It speaks for itself.
Well the garden is in full swing with flowers blooming and currants ripening. We are stuck in a drought at the moment without rain for weeks and not seeing any coming for more weeks to come. The heat and humidity is almost unbearable at the moment with temps around 40 degrees celsius and not showing any signs of relief. These muggy hot days seem equivalent to the blistering cold days of winter where you can’t get any work done because the temp is just too extreme to spend more then a few minutes in. That coupled with the bugs and relentless black flies that pester us and the animals can just about ruin the summer months.
Regardless of the sweltering heat, bolting greens and hours spent watering, the garden keeps me busy in the early hours of the day and the late hours of the evening. These times are quite peaceful and the easiest times to work outside. I’m very proud to say I’ve been on top of the weeding this year with just a few moments spent each day to pick the odd weed that pops up. It’s very uplifting to have a tidy garden and be able to focus and visibly see the plants that need my full attention.
Soon I hope to run a drip line in the berry patch. I’ll have to run about 250 feet with emitters for each plant but it will save me a lot of time in the future. There will be another garden addition as we will need more space for garlic and onions and we will be adding a small glasshouse for season extension and hardening off trays. Among this we are also hoping to build a few other things around the farm and perhaps even re-pointing the brick on the house but time is flying and sometimes the heat of the day gets the best of you.
We have a kitten on the farm! Her name is Birdy and she is just full of piss and vinegar. She spends the early mornings with me in the garden chasing butterflies and hiding in the beets. We also welcomed a Rouen duck from a family member and he seems to be getting on fine with the flock so far.
I’ve been doing a lot of picking and drying for teas and medicinal uses. On the go I have Calendula, Peppermint and Chamomile and I’ll be sure to share the process I use once it’s ready.
Thanks for checking in and I’ll have another post up within the week!
This year I started using the magic of compost tea on the garden. I’ve come across this idea in the past but never dabbled in it until this past spring. In this blog I’ll tell you how I make it and use it and just how happy it makes my plants.
Compost tea is PACKED with all the right nutrients for plants and soil health. Letting it steep in water only helps the nitrogen to break apart and become even more useful. I could talk all day about it but feel free to do your own research on the benefits of compost tea and the many ways you can brew it at home.
First off, it depends how much you need and how big your garden or collection of plants is. My garden is rather large so I brew my tea in a 50 gallon drum. Depending on the health of my plants and if there is plenty of rain or not, I can go through this in one day on just a handful of plants. So I’ll be making an area for more then one drum and/or a water tote instead.
I start by filling a 20 litre bucket with my compost from my pile. I make sure to use the stuff that has broken down and not just the raw stuff so as not to make it too strong on the plants. I empty the bucket into my large drum and fill with water.
It’s best when you can fill it with rain water instead of a hose because rain water is magic for the plants but no ones perfect. When filling with water, make sure you get a foamy froth build up as you fill, that means your compost is the good shit!
Don’t forget to mix it up! I just use a shovel.
Then I cover it with the neat lid my hubby made for it. I don’t believe covering is necessary however I didn’t want any wildlife getting in and drowning.
You can use the tea right away if you have an emergency plant you are trying to revive however the whole reason it’s called “tea” is because it’s meant to steep. I steep mine between 3-7 days and use it in between as well. Sometimes I don’t need it right away and it can steep for a couple of weeks but I make sure not to leave it longer then that as it’s at the peak of nutrients within the window timeline.
When you are ready to use, I just grab a watering can, dunk it in and fill. It will have some floating compost bits but let’s not be afraid to get our hands a little dirty here?!
Once it’s used up, most of the solid stuff will be sitting at the bottom and can be dumped back onto the compost.
I’ve noticed that when I put this on any of my plants or trees, they spring into life within hours and are reaching for the sky! I use it on houseplants also because it is a much needed fertilizer without any of those harmful chemicals. For an added boost to your plants, sprinkle Epsom salts at the base and water in with a jug of tea, your plants will LOVE it!
I also use it to spray on my fruit trees. I was looking for an alternative spray that wasn’t full of all those crappy chemicals. For this, you have to strain the tea into a spray bottle. I mix mine with a few other ingredients but I can post that for next time.
