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A Little Big Job

When I was growing up most girls spent time in the house and kitchen, learning how to do things like cook, bake, care for a home, and use a sewing machine.  Mom was somewhat successful with me, I did learn to cook and bake, and I can care for a home although not to the same high standard Mom had.  As for the sewing, well I never did get the hang of that.

The Brothers, on the other hand, spent time outside in the yard or the garage with Dad.  Learning about tools, motors and all things mechanical.

I never really felt the need to learn about those things, there was always someone around who could do them for me.

That changed when I moved to the farm.  There will always be things I am not capable of doing here, and I am fortunate to be able to ask the Brothers for a hand when I need it, but I believe I should do the things I can.  I once thought I should learn how to run a chainsaw to cut firewood.  Brother Dan offered to teach me, but it didn’t take long for both of us to realise that I did not have the strength in my arms and shoulders to operate it safely.  Okay, let’s be honest, I couldn’t even get it started.  So that is something I ask for help with.

Then there are things that I am physically able to do, but just never learned how to.  One of the jobs in that category is changing the oil in the generator.

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I had never changed the oil in anything before I moved here.  The first few times I asked for help, and it was done for me.  I always felt a little guilty though, because this is something I could do.  So one day I worked up my courage and asked to be shown how to do it.  Always happy to oblige, the Brothers walked me through it, explaining all the steps.

The next time it needed doing, I did it myself, with supervision.  The next time, I asked for help again, and the Brothers did it for me.  Why did I ask them to do it?  I could do it, I knew how.  It just seemed like such a Big Job.  So many steps to think about.  So much that could go wrong (at least in my mind). Such a dirty job, oil everywhere.  It just seemed easier to have them do it for me.

Well that time rolled around again.  Time to change the oil.  It has been on my mind for weeks now.  The voices in my head go back and forth.  “It’s just a little job, you can do it.  You have done it before.  You know what to do.” Then the other voice chimes in “It is such a Big Job. Dad never taught you this, he taught the Brothers,  just ask them to do it for you.”

Well Dad would be proud.  I did it myself, although not without making sure Brother Tom was in the area in case I had questions.  Which I did.

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What a messy job.  I think that is one of the reasons it seems like such a Big Job.  So dirty!!

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Lots of paper towels and rubber gloves helps, and it sure feels good when it’s done.

Maybe if I had spent more time in the garage with Dad, this little job wouldn’t seem like such a big one to me.

 

 

Cast of Characters

I mentioned in my last post about starting over that some things had changed and some things had stayed the same.

It seems like a good time to give you an update on the cast of characters here on the farm.  As you will see, some have changed and some have stayed pretty much the same.

Let’s start with the cows.

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Olivia is still here,

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along with her new seven month old son, Jack the fourth.

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He is a very big boy, probably the biggest calf Olivia has had.

Then there is Birdie, the matriarch of the herd,

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and her new son, Henry.

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He has Birdie’s colours and is very handsome.

Finally we have Birdie’s daughter, Hope,

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and her first calf, a pretty girl with her Grandmother’s colors, Willow.

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Willow will be staying on the farm, and will probably take over the role of matriarch from her Grandmother, Birdie.

Nothing much has changed with the sheep, except no lambs this year.

Cotton on the left, one of the original lambs to arrive on the farm, is still here with her daughter Abbie.

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Then there is PJ, the last to arrive, but definitely the head of the flock.

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The chickens have changed, although you wouldn’t notice, so many of them look the same.

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One change is the size of the eggs these chickens lay, they are the biggest I have ever had on the farm.

So let’s see, what does that leave?  Oh yes, the faithful companions.

Emma is still here and doing well, except for badly ripping a nail and needing a foot soak twice a day for two weeks.

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She soon became accustomed to sitting still for five minutes with her foot in a bowl of water and disinfectant.

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The ripped nail has not stopped her from participating in the daily walk though.

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The other member of the daily walk club is Buck.

