Farm Life 2012/11 Farm Life
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Farm Life 2007
January 2012 Farm Update
Firstly Happy 2012 to everyone! All earlier weather forecasts had indicated that this winter would be the coldest and snowiest in a very long time - wrong! The snowblower, and its operator, are quite well rested! I think it's because I was finally able to make a nice windproof/waterproof shelter for our donkeys Arthur and Tosca, that we have had one of the most cooperative winters in a long time!
Actually very early in the morning of January 1st was eventful as all the dogs were barking their heads off. I got up and checked, but couldn't see anything wrong. However, eventually I heard a vehicle start up out on the road and it turned out that Marjorie's horses (from up the mountain opposite) had gone on a New Year's Eve expedition and were outside our farm fence when someone in a truck hit two of them. Luckily only minor scrapes and bruises and none to the truck driver.
January 3rd started with a bit of a commotion too. This was caused by the escape of our New Forest Pony Jelly Bean and one of the other horses, and although both were busy at the hay pile, the animals always let us know if something out of the ordinary is occurring! A bucket of grain is always one up on the hay, so they were soon returned to their spot!
The weather was much warmer than usual for this time of the year, so underfoot was a nightmare as there was so much ice everywhere. Moved the Christmas tree into its usual spot on the open deck at the railing, so dog crumbles and peanuts could be spread liberally for the Grey Jays and Stellar's Jays as the tree protects them from cat attacks!
We have had round bales in our top and front fields this winter, which has made winter feeding much easier - that was until January 18th, when the temperature plummeted and the tractor wouldn't start, so we couldn't move a round bale into the top field and my help was requested to assist in the pushing!! I wasn't anxious to leave the house as Meyja's puppies were due any time, but it became apparent that my pushing was required!! It wasn't easy! After we were about three quarters of the way there, it was decided that perhaps the truck could push it the rest of the way!! It did - in much faster time.
I shot back to check Meyja and lo and behold the first puppy had arrived! The remaining three were all born within three hours, which was great as all were fine and healthy. However, Meyja's teats (this being her first litter) were very small and neither she nor the puppies were sure what was to happen next and the puppies were making a lot of noise about their dissatisfaction with the situation. So while I was trying to get the puppies on the teats, Meyja was trying to carry the noisiest ones to the side of her whelping box and drop them over! It took about an hour to get everything sorted out and calm was restored!
January is always a big month for tennis followers! - as the first Grand Slam, the Australian Open - takes place in Malbourne then. Watching time has to be fitted into the day, actually the night too as the times don't coincide well with our nornal viewing time.
January was also the beginning of somewhat noisey nights since our Saddleback Geese are wintering in the greenhouse outside our bedroom window and the breeding season was starting up! Will be pleased when it's over!!
December Farm Update
December 1st! - still recovering from November, so was pleased to spend some time painting my Uncle Fred ploughing to go to Marjorie's Ploughman restaurant in Kamloops!
We headed for Eva's once again as she has some Swedish kick sleighs and wanted me to try one out - which I must remember to do as we have quite a bit of snow now!
Also chose a lovely copper pot for my Christmas present!
We had had our male cat neutered so, as we live miles from anyone else, thought our female cats would be safe. Wrong! Marjorie, up the mountain, took some of the kittens, we kept two, Brandon took one and the remaining two went to our neighbours up the road! Spaying appointments have now been made!
Sadly we lost our two green singing finches, no idea why, and tried to replace them. Interestingly found that most of the pet shops around us weren't carrying finches but would order them. So have to assume the economy has hit the finch market. Animal House still has the grey canary!!
Moved one of the large tarps to attach to trees and make a covered area for the donkeys. Usually they've stayed with the horses in the top field, which is a shame because donkeys' coats aren't waterproof like horses and while we tend to have snow and not rain, they aren't keen on the wind either, and since the last time they spent the winter in a fairly new shed and tried to eat it, they have been out all winter! Did encounter some useful equine chewing advice though and that is that donkeys/horses don't like the flavour of Irish Spring Soap. I used to have to rub it on with a bar of soap but very happily observed a couple of years ago that it is now produced in a squeeze bottle, which makes the whole process much easier! It works too!
Had visitors to see the dogs and while this is much nicer in the summer, we still had a very nice visit.
Headed to Salmon Arm where one of the nurseries, actually a very interesting one that has a large variety of unusual plants in the spring, also has a huge orchard and has apples nearly all the year round, including some at a very reasonable price and great for the horses. So the horses' Christmas treat was purchased. The donkeys are happy with carrots! And to pick up the Grey Canary from Animal House!!
Neighbour Marjorie had significant trouble with one of her rams with a bladder stone and had surgery for the removal. Had a call that Fezig was in similar trouble again. In the meantime Makwa, Akita from the family at the coast, had somewhat similar trouble and the first two sets of medication didn't make any difference. Was talking to Tracy who mentioned a holistic website, which suggested putting apple cider vinegar in the animal's drinking water. Passed this information on. No further trouble for either Makwa or Fezig, so Googling Apple Cider Vinegar is very interesting.
The weather has made ground traction tiresome. It has warmed up and then frozen on numerous occasions leaving the ground a sheet of ice. Not even worth letting Maria, our Jersey cow, out while we clean her out as I remember one of our vets telling us that Jerseys' legs are like matchsticks and break as easily. Not worth the risk.
December 31st - trip to Vernon to meet someone who had bought our incubator! Again an interesting meeting as they had worked for ten years on an Australian cattle ranch and when applying, had to have trained working cattle dogs along!
Good junior hockey to round out 2011!
November Farm Update
November was a surprisingly busy month and considering how much snow we sometimes have by then, it was a great help that snow was thin on the ground and managed to get the spring bulbs planted before the ground froze!
