It has been just over two and a half years since we made the leap from city to country, moving from our urban life with homesteading hopes, to the rural spread where we can fulfill our dreams. The first thing we did, was have a baby, and since then we have been trying to "homestead" and grow our own food. Here is a quick summary of a few of the homesteading-esque types things we are doing...Read More
Whether it is because we want to be self sufficient or because we are curious and thus want to try our hand at something new, I have been driven this past year with a desire to make as many things we need from scratch. Once you really start to think about it, and basically after you read Little House on the Prairie where they make virtually everything from scratch, you start to view the items you buy on a daily basis as things you could easily make yourself. In Little House on the Prairie, people learned how to make so much from helping and watching their parents, and now, so much of that has been lost that we find it impossible to fathom making some of the simplest things. So this winter, I really enjoyed putting my google muscle to the test and finding a way to make it all. Well, quite a few things...Read More
This is the true story of how I lost my lambs.
Let's start from the beginning. My lambs are Willie and Nelson (shhhh I know, we also have a willow tree called Willow Nelson, it is a thing), and we got them as bottle fed lambs because their mama passed away when they were three weeks old. Wilf and I brought them home in the dog crate in the back of the van and I started bottle feeding them three times a day. Gosh, thinking back to those early days, I would get so stressed with every feed because they would guzzle their bottles right down and then get so bloated. I would try pacing their feeds or spreading out their feeds, but they always got bloated. And for those that don't know, like I didn't before I had lambs, bloating can kill lambs because they can get so bloated that they actually suffocate. Crazy and scary. So of course I was a wreck about it on a daily basis, but they grew up and started to eat more grass and such and were off the bottle after a couple of months and were totally fine. Anywho, back to the story...Read More
The magic of the broad bean is something new to me. I had first learned about broad beans a couple of years ago, while living in Grande Prairie and obsessively watching gardening shows, when I stumbled upon a BBC show called The Edible Garden, with Alys Fowler (that you can/should watch here.) In the episode, she grows some broad beans and makes some yummy falafels with them. Neat. So when I was browsing my seed catalog for my first garden here at Ferngully, I obviously had to order some.Read More
It's late, almost my bedtime late; the house is dark, the dogs are asleep, and I can hear sawing downstairs. Yes, Cameron is in the basement sawing some handcut boards (made from trees on the property) to make a bench/shoe rack since the boots seems to be falling all over each other and driving him bonkers. Evenings now are so different from a year ago, when Cam would be coming home from a long day of work and we would have a few moments to chat before going to bed exhausted from the work days we had just had, now we have made it down to the property, we had so long dreamed about living on full time, and our evenings are relaxing and quiet, with the exception of the sound of a saw or a baby crying... right, yep, I said a baby...Read More
When we first moved from our cute townhouse in the ‘burbs to our older bungalow in town, we instantly noticed how fabulous our neighbours were. They gave us the history on our house and were so happy we weren’t crack heads. They are funny and helpful and look after our cat. They have even cleared our driveway of snow on more than one occasion. We genuinely couldn’t imagine better neighbours. And as luck would have it, when we purchased our homestead in Vavenby, we won the neighbour lottery again!
As an adult from Ontario living in Alberta, I sometimes find that I am alone in my leftists sentiments. For the first time in my life I longed for the company of like-minded people. And this is part of the reason that my partner and I are seeking this homesteading future – so we can connect with like-minded people who feel the same way we do about working hard, growing food, and enjoying our natural environment. And as I explained in an earlier post, we did establish that there was at least one person in the area that was like-minded (aka the cord lady), but we had no idea to what extent we had found like-minded people. You see, after we returned from the farmer’s market we met our neighbour from across the street who can build log homes and owns a tractor. That day he took us for a walk around our property to show us our cedar shake mill (we did not know we owned,) our coyote den, our trickling stream, and our extensive trails throughout the property. He is retired. Reads probably more than you would think a librarian would. Makes wicked cherry pie and does not believe in working for money in his retirement years. He is awesome. He has been looking after our house for the four years before we owned it and continues to look after it even now that we own it. We have had long chats about having a neighbourhood where each home would contribute in its own way to the community. For example, I was thinking about making cheese and that could be my contribution, and another neighbour could fix tractors, and maybe another could grow the garlic and asparagus. You can see how these conversations would be so thrilling for us leftists who have been submerged in a more right-wing city lifestyle for so long. And it does not end there. Our other neighbours up the street have a home with geothermal heat! Renewable energy is my middle name. And that’s not all, there is a couple at the end of the street who make just about everything you can think of from scratch. They grow everything. They lend us brilliant books like Keeping The Harvest, (which is also listed as one of my bookshelf staples – until I have to return it, of course,) and they have a million copies of Mother Earth News. *
I think one of my favourite things about this fantastic neighbourhood, is that in the few trips we have had down there, we have had so many neighbour get-together. It could be at the end of our driveway, at someone’s house, or on one of the trails. And we just all talk and talk. We talk about tricks and tips to using up all the apples on our trees or growing garlic, we talk about our dislike of fancy pants lifestyles or how to make a good batch of wine. We just talk and talk. Life moves at a different pace down there and our neighbours know how to do it. They are living THE life and we want to hear all about it.
Apple tree from our property.
So it isn’t just about that land, it’s about the people too. And they are awesome.
And you know what, until we live down there, we really do have it made. Our one set of neighbours up here plans to have a country lifestyle one day too AND her sister did homestead for a short stint so we gab about that as well. Our other neighbour has great gardening tips on growing the best tomatoes, which he generously shares (meaning the tips and the tomatoes). Unfortunately, we don’t see our neighbours up here as often as we like; my partner works really long days, for long periods, and so this cuts in to my neighbourhood dinner party plans. But that’s okay, we still get to chat at the end of our driveways while we shovel the daily snowfall. Which reminds me, I better get out there to clear the sidewalk…
*I could list the hundreds of other great things about our neighbours in Vavenby, but that would be far too long and indulgent. I will just mention a very few things I missed: lending us their juicer, cutting down our big trees that were about to hit our power line, checking our oil tank to make sure the house has heat, making jam, more jam, pie, coffee, borscht lending us cutlery, chairs, and even more books.
**This post isn’t how to pick amazing neighbours, it is more about how they pick you.