Category Archives: The Homestead

  • Homestead Diary February 15 2022

    Homestead Diary February 15 2022

    It has been a very long and very busy day.
    I am ready for a bath and bed and it’s early yet!

    The hubs and our two daughters went to the city two hours away today so I was home alone all day. I cherish these home alone days. However, today I woke up at 4:16am! That was a bit early to start my day, but I enjoyed the quiet before everyone got up and ready to leave.

    It’s been difficult to sleep lately. Our country was just put under the Emergency Measures Act, and I won’t bother going into it, but suffice it to say, it’s been worrisome what’s happening in our country and it makes it difficult to rest.

    However, here on our homestead, life is good and life is busy and today I decided I was going to stay away from the internets and focus on home.

    I did the farm chores, visited with all the animals, made sure everyone was enjoying this warmer weather even it if was snowing lightly. I know I’m enjoying it not being -40, even if I do find it invigorating. Who needs that much invigoration?? lol

    Once done the chores, I caught up on some kitchen work. Cleared the fridge of any old foods, cut up and froze the left over roast chicken from last nights dinner. It was HUGE. Eight pounds! This was a locally raised chicken we purchased from awesome farming family friends.

    Once that was done, it was time to wash up the eggs and cook some up for the barn cats. They’ll enjoy a nice bonus feast for dinner tonight.

    Josie, my 2 pound longcoat chihuahua needed a bath and a blow dry, so I dealt with that, and brushed her teeth while I was at it. May as well get all the torturing done in one session right? Lucky for her, I didn’t need to trim her nails.

    After that, I headed to the basement to play with some COLOUR!
    Anyone who knows me knows how much I love playing with colour.
    Today I needed to get some custom order fabrics dyed. A real nice variety too.
    Pink and grey (I did two, because I wasn’t sure which grey was going to turn out the nicest with the pink), blues and greens, purples and blues, red with orange and yellow.

    Let’s see if I can add a short video here.

    I think they will all turn out great!
    Time will tell when I rinse and wash them out tomorrow.

    I took the dogs out for yet another walk after I had a bite to eat, and got in a walk for myself too. I’m needing to build my stamina back up after being sick over Christmas. Still not back up to 100%, but getting there. Being outside helps!

    Shipping time, lots of orders to package up and ship this week. It’s a great problem to have!
    I am so very blessed to be able to work from home, all the craziness of these past two years has not affected me much in that regard thankfully. In reality, it’s caused a lot of people to realize that reusable products are really great to have around, and has boosted business because of it! It’s good to be prepared for anything and everything and people are really understanding that now more than ever!

    Now it’s time to take the dogs out again, feed them their dinner and then have a nice hot soak in the tub!
    The girls will be doing the evening chores, so I’m clocking out for the day after that!

    Goodnight all!

  • Homestead Diary Friday February 11 2022

    Homestead Diary Friday February 11 2022

    Yesterday we had rain and temps that went up as high as 5C/41F and this morning it was so cold the ‘feels like’ temperature was -32C/-27F! Quite a drastic change overnight!

    I was sure the deck would be slick as snot when I went out to do chores but thankfully it was covered in a light coating of some sort of sleet, which made it grippy to walk on like sandpaper, rather than a skating rink. lol Slip sliding to the barn and while doing chores is never fun!

    The animals were all doing well this morning, despite the cold. When the temperature change is that drastic I almost expect to find them all shivering and the chickens sneezing. It’s those types of fluctuations that will bring on sickness. As much as I hate to say it, I prefer it just stay cold, not extreme cold, but definitely above freezing.

