Bumpy Road

I’m tired.

Burning out.

There’s so much to still do and the looming stress of “is there enough” is always over my head.

My day looks like this.

6am- Wake up

Danny and I have a coffee together. While it lasted. Now it’s mint tea.

7am I Milk the cow and collect eggs. Danny feeds and waters animals.

7:30 skim cream from yesterday’s milk, start that milk on the road to cheese. I then strain the new milk into the washed out pail that held yesterdays milk. Every 3 days I make butter from the accumulated cream.

8 am Wake up kids, make breakfast (toast, biscuits, eggs, cream of wheat), pack lunch for Danny who’s still doing chores.

9am School starts.

12pm lunch left overs, or some concoction of belly filling foods.

1 pm finish up school work.

2 pm deal with bread, cheese, fix farm issues, emails, prepare supper, deal with food storage issues…

3:30pm head to town for sports.

6-7pm home actually making supper

8pm eat

9pm kids in bed.

9:15 answer emails, netflix,  decide if it’s a day that warrants a glass of wine.

10:30 bed, read books about living off the land

My sourdough starter died. A new one was born. Then that one caught a weird mold so I killed it. Another two embryos are developing as you read.

My bread has been terrible. I’m sure it’s the flour I’ve been using. I started using Khorasan Wheat. (aka Kamut (TM) ) A lovely digestible ancient grain, but it will not rise.

I’ve got boxes of potatoes, in the root cellar. Some of which I know are rotting because they got a touch of frost on the tips.

I haven’t had time to sort them out.

Carrots haven’t been sorted.

I’ve got beets that still have their tops on and have rotted.

We have a box of apples deteriorating. They were destined for jelly.

We have 17 sows now. Large Black, Tamworth, Mule Foot, Berkshire breeds.

We have a boar that seems to be shooting blanks.

Our chickens have started eating their eggs. A nasty problem that is only solved by getting there before they do and breaking the habit. But this habit will always be there waiting for any excuse to resurface.

The cow’s milk supply is lessening as the frosty nights have killed the lush grasses.

It’s butchering time for our customers. Bringing in our cattle to separate those going to the butcher, loading them, and Danny taking them to the butcher. I’m in the throws of organizing customers with their orders, billing them and answering questions.

Then the computer decided to “trash” all my out going messages since October 18th. I’ve been sorting through the “trash” to find and resend the messages. Most of which were time sensitive.

We still have 10 to sell before November 2nd.

Forgetting to pack a lunch when you head to Edmonton sucks.

4 hours of driving + doing what you’re there for = low blood sugar, Grouchy mom and kids.

Our 3/4 ton truck is dead. $10,000 dead. We used it for hauling animals to the butcher.

We need to fence off the creek and put in our “Frost Free Nose Pump” before the end of November, or the grant is no good.

We need to finish the cob oven we started in June.

The barn needs to be cleaned out and set up for winter milking.

Homeschooling is in full swing.

Sports are in full swing.

Coffee is gone.

Wine is low.

Who’s stupid idea was this year?

11 thoughts on “Bumpy Road

  1. hello, I do a live on my pantry month each year for four years and then I do a live on the farm only month in what I call the starving month of march, while I do shop extras at times 90 plus of all food comes from my farm.

    I just found your blog, hope you will find time to share more, I will follow along from now on, and if you have questions on certain things that come u, please share, you never know, we might just know a way, I am very interested in what you have on your farm in terms of forage, as you are heading into winter, were you able to save seeds for fresh sprouting from the garden, where you able to pot up things that can be forced in late winter for fresh foods and so forth.

    while parts of my family have been in Canada since the war of 1812, and I live in Ontario on our little farm, I am fourth gen born and breed alberta girl and i was raised on the stories of the homestead and my folks raised me in 70:s and 80;s on the back to the land movement, so i was lucky enough to learn the skills working beside both grandparents and parent on many things others have lost, then hubby an i moved to artic for years, both nwt and Nunavut and put those skills to use and learned even more, when you need to order a years supply of food once a year by boat, you learn how to plan and balance an so much more..

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    1. The territories are an amazing place to me! I’ve never been but I’m fascinated by the life!
      We saved a few seeds from the garden but plan to barter or buy from a local seed saver come spring.
      You were very fortunate to have been raised by family who preserved such knowledge!
      I’ll be following you and will certainly be asking questions when I get stumped!
      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is all good!!! I grew up this way, as well as having no power or running water!!! You all can only do so much Inthe course of a day, just figure out your priorities and do your best!!!! I am very excited for you and your family! It is a lot of work but it sure gets you appreciating the small things that everyone takes for granted! Not to mention the health benefits to your whole family!!! I am looking to hearing about your adventures!!!!

