Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chickens & Goats & Dogs & Cats.... That's what little farm girls are made of!

Our new birds, Polish - crazy hair! Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps & Araucana's
Lots of beautiful babies - 6 weeks old and almost ready to come home!
They are shown here eating grubs and bugs in Glenn's hen house
As my husband walks around singing "Life is but a dream, sweatheart, sweatheart" Yes, sweat not sweet. We both do our share of sweating out here, Len building, me baking and cleaning and gardening. On Friday after the farmer's market we drove to pick up our new baby birds. They are four different breeds of heritage birds - meaning not genetically modified by science for high production. We expect 3 of the 4 breeds to be good layers and the other 3 diva's will lay but I added them since they are so gorgeous and I have admired them for so long. Who wouldn't want a bird that looks like she just got her hair done? Makes up for me not getting to the hair dresser!

We had a great tour of the farm where the birds were raised. A woman brings in heritage animals and pays the fees, takes the losses and will raise them for us to a month old so we can pick them up all ready to come home at the point they need a little less care. We do plan to breed in the future so we have 3 roosters who need to play nice in the barnyard. They can each select a decent size harem of 12 girls to keep them busy and everyone should get along. There were so many other birds that I would have loved to bring home, frizzles, silkies, guinea's (apparently a great "guard" bird!) and so much more. 

We were able to see her flock of goats, different types, size and age, ducks, donkey's, cows, rabbits, pheasants and quail. It was truly amazing and lots of work! This was definitely a working, breeding, raising farm and each year she takes a wide selection of birds to the FREDEX (Fredericton Exhibition) to display and educate. It is good I didn't have any more money with me or we would have brought home some ducks and another Polish bird. The Polish were a last minute purchase. We had ordered 11 hens each of the Araucana's, Rhode Island Reds and Black Australorps as well as 1 rooster of each. When we were there though, I just had to take home some Polish, I mean, we have to be welcoming and multicultural right? Right!
One of our Polish girls hiding her face
(hair was done, but makeup wasn't quite right!)
Since we/Len, isn't quite done building the barn, my hero "Glenn" let us put the girls into his hen house for a week or so until we are ready. Len assures me that if all goes well by the end of next week we can bring them home and they will be secure. That means also picking up the dog, Luki and our goats. So it will be a busy time!

Last night we went to "meet" our new goats. Now Mother Earth News tells me we need to check them out carefully for health reasons. So, prior to heading out, I researched their advice. On the ten minute drive, I gave Len the run down on what HE had to do. The "article" said we needed to check their teeth, make sure the bottom matched up nicely with the top gums (right! Gums, not teeth, apparently goats ONLY have bottom teeth, who knew, eh?) I did insist that he check both goats teeth, so Keith held the mouths open and Len viewed the placement of the teeth. Not being an orthodontist we just assumed since they looked fairly well aligned and the goat was eating well, it shouldn't be a problem. (The goats are eating so well that MaryEllen has no flowers left in her garden, hence the sense of urgency in removing them from their property.)
This is not one of the goats but it is a very
similar picture to give an idea of what
they will look like. Of course I forgot my
camera this time! Pictures to come...

We/He also had to cop a feel and grope the goats udders and teats. Now the female yearling doesn't actually have any udders yet since she has not given birth, this meant simply feeling her teats. Well, Keith held her still and Len grabbed under (we figured he was most qualified at groping teats, so I let him do it.) He asked, what do I feel for? I said, Pretend you are doing a breast exam, feel anything hard or lumpy? Nope, she's good! Having checked the female, I now wanted him to check the buck/male. No, buck's don't have udders but they do have small teats. Which of course are located near the scrotum. Len was hesitant about this plan but I was pretty insistent, that is until we all glanced over at the buck. Oh, he was a happy little buck! (We could see that based on certain parts of his anatomy that were now extended! Apparently, groping feels good to all male breeds and he was excited with anticipation!) This is not why Len chose not to proceed, but we all decided that due to the fact that the dog, was helping the buck feel good with his mouth, that we would forgo the conclusion that this was one healthy male. No need for Len to assist the goat in reaching a happy ending! We did agree to purchase "Jack" and "Freya" and should get them in about a week. We hope to have the "nanny" "kidding" by spring and the "billy" will go back to girl goats instead of overly friendly dogs. Life on the farm!