    When people hear that we moved from the warm climate of Vancouver Island, BC to the cold winter climates here in the prairies, they expect that we miss the warmer winters. Nope. I sure don’t at all. I actually enjoy the cold, I find it quite invigorating really. I will often go for long walks outdoors even when it’s as cold as -40C/-40F or colder. I’ve found that here in Saskatchewan, at least where we are near two large bodies of salt water, the air is perfect all year round. In BC when it was cold, it would be cold and WET. So even if it was only -10C/14F it would absolutely chill you to the BONE! No matter what you wore! Here, because the air is neither too damp or too dry, as long as I’m well dressed for the temperatures, I’m always warm. Very seldom is it that I will feel cold outside. Of course in the extreme temperatures, any bare skin will get cold, but my body as a whole really never gets cold. I don’t even wear huge winter coats while working or walking outside, just appropriate layers. Long sleeve shirt or light sweater underneath an insulated flannel barn coat. Good mittens are a must, mine are like a glove/mitten combination, the thumb and forefinger are separate so I can grab/grip etc., but the other three fingers are in a mitten shape, and the glove/mitten itself comes up well over my wrists so no cool air ever gets in up under my sleeves. I wear wool socks that my mom knit for me, along with bog boots, they are not true winter boots, but not a regular rubber boot either. My secret weapon for keeping my legs warm… is bamboo velour yoga pants. I made many pairs for myself, and these keep my legs warm all winter. No need for snow pants! As long as I’m out there moving I just don’t get cold. I often come inside sweating after finishing my chores.

    I share these details for those of you who may be new to hometeading, or may be considering homesteading, and wondering about these sorts of details of daily life. I know there are MANY people out there who are considering a move back to the land, and they are wondering if they could handle prairie winters or if they should move some place where the weather isn’t so drastically cold.

    It will depend on each person of course, but for us, we do not regret moving to the prairies for even a moment. We’ve been here almost ten years now and we still love it! Moving to land is very expensive in many places, and the warmer the area, the more expensive the land. Here in Saskatchewan, there have been MANY people moving from city/town/small properties in places like BC, Ontario, Quebec, who sold their homes for a pretty good $ there and purchased huge properties here.

    Some make it and love it like we do, but some do not.

    I personally couldn’t do it, or at least I could not do it as well as we do, without the luxuries we have like a warm home, a large heated shop for times we need to warm up animals, and even to store our tractor in to keep it warm and easily run all winter. Then there’s other very important aspects to making winter life in the prairies much easier that some may not even think about, like a very good mature shelter belt that surrounds our home and our entire farmyard. It keeps the wild prairie winds from affecting us much at all, which keeps our temperatures for us, and even for our animals, much lower when you have weather that is -38C/-36F, with windchill temperatures of -50C/-58F. When we have those temperatures here on the prairies, our very well treed shelter belt keeps our farmyard temps more towards the -33C/-36F than the ultimate extreme wind chilling cold reached in open areas. These are the types of things that can make a difference between surviving in our climate, and thriving through the winter. I will always aim for thriving, not much of a fan of just surviving.

    My doggies would agree. 🙂

  • Homestead Diary February 10 2022

    Homestead Diary February 10 2022

    Today I woke up to rain, of all things!
    We’ve had such an odd winter! More snow this year than we’ve had since the year we moved onto the homestead in 2013, when the snow was so high in April that it almost came up to our thighs in places as we walked around our property for the first time!

    We need the snow though. Last year was such a very dry year. The first drought we’ve experienced here on the homestead. It was very difficult to watch our land become so parched late last summer. All the snow we’ve received so far, and will likely receive even more in the next couple of months, will be very good for the land. Like a healing balm come spring when it all begins to melt.

    We’ve also had times of bitter bitter cold this winter, which is normal of course here on the Canadian prairies. It has been as cold as -50C/-58F overnight! The very first time it was that cold, one of our new miniature horses caught a chill and just couldn’t warm up. The girls and I brought her into our large heated shop, rubbed her down good with towels, gave her some food and water, and sat with her while she warmed up again. It only took about 1.5 hours, and she was good to go! She basically hopped, skipped and jumped back over to her mini horse mates and has been good ever since!