Thanks for reading and happy composting!
This year the garden is booming and my plan to forage and harvest medicinal plants on the property is proving worth it.
My first medicinal plant to harvest was raspberry leaves. We have an abundance growing all over the farm so I spent the better part of one sunny day in May collecting long stems of new leaves just before they went to flower.
I collected 12 bunches of about 8-10 stems each, tied them together and hung them in the hay barn to dry for 2 weeks.
After they were dried and brittle to the touch, I gathered my biggest jars and went to work on processing the dried leaves for storage. I did this entire process outside on the first week of June. It can get a bit messy and I was able to discard all my empty stems directly into the compost.
I dismantled all my bunches one by one and started to pull the leaves off and into my jars. After a few stems and a some thorny finger pricks later, I got in a rhythm. Grabbing a bunch of leaves between my fingers and pulling along the stem seemed to work best. I learned quickly that you only really want the leaves so make sure to not include any stems. After filling my jars half way, I would stick my hand in to break down some of the leaves for more space.
It took me just over an hour to fill 2 half gallon jars and another larger jar that I’m unsure of the size. Not too bad for 12 large bunches of stems.
Now it was time to taste the rewards of my hard work. Tea time!!!
And I wasn’t just going to use my hard earned raspberry leaves. I made it with my rain water and our very own honey from last year.
I steeped the leaves in my loose leaf pot but you can also throw them in a tea ball or re-usable tea bag. I just wanted to use my pot that had been stored looking pretty for way too long.
I boiled the water and let it cool a tad before adding the leaves so as not to loose any medicinal properties from the plant. I then let it steep in the pot for about 5 minutes, added it to my mug with a dollop of honey and sat on the back porch over looking the farm to thoroughly enjoy the moment.
What a treat! Raspberry leaf tea made with our own plants, honey and even water!
It has a green tea taste which I don’t mind at all and was delicious!
Side note * I will also be sharing some of these leaves with our pet rabbits. They too can now enjoy raspberry leaves in the dead of winter.
Spring is just wrapping up here on the farm and we have already experienced the sweltering heats of summer, some of which have cooked my poor basil in the garden.
The wild raspberries are shooting for the sky, my fruit trees are blooming and my favourite gathering of the spring is in full swing. Our large horse chest nut tree has bloomed its amazingly fragrant flowers and there is a cloud of large bumble bees devouring all the sweetness it has to offer. When that tree is in full bloom, you can smell it anywhere on our 5 acre farm and it makes me so happy that it brings all the bees to our yard.
I’m pleased to say the garden is planted with my blood, sweat and tears. . . and some seed too. Many seeds have germinated and are growing well. The berry patch is booming, garlic is growing fatter and my carrots finally joined the race after re-planting the seed. I make the mistake every year of planting the carrot seed too deep, even though I swear I didn’t. Sure enough, weeks went by and nothing. upon planting again, BOOM, germination within 7 days! My bad…again!
This year I will be growing many plants just for seed saving. This includes but it not limited to carrots, beets, lettuces, onions among the usual seed saving foods like squash, beans, peas and garlic. Some of these are biennials and need to be planted this summer to harves the seed next summer so it’s a long process. Also, my onions for seed need to be planted in another location so as not to cross pollinate with my other onions that I will not be using for seed. It can all get confusing at times but I like to think I’m on the ball.
Our critters are on a rotational grazing schedule which they appreciate because of all the new lush eating every 10 days. And our chickens have moved into a mobile coop and are living in the meadow for the summer. There they can indulge in more bugs and free-ranging while staying out of the garden for the season.
I’m happy to announce that the pigs have moved out of the addition on the house and down into the barn. They enjoy it much more and can come and go as they please however I can only assume I’ll have some cranky piggies come winter and they are wondering why they don’t have their cozy comforters and heater. I’ll deal with that when it comes, haha.
