Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Sheep and Rabbits at the Cobden Fair

It hasn't been raining everyday!  It's starting to feel like summer....only the sun sets way too early and it's cold at night and the leaves are starting to change.

But we are finally getting the hay done....1st cut.

And it's fair time.

Haying and fairs usually don't happen at the same time.  Actually they never happen at the same time.

But whatever.

Sophie had her first experience showing sheep on the weekend....and she loved it!

We invited some of her friends and their families to join the 4-H Sheep Club and show our sheep this year.  That's the fun part of 4-H....you don't need to own the animal to show the animal.  We had 6 kids coming on a regular basis to work and train their lambs for the fair....plus the 4 lambs that our kids were showing too.

The night before the show they all came over to scrub their lambs and blow dry them off....a total spa treatment for the next day.




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And then it was off to the Cobden Fair the next day....






Johanna had a very busy weekend as she also showed in the 4-H beef and dairy shows.


Grady had a pretty good day....


Lydia was thrilled when we found out that there was a peewee category....



She even got to speak with the judge....


Sophie also joined the 4-H Rabbit Club this year.  It was on the condition that we would not have to have a rabbit.  I don't want a rabbit. 

One of the leaders was happy to let Sophie borrow her rabbit "Cutie Pie" and we had been going to her place to train it to go thru the agility course all summer.  "Cutie Pie" was a pretty lazy bunny at the start...it had only ever been in rabbit showmanship at the fair...but Sophie was persistent with her and Cutie Pie was soon running thru all the tunnels and jumping over the bars. 







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She even entered her in the high jump event on the last day of the fair and Cutie Pie cleared 4 bars!  Sophie was thrilled and is already talking about next year...

Brenda

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Raw Milk?.....it's not here.

I've got some news.....

WE DON'T MILK OUR COWS!

Actually that's not news...we have NEVER milked our cows.

There have been a number of guests arrive at the farmhouse this summer and the first thing they want is a glass of cold raw milk....

I don't drink raw milk.  I don't know where you can get raw milk.....as far as I know it's illegal.

Then I have to deal with all these disappointed faces....because there is no raw milk and no cows to milk.

I honestly don't think a dairy farmer could run a farm vacation where complete strangers are milking their cows all the time.  Cow milking is complex.  It's machines.....they don't sit on a wooden 3 legged stool and milk the cows by hand anymore.  That ended years ago.

But I did milk a cow once at Upper Canada Village.  The milking experience from the 1800s is still alive and well there.

Grady works for a dairy farmer.  He milks cows.  I wash his clothes.  I don't want to milk cows.  I don't think you would want to either.

So....after much disappointment about the no raw milk or milking of cows....the guests want to know why we have cows....and really...are we REALLY farmers?  Because....isn't farming about milking cows?

We are BEEF farmers.  Our cows supply you with meat...hamburger, steak, roasts....BEEF.

We have a cow-calf operation.  This means that we have 120 mom cows that give birth every year.  We have calves that 'start' in February....that means they are born in February....thru to April.  And then more 'start' in July thru September.  There were a few new calves born at the farmhouse property this year.

These calves stay with their mom's until they are ready to be weaned and then they are sold....by that time they are a little over a year old.  They are not sweet, small calves at that point.  They have grown to become large animals....nearly as big as their mom's.

And we have sheep.  But unfortunately there is no milk with those either.....I've been asked.  Apparently sheep milk is amazing....and I'm sure it is.  But I don't have any.  Our sheep are bred for their meat too.  Lamb chops...leg of lamb....all that yummy goodness is from our sheep.

We have 25 ewes that dropped 45 lambs this spring....that means that they gave birth to them.  They do have milk....but it's for their babies.

So we don't farm everyday then right?  Because there's really no milk.  Uuuummm....yes.  With that many animals under your care it's hard to just walk away and say 'sorry gals and guys I'm just not going to bother with ya'll today'.....

We do manage to get the odd day away...but it does take some planning.  There have been no vacations where we disappear overnight for days and days.  I remember spending an entire summer day at a cottage once....visiting with relatives....and we came home with the lawn covered in cows.  All just chillin'....relaxing.....laughing at us.....because we had a day away and they had had their own vacation day as well.

Honestly the vacations that I grew up with were so horrendous that I'm not the vacationing type.  You can read about that here.  It's much safer to just stay at home.  The planning and organizing involved to try and take a vacation and leave all these animals here is a little overwhelming for me.

Some guests are shocked to learn that this whole farming gig goes on year round.  There is no possible way that these animals survive here all winter....??

