Memories, Dreams and Reflections 2018

Every New Year’s Eve I try to do a recap post.
This year, I’m revisiting Ashley Sisk’s Memories Dreams and Reflections prompts.
Yeah, the post is from 2015, but the prompts are the same.
And they’re a fun way to see what 2018 was like here on the Farm…

So, let’s get to it, because this is gonna get long.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Me

If you’ve been here for any length of time, you know, I’m behind the camera 99.9% of the time, so there’s not too many shots with me in them…but this one I took for an Instagram challenge, where I had to show myself in the midst of a farm chore…

Ruby’s dainty hoof…

What better than a foot/hoof selfie with Ruby?

I Love You

How could I not love these 3?

Kid and her Sable ❀

And this…I ❀ this image…and these 2.

Still Laughing

MCFHubby and Astrid

It started out as a normal ride…and ain’t little Miss Astrid just the prettiest damn thing ever?

But then, things went a wee bit wrong…
See, that lead rope got tangled in the bail, Hubby pulled and the end snapped poor little Miss on the bum…

And then, as she tried to go forward, Hubby squeezed with his legs trying to hold on, while pulling her head around…and Astrid said “Listen, I had enough. Get. Off. Me.”

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Okay, so it wasn’t funny ’til we knew they were both okay, but we’re still laughing about it, because mixed messages with equines all too often means eating dirt.
Oh and Hubby ate dirt…

Winter Wonderland

January 28th, 2018
First day I picked up my camera in months, and finally started to become myself again.

Beautiful Girl ❀

Astrid having a nap in the snow of our winter wonderland.

Birthday

So May 21st was supposed to be a Certain Girl’s 13th birthday.
I had planned out a shoot a year prior for it, and well, even though she wasn’t with us anymore, we went ahead with it anyways…

We let her herdmates enjoy the carrot cake in her honor…

He mighta smooshed it into her muzzle a wee bit…being it’s a cake smash and all… πŸ˜‰

Ruby’s turn…

And then Hubby set the cake down, so all 3 could enjoy it at once…

“CAAAAAAKKKKEEE!”

Friends

2018 was a year of getting to do some great photography work with friends…

Shaila of Pugtail Photography

The Cream 1/2 of Cookie’n’Cream Photography

We shot train robberies together…

Gentle giant Clyde, meeting one of his adoring fans…

And we shot images for a calendar…

Oooooh, scary ghost!
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚


Looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings, collaboration wise!

I Was Inspired

Inspiration was hard-fought in 2018.
But I managed a few inspirational (to me) images…

This was my “Until We Meet Again” image…

It took a bottle of whiskey and a whole lot of tears to create.
Afterwards, my heart was so much lighter.
I just really needed a way to express my grief and say goodbye.
This was it.
❀


And then for Hallowe’en (and ultimately the anniversary of her death) Hubby helped me create this image.
Cookie’s skull, in sunlight, under our tree.
❀

Spring Fever

Chicks!

The perfect photographic depiction of spring fever…18 little balls of feathers that lived in my bathroom for a few weeks, ’til they could go out to the coop.

Travel or Vacation

Having started an Instagram account for Ruby, The Painted Unicorn, we found a toy to represent her as we traveled here and there…because The Painted Unicorn Ruby has to stay home and guard the beer and food, while DecoyRuby goes out and is social. πŸ˜‰

Summer Days

Gone fishin’

Friend Will’s giant fish. πŸ˜‰

The Palomino Princess at sunrise…

Getting her teeth done…

Bird watching

A Day in My Life

Sunrise photoshoots…


Staff meetings…


Dogs with sticks…


Finding stray nests…

16 eggs!!

Feeding baconators…

nom nom nom
This good stuff, Food Lady!

Bobbing for apples…


Getting sick babies well again…

Drugged for x-rays…

And photos taken as the sun sinks down…

All Smiles

I just can’t help but smile at this one…
She’s sleeping, snoring, licking and running all while flat out.
❀

Autumn Harvest

look at all the tomatoes on there!

Helper chicken

Garden tomatoes…

Our garden did it’s best since moving here.
So many tomatoes, beans, beets, carrots…
As well as other yummy things.
It was a prosperous growing season for sure!

Home


This just says “home” to me…
There’s no words to explain why. It just does.