The dogs have moved out! Don’t get me wrong, I love our dogs but our home is VERY small and 4 dogs were starting to get the best of us. Our furniture was ruined, things destroyed and our poor rug in front of the couch had taken one too many pisses on it for no good reason. They have moved into the addition on the house and we are all happier for it. Now they can play their hearts out and I don’t have to worry about them tracking it all in our house. Greg and I can finally sit on our clean couch without feeling bad that we took a spot from the dogs and we can even leave random things laying around without the fear of a dog eating them. Set The saying “fences make great neighbours” is so true! We enjoy our dogs more without getting frustrated and they enjoy us much more too!
More news on the farmstead, we have added a new addition!
Meet Mulberry. Our baby Embden goose! We acquired her from the neighbours and I’m so happy to have a goose on the farm again. I love geese and especially love goose eggs so I’m looking forward to next year for that. Fingers crossed that I sexed her correctly as a female and not a male or maybe she will be a trending goose and identify as gender neutral? HA! She has fit right in with the ducks and spends her days free roaming, swimming and sleeping with both her feet stretched out behind her like she just got run over by a tractor. She really is the sweetest thing!
Well that’s enough for now, I’ll check in again very soon with more news and what medicinal plants I’ve been harvesting from the farm.
Thanks for reading!
A couple weeks ago we had our sheep sheared for the first time. They are just turning one year old and I was looking forward to ridding them of their thick winter sweaters.
We herded them into the shop with some hesitation on their part as they knew something was about to go down. The shearer arrived, set up and it was time to begin!
Gussy was first. Our sweet little boy with the gimp hind leg. Gussy was given to us for free because of his birth defect but he gets on fine running our farm and swinging his deformed leg in the wind.
As the wool came off, we slowly lost all recognition of our little “Gussy Pants”. He looked COMPLETLY different without his wool! I had expected a visible difference but this was such an extreme transformation! His BAA-ing quickly grabbed the attention of the others waiting and watching nearby and they replied by BAA-ing back in what seemed to be an attempt to calm Gussy down or plan an escape.
It didn’t take long at all and Gussy was back in the pen with the others. Once in the pen, he received the dirtiest looks, crooked head tilts, butt sniffing and confused verbal gurgles.
THEY DIDN’T RECOGNISE HIM!
It was odd to watch this unfold. Here was poor Gussy, naked and vulnerable to the rest of the sheep, confused himself as to what the hell just happened but now feeling so different amongst his peers. He BAA-ed and BAA-ed and they just stared at him wondering what and who he was.
On we went, one sheep after the next. As we went we collected the wool which all sold the same day as the sheep were sheared. My grand plan was to have the wool processed and spun to eventually have a sweater made out of it however the price to have wool cleaned, roved and spun was way too expensive so I sold it to people who were planning to use it for felting.
My whole reason for hiring out the shearing this year was to get an idea of the process so that I could eventually shear my own sheep in the future. After watching the process unfold, I was very happy I didn’t jump on an expensive pair of shears and try it myself. Not that I don’t believe I can do it but because it is a lot of work and you are guaranteed to nick the sheep and make them bleed. That was my fear that I realized was inevitable. I also realized that selling the wool more then pays for the shearing and I don’t have to do EVERYTHING if I don’t need to. Sometimes its nice to have a pro take care of some things and just keep doing what I’m good at.
After all the sheep were sheared, we let them out to graze a new pasture. We watched as we couldn’t tell them apart anymore. Their wool gave them such charm and personality that now it seemed as if we lost our sheep and replaced them with these small, naked caribou. We could distinguish Lemon as she was a different breed of sheep and now looked like a large dog and we noticed Gaga as she got cut on the ear during her squirming and had blood stained wool. But the rest was a crab shoot. However, after a couple weeks we can now identify them from afar because their personalities are shining through.
Gord has different eyes, a very large belly and is always at Lemon’s side, Gussy is one of two black sheep and has the limp, GG is the other black sheep and Gracy is the smallest and the only one who runs up to you for pets. She is sweet as pie and will push her tiny self through the crown to be the first and last to get rubs.
Now when we rub the sheep, it feels like rubbing a carpet. their wool is tight and so short you can almost see their pink skin underneath. I look forward to watching their wool grow back and their sweet little bodies grow round and fluffy with softness.
