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Home on the Hill

the "re tired" Life

Updated: 2018-02-19T12:04:50.650-08:00


The forest for the trees..


Sometimes I really can't see the forest for the trees. I get wrapped up in the details of keeping a farm running that the big picture can escape me.  What are we doing this for?  Ah, well it is the season for navel gazing - after I get the water trucked in from town.  Low well.  Hopefully the amount of snow we have this year will have a positive impact on the water table. 

An accidental photo. Something the Google fixed up from one of my photos in its collection.  

 If ever I needed a reminder that wood gathering is best done in the non snow months.

Some times, when it's all said and done, we just need to put another log on the fire and snuggle up with someone!

Careful What You Pray For


The black dot in the center of the picture below is Mabel the Moose chowing down on some willow branches.  She wasn't concerned with me in the skidsteer making all the noise.  I think she could tell that at the rate I was going at I could never get to her before she could use one of her carefully prepared escape routes.

I don't know if this video will play.  It's the top pasture  area.

Skid-steer purring in the comfort of the shop!  Five hours of clean up and I could get it into the warmth and not have to rely on tarps and electric heaters to make it possible to start in the -20 weather.

Deep Winter


Late in coming, winter does seem to be upon us.Grandma's visaSnow dogs.  Overseeing the wood hauling operation The snow is piling up and we are very grateful for it.  Hopefully that will translate to a rise in the well water.  last year the water table dropped at least eight feet. Which means we are now looking at several options including water catchment systems, hauling water from town, developing some new wells. The doggies are in their glory.  Loving the piles of snow - or as they see them: Doggie Lookouts!This is my castle and I am the Queen!Once in a Blue MoonAn astonishing moon rising over the Eastern CliffsWinter Wood.Neighbor Dave making wood whacking look easy.Winter isn't the best time to be bringing in the wood, but this year it was necessary.  A combination of procrastination and doing other things during the summer.  A mistake I won't be making this year.  We heat everything with wood as using electricity to heat is like burning money.  This year we resorted to trading Pork for Firewood.  Dave used his skidder to untangle the pick up stick from the pond forest.  It's all dead bug wood pine and the wind has done a fair job in knocking it into unruly piles.Pick Up SticksWe are expecting another couple of feet in the next couple of days so I had better give up blogging and go try some plowing.[...]



Blackie the cat gets the primo view.  He was a superlative mouser and had the respect of his peers.Freedom!  As in Freedom Rangers, Chickens grown to be pastured.  I feel guilty growing the Cornish crosses that we have been.  A chicken with phenomenal feed conversion rates that grows to market weight in six weeks.  If they live.  We have had some terrific losses some as high as thirty percent, attributable to heart failure.  So we have decided to try the freedom rangers.  We had them brought in from their hatchery in Pennsylvania USA, and they arrived five days old, in great health with feathers happening!  Were only trying fifty of them, so there wont be a lot left over. Still haven't got spinach cultivation to where I want them to be.  We've had one feed off off this tire and it's bolting already.  This week I will try some out in the tire garden, under a cover and see if the cooler temperatures will work better. Starting seedling peppers, Brussels sprouts and Red cabbage under grow lights and on a large heat mat.  Made a big mistake here as I had the heat mat plugged into a wall socket instead of the temperature control. Sprouted very quickly, but were very leggy.  Memo to self, once they have sprouted turn off the heat lamp! Or at least ensure it's plugged into the temperature controller and the temp is turned down. Now the Ghaus temperature rarely falls below 10c at night.  The black forty five gallon drums under the bench are the Ghaus's heat sinks soaking up the sun, (when there is some) and releasing it slowly when the green house cools down.I installed some half inch electrical conduit suspended from hook up at the ceiling.  The hanging plants like it.  Lots of light and several degrees warmer. But watering is critical as on a sunny day they can dry out twice! The secret to clean eggs is clean bedding and keeping the bedding clean.  We use wood chips as the make great compost and is easy to work with.  The big trick is to ensure that the hens can't sleep in them when they roost.  Chickens poop where they sleep.  There are six nest here, for about forty layers.  The top three are covered with a board.  After this picture I added two sliding panels for the top and bottom.  I close them in the late afternoon before the birds come in from foraging to roost. Speaking of pooping where they sleep.  The plywood panels under the roosts catch their droppings and every day I scrap them into the pail that's hanging and take it to the compost pile where the chickens work it over and mix it in with the older stuff.  It makes garden ready compost in a very short order. The roosts are simply two by fours hung in joist hangers so they are readily removable.  the streaks on the back wall suggest it's time to whitewash the coop again.  I like whitewash: cheap, easily applied and it has antiseptic qualities. The chain hanging down with a screw in the ends holds a head of lettuce for the regular chicken volley ball tournament.  They go through a lot of balls!We've had a slowdown in weiner piglet production.  This picture may suggest one of the problems!The tire garden.  One tire cleared, fifty more to do!  I want them all growing food this year.  Mostlyroota veggies, leafy greens under plastic covers.  I will  post more about that next week.That top middle shelf is Savory Farm pork!  Sold at the local corner store in Fraser Lake.  Quite a thrill.See you in a bit.  Were keeping our eye on you.[...]

