2017… And so it begins.

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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.

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“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!

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    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.
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    So. Fuzzy.

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    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.

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      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!
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      2016 dinner harvest

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      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…

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    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!

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    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?

~Katy

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Our First Year in Review – 2014

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

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

The original list: Homesteading Goals 2014

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

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Timber busy as usual

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Thor looking for treats as his future pasture is cleared

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

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

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Peeling logs with my custom painted Alaska axe

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Maynard overlooking the newest additions

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

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

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My view from the kitchen window… I just love it

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

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Green eggs and ham anyone?

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Finished coop ready for the chicks

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Sake’s first day with the ladies

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

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

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

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

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

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Lawn growth after 2 months

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Not bad for my first time hand seeding a lawn

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Hugelkultur bed on west side of the house

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

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

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

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Hello Fall…

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

Install clothesline

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

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

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

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Hooray for the wood stove!

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Supervising our burn sites

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

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

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

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

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

~Katy

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Happy New Year from Canadian Acres