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Farm Life 2007 Archives 

Life on an Icelandic Animal Farm

Pineridge Icelandics 2008


December Farm Update


The snow arrived too soon! It always adds a time consuming dimension to everything and the retirement picture of me sitting happily spinning as the snowflakes fell is very far from reality! - that partly because I never did master the spinning wheel, except when it was going backwards, but mainly because as more and more snow falls, getting around, keeping paths clear and gates dug out and water defrosted takes a lot of time.

Then there's the question of trips to Chase for gas and diesel for various machines which tends to either result in our forgetting the cans, or remembering the cans but forgetting to fill them or, on one memorable occasion, getting both of the first two items under control, but driving off and leaving the cans by the gas pump!

We had to go to Vernon to pick up our gelding Solvi, who was having a little more training. This wasn't a straightforward trip since nerves had clearly played quite a part on the journey of Butterscotch, our Jersey cow, to Enderby and the inside walls of the horse trailer clearly needed a fair bit of attention! It was interesting that when we arrived for Solvi he was off in a field with many other geldings and they had just been fed. It was a while since we'd seen him but the minute we called his name, his head shot up and he started towards us.


On one of our Chapters trips I came across a book called The Soul of the Horse, written by Joe Camp who wrote all the Benji stories, which then became movies. When the last movie wasn't as successful as had been hoped, his wife thought he needed a new interest and decided on horses! We so enjoyed the book and would recommend it to all horse lovers. We did have a bit of a surprise on our return from this trip to Kamloops as we discovered one of our stallions was not with his mare and it was dark, which adds a new challenge to any search! No sign of broken wire either. I watched the headlights on the quad shooting all over the place but in some quieter moments, I was pretty sure I heard some unusual noises coming from the vicinity of the mares and foals field! Sure enough he was visiting across the fence and was soon returned to the round pen until it was light and we could double check his escape route.

We had an enquiry from someone who was interested in a ram and some ewes, so getting those ready for their trip to Burns Lake was our next project. We loaded them into our horse trailer in an absolute blizzard, then headed for Chase to meet the person doing the transportation. Passing semis going in the opposite direction was a challenge as the blowing snow completely obliterated any view of the road. Anyway we duly met up, re-loaded the sheep and they were on their way with a variety of horses also.

This month also had the excitement of the furnace packing it in, and the water freezing up! Fortunately both were repaired with despatch, which reminded us to get our generator set up! The temperature was dropping rapidly resulting in the tractor and car not starting, the snowblower being parked behind the tractor, not too useful and the quad got a flat tire! The installation of the repaired tire was somewhat impeded by the loss of the key nut in the snow!!


In the course of all of this, my planned first breeding ram for the winter couldn't wait and got out in search of the ewes while I was away Christmas shopping! It seemed like putting him in a dog run while we got the ewes out who were leaving, and that was an overnight wait, was a good plan, although the water repair crew did report that there seemed to be a somewhat unhappy ram 'out there'! Well he definite was soon 'out there'. He backed up, charged the run gate and left with the chain link hanging! We then let him in with the ewes and he's been happy ever since.

As the weather got colder, so did the chickens. Their eggs were already frozen every morning by the time I got out there, and I began to worry about the chickens suffering the same fate! They usually do better in cold than heat, but that is relative of course. So they now have a 175 watt heat bulb and are perfectly happy - they also have a cleared of snow roof as the snow was building up to a very considerable height and not looking good to support further snowfalls! I've read different things chickens like in this weather and certainly the one suggesting putting bowls of snow in for them met with huge enthusiasm. I've only just started an old farm idea of suspending a cabbage - mine in the bottom of one of the horse's hay nets - and will report on whether this meets with as much excitement as the snow does!

Christmas was squeezed in! - but with the weather so difficult to manage outside getting food and water around, our family guests arrived and were vacuuming and decorating the tree within a few minutes of getting here from the coast! When we got the hose out for water, by the time buckets were put 100 ft. at the appropriate spot for the hose from the tap, the water in the hose was frozen, so we had to go to Plan B. 

Enya, our new female Eurasier, is growing extremely quickly and seems to have passed Hadley, our male Eurasier, who is a year older, by quite a bit! Hadley loves to explore but the snow is so deep now in many places that once he launches himself, he can't touch solid ground at all. Still he seems to know when to turn around. Enya loves the snow, so that must come out of the Chow/German Wolfspitz/Samoyed genes! The Icelandic sheepdogs affinity for the snow seems to be directly related to the length of their coats! Alfur, who has a short flat coat doesn't care for long icey trips! and turns to shivering quickly! Kolur, with the longest coat and resembling a Husky, even a smaller Eurasier, love chasing the frisbee even in deep snow and has shown lots of patience when I've accidentally launched it into a tree and he waits for it to drop! From past experience, I always have a backup with me!

HAPPY 2009 to everyone. I know 2009 will be a great year as my Uncle Fred, who had a farm and where my mother, brother Neville and I stayed some of the time during WW II, always said LUCK UNDER THE 9! - so I'm looking forward to it.




November Farm Update



November 1st was another big farm event! We were up and feeding very early and headed off for the coast about 7 a.m. en route to Langley to pick up our latest puppy, a Eurasier called Boa, who we re-named Enya. It's always so exciting heading to pick up a new farm resident. This was a particularly interesting visit for us too as Emily and her husband Ian run an Environmental Consulting Company and we were keen to hear about their many projects.



It was a splendid trip with the trees looking magnificent in their fall colours. This part of Langley was a horse haven, so that was really enjoyable too! We had a lovely lunch with Emily and Ian, after meeting our new little girl and her mother Ginger.  


By now there is a fall nip in the air reminding us of all the preparation to do before the snow arrives. Judi arrived for a visit and was soon busy stripping the trees of remaining apples. Of the two chickens originally in the chicken hospital with pecked heads, one had to be returned there. The No-Peck and Pine Tar had not been successful for this particular chicken, so a recovery time was needed again.



Our first Icelandic sheepdog, Eric, was becoming quite frail and is on his way to fifteen years old. He had been deaf for about a year. This also happened to one of our Shepherds when she got old. In each case we had the vet check their ears in case there could be a wax buildup, but in each case it was simply a case of age.  



I headed back to the coast with Judi for a weekend, left in the snow and there was soon 2" here. One of the highlights of every one of my visits to the coast is going to the Wild Bird store in Newport Village in Coquitlam. I always come back bringing various bird items and this time had a peanut type suet feeder for our downy woodpeckers. The chap that runs is was also very interested in the sighting of the split tailed flycatcher (picture August Farm Update) and said it was extremely rare that it would come this far north. 

By the time I got home late on Sunday, the snow had gone and we now had mud - lots of it! So a great deal of shoveling of shavings everywhere started, as it's really effective in soaking up the mud but no sooner would I get a good covering, than it poured with rain again!  I was beginning to think I'd need another huge dump truck load, but knew the snow would soon be here and all the work would be lost! 