Celebrate

Yule pictures!
πŸ˜‰

Let’s Do It Again


Let’s nap in the grass…


Doze in the rising sun light…


Enjoy the splendor of an early sunrise…

I Miss You

Always and forever…

❀

Until we meet again…

❀

I will miss you until the end of time.

“Oh! Hey Mama…whatcha doin'”
~Cookie

There is never a day where I’m not thinking of you.

Beautiful

This…

And this…

And this…

Dress Up

Aside from Yule pictures with the lights, I don’t think I did any dress up kinda shoots with my animals this year.
So, for this one you get Dukey…an elder mini gentleman who lives at West Wind Stables.

See?
How adorable is he?

Macro

I got nothin’ macro from this year.
Not sure I even used that lens for anything other than a few portraits.
This one is an older shot, trying to convince Cookie to wear a Canada Day headband.
It didn’t work.
πŸ˜‰
But those whiskers…and that muzzle.
❀

“So scary smelling. Can’t let this any closer to me. Sorry Mama.” ~Cookie

Holidays

The holidays can be rough, y’know?
Especially when you’re a famous unicorn.
That’s why you have your very own masseuse…or in this case, a cat-sseuse…to massage out all those tight, achy muscles while your herdmate tried to push in and get a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for herself.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚


And then, once everything’s loose, it’s time to go to work…them pretty holiday photos ain’t gonna make themselves happen.
πŸ˜‰

My Favorite

My Remembrance Day shots…


For the simplicity, the beauty and because I let myself just follow my camera.

Don’t Ever Change

Don’t ever change, my RubyGirl.
You keep your headstrong, boss bitch attitude.
It’s one of the main reasons I love you and why I love working with you…and it makes for grand photos!

Just Because…So There!

Hopes and Dreams

As always, we have big Dreams here at Midnight Calico Farm.
This past year we got a little closer to stocking the pantry shelves to acceptable levels, as I got back into canning.
While our pigs didn’t grow as well as we’d hoped (they arrived way too late for them to get as big as we like them), I did find a fantastic deal on Muscovy ducks, both for the freezer and for eggs and meat next year.


I hope y’all will stick with us, as we grow and learn from our mistakes.
And I promise, I’ll try harder to put up posts more often.
Life has slowly returned to center.
It’s been a long road.
I’m ready for 2019.

Happy New Year!

πŸ’–πŸ–€πŸ’–
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First Snowstorm on the Farm

It wasn’t a huge storm, but just enough to cover the Farm in white and make having to pull the tractor out to clear it away necessary.
Hubby will do that in the morning, while I can up some kidney beans…I’m 33 jars away from putting up 300 for 2018.
Looking forward to what I can do in 2019 when I have a full year to work with. πŸ™‚

While things are quiet, I’m working on my design for this year’s Christmas picture with the Merry Mares.
I didn’t do one last year (no surprise there) but I have an idea in mind for this year (and next) so I hope to get ‘er done tomorrow.
It’s supposed to be chilly, but the sun will be out and there’s not supposed to be any wind.
So nags must make with the pretties.

Our CinderBella is doing pretty darn good.
Had a few days where she needed previcox to ease the aches and pains of the arthritis, but things settled down for her as the weather did.
I was worried about how her jaw would handle the hay…but as long as she has enough to chew all night she does great.
It’s when they run out that her jaw stiffens up and she doesn’t want to eat. Of course, the best way to loosen things up *is* to eat, but horses don’t understand that. All she knows is it hurts.

So, we’ve gotten a big round bale of oat straw from friends, and that’s going out in the pasture for everyone to chew on as they please.
It’s taken us a bit to figure out exactly how to put it out for the nags…
I can’t put a round out in a feeder, because Sable.
I can’t just put the round out and let them eat, because it’s net wrapped and because Sable.
I don’t want to roll it out and have them using it as a toilet, because while there’s not a ton of feed value to it, there is roughage and chew/entertainment value, which makes a huge difference a. for arthritic jaws, and b. when it’s really effing cold (because horses keep warm by eating).

Finally, we hit upon 2 med. squares as the base, and the round placed flat on top. Cut the net wrap and let ’em chew.
That way they don’t soil the whole amount and they can pull off what they want to eat.
Fingers crossed this works well for our Sable.
The other two are so chunky…lol!
And, considering we’re headed into the coldest part of winter, fat ponies is no bad thing. πŸ˜‰
We can whip ’em back into shape come spring.

Holy December 18th Already!!

