The Shed

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Well it’s here. The shed has arrived! The day started off with waiting for Grandma to come by to watch Junior. Hubby and I are pretty efficient, but I wanted to be hands on today (aka make sure no one got hurt and nothing got broken), so an extra set of hands was superb. When Grandma arrived I put her to work chasing Junior around the yard. The day had started off muggy and overcast, then it suddenly turned muggy and full sun, which if you are wondering, is NOT a great forecast for my ginger skin. Yup, I’m a red head and I am very forgetful to put on sunscreen. No worries, I always remember to slather Junior with some, but when it comes to myself, nope. Grandma has a hard time with hot temps as well, so Hubby filled the little pool and soon Grandma was enjoying the splashings of Junior as he ran in circles in the 6 inch deep water.

A few days ago we received a shipment of gravel to make the bed for the shed. Hubby and I then proceeded to argue over everything from how to move it all the way to the back of the property, to how thick the base should be. The hot weather and the strenuous work did not lighten our moods. Only when our farmer neighbour knocked on our door to say we could borrow their atv and trailer did Hubby buck up (I might also add that Hubby is stubborn and refused to ask for help, it was I who contacted the neighbours to see what our options were). Moving a load of gravel by wheelbarrow is a painful process. (Originally the driver was supposed to drive to the back and dump it in place, but as per our luck, it had rained for several days and the driver , with good cause, refused to tear up our lawn). Once Hubby sat upon the atv (he loves them) his mood improved and we made several loads to create a big base for the shed to come. Remind me later a pie or fresh loaf of bread is in order as thanks for the atv.

So back to yesterday, with Junior splashing in his pool, Grandma sweltering under the shade of our only tree, and Hubby and I becoming puddles as we raked our driveway, laid gravel on pathways and cleaned up the garage, the shed, in all its glory arrived.

Hubby and I have been fighting a lot lately and stress always makes it worse. So another of our “debates” has been if the shed will actually fit through our double gate.  Hubby refused to measure the opening and kept brushing off others’ concerns saying the opening was 12-16’ wide. In serious doubt, I would counter with 10-12’, and not knowing how wide the trailer would be that the shed was on was making us very on edge. We both called the local shed shop, with no call back. The shed would be 10’ but how much space did it need? So since Hubby refused to measure, I ran out and took a wobbly measuring tape to the opening. At the base was 10’. Phew (as long as the trailer was less). We would be okay. The next day, Hubby went out, and for some reason he was coming up with 9’6”. Hmm. It took some debate but we figured out that neither of us were idiots. I had measured the base of the opening and he had measured the top where the poles angled in slightly. We figured that we could pull the poles wider at the top if need be.

So did it fit? One would say it fit like a 300lbs lady putting on nylon stockings.  We pushed, pried, bent, and shoved that shed through our fence opening. The fence was partially dismantled (but later fixed with the help of the shed guys) and the poles had to be bent and pulled out of the way. But it made it. Within minutes of pushing through the gates the guys had the shed in place, levelled and out they squeezed back through the gates. We later measured the shed and its 10’6” and nearly a foot longer than we expected. No complaining here!

Hubby and I made many trips, dragging rakes, shovels, shelving units and toboggans to their new home and within an hour we had it set up as much as we could. We still need to make a ramp in order to get the mower in, but there is still plenty of room. Hubby has given me the go ahead to search for a garden bench to put in there and now we can get the ball rolling on the garden fence. Oh and we need to add some chicken wire on the bottom to keep the cats, skunks, and coons out from under it. All in good time!

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Our shed is coming!

We’re like kids before Christmas. The anticipation is killing us, as the shed is due to arrive this week! We have some gravel coming over the weekend in preparation for our new little building, so it has a nice bed to rest on and the list of things that we want to transfer from the garage to the shed is growing (sadly).

I’m not sure if it’s living out in the country or just our luck (someone knock on wood for me please), but just like the chain link fence, the business we purchased our shed from seems to not care that we have only put the down payment on it. We plan on paying very hefty payments over the next few months which is almost too good to be true, but here it comes. We chose a local company (stay local!) to design, build and deliver our shed to us. We shook hands, handed over a small wad of crumpled cash (okay, it was an email money transfer, but that just doesn’t have the same romantic vibe to it), and now here we are, planning and prepping for an outbuilding of our own.

