A Few Inside Pictures

Not all of my house is camera ready at the same time, unfortunately. I really wish it was, but with three smalls who love rearranging their stuff, and mine, on a regular basis, it gets difficult to keep up.  So these pictures were not all taken recently, but not much has changed, other than being a lot messier now.

This is the “library”.

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We call it that cause it contains the majority of our books.  It’s also my sewing room and the kids play there too, which causes all sorts of organizational nightmares.

This is the other side, opposite the bookshelves.  The cupboards hold my vast fabric stash. Ha! Not really.  I also have a couple of bins under the sewing table on the other wall, which I neglected to take a picture of at the time, probably because it was an embarrassing mess. Now it’s even worse.

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This room really needs in intervention.  I caught it on a good day.  My sewing table is buried under stuff under the window, and the opposite wall has a bookshelf with the kid’s books and some of their treasures, and their play kitchen beside it.  And a couple of huge picture frames leaning against the wall.

This room serves mostly as a storage facility and hallway to the master bedroom, and the bookshelves serve as our wall until we get around to building one.  Too bad that’s waaaaaay at the bottom of our priority list right now.

This room is much better.

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I’ve never had a guest room that looked this nice.  Scratch that.  I’ve never had a guest room.  We squeeze all the kids into one room so that I can have one room in the house that always looks good.  And it’s not even finished.  The walls need another coat of paint, but we were just using up the leftovers from the entire upstairs and the colour is going to change anyway.  The blinds were whipped together using some curtains I already had and didn’t need anywhere else.  I just cut them to fit the window and sewed a hundred little rings on the back to make roman blinds, cause the sun beats in all afternoon and turns the room into a sauna.  They’re not the right colour, but they work.

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And the headboard I built way back when I was still a teenager is getting put to use!  And I just noticed it’s backwards.  The curtains are just sheets that I opened the ends of the top hem on and slid them onto the rods.  Easiest and cheapest curtains ever.  One day I will get around to showing you how I made the curtain rods for the entire downstairs for less than the cost of one curtain rod.

There’s also a dresser with a whole empty drawer!  This mirror was a share shed find that I spray painted with some leftover paint.  The clay bowl and pitcher were also from the share shed, unfinished.  I did the painting behind it.

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And here’s a little glimpse of my bathroom.  I took this one just to show the shower curtain I found after a few months of looking for one I liked.  It was only $11 from Jysk, which is in another town.  I had to get a friend to pick it up while she was there.

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That’s it for now.  I have a few pictures of the dining room, but they’re scattered around and need to be uploaded here first.

And right now, Sadie needs me to find her reader cause if she finds it, she doesn’t have to do the laundry.  Muahaha.  Motivation comes in many forms.

 

Summer Catch Up

Now that it’s winter.

Sometimes I wish I had something to work on while the kids are doing their school work and don’t need help every second.  And to be a good example to them, you know?  To show them that I do work too.  And with a good attitude and everything.

So I fought through moving the photos around and resizing them and uploading them to the blog (with a good attitude, I think) while helping the kids every second with their math and corresponding with a puppy buyer (we have puppies for sale) and buying a few songs for Darryl on the other laptop.  I’m nothing if not a good example of a hard worker.

So here’s an overview of our summer!

I’m actually starting in the middle cause I think I covered some of it in another post and cause everything before this is a blur.  All I remember is mowing the grass a lot and dragging the hose all around the house every morning to water the amazing plants I was given from the greenhouse up the road.

So we’ll start with our mini family reunion.  Here’s Darryl’s sister Cheri and brother-in-law Brian setting up their hotel.

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Auntie Anne came as well, and a couple days later, Grandma and Grandpa showed up too!

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We rode horses.

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Milked cows.

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Went canoeing.

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With and without the children.

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Went on a picnic.

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Played in a river.

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Explored a ghost town.

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Cuddled kitties.

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Went swimming.

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I’m hoping we can host more reunions here.  It really is a perfect place for it.

After that, we did a bit of kite flying.

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Trike riding.

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Storm watching.

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Poultry fencing.

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Hay hauling.

