Merry homesteader Christmas…

 

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The snow has blanketed the mountains that surround us. Little children, with Christmas wonder and excitement, fill our little cabin with holiday joy. Stockings are hung and our home grown Christmas tree sits proudly with handmade decorations.

Today our family has been invited to a neighbouring ranch for a sledding party and the children are anxious to try out new sleighs..curtesy of Auntie Bridgit.

This will be our first Christmas, in ten years, where we are back home with family to visit. The children getting acquainted with cousins never before met and putting faces to aunties and uncles names. It is wonderful to have family around ….. Especially at this time of year.

It also is a reminder of all the friends we left behind in our move out west. We find ourselves reminiscing of Christmas’s past and friends dearly missed!

I have recently taken part time work in town as a supervisor at a homeless shelter. It is the first time since becoming a momma that I have worked outside of the home…..but bills (even when you are off grid) need to be paid….and it is a job that allows me to be Jesus’s hands and feet … If only for one night a week.

It has been a hard past two weeks on the ranch. Temperatures dropped to -30’c last week. Our poor goats, even with warm bedding and barns , struggled in the deep cold. We lost a handful of younger goats, the cold depleting them of much needed calories. We have ramped up feeding plans, changing hay, minerals and adding grains for quick sugars. Our first kid of the year made its debut on a freezing -26’c day. It’s first time mom leaving it newly born in the snow. We sprang into action. Bathing and warming the little buckling. Syringing in milk supplement. Poor Mountain Man slept with the little buckling tucked in close…rocking him close by the fire when the night air became even colder. But it was not to be…our little winter buckling, whom the children nick named “frosty” due to his cold birth, past away.

Our cabin, with its still uninsulated floors, made for a chilly week. Boots and wooly socks were a must. Ice formed instantly when water touched the floor.

As we still don’t have a water source we remain pumping water from the creek and pond. Mountain Man chipping a hole in the ice to pump. Water troughs are hard to keep defrosted when you are off grid. I have scoured the Internet for solutions, but it seems that most ideas must be from farmers south of us. Canadian winters are bone chilling cold and ” a ball in the water trough” will not clear ice here…just provide a nice ice sculpture to look at lol. We are using the idea of manure creating warmth and have put our main water storage deep into the barn. On top we have placed half barrels with insulation to keep the water from freezing all the way through. We are having success with this and this has made much of the day easier.

Our homestead has not seen a Christmas since around 1930 celebrated here. In speaking with an old timer, whose family long ago homesteaded near by, I asked where all the homesteaders had gone. Each pioneer homestead near us sits empty. Long forgotten log homes and buildings but a ghostly reminder of this mountains past. The gentleman told me that it “was just too hard” up here. It is hard but we are delighting in the beauty and embracing the struggles.

Today the snow is falling heavily. The little pioneer log cabin sits across the marsh reminding us of days gone by. Our cabin the first home built here in many decades. Our little cabin, warmed by our wood heater, meals still cooked outside on our propane stove (very hard at -30’c), lit dimly by lanterns at night, our diy composting toilet working well…. May not be much by societies standards but we love it here.

We are eager to welcome Christmas here up in the mountains. So excited to share the news of Christ’s birth with those we meet.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas, rejoicing in the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ. May you, yours and all the critters in your barn yard have a wonderful Christmas!

 

Blessings,
The Prayerful Pioneer

The House that Love Built….

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It has been three sweet and wonderful weeks since we loaded our beds out of the tent and into..our cabin!!!

What a beautiful feeing it was to sleep that first night comfy and cozy indoors. Each part of our little cabin brings forth a memory of our adventure here. Family and friends coming along side helping our dreams take shape. Some memories are sweet (my boys working hard along side dad), some funny (like my dad on the roof)…some frusterating (trusses and mud)….but when I close my eyes and take in the smell of warm wood, cozy fireplace and fresh coffee, hearing my boys racing cars along the (still plywood) floors warmth fills my soul.

The walls may still be just insulation covered with plastic, the interior walls still but a dream…but we are here…tucked up cozy in the mountains.