It's a Mudder


Twice a year, generally in the spring and fall, we go through mud season.  We're living on a south facing slope that consists of gravel sand and clay.  Where our roads are is where the clay is.  Sticky, oozing, foot slogging that can mire a four by four vehicle.  To ameliorate some of the problem, I construct sidewalks to the barns and chicken houses. It is a vast improvement over slogging through the mud paths.  However, the paths can't cross the roads where the vehicles go.  So we end up with the quagmire below.  This is actually not the worst it has been.  For one, this picture was taken in the morning and the mud has actually stiffened up with the overnight frost. We have also dumped several loads of gravel in this mire.  The problem is, the clay will swallow it up. It needs some geotextile   fabric over top of a packed sub-base to keep the crushed gravel top layer from disappearing. Fortunately, we have several gravel deposits on the property.  Unfortunately, the gravel is pit run, of various sizes and rounded. It will work as a sub base but not as the top layer.  Crushed gravel is going for over $100 for a cubic yard and I could use at least 40 yards.  The arithmetic is not encouraging. Another trick I will be using is to dig a french drain and install some culverts basically curving through the centre of the picture. The culvert's allowing access to the shed in the top right.  Got a great deal of some 14 inch plastic culverts which will certainly do the trick here. We have dropped tons of gravel on the kilometer long drive way to the house and installed several culverts which have made the drive in far easier, but it could still use some Geo-textile and a top dressing of crushed rock.  We're talking lottery winnings here.During a trip to Vanderhoof to pick up some pork we had processed at the government inspected abattoir, we stopped for groceries at a mall that has a by- donation book store shelf.  Score! It was a tad chilly in the Greenhouse this morning so my meditation partner suggested putting on some supplemental heat.  Ah, that's better.  [...]

Spring Dreams


The snow is gone.  Well, except for a few inches now and then, when Mother Nature decides to remind us that winter will be truly gone when she says it is.  Not when we wish it were. Or whined about it.  She seems particularly deaf about whining.  Almost like using sarcasm with Hurley, the Great Pyrenees.  It's not that they ignore me - it's just not within their job scope.Have the greenhouse in a flurry of planting.  That's spinach and mesclun mix setting my taste-buds to a slightly embarrassing drooling state.Soon the dandelions and lamb's quarters will be up and getting a light sprinkling of virgin olive oil (don't get me started) and balsamic vinegar.  That's a 250 watt HPS lamp to make sure they get 18 hours of light a day.Zucchini came up in a very short time. They are on a two by four heat mat and have a timer controlled grow lamp a foot above them. I know people just can't seem to give away Zukes. Not a problem here, the chickens, turkeys and Peegs munch them down like a starving man at a salad bar! Tip of the hat to Brenda, a local greenhouse operator:  water seedling with warm water.  The tomatoes, apples and Leafy greens go first.  Then the cukes. Last, go any citrus, tho the chickens will eat it if I slice it into chunks so they can get at the tasty innards.  The pigs usually just ignore it.John Deere tractor Hub.  Or one of life's abundant lessons. The tractor is the backup for our skidsteer and the only thing I have that can actually lift a mini-bag of feed.  It had a flat and required replacement.  If you want to bring tears to a farmer's wallet tell him his tractor tires need replacement.  With the help of brother Tom, who passed away this year, we got the old tire off, found a brand new one for cheap (had a cut in the side, but nothing a tube wouldn't make safe), had it filled with calcium.  And it sat there for almost a year.  The problem is obvious. Have a close look at those tire studs.  For sure they are rusted in but good, and will require a master mechanic and specialized tools to remove them. Contemplating this huge problem kept me in procrastination mode for close to a year.  I moved onto stage two of the mechanical repair issue: whining. Friend Bill, the all-things-mechanical whisperer, finally had enough and showed up on a rainy, sleety day. I tried to put him off, the skidsteer would chew up the yard, it was a nasty day.  The lugs would all need to be replaced (I did some YouTube research). By the time I had found the right punch, Bill had given it a small tap and out it came.  We did it again so I have a sample to take to the parts store.  Easy-peazy.  I spent more time figuring out how hard the job was than the half a minute it took to solve the problem.  There is a life lesson, for me, in there.Dry enough that the peegs have been rooting out little nests in the dirt! For sunning purposes. Arnie, the Boar, practicing for the lazy-way-to-eat-cauliflower Olympics.  He has it down to an art form. All this procrastinating has tired me out.  Think I will join Hurley in actualizing my dreams.  He's in the information gathering stage here.  See you in a bit.[...]

And Now, After a Brief Hiatus..


I just can't face Facebook anymore.  Fake news, idiot memes.  It sucked all the energy from my Blog so I have decided to return to blogging.  Hard to believe that it is old school now. Deep November, the Mud has finally, mostly frozen over. That's a huge relief. The snow is now streaming heavily heavily Westward past the kitchen window and I am almost looking forward to it.I still don't have the Winter's wood supply in.  We need approximately 10 cords for the house and Green house and I only have about a cord and a half. And were starting to burn that in ernest.  The bright side is I have all the wood I need on the property. Acres and acres of it. The downside, I suppose, is that I have to get it to the Wood shed.  Mostly it is bug killed Pine.   We are 10 years, or so, into the scourge and we have been through the red phase, where the needles turn red, to the black phase: all the needles have fallen, the trees are dried to cracking and any wind is starting to knock them down.  I have a couple of very large ones that are down and just need to be cut up and hauled to the wood sheds.  Having a log grapple on the skidsteer makes the job quite a bit quicker as I can just bring ten foot logs to the sheds and cut them up there. It saves one round of lifting firewood size blocks.  All progress, I have been told is made by lazy men.  Thanks to an old friend, Randy Andrew for that one. The log home we live in is mostly heated by a wood stove that sits in the middle of the main living area.  We also have a large wood burning furnace and electric backup.  Using the electric, forced air side, is convenient to keep the place from freezing up if we go away, but it's like burning money.  We use the wood furnace when it gets below -20C as we can load it up.I cut our wood rather short, around 14 inches.  That way it can fit in the upstairs ( second story) wood heater.I have been looking into Rocket Mass Heaters, and will try one out in the green house.  They offer astounding energy efficiency which translates to less wood required.I have tried burning Poplar.  It's abundant on the property, not know for it's BTU's, but we have plenty of it.  The trick seems to be to keep it off the ground as it sucks up water like a sponge.As our main wood burning occurs on the floor above the walk in basement it was quite a chore to lug the weeks wood up fourteen steps so I jury rigged an elevator from a handcart and 110volt winch.  Makes bringing the wood up easy.  And injury free. We're testing the Alpha version which uses the wheels to crawl up the side of the veranda.  Next version will come through the floor, like a wood butlerShe's hoisting a treasure.  That's a load of fir!  One of the old trees that was used to support an outbuilding and fell down in a windstorm.  Waste not, want not.It has been a very busy week.  When isn't it?  Finished an online Permaculture course through the Oregon State University: Intro to Permaculture Design.  A very eye opening and thought provoking course.  Permaculture is going to be a big part of our farm.A quote from Bill Mollison: "Tho the problems of the world grow increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarassingly simple."Let's keep it simple.[...]

