Where Things Are at These Days


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Wow. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted on here.

I don’t even know where to start with an update since 2018.

2019 is mostly a blur. Our last little foster dude was incredibly lovable but also an incredible handful. Between him and Liam (who was four at the time), I was exhausted and burnt out. Like so exhausted and burnt out, there was a constant feeling of heaviness in my chest, and I felt like vomiting most of the time. I used to hide in the bathroom and lock the door so that I could find a moment’s peace.

I acted with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in the summer of 2019, and that is the last time I have appeared on stage.

It is so SO hard to be an actor and a parent. It is even harder to be an actor, a parent, and take care of a farm full of animals. So for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’ve chosen to take a hiatus until Liam is quite a bit older.

And then there’s the pandemic. I don’t even want to write about it, and I’m sure you don’t even want to read about it. I am so done with the pandemic. I will say that the day I was laid off from my job (since I work in an art gallery, and we had to shut down), was the same day that our foster son moved to his Auntie’s house (after living with us for almost two years) and it felt like everything in my life was collapsing into chaos.

Look at my eyes – I’m in full blown panic mode in this pic.

Months later, it still feels like utter chaos, but I am back to work now at least. However, we are no longer foster parents (a rant for another post).

So here we are: summer of 2021.

Plantings we made five years ago are now starting to pay off. This is the first year we’ve had a decent haskap harvest.

The apple trees are looking really good so far as well. We also have seabuckthorn berries for the first time ever! The sour cherries provided a small handful, and the saskatoons are loaded but the berries are small and hard (thanks drought).

Liam and I went to pick up our cornish cross chicks, and impulse bought a couple of ducks. I mean, look at those cute faces – could you say no to either of them?

During the first part of the pandemic, when the province was in lockdown, I was home with Liam all day, every day. We spent a lot of time outside, on the land. I learned to identify quite a few plants growing around our place. So far this year, I’ve harvested stinging nettle, yarrow, and wild mint. In the fall, I will harvest some dandelions as well.

I’ve lost count (control?) of how many chickens I have. I hatched out a bunch earlier this spring and the little ones are starting to lay now.

As is the case in many other places, we are struggling through a severe drought at the moment. It didn’t help that we had a heatwave at the end of June, which saw temperatures soar into +40C for four days in a row. The garden is surviving, but everything is ahead of schedule. To that end, I’ve already pulled the onions, garlic will also need to be harvested very soon, and the peas are done and gone. We had a hard frost at the beginning of June that damaged my beans, so I am not holding out hope for a large bean harvest this year. But there will be beets, potatoes, carrots and squash, so not too shabby. I’ve had worse years for sure.

My focus for next year’s garden: weed control. I’m done. I’m just done with the weeds out here. I never had weeds like this in my city garden. A bit of chickweed here and there, maybe some dandelions. Out here, I need a machete to get through these weeds. Thick, copious amounts of lambs’ quarters, common mallow, giant dandelions, and thistles of all varieties. And they grow tall. Taller than the sunflowers. Taller than me.

Next year, I’m going to try the Back to Eden method on half the garden and cover it in mulch (wood or straw – depends on what I can get my hands on). I’m also going to try intensively planted beds instead of rows, and add some more flowers. The flowers have nothing to do with weed control; I just want more flowers.

That’s what’s happening in my little corner of the world at the moment. I hope to write a bit more frequently now that I only have one child and one job. I’ve been pretty active on Instagram the whole time, but I am trying to spend less time on social media and would like to get back to blogging instead. I hope you are surviving these strange times wherever you are in the world.

Until next time,


Summer, Fall, and the First Little Bit of Winter 2018


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Ah summer.  Summer was a bit rough on us this year.  We had a wonderful garden, and many things did really well (like the cucumbers – we have pickles for days!), but we also had our hearts broken a few times over, and not a whole lot of time to grieve.

The morning that our foster son LG was going home for good, my dear mother-in-law passed away.  It was a horrible double hit of loss.

LG had been with us for eight months, and although we were incredibly happy for his mom, it’s always a sad day when a child you’ve loved and nurtured for nearly a year leaves you forever (or so you hope).

We knew Shirley wasn’t doing well the night before, and we were preparing to go to Regina immediately after taking LG home the next day to say our goodbyes.  We got the phone call early in the morning that she had already passed.

For the past two summers, Shirley had come to stay with us while we were working at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan to help take care of the kids, so this summer was bittersweet.  I always looked forward to her visits, not only because she loved being with the kids and did my laundry, but we would often chat in the kitchen when I was baking or preparing supper, or stay up late talking about her memories of when her kids were young.  That’s what I missed most this summer – her gentle presence and love in the home.  It’s still hard to believe she’s gone.  Sometimes I think she’s still in Regina, and we’ll see her at Christmas, and then I remember.  Grieving is a long, long process.

