Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Last Thursday night was not good. Nathan and I both arrived home after dark (unusual) and the turkeys had decided to roost in a tree. They were all on different branches and pretty high up. It took us 20 minutes to find them, and then another half hr to get them all down. We had to carry them one at a time, so we stuck them in an unused coop that was close to the tree where they'd roosted.

Because that coop isn't very predator proof (big gap around the top of the door), I woke up especially quickly when I heard the most eerie shrieking sound at 2:30 am. I lay there for a split second processing the sound, thinking "I'm sure that isn't one of our animals...I've never heard that before...so maybe it's fine" before I told Nathan that I was going to go check. I rushed towards the temporary turkey coop, and just quickly shone the flashlight into the chicken coop on the way by. The roosts seemed too bare...like there were chickens missing. I shone the light to the coop floor, thinking some of the younger birds had been bullied right off the roosts...and saw the most horrible thing. Four chickens were dead on the ground and a mink was eating one of them. I screamed for Nathan and the mink scurried away.

Three of the chickens were Magpie's twin's chicks from June, and the fourth was Magpie's twin. The mink had picked all of the smallest birds from the roosts. Magpie is also missing. We had assumed she was broody somewhere well hidden since we found her on a nest of 11 eggs last week and took the eggs away...but now I think the worst. The mink probably found her.

We had raccoon proofed the coop...but we hadn't mink proofed it. That's the worst part - we knew there were mink around here. We saw them at the river nearby, and I even saw one crossing the road down the street. I just wish we had fixed the coop to make it as secure as it is now.

That night, we couldn't leave the chickens in the coop since it was obvious that the mink would come back. Our three options were stay up all night guarding the coop, leave Ryan outside to guard the coop, or bring the chickens inside. As much as we love our chickens, we didn't want to sit outside all night. Ryan would have howled a sorrowful tune if we'd left him out there, so option three it was. We grabbed dog crates and loaded them up with our 22 remaining chickens, and stuck them in the basement. They were some very confused chickens, especially since we kept turning the lights on and off the rest of the night as we would hear mink-sounds and rush back outside to check on the turkeys.

We spent most of Friday securing the coop. There is now 3/4" hardware cloth buried inside on all sides and meeting almost in the middle of the coop, joined to a big piece of plywood that sits in the middle. Every gap is sealed. I feel confident that nothing else can get in there.

We trapped the mink and it's now gone. It had to go - it was a daylight hunter, as well. It came back Friday, midday, looking to get into the bin where the bodies from the night before were. I got home after a quick hike and looked outside to see all of the chickens in a semi-circle around the coop, staring at something. I leaned over the deck railing and saw the mink just standing there, in broad daylight. I released the dogs as I was getting my boots on and they went absolutely nuts. They're good hunters, those city dogs. They flushed the mink from building to building away from the chicken coop. They make a slightly 'special' hunting team, though, since Ryan seems to be the only one who actually uses his nose. Abby is all vision and screaming, and Zoey thinks it's all a game of dig and find sticks.

Ryan says "ummm...you guys...it isn't even under there anymore..."

We've now had a hawk, eagle, neighbour's dog, raccoon and mink attack on our chickens. Please don't let a bear be next! I miss Magpie :(

There will never be another quite like that little Miss Magpie.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Rain

It is finally raining after the driest summer in 25 years. It was a bit of a struggle to have so little water for our first summer here but we got creative with the little rain we had and our shallow well and we made it with veggies to spare!

We had a pizza night with all of our own produce (except the cheese and dough ingredients). That is tomato sauce with a few lbs of cherry tomatoes, and on the plate are sweet and hot eppers,  eggplant, kale, arugula, zucchini and basil. Topped off with our delicious farm produced bacon - yummy!

I'm sure the turkeys will also be delicious...they are truly free range....

Friday, September 19, 2014

What Happened??

This blog was completely abandoned because we have been busy getting so much done! Nathan's parents were visiting for the last 5 weeks, along with his brother's fiance, Crystal, and my parents for part of it. We would definitely consider hiring all of them for cheap labour in the future ;) I can't even believe how much we worked on. 

