Last Day of February

Ever have one of those months where all you can think is “holy shit, I made it!”??
Yep, that was February for me.
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But today is the last day, I’m almost ready to fire up the grow lights…
Oh.
Wait.
So I’m sending Hubby out on a mission tomorrow. Because my stand for growing seedlings isn’t big enough.
And I always end up with some in the library window, with a hanging lamp that doesn’t have enough light to keep the plants from getting long and leggy before planting.
Thanks to the google, I discovered the Home Depot here in Canada has a led light fixture that is a grow light.
Probably designed for the folks who want to grow pot (because that’s legal here now) but hey…it works for us gardening folks.
So I’m sending Hubby out to buy me one tomorrow after work.
And then, if that works, I’ll send him back for another 2 of them.
And we’ll build one of the shelving units we have in boxes in the basement and hook up lights for 3 shelves and then I’ll have 2 plant stands and 4 shelves to grow seedlings!
Not that I’m excited about growing seedling for the garden or anything…
Oh no.
Not me.
Not even a little bit.
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Okay…maybe a little bit.

We’re a week into the first round of incubation.
I haven’t candled the eggs yet.
Maybe tonight, if I remember.
Not sure how many are going to be good…I had to collect for 6 days before I had enough, which is longer than I like to collect eggs for.
After that polar vortex ripped through here, the hens were withholding eggs like crazy.
Down from 60ish a day to 8…if I was lucky.
They’re on the upswing now, which is good because in 2 weeks Ima need aaaaallllll the greens and blues they’ll give me.
I always collect as many of those as I can for hatching, then fill in with the browns.
Those genetic egg pictures tell me my big roos from brown eggs crossed on blue and green egg layers should give me more green eggs…
I love me some colour in my egg basket.
πŸ˜‰

This is Miracle the Rooster…and nice side eye from that black hen there…πŸ™„

See? Big rooster.
This guy’s name is Miracle.
He came to us a year ago on NYE with 2 other boys and a group of hens.
A friend needed to rehome her birds and asked if I was interested.
Yup!
Now, this guy and his 2 brothers were originally called Larry, Darryl and Darryl (google it if you don’t get the reference πŸ˜‰ ), but this summer and fall we had no end of trouble with that damn coyote.
Bastard got the other Darryl and we thought got this Darryl too…
Until the evening (because that stinking coyote was brazen enough to be picking my birds off in the middle of the damn day!) and we were bbq’ing and my Kid goes dashing off the deck yelling “rooster!!”
And I’m like “wtf?!?” as she runs to the pasture fence, climbs over, then climbs back with this rooster in her arms…well, he was short some tail feathers and he was definitely in shock, but we couldn’t find any other injuries on him.
So we banded his leg and re-named him Miracle because it’s a damn miracle he got away from the coyote!
Lemme tell ya, he’s a lot more careful how far he lets his hens go and he sure does make sure they listen and scuttle their feathered butts back to safety the *second* he says so…
He’s a lucky boy to still be alive and he knows it!
Hopefully he teaches the other roosters to be just as diligent with their ladies.
(though thankfully we haven’t seen Wile E since the last time we fired shots at his rear end…)

So we’re ready for March.
Looks like it’s coming in like a Lamb, and I’ll be expecting it to go out like one too.
Either way, we’re ready for spring, for building, for gardening, for the growing season overall.

And maybe a nap or two too. πŸ˜‰

When Plans Go Awry

Happens a lot with equines and cameras.
I had a plan for a photoshoot this past weekend, because our Sable and our Kid both turned 20 on Friday.
Now, keep in mind, my Kid hates having her picture taken.
But I keep saying, at least 1 time a year she has to do a photoshoot of some sort with Sable.
Because she ain’t getting any younger and she’s already retired with arthritis and one day, we’re gonna have to face the worst decision ever.

Until then, though…
Pictures.

