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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Winter and Wild Horses

IMG_7339Autumn is in full swing and slowly fading to winter. We have lucked out in the weather department as October has been relatively warm and nice, though we’re losing daylight which makes the work/farm/life balance more difficult. It’s hard to get home at 5:30pm and get things accomplished before the sunset at 6:00pm. But thus is life in the North and as always, we’ll adapt… time to find the headlamps!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and we had much to be thankful for this year. Plus, it’s only the first of the double Thanksgivings we get around here, so cheers to that! Clay, his dad Timber, brother Taylor and friend Fernando spent all day Sunday working on our horse corrals. Looks like we may get wild horses on the property this winter if all goes to plan.  And then we’ll be completely prepared to brand, cut and buck them in the Springtime… Hopefully right around March 12th since, y’know, we won’t have anything else to do. Except for that whole birthing-and-raising-a-baby thing. Minor details.

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Timber wants one more round of rails on the top – these horses don’t know what fences are and the last thing I want to do is chase them around the farm if they escape!

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Timber and Taylor working hard. Wyatt trying to act big and tough to his friend Cubby… although off the camera, every time she barks at him he falls over backwards. Real tough guy on our hands

As the boys worked hard on the fences, I took the critters on a nice long hike to one of my favorite parts of the property. It was a wonderful day.

The Mighty Peace River

One of my favorite spots and view on the property. The boys seem to like it too

Thanksgiving Monday, Clay and Timber headed across the river to check on the wild bunch.  If you’re new to the blog and are wondering why we have these wild horses or where they came from, check out one of my very first posts here.They found about 20 horses and everybody looked pretty fat and happy heading into the winter. Makes me excited to see them on the property soon.

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I’m in love with this little guy ❤

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This one needs an epic name… Harry Trotter anyone? (thanks Laura;)

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This group of horses is one of my favorites. I love the roans and the greys

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A different group of paints

Next steps will be to finish the fencing and install gates on the corrals. Then we’ll set trip wires on the “horse traps” across the river (which are basically just smaller corral enclosures baited with salt blocks and hay). Next we’ll accomplish the very simple process of loading and transporting them all in horse trailers to our house. Easy peasy. Now I feel queasy. I’m sure it’s just the pregnancy.

There’s always something happening on the farm and I can’t wait to see what new adventures bring our way. A very gracious thank you to my husband who took the photos for the corrals and the wild horses – 3 hours both ways in a truck did not seem compatible with my bladder this time around… maybe next time.

~Katy

The Young and the Nestless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Following the fluffy butt

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

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

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

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

~Katy

 

 

A farmer’s life for me…

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

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Our garden

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

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Friends definitely let friends do manual labor

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

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

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

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

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Just ready to be planted

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

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

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Supervising is hard work!

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

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

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

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First row staked out and hand dug

Long story short – this next photo:

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Much better

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

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

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I! I have made garden!

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

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

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

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

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Where’s Wyatt… Oh yeah, supervising

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

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

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We took a canoe trip on the Peace River

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Wild onions in bloom

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

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

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

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My handy man

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

Yo ho ho… a farmer’s life for me.

How did your garden grow this June?

~Katy

 

 

Whataman whataman whataman….

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I call this one “Muscles and Jorts”

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

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WE HAVE HUMMINGBIRDS!!!!

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

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My parents and Aunt Maggie in DC

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

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

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The littles came early

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I was so excited for all of the blonde babies

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

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Stone pathway

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The archway is up!

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Trading for some black gold

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Waterline down to the garden

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Garden waterline in our driveway

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Rototilling the garden

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

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

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

~Katy

 

 

Work-Life-Farm Balance

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Our egg and crocus bounty on Easter Sunday

Oh hello there, long time no see…

Things have exponentially gotten busier around these parts as spring has officially sprung (thank god). I started a job in town 2 weeks ago and we are in the throes of dealing with this new concept we like to call work-life-farm balance. Just when we thought we were tired and had too much on our plate I was hired on a s a business manager for the Cultural Centre (yes!) and I’ve been getting back into the groove a 9-5. I definitely miss my time spent solely on the farm, but am finding I do enjoy meeting new people, taking on new challenges and getting to walk to yoga everyday. Yeehaw.

Within those two weeks, the animals (and the husband) had a tricky time coping with the lesser amount of attention from me and our road washed out. Again. So for the first week of the new gig I had a double vehicle commute – side-by-side to SUV. I made sure to change out of my muck boots and into my ballet flats in my car before I went in, you know, as not to blow my professional office person cover, but my coworkers busted me by the telltale sign of mud on the back of my pants. Apparently you can take the girl off of the farm but you can’t take the farm off of the girl… not even with crappy public washroom soap.