Then lastly, in July, we said goodbye to Ziggy, our faithful, grouchy companion of 11 years.  Rest in peace, my little furry friend.

Phew.  That’s enough loss for one year.  2018 has not been great.

In other, more uplifting news, I created an Olive Egger and she started laying in July.  Super happy about that!

I upped my canning game this year with a PRESSURE CANNER!  It’s amazing, and I love it.  Bring it on zombies – I’m ready for you.  We have food canned for days.  DAAAAAAYYYYYS.

On August 24, 2018, after 1,337 days in foster care, we adopted our son Liam.  Thankfully, he agreed to adopt us as his parents as well.  We threw a huge party to celebrate.

We enjoyed some time as a family of three, even managing to take a weekend camping trip to Waskesiu.  It was amazing to watch Liam discover the North for the first time.

I kept up with the harvest from the garden, canned pounds of peaches, pears and apples from the BC fruit truck, made quarts and quarts of juice, and all of a sudden, it was fall.  Well, actually, winter came first . . .

Thankfully, it didn’t stay.  After tarping the poor meaties and turkeys on pasture for three days, it was time to harvest.  Thank you chickens for your nourishment.  You will feed my family this winter #responsibleomnivore.

In goat news, our wether, Bart, learned how to escape the electric fence and that was the end of the goats staying in their pen.  So we made a tough decision to do away with them.  This was very hard on me.  I really grew quite attached to the goats, and it was difficult to treat them like livestock instead of pets.  But in the end, this is a farm, and all the animals have a job to do, and they were eating a lot of hay (which is super expensive), and I believe it was the right thing to do.  Not the easy thing for sure, but the right thing.  So now I’m taking a break from goats.  I think maybe in the spring I’ll get some more.  But this time I want Dwarf Nigerian goats – easier to handle and milk.

After letting our hearts heal a bit, we decided we were ready to welcome a new little friend to our home.  Jeriah joined us on October 13, and he’s a real sweetheart.  And a trouble maker.  He’s the definition of the terrible twos.

It was a short fall, and then winter arrived for real this time.  We were much better prepared this time around.  Our goal this year is to only use wood heat in the house.  Our propane tank is at 65%, and we’d like to keep it that way.

And that brings us up to date!  We’ve settled in for the winter.  Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a “teeth-chattering cold winter,” but so far it’s been fairly mild.  I’ve come to really enjoy winter since we’ve moved to the farm.  It must be something about being away from the energy of the city, where even though the season changes, the pace never does.  Winter means rest.  The harvest is in, the livestock are bedded down in the barn, the garden is alseep.  It’s as close to hibernating as I’ve ever been, and I love it.  Stay warm!

Spring and Other Things!


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After a very, very long and cold winter, spring came to the homestead at the end of April.  Finally.  What a winter.  I can handle cold, but days and days of below 20 temps had me down (and cursing).

Due to cold temps and the fact that I don’t heat my barn, I lost three hens this winter.  So sad.  I did end up putting up a heat lamp, but it was like throwing snowflakes at a fire.  Barely made a dent in the temps.  Poor chickens.  But the ones that did survive are the ones that I know are hardy enough to live through a good old fashioned Saskatchewan winter, and those are the genes I want to pass on.

Spring time means chicks!  I’ve decided to try line breeding since I had almost enough chickens for three separate genetic lines.  I acquired a very handsome Ameracauna rooster to bring some much-wanted blue egg genes into the pool.  I hatched two batches in the incubator, and let one of my broody hens hatch the last batch.  She so desperately wanted to be a mama!  I heard the first peep of a chick from under her this morning.  Now all my chicks are hatched and the incubator goes away until next year.

Petunia had her third litter of piglets on Easter weekend.  She gave birth to eight, five survived, and mysteriously, one of them disappeared when they were a week old, so now there are four.

Every time we need straw and hay, I get super stressed out and anxious.  We just don’t have the right type of vehicle to transport large quantities, so we get small quantities and then run out, and have to repeat the struggle all over again.  We decided that was enough – this time we were having it delivered.  And that’s what two hundred bales of straw looks like:

We hefted about twenty bales up into the barn’s hay loft, and the rest will be left outside for now.  If anyone knows of a bale elevator for sale in the RM of Blucher, let me know . . .

I went into rehearsals for Pride & Prejudice at Persephone theatre at the beginning of April, and opened the show May 2nd.  It has been difficult to say the least.  The show is fine; being a parent and an actor is not.  I am now perfectly convinced that the two are incompatible.  Theatre has not changed with the times either.  There is no leeway.  If you’re child is sick, you cannot take the day off.  You can’t even bring the child to work with you.  Liam got sick during rehearsals one day, so I went to pick him up since I had a break, and I brought him back to rehearsal with me because what else am I supposed to do?  I was then asked to remove him from the theatre until Will could come pick him up.  Not child/parent friendly.  Not even remotely.  I feel a long rest in my future.

