Monday, September 15, 2014

The new wheels

We got an RTV (utility vehicle) for the farm, and it is proving immensely useful. We've used it with a trailer to haul all our winter firewood up to the basement window (through which the wood is thrown.) 

Adorable godson alert...

We transported the pigs in it, over to their new pasture...

I'm not entirely sure whose butt this is, but it's too small to be Ophelia's!

Gordon the pig chauffeur!

And we've used it to move hay and straw, not to mention to take our garbage cans up the 750-foot long laneway every Tuesday night...

But here's the best reason to have one of these...

You can take your decrepit old dog right down to the river he loves (but can no longer walk to) so that he can have...

...a very nice swim!

Tristan had a great time but the whole outing exhausted him and he slept all the next day. Just walking from the RTV down to the river was a lot for him, poor old guy. He had declined a lot physically since we lost  his buddy Sophie in April.

We promised him another trip back there soon! Like the bumper stickers my friend Ronna

And this thing is GREAT for beekeeping. I brought in the last of my honey super yesterday (hidden under the comforter so that other bees wouldn't get into a robbing frenzy instigated by the smell of honey!)

I wore my jacket because it was so cold yesterday! Barely hit 10C/50F.

This thing is a ton of fun and surprisingly useful on our 86 acres.

And from the garden...

Aren't these the coolest tomatoes? They are called OSU Blue, and I got the seeds from Terra Edibles.

Happy Monday!

And if you would like to sponsor me or Gordon in the Ontario SPCA's Friends For Life walk this weekend, please click on the link(s) below:

Natalie's page:

Gordon's page:

At present, we have SEVENTEEN pets (yes, I'm counting the five chickens we got) that we've adopted from the OSPCA, plus there are two ponies on the way this fall. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Redford Channel

Look who loves me now!

Redford hung out with me in the garage today and "helped" me extract honey.

Yes, that's him "helping"!

He has come along way in the past few weeks. He sat on my lap for a good ten minutes today.

He's always kneading with his paws, or gently grabbing my hand, or nibbling on my fingers. He's a bit like Emerson the suckler, but less obsessed.

He has extra toes!

Love... the feeling is mutual!

And then he fell asleep. He really seems to trust me now.

He's a great cat.

He quite likes the garage now, unlike when he first showed up and was locked in there for two weeks and wouldn't come near me!

I am finally, kind of, sort of nearing the end of honey extracting. I am taking my last 14 honey supers off tomorrow.

Over 500 lbs of honey sitting in buckets in the garage right now, waiting to be bottled! I'm well up over 1,000 lbs at this point. Incredible.

And I took this photo to show how wax can be quite different in colour depending on what the bees are into. The top was ix very yellow, the bottom very white. 

The last few batches of honey I extracted were almost fluorescent yellow, and a mix of goldenrod and alfalfa. Yes, alfalfa is still blooming in our hay fields!

And here's my Redford enjoying the sun the other day...

Hope you are having an excellent weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's that time of year again!

On September 20, Gordon and I are once again participating in the OSPCA Friends for Life Walk in Cornwall, Ontario. 

We set ridiculous sponsorship goals of $1500 each this year. I'm 24% of the way there. Let's not talk about where Gordon is.

If you would like to sponsor one or both of us in the walk, we would be most grateful and you will no doubt receive a lifetime of good piggy zen.

Absolutely any amount is appreciated, truly! If 1500 gave me $1 each, I'd be at my goal already!

Plus it's Canadian dollars, so that dollar is only 91 cents US right now!

If you would like to help, you can go to my page:

or Gordon's:

We are big supporters of our local shelter, the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry branch. Through them, we have adopted two cats (Alex and Louise), two turkeys (Richard and Carlton), five chickens (Mr. Carol, Julie, LeMay, Debbie and Amanda) and of course Ophelia and her six piglets, plus our newest piglet, Jersey.

Every penny you give (well, I guess we don't have pennies anymore!) helps animals like ours. Our shelter receives absolutely no government funding and relies in large part on donations to keep it going. 

Plus if I reach my fundraising goal, I've promised to kiss my turkeys!

if you are on Facebook, please LIKE our fundraising page.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Purrs and woofs

Guess who really, really, REALLY likes Tristan?

Redford the barn cat! And the feeling is oh-so-almost mutual.

And doesn't this just say everything you need to know about dogs and cats?

Redford is an amazing kitty. To think he spent two weeks in our garage without coming anywhere near me! Now he is at my side whenever I am outside. He helps me with the barn chores every single day. He follows Gordon everywhere too.

And he loves to hang with his buddy Tristan.

