Canned Coleslaw: My Response to Produce Sticker Shock 

I do not know about anyone else but I find that the price of fresh salad greens has made me reconsider if I would continue to purchase these items at this time of the year. With our Canadian dollar slumping the way it is, it is no wonder that the price of fresh produce is being driven up. Factor in the drought in such places as California and you have prices that many cannot afford or are not willing to pay. I do have to admit that we do like our “greens” during the long winter months. I myself find that there is something missing if we do not have some kind of vegetable or salad with our meals. We have strived to eat healthier and this was one of the many reasons we began homesteading. 

With the winters being as long and as cold as they are here, we are unable to grow things like lettuce, cucumbers and peppers all year round. This has thus made us dependent on the local grocery stores if we wanted the “fresh” produce. I have now began to rethink that notion. We are striving to be more independent, therefore there had to be something that could be done about this was my thought. 

Thinking back to when I was younger, I remember my mother putting up jars of canned coleslaw for the long winter months. Now not having any negative memories about this, I thought why not. How bad could it possibly be. It would give us some of the salad we would desire and could be easily made up later in the fall after the main canning had been done. Things like cabbage, carrots and onions could easily keep in the root cellar for a bit before being put in jars as coleslaw.

Upon deciding to give it at least a try, I found myself picking up some green and red cabbage at the store, along with a few carrots, onions and both green and red peppers. I would do a few jars as an experiment. If I found it was not what we were really looking for then I would not bother making any more jars up this fall. 

I found after some research a receipe which sounded very much like the one that my mother had used. I set to work preparing all the ingredients. It looked actually quite good when I got it all together. Preparing the brine to go on it I hoped that it would taste at the very least as good as it looked. Getting the jars ready, I proceeded to fill them and place them in the canner for the recommended time. There was a bit left over so we had that with our supper that night. Both of us approved of how it tasted. As long as the ingredients with stood the canning process and stayed crunchy, we would have no problem having this on a regular basis. 

A week later, I ventured downstairs to the cold room and brought up a jar of my “canned coleslaw”. Draining it well, I placed it on the table for supper. I have to admit it is very good! Everything retained its “crunchiness” and the brine that was used on it gave it a very nice flavour. With draining it well, one could add a different dressing to it if you wished. 

I am going to pass on the recipe for anyone who is interested in giving the coleslaw a try. 

Canned Coleslaw

 1 medium cabbage head ( I used a half a head of red cabbage as well).

2 carrots

1 onion

1 each green and red pepper

1 tsp. Pickling salt

Syrup 

1 cup vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 cups of sugar ( you could use less if you wish)

1 tsp celery seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

Shred cabbage and carrots. Finely chop the onion and dice the peppers. Add the salt, mix well and let stand one hour. Drain the water from the vegetables and rinse well. Boil the syrup ingredients for 1 minute. Cool. Add the vegetable mix to the syrup and mix well. Pick into pint jars (quarts can be used). Process the jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  

 I found with using the red cabbage, the coleslaw got a purplish pink colour but did not change the taste at all. 

  

So now the plan is in the fall to have a good supply of the ingredients in the cold room waiting till I have some time and then it will be processed into salad that we can enjoy all winter long and not have to worry about quality or price. It will be an addition to the other items that we plan to fill the cold room with. Making us more self sufficient again! 

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Stained Glass Window Project

 

We have now settled into our new homestead. It was a bit of a stressful move, but we managed to get in before the snow fell. Lucky for us, it was a nice fall as we moved at the end of October. Having now gotten unpacked for the most part, I have had a chance to look around and decide on a few projects to work on during the cold winter months. 

The one thing that I decided I would like to do was to refinish an old Stain Glass window that is in the house. This house was originally built back in 1958, with an addition put on in the 1970’s. I must say whoever did the addition did a wonderful job. We have the open concept kitchen, dining room, living room area that I wanted when we were planning on building our own home. 

In a surviving section of wall which was used to join the old section of the house to the addition, this window was left in. This addition was very well planned. The roof lines on the house were matched up, avoiding that look of just slapping on more room. Thought was given to saving this window, bringing character to the house instead of just throwing the window away.
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I decided that I would like to refinish it as some of the paint was coming off and I was curious what wood was underneath it. It is also located in an area that is visible from any of the living area. I was hoping to be able to just scrape the paint off of it, sand it and then stain the wood. Well that was not going to be the case. After scraping off some of the paint I realized on the one side of the window there was at least six coats of paint and on the other side four. So much for the thought of just a simple scrape.

