Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tinka Canseco

Remember Tinka, our Komondor livestock guardian dog? Every year she bulks up on hair in the attempt to hit home runs and collect every burr in the river bottom. Every year we attempt to put the record books straight and keep burrs off the back.

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Tinka usually looks like a 300 lbs pumped up home run hitter.

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Now she looks like a little league runt.

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I’m not sure if it will make her popular with the fella’s but the kids aren’t as afraid of her since she’s 200 lbs lighter.

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She’s back to being a plain old white dog that can’t jump or hit a ball. We’ll put her back on the juice and I’m sure she’ll be ready for the big leagues (winter) in a month or so.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Yarrow Galore

Time for salve making. One of the main ingredients in our handy dandy heal everything concoction is Yarrow. I used to think this was a weed and by all definitions maybe it is. But it is good for healing and all sorts of ailments.

This is what it looks like when it’s in bloom.

IMG_3407 This is just before it blooms. IMG_3406

The chicken pasture is filled with it. IMG_3401

Same with the cow pasture. IMG_3402

Must be thousands of plants all blooming right now. IMG_3403

Anyone need some super duper healing weeds?IMG_3404

We usually just cut the leaves off and soak them in olive oil for 3 weeks or so. Other things we infuse in the oil is comfrey, chickweed, plantain, St. Johns wart, calendula, and anything else we can find. IMG_3405 

Mix it with Balm of Gilead and some bees wax and we could heal leprosy, gout, sniffleous, or hemorrhoids.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

You know it’s been a good day when…

Your hands look like this.

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And the garden looks like this.

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Instead of this.

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**********Small detour*******

Note to self. Remember to get proper rain gear instead of some cheap survival kit poncho that mostly just held in water instead of keeping it out.

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We had a mild flood a couple of weeks back and I had to trench out the north side of the garden to get rid of all the extra water. It rained eight inches in two days and our garden was going to be flooded out if I didn’t dawn that cheap yellow poncho.

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Eight inches of rain causes this.

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And this.

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I’m glad we built on high ground instead of succumbing to the wonderment of the river bottom.IMG_3341

*******Back to how you know its been a good day********

It’s been a godd day when you get to start putting together a Whizbang Wheel Hoe. I tried to use a bicycle tire as the wheel but this contraption needs a 1/2 inch axle and the bicycle tire I scrounged from the dump is smaller that that.

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I ordered a wheel from Northern Tools as Herrick Kimball suggested (and Millie wanted to do from the beginning but I thought I was smarter than her so didn’t) so will need to wait a few days to put all the parts together.

You know it’s been a good day when there is a gallon of homemade ice cream waiting to freeze and it’s been 29 C out. IMG_3292

It’s been a good day when the sun is still shining at 9:45 pm and the grass is green and the trees are growing.IMG_3391

It’s been a great day when all the kids look like this.

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Poor Polly’s stomach was hurting she said so I let her lay on the couch instead of in her bed. I’m guessing she had heat exhaustion and was tired out from a great full day of fun.

Friday, June 13, 2014

On Sabbatical–Week 1

It’s such a pleasure to take a month off and do whatever I want. Most of the time it involves spending time with the kids.

I haven’t taken pictures of everything we’ve done but here’s a small list:

  • Trip to Waterton to the Teenie Weenie Theater company.

 

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  • Coached double header baseball games
  • Worked in garden
  • Planted trees
  • Baby sat 11 kids. Not sure I want to do that every day. (5 kids from friend who went to doctors appt, 3 from family member who needed a sitter, and 3 of our own)
  • Moved cow pasture. Fixed fence so yearling wouldn’t get out
  • 11 year old scout camp down to the river bottom
  • Helped pour concrete for neighbors basement
  • I’m going today to help pour another friends basement today as well. I’m not a contractor nor do I have really any of those skills. I find it funny that as soon as I take a sabbatical I now have lots of manual labor offers.

Not bad for the first week. Next week we intend to do a lot more fun stuff like the above.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sabbatical

I’m not a full time farmer. It’s quite a thing to even admit I’m any kind of farmer at all. I have very little farming skills. I do have sweet nunchuck skills but mostly my usable skills are based on things like SQL and Dynamics.

For my regular full time work I work from home for a small technology company in Southern California. But over the next month I get to take a break from my regular work life and do whatever I want. The company I work for has an awesome policy that after seven years employees earn a four week paid sabbatical. I’ve been with the company for about ten years and I’m finally getting around to it.

Part of the reason I haven’t taken advantage of the sabbatical yet is because I knew Milly would make me work on building our house instead of letting me do what I want. ha.

I’m not really sure what I’m going to do or when over the next four weeks. I’ve sat down and made a list of lots of things I want to do but I’m going to let the wind blow us around and go and do anything we want.

I’m guessing part of the time will end up me being a full time farmer for a bit as my list includes planting trees, tending garden, building a cow barn and wood shed, mulching tree beds, planting tomato’s, building cold frames, etc.

I think the list above just shows I’m a little crazy as my four week vacation might end up me working my tail off.

No matter. I have lots in the plans including travel and fun. I plan on taking lots of pictures and documenting my break for all to see.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Balm of Gilead and work on the farm

We work our kids hard here on the farm. There’s not much time to just sit around as everyone has to pitch in. During the spring thaw we like to get out and pick poplar buds that have sap flowing through them and we put them in oil to make a healing remedy for everything from cuts and bruises to headaches and hemorrhoids.

