Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Emmanuel. God With Us

I have been loving this song these days.  I've put it on repeat around these parts, and it makes me weep.  Not necessarily a traditional "Christmas song", but I do love the words....

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,
God of Glory, Lord of love.
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
Drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day
Rejoice, rejoice, our GOD is here with us
Emmanuel. Our GOD is still with us
Such a good reminder, in this season.  Let's rejoice.... Emmanuel!  Our God is here with us!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Buildings of Yesteryear

One of the great things about living smack dab in the middle of nowhere is that you get to really enjoy the beauty of nature, and in this area, there are many beautiful old barns and out buildings to enjoy as well.  As I drive by these old barns, I desperately wish that we had one on our farm, but alas, no such luck.  We do have a number of wonderfully run down outbuildings... one of which we burned to the ground a few weeks ago because the bottom had totally rotted out of it.  The building below was full of odds and ends when we moved in, and if you look carefully, you'll see that the door doesn't close all the way.  I'm hoping that critters don't try and make this sweet little house into their winter home.  Next spring, I'm hoping to finish cleaning this building out and use it for storing some of my "treasures". 
This building is also on our land, by our pens.  It was used as a shelter for something in the past, and when we explored it, I found some great old windows as well as an old screen door with a barn swallows nest built into it.  I took the screen door out, cleaned it up a bit lot, and my plan is to take out the nasty old screen and use it in our house as the door to our basement.  When that (finally) happens, I'll make sure to take some pictures!  This building, like many others, needs some work, but I do love the patina of it all.

This little outbuilding, so carefully tucked into the trees, is one of great necessity.  We didn't even realize it was there until after we'd moved it, and Art stepped into it, and the floor almost fell through.  This is a wee little out house.  I think that it was perhaps built for little people, because we can barely fit into it.  The other problem with this outhouse is that it's, well, full.  I'm hoping that next spring, Art will dig a new hole, and we'll build a new outhouse in it's place.  It is awfully cute, and camouflaged!
Outbuildings are used for many, many purposes.  Most of ours were (and some still are!) filled with much junk - both ours and the previous owners.  This outbuilding is actually being used for what it is intended for - grain!  We had 5 tonnes of grain brought in to feed our 4H steers, and we are so thankful for old granaries to store the feed in.  Let me tell you, when you walk into that outbuilding, it smells glorious! 

Those are some of the outbuildings found around our home place.  Below are a few of the other old buildings which we pass by on a regular bases.  
Every time I drive to Spruce Grove, I pass by this old beauty.  I have serious barn envy every, single time I drive by.  This building is aging gracefully, and it's so beautiful.  This building is used as a landmark for many ("Turn right at the old barn"), and is also used by my Girls as a way to gauge how far we are from home ("Are we at the old barn yet?").  One of these days, I'll take a few minutes to walk through this treasure, just to see what is inside.  Yesterday, on our way to church the moon was setting as the sun was rising, and it was an amazing site to behold.
My last building I want to share with you is this old house.  Every time we go the opposite way of The Old Barn, we drive by this sweet old home.  One day I peeked through the windows, and this homestead was full of junk.  Old tires, mattresses, etc.  It always makes me sad to see that, but I suppose not everyone shares my love of decrepit old buildings....  This house is on the way to get the mail, and go to the dump, so we pass by it regularly.  I just love the way the paint is peeling off, yet it still stands, so proudly.  I always wonder who built these old houses, what family lived there, and how their life was so different from mine, but yet, the same.  To me, it speaks of a simpler time in history, yet I know that these homesteaders had to work exceptionally hard to survive out here in the west.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thankful In Winter

Last week, it felt like winter had truly arrived.  Sure, we've had a bit of snow here and there, but nothing major.  But alas, all good things must come to an end, and with that in mind, I am thankful for the changing of seasons.  Here are some things to be thankful for, in winter:
1.  It's hard to get a photo radar ticket when the back of your truck looks like this...  Not that I would ever speed, OF COURSE!

