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.
My whole life I have walked these lands, and I hope I will have the good fortune to be able to continue to as long as I live. My family has been here going on 4 generations now. When talking about Canadian ranching, this is a long time. I have built tree forts, pushed cattle to greener pastures by horse, mowed lawns and hayed the fields, crawled under tractors, learned how to jump on trampolines and fire a rifle, hunted for Easter eggs, watched calves being born, branded livestock, fished for trout and frogs in swamps, creeks and lakes, and driven 4-wheelers and dirt bikes here… needless to say I’m dirty almost instantly upon arrival. I love this place, I think of it often.
Sometimes it’s hard to take a different eye at the land you see frequently, hard to motivate yourself to step out of the regular. I think this is where artistic challenge is at its finest; the challenge for a fresh set of eyes upon the similar, not for identifying new equipment we need or location changes. With this frame of mind, everything is a tool, everything is art, everything has potential. It’s a great challenge and just requires a new angle.
These photographs were taken mid May, in the south end of the North Thompson Valley, near Heffley Creek, BC or just North of Kamloops. This region – depending on the industry and map you’re looking at, is referred to as North Thompson, Thompson-Nicola, Southern Interior, or Okanagan.
A few days ago I lost my dog to the ails of old age. It is hard to think about him never again greeting me at the door, but this is the cycle of nature.
Angus was a great dog, a beautiful dog, a smart dog, a proud dog. He was a border collie and reached the ripe age of 12 yrs old. I remember I picked him out from my cousin’s dogs litter, when he was less than a week old. We had to wait another few weeks until we could take him, but that was him, and that’s how we got him.