Sunday, July 28, 2013


Yesterday was one of those days... It started off nice enough.  A beautiful sunny morning to drive out to the Shuswap to pick my girl up by 9am from camp.  We stopped by Bozenka's on the way home to drop off her chickens.  She made us lunch and I pruned some of her tomatoes for her.  We made it home in the early afternoon.

Sometime after that it turned into one-of-those-days.  I am not sure exactly when it turned.  But it did. Dean was busy doing his share of shovelling out the chicken coop.  We wanted to get it cleaned out before we put the young layers who had been raised with the turkeys and meat chicks and the turkeys into the main coop.  A bear had come two nights before and helped himself to Sarah's thanksgiving dinner and an extra.  Dean did a great job.  Powdered down everything with diatomaceous earth, put fresh hay an shavings down.  And then after eating a rushed supper, he was off to the recording studio to finish a recording started awhile ago.

In the meantime while I was making an easy dinner (warming up previously made and frozen spaghetti sauce and cooking noodles) I decided now was the right time to clean out the upstairs freezer.  It is an upright freezer that people are constantly leaving the door ajar to and then it all frosts up and the stuff in the door thaws... makes a mess.  Since getting a big new freezer off of freecycle and installing it in the basement, I have been meaning to give this one a good defrosting.  (third one this year.  After this no one but me is allowed to open it...)  I stuffed the downstairs freezer and the one on the porch (meant for meat for the dogs) and got almost everything in.  Just had to use two coolers with the rest.  I scraped out all the ice I could, breaking it off with a rubber mallet and set the kettle to boiling inside to melt the rest.

After Dean left I decided to move a ewe and her lamb who have been in sick bay out of the fenced acre onto a patch of pasture that hadn't had sheep on it for a couple of years (guaranteed worm free - we've been struggling with worms due to the weather - almost killed this ewe who ended up severely anemic but she is rallying now).  So I hefted all the portable panels for lambing pens that my dad made me a couple of years ago and made them into a little corral and walked her out on a leash.  (that really upset the dogs! haha!)

As dusk settles, I start watering my garden, moving my hose every 15 minutes or so.  And I am still going back and forth with the freezer, emptying water bowls and wiping up water and cleaning behind it so it is ready to be plugged in and pushed back in.

Now the turkeys and young layers need to be moved.  I start before it is very dark and get two turkeys into the coop.  These turkeys are less than a month from their butcher date.  They are big and strong and when they whack you with their wing, it hurts!  Its hard to catch them in the chicken tractor because they are all down at the other end and I have to lift it up and snatch one from underneath.  And I am only one person.  No son or husband to help me.

With the second turkey in my arms, a rabbit gets loose and in seconds Hugo and Belle (his pup who was visiting) both have it.  I am sure I am going to witness it being torn asunder in front of me.  The dogs are over the top and far to excited to listen to me.  Somehow, miraculously I manage to step between the dogs and rabbit and catch the rabbit.  So now I have an almost full grown meat rabbit in one arm and a turkey in the other.  I put the turkey down on top of the rabbit tractor and put the rabbit inside.  The turkey lays a huge dump on the top of the rabbit tractor... better there than on me, I suppose...

I realize that Dean has forgotten about picking up the compost and juicer pulp from Nature's Fare.  I am pretty sure they would have just put it out the back, so before it gets too dark, I drive down there and sure enough, there it is.  I pick it up, come home and distribute it to the sheep in their temporarily fenced area and some to the ewe and lamb in the little 'corral'.  Its full on pitch black now.

On I go.  I can't stop with the freezer now because the stuff in the coolers will be ruined. I am intermittently working on the freezer, moving the water around in my garden and catching birds and tending to my recovering ewe.  At one point the dogs bark frantically at the back fence and I am pretty sure they see/smell the bear.  Which adds just an edge to my tasks as I collect birds.  I try to carry this air horn that Sarah gave me last year and juggle it between turkeys and chickens.  I am feeling a little nervous now...  What if the bear comes now?  I'm all alone...  But I can't really stop either.  Because what if the bear comes now?  These birds I have worked so hard on raising...

Then they are barking frantically in the direction of the railroad tracks I shine my flashlight over there and see eyes shining back at me.  My first thought is bear? but then I see multiple eyes bear with cubs?  No... of course not... too many eyes!  It is the sheep.  They have broken out of their temporary fencing and want to get into their main paddock.  They are all clustered at the gate which is closed but not locked.  They could have just pushed on it to go in but they don't.  So here I am.  Alone.  And  having to deal with a 200 lb ram in the dark.  So I drive the car over to a place I can climb into the sheep paddock and then I go to the gate.  Renauld is right there.  If I open the gate, he will run in but then I will be right there.  Will he butt me?  Just in friendliness?  Or because he is expecting to eat carrot pulp even though I already gave that to them in the field?  How will I get out with out him running after me?  I need him to get distracted but he doesn't.  He just stands there and looks at me looking at him.  After what feels like forever, he moves over around the corner.  I open the get and dash over to the place I can climb out.  (later I wonder how I ran without thinking about it...)They all file in.  I close the gate.

I am fumbling with the chain in the dark.  Renauld is standing there watching me.  I have both my hands round the post when... WHAM!!!  For a reason known only to rams, at point blank range and with all the strength of his considerable neck, he rams the post right at my hands.  He manages to get both my hands.  Incredible pain - like having a car door slammed on both hands at once.  (I can hardly move my left thumb today...)  I manage to get the chain attached with him still ramming.  I don't think he meant to hit my hands.  I think I was just a casualty of his urge to ram and maybe scratch his horns on that particular post...

Now with hands throbbing I stumble through the dark after that half hour (at least) detour to get another bird...  Finally I finish thawing/cleaning/drying the freezer and the floor under neath it and manage to get it pushed back into place and the stuff out of the coolers and back inside.  Its doing remarkably okay considering I put it in there around 6pm and it is now 12:30am.

Sometime in there I give the ewe her last drench for the 'evening'.  It is now 1am.  I am starting to think that this night is going to go on FOREVER and I will NEVER get to bed...  But there is nothing for it but to keep going...  Just then Dean drives up.  I was so glad to see him.  Although I might have said something like, "Why are you  home so late?!  Go put that stuff down and help me catch the last of the turkeys!"  By this time I had only 1 turkey left and about 5 of the layer bunch.  With him it seemed like a breeze.  I picked up the tractor and he grabbed birds.  By 1:30, after washing the sheep manure off my ankles, I was in bed and zonked.

Yesterday that was my life.  And there was nothing for it but to ride the wave until it was done.

Today?  Today was a much better day.  Although I woke up at 6:30 with my ewe on my mind and I worked hard around the farm until noon, after lunch I had a well deserved nap while Dean fixed the fence to the sheep pen (replaced some broken posts).  Then we got Subway and went down to Jade Bay as a family and swam and ate and it was wonderful.  Doesn't get much better than that.  I love that I live in a place where I can have my farm and work hard and then drive for 10 minutes to an incredibly beautiful beach where we were pretty much alone and swim.  The water was delicious!  I do love the smell of a lake! 


Laura said...

! i feel exhausted just reading that! hallelujah for lake respites!

Beth-a-knee said...

you do live in a lovely place. all that stressed me out a lil reading it! Glad there wasn't an incident with a bear..!

amyleigh said...

Holy!! yes - what Bethany and Laura said! that's insane and thank God for the lake :)