Yes.  Yes they do.  We feed them all the hay that we cut and rake and bale all summer....during the winter.  And we make sure that the water bowls are not frozen....they need a good supply of clean drinking water all winter too.  We keep them in sheltered areas where there is a windbreak or at the edge of the bush or in the barn.  They are all very hearty animals and they manage the winters quite well.

So enough of this farming stuff....I made some cakes on the weekend.....



There were TWO 50th Wedding Anniversary cakes in one weekend....



And a family reunion cake....


And a puppy birthday cake....


I just got this new ruffle tip and it was my first attempt using it....


Brenda




Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Day Away in Ottawa

It's raining as I type this.  It rains everyday.

Usually the barn lofts are filled with square bales at this time of year.  But they aren't.  We haven't managed to even get the first cut finished.  When August arrives we are usually thinking about second cut hay.

It's high stress.  We need that feed for the winter.

We needed to have a day away.  Away from it all.

So Sunday morning, Terry and I took the two youngest girls into Ottawa.  We had plans to tour the Parliament Buildings and go up the Peace Tower but when we went to get the tickets, the line up was really, really, REALLY long. So we scrapped that idea.

We went to Mass at St. Patrick's Basilica.  I didn't take any photos because I'm not used to taking photos inside a church and I was just too much in awe.  That is one beautiful, spectacular church.  The patterns on the ceilings and the paintings and the altar....it's just amazing.  AND we had communion at the communion rail.  I've never experienced that.  Most communion rails have been removed from the churches...our church used to have one years ago but I never saw it used.  Why?....I have no idea....but I wish that they could bring them all back.  Communion at the rail was so very reverent and lovely.

After Mass, we grabbed a quick lunch and then walked.

And walked.  And walked.

My photos aren't the best because all I had was my phone.


We watched the boats go through the locks on the Rideau Canal.



And we found this Celtic Cross.  It's in memory of all the Irish workers who built the canal.


The busker festival was happening on Sparks Street so the crowds were phenomenal.



We enjoyed supper on a patio on Sparks Street.  Terry checked the radar on his phone....because he is always checking the radar on his phone....and sure enough, we were getting a shower of rain back home.


The girls really enjoyed themselves.  Lydia asked if this is always here....the patio or the busker festival?  The patio!  How had the patio always been there and we had never eaten here before!


We must have looked approachable or local because several people asked us for directions or what the name of a building was.  Of course we had no idea so we just made stuff up and made people even more lost or confused.


I'M KIDDING.


We told them that we had no idea....we were actually tourists too!

I was hoping to get a photo of this 'Canada 150' thing with the girls but it was really busy all day long and I couldn't actually get it all in the photo unless I stood way far back....so it didn't work out..


We stayed for the Northern Lights show. 


I thought it was random lights on the Parliament Buildings but it is actually a half hour show that tells the history of our country.  It's excellent.


It was a great get-a-way....for a day....and now we are back to trying to do the hay.

Brenda




Friday, 4 August 2017

Hay and a Funeral Cake?

It's AUGUST!

We FINALLY got some summer weather last week and we got some hay in...but we aren't done yet!  It's raining again today....and it rained yesterday...and it's suppose to rain tomorrow.  But we are thankful that we got some in.


Sophie had a birthday!  Hard to believe that she is already 10.  She is very organized in her celebrations....it was 3 days....including a sleepover party.


I've been baking and decorating.  Lots of summer celebrations that need cake or cupcakes or pie!






This one was for a family bbq of the Donnelly's and McIntyre's.


Johanna saw the plans on the table and thought it was a funeral cake....


She thought Donnelly McIntyre had died and this was the cake for his funeral.


Ummmm. NO.  And then I wasn't sure if I should make the cake according to my plan.  Because maybe it looked like a funeral cake.  No one has ever requested a funeral cake...I'm not even sure if there is such a thing....


But I went ahead with the plan and it was all fine.  I don't know of anyone named Donnelly McIntyre.

The farmhouse has been so busy!  We are completely booked this summer.  There have been so many lovely families that have come to stay.  I overheard a little girl say to her Dad...."But I feel so sad, Dad"...as he was packing their things into the car to leave.  Goodbyes are always hard.....especially when there are kittens and hens and horses involved.

We have a zucchini problem once again....but I'm managing to give them away as lots of people really don't have good gardens this year!

Terry planted a row of beets and I'm not really sure what to do with them.  I have never tried a pickled beet and I don't want too....and it seems like an awful lot of work.  I think I will boil some and see what happens.  Apparently they are one of those superfoods....but we shall see if the kids think that beets are super....

Brenda