2016 Goals

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Our backyard

We’re baaaaaaaaack!

So apparently we’ve been through some sort of Space-time Continuum here on the farm. Like seriously, what day is it?

It seems like only yesterday I was 8 months pregnant and reminiscing to the slow pace our lives once were in 2015. Fast-forward 5 months and holy.crap. Things have gotten very interesting at Canadian Acres.

After such a long absence, I started to get subtle (and some not-so-subtle) reminders that people missed the blog. But as so much has happened in these last few months, I honestly didn’t really know where to begin. So I’ve decided to start where I meant to last January, which is to review the goals we set for 2016, plus give you a short review on how our lives have been over the past few months. Sound good? Good, because I don’t have any time to argue with you. Shit’s gotten real, and the one thing I do not have time for is extra time. Also, some days I have trouble finding time to get pants on. But that’s besides the point.

When Clay and I sat down together to map out our 2016 goals on a quiet, non-hectic day in December, we wanted to keep things short and simple since we knew our lives would certainly change once our new son entered the picture. You know, make sure we didn’t over extend our expectations because we couldn’t possibly get it all done with a baby. Hahahahahahaha. Anyway, our list promptly grew and grew and although we’ve almost murdered each other a few times, we’re actually figuring out how to make it all work. Mostly. We’ve definitely had to readjust our level of expectations, especially the day-to-day. And we’ve definitely had a steep learning curve. And we’ve definitely felt absolutely nutso and insane and cried for an hour over an egg we dropped on the way back from the chicken coop while carrying the baby. Well maybe that last one was just me. But mostly, mostly, we’re very much making it work 🙂

So…. here’s the list and a review on what’s been accomplished thus far:

  • Birth and bring home a happy and healthy baby boy:
    • Success!! On February 24, 2016 our son Bowman Tuchodi Peck was born. I went into the hospital on my birthday, the 23rd, for a routine check-up and never left. He was two weeks early and delivered by C-section as I had pre-eclampsia (which is *SPOILER* how Sybil dies in Downton Abbey which didn’t freak me out at all!!!) We were the parents with the car-seat still in the box at the hospital. It was scary and real and crazy and amazing. And then we came home and never slept again. But I’m happy to report that he is the greatest baby on the planet and by far the most handsome human being I have ever laid my eyes on. We just took him on his first camping/Hot Springs adventure and it was awesome.

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      My heart

  • Wild Horses: capture and bring at least one wild horse from across the river to the house (I literally wrote that down on our list… boy was I naive)
    • So, funny story. On February 21, my father-in-law went across the river and through the woods to feed our wild horses. He found a few lingering in our corrals set-up and decided to catch them. So three days before our son was born, 10 wild horses showed up at the house. This is my life people. I was obviously thrilled and very very slow at getting down to see them. We were officially in the business of horses. The corrals held up, though we added one extra rail around the top and after that, more horses just kept showing up. We’ve had anywhere between 10-35 horses on the property since, had one major branding, one horse cutting, four babies born and too many stud fights to count. I will write more in depth on this in a later blog. I guess you could call this goal accomplished.
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      First day on the farm

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      First baby born this spring

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      Timber’s brand TT

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      First branding on the farm – 24 horses

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      Thor, our wedding present stud finally, FINALLY got some time with the ladies… they were impressed I think. He chased them around the fields for days like this and we laughed and laughed

  • Finish hanging the gates in the corrals: Done
  • Chickens: Keep them happy and add a few to the flock
    • For the most part we’ve kept this up. We’ve lost a few to predators this year, but they are a free-range flock so I suppose that’s bound to happen. There has been some talk of perhaps getting a Livestock Guardian Dog in the future (and goats!!) so we will have to see how that turns out. But the chickens live great lives and always keep us entertained.
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      New baby on the farm

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      Clay built me double doors in the coop which I love! I also set some Welsummer eggs (that I did not have luck with) but the ladies kept hatching their own so we had baby chicks this spring

  • Finish fire-pit area:
    • This was a two-year project for us as we collected all of the sandstone by hand off of the property. We have some pretty amazing date nights around here. Clay spent a good portion of a week getting everything measured out, some weed barrier laid down and the stone all placed in sand. It turned out spectacularly. I spent most of this time trying to figure out how to do farm chores with a 2 month old.
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      Working on the fire pit

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      Ta-da! 

