3 Bags Full

January 24th, 2012

Last January was rocky, and regularly unpleasant.  The start of 2012, by comparison has been as light and easy as the fluffy sheep who are my temporary charges.

Our family has taken up with the Bourgeois, who own Philosopher’s Wool in beautiful Inverhuron.  We are farm sitting while they take some time to themselves to travel.  We are staying in the Guest House, an incredibly beautiful structure, which has in floor heat (practically heaven) and character pouring out of every beam and nook.  The children have learned how to weave on looms, I am learning to knit again and am working on mastering the art of sock darning.   Life, despite having two houses to mind, is radically simple.

When they have been home, our hosts have been an inspiration, a source of guidance and a huge support.  Ann and Eugene are in Costa Rica at present and my kids (and I) are wondering WHEN, OH WHEN are they going to come back.

We are here until about March, and are taking advantage of this little adventure to purge at the Duncan Farm, and do some light renos.  Seeing as we moved The Essentials into the Guest House, that what remains at the Duncan Farm is largely expendable.  I am hoping to move home to a simplified home, which will be easier for me to tend to.

We learned a big lesson in 2011, in business that bigger is not always better.  I have taken that to heart.  I need to tend the family, friendships, the flock, the farm and the finances in a more focused and specific way.  I need to continue to chase after personal happiness, and not worry about those who are on a different bend.

Seed catalogues have arrived and I am beginning to plan 2012’s garden.  Bob is burning through his grade 1 curriculum and Mags is reading already.  I am lounging on luxurious woolens, keeping an eye on the children and the chicken coop and am being reminded regularly what a hunk of a husband I have.

Right here, right now.

Whole World

December 28th, 2011


Chewing over resolutions.  Mine usually involve fresh determination to keep our books in good order, nagging less, making new cheese.  These resolutions are light, and self effacing.  Life, land, love. Whatever hippy sentiment and sap I am rolling about in rises up and produces a tidy little list that I share here, as a reminder to myself to stay on track.  I do love a good list.

This last year has been one drain after another.   Shitty situations fueled by shitty people, steeped in greed, dry rubbed with dishonesty and peppered with politics.

Never again will I let people get close to my family, hug my children, receive our precious time, while singing and dancing tunes of hatred, while plotting betrayals, and other self aggrandizing acts of fuckery at our expense.  No longer will I dismiss gut instincts, be polite, or make excuses for what I know is shit.  Those days are done.  If you don’t deserve it, you won’t get it.  And if you DO deserve it, don’t bother watching your back like I should have been watching mine.

Never again will I patiently abide poor decisions based on greed.  Figure you’re going to bigger your money on my sacrifice?  Not without blood shed.  Our fight against Samsung has been wearing me down.  It consumes an incredible amount of my time and has been one depressing turn of events after another.  The applicable colloquialism here is “getting kicked while you’re down”.  And I am really sick of taking it.

Every shock, every disappointment, every time I’ve heard a municipal councilor say the phrase “our hands our tied”, the countless times I’ve listened to these slimy puppets avoid answering a single question, the fury has stayed inside me.

In 2012 I am going to use the rage that is poking at me underneath my skin.  That sucks the smile from my face, that taps me of the energy it takes to play along with social graces.

There is no time to lick wounds.  Life is now.  2012 will be the year I pull the knife out of my belly and use it.


Fuck you.  Fuck you.  Fuck YOU.


Thanks for reading.

Plunking Away

December 21st, 2011

Winter hasn’t clamped down on us yet, we may actually get a green Christmas.  I know we are supposed to be upset about warming weather, but when some years treat you to a full five months of 5 months of winter… visibility in December becomes a real treat.

Bob is rocking the home school monkey.  We covered everything set out in his Kindergarten curriculum, so I bought a Grade 1 work book and he’s been doubly keen to do his work.  Meeps has had a recent burst of interest in reading, perhaps inspired by her big brother.  If you were to ask them today what they wanted to be when they grew up, Bob would tell you he would like to own his own construction business and Meeps has would say she would like to be an ‘ice cream girl that sells ice cream she makes in the weather when it’s not cold out.’

I have to keep up with them.  It’s pretty good stuff.

My update on the farm is that we aren’t going anywhere.  Not yet.  Not until we’re driven off our land or buried in it.  This is based solely on emotion.  When the apocalypse comes, our decision will be justified.  Until then… not so much.  If you care to read one of about one hundred reasons why we should move, please read this study on infrasound problems for people living in close proximity to industrial wind turbines.  Even the researchers got sick.

