Tag Archives: the west

A Couple Of Updates

It’s been pretty busy here this summer with the chickens, worms, mealworms, soap, and both of us working full time, so it’s been hard to get in here to post anything.

I guess I can start with the surprise apricot trees.

It's possible that these trees are frauds
It’s possible that these trees are frauds

We were told that the three fruit trees in the yard were supposed to be ornamental pear trees or something like that, but last summer one produced some measly plums, and this year the other two produced two different breeds of apricot.

Needless to say we were surprised and excited. We have been picking up grounders for jams, sauces, and liquor, because the trees are quite shaded and the only fruit ripening was twenty feet in the air and out of reach for our little stepladder. This fall they will be getting a pretty severe hack job to get them to a manageable level, but until then we will try to make the best use of their bounty.

We have also registered Dirty Bird Soap with the province, and will be applying for a business license with the district this week.

This means that we are really loving it, and plan to keep at it as long as we can be creative and viable. It’s not something that we are planning on getting rich with, but when we are retired and self sustaining, it will definitely help us out with not having to work as a Walmart greeter to make ends meet.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it would mean that we would have to be close to a Walmart, and who wants that in their life?

These will be getting cut shortly and getting themselves prepared for your armpits
These will be getting cut shortly and getting themselves prepared for your armpits

After a great couple of Saturdays at the Hudson’s Hope Farmer’s Market, we had to spend this weekend making seven batches to play catch up with. We have run out of a couple and almost ran out of a few more.

This isn’t a complaint, it’s excitement that you feel coming through these words. We get pretty stoked up about how our creations are received, so we were pretty much vibrating as we churned out the loaves this weekend.

The top shelf is Wildfire. So far it's our best seller, so we made two.
The top shelf is Wildfire. So far it’s our best seller, so we made two.

Notice how light our canning shelves are looking? That’s getting remedied right shortly, because we hit up the Okanagan fruit lady for twenty pounds each of peaches, roma tomatoes, and black plums.

Here’s what most of the peaches look like now.

There was a bit of shrinkage
There was a bit of shrinkage

We’ll finish the tomato sauce tomorrow, and the plums should be ready in a few days, so that will give us a couple of nights for soaping, gardening, and maybe even eating a couple of meals this week.

That’s pretty decent, if you ask me.

All in all it was an exhausting weekend of soap, rendering beeswax, canning and trying to manage the rest of life, but as I sit here in this filthy kitchen, typing out this post and staring at what will garnish a lot of bowls of ice cream this winter, I can’t help but to smile and dream of when I can be this kind of rushed every day.

When you have the right partner in crime, every day is an adventure.

Happy Canada Day! I know it's a bit late, but this is where we were.
Happy Canada Day! I know it’s a bit late, but this is where we were.

Have a great rest of your summer,

Chris

P.S. Look how big the baby mealworms are getting.

For reference, the outline is a slice of potato.
For reference, the outline is a slice of potato.

What A Year

Yeah, it’s been a year since we packed up the Cool Bus and moved to Hudson’s Hope, BC.

A year ago, our yard looked like this.

Minus the swing set
Minus the swing set

Note the lack of garden, chickens, and big composter. We were really starting off our homestead with bare bones. There were two black compost units there when we bought the place, but one was missing a lid and both were dried out ant condos. We started composting everything, and with some heat, weeds, and a garden hose, we got them to producing some nice, dark compost by the fall.

This is what the backyard looks like today.

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Yeah, there’s some brown patches from where I left the trailer for too long, but I’m hoping that the chickens will help to  get things green again.

Speaking of the chickens, here they are.

Upgrades for the tractor are coming.
Yeah, I ended up getting two more. They seemed lonely as a pair.

I’m going to add a couple of nesting boxes on one side and keep the main box as a roosting/dining area. I added wheels from an old lawn mower at The Share Shed and a handle, because I think dragging it was going to start wrecking things.

We also built some raised bed garden boxes, and there’s stuff in them now.

It's not well planned, but we threw in whatever was free or cheap that we came across.
It’s not well planned, but we threw in whatever was free or cheap that we came across.

