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!
❀

 

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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.

Monday Morning Roundup~Aug. 27th

So, I fell off the face of the earth for a bit there.
Mostly because I’ve been busy.
Y’see, the garden is producing, and someone has to put it up for the winter…because, yes, winter is coming.

I pulled out the pressure canner.
If you heard an excited, high pitched “Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!” last week, well, that was me.
πŸ™‚

It’s been 5 far too long years since I put food in jars for the shelves.
This year, I was determined to get back at it.
And I have!
So far, just green beans, but today I’ve got potatoes going into the canner, and once we butcher the meaties, I’ll be using backs and scraps for home-grown chicken soup.
And, I need to send Hubby to the mushroom farm, because one can never have enough home canned mushrooms!
Then, there’s kidney beans, and chick peas and pork and beans to make…

I’ve missed this.
Back when we were in the city, it was a normal year for me to put up 400 or so jars of food a year.
I want to surpass that out here!
I feel like, I have all this space to grow stuff, I need to be better prepared for life’s little bumps and bruises that slow us down on the way.
That mindset got lost for a little while, but now, I’m back to it…and it feels soooooo good!

The past week, I’ve also been tending to the wines.
I finally got my blueberry/pomegranate kit bottled.
The 2nd round of green tomato (which is likely going to end up a blush wine instead of a white this time) has been stabilized and is now clearing. It is so tasty. Still young, so a bit fiery, but the first one was the same way. With a little age, it turned into a stunningly good wine.

And then, Hubby brought home 50lbs of apples someone gave him at work. Not deadfall, lovely hand-picked eating apples.
So I started a batch of apple wine…because hey, free fruit? Yeah, I’ll ferment that!

And then there’s the planning for next year’s garden. Already.
In the next month or two, it’ll be time to get the fall garlic in.
I’m thinking about what worked this year, what didn’t work, and what we need to grow more of next year.
Plus, there’s that darn fence to get done!
So much to do, so little time to do it.
lol

Now, for those who have been wondering…

Our Sable.
❀

She’s been off the previcox for 2 weeks now.
I keep saying this…we are cautiously and quietly optimistic.
She’s eating very well, she’s gained back the weight she lost during her sickness, and she’s still getting a flax cookie daily…because she loves them and we love her.
❀

That’s all the news for today…
It doesn’t sound like I’ve been all that busy when I write it here, but I’m going from before sunrise until well after sunset, so I’m either spinning my wheels or maybe I might be getting somewhere.
I’ll let you know.
πŸ˜‰

Sharing with Comedy Plus for Awww Mondays.

Gone Fishin’

We were up long before the butt crack of dawn yesterday…
Okay, we got up like it was a normal day.
πŸ™‚

Let the animals out, checked on the Girls, hopped in the truck and went for a drive…

It was a lovely morning to be out with fishing poles and cameras.
Of course, we didn’t catch much…
A friend caught a wee, itty bitty pickerel (like minnow sized)…

The Kid caught a pickerel rig (complete with bait still on it!) and then there was the rock…

Remember how I got the Cookie Stone?
Well, thanks to a friend who was willing to go into the water and get wet squidgey shoes (and considering I’d just made fun of his catch πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚, it was an awesome thing for him to do…), I now have a 2nd stone to go with it…

Now we have the BellaRock (the rectangular-ish one from yesterday) and Cookie’s heart stone.
All I gotta do is paint the mares on them.
And get 2 more big rocks for Astrid and Ruby.
But that will be on other fishing trips.
πŸ™‚

Catching y’all up…

I’ve been working on writing this post now for a few days…
There seems to be so much going on, that I don’t know where to start, or how to put things into words.
And yet, its typical summer time things…

Weed/water the garden
Care for the animals
Cut, rake, bale hay
Clean the house
Make the meals
Clean the kitchen
Start again the next day…

I’m finding myself exhausted before the day even begins.
And I’m trying really hard *not* to whine about it.
Which is a huge part of why writing this post has sat and sat and sat…

I am very happy to share that the garden is on track to produce the best crop this year.
We should have a bumper crop of bush beans, if flowers are any indication.
There are crazy amounts of flowers on the zucchini…I’m so excited for a lot of zucchini. I think I’m probably the only person in the world who *hopes* for a huge zucchini crop.
I love it in everything. And now, I’ve found a pickle recipe that uses zucs instead of cukes! I so want to try that!

Daily watering has made a huge difference.
That’s something I struggle with, because we haven’t yet fixed the hose tap on the house, so we’re running a hose from the yard hydrant over by the garage.
That’s a couple hundred feet…and my hose is holy.
OMG
That sounds like a terrible country song!!

“Waterin’ ma garden
With a holy hose
I’m waterin’ more weeds
Than ma tomatoes”

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Point is…I need a new hose. Or a few to put together, that won’t water the weeds while I’m trying to water the food forest.

Oh and we had a heat wave the last week or so…
It was hotter than…well, it was hot.
We lost almost half of our meat chicks.
Talk about frustration.
These guys are supposed to be our winter food, but if I lose them early, it makes it so much harder to get enough put up to feed everyone through to next year.
I did contact the hatchery and had a good chat with the owner, who gave me some tips for next time.
Fingers crossed that all grow well for us now!

Sable is feeling much better!
Though I’ll tell you, she’s probably so sick of me by now.
I’m all over her ever day to make sure she’s feeling better.
I have been so worried about her…let me tell you, lose one and it breaks your confidence. Or, at least it did mine.
So, I’m trying not to be a pain in the Vet’s ass, while still trying to make sure that our Cinder-Bella is healthy.
Add into that my ridiculous anxiety about making phone calls…sweet merciful crap, now *that’s* a pain in the ass!
Like when we finished Sable’s shots, and we found she was losing skin in spots…I had to call and find out if this was a side effect of the drugs, or was this something else.
Then, we found the same thing going on with Ruby on her chest.
Turns out, it was reactions to horsefly bites.
Something I should have recognized, and been able to handle without a vet call, but I panicked.
Jeez, I’ve always prided myself on not being “that owner” who calls over every little thing…yet, here I am.

But, the good thing about the Girl’s skin…
I did a betadine scrub on them, to clean up the loose skin, coated them in SWAT (to protect from the damn bugs) and now everyone is good again.
All the hair has grown back in.
So I’m lighting daily smudges, as the wind allows.
That’s the only thing that’s effectively combating the stupid horse flies. That layer of smoke on the mare’s coats gives them a couple of hours protection after they leave the safety of the smudge smoke.

I did get a chance to photograph a lovely prairie sunset the other day:

See the mares at the bottom?
❀

So, y’know, I’m trying to focus on the beauty and splendor of country living, instead of whining all the time.
LOL
Sometimes though, it feels like all I’m doing is whining.
πŸ˜‰

Soon enough, harvest will happen.
*Then* I’ll whine, out loud, often and with gusto.
As we put chickens and pigs in the freezer, I pull out the pressure canner for veggies, and tomato products, and with a whole lotta Bambi Dancing luck, we get a deer or two to add to the freezer.
Then I’ll be whiney and tired, more than I am now, and I’ll be longing for the quite days of hay, weeding and watering.

Winter is coming.