The November issue of Saddle Up had a nice picture of our stallion Fleygur participating in the International Breeding Evaluation in Vernon - he really did look fine. This coincided with my first visit to the Greenhawk store in Kamloops which probably has just about everything you could ever want for a horse as, of course, does the Horse Barn in Kamloops, which also has an art gallery, so these are two of my favourite places to go! 

One morning when I was headed to feed the sheep I noticed that my grey ewe wasn't coming with the others to eat.   This is always unusual with animals at breakfast time. I managed to get grain to her without any of the other ewes noticing, which is often quite difficult because I have a black ewe who is sometimes just a little bit smarter than I am, which can be really annoying! Anyway she ate the grain and when I got her a drink of warm water, she was pleased with that too and a bit later joined the others. While putting more hay out I did notice something fairly large and brown eating the trees and on closer inspection, discovered one of the bull calves was out having a snack! All our animals respond really well to a treat of grain, so he didn't take long to return to the others! 

Snow seems to be settling in for the winter now, though I think it started earlier last year. Was pleased to be able to return the chicken to the others in the chicken house and am keeping my fingers crossed that they'll leave her alone this time. The skin on her head has the appearance of that of an elephant at the moment, so hope it's that thick too! 

Enya is growing really fast and as she's now quite big, it's hard to remember she's still a puppy. She is already a little bigger than our male Eurasier Hadley.   They are both lovely shades of brown. 

We've been putting round bales out for our group of horses and our two donkeys in the back field, also for the mares and foals, but I'll be pleased when the mares and foals are back in the smaller area close to the house. Mugga's little colt was born quite late in the year and I prefer him to have access to a shelter as well as trees, although the horses only ever seem to go in the shelters in the summer to get out of the sun! 

Well December is coming next and there's no way we'll be ready for Christmas!




October Farm Update

October is when we begin winter preparations for snow arrival! We actually did have one snowshower later in the month but fortunately it didn't stay, but enough to galvanize us into action, both checking roofs and death traps lying around on the ground.

October 3rd was the moving day for Jersey cows Josephine, Sabrina and her heifer calf Jasmin. Sabrina and Josephine were most happy to climb into the horse trailer for breakfast, but Jasmin was altogether another matter! She was very happy with our three little bull calves and was up for the chase, but not for the catching! As they were all in about a three acre field, our chances weren't good, so we left without her on this trip! 

We also had our Icelandic sheepdog Frekna with us for a re-check at the vet as she had had surgery the previous week and hadn't really picked up well and things weren't looking encouraging. We left her at the vet's to go on IV and they wanted to keep her there for the weekend for observation, but we received a call on Sunday evening saying she was very week, so we went to Armstrong to bring her home and as we had our large animal vet coming on Monday to take Butterscotch's horns off, it was decided between all vets to put her to sleep. This was a very sad day.

Normally we de-horn our Jerseys but somehow Butterscotch got missed, so we had arranged to have them removed before she went to join Sabrina and Josephine as one cow with horns in a herd without isn't a good combination. We'd heard various stories, some not pretty sounding, about this procedure but our vet did a splendid job. Butterscotch was given local anaesthetic in the area and the horns were soon a thing of the past with very little bleeding and she was back to eating.

Thanksgiving weekend was beautifully sunny and Kristi, Alain, Gabriel and their Akita Makwa arrived to spend it with us. Makwa and our German Shepherd Heidi are great friends and have a splendid time playing in the fenced area around the house. Heidi greatly missed him when the weekend was over - tried to have a similar game with one of our chickens, which the chicken didn't enjoy and was luckily rescued in the nick of time!

We had a marvellous early Thanksgiving treat! Harry and Lesley arrived with Sam (Samur) for a visit. Sam was one of our puppies from our first litter, parents Una and Eric. It is always so great when people come by to visit and we see how happy our dogs are with their new families. Sam goes everywhere with Harry and Lesley, cross country skiing, bear hunting (by accident), and to all their local events. He knows where he is when he comes back to visit because he didn't leave here as a pup, and clearly Tigger was pleased to see him, but as soon as Lesley and Harry made a move towards their car, he was in it like a shot! 

Sunday morning started with an early surprise as I looked out to see our donkeys Arthur and Tosca walking past the kitchen window! I think the excellent fencing job the previous day hadn't been taken to the final point, i.e. switching the electricity back on, and Arthur is the escape artist of all time and didn't waste any in making his escape!

October 16th was the first snowfall of the winter! Luckily we had loaded our ram that was headed for Gabrielle's farm in Grinrod the night before, so he was nice and dry for the trip. Gabrielle and her family, among other things, grow and market organic vegetables and when we arrived it brought back many childhood memories of my Uncle Fred's farm, as he was a market gardener in the days when the plough, harrow etc. were drawn by a heavy horse, in this case Taffy, and all fruit and vegetables were taken around the route through Hitchen by Taffy pulling a cart. Gabrielle and her helpers were busy washing carrots for the next day's Farmers' Market - as it was pretty cold, it wasn't exactly a warm hands job.

With certain areas of the fence where the electricity wasn't being conducted well now in good working order we were able to move our stallion Sleipnir and our mare Stella up to a much larger field with more room to run. As nearly all of our fields border the road, it is difficult to get good secure and large places for the stallions to get lots of exercise.

For some time we have been looking for Eurasier breedings as, assuming Hadley passes all the health tests, we would like to get a little girl with the idea of breeding in a couple of years' time, assuming all tests are satisfactory. On October 26th there was a Eurasier walk in Surrey and we greatly regretted not being able to go because it's always a great opportunity to see other Eurasiers. However, through communication about the walk, we were advised that there was one female puppy from a litter that for various reasons was still available, so we were really interested to follow up on that

We moved the cows from the front field into their winter quarters, partly to be able to confine Sabrina's heifer calf, giving us a better chance to assist her into the horse trailer for the trip to Enderby! With Butterscotch also loaded, we set off on our last cow journey to Windfire Jerseys. It was interesting that Butterscotch was unloaded in an area next to Josephine, who is her daughter, and as soon as Josephine saw her, she rushed to the fence to rub noses. Phyllis has lots of bird feeders, as do we, but it's always so interesting to watch other people's and see the different birds that live in different areas. Also Phyllis had a Downy Woodpecker feeder, which we hadn't seen before and are now on the lookout for, also the suitable food for it. Maria was lonely without an adult cow for company. We put one calf with her and separated the other two so that she wouldn't be exhausted trying to take care of three!

We let Mugga and her little chap join Krafla and her colt Ferandi and Embla and her colt Leikur as they will spend the winter together. Embla is very definitely the alpha mare but she was actually very friendly with Mugga, which was a much nicer experience than Krafla had with her.

Snow tires are on!