When searching for our dream home, I imagined coming across a few houses with sheds, barns or detached garages that I could turn into gardening zones, or future houses for chickens, but alas, only one house had such a shed, and unfortunately the shed was larger than the house. Our dream house, did not have a shed, but this only meant we could design our own. Our shed will rest lengthwise along our side fence between us and our neighbours and it will be placed about three quarters of the way back towards the south end of the yard, allowing my future garden to rest in the very corner. When facing it, we have double doors on the right hand side, a window in the middle and then a single door on the left. And if I recall correctly we have a second window on the short side (which will face the garden).

I plan on finding an old shelving unit or work bench and it will be designated for gardening. We’ll set up my rain barrels to catch the water coming off the shed (still need to find some used eaves trough) and perhaps I will even set up a trickle irrigation system in the future).  As soon as the shed arrives we can finally finally install my garden fence, which so far consists of some old 4×4 posts I acquired and a roll of 2×4 wire fencing that is about 4 feet tall. I may need to buy more wire fencing, and later on I plan on buying (or finding used) some 1x6x8’ planks to make fence slats to finish it off and add some stability. I’m planning on having two gates to my garden, so that’s another project to make, and eventually this will be a haven for perhaps a few chickens or ducks, but we’re now looking at a few years before I have enough free time to be gardening and chasing poultry around.

Hubby wants to use the other end of the shed for storing all gardening supplies and equipment including our lawn tractor and snow blower. We will fill the rafters with toboggans and use the space along the back wall for an old wooden shelving unit my dad made me which will then hold bins of gardening items, bulbs, seeds, shovels etc.

We’ll also eventually looking into have two solar powered lights installed, one over my gardening bench (although two windows should provide ample light) and another over the lawn tractor area. We’ll have to immediately build a ramp for the shed, and attach chicken wire along the bottom so no critters start making their homes under our new addition (the shed sits on wooden “skis” so there is a nice dark crawl space for furry friends).

My only concern is the width of the trailer and shed is supposedly 10’ wide… and the opening to our yard through our double fence is 10’ wide. So please say a little prayer for us that we can indeed squeeze our shed through our beautifully installed chain link fence!

Baby Bird

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The other day while Hubby and I were doing a delicate and graceful ballet of chores, he, outside mowing the grass, and I, tripping over a very fast running Junior inside while attempting to clean, finish laundry and try to make it into the shower, we were blessed with a view seldom seen (at least by us). Hubby called me from outside (this is how we operate, calling each other like our phones are walkie talkies) to see “how fast I could get outside”. His statement is laughable at best since it was a breezy day and Junior was still running around in his pajama bottoms, and I had the laundry half into the machine. While heading into the back yard Hubby had come across a baby bird in the grass, it’s parents yelling at it from above. Since going outside in a hurry wasn’t an option I ascertained that the bird was not in the back yard, since our dogs would surely dispatch it quickly, and that yes it was still alive (hubby sometimes leaves out these details for dramatic effect). Once Junior was clothes, my chores on the go, I did what I do best. Googled. Since I’m a nature lover, but yet don’t know everything there is to know about country life, I needed to know how best to handle a baby bird. Do you wear gloves so that the mother doesn’t reject? Do you bring it inside for feedings every 3 hours until you release it back into the wild? Within minutes I discovered that baby birds are rarely rejected once touched to be replaced into the nest, and that certain times you should not touch a baby bird on the ground.

If the baby bird is featherless, and the nest has been knocked to the ground, carefully set reattach the nest to a sheltered branch, or if the nest has been damaged or you cant find the original nest still in the tree, make a nest of shredded paper in a small basket and place in the tree, replace the baby bird into the nest, carefully placing its tiny legs under it.

But if the bird indeed has feathers, it is called a fledgling and should not be touched. A fledgling may have “fallen” while attempting to practice for it’s first flight, or it may have been pushed from the best as a weaker bird. In the case of a fledgling, it is best to not intervene, but perhaps ensure it is safe from cats, cars, kids and dogs.

