Spring on the Farm

Posted on 28th June 2022 in adventure, animals, foto story, nature, photojournalism, Red Spruce

Today it’s nearly the beginning of July. The summer solstice has passed and it’s shorter days from here on forth for another half year. On the farm here, we have a litter of piglets nearly ready for weaning, our first calf of the year was born a few days ago, Rosie our Great Pyrenees dog is about to give birth, lambs are almost all at the target weight of 90 lbs, and the grass is ready to cut if only we had a few days in a row of sunny, dry, and windy weather for the hay!

I’m definitely starting to feel more like a farmer. I think we all are here. We have chores that definitely involve animals. We have learned a great deal about fencing and the importance of it to keep the animals where you want them to be and safe. I watch the weather religiously and keep an eye on animals for any symptoms of something wrong. I also sweat through my shirt on the regular and enjoy a cold beer on the patio at the end of a day.

It’s been quite a test of my devotion to photographs these last few years as I learn to re-integrate the camera into my arsenal. Most days I’m covered in something that I don’t want to get on the camera. This means carrying a camera has been a challenge for me. It’s also a challenge carrying all the things I like to keep on me, my every day carry stuff. As of right now, I have started to put everything into a ruksack that I take with me everywhere. Inside there is my Lowepro camera bag keeping my camera behind a second wall of defense. It seems to be working, but also quite heavy! But I use it like one would a jacket: I take it to where I’m working and hang it on some hook I can find and then go about my work.

Perhaps these photos will show some of what we’ve been up to where my words cannot elaborate.

Highland Cows - Red Spruce Farm
Shawna our Highland cow with her new calf
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Farm Animals : Autumn 2021

Posted on 15th November 2021 in animals, Red Spruce

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.

Mustafa an alpine buckling twin
Mustafa an alpine buckling twin
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Great Pyrenees Puppies

Posted on 4th July 2021 in animals, Red Spruce

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.”

Well, here they are.

a puddle of great pyrenees puppies
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comments: 1 » tags: dogs, great pyrenees, puppies, puppy

Animals on the Farm

Posted on 4th March 2021 in animals, Red Spruce

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.

white cat named Bernie
Bernie
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Building a House

Posted on 20th May 2019 in foto story, photojournalism, Red Spruce

In the Spring of 2018 we began building a new house in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, for my parents. What a process!

We threw around almost all ideas, and finally came up with an ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms from Nudora) house.

(as a side note: the only thing I didn’t like about this choice was that we weren’t able to build the house ourselves because one must be trained to install them right.)

It took what seemed like forever to organize who was actually going to break ground for us, and when. Almost every step after that was the same. Who could we get to commit to helping us put this house together. Our trick card was that my brother, father, and I all wanted to work as much as possible. Many of the contractors wanted to do to lockup. It almost felt like an arm wrestle the whole time with contractors and getting them to come by and do the work they agreed to do. Alas, it’s almost finished now and we’re pretty thrilled every day we get to live in it.

I didn’t actually move into the house until sometime in February or so, which means I was in the chicken coop for most of the winter with Ruu (dog) and Strawberry (cat). Mom and dad were in the house way earlier. Thinking back, it was mostly the ICF and the roof that we required the most help doing. The rest we did mostly ourselves with the help of a local business, Turnkey, specifically carpenter Tyler Miller, Dave and Jonah. Alex Knicker was here for a great spell helping, plumbing was done with Blair Falconer of Falcon Plumbing, and electrical by Michael George and Jim Fraser. This means external siding, 4ply laminate structural 64′ beam, floor joists, sub floor, hardwood flooring, framing, windows and doors, drywall, bathroom waterproofing and tiling, painting, air exchange, and most of the electrical we did ourselves.

It is really nice to have this building nearly done now. It was really a stressful year for everybody with organizing and trying to time everything perfectly and smoothly so there was no sitting around waiting – yet of course that still happened plenty in spite all the worrying! I have noticed more grey hairs in my hair and beard.. Granted, we did have a tonne of fun doing it and learned a whole hell of a lot, so much so that we feel confident building more houses soon.

I took lots of photographs with my phone camera – my main office – throughout the whole process. I haven’t really shared phone camera photographs on my fotoblog as I’ve always been skeptical about the quality. I’m sure if I looked back in my earlier archives I’d see I’d never had quality images! Almost all the time my hands were so dirty I didn’t want to take out my DSLR camera often. I guess, since there’s 42 images I’ve put into this fotoblog, I took it out more often than I thought. At some point I’ll put together some character shots from my phone camera to give a bit more insight into this build. I’m happy I did capture what I did.

view of future homestead site
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comments: 2 » tags: building, construction, house