September Farm Update

We began September knowing we would have another horse farewell. Teigur was on his way to his new home in Upstate New York. It's always great when an animal is going to a new home and one where he will get lots of attention, be ridden most days and be an integral part of his new family. However, it was also sad to see Teigur leave as he was born here and grew up with our herd of Icelandic horses for eight years. All has turned out very well though and Angela tells me he is everything she hoped he would be - you can't ask more than that.

September 5th - after it looked for weeks as if Butterscotch would have triplets, her rather large bull calf arrived safely! She was very proud of him and he duly followed her everywhere. After they had a few days to bond, they joined the rest of our cows in the front field.

The next big item was a family one. Son Paul and his family, Tracy, Evan and Chloe were planning a move from Tofield in Alberta to Vancouver Island (have to envy them the climate change!) and were returning from a visit there and were staying with us overnight on their way home. We always regret these visits are so short but nevertheless so memorable when we watch the children interacting with all the animals. Pictures illustrate this the best and it always amazes us that some of our smallest visitors are the ones that show the least apprehension when meeting our largest animals!

September 9th was also an eventful day when a couple came from Chilliwack to pick up their new ram, some ewes and a ewe lamb from this year. The most impressive thing was Don's shepherd's crook with which he snagged the sheep with considerable ease, and then on to putting on their ear clips required before they left here. We don't have great pasture for sheep so we're delighted when they head for greener pastures, although the Icelandic sheep like to browse and enjoy the bushes quite well.


We had a message from Lisi, who was training Fleygur (one of our stallions) for the International Breeding Evaluation to let us know that he had got into some clover and was suffering from clover burn, with swollen legs and fetlocks and now it was unsure whether he would be able to participate in the Evaluation. So we were keeping our fingers crossed.

September 10th and Lisi, her daughter Jelena and husband Tommi, who had come from Iceland to present the horses at the Evaluation, were headed for Vernon with the horses, so we were looking forward to seeing Fleygur again, which we did the following day, when we also picked up Doria who we were bringing home from her breeding with Bragur, silver dapple stallion. Tommi rode Fleygur to show us how he was doing and while he still had the clover reaction, it had improved, but still it wasn't sure whether he would be able to participate as you can't risk harming your horse, plus they don't show as well as they could if everything was fine.

The Friday of the first day of the Evaluation was a gorgeous day - clear blue sky and sunny but not too hot and it stayed that way for the three days of the Evaluation, which was really great for horses and people alike! As the first day was Conformation, it was decided to put Fleygur in and see how he did. The swelling had gone down in his legs considerably and the Conformation only involved walking and a short distance of trotting, led by hand, so this was fine and we were pleased with his scores.

Saturday was the evaluation for the under saddle gaits and is hugely exciting. It can be disappointing too as, with all sports, a horse can excel at something nine times out of ten and just when it counts, something goes wrong! When I was younger I participated in many team and individual sports but I have never been as nervous as I was for Fleygur when it was his turn, it having been decided that he was in sufficiently sound condition to compete. Considering how little time he's spent under saddle, he was just amazing and it was a great tribute to Lisi's training and Tommi's riding. He has often been a very laid back horse so it was just great to see him get a score of 8 for 'Spirit'. He also had 8's for canter and gallop, 8.5 for walk and 7.5 for the slow and fast tolt, largely because of lack of speed but overall he did so well and we were so proud of him. The third day of an evaluation allows a horse to repeat some of the gaits if it is thought the previous day wasn't the best a particular horse can do, but we were so pleased that Fleygur could participate at all that we didn't want to risk having him re-do the tolts and it is unlikely it would have made a difference anyway.

The following Monday and Tuesday after the weekend Evaluation, one of the International Breeding Judges, Barbara Frische from Germany, gave a two day seminar going over all the evaluating points for Icelandic horses on the first day, using horses to illustrate the various conformation and under saddle points, and on the second day she presented a paper that she hopes will be adopted by FEIF which while not giving numerical scores, gives a range for evaluating the potential of foals. This is a very interesting concept and will be of great assistance to breeders in the future if the predicted results are, on average, accurate. You leave a seminar like that looking at your horses in a different way!

After the Evaluation we took two of our horses, Geisli and Heidi, to Vernon as Lisi was very kindly taking them to Vanderhoof where their new owner was coming from Cecil Lake, which is towards Fort St. John, to pick them up and take them to his farm where there were many children awaiting their arrival! We got our first Haflinger Christa from Bernhard many years ago, so it was really great to be sending horses in the opposite direction.

September 21st - Mugga's foal born! We had begun to wonder if it would ever happen and while our vet had confirmed her pregnancy, considering it was her third foal, she just wasn't very big. I was cleaning out the cows' shed when I observed something on the way and by the time we both got there, the little chap was almost born and only needed a little help with his last leg. He soon tried to get up but had some considerable difficulty at the start but just kept trying until he succeeded! Mugga was really tired and just wanted to rest, which complicated the sucking efforts of her foal somewhat! However, when the foal began to walk away from her, she was galvanized into action and got up quite quickly to follow him. It had been interesting because we had put Mugga with Fleygur for breeding - he had sired her last foal - but she wouldn't let him anywhere near her this time, so eventually, after no breeding last year, we moved her to our stallion Sleipnir and she really likes him, hence the little foal.

We had decided we should cut back on our large hay eating animals for this winter so advertised some of our Jersey cows. The family where we have often picked up extra Jersey bull calfves to put with our cows when new calves have been born, as the milk is often too rich for one calf, came out to look at our cows and we were so pleased that they said they would take all of them, together with visiting rights for us, particularly for Sabrina who we have had for many years. It's a great feeling when you know your animals are going to good homes.

Our friends Judi and Bruce, together with their dogs Thor and Frekja, came up and, as always, provided us with a huge amount of assistance. We use straw or very cheap hay for windbreaks for the dog runs and every few years the windbreaks have to be replaced - so that was the first job. We had also had a problem, and my mistake for putting new chickens in with old ones without keeping them separate for a while, with the older chickens pecking the heads of two of the new chickens. The No-Peck didn't work so the two had to return to the chicken nursery again and now feathers were back so this time Judi and I liberally applied pine tar, which we were told was invincible! In this case it was for one chicken, but not the other who is once more back in the nursery.

September came to an end with nice weather and no thought of snow!


August Farm Update


Our first exciting August news was that our mare Doria fra Nyjabae had been successfully bred to Bragur fra Fitjamyri, both silver dapple. We will keep our fingers crossed for a silver dapple foal, but I don't think breeding silver dapple with silver dapple is much more than a 50 - 50 chance for the offspring! We will keep our fingers crossed though.

Our grandson Ryley was up visiting in August and with one of our other grandsons Brandon, they both kindly offered to come over and work on putting up fencing for last year's rams and all the ewes and their lambs. The roll of page wire looks deceptively small but weighs a ton and it's a good job Ryley and Brandon are big and strong, because they had to be! Both the rams and ewes didn't take their eyes off the new fence and were delighted to try it immediately!

