Friday, December 2, 2016

The Nature of Things

The older I get, the more I get to know about myself....some good, some bad.  The thing that I have realized about myself over the last several years is how I really do love to be outside.  (Remind me of this post when it's -30C and the wind is howling!)

As I look through the pictures that I take, or the times when I feel most like "me" is when I'm outside, or working on a project with my family.  It's always a bonus if both are involved!

When I'm outside, I'm always amazed at the world that God has created, and how I know so little about the world.  I marvel at the details and intricacy of His creation.  I feel connected to God, aware of my surroundings, and oh, so grateful that I get to live my life here. 

I thought I'd share some of those images with you....



 
















And now, as I remind myself of my love for nature, and I'm curled up under a blanket, I feel inspired to get outside, and take a quick walk before the darkness falls.  Enjoy your weekend



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cows, Steers and Heifers

It's that time of the year when our lives are full of fall works.  We've helped a few friends bring home cows from pasture, and I've been so thankful that the weather was nice each time!  It makes for a fun day, outside and on horseback, enjoying all that fall has to offer.




We've also been helping haul cows home from pasture, and since we've had so much moisture this year, that made for a very, VERY muddy job!  Each time we backed up the trailer, we had to have the tractor pull us out.  It made a big job even bigger, but we got it done, thankfully. 





4H has also started, and that means that the Girls needed to go and pick out their steers.  We spent several hours on the weekend looking through a friends' herd for the Girls to pick out their steers. 


After walking through the herd, looking at steers, writing down numbers and then narrowing down their choices, the Girls finally each picked one out. 




It's one of my most favorite parts of 4H.... We'll go pick up the steers in a week and then we'll have our club weigh-in, and then the real work begins.  We always try and get them halter broke right away, when they're at their lightest weight.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can continue to do that this year. 




We are still hauling hay, and next week we'll be weaning our calves and shipping them. 


Fall always feels busy, and we're trying to get all the stuff done that we need to before the snow is here to stay.  Thankfully, we've had some nice warm days, so the majority of  that white stuff that we had a few weeks ago has melted.  But we know that the countdown is one, and any day, the snow will be here to stay!














Monday, October 17, 2016

4 Months

It's been 4 months.  4 short months since we've had snow on the ground.  As some of you may remember, we had snow on the May Long Weekend, and then we just had a good dump of snow on Thanksgiving weekend.  4 short months since we've seen that white stuff!


We had a house full of company for Thanksgiving, and I knew that they were forecasting snow, but I didn't really believe that it would happen, especially since our Thanksgiving weekend was early in October.  Alas, I was wrong, and the weather forecasters were right.  We got almost 5" of snow on that weekend.  It was cold and wet and miserable!





  The Girls were excited to get outside and make snowmen....which they did.... The worst part was that as they rolled the ball for the snowman, green grass turned up again.  Such a bizarre scene - leaves on the trees, snow on the ground, and patches of green grass everywhere.




 

Thankfully, I had harvested my garden the day before the weather turned, so my root veggies, along with my pumpkins which overtook the world (or my garden!) were all safe.  Phew! 








Being the optimist that I am, I thought the snow would disappear pretty quickly.  I was, however, wrong.  Boo for me!  We received another 2" of snow this week. 





My optimism is starting to wane that the snow will melt.... however, I took a look at the forecast this week, and it's supposed to warm up, so here's hoping the green grass will show itself again before winter sets in... for good. 


We did get to do a couple of other really fun things this fall... and have a few more to come.  We helped friends round up cows on their lease land about an hour and a half north of here.



 It was a cool start to the day, but by the afternoon it had warmed up considerably.





 I suppose cool is relative - heck, I'm thankful there wasn't snow on the ground!


The other really fun thing we were involved in is City Slickers, which is a program put on by the Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre, funded by Ag for Life.  The whole idea of the program is to continue to show urban children how food is produced, since the average Canadian is 2 generations removed from a farm.  The Girls were involved in this program 2 years ago as presenters, and this year they were asked to be presenters again.  We talked about what they wanted to present about, and they decided that each of them would choose a tool that we used on our ranch, and share it with the kids.  The subjects they choose to present on were branding, roping, what we used our horses/dogs for on our ranch, and how to care for our horses.  The Girls all did a spectacular job on their presentations, and the years of 4H public speaking sure got put to good use! 





They each wrote their own portion of the presentation, and then they used props to illustrate.  We brought along 3 horses and Hannah's stock dog, as well as a dummy roping head, ropes, saddles, branding irons and various brushes for the horses.  I believe there were 900 kids, grade 3-4, that went through the program this year, so it was a full, exhausting day. 

I was sure proud of our Girls, and how they used their knowledge about our lifestyle and shared it with other kids.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Getting Into the Groove

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and I tend to try and spend as much time outside as I can.  I am constantly saying to the girls, "This might be your last chance to get outside to ______ before the snow flies..."  And they get sick of it, but really, in Alberta, one never knows when the snow will come. 

We're had an extremely wet fall, and the mosquitoes are very bad - worse than they've been in the last 2 years, I'd say, so I am looking forward to a good, hard frost to kill those bad boys off!

We've got started on school, and it's nice to get into the routine of the year.  When we get our new school books every year, it's like Christmas!  Everyone excitedly opens the boxes, and then they scatter, each with a new book (or 6!) to read.



I love that our schooling takes place around the kitchen table.  It feels cozy (and sometimes cramped!), but it's great for me, because I can also get work done in the kitchen while the girls whittle away at their school work.


