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Month: April 2014

Pastures New

Pastures New

Now that spring has (finally!) arrived we are really in full swing here at the farm.  Life is busy and very, very full.  We are still working on homeschool and keeping up with the boys’ full social schedule (plus Stephen works full time) but we now have the added layer of LOTS of work to do here on the homestead.

Now that the snow has fully receded we have moved the laying chickens out of their winter home (our hoop house) and up into what is now being called our new fruit grove.  It sits on higher land above the veggie garden, and though I’m pretty sure the chickens have no real appreciation of the view, it is our favourite.  You can see a good sweep of land from this spot but it is protected from the winds by the rise behind and the trees that border the fence with our neighbours.

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The girls have two different kinds of coops to choose from, the movable palanquins we built last year with handy sedan-like handles, or the polytunnel type construction that can be used for chickens or other small animals too.  It’s also movable, Stephen built it on runners, and the reflective tarp will hopefully provide some nice shade in the warmer months.  The girls are very much enjoying their release from their self imposed winter confinement in the polytunnel (hoop house) where they enjoyed their ability to move and peck without the inconvenience of actually having to go outside.  Sometimes I admit I envied them a little.   Ok a lot.

Since the snow melted the girls have been out full time from dawn to dusk.  They are pecking, rolling and strolling their way around, digging over compost piles, fertilizing the garden and generally making themselves extremely useful.

DSC_0562 DSC_0558 DSC_0557The area they are in now is what we’ve designated as our own, personal orchard.  It will be a mixed orchard that we will prize as much for it’s beauty and blossom as for it’s fruits.  Last fall we began the larger farm orchard out in home field that will be mainly apples and pears.  But this little grove of trees is to be our own sanctuary.  The trees will eventually give us shade and a place to rest in between chores and working on the garden, which is just down the hill a little.

Stephen planted these trees in on Sunday and moved the chickens up there too.  What was quite an abandoned area is suddenly our favourite spot.  On Monday evening, after feeding the chickens and pigs and doing our companionable evening stroll around the farm, we planted ourselves on 2 comfy chairs and watched the world go by for a while.  After a short while the boys joined us, excited to have us at their disposal and full of adventure.  As we sat and chatted they ran back and forth, collecting nature specimens, making light sabres out of sticks and finding out what was behind the rocks just by the tree line.  The sun began to dip and the air cooled but we all stayed, blissful in the freedom we had to sit peacefully and share this beautiful evening.

DSC_0565DSC_0573DSC_0570The geese have returned at last, bringing spring on their wings and occasionally visiting our pond for a brief respite from their long, long journey.  Despite the rain and the mud I couldn’t be happier to see spring arriving.  We have burst from our long confinement and straight into the busy work of our farm.  Growing, raising, planting, seeding…the work of spring is in full flow.  I look forward to sharing it all with you over the coming weeks and months, and for those who venture here to visit, there will always be a bountiful supply of tea.  And mud.

It’s a Boy! Welcoming Blaze.

It’s a Boy! Welcoming Blaze.

Yesterday really felt like the first day of spring; the air was warm and soft, wrapping around us gently and calling us out into the sunshine.  The perfect, so very perfect, day for a perfectly perfect calf to be born.  Oh yes indeed.

DSC_0348 DSC_0341 DSC_0334 DSC_0349We’ve been on nervous high alert for the last two weeks as our beef cow Morag’s due date arrived.  The due date duly came and duly went and we waited…and waited.  Just as the winter has lingered on so too, it seemed, did this pregnancy.  We were extra worried as our dear girl had lost her calf last year, a still birth and a bad omen for the beginning of the the year.  Somehow I never quite felt we got out from under the shadow of that loss. So this year we’ve been biting our nails, watching, waiting and hoping against hope that this time all would be well.

So when Huwyl went out to do a quick Morag check yesterday (just as our friends were leaving after a lovely afternoon visit) I didn’t really hold out much hope.  But then he came bolting back, his long legs carrying him across the snow and slush shouting out in the spring sunshine “the calf is here!” so filled with joy it was like he brought spring with him with each step.  We all rushed out to see that little mink coloured bundle, protected so lovingly by his mama, so strong and sturdy as he nursed with confidence and vigour.  To me that little calf looked like the first daffodil of spring, a bright spot in the world.

DSC_0350 DSC_0347 DSC_0355Of course none of this has just happened, this has all taken work, dedication and slog.  Slog through knee deep snow to bring the cows 12 buckets of water when the pipes froze, slog through -40c temperatures every morning to milk and bring nourishing oats to a pregnant cow mama, slog to shift a mountain of poo (as evidenced behind my helpful model) in wind and snow and everything in-between.  All the work of a dedicated man who wants to do right by the animals under his care, it makes me proud to know him.  It has been a long winter, a long road and a lot of work but suddenly, in fact yesterday at about a quarter to 6 in the evening, it all felt worth it.