Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mid May Evening Stroll

Hello dear friends, it has been a while since I last shared an update on our farm activities.  Our spring has so far been one of very cool temperatures and significant rainfall.  Although we have not suffered through the flooding conditions that those in Eastern Ontario and Eastern Canada have experienced we have nonetheless had far more rain than usual.  We have some areas of the farm under water while most areas are just waterlogged.  We will need some sun and drying winds to help dry the hayfields and pastures.

At this time of year it is always a race to get a head start on the gardens.  If I start too early the gardens are still too wet and it is too easy to spear some late showing perennials with my garden fork.  If I wait too long the weeds get ahead of me and the soil loses that perfect level of moisture which makes weeding so gratifying!  I am sure other hard core gardeners sympathize with me!  This area is already starting to take off on me.  The statue in this photo is the resting spot of Bailey, one of the many German Shepherds we have had on the farm.  

Yesterday was mostly dry and reasonably warm  so I thought I would share some photos.  With all of the rain and bits of sun and warmth the lawns are growing like mad!  For many years we have contracted out the cutting of our lawns but this year we have decided to do it ourselves.  Last year my husband bought me a new John Deere riding mower and I treated myself to a Stihl battery operated push mower.  I actually quite enjoy mowing the lawns-it is great exercise and the chickens love scratching through the grass clippings.   
Our two lonely chickens are looking forward to their new companions!  We have day old chicks arriving in a couple of weeks and we are waiting to be able to buy some ready to lay hens.  Once we get our flock back up to about 20 hens they will make very quick work of all of the grass clippings and weeds that I deliver to the chicken run for them.

Here is a view down our sideroad.  We live in a very pretty area with rolling hills.  This is a rural area although we have some large residences in the area.  The sideroad is reasonably quiet with not too much traffic.  We move the sheep across the road regularly although on occasion a passing motorist needs to stop to wait for the road to clear.   Our experience has been that anyone trapped in a vehicle surrounded by sheep finds it very amusing,

We use this field to pasture our sheep for a few hours daily.  This field is across the road from our farm.  The owners of the property love to have the sheep graze the grass and enjoy being pretend-sheep farmers.  There are other farms visible in the distance.  There is a river in the valley just beyond the crest of the hill.  This area also provides cover to predators so we can only leave the sheep here for a few hours at a time.

I am not sure what this is.  It is a small tree or large shrub growing in one of the ditches.  I love the way the new growth looks like bristles.

We grow as much of our own hay as possible.  Having to purchase hay makes raising sheep a very costly hobby!  This hayfield is already lush and green.  The hedgerows provide cover and a corridor for all kinds of birds and wildlife.  Unfortunately the hedgerows also provide cover for the coyotes that try to prey on our sheep.

The ground is so waterlogged that the ditches are not draining.  While walking earlier in the day I noticed that this cedar tree is actually tipping over.  We will need to do something about that.

Hello, moon!

This is our largest single hay field.  We reseeded it a few short years ago and it produces very nice hay for us.  We have a smaller hay field that also produces great hay and we also cut hay on a neighbour's field.  Depending on the weather that year we may or may not be able to take a second cut.  Weather has such a big impact on the quantity and the quality of the hay.

Another pastoral view across the road.  While taking in this view I was texting with my sister-in-law over her dreadful commute.  We both have long commutes to the city as well so having these views to look forward to helps to keep us sane!

This is a view down our road in the opposite direction.  Just visible in the distance is Lake Belwood.  Once the trees start to leaf out we will no longer be able to see the water.  When we first moved here the lake was visible from the upstairs windows of our house.

We have noticed that over the years we have been experiencing more wind with higher gusts and for longer periods of time.  The poor greenhouse has taken quite a beating in the winds so far this year.  One of the panels ended up across the road.  We have hopefully found all of the parts and will need to do some repairs to it this year.

Yes we are!

Daffodils have always been my favourite spring bulb.  This year several will need division and this fall I will order some new varieties.

Lake Ophelia is just behind this ewe.  The water level is very high.  Lake Ophelia is actually a pond that we had dug to help dry some of the area around the barn.  It needs some renovation which is one of many future projects.  