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  3. I was thrilled to hear your story, which was broadcast on CTV2’s “Alberta Primetime” tonight. I’ve now read everything you have posted and I’m a little bit worried about you… better organization can help when you are overwhelmed, but it can’t cure overcommitment… 🙂 My Baba worked so hard when homesteading but even she started “small” – she had a bit of help from her mother, and the kids came one at a time… You’ve jumped in with both feet and I wish I could help somehow.

    I wish I had asked more questions of my Ukrainian grandmother and my aunties – my Dad didn’t pay enough attention to the cooking or the weaving to be able to answer the questions I did have. I do remember all the delicious dishes made with dry cottage cheese – now I know why! I’m so glad you posted that! Baba preserved everything in glass jars – the men and boys would collect mushrooms in the fall and Baba had jars and jars of mushrooms in cream. She canned chickens (!) – I loved the chicken jelly when I was a kid – with lots of garlic and black pepper. Baba traded butter and eggs for black pepper and sugar at the store. The local miller, who ground their wheat into flour and hemp seed and rapeseed into oil, would keep some for himself as part payment, and I think the leftover husks were pressed into “cakes” – I seem to remember that the hempseed cakes were loved by the horses, but I’m not positive. Something had to be done to the rapeseed (now called Canola since it’s been hybridized or GM’d or whatever) to make it edible, but I don’t know if the miller did that or if Baba knew how. All the fat was saved and used – I lost my recipe for crumb cake made with goose grease, darn it! Pork fat was rendered when the pigs were butchered – and not all the butchering was done in the fall. If an animal was butchered before a summer wedding, the pork fat would be poured over the meat in a metal pail to keep out any air or water, then the pail would be lowered down the well to be kept cool until the day of the feast. Baba even made all the soap – where did she get the lye? – pork fat and ash and whatever else goes into soap. Dangerous process.

    About the spring starvation… My 88-year old father hates rhubarb to this day – it was the first garden produce in the spring and was overused because of the spring scarcity. Their root cellar was carefully maintained because if one item goes moldy the spores will spread and then none of the veggies will keep through the whole winter. I remember all the green tomatoes wrapped in newspaper – they would keep until Christmas! And the parsnips would get dug around now. (November.) They didn’t keep as well as turnips, so I spent hours as a child stringing pieces of parsnip on infinitely long thread, separated by carefully tied knots and hung to dry over the woodstove. When dry, the parsnip would keep a very long time and it flavoured many spring stews.

    Even as homesteaders, there were some goods bought at the local store, where the storekeep bought Baba’s eggs and butter. I know for a fact that Baba used yeast cakes – did you know that Fleishmann’s (yeast) head office and factory was in Calgary for many years? Maybe since the 1930’s – I’ll look it up later. My grandparents also got sulphur from the store to be made into ointment for the horses – yes, sulphur mixed with lard – so there was active trade and bartering going on even when times were toughest.

    The reason I’m writing so much of what I can remember is to perhaps convince you that a reasonable interpretation of “local” may include a few of the items you thought were off the list. I also hope you will see the value my Grandmother received from the eggs and butter that she traded for goods that were NOT local – Baba would buy one orange at Christmas that would be shared by the whole family – I know this happened even before 1935.

    Anyway, if I can confirm the yeast factory in Alberta I’ll send you some to make the baking a bit easier. And I will ask my cousins if they knew how the cheese was made.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration!
    ..Loretta from Calgary

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    1. Wow! Loretta! You need to write a book! So much information you have is priceless today! Things I took months of trial and error and research to “kinda” figure out are completely lost my the vast majority today!
      I’ve got the cheese now under control, (amazing how the seasons bacteria and cows feed changes the outcome! ) I’ve killed and re started my sourdough many times, it’s just like any other part of my week now.
      I had read that cake yeast has been around since the 1500’s (I think) in Europe, insisted upon by whatever King was on the throne at the time (I should read up on it more…)
      A few of the things we’re going with out were available to the later pioneers, but those first few settlers that were here before the access or goods to make trades were with out. How did they eat? In the same way if our imports were to completely cease, what would our life look like? It’s more of these questions we’re looking to explore. That being said a little yeast would go a LONG way! 😉

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  4. Can’t imagine life with “no coffee” and “low on wine!!” What you are doing is very cool and meaningful, but obviously very challenging!! It takes courage and strength to do what you have set out to do. Hang in there!!

    Like

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