Time flies when you’re having fun…
Or working your ass off.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Since I last posted…

~Hubby filled his deer tag. So I took 2 days to process her for the freezer, make soups for the shelf, make cat food for the outdoor cats…
~I happily photographed the Christmas photos for charity at the stable my Kid takes lessons at.
~We waited on pins and needles while Hubby’s work negotiated a new contract with the union…and after the first offer was rejected and a strike vote called, we worried about what that would mean for us…thankfully, a second offer was accepted and we now have a contract.
~I continued to put jars of food up on the shelf…and still have more to do. I tell ya, no such thing as “canning season” ’round here!
~We finished sending everyone to Freezer Camp that was meant to go there. Pigs, chickens, ducks, and 2 deer fill our freezers beautifully for the winter. And I currently have a huge pot of duck stock going on the stove so I can put up jars of duck soup.

Oh, and my oven element crapped out…
It’s an easy fix, once I find the part # and send Hubby shopping.
Just need time to do that. πŸ˜‰

We took Ruby’s Inner Unicorn on a road trip…
We call her “DecoyRuby”.
Ruby needs a decoy to travel so that no one steals the majesty that is The Painted Unicorn. Plus, with a decoy, she can stay home and guard her food.

On the road again…

While out and about she found a kissing booth, with the cutest little guy hanging out in it.

“Oh, hello Handsome!”

He wasn’t impressed with her majesticness, and didn’t want anything to do with her.

See?
How adorable is he?

No wonder DecoyRuby was smitten with him!

BUT WAIT!!!

Let’s not forget about this:


When you get a couple of photographers together with some crazy (in a good way) horse ladies, some handsome young fellas and some super lucky horses, this ^^^ is what happens…

And, y’all can get you one, for the amazingly low price of $20 (plus shipping, if needed). All monies go towards health care and food for the equines.
Go to the Blackbird Ranch Equine Rescue and Rehab page on FB (where there are previews of the images inside) and order yourself one…
Trust me, you need this calendar in your life!
πŸ™‚

November…

How?
How can it be November already?
I feel like this summer, this fall have gone by so fast.
Never enough time to get it all done, still so much left to do before winter sets in for real…

This week alone:

Hubby and I filled my deer tag. (Yay!)
The 3 of us did the cut/wrap on the deer for the freezer.
I put up 10 quarts of chicken soup.
I canned a canner load of cat food from scraps from chicken butchering.
We moved a building…I have pictures of that to come!
We bottled the apple raspberry wine.
Started a concord grape wine.
Discovered yet another place where one of our hens is hiding eggs…she wants to raise chicks sooooo bad! I hope she’s the same way come spring. πŸ™‚

That’s on top of the regular stuff…
Hubby still went to work every day.
Kiddo still did school, plus her extra curriculars.
I still ran around after the animals here and made sure they were all healthy, while taking pictures and doing edits.

So we’re tired.
But it’s a good tired. πŸ˜‰

And now, we’re coming up fast on 1 year…
And my heart.
Sweet Epona, my heart…

❀

I still miss her so, so much.
And yet, after the fact, I know she was suffering.
Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have let it go on.
I would have given her a grand day of love, with all her favorite meals and treats and said goodbye that way.
It is my 1 regret, that I didn’t know, that I didn’t do better for her.

We did a thing, Hubby, Kid and I…
Most know I kept her skull.
Well, this summer it was in the maceration tub getting cleaned.
It’s not 100% done, but we had to get it out of the water before freeze up. Freezing in the water would have caused irreparable damage.
So, we did a thing…
This was my Hallowe’en image:

Taken under our tree. ❀

I have a few other from the session that I’ll post on the 1 year day.
It was an emotional, Powerful photo shoot.
It’s one I’m proud of.

Once she’s completely cleaned, degreased and whitened, I plan on painting a few decorative images on her (though that might change, we’ll see).
What won’t change is the photo essay I plan with her…
In her life with me, the thought of leaving her pasture scared terrified her…just coming out into the yard to graze was more than she could handle, no matter how hard we worked on it.
It was what it was.

Ah, but now, my dear sweet darling will travel!
And she’ll be photographed in all the places I wanted to take her in life, meeting all the people I wanted her to meet, but couldn’t.
This I look forward to doing.
It’ll be hard at times.
Emotional…powerful.
But so worth doing.
❀
But, that’ll be next year.