At lambing time we use marking paint to mark the ewe and her lamb(s).  This allows us to quickly identify which lamb belongs to which Mom.  

One more quick view of some of the sheep before heading into the house to feed the dogs.  Next week we are on vacation and are very excited about our latest outdoor project which I hope to share soon!

Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Easter Weekend

Hello dear friends, I hope everyone had a very pleasant Easter  weekend.  We hosted 2 small dinners here at the farm and when it was all done it was time to do some cleaning up inside and some exploring outside!

We have had a significant amount of rainfall.  Not as much rain as people that live further east but enough to cause flooding and ponding all over the farm.  The ground is absolutely saturated and Tuesday we received another 20 mm of rain.  We will need some wind, sun and warm temperatures to help dry out our fields and pastures.

Here is the dreaded aegopodium which is often referred to as goutweed.  What a terrible decision to bring this highly invasive plant to the farm!  It seems impossible to eradicate.  I have had fantasies of fencing areas with this horrible ground cover and letting our chickens have a field day.  I am convinced that after a week or two the chickens will be able to peck and scratch it to death.  My husband however has been rolling his eyes at this idea.  I have tried constantly forking it out, smothering it with black plastic and in desperation I have even used round-up up it is impervious to all attempts to kill it.  If anyone has had any success in getting rid of it please let me know!

I love the old windows that we used in my little garden shed.  Everything will need a fresh coat of paint this year.  The windows were the original windows for our old stone farmhouse.  Some are cracked and have the wobbly old glass look.  They have an energy efficiency rating of....approximately zero!  We replaced our old windows in the house several years ago with much more efficient reproduction windows custom made from a local manufacturer.

It seems that I have years in which I binge-buy bulbs.  I like to order all of my spring bulbs from Veseys.  Binge buying also means binge planting and that takes a lot of discipline!  I havent ordered new bulbs for the last two years and now it appears that I have a lot of tulip foliage but no expectation for flowers.  The crocuses and daffodils on the other hand flower and multiply reliably year after year.  I do love the tulips for additional colour and form in the garden and am looking forward to browsing this year's catalogue for new bulbs to add for next year's spring garden. 

For many years we have wanted to have a flagstone terrace and admired photos of stone walkways planted with mosses.  Some of the instructions provided details on pastes to be made to applied to the stones to encourage mosses to grow.  As it turns out we have not done anything to our terrace-the mosses appeared, have been growing and seem to be quite happy.  I love the subtle greens in the mosses that grow around the farm.

A couple of weeks ago the cover was removed from our koi pond.  There was still a lot of ice and the shallow section of the pond was frozen solid.  The ice has now all melted and the fish are coming out of their winter hibernation.  Each year the koi reproduce and have been growing larger.  We quite enjoy watching the fish while having a glass of wine at the "koi bar".  This pond is a work in progress and still needs to have some finishing work done on the stone wall that surrounds it.

We have 3 different bird's nests in the gazebo.  The construction is fascinating!  There are many swallows nesting in our barn and our cedar hedges and trees have collections of next as well.  Every now and again the strong winds we have been experiencing will dislodge a nest which I will find on the lawn.

The grass is greening up quickly.  The sheep are enjoying being outside.  In a couple of weeks we should be able to move them to neighbouring pasture across the road.  Rotating pastures is important to keep the grasses healthy and give them an opportunity to regrow between grazings.  Although the sheep are nibbling on the grass the pastures will still need about 6-8 weeks to be ready for full time grazing.  At this time of year our sheep are still being fed hay and grain.

The chicken coop is still a lonely place.  After the chaos caused by the mink, the skunk, the coyote and the fox our surviving rooster and old hen are the only residents.  We are anxious to get more chickens but only after we take strong measures to predator proof the coop.  As this is a fresh start I am trying to convince my husband to purchase different varieties of hens to produce different colours of eggs.  It would be so much fun to have green, blue and chocolate brown eggs.  Although eggs may have different colours of shells the nutritional value eggs are the same.  We do love our fresh eggs!  