I want to start this off by saying that this blog is titled “My Reasons for Quitting Social Media” because they are purely MY reasons. I’m not bashing anyone who chooses to use it or for whatever reasons they choose. I know I’m among many others who feel the same way I do and I know there is some who may think the opposite. Either way, my reasons are simply that, mine.
So here goes…
I think I was about 27 when I got my first Facebook account. I was a late bloomer in that area but I preferred it that way. I used the account to post pictures of my pigs and other animals. After a very short time, I did what I normally do when I realize something doesn’t feel right, I backed out. I closed my account. I didn’t enjoy the dependence it had quickly imposed on my lifestyle and the fact that everyone I knew was doing it. I am proud to say that although I love my sheep beyond words, I will never be one in the figurative meaning. I also hated the lack of privacy I had and the lengths people would go to appear a certain way online after really knowing them in person.
After closing this account, I went many years without any form of social media. When asked by many if I had any account they could follow, I was very gratified in saying I did not. I would get crazy looks that I had three heads because EVERYBODY has social media! Geesh!
Then, just over a year ago I fell down the rabbit hole of Instagram. I loved the photo aspect and simplicity when using it and most of all it wasn’t cluttered like Facebook.
Over the course of that year and a bit, I gained some friendly followers and was able to somewhat appreciate other small farms around the world.
But here are the reasons why I ultimately deleted it.
It SUCKED my time. I would hop on to post and maybe visit a couple pages I liked and before I knew it I was swolled up in that damn search tab that seems to keep spitting out things it thinks you will like, and some you absolutely hate. I know this is the master plan behind keeping you addicted to Instagram and damn it, it was working! One thing I’ve never been good at doing since I was a little girl, is being told what to do. So once I saw the addiction in myself, I dealt with it promptly.
I realized I was carrying my phone around the farm more often. And sure that would be great if I got attacked by some wild animal and couldn’t make it back to the house to call for help. But my intent was not for emergency purposes, it was to capture a photo of the critters doing something funny to post online. I had quickly become a slave to this device and it was now using me instead of me using it.
It’s brainwashing! Even for a free thinker like myself, I would find times where it was controlling my thoughts, purchases and who I should follow almost like it had my best interest at heart. The scary part was that it fucking worked!!! Once I realized this programming was happening I didn’t hesitate at stepping away.
My last and main reason for deleting my social media is this.
I started the account to try and find like-minded people in this world. I maintain our farmstead from home and felt that if I used social media, maybe I could reach a community that held the same values as I did. I had maybe six people that I checked in with regularly and didn’t mind their content. However, I felt that as they grew quickly their content started to change. It wasn’t so genuine and organic as it once was. Things became heavily edited, sponsored and calculated. And perhaps that is just a sign of growth and maybe I was standing still but I wanted to provide a real view of our farmstead. I didn’t edit photos, I wasn’t funded to support a company I don’t agree with (lets face it, I probably wouldn’t support ANY company) and I didn’t plan my outfit that day based on what I was going to post on Instagram.
So after over a year on social media, I walked away with absolutely no connections that I felt were beneficial or valuable to carry with me.
When leaving, I contacted only two people who had any relevance in my life. One was a fellow co-worker from years ago and the other was a dear online friend I have had for many years.
I’m not saying that I didn’t have any good interactions because I did. I had help in certain situations and was even a help to others at times. I appreciate those connections. My account helped to bring people here to read my blog but I didn’t want to be one of those people that lured you around the internet just to get hits on my page to make money. I know people do it and do it well, but something about it bothers me deeply.
So for now, I’ll continue to write here, for me, and if people see it then great, and if people don’t then that’s ok too. My life goes on with or without it.
The only things I want to be dependent on in my life are my health and food. If I have my health then I can grow my food and feed myself, my husband and our animals.
I refuse to fall into the trap of modern day distractions because I don’t want to be distracted from my life. My life is wonderful and I’m so lucky to be in the middle of it! I can’t waste another moment staring at my damn phone when my animals, my farm and my husband are way more interesting.
Thanks for reading!