I’ll apologize now, if I go missing ’til the 13th.
I’m trying to stay up on things, but this may get to me.
Hopefully once things settle down with Freezer Camp, hunting and winterizing I’ll post more…
Okay, I promise I will!
Sometimes though, it’s just easier to throw myself into the daily grind a little harder when I’m missing her.
And sadly that means y’all get shorted on content.
I’m workin’ on that.
❀

Here’s a couple of pictures of my 3 Stooges for your enjoyment…

Staff meeting…
On the agenda, how to avoid the beepy thing.
Especially now that the Food Lady has turned off the beep.
Can’t have her catching us in those fun, but compromising positions!

The look I get when I ask what they were discussing at their meeting…like I didn’t already know! πŸ˜‰

Happy Sunday all!
❀

 

Brrrrr!!

It’s been a chilly week!
But things here on the Farm are still chugging along.
πŸ™‚

The chickens are starting to lay with a little more consistency.
Finally!
We’ve waited a long time to get these eggie chicks to the point of lay. Soon enough, I should have some eggs that I can sell again.
That will be nice!
I’ve had a few green shelled eggs from the easter egger hens, but not many. I have 4 hens that should be giving me colours (maybe 5, I’m not 100% sure) but I’ve had 3 green eggs…and the easter eggers are older than the brown egg layers, who are getting a little more regular…

One morning last week though, it was really cold and I figured I best check the auto waterer to make sure the Merry Mares water hadn’t frozen over on them…imagine my surprise when Daphne dives under a board in the long grass…I’m thinking “oh shit, she found a skunk!!” but with no immediate stink blast, I figured that couldn’t have been it.
Nope.
Turns out she chased one of my little black hens off a nest of eggs…

16 eggs!!

Stinker had been out all night, instead of coming back to the coop, and was just plain lucky *something* didn’t find her in the night and make a meal of her!
But, she had 16 eggs under her, 10Β  of which were green.

Not knowing how long they were there, I took them away and float tested them. They seemed like they might be alright, but I still wasn’t sure. So, I cracked them all open.
Turns out, they were fine, though only a handful were fertilized.
Even if the all had been, it’s not a great time of year for chicks anyways…but I now know which hen could be broody in the spring. She, and a few other hens, will get separated off with the one rooster we keep to lay and set eggs in the spring for flock regeneration. Honestly, I’d love to get away from buying hatchery birds for eggs, if I can. And if I can get hens to do the hatching work that’s even better. I have no real interest in using an incubator.
I scrambled the 16 eggs and gave them to the chickens as a treat…their excitement at that made the sting of losing 16 eggs a little less painful.
lol

And then, there was Daphne and her stick…

“I want this one!”

Pulling the stick out of the hobo barrel fire pile…

“MY STICK”

She was rather proud of herself for getting it…

“I am triumphant!!”

*sigh*
My dog is weird.

Day After Thanksgiving

For us Canadian folks, that is.
Today we go back to work…when you work from home, do you ever not work?
It feels like I’m always on duty.
Well, until I pour a glass of wine.
πŸ˜‰

Busy weekend:
A run to the city for beet pulp for the Nags. And groceries. And a trip to the bank. And the Dollarama…it was a whole day of errands.
Wine maintenance…bottled my green tomato, stabilized my apple, and it’ll get sweetened and bottled next weekend. Then I’ll start a concord grape batch, as well as another green tomato.
Washing the 10 million carrots from the garden…yes, it does take forever to scrub all the dirt off the ones going into jars!
Washing, blanching and freezing beet tops.
Kicking at the sewing repair pile…oh, goodness!
So.
Many.
Repairs!
But, the pile is a little smaller today than it was yesterday, so that’s a good thing.

And today?
Today I’m roasting chicken backs and necks to make a few batches of soup to can tomorrow.
While canning carrots today.
And prepping pork bones for soup on Thursday.
And then I get to take it all down to the shelves in the basement and put the jars in some semblance of order.
It’s a lot of work.
But, it’s so worth doing!

We have no nearby restaurant to order “convenience” foods when I don’t want to cook after a long day.
If I don’t have quick and easy foods on hand, then I have to do something more involved.
That’s fine when work is done before dark and we’re just the normal level of tired…but, winter is coming.
That means long hours moving snow, and taking care of animals.
That means a fast and easy heat up of a jar or two of soup, thickened into stew, with a chunk of bannock or cornbread makes everyone feel better.
So, as much as it’s a pain right now to get all the jars done, it will be worth it later on, when I’m dog tired and just gotta reheat something.