We've had a few fires this year, and after a late night, all the girls fell asleep on the lawn by the fire.... that is, until the dogs came along....


We've gotten out for numerous rides on horse....




....and on quads.  Both are so enjoyable!


My pumpkins are taking over my garden...


....and I can't stop taking pictures of the leaves changing on the trees



The other day, we joined our neighbors to get out on quads to some of their pasture land.  After a climb up a little hill, the view was outstanding.  You could see for miles and miles, and the leaves were all changing to delicious shades of red, yellow and orange.  Pictures don't begin to do it justice!





There's also an old barn that we poked around....


I love how the wood has weathered so differently from one side of the barn to the other.



Happy Fall, y'all!




Friday, September 2, 2016

Fall is Here

Last summer it was hot and dry.  This summer was cool and rainy.  Like, really rainy.  There were a couple of days that we received over 4" of rain.  So fields are green and wet, and the grass has done lots of growing.  The nights are cooling off, and I even turned on my furnace today.  The leaves are changing, there was a frost warning the other night, and I am looking forward to winding down on outside work and turning our attention inside.  But before that happens, I get to enjoy my most favorite season.... fall. 






It hasn't felt like we've really had a stellar summer - way too few days at the river, and not enough lazy afternoons, but it is what it is.  I've finally ordered all of my curriculum, and we'll start school next week.  Or perhaps the week after.... depending on the weather.  And my mental state. 

Every year, I have what I like to call, "The Fall Freakout".  I suppose I'm thankful of the fact that I'm consistent, and every year it happens.  I feel overwhelmed with getting back into the routine of things, and getting everyone back into "school" mode....wondering if we're doing enough school, if we've made the right choice for our family in homeschooling... The weight of responsibility is sometimes overwhelming.  Our girls are in grades 11, 9, 6 and 4 this year, and I realize that for our oldest, we have only 2 more years of her here with us, and that is terrifying to me.  I hope that we are doing well by her, and preparing her for her adult life. 



Fall in Alberta is a short lived season, and I find myself getting giddy at the thought of the long days of winter approaching.  Each fall feels like a race against the clock, to get done everything that needs to happen before the snow flies.  We have wood to cut, pens to clean out, cows to move, the garden to clean out, lawn furniture to put away, calves to choose for 4H, and the never ending other projects that need to be complete before it gets seriously cold.  I'm hoping we're still a couple of weeks away from frost, and if we're lucky, 2 months until snow.... But one never knows in Alberta.  And that's the fun of it.


Here's the good news: 

1.  It's the long weekend.  The weather is supposed to be crummy, but that's ok, because we're working on a pumphouse, so it won't feel so bad to be working all weekend when the weather is crummy. 

2.  My house is decorated for fall.  My most favorite time to decorate.  And I bought new fall pillows last winter that I totally forgot about until I pulled out my fall d├ęcor.  It was like Christmas...in fall.

3.  I bought mums the other day at Costco.  They were beautiful.... until the dog ate them.

4.  Flank steaks are marinating for dinner.  

5.  Art is coming home early (to work on the pumphouse... but that's ok!  He'll still be home early!)



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Never Ending Job

We've been planning, since last summer, to do a major fencing project this spring.  We wanted to fence both sides of the creek which runs through our property, and although some of it was fenced, there was lots that needed to be repaired or replaced.  Since the creek bed is an environmentally sensitive area, we also want to limit when and how much time the cows have to graze it, and limit their access when it's most vulnerable - in the spring. 

The majority of our free time these days has been spent doing the preparation for the fencing project, and it feels like the work is never ending!  We had to mark out where we want the fence to go, clear a 10 ft. wide swath through the bush, take out all the old fencing nails and posts, and wind up the wire.  Oy.  In addition, we had to repair a bunch of fencing on another grazing quarter in order to be able to move the cows to that pasture so that we could pull out the old fencing around the creek.

Thankfully, the weather has been a bit cooler, although lots of rain has definitely increased the mosquito population around these parts.   During the day, I had my fencing crew help me come and pull the nails.  Those little fingers worked well, and the Girls actually quite enjoyed that job!

I love the look of concentration on their faces!


Art (a.k.a. Mr. Patient) took lots of time to teach the girls how to repair broken or loose wires, and they caught on quickly to that as well.


I don't think we've been in before 10 pm any night this week, and a couple of the girls even fell asleep in the ranger as we drove home, but everyone felt quite proud of the job that we have done.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Summertime

I know I said that after 4H was over, it was going to be free and easy around these parts, but somehow, that has failed to happen!  The random going-ons that have prohibited that from happening have been all good, such as....

Kittens!  We found 2 litters of kittens in the hay shed.  Fortunately, there were only 2 in each litter, so it is quite a bit easier to get rid of 4 rather than the 8 we had last summer!


Parades!  We always try and make the Farmer Day's Parade in Stony Plain.  It's been fun, over the years, to watch the kids, as they get bigger and bigger.  We weren't going to go this year, but the Girls begged us... "It's tradition!" they said.  And so we went.


Branding!  We branded our own herd in the last few weeks.  It was awfully exciting... (I loved it!)


Calves!  Ellie Mae has been asking fairly regularly to work with her 4H steer for next year, so it's not so hard to halter break in the fall.  Well, she finally got her wish!


Bulls!  We turned the bull out with the cows, and my girls have been vigilantly watching to make sure he does his job....


Hair!  We have some crazy hair going on around here.  Hannah curled Molly's hair....with straws! 


More calves! 


Riding the ponies!  It's a good time.  Always. 


The last calf.  Finally born at the end of June.  Hooray!