Monday, March 14, 2011

Simple pleasures are the best...

Me and Luki
Our Great Pyrenees 2 Yr Old Male

Our Display - Woodstock Farmer's Market
    Bobby McFerrin says in the song "Simple Pleasures" ,
 Simple pleasures are the best, Yes they are, I'm so happy , 
I'm a happy man, Yes I am, Yes I am

I'm so happy, Simple pleasures are the best, Oh yeah
 (You may remember Bobby McFerrin from "Don't Worry Be Happy Now")

I don't know if I should even bother to tell you why SIMPLE PLEASURES came to mind today, since Bobby said it so well... But since you are still reading, I guess I have too! Poor, poor you! OK since you are here, I may as well start to say something!

I guess I am not sure how to adequately express  how I feel right now. The last few days have been so great, so rewarding and fulfilling and I still marvel that I am at this place in my life. I was saying to Len yesterday, the feeling of accomplishment on doing something simple well is awesome. To know that I can make bread from start to finish and have success, makes me HAPPY! Knowing last fall that I was able to preserve and can food for my family was exciting. I feel proud every time I open a jar and serve it I feel warm and fuzzy knowing that I made it happen for my family! I actually sit at the table now and point out every item made from our little homestead! (It might be getting annoying for them but it makes me feel great so they have to put up with me if they wish to eat!) 

Friday was our second day at the Farm Market! The market was slower this week. Apparently in New Brunswick people will drive outside in a blizzard but if it is a bit rainy they stay home. Of course being from BC we didn't consider the light mist outside rain, but we understand it was more damp so I guess that was part of it. Spring is most definitely in the air and I think things will pick up in that regard very soon. We can see the ground as the snow is rapidly melting. Just feeling the mushy earth under our feet is so beautiful! Ground, dirt, grass... the snow is going! 

We went to check out an amazing place called The Jolly Farmer Farm... WOW! Ever since we have moved here we have heard about this operation and been told to check it out because they are grow organic food and raise responsibly grown livestock. The reason we finally made the trip there was to check out a dog for our farm. We have been researching what type of dog to get for our needs, climate, expectations and to best help care for our livestock. After months of research and speaking to owners we decided to get a Great Pyrenees dog.  Since the dog is a shepherds/livestock dog we have heard that if you let the dog do it's job it will be a great working dog and this is what we were looking for. This is a dog that has been around since the early 1400's.  
"The Great Pyrenees is a very old breed, and has been used for hundreds of years by shepherds, including those of the Basque people, who inhabit parts of the region in and around the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain. " (Wikipedia)
I had so much fun! The lovely Lora gave us an amazing tour. First (after we found the office on the giant operation of about 450 acres!) took us to see the dogs which were in the barn for the winter with the sheep. Amazing! First, I must say that they keep an impeccable place, none of the barns smelled bad. Yes, slight animal odour, but that is to be expected, not a terrible poopy smell or crowded livestock. The barns were well laid out, had ample space for the animals that are used to foraging outside but had to stay in due to the 6-8 feet deep snow outside. The air was clear and I was SO impressed! I hope I didn't look to green with all of the questions I asked! The poor woman had lots of questions to answer. Me, with my little bit of knowledge had to ask, ask, ask! Lora, thank you for the tour and your patience! The lovely little Sophie (Lora's 2 yr old daughter) was lots of fun too!

We saw the dogs and asked so many questions, how much feed, medical issues, life span, breeding, etc. We fell in love with the female puppies that were available who were 3 months old and also with Luki the 2 year old male who had proven himself able to work with livestock and knew how to live in the barn. We entered this huge barn and on each side were sheep in indoor paddocks, maybe 25-30 sheep in each pen, with lots of space. There were also two pens with the dogs. The side pen was mama Susie and her two remaining female pups who were 3 months old and fuzzy and little (comparatively). Then in the centre pen, with sheep on either side, were about 5 or 6 Great Pyrenees dogs from age two up to the sire. 

I knew Rachel wanted a puppy and I thought Jessica would too, but she actually bonded more with Luki the 2 year old. We went back and forth to the pens, looked at the dogs, hugged, cuddled, let them lick us, rubbed their heads, saw how intelligent they were and how they watched us and struggled with what to do. We weighed the pros and cons on a puppy and a 2 year old who has proven himself with livestock. We couldn't pick up the dog for 2-3 months because we need to have the barn and some fencing in place first so the puppy will be a lot bigger by then. The puppy was not fixed so we would have to do that but the 2 yr old was... OOOH! What to do? We decided on the puppy and that was not what Jess wanted to hear!

We then thought about it more, went back and forth to the pens, took more pictures... Finally, we did what any educated, intelligent, reasonable parents would do who had researched the dog and knew that we were looking for a good working livestock dog. Len reached into his pocket and pulled out a twoonie and we called Heads - puppy, Tails - dog... Luki won! Jess was thrilled! You can see a picture of me and Luki above.

Lora was great and took us to see the milking room for the Ayrshire cows, the indoor winter pens for the Galloway cows - beautiful fuzzy curly haired animals and the babies just wandered the pens. Our last stop was the chicken coop. This was upstairs in the barn! What a concept! It was weird to walk up to the chickens, but they had the whole upstairs of the barn, with lots of air, open space, it was clean, smelled just fine and they had some beautiful Australorps and Rhode Island Reds - which are two of the birds we have ordered for our farm!

All in all it was a great day! To stay in farm mode, Saturday we headed to Fredericton to Seedy Saturday. This was the last day of the ACORN (Atlantic Organic Organization) and we had access to booths to learn about organics in this part of the world, opportunities, products, growers and seeds! We had a great chat with a fellow out near Moncton who has seeded all of his own plants and was selling them. We got a great array of organic heritage seed to grow on our property and all sorts of ideas on how to keep our farm natural, healthy and productive. I can't wait to plot it out, now that the melt is happening I can call on the knowledge of a neighbour up the road to work on companion planting and have an amazing garden this year!

To culminate it all, because even organic growers need refreshment, they had full size beer cups of organic beer! Oh ya! We hit that booth! Even when it closed, Len went back to make sure we got to try both kinds! Yes, the fellow at the next booth suggested it might be closed and you can't twist them open anyway... Len, my little practical man said "Oh, I can open it" as he pulled his beer bottle opener out of his pocket and cracked it open for us! Personal preparedness, yes ALWAYS important! (We would have stayed at that booth ALL day but the kids were with us and wanted to hit the mall... and I had to drive!)

So, why do I feel happy? Simple pleasures! 
Feed my family, grow my food, love my new dog and love my new beer! 
Life, it's a good thing!

My NEW favourite organic dark YUMMY beer, made in Fredericton!

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