Monday, January 22, 2018

The Short Days of Winter

I wonder if it would be accurate to say that winter is always on our minds?  In the winter, we are thinking about how to get through the winter.  In the spring, we're so thankful that winter is over.  Summer brings projects that must be completed before the cold weather hits, and fall consists of finishing all those said summer projects, and the mad dash to finish everything up before....you name it....winter comes again!  So yes, I suppose I can say that winter is all consuming.  Especially when you live in Alberta!

There is, however, much to love about winter.  And that's how I try and get through the (never ending) season in good spirits, being thankful. 

First of all, since the sun rises so late, and sets so early, you don't have to be up at the butt crack of dawn to see the beauty that happens twice a day.  When I really think about it, it's quite amazing.... that we would be privileged to witness such an event.  Twice!  Every.  Single.  Day.   



Since the days are so short, and the nights are so long, it's a really great time to work on inside projects.  Our girls have learned to enjoy doing a bit of embroidery.


Weather it be tea towel or pillow cases, it's always fun to bring out a new project.


I also really enjoy quilting.  This is my winter project, to finish up this vintage quilt I bought.  I'm hoping it'll be finished in time for spring - I think it'll look awfully sweet on my bed!


And sledding.  Because really, who doesn't love some sledding??  Either by hill.....


....or by horse.  And you're never too old to sled!


Fires.  Again, who doesn't love a great fire?!  If it's outside.... 





....or inside.  There's something just so comforting and relaxing to me, to sit by a fire.  I love it!


And naturally, another winter sport we enjoy is skating.  Since moving out to our ranch, every year, Art has made a big skating rink for the girls, their friends, and our neighbors to enjoy.  This year, we moved it to a more protected spot, closer to the house, and we hung these sweet lights around the rink so they could easily skate in the door (due to the aforementioned long nights!), and the light makes it look almost magical!


I suppose the last thing on the mind is caring for livestock throughout the winter.  Due to the ridiculous amount of time, energy and planning that is done throughout the year, I feel very fortunate that our feeding routine is very, very easy.  Of course, we check on our animals every day, usually a couple of times a day - especially when the temperature really drops.  However, since we bale graze our cattle, we are moving electric fence every 4 days to allow them to access new bales.  It's an inexpensive, easy way to manage livestock through the winter.


The chickens are especially happy this year with a new chicken house.  We built this house in the spring, and have increased our flock to about 60 hens, and next year I think we'll bump it up to 80 layers.  With their new, roomy digs, the chickens are happy, happy, happy!


So many, many things to be thankful for during the long season of winter!





Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Value Village for the Win!

Recently, Spruce Grove opened up a new Value Village.  It's big and exciting news for someone who loves a good bargain!  Often, when we go into town, we'll pop into "VV" to take a quick look around.  I'm a sucker for any sort of embroidered linens, antiques, or housewares.  I have my couple of items I always look for - quilts, hand painted barn pictures, aprons and antique crockery. 


The older I get, the more I place value on items that are either handmade, or have stood the test of time. For example, I have a hard time saying no to vintage tea towels and aprons.  I know how long it takes me to embroider one simple tea towel.  How many hours do you think it to someone to embroider these?  And on flour sacks, none the less.... how do you not take these home?


How I appreciate that the well loved items of yesteryear were actually cherished.  And reused, often times again and again.  It's so different from our culture today, isn't it?  Lately, The girls and I have loved looking for handmade wool sweaters.  Again, the time that was spent on these projects.... and I don't know how to knit, so I really do appreciate a beautifully knit sweater.  Throw in the fact that it's wool, and that baby is coming home with me!  Wool is so incredibly warm, we wear these sweaters for everything through the winter.  Here's my "choring sweater", which I found a couple of weeks ago... Incidentally, it's really, really great to have someone in your life who knows how to knit, because this beauty had a couple of small holes, but my SIL was able to fix them up fairly easily for me. 


Again, because I know how much time and energy goes into making a quilt, I rarely turn up any quilts.  And I really do love those old school polyester quilts, because you cannot wreck those things.  I've bought a few over the years, but this one takes the cake!  It's bright and beautiful and stays in my truck for when we need to spread out a blanket to sit on.  Or in case we ever get stuck in the snow.  My girls really don't love this quilt, but I think it's so bright and cheery.  And no one will ever steal it!



