We bought our first two horses, our first chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and goats while we lived here. We started a rabbitry there, and we were just starting to turn a profit, after investing heavily in barn repairs, cages, watering system and stock. I had 85 does and kits everywhere.
In the overview below you can see our 'woods', the pond, and the railroad tracks at the back. That's an off ramp for the 401 on the right, and carpool parking in front.
Except every time landlord or his kid showed up, they complained about what we were doing. We didn't spray the apple tree, the apples would be junk- as they helped themselves. 'Are you growing tomatoes?' as they tromped through my garden. You can't have a horse- it will smell. You can't use the fields (empty)- you're only renting the house. He wouldn't spend any money on the house- giving us the choice once to either replace the pump for the well ourselves or move. That pump is now sitting in my garage, because I wasn't about to leave it behind when we did move.
At any rate, we stayed until he informed us he was going to raise the already overpriced rent to $1000/month. That's the day we started shopping.
Husband was a long distance truck driver, so where we lived wasn't as important as how we lived. We searched all of Ontario and Manitoba on the MLS website, for a simple 3 bedroom house with a barn and some land in our price range.
When we first saw this place I wasn't all that impressed. It's mostly bush, with all of the barns and out buildings crowded into a few acres. Husband had to talk me into it.
So, November 30, 2007, when the Bigs were Little and the Littles were Tiny, we packed up all of our earthly possessions- or at least the ones that would fit in the truck- and left the south on a wet and dreary fall day. We headed north to our new home and new life, arriving to two feet of snow in the midst of winter.
And it snowed and it snowed and it snowed. That first winter it didn't seem like it was ever going to stop. But it did. When the temperature dipped from -20°C to -45°C, there was no snow at all. We may have been a bit shell shocked.
Eventually we got brave enough to venture out in the cold and snow and got to know our new city. The Bigs got started at Navy League,
Tori and Sailor made the trip up north,
we met the neighbours, found the auction, and bought a cow.
When we lost Sailor that winter, northern neighbour made us a deal on the big girls.
|Bella was a pony trapped in a monster's body.|
|The horse cart- chicken coop, workshop and tack room behind.|
The first spring brought the first piglets, and the first garden. We set the piglets up in a movable pen to till the soil. They did a great job, until they figured out how to lift the pen themselves and escape.
Then we spent a lot of time trying to find and catch the wee beasties. I wasn't sad to see the first two go in the fall. The smaller two we overwintered, and butchered in the spring.
The garden did poorly the first few years- late spring frosts, early fall frosts, and depleted soil left me wanting.
We raised meat chicks and egg layers, and fed the foxes really well. Not too many made it to the table.
Dorie's first calf was still born, so we figured what the heck? Let's milk a beef cow! Lots of delicious milk, butter and yogurt that summer (2008).
My MIL went into a nursing home, leaving my FIL on his own. We began construction on the add-a-room- a home for him in our yard.
My Dad built the woodstove, we used our trailer for kitchen and bathroom facilities, the boys hauled water and firewood for him.
|From left- house, horse sleigh, add-a-room, swingset.|
And less than two years later he went to live with 1 BIL, and 6 months later another.
The add-a-room makes a great playroom now.
And we do love our toys. They're what makes the long, cold winters bearable.
We built stalls in the barn, which the horses didn't like, and therefore helped remove them.
We found a lake in the woods and dubbed it 'Bathtub' because the water was so warm and clear.
We acquired more horses and let them mow the lawn.
The spring of 2010 brought Maddy & Mindy to the farm, along with Nelly's mother, who died delivering her twin. Nelly was my bottle baby. Maddy later went to live with northern neighbour.
She's no longer on the bottle, but she's still a big baby. A really big baby.
#1 wanted to raise goats, so he bought Mama, who has been producing kids like a pro. She helped raise Nelly, too.
We bought Pig, who was much bigger than we had planned, but we couldn't find any piglets that year. She never stayed in her pen and wouldn't till the garden, preferring the flower bed where we'd find her napping every morning. She didn't live here long.
We strung barbed wire. Lots of barbed wire.
We bought hay. We built the hay lean-to.
We helped harvest hay.
We hauled hay. We bought more hay, and more hay and more hay.
We finally decided enough was enough. The hay burners had to go. We sold the Belgiums and the stallion. We lost dear sweet Rita. We bought Knightmare in 2011- who tricked us into raising a foal.
We rebuilt the hay lean-to three times, after heavy snow falls slid off the barn and knocked it down.
And then we bought Toothless. Since Nelly had done so well we decided to raise a bottle bull. Dorie babysat.
He could be a poppa next spring, but he's still so little I'm not betting on it.
We cut firewood. Lots and lots of firewood.
More firewood every year.
The Bigs learned how to use a chainsaw. #2 built the woodshed. We cut lots and lots of firewood.
The Bigs graduated from Navy League and joined Sea Cadets in 2009. #1 started highschool in 2010. Since Sea Cadets was in the Big City, there were lots of nights when homework was skipped, or he had to miss cadets to do assignments for school.
When #2 started highschool in 2011, I made them quit Sea Cadets and join Air Cadets in Highschool Town. They could stay after school and do homework, eat out, and walk to cadets. It took awhile for them to adjust, and they'd still rather be sailing, but they're both progressing. #2 was a Guard of Honour at this year's Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Fall of 2010 my Dad taught #2 how to build our first greenhouse. That led to the turkey shack, a second greenhouse, and the wood shed. #2's a pro at these buildings now.
Spring of 2011 we began our adventure in raising Orlopp's Bronze turkeys.
The Littles used their ingenuity to move them from the brooder to the turkey pen.
The geese had work to do, guarding the turkeys. It went well in 2011, in 2012 we lost all of the chickens and most of the turkeys to foxes and wildlife.
The garden got better with time, composted manure, ashes, coffee grounds, and the endless battle against the twitch grass.
The greenhouses extended the season. I'm still learning how to not turn them into a jungle though.
There were lots of odd jobs along the way.
|the walls in the Bigs' room|
Through it all we took time to pick the blueberries,
play in the woods,
make new friends,
|#1, #4, Husband, #2, #3.|
and grow up.