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He has grown into a very handsome fellow, full of energy.  It is hard to get a good picture of the two of them on our walks, they are always on the move.

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That leaves one old, faithful companion…Odin.

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He is here, enjoying his retirement.  No more long, tiring walks for him.  He prefers to wander leisurely around the yard, sleep in the sun, and enjoy quiet time while Buck is away.

The cast of characters is constantly changing, animals come and go, some stay for a long time and some just pass through.  They each have their place and time on the farm.

This is who they are today.

Starting Over

March 11. That was the date of my last post.  It is so long ago, eight months, that this feels like starting over.  In some way it seems like a lot has happened in the past eight months, and in another way it seems like not much has changed at all.

One of the highlights was spending three weeks in Italy with Sister Mary searching for the rumoured fields of poppies,

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and finally finding them.

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Then when I returned home I discovered my own field of poppies.

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Okay, maybe not exactly a field, but definitely a beautiful bed.

Seems kind of appropriate to be talking about poppies on the day before Remembrance Day.

I have recently started over in another area of my life.  A week ago I tied on my running shoes and headed out the door for a run.  Let’s be honest here, calling it a run might be stretching the truth, a plod might be a better word.  What I call it doesn’t really matter, what is important is that I did it, and am continuing to do it.

I first started running 30 years ago.  I was never very fast, and often didn’t go very far (although I was ambitious enough one year to finish a half-marathon).

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What I enjoyed about running was the synchronized rhythm of my breath and my footsteps, feeling like I couldn’t take one more step, and then taking it, and the final reward…a hot shower to wash all the sweat and effort away.

The thing with starting over is that you have to have stopped something.  I stopped posting on my blog, and I stopped running.  The longer you stay away from something the harder it is to get going again.  You have to remember why you did it in the first place, how good it made you feel.  Then you have to stop making excuses for not doing it again.

I felt like I didn’t have anything new to say on my blog.  Same old, same old.  Cows are having calves, sheep are not having lambs (and getting fat), garden is doing well, or not. Still going on daily walks with the dogs, still enjoying life on the farm.  The thing is, I enjoyed sharing these things, I enjoyed taking pictures and writing the stories.  I’ve missed it, so I am starting over.

I stopped running eight years ago when I moved to the farm. I always found reasons not to run.  The road was too muddy or icy or it was too cold or too hot.  I should loose ten pounds first, I should get new shoes.  I might hurt my knees or my feet, I am too old, and the worst thing of all…someone might see me!  Who cares about all that, I enjoy running and right now, for now,  I can still do it.  So I am starting over.

Is there something you have stopped doing?  Something you used to really enjoy, and don’t have a valid excuse for not doing anymore?

Maybe there’s something you could start over too?

 

The first months of winter were mild with very little snow.

Then February arrived and brought winter with it.  -20 degrees for weeks at a time, and lots of snow.

Our daily walks stopped. It was too cold for Emma, and me too for that matter.  The days were spent in the house except for the times we went out to do the chores.  March arrived and still winter stayed, until a week or so ago.  The temperature rose, the snow stopped.  Could it be?  Was this the beginning of the end of winter?

Last night I heard the call of an Owl.  I was half asleep when I first heard it, and questioned whether I had actually heard it or not.  Then it called again, and I smiled. This was the first time I had heard it this year.  I smiled at the wonder of it.  The wonder of nature, and the seasons and the cycles of life.

This morning Emma and I headed out for our daily walk.  Down the driveway we went, just our usual walk until Emma stopped, lifted her head, and headed off the driveway into the trees.  I saw her stop behind a small stump and I could see there was something behind the stump.  I called her back, and walked in myself to have a look.

My wonder of the night before turned to dismay.

It was a Great Horned Owl.

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There were no signs of a struggle, no signs of injury.  Just the owl, still on the ground.

My dismay remained but eventually the wonder came back.  Not the wonder of the mystery and magic of life, but the wonder of how and why.

