Birds, Bugs, Weeds. Oh My!

I’ve just noticed that it’s been over a month since I posted! A lot has happened so a super long post is in order.

The first thing I noticed about the farmhouse (once I was out of the unpacking stupor) was the crazy amount of bird nests tucked into every nook and cranny. On the first day we noticed at least four different birds flitting around the backyard, diving at each other or collecting materials. This is an older nest found on the back porch. I suppose that not having farm cats on the property for the past 10 years has led the birds to have confidence. Once we’ve treated (placed rodent poison) for the year, it should be safe to adopt or find a few farm cats and a farm dog. Hubby and I thought about our to-do list and figured it was best to get our first year routine down, then bring in animals next year to prevent stress. Hubby explained it’s always good to have all the animals brought in at the same time to train them to live together, so the dogs/cats don’t eat the chickens.

Our current old kitty, featured in previous blog posts, is quite curious and territorial. She’s Queen of the House, and is always waiting at the screen door hoping to escape to explore more. After a good month of piteous meowing, and wrangling her into the harness, I let her explore our back porch attached to a leash. Within the first hour she almost hanged herself trying to jump off the deck onto the grass. Since then, no problems! It will be interesting what her opinion of the other animals will be, there’s lots of game (moose, elk, mule deer, antelope) on the property but they obviously smell humans at the house.

One of my unfortunate abilities due to genetics/diet/physiology is to attract mosquitoes. Upon moving, we waited to find a mower with a tilling attachment and by then the grass had gotten knee high. Which was terrible for grass ticks and mosquitoes. I’ve since found that the 8 hours on deep woods bug sprays are more accurately 6 hours, or 4 if it’s super hot or I’m doing any extensive manual labour. I changed my soap to lemongrass and Skin So Soft, even started mixing essential oils in a spray to layer on with the normal bug spray. The essential oil spray alone only works for an hour but coupled with the bug spray extends the potency, so the dreaded buzzing around my ears doesn’t start until hour 3 when I’m pouring sweat weeding our 50ft x 50ft garden plot in summer heat. We also found a John Deere yard tractor! Since then my bug woes have been mowed down. Though we continue to do a tick check every night just in case.

For some people, ticks are a foreign concept. They have a season and can also be found in long grass of parks in cities, even if the city has mowed and sprayed for them, it’s often advised to pet owners to check for ticks daily. Ticks hate heat, that’s why grass is mowed to get the sun to burn them out, and some throw their clothes in the dryer as soon as possible. At first, I was extremely grossed out. Especially having to tweeze one off of Hubby’s back. But since then, have learned the tick has to be attached for 36 hours to transfer bacteria resulting in anything like Lyme’s disease. It’s still gross but as long as they get tweezed and flushed within that 36 hour range, I can stave off any panic and focus on getting housework done.

Part of our settling in chores includes clearing deadfall (fallen/dead trees) that pose a potential fire hazard. Chainsaws are dangerous! I’ve personally never used a chainsaw and Hubby is reluctant to even let me touch it. On TV and movies, it looks pretty straightforward. But the chainsaw has enough juice that a kickback could mean me losing my grip and slicing off a toe, or a broken chain launching links like bullets. So for now, I am the clean up crew. He chainsaws, I watch from a safe distance and in between cuts I stack the branches. It goes through huge logs like butter, so I gather it cut into bone and flesh so fast the pain wouldn’t even start until after blood spatter. But zombie weapon!

I was told before moving that the farm was in a drier region, either we have hit the monsoon that happens every 10/25 years or the weather pattern might be changing. We have had rain almost every night for the past 2 and a half weeks. The ruts in the mud from the “Hauling Incident of ’16” were huge! After ordering gravel from the RM, the roads in the yard are nice and smooth again. You can see the weeds bravely pushing up through the new gravel. Besides weeds, there’s been crazy amounts of moisture to foster mushroom growth! The “Hauling Incident of ’16” was on our third day at the farm, when we ran out of water and got stuck in the mud in our yard trying to haul water back. Let me backtrack.

As a city girl, I have taken for granted the ability to drink the water out of the tap. I worked in the oil sands for a summer and while the site prohibited this, I still drove back to the city and showered with potable water every night. At the farm, an in-line chlorination system treats raw water (water pulled from a dugout) with chlorine tablets so it  can be used for showering, washing, etc. But that doesn’t mean it is potable (drinkable), so we get huge bottles of Culligan water for cooking and drinking. Well, the cistern ran out of water on the third day and although we have our own dugouts of water, at the time we didn’t have our own pump! The idea was a water tank on a trailer would be filled from another dugout with a pump owned by the town, then let gravity push the water from the trailer tank through pipes to the cistern (big underground tank) the chlorination system pulls from. We drove to the pump at 4pm. After hours of mud, 2 broken tow straps, 3 broken chains, Hubby gave up at 9pm and drove to the neighbours we hadn’t met yet. They were super nice and tugged us out with a tractor, then stayed to make sure the trailer didn’t get stuck again until enough water was hauled. So 1:30pm the cistern had enough water, and the chlorination pump just needed to be primedsince it ran dry. After many attempts, we finally found the air leak, and got the pump going at 3pm. The first victory shower was claimed by Hubby, who was covered head to toe in mud.

 

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