Farm Life with Baby

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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.

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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.

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

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Chickens!!

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New lap in town.

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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.

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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.

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Tractor chores!

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Swing with a view.

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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.

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He’s an excellent harvest helper.

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Fencing with Dad

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And an even better egg gatherer.

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Summertime naps.

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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.

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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.

~Katy

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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.

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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?

~Katy

We’re Expecting!

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The coop on a snowy cold day

And by we, I mean the chickens… Why, what did you think I meant?

I hope I didn’t just give my husband a heart attack…

It’s been a very cold couple of days here in Northern BC. We’ve been having a winter storm with temps down to -38 and lots of snow and everyone on the farm has been hunkered down. The dogs rarely leave the comfort of the wood stove, and I bundle up in my Carhartt coveralls to head to the chicken coop. Yes, that’s right… I own Carhartt coveralls. Who would have thought!

Though the temperature has been depressing, you wouldn’t know it if you entered our coop. With the daylight increased, spring has sprung for the chickens.

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Busy hens and lounging cats… welcome to our coop!

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Miss Georgia in the nesting box

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Josephine the Dinosaur… I mean the broody hen

I had two hens go broody this week. Basically, they are preparing to hatch some eggs. Both Josephine and Georgia were settled down in the nesting boxes at night and when I tried to move them they turned full dinosaur on me. You know, like the one dinosaur in Jurassic park that spit on that guy… like that.

They puffed up, shook their neck feathers and made some type of rattling noise at me. Strange little chooks. Once I picked up Josephine and saw she had “feathered her nest” by pulling out her chest feathers and decorating her nesting box, I knew I had a broody hen. Georgia quickly abandoned her nest after I offered up some treats twice in one day, so I was down to one. Sometimes they aren’t cut out to be mothers.

Well, back to Google I went because I didn’t know what I was dealing with. Do I break the broodiness? Do I let her hatch some eggs? It’s only February so is it too cold up here in the North? So many questions and so many answers.

I had been collecting eggs pretty religiously so I knew she was only sitting on a golf ball, but she was determined as ever to hatch it, so I felt it was a good time to do an experiment and see if we could hatch some eggs. Plus, I didn’t really have the equipment to break her broodiness, so I took the lazy way out. Why not let nature take it’s course?

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The hen house has been full of busy bodies since the girls went broody, everyone is up in each others business

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Like really up in each others business…

It takes 21 days to hatch an egg, if everything goes just right. We have cold temps working against us, but I figured I could set up the nursery under the heating lamp to help things out. Google said it was easiest to move a broody hen in the evening so I prepared the nursery yesterday during the day to make sure it was ready. I piled up a bunch of new clean straw in between two feed bins under the lamp and to my surprise, Beatrix my rooster began to prepare the nest for me. It was the darndest thing… and ridiculously adorable. I’ve never seen anything like it. He got right in there and turned and groomed the straw, all the while making cooing and clucking noises. He was very proud of himself. Such a good Dad-to-be. Apparently this is a sign of a good rooster… I knew he had it in him.

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Beatrix nesting

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Stella was very interested in what was going on

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Well, then everyone had to come check out the new digs

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Quite the to do

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Sake was the first to try out the new nest… I hope I don’t have a broody kitten on my hands

After shooing out the crowd that had gathered to inspect the nursery, all I could do was wait until night fall.

Evening came and I snuck out with a basket full of eggs I had been saving. 9 in total – 4 orpington eggs and 5 olive egger eggs. I arranged them delicately in the nest and moved Josephine over to see them. I made sure to wear gloves because broody hens love to peck and bite! She hesitated a bit and had a slight panic over being outside of the nesting box, but then she began to eat a little and I figured I should leave her to it. She was either going to sit on them or not. I don’t know how long she was off the eggs, but when I returned a bit later, she was up again. I scooped her up and settled her on top of them and she settled right in. A good sign.

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Our pretty eggs

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Setting the bait… a nest full of real eggs to sit on

This morning I ran outside like a kid on Christmas and she was still on the nest!

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Morning in the nursery, she looked pretty content… or maybe she’s just giving me the goose eye…

Chickens stop laying eggs during their broodiness, so I am down a layer but hopefully it will be worth it. I can candle the eggs in about week to see if they are developing and get rid of any eggs that may not be good. Candling basically involves holding the egg up to a flashlight and seeing if an embryo is forming. Since Josephine is a first time mom, she could abandon the nest at any time or worse, kill the babies when the hatch so this is going to be an interesting adventure. But I’m all for learning something new!

Now all we have to do is wait…. No easy task for a over bearing chicken lady and an anxious first time father.

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No Beatrix, they haven’t hatched yet

Wish us luck!

~Katy

 

 

 

The Month of May

Hello all,

My oh my, how time flies when you are working working working having fun! The month of May has been full of sunshine, laughter and hard work. Summer is off to a wonderful start and we are busier than ever.

The Peace River Valley, view from the bottom quarter section near our game cam

The Peace River Valley, view from the bottom quarter section near our game cam

The chickens finally (FINALLY!) moved out of the house and are loving their new coop. They aren’t 100% sure on how and when to get in and out to enjoy their outdoor run, but we are working on it. Once they do get outside, they are happy and so funny to watch. Group dust bathing is my favorite activity. I finished painting the exterior and am working on some final touches before I post photos (alas, my work never seems to be done). One thing I’ve learned is that when you finish one project, there are 10+ more added to the list.