I slipped into some shoes, bundled up Junior and went outside to determine the little birds fate. After waiting for a few minutes to get Hubby’s attention as he whipped around the back yard on the John Deere, we were pointed in the direction of a large pine tree in our side yard. Junior and I crept close to take a look at the baby bird. It was indeed a fledgling, (I really didnt want to be touching a baby bird anyways), and it had aleady hopped up into the lower branches. Since the neighbours cats usually leave our yard alone during the day, and the dogs were fenced in the back yard, I figured the little bird was safe. Figured……

Later on, as I took my turn on the mower, and Junior was napping inside, Hubby ushered me over, head shaking, and then I saw our poor fledgling… in the back yard!!! And of course… dead. My stupid dog (or smart?) had made sure the intruder did not live. Poor birdy. I suppose, that if the little baby had hopped/fallen from the branches, and then under the chain link fence, and into the yard, that it for sure would have eventually been killed by any number of predators. But a nature lover, can’t help but feel a little guilty as it’s certainly not a fun thing to witness. But in the words of my father, and since it was a starling fledgling, “there would be one less (insert expletive) bird” in the world. According to my father starlings are notorious for inserting their eggs into other birds nests since they are too lazy to raise them. Although a quick google search doesn’t show this, and I wonder if it’s a farmer’s predjudice against the birds since they are a bit destructive.

Mompreneur

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My maternity leave was up months ago, yet here I am, 3pm in the afternoon and yes, I still have my pajamas on.  Not because I’m too lazy, or ran out of clean clothes, but because today is a work day. Nope, I sure don’t work Monday to Friday 9am until 5pm, instead I work pretty much from 6:30am until 9pm, every gall darned day of the week. On top of the constant cleaning up after a busy toddler and the never ending vacuuming of dog hair, I have a business to run. It has no set hours, other than “when Junior is cooperating or napping” and there is no guaranteed salary.  Sometimes I put off getting dressed to finish up an order, or I work late into the night while Hubby watches tv, patiently waiting for me to emerge from my craft room.

For the past few years the business was a casual hobby, but with mat leave over, it’s official, I own a burlap and rustic décor shop.  Concentrating on the unique, and rustic bride, I sell mostly table runners and overlays out of burlap, but have recently branched out into artificial flower bouquets wrapped in birch, or upcycled crates made into card boxes. Today’s project was the sale of cheese cloth as a back drop swag for a wedding ceremony. Although Hubby was supportive, I’m sure he thought the box would sit around for a while, amongst many other half finished projects, but within 1 hour of posting a picture, I had tripled my investment. Behind me as I type, I am cutting out burlap table overlays, and over on the hutch are 3 orders ready to be delivered or picked up. On the clothesline outside is a length of cheesecloth recently dyed to a pale pink (okay okay, well maybe I was aiming for a dark purple, but pink is nice too), and wooden signs are piled close at hand for when I have a second to take their picture for the website.  The business doesn’t pay all the bills but it pays for some of them, and allows me some wiggle room as a mom (sometimes now I buy the name brand peanut butter…. If it’s on sale).

A mompreneur is someone who chooses to concentrate on being a mom first, and being an entrepreneur has to fit into any available space leftover. Sometimes I don’t work a minute on the business, choosing to roll around in the grass with Junior or read the same book over and over and over and over again to him. But there are some days where the challenges of juggling both my business and my mom life wear on me. Often times I very much need a mug of coffee, but have to nuke it 4 times before I have a chance to finish it. Sometimes I forget orders, or have to email quotes while Junior is on my lap banging on the keyboard.  I don’t get sick days, coffee breaks, or medical benefits.  My house is sometimes quite the mess with half finished projects, orders to be completed or my newest yardsale find that I will “eventually” turn into a new project for sale. But even with all that, I still don’t miss office politics, wicked tight deadlines or wearing business casual. When we factored in my old salary versus what we would be paying in daycare, gas, and parking, I was hardly coming ahead. But with my business, I am contributing, be it only a little, to our finances and I get to raise our son.  I’m proud to be a mompreneur.