So I had a plan (I ain’t sharing what it is yet, because we’re gonna try again).
But then the wind came up, and snowmobilers were zipping up and down the road (can’t blame ’em, it was a lovely day out and their season will be ending soon) and her herd mates were being colossal dinks…

And this is how my plan ended up…note, this was *NOT* a part of my plan.
At.
All.

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Miss prancy dancy pants…

Finally!

We have emerged from the polar vortex!
And I am happy about that.
Boy am I happy about that!
Weather sure has been challenging humans across North America this month.
I feel for those caught up in patterns that they don’t normally deal with.
It’s easy for those of us with cold experience to sit back and say shitty things (please don’t do that, ‘kay?) but the fact is, even we get slammed with hard-to-deal-with weather.
So before you make some joke about Texas or any of the southern States dealing with cold and snow and no power and frozen pipes, remember, “there but for the grace of God go I…”
We just came out of -50*c weather…imagine if we’d lost power!
I can’t even.
So just try to remember to be kind.
That’s it.
Don’t be shitty and be kind.

Today, as I type this, we’re at -13*c.
After the past 2 weeks that positively t-shirt weather.
And I’m thankful for it.
So are the horses, the hens, the turkeys and the ducks…oh and the cats.
It was so bad there for awhile we were feeding jar after jar after jar of wet food to them, just so they had enough.
Normally a 1/2 pint is a good supplement to their kibble.
They went through a case of 12 in 2 days!
But, food keeps furnaces stoked, and wet food helps keep kitties hydrated.
So I feed ’em.
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But it also means we’re running low on homemade cat food, so Hubby went and bought a few big cans to have on hand, just in case.
And come fall, I’ll just do a few extra jars, bigger jars, to make sure everyone has enough.

Meat birds are ordered.
I added an extra 25 meat chickens, so we’ll be getting 75 chickens and 10 turkey poults.
So. Many. Birds.
Though chicken math means it’s really not more than 12.
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And I’m thinking I might fire up the incubators this weekend.
If I start this weekend, I can get 2 full hatches in before the one hatch that needs to coincide with the arrival of the meat birds.
I ain’t downsizing the amount of birbs I hatch, let me tell ya!!
Hatching out as many as I possibly can.

Hubby brought home the first bag of potting soil yesterday.
And a pouch of fava bean seeds.
I’ve never grown fava beans before, so I had to read up on them.
Turns out the entire plant is edible, so yay for that!
And with today’s trip to the post office, I’ll have the seeds I need to get the garden going as soon as I can.
Whew!
It’s gonna be a lot of beans, tomatoes, carrots, peas and beets this year.
Stuff we eat a lot of, stuff I can a lot of for winter.
As excited as I am to get growing, I’m tired just thinking about the work too.
lol

Ooooh, I told y’all I was pondering extra apple and saskatoons?
Yup, those are ordered too.
The Food Forest is expanding!
And for the last few nights, I’ve having vivid Dreams about cutting hay.
Oh, I can’t *wait* to get scythe in hand and cut hay again!

But for now, I’m just thankful for the warmer weather, that we made it through the coldest snap we’ve had in a very long time, and that Spring is coming.

Our 3 chubby monkeys, who are doing so well this year…even with record breaking cold!

Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

Food Security

I have been writing this post, in some form or another, for months.
I keep shelving it, because…I don’t know…
In a previous blog, in my city life, I wrote about food security a lot.
This isn’t something new to me.
This isn’t a new sudden fad laden passion.
Food security has been an issue on my radar, on my plate, for quite literally years.
And I’m gonna say this point blank now…

Y’all got to get right with your food supplies.