Ryley also helped me extend the chicken run - all this help is most welcome because there are never enough hours in the day on a farm!

Our stallion Fleygur fra Arbakka is in training in Vanderhoof for the International Icelandic Evaluation to be held in Vernon in September. Little by little various problems arose, one being a problem with his mouth, either the bit or his teeth, so fortunately Lisi has a friend who is a dentist who checked and found points, etc., that needed dealing with. He had some vertebrae massage too, so should be feeling a lot more comfortable! We are getting really excited to see how he does in September.

I do the morning feed and was outside soon after five in the vicinity of some of the dog runs when I saw something clearly not a dog in Alva's. It was one of our new chickens, who somehow had managed to get out, and had the back of her head severely pecked. We've never encountered this with any of our chickens before. I put it in a temporary cage while I invesigated how to treat it. Lo and behold a second chicken in the chicken house was suffering the same fate. I thought they'd be good companions together - not so - the first chicken in the chicken nursery promptly went after the head of the second one, so they had to be divided up.

Farmers' Markets are well under way now with Markets in Chase, Sorrento and Armstrong, all of which we have visited. It's a great treat to be able to get fresh, locally grown vegetables, and has given us incentive to grow some of our own next summer. Lack of well water has prevented this for the last few years. There are also always appealing craft items at these Markets, whether it be an amazing selection of sheeps' wool, all nicely spun, or a multitude of bird houses and feeders made from driftwood and looking so natural, or all kinds of miniature barns etc. Close to the Sorrento Farmers' Market one week there was an antique show and we came home with a really fine old wagon wheel! - also instructions on soaking rather than oiling it to preserve it, and not to stand it on soil. Always useful to get these helpful hints.

We had several thunderstorms around the middle of August and we have a few dogs who really don't care for the thunder! Alfur dislikes it most and at the first hint of a storm, he tears inside!

August also saw some visits from people who have got puppies from us in the past and we were delighted to see the family, with their grandson Jeremy coming back to check on things! It's always so nice when children have enjoyed themselves and would like to visit again. Jeremy helped with grooming the dogs and is coming again to try out one of the horses!


August 14th saw the arrival of Sabrina's calf. It must have arrived during the afternoon and I didn't see it because it was a hot day and both Sabrina and Butterscotch were sitting under the trees towards the back of the top field. When I went to feed them, Butterscotch started down but Sabrina only came a little way and then stopped. I waited to see if she would continue but she didn't, so I turned as if I was going to leave and suddenly there was a loud mooing - when I turned back, Sabrina made sure I was watching and then turned and walked a little way back to the trees, then turned to see if I was coming. By now I had the message! There in the grass under the trees was Princess Jasmin (named by one of our granddaughters!), so we loaded her into the little trailer on the quad and, with Sabrina following, headed for the cows' nursery. 


August 16th was when I would have liked to have been in England as my mother's sister, Auntie Ivy, was 100 years old! I'm sure I have the family genes and plan to get to 100 myself! It brought back many childhood memories, one which will always stay with me was listening to Peter and the Wolf in the dark so you can imagine everything happening so much better!

Another interesting August event for us was our visit to the O'Keefe Ranch in Vernon. We've driven by so many times and always wondered what it was like, so now we know! It was so interesting and was like stepping back in time. There were DVD's put together to show the history of the Ranch and the families that lived there. The General Store was kept as it was and was fully stocked! The blacksmith's was great and was one of my favourite places to visit as a child, well growing up too! There was a saddelry and a potter's shop, a very tiny church, a winery and quite a few animals, including Jacob sheep and a big variety of chickens and pheasants. We're already looking forward to a repeat trip.

I've mentioned in the past that we are seeing some birds here that we've never seen before and August 21st saw another one - a split tailed flycatcher. They are not usually seen in this area so we were particularly grateful to it for remaining on one of the fences long enough for us to get our cameras. August 23rd saw the last sighting of a hummingbird until next year! Previously our latest sighting had been August 12th and prior to that most hummingbirds were gone by late July. We had more this year than any other, which was really encouraging.

August 22nd saw the arrival of Lisa and our granddaughters Olivia and Maya and their Icelandic sheepdog Baldur. One of the most memorable moments of this trip was the ride down the Shuswap/Chase Creek Road to Chase with the family and really the view going down the hill is quite magnificent. Suddenly, from beside me, I hear Maya, aged 3, "Grandma, I see the whole wide world down there - even the ocean!!!" - which is actually the South Thompson River, but it was a wonderful observation from a tiny little girl!


We were lucky to have Gabriel pay us another visit in the summer and most appreciate his hard work! Maybe he'll like to be a farmer when he grows up! He is learning lots about life on a farm when he is here. 



Thanks to a considerable amount of rain on and off all through the summer, we were able to put the cows and calfs, except Butterscotch who hasn't calfed yet, into our front field again, where the grass has recovered.


Our gelding Teigur was going to be heading for New York, so we were off to the vet with him for his Coggins Test and vet check. He behaved very well and calmly for both but it's always a little bit sad when a horse that you've had since a foal will soon be leaving for a new home, though it is nicer for a horse to be where he/she can have more attention that we are able to give.

The end of August saw many less birds at the feeders, many more butterflies and lots of flowers blooming in the garden. The ram lambs seem to escape from their run quite regularly but shaking the bucket with their grain and kelp gets them running home really quickly! Eric is now 14 and has always had to make quite a big jump into his run, so he now has a gently sloping ramp so that he doesn't land on the lower edge of his door if he doesn't judge right!

On to September - the summer is going too fast!


July Farm Update

The first great July excitement was the somewhat unexpected arrival of two Jersey bull calfs when we were away on the West Coast of the Island! At least I should say unplanned arrivals! Our Jersey bull, Simon, was a little overactive before he left our farm. Kristi and Alain, who were farm sitting, had to call in some family members for a little assistance in getting mothers and sons moved to the Jersey nursery! They soon settled down happily there. Meanwhile Sabrina and Butterscotch are still ladies in waiting!

July is always a great time for me to look forward to the annual trip to The Alders on Vancouver Island. Our family has been going there, a resort on the east coast between Courtenay and Campbell River, four miles off the Island Highway with nothing but cliffs to the right and a large farm to the left, so the beach is very quiet and completely unspoiled. No television, phones etc. either! Red tide was prevalent this year, so oysters and clams remained on the reef and beach! The weather was just great, and as there has always been a large tide pool when the tide goes out, ideal for the smaller members of our group. My favourite time is early in the morning because being used to farm hours of getting up, I usually get at least a couple of hours reading time before there is any sign of another person!

