Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sweet new ride!

Meet Margarita:
Margarita, named after the air freshener in the van when we got her.
We decided on a van because it suits the needs of our farming just as well as a truck, and the business already has a truck that we can use when we need to.  Mostly we are hauling tubs and pails of produce from our place to the main farm.  We will take the seats out and use it as a farm van in the summer, in the meantime we will need a second vehicle for Jon to get to work starting November 19th (for now he's working construction at a nearby site).  FARMVAN!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ode to Harley

Harley Dillon

2001 - 2015

In early spring 2002, I looked out the window and noticed a lump of snow had moved in the yard.  I realized it wasn't a lump of snow, but a cat!  I went outside and coaxed the cat over (an easy job, he was very friendly), and brought him inside.  We already had a cat (Gremlin), but she was a grumpy thing and so we all fell in love with this friendly tabby, who I named Harley and we had neutered shortly after he showed up.  We searched for his owners to no avail, and so he stayed, despite Gremlin's grumbles about it.

When I moved to Calgary in fall of 2004, Harley came along with me.  We faced our first challenge on the drive: a few kms out of Swift Current, the half-way point, the alternator went on my car.  Harley and I sat together in the waiting room of the Canadian Tire, and I was glad to have company as I navigated the problem.

Harley stayed with me for 6 months until I had to find somewhere to live with roommates, when he returned to Manitoba.  He didn't like the car and would cry the entire trip, and insisted on sitting on the driver's lap.  Harley always loved going outside and didn't do well as an apartment/house cat, he once overate himself to a whopping 18 lbs out of boredom.

Harley returned to Calgary as I finished University in the spring of 2008 and lived with Jason and Sammy (a terribly behaved small dog who Harley tolerated), and then we moved to Winnipeg in January 2009 and lived with Jenn and Kahlua (a long haired sandy male cat).  Kahlua and Harley got along well and would often be found sleeping on the same windowsill or bed, or playfully chasing each other around the house.

In May 2009 I moved back to Calgary and left Harley at the farm with Mom and Dad.  We were all unsure what this obese apartment-dwelling cat would do on the farm, and were certain he would run off or be eaten by coyotes immediately.  Instead, Harley LOVED living at the farm, and brought Mom gifts of mice and other rodents regularly, and slimmed down to his ideal weight.  He and Gremlin continued to tolerate each other, and Harley developed a routine of going out during the day and coming in at night to the garage to sleep.

Harley developed a thyroid problem later in life and was on medication to control it-- Ironically his overactive thyroid caused him to lose weight uncontrollably.  He would wait patiently each evening at suppertime for his "treat" (medication mixed with wet cat food).  Mom diligently looked after this for a number of years at a big expense.

Harley hated dogs, starting with his first encounter with a chocolate lab, who chased him through the house and caused him to hide under a bed for half a day.  A few years ago, Harley encountered an aggressive Boxer on the farm and ended up in the cat hospital (the fate of the dog was worse, Thanks to Dad).  He recovered well from his injury.

There isn't a box made that Harley wouldn't jam himself into to sleep!

This summer, my husband Jon and I moved back to Manitoba to join Mom's business, and it's been awesome spending time with Harley every day.  He's become deaf in the past year and so we have great fun with that-- sticking our faces in his so he'll wake up and jump (and then start purring).  He will never pass up getting petted, and still raises a paw for attention when he wants to be petted.

Harley has been in my life for half my years, and so when he didn't come in one night this week, and then not the next day, either, it was sad to realize that he is gone when he's been such a part of our lives for so long.  At the same time, Harley's health had been declining over the past few years, and none of us thought he'd make another winter, so it was not really a surprise.  I'm glad we got to spend one last summer with Harley, enjoying his company while we work and laughing at his wretched deaf Miaows and his insistence on jamming his 9-lb frame into any box possible.

 So, Harley has left our lives, but we'll always remember him for the part of our lives he was for almost 15 years.  We have lots of cats in our lives now, with our cat Samson and Roseanne and the kittens, but he will always be remembered as a very special cat.

