Friday, 28 February 2014

(Some) Seeds are ordered!

I'm so excited.  I will start the tomato seed in two weeks.  And the girls and I are going to have fun with a little project hosted by Jenna at Cold Antler Farm ( and grow some sugar snap peas in containers.  These seedlings will surely brighten up this cold and long winter.  According to a grow chart I found online, the following seeds can be started in advance indoors:  cucumbers, squash, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins.  We are planting two types of tomatoes, plum and beefsteak.  I still have a lot more seeds to order for my ambitious garden plan.  What are you growing this year?

This moment

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

This house

Is home.  It's 100 years of history, of living, of cooking, of summers and people and parties.  It's a welcoming space for friends and family and a constant reminder of the past.  It's safety and solitude and warmth.  With the winds howling outside it's confidence that it will stand strong.  It's work and rest and all the rest.  Got bless this house.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Quiet solitude

One of the things I enjoy most about our farm is the quiet.  I grew up on an island, yes quite a big island, in the middle of a lake.  There were lakes on that island and we lived next to one.  My mom made her own bread, bakes beans, chow chow, pickled beets and mustard beans.  My brother and I played in streams, old barns, apple orchards and rode our bikes everywhere we could.  I don't know how many miles we traveled to see friends but for the most part we only had each other.  And it was quiet at night.  During the days we listened to the sounds of nature.  There were rarely motor boats on our lake 30 years ago (oh how that has changed).  I'm so happy to be back to the quiet.  To sleep at night with nothing waking me but occasionally the furnace coming on while I'm in a lighter slumber.  That no one comes to our door offering services.  That we can sit outside in the afternoons, in the sunshine, with nothing in our view but the tree's and the sky.

Monday, 24 February 2014


I am looking forward to a summer of fresh vegetables.  I've never had a garden this big of my own.  We always had a garden in the suburbs but the biggest one we had gave us tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and zucchini - easy plants to grow.  My current garden has asparagus, strawberries and raspberry perennials and I need to plan the rest of that garden - plus the kitchen garden next to the house.  I will probably grow potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, cabbage, squash, zucchini and cantaloupe in the main garden and the peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, kale, cucumbers in the kitchen garden.  It sounds very ambitious, I know.  And I've never grown most of these vegetables before.  I'll take any tips and pointers.  I mostly worry about the dog getting into them or ruining my garden completely.

I am learning how essential food is in any country home.  Things I've made in the past just for fun have become staples in our home every week - bagel's, pizza, pancakes and cookies.  I'm constantly looking at ways to stretch our dollar and the grocery list.  The other night we had taco's but I also made some brown rice.  I sauteed some kale, zucchini, onions and carrots and added half the brown rice to that mixture and added the leftover taco meat to the rest and voila - lunches and sides for a week.  I'm thinking about making home made dog treats and granola bars - please share if you have a favourite recipe.  After this garden is done in the fall I'm going to try my hand at home made soap and candles and preserving - tomato sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, pickles, jam to start.  I have to admit I've been out of my head thinking about spring and summer lately.  I daydream about my plans all the time.  What I really need to do is get that seed order in!

Friday, 21 February 2014

This moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
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And then we got a dog

My mother loves animals and so we always had at least one dog.  My husband and I inherited my mom's older dogs when she moved into a condo and when they were eventually put down we got a cat.  And when the cat got hit by a car and died we got a fish.  My kids asked for rodents (mice, hampster's) but I don't like anything that scampers.  And then we had a bearded dragon (my compromise instead of a snake) and, guess what.  Yeah, he died too.  We think from licking a floor that was just cleaned by a Swiffer.  This happened over several years people and we took very good care of all of our animals but just have had terrible luck.  Thank goodness the fish hasn't died yet.  He's a good fish.

And then we got Murphy.  What a joy.  A lovable black lab that we got when he was 10 weeks old.  He is now 6 months old and has grown tremendously.  He was the second biggest in his litter and it shows.  He's our farm dog and he loves nothing more than to eat horse manure, chicken feed and anything else he can get into his mouth.  We've taught him the word no and how to sit, fetch and come, he's very smart.  The one thing we are still working on though is that while he has manners in the house, he loses his mind outside.  He grabs the girls hands, lunges at their heads (to get their hats) and jumps all over them unprovoked.  He barks at the shovel and tries to bite it when I'm clearing the walk and plays the "catch me" game with items he shouldn't have.  I've been looking for solutions online and only found that we need to leash him around the kids when they are outside.  This I have to work on (and I'm open to other suggestions) as he spends all of his time on the leash pulling and trying to yank it out of my hands.  Well at least he's not attacking the kids.  God love ya Murph.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Winter 2014

This was December, before the ice storm and the 5 feet of snow.  

