Spring fever Part two?

I love living in a small town! In my last entry I mentioned I was going to look for someone to help me take down the horse shelter. I posted an ad on a couple of our local facebook pages and within an hour had someone lined up. He came out the next morning and in two short hours had the roof and sides off. I helped where I could – which is to say not much at all except to haul the 4×8 sheets of OSB boards from the pasture to our front yard. Not such a big deal – but those boards are heavy and I was ever so grateful that we still have snow and icy patches on the ground to slide the boards on.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours removing any left over screws from the 2x4s and the OSB and then moved 8 sheets to our front deck so I can get started building the chicken coop on a level surface. I was pretty proud of myself for having done so using the cordless drill driver and circular saw. I’ve not been able to handle any power tools since my first surgery and since my building skills are not the best, I’ve always been relegated to helper status when Tom & I have had any building projects.  I surprised myself yesterday because the de-construct went really, really well. When I just couldn’t get a couple of 2×4’s unscrewed, without hesitation got our the saw and cut them apart. Have to admit it was pretty interesting doing so in our crazy spring weather. Warm and sunny led to high winds and hail then snow and back to sunshine and with temps about +7C. Although, by the time I was done I was pretty sore and retreated inside for a cup of tea and some Advil. I sat down with the tea and woke up two hours later 🙂

So far this morning it is sunny with no wind, so I think I’ll wait until it warms up a bit more before I go out and start by building nesting boxes. If that goes off without a hitch then I might get brave enough to start building the actual coop. I’d like to get this done before Tom gets home next weekend because it would be nice to say that I was able to do this without having to make him do all the work. And it would be a victory on my long return to full health and reclaiming my strength. If building the nesting boxes doesn’t go well, I’ll just go continue tearing down the pallets we used for the horse shelter.

We built the temporary shelter last fall because 1) our landlords didn’t want anything permanent built and 2) being new horse owners I wanted to be sure they had shelter, but apparently my boys preferred to use trees instead. So we are going to re-purpose the wood to build our new coop and pig pen shelter for our weaner pigs. The pig shelter can wait until the snow is gone though. The chickens are due as soon as I can get the coop built.

These are pics of the temporary shelter. It wasn’t pretty but it did work. The boys only used it to poop in over the past two weeks 😦

Pics of the coop as I make progress 🙂

 

Spring Fever

I admit I get a wee bit crazy at this time of year. Every year by the time March rolls around, we’ve usually had some great warm, spring like days and I start to dream about gardening. I’m not sure if it is actually those slightly warmer sunny days or if it is the longer hours of daylight, but I get antsy and can’t wait to get started. It’s a bit ironic because for years I ran dogsled tours and would be cursing the early spring thaw, wishing and praying for more snow to prolong the season. And now…

I haven’t been able to do much in the way of gardening in the last few years, although I had big gardens for many years. So this year has seen a big increase in plans for this coming spring & summer. We’re getting chickens and pigs and planning a pretty decent sized garden. To that end, I’ve already started tomatoes, yellow & red peppers, cucumber, zucchini, spaghetti squash, kale, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, chives & parsley. There’s more to get going, but until I get the greenhouse fixed up, I have no more room in the house. And of course then there are the veggies and flowers that have to be started outside, once the danger of the last frost is past.

For the first time since 2008, we’ll have chickens again and I learned long ago that it was to my benefit to buy birds that have either just started or are about to lay. I bought a rooster yesterday and he’ll make the move here once I get the coop built. I have a line on some year old, just starting to lay hens and so the push is on to get a coop built. As soon as it is the girls will be coming home. The piglets have been ordered and should be here some time around the end of April. I’m so excited and a wee bit frustrated as here I sit, planning and plotting and trying to be patient because we still have two feet of snow on the ground and it isn’t leaving any time soon!

It should be interesting to see how the seedlings do, because I haven’t had much luck in the past when starting from seed. Of course, because of that, this year I planted  way too many of each and they’ve already had to be transplanted into bigger pots. Most of the plants are just two weeks old today!

I’ve just put the word out that I’m looking for someone to dismantle the temporary horse shelter we put up last fall so we can re-purpose the wood to build the chicken coop. And with what is left over, we’ll get the pig shelter built. We’ll worry about something in the fall for the horses, because they barely used the shelter we built this year, except to poop in. Apparently the trees here are big enough and they were happier under them than in the lean-to.

So baby and spring fever has hit and I’m just waiting for the big thaw to happen.