There was an Icelandic Horse Show in Chilliwack on the weekend of July 11 - 13, so it was great to be at the coast in time to see some of the events on the Sunday, also a lovely sunny day, and preceded by a trip to the Coquitlam Farmers' Market, which even boasts cheese from the Dairy Sheep Farm in Chase. As we didn't get time to have our own vegetable garden this summer, we are making a habit of visiting the various Farmers' Markets in the Chase, Sorrento, Salmon Arm, Armstrong and Vernon areas in order to take advantage of local produce. Honey is always for sale, so fortunately the bees must not have disappeared from this area. There was one more great event - our little Icelandic Ala, who had ended her breeding career, went to live with Kirk and Jo in Maple Ridge, and on the way back from the Horse Show we were able to go and visit. It's always so great when we see that our older dogs are so very happy in their new homes where they get huge amounts of attention and just love it.

Judi came back with me and very kindly farm sat while we drove Fleygur, our bay and white stallion, to Vanderhoof, where Lisi Ohm is working with him preparing for the International Icelandic Horse Evaluation in Vernon in September. I can hardly wait to get back to the shop in Clinton that had all kinds of wagon wheels outside for sale, but we thought it was too hot for Fleygur to stop on the way up and we came home via McBride! It was so interesting listening to Lisi describe the various points to be worked on with Fleygur to improve his movements. I'll report in the September Farm Update on how he does. Judi only had two escapees! One ram who responded nicely to grain and one Jersey heifer who didn't!! It gave her Icelandic sheepdogs, Thor and Frekja, a great 'herding' opportunity and Maria spent the night in the round pen!

Next was hay hauling time. Last winter we got our hay more or less as we needed it, as we don't have great storage facilities, but decided against that this year as some of the winter weather was less than desirable for hauling hay. It is a big and heavy job though but nothing looks better than the winter hay waiting here.

Friday, July 25th, saw our departure for the West Coast of the Island. We had a great family dinner at Lisa and James's on the Friday night and set off for the ferry early Saturday morning. The drive to the West Coast went via Butterfly World in Coombs, always an interesting place to visit, Cathedral Grove with such huge trees, then the winding 'Highway' (not quite in the latter part) to the dividing T, left to Ucluelet and right to Tofino. It was many years since we were there. The Visitors Information people were very informative and helpful and we left for MacKenzie Beach, where we had a cabin on the beach, sporting our pass for the Pacific Rim Park for the next two days.

This isn't quite an Icelandic Farm description but the West Coast really is just special and would be marvellous to visit when the storm waves crash in. We visited Chesterman Beach, Long Beach and the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre, watched the surfers at Florencia Bay and Incinerator Rock Beach, walked the Pacific Coast Trail at Ucluelet, the Bog Trail off Long Beach, where all the trees are stunted, and visited Ucluelet and Tofino. Tofino had galleries to wander through and the harbour is always great to watch. Far too soon it was time to head back to Nanaimo and home!

On arrival home we saw our workshop had undergone a transformation with a great painting and decorating job! First morning started early, soon after 4 a.m., as the dogs were barking and our neighbour's horses were visiting! - so it was back to the farm and a good early start!



June Farm Update


June 1st saw our first Haflinger foal, now a yearling, heading for his new home. Very sadly the stallion who had bred Christa died from colic not a long time after the breeding, so his owners were very anxious to see what the little colt looked like. Amazingly he bore a very strong resemblance to his sire Mandl, so they were really happy to have him and we were delighted to know he would go to such a good home.

June 9th - great excitement - our silver dapple mare Embla's little foal was born. She had been bred for a foal the previous year, and it was to be her first foal so a big event as she isn't a young mare now, but the first breeding didn't take. However, the second one did and she is an extremely proud mother. Her little colt isn't quite as big as Krafla's but he's every bit as active. Soon after he was born, a marmot came to investigate and Embla sent it packing with great despatch!

Our chestnut and white pinto Tyra was getting closer to going to her new home, so we loaded her into the trailer and headed for our large animal vet in Vernon to get her shots before she left. She did not enjoy the strangles vaccine which is administered via the nostrils, but many boarding stables require it to protect their other horses. Luckily there was no reaction - we took her a week before she was due to leave in case there was one, but she was fine.

We had one breeding with Gletta and Kolur, so can only hope that this will result in at least one puppy. Since CKC recognized the Iceland Sheepdog breed, we kept one of our registerable puppies and brought another one in from Iceland, but have to wait until they are two years old and hips are fine before we are able to breed them. This has left us with Grimsnes' Rof who is coming to her last breeding and Gletta, for whom this will be her first litter and while we usually breed every other heat, we left Rof as we were expecting our Eurasier puppy Hadley to arrive at the same time there would have been a litter of puppies - not a good idea.

June also saw the return to her home of one of the visiting mares who had come to be bred to our stallion Sleipnir fra Arbakki. We will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of Tyra's foal - not our Tyra of course! 

Ljufur was on the other side of the fence in our nursery paddock with his mother, as Mandel had just left, and became very interested in the new arrivals, so interested, in fact, that he backed up and sailed over the fence! His arrival was not well received by the mothers! The gate between the two areas was just a little lower than the fence, so the addition of a rail with some nice bright yellow flashing tape was all that was required to ensure he stayed on his side of the fence from then on! The mares also patrolled the fence for quite a while to ensure Ljufur didn't try a repeat visit!

We let mares and foals into our bottom field during the day as the grass was quite good and for the first couple of days getting them back at night wasn't immediately successful - the grass was definitely greener on the other side of the fence! However, their grain soon achieved the desired result. Great interest along the fenceline where we have ten other horses when they met the new arrivals!

Mid June saw the arrival of Phil, our sheep shearer for many years. Everything to do with the sheep was late this year, including the shearing, but luckily it hadn't been too warm yet, and no-one was overheated. We had our last year's ram lambs quite a distance from where Phil sets up to shear, so the horse trailer was brought into action to move them! They really do look like goats, particularly with their horns, for quite a while after they've been sheared.

June 29th saw one of our ewes and her twin lambs and two of last years ram lambs depart for their new home. I really miss one of the ram lambs because he had such a lovely face! - not, of course, the reason that you need a ram and they really shouldn't be a friend either because they aren't when breeding season comes along, as I've discovered to my cost in the past. It's very fortunate that my hip replacement was done so well, as it had to withstand a full charge by our large black horned ram, who I didn't see coming, and gave a big surprise to one of our stallions as I nearly entered his paddock with speed and through the air!