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It had been suggested that I might try a heat gun to remove the paint, soften it and then scrape it. But I was concerned with the idea that too much heat might actually crack the window somewhere. So a chemical stripper is having to be used. I must admit, I am seeing progress though. It has been a lot of work so far but it will be worth the effort. I am sure it is not often that one of these windows are found and certainly one that is in as good condition as this one seems to be.IMG_0620

I will continue with the work as the snow flies and the cold temperatures force me to stay inside. Here is hoping that by spring I have my project done and then it is  on to the gardens! 

 

 

My Little Secret

It seems that I have to confess that I have an addiction problem. No, it is not the usual things, alcohol, tobacco or chocolate…..it is real estate. I am a real estate “junkie”. Many evenings over the past couple years I have spent time pursuing the real estate pages seeing what was being offered. When we purchased this homestead we did it with a modest budget to get us going and on our feet. Having no house on it at all and only a very decrepit building that with a little work we could use as a shop we got it for a reasonable price. We were both prepared to do whatever needed to be done to make us comfortable for a time.

Having done that and then just waiting for an estate to be settled we began planning the main house. Countless hours were spent on drawing up the plans for that. How many bedrooms, bathrooms, how big did the kitchen need to be and so many other questions were tossed about. All during this time, I was spending time on the Internet going through the real estate website.

Finally in August we got the word that the estate had been finally settled. A joyous moment for us. We decided that since I had been researching turn key homesteads that maybe now was a good time to go and look at some of the offerings in what we considered to be our price range. Satisfy us that building was the best option compared to purchasing. We were sure it was but lets just make certain of that.

We contacted a local real estate person on one of the properties that we had decided to look at. After making arrangements we began our viewing of properties being offered. I must say it was an enlightening time. Place after place that we visited reinforced our belief that building our own place was the best option. We had realized the market had corrected itself and now property values had increased. What was being offered at a price that we felt we could afford was nothing short of being horrible places that would take a lot of money and effort just to start bring them up to the standard we felt we needed.

At the beginning of September our real estate agent contacted us and asked if we wished to visit a few more properties that had come up for sale. Both of us looked at each other and agreed, one last time and then that would be it. Having a week off of work, we headed out one afternoon to view the three properties lined up for us. I must say that when we pulled into the first one, my heart dropped. Even my first impression without getting out of the vehicle was, not on any terms would I consider buying this, this….. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. An old house with a miserable attempt to put an addition on it was waiting for us. There was not one feature in this place that I could even attempt to warm up to. Resigned to the fact that this was a waste of time we headed back out to the vehicle, two more places to look at. I was fairly certain what we would find.

I waited patiently while our realtor and Mark had a quick chat and then was told that one more place had been added to the viewing. Why not was my thought, it was a beautiful fall day, we had no other plans as we had made these arrangements, what harm could it do. A few miles down the gravel road from where we had been we found a hidden gem. A very well developed shelter belt hid the buildings from view. As we drove up the slightly curving driveway, the house appeared surrounded by more trees and a wonderful garden area.019 Continuing up the driveway we would our way through some more trees and encounter a metal building which could easily be made into a workshop.033 Other small buildings were spaced around the property among a good stand of trees. It was very well kept and showed pride of ownership. IMG_0521017

Walking back to the house we found out that the property had not been listed yet, but it was up for sale and the price was within our range. Entering the house I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was an older home built in 1958 and had an addition put on in the 1970’s. It had been well done and we both found the place to be perfect. It was everything that we had wanted, the only issue was the amount of land that went with it. It was only a little over six acres. But combined with our 50 acres that we already owned it would be workable.

After a short negotiation we settled on a price and a possession date of October 31, 2015 was agreed on. The distance between the two properties is about 25 km. We will use the first homestead as our wood lot for heating this new place. Now it is being heated with oil which is costly and we know we can do better. There are apple trees, a cherry tree and a good sized garden area on this new property. Which means it will give us a head start on becoming more self sufficient on growing our own food. Plus with having some of the existing buildings there that are in fairly good shape, things like chickens and a few pigs could be added much sooner then planned. I am glad that we are able to keep the first homestead and use it as well as going on to the second one. Life can be very unpredictable as we are finding out. What started out for me just being curious about what might be out there has turned out to have given us a new home with the bonus of having the extra piece of land to draw resources from. Will I stop looking at real estate now? Probably not, but it will not be in the next little while as we will be way too busy.

