Hope

In the depths of darkness, there is always a spark of Hope, if we are willing to see it. When we bought this place and moved out here, we were warned a few times by Hubby’s friends who farmed in their early years…Summers will give you the highest of the highs, but Winter will bring you the lowest of the lows.

It’s true, I tell you. Winter is very trying some years anyways, oh, but this year…between record snowfalls, crazy drifting and bone numbing cold, it’s been tough. This winter has definitely shown us how tough we can be!

Ah, but there is hope, like I said. We’re 2 days away from March. A few weeks into March, seed starting begins. Tomatoes, and peppers. I have a very good selection of heirloom tomato seeds to start this year. One of the plans for the farm has always been to have a small-scale heirloom seed business. Much of what I bought this year has been with that in mind, as well as, what will grow in this zone.

Cottage Gardener has been a great resource…

Seeds from The Cottage Gardener.

Seeds from The Cottage Gardener.

Included here were seeds that I must have in my garden, and, weather willing, hope to have for sale next year. Seeds like “Aunt Ruby’s German Green” tomato, and “Painted Pony” bush beans. How can I resist the Painted Pony beans? They are, in fact, named after the American Paint Horse…which I have a gorgeous speciman of out in my pasture! Yes, Cookie will become the new face of the Painted Pony Bean…at least the ones Midnight Calico Farm will have to offer. 🙂 Same with our own Ruby, she will be the face of the Aunt Ruby tomatoes.

I also bought seeds from T and T Seeds this year.

T and T seed purchase

T and T seed purchase

Giant bags of:
1. peas ~ hopefully, I’ll have enough to put some jars up this year.
2. carrots ~ I didn’t have a chance to can any carrots last year, so we’re totally out. This year, with a much bigger garden, there will be more carrots to can.
3. kidney beans ~ this is a new one for us. We love home canned kidney beans, and they are supposed to grow very well in our climate. It’s worth it, imo, to give growing them a try.

I still have some of the white carrot seeds I ordered from Baker Creek a few years back. Us humans didn’t care for them-they are a forage carrot-so I’ll grow a plot of them for the horses.

Once we start seeds, I’ll share pictures of the fantastic light stand we were gifted. We have some amazing friends, who were also neighbours in the city, and when we moved out here, this was their house-warming gift to us. I cannot wait to use it. No more kitchen table filled with seedlings, and, where we put the stand in the basement, I can close the door and keep cats out. No more vomited up tomato plants on my pillow. Yay!

In all, I have 14 varieties of tomato to start, 2 bell peppers, plus a package of mixed color bell peppers. Chances are I’ll start a few hot peppers as well, just because I love them.

Spring will also bring the chance to plant trees. Goodness gracious, we need trees! I have bought 6 different apples, 2 pears, plus 2 pollinators for the pears(which, apparently, the fruit is not tasty to humans, perhaps for horses, and later, bison?), 50 Colorado spruce, 60 white cedars, 40 Villosa lilacs, and finally, 5 poplars. I also bought 14 haskaps (honeyberry) bushes, and 2 wolfberry plants <- aka goji berries.

There will be lots and lots of planting come the spring! That’s my little spark of Hope in the darkness of this Winter. 🙂

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A Winter Whine

I know it’s been a while since I posted, and well, this post is going to be whiney. Just a warning.

We’ve had stupid cold again. The cold I can handle, it’s the blowing of the snow that gets to me. And The Kid. And most definitely, Hubby. He’s the one stuck on the tractor clearing out the driveway 3 times a week. *sigh* Enough. We’re so over and done with winter.

The Girls are eating like crazy. They can’t help it. With the cold, they need the extra food-and add in that it’s been damp too, and that means hay is going at an alarming rate! Like 800 lbs in 5 days. That’s double rations, and they’re still pawing for the stuff under the snow (they do this because they like to, not because they’re going without!).

Next week, I have another hay delivery coming. Thank goodness! Happily, this delivery is coming from the very same hay source that the stable uses. So, I know, it’s darn good hay. Problem is, with all the snow piled in the yard, I have nowhere to put it. And yet, I have to find somewhere to put it, because the Girls still have to eat.

With this ridiculous cold, and blowing snow, the Girls haven’t had their hooves done since they got here. I can’t fault the Trimmer, because she’s been busy moving snow herself, and, some of her regular clients haven’t had their trims done on time either. She’s actually full for clients, but has agreed to help us out with the girls because she has an understanding of the patience needed for some rescue horses to have trims done.