2.  On Thursday and Friday last week, we got close to 2 ft. of snow.  It was super cold, as well, and lots of wind and blowing and general nastiness.  Art said that it was some of the worst driving conditions he's ever driven in.  Yuck!  Anyhow, I'm thankful for machinery to clear our driveway, as well as the generosity of neighbors in clearing our whole road (which is only about 2 miles, but still.  2 miles!)
3.  I'm thankful for a new pasture to put horses in, as I'm sure they were thankful too.  It was super chilly outside, but I opened up a gate to another pasture, and they frolicked out there like it was Christmas.  They were excited to start exploring, and finding some "fresh" grass.

4.  I'm just plain thankful for these silly horses, truth be told.  They are fun, and beautiful, and a pain in the butt.  But awfully pretty in the snow, dontcha think?

5.  When I got into the kitchen on Saturday morning, it was -37C.  And that was without windchill, at about 8:30 am.  So you know it was colder than that.  Weather reports were saying it was close to -45C with the windchill.  Brrr!  I'm thankful that our animals are still alive (truly!).  I'm thankful for my handy dandy thermometer, which is also a rain gauge (which I may or may not be obsessed with). 

6.  When it is so frigidly cold outside, I was especially thankful that we (finally) got our woodstove in the basement installed and inspected.  It's only been 3 months of waiting... But alas, it's done.  On the coldest day of the year, none the less.  Let me tell you, we loaded that sucker up Saturday afternoon, and it kept us toasty warm downstairs.  The other reason that having our woodstove installed is that it is the final thing on our "To Do" list on our house.  And now, it can be checked off.  Don't get me wrong, we still have many details to finish up, but that was the last (semi) major thing that we wanted to get done this winter.  So hoorah! 

7.  The last thing I'm thankful for about winter is that I don't have to think about outside work, or yard work, for a good while.  We had such a long fall this year, which was wonderful,  but kept us trying to get "just one more thing" done outside.  With 2 ft. of white stuff on the ground, we don't have to be concerned about doing any such things for a good 4 months.  Yippee! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Start of Advent

Today is December 1st, which marks the start of our Advent Season.  Every year, we try and do something fun for The Girls, as well as something that helps us to take a moment, in this busy season, to remember who, and what, we actually are celebrating. 
This year, we chose the Schleich Farm Advent Calendar for the Girls to open every day, and let me tell you, they were pretty darn excited!  Our Girls have been long time lovers of Schleich, and will spend hours upon hours in the basement, setting up elaborate ranches and farms, and then playing them out for days.  It's so great! 
The other special Advent thing we are doing this year is thanks to my Mom, who sent this beautiful book to us, and we received it last week (Thanks, Mom!).  I'm excited to unpack this book over the next several weeks.  I haven't downloaded the ornaments that can go with it, but it provides some great, practical things you can talk about and do, together as a family.
So there you have it....The Countdown to Christmas has begun.  Happy December, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back In Business

A couple of months ago, we picked up some more laying hens.  We were told they were pretty close to 19 weeks, the age when they start laying eggs.  Unfortunately (for us), the chickens were a bit younger than we were told, so the Girls have been patiently waiting for these silly girls to start laying.  Just this week, they started.  First, we had 1 or 2 eggs, and then suddenly, it's been 6-8 eggs per day.  The Girls are thrilled to be back in the egg selling business, once again! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Birds, Birds, and More Birds

Since moving to the farm, we've become somewhat of a bird watching family.  We have a well established yard, with lots of big, mature trees.  We've got lilacs and spruce trees, maple trees and willows.  Plum and Apple trees, as well many others which I don't even know what they are.  When we moved in, the previous owners left us a big bag of bird food, along with a number of bird feeders.  They strongly encouraged us to keep feeding the birds.  As you walk around our yard, you will see many different kinds of bird houses and bird feeders. 
It's been fun to watch all the different kinds of birds come around, and I'm looking forward to having a year under our belts.  We've had migratory birds that stay around for a few weeks, as well as the regular birds that are here year round.  We have a family of owls that have made our farm a home as well, and will often hear them communicating with each other during the day and into the evening.  Those owls, it's always a treat to see, and this year, there were actually 3 babies that hung around as well. 
When we have people over, since the bird feeders are hanging outside our front windows, we often talk about the birds, and since unpacking, I've found my "Birds of Alberta" book which has come in very handy! 