New Equipment Purchase

We began this jounery of building our homestead back in 2014 we knew it was going to take a lot of hard work. I sit here today thinking about all we have gotten accompished and think about what is ahead of us yet. We are not there yet, but life is becoming a lot more pleasant around here. 

We now have the third section of the tiny house on and will give us more room then we had last year. Let’s just say it was quite “cosy” for some of the winter months but got better as time went on. This spring was the mad scramble to get the third section started and get it to at least lock up. That was year while doing things like gardening, clearing, clean up and trying to get a start on this winters wood supply. In March and then during late August we I guess you could say blessed with company. People were curious on how things were going here and I am sure a few of them a bit worried about us, so they decided they would venture out to our part of the world to see year us “crazy” people were up to. At least they either brought their own accomodations or stayed at one of the local establishments we have here. They all gave us their approval on our location and what we were doing. It was lovely to see everyone and spend some quality time with them. 

Now with the chill in the air heralding that fall is here we are busier then ever trying to get those “last” minute things done before the snow starts to fly once again. It will begin to get a lot easier in the next couple of weeks. With the sale of some land in Alberta, we can now shall we say really get going on doing things around the homestead. One of the things we had discussed pending the sale of the land was getting some new equipment which would increase productivity here. First thing on the list was a new tractor complete with a small backhoe. Not only would it be beneficial for digging the footings required to build the house, but also help with stump removal and so many other jobs. We had an older tractor which is still in good condition that we were using, but we need something a little better to do all the necessary jobs. 
So last week, it was time to go and get the purchase done. Mark knew what tractor he wanted, what all had to be on it and had done his research on all makes and models. Deciding which one it would be, it was then down to negotiations with dealers to see who could provide us with the right price. I do have to say the Internet has played a big part in our homesteading efforts. Being able to look up different things and find out what is available without actually having to go into the dealers. I don’t know about anyone else, but for myself I find it difficult to deal with salesmen. I know they are there to accommodate you but some can be just a little bit obnoxious.

  The day of the purchase I can say I have never seen Mark smile so much as he went and stood by the “shiny” new Kubota tractor which would be his. I can relate. There is just something about having the opportunity to get something that will not only be useful but comfortable that can only make one grin like a Cheshire Cat. Having a cab on it will make snow removal so much easier in the winter and help with with the bugs and the heat of the summer. Plus I have been told by a source close to me that it will help speed up construction on the main house. Who would not like that? 

  

I could not be left out of this purchase at all. We had also decided at the same time to purchase the little Kubota RTV. It would be useful for me to bring in wood for the winter, help with the gardening and other chores around the place. It would mean that we would sell off the golf cart which had been used for as many of these chores as we could in the past but was not as useful as this unit would be. Of course Mark voted yes to this purchase as well. I have to say that is the one thing we both do. Discuss purchases of all sorts before anything is done. Each has a say in the matter and just makes life so much easier. It is hard homesteading and having as much resolved early is beneficial.  

  

One more item had been added to the list. A garden tractor would be a great addition we thought. It could handle a rototiller and do mowing as well. If we were going to do it, we might as well do it at the same time. So that was also added to the purchase. 

  
 With all that happening, the selling off the old equipment is not going to be hard at all either. Before we even went to purchase the new tractor an offer had been made on the old Kubota along with the grooming mower and front end loader that went with it. We did not even have to advertise it at all. A few more things that we have will be sold off as well as we will not require them anymore and I am sure there is somebody out there who can make good use of these items. 
So now things are full speed ahead with getting the rest of the homestead up and running. I find it amazing how much we were able to accomplish with the equipment we had but now we will be able to do so much more. Yes it was a big expense to purchase but it will serve us well in completing this place we call home. So we can enjoy it for years to come.      

