Two years ago yesterday, we took possession of the farm.
As I did last year, I’m going to take a look back at the milestones and accomplishments from the past year.
This year wasn’t as big on projects as year one. As much as I love DIY and improving my house, it was really, really nice to sit back a little bit and enjoy the comfy spaces we’ve created.
Part of settling into the farm was focusing a little more on decorating, rather than renovating.
I found inspiration on a local home tour and took in the Toronto Home Show with one of my friends. I got crafty, making a monogram, dice and painting a tray. I revealed my obsession with chairs and added two to our collection, receiving Strandmon for my birthday and winning Austin at Blogpodium.
I also went thrifting more than I ever have before, scoring a metal washtub to hold firewood, lamps, flags, pillows, tchotchkes and our beautiful dining table. Thrifting worked the other way too, as I sold the woodstove, our original kitchen stove, a rotisserie and a wing chair on kijiji.
However, we did still accomplish a few things that fall more in the reno category.
We increased storage and counter space in the kitchen with the addition of a kitchen island, complete with a DIY wood countertop. We added more storage and reorganized the front hall closet. We made over the mudroom to be a bright welcoming space. I finished a cozy reading nook in the basement, including my favourite chair and a simple DIY ottoman. Oh, and then there was our most recent project, painting the kitchen, foyer and hall.
Landscaping was supposed to be the big project for year two… and it turned out to be a really big project. Too big for just one year.
I swear, landscaping at the farm equals rocks. There were the four hours Matt, my Dad and I spent moving a pile of rocks from beside the driveshed to the official rock pile behind the barn. Then there was the new garden around the well that I edged with rocks. I finally had to enlist Matt and his Dad to move the most massive boulders into position.
The path across the turnaround was the one place where I wanted rocks–or at least bricks–but of course Matt and I first had to dig up another big rock that was in the way.
An extreme summer heatwave put an end to my landscaping. The intense heat was just one example of the extreme weather we saw in our second year. Spring came really late. Summer was really hot. And winter has been really snowy… and really, really, really cold. On top of it all, there was the ice storm. Spending three and a half days without power (and water and heat) was a challenging lesson in the realities of country living
Despite the difficult weather, we managed to grow some of our own food for the first time last year. We only picked a few tomatoes before the rest of the fruit was struck down by a blight, but we are keen to try again. The annual raspberry harvest was much more successful. A vegetable garden is still on our wish list.
Beyond our small vegetable plot, our fields produced another crop of hay, though our farmer only took one cut. In the fall, the fields were prepped with manure for their transition to soybeans coming up later this year.
Waste was a bit of a theme for year two as I did my own much smaller manure application, we had the septic tank pumped, and I did a major clean up of our 2km of roadside.
Change was also a theme in year two. In the fall, I left the organization where I had worked for the past 10 years for a new job. I was a bit scared to leave, but I was ready for a new challenge. I’m loving my new job–it’s definitely a challenge–and I’m really glad that I made the leap.
Interestingly, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the farm. We’re now located within reasonable driving distance of a bunch of new cities that were too far away before.
The biggest change that came to us in year two is of course Baxter. Matt and I both wanted a dog for a long time. However, we agreed that we would wait to get one until we were living in the country. We thought it might happen in year one, but we ended up waiting until year two. I think that we were just waiting for Baxter.
He is absolutely the perfect dog for us, and I love experiencing the farm with him. Rain and shine, day and night, hot and cold, I’m spending way more time outside enjoying the property than I did before.
There have been some not so perfect moments: the three run-aways, the pink-eye, the brownies, the chicken bones, the nail clippings and the skunk come to mind. Nonetheless, my love for the sleek sleepy creature dozing in the corner is immense. I have become a massive dog person.
While we gained Baxter, we lost Easter. In the fall, she disappeared for a few days, came back for one night and then disappeared for good. We’ve not found any evidence of foul play, so I am still wondering whether she might return this spring.
I think that’s some of my naive city-girl optimism overshadowing my realistic country-girl side. It’s been hard to think that the little fur ball that was born in our driveshed and that we watched grow up from a helpless baby into a spoiled kitten might not be part of our lives any more. I called her baby all the time for goodness sake, and she loved to be cradled like one.
Ralph, whom I still call mama, is as constant as ever. She’s packed on the fur–and the pounds–as she presides over the barn. She humours us and now allows us to hold her like a baby. She’s learned that she gets the best belly scratches that way.
Beyond our family animals, we continue to keep a tally of the other animals that come through the farm. Year two gave us a few close encounters that we’ve not had before.
We went beyond seeing turkey footprints to seeing actual turkeys. We saw more deer (and then Matt hit one with his car and his Dad and his shotgun added another to our freezer). We saw a skunk for the first time, and then got sprayed for the first time (but not all at the same time). Down at the pond, we had what we think was a fisher. Watching all of the birds who come to the new feeder we built has been a highlight for me this winter.
In last year’s anniversary post, I came up with two words to summarize our first year at the farm. Last year’s theme of “big and more” still applies to all of our experiences at the farm, but I wanted something specific for year two. It was harder than I thought to come up with a theme, but I feel like wins and losses sort of summarizes this past year.
We were successful at a decent number of projects but didn’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped. We lost power, and I won a chair. We lost one precious family member and gained another extremely adored one. We settled into the farm a bit more, and the wins have far outweighed the losses. Year two confirmed that it’s definitely a country life for us.