Time to Slow Down?
Well it's a Sunday morning in November and I'm finally sitting down able to take time to relax a bit. The last ten months have continued to be filled with more changes, challenges, and lots of activity at our new farm. The first snow fell overnight and winter seems as though it is ready to take hold after an unseasonably warm fall. The great weather has allowed us to get more jobs completed than expected so, hopefully, winter can be more relaxed and spring startup may be less hectic. Well, here's hoping anyway.
There have been a few changes with our animals. Sadly, Belle, one of our original goats, died last winter after struggling with health issues. In an attempt to deal with her loss we ended up getting four new pygmy goats. Yes, it took four goats to make up for losing Belle. In addition to Basil and Sebastian, we now have Finnegan, Buckley, Millie, and Maribelle, whose name is an ode to our first two goats, Belle and Marigold. These young bucklings and doelings have certainly added some new energy to the barnyard.
There have also been some changes with the sheep. Lambing season was a bit unusual. All but one ewe had a single lamb. We even had one ewe have a false pregnancy. Most often they have twins but we suspect the stress of the move may have had something to do with this. The one ewe, Georgia, who did have twins had a difficult delivery and we were only able to save the one lamb. As a result ,we did not sell any lambs for breeding but decided to keep all of our females in order to increase our herd size. This meant retiring Balthazar and getting a new ram. In September we picked up our new ram, Atticus. We now have a flock of 15 ewes and a ram. Next spring could prove eventful!
In addition to new goats and sheep we have been raising chickens, turkeys, ducks and pheasants. Friday we picked up eight new pigs to raise this winter. We are continually learning what works best at our new place. We're always up for something new. I keep trying to talk Paul into a donkey or a couple cattle. You never know!
Renovations have continued. More fencing was installed and our large field has been planted with pasture seed. Eventually this will be used for hay and a new pasture for the sheep. The house, barn, garage, and other outbuildings were all stained and painted. New roofs were installed on the barn, garage, and the porch of the house. Eavestroughs and downspouts were added to all of the buildings. A small retaining wall was built next to the barn. House renovations have included some new windows, painting, new laundry room, gas fireplaces, some new bathroom fixtures. new lighting, and new exterior wooden doors.
We are currently in the midst of a kitchen renovation. This has been the most challenging part of all the jobs that we have undertaken over the past year. The existing kitchen was dated, had poor storage, was falling apart, and really wasn't functioning for us. The scope of work quickly increased from simply changing out cabinets. A small bathroom was converted into a pantry. The brick on the wall had to be removed which led to having new drywall and wiring. Removing cabinets meant the floor needed to be changed. New appliances had to be ordered. The entryway then needed a redo. Cabinets took longer than expected and we are still waiting for countertops to be installed. Six months later, we are still cooking in the shop or outdoors and doing dishes in the laundry room. We even managed to do over 600 jars of canning without a functioning kitchen. Maybe things will be done by Christmas!
Let's not forget about the landscaping. All the existing gardens were renovated and a few new gardens were added. We got topsoil for the new vegetable garden in May. It did extremely well and we preserved as much as we could. We built a flagstone patio in the garden with a small fire pit and seating. Walkways were widened and new ones made. The landscaping around the pool was updated with new plantings including plum trees, rhubarb, asparagus, garlic, herbs, and grapes. With a bit of help from friends, we built a pergola for much needed shade. We even added an outdoor oven which we have been using to make pizza, stews, and grilled meats.
As you can tell, things have been pretty crazy. In addition, our farm shop has done extremely well. We have many new customers and are really enjoying our new community. We have enjoyed many visits from friends and relatives allowing us to share our hospitality and food with them. I have a couple small jobs to complete this winter and Paul hopes to start painting again. We are really looking forward to cooking in our new kitchen. Soon it will be time to plan for next spring but till then I hope we can find time to settle in and enjoy our new home, take some walks in the bush, and explore our community.