Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye and good ridance 2014

The truth of the matter is that 2014 has been hard. There have been bright spots, but they have been so overshadowed by the hardness that sometimes it is hard to see them, to feel them, to remember them. 2013 seems so long ago. 2015 can't get here fast enough. And all we can do is hope that somehow 2015 will be better than 2014 has been to us.

From the start, looking forward to 2015 tells us things will be different than usual. Baby boy will be arriving when I should be focusing on getting my garden starts started, he will be a newborn as things outside are getting going. Orchard pruning, garden preparing, fence fixing, all will be things that won't happen this year. We haven't decided what to do with the gardens this year. After all, what with the flooding/debris flows last summer, they aren't in the best of shape anyway, and who knows what this summer will bring in terms of rain events, although we are pretty convinced the debris flows will not happen to that extent again, at least for many years and even then it would be another post-fire-type event. Then, although the mister will be on day shift for the first 6 months, he will be on night shift for the last 6 months, so even if we got a garden in between birth and new-babyness, harvest would be seriously challenging for just me with 3 little kids.

The laying hens should have been replaced last summer (they haven't laid since my birthday in late September), and so definitely should be replaced this summer, but again, I can't decide if it is worth the extra effort this year, or if we should just relegate ourselves to buying eggs for the next 2 years and put chicks off until spring/summer of 2016 when things hopefully will be more settled and under control.

Similarly, with the irrigation still being completely broken, pigs are in question. How do we keep them happy and wallowing and watered with no irrigation. Sure we have the well water from the house, but I'm not at all sure how good our well actually is in terms of using that much extra water, on top of the extra we will use just to keep the raspberries and strawberries and fruit trees going.

The good news is that 2015 will be my last year in any portion of pregnancy, yup, three will be plenty for us. So that is one thing that I am extremely excited about, and I'm looking forward to getting back in shape for the last time post-pregnancy, etc.

A lot of things I'm looking forward to will be simply in the planning stages in 2015, for 2016 and 2017: camping, hiking & canoeing trips with the family, getting nearer and nearer to our house being fully paid off, doing more adventures with older kids and less financial obligations each month, planning a big trip to celebrate being mortgage-free. All of these things are things we are dearly looking forward to and dreaming about, but they won't come to pass in 2015, although the steps we make throughout the year in 2015 will be what allows us to get there in 2016 and 2017.

However, at least 2014 is over with, and hopefully things will be upwards and onwards and easier from here! Happy New Year to you and yours, and I hope your 2015 is filled with good things :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Farm cat

A couple of months ago, likely mid-late September, my husband came home one night later than usual (this was before he switched to night shift), and found a black/grey cat in the carport. He almost did away with it, but didn't want to wake me to that unexpected noise, and by the next morning, I'd convinced him that since we have the chickens, gardens, and yard fenced, having a carport cat wouldn't cause cat-dog interactions, and wouldn't be likely to have cat poo in the gardens, and I wasn't too worried about my chickens from a cat.

Anyway, I figured the cat was an abandoned or fire/flood refugee cat, likely partly wild or feral, but would be great at controlling our rodent population without resorting to poison like I had been on the brink of for a good six months to a year, after a mouse chewed the kids car seat straps (unsafe costly inconvenient event, that). I picked up some cat food at the feed store, and we started feeding it. For the first while it wasn't eating much every night, and some nights it didn't eat anything at all. By the start of November we'd convinced ourselves that it must belong to someone down valley, and be wandering up. But that would be about 3/4 of a mile, which didn't seem like it would be conducive to a long-lived cat (lots of hungry coyotes around here!).
First picture, first daylight sighting, on the right side of the door opening. She came out to visit us from somewhere in the mess of a garage, hungry for attention, happy in the sunlight.
But we kept feeding it, as the group we thought were possible owners were renters who wouldn't be staying the winter, and we figured maybe we would be adopted when the renters left. Then Little M spotted a calico late one afternoon, shortly after sunset. We followed it and it ran up valley. We were puzzled, but wondered if there were just a fair number of cats roaming around after the fires.

The calico started coming nightly shortly after dark, but that was all we were seeing of her. We started assuming that she, too, must have another home. Then last week we saw the black cat for the first time since that first time my husband saw it. And there was the calico with it. That's when we put it together where they must be from. A quick phone call to a neighbor up valley and it came out that they used to belong to the folks up from us whose house and outbuildings burned in the initial push through of the fire that first night. The cats had been rehomed to one of the adjacent neighbors in their little group of three, and were supposed to be staying in their barn. In fact, these new owners said that they had never seen the calico out of the barn.
Giggling sisters sledding down the hill, photobomb courtesy of the calico cat

Well we felt really bad and stopped feeding them, not wanting to put these two in danger of coyotes, tempting them down for food, especially after dark as they had been doing. We assumed it would end, the nightly visits. Little M was devastated, and I started keeping an eye out for people needing new homes for barn cats. Then one night my husband left the garage door open over night, and the next morning he saw the calico cat stalking/playing in the field beside the garage.