Along with warmer weather comes all the chores of Spring.  The boys helped me bury my pysanky in the garden for fertility and abundance.

I shoveled out HALF the chicken stall in the barn.  Half.  Granted, it was the worst half.  But still.  Can’t complain though – it’ll make excellent compost for the garden, and the garden needs it.

Will rototilled the garden and the new (to us) PTO rototiller broke about half way into it.  We had to borrow the neighbour’s to finish.  Thankfully, we have good neighbours.

We made the painful decision to trim Liam’s hair.  I think it turned out to be the right decision though.  He loves that it’s not in his face all the time.  He brushes it himself now.  But he looks so grown-up!  Where did my little baby go??

And finally, I picked up a box full of fluffy chicks and turkey poults this past Wednesday!  One of my laying hens hatched out three chicks a few days before, and I put the new chicks in the same stall as her and her chicks, but separated them with cardboard.  When I came home after the show and checked on them, there had been a prison break, and my hen was sitting on about ten chicks and one turkey poult.  I managed to scoop the turkey and half the chicks back into the brooder, but honestly, I couldn’t tell which ones were the Cornish cross and which ones were hers, since I had her hatch out the Leghorn and Lohman hens’ eggs.  I figure I’ll be able to tell the difference in a few days when the Cornish start growing like crazy.

The garden is all planted thanks to Will and Liam.  Will got the soon-to-be pasture to the north of the house all cultivated last night, so tonight we’ll seed it.  We’ve got a list a mile long of stuff to repair, fix, paint, weed, etc.  But I’m really going to make an effort this summer to enjoy the homestead instead of worrying about all the work that needs to get done.  Last summer, I broke down in tears when the work got overwhelming, but I’m not going to let that happen this year.  The garden, although entirely filled, has been planted much more spaciously to make it easier to weed after last year’s fiasco.  Plus, I’m NOT doing Shakespeare this summer, and I’ll just be working my part-time job at Remai Modern, so that should also make things easier (Shakespeare & Remai Modern = 60+ hours a week; just Remai Modern = 20 hours a week).

Happy planting and enjoy the Spring sunshine!



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Yeah, so I found this post in my drafts’ folder titled ‘Autumn!’ and no words written.

I was trying to write at least one post a month, and when that failed, at least one post a season.  Quarterly updates.  Not because I think anyone is particularly interested, but more as a diary for myself.  Sometimes it’s handy to look back on the blog to see when we planted the garden that year or when the first snowfall came.

But, you know, life with toddlers doesn’t afford one much time to write.

So when last I left off, it was the end of July, and little Freddie had just gone back home.  We slogged our way through to the end August and our crazy work schedules.  Managed to get a very small harvest from our severely neglected, weed-ridden garden, and can a few different preserves and fruit juice.

I was planning to have a relaxing fall, and as usual, take a break before taking another foster child.  But then we got a call for another little Liam, and we just couldn’t say no.

And then, because we just didn’t have enough to do, we added two goats to the homestead, and Petunia farrowed six new piglets.  I also started a new part-time job (which I love!) at the Remai Modern.  More animals!  Less sleep!  Hurrah!

The snow arrived near the end of October and never really went away.  The days are short and dark.  I feel like hibernating, or at the very least, camping out in front of the woodstove until spring.  Our lives are too full; there’s no downtime.  I often work 10-11 days in a row with no break.  I curse it, but then I remember that I am the instrument of my own demise and have no one to blame but myself.

Then the morning comes, and there’s this:

And somehow, it makes up for EVERYTHING that sucks about living in the country.

Til next time!

Summertime Homestead Update!


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So June is gone, and July is almost over.

We’ve been living in survival mode for nearly eight weeks now.  I had hoped that things would calm down after the shows opened, but unfortunately, we had to replace an actor in the show, so we’ve been dealing with emergency rehearsals for the past two weeks.  Will continues to work more than 60 hours a week (kinda like a lawyer, but without the pay), and I greatly overestimated the amount of work I’d be able to handle this summer, so not only am I performing seven shows a week, I’m also working 20 hours a week at my part-time job.  Which was easy to do when I was in my 20s and 30s; not so much now that I’m pushing 40 and have two kids and a farm.  I feel like I could sleep for three years at this point.

Survival mode is hard.  Things around the homestead have suffered.  I’ve really had to adjust my expectations and prioritize my values.  Yes, prioritize my values.  For example, I value making sure my family has good food to eat, and I also value having healthy, homegrown, home preserved food to feed them.  Both are important, but only one is vital.

