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.
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.
This year has been a year of building, that’s for sure. Almost everything has really taken a back seat to building. I’ve only now had a chance to take a look at some of the photographs I’ve taken over the time.
Let me step back a second.
In 2017 we bought land in Nova Scotia in Pictou County. We live in Poplar Hill. In 2018, dad and I arrived to meet Bart here in late April and we at once began planning and building.
It took quite a while to really get things rolling. There was brainstorming, frustration dealing with last minute contractor cancellations, permits, and schedules to deal with – the ever ominous: “I should be able to make it there next week.” But with the three of us, joined by mom in the early part of summer, we kept moving forward. When we weren’t able to work on the house, we worked on out buildings. In those early days we would drive into town almost every day to pick up supplies, which was frustrating for all of us. It took us quite a while to get into the mindset of anticipating what things we needed to buy to keep us busy for a few days rather than just one or two days, and also buying enough supplies for the full job at once, rather than one step at a time. We also had to head into town nearly daily for groceries since we were living in a small cabin with no electricity, and a shower at the Pictou County rec center (which we are still doing to this day).
So many things have happened that I’ll kind of just rattle off here. Perhaps it would be better suited in the intro of a photobook.
We got a dog, an Australian Shepherd, we named Ruu. Alex Knicker joined us for so much of the summer giving her more than willing helping hand; I’m sure her blood has been imprinted in the planks used here many times over. We bought a tractor to use with our new-to-us disc harrow, sickle bar mower, wood chipper/shredder, and successfully spread lime and seeded the working land (~30 acres) we have here – yes, I did get the tractor stuck a few times which Bart, like a champion, helped me dig out. Bart bought a 4-wheeler, I bought a dual-sport motorbike. The tools, oh the tools! We build two 8’x12′ cabins, and one 12’x16′ chicken coop), one outhouse, and we are now almost complete building a 1800sq.ft (main floor) insulated concrete form (ICF) house (just about finished hardwood flooring and tiling the bathrooms). There are deer that cross our field daily now, and a few days ago we saw a coyote looking curious. There is a group of white breasted snow birds that are regular here now this winter. The raccoons have hibernated, as have the pheasants.
What a learning experience.
I still sleep in the chicken coop. There’s definitely a few reasons why I do, but the biggest two are that the house isn’t quite ready for living nor do we have a live-in inspection done, also, in the coop I sleep with the dog (and sometimes cat) on my legs.
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.