Our first group outing

Our first group outing

Dirty Gerty selfie on moving day

Dirty Gerty selfie on moving day

Maynard helping Mom paint the chicken coop

Maynard helping Mom paint the chicken coop

My father-in-law Timber finished the fencing for the horses a few weeks ago and literally the day after it was done, horses started to arrive at Canadian Acres. I guess it is true, if you build it, they will come. Clay’s Aunt and Uncle graciously let us borrow two riding horses as they needed some miles put on them. Their names are Ranger and Rover and they are such dolls. Maynard just loves to give them kisses. Clay and I went riding one rainy evening and explored the property on horseback… what an amazing feeling to actually do something you’ve dreamed of since the beginning. A few days later, some friends dropped off their horses to stay for the summer, and a few days after that, our new range stud showed up with Timber’s new horse… I’m in horse heaven!

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Ranger on the left, Rover on the right… such hams 🙂

Kisses for Ranger Photo credit: Tyler Chamberlin

Kisses for Ranger
Photo credit: Tyler Chamberlin

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Timber’s new horse… Not sure on his name but he is GORGEOUS!

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Sweet Shazam

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Our first ride on the property… one of those moments when I realize that I am right where I should be 🙂

Apparently, so is Wyatt. He’s been trampled only once (the very first meeting), but comes close to it almost daily. He’s also learned a new trick called rolling-in-fresh-horse-poop-so-Mom-can-bath-me-with-the-hose-daily. This new habit is in battle for “best things Wyatt does” with finding random animal parts to chew on. Oh what fun to be had. Life as a farm dog is pretty tough.

Horse poop? I don't know, I'm not sure what you're asking....

Horse poop? I don’t know about any horse poop. I’m not sure what you’re asking Mom….

Oh look, Wyatt found a stick. Wait a minute...

Oh look, Wyatt found a stick. Wait a minute…

The new range stud is so adorable and sweet I’m not sure I can keep him “wild” enough until he has to go to his new job with the wild horses across the river. He’s only a yearling, so he has some time to grow into it. He came without a name and I’m pretty sure he’s a Thor. What do you think? He’s a Percheron Fjord cross and has lovely coloring and markings. Did I mention I’m in love?

Clay meeting Thor for the first time - love the stripe down his back

Clay meeting Thor for the first time – love the stripe down his back

Beautiful markings

Beautiful boy

Yesterday I finally took a moment (in between building my hugelkultur flower bed and finishing painting the power shed…what can I say, I’m an excellent multitasker) to hike down to our game cam and grab the photos. It’s been un-checked for about a month and I was anxious to see what summer would bring to our game highway. Apparently, a lot of things! Lots of elk and deer, a moose, a coyote, a dirt biker (hmmmm… they must have missed our blatant No Trespassing signs), a porcupine and a gorgeous but wily looking wolf. What a very busy month it has been.

Elk, elk everywhere!

Elk, elk everywhere!

Young moose

Young moose

Total "Peter and the Wolf" soundtrack moment... I'm expecting Scut Farcus to show up at any moment

Total “Peter and the Wolf” soundtrack moment… I’m expecting Scut Farcus to show up at any moment

Today is cold and rainy/snowy so we are taking some time to organize our indoor lives since that seems to get ignored when the weather is nice. I am excited to get some plants planted and work on the landscaping as we have company coming at the end of the month. Looks like life won’t be slowing down any time soon – proof that the homesteading life fits us just right.

Here’s hoping your summers are all off to a busy and beautiful start, and if you get a chance, lounge in the sun for me!

~Katy

With rain brings double rainbows :)

It’s been a double rainbow kind of month

Are we having fun yet?

Things have been a little busy around these parts. We got home from vacation and all hell broke loose. Apparently the lack of snow brings the over abundance of farm work to be done.

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Y’know, just a typical Friday night

The chickens are growing fast and will be 8 weeks (8 weeks!!) this coming Wednesday. Yesterday I awoke to my very first “crow” attempt which had the dogs in a tizzy – a sure sign that the freaking chickens need to get out of my house. They are adorable, yes. But messy and stinky and loud. The dogs think they are the greatest things and wait with their noses below the door on a regular basis. We have been working on Dog Chicken Relations every day, so I am hopeful that we may have a few Livestock Guard Dog’s on our hands after all not have to deal with a massacre right off the bat.

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Millie is getting in some nice cheek fluff

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Maynard is practicing his manners

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I am assuming that Dick (on the left) is the culprit of the “crow” attempt

Clay and I have been putting our full attention into getting the chicken coop finished. We’ve taken some trees out and moved the sea can, stripped the interior of all the shop aluminum, sanded the floor, cut the window hole, cut the chicken door, power washed the inside, framed the partition and landscaped and measured the chicken yard. Phew. And we still have approximately 43 things left to do.

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Moving the sea can with the cat

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In the beginning…

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Cleared out

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“Everybody’s working for the weekend….”

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So first time with a chainsaw and I get to landscape willows… not an easy task and the photos make it look like you are chainsawing nothing.

During our spare time we have been peeling a great number of logs that will eventually be the corrals for the wild horses. I say eventually because we are averaging about 5 per day between the two of us and there are 500 logs. So here’s to a celebration party in approximately 100 days! Log peeling is not easy work. But by god, I better have the best upper arm strength in the county by the time we’re finished…Am I sounding country enough yet?

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Unloading some of the many logs

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Sometimes we get helpers… sometimes

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Wyatt seems really impressed

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My badass Alaska ax on a freshly peeled log

Our hopes are to have the chicken coop finished by this weekend (please, god) so we can lounge about for the rest of the summer work our asses off on something else. Apologies for the straight iPhone photos, it seems I won’t have time to properly edit a photo until winter (instagram editing counts, right? (I can see my photographer friends rolling their eyes from here (triple parentheses!!)))

Ah, farm life. Are you having fun yet?

Off to paint the chicken coop and receive our riding horses… have a fabulous Friday!

~Katy