Len is back outside today working on the barn. He usually takes Sunday as a quiet day, no building but he has not been able to accomplish much this week since he had several signs to make. Glenn came by yesterday to help Len get started on the roof and things are really moving along now. Since Glenn has numerous cats in his barnyard we will grab one or two to help keep the mice and other creatures down. I am now already thinking ahead to what other animals we can get! I never knew I could be so excited about barnyard animals! (I am NOT as excited as the goat, but I am pretty happy.)

Yesterday was an amazing day in the coffee shop. I had a record setting day and sold out of everything. That is great, but means more work for me today! I am working on websites between my housework and coffee shop and have a few new ones in production. It is a good life! I do miss my girls who are still in BC. I think they have been too busy to miss me. Life is quieter without hearing the  words "MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!" and I am sure that by the end of the summer I will either be helping any child who says "MOM!" or forgetting I have children altogether! (Not really, I know they still need my wallet, cooking and hugs!)

I know reading this and hearing about my adventures still puts my parents and brothers into shock and awe since I was NOT a good farm girl at 13. I did NOT want to help, I did NOT like the smells, I did NOT want to eat the food after butchering and I was pretty much a miserable whiny girl! I guess I have learned more about what is important in life and put some of the less important things aside. I think knowing that I changed, also shows hope for my teen who is NOT very excited about all of this. I don't expect that she will ever choose to live on a small farm and be self-sufficient, but she will know that it can be done and in the future, when she brings her friends or husband and they laugh at me and my "quaint" ways... she will also appreciate that her mom has wide variety of skills and is a survivor.

On that note, it is time to punch down dough to finish making my sticky buns and clean up the dishes. Soon church will be out and the Sunday sleep in will be over and people will start to meander in. I have an add I am considering to help sell my product, what do you think? "Come on in and feel my sticky buns!" Have a good one!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The final Synergy issue - My journey and new life!

Len and Jess on Father's Day (Rachel is hiding and I am photographer)
We are across the border, looking at the view to our home at the base of Green Mountain.

The whirlwind trip is over and I have returned to my reality. Here is a copy of the final installment of my articles to Synergy Magazine. Yes life on the island has moved on without us, we saw changes in the city, environment and people. Having said that, those who we know and love are still there and that is a wonderful thing! I have now happily returned to my little part of the world, life is slower and I slept well in my own bed. Thank you everyone for a great time, good visit and all the love! Until next time world.... (My return to reality includes laundry, floors to wash and baking to prepare!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I cried until my eyes hurt…

Grandpa and Jess
Grandma and my girls 

 I am once again on a BC Ferry on the last leg to see my husband but already feel lost without my girls.  Life  is bittersweet. I am excited to return home to reunite with my husband and resume farm life. Yet I feel lost, alone, and sad since I left my girls behind in BC. I am about to embark on a summer without my babies. The longest time ever apart from them at the tender ages of 9 and 16. I know they are fine; they will have fun; they have been entrusted to people who love them. My heart aches and my eyes water as I recall the last embrace we had, the hugs, the kisses, the “I love you’s”. I now sit once again on the ferry watching other families, listening to children call “Mom!” and know that my summer will be much quieter than ever before.

My trip was wonderful. I reunited with so many people. I had quality time with my parents and was sad to see how much they have aged in one year. I pray I will see them again. My dear friends embraced me physically and emotionally and I could not have wished for anything except more time. I have one regret. A miscommunication with one friend so important to me, held so long in my heart that I weep knowing I inadvertently hurt her. I am sorry. I guess with the modern age of computers, email, face book, texting and call display, the one person who has none of those things did not get all of the information I meant to disperse and sadly we did not connect. I can’t express my remorse appropriately but I know I never meant to be selfish and I know if she didn’t love and care about me it wouldn’t have upset her. I am sorry.

I don’t know when I will return to BC. It could be in 3 months or 6 months if the lawyer needs to see us again but likely it will be several years before I can make the journey home. I will treasure every moment of my stay; value every moment spent with family; remember every second laughing with a friend; hold close the intimate moments and sharing of those true to me; always bemoan those I missed; and wish that some of them someday make the trek back East.