February - Or it isn't January any More.


It's been snowing for the last week or so.  That's great as we will need the moisture come August.The snow is getting pretty deep. Last Sunday I basical just got up and started to plow.  The diesel bill is going to be a doozy this month.  Mind you I have been rooting for moisture.  January had rain.  And then late in Jan the start of February we have been getting snow.  All good for the water table come August.  This will be the ear of the well as we are going to put in at least one and probably two.  Fortunately we know where the water is and if we can dig wells using a small excavator all will be golden.  Basically we want to split the House, Garden and Livestock waters into their own, separate sources. Had a tenant who was going to move into Grandmas but didn't in the end.  They did a whole lot of work cleaning the place up and we want to keep it that way so we gave Boose the cat a promotion from green house duty and moved her into Grandmas to ward off the rodents.  She seems very happy in her work.  I've been spending nights up there just keeping the fire going so that the water doesn't freeze up.  It makes a pretty nice guest house.  All we need now is a bed for upstairs and it would sleep a whole pile of people.  Several times a week we go up and have a pizza and just watch the Fire.  And text each other! Had several winter litters all are doing well.  We find the heat lamps, while not really necessary for heat tend to gather the piglets so that they don't try and snuggle under the Mom for warmth. We are pretty much sold out of piglets for this year.  Perhaps we will have a few fall litters.  We've changed from a winter feed of Oats and Barley to a commercial grower and the results have been phenomenal. Gotta love it when the winter sun comes out.   The Turkeys look like black swans sailing over the snow.  These turned into 42 lbs dressed.  Took a big oven and roaster pan to fit them!  Next year they will top out at 25 lbs or less.  We kept a hen and a tom just in case we have trouble getting turkey poults come spring.  We will probably raise 25 or so this year. Thanks for dropping by.  We'll be keeping an eye on you! [...]

The Year Of The


Exactly.  What happened this year?  The well ran dry.For the first time that anyone can remember our spring fed well ran dry.  It was an extremely dry summer with very little moisture following a winter with far less snow.  Nothing says work like having to truck water in.  And pack it to the animals.  It happened just as we were transitioning from mud to ice.  The well has made a comeback but we are still taking usage waste prevention measures.  Like " if it's yellow let it mellow ".  Next spring will bring the start of water year where we explore separating the house water from the animal and garden needs.  Eave troughs to collect any rainwater that falls for the garden.  Changing three toilets to the low flow type. The biggest project just might be a water line from our pond down to the barn connection. That's a whole lot of digging but we will be assured of water.  Hopefully a lot of snow and a wet spring will bring the water table back up.  I actually pay for water rights on a river I have never seen, that flows into our pond.  It flows underground now.This year we switched to Orlop Bronze turkeys.They have done really well.  Unfortunately coyotes managed to break into a pen and killed nine of them before Hurley the distracted guardian of the flock managed to give them the bums rush.  He even came back to the pen with one dead Turkey in his mouth.  He knew where that Turk belonged, and it was not in a coyotes den. Next year we plan on increasing the herd.  An avian flu disaster down at the Coast where we get our poults from might require us to get them from Alberta.Ditto Meat Birds.  We tried a new variety this year, the Ross bird.It grows phenomenally well and we had a couple of hundred processed by October.  Lesson learned this year:  As we use tractors and keep the birds outside in runs we need to have the last of them done while it is still warm.  I.E. only one run during the warm summer months.  This year is got very cold early and we lost a pile of them due to them smothering each other trying to keep warm.  A heater and tarp solved that problem but I don't want to have to heat the birds to keep them growing.  I want to free range my birds, not confine them to a barn.We've enjoyed using our "New" old skid steer. It's a real work horse that we depend upon to do the heavy work around the place, plowing the driveway, lifting logs and grain bags. Didn't much like starting in the -28 so we had to cover it, plug in a block heater and battery blanket.We have piglets sprouting all over the place. We were hoping for a contract with a restaurant in Prince George but nothing has come of that so we are feeding a lot of extra mouths.Were trying out different feed, as they seem to waste a lot of chopped grain.  And it will be a while before they can get any nutrients from the fields.  Going to do an experiment with sprouted grains to give the Chickens and Pigs some greens over the winter season.The doggies are doing well and don't seem to mind the cold at all.  The do get to sleep indoors at night, but sometimes it takes a bit to coax them in.Still, this time of year they don't get to snuggle with Dad unless they come indoors!Stay warm.  If you don't know how to do some of our house cats will demonstrate![...]

