A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Putting that belly wool to good use

When the shearer was here, he started with the sheep's belly...apparently this is the wool most people discard because it is usually quite short and partially felted. His wife mentioned you could use it as mulch in the garden...hmmm. So I thought I would try it around my newly transplanted cucumbers. It has been quite cold here at night...going down to about 4 degrees, so I thought these nice little woolly sweaters would keep my cukes toasty warm! We shall see.
It does look a little funny.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shearing Day

Today was shearing day at Wise Acres! A few months ago I came across Ian Dalziel, a shearer from the Fraser Valley who was willing to come and do my small flock on his way back from Dawson Creek. His wife Miranda and I, caught the sheep and Ian made quick work of shearing off all of that beautiful Icelandic fleece!
I mentioned in an earlier post, that they had shed their winter coat, so this fleece is not quite as long as I hope it will be next year.
They do look quite funny...somehow less dignified...but they will be so much cooler this summer, so hopefully it will be worth it :)
And now I have all of this to play with...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Week of Fibre Fun

Last week I was in Victoria, attending the Master Spinner Level 1, class as part of the Victoria Fibre Festival 2009. It was a great course and covered the spinning process from raw fleece, washing, dyeing, carding, spinning to plying the final product. There were six other participants in the class, all of whom had been spinning for sometime...I was the only complete newbie. It was a little daunting at first, but my teacher was fantastic and the other spinners gave me lots of tips and support.

We got to sample many different kinds of fleece including Jacob, Cotswold, Romney, Merino and Icelandic. This is my very first skein and it's a Jacob...
It's pretty lumpy I admit...but by the end of the week...I was spinning silk! This is Tussah silk mixed with merino...
We also learned about using natural dyes including carrot tops, onion skins, marigolds, coccineal and pomegranate....
such a beautiful array of colour, don't you think?

I rented a wheel while I was in Victoria...so now I have to figure out how to use my own wheel...
after I get caught up on my garden, etc, etc!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time in the Garden

Photo courtesy of Mary St. Germain-Brown
After feeding and watering the chickens and moving the tractors...I spent the morning in the garden. What a treat!

I moved the tomatoes, peppers and basil out to the greenhouse. I still can't decide whether to leave them in the greenhouse all summer or plant them in one of my beds. I have some space in the garden as sadly, my zucchinis shriveled up and died, along with my pumpkins. While the days have been toasty warm, night temperatures were still dipping down to close to frost until a few days ago. My little Sweetie Tomatoes are coming along nicely and smell so good and my peppers are starting to flower....as are my strawberries.

The leaf lettuce I started in the greenhouse is just about ready to eat. Yesterday I noticed my sugar snap peas and my bush beans popping out of the ground and the cucumbers are almost ready to come out of the greenhouse and into the garden.

Who knew gardening was this exciting?!?

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Chicken Tractor

Not having a camera at the moment is really torturing me...especially since there is so much happening around here at the moment...so I have be creative and find other sources for visual imagery...

like this one of our wonderful 'chicken tractors' courtesy of Big Bear Ranch

This week-end we moved the chickens from their brooder house (our former shed) out to the chicken tractors, on pasture over at Big Bear Ranch, just around the corner from us. The chicken tractors are an amazing innovation, constructed by Rainer and Florian, they are 12 feet x 12 feet and can house up to 100 chickens. They have removable wheels and are moved daily using a dolly.

A great description of chicken tractors from Wikipedia...

Chicken tractors can be moved frequently, providing the advantages of free ranging with the protection of the enclosure. In a chicken tractor poultry have access to fresh forage, including grass, weeds, and bugs, though these resources will quickly be depleted if the tractor is not moved. This supplements their diet, reducing the amount of feed they consume. Because the enclosures do not have floors there is no need for periodic cleaning out, unlike stationary chicken houses. The frequent moves to fresh grass can also avoid a buildup of manure. Chicken tractors imitate a natural, symbiotic cycle of foraging in which the animals eat down the vegetation, deposit fertilizing manure, and then move on to a new area.

By using chicken tractors, flock owners are able to raise poultry in an extensive environment, where the birds have access to fresh air, sunlight, forage, and exercise, which caged birds in commercial houses do not have. By using one small section of a field at a time, allowing all the other sections to recover, the field can sustain more birds than if they were turned out on the whole field all of the time. Because of this chicken tractors enable people to maximize the use of their land. The enclosures also offer some protection from predators and weather, and in the case of egg producers, the birds lay eggs in designated nest boxes rather than hiding them in foliage.

So twice a day, the girls and I head over to beautiful Big Bear Ranch with water and food for the growing chickens. G. is a great help, filling up the water buckets while the little girls run through the pasture picking dandelions...

Photo courtesy of Big Bear Ranch

...yes, this is the 'good life'!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Setting down roots...

(Sorry for the lack of pictures and posting lately...my camera is kaput!)

It has been almost one year since we moved to Horsefly. It was a big leap for us to move out here and lots of folks thought we may have been making a mistake...but I have to say, it really feels like we have found our bliss and we truly love it here.

Yes we have really put down some roots here...literally! (Imagine a picture of three apple trees, two cherry trees and five raspberry bushes). Recently we headed over to the Horsefly Nursery to pick up the apple trees that Erich's Dad and Yvonne had bought for us last year. While we were there we picked up a few more raspberries, two cherry trees and reserved a few crab apple trees for the Fall. On our way home, Erich and I talked about how unusual it was for us to plan for so far into the future, since these trees won't fruit for at least three to five years. We've moved seven times since we have been together. I like the lessons of patience and planning this is teaching us. While we have done a lot in the past year, we also have a list of projects on our wish list and have decided we will take our time and do them right, since we hope they will last a long time.

Recently I have also noticed a really cool custom amongst gardening folk...the passing on of plants, cuttings, roots, herbs etc. I love looking around the yard at the lilac that Auntie Marg passed on to us that Erich's Grandmother originally planted at the lake or the herbs that Auntie Candace gave me from her patch or the rhubarb that Auntie Susan passed along that she inherited when they first moved to the valley, or the chives, borage and lovage that Gigi gave me. I look forward to being able to continue the tradition some day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Works Dance Studio Recital 2009

It has been a busy time for the girls this past week, preparing for the annual In the Works Dance Studio Dance Recital. Yes, our little town has it's very own dance school with an incredible dance teacher, who choreographs a show for all of her students, every year. There are 6 classes for dancers from 5 years old up to the over 40 crowd :) There is ballet, jazz and a boys only hip hop class. They all did a phenomenal job. This is our school gym, transformed...

And here are our little ballerinas..
The show this year was called Kaimana, which means the 'power of the ocean' in Hawaiian. It was an underwater theme, and the little ballerinas were supposed to be pearls with G. being the 'Mother of Pearls'. She is in white and V is in the blue skirt, second from the left...
This is the finale with the full cast...
It was a wonderful show and the girls had a great time!