Albrecht Farm

August 16th, 2011

Took some photos for our Amish neighbours, Israel & Ida Albrecht and made them a beautiful little Blurb book to show their customers how they operate.  Because a picture is worth 1,000 words!

 

If you are in the Kincardine area and would like their meat price list, feel free to email me and I will send it to you.
twwly at mac.com

If you would like to see some more of the pictures, click the link and if you are feeling so inspired, you could purchase a copy of their book.  Click the link!

Little Bits

August 10th, 2011

There have been so many blessings this summer.

 

Delicious dinners at the Harbour Street Brasserie, where we get to play dress up like adults and enjoy perfection on a plate.

Tiring out the children with sunshine.  Happiness induced exhaustion.

Paddling in our Bananas Gorilla Mobile.  (The canoe is bright yellow).  I LOVE Lake Huron.

 

In other news, my parents are putting their awesome house back on the market.   If I had to live in town, I would live there in a minute.  It’s right on the lake, you could keep some chickens if you wanted, the lot is absolutely private and really big.

We’ve had lots of visitors lately, which has been wonderful.  This spring was really shit terrible in the morale department, having been made quite the fool of repeatedly  by people I thought were friends.   It has been hard to digest how desperate I was for comraderie.  Was I really that lonely?  Naive?  I realized I expect people not to like ME, but to BE like me; if I have a problem I am quick to flush it out.  But assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ now, doesn’t it.

I have reconnected with old friends and made new friends this summer and it has been a very pleasant and rejuvenating experience.   We have continued to foster some wonderful relationships that I could not be happier about.  Bob and Maggie have been adopted by yet another set of grandparents, the love is multiplying.  Such a beautiful thing.

After nearly 5 years of babies and breastfeeding, I am settling back into my body, gaining independence from the children and rekindling the homestead fires too.   I am a very lucky woman.

[Sweaters courtesy of Philosopher's Wool]

Heavy

August 2nd, 2011

Hay wagon came.  I was told that the bales were real green, heavier than usual, and that if I could move 10 of them to call it a night and consider it a job well done.  Well, I managed to get 50 off the wagon and stacked in a neat pile far taller than I am in a little over an hour.  I’m just about half done, I’ll do the rest first thing tomorrow morning.  Certainly no record, but I’d take putting away hay over putting away folded laundry any day of the week.  Removing the bales from the wagon, which are thrown in haphazardly by the baler towering well above my head, is like playing Jenga in reverse.

I had to stop unloading hay because the vet came to put down Cindy Ray for me.  She had recovered from her mange, her coat was thick and glossy and black (she was at one point this summer 95% bald) but she was developing hundreds of papules all over her skin that quickly became infected, and she had a massive cyst under her still scaly tail that would not heal.  We looked a step away from gangrene.  It was very clear to me that as our vet suspected initially that her immune system was not keeping up with her needs, and likely would never.

My hands were the first to touch her to bring her into this world and the last to hold her as she passed from it.

My heart is heavy today.

Too Legit to Quit

July 26th, 2011

I’ve done image retouching now for a decade.  And I have always purchased my software since it is tools I used for a job.   I never took maternity leave from retouching and I still do the odd job in my spare time.  The version of Photoshop I am currently running is CS2 (practically a dinosaur) and as I’ve been helping a friend learn the PS ropes lately, I was inspired to seek an upgrade for myself.

I purchased the upgrade for Photoshop CS5 which was a couple hundred bucks, money well spent if you ask me.  I have convinced many a friend to purchase legit software for jobs they do legitimately themselves.  Not only does it seem ethical, but it’s a tax write off.

PS CS5 parcel comes in the mail in record time.

But I can’t install it.  Turns out since I am upgrading from a LEGIT Creative Suite 2 Premium, I cannot downgrade to installing only the Photoshop CS2 to Photoshop Cs5 upgrade for a couple hundred bucks.  (Photoshop being all I ever actually use.)  Oh no, the only thing that will work for my system is upgrading the entire Creative Suite (or close to it) for a whopping $949 USD.