I did a little decorating for Easter.  I love finding old silver teapots at thrift shops.

This is a Venetian Oil Lamp which was gifted to me by my mother and was in turn handed down from her grandmother.  One day I must ask her to relate the history of these items so I can document the stories.

This is the handle.

The plate rack and dishes are also gifts from my mother and come from her grandparents.  The plate rack is elaborated carved which each rail having a different motif.  I am so pleased that my parents were able to bring so many family treasures to Canada over the years.  While not everyone is interested in these old pieces I think they are fascinating and love to have them in our home.

I hope you enjoyed our quick visit.  My thoughts are with the residents of Eastern Ontario and Quebec that are struggling with flooding.  I hope the rain stops soon.

Wishing everyone a great week!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Remembering Chantalaria

Helllo dear friends, last week we said goodbye to our dear cat Chantalaria.  We have had many pets here at our farm and losing a pet is never easy.

Chantalaria and her sister Charlotina (fitting names for tortoiseshells don"t you think?) were left in a cat carrier on the side of a highway about 7 years ago.  Fortunately there was a cat rescue near by and a volunteer found them.  There was nothing to indicate their age, any medical conditions or even if they were current with vaccinations. The volunteers at the rescue estimated the two cats to be about 8 years old.  We had recently lost our very first cat and were actually interested in adopting a kitten but after viewing all of the cats at the rescue these two older girls captured our hearts.  A short time later they both came home with us.

Unfortunately Charlotina passed away about 2 years ago.  We are guessing but we believe that Charlotina and Chantalaria were sisters.  Both were torties but with vastly different personalities.  Charlotina craved attention but Chantalaria was always very aloof.  In fact, Chantalaria was the Ultimate Grumpy Cat.  Visits to the vet for shots required two assistants and even at the very end she was able to hiss, scatch and then bite the vet.  

Chantalaria did not venture far from the house.  During warm weather she would go outside but would stay on the verandas or visit the koi pond.  She didnt like the dogs so preferred to stay in the house and would usually only come outside if I was outside as well.

An Adirondack chair is perfect for lounging during the summer.  In addition to the Adirondack chairs there were an assortment of cat baskets on the verandas.  The blankets always had cat hair so even if we didnt see the baskets occupied we knew that they were being used.

Such a photogenic girl!  Truly a princess!

It is possible to spend endless hours observing the fish.

Or taking a moment to rest on the stone staircase.

Or in a pinch even curling up on a dog bed.

We noticed that in last few months that Chantalaria wanted to spend more time with us.  At night she would often jump up on the bed and spend the night sleeping close to me.  If she seemed bothered by the dogs I would move to a different bedroom so that we could sleep together.    

Over the years we have been fortunate to adopt so many pets here at the farm.  We have had several cats since moving to our old stone house...Tigger, Sylverster, Liza, Zachary, Chantalaria, Charlotina and finally Horatio.  Although we are saddened to lose Chantalaria we are so happy that she had such a wonderful cat life here at the farm.

Thank you for visiting my blog and a special thank you to all of the wonderful pet owners that adopt cats and dogs from rescue organizations.  Every pet deserves to live knowing that they are loved and will be cared for.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Last Burst of Winter

Hello dear friends, the challenge at this time of year is that with temperatures so close to freezing it is hard to know if precipitation will be rain or snow.  Last night we lost!  Snow it is.

The birds are wondering what is going on.  We had previously started moving bird feeders away from the house because of what appeared to be a red squirrel invasion.

Last night we were struck by both a weasel and a fox.  The sad end to our collection of chickens.  We are going to send our one remaining rooster to a friend that also raises chickens.  We will need to rebuild our chicken coop and run before buying any other chickens.  During the night the fox was on our veranda-even with all exterior lights on we could see him watching us.

Our chicken coop is now empty.

On the other hand the snow is very pretty and symbolically gives us a new start!

How pretty is this light bulb?

Today and tomorrow are going to be just at or below freezing but by Tuesday we will back up to 6 degrees Celsius and this snow should melt.  

Wishing everyone a great week.  Thank you for visiting!