We have been hitting Walker Greenhouses for their half price vegetables, and we also got some plants from The Rustic and the Social Responsibility club at the school. Everything is growing well, except for the jalapenos, but I think I planted them in too much shade.

This is part of the front garden. We dug up and sifted out a whole bunch of lilies from it, and next year the rest are going.

Most of these were free from Jane, our egg lady.
A lot of these were free from Jane, our egg lady.

We moved one of the composters from the back to the front, because it’s nice and sunny in the afternoons there. In the spot we moved it from, we put in our soap drying rack that we don’t need anymore and wrapped some chicken wire around the open spots.

Waste not, want not.
Waste not, want not.

I was getting tired of throwing the spruce needles and dog poop over the fence, and saw that the David Suzuki Foundation says we should compost it, so this will be used for yard rakings; dog, chicken, and hamster poop; and any dead animals or birds that we come across. We just can’t use the compost for any edibles, but that’s okay, we can spread it around the yard to replenish the soil and work it’s way back into nature.

We have also started a soap making company; started breeding Red Wigglers, European Night Crawlers, and mealworms; and adopted a second dog named Dover.

Before and after losing a much needed twenty pounds.
Before and after losing a much needed twenty pounds. A lot of that was grey matter.

When we got Dover, we knew he was a sweet dog, but we didn’t know that it was his only redeeming quality. He is quite possibly the least intelligent dog that I have ever met, and we have to rub antiseptic on his gums once a week to prevent his teeth from falling out. I think he was pretty badly neglected, health-wise, and I’d say from his head shyness, he’s been booted around a bit.

I mean, when it takes a month to learn how to sit, there may have been a few hits to the brain. Nevertheless, we still love the poor wretch, and we will keep putting up with his incontinence until it ruins the floors.

Also, we both found gainful employment and there have been some academic accolades for the kids, so all in all, I think we have had a pretty productive year of semi granola-ism.

Next year we will maybe start scoping out some property.

Chris

Cute Chicks And Dumb Boys

Well, I brought our new girls home todayyesterdayrecently.

I think the one on the left is a Barred Rock and the other is a Rhode Island Red, but could use some verification.
I think the one on the left is a Barred Rock and the other is a Rhode Island Red, but could use some verification.

I guess they aren’t chicks still, but I already had the title in my head, so I misled you. Sue me.

I have to tell you that I am in love with the Barred Rock. She absolutely melted my heart when I closed them up for the night.

I didn’t realise that they roosted when they are this young, or at all when they are laying hens. I just assumed that they nested, so I put a bunch of shavings in the box and left them to their own devices. When I went out at dusk to lift the ramp and close them in, they were sitting on the edge of the water dish and teetering.

They looked so disoriented that I felt sad for them. I started stroking them and then the Barred Rock climbed onto my hand and up my wrist. I wasn’t sure what she was doing, so I just let her go. She then nuzzled her head into my armpit and seemingly fell asleep.

I felt so happy that I was contemplating taking her in and letting her sleep in the bed with me, but then I remembered my mom telling me about this. (It’s only thirty seconds long. Go ahead.)

Remember The Waltons? I wish they made shows like that still.

She remembered it as Jim Bob, and she used to laugh so hard about how gross it would be to have a chicken pooping in your bed all night. (It’s fine when she does it, but when it’s a chicken, that’s gross.) 😉

Anyhow, I didn’t take her to bed, but I did make them a roost the next morning.

We're still working on names. I picked Mary Ann and Ginger, but we have to have a proper vote.
We’re still working on names. I picked Mary Ann and Ginger, but we have to have a proper vote.

You know, when I was a kid, I hated our chickens. I only remember the dirty, overweight, white meat birds, but I know we had Banties, pheasants, and quail for sure. I don’t remember any of them being as friendly as these two, but that could have been that they sensed my surliness at having to clean out the coop.

I don’t know why I hated doing it so much, but I know I did. It was probably an hour job, but I think I dragged it out over a few days. I guess it was because I was a spoiled rotten a–hole back then. I must have thought I was too good for that job, but I know now that I wasn’t. It’s funny how the realities of life and time change a person’s attitude.

Well, I know it’s very late, but I’m sorry Mom and Paul. I promise I will care for these better than I did for yours.