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Clay attempting to get our culvert to thaw and drain

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My commute

Wyatt is completely healed up as his nickname has changed from Pus Bucket to Scabs. The drains and stitches are out, he’s back to full patrol duty and seems to like all the attention he’s been getting. Not only did the local paper feature his story on the front page and an entire back spread, the local news channel came out to the farm for an interview. He got to show the nice reporter lady his manners, his chickens, his cat, his territory and his red rocket… sigh… I knew it wouldn’t all go to plan. His brother Maynard was so jealous, he willed himself an abscess (seriously, we have NO idea how he got it) and landed himself in the vet and on antibiotics as well. Never a dull moment people, never.a.dull.moment.

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Here we see Pus Bucket lounging on his bed… his two larger drains drained all over everything we own for two solid weeks. He managed to pull them both out by himself. Thanks Pus Bucket

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Healing up and getting some outside time in the soon to be melted snow

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Oh yeah… Maynard looks really sick here…

The chicks are growing fast and will be 6 weeks this Friday. Holy crap. It’s exciting to see their plumage grow in and their colors begin to show. Josephine sleeps with them at night but has left them for dead during the day as the snow is going fast and there is green grass to forage. Oh the life of a Canadian Acres chicken.

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Hazel and Mable chilling on the top roost when the big chickens are outside

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They get bigger everyday

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Philomena getting in some beautiful plumage

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The chickens enjoying the sunshine and the green grass

We spent the holiday weekend enjoying the nicer weather and Clay built me a beautiful flower bed along our back porch. The south facing location is ideal and I have big dreams of grapevines and peonies on the horizon. The compost piles are thawing and actually freaking look like compost (hooray!) and I am oh so proud of myself on that front. What a delight to finally see things happening after a long winter. The dogs and I hiked the hills in search of the springtime crocuses and found many popping up in the sunshine. The boys found a few old wolf kill bones to chew on and we were all happy to be in this place.

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New garden bed… we plan on putting up some lattice beneath the deck which would be perfect for grapevines

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The compost looks like compost!

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Look mom, one of those stupid wolves left behind this wonderful bone

Though life may seem over busy and hectic, nature and our land bring us together and remind us that all it takes is love, patience and gratitude to find the balance… and casually ignore the sh*t ton of work to do on the garden this month. Happy April!

~Katy

Wyatt vs the Wolves

*disclaimer: graphic images

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

A lone wolf caught on our game cam last May

Yesterday morning, one of my biggest farm fears was realized.

I was awoken with a call from the front door, “Katy, get up, something’s happened to Wyatt.”

Clay had gone out to start his truck for work and found Wyatt at the end of the driveway, stumbling and bleeding. Help Dad look on his face. His eyes were glazed over, he was shaking violently, had a large gash on his shoulder and puncture type wound on his back/neck area. I looked him over, noted he wasn’t actively bleeding although there was blood, quickly wrapped him in a towel and my husband rushed him to the vet clinic in town, 20 minutes away. At first we couldn’t figure out what had happened. Was it a neighbor dog fight? (no… Wyatt would have won that). Did he get down to his number one arch nemeses, the horses? Coyotes? What had happened to my old man as he did his morning business? He had only been outside for 15-20 minutes.

After calling the vet clinic to give the heads up, I bundled up, grabbed my .243 and headed out to follow Wyatt’s blood trail to get a better idea on what might have happened. I followed it to the near by woods, lost it and decided to head to the corrals to see if he had taken any paths leading to the horses. Sake, our cat, decided to accompany me on this short walk and I was grateful for it. Something just didn’t feel right.

I received a text from Clay saying that Wyatt was in surgery getting stitched up and the vet stated it was an attack, multiple assailants. In that very moment, I was surrounded by the sound. The undeniable sound of a wolf howl. Multiple wolf howls – two above me and one below. I took one look at Sake and we booked it for home. I texted back with alarm “Could it have been wolves?”

“Definitely coyotes,” was the reply I received. “My Conservation Officer (CO) buddy said that if it was wolves, he wouldn’t have come back.”

After ensuring the chickens were safe and that Maynard was by my side, I heard it again. A lone howl this time, calling, calling. It was coming from our upper field. I sat and listened on the back deck for 5 minutes or so.

I called our CO friend immediately.

Once again, it was unlikely it was a wolf attack because lets face it, what dog makes it out alive. But he did mention it was weird that I thought I was hearing a wolf as he didn’t believe in coincidences. He called his father (a retired CO) to come out and told me he’d be on his way later. At least we could start to piece the puzzle together.