The snow began to fall this week, red little nosed children run inside for hot cocoa. The world is quiet. The oil lamps are lit by 5pm. The animals tucked in for the night. As we have chosen to not have solar, the children play or are read to in the dark evenings, we eat our dinner by oil lamp light.

On Saturday nights we have begun a tradition of movie nights. The generator gets fired up for a much anticipated family movie. This is the only screen time a week for the children so it is a exciting time.

Homeschool has moved from the tent (that was ummm squishy lol) back to the kitchen table. We use a mennonite curriculum which fits our ranching life perfectly!!

Mountain man is racing to acquire enough firewood to both cook and heat with.

We are still working to install our water cistern. We had been waiting patiently for the mud to harden again so that the gravel truck might bring in gravel to secure it. When the day finally came, the gravel truck arrived. Though the driver had 163 acres to dump his load….he managed to back straight into our horse trailer!!!!! (Its a small town….we still adore him lol).

Tonight Mountain man and I have stolen away for a rare date night. The sweetness of sharing a kiss once again in the movie theatre where we shared our first kiss 13 years ago.

As we rest our heads under the cabins roof tonight we will thank God again for His many blessings….for love that has braved many storms to still be refreshed by a date 13 yrs later, to family and friends who gave up time and energy in helping us build our home…and to our Heavenly Father from whom our dreams were given the chance to become reality.

From our “little house in the big woods” much love and blessings,

The Prayerful Pioneer
ps Mountain Man wanted me to share his homemade joke with you. “What do you call a tractor that doesn’t work?”….lazy!

(Back story….our tractor named “Daisy” has been renamed “lazy Daisy”) lol

Egyptians and the Israelites…..

Strange title for a homesteading blog you say?? Maybe but let me update you first…,

I am sorry for not blogging sooner but it has been quite the mad rush around …. With preparing the animals for winter and manically trying to finish the cabin (will the hardware store EVER send the right windows that we ordered 3 months ago???). So this will be looooonnggg  post lol.

It is reaching around -8’c during the nights here and a balmy 0’c during the day. No matter how relgiously you stoke our little stove this tent is mighty cold. We have approximately a weeks worth of work before the cabin is ready for move in. As hardy as my boys are we have moved the little ones to Grannies for the week and the older two (who fought this decision tooth and nail) at night. It is just too cold. With the littles ones away it allows me to be a larger help to Mountain Man in installing insulation etc.

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(frosty goats in the morning sun)

In the middle of September, while we were eating lunch, we heard a large commotion where the goats were grazing. We had dogs with them but could not actually see them due to the ruggedness of our land. Mountain Man rushed in the direction of the noise on the atv, gun in hand,  but couldnt find the goats….what happened???

That night to our dismay, when our goats always return to the safety of their warm barns….no goats! We went out late into the night searching..not a goat anywhere!

Now we don’t live in a settled area. On both sides of our property lay thousands of acres of crown land (which is undeveloped land owned by the government). Most of this land has very little road development of even the roughest of logging roads. Most if it (as we soon found out) was even too densely forested for atv access…how to find them??? How do 150 goats (20 had returned by then and the others had been sold) simply disapear????

That night I lay in bed wide awake..running outside at every sound…praying wildly for their return…physically sick with fear due to high predator count in our area. Our guardian dogs had returned home at this point obliviously knowing they were too far from home accompanying two older tired does.

We could find no trace of them… Friends drove back roads.. Signs were mounted around the nearby town of 500…even Facebook became a helpful tool. Every ranch around was alerted. Where were they???

Now it is humbling to feel like the bumbling farmer “from the east” as we are referred to ha ha. Strangely we were born and raised here but after living out east for ten years we are referred to as “from out east”.

As we had $35,000 walking around in the woods along with a piece of our hearts somewhere,  it was time to call in extra help. We enlisted the assistance of cowboys (and a cowgirl) on horse back with dogs to comb the mountain sides. Mountain Man mounted his trusty steed Stormy lord an accompanied the cowboys.