I’m also sorry that I didn’t see your vision in raising our own food. It was hard to see that growing things for ourselves and caring about what we nourished our family with didn’t mean that we were poor.

It meant that we were smart.

Now that I’m trying to eat as healthy as I cana bit healthier than I was, I see these things a lot clearer, especially when we’re trying so hard to make ends meet. I’ve really come to appreciate the lessons you guys taught me, so long ago.

I also wish that I had realised the happiness you could get from chickens, and the different personalities that they have. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to mind looking after these girls at all.

The little salt and pepper lady is very loving and sweet. She seems to step aside and let others go first, and I’ve really taken a shine to her. I can feel her nervous tension release a bit when I hold her tight, and it makes me feel like I can make her life easier than it could have been. I think that she will be the broody one, if there is one, and I predict that should a rooster sneak in there some day, she will make a great mama hen.

I'm the king of the castle...
I’m the kingqueen of the castle…

The redhead has a really spicy flare to her. She is adventurous and tries to get her head out every time I open the door. I see her eyeing up the great big world and wanting to be out in it. Also, she has so far lightly pecked my partially blackened fingernail, my nose and my arm when I was petting her sister. It wasn’t hard, like say a glass Coke bottle, but I noticed her doing it and wondered if it wasn’t a warning. She doesn’t do it when I pet her, so I don’t think it’s from fear.

Do you remember earlier, when I said that I wanted to name them Mary Ann and Ginger? I’ve changed my mind. I think I want to name them Pat and Brenda. It’s just as fitting, and it will mean a lot more to me.

Now if I could just find a golden feathered cockerel. 😉

Chris

P.S. I originally named this post, because of the way the dogs were acting since I brought the birds home, but it turned into me being the dumb boy.

They were definitely curious, but mostly they seemed insecure. I figured I was imagining things, but I woke up like this in the morning, and I knew that something was up.

Dover is well camouflaged in the duvet. Blue wants to stand out everywhere.
Dover is well camouflaged in the duvet. Blue wants to stand out everywhere.

I guess there’s only so much “How are my pretty girls?” that a dog can take.

P.S.S. Sorry for the vague, personal jokes, but Pat is my mom, Brenda is my aunt, and the cockerel is my uncle Keith.

Our Dump, Is A Very Very Very Fine Dump

With two vans in the yard. Behind them a couple cars. My shopping is so easy ’cause of you.

Apologies to CSNY for ruining their lyrics, but that was what came to my mind.

I love the district dump. It reminds me of my youth.

When things were free a little more free than they are today.

Our dump back east never really allowed you to scavenge. Luckily it was probably some drunk kid that got caught with a stolen bag of sheep manure or breaking a $12 window that was doing their community service hours at the landfill (*cough* Brad Campbell *cough*), so there really wasn’t any worry of getting busted for taking home more than you brought in.

I remember my stepdad and I taking our trash there and finding a bunch of old cast iron cook stove lids and parts, and throwing them in the backseat of the Bronco, because we needed them for the cabin. When we went to weigh out and pay, I had to walk around the back side of the scale shack. Not because we were trying to rip off the dump, but because we weighed more leaving than when we came in. Apparently the dump doesn’t like to pay you money to drop off your garbage.

The last time I was there, there were security guards running the scales and they made sure that nobody was getting any of their garbage. It was a shame to look down into the bins and see so many useful things that were going to be crushed into a cube. Never to be enjoyed again by anyone.

Not at our dump though. We have the Share Shed.

Sometimes it's quite full.
Sometimes it’s quite full. Usually in the summer when folks are cleaning out garages.

If you have something that still has some life left in it, or maybe has some parts that someone else can use, you can drop it at the share shed before going to the garbage bin.

You would be surprised at how much the share shed has helped us, and many others, to get through tough, and not so tough times. I hope that Gerri will write a post about when she first moved here and was at the shed almost every day. I have many great stories, and the day she staged the Share Shed is probably my favourite of all. She always seemed more relaxed when she came from there, unless she found a treasure, then she would be pretty giddy.

There is also a wood pile at the dump.

Need some logs for firewood, or a couple of 2x4s with a few nails in them? Help yourself.
Need some logs for firewood, or a couple of 2x4s with a few nails in them? Help yourself.

