Hello and Welcome! We are the Dwyer Family. We farm in the beautiful Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada. We are a Christian, Roman Catholic family with five children. We own and operate 'Dwyer's Farmhouse'. It's a farm vacation get-a-way place. Our guests stay in a farmhouse and experience a working farm. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures.....there is never a dull moment here! This is our farm story....
I was making supper on Tuesday evening when Jack came in and announced that there was a ewe lambing. He said the little hooves were there but they were the wrong way...which meant that the back legs were coming first and not the front legs. She would need help.
Johanna was put in charge of supper. Grady, Jack and I headed to the barn. We had never delivered a lamb that was backwards before, but all went well. We managed to get it out and it was healthy and BIG. We headed back to the house...supper would be ready.
As we were eating, Jack said that he read that if it's backwards like that, then usually it's twins. He reads mostly sheep manuals in his spare time...when he isn't designing barns. So he ate and then headed back to check on the ewe.
He came back and announced that another lamb had been born. It was also doing well...but it was sort of small. He wanted a towel to dry it off, as the mother was not paying attention to it.
I went out to check on things. The first lamb was up and about. The mother was doing well. But this second lamb was tiny...about a third of the size of it's sister...and it couldn't stand up.
We brought it down to the house, blew a little hot air on it with my handy air dryer and then wrapped it up. I was thinking that it would be a miracle if it was to survive...it was small.
Jack and I worked with the other lamb and got it nursing and then he milked the ewe and we bottle fed the wee one its mother's colostrum. It was doing well and before bed it was attempting to stand. I got up in the middle of the night to give it another feed. We kept it in a laundry basket in the house.
The next morning before Terry left for work, he had a look in at Miss Piggy....and she had delivered her little piglets during the night. SURPRISE....to us! We weren't expecting these to be born until the middle of April. They were early....and they were small. Maybe she delivered early because she had been moved to a new home so late in her pregnancy.
We watched...horrified....as she kept lying down on the little ones. But there wasn't much we could do, as she is rather mean. She 'took a run' at Grady....even though the day before the boys told me that she couldn't run. She makes me nervous to begin with, but add some babies to the situation and it's just ugly. I told the boys to just stay away from her...but they pleaded with me to just take a couple piglets from her and we would look after them.
When Terry got home in the late afternoon, he went in and took two piglets from Miss Piggy. We brought them into the house....and put them in the laundry basket with the wee lamb. They snuggled together and they were oh so cute! But the piglets just weren't 'right'.
I got up during the night to give them all a feed but the pigs just weren't acting right and they were cold. Thier little bodies were just shutting down. I separated them to another laundry basket and put a heat lamp over them. By morning, they were dead....and everyone was sad.
BUT...that wee little lamb was trying to jump right out of her basket! She was doing so well! Jack took her out to the barn and put her in a special box that he had made with a heat lamp.
Farming is SO unpredictable....and sometimes heartbreaking....and so rewarding.
We bought a new van....in 2004. Actually, it was on the same day as my nephew was born. So every year when we wish him a Happy Birthday we also think about the van. We can't believe that he is now 9 years old....and so is the van.
This was when the van was BRAND NEW....so clean....and it didn't smell. We were all dressed up and heading to my brother's wedding.
Man....those kids are cute.
They grew up...and the van has gotten sort of old. But we still love it. It's just always been there for me and it's never left me on the side of the road. I could drive it with the oil light on or a back tire would get low....but she would just keep on going.
Terry bought a 'new to us' van back in the fall. But I just can't get warmed up to it. We only had it a week and it wouldn't start for me one morning. Johanna said...'I guess we'll just have to take Old Reliable'.....what a perfect name for our old van.
So, on most days, I'm still driving the old van...because it has now become the 'chore van'. We put hay in the back of it or a ewe or a lamb or a hen or a cat or a bag of feed...really anything that needs to be transported. It's working out really well. It's like a truck...only better.
The other night I asked if the kids would go and get some wood and bring it down to the furnace. They said...'yeah'....the enthusiasm just wasn't there. So, I said...'you can use the van'...and they raced out the door! Grady let Johanna drive this time, but he has also had his turn 'getting the wood'. They just drive from the place where the old machine shed was down to the furnace. It isn't far....but it's great fun for them.
Now, the toothless grinning girl that used to be in the back seat is sitting in the driver's seat....
So, two weeks ago...on Sunday, March 10th...I took the girls out to entertain for the early St. Patrick's Day festivities. We went up to perform at the Irish Play in Pembroke and then stopped on the way home at the Douglas Tavern...the "Diddley". It was a day for the kids to take the stage at the tavern....and there were nearly 40 of them. They fiddled and step danced and sang...it was just amazing.
While we were away that day, Terry took the boys for a Sunday drive to check out some cattle that were for sale down the road. They looked at the cattle....at least I think they did....but all they could talk about when we all arrived back home was a pig.
They couldn't stop talking about the pig.
She is a mama pig and she is due to have piglets.
And she was for sale.
Now, I don't know much about pigs. I know that when they have their babies, they sometimes sit on them or eat them. And when the piglets are born you have to do something with their teeth...cut them out or something.
It was just all too much for me. I said that I just couldn't handle a mama pig.
We've had pigs here before...they were just weaners. You just have to feed and fatten them and then send them off to the butchers. I can handle that.
