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Ah summer.  Summer was a bit rough on us this year.  We had a wonderful garden, and many things did really well (like the cucumbers – we have pickles for days!), but we also had our hearts broken a few times over, and not a whole lot of time to grieve.

The morning that our foster son LG was going home for good, my dear mother-in-law passed away.  It was a horrible double hit of loss.

LG had been with us for eight months, and although we were incredibly happy for his mom, it’s always a sad day when a child you’ve loved and nurtured for nearly a year leaves you forever (or so you hope).

We knew Shirley wasn’t doing well the night before, and we were preparing to go to Regina immediately after taking LG home the next day to say our goodbyes.  We got the phone call early in the morning that she had already passed.

For the past two summers, Shirley had come to stay with us while we were working at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan to help take care of the kids, so this summer was bittersweet.  I always looked forward to her visits, not only because she loved being with the kids and did my laundry, but we would often chat in the kitchen when I was baking or preparing supper, or stay up late talking about her memories of when her kids were young.  That’s what I missed most this summer – her gentle presence and love in the home.  It’s still hard to believe she’s gone.  Sometimes I think she’s still in Regina, and we’ll see her at Christmas, and then I remember.  Grieving is a long, long process.

Then lastly, in July, we said goodbye to Ziggy, our faithful, grouchy companion of 11 years.  Rest in peace, my little furry friend.

Phew.  That’s enough loss for one year.  2018 has not been great.

In other, more uplifting news, I created an Olive Egger and she started laying in July.  Super happy about that!

I upped my canning game this year with a PRESSURE CANNER!  It’s amazing, and I love it.  Bring it on zombies – I’m ready for you.  We have food canned for days.  DAAAAAAYYYYYS.

On August 24, 2018, after 1,337 days in foster care, we adopted our son Liam.  Thankfully, he agreed to adopt us as his parents as well.  We threw a huge party to celebrate.

We enjoyed some time as a family of three, even managing to take a weekend camping trip to Waskesiu.  It was amazing to watch Liam discover the North for the first time.

I kept up with the harvest from the garden, canned pounds of peaches, pears and apples from the BC fruit truck, made quarts and quarts of juice, and all of a sudden, it was fall.  Well, actually, winter came first . . .

Thankfully, it didn’t stay.  After tarping the poor meaties and turkeys on pasture for three days, it was time to harvest.  Thank you chickens for your nourishment.  You will feed my family this winter #responsibleomnivore.

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The first time we butchered chickens, it took us eight hours to do six chickens. SIX. Today, we slaughtered and processed thirty chickens, seven GIGANTIC turkeys, three heritage roosters, took care of our sow who (surprise!) farrowed yesterday morning, did the rest of the usual farm chores, stopped for lunch and coffee breaks and still got done in six hours. Boom! Learning curve obliterated! But seriously, I feel really good about being able to process these animals on the land they were raised on. We do it outside, in the fresh air and sunshine, the way it should be. The way it used to be. Best of all, the animals don't get stressed out because they're not being transported anywhere. On a side note, anyone interested in a turkey for Thanksgiving, give me a shout. These suckers are massive. Seriously. #homesteading #butchering #butcherday #freezercamp #growyourown #slaughteryourown #cornishcross #nicholaswhites #meaties

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In goat news, our wether, Bart, learned how to escape the electric fence and that was the end of the goats staying in their pen.  So we made a tough decision to do away with them.  This was very hard on me.  I really grew quite attached to the goats, and it was difficult to treat them like livestock instead of pets.  But in the end, this is a farm, and all the animals have a job to do, and they were eating a lot of hay (which is super expensive), and I believe it was the right thing to do.  Not the easy thing for sure, but the right thing.  So now I’m taking a break from goats.  I think maybe in the spring I’ll get some more.  But this time I want Dwarf Nigerian goats – easier to handle and milk.

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Day 8 of #gettoknowahomesteader is four-legged animal. I'm having an emotional day. We decided to sell our goats. Bart, our wether, learned how to get past the electric fence, and now he won't stay in the pen. Lady, our nanny, follows him. Janky, Lady's buckling, stays behind and bawls. We have someone interested in slaughtering Bart and Janky, but not Lady, which means we will have to butcher her ourselves. We don't plan on breeding her again since she was really difficult to milk and never got better. And we can't keep just one goat – she'll be lonely. Over the past two years, I've managed to keep a certain amount of emotional distance from our livestock, but the goats really did become like pets, so this is a hard decision. It's affecting me more than I thought it would 😓 . Hosted by @atablefullinthewoods @moderndaysoldways @lostandfarmed @growingjubilance @mitzacreekfarm . #smallfarm #homestead #homesteading #emotionalday #livestocknotpets #doesntmeanidontcare #saskatchewan #sparrowhillsk

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After letting our hearts heal a bit, we decided we were ready to welcome a new little friend to our home.  Jeriah joined us on October 13, and he’s a real sweetheart.  And a trouble maker.  He’s the definition of the terrible twos.

It was a short fall, and then winter arrived for real this time.  We were much better prepared this time around.  Our goal this year is to only use wood heat in the house.  Our propane tank is at 65%, and we’d like to keep it that way.

And that brings us up to date!  We’ve settled in for the winter.  Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a “teeth-chattering cold winter,” but so far it’s been fairly mild.  I’ve come to really enjoy winter since we’ve moved to the farm.  It must be something about being away from the energy of the city, where even though the season changes, the pace never does.  Winter means rest.  The harvest is in, the livestock are bedded down in the barn, the garden is alseep.  It’s as close to hibernating as I’ve ever been, and I love it.  Stay warm!