Marching in like a Lion or a Lamb?

Not a lot of news on the farming front, but it’s been more than a fortnight since I last posted, so I thought I’d just let you all know we’re still alive and kicking here in our giant mud puddle of a farm.  In case you’re wondering how we’re doing on the 2013 goals so far, here’s where we’re at:

Travelling anywhere outside the province is a bust thanks to my gallstones, and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get travel insurance, let alone the fact that I might not want emergency surgery in a foreign health system, so no grand trip to Egypt or Costa Rica (which were the two options we were looking at).  Which may be just as well, given the escalating issues in Egypt.

Speaking of gallstones, still no word on when my surgery will be, though I met the surgeon in early February.  I’m guessing April sometime, but really, just guessing.  In the meantime, the very low fat/high fibre diet is melting away pounds – 28 so far.  Another 10 and I’ll be back to my pre-kids weight.  Fear of pain is a big motivator.  The only food I’m really missing is cheese.  Otherwise, I seem to have adapted pretty well to the restrictions of the low fat angle.  Eating out is awkward, but we don’t do it often anyway, fortunately.

There are no little piglets rooting around in our barnyard, as our friend who was going to be selling us the weaners has what has turned out to be a dud boar – he was a new arrival at my friend’s farm back in the summer, and has failed to do his job with any of the six sows.  We didn’t find this out until just after New Year’s, and didn’t take action at that time as our friend was just going in for hip surgery, and it didn’t seem right to go buy piglets from someone else till we knew for sure if he’d be gettting another boar in for his sows – and it turns out he’s not sure himself, as he’s getting older and taking a while to get his strength back after the surgery.  He’s just given us notice that he’s going to think on it for a while (till the summer), so we’ve decided to see if we can find weaners from someone else.  It just so happens I sit on the harvest feast committee with the president of our local 4H region, so she’s my first port of call.

We decided over the winter that we will be raising all our broilers in August/September this year.  This is because the local weather patterns the last couple of years have been dryer then, with temperatures a little cooler than July.  May/June has been quite wet the last three years, forcing us to delay putting the birds on pasture.  So we’ll give this a try this summer and see how it works.

Concerning the stressful aspects of our eldest daughter’s graduation – we have covered THE most important item on the list: we have the prom dress.  This is a major relief for both of us, since many of her classmates started shopping last AUGUST.  Seriously.  And have spent hundreds of dollars for beautiful princess ball gowns they will wear once.  There’s a facebook page where they post what they got so no one duplicates a dress.  Seriously.  I did what I usually do in stressful clothing shopping situations (I hate clothes shopping) – I put it off.  And then a mother at work with a graduating daughter warned me that the two big prom dress places in town were cutting off orders at the end of January (which was the month we were chatting in) because the dresses have to be ordered and then adjusted, and I panicked again, but it was like spinning my wheels in mud, because at the time, our whole family was mired in the six week cold/flu that has prevailed in our area all winter, and we were not up for 2 hours of trying on dresses.  So two weeks ago, my daughter and her best friend lured me to drive them round a list of consignment shops around town to see if they could each find something on the rack that would fit and that they liked, my daughter’s friend being on a tight budget.  Bingo!  First shop, first dress she tried on, my daughter found the perfect dress – dark blue with sparkles in the fabric, draping nicely straight to the floor from a snug bodice, fairly high cut,  one shoulder strap, and a ruffle down one side (sorry, no picture – maybe closer to grad).  She looked amazing, even in a pony tail and sports socks.  We paid $32.  Total.  For a dress she loves.

We finished the last of the useable stored apples from the cold room on the last day of February.  We consider it a big achievement, as this was done without any fans or gizmos.  It has caused us to make grandiose garden plans so we can store lots more food in there.  The book “Root Cellaring” by Nancy and Mike Bubel lives on my husband’s bedside table.  From early November we also successfully stored about 80 lbs of potatoes, 50 lbs of carrots, 10 lbs of beets, several heads of cabbage, and about 1o lbs of parsnips.  In the basement, we also kept 50 lbs of onions, 24 squash, and a paper bag full of garlic.  Onions, carrots, parsnips and cabbage have all run out – we ate the last carrots about a week ago.  Cabbage got replenished over the winter more than once.  But otherwise, we stored all those things for 4 months.  With kale and chard in the garden all winter, tomatoes and corn in the freezer, we did not buy any veg for four months.  It felt pretty good.  The potatoes, garlic, apples and about 20 lbs of onions were homegrown, we traded chicken for squash with my neighbour.  The rest was bought in bulk from a local farmer, for which we got a big price break.  Of course, growing our own would be even cheaper, hence the grandiose plans.

Spring is happening all around us just now – we’re a little sodden and damp thanks to a lot of rain in the last week or two, and we’re getting occasional mild frosts, but otherwise birds are everywhere, daffodils are poking up, trees are budding. When it’s sunny, it feels warm out.  I hung sheets on the line today after lunch, and they were dry by suppertime.  I don’t get to do that in winter.  I’m not sure if we’re in Lion or Lamb mode at this point in the month – mild temperatures make me think Lamb, but all the rain kind of says Lion.  Of course, we’ve had no wind to speak of yet, and we usually do this time of year, so…

How’s it going in your neck of the woods? Are you having a lion or lamb kind of month?