Not now, but yesterday.
I ain’t even kidding when I say there’s some scary shit going on with the food supply and it’s going to get way worse before it gets better.
Abattoirs are shutting down due to covid.
Even a brief shut down creates a shortage until they get caught back up.
It also leaves farmers in limbo with animals that need to go into the food system.
If there’s no where to ship them to be processed to hit the store shelves, what do you do?
Especially when the next round of animals is coming up to go into the slot where your to-be-shipped animals are?
It’s a delicate dance, getting enough food out to the masses and disruptions cause massive issues.
Now, this is a huge problem with centralized abattoirs.
When you shut down smaller plants across the country to create bigger plants in only a few locations…well, shortages can happen easy effing peasy.

Now, I’m sure some are out there saying “well, eat less meat”.
Sure.
But you all realize that the bulk of on farm workers when it comes to vegetable/grain harvesting is migrant workers right?
Even in Canada?
Which is why we had such issues with veggies on store shelves over the summer, because covid made getting the migrant workers here an issue.
Yes, yes, yes, Canadians *could* do the jobs.
But, let’s be brutally honest here…
1. Many Canadians are not willing to do the back breaking work in the fields.
Like it or not, that’s just how it is.
2. The pay ain’t great. Again, like it or not, the pay just isn’t as good as it should be.
And we’re ***ALL*** responsible for that.
Why?
Because no one wants to pay enough for their fruits and veggies that would be the equivalent of a fair wage for workers and farmers both.
So, cheap food for consumers has a cost.
A human cost.
I’ve said it many times…cheap on the shelf ain’t cheap.
Someone, or something, is still paying the cost so you can have cheap.
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So I’ll say it again:

Get right with your food supply.

Get to know local farmers, plant a garden, grow everything you can, put up as much as you can, buy local, support local, investigate the 100 mile diet.
Honest to Dog, you can’t afford not to.

Chicken pic just because…

It’s That Time Of Year

Oh boy oh boy…
I’m soooooo itchy to get things going!
The only thing keeping me from firing up the incubators is the darn cold.
*Still* under an extreme cold watch.
It’s been 10 days straight.
That’s just crazy.
Hopefully tonight it’ll end…tomorrow?
Soon. It’s gotta end soon.

But here I’m thinking about ordering my meat chicks.
In fact, this week I have to buy layer feed again.
With this cold, the birbs are blowing through feed like crazy.
Like.
Crazy.
3 25kg bags typically go 2 1/2-3 weeks.
Pfft.
I think we’re at a week and a half, and we’re gonna need for this weekend.
So, yeah…effing cold.
When I place my next feed order, I’ll order my meat chickens and 10 white turkeys.
Now that I have a better grasp on raising turkeys, I figure I should be able to raise the whites.
Hopefully.
Looking forward to putting a whole bunch of turkey into the freezer.
🀀🀀🀀

And once the order goes in, Hubby has his orders for building.
We need a whole separate brooder for turkeys.
The biggest thing we did wrong last year was not keep them in the brooder with high protein feed longer.
My Narragansett crew did ah-mazing staying in the brooder for almost 4 months before getting outdoor time.
And I tell you, they are hardy af!
This cold snap, they’ve been out doing turkey races over the snow drifts like maniacs!
So hopefully they breed and lay like nuts come spring time, because we need more of them. πŸ˜‰
But whites are a raise for meat, short season bird only.
So they’ll spend a good long time in the brooder, then get some outdoor free ranging time away from chickens before going to Freezer Camp.
And we can’t have them tying up the brooder that cycles chicken chicks through it throughout the summer…which means building work for Hubby…well, all of us, really.

Then we needs a shelter in the old pig yard for ducks.
We’re changing that yard from pigs to the ducks full time.
We’ll rip out the pallet fence, replace it with stucco wire, and put up some windbreak boards as well.
We’re looking at making it the year round duck yard, so we have to account for the snow that blows in there.
To go with the new shelter (that we’ll be able to lock ducks in at ight to protect them from coyotes) we’re planning on a few broody boxes…that can also be closed up at night to protect broody ducks and their eggs from predators.
This is the design I’m thinking about:

Image shamelessly stolen from Google.