We were busy getting ready for our twelve Welsummer and six Buff Orpington pullets we were to pick up in Chilliwack, and were so lucky to have a gorgeous driving day for the trip. Agassi, where we turned off, is such a well manicured little place, with tidy gardens and farms. We found our pullet farm, loaded them and headed back, still in daylight, and got many really lovely mountain photos.
November 5th we had earmarked for the Poultry and Pigeon Show in Armstrong. We had hoped to learn quite a lot there, but as it was such a big Canadian Show, we realized that, as with dog shows, it is assumed that you know all you need to if you are attending! A friend of ours had sent up two of her Light Sussex chickens to show, and did very well. I also really liked some Australian Spotted Ducks that had come from Victoria, and have thoughts about them on the back burner! We stopped at the Animal House in Salmon Arm on our way home and saw a first, a grey canary! Most appealing.
November 6th was also an exciting day. Trip to Coldstream to see Jelly Bean, a New Forest Pony that Norm had been very taken with. Again we were lucky with a great driving day and have to add a picture of a huge herd of Black Angus that we passed on the way. Jelly Bean was everything Norm hoped for and I believe she will be heading to our farm soon, with the plan that he will work on training her under saddle in the spring.
Monday we were off again, this time to Merritt in the snow, to meet someone who was starting a sheep flock with two of our little 2011 ewe lambs. They
traveled back to Chilliwack nestled nicely on a bale of straw! and we
traveled home via Costco to get snow tires and have them installed!
November 9th we were up early waiting for Murray, our vet from Creekside, who was coming to geld two of our little guys before they left for their new home at Marjorie's. Again snowing, so not a pleasant day for this and made more difficult by the fact that it looks as if one of the little guys might be cryptorchid. Will try again in the spring and hope all will be well.
Had a phone call from a friend to say he'd gone out that morning and found his ram dead. Not what you want at the start of the breeding season, so wondered if we had a spare ram! Luckily we did, so Thursday morning we set off for Larch Hills with our large grey ram on board! Roland has a
marvelous old barn, will add one picture of it here although pictures are in the sheep page. Their farm is en route to the Larch Hills ski resort and originally had an old ski cabin on the property, which still looks really appealing. Then they had their log home built with logs from their property and the chinking was all done with sheep fleece. Really interesting.
November 11th - another great day! Maria's calf was born - a lovely healthy little bull calf. We've since been told by a friend that if we add apple cider vinegar to Maria's drinking water, we would get a heifer calf next time. Will report on this!
Next Nov. 11th item - I checked the front field for horses - none present! Gate wide open and horses gone! This is about the third time the chains on our pole gates have given way. Luckily the horses had only wandered into the trees and the sight of us with hay and grain brought them running back!
November 11th was also the day that Dyanne and her husband were coming from Vanderhoof to pick up Schasta, our Haflinger mare, and take her to her new home! This was a very exciting event and Dyanne loved Schasta, who took to her immediately, with horsey kisses! They spent time getting to know one another and left for Schasta's new home on the Sunday, resplendant in her new halter and with her new blanket ready in case the long trip was cold!
I and my daughter Karen then left immediately for the coast, knowing it was already snowing hard on the Coquihalla. We were very lucky that as we pulled out of Merritt we were stopped and told that the Coquihalla had just been closed due to extreme driving conditions. So we happily followed a semi down the Fraser Canyon in the pouring rain and arrived in Hope hungry but safe! We encountered people in MacDonald's who had taken eight hours to get from Merritt to Hope, so were even more grateful about the detour!
We had a great weekend at the coast visiting family and friends and going to one of the really big craft fairs where I really happily got some beautifully hand made quilts for one-of-a-kind Christmas presents, all featuring animals!
November 16th saw the first breeding tie between Meyja and Alfur. This will be Meyja's first litter, which is always exciting. Her OFA hip score was Excellent and Alfur's OFA score was Good, so that should be a good combination. Birth announcement will be on our Website.
Nov. 20th - another busy day. First thing - early call from our neighbour Marjorie, who lives a good way up the mountain opposite, to alert us to the fact that her four large horses were missing! They usually head to us and this day was no exception! Fortunately once Marjorie has a halter on her very large black Percheron mare Babe, the others all follow, well nearly always!
Next was loading Tildra, who was headed to Coldstream and we were then bringing Jelly Bean back! Once again we lucked out and it was a gorgeous day for the drive. Both horses were great and by the time we got home, unloaded Jelly Bean, and fed, Elsa had sent pictures of her first ride on Tildra.
On our way home we stopped to visit John and Phyllis at their and their son's Jersey Farm in Enderby to pick up a little bull calf to go with Maria and hers. Jersey's milk is too rich for one calf and before we started getting a second, we had problems with scours. The unloading of the calf didn't go quite as well as the unloading of Jelly Bean, as Maria preferred her own calf! We have encountered this problem before! The next morning we tied Maria up and hobbled one hind leg so that the new calf could drink without being given a big boot! Usually once milk has come through and the smell is similar, we've found the cows willing to accept the second calf.
Had to put a bunch of evergreen branches along part of the deck rail to stop the cats from laying in wait for the Grey Jays and Stellar Jays. Also cleaned out the greenhouse to make a safe place for the Saddleback Geese for the winter. Their summer house was a bit too vulnerable to coyote attacks, not to mention, as the lower walls were bales of straw, they were eating their way out of house and home!
We received some great pictures from the family who have Ljufur and Olina. Once again there is no feeling as great as seeing your animals settled in a new home where they are clearly enjoyed so much.
Nov. 27th - another big day! Robin and Logan were moving to their new home up the mountain with Marjorie. Her four large horses were most interested in who was arriving and the electric wire above the top rail was a Godsend as one of the larger horses thought it might be fun to jump in with the little guys!
