It’s hard to place my mind to when we first started on the farm here, to understand the state we were in at that time. We had no animals, but were very keen on getting some, and having the patience was hard. We wanted apple trees to be 10ft high, and it was, and still is, impossible to watch them grow from the small grafts they have started from. Oh, the excitement when we saw the first buds taking!
Now, we have quite an inventory of animals. We have finally figured out how to reproduce them, and have taken steps towards being self reliant in that category. The only stud we don’t have right now for our animals is a boar, and AI on pigs is actually pretty straight forward. At this point in Autumn, however, we shouldn’t have any surprised with a newborn and are expecting to startup again in the Spring, so, all the little ones are getting so big!
Cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, guinea fowl, dogs, cats. Fencing has become extremely important.
It’s been fascinating watching these little puppies grow over the last few weeks. They’ve gone from little sacs with unopened eyes, to jolly little roley poley creatures lapping at your heels to see what goodness might come of it.
We have 15 of them. It is typical for the breed of Great Pyrenees to have 6 – 9 puppies, so we have definitely got a very very large litter. They just seemed to keep coming out of her. We definitely weren’t expecting it as we had been doing everything we could to stop her from getting bred, and it wasn’t until the last few days before she gave birth where I started to notice her teets dropping and said: “I think Rosie’s going to have puppies.”
I think it’s not a farm unless there’s some kind of animal living on it that’s not human. Even just one chicken. It was definitely hard waiting to get animals here until we were ready, as we were all very eager to get on with the farming business rather than building dwellings and preparing proper living conditions and storage for the animals and produce we nurture here.
An example of what I’m talking about is with hay. We got animals before we had a place to store hay, we even got haying equipment! And there’s no way around the fact that over winter, animals need hay. However, we haven’t until this year had the space to store hay, and as a result, we have lost a lot of hay (read: learned hard lessons) to the elements. We did happily take the rotting hay and throw it on our garden as compost, but would have preferred to let the animals eat it all winter without having to buy good feed.
Now, we have quite the array of animals here. I’ve started keeping counts every few months (48 at last count). Spring is coming, so it’s going to be a time of newborns. Here’s a look at some of the special moments with them.
I first heard of Doi Inthanon from a fellow on a big bike.
I used to sit in a smoothie bar, Jojo Smoothies, that my friend Korn owned. I would sit in there working on my computer usually, editing or writing or coding, and have my GIANT cup that Korn would make me a smoothie in.
Sitting there, I began to meet people that would come in. They’d order their thing and then casually walk in, not sure if they should sit down or walk back out or what. I’d be there, and usual etiquette is to sit not too close but close enough to get brought into a conversation when one is happening.
He had his big adventure bike and was talking about how he had come to Thailand for 10 years in a row to tour through Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and how now it was all different. Regulations and borders. “The tallest mountain in Asia is right at your doorstep! And there’s a killer bike route that takes you from Doi Inthanon all the way up the border of Myanmar to Pai, and then back to Chiang Mai.”
I also sat in Jikko Café most of the mornings where I had my espresso and got to meet the people that came into there. We kind of started to have a group of us that would hang out or do some adventures together. One day, G and Tak came into the café and said: “Ned, let’s go to Doi Inthanon.” “I’m in!”
We woke before light and were probably 3/4 the way there before the sun came up, so we beat most of the other people that make it a busy destination. The whole way there and back I was all eyes for the road we were traveling. Truly a beautiful country and landscape. So many things to see.
This is what we saw while hiking around on Doi Inthanon.
In the summer of 2019 my girlfriend, Crystal, and I drove across Canada to pick up a load in a cargo trailer from long term storage to bring back across Canada to our farm. For me, this had been the fourth year in a row to make this exact same trip, but for Crystal it was her first time being past Northern Ontario driving.
We slept in the empty trailer on the way West, which was an absolute luxury. We tried to pull off the side of the road so we wouldn’t have to get a campsite, but it was during the time of the nation wide man hunt for the two young fugitives from Vancouver Island so we were always just a little bit on edge when we’d find a nice place to stop. Nothing like a little danger to keep a trip exciting. I like to put little camp symbols on our oversized map so that in future years we know where a good campsite is. It’s probably not necessary because there are campsites in nearly every town, but sometimes you’re sitting there thinking to yourself: “I know the campsite was somewhere in this part of the country, but I just don’t remember the name of the little adorable town it was located in.” So there, on the map, is a little camp symbol that solves the mystery.
I think one of the more memorable things for me was when we stopped in the Fraser Canyon of BC to look down the canyon on a particularly beautiful turn in the river, and behind us we hear a few rocks tumbling down. I was worried because the truck was below those rocks, but up up up we see some goats following an ancient trail. First a big male goes to show the way, then a few females, then about 5 little kids make their way across! What a sight! Sometimes it’s easy for me to get caught up in our modern industrialized and urbanized world and feel like our wildlife is a thing of the past, that we no longer have any, and then seeing something like this makes me realize that there is still something out there untamed, wild, free, true.
At this point, we were on our way to Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Seeing the wild Pacific Coast one last time was pretty special for us. I remember growing up I always wanted to live in Vancouver. The wild old growth forests and the gnarly roots everywhere was to me something very special. In fact, it was in the mountains around Vancouver that I really started photographing as I hiked endlessly. For Crystal, it was her first time seeing the giant cedars and firs and the wild, rugged coastline of the open Pacific Ocean.
And just like that, it was time for us to zip back to Atlantic Canada and back to the farm.