Blog it: now or never

Ok, so here it is, finally: my blog.

It’s become kind of a joke really, considering this was intended to be my blog about the challenges of my family moving from the city to the country. Well, we’ve been living our country lives quite comfortably for nearly a year now and I haven’t gotten round to writing anything here.

Perhaps that’s an indication of the amount of work it takes to keep this place going!

It has been a brutal winter in the country, with eight-foot snow banks reminiscent of those when I was a child, numerous “snow days” when school buses were cancelled, and constantly shovelling snow and wondering whether the car would make it up the driveway through the sweeping snowdrifts.

I’ve hauled more wood into the house these past months than a lumberjack, and constantly battled feelings of isolation while the winds howled around my cozy little cabin. Still, it’s been good, and I’d be lying if I said I’d want it any other way.

And with the melting of the snow and the budding of spring, I figured it’s time to finally get this blog thing off the ground. Whether anyone cares or not, I’m here and I’m officially “going-live” today.

This is my way of keeping in touch with my family and friends that I have put so much distance between with our move to the country. It’s a way to help me chronicle the challenges of making this drastic lifestyle change, but also to document the milestones and good times along the way. It has been a hard transition in many ways, but it’s been a good one overall and there will be many more good times along the way.

And now, spring has sprung, the plants are sprouting new buds and the birds are singing. It’s time to get dirty!

Scroll down and keep reading….

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Hobby farm – phase 1: chickens

OK. The goal here is to bring this place back to its equestrian roots. The girls have been taking riding lessons for years, and the time is near. However, these city girls do not know a thing about hard work.

Just changing the litter box is a fight every single time. And, the old “Pleeeeeease can we get a dog? Pleeeeeease? I promise I’ll pick up all the poop” argument to cajole me into adopting a dog, has become just a fond memory. Guess who picks it up now? (Including about 50 lbs of it this spring, left from the winter…).

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So, horses? Horse stalls full of horse poop? I have a good idea who the kids think will be taking care of that. But they are wrong.

So, we’ll be taking baby steps. We’ll start with chickens and see where that takes us. It’s pretty darn exciting though, I must admit.

Our day-old chicks (only three of them) arrive tomorrow in a box. Now, I want to take a moment and say that we have some ethical concerns about this that we learned about – after we had already placed our order.

Like all factory for-profit organizations that include the handling and processing of animals, humane treatment is apparently not always a prerequisite. These chicks are in some cases removed from their eggs by a machine and tossed into the “keep” or “don’t keep” piles, and if you care to know what happens then (and you should, because it’s important to know what your food choices are supporting so you can become better informed and make better choices, take a minute to read this recent news article.

Anyway, our chicks arrive tomorrow (and they’re not coming from the facility mentioned in that article, incidentally). Rob is busy with the chicken coop plans in the barn (this image from Houzz is our inspiration. Nice, right?), and in the meantime, the chicks will be put into a box to stay safe and warm.

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No, they won’t be in my house….what makes you think I would ever bring livestock into my house? Cute little fuzzy wee delicate precious wee chicks that are vulnerable to all sorts of predators….let’s just not talk about that.

I’ll keep you posted.

Simple pleasures

Rob has been home for the past two weeks on holiday and I have taken advantage of this time to do one of my favourite things.

I creep out of bed with coffee in hand and stroll out into the morning. I love this quiet time, this precious “alone time.”

I wander the property, just looking, listening and breathing it all in. My cats (all three of them) follow me like dogs. It is the first time I have been able to watch the magical transformation of winter into spring happening here.

In years past I would circle around my city gardens. Some of which were no bigger than a postage stamp. I’m certain that neighbours must have seen me out there, turning in circles and looking at the ground and thought I was nuts! But I have always been transfixed with how spring brings life. And each discovery of green sprouting out of the earth is exciting!

It is an entirely different experience here.

Everything is so much, well, bigger. Last Thanksgiving, my daughter Ava and I planted over 300 crocus bulbs in the orchard. It has become our tradition to plant bulbs together over the years.