I haven’t had to pay for lumber yet, except for two sheets of OSB for the shed wall, but speed was of the essence there. If I had thought of it before, I could have pieced together something for free.

When I took this picture, I got five 2x4x8, a 6x6x8, and a pretty good sawhorse out of the wood pile. That’s a pretty good start to the chicken tractor I want to build. I wish we burned wood for heat, because you would never have to buy it again. This stuff will just get pushed up into a pile and burned, I think. They might push the tree parts into the compost pile. I haven’t been there while it was getting done.

The scrap metal pile belongs to another guy, and you aren’t allowed to scavenge, but you used to be able to donate to the fellow if you found something that you could use. I think I have donated $4-$5 and have a decent arbor, some angle iron, and a bunch of pieces of pipe that I wanted for some worm bins. He’s not going to make much off of scrap, so it probably worked out better for him if he can get a few bucks and not have to haul it an hour away to get very little money for it.

Sometimes you just need a bit of scrap metal.
Sometimes you just need a bit of scrap metal.

If I was handier, I think that the metal pile would be a lot more useful. I am thinking of taking a welding course or something along that line, because when we do get our property, it will be nice to be able to fix things myself, rather than have to rely on someone else’s schedule and rate. I have always envied handy folks that could do that.

Anyhow, I think that everyone should push their local councils to start working towards a truer “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” way of life, instead of a “Crush Everything and Buy New” society that we are in now. Tell them that you want a Share Shed at your local dump. There’s no reason not to have one. If they’re worried about insurance, sign a waiver before going to it. I can’t see it being any more dangerous than the rest of the dump, but you know how bureaucrats can get.

Throwing them in the trash isn’t that chance.

Chris

When Someone Makes Your Dreams Come True

I remember being about 25 years old at our hunting camp north of Apsley, Ontario, and thinking that I could live there. No phone, no power, except for a small generator and pails of water from a crystal clear spring. I figured that was all I needed in my life.

I was freshly out of another very short relationship, and had given up on ever finding the girl I had dreamed of since I was a kid. You know, the yin to my yang and all of that nonsense. I knew she existed, but didn’t know where, and figured she probably wouldn’t like me anyhow, even if I were to stumble upon her at the Legion karaoke night.

So I started truck driving, and then moved to Chilliwack to live in the mountains and start planning my move to the forest. I had my brothers there, Chaddy, and Alex, but it was very lonely. Then I moved up north, and I worked.

A lot.

Most of the time we were working at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we didn’t have time to be lonely. We were just a whole bunch of guys, stuck in a camp in the middle of nowhere. Most of us were in the same boat, so we just found the people we liked there the most, and became friends.

Then the work slowed down and I got very lonely again. A lot of years had passed, and one failed long-term relationship, so I had again given up on finding true love. I loaded up everything into my pickup and 1980 camper and started heading east. It was April 2010, and I had found a bunch of cheap property in New Brunswick that I was going to homestead. I figured I’d stop in Ontario for a month or so, just to let things warm up, and catch up with my family.

Then I met Gerri for the second time.

She was fun, sort of sweet, insecure, but also confident. I immediately liked her.

We've had some pretty great times, her and I.
We’ve had some pretty great times, her and I.

She had also given up on true love. I didn’t think that there would be a future with us, but I did foresee a long friendship, mostly with me telling her that her choices were bad, and then helping her work through the repercussions. I completely forgot about New Brunswick, and rented an apartment three doors down from her little love nest.

I had also given up on homesteading. When I saw this on her coffee mug, I just figured it wasn’t going to happen.

not camping
You can find other Anne Taintor stuff here.

She told me on several occasions to not get attached to her, and in a way, I didn’t. Sure, I was falling in love with her, but after many heartbreaks since my teen years, I was quite used to rejection and loss. I’d become fairly well adapted to getting over things.

Then, all of a sudden it was the next winter and I was back out west trying to get rid of my debt. When I came home, she realised that she was in love with me too, and then it began. By the summer of 2012 we were married, and now we are in northern British Columbia, trying to eke our way.

