Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wonder are you Sleeping?

Upside Down?
In my bed?
In the closet?
Did I wake you?  So sorry...
In Grandma's chair?
In my truck?
On the quad?
In the laundry basket?
With the puppy?
With the puppies on the couch?
On your blanket?  In the sunroom?  Where you belong?

 How odd.

Shhh.  Wonder is sleeping.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hey, Johnny!

It's almost time!  Apple seed time!  Our first year on the farm my boys bought me two apple trees for mother's day.  The best present ever!  We were already sorely missing our apple tree from the old place.  The pretty, fragrant flowers in the spring, watching the apples grow, and of course those first crunchy bites in the fall.  We believed them to be Crispin apples, a sweet yellow variety.

The house my parents lived in, where I spent most of my child hood, had some kind of wild apple trees strewn about the fence lines.  They were larger than crab apples, and sweeter, but smaller and more tart than macintosh's.   They also had two large pear trees.

I grew up gathering apples, picking wind falls off the ground, and always with that sweet smell in the air in the spring.  Moving here we were blessed with pin cherries, choke cherries, and elderberries.  No apples, no pears.  The weather's pretty extreme for them.  But I am an apple kind of girl, and so we set about beginning our little apple orchard.  With no idea of what we were doing.

Those first trees, and the two pear trees that followed the following year, are all but dead.  They were grafted trees, different varieties on some sort of root stalk.  The root stalks have survived our harsh winters, but the grafts all died.

I've since done some research, pertaining to our weather, growing season, growing zone, and apples.  It is possible, but expensive, to buy trees that should survive here.  If I can find them.

I came across a web site that explained how to start apple trees from seed.  I've been burying apple seeds my whole life, but I've never seen an apple tree appear.  This method, simple, with noticeable results.  I gave it a try.

Keep your apple seeds in the fridge or freezer for several months.  They need to experience the cold.  Then, in February or March, put them in a ziploc bag with a little moist moss, paper towel, egg carton.  Like starting seeds in grade school science class, when you wanted to see the root.  And put them back in the fridge.  Or the basement.  Or the cold room...  Some place cool and dark.  Ignore until spring.

How easy is that?  So I tried it 2 years ago, and when I checked them in the spring I had started three out of six baby apple trees.

Later,  I had 'the great debate' on an email list regarding the merits of growing apple trees from seed.  The apples we eat are some kind of hybrid cross pollination development, and the seeds they produce aren't 'true' to the parent.  I kept my babies, the two that survived a couple of transplants, and finally transplanted them to the ground last fall.  Last spring, I didn't try to make more.  Who knows if, or what, those babies will ever produce.

 I have goats.  Goats will eat anything.  Goats like a varied diet.  Goats will eat the whole apple tree if they can reach it.  Goats can reach baby apple trees barely poking out of the ground.  They can also reach expensive nursery trees.  They have attacked both.
Oscar:  Bring the camera closer, I will eat it, too.

What to do, what to do.  The dilemma.  I've given it a lot of thought.  I've decided to take a note from Johnny Appleseed.  A thousand scraggly, crab apply, sour, small appled, large appled, red, yellow and green apples of ANY home grown variety, have got to be better than NO apple trees at all.

I've been saving seeds for quite some time, and will continue to do so.  And I will plant them all.  And someday, maybe, I will wake on a fine spring morning, to the sweet smell of apple blossoms in the air.

Friday, January 28, 2011

An egg, an egg!

My kingdom for an egg!

It's been a few weeks since the last egg.  This one was over looked yesterday.  It froze and cracked through the night, but a what a wonderful surprise to find today!  This has been our shortest winter moult/loss of production by far!  The first year we were without fresh farm eggs for nearly 8 months!

Keep your cow in your chicken coop!  A remarkable source of heat!
Deep bedding- ie, not cleaning out the chicken coop, and continually adding more hay, also helps the birds keep warm.  Keep 'em coming ladies!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mama's Moved In

To the chicken coop.  The rabbitry, actually.  The small room off the side of the chicken coop.

She's looking a little plump.