 

Thanks for protecting me from the shame of downgrading by fucking me with an unobtainable upgrade, Adobe.  So glad I’ve shelled out over the last decade to run y’all legitimately.

[AND NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM]

The Little Gardeners

July 22nd, 2011

“Hi diddle diddle, we’re full as a fiddle of things that come out of the ground.  What we plant in the spring, we pick in the fall, and put up in jars and eat it all when the snow comes falllllling down.”

(Repeat off key, x eleventy million).

 

Around the Farm

June 30th, 2011

Finally got my pictures together so I could participate in Farmama’s Around the Farm Thursdays!  Here we go!

Pigs have learned to drink from their automatic waterer. This is a huge blessing, it means no more hauling 200′ of hose to them 2x a day, or gallon after gallon of water in buckets.  Their wallow is impressive, and it looked like they might tunnel out of their fencing, but they seemed to have abandoned the project.  (We wound up naming them Pig, Pig and Pig this year).

I planted more flowers this year, I guess I was feeling industrious. They are in big pots and all along our balcony.  There are many pots this year: baskets of begonias, rosemary, lavender, leeks, lambs ears, chamomile, calendula, zinnias, lemon balm, sheep sorrel and basil all have their own pots, which I am actually remembering to water!

My potatoes are going berserk in their big tractor tires.  I mulch with straw so I don’t have to dig them out.

A row of calendula, which I use for salves and soaps.

My transplanted mulberry tree is still alive!  And doing great.  And I have also managed to keep my blueberry bushes alive.  Very exciting stuff.  Things are not yet dead.  VICTORY IS MINE!

My brassicas are plugging along.  We are growing brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli this year.

Squash is starting to flower.  Spaghetti squash and pumpkins this year.  I see no need to grow zucchini as people seem to drop it off by the bag full, happy to be rid of it.

Growing sweet potatoes for the first time this year, they seem very happy so far.

I have roughly 60 tomato plants.  I figure that ought to leave enough for the horn worms and children to pillage, and still put some away.

Scott and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  I love him so much and am so lucky to have someone who loves me, as I am.  We had hoped to take a honeymoon this year, but with the farm in full swing we did not have the time.  Hopefully this means we’ll have a 10 year anniversary honeymoon blow out.  I genuinely look forward to every minute, every year I will get to spend with my husband.

I had no idea when we first happened to kiss, after all of those years, that this… this big beautiful life we have together… would explode into fruition.  We welcomed into our home another beautiful piece from Jason Tennant to celebrate our love and remind us that peace is the way.

Having recently weeded our emotional garden, I look forward to a year ahead of new growth and glory.  We must thin to create space for the full potential of our creations.

My little Meeps turned 3.  Unreal.  We lit off fireworks and ate a chocolate cake that weighed as much as she weighs.  Life is bursting with bounty, full of joy.

We are so blessed.

2 FAQ Answered

June 29th, 2011

#1. “Should I join SuicideGirls“.  SG is not the same site today that it was when I joined in 2002.  Back when we walked to school uphill both ways and LIKED IT, all because the other tramps we were walking with were so fucking cool.  And my experience with SG was supercalafragalistic; it was what it was because I made it that way, because the moon was in the 5th house.  My experience is MY experience, not yours.  SO.  I have answered this question countless times like this:

  • *Do you want to make a living from taking off your clothes?  If yes, do hardcore porn.  Plenty of internet and film companies exist that take alt models.  Learn to strip.  Keep your head on straight and have fun.
  • *Do you want to possibly make a little extra cash, and be known, forever more, as one of the legions?  If yes, join SG.  Community remains there, and it may be just what you are looking for.  Keep your head on straight and have fun.

#2. “Do you regret doing SuicideGirls“.  No.  Because, duh.  It was a blast.  I made a living for myself through SG and because of SG.  I took moderate to mediocre pictures of myself, posted them on the internet and magical opportunities abounded.  It was really, truly, pretty damn terrific.

