Winter at the Farm

Winter at the Farm

 As I sat down to catch up on some blogging this morning wrapped in two blankets, favourite pottery mug full of piping hot tea in hand and the fireplace cranked - it dawned on me that maybe it might be a good time to share about what’s new over here, and what things look like behind the scenes.

 What’s that saying? You know the one about the lamb and lion…. Well if I can paraphrase, winter hit the farm slowly and kindly and we were more than excited about this as we had lots on the go and managing the land, animals and day to day life in the country is so much more simple and pleasant when the wind isn’t taking your breath away and you need to dig your way to the barn.

In January we started the much-delayed renovation that needed to happen to this very dated and falling apart farmhouse. Andrew and I have a passion for building and design and although we lead very full lives with work and lifestyle, coming together on a new project is always exciting despite the extra work.

We teamed up, and with the help of my dad and the kids, we demo’d every square inch of the main floor of this bungalow. Good honest work is a great way for kids to not only get away from the screen, but I also love watching them learn and problem solve as we muddle through the day's task.

February 1st was the much-anticipated launch date for our rebrand, and while I was so nervous about how The Better Farm Co. would be received I had confidence that following my gut and heart would if nothing else be genuine. We have been overwhelmed by your response!

Then the Lion came….. The snow began to dump, the temperatures plummeted, and the wind chill made life a lot less convenient. But as a true Alberta girl, I knew it was destined to come so we rolled with it. The little green tractor was up and plowing the way to the main road before dawn, bird bath heaters were added to the water buckets for the animals at the barn, we stocked up on some sweeter feed for the horses and the ritual of layering up before making the trek to do chores began to unfold.

Then the sabretooth tiger came barrelling in and kicked the crap out of all the routines we had in place. He brought with him the longest cold snap in 81 years!! Not the best time to have your house down to studs and the insulation pulled off for the electricians and plumbers to rewire the main floor. But we all just snuggled a little closer in the basement as the frigid drafts blew their way through the holes in the ceiling (by holes I mean entire sections of the basement that no longer have ceilings). I mean we’re making memories, right? Just think of the bonding that happens with three teenagers and their sarcastic parents making do in an icy dungeon while the polar vortex creates an apocalyptic storyboard outside our frosted over windows. Too much? Maybe, but remember I am writing this while flipping from front to back in front of the fireplace during this chilly chapter of our lives. Having said all this, I wouldn’t change one darn thing. I love that our kids still generally like to hang out with us, that we are together sharing design and colour scheme ideas by the fire and that we have a home to make these changes in. We are lucky.

Luck, however, wasn’t on our side when the waterlines to the barn froze underground. This I will be honest has called for an unacceptable amount of cursing and whining on all of our parts. There simply is nothing positive that I can say about filling 40-gallon garbage bins from a hose through the basement window of the house to transport back to the barn and paddocks. This is true country living, not glamorous, not fun and a lot of hard work!

But we got into a groove. We began to plow our way through the snow drifts and work to get the gates free from the frozen ground so we can drive the truck right up to the trough and barn doors. This was all a fantastic plan until the trough cracked and began to leak and freeze itself to the frozen ground. But one determined little green tractor (to pull that frozen broken trough off), a new leaky (but now fixed) trough, an unfortunate dent in Andrew’s favourite truck (from sliding into the gate) and we are back to our routine of hauling water without it leaking away.

So, although this stretch of winter has been less than fun. We have learned a few things. Our goats are princesses, they will not walk in snow drifts taller than their bellies – they must have a path shovelled out for them or they will in fact just stand at the cusp of their shelter and cry at you. Kune Kune pigs are crazy hardy animals and will brave the coldest temps to get their snouts in a feed pan full of grub. Old horses get even more spoiled when they look at you through sad eyes and frosty whiskers. Teenage boys can, in fact, carry full five-gallon pails of water 400 yards they just don’t want to. If you squint your eyes you can see what appears to be stars in the subfloor of your house where the basement light shines through the staple holes. A family of 5 can live off of slow cooker, BBQ and the local watering hole meals for at least 7 weeks and counting. And finally that despite the many inconveniences of living on and improving this farm of ours none of us would actually change a thing.