Thursday, November 26, 2009


My new windows!!! (For my sheep barn that is.) One side is completely done, framed, etc. and the other side is coming along nicely. My personal carpenters are doing a fantastic job! Prior to starting the windows however, Mark was working on some other projects that need to done before the weather turns, like rust proofing the roof on one of the warehouses. Despite appearances, the rusty colour is actually the protective stuff, not the rust itself, so things are better than they look!

Here's a little something to put you in the Christmas spirit. It's amazing how much more fun Christmas becomes with kids around. I've been holding myself back from decorating for a month now and am now bursting at the seams. Outside lights are all set, just need to plug them in sometime...SOON!
I hope you're getting some pleasant, very mild weather like we have. Old Man Winter will be here soon enough (and I personally can't wait, snow is my favorite season!)


Monday, November 16, 2009


I was informed tonight that I have "lied" on the blog recently, and so am taking this opportunity to correct that false bit of information, because I know that many of you, dear readers, were terribly troubled and lost a fair bit of sleep over the fact that Mark finished harvest on the Thursday following Halloween, and NOT on Halloween as stated in the previous blog entry, dated November 10, 2009. Also, the date of that entry is actually a bit of a trick since I originally wrote parts of it on the 10th, but did not officially post it until around the 13th, so it showed the date of the first draft.

I sincerely apologize for any stress and undue harm this may have caused (besides within this household...hahahah!!!)

Am off to 'home', West Branch for a couple days and really looking forward to it! Am also meeting up with some friends who will, by some great cosmic coincidence, be in Moncton for one night only. Can't wait!

Hope this finds you well.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Harvest is OVER!

That's right, Mark wrapped up the last of the soybeans on Halloween, so the combine has been put away and everything is in some kind of storage. All the last minute wrinkles worked themselves out, at least long enough to finish up, which was a big relief around here.

So the next big project is the new sheep barn. We've run out of the room in the old barn, and really we need more space to be able to separate them to maximize our production a bit more. I'd like to be able to breed the ewes for spring lambing as well as a winter lambing, so that we can produce more lambs more often, thus offering a consistent product and maintaining customers who want lamb year 'round. (Note to all restaurants and businesses looking for a supply of PEI organic lamb!!! Here I am!!!) Actually I'm a while away from having year round production but this barn will be the first step in getting there and this week has been the first step of the new barn!

After much discussion it was decided that the best route to go about starting the whole project was the "West Branch/Hillbilly Method". So instead of tearing off the plywood, taking out the insulation, framing in windows, etc. etc. it was voted to just cut into the wall where we guessed that the old frames might be and see what happens. Turned out pretty darn good I'd say (guess who's idea this was!? hahah!) As you can see in the picture below, it's pretty clear where the old windows used to be.
The lower section of the barn was a dairy barn in a previous life and is now in the transition back to housing livestock, so the frames are still there, it was just a matter of finding them, and a few rat tunnels to boot. :)
So this is the result of the first cut and it went fairly well. As I write this, there are four more holes which will very soon be windows. We haven't decided whether to go with all six that are seen from the outside shot because they're fairly large windows, so that may be an expansion project for a later date (ie. not likely to get done, but let's talk about it like a legitimate possibility to make our female foreman feel good.)

These are some important before shots of the barn, which is currently used as grain storage. (Family farming is a battle of give and take- I mean you can't very well take away a man's storage space without agreeing that it necessitates the purchase of yet another grain tank, can you!?) You can see where the ceiling drops considerably, which is where the sheep barn will begin. The lower part is where the hay mow is, conveniently enough, and although it looks quite low, the general consensus is that there will be no clean out problems when it comes to getting a tractor in there. Time shall tell, and if it tells a bad story, I don't want to be the one caught with a fork in my hand! So you'll have lots of barn reno stories coming your way in the future, I'm sure. We've decided to mimic my mom's sheep barn design somewhat, with a feed alley up the middle, able to feed out of both sides, and easily separate the flock if need be. We are also building it wide enough that we hope to be able to accomodate round bales in the future, but we'll see how that goes when we cross that road. I threw in the picture of Wilson climbing his bouncy seat so that you could see just how mobile he is getting. This puts a whole new spin on life around here.

Oh my, just heard a crash...and it's nap time... Let's hope it's the was loud enough to wake Wilson at least...

Hope this finds you well, and more awake than I feel today!!!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Straight Ahead, sorta...

Like her dad, Lucy likes to eat the kernels of grain right out of the field, be it wheat, soybeans or barley, she enjoys a good chew on the hard little seeds. She took it a step further the other day however, when I caught her eating flour by the handfuls. Of all the things in that cupboard that she could reach, she went for the flour...My girl likes her carbs raw.

Lucy showing off the beans in their neat rows just before harvest.

Our wettest field this fall. We're hoping to be able to do something about drainage next year, although less rain wouldn't hurt either!

Soybean harvest is a fickle thing. Less tricky than potatoes, since the soybeans can really stay in the field until...well...a long time. Certainly a lot longer than potatoes can. But the wet fall has made for some anxious days, wondering if there will be enough fine weather to 'get them off' as we say. Alas, it looks like this year there will be. Mark was out yesterday, finishing up what we hoped to be the last of the beans for this year. Things were going really quite well, (except for the yields in one field, which were less than satisfactory) until Halloween night when Mark heard a knocking in the combine (generally not a great sound with any kind of machine), and suddenly (although evidently, it had been a while in coming) the main intake auger on the flex header of the combine literally snapped in two. Not good.
So Mark was using the other header yesterday, which is really designed for grains. The difference is, that soybeans grow so close to the soil, that the flex header is built to 'flex' with the hills and valleys of the rows so that more of the beans can be picked up. The regular grain header is built with a solid front section to zip through the grains which are hopefully standing up and waving in the wind at harvest. It just means slower going and possibly missing a few beans here and there. The risk of waiting until the other header is fixed and testing the weather isn't worth those few beans that may be missed.
It all sounded good in theory and was going fairly well, until after four rounds and a full tank, Mark went to unload into the gravity wagon and the unloading auger (technical term hahaha) wouldn't engage. SO, once again, things are at a stand still until that is fixed (the project for this wet day). Also, yesterday we found another flex header for parts, so project number two is putting the 'new' intake auger into the 'old' header.Mark unloading into one of the gravity wagons (when the unloading auger worked!)

Lucy liked the handmedown Eeyore costume, but the head was a little heavy, so she opted for the witch (because that meant she got to wear the plastic green fingers).
We survived another Freetown Halloween, by which I mean to suggest, we are still eating all the candy left over from our seven trick or treaters. Yep, seven. So while I try to pretend the left over chips and mini chocolate bars don't exist, Mark is doing his part by consuming them as quickly as possible for the both of us. Lucy is still working on a candy apple she got from a neighbour. Hilarious to watch that process.

I forgot to post this picture back when it was relevant, but didn't want to miss an opportunity to show that I got something from my garden that will last through the winter. (Seems like most of what I plant is just to be enjoyed while it's fresh, but that means that I end up buying fresh veggies in the winter from who knows where. Those peppers have all been chopped and frozen by now and although I don't love green tomatoes, I managed to find something to do with all of them.

I was doing my annual 'kids in leaves' autumn photo shoot that was going pretty well until a chicken rudely interrupted! She was pretty curious and pretty photogenic too. My family at home probably thinks I'm crazy posting pictures of a chicken, but I feel confident that I've got readers out there who appreciate an up close profile of a regular ol' laying hen. Haha!

Here's your daily dose of happy.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world!