Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jon the Christmas Tree Expert

Jon has been working with Mark for the past few weeks framing Dave and Kathy's house, but today he started work at Patmore Nursery Sales in Brandon (Dave & Kathy = Mom and Dad's friends/neighbours, Mark is their son in law, brother to Dale who is married to Marci who runs Patmore's-- Brandon is a small town!).  Mark's apprentice had to return to school and so Mark needed a hand and so the siblings have been "sharing" him for the last while... But, the Christmas Trees arrive today!  So, Jon is at work unloading Christmas trees and hanging them in the greenhouse.  According to their website, he's already a "Christmas Tree Expert":

Today is the first "winter" day so far.  It snowed a little last night and got cold and windy as an Alberta Clipper moves in.  The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and it's cozy in the farmhouse, which is surrounded by flax straw bales that Dad and I brought over last week.  I got all the outside jobs done last week and so have the luxury of staying inside and cooking and cleaning all day.

 First though were the animal chores, where I again lamented the lack of safe power to the barn.  I ambitiously bought a heated chicken waterer this spring, and the birds are inside the barn now, but the power is super sketchy and so we can't leave the water plugged in.  It was a frozen useless brick this morning, so I plugged it in anyway and I am keeping an eye in case the barn catches on fire (no seriously, it is knob and tube electrical in there and the lights flicker at the best of times!).  The rabbit bowls were also frozen, but easier to manage AND-- the hydrant is awesome.  It doesn't freeze all winter, and is our only source of water that hasn't gone through the softener.  (It's kinda chunky and brown, but so is the house water, and at least it doesn't have salt in it for the animals!).

Roseanne Conner and Bob Dillon are in the porch, recovering from Roseanne's spay operation on Tuesday.  I wish I could post a photo, but still haven't replaced my camera.  Roseanne is a great cat- she takes her meds with no problem and ignores Samson, who spends most of his time sitting in the window staring into the porch at the pair (Playing nice with others was not part of Samson's education, apparently-- Hate to think what our kids might be like!).  I'm sure she is missing catching mice & rats and having free roam of the barn, so she will go back soon, once her incision heals a bit more.  I built her a platform on the window she uses to get in and out last week so she won't have to be such an acrobat to get in and out.  As it's 5' off the ground and she has to jump to get to it, I think it is the best solution for raccoon & skunk proofing the barn and still allowing Roseanne access.  Bob has a home but is staying with us until he's bigger and has learned how to be a good mouser from his Mom.  He gets to visit Mom's cat Blondie once in a while (see photo).

Dad has been working on our van, and is putting the windshield in tomorrow.  This will be helpful this winter as we work different places, and also next summer when we have to haul things between the farms.  We went with a van because we don't have that in our Honda-Civic-heavy fleet yet.  Also, we went for a very specific van, a GMC Safari, because it is all wheel drive and on a truck chassis.  It may be used for deliveries in the winter, and definitely markets, too. Though the expense of a second vehicle makes an impact on our household, it's necessary at this point, and after sharing a car for the past 3 years it's also very liberating!

On the Brown Sugar Produce front-- things have slowed but by no means quit for the season!  We have all the crops in and even managed to cultivate before the snow flew-- though I had to do it as our tractor operator Jon is working.  I am looking forward to doing more equipment operation and irrigation work, etc next year and finding one or two great employees to help do weeding, harvesting, and packing-- though I am realistic about how hard it is to find truly great people, I am confident and positive!
We have about 1500 lbs of carrots in storage, 1200 lbs beets, over 5000 lbs of 5 different varieties of spuds, 300 leeks, 100+ squash, hundreds of jars of preserves, 500 lbs of onions, 100 lbs of shallots, three kinds of dried beans, and small amounts of coloured beets, baby carrots, celeriac, peppers, tomatoes, parsnips, etc.  Jobs at this time of year include lots of washing (indoors), getting the weekly orders ready and delivering them, data entry and analysis, starting to think about seed orders and definitely already making plans to make next year even better!  I work about 4 days a week right now and the rest of the time I am taking a bit of a breather and dealing with things around the house & farm that we haven't done since moving in.  Patching and painting, sorting and boxing the basement and two extra rooms upstairs, minor repairs and improvements are all on the to do list. 

I've got over 40 lbs of pumpkin to deal with (cat food for the year in the freezer), so must get to that! 

Bye for now,
Teri :)

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