Hey Mama!  Have you got babies in there?
We got Oscar just at the end of April last year.  Goats have a 5 month gestation period, so we could have had babies as early as September.  Mama is looking the plumpest, so we've moved her inside.  It could be any day.  Or it could be a couple of months.  Hard to tell.  Goats tend to bulk up a lot in the winter.  She wasn't interested in standing up today to let me take a look at her udder.  I'm pretty sure it won't be too long though!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brrr... It's cold in here...

-40° C last night.  
47° F in the house this morning.  
With both fires roaring all day, we're up to a balmy 67° F.  
It warmed up to -24° C outside.
Tonight's low is only supposed to go to -33° C.

The kitchen is much warmer.  Almost unbearably hot, actually.
The sunroom fire heats the kitchen.
The oven has been on all day.  Bread this morning.  Ham all afternoon.
A fan pushes heat from the sunroom through the kitchen, towards the livingroom.
Upstairs feels like the fire went out hours ago and nobody bothered to relight it.
There is frost on the inside of all the windows.  And up the inside of the doors.

The truck wouldn't start this morning.  It was plugged in all night.
Dad's truck wouldn't start this morning.  It was plugged in all night.
The car wouldn't start this morning.
Hubby put the charger on the battery for a couple of hours.
That, along with some ether, and the spare battery, got the car going.
He boosted everything else with the car.

After running for nearly two hours, the truck is still not warmed up.
Hubby has left for work anyway.

Keeping Dorie in the chicken coop over night has kept the pump from freezing.
The pump in the barn is frozen solid.
Not enough bodies, too much space.
We'll be carting water from the chicken coop to the barn for the rest of the winter.

It's cold in here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hiding Out in Hermit Land

It's winter.  I'm a hermit.  And I'm struggling with one of the worst cases of the winter blahs I've ever had.

I manage to drag my ass out of bed in the morning, pop a D3 and a couple of B12s, get the kid on the bus.  A cup of tea, and the other three straggle down the stairs.  I give them their assignments, and I go for a nap.

It's cold.  We've been running -25°C to -35°C.  I am freezing.  All I want to do is hide under the covers all day.  I eventually drag my ass back out of bed for a couple of hours and work diligently on trying to get caught up on the taxes.  We're a bit behind, and Revenue Canada is getting a bit annoyed.

#2 finds a movie on in the late afternoons, and I take a break to watch it.  Or at least that's the plan.  I wake up and cook supper.

I can not believe how much I'm sleeping and how tired I still am.  At first I thought it was just the remnants of flu recovery.  We had a relatively mild flu go through the house just after New Year's.  The kids bounced back in a couple of days.  I slept for a week, pretty much straight.  I am getting better now, but that was two weeks ago.  No way I can blame it on the flu now.

To add to my general misery, we had to put Sugar down.  She broke her leg.  We think she probably fractured it when she slipped on the ice, and just couldn't keep her weight on it long enough to heal.  1200 pounds is a lot of weight on a fractured bone.  At least, I can't think of any other way it could have happened.  #2 went out to do chores one morning and found her lying in a pool of blood in the milk room.  The bone had snapped and went right through the skin.  He's completely heart broken.

So we went from 7 to 1.  One horse.  The pasture is sad and lonely.  I think Tori's depressed too.

Wonder, our puppy- just 8 months old now, delivered six puppies.  She went outside and hid in Cindy's doghouse for the delivery.  #1 found her & disturbed her after the second one was born.   She tried to abandon them and come in the house.  We sent her back out to finish her business.  The next morning she had six, but the first two were dead.  We moved her into the house.  Two more have died since- I think she's laying on top of them.  They might be defective though, with her being so young.  We'll see what happens.

Cold, snow, death, misery.  I just don't want to get out of bed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

And what an adventure it was!!

I said I was ready for new adventure, and what an adventure it was!!

Hubby left with fil to pick up mil from the nursing home while the boys and I finished getting ready to go.  We were standing in the driveway with the car running when they pulled in.  I glanced over at the pasture and saw a hoof wiggling around in an odd fashion, just behind a cow.