I want to make those fronts removable though, so that once ducklings hatch, Mama Ducks can take them out and teach them all the things bebes need to be taught.
But those fronts would be easy to close up to protect everyone too…

And it’s almost time to start pepper seeds.
I just need a bag (or two) of potting soil to get going.
Peppers take longer than tomatoes to start, so they’ll be going in the next week.
Than ground cherries.
If the damn things will ever germinate for me.
πŸ™„
They are sooooo tasty, and supposed to be super prolific. But I can’t get even 1 seed to start.
Stupid things.
I’ll try again, because I have the seeds, but I might through them in the garden and see if they’ll volunteer if nothing happens indoors.

And that’s where we’re at.
I’m itching to get busy, but it’s not quite time, and we’re not quite ready.
Sooooooooon, though.
Very, very soon.
πŸ™‚

Ruby says this cold snap is equine excrement. I agree.

Thankful Thursday

Yeah, today is thankful Thursday.
I’m not feeling extremely thankful today though…

It’s cold.
It’s day I-don’t-even-know-any-more of extreme cold warnings. Which means it’s much colder than typical for this time of year.
I guess Mother Nature is catching us up for the nice weather we had back in December and January.
There’s always a cost, right?

So that hay we’ve been doing so well on?
Blowing through a bale every 3ish days.
But mares gotta eat, or they don’t stay warm.
A cold horse in this weather dies.
Not on my fucking watch, if I can help it.
So eating my Merry Mares have been.
And then there’s the waterer…*sigh*
I feel like it’s always something, know what I mean?
The winds were savage for a while, and the damn thing kept freezing over.
And then it froze at the spigot.
That means standing there in the freezing cold, with a hair dryer to thaw it…with 3 toddlers dying of thirst, even though I just brought them buckets of warm water from the house to drink, but they be dyin’ and I be cryin’ because my hands are cold and I’m hopin’ I can get the water running before the hair dryer conks out…
*sigh*
Get horses, she thought…
It’ll be fun, she thought…
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
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Egg production is waaaaaaay down too.
Where I was getting 50-60 eggs a day, now I’m getting 8. If I’m lucky.
People want eggs.
I don’t have much eggs.
I’m just barely making regulars and that’s because I had some stocked up from last week…but now we’re low because 8 effing eggs a day.
60ish hens.
But they’re eating and drinking and trying to stay warm.
Ain’t so easy even with a heat lamp and deep straw.

Today we found we’d lost a duck baby.
Again it’s the cold.
We can feed ’em, we can make sure there’s fresh water, and draft free coops and heat lamps and damn if some aren’t gonna just die on us anyways.
But ya sure feel like shit when it happens.

And then, just to cap off the craptastic shitstorm that is February, I have to go to the dentist.
While to some that’s not a big deal, for some of us it is.
I have a tooth that has to come out, but need a dentist that won’t make me wear a mask (got that) and will let my Hubby in the room too (can’t do that yet…fuck the govt, because it’s their shit restrictions) because y’all….this woman does not do well without her support person…
So I get to stay living with this fucking thing until the shitty restrictions open up enough that I can have my person in the room while having the dental work done.
Looking at the way the hand wringing from the “experts” is going, that oughta be sometime in 2037.
Think I’ll just tie a string to the tooth, tie the other end to Ruby’s halter and give my girl a big ol’ smack on the bum…that oughta yob that fucker right out of my mouth.
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And if I die, they can list me as a covid death.

I guess I should still be thankful…
My Hubby is still working and is able to get his teeth fixed (thank goodness! he’s had problems with his mouth since I’ve known him).
We have plenty of food in the house.
The house is warm.
We’re still able to share our bounty with those who need it.
All in all, as frustrated and cold and tired as we are, we’re still grateful for all that we have.

But for this weekend, I’m just done.

Here’s a picture of cats…Hobbes in front, Trouble in back.

Sharing with Sandee at Comedy Plus and Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯Ά

Holy.
Frickin’.
Moly.

