"We will call this place our home,
The dirt in which our roots may grow.
Though the storms will push and pull,
We will call this place our home."
I truly, truly cannot believe we have lived on the farm for two whole years. And even crazier, this through and through city girl has lived outside city limits for a total of FIVE years. (We lived on a little acreage prior to the farm.) And wanna get real nutty? ... I am really starting to love the quiet of the country, the calm back roads and the small town vibes. Like when you bring your adult paperwork stuff to an accountant (in the nearest town) that your husband used before you were married and they not only remember Marty Franke by name but the receptionist also went to college with your MIL. Small (town) world.
SO. What happened on the Weathered Barn Farm during year two!?
The spring was really, really dry. There were huge forest fires in the northern part of Alberta, particularly Fort McMurray, where the town had to be evacuated and many people lost their homes. The silver lining to it all was how the people of Alberta, and from all over the country and the world, banned together and helped everyone affected. We took in a couple women who worked for the government in the forest fire industry whose bunkhouse (where they lived for the summer) was lost in the fire. They needed somewhere to stay while they got their lives reorganized and we were happy to be able to offer the farm as a quiet place for them to do just that. I remember hoping and praying with all my molecules for the rain to come, and when it did it really did!
We planted a garden for the first time. We didn't plan it very well, we didn't make the rows very straight and we definitely did not leave enough space between rows - we learned a lot. The garden got neglected because of life, and even though the weeds seemed to be the best thing we grew we did get to enjoy homegrown carrots, beets, potatoes, turnips, lettuce, squashs, and pumpkins and I pickled for the first time in the fall!
Our neighbour put his cows on the majority of our property because we had/have more pasture land than our goats need. I really liked having the cows around. The calves are so darn cute and the low rumbling moos added to the menagerie of farm sounds. The cow/calf pairs will be returning this summer as well.
Ducklings! We had ducklings! We have some domestic ducks on the farm as Marty had ducks growing up and wanted some now as well. We weren't really sure if we'd have a successful nest when our mama started setting but we did! When everyone left the nest one of the ducklings wasn't doing so well and couldn't keep up with the others so he become a house duckling. We even took him, Clover, to Marty's sister's wedding, where he slept with us in the camper trailer and made an appearance at the wedding dance. :) When we returned from that very same wedding, we came home to a black and white faced baby llama in the yard! We honestly weren't even sure if the llamas were pregnant so it was mighty exciting.
The farm's namesake, the old weathered barn, got a wee makeover when we decided to upgrade the sliding barn door on September long weekend very much on a whim. After that, the barn looked sharpen than ever!
We significantly expanded our herd of goats this past year when we bought an existing group from long time family friends of Marty's family. The goats came from northern British Colombia and the couple decided to retire from goats as being in their eighties, living on a farm with no electricity and raising animals was too much for them. Frick, the no power thing alone is too much for me! So with our new herd, in total, we kidded 17 goats mid-March and had over 25 kids. We thought we picked a great time for the kids to be born, but alas no one knows Mother Nature except the wise old gal herself. Over the 3ish weeks of kidding it was -25C to -30C for stretches and so, so snowy. It made things incredibly difficult and quite stressful and because of the cold we lost a few babies. We had so many late nights, early mornings, overnighters, tubings, revivings, blow dryers and heat lamps, and even some mouth to mouth (done by Dr. Marty). I learned SO much, we both did. And even with the challenges and tears and heartache there is a certain magic to facilitating little lives into the world. This farming thing is pretty special work. Click here to see a gallery of some of our 2017 kids!
Speaking to the 'realness' side of farming, this past year was 'realer' than ever. Not only did we lose some baby goats right away, but we also lost some at 6ish weeks. We lost our billy goat (breeding goat) Smith, we lost 1 out of 2 of our baby llamas, and we actually lost my teeny duckling Clover. The farm is toughening me up but not in the way that I am losing compassion, instead it's making me see life through a different set of specs, making me embrace the fragility of it all and is simply making me realize that sometimes they just don't make it. Nature's circle of life system is pretty extraordinary when you really think about it. Also, in writing this I realized the barn cat that was here when we moved in is gone. Huh. Must have moved barns when ours got too full!
Something pretty neat happened just a few months ago - I was my interviewed by a local Edmonton podcast, called That's So Maven. The conversation is all about my entrepreneurial adventures not only with Make it Franke and the art/creative side of my life, but the conversation is also about my adventures with the Weathered Barn Farm. Take a listen here, it's episode 43!
Well, that sums up year two here on the Weathered Barn Farm! I know that the colourful photos and stories about the farm make this life seem so wonderful and joyous, and while most of the time it is, I like to remind people it ain't all roses. It's a lot of responsibility, a lot of daily chores, and the work is literally never ending. There's sheds to build, fences to fix, eggs to wash, snow to shovel, feed to buy, grass to mow, and so-on-and-so-on-until the end of time. But as they say, nothing worth having comes easy! So here's to year three folks, and all the unknown adventure ahead! *cheers* - A.F.
"Smaller than dust on this map
Lies the greatest thing we have:
The dirt in which our roots may grow
And the right to call it home."
- Lyrics from 'North', by Sleeping At Last
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