Best of all, those other girls I walked to school with, both ways uphill, were some of the most awesome women I could have ever have imagined I would have the honor of calling friends.  I have not seen some of them for half a decade now.  Some longer.  Some, I have never actually met in person.

But those women are still out there, reminding me that not ALL women have two faces.

Those women are out there, reminding me to harden the fuck up.  To remain positive.  To not have any guilt about who I am or what I’m into.

Couldn’t be more grateful for each and every one of them.  No matter what path we picked to follow, no matter how different, we are all where we want to be.  And that is a beautiful thing.

 

In praise of women with confidence.  Women uncovered, with their honesty and straight forwardness, truly without disguise.  Women with balls and brains enough to conduct themselves, not behind backs, but in the open.  Women in hot pursuit of their dreams; without a paralytic need for coddling, or cutting down of other women in pursuit of their own.

Women redefining beauty, women in action, women moving forward.

Clouds

June 25th, 2011

Our chickens look like giant clouds of feathers.  They go for processing on the 4th: anyone local interested in some Duncan Chicken is welcome to shoot me an email to: twwly@mac.com  They come chilled and vac pac’d and must be picked up the day of processing.  They are round, rotund… chicken balls if you will.  (Har, har, har).  Limited quantity.  (See previous post).

We are still having predator problems. We have caught several raccoons in our not live for very long trap.  But one (at least) is still scaling easily up the 4+ foot tall turkey brooder doors to snack on animal feed, thankfully remaining unaware that on the other side of the flimsy wood is a baby turkey buffet.  And this morning I went out to discover this, the chicken would have been pulled through the 2″ gap between the metal bar and the ground.  Half chewed pelvis, feathers and a foot.  Terrific.  Good thing the kids are having a sleepover this eve, because I know what Scott and I will be up to all night long.

Everything else is super.  Our pre-loved cover-all type building is going up quick and easy, thanks to a super work crew.  “Ground Up Contracting” is rocking the monkey.  Pigs are growing (and eating) like teenagers.  The laying hens were let out to wander the yard, promptly destroyed my strawberries and several flower & herb plots and have been grounded until harvest.  The kids were ecstatic for the Teddy Bear Parade, and we are all super stoked for tonight: the first pipe band parade of the year (a weekly event here).

Just waiting for some decent weather, I’ve done chores the last several times in the rain, which is getting a bit wearing.  Bring on SUMMER, please!

The Other Side

June 8th, 2011

I always try to write about how great things are.  This is because they are really great, I mean the scheme of cares in the world, I’m coming out on top,  but also because I really hate whining.  I know a lot of people are reading this blog right now who may have their sight set on homesteading, or backyard chickens, or perhaps even life off the grid one day.  Consider the following a public service announcement for those folks.  Also, should any of you be urban loving with a partner who has their eye on such activities, the following may cure them of these urges.

I posted this on my Facebook page already, so this may be redundant for some.  For the rest, the following highlights the low points of my week last week, starting on Monday.  My apologies in advance to those with rural stars in their eyes.

“Bad week to be a chicken on the Duncan Farm.  Cooked 10+ birds alive in the brooder on Monday when the door swung shut.  (This is one of the reasons I basically don’t leave once the babies come until they are in the freezer).  Lost one each day since to predator trying to pull them THROUGH the hardware cloth (it ain’t happening…) or under the big tractor. Had to mercy kill the survivors.  Before having my morning tea, which is plainly unfair.  (One had no wing, the other no leg, it’s not even like the chick hardly notices, but we still kill them). Last night was cold so I guess the chicks had a pile up and I found one flattened one this morning. Cleaning up corpses every single day this week.
During epic lawn mowing (it takes nearly 8 hours to mow our lawn, which is a necessity as most of it is nettle, thistle and other growths with hypodermic foliage) I paused for a minute to notice Alva (the goat) with her head stuck between the fencing gates (she had tiptoed up a swiveling latch inside, which she had kicked down in the process). Dangling from her throat, literally choking to death in front of me. Couldn’t open it any further, had to cram my hand through the fence to lift her up (she’s heavier than you’d think, esp with 1 hand) and over the chain holding the gate shut.