At the end of day three a joyous and tearful “thank you to God” rang loudly from our ranch … which must have been heard for miles around. Our angels on horseback (as the cowboys were quickly renamed)… Brought the goats back from where they had been found …six kilometres away up a mountain side. They had been spooked by a cougar (mountain lion) and fled…fast. With Gods grace they came home….. And are now grounded !!!

The trusses were up and it was time to roof!!! Grandad came back up from the coast and precariously tin roofed (along with Mountain Man and our two older sons Alaska and Cowboy) our 12/12 steep roof with tin!!
I use the term, precarious, as the end section saw my 69 yr old father hanging off a ladder down the side of the roof, suspended by a rope being held by Mountain man. If this wasn’t crazy enough…. At that exact moment a massive storm hit! Honestly it did!! The storm threw rain and hail and the wind..well it threw my father…who was attached to the ladder across part of the roof with the tin siding!!! My 71 yr old mother and I quickly grabbed long two by fours and attempted to hold the tin down to the house using our full weight to keep it and my father from flying away!! When it was all said and done….instead of a hug I gave my stubborn father a swift punch to the shoulder for risking his life like that!! Ha ha but seriously what a sight it was!!!
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(Mountain Man and my Father on a sunnier day)

Our cistern for rainwater collection and potable water went underground last week  (I will blog about this later as it completely excites me ..).

This past week saw an addition of a dream of Mountain mans come true …when we were able to purchase a used 4×4 tractor for our farm!!! Mountain man and Alaska drove for two days through a snowstorm to the neighbouring province for this red beauty. Mountain Man can often be heard now singing the country tune “she thinks my tractors sexy!”. Ummm I’m not sure that I do..but hey why break a mans heart ?? Lol
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Sooooo this brings me to the Egyptians an Israelites. To any of you that are unfamiliar with this Biblical story…the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 yrs. God delivered them to freedom …to the promised land… but first God made His power known to pharaoh (the Egyptian king with the ten plagues). Amazingly, the Israelites, who had called out to God for all those years, while in slavery for rescuing,…where no happier when they were free. Along the way to the promised land they constantly complained. It was too far. It was too hard. There was no food. When God made manna miraculously fall from Heaven each day.. well that wasn’t good enough. When God sent them meat..well then there was too much etc.

My oldest son brought this story to my attention. Do we tend to be like the Israelites in this story. We pray and pray for a chance at our dream (be it homesteading, a different job, to be married, to be blessed with children)…, only to complain each step of the way?????

We prayed earnestly to homestead…here….in the rugged mountains….is it hard??? Its the hardest work I have ever done! Some days it feels completely undo able.  But I pray that my heart will be glad and joyful giving thanks for each part of this journey.

What about you? Do you find yourself being a grumbling Israelite like in this story? If so take a few minutes today and write down your blessings! Give thanks for them. There is a saying that says, “what if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”…. What would you wake up with?? So with Thanksgiving weekend just behind us….have you actually been thankful?

Blessings,
The Prayerful Pioneer

One step forward two steps back….

It was with much excitement we awaited Friday…it was roof truss day! A house for the winter seemed close. The contractor was hired, three labourers were hired to help as well. Large equipment was rented and on site. The crane was paid for which would also arrive the following day with the trusses.

The sounds in the still of the night awakened me. They filled the night, shrouding me in fear and prayer. Our dreams seemed to slide down the tent walls with each drop…rain!!!! Massive Noah’s Ark kind of rain. Rain that would turn our cattle path driveway into thick chocolate pudding mud.

I whispered to Mountain Man but he was already awake….listening as well with a troubled heart.

My dad had already arrived in town to help and many of our new church family had volunteered to give up their long weekend to help us achieve a roof.

A would be roof that got stuck on the road. A crane truck sinking in thick mud….along with dreams of a roof over our heads. It took everything not to cry.

blessings,

The Prayerful Pioneer

Campfire reflections…

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The nights are starting to cool. Though the days still reach the 30’s the nights let you know that fall beckons.

August has gone by in a whirlwind. Good and sad memories. Our little cabin is taking form. Slower than I had hoped but filling us with excitement at each new phase. This weekend the walls will be put into place (an old fashioned barn raising of sorts with the aid of neighbours and a borrowed tractor). Next week the roof trusses will be delivered. We are coming to the end of our extra long camp out and though there are things we will miss we are ready for a solid home.

