Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there. The kids had been making plans for a few days and we actually did more celebrating on Saturday. They made cakes and gave presents, they really love their mom, and so do I.

I don’t always portray my affection or my appreciation to her very well, but she is a fantastic mother to our children. I am forever grateful to have such a wonderful wife.

We basically took the day off Sunday. By that I mean we cleaned house and did laundry. My mom dropped in for a visit in the afternoon and we had a great time fellowshipping.

It is good to stop and appreciate what you have and to be thankful for all your blessings.

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A great family photo from New Mexico.  

Kicked the Chicks Out

We picked up the few things needed from the hardware store this morning and got busy with the chicken coop.  We made fairly good progress and should be able to have it finished in the next couple of days.  We are building Justin Rhodes’ Chickshaw from his Permaculture Chickens book.

If you are not familiar with Justin, he and his family homestead in North Carolina and recently finished a Great American Farm tour where they visited all fifty states.  They were looking at all the backyard and small time farmers and learning some great ways of doing things.  They shared all of this with us through a daily vlog on youtube.  You can check it out here.

The chickshaw takes shape

I had a couple helpers today.  The boys helped with hammering and even sawing the wood.  They had a great time and I hope they learned something too.  Hopefully they want to keep going and help me to finish this thing.

My helpers today

We kicked the chicks out of the house as, quite frankly, they stink.  We didn’t appreciate the fresh barn smell coming from the closet anymore and as they seem to be thriving outside we felt comfortable doing this.  I set up a temporary pen out in the shed (the shed is insulated) with their heat lamp and they seem to like the extra space.

Temporary housing for chicks

Checked on them in the morning and I don’t think they slept, they just ate.  I don’t know if maybe I should shut the heat lamp off at night so they roost and just have the oil heater on low?  I’ll try that tonight.

The trees are finally showing their leaves and it raises all our spirits dramatically.  Unfortunately the mosquitoes are out and with all the standing water around here I am worried we are going to be over-run soon.

Starting the Coop, Putting the Chicks Outside

We took the chicks outside the last couple days. The sun was out and the temperature hit a nice 21 degree and 23 degree day. In fact I (and a couple kids) managed to get sun burnt.

We put up some temporary fences and brought the portable brooder outside. The chicks were not into it at first and I had to put them out on the grass a couple times. It wasn’t long and they were having a blast (at least it looked like they were enjoying themselves) rooting around in the grass.

We put them over a garden spot the second day and they went to work tilling the dirt and taking care of an ant hill. They are much happier outside (and so are we).

We got started on the coop, went as far as we can without going to the farm store. I also am repurposing an old gazebo into a chicken tractor. Also need to go to the farm store to finish this project.

The sprouts are doing great. I’m going to have to put some in pots sooner than later. Or I might take a risk and put them in the ground we will just have to watch the weather and cover them if necessary. The two week forecast looks favourable (we all know how trustworthy that is), but I am hesitant. I would rather transplant once rather than twice, but I don’t want to risk losing our crop either.

Small Farm Life

One of our chicks died. Not sure why as they all seemed quite healthy in the morning when I checked on them. Around lunch we noticed one seemed lethargic and sickly. We separated it from the rest and tried to nurse it back.

It would take water and seemed to revive a bit and then would just lay there not moving. A couple hours later it was gone, much to the sadness of the children.

The rest seem to be thriving and doing well, so if we only lose one out of twenty six I think that is pretty good.

I have to get my butt in gear and build a bigger coop as they are going to quickly out grow this one. The garden sprouts are doing well, even the stuff the kitty knocked over. In fact some of it is doing too well. The general rule of thumb up here in northern Alberta is to not plant until after May long weekend as it almost always snows then (or at least one last frost).

The prairie chicken in the back yard spent the better part of the day perched on his stump calling all the single ladies. Not sure how long until they show up, but it’s pretty neat to watch him from the window. The robins are out in force and my mom said she saw some redwing blackbirds today, so spring is definitely here.

We built homemade perogies with my mom. This is a family favourite and something we don’t make very often, but man were they tasty. I lost count of how many I ate. They are especially good with a cream gravy and some farmer sausage.

Farm life has its ups and downs, I am so blessed to be able to spend this time with my family and am thankful for every moment.

Chick Days!

The chicks are here! We picked them up after lunch on Tuesday, much to the delight of the children. We ordered 25 mixed Rhode Island Red chickens and ended up with 26! We won’t know how many hens and roosters we have until they are about 3 months old (according to the internet).

They are a hoot to watch. Really active already, running around the brooder and pecking at everything. So far they have all survived and are looking healthy. They have appetites like our kids 😉.

We have some grouse (prairie chicken) in the yard too. The one male perches out on a stump, fluffs up and beats his wings on his chest. The whump whump he generates is quite loud and can be heard in the house. Our first spring on the acreage we heard the noise and couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Mating season apparently.