"Nothing to see here. Move along!"

He's a funny little guy. Still nervous, but he so wants to be touched. He still jumps if I move too quickly but I was thrilled the other day when I was finally able to lift him into my lap and have him stay there for a minute. I'm so glad he's here. He's a very sweet feline.

And we have a whole lot of orange in the family now...

Sigh. Redford remains the barn cat for now. I'm conflicted about that but we'll see how it goes. He does seem quite happy in his little realm, and fortunately he never seems to stray out of our garden area, so I'm hoping he'll stay safe. We are set to take in two more barn cats from friends who have too many cats. I'm hoping the three cats will eventually get along well and look out for each other (and keep the barn's rodent population in check!)

Meanwhile, Emerson has been hell-bent on getting outside. He managed it the other day and promptly did in a red squirrel...

And was MIGHTY PROUD. I would have felt more sorry for the squirrel had we not spent several hundred dollars twice in the last few years getting them out of the walls of our house!

Emerson clearly had no regrets. 

He does look a lot like Redford, but his fur is quite a bit lighter, more different from Redford's than I initally thought.

And here's why I've had trouble blogging as much I would have liked this summer...

The bees have kept me insanely busy this year. I'm relieved things are at last winding down. It has been an incredible summer for my bees, with the right combination of good bee weather and tons of forage.

I put bee escapes on all my hives yesterday so that I can take off the last 14 honey supers (boxes.) Right now I have nine boxes in the garage waiting for extraction. This year, the bees have filled a whopping 75 honey supers. Even at a conservative estimate of 25 lbs of honey per super, that comes out to 1,875 lbs of honey. I've only bottled 500 lbs so far but eventually I'll catch up. 

I've also never had this much upper body strength in my life. I lifted a very full super yesterday that must have weighed 50 lbs, and I had to put it on top of three other boxes. The thing is, you can't just slam the boxes down (unless you want squashed and pissed-off bees) so you're holding the heavy box in the air, trying to align it carefully before completely setting it down. At least, that's what I do, as I hate squishing bees. 

Last week, I was looking at full honey super I'd moved to the ground so I could add a bee escape (board you put under the honey supers so that the bees leave those boxes and can't get back in ) and thinking "There is no way I can lift that damn thing up again. I'm exhausted!) But what are you going to do when you have a box of bees that needs to go back on the hive, and no one else around to help? You tell yourself, "Just do it!" and voilà, it's done. 

My back is feeling a lot better this summer than last, so I think my careful lifting technique is working for me.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have more time for my blog (and blog reading!) as summer winds down. I've also been spending a lot of time writing for the memoir courses I've been taking, and when things quiet down, I am going to do another draft of the kids' book I wrote (about a bee, of course) and look for a book agent. 

But in the meantime I have hundreds of pounds of honey to deal with.

And how did I end up with seven cats, anyway?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


This past weekend, we moved the pigs into their new pen and pasture.

Button approves!

We have since reconfigured the ramp to make it less steep, as the pigs were reluctant to use it!

Ophelia seems to approve too!

The pen hasn't been properly winterized yet. Before it gets cold,we're putting in proper insulated walls and a concrete floor. The new pew is in the carriage shed at the back of our granary. It's very cozy back there!

The pigs have  a nice view of our hayfields from their pasture on the hill.

I need to measure their space but it's about 1/2 acre, all fenced.

It has been hot the past couple of days. Everyone loves a dip in the pool, especially Ophelia!


Here's Jersey! She enjoyed rooting around in the dirt and rolling in the mud today. She is completely healed up from her recent bout with pneumonia and is doing great, thank goodness. She has also integrated really well with the other pigs. She's a little sweetie! Whenever I call her, she comes running, grunting and squealing the whole way.

She has lovely eyelashes and brows!

I think this is Gertie but I'm not sure. Once they get mud on their faces, it's hard for me to tell who's who!

Luther is looking very much like a boy! He is the biggest piglet now and has that Neanderthal-looking brow that the males get. He must weigh at least 50 lbs. I wonder how big he will get? As I understand it, pot-bellied pigs take up to three years to reach their full adult weight!

Hello Jersey darling!

I would kiss that nose if it weren't so muddy!

Mud. It's what all the hip pigs are wearing!

Button and Dahlia making themselves a nice wallow!

Jersey enjoying life.

That little black one at the top right is Jersey!

It's nice to stand at the fence and just watch these piggies enjoy life. Not surprisingly, they seem to love their new grassy pasture. And I think the ducks, chickens, turkeys and guineas are all pleased to have the lower barn back to themselves!