    It’s worrisome when one of the animals isn’t doing well. This is the ONLY thing I do not like about homesteading. As they say, when you have livestock, you have deadstock, but no one likes to think about that harsh reality of the homestead lifestyle. When in a dire situation with one of your animals, you do the very best you can to help them through it and then pray it works. Thankfully it worked wonderfully this time. She never caught a chill again!

    The times that nothing helps and I’ve lost animals, especially baby animals like a lamb, or last spring when I lost twin lambs who were both stillborn, it’s in those moments that some times I truly feel like throwing in the towel. It can be heart wrenching. But you carry on, because the other animals still need you, and some how the pain fades over time and you find yourself enjoying it all once again.

    By the time I went out to do chores after my morning coffee, the rain had stopped and it was pleasant weather for working. I take Ryker, our German Shepherd 1 year old pup, out for a walk and toss her some snow balls. She absolutely LOVES catching snow balls. She has since she was a tiny pup last winter when we first got her. Only problem is, she eats them, so she’s never learned that balls are to be brought back to us. lol So in warm months I have to have two balls on me when we play, I throw one, and she only brings it back if I have another to show her, and then throw. She drops the first ball, only to go get the second one. This snow ball thing has created a fetch issue that I just don’t know how to fix. Ha!

    Once I’ve gotten Ryker some exercise and she’s good and tired out, I head to the mini horses, to let them out of their barn stall and into their paddock. They are always ready to go, Luna, the eldest mare, is the most impatient. As I walk through the barn to their back stall she’s always pawing at the floor right at the gate, waiting for what feels like an eternity to her. Their stall is at the very back of the barn, so as soon as she hears me open up the large front door, she starts. lol

    Once I’ve scooted them all out of the barn and into their paddock, I say hello to the big horses and then it’s time to get water for everyone. In winter, (and part of fall and part of spring- basically about 6-8 months of the year lol) because a hose would freeze, we use 5 gallon buckets to carry water from the water hydrant over to the horse bucket. We have a great set up though, we built our fence so that the big water trough sits in a gap between both paddocks, with the five big horses on the one side of the fence and the three mini horses on the other side of the fence, so they all drink from one central location. That saves having to lug water to two separate troughs! It’s very handy!

    Carrying 5 gallon buckets, two at a time, is an excellent work out each morning. When we first moved here it was hard for me to do, now, I can do it fairly easily.

    Once I fill and lug 4-8 five gallon buckets full of water to the horses (it depends on how much everyone drank through the night) I feed the sheep their hay. We keep a round bale outside of their pen, and I fork the hay into their feeder by hand. The horses, on the other hand, are in two main paddocks, big horses in one, and mini’s in the other. Each paddock has a huge round bale of hay in it, so we don’t have to feed the horses by hand. Instead, about every 10 days my husband moves a round bale in with the tractor. Life before our tractor was a LOT more work. Before the tractor we had to use small square bales, and those had to be taken up to our barn loft one by one to be stored for the year, and then thrown down each time we needed them, which was many times a day! A tractor and round bales make our life MUCH easier!

    Once the sheep have their hay, I give them some oats in their grain trough. They LOVE oat feeding time. Every morning when I head into the barn they baa at me (I often baa back at them…) until I finally give them their oats. There is no way you can forget to feed the sheep their oats, they won’t let you!

    Then it’s time to bring them water, so I fill another bucket and take it to the sheep’s water bucket inside their barn stall. They have access to a huge stall inside our barn where I keep their water and where I feed them their grain, and then they can head outside to eat their hay. Having their hay outside keeps most of the mess outside. Previously when I fed them hay inside their barn stall, they would spread it all over and within no time they’d be standing on a thick deep bed of hay that they wasted! It was a royal pain in the butt to clean each time! At least outside, when they waste hay, it composts out there in the fresh air rather than becoming a foot deep block of hay and manure ‘concrete’ inside our barn!