Nov. 28th - Karen's and my shopping day! Always a great treat. Art Knapp's in Vernon is decorated beautifully for Christmas and our Swedish friend Eva, who has an antique business at their Farm, with everything displayed in their barn and stables, was another stop! This is a great favourite for me as Eva has lovely Gotland sheepskin things including actual sheepskins and little Gotland sheep ornaments. The fleece is gorgeous - various shades of grey.
Finally end of November - I think our busiest month of the year! Had an interesting call from Tracy about the possibility of the horses' ears getting frostbitten. It doesn't get cold enough for that here so didn't know the answer, but our Icelandic friend Audur, who lives in the same area of Alberta as Tracy, did. Apparently frostbite only occurs if the ears get wet first. Good to know.
Can't believe how much happened in November!
October Farm Update
No frost yet, so dahlias etc. still blooming very nicely.
Had an interesting visit from a couple who have moved to a large acreage and were looking for sheep to keep on part of it, unfenced but controlled by guardian dogs. Icelandic sheep aren't suitable for this as they don't stay in a flock. There are no predators for sheep in Iceland, so the farmers on horseback and dogs take them into the Highlands in the spring and round them up in the Fall.
The sheep don't stay together so the dogs drive them down, usually in small numbers, to circular collecting pens, with individual farm pens opening off the circle. Sheep are identified to the relevant farm by clip marks on their ears.
Will be interested to see what breed works for this and how the guardian dogs do.
Moved this year's lambs once again to their winter quarters, which have a nice field of grass attached until the snow. They settled well and were really happy.
Had our mare Tildra in a paddock close to the house and out in the garden all day as there is still so much grass. She has done a spectacular job of pruning the apple tree as far as she can reach!
The Donkey Refuge close to us had an Open House on the Thanksgiving weekend, so I went to visit. Also volunteered to help there next year. Their donkeys, of which there was a large variety, are in very good shape and fortunate to be living there.
Arrangements made to take four of our Icelandic geldings to our son Paul and family in Alberta. Warren, our farrier, was able to come by to make sure all feet were in great shape, and 4 a.m. October 17th was the designated time to start loading horses - sheep loaded in the horse trailer the night before, ready to be divied up before loading the horses. Sheep loading went OK!
Visit in the kitchen at 5, still pitch dark of course, to announce that I was needed as one of the horses had got away! Next I hear that quad start up and the horses aren't keen on it in the daylight, when they can see it coming, never mind in the dark! Proceeded out with my tub of grain and to my great joy saw Leikur heading towards my bucket! Hung on to the halter until he was retrieved and safely loaded!
Off to Valemount to deliver four ewes. Luckily we had to stop for a construction zone and when I looked around, the back window of the truck canopy was open and the ewes were looking out! Luckily not jumping out! These were ewes destined for Alberta, so as soon as the Valemount ones had been delived, the truck ones were moved to the safety of the tack room in the horse trailer!
We arrived with much excitement at Tofield in the daylight. Evan and Chloe had been waiting for the horses to arrive and gave them a great welcome. Having left a sea of mud here, the horses were thrilled to be unloaded onto grass! All is still going well with them. Tracy runs a Dog Grooming business in Holden and lucky are the dogs who visit her! We have a Great Pyreness scheduled for this experience next year!
We went on to our friends in Coronation where our Icelandic stallion Sleipnir went in the spring and where we were going to pick up a new Moorit ram and ewe and a ram for a friend of ours. Audur also breeds Icelandic sheepdogs, so this was a really fun visit.
With sheep loaded we set sail for the Community Woollen Mill in Linden, near Carstairs, to drop off some fleece and have a very quick visit to their shop! Good job it was quick! Given time you can take a tour of the Mill, which hopefully will happen next summer as it looked so interesting.
Our friends came to pick up their ram and also, in conversation, mentioned that putting white vinegar in chickens' water stopped them pecking one another, if they were. Also to put apple cider vinegar in cows' drinking water if you want heifer calfs - so will report on this next year!
Put our new Moorit ewe in with two ewes for her to get used to them and being in a strange place before letting all the other ewes in. There was a little competition for food to begin with, but they soon became friends.
Started work on cleaning out my sheep shed for the winter - big job but probably good for the figure! Also got ready for the arrival of Major, one of our Icelandic sheepdogs, who was coming to stay while his owner was on holiday. We always look forward to Major's visits - he's a very good dog.
Got Maria's shed (Jersey cow) ready for the winter and the arrival of her calf.
In the hopes of downsizing our horses, we advertised our registered Haflinger Schasta and it looks as if someone who lost her Haflinger a while ago might be interested. We hope so as it is always nice if horses have a home where they can get a lot of individual attention.
Hallowe-en - and the many memories it brings of when the children were small!
September Farm Update
Still lots of nice grass round the house, whereas by this time it's usually brown, so took the advantage of it to move our mare Tildra, who was still a little underweight from foaling. She and one other mare years ago took a very long time to regain their weight. Anyway she has loved being in the garden, hasn't eaten any flowers, but has done a very good job of pruning the apples trees of the apples lower down!
It's been a strange year with birds. Many less humming birds than usual and they arrived later and stayed later. Our other regulars were not around - the woodpeckers are nearly always there for suet - no sign. Just a few gray jay visits - always looking for dog crumbles, and finally the red winged blackbirds and grosbeaks, plus their babies, have come back but still hardly any chickadees and pine siskins.
I was treated to a really fine buffalo skin shoulder purse from the O'Keefe Ranch for my birthday! The buffalo hide wallets, etc., seem to last forever and the care of them is the oil from your hands.
I'm still learning while riding the quad! Left it on a slope while opening the gate between two fields and saw it start to move slowly away - unmanned - and I thought I'd turned the front wheels far enough to prevent that. Then later that day I had turned the front wheels to prevent this from happening again and got on from the small space side and my food hit the accelerator - that was a surprise too! Won't do that again!