The last excitement of June was a visit across the road to Marjorie's at Ptarmigan Hills, where she and her son have almost finished renovating one of two homes built on the mountainside where she lived before the lst World War. This was a fascinating experience and just like stepping into a museum. She is planning to use it for rental as a rustic retreat. Beside it she and her son are part way through building a huge barn, which will be able to stable visitors with their horses, who will then be able to take advantage of the mountain trails. Marjorie will welcome enquiries from potential visitors at (250)572-2634, or via e-mail at ptarmiganhills@peacemail.com. Her website will soon be launched at www.ptarmiganhills.com 





May Farm Update


MAY 16 - Krafla's foal born! This was so exciting as two years before when we put her in for breeding with Sleipnir, no pregnancy resulted. So she stayed with him another year and this time pregnancy did result. She is such a good mother, this being her third foal, and keeps a very watchful eye on him. I wished I'd had a camera just a few hours after he was born, because he was the one licking his mother's face for a few minutes instead of the other way around and it looked so sweet.


Snow has finally gone and we looked forward to a visit from Lisa, James and our granddaughters Olivia and Maya the first weekend in May. James was to ride in a bike race in Salmon Arm, Olivia and Maya wanted to ride a horse! However, first morning Olivia spotted the box of dog agility items not yet set up and decided that would be a good way to start the day! Stopwatch instructions were passed to dad and we began to assemble the course! Dogs were chosen for the practise runs! Maya and I were to present the dogs, adults were to watch with dad timing, prizes were chosen for the lst three and, following the practise runs, Olivia was confident that Alfur would win and lst prize chosen accordingly!

Sunday morning dawned sunny - everything was set for the event and Baldur, Olivia's family dog, was up first! I was presenting and although he's a little on the tubby side, managed to weave him through the poles quite quickly. Then followed Raf, etc. and finally it was Alfur's turn and Olivia decided to present him! As she isn't quite as tall as I am, she and Alfur encountered a bit of a problem weaving through the poles and - horror of horrors - Baldur's time was announced to be the fastest!! This posed a major problem re lst place and prizes but after much thought and soul searching, Olivia announced "Baldur is disqualified! - he went under the high jump instead of over it!!" So all was well and Alfur's run boasts a blue ribbon!!

Next came horse grooming and Olivia was set to groom Heidi and all was well until a sudden noise made Heidi move a little quickly, so as we approached the grooming, Olivia announced "This is not appealing to me!!", however, she persevered, from as far away as possible while still making contact with the horse with her brush!! When it came to having a ride on Teigur, both Maya and Olivia showed zero apprehension and would have happily stayed on him all day I think.

Anticipating the arrival of Krafla's foal, we moved her into the nursery paddock. Fleygur was upset to see her go but we moved Elska in with him so he was happy again! Ljufur and Mandel (our Haflinger yearling colt) were in the paddock adjoining Krafla's, so she had close company because she gets anxious when she feels she's alone. She is traditionally much happier when with the herd.

Early in May is usually the chosen shopping time for my daughter Karen and me to look for our hanging baskets for the summer. After years of making our own, we discovered very little difference in price by the time you have about 28 plants in a moss basket and they have weeks of growth to put in before they resemble greenhouse raised ones! The back of the truck ended up packed solid and we wished we'd had a rod for hanging some more from the canopy. We may take the horse trailer next year! It's so exciting when the garden goes from snowdrops (in May here) to a burst of colour, even though we had to bring everything in until towards the end of May on account of frost.

We were expecting five mares for breeding with our stallions Fleygur and Sleipnir, both from the Icelandic Horse Farm Arbakki. I saw Sleipnir when I was in Iceland looking for a new male puppy to breed, and Anders Hansen had told me a filming crew from an American TV station had come to his farm and to keep a lookout on Knowledge. Sure enough one night the phone rang three times in a couple of minutes with friends and family telling us Anders Hansen's farm was on TV. There was the most gorgeous horse flying across the screen - several times! After the program was over, I checked the Arbakki website and there was Fleygur! And he arrived at our farm that year! Back to the mares - snow finally gone, fields needed to be cleaned up for their arrival. May 13th we journeyed to Celista to pick up Tyra, Pera and Kylja - all loaded very well and were received very well by our stallions!

May 21st and a huge hailstorm - the hailstones were coming to hard and fast we had to shelter in the horse trailer! When it stopped, Misty let us know we had visitors and sure enough there were Dukka and Lisa being brought from Horsefly for breeding. They unloaded very nicely and Fleygur couldn't believe his good fortune. They were also delivering some pigs - not often you say how pretty pigs look, but these did! They were a gorgeous colour of light brown, (Tamworth cross) much more attractive than the usual pink!

Finally the pasture was starting to grow well in the front field, so the cows were very happily moved in there. The Jerseys look so nice in a field of dandelions and it's such a great change for them after their much closer winter quarters.

Time was coming for Mandel, our Haflinger yearling, to go to his new home. He settled down in the round pen for some groundwork really well and was picked up by his new owners who had owned the stallion who sired him and who very sadly had died shortly afterwards at the vet's from colic.

There was a moss collecting trip for the fuschia hanging baskets I was making. We used to have such a magnificent selection of fuschia plants to choose from when we lived at the coast, but in the Interior we are not so lucky. Bought hanging baskets, while some are gorgeous, do tend to stick to the tried and true varieties and I love the huge double blossoms that aren't quite as common.


End of May and summer seems to be here finally, although still lots of rain, which is uncommon but great for the ground. 




April Farm Update


April Fool's Day and -12 wasn't part of it! April still continued as part of winter and by now most farms were running short of hay with grass not showing, never mind growing! Next message was that one of the ewes was cast, so I assumed this was an April Fool's trick - not so. Sweet Pea, our largest ewe, was in fact cast against the dividing wall of the sheep barn but due to her roundness, was easy to roll over and off she trotted. The same ease of righting is by no manner of means the case when a horse or a cow gets cast, and they often don't last a long time when rolled over upsidedown against a wall, or even sometimes a bank or a dip in the ground.

Icelandic sheep happen to be unbelievably hardy. One time I found one of our old ewes lying on her side bleeding from a horn wound and she'd obviously had a fight with the breeding ram. There was at least a foot of snow where she was lying. We got her on her feet and more or less lifted her out of the sheep pen, and as soon as hay was put in front of her, she started eating as if nothing had happened. We've had the same experiences during birthing with ram lambs, who often arrive in this world with fairly well developed horn buds, sometimes more than a bud, and on one particular occasion the normal jelly, trying to ease one horn first, etc., didn't work. It was really a question of pulling - finally the little chap shot free, his mother checked him out and straight away began to eat!

April 2nd was a good day as we had shipped our gelding Solvi to Upstate New York and it's always great news to hear when one of our horses has arrived safely after a long journey. He's lucky to go to such a nice home and be able to have more individual attention than we were able to give.

We also had a vist from a dad and his daughter who have one of our dogs and were en route home to Edmonton and thought we'd like to see how their puppy had grown. This is always a treat for us and we appreciate it when people take the time and effort to do this if they are fairly close to us.