Farm Fresh When Possible

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I love farmers. I hope you do too. I love seeing those signs, “if you ate today, thank a farmer”, and I love meeting the hardworking generations that keep happy and healthy food coming our way. I’m not talking about large industrial factories pumping out wingless birds, and those places that keep their cows packed into tiny plots of mud covered land until slaughter time. I’m talking about your local dairy farmers, your hobbyists, and those people that drive tractors to work and whose “rush hour” is that time of day that milking happens and all the cows try to cram into the barn door at the same time. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a tree hugging vegan hippy. I love food, all kinds of food, but I’m striving towards embracing more local food. With Porkers fattening up on the farm next door, and the farm fresh chicken eggs that I had this morning, I love knowing that what I consume, at least had a great happy life. My grandparents were dairy farmers, and my dad grew up playing in the barn and driving tractors. The highlight of my Christmas holiday was the yearly hay ride pulled by “the Old Oliver” tractor that my grandfather still tends to, although each year the tractor gets a bit harder to get going. And just like the fact that tractor is making fewer appearances at our holidays, real farmers are disappearing fast. After a conversation with our neighbour, who has 3 daughters, he just doesn’t know the future of his dairy farm. His girls aren’t that interested in continuing on with the family business, and when he retires, he may simply have to sell the herd, and use the barns for storage. It’s a sad state of affairs when so much of the population is pulling together to support these businesses, but yet nothing concrete is done. Local farms have hardly any government support and if you think that our Hydro bill is nearly $300 a month, can you imagine how much a farm has to pay with all the milking equipment, fans and lights? The least I can do is to attempt to buy as local as possible. And it’s not just the people I want to support, I know it’s not for everyone but have you ever thought about the life your burger had before it became a burger? Okay, no, I won’t make you think about it. And don’t worry I have a bag of chicken nuggets in my fridge that I eat, but totally ignore how they were made. But when I do eat local, farm fresh eggs, I know those chickens are running free, and have names. Porkers will have had many hands petting him over his lifetime and he will have enjoyed life rooting around and laying in mud. I know some people who refuse to eat farm fresh anything because they don’t want to think about how happy the animal was before it came to the plate. I think this way of thinking is a bit backwards. If you are going to eat meat, own it. Really know what you are eating as much as you can. Eat the best you can, and eat local when you can. Make the choice to go local. And get out there, pull on those rubber boots and shake a farmers hand. Meet the people who make it happen. Those are real people, real honest, honest hardworking folks. I just wish that dairy farm is around long enough for me to send Junior over there when he is older to help with the milking. Don’t get me started on the waning work ethic our generation seems to have. That will be another blog.

Happy Mother’s Day

Well, here I sit, nearly 9am, coffee cooling nearby, and my eyes hurt to open them. My luck, I’ve got a nasty head cold. As a red head, one of my downfalls is the inability to enjoy temperature changes like a normal human being. Going from hot to cold, and vice versa, just doesn’t do me any favors. With temps outside soaring suddenly to near 30 degrees I’ve already been sun burned and it’s only the first week of May! I apply sunscreen (albeit, not often enough) and then when I bake outside I sweat like a… well, you get it. Then when I come inside to the cooler temps of the house, and the frigid temps of the basement, my body can’t process this change. Then, try sleeping in it, fans blowing all over me, but room is hot. Arg. Super head cold. So I’ve rolled downstairs while Junior still sleeps, and figured I would get in some crafting. But here on my computer is a card from Hubby for Mother’s Day. Poor guy has to work today to feed all the lucky moms that get taken out, but he was kind enough to buy me flowers and coffee yesterday and this morning, my card. And the card promises that we will purchase some apple trees as my mothers day gift when the shed gets delivered. I’m so happy. Until Junior is old enough to make me a pasta necklace, I’m not one to enjoy getting fancy gifts like jewelry, and I’m tickled pink that Hubby remembered that something as simple as a tree makes me smile. I’m looking forward to picking out some trees this year and waiting patiently for apples to appear over the next few years. I can’t bake for the life of me, but it will sure be incentive to give it a go. I love apple pie, and apple crumble, and I hope that Junior and Hubby will someday enjoy the fruits of my labour.