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Bushwhacking (Grasswhacking?).

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Horse riding.

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And whatever you call this.  Pants-around-your-ankles walking?

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Yup, that was our summer.  It was pretty good.

 

Not Important

I am breaking my blog silence with a totally unimportant and silly post.  See, there’s this website called Better After that shows makeovers.  Mostly of furniture.  I catch up on it once in a while because the author is so funny.  She comes up with the most funny and creative post titles and her writing style is sarcastic and hilarious.

Anyway, she has an annual Ugly Lamp contest where you get to vote in several rounds of ugly lamps, and finally, vote for the ugliest lamp of all.

There was this super ugly lamp at the Share Shed in town, so I snapped a picture and sent it to her.  She replied, “HAAAAAAAA! Ok, this one made me laugh out loud.  What in the world???!!!  Thanks so much for submitting this Rebekah, it’s hilariously terrible!”

And then I forgot all about it.

Until this morning when I clicked on her website and found the Ugly Lamp contest results.

No, my lamp didn’t win.

Told you this was unimportant.

But my lamp make it into the competition!  It was in the 3rd round, but it was up against some of the nastiest, worst lamps on the planet, so I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t win.

I know you’re on the edge of your seat to see the ugliness of this lamp I found, so click here and scroll down to entry number 18.  Don’t forget to read the commentary on all these lamps.  And if you want to see the winning lamp, click here!

FYI, these lamps are pretty horrific.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yay Updates!

Hello!  I cannot believe how fast time flies.  I have a few updates for you.

1. After the winter off (looking for work but not finding any), Darryl got a job working for West Fraser Lumber Mill.  He’s been doing that for close to 3 months and he actually enjoys it!  He’s being trained on other equipment besides the entry level jobs, which he was expecting to have to work at for the first year like everyone else, but there are 5 guys under him already and he’s moving around to different areas.  I never thought it would work, but graveyard shifts are the best fit for us right now, and though he’s still technically on-call, they’ve been giving him full time graveyards.  They work because he only has to work 6 out of 8 hours and gets paid a teeny bit more, he’s home to see us in the morning before he goes to sleep, and up again around 4:30, so we see him more.  I also get the car during the day.  You know, if I really want to go to town or something.  Usually I just go around the lake to the library.

2. Sadie is finished homeschooling Kindergarten.  Except for Math.  We can do that slowly over the summer.  I still love using Sonlight.  I’m using some of my government funding to get a new laptop.  A MacBook Pro with retina display, to be more exact.  I’m so excited for that!

3. I got a new phone.  We both got new phones.  Mostly because our contracts were up and our 3 year old phones were getting a leeetle beet slow.  Darryl got the Samsung S6 and I got the HTC One M9.  Darryl’s is really slippery.  Mine has a 20MP camera.

4. Darryl bought me a present.  It starts with S and rhymes with “eel”.  It’s orange and white.  Give up?  It’s a Stihl!!  The weed whacker model (brand spanking new!).  I’ve needed one of these babies for like ever.  I trimmed all the 2 foot tall grass around the deck and posts and stairs, then started hacking a path down to the lake through grass as tall as me.  I made it halfway before I ran out of string and had to quit for the day.  Maybe I’ll get down to the lake tonight.  Then I can exhume the canoe from all the grass and weeds and go canoeing again.

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5. We LOVE living here.  Our house is a perfect size for us, it has a built in milking parlour and chicken coop, lots of places outside to sit (if I had more outdoor furniture, that is), a killer 180 view of the lake, more grass than my animals can possibly keep up with, more yard than I can possibly mow (with the old electric mower that came with the place…I need a ride on now!), awesome storms that you can watch coming for hours, an amazing community with great people, and the best librarian on the planet.

6. A bear killed our dog.  A couple months ago he must have heard a bear trying to cross our property down by the lake and went to tell him where to go.  The bear didn’t like what he said and got outta there, as soon as the threat (our dog) was incapacitated.  Kai died valiantly doing his job.