I wasn’t kidding when I said this weekend was gonna be cold, but I think Mother Nature done outdid herself!
We are currently sitting at -31*c, feeling like -45*c at 11:30am.
Yikes!
And it’s looking like it’s going to last for a few more days yet.
Gross.

But that’s winter on the prairies in Canada.
Cold. A.F.

The horses have blazed through a bale in 3 days.
Yeah, that’s normally a 8-10 day thing…but they stay warm by eating.
And eating they have been!
Plus they get their daily pail of yummyness…and we’re adding oats too…but of course, our poor CinderBella has problems with her jaw, right?

It ain’t easy being the horse with arthritis in her jaw…poor dear. ❀

So oats don’t really soften in the pail of beet pulp and it’s been getting hard for her to finish her pail before it freezes.
Yeah, it’s that damn cold!
So I’m on the hunt for a complete feed that I can add to her pail for that extra ooomph they need come cold snaps, that’s 1. easy for her to chew/breaks down in the soaking water (beet pulp has to be soaked for horses to eat) b. has no soy or alfalfa in it so I can give it to Astrid too and 3. is economical.
*sigh*
Dietary issues with equines.
That’s my life. lol
I thank Epona for my easy peasy lemon squeezy gimme beer ’cause Ima slightly alcoholic fat girl Ruby.
That painted bitch is so easy to feed and I’m so grateful for that! Whatever feed I find, she’ll eat noooooo problems. πŸ˜‰ ❀

So with this cold, the urge to order the seeds I need for the garden were strong.
Driving me bat crap crazy strong. lol
So I had a discussion with Hubby about using his credit card to place the order…he said “it’s in my wallet…do what you need to do.”
So I did.
But when I logged into West Coast Seeds, I found that half my shopping cart was now sold out.
Which made me panic again.
*sigh*
My brain is so very broken some days.
I grabbed my stack of seed catalogs, and used the πŸ¦†πŸ¦†goooooo! to find someone who had the seeds I wanted.
I finally hit on McKenzie Seeds.
They had everything except for the johnny-jump-ups and the ancho pepper seeds.
Score!
So I ordered what I needed.
Then hit up a local nursery to find my rhubarb…and then made a list of plants from there I want to add to the medicinal garden areas. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Oh and a friend wanted to order from the Prairie Shelterbelt Program, which give us access to a lot of trees for a lot less than local nursery costs…and she asked if I wanted in on the order so that we (along with a few others) could keep admin and shipping costs down.

Done!!

So in May I’ll have 10 Siberian Crabapple trees and 10 saskatoon bushes coming.
I haven’t figured out 100% where I’m putting them yet, but since they’re in the 12″-24″ size range, I can pot them up for a year or two if I have to…
Food forest, here we grow!!

Today Hubby is clearing the driveway.
Hopefully with the crazy stupid winds it won’t blow back in.
Ugh.
The wind really is the worst.
The cold you can work in, but combine the cold with 70km/hr winds?
You just can’t dress warm enough for that.
So he’s just doing a quick pass so that hopefully he can get out in the morning for work.
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We’ll just have to see what happens.

Fuck I hate winter.
I understand and recognize Mother Earth’s need for all of Her seasons, but I don’t have to like this.
This dog however…

This dog and her log love the cold weather…

She’s a special one, this nutcase.
She likes the cold, she likes the snow, she loves her log.
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Oh Look…It’s February

Welp, that escalated quickly, didn’t it?
New year, then all of a sudden it’s February.
And yet, it still felt like the longest January ever.
We sure enjoyed the nice days we had.
Didn’t care for the crazy cold ones though…of course, I never do, but I recognize that our climate needs that cold time for the Earth to reset Herself for the coming growing season.