Like Cookie. That poor horse, her hooves are in such horrible shape, and I still can’t get her to lift for me. She’s getting better about not trying to bite or kick, but a lift just hasn’t happened…she needs a trim on her backs so bad. All hooves are cracked, her fronts are flaring, and her backs. Oh, by all that I hold Holy, her backs make me want to cry. I am amazed that my beautiful paint girl can walk, trot, canter, and even gallop. I am so scared at what the Trimmer is going to say when she does get here…it’s going to be months, if not a year or more, of regular trims to re-hab her hooves. And, there will be no saddle training until her hooves are healthy. All we can do is work on halter training and ground work. Though, frankly, that is a lot of work to do with her! My poor Sweet Babboo.<—-10 points goes to the first person who recognizes that reference! 😉

And finally, just to make this winter a little bit worse…

On Wednesday, Ruby stomped on Heidi-Cat. Heidi was in the hay pile, and Ruby was sniffing and snorfling her, and then, decided to paw and step on her. Heidi came away with a sore shoulder, and a bit of a limp. Then yesterday…Hubby came home to pick me up. Kid had Drama after school. It was nicer than it has been out, so Spooky and Heidi were sitting on the deck in the sunshine. What we didn’t know-and still don’t know how it was managed-was when we got into the truck to pick The Kid up at the library, we had a hitchhiker.

Coming out of the library, Hubby noticed a cat under the truck. It was Spooky. The library in town is about 15 kms away, with most of that being highway! Kid caught him, and we left. It wasn’t until we got home, we realized Heidi was missing. We think she and Spooky may have gone on their “grand adventure” together.

So, now our Heidi-Cat is missing. We’ve posted flyers, called both the library, and the local vet. I’ve posted on Facebook, and it’s been shared all over the place. We’re just hoping, because Heidi is so friendly, that someone has picked her up…and that they see our flyers, and she comes home.

This winter needs to end, because I don’t think I can take much more. 😦

Shoveling Sh**

With any farm that has livestock, there is an abundance of shit. This week’s job was to clear away as much as possible from around the feeders, and inside the shelter. I started Monday, where I moved approximately 500lbs of shit and hay. Then, having seen Sable bang her head on the shelter doorway, I spent 3 hours chopping the snow/shit/urine pack from the shelter entrance. I have more of that to do yet, but I’m going to make kissy faces at Hubby to help me. We have an old mining pick that he swings much harder than I do…if he’ll use that to break it up, I can shovel it away.

The girls, of course, mill around and watch the removal of their waste, and act like they’re losing gold. Everyone wants to see the wheelbarrow, everyone wants to stand beside me(even Cookie!), and everyone wants to be sure I don’t take away their good stuff!

Finally, I got 98% of it cleaned up(it keeps regenerating!), and then the girls could relax.

Astrid

Astrid

That’s the current pile of shit and hay. Underneath that is the packed down stuff from earlier this winter. In the spring, Hubby will go in with the tractor, scrape it all out and we’ll build a compost pile outside the pasture. Can’t do it now, because we can’t get the tractor into the pasture. After some time composting, it will be fantastic for the garden…and anyone in Manitoba that wants some, is welcome to come get it! I’ll give you a shovel, and you can fill as many bags, or pails you want. Have a truck? Hubby will use the tractor and fill the back for you. 🙂

This is why there is hay in the shit pile.

This is why there is hay in the shit pile.

My dear horse believes that hay is the best bedding ever! To be fair, she does seem to have some claustrophobia issues, so lying in the shelter is *not* something she’ll do. She rarely goes in, but will stand in the doorway while the others are in…she always needs to have a clear escape route, my Girl does. *shrug* A girl has to lay down sometimes, why not in your food?

Relaxing in the sun.

Relaxing in the sun.

She’s relaxed enough here, though, that I’m able to be right next to her while she lays down. I even went right to her and offered her a hay pellet. She didn’t want it, she just wanted to doze, but it was a clear indicator of trust, that she didn’t feel the urge to get up and move away.

Astrid dozing.

Astrid dozing.

This picture does not do Astrid justice. She’s a really beautiful girl, and such a sweetheart. She’s so red right now, and I can’t wait to see her shed out of her winter coat!

The Blonde Girl and The Paint

The Blonde Girl and The Paint

I love that…The Blonde Girl and The Paint…makes me think of a title of an old spaghetti western. LOL! I want to write a children’s book, and use it as a title…perhaps it’ll be about bullying, and how a new horse tries to fit into the herd in her new home. 😉

Love PonyOne more of my girl, dozing…can you find the surprise in the hay? There’s 2 of them. 😉