I would be very happy if our farm was fully self sufficient and we had nothing and no one to rely on but ourselves to maintain it. I’m not sure if we will ever get there but we are on the path to something parallel. This path of growing and learning helps me to question things that we bring into our lives to make sure they serve a purpose and not promote laziness.
Our lives are filled with comfortable things, some things are so comfortable that they don’t actually help us but rather hinder our abilities and enable our immobile lifestyles.
I should state that there are MANY other things that we don’t use on the farm but these three items make the top of the list because of their relevance to most peoples lives.
So the first thing we cut years ago was TV. When we first moved in, we made sure to have our cable and internet hooked up ASAP with all the shows and channels we had in our previous home. The price for TV (and cell phones) is absurd here in Canada and they make sure to package all your favourite channels in separate bundles with other channels you hate so that you order more bundles then what you want. Smart for business but not as a customer. We also realized that watching TV is brain numbing. It’s like be swallowed up into a vortex of stupid. I’m sure there are shows that exist that are educational and well-meaning but unfortunately they are engulfed in mindless commercials specifically designed to convince you to consume more in life. Can you tell I hate TV?
So anyway, besides all of the reasons listed above, TV is a time sucker. If we are watching TV, then it most likely means that we could be doing something better with our time. It’s a distraction and although most people love and require a distraction from their lives for whatever reason, I do not want that. I want to be fully involved and aware because I love the life that I have created for myself. I want to sit with my husband at the end of a long day and discuss our goals and dreams all the while making eye contact and feeling fully engaged. Distractions like phones and TV are what keeps us disconnected from others and from ourselves. I could write a whole blog about this topic, it gets me real fired up.
Now, we don’t live under a rock completely, we do have access to Netflix as it was a gift from my in-laws to all the kids. We will sometimes use it to indulge in a movie or documentary once or twice a month.
The second item that we used to own was a drier. When we bought the house it came with a washer and drier set stacked in our spare room, taking up valuable square footage. We had stopped using the drier for about a year before our trip to England to visit family in 2017. While there, I fell in love with my grandmothers tiny washer tucked under her kitchen counter and envious of her “warming cupboard” where she would store my grandfathers Gucci sweaters and underwear to dry. Feeling inspired, we arrived home and finally downsized. Our tiny washer now sits where there was once a dish washer (another unnecessary item).
So how do we dry our clothes??? Well, we use that age old method called wind! It’s so refreshing to have clothes dried on the line on those warm breezy days. Its pitfalls are making sure to hang on a day when they are not spraying the fields and to shake the clothes off before bringing them inside because there could be the odd bumble bee or spider on there… In the winter we have pull down racks on the wall that I use and the wood stove dries them over night. These methods work so well that I’ll NEVER go back to a drier, EVER! I should have done this years ago!
And the third item we did away with last year was our microwave. The main reason I deleted the microwave from our kitchen is again, SPACE. There was just no room for it and microwaves are so big and cumbersome that they make it hard to put them in most small spaces. I moved it to the basement to store to see if we could live without it and that was 6 months ago. So right now it is sitting in my car waiting to be donated. If I need to re-heat anything I just use the stove or oven and haven’t had an issue sparing an extra moment to use those other options.
Also, I can’t confirm that microwaves are even a good idea. I have to think twice about a box that cooks a potato in seconds, that’s just not natural. Again, another item built to serve our impatience. If you cook your meals and eat a healthy diet then chances are you are not using a microwave either.
Well, that’s it for my top three deleted items and I’m sure there will be more in the future as I continue to question the functionality of our everyday things. Thanks for reading!
I never set out to run a hobby farm. It was never a dream of mine as a child or adolescent. I was raised in the country but not on a farm. I grew up around lots of pets and wildlife but not livestock. I spent summers in the garden with dad watching him eat raw onions still covered in dirt but I never knew he wasn’t crazy for it.
But I suppose it’s not too far fetched to see what launched me into this corner of the planet.
This winter has been an awakening for me. I’ve learned how this small farm we are building has a life of its own. It is a living, breathing entity with a heart beat, a brain and even a sense of humour. If you ask something of it, it will provide or it will dig its heels in the dirt and let up for NO ONE!
This farm knew I was coming.