Acousticians confirm Wind Turbine Syndrome.

And besides, if I move, where will I be able to wear all of my highly fashionable farm clothes?


Viva Las Vegas

December 7th, 2011

Las Vegas was amazing.  Rekindled friendships, romance.  Refreshed our spirits.  Truly a spectacular adventure, too many fantastics to list.  I’d just be downright bragging if I even started.

Thanks for the photos, Amina.  We’ll see you again soon.

If only…

November 11th, 2011

…we had high speed internet.  If we did, I would have uploaded a video for you of Bob reading out loud, while Meeps practiced writing letters, and I would have titled the blog “This is What Homeschooling Looks Like”.  Which on that morning, was about 80 shades of calm adorableness.

There is a line run, at last, to our property for high speed, but it’s not due to be connected until 2012.  Until then, we surf the internet like it’s 1994.  So, no video for you.  But I do have pictures, because my husband and I have finally caved and joined the modern world.  By getting iPhones.

I am now going to inundate you with joyful pictures of my gorgeous children and gorgeous farm taken on my iPhone.  (Phones.  Taking PICTURES.  Good ones!)

Are you ready?


October 21st, 2011

I have so much on my mind, but very little I feel like committing to the eternity of planet Blogsphere.  Fall is well upon us, heaving it’s cold wet breath on our backs.  Our firewood is soaking and not yet stacked in our garage, perhaps a metaphor for many things… perhaps just a pile of cold, barely combustable wood.

Scott and I are heading out tonight to eat, drink and be merry at a local single malt tasting.  I don’t taste, I sniff, and Scott gets all the spoils.  Our table will be filled with friends, and there is no malaise that cannot be cured by a nice warm plate of haggis, neeps and tatties.  Every time I watch my tartaned husband give the address to the haggis, I fall in love with him just a little bit more.

I plan on wearing this green dress, which last accompanied me to Montreal.

I hope your dinner will be as enjoyed as mine.


September 20th, 2011

This summer brought us our first nephew, Kieran.  Here we are happily making total fools of ourselves trying to keep him from fussing:

We canoed lots, but never enough:

Scott also got to join Tim and the Cut Down Crew on a hunting excursion.  Our shed is stocked with decoys and our house has been a continual honk-a-thon.  I wonder if this will be like bagpipes, if it will sound better with practice?  The children have sure found an effective way to get us out of bed.

Can I be a big weenie for a minute?  I need to talk about hair.  I’ve got an appointment to get my hair done next Friday.  Cut, colour.  I really enjoyed 5 years of being dye free and while there is something endearing about having your honey help cut your hair, I am looking forward to a fresh look for fall.  I am still enjoying my sidecut, even though I lost count of how many women had sidecuts in Montreal.   I am leaning towards ombre highlights, though I am sensing I may be arriving late to that trend too.  It was Yolandi’s hair (the one with the rats) that originally inspired my Amish bowl cut last summer, and while I love that white blonde I know I can’t handle the maintenance.  But a girl can dream…

Which of these pictures should I bring to the hair salon with me?


September 18th, 2011

We are back from beautiful Montreal.  It was, as usual, a very well run convention.  Saw old friends, made new friends, and ate our way across the city.  TriExpress served us up sushi I had never even seen the likes of before; Eggspectations, while a chain, has never disappointed me; Beauty’s was worth the wait for it’s adorable atmosphere and quick service.  Garde Manger took the win, with a dinner that was out of this world.  Lobster poutine, I’m coming for you again next year!

It was wonderful to be around other tattooed folk.  I got to be with my husband for five whole days, doing what adults do.  Awesome.  I was completely awed by Mike Rubendall‘s book, chuffed to see lots of SuicideGirls trotting about, discovered Ruthless is nothing like her television persona (surprise), and reminded that the drama we felt was such an anomaly for our shop this year is all too often par for the course.  We are far from the only ones whose apprentice quit abruptly only to go work down the road!  Nice to see some light in an otherwise dark situation.

4 nights was just long enough away that I enjoyed myself without missing my children, and just long enough that they didn’t have to get missing on me.  They had great fun with grandparents and we were both relieved to be reunited for that 5th night.  We came home laden with goodies, including this years Halloween costumes (Maggie: fireman; Bob: superhero) and an oversized stuffed trout from Uncle Steve and Aunty Morgan.   Can’t share any of the photos he shot until the magazine goes to print, but Steve sure does have magic in his light box I tell you.