I have to admit, I love having the canner going again.
I hate water bath canning with a passion.
Ugh.
I did 14 quarts of pickled beets this year, and vowed to plant the beets sooner next year, pull them out sooner and pickle sooner, so that I can do the processing in the yard with the turkey fryer.
Water bath canning in the house is just gross.
But, the pressure canner?

😍😍😍
I refuse to do tomatoes any other way.
Yes, they can be waterbathed, but why??
So much faster with the p/c, so much less boiling water, so much easier!
Plus, the p/c gives the option of being able to do low acid foods.
IMO, it’s a Farmer/Homesteader must have tool.
Plus, there’s the joy of being able to can up your own chickpeas and kidney beans (if you like them). Personally, I love opening a jar of chickpeas and just eating them…or adding them to a hot bowl of rice, or an omelet…and you can never go wrong with tossing kidney beans into any tomato based sauce or soup!
Yum!
Canning your own is so much cheaper too.
I buy a 4 lb bag of dried beans/chickpeas for under $5 and get a guaranteed 16 pint jars (equal to 1 store-bought can), often more.
Yes, there’s the time and energy put into doing them, but still comes out to far less per jar than if I was buying cans.
And, I know exactly what’s in my jars.
πŸ™‚
So, even if I did pay more to can the beans, that itself would be worth it to me.
With that, I’m heading back to work, coffee in hand, because the canner is ready for the next load.
Full steam ahead!
edited to add: there’ll be more photos soon…for those who only come to see pictures of the animals πŸ˜‰
check out the instagram feeds in the sidebar too, both the Farm and Photography page are there!

Cleaning Out the Garden

Hey, hi there!

Can you believe we’re mid-September already?
This summer…just wasn’t long enough, I tell ya!
I’ve started the garden clean out and it just feels wrong. 😦
Saturday we have a chance of frost, so things have to start coming out.
The last 2 days, I spent picking tomatoes and pulling the plants out. And the clean up crew has been having a grand time with tomato plants!

nom nom nom
This good stuff, Food Lady!

Excuse the picture quality…everything is from my phone, because Voldemort doesn’t come outside when I’m working in the garden. πŸ™‚

chicken in the tomato jungle…

She was not impressed that the jungle kept getting smaller and smaller!
πŸ˜‚
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Every year I try to pay attention to what grows well for us and what doesn’t.
This year we planted some Roma tomatoes that we bought through a friend’s sons school fundraiser.
Well, let me tell you, these plants were fucking awesome!!!
Check this out:

look at all the tomatoes on there!

I had to cut branches off to get to the tomatoes inside the growth of plant. Like they were so bushy and dripping with fruit.
Awe. Some.
So, they are a definite for next year’s garden.
Especially when you factor in that I didn’t do any watering, because our hose doesn’t reach. And, we had a drought this summer…
Imagine if they had regular watering!!
Oh, and if the stupid chickens hadn’t eaten so many…
Yeah, Romas are a must.

All told, once my plants were stripped, I have 5 5 gallon pails of tomatoes.
Some I’ll let ripen, some are ripe so we’ll eat those and many of the greenies will become wine.
Yum!

I thought my green beans were done and was leaving them to go to seeds for next year.
Hahahaha!
They’ve had other ideas.
Oh, some have big fat pods that are no good for anything but seed, but there’s a ton of pods that are good for eating right away.
I picked just about 2 pounds last time, and it looks like I’ll get that again.
Fine by me.
πŸ™‚

And then, that Daphne had a digging frenzy last week.
Why?
Because she’s a dog, and she can.
But she found this:

how cool is this??

It’s broken and dirty, but with a little elbow grease, I think I can fix it up. I think it’ll be perfect hung over the back door.

And finally, a picture of our Sable…

Whatcha doin’ CinderBella?

This is from way back in July, when she wasn’t feeling so good.
She’s always been a waterbaby, so we didn’t think too much of it…until we talked to her vet about and we all put 2 and 2 together.
Ms Merry Mare was trying to make herself feel better by cooling her hooves.
If it ever happens again, I’ll be sure to pay better attention to her overall demeanor, instead of just shaking my head at her antics.
It’s all we can do right?
When we know better, we work to do better.