September was a nice month for all the animals - still some grass around and sunny weather but not too hot. Dahlias and sweet peas finally blooming, but everything has been so late this year because of the cold damp spring. Our bush beans are finally producing lots and a friend of mine suggested boiling them and then putting them in a sauce as follows:
Green beans with Feta, olive oil and honey
2 tblsp. olive oil
3 tblsp. honey
2 tblsp. lemon juice and a bit of grated rind
1 lb. green beans, frenched or whole if small
125 gm Feta cheese crumbled (I've used other cheeses)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine oil, honey and lemon in large bowl. Boil beans until just tender, drain and add them to the bowl, toss well, add pepper and cheese, toss lightly just to combine! It's a great way to make the beans really interesting!
September 9th was a big day for Solvi - Koralee, her husband and their two children arrived to pick him up and take him to his new home in Alberta. He behaved very nicely, walked straight into their horse trailer and I gather follows Craig round like a puppy at his new home. It's always so great to hear that a horse that has gone to a new home has settled in so nicely.
Wire went up on most of our new fence posts, which is a big job and great to have it secure once again.
September 17th saw our second forest fire of the season - so lucky to go all through the summer without any, partly because all thunderstorms were accompanied by pouring rain. This one was quite small, most likely human started because there weren't any thunderstorms and it began on the switchback that goes off the Shuswap/Chase Creek Road and down to Chase. Quite a bit of smoke but luckily soon under control.
I can see Sun Peaks from the computer and September 19th showed a heavy snowfall, so skiing should be good this winter!
I lost the carved horse's head handle off my walking stick, which was really tiresome, and it had been missing for several days. Lo and behold Misty, our Great Pyrenees, found it and normally she would chew something like that, but she brought it and left it right in front of the door into her run so that we couldn't miss it! Thank you Misty.
Had a quick trip to the coast - managed the Coquitlam Farmers' Market which, sizewise, is about comparable to the Armstrong Farmers' Market. Always great to get fresh local produce. Visited grandchildren, local nursery, watched soccer matches and went with one of my friends to her Zumba class! Considering my dropped foot, I actually kept up for the full hour without any problem! When you crowed so many things into one full day there, it seems as if you were away longer!
We had an enquiry for Icelandic sheep from someone who wanted to keep them as range sheep in an unfenced area. There are no predators for sheep in Iceland and they are sent to the Highlands in the spring and rounded up in the fall by farmers on their horses, with their dogs. The 'no predators' means that there isn't a problem that Icelandic sheep don't flock, but go off in small groups, and the dogs drive them down to collecting pens in the fall. This also means that in this vicinity they aren't suitable as range sheep, as unfortunately there are many predators around. These people have two Marema dogs for guarding, so will be really interested to see how everything works out.
September is now at an end with thoughts of winterizing the chicken houses, getting stuff up off the ground, etc. before the snow arrives.
August Farm Update 2011
Summer is finally here! - however, I am still watering all hanging baskets and containers on our covered deck with rainwater saved from the roof! This is the month when the garden is really colourful and just wish we could save it like this for several months!
First trial result with our incubator - one chick out of 24 eggs! Obviously low on the learning curve at this point!
Had quite some difficulty moving last year's colts, so resorted once again to using Stella who went to meet them, and then we led Stella to the new location for the colts, who happily followed along with her. They are going to live with our neighbour Marjorie, who lives near the top of the mountain opposite us.
I never know why the time goes so quickly in August except that now that the lambs and ewes are separated and we still have masses of grass around, they come out separately and have to be watched as they cover a huge area and Bonnie's farm next door has been vacant for some years now and seems to provide a safe haven for coyotes - need I say more! Our Great Pyrenees Misty keeps them away during the night but hasn't been trained to guard the sheep during the day when they're moving everywhere and sometimes quite fast!
Water needs to be replaced several times a day to sheep, horses, cows, etc. when the weather is hot, not to mention the garden, veggies, hanging baskets, containers and flower beds.
Work with the horses and a good deal of cleaning out of paddocks - at least it's a light load during the summer!
Fencing repairs! Thinking ahead to winter when everything disappears under snow. Stacking up windfallen trees for the time when it's safe to burn and we've had a number of very strong winds. We've also had quite a few thunderstorms but have been so fortunate that they've been accompanied by rain. It's the dry thunderstorms that are such a problem and a worry that the lightening will trigger fires.
We are hoping to downsize our number of horses this summer and had a visit from a very nice family in Mission who have two daughters who are interested in Icelandics, so we were pleased to show them the horses we have available. Please check our Horses For Sale should you also be interested in Icelandics or either of our two Haflingers.
Very sad event with our Saddleback geese - they wander all over the place during the day and as grass is one of their favourite things to eat, there is plenty this year. We had one of our puppy owners visiting and Frio was fast asleep in the kitchen, suddenly leapt up and ran to the door barking but we didn't associate it with anything, except I assumed someone was coming in the porch door. Not so, but when we went out shortly after there were only three geese instead of four, and quite a few feathers not far out in the top field, so Frio must have heard the coyote attacking the goose. The next morning when Norm fed them, one of them didn't come to eat, but went to the fence looking in the direction of the top field, so missed the fourth goose.
Had one of my riding trips in Celista! Our friend Annette has several Icelandic horses and runs a very successful riding business with many of her riders being people who come to the Shuswap in the summer to camp or visit their summer homes on the Lake and fit riding into their schedule. It's an all round lesson as you first catch your horse, then tie it up and groom it, checking the feet also in case rocks are trapped, then get the tack and tack up, ride, come back, take tack off, put saddle pad to dry from sweat, wash bit, brush where saddle was, give small treat (which all the horses know is coming!), then return the horse to its pasture. That way you learn a lot more than when I rode in England and your horse was presented to you tacked up and ready to go, plus taken from you on return, except for the odd occasion when it had rained and we were allowed to dry the horses off with straw.