Sugar was down.  She slipped on the ice a few days ago, and has a bad limp.  I think she laid down on purpose, but she couldn't get back up on her own.  We got her back up on her feet and walked her over to the milk room to spend the night.  Gave her fresh hay, some oats, and horse aspirin.  As soon as she got inside she started the crazies, which may have helped with her recuperation.  Sugar was probably kept in a small stall in her former life.  When we tie her up to saddle her, or in this case, lock her up for the night, she starts swinging back and forth, making huge circles with her neck, staring into space.  The crazies kept her on her feet and got the blood flowing again.  All good.

So, we finally left, an hour or so late, and now out of gas, because I don't stop to worry about silly things like shutting off my car when I have a horse down.  We also had to stop at the store to pick up a new magic bullet (yes, it truly died this time) and salt for bil, who's driveway is reportedly a mess.  We left fil on the highway, and we turned off to go into Kirkland Lake.  Quick run through Canadian Tire, and we were back on the road.  Hubby calls fil to see how far they've made it, and we'll catch up in 5 minutes.  OMG!  He is driving like a loon.  Right by a cop.  Oh joy.  20 minutes later we are on our way again, $53 poorer.

We get off the highway and start down the crazy ass long, windy, hilly road to bil's place.  Hubby starts picking up speed again.  He drives me crazy.  There is a moose walking off the road as we round the bend.  We just catch his rear end in the tail lights.  A sane person would hit the brakes.  Slow down.  Give the moose lots of room.  Not my hubby.  He speeds up and aims for it.  'Cause, you know, he wants to get a better look.  And it's already off the road.  You stupid ass.  That's all I can think.  Very lucky that the moose didn't decide to play who's the stupidest with hubby and head back toward the road.  Damn city slicker.

It's about this time that my car starts making clunky grinding noises at every bend.

It's always good to make sure Mama's in a good mood before asking her to spend the evening with the in-laws.  'Cause if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy...

We finally arrive.  About three hours late.  Bil's house is on a hill, but down hill from the road.  Down, then up.  The whole thing is an ice rink.  Seriously.  I should have brought my skates.  Hubby backs fils car in, and it slides back down the hill after he put it in park.  Oh joy.  Bil takes a stab at it, and manages to back it far enough onto the 'lawn' to keep it from sliding away.  Another hour or so, getting mil out of the car, into the wheel chair, up another hill, through the snow, and into the house.

Everyone is finally in the house, and my heart breaks as I watch my two nieces who haven't seen their grandmother in a couple of years, trying to talk to her and show off their babies.  One handles it ok, the other is visably distraught.  It's hard to explain mils condition to people who haven't seen her in a long time.  She stares into space, ignoring the babies plopped in front of her, mumbling incoherently.  It's horrible.

Sil, who has been cooking for two days- two turkeys, all the trimmings, pies, etc., apologizes for everything being cold.  As if she planned it that way.  On the one hand I feel bad because her meal was all but ruined, on the other hand, I think they finally understand what I go through every time they come to spend the day at our place.

I got mil's pills ready for her and niece 2 of 6 attempted feeding her.  She has no teeth left, and difficulty swallowing, so all of her food has to be ground up.  Her pills are crushed and mixed with a bit of apple sauce.  She takes one mouthful, gets the horrible taste, and refuses to open her mouth again.  Bil takes over.  He gets two more spoonfuls into her.  Niece 6 of 6 tries for a bit.  No luck.  Bil again.  One spoonful left.  She won't take it.  They threaten her.  They try to bribe her.  They give up.  It is my job to sit and wait and make her eat it while she stares at me hatefully.  I guess I should be grateful, because at least with me I know she's still in there.  She doesn't stare into space and ignore me.  But she does hate me ever so much more than she used to.  She knows I will not give up, I will not go away.  I will sit there as long as it takes holding that spoon in front of her mouth.  She finally does.  She gets to eat her supper.

An hour later she is drifting off at the table.  We have to get her back to the nursing home.  The procedure to get her loaded into the car starts again.  Another hour and we are on our way.  Hubby drives them in fils car, because he can't see well enough to drive at night.  I get to enjoy a peaceful ride home by myself, my children all sleeping.  Just me, the radio, and the grinding clunk of my car at every bend.                                                                     

Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting back in the swing of things

I'm back!  Not that I actually went anywhere, but I have finally started starting my mornings in the usual routine once again, almost.  #1 doesn't return to school until Wednesday, so I wasn't up at half past ridiculous, but otherwise, I am back to my morning tea, email and blogs, and a little writing of my own.