7. We got new dogs.  I found them on kijiji and they were brought down here for us to try out for a weekend.  They did something horrible every day so we asked for more time and tried them out for 2 weeks.  After a week they learned a few of the rules and settled down better, so we kept them.  They’re 2 year old Australian Shepherds, a male and female from different litters.  They’ve had one litter of puppies before we got them, so we’re hoping they will have more this summer.  The male is a very handsome red and white dog whose grandpa was a show dog.  His name is Jake.  The female is not quite so well bred but she makes up for it in sweetness.  Her name is Junie.  We didn’t name them.  Sorry for the horrible picture, but these two aren’t trained and don’t yet know how to stay.

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8. I got chicks the other day.  We do plan to get more layers this year too but I really wanted some prettier chickens that will raise their own babies.  I got 3 black orpingtons and 3 buff orpingtons.  They’re 2 weeks old already so I have even less time to build a pen for them until they’re big enough to join the 5 current laying hens.

9. The kids are doing great.  Sadie turned 6 and got a bike for her birthday, so she’s been busy riding that around.  She also likes to build forts outside, draw at least 8 pictures an hour, “read” books, and pick wildflowers for me.  Chad is 4 and plays with his cars for days and days and days.  Or he goes outside and plays with his cars.  Tirzah is walking finally.  She likes to push a plastic kids chair back and forth across the house, and she likes to go outside, but I have to carry her in the mornings.  In the afternoon she’s ok if I put her down.  She eats more bananas than a monkey.  Her eczema is mostly cleared up with a few itchy spots on her legs and some days her cheeks are a teensy bit red.

10. I can’t stop at 9 things so I’ll write a poem here for you.

Moola was a nice jersey cow

Who liked grass as tall as her lips

She ate so much that her head had to bow

But the grass still went straight to her hips

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Well that’s enough fun for now.  If you’re still following me, I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment telling me what you would name a baby (girl) calf if her mom’s name was Moola.

Pasture Status

I know… odd title, and it probably sounds boring.

When you have grazing animals, however, it becomes one of the most fascinating of topics.  One of those topics where the more you learn, the less you know.

I know nothing about it.  Except that other people are grazing their animals year round.  In the Yukon.  I want to know how to do that too.  And so I study.

I was talking to a local rancher’s wife who told me that around here, the best grazing anyone can get is 5 acres per head (of cows).  That was after I told her we thought we could get around 8 or 9 animals on our 10 acres of pasture.  I think she snorted on the inside.

I don’t think my numbers were too far off though, based on the grazing we got from the lower pasture last fall.

These pictures are a progression of snowmelt over the last month of so.  All the same section of the lower pasture.

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The property, as it stands today, could not handle 8 or 9 head, but I think the potential is there in a year or two with better grazing management.  There are patches of “grass” that haven’t recovered in the 2 years since they were overgrazed, other patches of mostly canada thistle, and areas with large burdock plants taller than me.  I have another garbage bag worth of burrs to pick off the lower pasture, and then I can start on the upper pasture.  The canada thistle is impossible to remove, so it will have to be choked out with lots of healthy grass.

The biggest problem I see with the traditional ranching methods is they don’t take into account what the grass does when it’s grazed.  The first bite is fine.  That’s when the roots “cut” themselves off to mirror the new size of the top of the plant and start decomposing, feeding the plant.  The next bite, taken a day or a few days later, is detrimental to the plant’s health and it has a hard time recovering.  If the plant is grazed to an inch high, the roots are only an inch long, making the plant susceptible to drought, trampling, or erosion.  The plant needs time to recover between bites and restore the root system.

I’ve seen this principle at work everywhere.  Have you ever noticed that ditches have the thickest, lushest, greenest grass, even in dry weather?  They might get mowed once or twice a season, and the grass clippings stay right there.  Compare that with a lawn.  They get chopped once or twice a week, and they need plenty of water and fertilizer to stay green through the summer.

When we lived in the bush, by daily rotations we were able to graze 2 horses for the summer on just over 2 acres of grass that was pretty thin in places.  We saw a huge improvement in the thickness and drought-tolerance of that grass over a few seasons.  We did have to rotate irrigation daily the first year and probably could have grazed longer the following year if we’d kept that up.  I spread composted manure on the main pasture every spring.

