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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
email@example.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
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
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
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
April 28th - spring has definitely arrived! Our first hummingbird is
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
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
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
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!