Harley was a big hit on YouTube, in this video I uploaded 7 years ago that got over 300,000 views:

Goodbye, Sweet Harley, you will always be remembered!

On the prowl at sunset

"Stop taking pictures of me!"

Chubby in winter

Sleepy in the shade

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Got em!

This morning, one of the kittens smelled like skunk.  We called him "Stinkitten" for the day, but finally clued into why the cats stopped using their strawbale house and where all the cat food was disappearing to. 
Tonight I went out to the barn to visit the kitties and Jon took the gun on skunk patrol.  I sat down on the bench with all 4 kittens on my lap, and then Roseanne hissed.  I looked in the stall and there was a huge skunk with its tail sticking up, less than 10 feet away.  I grabbed the kitties and ran, yelling for Jon!
Now we have to air out the barn!  The kitties don't seem to mind, but it is RANK in there. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Internet!!

It's been nice not having the internet for a few months, but we're stoked that we got connected today!!

So, our house has a shiny new tower.  Because we are in a rural area, it's not as simple as just getting hooked up.  We shopped around and asked our neighbours and the only people who were happy with their service were with RFNow.  This tower cost $800, plus the install and two months of service paid in advance (we had to save our pennies for a long while!).
Voting AND the internet, what a thrilling day!  The rest of my day has been spent picking up sticks and spray jugs.  Since the spray jugs have been laying in the yard for dozens of years, it's a really yucky job.  For now we are putting them in garbage bags until we can find somewhere to dispose of them.  I post this gross photo just because I know the "after" photo will look so great:

This is what years of spray jugs look like in garbage bags... Not done yet!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The hens winter home

I'm still getting remarkable egg production from my hens, who have been out on pasture all summer.  As it is beginning to be cold, we decided to move them into the barn so that I can plug in their heated waterer and they will be happier.  We still get about 10 eggs a day (12 hens). 

We converted a stall in the barn, opposite the kitten stall, for the hens.  It is entirely sealed with hardware cloth and Jon built next boxes for them (which they have already used!).  The food & water can be up off the ground which is much cleaner for them (and the person who has to clean the chicken shit out of them).  The kittens don't know what to think about their noisy new neighbours!

Roseanne didn't want to pose for the photo

Blondie gets our vote for the sweetest!

Samson weighs 12 lbs and is on a diet.  A market customer who feeds their cat salad and pea shoots mentioned that we might try pumpkin with Sammy.  He LOVES it!  (He loves all food, who are we kidding?!).  There are tons of health benefits for cats eating pumpkin-- urinary tract & colon health, increased fiber intake, staying full longer and reducing caloric intake.  Sammy's lucky that he can eat local, home-grown pumpkin, too!  Keep eating Sammy-- we have a buttload of pumpkins!  I did up a cheese pumpkin and froze in individual servings for when I don't have time to cook it as he eats it.


Jon and the kittehs!!

 The kitties and Mama Roseanne arrived on Monday.  They were outside at Mom and Dad's under a wooden crate leaning against a railroad tie, and so we thought our barn would be a better spot for them.  I built them a house out of strawbales, and they love it!
Two of the kittens are accounted for, but the two grey ones are looking for homes in about a month when they are ready to leave their Mom.  If you are interested, please email me at


Though Jon and I would love a kitten, we have decided that Roseanne will be the hardest to find a home for, so we plan to keep her.  She needs to be vaccinated before she can come in the house with Sammy, as he has feline herpesvirus which is very contagious.  And she needs to be fixed so this doesn't happen again!  We figure someone from town dropped her off once they found out she was pregnant.  Poor Roseanne!  She did remarkably well as a mother despite, and the four kittens are friendly and adorable and love people!

Friday, October 2, 2015


Dear lord, do I always look this tired?!

 We were putting the squash in the greenhouse, and couldn't resist the round bowling-ball sized citron versus the butternut!