Today brought us the annual Terry Fox Run, which Scott and my dad ran once before everyone showed up and again when the run began formally.  Twice for good measure, just to make it stick!

We’ve been enjoying a leisurely afternoon, soaking up the last of these rays before we wind up swathed in downy feathers and GoreTex for six months.

Hope you are too.


…Stand in the Light…

Montreal Bound

September 7th, 2011

Packing up for our first 4 night child free extravaganza in the history of our childbearing!  Only took five years, but we are ready to leave the nest and the nestlings behind.

We are heading to the Montreal Tattoo Convention this weekend.  Scott still has some appointment time available on Friday, if anyone is interested, please email sugarshacktattoo@hotmail.com

Got farm sitters all lined up.  (So don’t anyone get any ideas about our house being empty, it’s not).  Canned pear sauce this weekend and half a bushel of tomatoes are simmering away so that they don’t rot on the vine in my absence.

Scott has a tattoo appointment with Grime, and I have one with Seth C.**  We get to act like adults and be around other adults for five days, and could there be a better city to do that in?  I could not possibly be more excited and in need of a break.


But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss these little faces far too much already…..

**Canceled!  Not coming to the show after all.  Rats!

Wrapping Up

September 1st, 2011

It’s that time of year.  Chickens are long gone.  Pigs have gone to the butcher.  Turkeys went this morning and come back from the processor tonight.  [Pick up is 8pm, for those who have reservations!]  While I will miss my giant white lawn ornaments, I will enjoy them on my plate.  The curtains are closing on another busy season.

I still have to can applesauce and tomatoes, which presents a totally different work flow than chores.  I can’t say I am looking forward to this part of process, the inside the kitchen part.  I prefer hauling feed bags to stirring bubbling pots.  I wish I loved canning.  I do love the satisfaction of eating the finished product, and so I will toil and trouble.

Bob has been living on his bicycle.  We even took it to Clifton Springs on our vacation this past weekend.  He rode to the park, Meeps took her balance bike… leaving Scott & I in the dust wondering where our babies had gone.

We are so blessed to live on such a big, beautiful lake.  We don’t take advantage of it nearly enough.

We finally got our water line put in to the goat shed and the new out building.  Next we need to connect fittings.  I hope this part of the process doesn’t take another year to complete, but I am thankful for the step in the right direction.  Not hauling water jugs in snowstorms is very appealing.

The children had no shortage of entertainment here this summer.  We spent countless hours perched on top of their play structure, watching crews work.  First we had new windows put in, which meant saws and big glass.  Then we had our outbuilding put up, which meant giant augers, cement trucks and a big bucket lift.  Then we had a massive tractor and tree spade arrive and stay for the day, clearing out the trees from inside the outbuilding.  Last was the water line, which brought the piece de resistance: The Mighty Excavator.  It made a 3′ deep trench which snaked all over the back lawn, much to the delight of the children.

The pleasure of heavy machinery!

(There are two children standing on the tracks on the left side, with tongues out and fingers in their eyes, dancing in ecstasy over the excavator).

Every year teaches us something new.  I have joked in the past that we know we are improving because we kill less stuff.  If unintentional death toll was actually the bar of success, we failed big time this year.

We only managed to get 65/100 chickens to butcher thanks to raccoons and heart attacks.  We were endlessly trapping coons, which while helpful, is ultimately not how one would prefer to spend ones morning, nor is finding the maimed poultry corpses in their wake.  It was a bad year to be a chicken on the Duncan Farm.  At least I didn’t STEP on any chickens this year.  We lost more in the beginning this year too (2% is average for us) to the point where Meeps pointed out a sickly looking baby chick and asked if she should “get a log”.  (To cull them).  Next year I will be extra cautious with travel during the brooder weeks and I will be even more vigilant with feed storage and quicker to break out the not live for very long traps.

I had to put down little Cindy Ray, whose birth I attended like a first time parent.  We recently had a vet out again to assess her mother Suki.  Suki has always been a suck, she is the lowest on the totem pole and loves to rest her head on my shoulder while I hug her.  Turns out Suks has pleurisy and is a chronic pneumonia carrier.  We have to put her down before we can even think of bringing another animal here, which we would be doing soon for winter breeding.  Next year I will stop hugging my goats.

I have put the love I have for my farm directly into my animals and forged relationships with them that I should not have.  I expected Suki would be a long standing fixture in our herd, based on nothing but my own desire to have her in my life.  It was a mistake on my part.  We can raise them in a manner we find ethically acceptable and still bask in the joy of their being without crossing over a line of attachment.


Hard lesson learned.