The list so we can keep track:
-cleaned and organized the workshop 
-put in baseboards in the living room
-cleaned the house (...to parent standards..slightly higher than our standards)
-cleaned, lined and organized all the kitchen cupboards and drawers
-added another layer of insulation to the crawl space
-cleaned all of the soffits and gutters
-installed a rain tank under the 'storage barn' roof
-put up a temporary greenhouse over the aquaponics
-painted the barn and cleaned the roof
-cleaned the water shed roof
-redid all of the deck rails (got rid of all of that lattice!) and painted the whole thing
-fixed the rotten parts of the deck
-pulled out the bad fencing behind the hot tub and in the front yard
-started building beds into the hillside at the front of the house
-raised our bed up (dogs on the bottom bunk!) and organized our bedroom
-cleaned up the front yard and did a bunch of weedwhacking
-cleared the entire driveway
-organized all of the wood on the property - we have our own lumber yard!
-cleaned the worst part of the property - where those old coops are
-fenced that old coop area for the turkeys
-did multiple dump runs
-put the roof beams up on the carport structure
-hung the gate on the sheep pasture (it was tied to the fence)
-had eggs delivered right to our bedroom every morning...

...I'm sure I'm forgetting some of our projects. We only took a few days off for day trips and other than that we worked on projects every day! 

Oh...except for our hospital days...

First, we had to take Leonie to get xrays on her elbow since she fell going down some steps and it was really sore and swollen. Luckily, nothing broken...and nothing like a few weeks of manual labour to fix it up!

Next, I was on my way home one evening after feeding a pony and I got the dreaded call from Nathan: "we've had an accident and we need you to take Dad to the hospital". Keith had gone into the sheep paddock to chase some chicks into the coop (they *still* haven't figured out the nighttime routine). He was wearing his flip flops (regrettably called "thongs" in Australia). The sheep were busy eating their hay...except that when Keith got as far back as the plum tree, they must have assumed he was going to give them some branches so they all raced over - including Mr. "I'm an a-hole when I want to be" Thomas. Thomas knocked Keith over, then knocked Keith over again, and then Keith scrambled over the fence, losing his shoe in the process and catching his toe on the fence. The cut was pretty bad so off to the hospital we went. I'm sure the nurses are still retelling the story of the Aussie guy who got rammed so hard his thong fell off.....

The third hospital trip was for me after I got stung above my eye by a wasp and went into anaphylactic shock last week. It was the scariest experience of my life and I'm so lucky that it happened at home when Nathan's parents were there. I rushed inside to rinse it and to take antihistamines, since I normally have a big swelling response but that's it. This time, I started feeling really strange within a few minutes - dizzy and my skin started flushing. Then my feet and hands and legs got really itchy and my tongue was starting to tingle and swell. That was when I asked if we could please go the the hospital. Leonie had to help me get into the car because by that point I was falling over and my vision was disappearing (first it went all black, and then all white...so strange). As we started driving I could tell that my throat was swelling since I was having trouble swallowing and was trying very hard to stay calm and breathe normally. I said that we needed to call an ambulance - figuring that at least they could keep me alive since I really felt like I was going to die. We pulled over to meet the ambulance and I started throwing up...long story short, a shot of epinephrine and 4 hours later and I was back to normal (except for an extremely swollen face) and demanding cheeseburgers. I now have to carry an epi injector everywhere and I'm going to look into getting allergy shots. Such a scary experience.

Ryan and I both have fear of wasps now...poor Ryan reacts poorly, too (stung above his nose, here):

Most of the trip was so much fun! We were really sad to see them go :(
(lots of photos taken by Crystal)

Loving their green hay:

Yummy dessert after pizza night at the cidery:

Wine tasting:

Keith and I installing the last baseboard:

Ryan's preferred cool down method:

Lots of produce!:

We had buckets of tomatoes for most of August and into September:

Keith finishing up the deck - looks so good! The wood for the rails was all on the farm already. Nathan and his dad cut planks into lengths (with table saw also on the farm), painted them and replaced the lattice.

The aquaponics greenhouse (all made with materials found on the farm):

You can see the bit of cleared pond here:

Front walkway before:

Now - very proud of the new gate I built:

Back porch before:

Not quite the same view, but it's a huge difference:

Our new bunk bed! Our room is pretty small so this way dogs can sleep underneath. I think they like it! 

Living room before:

Living room now (opposite end):

Horrible coop area before:

All cleaned up and that pile went to the dump! Those structures will come down eventually and we'll seed this area to make it into a sheep pasture.

Driveway then:

 Driveway after clearing (before new roof):





Love our 'new' deck!

Under the structure before...wood and junk everywhere:

Neatly piled now (and a pile to cut into burning wood at the back):

Ready for a roof!:


Chickens were invading the cleared herb garden, so I put a fence around those beds and tore down the horrible fence along the top:

 Now (except that top bed is planted):

Nathan building beds along the hillside, assisted by mom and chicks:

 New plants!

Before (grass made it look nice but what a mess!):





 Kitchen cupboards before:


 Kitchen before:


Old barn (but nice green grass!):

Newly painted barn:

Side before:

Side now:

 Workshop before:
Workshop now:

 Looks so much better now!: