Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Farm Markets, Field Days, Festivals and Frail Children

The back of our float and MOI!

Yes I gave myself a ribbon!
We DID win cash though!
Life on the farm continues, but as I sit here at 6am, awake since 5, unable to sleep, looking out through my kitchen window, watching the sun rise, reviewing the day ahead, I wonder about my ability to get through the next week. The last few days I have watched my husband feeling overwhelmed with what needs to get done by the weekend and guilty about his inability to keep up with other responsibilities like energy to stay in contact with the outside world and his children. I talk daily with my girls in BC, one who has been so sick I wondered if I would have to go out there and the other crying daily that she wants to come home. I have felt rundown all summer, lethargic and not doing nearly as much as I should and have upped my iron intake and booked a doctor's appointment to get an overall physical. I am sure everything is fine, I just start to move backwards sometimes when I get overwhelmed.

Last Friday we went to the farm market and it had to be one of my best days there ever. I had baked Nanaimo Bars and Unicorn Bars since they had been written up in the paper and of course multiple loaves of breads, buns, cheese filled cheese sticks and more and almost everything sold out. I had hoped to have a bit extra since that night I had to go to the community centre and donate items to the next days bake sale as well as bake a few pumpkin pies for the turkey dinner on the weekend. 

Having a great day at the market was good since I was low on funds and we needed dog food, chicken feed and goat "toe nail" clippers. OK not really toe nails but we have to clip the goats feet. Apparently the best way to do that is for Len and I to "wrassle" the goat down, I will sit on it (poor goat!) and hold 3 legs still while Len will clip the other foot. Of course this will take awhile since we have 2 goats for a total of 8 legs! Yes this should be interesting and no we won't get pictures since we will be otherwise engaged with all of our limbs at that point. 

We have decided that the billy goat WILL go once his little swimmers do their job and knock up our female. He just gets too wound up and aggressive and we don't want anyone to get hurt. We are glad the goats have stopped jumping out of the pasture, appears Pavlov was right, keep repeating the same action and eventually the appropriate response will follow. Goat jumps out, goat gets put in barn with door shut. They are ok with being in the barn when fed, but they really do prefer to be out roaming and playing in the pasture. (Luki has almost figured out that he is in charge too so that is positive!)

Whats a country parade
 without a redneck?
This past weekend was field days, originally a harvest celebration I suppose somewhat like the country fair but no animals or rides. Lots of honky tonk, old time country and blue grass music playing all afternoon under the big top. Over 700 people in and watching the little parade, bingo on the lawn, bake sale as mentioned, games for kids and adults - like the kettle boil. All the guys line up, and have to start a fire and whoever can get the kettle to boil first wins. Anyone can join in the parade and we all line up at the big old farm down the road and the fire department leads us down the lane. 
VERY weird watching
people in the East
 vote Bruins over Canucks!

On Friday night they had for the first time, a children's concert featuring the kids from Fun Park. It was very nice to have so many people ask about Jessica, "Where is your beautiful little girl? We love hearing her sing. We miss her. When is she coming home?" Jess has certainly made friends, youth and adult and she can't wait to come home.

This fellow was dressed in a barrel
and birch bark with commentary
to the premier on budget cuts.
(The premier DID laugh)
After WINNING the Best Commercial Entry for our little float and bribe of 500 cookies to the crowds we spent the afternoon listening to music and then joining friends for dinner and drinks. Later we all meandered down to the community centre for the annual dance and my man kicked up his heels. I guess he is not doing too bad for a man who is slightly past his prime but I can tell you, there was not a man young or old, on the floor who moved like him. He hopped, skipped, danced and twirled me until I was laughing like a girl and giggling at how cute he was. Neither of us have any formal dance training (which IS evident) but we both have love and enthusiasm that kept us going. We had a WONDERFUL time and met a lot of new great people.

Of course we promo'd the coffee shop and arts festival all day and throughout the parade so we are getting great PR. I couldn't keep up with the cookies and biscuits on Sunday as people popped in, just wanting to see what we were up to. We had a field day weekend to remember, thank you Fosterville!

On Monday we picked up 12 white leghorn layers from our friend Glenn and had to introduce them to our flock. On Tuesday Len came in at 10am happy that we had 5 eggs, by noon I found 6 more and by dinner he found another = 12 birds and 12 eggs, pretty good day!

Of course through all the fun and work I have literally been on the phone to my girls 3-6 times a day. About 2 weeks ago Rachel got very sick and we didn't know if it was Strep Throat or Mono - we prayed for Strep! Unfortunately it was mono. Luckily Grandma was able to get her, take her home and help her get better. I am worried she may relapse and the girls are due home 1 week today. Jess is begging not to have that changed while Rachel feels like she lost a week or two and should get to stay longer. I am basing my decision on her health. Is she well enough to travel? To guide herself and Jess through the airport? Not weak or unable to cope? So, Monday we will get the latest from the doctor and go from there.

Jessica has begged that we NEVER do this again. She has enjoyed the travels, visits, fun but misses us and home too much. I desperately miss them both too and at moments feel like I made the wrong decision in leaving them and at other moments know that it has been very good for them both in many ways. ....AH parenting, who knew it would be so challenging?

Well, farm markets, field days and frail children behind me, we are now onto the first arts festival at our place and are getting very good PR, great public response and at the MOMENT the weather is looking good! I have included the website for the event so readers can get an idea of what is happening. I have also included a poem I wrote one day as I sat sighing in my chair.

Well the sun is almost up, it is 6:30 am now and I think I might crawl back in the warm bed with my beloved for a half hour to warm up and cuddle before starting our day.... Have a good one, eh?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who is in charge here anyway?

Well it has been a full week since the dog and the goats came home. The barn is not completely done but it is coming together and is pleasantly habitable if you like sleeping in straw and poop. So the animals are OK and their basics needs have been met. I thought today I would share some details (not for the faint of heart!) about having animals. Yes, I am truly an expert, I mean, it HAS been a whole week!

The birds - we have 39 birds in total, 3 are roosters and the rest are hens. They are growing quickly and are probably about half of their full weight now and are 8.5 weeks old. They should start laying here and there at about 20 weeks, and by 24 weeks all the girls should have laid a few eggs. We may get a few more birds sooner that are already laying - a half dozen white leghorns from Glenn - the neighbours and lake people will be very glad as we are constantly asked for eggs and can't seem to get enough in to keep up with the demand. For the most part the chickens have been pretty easy to handle.

The dog, Luki - our Great Pyrenees Mountain dog - fierce protector and cuddly sleeper. No, I haven't slept with him, but he is true to his breed and looks lazy and sleepy when in fact he is saving his energy for his nocturnal heightened awareness to keep everything safe. He definitely likes cuddles, hugs and having his fur brushed. Luki lays in the field or under a tree and casually raises his head to look around. He has not been raised as a pet - although we have fallen in love with him, so being a livestock dog he does not know simple commands like "Come on Luki!" or "sit", etc. Therefore when Len took him on a walk and got home and Luki kept on walking, the only way I could entice him back to the pasture was with a big bowl of food rattling away. It worked... for now.

Luki was a lot thinner when we picked him up than was expected. He is supposed to grow to 150 to 200lbs but I bet he is barely more than 110 at this point. He was skin and bones when we got him. Sad. They say, the breeders, that it was because all of his siblings and the other dogs except for the sire and Alpha male had been sold off. There had also been a heat wave which may have put him off food for a bit, but he seems too thin for me... I think he was suffering from depression. He fits in PERFECTLY! So, we have him on a dog food, dog biscuit for teeth and raw meat diet. Of course I ran out of raw meat and last night when I gave him his dinner he did NOT look too thrilled with me!