We headed to Kamloops with six of our dogs for their annual CERF (eye) tests. One of the eye specialists who practiced at the coast comes through the Interior every year, which is really helpful as it is difficult for us to get to the coast with all the dogs, feeding here etc. These tests are conducted in a dark room and mainly, for the Icelandics, to test for distichiasis, which is where, very occasionally, an eyelash will be ingrowing. Fortunately for us none of our dogs have ever had this problem. It seems to have been a little more common in dogs in Europe.

April 8th - snowed again! Will it ever go away? 

Had our first spring farrier visit - a little different for our horses as we had Ian for so many years but he's moved away and is driving a truck now, so change time was here. This is always a time the dogs enjoy because they get the hoof trims to chew on and really enjoy that. We have two donkeys, Arthur and Tosca, and it appears that Tosca must have foundered before we got her because her left front hoof grows much faster than the other three and we've been told that this is a fairly common result of a foundered foot.

The next weekend was one of my treat ones when I escaped to the coast and visited children, grandchildren and friends, plus shops like the Wild Bird Shop in Newport Village. Such a great place to go with everything imaginable for sale to do with wild birds, and such a lot of interesting information available too.

April was also the month where little black lamb after little black lamb was arriving, sired by our first-used this breeding season new white ram! I could hardly believe it when a white lamb arrived with a black spot in the middle of its back. Sweet Pea finally a little white ram lamb and another ewe, last to lamb, had a little ram lamb white, with patterned black head. White lambs are really welcome as many of the ewes are more of an oatmeal colour and the white fleece is a little more in demand.

April 15th still snowing and our large animal vet was due to preg test some horses and our cows Sabrina and Butterscotch. We were really pleased to hear that Simon, our unrelated yearling bull, had successfully bred both of them and will look forward to the arrival of their calfs. Two of the three horses were confirmed pregnant and we didn't expect Doria to have taken as she was put with a silver dapple stallion late in the season. We will try this year again for her.

April 18th, 11 p.m., snowing again, so decided to put the remaining ewes who hadn't lambed and didn't look as if anything was imminent in their barn overnight. With the aid of the flashlight and the yard light and the willing but not wanted assistance of our Great Pyrenees, straw was spread for them, along with hay, and I returned to the house knowing that they were nice and warm. Interesting that given the choice, two ewes were already in the barn, but when I shone the flashlight, four eyes reflected in the light showing me that two had chosen the snow and outside.

Still snowing! - up to the 25th and by now hay is really getting in short supply all round us.

We have Swedish friends who have an antique - often farm antiques - business at their farm, with various items displayed in their converted barn and Eva was planning a garden party for the 25th. We woke up to snow again, but not so in Armstrong, so one of my daughters and I headed there for a treat. This always incorporates lunch at The Village Cheese in Armstrong, where you can watch the cheddar cheese being made and eat lunch surrounded by all kinds of neat farm and kitchen items for sale! Plus many different flavours of cheese.

Finally stopped snowing and the spring cleanup began! Even the chickens seemed excited! De-wormed cows and started de-worming horses. Weaned our Icelandic and Haflinger colts, which caused the usual amount of consternation. There is a small hill in the paddock where they were and it was really cute to see the two of them on top of it straining their eyes looking for their mothers who they could hear, at least you could Christa (Haflinger mum). I think Stella was pleased to be off on her own again!

April 28th - spring has definitely arrived! Our first hummingbird is here!



March 2008 Farm Update

March 1st - hoping for spring thaw soon, and we were off to a Heritage Seed Swap where many local growers were also selling their garlic, honey, sheepskins, multitudes of seeds and it was just a great opportunity to think of the growing season to come.

March 3rd - 5" more snow! What a disappointment as we have the "ice age" following snow, then the mud!

We were very lucky to be the recipients at Christmas time of a lovely book, with accompanying illustrative DVD, The Last Wild Wolves, by Ian McAllister. Kristi and Alain were very fortunate to be able to attend a movie illustrating this story and presented by the author at the Vancouver Film Festival. It is at times like this that we would appreciate being a little closer to the Lower Mainland!

Following a New Year's resolution, farm taxes were finished early this month so there was a celebratory trip to Art Knapp's as a reward! We came home with pansies, polyanthus, hyacinths, shamrock, many packets of seeds (New Year's resolutions not working here as most seeds are still in the packets!), a basket made of twigs, pine cones and dried moss and a small table bird bath with birds perched on it - this was a great treat!

March 9th - daylight savings time - hooray - later nights, so opportunity to get more work done!


The use of Norwegian kelp has been recommended to us by several people who have added it to their animals' feed as a supplement, so we finally arranged to get some and have started using it for our cows, horses, sheep, dogs, chickens and ourselves. Ruth and her husband, who have been selling the kelp for the last 23 years, have had great success with the kelp pills for human consumption. In those 23 years Ruth hasn't had a cold or the flu and her husband has had one cold - so it will be very interesting to observe results both with our animals and ourselves.

It was also time to head for Vernon to pick up some more Tuf-Tubs for feeders for the cows and horses for this time of year. As the snow thaws, mud takes over for a while and these feeders are invaluable. It is such an innovative idea to reverse big tires when they are finished on vehicles, attach heavy wooden bases and drill holes for drainage, as illustrated in the following pictures.






Mid March and great excitement - a repeat visit from England from my nephew Richard, his wife Nancy and their two sons Jude and Luke. It was the middle weekend of their Sun Peaks skiing holiday. I'm usually treated to a spectacular view of Sun Peaks from the window beside my computer but it's currently snowing hard so no mountains in sight. Jude and Luke enjoyed helping with the animals, putting straw and shavings out where needed, walking the dogs, collecting eggs etc. etc.


We had an enquiry about Solvi, our black and white pinto Icelandic gelding, so loaded him into our horse trailer, picked up two more horses at a friend's and headed for Arnold at Fitjamyri, who had trained Solvi. We subsequently heard that Solvi was definitely sold, which we believe will be a great advantage for him. When he was born, I thought he had such a lovely tail, that he should always stay here! However, we finally decided he would gain greatly to have more attention than we are able to provide, and we were sure he was going to a lovely new home. As this was in Upstate New York, we were very happy to hear he had arrived safely.



Easter was a very enjoyable weekend - one of our grandsons Ryley was visiting from the coast, also for Spring break, and he and another of our grandsons Brandon, were very helpful taking Kolur and Kolla to class for training for possible showing in the future.



It also was the time to take our yearling Jersey bull Simon to Riverside Meats. This isn't a trip we relish, but Jersey bulls become very dangerous as they get older, so there is no question of keeping them around. It also provides beef for us, which we know has been raised without any chemical additives in food. We were glad to get Simon safely delivered to Riverside as on the return trip home, it became apparent that our truck and horse trailer were rapidly losing energy for the trip and part way up a steep hill the truck came to a full stop! Thank goodness for BCAA!

March 30th - first butterfly! Oh for the camera - it settled on our Haflinger mare Christa's mane and stayed there in the sun for about five minutes! Spring must be on the way!