No excuses, well, maybe

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Its been too long since I’ve blogged and there hasn’t been any good reason, okay, well, maybe when I have a spare moment to blog I instead use it to sit on the front porch with a cold glass of whatever I can find. Now, don’t go thinking I do that alot, but with the nice weather we’ve been very productive around the house. With the truck back in the driveway (we haven’t even started to pay off the repairs, but at least it was less than we thought originally) we’ve had to budget our spring. Where I would normally purchase plants and flowers for my door urns, and my hanging planters, I’ve made do this year with plants I have found in the garden that needed splitting anyways. I planted Soloman’s Seal in my front urns, which once full grown will be tall and lucious and fill in the space incredibly. I have split many of my hostas to fill in bare spots in the garden and even found some Bleeding Heart plants growing in an old compost pile at the edge of our property. The house garden is done, and I just have a few more hours to attend to a “middle of the yard” garden. To keep it all in prospective, so far I think I have spent about 12 hours weeding and transplanting. It is at this time I am happy that the vegetable garden has been delayed until later in the summer. (once the shed arrives, the garden fence can go up and our goal is to at least dig some of it out so next spring it’s ready to rock).

Hubby has had to cut the grass already, and has already broken the new lawn tractor. Okay, in his defence, it probably wasn’t his fault, and it was a relatively easy (for my dad) fix. He stopped by and drilled, hammered and pressed the piece back into place and voila, good enough to run!

I ditch dove for a tree, and I think it’s some sort of a crab apple, so that should look nice in our front yard. It’s about 5 feet tall so it should take well. And it’s a good thing I found it since the lilacs I transplanted from my moms property didnt survive and only 2 trees survived from my grandparents yard, a maple and an oak (we think).

The acorns I have been coaxing to life also seemed to have kicked the bucket, but I will keep trying. They budded out and shoots started to emerge, but growth has come to a stand still. It would have been nice to grow oak trees from acorns collected from southern ontario from where hubby’s family is based.

I am determined to grow something, so I also had collected some apple and pear seeds from some fruit we had kicking around in the fridge. I folded the seeds into a paper towel, added water and put them into ziplock bags on the widow sill. A month later I opened the bags to find the pear seeds still looking the same, but the apples had sprouted and even had roots. I have transplanted those to little pots on my window sill as well. Cross your fingers, cause I really want apple trees.

Our country life is a daily blessing for me. Our neighbours are wonderful. Last week Junior and I attended a neighbours son’s 7th birthday party, and the farm wife next door came to help me garden. I also gathered a crew of neighbours and friends to visit the farmers and specifically check out our investment.

Yup, investment. A long while back we had the farmers, and past owners of our house, over for dinner and they had mentioned getting pigs this year. Of course Hubby and I chimmed in and let them know we would be very interested. Well, back in the city, the actualy event of purchase would normally come after several quotes, phone calls and perhaps a handful of emails, but here in the country, we simply received a call that “our pig was in”. Thankfully we don’t have to pay for the pig, aptly named Porkers by one of the farmer’s daughters, until fall when he goes to get turned into bacon. So in celebration of our new investment we invited a few neighbours, their kids, and a friend of mine and her son to visit the farm. While all the adults stood around watching one of the pigs root around  and chatting about the weather, kids were running through barns, and chasing chickens. It was an ideal evening.

My Poor Truck

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Arg, so it’s been another long week. With money being an ever present concern, we’ve had to discuss our budget plans for this year. Initially we planned to replace the roof shingles and build a deck. Then, we changed that to shingles and a shed. Then, we decided the roof can wait another year and we settled on a deck and a shed. Either way, those are some mighty big ticket items, as we don’t want to just get a tiny shed, or get the cheapest shingles, or the smallest deck. Since this is our dream home we plan on doing things right, thus we try to stick to 2 items a year to work on. With one guaranteed income which basically is allocated to pay off the mortgage and bills, and my not so guaranteed income that is responsible for groceries, our home has to run on a tight budget.  We thrive on under the table payment plans, favors from friends, and avoiding using credit cards. We still find ourselves indebted to several places at once, but we somehow manage. It’s been quite the battle of the minds since I was raised to pay and then play to ensure you have enough money, and if you don’t need it, well, you don’t get it. Hubby on the other hand is quick to spend and say “we’ll make it happen”, but this can be very stressful since I haven’t quite forgotten his wild financial ways before we settled down.  Hubby and I pretty much only fight about money, and they say that money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t hear me complain if my huge hydro bill disappeared or my cell phone was free.