The garden has suffered from neglect to the point where we had to mow down the beets, carrots, and peas because the weeds had overtaken them, so we won’t have homegrown beets and carrots this winter.  I did manage to eek out some radishes early on, and the tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, garlic and onions are all okay.  Not great, but okay.  Next year, if we happen to both be working again, we have to manage our expectations for what we hope the garden will produce when we don’t have the time to care for it.  Smaller garden, smaller harvest.

We did manage to get the barn painted at the end of May, with a lot of help from my parents and my brother.  It was an incredibly windy day, but we persevered.  Poor Will had to climb three levels of scaffolding to get the top.  He managed to save “A.J. Hill 1956.”  The barn looks really good now – I’m hoping to get the windows fixed up before winter (swipe or click the right arrow to see “after” photos).

Mama broody hatched her chicks.  She did a good job of raising them, then kicked them out of her feathers to be on their own last week.  The best part of having a broody hatch and raise her own chicks is that the flock immediately accepts them.  Normally, I’d have to do a slow introduction so that the big chickens wouldn’t peck the little ones to death.

The meaties are almost ten weeks old now.  We were going to butcher at eight weeks, but I decided to wait two more weeks.  I’ve been feeding them chopped grain with layer supplement, instead of full grower ration this year, and they are growing a bit slower.  They’re now at a good size, and still very active, so Monday is set for butching day.  Fingers crossed we can get them all processed in one day (’cause that’s all the time we have!)

I picked up a second batch this year.  I’m raising them to sell to friends and family.  I can barely keep up with demand.  If only raising pastured chicken was profitable, I’d make it my full-time job.

That puts my total chicken count at . . . 92.  Gulp.  To be fair, 60 of those are meaties destined for freezer camp.  So really, I only have 32 chickens.  That’s not that many, really.  I could have more . . .

I’m loving the views around our place this summer.  Lots and lots of sunny canola!

This is our second summer on the farm, and last summer was really hard too.

Here’s where I need to adjust my expectations, and perhaps, my life philosophy a bit:  as a city girl, I grew up with the expectation that summer meant vacation.  Relaxation, time at the lake, travel, sitting in the sun, reading books.  But as I become more attuned to the flow of the seasons, I have realized that, really, summer is not the season of rest.  Winter is the season of rest.  Summer is the season of growth and work.  In order to rest in the winter, the work must be done in the summer.  Other animals know this, but we human animals have lost touch with it, since we now outsource so much of our food growing and food preservation to corporations.

Part of what has made summer so difficult for me over the past two years, is the expectation of having time to rest and relax, and when I don’t get it, or don’t have time for it, it makes me angry.  But if I adjust my view to accept winter as the time to relax, then perhaps, the summer work won’t feel like such a burden.  Perhaps.

And finally, yesterday morning, we said goodbye to our little foster baby Fred.  Bittersweet.  He went back home to his mom and dad, so we’re very happy for their family, but damn we’re going to miss that kiddo.  We had a rough start, but every second was so worth it.  It was pure joy watching him grow and develop into a healthy, happy baby boy.  I hope he never forgets our love; if not consciously, then on a cellular level.  We infused his every day with lots and lots of love.

Heading into Summer


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We just passed the halfway point of May, and we’re heading into summer at a terrifying speed.

Both Will and I are doing Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan this summer, which means are work schedules are INSANE.  We’ve been trying to prep for crazy times ahead by making large meals and freezing the leftovers, so we won’t survive on take-out and frozen pizza for the month of June.  How do you theatre parents out there do it?  Do you just have to say no to working at the same time?  I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said yes to this summer.  I was thinking I really want to act.  I wasn’t thinking about what this would do to our lives.  We will survive, I hope.  Thankfully, we have a lot of help.  Will’s mom is coming to stay with us a number of weeks this summer, and my parents will be on nanny duty for those times that daycare can’t cover, and our friend, Angela, has agreed to nanny for the weekends we work.  It takes a village.

Now for the homestead update:


Petunia had her babies.  She did great – she needed no human help, and she has turned out to be a great mommy.  She had eight piglets, but unfortunately, we lost two of them.  One was stillborn, and one drowned in the water trough.  Newbie mistake – we should have put a rock in the trough for them to climb out if they fell in.  All fixed now, but it was a sad day.  Fun fact:  we screwed up our courage to castrate the male piglets (I had a shot a whiskey), and as we separated the piglets into males and females, it turned out that we had all females.  I couldn’t believe.  We really lucked out.  The piglets are currently being weaned, and we’ve sold three of them to our friend, Sheldon, who is probably coming to get them within the next week.  I’ll be sad to see them go, but I know that Sheldon will give them a very good life.