Vet trip for Meyja for hip x-rays - we plan to breed her on her next heat.
Had the ewes out - took my eyes off them for a few minutes and they were gone through to Bonnie's farm! Needless to say the A-Cat shot off to find them and get them back. I have finally learned to ride it and now wonder why I thought it always wanted to turn left when I got on it - it seems to go straight now and saves a lot of foot time! Fleece is looking really nice now - too bad that when I'm throwing hay in in the winter, what was a clear spot when I launched the flake always seems to have a ewe move into it as the flake is in mid air!! Our donkey Arthur walked about for quite some time with a flake on his rump when I misfired again!
On to September!
July Farm Update 2011
The beginning of July was exciting because three of the four of Gletta and Narri's puppies were leaving for their new homes. We were keeping Fjari, the little boy, to add to our breeding program.
July 2nd saw Kola leave for her new home. Her new owners had driven from Calgary to pick her up and left very happily with her. We were very fortunate with this litter as all new owners were driving to our farm to get their puppies and none of them had to leave on a plane!
I notice early Sunday morning was spent, as it frequently is, watching Cesar Milan's show on dog problems. I don't think I've ever watched his shows without learning something about how to deal with the multitude of issues that can arise around dogs and the situations that arise in their homes.
July 5th another big day - annual sheep shearing! Much later this year as the wet weather had put everything, including sheep shearing, considerably behind. Phil has always let us know that the sheep fleece must be dry for him for shearing because when wet, it gives off a chemical reaction that makes him sick. Anyway luckily we had a dry spell and everything went really well. Our next new puppy owners arrived from Swift Current in the middle of it, so got to see first hand what sheep shearing is like! It's always amusing afterwards because it takes a little while for the lambs to discover which are their mothers as the normal familiar smell has gone!
Eydis met her new owners and once again we were most appreciative that they had driven all the way from Saskatchewan to pick up their puppy. Marilyn arrived with some marvellous home made treats for Eydis and the other puppies - they are made from a very healthy recipe and were much enjoyed all round.
July 6th saw the arrival of the third puppy owner, mother of Megan who has one of our earlier puppies and brought Aussie for the visit. They also had relatives visiting from Australia, so we much enjoyed showing them all the animals on the farm and they left happily with Dalla. Quite lonely for Fjari without his littermates.
July 7th saw me off to the coast for the annual trip to The Alders on Vancouver Island. Norm was headed for Enderby to pick up eggs for the incubator and encountered a huge thunderstorm on the trip home. It's always a shame if this happens as we have two dogs in particular who are terrified of thunder and lightening and by the time Norm got back, Alfur had managed to get out of his crate and vanished. So luckily Marjorie, who lives opposite near the top of the mountain, was driving up the road with her daughter and saw him and apparently he was delighted to hop into her truck!
The week on the Island was great as usual although we hardly saw the sun at all. When you spend the rest of the year outside, weather isn't as important, but it is for all those who spend most of the year indoors. We always visit several farms and at one we bought some strawberry plants, everbearing, suitable for hanging baskets. Unfortunately mine weren't hanging when the deer came by during the night and thoroughly enjoyed them! The deer on the Island are different from the ones we have here - smaller and extremely pretty and it looks so strange to see them walking through peoples' gardens showing virtually no fear of anything.
On one of my early morning phone calls home, I wished I hadn't called! Apparently most of the horses had managed to get out, which was quite a nightmare for one person to deal with! Fortunately the mares and foals were still fenced, as was our stallion Fleygur, but I gathered it wasn't an enjoyable experience!
July 16th - return to the coast with supper in Maple Ridge and visit with the twins en route home the next day. Merritt was the exchange spot for our Jersey beef coming from the farm via Riverside Meats to various friends and relatives at the coast.
We also bought our daughter Lisa's dog Baldur, one of our Icelandics, back with us for a visit while Lisa and family were away on vacation. He is a marvellous cream/white colour with the best tail of any Icelandic I've seen and lots of white feathers at the back which look gorgeous until it rains, or he eats something that doesn't quite agree with his stomach! His favourite spot in our house was on the landing where he could see us most of the time!
The saddleback geese are growing really well and while cleaning out our Jersey cow Maria's little barn, heard a loud splash! One of the geese having a swim in Maria's water bowl!
Obviously my gate knotting isn't always satisfactory as I opened the kitchen door to see the gate into the paddock where the mares and foals should be wide open. They hadn't gone far, were really enjoying the garden grass and had very kindly avoided eating the flowers! We took the hint and moved them into the front field, where the grass was just about at the right height for them and the two little foals have had a marvellous time running around out there.
I separated the lambs from their mothers and this has had a great benefit when letting the separate groups out to graze, as they don't want to be apart from one another for too long. So we haven't yet encountered the problem of them heading into Bonnie's vacant farm next door, vacant of people that is, but not of coyotes!
Karen and I had our annual cherry and raspberry picking trip to Salmon Arm. We were advised to be there at 7, which had one drawback. There had been some overnight showers, we were the only ones there, and swarms of mosquitoes were waiting for us! Other than that, it was very successful!
I've also been very busy painting! - pictures, not the house! Our neighbour Marjorie, who lives near the top of the mountain opposite us, has opened The Ploughman - a breakfast and lunch marvellous stop on Victoria Street in Kamloops and has requested some farm-type paintings to decorate her walls, so my paints and brushes are once again in action!
Still waiting for summer weather to arrive!
June Farm Update 2011
June started with all the sheep and lambs escaping and most went in different directions, which made for an interesting roundup. No comment on not having trained any of our sheepdogs for this job yet!
Fleygur was getting anxious about being by himself, as we had moved him to an area with very nice 2 x 6s as he had been making a habit of removing rails in his paddock shared with Krafla and going off for some grass and visiting any horses close enough! So we chose Mugga, who nearly always stays a little apart from the herd, so as Fleygur is so friendly and Mugga is a blue dun and has had some very nice foals, she joined Fleygur and he settled down happily with a friend!
