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Whoa.

So June is gone, and July is almost over.

We’ve been living in survival mode for nearly eight weeks now.  I had hoped that things would calm down after the shows opened, but unfortunately, we had to replace an actor in the show, so we’ve been dealing with emergency rehearsals for the past two weeks.  Will continues to work more than 60 hours a week (kinda like a lawyer, but without the pay), and I greatly overestimated the amount of work I’d be able to handle this summer, so not only am I performing seven shows a week, I’m also working 20 hours a week at my part-time job.  Which was easy to do when I was in my 20s and 30s; not so much now that I’m pushing 40 and have two kids and a farm.  I feel like I could sleep for three years at this point.

Survival mode is hard.  Things around the homestead have suffered.  I’ve really had to adjust my expectations and prioritize my values.  Yes, prioritize my values.  For example, I value making sure my family has good food to eat, and I also value having healthy, homegrown, home preserved food to feed them.  Both are important, but only one is vital.

The garden has suffered from neglect to the point where we had to mow down the beets, carrots, and peas because the weeds had overtaken them, so we won’t have homegrown beets and carrots this winter.  I did manage to eek out some radishes early on, and the tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, garlic and onions are all okay.  Not great, but okay.  Next year, if we happen to both be working again, we have to manage our expectations for what we hope the garden will produce when we don’t have the time to care for it.  Smaller garden, smaller harvest.

We did manage to get the barn painted at the end of May, with a lot of help from my parents and my brother.  It was an incredibly windy day, but we persevered.  Poor Will had to climb three levels of scaffolding to get the top.  He managed to save “A.J. Hill 1956.”  The barn looks really good now – I’m hoping to get the windows fixed up before winter (swipe or click the right arrow to see “after” photos).

Mama broody hatched her chicks.  She did a good job of raising them, then kicked them out of her feathers to be on their own last week.  The best part of having a broody hatch and raise her own chicks is that the flock immediately accepts them.  Normally, I’d have to do a slow introduction so that the big chickens wouldn’t peck the little ones to death.

 

The meaties are almost ten weeks old now.  We were going to butcher at eight weeks, but I decided to wait two more weeks.  I’ve been feeding them chopped grain with layer supplement, instead of full grower ration this year, and they are growing a bit slower.  They’re now at a good size, and still very active, so Monday is set for butching day.  Fingers crossed we can get them all processed in one day (’cause that’s all the time we have!)

I picked up a second batch this year.  I’m raising them to sell to friends and family.  I can barely keep up with demand.  If only raising pastured chicken was profitable, I’d make it my full-time job.

That puts my total chicken count at . . . 92.  Gulp.  To be fair, 60 of those are meaties destined for freezer camp.  So really, I only have 32 chickens.  That’s not that many, really.  I could have more . . .

Chickens in the evening sunlight ☀️ #ilovechickens #homesteading #smallfarm #saskatchewansunset #chickens

A post shared by Jamie Shebelski (@sparrowhill2016) on

I’m loving the views around our place this summer.  Lots and lots of sunny canola!

This is our second summer on the farm, and last summer was really hard too.

Here’s where I need to adjust my expectations, and perhaps, my life philosophy a bit:  as a city girl, I grew up with the expectation that summer meant vacation.  Relaxation, time at the lake, travel, sitting in the sun, reading books.  But as I become more attuned to the flow of the seasons, I have realized that, really, summer is not the season of rest.  Winter is the season of rest.  Summer is the season of growth and work.  In order to rest in the winter, the work must be done in the summer.  Other animals know this, but we human animals have lost touch with it, since we now outsource so much of our food growing and food preservation to corporations.

Part of what has made summer so difficult for me over the past two years, is the expectation of having time to rest and relax, and when I don’t get it, or don’t have time for it, it makes me angry.  But if I adjust my view to accept winter as the time to relax, then perhaps, the summer work won’t feel like such a burden.  Perhaps.

And finally, yesterday morning, we said goodbye to our little foster baby Fred.  Bittersweet.  He went back home to his mom and dad, so we’re very happy for their family, but damn we’re going to miss that kiddo.  We had a rough start, but every second was so worth it.  It was pure joy watching him grow and develop into a healthy, happy baby boy.  I hope he never forgets our love; if not consciously, then on a cellular level.  We infused his every day with lots and lots of love.

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