Update …. since April

This has been one of the busiest Springs we’ve ever had. There’s been no time to update our blog so here is a quick photo compilation of some of the happenings that have transpired over the past couple months.

In early spring I began cleaning up and clearing a bit more space for our garden area and septic field.

clearingA large amount of hardwood for firewood came from this clearing. I was also able to get several nice softwood timbers for lumber towards the construction of our house.

stumpsA field of stumps was created

stumps-1

Once we had removed all the material from our clearings we brought in an excavator and the stumps were removed and piled up. stumps-gone

Now we can begin landscaping and start planting and creating gardens. Tracey is extremely excited to start cleaning up and build gardens. stumps-gone-1

While all this was going on I also enlarged our garden plot at home, more than doubling its previous size. garden

The garden is doing well, we have all the usual vegetables and I decided to put in a big bed of Sugar Beets this year. It was a staple crop on our farm when I was young, sugar beet syrup was made with them and used as a sweetener much like honey. garden1

We’ve harvested lots of mint and radishes so far, the spinach and borage is also ready now. mint

On June 3rd twelve new members were added to our family. chickens

At that time they were a bunch of tiny fuzzy peepers, they are now feathery active little runners and flyers in their small mobile run. chicken-run

They love the bugs and tender clover leaves and other greens in their mobile enclosure. juveniles

The mill has been very busy since April. I’ve cut up all the logs that were accessible from our property, creating 2 big piles of timber. mill

During the winter many large trees were blown down. I was fortunate to be able to salvage a huge maple tree from our neighbors property, which I cut up into large planks and dimensional stock. maple

The 2″ x 12″ planks will become stair treads for our house, the other material will be for cabinetry. 300

Since building the saw and drying sheds many people have asked if I build these to sell. I’ve always turned down requests up until about a month ago when Tracey’s uncle inquired about one followed by a neighbor requesting one. I caved and committed myself to building these two. shed

This 4′ x 8′ shed is for a temporary electrical service. shed-2

These are just a few of the things that we’ve done. We still regularly make batches of soap, pick wild herbs and tend to the numerous other daily chores and commitments. I’m now allotting specific portions of each day to work on building our house. lupins

Spring has passed into Summer. There never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything done. The school year is over, Where has the time gone?

 

 

Homestead Apprentice Wanted

 A homestead or farm presents many skill requirements and numerous young people are willing to learn these important skills. Acquiring  apprentices is an important means to assure the continuation of small farms and farming, as well as teaching youth the essential skills of basic survival. I have had the opportunity to share the many facets of my woodworking skills with several apprentices over the years but have never considered passing on the extent of my other learning in natural subsistence and sustainable survival skills. I have decided to seek out prospective applicants for a program formatted towards essential farming/homesteading skills. The mission of this endeavor is to enhance our relationship with the rural Cape Breton landscape by applying and teaching the essential skills of sustainable living and small-scale farming, thus invigorating a more functional collaborative community. Over the next few weeks I will draft an application including a detailed outline for this program.

homestead

Focus for this program will include Organic Gardening, Sustainable Forestry, Traditional Arts and Cottage Crafts, Renewable Energy, Alternative building, Herbology just to mention a few. Stay Tuned for further details!

Out the front door….Garden walk

4

Small onions

2

Corn

1

Tomatoes

3Melon 

My Bad… This is a gourd

Today we are getting ready for a storm.

The garden may not look the same by tomorrow so I took a walk through to pick some tomatoes and onions.  Our good friend Jody shares this garden with us and has also stopped by to grab some goodies out of the garden before things get crazy here.

Out the front door has been inspired by Homesteadhoney

Time keeps on slipping

It’s been a musical week with Kieth Mullins having a house concert at their new place on Hunters Mountain last Friday and Ian Foster having one at a neighbors house in Middle River last night. Both were wonderful and a nice respite from the work and a great chance to mingle with neighbors.

We  have a new addition to the family.  A red lady that boasts having 43 horses packed under her hood along with an antique back blade. Both these will help to speed up progress at the building sight.

help

With some new draft pins, a new center link, new bolts and pins the back blade is ready for some serious work. My back is feeling better already and the blisters on my hands are slowly disappearing, I hope I don’t turn into a softy.

refurbished

The garden plot for our neighbor on Hunters Mountain is finally in. Hanna and Liam helped her yesterday, along with the occasional overbearing instructions from me. The rain expected from Hurricane Andria should help everything in the garden sprout up.

garden

Spring is in full swing now and it’s hard to believe that we are fast approaching the second week of June already. Time slips by too fast and several bureaucratic delays have virtually halted work at the building site. In the meantime we can enjoy the wonderful blossoms of late spring and the whirring of June-bugs in the evening air.

blossoms

Gardening

Earlier this year we had resolved not to put in much of a garden, mostly due to our new location and the overwhelming time constraints with all the scheduled work ahead.  However …. after +/- 1600 shovels of turned sod a small plot has emerged in our back yard. This will provide a small space for a fellow gardener while she develops her own land for future gardens.

garden

The gardening has been very delayed this year mostly due to the continued frosts and damp weather. Despite all the unseasonal cool spring weather we now have a profusion of blossoms. The apple trees have outdone themselves and are literally overflowing with blossoms.

apple

The bees now have a fresh feast to enjoy in the apple orchard as all the dandelions turn into fluffy puff balls.

dandy

A cascade of white Spirea blossoms greets us at the corner of the porch and the Lilac blossoms will open soon and exhale their  sweet aroma into the air.

spirea

Today

It’s been a frosty weekend. Heavy rain Saturday and barely above freezing yesterday with a brisk wind, not at all nice for putting in a garden or working on the house. Yesterday morning a white skiff of snow was visible on the trees up in the Highlands and the frost we had last night was so hard it decimated many of the bedding plants in the greenhouse. The nasturtiums were hit the hardest, killing most of them.

buds

In the woods and around the yard everything is budding and ready to explode. The maples, elderberry and service-berry trees are in bloom. The fiddle-heads are unfurling slowly and the large leaf  buds on the Mountain Ash have unfolded.

nettle

It’s time to start harvesting wild herbs again. The first to be picked is Stinging Nettle which is already several inches tall. I have to remember my gloves next time, it was a bit itchy picking this first batch without gloves or cutters. Yarrow is also ready and is next on the list to be picked.

steampunkIn the herb bed at home the Chives and Soap-wort are growing well. The kitchen herb patch has a “Steam-punk” theme to it this year, I hauled old cast iron stove parts out of the embankment and made them into plant pots. I think it works great but Tracey thinks I’m losing it.

chives

Silas and I have been watching a nesting pair of geese at the beaver-dam. The gander watches us and tries to lead us away from the nest. Silas gets so excited each time we see the geese. He tries to imitate all the bird calls we hear and so far he does the goose call the best. It will be exciting to see the little geese when they hatch in about a week or so.

goose

Spring Therapy

We’ve finally had a spell of nice weather with temperatures reaching plus 18 Celsius yesterday. When the weather turns nice like this it always seems that there are endless things to get done. Most pressing now is the preparation to start construction on the house.

beams

I’ve been able to get onto our property and have begun working in the woods again.  A few trees must be removed since they are far to close to the buildings and will inevitably topple over.  They are valuable building material and will become important components in our new home. For now I just peel them in preparation for milling at a later date. The thinner poles will be used for fencing and other landscape components around the property. The new clearing will become our garden area.

plants

Snowdrops and Crocuses have been in bloom for some time and very soon a flurry of daffodils will explode with color through last years brown leaf litter. A pleasing sight and a reminder to take a moment and enjoy the simple beauty and peace surrounding us in our busy life.