  • Cabin: Clean-up for summer guests, install septic tank
    • The cabin is nice and clean for guests and now sleeps six. We have a propane stove and fridge and a large bear rug covering one wall. The septic tank remains on the to-do list for this summer.
  • Garden:
    • Get whatever we can planted with a newborn
      • So far we’ve planted flowers in all of the house beds, a small kitchen garden in the hugelkultur bed Clay built for me last summer, 100-ft of potatoes, 150-ft of onions, 36 asparagus crowns, 75 strawberry roots. beer hops and numerous amounts of veggies in containers on the porch. I still have some planting to do, but I call all of that a win.
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        Clay and our friend Liz prepping the garden

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        My wonderful helper planting asapragus

    • Kill as much grass as possible
      • Last year we really struggled with the amount of grass that came up in the garden. This year we are focusing on killing the grass bastards with lots of black plastic, sheet mulching and wood chips. The struggle continues.
    • Focus on one guild of the food forest at a time
      • This years goal is to plant one large guild under one fruit tree of the food forest and see how that goes. I have plants and plans, but we’ll see how time factors in over the summer.
  • Honey Bees:
    • I have always fancied myself a bee charmer (I’ve never been stung) and it’s been a dream of mine to be an apiarist some day, even if it just means I can say that word more often. This year, we received a beehive as a gift and we will be taking a bee course as soon as the weather cooperates. We were scheduled for May 28th, but then it snowed so… welcome to the North.

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      My legit bee keeping set-up

  • Install clothesline: fingers crossed for this summer.
  • Continue landscaping: y’know, in our spare time.
  • Install deck railing: since we will soon have a mobile baby and our house is less than baby-proofed.

Whelp, I think that’s it. See, were are totally sane and within reasonable expectations… The real test has been how to keep the baby safe, warm and alive during all of these things and so far, so good. Sleep is overrated (NOT) and we’ve only had one “oops-we-fell-asleep-and-left-the-chicken-door-open-so-a-fox-massacred-a-few-in-the-night” incidents.

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Oops

We left the dog’s 2016 goals to them this year, which basically consists of not getting attacked by wolves. Once again, so far, so good.

~Katy

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Practicing our tummy time!

 

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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

Garden Days are Coming…

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View of the garden from our lawn

It’s been awhile since I last posted and I do apologize. Life has become absolutely nutso around the farm and with the summer looming, I fear it will only get worse. I’ve really felt the effect of my crazy schedule this past week and as I attempt to catch my breath, I try to think of the times ahead. And then I had a meltdown because the stupid vacuum wouldn’t work and I didn’t have time to fix it because, really, it’s a brand new f$%#ing vacuum and it should work without having to do anything because I most definitely do not have time to deal with it… thank god Clay carefully turned the knob from “hose” to “vacuum” before I murdered it Office Space/fax machine style…

Anyway, work has been very busy and farm work has been very exhausting and the whole “side-by-side” commute has officially lost its charm. Like, seriously. But with challenge comes accomplishment and I can happily say that a longtime goal is coming to fruition. The garden is going in!!!

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Posts lined out for pounding

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We have a very serious post pounder

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And a very high tech fence stretcher

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Unrolling the wire

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This is my “It’s raining and I’m hungry so please stop taking pictures so we can finish this” face….

This past week Clay, Timber and I have been busy putting in the fence posts and putting up the wire for our 8 foot game fence. We have two sides completed, a third laid out and are taking some down time for travel. Clay is in Southern BC for a conference and I will soon be on my way to Washington DC for my cousin’s wedding, but at least we have it started. Next steps are to install our water source, till the acre, install gates and start forming the planting areas. And then of course, plant the hell out of it. I couldn’t be more excited.

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I made a trip to a local greenhouse (if you call an hour drive local) and picked up 40 strawberry plants, a few tomatoes, brussel sprouts, sunflowers and marigolds. My wonderful neighbors offered to house them in their greenhouse for me until planting time!

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Wyatt hard at work…

In our spare moments, we’ve been screening our topsoil leftover from our build site to put in the garden beds around the house. Not super fun, but necessary. And cheap. We’ve also been collecting sandstone from the property to use as landscaping rocks in the yard as well as the fire pit. Nothing brings a couple together like slinging rocks. As long as it’s not at each other. I love that we have so many resources right on the farm and that we try to utilize them throughout our designs. Brings a whole new meaning to being grateful for what we have.

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Clay built us a table screen for our topsoil

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It takes some time, but the plants will be thankful

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We have a large supply of sandstone on the property

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An hour spent piling rocks

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Oh look, Wyatt hard at work again… Also, I love that I would rather snap a photo than be concerned about their proximity to the chainsaw…

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Sake hard at work

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The start of our fence and pathway to the fire pit

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Clay found this in the woods somewhere and brought it home for me for an archway. I absolutely love it 🙂

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These stones will be buried into the grass eventually

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Start of the fire pit collection – also note how much Wyatt’s hair is growing in!!

