Monday, September 28, 2015

Summer Projects

Summer is a time for outside projects around these parts, and it was a nice treat to be able to work outside so much this year.  Last year at this time, we were still so busy working on house renos, and it was awfully fun to work on the yard instead, while the sun was shining and there was so snow on the ground. 

Our biggest undertaking this year was to do a bunch of fencing around the yard and shop.  I really wanted 3 rail fencing, simply because it looks so nice.  It's rustic and country and classic and beautiful.  It was, of course, a family project.  The Girls laid out all the fence and gate posts for us, and they measured and marked them, so we knew how far to pound them in.  They got a little creative in their markings, and left us funny little notes on many of the posts.  We spent the day chuckling at their sense of humor....
I really wanted to rework the garden as well this year - to beautify it.  The garden was massive - too big for me to take care of, so I decided to put some square foot gardens in part of the garden, as well as just a regular garden.  I think it's a nice compromise?  I had already planted my garden, so it made it a bit awkward, but next year, I'll plant it differently.  We pulled an arbor from another part of the yard (for now), but Art will eventually build a wooden one, and one of the other gates is an old headboard from an antique iron bed.

I'm super happy with how the garden area turned out, with even an area in the shade for sitting and relaxing...
 While we had the fence post pounder going, Art also decided to put some hitching rails around the shop, to make it easier to tie horses to while we tack up.  We also put those rustic beams around the overhang of the shop this year, to add a bit of rusticity (is that even a word?!) to the boring, metal shop. 
The Girls spent many, many hours creating their own "forts" this summer, and it was fun to watch them make something out of nothing.  There were many trips to "The Junkyard" (aka our scrap metal pile that has yet to be removed) to find materials for their forts, as well as many sticks and pieces of scrap wood from who knows where. 
One of the fun parts of watching them create their forts was seeing how they used "junk", and with their imagination, created really neat spaces. 

Since we moved in, just over a year ago, The Girls have been begging Art to build another swing set for them.  At our last house, we had a fairly sweet swing set/playhouse, and The Girls spent many afternoons playing on them.  After finishing up some other projects, Art decided it was time to get this one done.  He had an auger all booked and ready to go, when he happened on some guys that were doing work on power poles in the area.  After talking with them a bit, they said they'd come and auger the holes for us with their truck.  We were so thankful and blessed that they not only did the holes, but they also placed the poles for us as well.  What took this crew of guys 2 hours would've taken us about 3 days.  We made sure we fed them lots of treats, and everyone went away happy, happy, happy!

We still have to put up the tire swing, but meanwhile, The Girls are enjoying having a swing once again.  The rails are 18 ft. high, so it's quite fun for even the older kids to play on. 

We've had some other projects here and there, one especially exciting one, but I'll leave that for a post of it's own... one day.  Although we had a terrible drought here this year, which left us with terrible crops, it was nice to have many dry days to get work done.  Art was able to take many Friday's off, so that we could work around the farm, and I'm so thankful for that.  It was fun to watch my perennial gardens come up again, and set some plans for the next few years of things I want to change.  We (hopefully) got some of the weeds under control in some of the beds, and I'm always amazed at how quickly those beds go from looking overgrown and nasty to quite beautiful.  I'm blessed to have many, many mature perennials, and these delphiniums are just one example of that.  These flowers grew to be almost 6 ft. high!  They are beautiful!

Now, as fall is arriving, we will start to switch our focus back to finishing up a few outstanding projects inside.  I'm looking forward to some days curled up by the fire, reading a book, instead of working, working, working, outside. 
"...For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under the heaven..."
Ecc. 3:1

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Summer In A Nutshell

When things like "summer" come along, I've always said that I'd rather be working outside than stuck inside.  This philosophy has permeated our lives and affected how we make decisions.  Case in point: Homeschooling.  We like to be done the beginning of May so that we can be outside once the weather turns nice.  This has also proven true with blogging.  Apparently, I've been quite negligent in the blogging department, and you know what?  I'm not sorry.  Not even a little bit.  Now that we have that out of the way, I'll give a quick little blip about our summer, and we'll call it a day. 
So.  Summer.  It was hot and dry and glorious and exhausting.  Par for the course, yes?  We made it out to BC a few times, not really for vacation purposes - they were work trips.  We still made it a great time and had fun and enjoyed being away.  We were involved in a wedding during one trip, and a demolition/renovation on the other trip. 
My goal was to do a couple of fun day trips with the kids, and we were able to accomplish that, which was loads of fun.  At the beginning of the summer, we loaded up horses and kids and took a day trip to the Ft. Assiniboine Park.  We met up with friends, in 35C heat, and went on a ride.  It was hot and dusty and beautiful and loads of fun.  I was a bit nervous about the day, seeing how we'd never done anything like that, nor had our horses, but it was a stellar day and the horses and kids all did great.  Let me tell you, air conditioning has never felt so good as it did that day, after we'd finished loading horses and headed home! 

I was especially proud of my new 2 yr. old I bought this spring - he didn't bat an eye as we crossed streams and climbed steep hills and went through the bush.

 Another fun day trip that we did was the Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail.  We took Art's sister along on this trip, and it was a great day.  At the zoo, there were lots of big animals who were very active in their homes.  They had shows with the animals, you could watch training sessions, and you could also get your picture taken with some of them.  Art's sister had her heart set on getting our picture taken with the bear.... so we did.  And I was slightly terrified.  Truthfully, the bear looks fake, but let me assure was most real.  And here he is, doing his "Scary Bear" trick.  You choose which trick you wanted him to do while you had your picture taken with him.... And I think he looks quite scary, don't you?  I think I'd definitely wet my pants, should I run into a bear like this in the wild...

We took another day and headed to town.  Em-Te Town, that is.  We went to this old ghost town when Hannah was a baby, so it's been many years since we were there.  It was fun to take the Girls again, and since it's only about 40 minutes from our farm, it's an easy day trip.  Incidentally, we also took them to Ponderosa City, which is just a few miles from Em-Te Town.  It's a very cool western store with a bakery and some new-built-to-look-old buildings on site.  They hold Cowboy Church every Sunday during the summer, so when my folks were out, we went and enjoyed a pancake breakfast and church there one Sunday morning.    

Another afternoon was spent at the Lacombe Corn Maze with some friends, and that was also a great time.  The fun thing about the corn maze was that all the kids loved it - from our teenager to their 1 yr. old.  The weather was beautiful, the company was good, and we had farmer sausage for dinner there, which was the icing on the cake!

 The last day trip we took was just last weekend, and actually ended up being a 2 day trip.  We started off by going to a great gun store a few hours away, and then spent the night in Three Hills and took the kids to The Badlands for a drive.  We were in Drumheller many years ago, when Ellie Mae was a baby, so again, it was great to go somewhere fairly close by that the Girls didn't remember.  We hiked along the river valley, saw the hoodoo's, went up Dorothy Hill, and saw the other local sights.  It always amazes me how the landscape of our province changes so drastically, even just 3 hrs. away. 

I suppose that about sums up our summer.  Of course, we also spent many hours going to the river, just a few miles down our little gravel road,
Going for lots of rides,
And playing with the 8 kittens that our 2 cats had. 
My folks came out for a few weeks, the girls attended VBS, and we got to visit, on a couple of occasions, with old friends, which was such an unexpected treat!  So there you have it.... our summer in a nutshell!  I suppose I didn't talk about all of the projects we did on the farm this summer, but I'll have to save those for another day.  I hope y'all had a great summer too!