Spring has Sprung


I can tell 'cuz I have to have the truck in four wheel drive to get it around my driveway.We are transitioning to Berkshires.  The Royal Pig.  Here are a couple of princesses having a late morning nap. Having found a plentiful supply of nice gravel on the property we built an all weather road to the loading ramp at the barn.  Had some scary moments trying to extricate the skidsteer from the late spring mud bog that was there previously.  Now, with the addition of a new gate customers can drive right up to the loading dock.  Makes loading piglets a whole lot easier.  Mind you with the P.E.D. scare down south and now back east in Canada we may have to re-think our bio-security procedures.Of course any road bulding job requires a supervisor.. The road goes to this loading dock.  This is just the graded underlay before the gravel was applied.  20 loads of gravel and a road that won't suck your gumboots off when you walk on it.  The skid steer can get supplies to the barn in a pouring rainstorm without getting stuck.  Ah, progress. We put a culvert in right where the wet area was so run off from the roof isn't a problem anymore.I really like this old wagon.  Lord knows how old it is.  It was all hand hewn.  Was someones big work saver around homestead time I will bet. Not a great picture, but those are three eagles waiting for me to get out of the area so they can enjoy some cow remnants. This is a gravel sample pit.  Nice angular gravel with sandy fines and very little clay.  I was grinning from ear to ear.  another 120 loads and the whole place should be nicely gravelled.We have twenty turkeys and 40 layers in the incubator.  With another 100 meat birds coming todays job is to make a few more brooders.  I have been using 500 litre plastic containers split in half - I'll post that as I build it.Hope your having a great day.[...]

Foggy Hollow


We are having a very strange weather pattern.  It's deep January but the temperature is only around 5C ( 41F).  We've had over a week of fog.  The old timers say they have never seen anything like this.  The ice fog precipitates and turns the most mundane of objects into graceful art work. I think it is astonishingly beautiful.The tree's become studies in black and white:We're prepared for snow.  It's not really a bother.  But the warm weather causes our carefully plowed kilometer long driveway to turn into a sheet of ice.  Ice that at times has a film of water on it.  Treacherous.  I tried six times the other day in our 4X4 truck equipped with brand new studded winter tires to make it up a right angled hill.  I succeeded on try number six, and it was touch and barely go.Today we've got some snow coming down. If it keeps up it will add weight to the already ice covered trees.  Fortunately the ice on the trees are crystals and not the thick sheets we had several years ago that permanently bent some of the birches on the edge of our South field. Our skid steer is sitting in the shop patiently waiting for a heater, and the snow chains to be re-tightened.  It's been out of action while I waited for some parts to be shipped from the other side of the country so I am very excited to get it back on the road. Especially so now that we have a six way grader blade attachment.  It has a scarifier blade edge on it.  That's a blade designed to cut grooves in the ice giving the road a bit more traction.One of our 10 sows gave birth to eight healthy little piglets a few days ago. Mom is taking very good care of them.  We didn't get her into a farrowing stall and she had them in the main barn sty.  We just put a fence up around her and all is well.  The other pigs are very curious and line up against the fence for a peak at the babies.I am contemplating growing some oats, barley and pea shoots in the greenhouse to supplement the animals winter rations.  Spring time I want to have an acre or so growing to provide fodder for the meat chickens that will be kept in movable pens ala Joel Salatins  tractors.Well I think my to do list is quite a bit bigger than my to done list so perhaps I better get at it.Hope you take time today to notice the beauty around you.[...]



It's been quite a while since I've updated this blog. It's not that I haven't been up to a few projects this year its simply that l been doing updating on various social media and not aggregating it in this blog.We've just come out of our first cold snap- a couple of weeks of -20, with its usual pipe freeze ups. A trial run before the deep chill of late December through February. However,  I was reminded just recently that "only fools and newcomers predict the weather." We've been here coming on 10 years now,  so we're still newcomers.  I think it takes at least two decades before were living in the Blomquist place- but what the heck, we're not going anyplace. I think there comes a time when a Homestead needs to make a decision about where it is going. We seem to have reached that point. Expand the farm,  or shrink it back to a hobby farm.  Our worry was that we wouldn't be able to sale what we could produce.  Thankfully, so far that's not been a big problem. We've been doing a lot of research on the farming gig.  A lot of hoops to jump through.  Most of it, total crap designed to keep the small producer out of the game.  If I was the teeniest bit paranoid I would think it's all set up to keep food Co in business.increasing the pigs mean more bedding . Fortunately hay was plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The most expensive was $3.00 and we scored a 100 bales for $1.00.  We picked up an old John Deere in good running order complete with bucket and it came with a good heavy disk and working baler. Were short a rake and a way to Whack it down from making our own.  We scored a hay elevator and could easily put the winters supply in the hay lofts.  This year we stored it outside 9 to a pallet and shift it with a Skid steer equipped with forks.   We've been making do with an an old Case Skid Steer but it needs a complete hydraulic rebuild so we replaced it with a newer diesel unit that came with a dirt bucket, 4 way bucket, a 6 way grader blade, log grapple, rototiller and a sweeper.   It will make chores and driveway maintenance a bit easier. We raised 100 meat birds. As you can tell we had lots of help from the doggies and didn't lose a single one to predators. We used the chicken tractor shown, but added another set of retractable wheels for ease of moving. The Cornish Cross's are an amazing grower. They convert half of their food intake to succulent meat. We raised two batches,  and left the second batch get a bit too big.  We dined on a 10.5 pounder for at least four meals!The pig herd keeps growing.  We have three boars now.  Two Berkshires and Polka Dot our Duroc/Berkshire cross.  Right now he's on loan to a fellow farmer.  We have our doubts about Berkie, our two year old boar.  Does a lot of going through the motions but I think the big Yorkshire sows are just too big for him.  And he has something not right with his rear legs so we just recently picked up another boar who is a handsome 3 month old fellow.  Right now he takes over Polka Dot's den and yard just incase of any territorial trouble with the resident Berkie.  Besides we want to introduce him gradually to the other.  So in total we have Two berkshire boars, one Duroc/Berkshire boar, Five Berk gilts, Three Berk barrows ,Five Yorkshire sows and one Yorkshire gilt.  So that's a total of 17 oinkers.  Or as Jo-Ann likes to call them: Peeeegs.  That is, when their being well behaved! Otherwise a few adjectives get added on.  Our plan is to sale the yorkshire weiners come spring and make a whole lot of bacon, ham and sausage for the local farmers market.This was our first year of farrowing our own piglets.  [...]