2015 Garden

With life beginning to become a little normal on the homestead we decided that this year we would have a real garden. Last year I dabbled a little on some fresh produce, things like lettuce, spinach and cucumbers. They did very well I must say even using planters as a garden spot hadn’t been worked yet. Mark did manage to find some time last year to work over a piece of land which we deemed would be a great place to grow a garden. Lots of organics, a sheltered but sunny spot and one that was higher so the risk of flooding would not be an issue. 
After some consideration, I decided to try a few new types of potatoes. My thought was, why not, you have never grown anything on this land before, try it. Being an experiment and just a very small garden if it did not turn out well, not a problem. Being able to purchase seed potatoes from one of the seed companies here in what they called a “sampler” package was a bonus as well. I did not have to get one of those large packages where numerous hills would have to be planted. You got six small seed potatoes for each of the three different types. My main experiment this year was the potato called the Purple Caribe. Never having grown a purple potato at all in my gardening years made me very curious what they would be like. 

Being a dry spring which turned into a hot dry first part of the summer was a little discouraging. But Mark took the time to haul water for the garden and between us managed to get things to sprout and grow. After taking time to hill and weed everything I decided that it was time to see how these “Caribe” look like and produce. Pulling a hill one day I was surprised to find just two potatoes under the plant. But the size of these potatoes at the beginning of August was impressive. I had never seen a size like that at that time of the year. Thinking it was just one plant, we decided to pull another plant just last week. This time we had three potatoes under it and once again amazed at the size of them.  

  Of course the thing that comes to mind when you have such large potatoes is are they solid all the way through. Having done oven fries the first time with them, which I must say they are wonderful for, we thought we would give them another try. After scrubbing them down I took a knife and began to slice them up. I must say I was very impressed. The potatoes, even with the size of them were solid all the way through. It was incredible. They have to be one of the tastiest potatoes I have had. They bake well in the oven as fries and I have been told by talking to my fellow gardeners here that they are one of the best for keeping through the winter months in the cellar.  

   
My mind is made up, next year we will plant more of these wonderful tubers and hope for a good crop once again. We have found the garden plot to be an excellent place to grow our fresh produce and we should be able to keep things like onions, potatoes, turnips and such over the long winter months. 

Fall is becoming a joyful time for me as I reap the rewards of my little garden, make pickles, dig onions and potatoes and just drink in the autumn air. Of course as with all gardeners as the harvesting continues, we all dream about what next years garden will look like. Always the optimist. 

The House Site

With the snow now gone and mud season slowly coming to and close, it is time to the start the “build” again. During the winter months it was of course basically stalled. Which as anyone who lives in a northern climate can relate to. During this past year we have “discussed” the positioning of our main house. When we first arrived to look at our 50 acres we had purchased site unseen, we were immediately drawn to one area in which to build. It was a large “meadow” area of about 5 acres.036 The only fault was the fact that there was really no trees to shelter us from the winter winds. Plus the fact that where we would have to build to accommodate the solar panels would even push us farther into the clearing. Not an ideal spot as far as we were concerned.

With actually getting our “feet” on the ground last spring we began to scout around for our “perfect” spot over the summer and winter months. No less then five different ones to be honest. Locations were found, discussed by each of us, sometimes a little more strenuously by one or the other party to the merits of that particular spot. Thinking each time that this would be “it” only to have that site dismissed as we had found a better spot. All of the sites had their merits there was no doubt about it, but they just never felt right. In the back of mind though, I continued to be drawn to the first building site we had seen. I admit also that I am get quite stressed when I have to make any big decision and this one has to be one of those for sure.

Last weekend for the first time I was able to “walk” the property for the first time. In that I mean, I was able to go from the east boundary to the west boundary through the middle of the property. Our land is more long then it wide. It was interesting to see the different areas which contain some big trees combined with an abundance of undergrowth in some areas.010 As the property has virtually untouched for we think for at least 20 years it was not surprising.

I guess the main attraction of this property is the fact that as one goes west the land rises, then suddenly drops off sharply creating a gully and an amazing view of open fields and a glimpse of the river. Mark had found an abandoned deer stand someone had erected in a part of the bush in this area while . We had never made it to this part of the property at all until Mark had pushed his way through opening up the trail. After walking into the area to view the tree stand, I stopped in my tracks. It was the perfect. There were some wonderful trees in all directions but enough opening to the south with some clearing would make it right for the solar panels. To the west, some huge trees with underbrush but with a bit of work to remove this it would create a fantastic view over the valley below us.012 Plus the trees that would be left would give us the much needed shade from the hot summer sun. To the north, some trees again but with careful logging the driveway could easily be put to wind gently to the house.014 To the east, thick bush which would stop the cold east winter winds. To the south also a number of trees but with some clearing would make the perfect place for the solar panels. 015 Plus with the right alignment of the house, it would make the kitchen a bright sunny place to be as it would face in a southerly direction.

