they lay an egg, although it’s less of a song and more of a hey-I’m-being-murdered sound), a cat who thinks he’s a chicken, and too many roosters for one person to handle. I even got rooster sperm on my arm once trying to save a hen from a gang-bang. That’s right. Rooster. Sperm. On. My. Arm.

Lately, the drama has gotten real. My chickens free range during the summer months which means they are unsupervised on the property most days. Not only does this mean my newly planted perennial beds are forever mussed, it also means there is a chance of egg hiding. Add in ridiculously warm sunny weather and a stifling hot coop and you get no eggs for days.

After two weeks of getting one egg a day (thanks Izzie), Clay and I searched and searched and searched for their hidden stash to no avail. I even tried to bribe my so called chicken-cat into telling me where this elusive nest was. The dogs were no help and I figured I’d have to do some sleuthing (slash stalking) to find the treasure. The game was on.

Of course, the hens were immediately on to my plan and just gave me the run around… and the goose eye. Come on ladies, don’t I do everything for you? Don’t I feed you and give you snacks and fresh water and straw and struggle snuggle you any chance I can get? They weren’t having it. At least I knew I wouldn’t be dealing with more chicks since they all headed into the coop for the night. They’ve successfully tricked the two broodies in the coop who are confused as to why they have no eggs to set upon. Georgia and Florence – give it up ladies, you’re being broody for no one.

Sunday afternoon I was ready to give up… My biggest fear was that some adorable fox would happen upon this magical stash of easter eggs, devour them, go looking for more tasty treats and run away with my chicken-cat to have fox-chicken-cat babies that would show up in season 3 reeking havoc… typical chicken farmer stuff y’know.

But then I heard it… someone was being murdered someone had laid an egg and they were singing their song! I rushed outside and found Georgia, curiously off of her broody horse, heading for the bushes. She was on the search as well so I put Maynard on point and headed into the depths of our chicken yard. And then I found her. Betty, setting atop a pile of eggs. Hooray! The search had ended and now, now I was in the loop. I waiting impatiently for Betty to do her thing and promptly scooped up 25 eggs. 25 eggs! The ladies were busy.

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Maynard facing off with Georgia… don’t worry, Georgia always wins

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Following the fluffy butt

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A-ha!! Jackpot! Poor little Betty was the victim of the gang-bang saving… nasty roosters tore her skin so bad I had to super-glue her together. We’re just waiting on a good molt to get her feathers back… Learn something new everyday folks!

A friend recommended I do the water test by floating them in water – if they stay at the bottom they are good, if they float to the top they are bad. I was happy as could be. I had solved the chicken drama.

In retrospect, I should have known it was too good to be true. Rookie mistake in taking all of the eggs off the nest. Turns out they didn’t want me in the know and now I have no eggs in the coop and no eggs in the outside nest. Damn. The search continues. At least the chicken-cat is still with us and the broodies are back in the boxes. I’ll take what normalcy I can get.

Until next time folks, beware the rooster sperm… beware.

~Katy

 

 

Saskatoon Season

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Our canola fields in full bloom through some poplar trees

Almost one month since my last post and it feels like it’s been roughly 3 days. The garden is growing, the weeds are growing faster and the sunlight is lessening each day. It’s been a busy month at the farm, full of adventure, weeding, chicken drama and fun. Lately though, we’ve been focused on one thing. Harvesting.

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I leave the zucchini alone for ONE minute…

Yes, it has begun. The garden is producing WAY too many zucchini and not enough peas, and the land has started our favorite time of year – saskatoon season. For those of you who may not be familiar to saskatoons, they are a delicious berry that taste somewhat like a cross between a blueberry and a plum. We have tons and tons of bushes on the farm and this year we’re in the middle of a bumper crop. Our hands (and faces) have been stained purple for weeks and Maynard has been leaving presents on the lawn that scarily resemble bear scat. Boy oh boy, he sure does love his saskatoons!

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Beautiful saskatoons

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Clay and Maynard, my saskatoon monsters

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Maynard will just swim around the bushes like a little shark and eat and eat and eat saskatoons

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Wyatt is not as agile eating directly from the bush, he prefers to poach the bucket that is on the ground because, well, it’s just so much easier

So far, I’ve put away 20 lbs in the freezer, given away 5 pounds to a friend and used fresh saskatoons on a baked brie that is to die for. Yesterday, three of us picked for 2 hours and walked away with I would say 60-80 lbs. No accurate count as of yet because they are still awaiting me to process them. Nothing like working an 8 hour day just to get home and process endless amounts of saskatoons! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Not too shabby for 2 hours of work

I’ve really enjoyed learning all of the ways to eat and preserve saskatoons, my favorites being a wine I made last year (yum) and this recipe for Saskatoon Crumble. I actually don’t remember where this came from, but it’s delicious and works like a charm:

Saskatoon Berry Crisp:

*1 cup flour

*3/4 cup rolled oats

*1 cup brown sugar

*1/2 cup butter

*1 tsp cinnamon

– Combine to make crumbs. Press half into a greased 8 x 8 pan.