It’s really odd how friendships happen. She has turned into my best friend and a constant source of support and encouragement that I never thought I would have in my life. I know that I would be completely happy if it were just her and I getting old together on a farm somewhere in the bush, and that’s how I know she’s the one.

Ever since our first date, I didn’t dream up a new life with anybody else that I met. I have never even thought about what my life would be like without her. I don’t ever want to know.

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We have a deal that I am not allowed to die before her, because she wouldn’t want to live without me. We both know that I am stronger, so I have to stay alive for two days after she’s gone, to make our arrangements, before I die from a broken heart.

Luckily we aren’t planning on fulfilling that prophecy until we are much, much older.

I don’t know how many of you have found your Gerri, or maybe Jerry, if you are into dudes, but I urge you to keep looking for them. You’ll know it when you find them, because they will make you not want to always be out with your friends, and they will make you always feel appreciated. Always.

I was really happy when I thought I would get to spend my life with my best friend, even when I thought I was giving up my dream of a simpler existence. Now, we both share that dream. A dream of living to live, instead of living to buy more stuff that we don’t need.

It’s been a slow process, but we can see beyond the horizon, and we know that not everything we have learned before is the truth, so we are already half way there.

According to G.I. Joe, anyhow.

I love you, my sweetest of darlings.

Happy Birthday!

Chris

A Visual Update

I have had a blog post brewing for awhile now, but it’s one of those hard ones that doesn’t want to come out on its own.   I am never sure how to start things off when I haven’t said much in awhile.

When I was going through my Google photos, I was smiling so much and thinking of all the images and stories that come to my head when I am reminded of the things I think important enough to take a photo of.  These are moments that strike me as particularly interesting, serendipitous, or just plain funny.  I see the way I use photos to communicate with everyone in my life.  Rather than spending a lot of time waxing poetic, I would like to invite you to a pictorial update of life here in BC, via my phone photos.

 

hftos_19

This is Alwin Holland.  It’s one of my favorite places to go.  In the middle photos you can see one of the tea cups, or tea kettles, whatever they call them.   We come down here with our fur sons, and sometimes our real children too.  It’s spectacularly beautiful and it’s not too far of a walk from our house.

hftos_20

Sometimes the mist sits on the river and it’s so insanely beautiful you just want to take a million photos but it’s never as good as it looks in real life.  About this time,  we were playing HayDay and nerding it up pretty good as farmers.  We were doing some volunteer hours at the ski hill and we literally ran across this possible mine site (not really) with a free shovel and axe just hanging around there.  If you play hayday, and you had a nerd sister in Ontario that would find it funny, you would send it to her.  Then the three of you would laugh like idiots and feel that warm burny feeling when people you care about are very far away.

hftos_21

This was the epic visit to the Liard Hot Springs. I mean, look at the photos.  It’s bloody magical, isn’t it?

I don’t need to tell you much about it, but you might try it in -27 degree weather.  Don’t feel bad if you chicken out the first night because it’s really dark and cold, and you are afraid you will freeze to death on the walk back to the waiting van.  The good news is that you do survive to tell the tale, and there is nudity involved.  hftos_22

I would say this series accurately sums up a few weeks we had in January.  It was very cold indeed, and there was a lot of beautiful sights.  We felt victorious that we made it outside each day.   I am told we had a ‘Kelowna Winter’ this year, and I believe that’s probably so.  I’m not complaining.  I have 3 seasons until WINTER IS COMING again.

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The last set and the ones below are on another path I take to the river.  I like to hang out there because it’s beautiful, and peaceful and it’s a great hike.  I love the rushing brooks, the waterfall, and the views of the mighty Peace River.  One the way back up the hill, there are all kinds of rusted out old cars laying in various states of decomposition.  I always look at those cars and think about how they got there, and if there are any good shady stories.

hftos_25hftos_26

Sometimes I fill my backpack with light wood, firestarters, a beer, and I hike to the river.  You can hunker down at the river and have yourself a wee fire to do some sort of ceremonial cleansing, or just to roast weenies…whatever you like.  The river bed is full of all kinds of beautiful rocks, and if you know me, you know I love me some rocks.