The boys have been staying up way too late.  Actually, a couple of them have been staying up all night long.  Getting them back onto a reasonable schedule will be quite the endeavor this week.

The boys' computer crashed on Christmas eve.  Again.  Kind of funny, really.  Not funny ha ha, but funny peculiar.  The years we bought super nintendo and wii- the computers were fine.  The years that the big gifts were computer software, their computer kicks the bucket.  Go figure.  #3 and #4 started pulling all nighters so they could get their computer fixes through the night.  And I have to admit, I preferred them sleeping all day to whining over my shoulder about lack of computer time.  It has been replaced now, so hopefully getting them back on schedule won't be a total nightmare.

We have one more Christmas dinner/party to go to, today.  Then it's all done for another year.  This is with hubby's family, so it will be totally weird.  Because it's the first.  After years of being told I was going to hell and taking my children with me, and they couldn't visit us in December, because my totally non religious celebration offended them, and year's of stupidity about eating a meal together- my no longer pretending to be jehovah's witnesses relatives have decided to celebrate an old fashioned home made christmas.  Or at least that was the original plan.  Now it's just a meal, no gifts.  Funny.  I was panicky and resentful about having to make home made gifts- did I mention I'm not crafty?- and then last week they decided that they weren't doing gifts.  Ha. 

Christmas at home was good, and Christmas with my parents was great.  Dad got me a new pocket knife-the last of it's kind.  Better not break this one.  The laws have been changed, so now the locks are different, very annoying, and in my not so humble opinion, not as safe.  I broke the last one last summer, snapped the blade while trying to pop a lid off a hard plastic bucket.  And I cried.  It's nearly impossible to find a pocket knife not made in China around here, even when you go to the sporting goods store.  Dad picked mine up in the US.  At the moment, they're still manufactured there.  It's important not to buy knives made in China, if you can.  All steel is not created equal, and Chinese steel sucks.  Buy German, Canadian or Japanese steel for best quality.  Anywhere other than China for better quality.  Your knife will hold a sharper edge longer.  And mom got me a new cast iron frying pan.  Awesome.  I seasoned it yesterday, with bacon grease.  Aren't I easy to please?  I'm a very happy girl.

My brother and sil were up after Christmas to do some sledding.  The weather was not particularly cooperative.  We had about 3 feet of snow...
Ebony and Waldo

and lovely, cool, sunny, weather

until they arrived, and it rained for three days.  Rain, in December!?  Who would have thought.  We're down to about half a foot now, which is really more ice than snow.  The temperature has dropped again now, and there were a few snow flakes floating around this morning.  Winter is still far from over.

All of our puppies are gone now.  The last one, Ruckus, left Saturday night.  He was the hardest.  One of Ebony's and twelve weeks old to the day.  We were getting awfully attached.
Ruckus and Wonder

I miss watching him play with his dad the most.  They were two peas in a pod.

All of these pics were taken with my new camera...  an early birthday present from hubby, since we weren't supposed to be getting each other Christmas presents.  I now have a flash!  No more squinting at the screen trying to figure out what that is in the picture!!  Will wonders never cease?  He forgot to get me a memory card, which turned out pretty cool.  My last real camera died a couple of years ago, and I've been using my camera phone ever since.  Well, I took the memory card from it and popped it in the new camera.  Surprise, surprise, there were still pictures on it!
Including this lovely head shot of Rita mowing the lawn.

I thought it would be hard to remember to carry a camera again, but so far, so good.  I've already snapped more pics with it than I have in the past couple of months.

The days are beginning to get noticeably longer again.  Well, I noticed on New Year's Day, anyway.  It was still day light at 5:15pm.  Very cool.  Life returns.  Soon #1 will be able to do chores after school again.  He doesn't get home til nearly 5, so #2 has been helping him out before dark.

#1 and #2 found themselves working down the road through the holidays.  Our neighbour broke her leg, so she hired the boys to clean out stalls for her.  She's happy with their work ethic, and has offered them ongoing work.  Yay for everyone!  She gets help, boys get money, mom doesn't have to drive them anywhere!

So, I think that's it.  Back in the swing.  Ready for new adventure.