June seems to be escape month! Saw more legs than I expected in the vicinity of the sheep! The three geldings in the top paddock were out for a trip! We are fortunate in that food seems to be the way to most of our animals' hearts and they were happy enough to follow the grain bucket back. Fleygur is always pleased to oblige like this!
June 6th was a memorable day! Meat chickens for us and my daughter Karen, who had raised 80, to head to the chicken butchering and inspection people way up the hill in Pritchard. This coincided with the engine needing to be replaced in Karen's truck and Norm not being able to drive! Chickens due after supper when it became apparent the truck was a no-go and it was decided I should drive them all in our horse trailer! Since I have only driven it once, on a nice flat paved road, and this was up a really steep hill and on arrival an even steeper hill to the unloading spot, not to mention backing up a steep bank to turn the trailer around, decided I was not the one to do it!! I think I'd still be there now! So our grandson Kyle offered. Then we had to load nearly 100 chickens and they weren't keen on it! While unloading them at the other end, the wooden door for the unloaded chickens' crate came down on my head, so I left with a goose egg - and the Canucks lost - not a good evening!
We had fence posts laid out and were awaiting the arrival of Lee and his wife to do quite a bit of fencing for us. Norm had originally put all our fence posts in by hand and there were many of them - but those days of doing that are now gone.
June 10th was the big day in two ways - fencing started and it was graduation for our twin grandchildren Brandon and Erin. Always a huge turning point in life when grade school is finished and plans for future careers are under way. The graduation ceremony was great, as was the dinner at the Quaaout Lodge.
June 13th - much anticipated arrival of Krafla's foal! So pretty, a little grey and white pinto, at least at the moment. As with our Icelandic sheepdogs, we've had some interesting colour changes as time has gone on. Our Icelandic horses have always been such good mothers and it's always enjoyable to watch them.
Posts also went in for the permanent home of the four Saddleback Geese! They always patrol the grounds together and look really great! They have a paddling pool for times that they feel like going for a swim.
I had a nice riding trip as friends of ours have Icelandic horses in Celista and I sometimes go to ride with Annette, which is always enjoyable. Then on to other friends of ours who are close by and also have Icelandic horses, actually starting with one of ours, an art gallery and who now operate Celista Estates Winery on their property. I didn't drink and drive though!
This was also the time for mineral oil on some of the mares' manes, which seem to manage to get tangled fairly regularly.
Still lots of rain, which bodes well for pasture grass, water in the well and lessens the chances of forest fires. Still a lot of mud underfoot everywhere.
Have been spending quite a lot of time painting again. Our neighbour Marjorie, who lives with a large variety of animals near the top of the mountain opposite us, is opening The Ploughman - a restaurant on Victoria Street in Kamloops, and asked if I would like to do some farm type paintings for the walls! So am busy with that.
Also our Arctic Cat is fixed once again, which allows for a lot speedier checking of fences then on foot!
Still waiting for summer!
May Farm Update 2011
May 1st - trip to Merritt to pick up our egg incubator to start on a new venture! Always a fun trip as there are many old wooden buildings on the journey - will attach some pictures. Also Clarence indicated he was expecting some Saddleback Geese, so we will be back there.
May 2nd - first humming bird sighting, quite a bit later than usual but as it has been such a cold, wet spring, not surprising.
Gletta was making her nest on the 2nd and on the 3rd she had four lovely puppies - pictures of proud but tired mother to follow!
May 5th was my annual visit to Salmon Arm to pick up our hanging baskets. This is always a great visit and the truck looks like a florist's shop on the way home. Now our houses look like one with all our baskets. Some I buy and some I make up and the combination gives a lot of pleasure all through the summer and receives considerable praise from visitors.
Kolla was in heat again and we kept our fingers crossed for a breeding with Kolur, but once again no luck.
May 10th off to Merritt again to pick up the Saddleback Geese goslings following a speedy construction of house and run for them. They were so pretty, just like little yellow balls of fluff. Also stopped on the way back to take some pictures of a marvellous old ranch and the horses living there.
Our stallion Fleygur has become an expert at removing rails from his paddock and going for a trip around, so we finally moved him to a more secure spot!
We made a trip to Rivers Gallery in Kamloops where they were featuring a new BC wildlife artist, Dennis Meyer, and he had the most
marvelous painting, one of his latest, exhibited there. It is called 'Master of the North' and is of a wolf in a snowy setting, the wolf looking as if it could get up and walk out of the painting. His website also has some really good singing he does as a backup!
Early May 18th saw the horses in the top field chasing what I thought was a small black bear, but it was followed by a small white one and then some spotted ones, so realized all the ewes had made an escape! Luckily the shaking of a tub of grain, accompanied by yelling 'woollies' brought them running back and left the horses wondering who had visited.
May 23rd - huge surprise! Normally Vindstorna was always the first at the gate when feeding her group of four horses - this morning no sign of her - most unusual. I called, nothing, so decided to check the shed and there she was standing with a small foal beside her! I had been thinking she looked a little tubbier than usual and wondered why but Fleygur had not been in with the mares and they were behind a four foot high fence with a rail along the top and the wire was page wire, so how he ever managed to breed her through that on one of his night excursions is a complete mystery. The little foal was just gorgeous and is very friendly.
Overall a pretty damp month but great for pasture grass.
April Farm Update 2011
It's almost impossible to believe that the most surprising piece of April news is that we had our first local forest fire! We had come back from Chase around lunchtime and wondered about the clouds of smoke on the side of the mountain down and to the left of us, but assumed it was the chap who has his farm down there burning off brush. This didn't seem unreasonable since we've had rain on and off repeatedly since the snow thaw, although a windy day. However, as the day went on, the smoke increased - considerably - and by four o'clock the familiar procession of helicoptors was circling around.