I have officially lost all self-control when it comes to chickens.  I now have 39 chickens, nine of which I think are roosters.  It’s still too early to tell with some of the littles.  I love them.  I just love chickens.  If I could make my living working with chickens, I think I would be deeply satisfied.  Laying hens or meat chickens – it doesn’t matter.  I like ’em all.


Mama goose hatched out two goslings.  Another rookie mistake – we let her sit on the first clutch of eggs she laid.  I doubt half of them were fertile.  She sat on ten eggs, and hatched two.  Also, if we had take the first clutch, there’s a chance she would’ve laid a second clutch. Fun fact:  not sure this is even biologically possible, but we have two ganders and a goose, and it appears that the goslings have two different daddies.


We bought a batch of hatching eggs from an online auction, but turned out the fertility rate of the batch was very low – only ONE hatched.  Thankfully, he hatched with two chickens so he wasn’t all alone in the brooder.  We bought three more poults to raise so that brings the turkey total to four.  Thanksgiving is going to be very tasty this year.


The barn.  Oh the barn.  I love this barn, but man, it’s a big job taking care of it.  We are getting ready to paint it this year, and replace the windows, since four of the six windows are broken and covered with plywood at the moment.  I rented a power washer to wash it down and get rid of some of the peeling paint, hopefully reducing the amount of scraping that needs to be done.  What a mess!  There are paint chips all over the yard.  The power washer scared the devil out of the chickens, but the pigs didn’t seem to mind.  We were hoping to hire a couple of people to help us, but no one responded to our want ad, so we’ll go at it alone.  Next Saturday.  If you stop by, be prepared to paint 🙂

The kiddos

Liam is his ever-energetic self.  I can barely keep up with this kid.  His energy is astounding.  He’s so imaginative and creative – he plays well by himself and with others.  And he loves baby Fred.  It’s going to be hard on him when Freddie goes home.  Even now, when Fred goes for a visit, he gets upset and cries, “My baby back!”  This parenting thing is rough – how do I explain Fred’s return home to a grieving two-year old?  I can’t even comprehend it myself some days. Foster care is a complicated thing.

Freddie is just a super sweet, smiley baby.  He eats well, sleeps well, barely ever cries and smiles all the time.  We sure are going to miss him.  We thought he might be home by the end of the month, but looks like it’ll take a bit longer. That’s okay with me – I’ll spend as much time with him as I can.

That’s about all that’s happening on our little plot of land right now.  Hope you’re enjoying the lovely spring weather.  Get out and plant something!  Soak up the sunshine! Enjoy the rain!  Until next time . . .

Spring Glorious Spring


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It’s over!  Winter is freaking over!  I know this to be true because our farmstead has turned into a giant mud pit, but this year, the mud ain’t gonna get me down.  Mud means temps above zero, and temps above zero means SPRING!

It also means there are a million and one projects around here that need to be done RIGHT NOW.  Seriously, last week, things just started to fall apart.  We broke the blade for the tractor, the pump on the well suddenly stopped working, the stairs need railings, I need to install two new light fixtures, we have wood to chop, and on and on.  Throw in work, two kids under two, a pig ready to farrow and 14 eggs about to hatch, and it is really, really busy around here lately.

Some updates:


After paying $821 to fill our propane tank in February, we decided to get a woodstove to offset some heating costs for the rest of the winter and future winters.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I’d like to move our bedroom into the living room so I can be near the wood stove all day and all night.  I love wood heat.


I hatched eggs!  From my very own ragtag barnyard crew!  I started with 24, and 16 eventually hatched. These cute little dudes are actually three weeks old now and have moved out to the coop since I have another batch of 14 due to hatch tomorrow, and they’ll need the brooder.

I alos bought another ten white laying hens from a nearby farm.  They were in rough shape when I first got them, having never seen the light of day, but they look really good now.  I’m going to buy ten more this week.  Poor battery cage hens.  Makes me sad to see chickens live like that.


Petunia is due on Wednesday.  Fingers crossed that all goes well with the birth.  I have shoulder length gloves and lube, but I really don’t want to have to use them.  Berkshires are supposed to be quite good at birthing and don’t usually require intervention.  Let’s hope.

