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My show has opened!  Hurrah – I’m no longer working 48 hours a week.  I have time to breathe, cook, clean, organize, child-rear, and be the homemaker I really long to be.

Now I can start to settle in here.  I can set up the kitchen, the closets, the living room furniture and make it a home, instead of surviving with everything haphazardly thrown into rooms.  I can make bread and soup, and cook real dinners.  I literally cried last week when I had to feed my family Hamburger Helper for supper one night.  That was a low point for me.  I understand why convenient, processed foods exist.  If both parents/adults are working 40 to 50 hours a week, who has time to cook?  If you can take a shortcut here and there, and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes, you do it.  I even bought a package of already cooked rice that you heat in the microwave.  It tasted fine and was ready in two minutes instead of 20 minutes like the rice cooker, but the packaging kills me.  All that plastic for four small servings of cooked rice.  I still feel guilty and shameful about it.  I will say it right here, right now – in order to take care of my family the way I want to, I cannot work full-time.  Part-time is doable.  Full-time is not.  Not anymore.  Not for me.

All that to say:  survival mode sucks and I’m glad to be done with it.

This week, we started demo on the first outbuilding (and by we, I mean Will and our friend Greg).

Before:

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After:

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Greg and Anita are fixing up the fire place in their house, and Will is building a mantel for them.  Greg and Will pushed over this old barn/shed to get the wood at the foundation.  It’s thick and aged and gorgeous.  I really hope it works out because I think it would be really cool if Greg and Anita have a piece of our farm in their house in the city.  We’ll be salvaging the rest of the wood from the building for other projects (panel wall in our living room, picture frames, coat hook boards, etc.) so if it’s in good shape (not rotten), none of it will go to waste.  I’m especially excited for the roof boards – they’re wide and thick and a beautiful shade of grey.  I felt sad destroying the old building but happy that it will live on in new, more useful, ways.  One down, five more to go.

I learned how to drive the John Deere and use the snowblower this week:

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Ziggy helped.  (Actually thought I might run him over at one point.  He’s so deaf now; he had no fear of the snow blower).  It’s fairly easy to operate – one pedal to go forward, another pedal to reverse.  We need to put chains on the tires though.  I kept getting stuck, and because I’m only 100 pounds, I’m too light to rock it out of the snow.  My wheels just spin and spin.  Will pushed me out a couple of times.

I finally got the chickens out of the barn.  Being the chicken mama that I am, I gently called to them to follow me as I backed out of the barn, and eventually, they came outside!  We had some supervised free-range time in the yard before they went running back to the barn for shelter.  I get it.  They’re prey animals.  Being outside in a big, unprotected space doesn’t feel safe for them.  I’m working on fixing up their new digs this month.  Still gotta figure out a run for them on the old grain shed.  I want them to have access to the outdoors but still be protected.  At least until there’s more animals and possibly a livestock guard dog in the yard.

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I organized my canning jars in the basement.  I’m especially proud of the large collection of Gem jars I inherited from my mom’s friend’s neighbour.  They don’t make ’em anymore.  Thankfully, they still make the snap lids and rings for Gem jars, but they don’t make Gem jars.  There was quite the uproar a few years ago when Bernardin announced they were going to stop making snap lids and rings for the Gems.  They eventually reversed their decision.  Can you imagine having hundreds of canning jars that you can no longer seal?  Having to start from scratch again with only mason and wide-mouth mason?  I like the Gems because they’re about halfway between mason and wide-mouth mason.  Sometimes, masons are too small, especially for pickles and larger fruit like peaches and apricots.  Gems fit the fruit better and still have “shoulders” unlike wide-mouth masons.  The best part of my inherited collection?  They came with glass lids and tall rings.  So if or when Bernardin decides to cease production of the snap lids, I can still use my jars.  Food security at its finest.

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We also have a real cold storage now.  There was already a room built in the basement that would have been the cold storage, but it wasn’t fully insulated.  Only half the wall had insulation (bottom half probably got wet at one point and was pulled out).  One of the first things Will did in the house was finish the insulation in it so we could move our carrots and beets into the house.  It currently sits at about 7 to 9 degrees Celsius in there.  If we wanted it colder, there’s a small window that can be opened.  We have to put an insulated door on it yet, but it’s already working quite well.  It ain’t pretty, but it does the trick.  I moved my pumpkins and squash and canned goods in this week.  It makes me happy to have so much food in the house, not to mention the deep freeze full of moose and deer meat.  I’m currently reading Joel Salatin’s “Folks, This Aint’ Normal” and this quote really hit home for me – “The average person is still under the aberrant delusion that food should be somebody else’s responsibility until I’m ready to eat it.”  I learned what a larder is this week, and let me tell you, next fall, I plan to have the larder of all larders.

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We’re still trying to think of a name for the farm.  I looked up the original homesteader, thinking maybe we could name the place after him – his name was Spurgeon J. Banks.  Ummm, no.  I thought of few more, but the one we seem to be sticking with at the moment is Sparrow Hill.  Sparrow, because the yard is lousy with sparrows, and Hill after the family that we bought it from.  They owned the property for over 60 years.  Before we decide that’s the name though, we have to make sure those birds are actually sparrows.  I’m pretty sure they are.  What do you think?

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Have a great weekend!

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