 

The soapmaking…  hftos_28 hftos_29

We’ve been making the soap.  Maybe he’s mentioned it?  Anyhow, we have been blowing through the supplies we inherited in our soapmaking score.  We have created some cool combinations and we are pretty excited for it to hurry up and cure.  I guess we have another 3 weeks to wait, but someone already pulled some of the cut ‘endsies’ and put it in the bathroom.  This would be the soapmaking equivalent of opening your first present in November.

hftos_27
Çhris is holding the lye cup in his hand, and sporting a kleenex nose plug. Don’t ask, but I assure you, I am holding us to much stricter safety controls than he does.

I like to send my sister back in Ontario a semi-daily snapshot of how things are going.  Some days I like my hair and I send her a nice photo, but most days she gets the real me.  I’m including them because they are funny, and they remind me that it’s a lot easier to stay in touch with people than it used to be.   Also, today is my sisters birthday, so it’s nice to think of her celebrating today.

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hftos_32 hftos_33 Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 9.30.57 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 9.31.15 PM

Ha ha.

 

In other news, the ski hill stuff has been really fun.  We’ve enjoyed our volunteer time so much we are committed to stepping up even more next year.       It’s starting to look like we are going to productive members of society after all.   hftos_38

 

I wanted to make a note about the weather.  The next two series were taken on the same weekend, a day apart.  One day I was looking at a frozen tundra wasteland of ice and snow, and gray for miles.hftos_39

The next day I was sitting in the lotus position overlooking a valley view of a mountain-fed, emerald green river.  There is natural steam vents here which make the earth warm and relaxing to lay on.  The hike in was pretty hairy, and the descent to the view was a bit perilous, but totally worth it in the end.     I have enjoyed every day of spectacular views here.   The feeling of being closer to the land is the feeling of coming home.

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I walk a lot here.  I have put few hundred kilometers on the blue suede shoes I picked up at the thrift store before Christmas.   They are awesome to hike in because they are extremely rugged and comfortable.  When I bought them, the lady at the thrift thought they were so hideous she slashed the price to less than half.  Those blue suede shoes don’t owe me a dime.

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That’s all I’ve got for now.  So long from the other side.

Preserving Our Future

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I had to make some space in the back room for putting soap up to cure today. That meant condensing the canning shelves into a few spots from their once sprawling positions. If this was Risk, the preserves would own North America and Australia, which as you should know, will win you the game in a hurry.

While I was doing this, I started thinking back to last summer and fall, when I brought a completely overwhelmed family from an hour east of Toronto, to a town of about 1000 people in the middle of nowhere, BC.

I remember being so worried that everyone was going to end up resenting me for uprooting them from the life they knew and plopping them into a town where this year’s graduating class is four students. I can adjust to pretty well anything, but I know from experience that not everyone is like that.

I mean we went from $45, unlimited bandwidth, ultra high-speed internet to $90, 80GB limit, sometimes fast enough to watch The Office Xplornet. You can see why I might be worried, right? Two teenage girls with computers and gadgets don’t like to wait for Miranda Sings or PewdiePie to spread their wisdom with the masses.

But they do wait.

Without complaining.

And I love them for that.

I was worried about the culture shock that Gerri would feel when she got here as well, and I know it was really hard for her to deal, so she completely immersed herself in canning to keep her mind busy.

It started with Saskatoons, when a friend showed her that there was literally tons of berries within a mile of our house. I think she got tired after about her tenth gallon, and it trickled out from there. Then there was a PSA (more on them later) about a lady bringing a truckload of fruits and vegetables from the Okanagan. I think we got a case of nectarines, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, and a bunch of other things that we don’t grow.

We need to expand our back room soon. Maybe a new shed for worms and soap curing?
We need to expand our back room soon. Maybe a new shed for worms and soap curing?

After that, it was our abundant crab apple tree and a tarp under it, with Gerri and Lannie shaking the multitude of fruit down to make jelly, butter, and applesauce out of it. (I was able to get a bag out of the freezer later, and add it to some jars of moonshine. It really helped to cut down the harshness of the liquor.)

Then came the Fall Fair. She entered three things. I believe it was mango chutney, raspberry lime jam, and salsa. This was the result.