Farmstead/homestead projects

Now that the weather has warmed up, I’m itching to start working on outside projects.  So here’s the list:

  • The well.  As I mentioned, the pump suddenly stopped working.  We’re not sure why, and we haven’t had time to look at it yet, but I’m getting tired of hauling water from the house to the barn, so this is at the top of the list this spring.
  • Insulate and side the foundation of the house.  This should hopefully solve the ice on the walls problem we had this winter.
  • Staining. I need to stain the playset, the front and back steps, and the porch deck.
  • Everything barn. The barn needs some TLC.  We’re planning to hire a couple of out-of-work actor friends for a weekend and get a fresh coat of stain on it.  It also needs new windows and a scrub down on the inside.
  • The old house. It’s starting to become a safety concern.  The back part of the house, the kitchen, is falling off and separating from the main portion of the house, and giant cracks in the stucco have appeared.  A large chunk of stucco is currently wavering in the wind, and will probably fall any day now, hopefully not killing anyone on its way down.  The electricity for the pump still runs through the old house, so we plan to move it to the panel in the “new” house.  I think demo may have to happen sooner than I had planned.
  • Perrenials.  Really, really want to get some landscaping done this summer.
  • Clothesline.  My brother is removing his from his backyard, so I’m installing it here.  Can’t hardly wait!

There’s a million more things to do, but as this is a marathon and not a sprint, I must prioritize.  We won’t be demolishing the old house anytime soon, but I think the rest of the projects are doable this year.  Hopefully.

Winter on the Homestead


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This winter is seriously kicking my ass.  

There’s been little snow, lots of extreme cold, and nothing wants to work below -30C (including me!)

A small list of winter problems include:

  • Two frozen tractors (both eventually started but the steering column is frozen on the big one);
  • All four heated water dishes for the animals froze over, so I had to haul fresh water morning and night;
  • Cabin fever with two kids, cooped up in the house because the windchill is so extreme, exposed flesh freezes in a matter of minutes;
  • Chicken frostbite problems.  Pretty sure one of my roos is going to lose his comb.  I moved them out of the coop and into the barn, which I know for sure is dry.  It’s been my experience that chickens can withstand extreme cold as long as they’re dry and out of the wind.  They’re doing much better now.  And the cat is happy to have company in the barn.  
  • Ice on the walls in the basement.  ICE ON THE WALLS.  ARGH!

With as much trouble as I’m having this winter, I was curious as to how my ancestors handled winter on the prairies.  I’m lucky to have well-documented family history on my maternal side.  In fact, my maternal grandma’s family homesteaded in the same area that we ended up buying our acreage.  They attended the one-room school house down the road from me, and by some miraculous, curious circumstance, the barn from the old school house ended up in our yard, so I now own the barn that my ancestors used to keep their horse in while they attended school (her name was Daisy!).  That’s almost magical to me.  UPDATE:  Apparently my intel on the barn was incorrect (or perhaps I made an assumption I shouldn’t have), but the barn came from the quarter section surrounding the school house, not from the school yard.  It’s a bit disappointing to say the least.  

As the baby napped today, I decided to do a bit of reading about their experiences with winter.  I learned that I am a winter WIMP compared to what they lived through.  

I am cozy in my well-insulated house, with central heat and electricity.  My ancestors lived in a shack attached to a granary their first winter.  But they couldn’t afford to heat both, so they all moved into the granary, which was 24′ by 14′.  Nine in their family, and another family of four with them.  Each mother had a baby on the way; one due in February, the other in March.  

“Our poor granary!  There was a furnace in the middle and a cook stove at one end.  But the ceiling at the far end frosted over every night and when the fires were lit for the day, it would rain in that area.  Mother put an umbrella over Laura’s head and spread the oilcloth from the table over the bed. ”

I have a well-stocked larder, with canned goods, bushels of potatoes, beets and carrots.  Plus, if I run out, I hop in my warm car and drive to the city and get groceries.  

“And then there was the whole question of food.  Dad had the means to buy next to nothing.  They butchered a steer and when they needed to, bought a bag of flour.  They also bought a bag of brown sugar to make our only dessert, syrup.  We had no potatoes because they had frozen and weren’t edible.  We had no eggs, no butter, and since the cow didn’t calf until spring, no milk for the entire winter.  But we lived!”

I have a cistern full of clean water in my basement, and an electric pump on my well to water the animals.  The pump is less than ten metres from the barn.  I have a washing machine and a dryer.  

“Getting fresh, soft water was always a problem for us in those years.  Our wells were hard water wells.  We just couldn’t find soap that would form suds in our well water.  We had to haul water from several miles away.  My washing facilities were a tub and a washboard.  Our means of trasportation was a wagon.”

I have modern machinery, and a means of making a living that doesn’t depend on the weather.  

“Then, in the winter, came the task of hauling the grain.  I will never forget the winter of 1927, when I was fifteen years old, Benny, Eddy and I hauled grain to Blucher eleven miles away with a team of horses hitched to a bob sleigh.  We would leave in the morning when it was still dark to load our sleigh with a shovel, and then drive to Blucher.  I will never forget the day when we arrived at the elevator to find it was 52 below zero F.  In order not to freeze, we were forced to walk the full twenty-two miles.”