February 2008 Update


Still masses and masses of snow - I can't imagine we'll ever see grass again! It's the time of year that the truck, tractor and hay trailer all stand a good chance of getting stuck and not the time you want the 4-Wheel Drive on the truck to pack it in, which it did!


It's also the month for sagging roofs, and in fact one canopy roof did collapse under the weight of the snow. The roof of the chicken house had a distinct sag to it, so significant shoveling restored it to a safer look! The tractor, en route with a very large round bale for one of the groups of horses, sank in the snow and got stuck, much to the huge consternation of the horses who were eagerly awaiting its arrival. I caused some rams a lot of consternation too as I was hauling water on a toboggan to them and they know the sound, so were stunned when I disappeared from sight due to a little ice slippage. Looked up to see six very worried horned heads looking over the fence!


On the reverse side of fences, the snow level was mounting and while you might think that the weight of horses etc., would still keep them a good distance from top rails, not necessarily! My attention was attracted by a considerable amount of concern by the mare in with one of our stallions in her paddock and our Great Pyrenees, who was very close. Further inspection showed that our stallion Sleipnir had managed to escape! This meant first of all digging out the gate to let him back in and then ploughing through feet of snow to bring him back, while all the time trying to keep Mugga's anxiety under control! Eventually much neighing heralded his appearance and he was returned to safety and calm restored to the horse paddock once again!


A new family has moved in some distance from us who breed and show Alaskan Malamutes and who are holding classes to teach the art of dog showing. We have really never had the time for this before, but thought we shouldn't miss the opportunity so are taking Kolur and Kolla every Wednesday evening to learn what they and, more importantly, we need to know. Since our dogs virtually never see other dogs except at the vets' office, they were more than a little interested in the whole event and practicing stacking was not their ideal way of spending time when there was so much of interest to see!


One should never overlook the beauty of the sky when you live miles from other people, hence from other sources of light. In the winter on a clear night the sky looks like black velvet set with myriads of diamonds, but in February there was another treat - a total lunar eclipse. This was an amazing sight but looked better seen in person than our camera was able to reproduce!


This is also the time when seeds can start to be planted, firstly in the house and then moved outside to one or other of our greenhouses in the hope that the cats won't find them!


I observed the second escape while heading to the hay trailer, only to see someone had beaten me to it and it was the very large Icelandic horned ram who had decided to leave the sheep for an evening snack! We agreed to leave him out overnight as it was getting dark and he couldn't come to any harm. Our Great Pyrenees runs loose at night and they must have struck up a good friendship because when we decided to let Misty off in the morning, assuming she would chase the ram back into the sheep pen, she didn't! They met up and set off, side by side for a walk, appearing to be chatting with one another! However, after some time it looked as if the ram had decided Misty was a ewe, as he was showing considerable interest in her rear end. So we put Misty on a lead, led her into the ewes' pen and the ram duly followed her in!!


Our winter birds keep us busy as usual and we do seem to go through an inordinate amount of unsalted peanuts and if they aren't out on the rail really early, the Stellar Jays in particular make sure we know about it!


We're just looking forward to the spring thaw! 








January 2008 Farm Update



Snow, snow and more snow! When we left the rain behind at the coast, we thought we would really enjoy the distinct seasons! After three weeks of "distinct snow", I began to think it was a bit easier to get around in rain. We've had a huge amount of snow this winter and don't think we'll see the ground until the end of April. It certainly does slow many jobs down a lot and requires water being taken out several times a day because it often freezes so quickly. I've had to keep the patio umbrella up in one spot so that the peanuts and dog crumbles (grey jays' favourite) on the deck rail don't keep disappearing as the next snowfall arrives.

We had a great treat early in the year with a visit from Matthew, one of our nephews from England, who very kindly dug out the door into the chicken house after a particularly heavy fall of snow! He did some deep sea diving at the coast, also some skiing, so went from one extreme to the other and while here took some lovely pictures of the horses in the snow.

This certainly is the time of year where toboggans are really handy for transporting hay. The snow is too deep for the quad now and moving round bales to the large group of horses is difficult also as the tractor can bog down in the deep snow quite easily. I have a fair distance to go to two of the horses and the donkeys but it's never a lonely trip as the black and white kitten, delivered to us by the black cat that someone dropped off at the end of our drive!, is my constant companion, riding happily on the flakes of hay. She particularly likes it if I'm taking a watering can of warm water on the trip as (a) she has a drink and (b) she sits beside the can enjoying it's warmth!



The black kitten's story is amusing as it's always waiting for me when I start letting dogs out at 6 and accompanies me nearly everywhere from then on, with the exception of the day that it was slated to be delivered to the SPCA, along with its mother, as we already have four cats and I was told that four was enough! No sign of the kitten that morning so we had to leave for Kamloops without it! It was, however, in its usual spot the next morning.

It's interesting that both the Icelandic horses and Icelandic sheep enjoy the snow, the cold wind and cold weather and prefer to be out in the open to being in a shelter. We have a new three sided shelter for the mares and foals, yet they hardly ever go in there. If it snowed during the night or is snowing when I go out to feed in the morning, they are all standing out in it covered with snow, while their windproof, dry and really comfortable shelter is standing empty. If it's really windy and miserable, the sheep will go in their barn, but for the most part they too are happy outside in miserable weather!

January was also a time of power cuts and a time when I wished our new generator wasn't still in the box! It's surprising how quickly the house goes from being cosy to feeling downright unfriendly! Also surprising how many times you go to switch a light on. We will definitely have it hooked up for next winter and it made me realize the terrible time farmers must have had in the ice storm in Quebec several winters ago, particularly those who needed electricity for their milking equipment.

Even though most of our dogs are Icelandic, when the temperature dipped to -10 to -20 and the wind was blowing, we kept them inside, except for short runs outside, so that was most of January. Not to mention that the snow is now so deep that if they wandered off the drive or paths, I think they would disappear! It isn't a time to fall into the snow because if you don't have a tool of some kind with you, you can't push down to get balance to stand up because your arm just keeps going further and further down. I have come to realize that taking short cuts doesn't result in one!

This is also the time of year when the electricity stops running through the electric fence wires and the our horse Heidi, who discovers this immediately, makes sure all the others know about it too! So the donkeys suddenly found their few flakes of hay being shared by 11 horses, so they moved one field down to the round bale! 

Every few days we move tractor loads of shavings into the new shed for the Jersey cows, so that makes a really cosy place for them when they've finished eating outside. Our yearling Jersey bull is starting to look a bit unfriendly sometimes, so I'll be a little more comfortable when he's left. Although Jersey bulls look just like baby deer when they're born, they usually become less and less friendly as they get older, and then can become really dangerous to be around.

We are looking forward to seeing the ground again!



Pineridge Icelandics

1049 Hepburn Rd

Chase, B.C. Canada V0E 1M1