*1 cup sugar

*1 cup water

*2 tbsp cornstartch

*1 tsp vanilla

*4 cups Saskatoons

– Spread the saskatoons onto pressed crumbs mixture. Boil remaining ingredients and pour hot over berries. Cover with remaining crumb mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Enjoy! And don’t give any to Maynard, he’s already had enough to last him through next year.

Next on the list to make is jam, syrup, more wine, some liqueur, muffins and more. How blessed are we to live on land that gives so much.

What’s your favorite berry to forage?

~Katy

 

 

A farmer’s life for me…

2015 is officially half over and I must say, we do have much to show for it. The weather has been sunny and HOT here in Northern BC and although it’s nice to see the sun, this Northern girl has a love-hate relationship with 85 degrees (Fahrenheit that is). But it has made for some memorable days and my tomatoes are loving it!

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Our garden

That’s right folks, I have tomatoes planted in the ground and growing. I know, I know, I never thought I’d get there but after a lot of freaking work and a little bit of luck (that goes by the name of Laura) we successfully built, planted, mulched and irrigated about 1/2 an acre or our first ever Canadian Acres garden. HOORAY!! Though I will say that it would never have been possible without the help of my husband and my dear friend Laura, who most awesomely decided to make the trek from Alaska and spend her vacation doing manual labor. How great is that!After a bit of a, ahem, delay, Laura showed up on the last Sunday in May.

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Friends definitely let friends do manual labor

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one excited to see her.

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Maynard LOVES him some Laura, although he was wondering where Betsy and Mila were the whole time….

She came bearing work gloves and a cooler full of Alaska made beer (BEST.FRIEND.EVER) and we spent the evening plotting our next week’s work and exploring the farm a bit. I had drawn out a somewhat legit schematic of  the start of the food forest and the beds I wanted to put in and it seemed impossible to get all that work done in one week. Well, as you may already know, impossible is our middle name – Canadian Impossible Work Load Acres. That’s us!

First things first – borrow a hand rototiller and rototill the area in need of planting. Laura was on the job and as I left early the next morning for my day job, I felt both hopeful and terribly bad for leaving my friend to do my farm job. The day was sunny, the ground was wet and she got the workout of a lifetime. And did an amazing job. Day 1 down.

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Just ready to be planted

Next up was plotting and staging the food forest and digging a ton of holes. Turns out, hole digging is not my forte so I was glad Laura was such a bad ass at it. I made up for it later, but man was I glad for her help. The cat and dogs were very good supervisors. Wyatt took his job so seriously that week he rarely left the side-by-side. He would refuse to get out of it, reminding us that we were slacker’s when we took a break. That’s Old Man Wyatt for you… well, at least when he wasn’t sleeping on the job/hatchet.

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Yeah… I’m going to need you to come in tomorrow and if you can come in on Sunday too, that’d be great…

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Supervising is hard work!

We planted 12 fruit trees and 25 fruit/nut bushes and canes. Things started to come together.

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My very first fruit tree guild! Apple tree with strawberries planted in the water berm, hyssop ring and sorrel… Much more things to come but at this point, I just needed to get it in the ground! Work in progress.

Day 3 Laura spent the morning staking out our 100′ x 4′ rows with stakes and string, preparing us to dig, dig, dig as I wanted to create raised beds. In the North it’s good practice as to help dry them out in our wet springs and warm them up for earlier planting. The plan is to eventually be a no-till garden so this will also come in handy when we are hand manipulating our beds. Laura and I each took a side of the first row and started digging and piling up the dirt. Our backs were aching, our hands were dirty and our lives would never be the same!

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First row staked out and hand dug

Long story short – this next photo:

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Much better

After feeling immensely proud, we immediately rented a mini excavator after that first row. There was no possible way we a) wanted to hand dig 20 more 100′ rows and b) would possibly have time for it. I mean, we had lots of Alaska beer to drink. So I spent the $200, Clay picked up the machine in the morning and we spent that day piling rows. This was my redemption as apparently I’m quite talented in the excavator department.

We did it! We had our rows measured, staked and piled. Now we needed to rake and smooth and we’d be ready to plant! And then we’d actually have to plant, and water, and mulch and thin, and WEED and water and trellis and… Ah yes, the joys of gardening.