Incredible.  Extreme hardship.  But even as I read these horrific accounts of survival, the hardships they endured are not the defining factors of their lives, nor do they regret a moment of their past. 

“We found everything here so beautiful!  Every day, sometimes two or three times a day, we, the little girls, would climb to the top of a high hill about a mile from home.  My, it was beautful!  Everything was so fresh.  Every low spot was filled with water.  The skies were filled with ducks, geese and wild turkeys.  Everything was so new and strange for us.  WE LOVED IT!”

“It was a wild country compared to today.  The slough close to our house would fill with wild ducks and geese every night.  When they took off, there were so many in the skies, it would cast a shadow on the ground.  It was a beautiful country to us at the time.”

“I was born June 11, 1915, the eleventh of a family of twelve.  Even though my dear mother must have been very tired at this point, I am certain that I was received with as much love as the first child, because love was the very essence of our home.  Just like a baby warmly wrapped in a blanket, we, too, felt surrounded by a blanket of love, as we grew up in an atmosphere of joy, patience and good humor.  ”

The air hurts my face, the wind feels as though it is ripping my skin off at times, and somedays it’s enough to make you want to sell all your posessions and move to Guatemala (or at least BC).  But there’s also incredible beauty, living skies, wild ducks and geese, open spaces, and always, always, love.  

Besides, it eventually does warm up again.  Spring always arrives.

My grandma, looking all bad-ass in her pants and hat, sitting on the tractor with two of her brothers.

Oh Life.


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I’m almost 39, which means I’m almost 40, which means it’s about time for another life crisis.  Or upheaval.  Or rebirth.  Or whatever you want to call the existential pain I’m in.  Lately I’m a weeping, angry, directionless, spineless blob of jelly that doesn’t want to make any decisions or changes; I only want to curl up in bed and sleep for hours uninterrupted, and when I wake, my course has been decided.

Working in this office has exposed me to a world of people I didn’t know existed.  The people who pretend to work for eight hours a day, and then go home and watch television for four hours every night, so that they have something to talk about the next day because they aren’t really living their lives. The people who are so addicted to buying stuff, that’s it’s not enough to buy one item, they have to buy TWO of every item.  (Yes, two of the exact same thing because the short-lived thrill of purchasing one is not enough anymore).  The people who are so full of hate for anyone outside of their culture, race, or economic class, that it spews out of them constantly, and the people around them that find this an acceptable way to talk about and view the world.

I don’t know what I want, or what I want to do anymore.  I have to make money, but doing this for money is not good.  It’s not good to sit on your ass for eight hours a day and stare at a computer screen, pretending to work, flipping between windows every time someone walks by your computer to make it look like you weren’t scrolling through Facebook’s endless news feed.  It’s not good to feel your brain rotting because yesterday you spent an hour wiping dust off the leaves of an artificial plant because there’s not enough work for a person of your intelligence and efficiency to fill eight hours.  It’s not good to feel like vomiting whenever your boss says, “Coffee time!” because you know it’s going to be 15 minutes full of racist, sexist, homophobic comments, and you’re the ONLY ONE who doesn’t agree.

I’ve been trying to quit for two days now, but I’m a coward.  I’ve quit jobs in the past in person, but I just can’t make myself walk into his office and say the words.  I’m scared of what his reaction will be.  My boss is not an unreasonable man, but he’s certainly not a kind man, nor a very understanding man.  I’d like to just leave a letter on his desk and walk away for good.  Can I do that?

Anyway, here’s a more uplifting topic.

Homestead update:

We butchered the pigs.  (Okay, that wasn’t super uplifting, I realize)  It was a difficult weekend, but I would raise pigs again.  Will did the hardest part of dispatching them.  I’m in awe of what he’s been able to do.  He’s incredibly brave (and I’m so cowardly, I can’t even quit a job.  Sheesh!)

We had a ridiculously early snow at the beginning of October, and the roads were so bad, we were snowed in for a day.  It was very pretty, though. We got a blade for our tractor since our little John Deere snow blower couldn’t handle the wet, heavy snow.

Jenna enjoyed the snowy days very much, but sadly my carrots and beets were still in the garden (I got them out eventually,and they were just fine.  Actually, I think it helped make them a bit sweeter!)

We bought some straw bales from a farmer near Vonda (not too far from us).  I used them to insulate the coop, and provide a cozy spot for Jedi the barn cat.  Three of my five chicks are confirmed to be roosters, and two of them are total assholes to the hens, so it makes my decision quite easy on who to keep and who to send to freezer camp.  They’re all so beautiful, though.  Seems awful to dispatch such handsome roos.

We made bacon. It turned out quite salty, but yummy.  Less Mortons next time.