In coop news, I candled 31 eggs this weekend after realizing the other girls were sneaking eggs under broody Florence. She looked like one of those cartoon hens sitting atop a pile of eggs, poor dear. She was setting 19 eggs by the time I figured out what was going on! I finally got her down to a dozen and set Miss Josephine (who is broody once again) on 11 eggs I bought from a local farmer. I bought seven Easter Egger eggs (blue) and 4 Sizzle eggs (Frizzly/Silkie cross). I found one broken on the coop floor this morning, but the rest seem to be forming wonderfully. Pretty soon we’ll have more chicks than we know what to do with! I also added a wee little Cream Legbar to the flock whom I named Franny. She will also lay blue eggs and after a rough start with the Peck-a-little gang, she’s feeling a lot more comfortable.

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Easter Egger and Sizzle eggs

 

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Little Miss Franny

May arrived and with it a freaking snow storm… seriously, this is a neighbors pasture on Wednesday May 6:

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Blarg!

But the beauty of the North is – what a difference a day makes. Our farm on Thursday May 7:

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My lunch break while working at home

I must say, even though I’m more tired than I have ever been in my life, I sure am loving this farm of mine.

~Katy

 

Homesteading Goals: 2015

1-IMG_2292After writing the summary post of our first year on the farm I am amazed at how much we accomplished… and also a little overwhelmed because I mean, how in the heck do we top that?! But with the New Year brings a refreshed sense of over achieving and I think we’re up to the challenge.

Earlier this week, Clay and I sat down to sketch out our farm goals for the year and my oh my, how do we still have so much to do? Ah yes, it’s called homesteading and there is a reason that not everyone else we know is doing it. Starting from scratch takes time, patience and a crap load of work. Also, mistakes. You have to be willing to make mistakes and not kill each other over it. So far, nobody has died (save a few critters here and there). Well, we’re pretty good at making mistakes so might as well continue to do what we’re good at!

Here is a breakdown of our 2015 homestead goals:

  • The Garden:
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    Maynard in the garden site last summer

    • Triaged from last years list my major focus this year will be implementing my garden. I have big plans, big plans I tells ya… to the point of maybe too much but I am committed to taking it one step at a time and starting with a well thought out, drawn out plan. The hard part for us is starting small, so we will be practicing that.
      • Design, design, design… I am designing my garden based on permaculture principles that incorporate many different ideals on how to best work with nature to accomplish our goals. The back 1/2 acre will focus on an integrated food forest design and the front part will consist of hugelkultur beds, suntraps, keyhole beds, mandala beds, microclimates and herb spirals.
        • Books I am currently reading or have read for research are: Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips, Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway and Integrated Forest Gardening by Wayne Weiseman (just to name a few).
      • We have to build an 8 foot elk fence around the acre section. For a while I figured we didn’t need it and all would be fine, but this winter has proven me to be a liar.

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        Thor stands down two bull elk directly next to my garden site

      • Our water system will be a major project as an acre is a lot of ground to cover. Whilst I’ll be designing the garden with plenty of water saving techniques (swales, hugelkultur and mulch) we will still need a reliable source of water. The garden plot is currently located between two existing dugouts so we will need to figure out a way to best use these resources. And also will need to get ducks, obviously…
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        Dugout located on the right side of the garden site… perfect for ducks, right?

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        An elusive Peace River water hippo and some sort of creepy water goblin enjoying the dugout on a hot day

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        The second dugout is located to the left of the garden site in the section of trees

      • Then it will be time to dig and dig and dig and move and lift and haul and plant and water and plant and water and…. spend so much quality outdoor time with nature my soul will fill to the brim.
  • Building our horse corrals:
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    Corral site

    • We will continue on our lovely log peeling journey to finish up the rails we need to start construction on our corrals. The land will hopefully start to turn into pasture as we finish the last 150-200 rails. Then it’s time to put them up!

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      Clay peeling logs with two very hard working supervisors

    • Once the corrals are finished, the goal is to load up the 50-60 wild horses from across the river, transport them 3 hours to the farm and let them get used to the idea of being contained. We’ll host a big old party to entice people to come help us with the cutting, branding and breaking and will hope that all goes well and Wyatt doesn’t get killed immediately by a wild horse… some will be sold, some will be kept and the mares will be transported back across the river with Thor as their new stud… I hope he’s up for the challenge!
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      Our Fjord mix stud Thor in the front

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      The wild ones last summer

  • Install my clothesline, keep muddy dogs and loose chickens away from it
  • Install gutters on house and add a few rain barrels
  • Landscaping:
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    The fire pit area in need of some finishing touches

    • Finish fire pit area
    • Lattice the bottom of the deck
    • Chicken yard and area around well
    • Re-seed patches in lawn
  • Chickens:
    • I want to add some Ameraucanas and Blue Copper Marans to the flock
    • Going through our first winter with the coop has pointed out some flaws with the interior design so we’ll be working on remedying some of these issues

So there you have it… doesn’t seem so bad…. right? Oh who am I kidding, it looks really bad, but in a good way. There is a reason we don’t have TV.