Not wanting to shut her in the garage, not knowing how much time she was spending in there vs in her 'old' barn, we left the garage open, but didn't see her again. Then yesterday/night we got about 7 inches of snow, our first snowfall, and with it dumping down outside I assumed she would have headed back home. Except there she was, looking for food, right on schedule. I checked tracks with flashlight, and saw some coming out and then back into the garage (I assumed). I went back out with some food, and went to the garage, then came back, and with no new tracks out of the garage, there she was in the carport, friendly as could be.
Thanks for the breakfast, and the petting.

I rethought it, and she must be staying in the carport, and have ventured into and out of the garage, the tracks I assumed meant she was living in the garage. I called Little M out, and she was able to pet her as well. I have no clue what prompted the change, before last night anytime we rattled the doorknob when she was eating in the carport she would be off like a flash, but suddenly it snowed and she decided she liked us.

Anything interesting on your mitten? Treats perhaps? No? Oh well, back to breakfast.
Today we were out playing in the snow, and she was out with us the whole time. I don't know whether to assume she's now adopted us, or if she will venture back and forth still, but she's a cute friendly little calico, and I know exactly how Little M feels about her ('can I go back out and check on my cat?' - all day!). We will never have an inside cat, so outside she will have to stay, weathering the cold, snow, wet, heat, coyotes, cougars, and all. But from all accounts she's always been a barn cat, which is why her initial owners weren't able to take her with them where they are staying now while they figure out what their next steps are. So maybe she will be fine. And hopefully she will eat lots of mice and no birds and snakes... As a biologist I have a very hard time with outdoor cats, but in our situation, where I was on the verge of putting poison in our vehicles for the mice, which I feel has worse/bioaccumulating/longer term impacts on the ecosystem, I guess I'll have to live with her eating some birds and snakes. As long as she kills mice while she is at it...

The pictures here were the first I was able to take of her, today, the first time in daylight that I had more than a fleeting glimpse of her, during our frequent excursions outside to play in the snow, and 'take care of' the cat, who Little M has of course named Golden Rabbit, although she generally just calls her Cat, or The Cat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


We found out after the fire evacuation that we were expecting a third baby - due in late March/early April. We hadn't quite decided if we wanted to try for a third, and were definitely planning to wait another year, but the stress of the fire apparently changed my body's mind. Oops! We are very excited, especially because we recently found out that this third (and last!) baby is a boy!

Obviously I've been pretty absent around the blog these last few months, there has been a lot going on to get our property back in shape after the fire and flood, and being pregnant on top of that has been enough to handle. Now that I'm past 20 weeks (and the shingles episode of weeks 17+, yikes!), and my energy level is getting back into the normal realm, I'm hopeful that I will begin to post more regularly again!

Yup, definitely pregnant. Starting to not fit in anything but pregnancy shirts, and even some of those are too short! Yikes third pregnancy!
I certainly have a backlog of fun pictures to put up, as we did manage to have some fun this summer and fall :)
About when I started visibly showing, during a visit to my parents home in Ontario Canada earlier this fall (pics to come!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Inspiring blog post titles & random ramblings on

I read a title to a post the other day, and without reading the actual post, the title just fits where we are at these days: When the dream comes true but the reality is slow and ugly. I mean, wow. So fitting. Not in any particular way I can describe, but it is exactly how I am feeling about our present. Although of course I might use different/stronger language to describe the reality than 'slow and ugly'. (stupid and stressful? irritating and heartbreaking? you get the point!)

Regardless, we are moving on from the fires and the debris flows/floods. Moving on from the bummer summer. Moving into fall, keeping our fingers crossed for light gentle fall rains, for a snowpack that doesn't melt all at once, for spring regrowth that quickly starts holding the soil together. Looking forward to snow and the peace and calm and quiet that falling snow lends to our landscape.

We haven't decided what to do with the gardens yet. The lower garden got scraped off, but I couldn't bear to put the energy into it to rake, hang fences back up, and seed a fall cover crop. I just didn't want to sink myself back into it not knowing what even the rest of the fall would look like. Not knowing if we would decide to start a garden elsewhere (but where?) next spring, or wait a year to see if the majority of the debris/dirt/rocks were down from that chute. The side garden we will likely keep going next summer. It is big enough that apart from the soil being much poorer than what the lower garden had, and the weed bank being MUCH larger, we should be able to plant everything we want in it.

It is funny, initially when we started the side garden, I imagined letting the lower garden go back to grass, to pasture, so maybe this will end up happening after all. After all, the side garden is much easier to defend from future debris flows, compared to the lower garden, where defending means putting up a berm to keep the debris flow material on our neighbors property, where the flow originated from. They aren't the friendliest of neighbors even now, and I imagine that could send them over the edge into certifiably crazy.

And if we do pigs (currently dependent upon the irrigation for our little valley being repaired which isn't looking all that good) next summer they will be on the east side of the property, about where we had the pig the first year. They are just too smelly to have in the garden, beside the play structure. Besides, we have plans down the road to have a little patio type area in the garden, which definitely means no smelly pigs along side! We'll just have to haul the manure across every fall I expect, which is quite worth it to have the smell and the flies on the downwind side (most of the year) of the house.

Anyway, that is our little update here!
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