As I stroll along the grounds, I see these beautiful little gifts of spring scattered about. It is so nice to see and it always, always makes me smile.

Yesterday we celebrated Easter. Just the five of us. It was the first time my youngest was able to really get excited about the holiday. He found his basket and proceeded to open every single piece of chocolate. Not to eat, just to open!

We sat down to a delicious traditional breakfast of waffles with fresh organic whipped cream and berries topped this year with maple syrup from the trees that the kids tapped a few weeks ago!

We set up our volleyball net and played a few rounds barefoot in the grass, for hours. When we got too hot we threw snowballs at each other from one of the last remaining patches of snow. We took a walk into the bush and I heard the first of the frogs croaking. We had a lemonade picnic under the ash tree, and watched Cal ride his new tricycle, just barely reaching the pedals by himself for the first time! We wrapped the night up with some wine and a late night Easter egg hunt.

It was a great day. And a reminder for me that it’s the simple things in life that bring true joy.

Gravel roads

Driving home from work today I noticed I can feel the gravel on the roads again.

It’s been a very, very long winter here in southwestern Ontario and our roads have been ice and snow packed for many months. Now, with the roads finally clear and dried up after the thaw, I had a flashback to those wonderful summer months of driving down the “side roads,” as we call them.

It’s country living at its best, is it not? That slow, meandering journey. One hand on the wheel, the other outstretched to the wind out the open window. The feeling of the wind tossing your hair around and the hot sun on your legs. That “get there when you get there” attitude….

What is it about gravel roads, exactly? I love to drive on them. The feel of the road’s texture and the vibration that makes its way through the car and into my hands on the wheel….

And the sound….I love the sound of them. The gravely, crunch of the stones under my tires, mixed with the pings of stray pieces bouncing off the metal of the car. It’s music to my ears, and strangely soothing. It says “We’re almost there!” The cottage road, the summer house, the beach….

It’s often a solitary journey on these roads. Long stretches flow in front and behind you with the occasional farming implement appearing as your sole, fleeting companion. These quiet trips give me time to think.

Maybe this love harkens back to my childhood, when my mother would take the side roads to our destinations. She preferred the zig zagging, bumpy journey to the high speed smoothness of the highways. Sometimes she would stop the car, right in the middle of the road, and turn all the windows down demanding that I listen. “To what?” I’d ask. “The silence” she would say, exasperated. Or, “the bear in the woods, don’t you hear it?” when she figured out that I’d be quiet and actually listen for once.

And I would listen. It was on those occasions that I learned that silence is not really silent but has many voices. The wind in the trees, the cracking of wood, the twittering of birds….

Gravel roads are great.

Unless, you really need to get somewhere fast, of course. Or, you have a freshly washed car that is instantly unrecognizable. That sucks. Or, when you’re the one that has to walk up to that car that looks like a giant dusty beast in the grocery store parking lot, and the guy helping you unpack your groceries doesn’t want to touch it. Or that occasional farm implement I mentioned? Well, it’s actually a turbo-combine the size of my first home and you can’t get around him and the dust he’s kicking up makes you have to close all the windows, and it gets hot, so then you have to turn on the air conditioner, which you then remember doesn’t work. And remember those stray pieces of gravel I mentioned? Well, one misses your car and hits your windshield, again, and you’re starting to know the guy at Apple Auto Glass by his first name you’ve been there so many times.

Or how about when said piece misses your car and your windshield and gets caught in the inner workings of your tire, and it sounds like grating metal mixed with screaming-dying-animal whenever you drive anywhere, until you get into Canadian Tire to have it removed, again, by the guy there who you now also know by name.

But, when all is said and done, I’ll take a gravel road any day. It speaks to me. It says slow down, listen, and feel.

And in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives these days, that is just what we need to hear. And with that in mind, I’m going to play a song that I listen to when I need to remember the art of taking my time. Have a listen: Take Your Time