Last week I was at the gas station and overheard a woman complaining about how hard it was to camp for four days with children….. I laughed inside knowing at one time that might have been me! It has been eye opening for me to reflect on how these almost four months in a tent in the mountains have changed me already. Have changed all of us.

The garden was eaten by the goats and pig who broke in and had a party of sorts… Leaving only zucchini and pumpkins for us to enjoy.

The boys are growing up so quickly. Helping to build our home from the ground up. Learning to use all of the tools and the process for their own homes one day. Cowboy celebrated his 9th birthday… They are getting older too quickly.

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Bear Cub (our 5 yr old son), learned why we shouldn’t have bike races on wet grassy dirt roads and sported six stitches for a week. He is actually quite proud of his new “pirate scar” and Im thinking the life lesson may have been lost on him (ha ha).

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We have been blessed to have visitors from back east come for the day. What a treat to catch up on news and laughter!

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(Kids and friends from out east making crazy faces) 😜

We had to say a very heart broken goodbye to our border collie “TJ” and our puppy like goat named “daisy Mae”. We pray they are at rest and for comfort for our young boys hearts.

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(TJ snoozing on the long drive out west xo)

Goats have been selling well and we thank God for his grace and provision. Hopefully once the boy goats are sold we will be able to purchase enough hay to last the does through the winter.

Winter approaches…..

I have never spent so much of my day thinking of winter. How much wood we will need. How much food to have stored up incase we are unable to clear snow at times. Barn, animals, ability to road clear etc.

We don’t live on a road. We live on an easement. Basically a cattle path that winds through our property. It is rough and rugged. The only people who have permission to come through are the owners of the five ranches above us….none of which live there. Winter road clearing relies fully on our shoulders.

We are still hopeful to have water for the winter. A well price is beyond our means. We are currently pumping water from a nearby creek but we will need water for winter.

After much prayer I felt the urge to dig in a spot we had dug and noticed was wet months ago. I dug further down and water slowly began to fill in the hole. We are so hopeful that this may be the possibilty for a well. Please keep this in prayer for us, as a good water source would make the days so much easier.

Some days I feel weary at what we have taken on. Building everything from the ground up. Other days exhilarated.

Tonight sitting infront of the campfire I feel at peace. It is a feeling that has eluded me my whole life. For the first time I do not feel this sense of “temporarily filling time somewhere”. I feel at home.

Blessings,
The prayerful Pioneer

Ps. We Have Walls!!!!!

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I want to be a cowboy…

I wanna be a cowboy….

My boys have always wanted to be cowboys. My 8 yr old even woke me up once when he was two years old to have me put his chaps on. 🙂

Of course every cowboy needs a horse to ride….especially a pinto horse!

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We purchased these two very handsome two year olds with the intention of training and selling them.
They are gorgeous! They came to us completely untrained but on the second day they stood for saddles. The next day they allowed three of the boys to mount and go for a short ride. They are kind and sweet, always seeking us out for a pet and cuddle.

I wonder if we will truely be able to say goodbye to these lovely fellows one day….

Blessings,

the Prayerful Pioneer
Sent from my iPhone

The Wild Wild West…

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There is a certain allure and draw to the west. To the pioneers it symbolized independence an adventure. To fortune seekers it symbolized their chance at “the better life”. To us it symbolized, “Home”.

It is hard to fully explain the draw of the mountains to those who have never experienced them. I say experience as it is more than just seeing…. It is feeling the majesty of God in their grandeur. The west has scenery that seems to leave a forever mark on your soul.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the pioneers as they travelled across this great country. I have always pictured the covered wagons crossing through the valleys here. They invoke thoughts of wild pinto horses and raw landscapes.

I so wanted to share a few pictures of our latest sabbath hike. We are trying hard to take Sundays as church and family time.

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Im curious if you find yourself picturing covered wagons and wild horses a well. (Ps the horses you see actually are wild horses!!).

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Blessings,

the Prayerful Pioneer