Why Did The Cornish Giant Cross the Road


To get to the tractor!  Scratch for delectables, feel grass between their toes,  build up those drum sticks, fertilize the field - lot's of reasons really.  And they are all important to building a plump, chemical free, juicy, tasty freezer filling chicken. Need I say more?Here's the Chicken Motor Home.  They quite liked the ride down the road, over the gate, and into the pasture.The Chicken Tractor: the pile of wood is just waiting for the wood storage balcony to be built.Always great to sit around and admire our handiwork after the project is done!Last night we stood on the balcony transfixed with the light show surrounding us. Spectacular against a backdrop of dark purple. Great streaks of energy criss crossing in mesh patterns.  Walls of light.  The darkness punctuated by sizzling bolts seemingly giving Joseph's mountain some primordial shock therapy. Acupuncture by lightning.  A blood red glow low to the Southwest,  not the latest fire but an illusion created by a crescent moon peering through smoke. After the show- a drenching of rain.  The first real moisture in a month.  As I stood listening to the drumbeat of the downpour I could hear the fields soaking it up.  Almost a sighing of thankfulness after a month of no rain.No reports of any new fires.  But there is a haze of smoke on the mantle of Joseph's Mountain across the valley.  The trailers are hooked to vehicles, only a precaution. But I may just buy a fire pump this week.  The backpack sprayers I have hanging in the storage shed are only useful for containing small fires and it's been several years since we've had to use those.I am considering purchasing a T-9 Dozer from a neighbour.  He says it's very helpful around the garden and want's to build a direct road across our adjoining fields between our houses.  To make the daily coffee breaks more efficient.A little paint and some WD-40 lubricant and it would be as good as new. I love barnwood.  For one, it's wood!  No plastic.  It's reusable and it has a beauty all it's own.  Here's one of my favorite uses for it as window trim. The top board reminds me of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night:Interesting too, how we spend fortunes on paint to cover outbuildings to protect it from the elements.  Yet look at the patina on the barn logs after 70 years.  The logs are still sound.  I even saw a commercial product for sale in our local hardware that purports to do the same thing only quicker. Hope you are having some starry nights.  It's the Perseids Meteor shower after all! Enjoy.[...]



Just finished the summer version of the Turkey Palace.  It's set in about a quarter of an acre behind a stucko wire fence. They sure seem to like it.  Next year were considering a Turkey Tractor, a mobile big enough to cart over our pastures.While Jo was in Britain some erstwhile volunteers and I whacked about 60 chickens.  Most of them Cornish Giant meat birds that we grew in a Chicken Tractor, ala, Salatin.  Thing I've learned:Lots of help is requiredWater temperature = 147 and it's criticalA prewash speeds the processFirst time I've tried that on such a scale.  Went so well were about to do it again with another fifty.  Astonishing birds.  I have never seen anything grow so fast.  They are delicious also.  We had our first one three meals ago.  A nine pounder.  We let them grow a little large.  This was a load of hay, 100 bales that Brother Tom and I pulled into the yard.  It's waiting for the hay elevator to get a motor and some barn mods to make it into the loft.It's been a busy summer.  And a hot one.  Last night it was 24C at midnight.  Pretty warm for these climes.  It's very dry also.  No moisture to speak of in a month.  This has caused the forests to be tinder dry and the sound of fire fighting bombers and helicopters have been filling the skys.  The smell of smoke is in the air, particularly at night.Hope your having a great week.  We are trying to get all the work done before noon so we don't have to work in the afternoon heat.  Remember that around here, 32C is blistering to people who wear thermal underwear for six months of the year.Hope your rolling in the daisies![...]

I'm Back!


Haven't been posting anything for a while.  A combination of moving to different technology - tablets and hand helds  and having my Laptop getting a keyboard replaced.  All nice and spiffy now. But the spell check is not working in Blogger so that should make it interesting.

Been wondering about the whole farming thing.  Attending a lot of of courses and reading the farmers messiah, Joel Salatin.  He's been an amazing inspiration.  Here's our new chicken tractor based on his design.  This one has adjustable trailer wheels cuz I was too lazy to build his simple lift and puller.  I will do that when I build some more tractors.  This one comes with a built in spilt feed cleaner!
    As you might be able to tell.  This lot's about ready for some processing.  I am getting an urge for baked chicken!  Had a couple of roosters fall prey to what I think was a fox.  Last night all the dogs and I slept out on the veranda to keep a watch.  Well, I tried to sleep.  The Doggies serenaded me all night long!  But no casualties.  I'm hoping that fox learned his lesson!  

Back later with more.  But right now theres five weiners that are squealing for apples!