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I! I have made garden!

On the last few days of Laura’s trip we got down to business. We planted six of the rows and kept the newly planted food forest alive. The days were hot and we both covered in dirt, but we felt like real farmer’s and the sense of accomplishment was astounding. There is nothing quite like the feeling of planting and preparing to grow your own food. The dream was coming true.

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My thermometer and rain gauge… last few days this baby has topped out at 105 degrees in my mini little micro climate.

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The corn was the first thing to go in… it was desperate to spread it’s roots

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100′ of field tomatoes in the ground. Feeling mad accomplished at this point

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Where’s Wyatt… Oh yeah, supervising

Now, don’t worry everybody. I know what you’re thinking – but Katy, with all of that work how did you possibly have any time for fun? Remember who you’re talking to… there is always fun to be had at Canadian Acres.

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It’s a side-by-side-wine-animal party! Wyatt seems miffed that Sake is in his spot

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We took a canoe trip on the Peace River

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Wild onions in bloom

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Wyatt’s not a swimmer so when we had to ford this back channel, he was less than thrilled with Mom

The day after Laura left for my homeland, I spent the Sunday planting the rest of the garden,  getting 5 more rows done. Over the next few weeks, Clay and I installed soaker hoses and sprinklers on a timer as to minimize the amount of after-full-time-job chores in the garden.

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All planted and slowly but surely getting mulched with straw, trellised and irrigated

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My handy man

The garden is 3 weeks old and already I am reminded the gardening teaches patience, guidance and sore knees. The weeds are ever growing and I am entrenched in a grass battle I like to refer to as: I fought the lawn and the lawn won. But all in all, it’s amazing to witness our little seeds and plants start to thrive and spend my mornings and evenings surrounded by the sounds of the country… and Wyatt’s snoring from the side-by-side.1-IMG_4338

Yo ho ho… a farmer’s life for me.

How did your garden grow this June?

~Katy

 

 

Whataman whataman whataman….

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I call this one “Muscles and Jorts”

Whatamightygoodman… May chewed us up and spit us out into June. Where did the time go?? Ah yes, it went into 2 trip’s south, 1 trip east, 16 new chicks, 1 rototilling machine, 2 fundraisers planned (day job), 2 loads of aged cow manure, 330 feet of water line, 1 new farm truck, dozens of seeds/plants, 10 billion mosquito bites, 2 dog skin rashes, 2 seeded fields, 1 river crossing, 2 portages and a hummingbird in an aspen tree… and that’s just the half of it!

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WE HAVE HUMMINGBIRDS!!!!

I traveled east to Washington D.C. for my cousin’s wedding in the middle of May. Although there was much to do on the farm, I was ecstatic to see my family and my best friend Melinda for 5 short days. It was an amazing trip and although a long trek home, my cup was refilled.

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My parents and Aunt Maggie in DC

This is where I get to brag about that wonderful man of mine. While I was away, Clay was… busy. First of all, I hadn’t been gone for 24 hours and Florence’s eggs began to hatch. I received a semi panicked text message claiming he didn’t know if he was ready for this… well, turns out, he was and he did a great job. Florence hatched out 7 little chicks and I got updates frequently from the farm.

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During dinner out before I left, Clay drew this “hen strategy” plan… the instructions on the top are which eggs to take away and how many to count, the squares are the nesting boxes and the initials are the hen’s names… ain’t he adorable 🙂

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The littles came early

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I was so excited for all of the blonde babies

What else did this superman of mine get accomplished? Well, he finished our rock path and archway, rototilled the garden with the tractor, picked up 2 loads of aged cow manure from the neighbors (which we traded 2 bottles of homemade wine, 1 dozen eggs and a jar of saskatoon jam for), dug the water line from our well down to our garden, helped our farmer Colin seed both of our fields with Canola seed, took care of all the critters and even washed the sheets right before I got home (I LOVE clean sheets)… And let’s remember, I was only gone for 5 days. He also bought himself a new farm truck, so it wasn’t all work and pining for me. We can now officially haul all of those wild ponies!

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Stone pathway

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The archway is up!

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Trading for some black gold

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Waterline down to the garden

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Garden waterline in our driveway

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Rototilling the garden

He also cut himself some jorts… yes… man jean shorts. I mean, don’t worry, I was just informed today that he bought himself a denim shirt to match. so… y’know…Canadian through and through.

I guess you could say I’m a very lucky farm girl indeed. He really set the pace for the remainder of May, beginning of June and we’ve been off the races ever since. Thank you so much Clay, I love you to the moon and back and to the moon again, because there’s no point in resting now.

Update on the new babies, the garden and a lovely visit from my dear friend Laura coming soon!

~Katy