To add to our recent stressful summer plans conversation, my truck decided to get itself all rusted through and need a new gas tank. Hubby says my truck is a danger to society and will explode any second, and our “constant” repairs are a waste of time and money. We should just go out and buy a new one. I say, it hasn’t needed more than $400 in repairs/upkeep per year, it’s paid off, my dad is a mechanic and there is no way one income can support all the bills, let alone a new car, with monthly payments for the next 7 years. When I go back to work, for sure I will consider a new vehicle, but when you are a stay at home mom, and you’re not making any money, you make do.  We agreed to get it fixed, and it has been a painful week being carless. It’s supposed to go up on the hoist tomorrow and hopefully it will be a quick fix. This truck has gotten be into all kinds of adventures over the years and since it was my first vehicle, I sort of have some sentimental attachment to it. I don’t want to trade it in for a mini van. And I kind of like how the ABS light is always on. I love my truck. Please truck, come home soon.

Happy Birthday Little Man

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I don’t even know what day it is, but I know it’s been a while since I blogged. I don’t even know how many days ago its been since our little baby boy turned one, and I don’t care to sit down and figure out what day it is lest the little guy wakeup before I’m done typing. Almost a week ago, yes, that’s it (wow, I need more sleep). Last sunday we celebrated, albeit a few days early), our son’s first birthday. With a “Little Man” theme the house was filled with top hats, mustaches and a colour pallette of green, blue and black. All my months of hard work adorned walls, doorways and signs pointed to platter of food. Hubby made little slider sandwiches and we served beverages out of huge mason jar type glass dispensers. People arrived early, and continued to arrive well past the end of the party. I never intended to throw such a huge event, but who do you NOT invite? Everyone seemed genuinely excited to celebrate with us so we embraced it and over 30 people crammed into our house. There were so many people that during the cake smash I couldn’t see a thing, and decided to chat up neighbours and friends, admitting defeat that I would have to watch the adventure on someone’s video clip. Everyone seemed happy, got along, it was a beautiful day and most importantly Junior seemed to enjoy himself. Junior loved the onesie blanket I made him and immediately threw himself into it as Hubby and I held it up for everyone to see. Piles of books, new outfits, and toys littered the floors and cupcake wrappers made little mountains on our counters. Junior gorged himself on cake, the chocolate and blue icing coating his entire body, and the dogs licked every inch of the floors as guests began to leave. Our little man is a year old, and yes the year went by fast. Do I miss the baby stage? NOPE. I love every second of progress, I love that he can bring me books to read and point at toys to let me know what he wants to play with. I love how he now gives open mouthed sloppy kisses, and I even love the little tantrums he throws when I say “no”. Happy birthday to our Little Man!

The Wedding Show

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So, I survived my first wedding show. I think it was successful. Although I didn’t make a penny. Yup, that’s right, not a single cent. I’m sure glad I didn’t have to pay for my table. And to put it in perspective, the store where I was in, only made a few bucks. I spoke with a few more vendors and they reassured me that a show like that isn’t to make money, it’s to get your name out there. And if that was the point of it all, then I do consider it to be a great success! I had over 100 people walk away with samples of burlap and my business cards and I was kept quite busy talking to possible clients. It was a great day out meeting new people. And for the day I wasn’t just a mom, I was a business owner. I bought flowers in the morning and made a beautiful flower arrangement that had guests complimenting and the experience alone, was great to have under my belt. Already this year I’m 1/5 to my financial goal that I’ve set, and I haven’t even hit high wedding season yet. It keeps me busy and out of trouble that’s for sure.