The previous owners of this farm were planting baby evergreens and flower beds while I was starting to develop boobs and running from boys with cooties. This farm has been buried in hard winters, eroded in the droughts of sweltering summers and all the while, waiting for me.
With blood, sweat and many, many tears, we hope to regenerate, revive and restore this small parcel of land back into it’s living self. And as I am rising up to shake hands with this farm, I feel like I’m finally meeting it for the first time. I’m starting to peel away the blurry layers to notice the face of Gilly Farm and what a sight to see.
Gilly Farm’s heart beat is the changing of the seasons. They are the pumping life force that cycles throughout the farm. Consistent in motion but fluid in change.
Gilly Farm’s breath is the rise and fall of the sun. The long, drawn out inhale of a well used day on the farm followed by the relaxing slow release of a restful night. Both equally as important as the other and both can’t start until the other is finished.
Gilly Farm’s brain is the soil. It holds all the knowledge and wherewithal. It grows with input and holds the keys to the past and future. If nurtured it will reward your efforts and keep providing long after it’s needed.
Gilly Farm’s attitude is the weather. Your damn right my farm has attitude! Ever-changing, sometimes moody and unpredictable but also bringing weather patterns of great calm and sunsets that would make you forgive your worst critic.
Leaving this farm for a moment is like leaving behind half of myself and I feel a constant pull until I’m back in its safety. The world can be a scary place and hard to navigate but here on the farm I have purpose and fulfillment.
I’m overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude.
I’m grateful to call this home.
Ever since I was little, I’ve been sticking cuttings in water or dirt and watching them grow. Some make it into maturity and some fail miserably. Either way, a great learning lesson for a young girl growing up in the country. And all that cutting and spawning has brought me to where I am today.
I’ve dabbled in leaf and stem cuttings in dirt and in water. Water being the most exciting as you can watch the progression of roots fill up the glass jar and revel in just how green you think your thumb is. I don’t claim to be a pro here but you don’t need to be a pro to play with plants, you learn by practicing, succeeding and failing. Just like most other things in life. And along the way, you learn all the valuable lessons that plants have to teach us about the world.
With my collection of house plants growing, I’ve spent much of my Canadian winter days dabbling with propagation and watching my additions rooting before my very eyes.
My first house plant cutting I stuck in water was my Marble Queen Pothos. These plants are almost impossible NOT to propagate so I was only mildly excited to see it form roots after a couple weeks in water. Then, rolling with the propagation bug, I threw in a Ficus Elastica stem cutting, then another one and then a couple Ficus Audrey leaf cuttings. All of which seem to be rooting in the water.
*NOTE* If you take nothing else away from this writing today then here is a tip I learned online. Pothos cuttings help other cuttings root faster. Apparently, it’s been proven but even if it hasn’t, all the cuttings I put in the jar after the pothos have rooted way faster then the initial pothos cutting on her own. So I’ll use that tip in the future if I have a cutting to spare.
I have also started propagating my Peperomia leaf cuttings. I’m still waiting for progress in that department but very eager as Peperomia is by far my favourite houseplant.
To make the cuttings, I used clean pruning scissors and took off a few leaves and stems. There can be a right and wrong place to cut but I’ve had success using many different cut locations. Sometimes I’ll split the stem in 4 at the tip before putting it in water to help promote roots. I have yet to use rooting hormone but I know some have good luck with it. Sometimes instead, it helps to have other rooting babies in the same jar to help push them along. Always make sure to change the water as it starts to get scuzzy, about every week and then just hold your socks and wait for progress! Mine take anywhere between 1-3 weeks to start rooting depending on the plant. Then once you have about 2 inches of roots, pot it up into some dirt. Or let it keep growing as a nice centre piece.
Some of these cuttings will be for sale in our farm store this spring. Some cuttings will be planted in nursery pots and some will be for sale as rooted cuttings. They can be wrapped in wet newspaper and transferred into water or dirt once they make it home. I will not be shipping them at this time because I cannot guarentee their safe arrival in the mail so it will be pick up only.
Stay tuned to our farm store on our website or contact me directly via email.
Thanks for reading and happy spawning!