Here's a nuthatch.  They are a funny little bird, with their long beaks.

These evening grosbeaks would swarm our yard.  There'd be 15-20 of them that would fly into the ornamental plum tree which is close to the bird feeders.  Then they'd squabble and fight over the food on the ground or in the feeders.  Their yellow color always catches my eye.
This female Downy Woodpecker is around lots these days, along with the male, who has a bit of red on it's head.  I suspect we'll see them all winter long.

The beloved Great Grey Owl.  This is one of the babies, and when we went for rides in the summer, it'd follow us, flying from fence post to fence post, tree to tree.  One night we took a walk through the woods, and our cat followed us.  The three baby owls (which are still huge!) sat perched up in the trees, watching the cat.  And the cat, in turned, sat and watched them.  I think that they were both thinking, "I can take him!"  No one made the first move though.  We were surprised to see that our kittens didn't get eaten by the owl...

The chickadee.  We see dozens of these at a time, and they are a staple in our yard.  They flitter around, all day, eating whatever they can find.  Our cats seem to enjoy a nice chickadee sandwich every once in a while.

So there you have it.  A few of our bird sightings around the farm.  I'm excited to learn to identify more of them as time goes on...

Monday, November 17, 2014


Here are a few random notes from my little corner of the world:
1.  Way back when, in another place and another time, we had some sheep.  Last spring, we had the sheep sheared, along with the other families in our 4H club.  Once they were sheared, we had a whole lotta wool. (duh!).  Anyhow, one of the other mom's had a great idea, and she took the wool down to Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs.  Once the wool was there, it was graded, and then we got to decide what we wanted to do with it.  Our family ended up getting a whole lotta duvet's made with our wool, and this week, thanks to my Dad, the duvet's arrived!  We were pretty excited to get them onto our beds, and wow, was I ever pleasantly surprised at how warm they are!  Especially nice, since it's been down to -30C this past week.  We ended up selling the sheep before we moved, but it's nice to have a little reminder of them in the form of a cozy, warm, duvet!
2.  I have seen the light... I picked up a wild rag for myself at Farmfair this year.  It's beautiful, and silk, and most importantly....WARM!  And it dresses up my Carhartt's just a wee bit.  I'm in love!
3.  We had a big burn pile that we've been waiting to burn, until the snow fell.  Well, last week the snow came (boo!), and so we got to burn our junk.  Now before you think I'm crazy for burning this wonderful outbuilding, (it's small.  I promise!), you must know that we tried to move it first.  And it completely fell apart.  Completely.  Unfortunately, we had nothing else we could do except burn it.  Boo for me!  Thankfully, we have a few more!  Art had the great idea of dousing it with gasoline, and then shooting an arrow of fire into the building, so that it would ignite immediately, and our minds would be blown with how amazing Art was.  That idea was an epic fail... but at least we finally got the thing to burn!!

4.  I have curtains hung.  In my office.  And they are pretty. 

4.  We have four 4H steers.  This little guy is Ellie Mae's.  His name is Lulu (such a masculine name, I know!).  The steers are an Angus/Simmental cross.  They are turning out to be very friendly.  The first few days, they were a little crazy, but they've settled down quite nicely.  The Girls have been working hard at taming them, and we've started halter breaking them as well.  Good fun!

5.  I made yogurt.  From scratch.  And it was delicious!  My neighbor taught me how, and I'll be eternally grateful.  Because let me tell you, 4 kids eating yogurt almost every day really adds up!

5.  This is Molly. 
This is Molly, outside our house. 
This is Molly, outside our house, in November. 
This is Molly, outside our house, in November, with no snow. 
This is Molly, outside our house, in November, with no snow, and GREAT hair.
Molly has great hair.

6.  The Girls' roped again this year, and it was the first time for Ellie Mae to join in the fun.  She came in 5th, which meant she got a prize, which she loved, and now she wants to do it again next year.  She looked awfully cute with her Daddy, waiting for her turn.

7.  The three younger girls, getting ready.  It was a great event this year, once again.

8.  We have realized that we have a rooster.  We were only supposed to have hens.  Now to figure out which one is the rooster, so we can wring his little neck.  Let me tell you, friends, its a tough gig being a man in this house...