By now neighbours were phoning to see if we could see a fire! We could. We could see various spots where flames were obvious and our neighbour, who lives near the top of the mountain opposite us and has a spectacular view of what is going on from her vantage point phoned to say some new people had bought the property above Dave's and were apparently clearing it and had three fires going - actually considerably more by then. They might have got away with it but there was a fairly strong wind, i.e. not the day to have a fire of any kind.
It so happened that our stallion Fleygur found the excitement too much for him and managed to get a rail down and get out around 4:30 a.m. and when we went to get him, there was a very good view, in the dark, of orange glows in various spots on the side of the mountain. Just lucky that it was early in the year and a lot of the area was still wet and the fire was under control on Sunday.
April 4th - still snowing! We won't see our snowdrops til June most likely.
Our farrier paid a quick visit - he is an avid hunter - and reported that wolves are returning to this area.
April also saw the arrival of our meat chickens - they always look so sweet when they are little yellow balls of fluff. It's surprising how quickly they grow. They start in the heated confines of our workshop, huddled under the heat lamp with a blanket over the top, but it isn't long before feathers start to develop and they don't need as much heat. We learned our lesson last year, thinking they should have free choice food, and ended up with chickens that weighed around 10 lbs! Also lost some because they gained weight too quickly. So this year their food went in in the morning and out in the evening and the weights were far more reasonable.
The weather was still cold and start of April saw the well frozen again, also the tractor! Still snowing! Lots of fresh snow made the coyote and cougar tracks quite apparent. We always appreciate our Great Pyrenees Misty, who roams on our property at night and keeps visitors away.
Winter ice finally off the porch deck and less risky to cross it! Snow starting to thaw and my procession of shavings going out to the horses in the muddiest spots. This is a disappointing process because it's hard work and everything looks great for a short period of time, then it rains and it's all mud again,
We had planned to take Sleipnir to Alberta, as he was going to his new home, but once again snow delayed the plans, both here and there.
Headed for the Armstrong Vet with Gletta because after she looked so huge at the end of her last pregnancy and only had one puppy, we wanted to have a better idea this time, so were having her x-rayed. She was about the same size but this time the x-ray showed four puppies, which was more reasonable for her size. We also got the results of the health checks for our Eurasier Enya - OFA good on hips, normal on elbows and patellas, and very good, 51 out of possible 52 for thyroid, CERF Normal.
Lambs are still arriving and appreciate being shut in their shed with lots of straw as it was still cold outside.
Our granddaughters arrived for Easter, which was a great treat. They are always a huge help at the farm. We had a Smokey roast in the front field, with marshmallows for desert, which they really enjoyed.
April 28th - still snowflakes! Birds have gone through masses of suet flakes and black oil sunflower seeds this winter!
Oh for spring!
March 2011 Farm Update
Winter is still with us - snow and more snow! One interesting thing every morning with fresh snow is to check the tracks of the overnight wildlife visitors who have been round and about. There has been a considerable variety of sizes in the coyotes visiting, from fairly small to really large. Norm came across three large coyotes sharing our top field with some of the horses. By the time he came back with the camera they'd moved to an area behind our sheep, but one headed back to the horses in the top field and when he turned around, the other two were stalking him! I was looking for a picture of them, but apparently he didn't wait to take one!
Our neighbour who lives near the top of the mountain opposite us came across cougar tracks from a very large one. We took pictures of the tracks for positive confirmation. Also several people with farms around have seen wolves, which seem to be coming back after a long absence.
Bird feeders have been extremely busy with black oil sunflower seeds the great favourite. Stellar's jays and chickadees are always looking for peanuts and the grey jays consume huge quantities of dog crumbles. Luckily the cold weather keeps the cats huddled in their greenhouse, or they would be on the prowl for a bird, though I've found the Christmas tree has done a great job of protecting the jays' food on the deck rails! There was a considerable amount of consternation at the bird bath in the morning, because it was always a sheet of ice and quite a bit of slipping and unsuccessful pecking took place before water arrived to replace the ice.
Our Eurasier Enya loves the arrival and unloading of round bales before they are moved and turned on their sides, as it gives her great agility opportunities and she loves to jump up on them.
We have two adjoining winter paddocks, one with one mare, two fillies and a gelding who lives happily with them, and the other with two mares and last year's foals. They are very used to one another, having shared a fence all winter, however, during one night they managed to knock the gate down between them and a considerable amount of consternation resulted. This created a lot of barking from our German Shepherd and by the time I decided to get up and, armed with flashlight, go and
investigate, both groups had changed sides! This was quite convenient, so I
resurrected the gate and order was restored and our Shepherd Heidi was pleased to be able to go back to sleep!
March 22nd saw the arrival of our first baby lamb! It was really interesting because her mother has certain light tan patches in the black at various places on her body and her little ewe lamb had the identical same markings. March 26th 2nd little ewe lamb arrived, black and white spotted, still well below zero so was pleased all sheep were shut in their shed.
The end of March saw me heading to the coast for a short visit with the twins. Great fun outside looking for snails and we found lots of half acorn shells which made nice little boats floating in the puddles!
Looking forward to spring arriving!
February 2011 Farm Update
February continued with lots of snow - so unlike last February. It's always interesting that when the snow is falling, it soon builds up on the horses' backs but once the snow stops, it only takes a very short time for it to disappear off their backs, so the camera has to be ready at the right moment!
Coyotes have been making a number of fairly close visits, but not as close as to my daughter who moved recently to the suburbs in Maple Ridge, where a coyote is sometimes right outside their house! They have a very large Akita who was somewhat nonplussed at the first visit, but shot to the end of his long line and then off it into the bush for the chase when the second visit happened!