As I stood there drinking it all in, Mark sat down on a fallen tree to let me have some time to look around. Finally after a few moments, I turned to him and said “its perfect, this is it.” With a smile he got up came over to where I was standing and said ” you don’t have to sell me on this spot either.” Finally, an area that we both loved.

We spent about a hour wandering through the area, looking over everything. How funny it was to end up planning to build where we first wanted it to begin with. I guess you could say it was meant to be. with a smile on our faces, we walked back to our tiny house knowing we a huge decision had been made together and with both of us feeling we got what we asked for. Life again is good.

Spring

Either I am impatient or Spring is taking its time getting here. I think I am impatient really but have to say that I am tired of Old Man Winter. There has been days that you could feel that spring was in the air. The gentle warm breeze with the sight of ground showing up from the many layers of snow that had accumulated over the past months were a sign that the season was changing. Some of my seed orders had begun to arrive and I pawed through them with anticipation of the garden that I would grow this year.010 Then winter came back again. Heavy wet snow which covered all the signs of spring. With a sigh, I thought okay yes, we have to get this a bit but then it will warm up, the snow will be gone and we can get on with building.

It did warm up, the ground once again appeared in many places along with large pools of water as the ground has not quite thawed out. With my rubber boots on I paddled through the combination of mud, snow and ice but with a lighter step then had been the last month of what was winter. 015

Then I woke up on April 2nd to find once again the ground blanketed with another snowfall. Okay Mother Nature I muttered, your one day late on the April Fools joke. With the sun coming up each day a little more earlier, the sounds of geese flying over head for the last week I was sure we had turned the corner. I put on my rubber boots, made the trek to the SUV and headed off once again on a snow covered highway to work. Thank goodness it is just a short commute.

With it being Easter and having a long weekend, my step was a bit lighter when I left work to head back to the homestead. It was not going to be the weekend I had hoped for. I had planned before we got all this latest snow to do some more cleaning up and organizing around the homestead. But instead we had decided to do a road trip to one of the bigger centers on Saturday to do some shopping and just a general look around at what was there.

I headed down the highway which once again was clean and dry with a smile on my face and humming along to the tunes on the radio. Patches of ground were once again beginning to show and no forecast of snow or rain for the next week. As I slowed down to cross the bridge over the river that runs behind our property, I noticed the true sign that spring was here. Massive piles of ice had begun to pile up on the west side of the river while on the east side it flowed freely.023 When I had left in the morning you could see the ice on the river was getting thinner with pools of water on top of it.024 In the time I was at work, things had broken loose and the river was coming alive. It is amazing to see the huge chunks of ice pushed up on the river banks and on each other. With it being a fairly good sized river I was surprised to see how thick the ice really gets on it. I must say that this is a true sign of spring in our little part of the world. Things will start once again “waking” up from their winter sleep. Even though it is cool out I know that things truly have shifted and it is time to once again feverishly work to get things done before the cold blast of winter once again descends upon us.

Welcome Spring! I open my arms and embrace you even though you are slowly ambling along on your way to getting here. I will try and be a little more patient.

Spring is in the air on the Homestead

After what seemed like a long winter but really wasn’t spring feels like it is in the air on the homestead. This is evident by the increasing amount of water that is appearing everywhere. With that comes the footwear of necessity, the rubber boots. I have dug mine out of the closet in anticipation of the onslaught of water I knew would be coming. We all know this happens every year. With the sun coming up earlier every day and becoming more intense pools of water begin to form.006

I have to admit even though I am excited at this time of the year, that spring is truly on its way, I am in a bit of a quandary. Do I pack away that parka that I wore most of the winter along with the usual gear of hats, mitts, gloves, etc. in favour of the lighter more cheerful jackets? Or do I just push those items a little into the back of the closet and wait to see what Mother Nature is going to give us yet? It is only the middle of March but temperatures have suddenly climbed in somewhat of an alarming rate. We went from temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius to plus 10 and 12 in days. Thus leaving us with these huge puddles of water everywhere. Which of course usually turn into skating rinks during the night hours. Also I am aware that we could get a dump of snow yet before this is all over with for the season.