Penned In


Back from a trip down south.  While I was away one of our Sows decided it was time to bring forth some new piggies into the midst.  So Jo-Ann, with the help of some friendly neighbours got to handle the event.Fortunately, we've kept track of all the breeding dates of the five sows we currently have and can figure out when they should farrow.  Job last before I left was to get Peg the Pig into a farrowing stall we had built.  In a hurry we just screwed a pallet across the back of a stall to make a safe area for the little piglets.  Complete with heat lamp it makes a pretty comfy place with no danger of the Mom laying on the piglets.We lost five of the litter of eight.  A pretty tough blow.  The cause seems to be that the piglets got away from the mom and got too cold.  The culprit is suspected to be too much hay. Picking up from that tragedy we have been building new stalls with farrowing rails.  We're waiting for the next four sows to give birth and as their due dates come up we put them in farrowing stalls.  It's still plenty cold outside and there wouldn't be any suitable place for them yet.The farrowing rails inside keep the piglets from getting squished.The rails were made from recycled logs that we used for the pen in the 80 year old hand built log barn.  Reuse recyle.... that's our motto. And you can't beat the price.  Speaking of which.... can you believe it cost $15 in screws just to screw the thing together!?! This shows the piglet creep area at the back of the stall.  Mamma can see 'em, but she can't get at 'em.This  is the 2 x 4 walkway over top of the creeps, so we can walk along the back without going into the pen.  They are removable.  We can lift them up and hang heat lamps down to warm their little butts.  Nothing says comfortable like a warm butt. No butts about it!  Hope you're having a great week![...]

Snow Storm


It's April 6th and I am sitting at our kitchen table at 8:30 in the morning.  It's a struggle  to see the trees at the Southern edge of our front property due to a blinding blizzard.  This has been going on for two days now.  A couple of days ago we were congratulating ourselves over getting through another winter and planning on putting away the long johns, and how it looked like the balmy days were here again.  Plus 10 temperatures.  Mother Nature may have taken slight at being taken for granted.The three bird feeders off the front balcony are filled with Juncos, their feathers all fluffed up against the driving Eastern snow.  It's only -5c but it seems a lot colder.  It's certainly long john season again.  For a while anyway. The snow will put a bit of a damper on the pig feeder project.  I was hoping to get that done before my trip to the coast.It was mud season a couple of days ago so I built a couple of pallet walks to the green house and barn. I can never get enough pallets and the pictures will give you an idea why.  Jo-Ann even bought me a book on nifty pallet projects: Wood Pallet Projects by Chris Gleason, filled with inspirational ideas.  Keeping with my theme of recycle and re-use there isn't much that can't be built with a little ingenuity.My four main recycle items are glass windows, tires, pallets and five gallon buckets. The glass is perfect for shed projects and hot boxes.  We grow food and flowers in the truck tires.  Pallets are used from everything to walkways to furniture, and five gallon buckets are used for animal feeders and grain.The house sure smells nice.  Filled with the wonderful aroma of dog food. Oh, I know, but this dog food is made with 100% organic beef chunks, some added pig lard, oats and barley. No crap. The doggies love it, and it's sure a lot better for them than the packaged cardboard, fortified with entrails and chicken feathers kibble that comes in those cool looking bags.We save all our pork fat.  Jo-Ann makes lard from it.  Beat's Crisco hands down!Hope you're doing well, and the snow shoeing is just for recreation![...]



The spinach, that is.  I've become resigned to the fact that I am unable to grow spinach in the green house.  Even in the winter time it gets too warm.  I planted spinach several weeks ago and when I checked yesterday it was six inches high and starting to bolt.  As I have suspected for a while now, I can grow tomatoes or lettuce in the same green house during the winter months but not both..

We've just had over a foot of snow fall in mid March.  And it looks like it's not over yet.  It's time to start putting plastic covers on the tire garden and melting the snow.  As soon as I can work the soil, perhaps in as little as a week, I can start planting spinach and lettuce outside.

I haven't been doing much on this blog as of late.  We have decided to become an actual, farm and so have been setting up our business.  Our Website is  We also have a Facebook page.  I have been astonished at the business it has brought in.  Hopefully we'll be able to fulfill all the requests for weiners and full grown feeders in a month or so.  It sounds like it's going to be a busy spring.

What is our operating philosophy to be.  Well, I've been reading a lot of Joel Salatin lately and talking with some local organic farmers.  That should tell you the general direction were taking.  The organic food market in B.C. is largely untapped and local organic suppliers cannot get enough B.C. farmers to supply them and are going as far east as New Brunswick to replenish their stocks.  That's the Atlantic seaboard.. Clear across the country.  Like shipping lettuce from New York to California!

The hoops to garnering a certified organic status seem prodigious at times.  A process that can take as long as three years.  We're hoping it won't take that long as the land we have, probably a hundred acres of tillable soil, hasn't been used for anything but cattle grazing for the last twenty years or so.

Anyway stay tuned.  It promises to be an exciting year.

