If a rainbow leading me directly home to where I live is not a sign that I’ve made the right choice, I don’t know what is!
Mid-May to mid-June has been a flurry of activity for us, with never enough hours in the day. It’s become routine for Omar to be out on the tractor even as the sun sets, with flashlights strapped to the roll bar so he can continue to get just a bit more work done. We’re working against time to get our crops in the ground so they have enough time to mature during the growing season. The preparation for this is not to be underestimated, especially as we’re working to bring our fields back to planting-ready after years of lying fallow.
The demands of farm work have meant later nights for all of us, including this picture of my 7 year old peering out the window, calling “Mommy! Come in now! It’s getting dark outside and I need your snuggly arms around me or I can’t fall asleep.”
The past month saw the hatching of this year’s goslings from our resident pair of Canada Geese. To be transparent, I should note that while Canada Geese do mate for life, our residents are actually a threesome. There is a bonded pair and a third that is always with them. He/she takes great care of the goslings, along with the parents. While previous years have produced larger numbers of babies, this year we spotted four. They’ve grown and moved on now. Although we do see them fly in and out of the swamps periodically, we don’t think they’re living here any longer.
I was very touched when a local Ashton resident reached out to ask how he could arrange for sponsorship of Kassie to be the gift he gave his wife for Mother’s Day. They had been to visit the week before and while Kassie is admittedly normally curious and friendly, she does not usually climb up and onto people, trying as hard as she can to snuggle close for some head rubs. These two hit it off for sure!
Our Muscovy ducks hatched, although only two ducks out of the original 12 eggs developed, hatched and survived. My kids have named them Harold and Lily. I was quite personally pleased with myself when I built their duck house. This from a woman who has never once in her life, ever, built anything before. It’s crooked, but it stands! Normally Omar would do a task like this, but the amount of work that needs to get done around here lately has led to a shift in our traditional roles. It’s pushed me to do things I’ve never tackled before – and I have to admit to a sense of pride knowing I am capable. I mean, I knew I was in theory, but now I have proof!
Although I built them this duck-mansion, they ignore me almost completely; however, when they hear my eldest’s voice, they come running and (unbelievable until you see it) offer up their bellies to be rubbed.
Omar finished fencing in a much larger pen for the pony and the donkeys. While Cashew has happily adapted to his space, the donkeys had other ideas — routinely either hopping the fence or simply knocking it down, until they could roam freely around our property. While I worried initially that they would run away, it never happened; rather, the girls stuck close by, grazing all day and returning to the barn at night. We did surprise a few visitors who were unable to pull up to the house as they were blocked by the ‘guard donkeys’ on the laneway (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear myself say!). In the end it was the poop all over that I couldn’t handle. As much as poop is now a constant part of my life, I do appreciate having a (mostly) poop-free area of lawn where the kids can run in bare feet. Omar doubled the height of the fencing and while we are now subjected to much loud braying-of-complaint from Jenny and Gina when they can’t get out of their (large, comfortable, fabulous) space, we have not yet again encountered a guard-donkey on the drive.
It’s not all hard work on the farm. While Omar insists that this vehicle was absolutely mandatory to complete farm-chores, twenty-two years together mean that I can see right through him. The kids (including the 42 year-old) enjoyed trips in the Argo, which remarkably can drive on land and water.
One of the drawbacks of a gravel driveway is that biking is harder and scootering is almost impossible. The kids were thrilled when Omar uncovered an old barn foundation, which gave them about 80 feet of flat concrete to practice their skills.
Between frigid, rainy days well into June, we did have a period of intense heat. With the idea of giving the animals access to more clean, fresh water, I placed a big bucket in the yard for them to drink from. The pigs had a different idea. We’re now on the lookout for hard-sided kiddie pools that we can keep filled for their bathing pleasure.
Once our gardens were planted, we discovered that Merv has quite a taste for young baby lettuce, as well as the ability to climb up and over the wood fencing he’s penned in with. Omar somehow MacGyvered the pen walls so that Merv can no longer scale them. Rather, we hear plaintive maaa-ing and are the recipients of these doggy-goat-eyes, begging us for just one more little nibble of greens.
We moved to this farm at the end of June a few years ago and everything was so lush, green and picturesque. This year’s weather has resulted in a delay, with the growth I would have expected at this stage in June a few weeks behind, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This morning as I left for work, the sun was shining, the air was warm(ish) and the sky was that perfect colour of blue you associate with the ideal summer morning. We’re all looking forward to the continued warm weather as we move into the most amazing time of year in farm-life, when all is alive and blooming and beautiful.
Ed Note: You can donate to the Sultan Farm Sanctuary with payments accepted by PayPal or you can sponsor an animal or animals to assist with the costs of operating a sanctuary that lets animals live out their lives with dignity and love. Visit the Sultan family’s website to find out more and to donate www.sultanfarmsanctuary.com.
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