Here are pics of the breeds of birds we are getting: Lavender Orpington’s The rooster is actually our new boy.

imagesuez2he86 A few of these lovelies: Buff Orpington’s

And with any luck a few of these beautiful Amercauna’s:

 

And then there are the piglets: imagesjgrzsj52

The veggies:

I can hardly wait! Woo HOO come on spring 🙂

 

 

Lessons from my youth

When I was 17, my parents moved us to the back woods of Northern BC in an attempt to get out of the ‘rat race’. At the time my sister & I thought they had simply found another way to torture us. No running water, no electricity, just back to basics. Of which they really had no clue.  Thus began a five year adventure in learning to be self sufficient. We packed water by bucket for the first summer, until my dad finally found the well that connected to the house. We learned to garden in very rocky soil – which is to say – not well at all. I learned to use a gas powered wringer washing machine and that clothes will freeze solid when being wrung out at 40 below. I learned to chop firewood and how to prime the hand pump when we needed water in the house. Through various stages in my life I’ve had cause to look back at those days and laugh at our incompetence and naivety and occasionally found ways to apply that information.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is my first winter with horses and it has been a huge learning curve. When we found our property, I did a happy dance because there was a water hydrant in the pasture and an insulated trough. And all was well in my world until mid-December. The waterer worked great during our -35C temps and then we warmed up to -15C and whoops- the waterer froze up and couldn’t be used. So from mid-December to this week, I’ve been packing 20 – 25 gallons of water daily to the horses.

I even have a system, which includes putting a large rubbermaid container onto a small plastic sided toboggan, filling it with 5 gallon buckets (x4) and then hauling it out to the trough, bucketing it out and repeating as necessary. Not really a big deal. Except that I have some health issues and not supposed to lift ANY thing. But I do – because a) it needs to be done and b) I am not going to stop living because of an irritating disability.

This week our weather was unseasonably warm and while I was trying to cleanup some of the horse manure around the trough I thought what the heck and began to play with the hydrant.  I have periodically tried to see if the hydrant would work and the handle simply would not move. Until this week. I did hear a little water trickle and so began to fiddle with the handle as lessons from my youth caught up with me. So as I remembered about priming the pump, I put the attached hose into the trough and began to pump the handle. And Eureka – after four or five pumps, the water was running again!

So now I can smile and be thankful for the lessons learned.

 

A new appreciation for football training

I had to pick up hay yesterday and then the joy of unloading it at -20C. Normally it isn’t an issue, since i Am usually able to unload by rolling the bale off the truck.

Now I probably need to explain that this is our first winter with horses and we are using 600 lb round bales. When we ordered our hay for the year it was under the mistaken idea that my hubby Tom, would actually be here to help unload. Well, it turns out he’s working in a logging camp five hours away from home and is only home for two days every two weeks. That means that I am on my own to pick up and unload the hay every 10 days.

So far this winter he’s been home exactly twice. Which means that I have had to be pretty creative in how I get the bales off the truck. Depending on how the bale gets loaded where we pick it up, I can usually get it off without too much trouble. I have a system – and it isn’t pretty to watch – but works and makes me ever so grateful that no one can see me. I am usually able to get up into the back of the pickup and brace myself against the cab of the truck and use my legs to push the bale up and off the truck.

Of course, yesterday was an exercise in frustration. I didn’t really notice that the bale got loaded right up against the cab of the truck until I got home and had to climb up to wrap it in a hay net and then try to get to off. So began an hour long struggle to move the bale. I ended up jimmying it from side to side until I could get between it and the back of the truck box. And for whatever reason yesterday I just couldn’t muster enough strength to flip it off. So then I began to use my whole body & shoulders to push. It only took a few minutes of this to make me stop and laugh as I realized what makes young football players so tough.

So as I was gasping for breath and leaning against the bale for support, both of our horses were ‘circling the wagon’ in anticipation of the new hay. From the way they carry on you’d think they were starving, however, reality is that both boys are FAT. And haven’t gone hungry for a minute since they came to live with us. Tom’s horse Floyd, is more easily persuaded to stay away, but my boy, Gold is persistent. In addition to trying to keep the boys away from the truck, both our dogs were adding to the fun as they were looking for any treats that might be in the hay for them. There never is.

Several of my horsey friends have suggested that I use a tractor or a quad or a tree or fence post to help but since a tractor or quad isn’t in the cards until later this year and the feeder is in the middle of the pasture with nothing solid enough to attach to pull it off, I am stuck with wrestling it myself.

Believe me- next year things will be different 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

First blog post

Welcome to my new blog!

With the start of a new chapter in life, I’m finding that I have many mini-adventures that need to be captured – if only for the sake of the humor of my days.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will enjoy as I share my adventures about starting over on a small rural property