Clearing off the roof of ice and snow 1x
Cleaning out the chicken coop in -10 degree weather 1x
Power outages 3
Driving 35kms for groceries in a snowstorm  3x
Number of stuck and lost people at the end of our driveway 5
Plowing our drive and neighbors 10x

It's been a brutal winter, I'm not going to sugar coat it.  But we love it.  So we make the little things - like stars on a clear night, a recipe gone right, kids willingly helping with chores, extra snuggles and a warm house our favorite things this winter.  And we look forward to spring.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Commuter train

I got on the train to the city later than usual this morning.  I'm usually downtown for 8am but for the first time in years, I intentionally got up late and grabbed the 7:53 am train.  I grabbed a paper, put on my earphones and got settled in for the 45 min ride.  Not long afterwards a man joined me in the seat facing but diagonal from me.  I looked up long enough to notice his notebook and then went back to my reading.  He opened his notebook and began to write.  Occasionally we would look up from our writing and reading to look out the window at Lake Ontario going by.  It was an amicable silence and I stretched out my legs as he scirbbled out a sentence he had written.  I'm usually on the train early enough to see the sun rise over the lake but this morning I enjoyed the sunshine which is elusive in February.  The stretch of lake was soon going to end so I glimpsed out the window one more time and saw the most mystical site.  There was a band of clouds all around the edge of the lake, and in fact, IN the lake, and a layer of cloud floating on the water.  I looked at my writer friend who was immersed in a thought as he wrote in his notebook.  I had to share this gorgeous site with someone before it was gone!  I tapped him on the leg with my paper and gestured with my chin toward the window.  He smiled and nodded.  I turned back to the window and resisted the urge to take a picture.  I wanted to take it all in and I was already slightly embarrassed by my intruding on this strangers thoughts.  And all too soon it was gone and we went back to being strangers on the commuter train.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Home office

I am one of those thankful souls that has a corporate job downtown but who also gets to work from home.  In the past, this has meant for me sitting at the kitchen table with my coffee and my glass of water looking into the kitchen and watching the day unfold.  Kids, husband and dog going out and in and me at my perch, typing away and taking phone calls.  Sometimes this means I'm taking a conference call and the dog starts barking.  Or the kids come in from school yelling while I'm on the phone with my boss.  Or my husband wants to sit and chat while I'm in the middle of an email.  We recently added a bathroom upstairs and our old house went from a 4 bedroom house to a three bedroom house with a nice sized closet / office.  The bathroom has only been finished for 2 weeks so the adjacent bedroom is still holding screens from two of the windows, the flooring that was pulled up and it needs a paint job.  But I moved in anyway and I have my own home office, finally.  And this is my view.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Well hello there

Hello!  My name is Tanya and I have a little farm in Eastern Ontario.  I am not a writer but I would like to be so I’m starting this blog to tell you about my farm and my life here.  I am a working mother of two with a stay at home husband.  Having the farm is an existence we’ve always dreamt about, living on a property with no neighbour's in sight, with a few chickens and a garden.  We moved to the farm mid-September 2013.  All but a few onions, some squash and tomatoes remained in the garden that the previous tenant’s had left behind so I haven’t even had the chance at a growing season  yet.  And I’m excited.  I’ve picked out my seeds from Stokes, and decided that I don’t care if they are organic or not, they will do for this first attempt.  My plan is to grow potatoes, onions, squash, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, jalapeno’s, basil, green peppers, cantaloupe, kale, green beans, sunflowers (for the horses), carrots, garlic and cilantro.  How I will actually do that without a green house and while working 40 hour weeks remains to be seen.  I’m still excited.  I’m excited for the bon fires, the sun sets, and the work.  It’s been an exceptionally brutal winter already this year.  An ice storm has brought down numerous branches on the property, that will keep Donny busy far into the spring with clean up.  The biting cold temperatures of -20 and -30.  The sticker shock of our monthly electricity and oil bill.  The way you can never really keep a 100 year old farm house warm.  These are the new challenges in my life.  The girls beds have three blankets on them (as does ours) and I’ve taken a note from another blog to provide hot water bottles and a heating pad at bed time.  Oh I’m not complaining, just sharing our brave new experiences.  I believe that you always get what you wish for in life.  My husband and I often travelled from the city to my aunt’s house in the country on the weekends.  We’d take different routes to keep the 1.5 hour drive interesting and we had this game where we would come across a particularly gorgeous view and point out – “not THAT would be a nice place to build a house.”  It was just the other day that I said to Donny – “all that wishing for the perfect view and look outside, it’s exactly what we’ve always wished for.”  And I can’t help but see the coincidence that we happen to have a LOT of blankets.  Before we moved to the farm I considered paring down our collection, we really do have far too many.  It made me question why linen closets were so small.  Then I realised that we have an unusually large amount of blankets.  The funny thing is, I’m not entirely sure why we have so many.  We were given quite a few of them and I don’t recall buying more than three of the 12-15 blankets we have.  Perhaps it was my aunt or my mother who saw that eventually we’d need them because a majority of them came from them.  But I digress….
I did mention horses didn’t I? This was a very nice bonus to the farm that we weren’t sure about.  We board horses in the winter and when our neighbour is travelling.  Having never owned or cared for horses we were a bit hesitant but the owner was confident we could manage.  So with a little help from google we have successfully kept alive two horses for three months now.  Dan and Rose have finally accepted us as their care providers and I am very happy with this extra addition to our lives.  And I daresay their stalls are clean, their hooves are picked and their manes are bur free. 

So there it is, an introduction to our little life on the hill.  I hope to entertain you with many more stories and pictures as we enter into what I’m calling the third phase of my life.  First phase was life before kids, second was life with kids and this third phase I’m going to call Living.