It takes a long time but with everyone involved it doesn’t take that long.

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The buds are put in olive oil and left for weeks at a time.

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We picked buds on different days and put them in bottles.You can kind of see the red oil bottles which have been soaking longer.pretty girl 018

When the kids aren’t picking poplar buds we have them clearing the land of sticks and overgrowth.

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Little Polly is a trooper. She loves to help even when she’s dressed up in her fairy costume.

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I guess we do have some time just to sit around. It looks like we worked Ringo too hard on this day. It’s actually the day after a father and son campout. I don’t remember him taking more than a hand full of naps on his own in his life but we found him out sleeping on a bunch of wood slabs. Not sure how comfortable it was but he was there for all of 20 minutes.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Planting trees in a snow storm

There’s a season for planting, a season for growing and a season for harvesting. In Canada all three seasons can feature snow. I’ve seen it snow in May, June, August, September, etc. So really the only month we are pretty darn safe regarding snow in is July but I swear I’ve seen that as well. Milly warned me to stop exaggerating so since I can’t remember the exact July snow storm in question I’ll pretend we are safe for that month.

Our planting season is upon us and we have been really excited because last week we had plus 20 c weather and we felt like the planting season was finally here and we were going to have good weather to get things in the earth. We are in dire need of a shelter belt and we made some good progress last year. We decided to kick start the wind break by investing in 5 foot tall spruce trees.

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These trees were dug out by a tree mover and places in a wire basket. Each one weight between 400 and 500 lbs. I ended up digging all the holes by hand and somehow sliding them into place with great difficulty and effort.

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We got 23 or so of them and that was the front end of the shelterbelt around 90 feet away from our house.

We then planted 35 or so Willow cuttings we got off of a local person in our town.

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By cuttings I mean we cut off limbs and planted them in the ground. Believe it or not they just grow.

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These grew around a foot to five feet of branches and are doing quite well. You can see they are starting to bud out already. The Willow cutting around our grey water pit is by far the furthest along.

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We got the Willow cuttings off of a few trees from a neighbor. He said if we’d trim his trees we could have the cuttings. The neighbor is ninety years old and so it helped him and it helped us as well. We like free stuff and it’s a great way to get trees started.

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After planting the poplars it started raining and then by morning it was snowing quite vigorously. We had rented a trencher to dig a path for our 300 plus Caragana starts and it would have been very easy to plant in the nicely dug up soil if the dirt wasn’t turned to mud and there wasn’t an inch of snow on top of the ground.

There is not too many women that would be out in the middle of a snow storm planting trees. We were both chilled to the bone and covered from head to toe in mud but at least our shelter belt is mostly planted.

We have several other things we need to plant this year namely:

  • Garden
  • Evens Cherry tree
  • Choke Cherry starts
  • Elderberry bushes
  • Saskatoon bushes
  • 100 or so more Willow starts
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Various other things we pick up

At this time of year we are really grateful for Sundays and our day of rest. Hopefully we have time to get everything done before the growing season is upon us.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is it spring yet?

It has been threatening to turn warm here but every time I think we are past the winter it snows. We had seven inches of snow yesterday and the place looked like a winter wonderland. I guess it is spring because most of the snow was gone by end of day today.

We just put our list of to do’s for the spring and summer and Milly and I both got excited and tired at the same time. Our long winter is coming to an end and we are about to jump into the work season again.

We have tree transporting and planting to do. Garden expansion and planting. Wood collecting. Tree cleanup. Grey water expansion. And numerous other projects that we want to get done.

I think we need to find some like minded people to move out onto our homestead so we can build the place together. No wonder people congregate into communes. It must be easier than doing everything alone. I could even get into hippie type clothes and singing kumbaya around the campfire.

Until we find people as off kilter as us I guess we’ll dress up by ourselves and do solo’s around the fire instead of signing in a choir.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Burning down the shed

If you go way back into the Simple Farm archives you might remember this description of when I almost squashed Grey Beard with an old, unwanted, dilapidated, chicken coop. http://www.thesimplefarm.com/2011/05/finding-and-moving-chicken-coop.html

[coop%2520010%255B4%255D.jpg]This was the first structure on our little farm and it’s been a dumping spot for tools, gas cans, hoses, lawn mowers, etc. Chickens have sensed their ancestral roots and have roosted and played in the old building. Milly has been very disgusted with how shabby our place looks with all these old buildings plopped around the land and she decided the barn yard looks too much like a barn yard for her liking. This is an old picture. It looked even older when we started to think it was time to supply a burnt offering to the heavens. I like to look at the green grass. We are only a few months away from that time of year again.

She even called the fire marshal and got a burning permit so I didn’t have any more excuses to putting off the blaze.

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The smoke was billowing and everyone came bounding out from all over to watch the scene.

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This building must have been standing for at least 100 years and it took an hour to end its life.

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Ringo decided to build snow caves while watching the meltdown. I’d guess not many city kids get to experience burning down a building. It’s quite fascinating if you like fire.

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I said everyone came out to watch. Basically that meant all the animals participated. Poor Tinka didn’t know what was going on. She looks a little sad that her play house is gone don’t you think?

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This is all that’s left of the old feller. A pile of rusty nails and ashes.

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At least the tulips are blooming. This is inside the house of course. Real tulips are still a month off or so but I thought I’d spread some joy on the day.  018020I guess the reason I wanted to put flowers in this post is because they make funerals more bearable.