But they couldn't stop talking about the pig.
Then Terry said that it would be fine. They had pigs when he was growing up....he could handle the pig.
FINE. I said. Get the pig.
She arrived yesterday. Pearl and Nora were on the welcoming committee.
She is really big....enormous in fact. Her ears and her snout are huge too.
She sort of makes me nervous.
But her eyes look gentle. Her name is 'Miss Piggy'....but I really don't think she knows her name. She is three years old....Lydia said, "Same as me!"
She grunts a lot....but I guess that's what pigs do.
The flu hit me on Friday. It had been making the rounds in this house all week...so it was my turn. It just knocked me out. I hadn't felt that sick in a long time. And as I lay there I was thinking...this is the way I used to feel when I was pregnant. I was always so sick when I was pregnant.
I think that's what made me have so many bizarre dreams. I was thinking of being sick and pregnant and I kept drifting in and out of sleep.
I had a dream about the barn cat having kittens.
And then I woke up.
I had a dream that a friend of mine was expecting. I was just thrilled for her. Then she told me that she actually wasn't going to have a child...she was going to have a litter of pigs.
Then I woke up. I was so glad that I woke up....and I was a little afraid to go back to sleep.
So, I was really looking forward to getting a good night's sleep last night...and it worked out fairly well. I only had to get up a few times during the night to attend to the children.
And this morning, everyone was feeling pretty good. We all got up and got prepared for Mass.
Before we were going to go out the door....
Me: "Wait a minute, I forgot to wash Lydia's hair."
Everyone looked at me...like....what?
Me: "No, I mean...I forgot to brush her face."
Everyone looked at me....like...what?
I said no more. I went to the bathroom and got a clean cloth and a brush. I washed her face and brushed her hair.
Today is the last day of winter and we are enjoying another snowy day.
I'm tired of being cold.
I'm tired of putting wood in the furnace.
I'm tired of finding pails of frozen water in the hen house.
I'm tired of walking carefully so I don't slip on the ice.
I'm tired of soaking wet snowsuits and mittens and boots...
I want to open the windows....
and barbeque a t-bone steak...
and go for a walk in my running shoes...
and put all the coats and boots and mittens and hats away.
I want to hang the clothes on the line...
and dig in the garden and plant seeds...
and put bouquets of weeds in drinking glasses on the table....
no, those are actually 'wildflowers'.
okay...I'd done. I know...the pity train derailed. I will get a straw and suck it up.
It's still winter. So, today I will eat more comfort food. I'm putting a roast of beef in the oven. I'm baking my favourite bird bread. I posted about it here. But it's gotten even better since then. Terry bought me a bag of 'Stone Ground Whole Grain Flour from Heritage Hard Red Spring Wheat...RED FIFE'. It's certified organic and it's from down the road at Madoc, Ontario.
I'm not much of a bread eater. But this homemade bread is not like bread. It's like 'real' bread.....it's 'meaty'. You just need to put butter on it and maybe eat it with a piece of sharp cheddar cheese....and then you feel good. You just can't do that with store bought bread.
So, I'll eat my bread and my roast with gravy and tomorrow will be spring.
Sophie and Lydia were sick during the night so I didn't make it to Mass this morning.
So instead, I attended the Mass celebrating the Solemnity of St. Patrick at St. James the Less Parish in Eganville this afternoon. It was lovely.
The young priest preached an excellent homily. He started off with a joke that I quite enjoyed. It went something like this....
Patty O'Brien went out one night and didn't come home.
A couple of years later, his wife decided to report him missing at the police department.
She told the sergeant that we was missing and the sergeant asked what he looked like.
She said that he was very tall...around 6' 2" and he has blonde hair and blue eyes.
The little lad beside her was tugging at her arm. He said...MOM, that's NOT what Daddy looks like!
And she said....Well, we don't want HIM back!
Yesterday the wee little village of Douglas was filled with the spirit of St. Patrick's Day. It was a day for the community to celebrate their Irish heritage......and they did.
People started to gather in the afternoon. There was music and food available at both ends of town. The 4-H square dancers...including Johanna, Grady and Jack....danced on a wagon. They were warned not to fall off.
A raw, cold wind couldn't dampen the spirit of the party. I had made skirts and ties and had the outfits all planned....and then scrambled to find 'green' warm outerwear. Those skirts could fit over the snowpants!
The floats were all so creative....
Even Freddie Flinstone's car made an appearance.
Our float was based on the familiar fiddle tune "The Irish Washerwoman"....it was Terry's idea. We had an ancient wooden washing machine and clothes lines at the front of the float. Our Irish cottage with the straw roof was placed at the back....we had made this last year and kept it to use again. I had painted a celtic cross on the back and windows on the sides.
Terry wanted to play the part of "The Irish Washerwoman"....and no one argued with that.
Johanna was trying to tune her fiddle amongst all the chaos....
My dad was our driver......and we were ready to go!
The crowd was so much fun. I loved to see the stunned look on their faces when they would first see Terry dancing and then the laughter....
Santa even made an appearance in the crowd. Sophie was screaming and waving at him!
I had given Jack the video camera. Here is a clip of what it was like on our float and the crowd on the streets...
As the sun set, the parade lit up. Even most of the homes in town were decorated with green lights and decorations.
It was a magical night but when things start to look like this...you know it's time to go home!