April 21, 2015

Spring has sprung, it really has!

This amazingly wonderful spring weather has had us all outdoors nearly every waking moment. There is so much to do to ready our little homestead for the growing season. I went around the pasture two days in a row and hacked-hacked-hacked down all the overgrown weeds and little trees and wild bushes, clearing the space for the fences we will put up in the following weeks. The animals are still confined to the barn as there are no fences here, and unlike our old place where they were free to roam - fenceless - there is much less land here, and the neighbours are much closer. No one particularly likes to discover a flock of feral sheep in your backyard eating the emerging tulip stems, do they!? We do take a couple ducks out to the pond each day and let them splash and play, but they are eager to get back to their cozy coop in the barn, and happily waddle back there after their pond-bath.

We have taken walks in the woods near our home and found wild leeks, interesting rock formations and abandoned mining carts from long ago. The scenery here is very beautiful, and so different from our last place. The woods are peaceful, with lots of hills and rocks. The deer frequently pass through the hill behind the house, as do flocks of wild turkeys. The tree frogs sing in the pond each night and the windows are open. Bliss.

Jason has started, with the help of one of our good homesteading friends Andrew, repairing the barn in spots. Overall, it is sturdy and well-built, but some things are in need of fixing immediately, like dry rot in the wood of a few beams and posts. Last weekend they poured a concrete support under a vital post in the hay loft that was to be sitting on the stone foundation but was 'floating' in the air because the beam under it had rotted out. We all feel much better that it has been remedied! 

One of the nicest discoveries this past week were the vegetable garden beds that the previous owners had made. I am not sure of the time-line, but we are thinking they had been unused for 8-10 years or so, and in that time had become completely covered with various fast-growing weeds and trees and wild, tangley plants that were extremely difficult to remove! When I finally liberated the garden beds, still sporting their wooden edging, I was pretty happy. Jason got right to work digging them up and now we are on our way to having gardens full of bursting herbs and vegetables! The greenhouse is in full-swing; we have a variety of things started already. It's very exciting and fun to start over, to start fresh, but to do so with all the knowledge and experience we have amassed while homesteading at our last home is wonderful! The icing on the cake will be having chickens again. I was supposed to bring them home today actually, but the looming avian flu virus has prompted the supplier to push back the date, for the sake of safety. I appreciate the biosecurity measures this poultry farm is taking as I have learned the hard way that taking (unknowingly) sick birds in can pretty much decimate your entire flock. They chicks will come when they come, and by then, Jason hopes to have coops built in the barn; separate ones for both the chickens and the ducks, and an additional area for quail. We will be using the little duck coop he built during the winter for a brooder. Yay!

On the blustery or rainy days, we stay inside and the boys draw and draw and draw. Both of them are addicted now, and they happily incorporate letters and writing into their lovely drawings. Jude (5 yrs) is writing words and sentences quite regularly now, and is improving daily (It's amazing how fast little ones learn!) and Ollie (3 yrs) enjoys writing random letters, and can spell his name (: When they tire of working quietly at the table, they ask for good dancing music with drums (Lately, the Chieftans have been a BIG hit!) and they dance wildly in the kitchen until they desperately need a glass of water (:

April 8, 2015

random good times

A late night doodle!

Readying for apple crisp

Apple crisp just about to go into the oven

Little boys explode toys

Chicken noodle soup at back; potatoes and onions for Spanish omelettes in the front

Chicken noodle soup!

Backyard visitors

Jude and Ollie playing in the "spring" air

My Rosy Ollie!

I can't wait until the landscape is green!

Superheroes (-;

The bravest of all Supermen

Jason in the barn

Macaroni and cheese with homemade gluten free croutons on top

Jason's lunch

Jude and Matilda

In the bedroom

On warmer days, we go outside and RUN!

...and poke the mud

It's very cathartic to play in the cool mud

We had our very first outside lunch of the year! The boys were beyond delighted

Ollie is Spider-man!

and here he is as Darth Vader

And last but not least, a delicious chocolate-chip cookie cake!

March 30, 2015

Love is woolly!

My beautiful Teapot is in the forefront. 

All of my beauties!

Sweet, handsome Noble (:

All of my sheep (there are six) are shut up in the barn for the winter, or at least until the ground thaws and we can put up some fencing! They have fared very well, which may have something to do with the special 'hot breakfast' and 'hot supper' I bring them each day. It is a mixture of hay cubes that have been soaked in hot water, sheep grain and sheep mineral, and the occasional leftover apple peels from my oatmeal preparations each morning, all stirred up and served in six individual buckets. They are SPOILED! But really, I would gladly just throw a bale of hay into their pen, but when we moved here I brought all the hay I had; It was enough to last a few months, not an entire winter. Soaked hay cubes are a wonderful second choice, and they do quite love them. Yum yum.

Poor Noble has been separated from the main group for a few months now. His leg was injured somehow and he could put no weight on it and was really struggling to stand up and lay down, so I concocted a makeshift 'rehabilitation pen' that is still within the main sheep pen and where he can still hang out with his buddies all day but where they can't ram him. In the beginning, I trimmed his hooves and gave him St.John's wort tincture to take down inflammation. I then made warm comfrey compresses every second day, packed the herb around his ankle and wrapped it well. I don't know if it helped, but I am so happy that now he seems to have healed nicely. He is no longer limping, and can scoot around quickly and bounce in his pen! I am going to leave him in there until the outside fencing is up, as I don't want to chance him getting rammed again. He is blind in one eye so he doesn't see when another sheep is going to bash into him, and cannot brace himself for the impact, which is likely what caused the leg injury in the first place.

I climb into Noble's pen with him every day and give him lots of hugs and kisses; he is a very affectionate fellow. I want him to feel loved and not so isolated, even though he is cut off from his buddies. He is a trooper. He nearly died after being born in the freezing cold; His mother died after birth and by the time the farmer ventured out the next morning, Noble and his sister were frozen and thought to be dead. She didn't make it, and even though they thought they would lose him too, he just kept going. He couldn't walk for weeks because of nerve damage from frostbite, but he eventually learned even though he is a big gangley and goofy when he ambles along. And though he is blind in one eye and his vision is greatly impaired, he has a great sense of hearing that makes up for it. He is a beautiful soul, gentle and loving and so very trusting of us. I love him. I love all my sheep!

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