Riley our Jack Russell Terrier has found these “pools” of water to be quite the challenge. In the morning when they are frozen over they are a precarious place to try and navigate over. In the afternoons these pools become less frozen thus leaving a thin layer of ice of them which as he goes to investigate things he breaks through and in some places is nearly up to his belly in water. When he first goes out it is, oh I don’t want to get my feet wet but then after a few shorts sniffs in the warmer air it is oh what the heck, I need to sniff and he goes churning through the puddles without a care in the world. 008

As for Mark and myself it is the challenge of getting around with out slipping and falling in one of these pools. As I carefully pick my way across the yard I wonder “when“, not “if” it will happen. You know one day you are going to put your foot down and it is going to not find proper footing and off you will go on a “ride”. Of course I want to get out like Riley and investigate life around the homestead with spring showing its face.

The best thing is the patches of earth showing up in places. Even if there is no green showing yet, it is still nice to see the dirt. Soon we will be busy digging in that dirt, making gardens, building and so many other things that need to be done.

I have also noticed the wildlife has changed a bit also with the oncoming spring. The birds are a bit more cheerful sounding, the Grosbeak who used to be at our feeders constantly have departed for the most part and the Red Polls and Chickadees still come but not in the vast numbers as before. I am happy to see the Blue Jays are still making regular visits and hope that they will nest close by. 004

The weasel made an appearance Saturday on a pile of brush we had made last fall for burning either in the winter months or early spring when there will still be snow on the ground. It was great to see him/her popping up throughout the pile enjoying the warm air. Then Sunday the squirrel made an appearance there and I noticed even they are different now. Before it was tree to tree to the bird feeders. Now they are running on top of the snow, looking around and seemingly enjoying the fresh March air. Everyone appears to be busy trying to get ready for the warm summer days. 001

With the coming of spring I know it means a busy time for us. With a hand full or more of plans in our pockets we will put our heads down and hopefully accomplish what we can this summer season. It will be hard to prioritize all what we want to do this year. But I know we will make the best of the time ahead. Probably even look forward to the first snow fall once again. But for now, it is time to get out, enjoy the air and watch everything wake up around us from its sleep.

Feeding the birds

When we moved out here the one thing that I wanted to do was attract as many of our fine feathered friends as I could In the summers it is wonderful to hear all the different songs being sung by the different species that call this place their summer home and then fly south to their winter one. But what I am always fascinated by our the birds that call this place their home year round. The little chickadees who’s cheerful song even on the coldest days of the winter seem to warm your heart. Also the Blue Jay who’s blue feathers seem to make a winter day so much brighter.13

There are a couple of species of birds I had never heard of until we moved here. I had seen them briefly last year when we were out here first getting started but had to do some research to find out what they were. It turns they are the Pine Grosbeak and the Evening Grosbeak. I have to say they are one of the most colorful and pretty birds that I have seen around our bird feeder in the winter.Last year we had only a couple male Pine Grosbeak who used to frequent our feeder. This year both the Pine and Evening Grosbeak make a habit of sampling the seeds we have set out. 12

We have also had a few Red Poles drop in as well. At first we thought they were Chickadees but after a closer look we saw that they were indeed not. A wonderful addition to the regulars that call this area home. Plus we have also had a couple Downy Woodpeckers dropping by. They do prefer though a visit to the wood pile where various bugs can be found after Mark splits firewood. On any given day you can see any number of these varieties dropping in to check on the seed situation. We have found so far that most of them prefer the Black Oil Sunflower seeds the best.
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Along with of a couple pairs of Blue Jays our feeders are busy places. Having them positioned so that we can enjoy them from our dinning room table, it tends to make these long cold days of winter a little more enjoyable. Even a visit from a resident squirrel is happily enjoyed. So as the days get longer and maybe a little warmer we will continue to make sure our feathered neighbors have some food to help them survive the winter. We will welcome our visitors from the south as the snow begins to melt and spring once again shows itself. 004

The Year in Review


A lot has happened in this past year and it is sometimes hard to believe that we have been here this long. Last year at this time we were living in a 2 bedroom apartment in town and trying to get through the miserably cold winter we were having. I have to say that I hibernated most of the winter last year, which was not a good thing. A few extra pounds appeared where they should not have. I paid for that in the spring. Plus I had been wondering if I could find even a part time job here to supplement our income.