    Once the sheep are fed I fill up another bucket with chicken feed, and a bucket of water, feed the free range roosters (the bachelors) who live in the barn, along with Dougie the female goose, and her best friend Green Bean the male duck, then head on over to the duplex chicken coop. Time to feed all of the hens, their three roosters, and the two female ducks who live with them. Collected all the eggs, 8 of them this morning, all brown ones so far.

    Head back to the barn, put everything away, say hello to Levi the barn dog who is also the very best barn dog in the world because he takes his job SO seriously, give him some belly rubs and it’s time to head back inside.

    That’s pretty much my morning barn chores each day. While there is still two of our adult daughters living here on the homestead, chores are fairly easy and only take me about 45 minutes to an hour each morning. Once baby animals arrive, or if the girls are away, or when things come up (like a chilled horse) it takes longer of course, but that was a fairly typical morning.

    And now it’s time to get ready for my day of business work. 🙂

  • Homestead Diary

    I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a homestead diary.
    I actually have been trying to talk myself into vlogging… you know, video blogging? But I’ve been trying to talk myself into that for quite some time now and I’m no further in my debate with myself than I was in the beginning so it’s time to move on to other ideas. lol

    Writing, that is something I enjoy. Being in front of a camera? Nope.

    So here I am. I’m just going to start writing about our daily homestead life. I’ll keep these posts tucked under the homestead heading, for anyone wanting to find them easily.

    If you’re wanting to be notified each time I write, just add your information to the “subscribe” area to the right of the page. Super simple!

    I hope you’ll enjoy travelling this homestead journey with me. 🙂

  • Spring & Baby animals, part 1

    Spring & Baby animals, part 1
    I’ll call this post baby animals, part 1, because we’ve got so many more coming yet. 🙂
    Most mornings I try to get in a walk after my first coffee, and before my second.

  • On the topic of health… have you heard about essential oils?

    I believe I’ve mentioned on the blog that I’ve become involved in DoTerra. It’s been over a year now and I’ve just been ‘puttering’ away at it, in my usual ‘slow and steady wins the race’ kind of way. When I decide to get into something, I jump in wholeheartedly, but I don’t jump into the deep end immediately. I like to wade around in the waters for a while, really get to know what I’m doing, and then I make my way over into the deep end. 🙂 It’s just the way I am. I believe it’s because I always have quite a bit on my plate with raising kids, the home, homestead and home business. If I jump too quickly into the deep end, waves would splash over into every other area of my life and some areas would indeed flood.

  • New year rambles, goals, pigs, writing, walking and more

    It’s January 2nd, 2016, er, .. I mean, 2017 and we’ve done so much already. I’m tired just thinking about it.
    But in a good way. In a “I’ve got my list, and I’m getting things done” kind of a way.

    Speaking of lists, in the back of my prayer journal this morning I made up a list of goals I’d like to accomplish each month. I’m not real big on ‘resolutions’, but I’m very big on goals. Not just on New Year’s day though, all the time. I actually LOVE Monday’s even, for this very reason. Monday’s are a chance to start a whole new week with a whole new set of goals!

  • A Night On The Homestead

    I’m all out of things to write today, so I thought I’d share something I wrote a while back that was published in Bear Essential Life magazine.
    I love the cartoonist depiction of my story!

  • Simplifying life.

    Join in whenever you can and feel free to comment on that day’s Check In post on the Willard Homestead facebook page
    This is meant to be fun and encouraging. Just a way to keep one another accountable to accomplish the things in our lives that we’re aiming for. For us right now, that’s a clutter free home!

  • A new school year… minus the school! What to do, what to do?

    So there you have it. My big long ToDo list now that we’ve finished school.
    How about you? Do you have any new plans this year? Are you going to be decluttering or organizing your life? Or perhaps you’ve been wanting to, and need a little push to just do it, or help on how to start? Here’s a handy list I saw on facebook the other day! Maybe it’ll help some of you too!