Finding Joy in the Things We Do

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Farm Boy 

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

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

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

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

Anywho… here’s the list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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But everyone loves a cuddle ❤

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Chicken chores

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

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

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

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

~Katy

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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

2015 in Review

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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

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