King of The Hill


The doggies love that game.  All the hillocks around the yard, remnants of the winter's snow plowing operations, have little doggy platforms at the top.  Great places to hang out and survey the fields. We're over wintering two boars and five sows.  Hoping for lots of weaners come spring.  They do love to prance around the one acre field the renovated barn is in.  I installed a motion sensor yard light and was surprised last night to see it cycling on and off.  I had forgotten to close the door to their barn bedding and they were out galavanting under the stars.  The girls like to go over to the blue shed where Polka Dot, our full grown boar, resides to chat him up. We're pretty sure we have three sows bred now.  As they come into heat we bring them over to the Boar's compound and let them spend a night or so together.  Actually, there's no need to bring them there as they will already be smooching him through the fence.  The blue spots on the sow below isn't a skin disorder,  its vegetable dye.  We're using different coloured dyes to distinguish between them.  Once they are bred they get a name.  So far we have Peg, Matilda and Polly named.  Next up are yellow and red, tentatively Mabel and Linda.  The sheep are enjoying their new spacious quarters in the renovated log barn but really enjoy coming out and playing with the dogs on a sunny day.  Who is King of the Castle now?!I loved the shredded daikon we get when we have Sushi at a place near my Daughter's in Coquitlam.  We could never figure out how they did it.  Turn a daikon into long tasty shreds.  We even asked them but it seemed to be a closely guarded secret.  But, ah-ha, my daughter managed to find the machine and sent me one for Christmas.  Not having anything exotic like Daikon in the local stores, I tried it out on some sweet potato.  Delicious stir-fried with some veg.  We plan a trip to Prince George or perhaps Burns Lake to score some Daikon so I can make a facsimile of "Crack Sushi"....  something we named a dish that consists of Tuna soaked in hot sauce on a bed of shredded Daikon.  My Tuna will have to be canned, as sushi grade fish is hard to come by in this neck of the forest.  Our newest equipment purchase.  The two wheeled barrow upside down on the top of the Jeep.  Aptly named the ShizaWagon,  Jeez I've bought cars far cheaper than that thing.  But it is way easier to use than a single wheeled barrow.  Remember now, you've got friends keeping an eye on you![...]

It's In The Bag


Santa's not the only one packing a large bag of goodies around. Mind you if you pulled your gift from this bag you might be a bit disappointed.We've discovered that the used grain bags are perfect for hauling wood and dropping it where we need it. We have fires burning in a couple of locations besides the house. The old barn and the greenhouse. We process the wood that we stacked last fall at our basement with a wood splitter, load the bags and drop them where we need them.They have a cinch strap on the top that keeps the snow out. There's no refund for them so we're working on more ways to recycle them. Like a perfect cover for the back of the Jeep.Our Boar is back from college.who wouldn't go crazy for a face like this?The ladies are fascinated with him.OK, we'll sneak out a little later when the warden isn't looking...Been a bit under the weather lately so I haven't been progressing on the project front as much as I've wanted to. We have plans for a 45 gallon water barrel feeding a bunch of nipples but in the meantime we just installed a heated 15 gallon water tub in a tire to keep it pig proof.It seems to be working well. A lot better that trying to keep them watered from a trough.Hope the Christmas season sees you and yours  well watered, healthy and happy. [...]

the Pigs Run Amok


Before I even opened the door to the barn the hairs on the back of my neck were inexplicably standing on end.  And then I opened the door.  The pigs had managed to un ravel the chain on their pen and had run amok.  Trampling everything in sight.  That would be a pigs sight - anything they could reach.  Of course their blaming some one else as they were all in the pen looking out at me when I walked in.

width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>But they can't fool my finely attuned eye.  It was, after all, cemented to the floor with frozen pig crap.  Don't tell me the sheep dragged that in! And the sheep wouldn't devour a whole box of apples.. Thankfully most of my electrical hand tools and most of the power tools were out of reach.

It has been a really nice time of winter.  Before the deep winter cold.  Fresh snow and hoar frost make for a beautiful setting.  The animals sure seem to like it!(image)

Starting to lose count of how many times I've had to plow out the place.  That's a good sign that winter is progressing.
the blue tinge is because it was taken near 3 pm and falling dark.

Hope you've got a friend by your side willing to share a comforter on a cold winters night!

My Water Broke!


A couple of times, actually.  Thankfully, the hydrant in the barn was frozen in the closed position.  After several false starts I hit upon the solution.  Connected a funnel to a piece of garden hose, inserted a chunk of quarter inch plastic tubing (to let the air out) and poured some Methyl Hydrate down the hose.  Raising the funnel above the hydrant and in about a minute, voila, handle unfroze and water flowing. Having no water in a barn helps put other problems in perspective.  The freeze up was caused by leaving a garden hose, with nozzle, attached to the spigot when turning off the water.  It just created a vacuum and wouldn't let the water drain like it was supposed to.  I was using the hose to fill the water tubs.  My new temporary solution is to use a two valve "Y" fitting so that I can shut off the connection to the hose and then open the other valve to let air down the hydrant so it will drain promptly.  Ah the things I learn.  Usually one freeze-up too late.This was a result of not turning off an outside water line.Missed the checklist.  Fortunately, Jo-Ann noticed it and managed to turn off the inside valve that was feeding the outside line.  The new attraction on the hill: The Giganto Ice Falls, narrowly averted.  We also had one other freeze-up with the water line to the chicken shed.  The maintenance guy had disconnected the heat tape, and exacerbated the problem by forgetting to close the chicken door.  Fortunately, getting a brisk fire going in the wood heater and connecting said disconnection gave us running water in a couple of hours. Lesson learned?  We'll see.Finally managed to get the electrician to work in the barn.  He's installing waterproof lighting and outlets.  In between other chores so it might just take a while to get everything all lit up!  With all the dark time, an outside light is high on the list.The pigs are sure enjoying the new digs.  If it gets in the -20's I can put a little propane heater on to take the chill off. Prior to the electrician getting some quartz infrared heaters happening.Does this hay make my butt look too big? The puppies seem to be adapting well.  Afternoon naps, after bone time, are frequent. They're still sleeping in the shop at night, awaiting their heated dog houses.We spent one day cutting up Belgian Blue beef (and one more day unthawing 40 feet of frozen water line. Getting good at that!).  We got to use our new roller table to move the quarters around.  Getting too old to wreck my back. This thing adjusts to whatever height I need - a real back saver.  About three more and I can almost pile wood with them!These are Flintstone chops! Almost three inches thick! Perfect for a summer's barbecue.   If we can wait that long.Here's what happens when you forget to clear off the hood air inlet and have the heater on.  Instant snow storm inside the Jeep.Hope someone holds you in their heart![...]