Since Luki was a pup compared to the order of the pack in his old home it has taken him about a week to realize that now HE is the Alpha male. For the first 5 or 6 days he was shying away from the goats - we kept telling him - no YOU are in charge! Perhaps counselling to go along with his depression? Do you think that Blue Cross has a plan for dogs? HM? Something to consider! Well, fortunately he has now figured out that HE is the big cheese as they say. He is finally going in the barn with the goats and does not run away when they are near him. He has even growled and pushed a bit to show that he is here to stay and this is HIS barnyard!

You may wonder why I am even worried about him being in charge.... well, let me introduce you to Jack. (This may not be for the little folk or sensitive reader who has never been on a farm!) Jack, is affectionate, he is charming to a degree and he likes to be petted and stroked by ANYONE or anything! When we met Jack and Freya, our Nubian goats, you may recall I mentioned that the dog on that farm had been "helping" Jack with his private parts. I thought, ick, gross and my dog won't be doing that. Well, I am right, my dog does not lick Jack's penis.

Jack however, the incredible bendy goat is able to reach his long neck around and tuck it completely between his legs, while extending his thin (yes long but thin girls!) penis out to it's full length and completely enclose his mouth around it while ... hmmmm... sucking it. YUCK! I thought do I have a DEranged goat? Has he been molested by the other goats? Is he normal??? Sadly, this IS normal male goat behaviour... So... Jack, may not be living on our farm for long. He is pushy, wants to hump anything and everything, he looks sweet and pathetic but when he butts his head up to you and slides his legs along your side, even the nicest, animal lover is going to push him AWAY! 

Of course our goal is for him to reach the goal post with Freya and knock her up with little kids. Freya is smaller, female about a year or so old and ready to breed anytime. Jack is NOT related so he can do the job and clearly has the equipment for it. Of course every time he gets close Freya lets him get excited and when he starts to enter the "gate", she changes her mind and walks away... poor guy he really is frustrated! Apparently he is not aware of making her feel good, a little foreplay, tell her she's pretty and working up to the post rather than just seeing the goal and going for it! (Come on Freya, go INTO heat and let the boy do his job!)

Freya is feisty though, we realized that it was NOT OK for people to feed her over the fence as she escapes looking for more food and then she tries to get Jack to leave with her. Clearly Jack is going wherever Freya wants in hopes of "getting some action". We had to enclose them with a tight door for a couple of nights to make sure they realized they are here to stay and only give them goat feed at night when we got them into the barn. 

Freya's one really bad act, was letting out my precious chickens! She managed to push the lock and open the door on the chicken coop and before we knew it a half dozen were out. Len and I managed to herd and corral all but one that day... This was a matter of us both walking from different sides of the garage, to lead the bird into the building, once she was in, Len would put down the big door and I went through the side door... we then herded her gently to a corner and I picked her up. I gave them all a reassuring cuddle as they must have been scared. It looks like the only ones that went for freedom were the Araucana's and one of my Polish. (I think the Polish was just pushed out in the escape, she was not a willing participant.)

As you may recall, the Polish are my diva's with the hair do's and true to diva nature, they are self-absorbed and not much into self-preservation. We looked all afternoon and I was so upset that my black haired buff coloured girl was gone. It was getting dark, after a rainstorm (chickens can die if too wet) and I saw her in the middle of a field. I had to make sure the goats were away and not following me as I climbed the page wire fence... I was being quiet, trying not to disturb her as I crept toward her. I was afraid she would run or fly away... NOPE. She was so funny and not too bright. She just sat there, in the field, sopping wet with her head tucked in waiting for rescue. She looked up at me with her hair parted in the middle due to the rain and I am sure she was thinking... "Where the hell have you been? This is not in my contract!" ... Well, I dried her off, hugged her and made her feel secure and thought "Next time, you are fox food." Apparently she has no self-preservation instincts.