The number of eggs, very large dark brown, or blue and or olive, seem to bear some relationship to the temperature, even though both chicken houses have heaters. We're looking forward to a more predictable number! The order has gone in for our meat chickens. There is no comparison in the flavour and texture between home raised and store bought!
While there is still a lot of snow, the temperature certainly hasn't plummeted and has hovered around -10 for quite a few days. This has resulted in the appearance of a very large number of birds, lots of Pine Siskins, even Red Winged Blackbirds appearing earlier than usual, a variety of Woodpeckers, the usual Grey Jays and Blue Jays, many Chickadees, Yellow Grosbeaks, etc. Some of the roofs appeared a bit overloaded, so we were very fortunate in that Marjorie (who lives towards the top of the mountain opposite us) had a visit from her son, who had cleared off all her roofs and was looking for some more to do! We were delighted to see him!
We were also delighted to have a visit from our farrier Warren, (even though it was -19 and I thought it might be too cold for him and that the hoofs would be frozen!) who always arrives with many stories of the various cougars around, and some wolves now, although we haven't seen or heard the latter yet. It wasn't too cold for Warren!
Great excitement as we had an enquiry from some friends of ours in Alberta who were thinking about getting our stallion Sleipnir. We can now confirm he will be going to Alberta in the spring. We were so happy about this because when you've had a horse for many years, you so badly want them to go to a home where they will receive lots of love and attention, which will be the case for Sleipnir! I told him he was going to a new home and he listened very attentively!
As the temperature went up and down, the ground got very slippery. The Icelandics are extremely surefooted and people ride them on ice in Iceland, but they do have special shoes with studs for it. Some of our horses have definitely slipped, but fortunately none have gone really flying, or at least not that we've seen. Some friends of ours weren't as fortunate and came out one morning to find their favourite gelding down with a broken leg, which couldn't be fixed.
We had another family visit, which was great. One of my nephews, Richard, and his wife Nancy and two sons had come from England to Sun Peaks for two weeks skiing and they visit us on the middle weekend. They didn't come last year, so there was a big difference in how much Jude and Luke had grown. Luke had one aim - to groom a horse - and since we had twenty-five for him to choose from, it wasn't going to be a problem! Except that he chose the donkeys! - and they had proceeded to a spot that meant we all had to work our way through virgin snow, at least two feet deep, to get to them! This attracted the attention of about ten horses, who decided to see what was going on! So it really wasn't a restful experience! I'm glad that they're thinking of coming in the summer for a different experience!
On Richard's previous visit, he dug out the chicken house door for me and helped dig out the horse trailer. This time he and Norm headed off with the chain saw to take down some skinny trees and repair the rails between the mares and foals and the four horses next door! He's probably wondering what will be lined up for the next visit!
All appearances are looking good for Gletta to be in heat soon. We have the appointment made for hips, elbows and patellas for Enya in March.
Farm Update January 2011
These pictures of Kelinn (son of Tryna and Kolur) from Bob and Holly Stirling make a marvellous start for 2011! I'll never forget the first pictures Bob sent of Kelinn when he was just a puppy wearing his fluorescent orange snow bootees - ideal for the temperatures in the Whitehorse area! I think it's cold here and then get a message from Bob telling me what his temperature is! It is really interesting to know what very different lives some of our puppies have.
Already a lot of snow has fallen and makes every job take a great deal longer, the worst being fresh falls overnight when pulling the hay by toboggan can take quite a while! What speeds you up is the anticipation, noise with the horses and sheep, as you get closer!
On the subject of noise, the dogs haven't quite adjust to the roosters crowing very early! Hence when visitors are here, I have to get up even earlier than usual, which is at five, to stop the dogs barking. Thought they would have been used to it by now, but not so. Our new chickens are laying really well now and their houses are winterized with a mixture of fleece and straw to keep the wind out, and heated with heat lamps.
This was one of many coyote visits. Our Great Pyrenees Misty keeps them from coming close and neither they nor the horses took any notice of one another.
Great visitor excitement for us as my brother Neville and his wife Lois came from England at the beginning of January. We thought this would be a hard time to find interesting things to do but not so! Firstly they loved all the animals and my brother was most interested in helping with the feeding! We visited Sun Peaks as, not being
skiers, they'd never been to a skiing resort before, unlike two of their sons who ski in Europe and Sun Peaks every winter!
Also Marjorie, who lives a long way up the mountain opposite us, has many rescue animals, horses, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, etc., and has a very old house on her property that she and her son restored, so visiting there is like going into a museum! Also her former old house sadly burned down and she, almost single handedly, built a new house with a solar heating system, also very interesting.
Much snow removal went on during January and my brother plans to add expertise in this area to his resume. The tractor was busy on the drive, sometimes via the ditch! The birds anxiously watch for the deck rails to be cleared and the dog crumbles (for Gray Jays) and peanuts for the Steller Jays and many smaller birds. This year I'm going to try and be sure and get photographs of all the birds that visit us, some year round and some seasonal. I have noticed in the really cold January weather that even though their food is available, they don't come to eat until it warms up a little.
On our last trip to Chase for round bales, three fell off on the way home, plus their tiedown. By the time Norm went back to check, the one that had rolled down the bank was still there but someone had taken the two round bales that were close to the road and the tie down. Quite sad I thought that someone who knew they weren't their bales and they were for someone's horses would feel free to take them.
Two of our mares and one of the stallions have been off their food a little, lying down when they don't usually. They were fine by the next day but when you're used to certain behaviour from certain animals, it's always a concern when it's different.
Must admit that the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament is a highlight of January! - though it does bring to mind the great devastation from flooding and cyclones that the Australian people are suffering.
Years ago I used to paint, in the days when I had a little more free time, however, this year will be my painting year and I'll be happy to show some of my pictures. My January one will be Sundance, a commission for someone's gelding!
1049 Hepburn Rd
Chase, B.C. Canada V0E 1M1