It Must Be Winter: The Waters Frozen


Just had our first foray into the -20c's.  Of course the new water Hydrant we installed in the refurbished barn froze up this morning.  Apparently everyone on the planet but me knew that leaving a hose on a hydrant will cause it to freeze up. Ah well, off to town in a snowstorm to get some heating cable then I will disassemble the thing and give it the hot water treatment.  I am pretty sure it's not a drainage problem because we took great pains to make a 10 foot long drainage path.  Well we'll see.  That kind of problem disappears in Spring - and that's only six months away!The Pups and Hurley seem to really like the snow.  We just gave Xena heck for climbing on the wood pile and when we turned around here's Hurley and the Pups:Haven't been doing any blogging lately.  A dry spell.  We've been busier than a couple of cats trying to burry scat on a marble table top. Getting the New Barn operational and the winter wood project consumed quite a bit of time.  But mostly it's that I've just felt like I didn't have too much to say or post.We store six 1100 pound bags of feed in a stall in the barn and to get them in we had to install a bigger door. We off load them onto pallets, use a skidsteer to get the pallets to the barn and then shuffle them around with a pallet lifter.We made four stalls with four foot gates on them.  They are made out of salvaged "D" logs from a log home. Sturdy and hard to beat the price.We've got three pigs ready to go to market. I want to process these ones myself.  Including the hams.  Well, ones for us and the others are for a couple of friends. We're wintering Five sows and a Boar, with a little weiner purebred Berkshire who we may keep as a boar.  Time will tell.I have heard some great things about the Berkies.  He's seperate from the others for a while.  He needs to be a bit bigger to hold his own.Don't know if you can make out the guillotine door at the right.  a rope and pulley means we don't have to go in the pen to let the boys and girls out..Of course the biggest oinker we have around here got to make the inaugural entrance! We also have a Belgian Blue beef hanging in the cooler.  I was practicing with a vacuum pack machine. We were going to cut the beef up tomorrow, but first things first being getting the water flowing.  Carrying five gallon buckets of water a hundred yards loses it's fascination really quickly.  The pigs are going through 30 gallons of water  a day."Ha, Ha, he's so new he doesn't know he's not supposed to pee in the water"Ah sometimes at the end of the day it's just nice to snuggle up with a friend and a cup of tea!Hope you got yours![...]

How Much Wood Can a Wood Chuck Chuck


Yep it's that time of year again.  We've even left if a bit late in the season.  The Barn project and a trip to the Coast and Okanagan valley put us a few weeks behind.  But were on it now.  We met an orchardist in Summerland who is willing to trade apples for pork.  The trip was made possible because some wonderful friends of ours came and farm set for the week we were away. A great deal but I will need some cold storage for a couple of tons of apples. Maybe this year but I doubt it.  So many projects, so few strapping sons!  Those boxes are full of apples.  He sells directly to the public for 50 ¢  / lb. And gets a whole lot less for anything that goes to the processing plant.  I don't think the pigs will mind damaged or windfall fruit.I am pretty sure this one was snuck into a packing box by an Auntie who will go un named.  But you know who you are - and I don't remember paying for this one!  Is that the reason your the only person the orchardist knows who can get 30 lbs of apples in a twenty pound box? Fortunately,  Jo-Ann remembers where all the controls are on the skid steer are and was soon swinging logs like, well, a logger! We cut up a pile of ceder siding for kindling.  Nothing better to start a fire.We have a bunch of trees blown down by the wind this year. The trees are drying out and we had some 75mph gusts a week ago.  A sign that the beetle killed pine is reaching the end of it's usefulness.  The trees are starting to crack which can make cutting them somewhat precarious.  Maybe next year I will fall the whole ten acres and just pile them up for cutting as we need them.Absolutely wonderful weather for it.  Once the morning fog lifts it is a glorious day.  We still have wood left over from last year so this falls efforts won't have to be quite so much.  Another eight cords of wood and we'll be all snuggly for the winter.  I have a remodeled barn but don't know if I'll have to heat it as its a log barn that has had a foot of insulation added to the inside.The four foot wall is made of solid house building "D" logs.  Think four by six's with a natural side.  Pig strong.  But this project is on hold while we get the wood and garden in.  We still have some zucchini and turnips and carrots to bring in. Ah well, we've got the supper soup on so time to make a little firewood.  Hope your enjoying a great fall.[...]

Some Where Over The Rainbow


Astonishing double rainbow just moments after a fall rainstorm blew threw.  Just happened to look out the window.  I could actually see where the rainbow touched the fields.

Went up to Grandmas yesterday and found an inch of water on the floor.  The hot water tank gave up it's last breath and packed it in.  Of course this was just after having both elements replaced.  Ah well that will teach me to disobey the hair on the back of my neck.  Standing beside me when I opened the door was Son in Law Kevin who used to be in the disaster recovery business.  Inside the house was a snow shovel, mop and a wet-dry vacum.  Didn't take to long to dry out.  Especially with a couple four fans blowing air out the windows.

Daughter Sara and Kevin and granddaughter Sophie were up for a visit. What a great time.

She's not old enough to drive the family car but surely she is old enough to start practicing with the tractor..

And the new worlds record at our place for bare back sheep riding is almost 20 seconds!

We had to put row covers on the zucchini and squash as they got touched by frost last night.  Well I guess the end of August does mark the beginning of September.

Back into the Barn today getting that project ready before we start the winter wood logging operation.  Next steps: Chinking the logs, cutting a hog door, installing Tyvec house wrap on the inside before studding for plywood walls.

Hope your week is wonder full.  And you get to have some fun with the pack!