My "commitment to thrifting", as a friend likes to call it, has wielded me some pretty exciting deals, so I'd rather think of this activity as an "investment for my retirement".  I keep telling the girls that the junk valuables I buy from VV are actually items of worth, and that when I die they'll be able to sell them.  For example:  I bought this pretty sweet Hudson Bay Point Blanket.  It's an iconic Canadian keepsake! (And don't worry - I took it directly from the store to the dry cleaners!)




And then, I found a few more points blankets, all in great shape, all keepsakes, and all dry cleaned!



I also got Abby started on a little collection of her own.... enamelware.  She's even picked up several more pieces since this picture was taken.  She tells me that when she moves out, that's all she's going to use.... we'll see about that!





The most exciting find, I think, to date, has been a beautiful vintage, hand sewn, honeycomb quilt. 


The quilt was unfinished, and needed a bit of tweaking to make it back into a rectangle.  It pains me to think of the amount of hours someone spent making this quilt, and I've decided to finish the quilt myself.  I justified the cost of finishing the quilt by the fact that I bought the top for a mere $5...




I'm having it professionally quilted, since doing so myself, on this size and shape of a quilt is beyond my skill level, and I'm so excited to see it once it's finished!

I suppose I've realized that I really do love the thrill of the hunt when I'm thrifting.  You never know what you're going to find when you walk through those doors, and for a relatively small investment (I don't think I've paid more than $20 for anything I've ever bought from VV), it's a fun little hobby. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Christmas Update

I was talking to my sister-in-law this morning (Hi, Mary!), and she was reminding me that I hadn't posted here in quite some time.  So here I am, posting an update... Let's make it almost like a Christmas card, because we all know that I won't be sending them out any time soon...

First off, we'll start with The Girls. 



As I scroll through my photos, I realize that this is the only photo I have of The Girls from the year that doesn't have them covered in mud, dirt of cow poo.  How nice.  Anyhow.  Collectively, The Girls love horses, cows, quads, dogs, their family and basically anything to do with ranch life.  They love their friends and neighbors, staying home on a Friday night (it's my dream, really), and being outside.


And now, for some more details:

Hannah.  Age (almost) 17.  Grade 12

It's Hannah's last year of high school this year, she will be graduating at the end of the year.  Her plan next year is to work for the year, and then she's hoping to attend college to be a Vet Tech, specializing in Equine.  Hannah loves horses, and enjoys cows.  Last year, her steer won Highest Rate of Gain in our 4H Interclub achievement day, so she was pretty happy with that big boy. 

 

She bought a couple of heifers this fall to start her own cattle herd also.  Hannah spent a week helping at camp this summer, and I think is hoping to go back again next year.


Hannah continues to work at a horse barn, where she's worked for the last 3 yrs.  She loves watching movies, being outside, riding her horse and reading.  Always reading.



Abby.  Age 15.  Grade 10

It was a big year for Abby.  After getting skunked last hunting season, Abby was bound and determined to fill her deer tag this year.  She talked of little else.  All.  Year.  Long.  Abby also works at the same horse barn that Hannah works at, and she saved her pennies to buy her own gun for hunting season. 


Abby loves cows.  And she likes horses.  She is most often found in the steer pen, working with her 4H steer, or walking through the pasture checking out the cows.  Abby also enjoys baking, reading, hunting, and talking with friends on the phone.  And she loves cows (Did I mention that already?  'Cuz the girl is crazy about them!)

Besides buying herself a gun, after years of pleading, we finally let Abby buy a puppy.  So she purchased a really sweet Chesapeake Bay/Lab cross puppy who she named Dixie.  Dixie fits right in with the rest of our pack, and is sure fun to have around.




Lastly, and probably most importantly to Abby, the girl managed to fill not one but two deer tags this season.  She harvested this doe on opening day, and learned how to gut, skin and butcher her deer.  Truthfully, all the girls learned.  We've been enjoying the great meat, and Abby has also made lots of jerky.




Molly.  Age 12.  Grade 7

Molly had a really great year in 4H this year.  Her steer won Reserve Grand Champion at our interclub show, which meant she won herself a nice buckle.  She was beyond excited!  She was quite sad to see that steer go.  Molly loves cattle and horses, as well as being outside and playing inside with Playmobil or Schleich.  The girls spend hours in the basement, setting up their own ranches, which is quite fun to watch.  It's Molly's first year in youth this year, so that is a big change for her, but she's really enjoying it. 