We moved here in the middle of August and set up a grazing rotation right away with electric fencing and step-in posts.  We didn’t move the fence behind them, so they had a new patch of grass everyday but still had access to the whole area.  We gave them a new strip the length of half the pasture every day, and once they were done one half, we let them into the other half and blocked off the first half completely.  Not the ideal way to do it, but we didn’t have enough posts at the time to build them an alleyway to reach the water trough at the gate.  Even so, before we moved them to the second half, the grass in the first half had started recovering and quickly grew to 6+ inches high before we started getting frost.  That lower pasture is probably around 2 ½ acres.  The second half was half thistle.  We grazed the cow and horse from mid August to mid November.  Three months.

If we never grazed the upper pasture, we could get a 3 month rotation from the lower, giving the grass 90 days to recover from the first bite.  By year 2, we would need more animals to keep up with it all.  Or we could hay it.  But that causes other issues because you’re removing all those nutrients off the land.  But that’s a whole other topic.

If we grazed 3 head, we could get a 60 day rotation.  If we pretend the upper pasture has the same amount of decent grass overall (it has a few issues), that would double our numbers to 6 head.  Next year the grass should be even better and the 6-ish acre upper pasture should allow us to handle a couple more.

There are other variables to consider.  We began grazing in mid-august, the driest time of year, except that last summer happened to be a wetter year.  We will get more posts so we can follow the animals with the fence and avoid that second bite before the grass recovers.  There are more nutrients on it now thanks to the animals, and the thistles have had a good trampling.

I’m so impressed with the grass coming back this spring in the lower pasture.

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The snow barely melted and it’s coming up thick and fast.  Better than anywhere else on the property, other than right beside the house where it didn’t get trimmed last year and it gets water every time it rains.  Last year’s grass is still there, protecting the soil and slowly adding nutrients as it decomposes.

We have lots of plans for animals this year, including turkeys and ducks and hopefully more cows.  But right now we’re trying to keep as much water (and nutrients) on our land as possible.  All the runoff is draining right through the property and going to the lake.  And with the little amount of snow we had, it might be a dry summer.

What Do We Do All Day?

This winter has been unique, not just because we moved to a new house in the middle of Nowhere BC.  We have other unique circumstances this season.  Darryl was laid off his construction job at the end of November and we’ve been living off EI since then.  He’s applied at the mine and the mills in town and had a couple of interviews and medical tests by one of the mills, but they may not tell him if he gets the job for up to several months!  Despite that, our winter has been awesome!  We love having Darryl home with us, and we’ve grown so much closer as a family.  God had been teaching us things that used to be such a mystery to us, and He’s opening our eyes to what we’ve been missing.  We are so grateful for His Word and for His amazing provision for us!

This new lifestyle agrees with us so much more than when we lived in the big city.  Our neighbours are becoming friends, we have TIME to do the things we love doing, and those things don’t usually require a lot of money.  We only need one vehicle at this point, and though we think a truck would still suit us better for getting hay and firewood, how else would we get to know the neighbours?

I find myself having a fuller social life than I did living in the city.  I play badminton at the hall across the lake once a week, attend a mom’s group at church, a home group at a friend’s house, and now started attending a ladies bible study just down the street.  There’s also a kids play group at the hall once a week, but I don’t usually go to that.  Those are just the regular functions.  I go riding with neighbours once in a while, and chat with the librarian when I return my books.

When I’m not out socializing, I can be found sitting by the fire…

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…improving my domestic skillz…

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…drinking earl grey (caffeinated or decaffeinated, depending on the time of day.  I’m not addicted to caffeine)…

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…playing with the kids…

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…reading to the kids (a major part of Sadie’s schooling)…

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…curating the art wall…

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…honing my craft…

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…taking goofy shots of the kids…

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…and self portraits (see the reflection in the eye.  No, I don’t think I look like a horse)…

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…and of course, making food…

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…and cleaning.

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Yep, that’s about it!  I wouldn’t change a thing.

Except the cooking and cleaning part.