There was a little excitement.
There was a little excitement and I don’t know why it says Alberta Horticultural Association.

So needless to say, we had a few shelves packed full of canning, and now it’s reduced to part of a shelf. I would always decide to not grab something when I was in there, because I would tell myself that it had to last all year.

Well, all year is almost up now. We made it through nine months of our new life, and everyone is relatively unscathed. I say “relatively”, because I think the girls are adjusting to it, but they haven’t completely left their life in the east. I know it took me a lot of years to be comfortable being away from everything I knew.

Yes, the snow is melting in our sleepy town, and soon it will be green, with budding trees and flower lined streets and parks. Soon the fruit will ripen in the bushes and the cycle will begin again.

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So I’m putting some of these roasted peppers on my pork chops, and I bought a huge vat of vanilla ice cream to smother in canned peaches and Saskatoons, because we don’t have all year anymore. We only have a few months.

It makes me feel really good when I eat something that the person I love the most in this world put so much effort and heart into. I know that it was done when she was struggling to make sense of her new world, and to try and put her old world to rest. I also know that there are so many other “addictions” she could have turned to to help cope with this change. The fact that she chose canning over heroin or booze has proven that she not only loves her family, but that she loves herself, and to me that is more important than anything else.

Thank you, Baby. For everything you’ve done, and continue to do for us.

And for continuing to wear my toque. No matter how much it makes you look like a gangsta hobo.
And for continuing to wear my toque. No matter how much it makes you look like a gangsta hobo.

Chris

P.S. At the top left on the side bar are the social media outlets that we are currently employing. If you could choose your poison, we can let you know of future posts that way. I’m sure fans of other pages/communities are getting sick of me hijacking their space.

Also, if you are on Google+ we have started a community at Backyard Homesteading.

Backstory – Gerri

I don’t know how much of my backstory is truly necessary here, so I will try to be brief.  I lived a very consumer-driven lifestyle, which was only enhanced by a career that was image-obsessed.  I believed most of the lies the world told me, and eventually my heart became too sick to remain the same.

Our decision to relocate to British Columbia was extremely difficult to make, and to accept. I lived my entire life in one place, trying to learn how to belong, but never quite getting it.  I hadn’t dreamed I would ever leave where I had always been, so the thought of starting over made me weak with fear.

Confronting fear is a game changer.  It is the force that drives me forward toward the unknown.  As scared as I am of doing something new, I am far more afraid of not doing it.  Rebel Nerd, they call me.  We decided to give the kids a year to adjust to the idea of moving, and then, a year later, we loaded all our crap into a bus and drove that mother out here.   I’m sure more than a few people thought we were crazy.  Although we do have kids, we don’t talk about them here.  First rule of granola light club:  Kids don’t want nothin’ to do with granola light club.

Coming here has challenged the way I think.  It has challenged the way I relate to myself, and to others.    It has deeply enhanced the relationship I have with my family,  and my physical and mental health.  I feel strong and free.  I feel close to the land, and I spend a great deal of time surrounded by fresh air and trees.  I can no longer afford to forget where my real home is.   I am the original granola-light, because I understand how hard it is to make a huge change all at once.  I’m about setting small goals of being more sustainable, greener, more willing to find ways to reuse/repurpose something, instead of buying something new.  We try every day to do a bit better, and so far it’s working out well.

IMG_8766

I also have a really interesting new job, with a company that excites me and makes me feel like an important part of the team.  I’m surrounded by cool people who are into setting and achieving goals, personally and professionally.  I like what I do, and the people who I work with.  I feel like I might have won the ‘New Career Lottery’ 🙂

Starting over isn’t easy, but it has a lot of amazing rewards.  It’s been a chance to start living the life we have been dreaming of since we met.  It feels amazing to finally be seeing it happen for real.

 

Hand Made Soap Coming Soon

By the way, “soon” is a relative term.

When I first moved to Hudson’s Hope, I used to go to the Farmer’s Market every Tuesday. My first time there, I bought some soap that was made by a local woman named Cindy.

I couldn’t believe how good they all smelled, and how expensive they were. I think they were $4 a bar or something like that, but I was newly single and pulling in pretty good bucks driving a tanker, so I splurged and bought a couple of bars.