Last month we sold 36 dozen eggs.
No joke, the hens have been blasting them out.
For which I’m glad because I’m sure I gave away that many eggs too.
See, we’re still in “code red lockdown” here.
And no matter how I feel about that, I know that for some that means putting food on their tables is that much harder to do.
Not everyone is “lucky” enough to be considered “essential” by our oh-so-benevolent govt πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ™„ and not everyone has the ability to work from home.
I am always and forever a person who will hand food off to people who need it when I can…and I try to make sure it’s done in a way that it doesn’t look or feel like charity.
No one wants be treated like a charity case.
But I’ve had extra lately and a few people have come to my attention about needing, so Hubby and I have been porch dropping bundles of food when we can.
I don’t say any of that for accolades. I don’t want that.
I just want people to be able to eat.
And if they can, pay it forward when they can.

Anyways, we sold a lot of eggs.
And from those sales, I shared half the money we earned with Can Praxis.
Now, another thing this entire pandemic thing has done is beat the crap out of fundraising for groups that rely on donations.
Can Praxis uses equine therapy to help veterans, first responders and their families manage PTSD.
They rely on donations a lot.
I am happy to have been able to send them a little money.

Now, once I get things settled out with my credit card…
Oh yeah, some douchnozzle stole my credit card number and went on a shopping spree last year and I’ve been working on getting it straightened out…in the mean time, I have no credit card to use to purchase my seeds for the garden. Joy! But thankfully the credit card company has been easy to work with and hopefully in the next couple of weeks it’ll all be sorted…
But until then, this months egg money over and above feed costs is going into *MY* food security…aka my seed order. lol
Once that’s done, I have another place in mind (or 2 or 3) to share our egg money with to help others.
❀

In other news…
4 weeks.

It’s 4 weeks until we start the incubators.
Whew!
And then the work begins.
We have to build a couple more brooders.
Plus we have to build a couple broody boxes for the duck hens, so that when they decide that it’s time for bebes they can do so without being bothered and are safe.
We’re looking at the end of April for meat chicks and white turkey poults.
And then there’s turkey eggs to hatch as soon as they start laying…
So yeah, brooders to build.
Thankfully the source of free building materials is still an option and Hubby has been stopping every darn chance he gets to pick things up.

Oooooh….and these 2 big boys joined our flock just over a week ago…

LemonChicken giving the 2 new boys the what fors and whys of the poultry yard…

Ain’t they handsome?
😍
They are Lavender Orpingtons.
Big boys, to breed more size into our next generation of birds.
Just like our Orpington/Wyandotte cross boys.
Big roosters with good meat to bone ratio.
Eventually I want to only be buying meat chicks to raise for sale and we eat chickens from our self sustaining flock. (We’re close to that now, just need a couple more breeding seasons to perfect my crosses.)

Yesterday was Imbolc.
That means we’re officially half way through winter.
Yay!
It also means that the nags got them the next round straw bale to explode and enjoy.
When that happens, they also get to run…because fat mares gotta get a little exercise and thy sure do know what the shakin’ of the tractor bucket means…prance, dance, run like mad whilst posing for The Food Lady to take pictures.

Running through my Capture52 “landscape” shot…brat! lol
Yeah. Tell me that Palomino doesn’t know aaallllllll about performing for the camera while running around! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So we’re at…waiting for seeds so I can start seeds…waiting for March 1st to rev up the incubators…waiting to collect enough building materials to build brooders…waiting for spring weather to get the first walls built on the greenhouse and the herbal/medicinal garden beds built…and rhubarb! Gotta get me a rhubarb plant…but gotta wait for spring.
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That’s my life folks, hurry up and wait for the busy season to start, and then the busy season hits and we don’t have time to think.
It’s all good though.
Don’t think I’m complaining. I’m not.
The only thing I’m complaining about is the impending ass numbingly cold front headed our way this weekend…oh and the govt, because I hate those bastards. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Worth a shot, doncha think?
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Sharing with Sandee at Comedy Plus for Happy Tuesday. πŸ™‚