I’ll be looking for full-time work and have many personal goals in mind this year as well, so it all could go either way. But this is the path we’ve chosen and we enjoy the good life so here’s hoping we don’t collapse in a heap of exhaustion, or even worse, end up with goats 🙂

Ever optimistic and always on our toes. Cheers to the new year!

~Katy

 

 

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

 

Homestead Goals 2014

As the snow starts to melt and “break-up” is looming, I start to realize how much freaking work we have in the months ahead. It’s always easier to see the hard work when the beautiful winter wonderland turns into mud soup. Break-up is what us Northerners like to call spring. It’s when the earth begins to weep and we subsequently get to wear muck boots 24/7 and never wash our cars. Where the world smells perpetually like dog poop and you forget why you even wished for summer for a couple of very long and drawn out weeks. But usually, once May hits, it becomes worth it. Although the swearing and the mud wearing that break-up commands may make one lose total faith in, well, everything. So for now, I will post this very lush, green photo of what is to come so I can find the strength to go on…

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Ah…. that’s better… Now where was I…

This, ahem, “spring” has us looking forward to a trip to the Caribbean with my family and a sh*t.ton.of.work. In January we sat down and started a list of our goals for this year on the homestead. I say “started” a list because we seem to be adding things to it daily and it continues to grow. We honestly tried to keep it short, but easier said than done. The Caribbean will be a wonderful break, but comes at an awkward time as we will be getting a shipment of chicks in the week after. It’s kind of hard to find someone to babysit 25 chicks when there are no eggs to trade. So we’ll be a little late in starting that game, but for the Caribbean after a long northern winter, I’ll do just about anything.

Our main goal is to begin our 50 year plan on a series of maps we’re having drawn up. This will be our mother plan and help get all of our hopes, wants, wishes and dreams onto one or two large pieces of paper. This will allow us to mindfully plan out where things will go so that we create a working piece of land for our children and our children’s children to enjoy. And hopefully cut down on having to move anything when we decide it is a better fit somewhere else. Also, it makes us seem like we really have our sh*t together, eh? (practicing my Canadian accent, coming along nicely I believe.)

This is where we will include our future house build site, alternative energy sources, greenhouses, other livestock areas, future gardens, a Christmas tree farm, etc…. just to name a few things we’ve thrown out there. Below is a photo of my inspiration plan from a book called The Back to Basics Handbook by Abigail R. Gehring. We have A LOT of books on all of this stuff, because y’know, that will somehow make it easier in real life practice… either that or give me a totally false sense of security… I’ll report back.

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Below is the parent list of our goals for 2014. In the following posts, I will try and highlight some of the projects and go over our goals for each one, as each project of course has more work to it than meets the eye. I should be getting used to that I think. This blog is a way for us to not only entertain our friends and family, but also to document our first few years on the farm and to keep as a kind of farm journal. Since I have basically no idea what I am doing, I have a feeling the entertainment aspect will grow as time goes on. But hey, onward and upward!

2014 Homestead Goals:

  • Install workable gates throughout property fences
  • Clear trees & debris in horse pasture, secure fences (40 acres)
  • Build horse corrals & tack shed, move in horses, give them treats and scratch their ears
  • Build chicken coop, raise 25 chicks & figure out what to do with all the roosters at a later date
  • Build compost areas, figure out how to keep Wyatt out of compost areas
  • Landscaping: Lawn, perennial flower beds, fire pit area, figure out how to keep Wyatt out of the growing lawn area
  • Finish cabin for guests, entertain said guests
  • Build garden/orchard fence: 1 acre of 8 foot elk/deer fence
  • Plant garden: Include raised beds, permaculture design principles, sheet mulch beds, hugelkultur beds
  • Install orchard: Northern hardy varieties of apple, pear, plum, apricot, cherry and variety of fruit and nut bushes
  • Plan and install garden watering system
  • Continue to improve and upgrade the farm road
  • Install clothesline
  • Paint and finish power shed
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Future garden site

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Guest cabin

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Lawn, flower bed and fire pit site (and Maynard)

Whew…. good lord, now that’s a lot of work! Not saying we will finish it all, but it’s better to have more goals than none. I must say, it’s a very good thing we don’t have TV 🙂

If you had the chance to own 160 acres of raw land, what would you do the first year?

~Katy