A week later, well into farming life, our dog has shown his superiority and is now in charge. We have discovered that male goats are gross and should only be used for one purpose. The female goat is good but she wants to let all the other girls out to party and we are great chicken catchers! Photo's to come soon!

Monday, August 1, 2011

T minus 13 and counting... T minus 12....

I have said it before and will say it again, life changes and life goes on.  I have been thinking about the weekends I spent in the olden days, back when my life was black and white; Friday meant what bar, what party and who remembers HOW we even got home? Now Friday nights mean grooving to the oldies (my version of the oldies, 70's and 80's) baking, mopping floors and going to bed by a crazy 10pm. I love the old songs as they bring back such strong memories that I might not have otherwise. Of course somethings would be nicer to forget, but for the most part - I accept the memories that are mine.

I don't miss the past or wish to be there again; but I am glad I lived through it and had fun. I have my memories, good and bad. I am grateful that I was looked after and allowed to continue to live even though some of the insane choices I made should have seen me otherwise. As a mother now I dread my girls going through those experiences but I know that we all make our own choices and choose our own path. I am living proof that we can change our path and live in a way that is fun, rewarding and give back to others. 

As I was sitting and writing this blog a friend posted the following quote on FaceBook and it seems apropos! “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Author unknown

I watch so many people complain about getting old, being unhappy, faces that are wrinkly, etc... We are all beautiful and need to show that more. Feel old? Get up and move around. Feel unhappy? Watch something funny, laugh, lighten up... no it won't solve everything but if what is making you unhappy is chronic, only you can change how you deal with it. Wrinkly face? Spend lots of money on products that don't work OR start to eat healthy and/or just accept that you earned every wrinkle on that face - each moment, every experience, arranged your molecules to where they sit today. Do you think when you are gone you will be remembered for being wrinkly? Or kind of overweight? Probably not. You will likely be remembered for complaining or always being unhappy - that is not what you should leave behind. Or do you want your family to remember the love? Joy you expressed? How much they wanted to spend time with you? Fond memories or negative? It is our choice...

I used to work way too much, overtime, evenings and weekends and I was trying so hard to move ahead. I wanted to be the next person chosen for the supervisory position, I wanted to move into management and move up the old ladder of success. (There is nothing wrong with moving up the ladder... but...) What wasn't ok was neglecting my family, working too much free overtime, putting my job first and my personal responsibilities second. This is still something I struggle with but I know now that when I die, I won't be remembered for all the hours I put into my old job. I WILL be remembered for my family, friendships, personality and what I give to others. So, no, I don't regret getting older and I do appreciate the knowledge I have gained.

Oh but I ramble! So now, what do I have to do? Finish my second batch of bread. White is baked and raisin bread is almost done. T minus 6 minutes and the bread will be ready. The coffee shop is slow today but that is OK since I feel a bit lethargic. Likely my feeling of blah is simply due to the ghost who has been haunting my house the last few nights and waking me up. Ghost? Oh yes! Maybe...!

All I know is there were noises in the kitchen that can't be attributed to any small animals and when my hero wandered the house room by room, turning lights on, in his superman underwear, he saw and heard nothing. I almost felt bad for waking him up! The house may be haunted but if so the ghost does not seem to do much but wake us up at night and rattle around the kitchen. Yes, would be much more helpful if it washed up and swept the floor but I will settle for it not terrifying me all night! My neighbour has requested if we train the ghost to clean that she would like to be the first to rent it out! The first night I heard noises I thought it was something supernatural, last night, not so sure, but we will see what tonight brings!

 Never stop dancing.

Everyone can sing 
(just not everyone else likes it)

Live, laugh, love 
an overused saying? Maybe not!

Next time I must share the stories of the animals on the farm, but for now, I have waxed on long enough. To all of my friends in various Canadian provinces have a great day! And to my other "fans" around the world, enjoy each moment and  make the great ones last!

Happy BC DAY! Happy New Brunswick Day!