Goats also escaped 2x this week. This is because as animals with hidden thumbs, goats are agents of Satan.  This is because if your fence won’t hold water, it won’t hold a goat.  In conclusion: if you have no trouble, buy a goat.

Dog has had violent runny poo and vomiting all week. Every day this week we have cleaned liquid shit off the floor. She presses her ass against the crate door at night and it unleashes in a 2-3′ span.  This is because the dog has been following the chicken tractor around as they are now out of the brooder.  Instead of eating the shit from the 5 chickens in the layer tractor, she is now cleaning up after 80 birds.  The dog is spraying chicken shit out of her orifices.

Treating Cindy Ray (goat) topically now that the weather is nicer. Had her quarantined in one half of the goat shed for the beginning of the week because I didn’t want her mother licking off the medicine. Let her out last night (her mother has been BAWLING at the door for her) and Suki (her mom) now does not recognize her because she smells different and is beating the shit out of this poor little baby.”

 

It is now Wednesday, and the weekend and this week have started out just ducky.  Except tonight I noticed for the first time that I have slugs all over my garden and they are very hungry little fuckers.  It is no wonder  because in between the raised beds, the stagnant water goes well up mid calf and the sections of the bed that are unraised grab your heels and suck your footwear off in a single step.  Thankfully Detective Bob has been put to work, seeking out the culprits and crushing them.  It is remarkable how much more help they are this year.  I can’t believe I have planted entire gardens with them as infants strapped to my body in various papooses.  Now they are planting seeds and transplants, helping weed and pick slugs.  Unreal.

On a different note, I’m about to get into bed.  I’m wearing a cloth menstrual pad the size of a throw pillow, a Diva cup and I’ve laid out a black towel, which will be used.  I was just made aware of uterine ablation… is it entirely insane that I am giving thought to this option?  I just can’t imagine doing this monthly for 20 more years.  It’s feels like insult to injury now that we are done having children.  I’ve got no hippy love for my cycle left in my body.

Input welcomed.

 

Morning Time

May 24th, 2011

Wake up.  Throw on jeans, boots, jacket.  Chicks: feed, water.  Layers: feed, water.  Pigs: feed, water.  Goats: hay, water.  Rabbits/Pheasants: feed, water.  Water greenhouse transplants.  Leave crusty boots by front door.  Change children out of pond water logged pajamas.  Children: dry clothes, feed, water.  Mommy Duncan: tea, email.

Very, very soon the chicks will be going out on pasture.  They are 4 weeks to the day of the Buff Orphington layers and ducks come to take over the brooder.  The turkeys come 2 weeks after that.  Still need to acquire some weaned lambs.  May be able to do 2 runs of pigs this year, ours are nearing 100 lbs already I am sure.

Have gotten nothing in the garden really but 100 new strawbs and 50 new raspberry canes.  (Did that the day after my hand tattoo).  My spinach, chard and kale drowned in all of our non-stop, semi-torrential rain, so I need to replant.  I am happy not to be like some of my neighbours who are reseeding acres.  This will be a long summer.

Dug in 3 nice cedar trees yesterday.  My transplanted mulberry and black currants are taking nicely, as are the new blueberry bushes.    Looks like we are going to have to move a few rows of trees for the outbuilding (that we got a building permit for in record time) that will be going up in 1 week.

Brought home a box of bunnies, 2 beautiful Birthday Pheasants and the ugliest rooster in the county from the Keady Livestock Auction on Scott’s birthday.  Pictures of the pheasants to come yet.

Had an incredibly wonderful May TwoFour weekend.  We are so blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family nearby.

 

This feeling of non-stop action, of Spring Fever, is what makes enduring (what can be) 6 months of winter worth it.  This is the life.