I feel prepared for winter now.  I wasn’t feeling very prepared a few weeks ago, but now I’m ready.  I know that time will work everything out eventually; it always does.  It’s just so difficult getting through the fumbly parts, where nothing is decided for sure and too many things are up in the air.  I try to live my life by design, instead of by default, but I’m not so convinced these days that it’s the best philosophy.  I would love to throw up my hands right now, and surrender these petty human difficulties to a higher power.  Let the gods sort it out, not I.  Perhaps that’s what I need to do anyway – just let go a bit and let life happen for awhile instead of always having to be in charge.

Until next time, take care everyone!

Harvest Time


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The best/busiest time of the year.  I am in awe of the farmers around us who work around the clock when it’s time to harvest.  You’ll often see them combining well past dark, headlights shining, trying to get the crop off before bad weather hits.  Thank you, farmers.  Growing up in the city, I never learned to truly appreciate the work they do to feed us.  I’m only one generation removed from the farm, and yet, I really had no idea what harvest entailed.

So watching the combines and swathers at work day and night has really put my small harvest in perspective; however, I feel no less busy.  Often I’m working well past dark to put aside the fruits of our labours, which will feed us during the winter.  Indulge me a crazy moment here, but I feel in my bones that it’s going to be a bad winter.  It’s going to be cold and snowy, so I’m in full on winter prep mode.  I have no reason to back up this feeling, but what’s the worst that can happen?  If it’s an awful winter, then we’re prepared; if it’s a mild winter, then we’re over prepared – win-win situation.

First up, potatoes.

We have so many potatoes.  We’ve only harvested half the potatoes we planted so far – the fingerlings and the Yukon Gold.  I still have Blue Russian and our own Hilliard Steet seed potatoes (we’ve saved the seed for about three years, and I no longer remember what type of potato they are!)  I thought we’d have at least a bushel of potatoes (which I think is 50 pounds) but now I’m thinking we’ll have more like three or four bushels of potatoes.  The fingerlings alone were 50 pounds, and we have to eat those right away because they don’t store very well.  Potatoes with every meal this winter – breakfast, lunch and supper.


This is the BEST onion harvest we’ve ever had.  We’re so pleased with our onions!  To finally have a garden that doesn’t have onion maggots is simply wonderful.  Next year, plant fewer potatoes and more onions.


I pulled all the tomatoes quite early because we had a couple nights of hard frost at the beginning of the month.  The tomatoes didn’t fair so well anyway – a lot of them had damage on them from something (?), and they are now molding as they ripen.  Next year, the tomatoes have to be planted in a more sheltered spot.  They’re a bit too sensitive for a country garden.


I’ve put up peaches, pears, cherries, apples, sour cherries, and grapes – the last two in the form of juice.  The larder is coming along very nicely.


The star of the garden this year (besides the multitudinous potatoes) was definitely the pumpkins.  Over thirty pumpkins!  The most I’ve ever grown was ten, so I don’t really know what I’m going to do with thirty pumpkins this winter.  We also had a couple of spaghetti squash and butternut squash, but they didn’t do as well as the pumpkins.  Any pumpkin recipe is welcome.


We finished butchering the last nine meat chickens.  The first six took us four hours to butcher, start to finish.  The last nine took an hour and a half, start to finish.  Yay for experience and learning!

My little laying chickens are growing bigger every day.  Just last night, I confirmed that out of five chicks, three of them are roosters.  Sigh.  That leaves me with only four hens going into winter, one of whom no longer lays.  And now I have to find homes for two roosters.  They’re already starting to crow and charge each other.  Perhaps someone would like to trade a roo for a laying hen?  I can assure you they are very good looking roosters!


All I can say is – not so little and cute anymore.  The biggest one has quite the attitude.  It will still be very difficult for me when it comes time to butcher, but they’re getting more aggressive by the day.  Still pretty awesome creatures, though.  I like them a lot more than I thought I would.  Since we butchered the meat chickens, we’ve basically only had the pigs for daily chores (the laying hens have a very large feeder and waterer).  I’m going to miss having the daily feeding chores.  Plus, I love having a slop pail to put all our food scraps in.  Nothing goes to waste.

In other news, we got ourselves a farm dog.  Her name is Jenna, and she’s a beauty.  Sleeps all day; barks all night.  Loves to wander far and wide.  Really loves to wander – she’s run away twice in the past month.  But we got her back – eventually.

Looking forward to things slowing down a bit now, once the harvest is all in and tucked away for the winter.  This weekend I’m going to pull the rest of the potatoes, and harvest the beets and carrots.  Next up will be hunting (moose and deer) and then the pigs.  Our larder shall be full indeed, and my heart full of gratitude for all the nourishing food.