As I hugged my parent’s goodbye I imprinted their face in my memory. My friends and family are very important to me and this visit made me realize more than ever how fragile life is and the need to say what I really felt. My teen is reserved in many ways and I had to hold her, not let go, tell her I love her and plead for her to be safe, have fun and return home to me. Life will be upon her soon enough, no need to rush it. She knows in her heart how dear she is to me and I believe this is her summer to grow up in many ways. I wish you a wonderful time – I can’t wait to hold you again!

My youngest had been spending the last month changing her bedtime routine to allow her to tuck herself in and be prepared to be without mom. There were less nights of cuddling in bed, less singing sleepy time songs and rubbing her tiny back. She was doing great, that is until we started to travel and spent the last week sleeping together in a big bed and snuggling during the night. The last two nights she cried, appealed to me to stay or take her home and today, I almost did. I spent last night trying to decide what to do and determined that this morning if that is what she wanted, I would pay to change her ticket and have her return to New Brunswick with me for the summer.

She had no idea of my thoughts and so upon waking we lay cuddling and talking and I knew from her voice that she wanted to stay, she simply needed the confidence to do so. I was not leaving her with anyone she didn’t know or trust and was fairly certain that she was feeling torn because of me. I sucked it up and came up with a suggestion that seemed to work. I asked her if she would like to make a calendar for July and August and outline her activities. We would write out a list of names and phone numbers for people that she might want to contact. I saw an immediate change in her demeanour. Everyone else in the house was still sleeping, so we crept into Aunty Sharon’s office to get some paper, a ruler and a pencil. By the time we had created her calendar she was just about ready to start packing. It is a good thing we did this because I really was ready to bring her home and I can see now that she was still excited about staying in BC and was simply feeling lonely for mom.

The day was a flurry of events; pack, prepare documents for the lawyer, final errands, final shop for what the girls needed and then drop them off for the next 50 days without me. My hope is that they have a memorable holiday; they cherish the moments they have with family and friends; and that the summer flies by! I do miss them already, my luggage is light but my heart is heavy. Girls, know that you are in my heart forever, near or far!

Len, baby! I am coming home! I can’t wait to hold you in my arms again and work together on our homestead for the summer. Tomorrow is 7/7/11 and it is four years to the day since I stood before our children, family, friends and God and vowed to love each other forever. Thank you my handsome for standing by me and as much as we have our moments of frustration, I wouldn’t change a thing! I know we are living in the right place for us and I am so excited about our future together in New Brunswick. Happy Anniversary Husband – see you soon!
Jess with her big brother, she actually PUSHED past me to hug him first!
Our gorgeous grandson and his beautiful mommy

Post script: I am now at the airport, enjoying the free WiFi and chatting with my beloved on MSN. Life is good! After about an hour and a half of sleep I look forward to the first long leg of my flight since I will nap very pleasantly, not too sure how my "cell" mates will enjoy the sound of my bear snore but oh well! See you soon FOSTERVILLE!

Friday, July 1, 2011


After weeks of anticipation the day was here. Last minute packing, pre-anxiety about forgetting much needed items and worry that we might not get there on time! I had to drive to Glenn’s where I would leave my truck and he would drive us to the airport in Fredericton. I was finally able to relax when Glenn took the wheel – I was able to sit back, relax and let out a sigh of relief. Knowing that I did not have to drive at all for the next ten days allowed me to really begin to unwind.

We were just early enough for the plane. Rachel’s GIANT bag was exactly at the allowed weight. Our seats were decent and the girls were excited. Neither had any memory of ever flying. They are girls who get scared but this time they made sure they were ready. Pee, check! Gravol, check! Eat proper breakfast, check! Chewing gum, check! They got on the plane, sat in their seats and were quivering with excitement. I was ready for the crying or fear as the plane taxied down the runway. Prepared for the sounds of terror as the plane sped up and the nose lifted off the ground. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to see the joy on their faces (mixed with relief) at how fun flying could be. They watched us go higher and higher and were overwhelmed at the view and the ‘ants’ on the ground. Stage one of trip – SUCCESS!

