It’s the beginning of June and it is beautiful here. The trees are green and the grass is growing. The sounds of spring are in the air: bees buzzing, sheep bawling (actually this is every season), crickets chirping, birds singing and dog barking (also every season). The garden is really looking fabulous. My mom planted lots and lots of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs and they are all just starting to pop out of the earth. I started feeling discouraged last week because I know that if it weren’t for my parents being here too, much of the barn and all of the garden projects wouldn’t exist. I feel like I’m getting to enjoy the spoils of the farm and not having to contribute very much. I told my mom about how I felt and she reminded that we all have our own jobs. My job just happens to be keeping the kids fed, safe and happy, doing the laundry and keeping my house clean enough that if someone stops by I can let them in. Sometimes I let people into a house that is probably too dirty for company but I try not to let it bother me. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t bother the people who pop in. I have many other jobs as well such as cleaning bathrooms, keeping a meal on the table, doing the groceries, touching poop, touching boogers, touching vomit and feeding the fish. My schedule is packed.
My sisters and I have registered for a 5k race in July and I’m determined to not be the last racer over the finish line. It would also be nice to not be the last sister over the finish line but we’ll see. This morning I bought my daughter an app for $4.59 on my phone so that she would be distracted so I could run on the treadmill for 25 minutes. I prefer to run outside but I don’t like to take the kids with me and I’m having a little trouble finding a time that works when my husband’s home and we’re not eating a meal. Anyway, I started a new diet a few weeks ago so I’ll probably be unrecognizably slender by the end of the summer.
Our livestock has changed a bit too! In the last few weeks we’ve gotten 20 poults (baby turkeys), 2 bunnies, 30 chicks, and six new laying hens. We also still have our border collie, Russell, our two ewes, Taylor and Angie, our ram lamb Harvey, Tony the rooster along with his two hens, the jersey bull calves Gus and Ollie and, of course, Hillary the goat. I traded one of my lambs for Hillary a few months ago. I found an ad on Kijiji of a strikingly handsome nanny goat.
The guy wanted $200 or he would trade for horse tack, hay, tools, sheep, etc. Angie had twin ram lambs that were a few months old so I messaged with the guy and we traded one ram lamb for one nanny goat. She’s about 2 years old and she’s never been bred so we’re going to find her a billy this summer and then we can get a baby goat. Or two. We are all very excited about this. When we first took her home we put her in the pen and we left. She immediately jumped out of her pen and had free rein in the barn. She can clear a 5 ft high fence or gate from a still position. It’s quite beautiful. She’s almost like an insect. With a beard. Dad made her pen a little higher so she can’t jump out now. I walked her to the house on a leash once or twice but then dad and I thought it would be a good idea to tie her up outside to eat some grass. We walked her to a post, hooked her up and then walked away. She hated it so much that she broke the collar off of her neck and went back to her pen. Just the other day we finished the new fence and let the animals outside. Can you imagine how good it must feel to be in the sun and on the grass after having been in a barn for the whole winter? They were all very happy. Hillary just stays in the pasture with the other animals. She could easily jump out and go to town for beers but she doesn’t. She sometimes smashes her horns into the cows’ horns and she sometimes walks on the barn wall but she basically just sticks around and eats grass. I’m looking forward to seeing how motherhood affects her.
We’ll be getting two new bull calves next week and I have Gus and Ollie booked at the butcher in August. So far we’ve eaten our own poultry but this will be the first time our animals will be food for us too. The plan is to get a pig or two and fill our freezers so that the only meat we eat is meat that we’ve raised and loved. That might sound weird to some people but I truly believe that meat from an animal that was well treated, cared for and allowed outside tastes better and is better for you. As far as calling it a pet and then eating it is concerned, I think it will get easier over time. The butcher has invited me to be present when they cut the meat. She would show me where all the cuts of meat come from, which would be really cool because I know nothing about that. I think I’m going to do it and I have a feeling that will help me to be able to enjoy our cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys as pets but also to be able to enjoy a BBQ now and then too.
My mom and I really wanted a clothesline so my dad built a little porch for us to hang our clothes on our TWO clotheslines. It’s perfect. Dad really likes to build things out of old junk and I love his creations.
This is a chicken pen for a chicken that is ill or a chicken that is a trouble maker. My dad originally built this pen for Chuck Norris, a very nasty, jerk rooster. Our current rooster, Tony, is Chuck Norris’ son. He’s way nicer than his dad.
Tony and the girls live in this nice red house built by another family member. The hens are working on filling their nests with eggs so we can hatch some chicks right here on the farm.
This is the bunny hutch. We just move it to new grass when they need food. I asked my cousin to bring one bunny for my daughter. She brought two. This may mean that we’ll have 45 bunnies in a few weeks.
This is the first and second homes that our turkeys have. The first is insulated and small for the tiny poults. There’s a hole in the roof to accommodate a heat lamp. When they’re strong enough to handle outdoor weather the first house is attached to the second house where the turkeys get some sunlight and some more room but they are still able to go into the insulated house at night.
Now that they are big enough they’ve been transferred to this: a mobile, grass-fed turkey run. Every day my dad will hook up the skid steer or one of his tractors to the unit and drag it one pen’s length. The turkeys are fed turkey food but they also get bugs and grass and other naturey things. I think this is a cool system.
He also built this hen house. There are six hens and four nests. The nests open from the back for easy egg removal and the cage is made primarily of chicken wire for adequate light and proper chicken viewing. I love my dad so much. And not just because he builds me cool stuff.
My mom is pretty rad as well. As an example, I had a drawer off to the side in the kitchen that had things like chargers and camera batteries and USB cords in it. I left an open bag of dog food in the cupboard underneath it like a dummy and the mice went to town. After that they retired to the drawer for a crap. It was pretty gross. The day I cleaned it up and put the dog food in a tote I couldn’t handle the nastiness of all the cords and stuff. I just put it all in a plastic bag and put it in the office. Recently I was cleaning up my office and my mom was talking to me about something and she picked up the bag and said, “What is this?” I explained and she just walked out with it. Later on that day she came back with all the items disinfected. She took one cute USB charger as payment and left. She also picks up groceries for me sometimes, lets me raid her kitchen all the time and has tea parties with my daughter. It’s pretty sweet.
I was telling my mom the other day that I’m feeling really thankful these days. I’m 35 (officially middle aged), happily married, and the mother of two surprising, amazing children. I get to live my dreams on a little farm with my husband, kids, mom and dad. One of my two best friends lives 4kms down a dirt road and is also a successful stay at home mom and the other is only a phone call away. It’s all just so very nice. It’s sort of a sweet spot. We’ve had hardships before and we’ll have them again but right now is a time of happiness here. Here’s to making happy memories this summer! xo