As it turns out I found a full time job in March. Which was very good news as it helped out endeavours here and also got me out in the community meeting more people. It made it a bit difficult in getting the “homestead” going. We moved out here May 1st and with some snow being on the ground yet due to a late spring we began to muddle through things here.

I don’t even know if “muddle” through things here is the proper term to use. It was a time of making it up as we go, a few tears and the thought from time to time that I could not do this at all. But then there was always Mark. Day after day he would get up, get me off to work and then spend the rest of the day tackling the many things that just seemed to be screaming to be done.

We managed to get most of the metal pieces that the last people who had been on the property taken away plus some of the last old vehicles gone. I must say that I was very happy to see almost the last of them leave the property. I keep thanking the gentleman who came and took the time and bother to haul them away for us. It shows me once again the spirit of the people who live here and I am glad to be part of the community.

In all of this we endured some torrential rains that I thought would cause us to float away. It rained 6 inches in a 36 hour period. Should we have built an ark I was beginning to wonder. I was also wondering where all the water would go. Surely the ground could not absorb it all. But after the rain stopped within 24 hours you could not even really see that we had gotten that much rain. With the rain came also the mosquitoes. The local people say they have not seen them this bad in years. It was nearly impossible to get out and do anything with out being covered from head to toe, along with repellent. But somehow we got through that also.

Along with all of this was the push to get up a small house put up to see us through the winter months. Mark did manage to get most of our “tiny” house done. Enough to make us comfortable through the cold winter months. Plus in all that there was the scramble to get enough firewood put up that would at least get us started on keeping warm as the snow began to hit the ground. I must say I love our small wood stove we have in the house. It heats the place wonderfully though I do have to admit that there are some days it over produces and we have to open a window or two. But it is nice to know we have that amount of heat for these cold prairie winters. We are still out there harvesting firewood to keep us going. Thank goodness though it has been a cold winter for short periods there has not been as much snow as last year granting us the chance on warmer days to get out and get some wood brought in.

I must admit that I do feel guilty some days when I get up and head off to town to work. That fact that I am able to leave here and just concentrate on getting on with the work day while Mark is out here continuing to build chop wood and take care of unexpected things without so much as a complaint makes me appreciate him so much more.

We managed to get our driveway completed this year as well so that we could stop using the access that our neighbour granted us when we first got out here. What a thrill it was to use the driveway for the first time. Though it is long and winding it is a beautiful drive both in the summer and the winter. I have encountered numerous deer using the driveway through the winter this year. I look forward to spring when I can walk the driveway and see everything waking up from its long winter sleep.

There is I am sure many more things that we seemed to have accomplished this year that I can‘t remember. Some days it was all a blur of getting things done and falling into bed. I don’t know where we managed to find the strength sometimes to do it all. We increased our family by adding a couple of tiny kittens which now are maturing into some wonderful cats. It has cut the mice population which wanted to make the old shop their home to none. It is nice to have a few more “critters” around the place. Speaking of which we have a resident weasel who had decided to call our a unheated portion of the shop their home. Between the variety of birds who pop in to eat at the feeder and the sighting of squirrels it has given this property a certain vitality of life.

Life has been stressful this year there is no doubt about it. Along with all the regular things we also had to deal with negotiations, waiting, paper signing and a lot of other things to do with a sale of property in Alberta. We hope that the sale is “official” which appears to be right now but will wait as possession date, later in the spring creeps closer.

As I now sit in our comfortable little house and look at the snow on the ground I feel blessed. We have come a long way in a short year. We don’t have the space I would like yet but things are improving rapidly. I am so looking forward to the spring and summer this year. Getting out and getting my hands dirty in the garden is one of the things that I am looking forward to. With the days getting longer now I know that is coming. What this next year brings is anyone’s guess but I know it will be interesting that is for sure. There will never be a dull moment and I believe some time this next year when we can just sit back, pour ourselves a cold one and enjoy the view.