There is a prairie chicken in this photo

The kitten has managed to knock two of our seed trays on the floor in the last two days. I think we managed to save them, but makes me a bit grumpy. The sprouts are looking strong and I hope we can transplant them soon. My garden beds are still under water (and snow) though so we need some drying out.

Spring is finally here and we couldn’t be more excited (except for the mosquitos).

Getting Ready

We received a phone call yesterday from the hatchery saying they would have a batch of chickens ready early and asking if we would like them. Well of course! The sooner we get them the sooner we can start harvesting eggs.

But we ain’t ready.

We’ve picked up some of the stuff we need, but we don’t have a brooder or a coop ready. We’d been gathering the materials needed for building one, but also waiting for the snow to go away to start.

So we built a porta-brooder. A plastic tub with a door cut into the side and air holes in the sides and we are done.

We will get to work on a coop for when they are bigger, but we can get them used to being on the grass and acclimated to outside so it isn’t a big adjustment for them.

We started a bunch of seeds and they are coming up nicely. Hopefully we can get them into the ground soon.

Hanging with John

(March 14-24)

We are in Washington state near Bellingham for the last week visiting with our friend John and his family. We first met John back in Arizona and adopted each other as family.

John has taken us site seeing to a couple of beaches and other touristy attractions. We’ve shared several meals with his family and have formed a lifelong friendship.

Canada is an hour away from here, but we are waiting for a break in the weather to head for home (13 hours driving according to google maps) as they are getting a dump of snow currently.

London Bridge….and Uranus

A few of us took a trip into Lake Havasu City today to have a look around with our a couple friends from BC (Marideth and Laurel stayed back with the dog).  The drive to Lake Havasu City from Parker is spectacular; it reminds me of the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia. Lake Havasu itself is spread out over a long distance and is definately a tourist destination.

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Missing Marideth

The drawing feature of this town is the London Bridge.  Apparently a developer brought the bridge over from London and reassembled it back in the sixties.  I had no idea it was here until our friend John mentioned it a couple months back.  I have to say it is a sight to see.

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Titus at the Channel watching the ducks.
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We walked over to the other side

The area along the channel under the bridge is very nice, and it’s free!  There is lots of areas to walk around and enjoy the bridge and water without having to spend anything.  I did’t get to read all the plaques and signs as we had Titus with us, and he’s three…and busy.

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A fountain in the middle of London Square.

We had a good time wandering around and will definately be back.  After we got home, and after supper we got to see Uranus in the west above the setting sun.  First time I’ve seen that!

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Uranus is right in the middle between the power lines.

We are here for another day and then we are going to give dry camping a go on the other side of Lake Havasu City.

On The Road Again

There was a show on the CBC when I was a kid called “On the Road Again with Wayne Rostad” and the theme song from that show was playing in my brain all night last night.

“Here we are, here we go / down the highway down the road. / Hello neighbors, hello friends / here we are on the road again!” At least that’s how I remember it.

As you can probably guess we hit the road today.  We’ve been stationary since the American Thanksgiving and I think we have missed it a little bit.

It took us two days to get everything put away and the rig ready to roll again.  We had a lot of great people to say goodbye to and I have to say that we will look back on our time in Huachuca City with great fondness.

It was a long travel day today.  We left at around 10:30 am drove just over 500 km to get here by 5:30 pm.  Lots of really cool scenery to look at and the weather was fantastic (above 20 degrees celcius).  The wind did pick up this afternoon and made driving a bit more difficult, but not crazy.

We met up some friends at the RV park and will be here for a couple of days.  We can see California out the window and there is an orange tree beside us with fruit on it.  Needless to say the kids are quite excited.  We are looking forward to exploring the area as we begin our journey home.

Hope you all have a great night and thanks for stopping by.IMG_0779

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All Good Things…

Our time here is quickly coming to an end.  We have a week left before we start making our way home.  It is hard to believe that we’ve been here for three months already.  Our time here has been amazing and will be with us for a long time. It will be hard to say goodbye.

We have mixed feelings about leaving. We’ve built so many great relationships and have grown extremely comfortable here. In a sense we feel like this is home. At the same time there is an overall feeling of restlessness among all of us. A desire to get back on the road and have some more adventure.

This week has been spent getting the vehicle ready for the drive back.  We had the windshield replaced in Sierra Vista, and had the oil changed in Huachuca City. I flushed out the hot water tank and installed a new anode rod. This is something we have never dealt with as we hardly used our trailer before this year and it showed.

I will be doing the vinegar flush when we get home to get rid of the rest of the scale.

We will spend the next few days cleaning out the bus and trailer, trying to get everything back in it’s home. We also need to decide which way we are going home. The weather is probably the biggest factor we have to consider. Currently we are leaning towards the west coast route but still have some planning to do.

Made this in the instant pot the other night. Probably the best meal we’ve made with that thing since we acquired it. http://pressureluckcooking.com/recipe/instant-pot-steak-tidbits/

I hope to have more frequent updates and posts as we travel. Until next time…