I have never resorted to buying commercial bars since that day.  Sure, they were a bit more per bar, but each bar lasted longer and I liked that I was putting all natural ingredients on my skin, while supporting a local entrepreneur. Can it get any better?

I bought a bag of bars before I moved back to Ontario, and was just about through them when I met Nancy at the Harwood Waterfront Festival. She was selling bars of homemade soap at her booth there, so I was able to get my fix of cleanliness there as well.

She has a really nice little business called Northumberland Soapworks at her farm near Colborne, Ontario, where she sells in a roadside shop, and hits up a lot of local markets.

My favourite was Orange Patchouli, or as I liked to call it, Dirty Hippie Soap. Yes, I know that it is an oxymoron. The hippies would be squeaky clean after washing up with that sweet cake.

 

After we moved back to Hudson’s Hope this summer, I ran into Cindy, and mentioned that I would be needing some more soap after our stock ran out, when she broke the news to me.

She wasn’t making soap anymore.

We bought eight bars and talked about the soap making process, and I may have mentioned that we might start making our own if we couldn’t find any. We also contemplated getting Nancy to ship us out some when Cindy said that she would sell us the lye that she had left over, and that she had moulds and stuff left as well.

Wahoo!

What better way to work towards sustaining ourselves than being able to make our own soap and possibly supplement the cost by selling a few bars to the locals or through the blog?

I know you won’t get rich at it, but we’ve never really aspired to be rich in the first place. We have aspired to be clean though, and soon we’ll be able to afford to bathe every day if we want to.

I know I won’t want to, but I think that Gerri enjoys not having flies buzzing all around her, so even if we could keep her clean, I can sell my bars and get enough money to buy the laying hens I want to get this summer.

Anyhow, I will be excited for us to learn the art from someone who made some of the finest soap I’ve ever used, and maybe a month or so later, having a shower with that handmade goodness.

I love trying to be a granola.

Backstory – Chris

I grew up in a village of around 200 people on the shores of Rice Lake, near Cobourg, Ontario. It was an idyllic place to grow up, and probably still is. My mom still lives there, and whenever I go to visit, everything looks pretty much the same as it did when I was a kid.

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Holowacz https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabi2418
Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Holowacz https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabi2418

Sure there are probably fifty more houses scattered around on once rich farmland and forest, but there are no new businesses to speak of. The old school has been a bakery, roadhouse bar, restaurant/convenience store, and is now a closed down Chinese restaurant. The gas station/garage has changed hands probably four times since my youth, and the convenience store has changed hands a few more than that. The post office/store has closed down in favour of a row of boxes on the side of the street, and that about does it. 

I would probably have elected to move there and pursue my dreams of a small, self-sustaining lifestyle, but the red tape required to achieve such a goal would cost much more than we would save. Just the environmental assessments and whatnot to find a building site, well, and septic would probably cost more than what I plan to spend on a piece of property out here, and the land costs are horrendous.

For example, an 11 acre lot that is in a farm field close to half an hour north of town would cost $100000, and that doesn’t guarantee you could build there.

This was the view provided by Realtor.ca. I assume that it's the best one.
This was the view provided by Realtor.ca. I assume that it’s the best one.

Because the area has been environmentally protected, you have a lot of hoops to jump through to get the building process started, let alone finished. Then you need to find a job that pays enough to afford it, while living somewhere else, because it’s going to take a long time before you are able to move into the home you just built.

That was the trouble I had there. The best paying job I was able to get was $18/hour and it was a 30 minute drive from where I would be building. It was also one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had. Driving to Toronto and back in a tractor trailer every weekday. I did find a job I liked with a farm supply and grain company, but it only paid $13/hour and you were laid off for a lot of the year. You can’t raise a family on that.

So we headed west. I have been living and working out here since 2000, and we’ve been here as a family since July 2015. It’s a different way of life, but it’s one that I like, and have gotten quite used to. The housing is very affordable, so we were able to buy a place while we look for a piece of property that we love and can build a little off-grid paradise of our own.

Until then, we are going to try and figure out how to do things from our house, with our sheds and beautiful little yard. You know, for practice.

I started with worms, but first I read this book.

Chris