Molly loves being involved in everything around our farm, and is often Art's little assistant.  She can work a full day outside and then still have the energy to run around and play.


In going through pictures, I was chuckling that it really is hard to find a picture of Molly on her own.  She's definitely a social butterfly, and loves her sisters fiercely.  I am often asked if her and Elizabeth are twins, as they are almost the same height, and there's definitely some family resemblance!  Molly is usually the one making everyone laugh in our family, and she is very quick witted.




Elizabeth.  Age 10.  Grade 5

Elizabeth had her first year in 4H this year, and loved every minute of it.  I guess, after being dragged to countless meetings and events of the last 5 years, it's about time.  Elizabeth works really, really hard and is very diligent in everything she does.  She loves horses and cows, she's crazy about owls, and she enjoys being outside with her animals and sisters, as well as playing inside with Playmobil and Schleich.  Elizabeth has sure had big changes this year as 1-2 nights a week, all of her sisters are gone to youth.  She misses them quite a bit, so we try and plan a few fun things with her. 


Elizabeth is very affectionate and sensitive, and is always the first to hug or cuddle in.  She really loves Science.  Her sisters are her best friends, and they sure do have fun together.


She loves working with cattle, especially if it's horseback.  One of her favorite spring time activities in castrating calves (For real.  That girl outworked grown men at cutting calves), and she gives such a huge effort in all things. 


So there you have it.  As for Art and I.... well I suppose our lives are spent mainly keeping up with life.  As I was looking through pictures, specifically for Art, I was struck that in every picture, the man was either working on the farm or doing something for us girls.  He works very, very hard at providing us with not only our needs, but many times, our wants. 



Besides running our cabinetry business in town and farming, with all the spare time we have, both Art and I enjoy shooting and hunting - especially when the girls are along.


Having our farm is a dream come true for both of us, and we love our life.  It's exciting to continue to build our herd every year, and produce some great cattle.   It's a privilege to raise our girls this way as well, learning the value of hard work and having fun while doing it.




We both continue to enjoy learning more about how to raise great cattle and be great stewards of our land.  This whole life long learning thing is something that we've tried to install in our girls, as well as live it out in our everyday life.


Art has always had a way with kids, and his even temperament make him a good cattleman.  Our cows are very quiet, and (usually) will just follow him around like a puppy dog.



Lastly, the man loves his girls.  He loves to see them work hard and do well.  He is so steady and reliable, something I very much appreciate.


Soo there's an update on our family this year.  I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and cheers to a Happy New Year! 



The Goerzen Girls.... and Art













Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring is FINALLY here!

After a couple of false starts, I think it's safe to say that Spring is finally here.  I think...

We've had an extremely wet spring, with several late snow storms, as well as lots of rain, so there is water everywhere!

This is our front yard, where we've never had water, and The Girls couldn't even walk through this in their rubber boots, the water was higher than their boots were.  Half of that little bridge in the distance was covered with water.



We've had fun making horses go through the puddles, and it's given them a chance to get the pounds of mud off their feet.  I'm sure it feels good for them! 





This is also the first year we've had this secondary seasonal creek running through our land.  It's sure pretty!


This may be my favorite picture of all time. This is a sloughy area that normally fills up in the spring, but not usually close to this amount!  The little spring fed dugout is probably 6 ft. deep, and it extends well in the low lands.  The ducks love it!



It's been really great to get out riding again, and start getting the ponies in shape for the spring.  I always say that riding is like therapy for me.... but I haven't quite decided if it's cheaper or more expensive.



This spring, we finally bit the bullet and built a new chicken house.  The house is significantly larger than our last house, and so we thought we'd fill it with 50 layers this spring.  As you can tell, 50 layers doesn't even come close to filling it.... so maybe next spring we'll do closer to 75?  We'll see how that all plays out.  I love the new house, with several windows to let natural light in, and lots of room for the chickens to roam.  There's 2 chicken doors for them to get outside into runs, as well, the large door at the end will make cleaning out this house a dream.  We'll be able to pull the skidsteer right up to the house and shovel right into the bucket.


There's also storage for feed and water, as well as some great nesting boxes which open to the other side of the wire mesh, so we don't even have to go into where the chickens are to collect eggs.  The house is finished off with a man door at the end.  We still have some work to do - we'll side the outside with old barn wood, as well as run electrical in there so we can have heat and light in the winter.... but all in all, it's been great to have some new space for these silly birds.  And having new chickens always makes it feel like spring is finally here!