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How had this owl gone from calling out in the night to lying dead on the ground?  Was it the same owl that had called out?  Was it sick? Was it injured? Was it old?

I will never know the answers to my questions.

All I will know is the wonder, the dismay, and the wonder.

Change

Change happens whether we like it or not.

Some things change because of a decision we have made.  Those kinds of changes are always easier to accept.  I decided this year not to have my ewes bred.  It was so nice not to have to think about borrowing a ram, or buying a ram.  No loading ramps, and hauling trailers.

I will miss the lambs in the spring, but I won’t miss the worry and fretting about when they will be born.  Last year both my ewes struggled to give birth, and it was not an experience I want to repeat.  So no baby lambs for these girls next year.

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Looks like a nice year for wool coming up though!

Another change is not of my doing.

We have known for years that there was going to be some logging done near us.  So it wasn’t a complete surprise when the equipment showed up.  The past few weeks have been very different on the farm.  The silence of the nights are broken around 3 or 4 a.m., first by the sound of heavy machinery starting up, and then by the  sounds of the saws.

I think twice about heading down the road with my truck, and I don’t even begin to think about walking the dogs down the road.  The logging trucks go up and down hauling the logs out.

This was the view onto the road from my driveway.

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This is the view now, and they aren’t finished yet.

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It looks messy right now, but I have to say, it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  It won’t take long for the shrubs and wild flowers to come back, and it will definitely decrease the risk of forest fires.

I will be glad when all the activity is over, and our farm and valley can return to its quiet ways again.  It’s just another change, and we will get used to it.

All this was happening in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  All those trees coming down.  I didn’t have the heart to go out and cut another one down, just to decorate and have in my house for a week or so.

So there you are, another change.  No Christmas tree for me this year.

When I really thought about it, what I liked most were the pretty lights, and all the favourite decorations that brought back so many memories.  I didn’t need a tree to have that.

So here is my Christmas window.

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Everything I need for that warm, Christmas feeling.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

The Rat Came Back

The rat came back, but not the very next day.  It took seven years.

My very first blog post was about a visitation from a pack rat.

It’s Not a Mouse

The other day I was out in the hay shed and noticed something.

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A huge pile of debris on the very top bale.  Bark, sticks, brush, all kinds of junk.  My first thought was, “Oh those kids, they packed all that stuff up into the hay when they were playing.”

Then I realized the kids hadn’t been here for a while, and the pile was new.

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I climbed up for a closer inspection.  The pile was so big I was worried a beaver had moved in, but no, I knew what it was.  It was back, a pack rat.

A quick call to Brother Dan, confirmation that he had a rat trap, and a short drive to pick it up and I was set.

It didn’t take long.  The next morning, the trap was sprung, and there was a dark shape inside.  Just like the first time, it wasn’t a mouse.

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I climbed up the hay, and brought the trap and the rat down where I could have a closer look.

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I have so say, as far as rats go, he was a fine-looking fellow, with a nice winter coat.

As cute as he was, he couldn’t stay and make his home with us.  He would have to be moved on.

Emma took over guard duty to make sure he didn’t escape.

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Later that day, the rat was relocated to a much better place than my hay barn.

Seven years between rats, I think I can handle that!

 

 

 

Mini Murmuration

We had another little taste of winter this morning.  The wet snow was falling when I went out to do the chores.

I could hear many birds chirping, and finally found them all sitting up high in a poplar tree just outside the sheep pen.

I watched for a while, then went back to the house to get my camera.

This was something I wanted to try to capture and share with you.

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The lone poplar tree,

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The arrival of the birds.

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Leaving the poplar and soaring through the sky, and then returning.

I made a video too, and you can watch it here.

Mini Murmuration

At times like this I wish I was a better photographer, or videographer in this case (Nephew Chris MacArthur, where are you when I need you?).

What I saw was so amazing, and the video just doesn’t do it justice.

I called it a murmuration, but when I checked, I learned that a murmuration really only applies to starlings.  I don’t know what kind of birds these were, but they made my day!