The trip was long. An hour and 40 minutes from Fredericton to Toronto. Then about a 45 minute wait for the next plane and almost 7 hours from Toronto to Vancouver. We were rather worn out as we climbed off the plane in Vancouver but thrilled to see Annie with a luggage cart waiting for us. Big hugs all around, excited talking everyone at once and then the wait for the bags. Although it was only 5pm in Vancouver it was 9pm in New Brunswick. By the time we travelled across Richmond, Vancouver and finally to Burnaby and the Best Western Plus. YAY! We dropped our bags and then headed to a favourite Vancouver icon the ever popular International House of Pancakes aka IHOP! Until we sat down at the table and looked at the menu we decided breakfast sounded wonderful! Note: I highly recommend the butter pecan syrup! MMM!

We returned to our hotel around 10pm and felt wired. Although back home we would have been in bed for hours, we had to update our FaceBook, check our email and start to come down from the day before we could sleep. Finally around 11pm (Pacific Standard Time) we all managed to fall asleep… fast and deep on the big comfy beds! The next morning although we woke up at 7 and 8am it felt like noon to us.

Our personal driver and tour guide – the lovely Annie was so fabulous! She took us to meet up with the girl’s cousin Angel who also happened to be in Vancouver from Australia and the 5 of us had a wonderful long lunch at an organic flatbread restaurant. MMM! One thing I miss about the city, the plethora of amazing and unique foodie establishments! Fig and goat cheese salad followed by 3 types of  vegetable fettuccine noodles covered in a spicy tomato sauce with kalamata olives covered in fresh local veggies – button mushrooms, chives, sundried tomatoes and more… Of course we toasted our reunion with a sweet pint of freshly made Sangria! LOVED the lunch Angel, the company and the friendship and family! A wonderful afternoon! The girls treasured getting to know their cousin better. Kathy – Anne’s twin and my other BFF joined us near the end of the lunch and we continued the reunion from there.

We spent the evening in South Surrey at Kathy and her husband’s brand new town house. Gorgeous! We were sold on the club house – a movie room with projector and theatre seating, an elegant and contemporary design with red, black and white leather, red felt pool table, stunning pool and Jacuzzi outdoor but covered so useable year round, yoga room, full fitness room with all the latest equipment. There is a high school across the street and Kathy and Alain have a spare room – I know Rachel’s mind is thinking she should move in with them! Not quite sure that the Vallee’s would be in favour though!

After a late night including a 10pm visit to Dairy Queen we headed back to Burnaby to call it a day. We were tired and in bed shortly after 11pm – with a wake up call for 7am to make our appointment in Vancouver. A 40 minute cab ride, 2 hour medical appointment, return taxi ride and we were ready to check out of the hotel. Our personal assistant – Anne! Was again at our disposal and she drove us down the street to pick up Rachel’s childhood friend Chelsea to join us for lunch. Hmm where to go eat? IHOP! Our fave!

Rachel stayed in the big city to go with Chelsea to a Canada Day concert at Rogers Stadium to see Britney Spears with opening act Nicki Manaj! Rachel was ecstatic! She had been begging me for months to take her to see Nicki Manaj  in concert – there was NO way that was ever going to happen – for one, money, for two, location, three, not my priority! So to find out a week ago that she could go with her friend to see Ms. Britney was thrilling enough, BUT to find out today that the opening act was a singer that she had been pleading to see – simply put her over the top!

Anne gave up her job as tour guide and dropped us off at the Horseshoe Bay ferry for the next leg of our trip. We are now on the Coastal Renaissance, entering Departure Bay – the Nanaimo harbour and in only minutes we will be reunited with our beloved mom/grandma and soon carted off to my home town of Port Alberni….. until next time, Happy Canada Day!

Post Script: We are now in Port Alberni with my parents and spent the morning at the Canada Day Parade. The kids, Kayden, Paige and Jessica were dressed in their patriotic gear and rode their suitably decorated scooters through town in the parade. Dad and I found a spot to park where we were on a slight hill with a great view and sat in the relative comfort of the van, sipping my coffee and watching the event. It was WAY to cold for shorts, lawn chairs and FREEZING our ‘little’ butts off in the wind! Happy Canada, eh!