Meanwhile, Clay starts sending photos of Wyatt and his injuries. Something had picked him up by the back of the neck and torn all of the skin away from the muscle…The vet said he was very lucky to be alive. I knew that coyotes aren’t large enough to pick up Wyatt like that, I mean he is a tank. But it couldn’t be wolves. He wouldn’t have gotten away, right?

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Jugular puncture wounds, back of neck

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He had two drains placed on his upper back, they criss cross one another

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The third drain and retreat puncture wounds

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His back got the worst of it… good thing he’s pure muscle and super top heavy

Three drains, 10 wounds and 20+ stitches later, Wyatt came home and started to fully come out of the sedation. He was afraid and disoriented, but wagged his tail any chance he could. The retired CO arrived and said he had found two pairs of fresh wolf tracks above the house. He took a look at Wyatt’s wounds, looked at me very seriously and asked where I had lost the blood trail. I walked him out to the spot, and he immediately found what I had missed – a blood covered bush that lead through barbed wire up a path trailed with blood. Not very far from the house at all. He set off and I went inside.

He came back, quickly. It was a wolf attack. He found a fresh kill site not more than 100 yards from our house, at least three different sets of wolf tracks and he had followed their pursuit and attack on Wyatt. How he made it home, alive, we do not know. It kept being repeated – he is very lucky to be alive.

So, we assume Wyatt was on his morning rounds and went to check out the new smells and the raven party, only to find some not very nice creatures on the other side.

The retired CO spent the rest of the day tracking on the property, I ended up seeing one grey wolf cross our upper field, but we didn’t have much luck catching the buggers. Wyatt was in a lot of pain and really freaked out, but was starting to come out of shock. Our CO friend showed up at the house and he and Clay were ready to hunt. Following the blood trail to the kill site is the second eeriest moment of that day for me, the first, y’know, that whole being surrounded by wolves thing. Still sends shivers down my spine.

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Wyatt’s journey home

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The kill site, a mule deer

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Yep, that’s our house from the kill site…

Although they staked out the kill site, no wolves returned. Clay set up the game cam and we got to witness the coyotes and ravens clean up the site. More fresh wolf tracks today to go along with the howling I heard throughout the night, but still no actual sightings close enough for a shot. Wyatt had a terrible night, I think part pain, part trauma, but we got through it. Nothing like sleeping on the floor holding your dogs paw just to let him know you’re there and that he is safe. He’s a hero in my book… thank god he found them first. I can’t imagine if I’d been doing chores and stumbled across them unarmed or if I had to go look for him and found a bigger mess than I was prepared to tangle with…. he came home, he came to warn us. My heart breaks for him, but am I am so so happy that he came home. How? We will never know, but he definitely earned his “bad ass farm dog” award. He didn’t give up, he didn’t submit, he didn’t lay down, he has two bad hips and a bad knee and still ran like hell… He won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon, but that’s just fine with me. He has also once again lived up to his Wyatt Earp namesake, the baddest doggy in the west. I guess that makes Maynard your huckleberry…

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I took Maynard up to the site this morning to take some photos and check the game cam. He smelled out his brothers trail immediately and led me the entire way through it

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One of the smaller wolf tracks on site

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Nothing left but the carcass and bones after the coyotes and the ravens got to it

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It seems so small

Today is a new day. Wyatt is alive and we are on the hunt. For those of you who may feel sorry for the wolves and think it is not right that we kill them, please remember that the safety of myself and my family is at stake. I refuse to walk around my property being afraid of the big bad wolf. I will not constantly look over my shoulder, or worry that one of the dogs, chickens, horses could be killed at any moment because wolves are in our territory. We share this land, but we must stake claim to what is our safety zone. I’ve run across countless kills on my hikes/walks/skis and never once felt in danger as they were not 100 yards away from my house. I have no problem staking claim on our homestead and defending my brave dog, frankly it would be stupid not to. He lived to tell the tale for a reason. The night is dark and full of terrors, but Mama’s got her .243 and she’s not ashamed to use it.

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“I’m your huckleberry”

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Everything is pretty swollen, but draining well

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The criss-crossed drains

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Fraken-doggy

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It’s going to be a long road ahead…

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Happy to be here with Mama… I think he just might make it

Keep you dogs safe and your guns close folks, homesteading is not for the faint of heart.

And wolves… we’re coming for you. I hope Wyatt got a chunk or two for himself.

Now, if I could only get the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack out of my head when I am walking the property, that would be great.

Thanks to all who sent prayers, concerns and well wishes – Wyatt knows he is very loved.

~Katy