March 03, 2015

Not my favourite way to start my morning...

I start every day off at 6:04am (I'm one of those people with the weird alarm times. 6:04 is the first one, 6:16 is the backup). I usually hit the snooze button a couple times, mostly just enjoy the warm bed and think about the day instead of jumping right up. Usually my laziness is followed by making coffee in the French press, making myself look human for work and leaving the house by 7am (I start work at 8 but I like to get there early).

This morning I decided to make myself look presentable (for a change ;) ) for work by flat ironing my hair (this should have been my first indication that things wouldn't go smoothly). I brewed my coffee and started my car. It was only about -10C overnight but I like babying my car... and I like to drive to work in a warm car.

When I was out starting the car I looked over to the horses and could see my mum's horse munching away on hay but I couldn't see Max. Don't ask me why, but I got a pretty good sinking feeling. I was certain he wasn't in there.

At my parent's property we have two separate paddocks for the horses. A wooden one in the front yard and a wire fence one in the bush. The horses have been "in the bush" for the winter because its great coverage from the wind (seriously, it's nice to just hang out with them up there on windy days because its sheltered and warmer), but the fence needs some attention, the top and bottom wires are too far apart, but for the time being (and -30 weather) it'll do (so we though).

Standing beside my car I look along the drive way between my car and the horses and I can clearly see some hoof prints... for now. It's been snowing and the tracks are covered in a light dusting of snow. Great.

I go back to the bush, say "hi," to Zaira who came over to the gate and I walk the inside of the fence line. Max definitely isn't there. I can't see for certain where he went through, (but you can see where he had walked around in the deep snow outside the fence so my guess is he was reaching through the fence to eat snow like they've been doing on the one side... and he must have just walked through with his head down) but he's gone.

I go back to the house, wake my mum up to let her know what's going on and while she gets a jacket and boots I head down the drive way following tracks. They seem to head down our driveway and up to the highway... Great. I texted my boss and let her know I'd be a little late.

I jump into my (now toasty) car and head up the highway. There's a small community up there (just a few houses really), but I can't imagine him going that far so I turn back after a kilometer or so. On my way back I check our second driveway (which isn't plowed or used) but don't see any tracks. Further down the highway (back towards our house) I see some tracks but they disappear after a few yards on the highway. Now where do I look?

My mum had come out with her car and my neighbor (Claude, my farm boss) was across the road on the corner of his property cutting firewood. He saw the commotion and came to see what was going on and offered to take his snowmachine up the side of the highway and see if he could see more tracks. I thought I saw what might have been tracks going up the Jones road so I went that way on foot (my parents place is at an intersection of highway 105 which runs north and south, highway 609 which is the highway we live on, and the 609 turns into the Jones Road after it intersects highway 105). I made it about three quarters of a kilometer up before Claude caught up to me and said he didn't see any tracks on the snowmachine trail. I started to head back for my car and he went a bit further up the Jones Road to turn around.

When I got to my car at the house I went down the 609 passed Claude's place (I met his girlfriend Tracey who was joining in the effort in her car, she was headed to find Claude on the Jones Road) and I went about 3 kilometers down until I reached a Bailey Bridge (which my horse wouldn't cross willingly in a million years) and turned back.

The culprit...
I met Tracey again, just between our driveways and she said to bring a halter... Claude found Max! If I had walked another 250 meters and reached the top of the hill on the Jones Road I would have found him.

I raced back to my horse (Tracey had smartly brought a bucket of grain so Claude secured him with a lead rope and was bringing him back) I put a proper halter on him and we took him home.


We moved mum's horse to the front yard and put Max in there too. I threw a couple square bales in to keep them company and left for work.

All that excitement and I was only an hour and a half late! Definitely not my favourite way to start a Tuesday, let me tell you.

March 02, 2015

The hunt is on!

This weekend was PACKED for me! I really want to share the details of my adventures this weekend with you because everything I did this weekend is a huge step towards my dream of self sufficiency.

My weekend started right off the hop immediately after work on Friday. I went to Kokom's Bannock Shack with the boyfriend for Fish Fry Friday (it did not disappoint! seriously, highly recommended. You should try it if you're ever in the area) then we parted ways, he headed home and I headed to school!

This weekend in the basement of my old high school I took the Canadian Firearms Safety Course where I learned all the required information and skills to safely handle a non-restricted firearm (rifle and shotgun) so I could apply for my Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). I passed with flying colours!

What does all that mean?

In a few months (after the government has processed my papers) I am legal to own and carry my own firearm and I don't need anyone else to go hunting! (previously I had my Hunter's Safety which meant I could go hunting and carry a firearm but I had to be with someone else who had a PAL).

This girl is going hunting this fall! My freezer will be full of meat that I harvested!

I found something pretty funny regarding getting my PAL this weekend. I told a friend of mine in Southern Ontario (shout out to Kyle!) about the course and he thought it was a really cool thing to do (actually I believe his exact words were "-you are the coolest chick I know!") which I won't argue with... but yet if I tell anyone around here about the course it's just another thing. In fact it doesn't surprise me when people ask "You mean you don't have it yet?" I guess up north here it's just a way of life.

Friday night and all day Saturday were booked (the course ended at about 4pm and I finally got to do my practical test at about 5, finished by 5:15 then I spent the night knitting and watching movies with the boyfriend) which left Sunday. Of course the fun didn't end on Saturday! Sunday afternoon I went hunting again. This time it was for a house.

Earlier this week my boss (the farm one, not the day job one) sent me a link to a nice little house on 48 acres of land just down the road from us. I arranged an appointment and at 2pm Sunday I went to check it out!

The house is a great size for me, the property is an interesting shape but I like it, there are some very useful looking outbuildings and plenty of room for my homesteading dreams. The highlight for me is the new woodstove outside and the beautiful neighbourhood... and by that I mean lack of neighbours in view (I love people, don't get me wrong, but I love solitude at home!).

Now onto the downsides of the place... It's empty this winter (which you might have to live around here to understand means condensation on all the window, leaks and potential for a host of problems with plumbing, heating and electrical when they all get switched back on), the roof is over 10 years old (but was covered in snow so I can't really see its condition), there are a number of much older windows which will need to be replaced, there is some mold on the ceiling by the door (which could be an indication of a roof leak) and the entire southwest side of the house is sunk lower than the rest of the house (which is the "original" house built in 1956, an addition was put on in 1993).

Now I realize that last point might sound like a deal breaker for most but the guy who sent me the link (my "farm" boss) is an architect and has agreed to come check the place out with me in the spring when the snow is melted and I can get a much better look at the property, the out buildings and the house's foundation. See what we can't do to jack the place back up! (again, if you're not familiar with these things, that's something that is actually done to homes!). And lastly.... it was rented out recently. You know how tenants can be, and it certainly looks like it's had some unreliable ones.

So that's the big news! I'm excited to finally be looking for a place to start my farm. I've already been pre-approved for a decent sized mortgaged (based on my current income and complete lack of equity... thanks for that college loans. Why can't they give me some equity based on that?) and have a small sum saved up for a down payment (which is growing weekly) plus my RRSPs to take out if it came down to it.

Things are FINALLY rolling!

(I would share the listing but I'm scared to jinx it! I really do like the place! But if you want to see the place, ask in the comments maybe I'll post the link there!)