Late fall sunset over the pond.
Late fall sunset over the pond.
I still find it hard to describe the feeling of being at the farm. It’s peace, happiness, pride, calm and so much more.
My favourite place at my favourite place is the pond.
Since we moved here I’ve envisioned walking along the edge of the water, a bench on the shore, maybe a little dock out into the water and a firepit.
On the weekend, one part of that came true–or started to–with our very first fire at the pond.
This fire was less of a campfire and more about cleaning up all of the brush that’s accumulated from our work.
The pond shore was my main outdoor goal for this whole year. Then by June I’d given up on this plan after we ran into hiccups with a broken arm, broken chainsaw and other projects. That changed with the arrival of our mower and all of Matt’s and our nephew’s work.
My fall to-do list included mowing the meadow and the shore one more time, but I’m letting that one go now.
Hopefully, we can resume in the spring and push on towards my vision for my favourite place.
We’ll be closer than we have ever been before.
Since moving to the farm, I’ve discovered a few new favourite tools. One of these is the chainsaw. However, in our house the chainsaw is Matt’s and he’s the one who wields it. Due first to Matt’s broken arm and then to a hole in the oil tank on the saw, we’ve been chainsaw-less so far this year.
Matt’s arm is healed and almost back to full strength. He and his Dad fibreglassed the oil tank back together. And over the weekend he finally fired up the saw.
Low hanging branches, small trees that sprouted up in unwanted spots, dead wood have all been trimmed. Best of all, Matt went through the meadow and down to the pond.
My view to the pond is continuing to clear. It seems like as soon as I abandoned hope of clearing the pond shore this year, that’s when we finally started this project.
A few hours of work netted us the biggest burn/brush pile I think we’ve ever had. A tractor-size one. We also left a bunch of brush down at the pond to burn there.
Collecting the brush was Mr. B’s favourite part. Or the trailer ride to get the brush was.
How was your weekend?
It’s happening, people.
Our keen 17-year-old nephew who loves being at the farm had a day off from his summer job, and he wanted to learn how to drive the tractor. If you’re driving the tractor, you might as well learn how to use the front end loader, the new rotary cutter and tow the trailer.
So I went through the basics of a hydrostatic transmission and what levers did what. We hooked on the rotary cutter and I pointed him at the pond.
Here’s how things were looking after last weekend’s mowing of the meadow. I swear there’s water on the other side of all of that grass and brush.
I was super impressed with our nephew. He was calm and confident and careful.
A morning of work cleared about half the shore on the east side. The remaining thickets are hiding all kinds of logs and stumps. So we have more work to do, and I need to set Matt loose with his chainsaw, but the progress is awesome.
This vantage point still doesn’t show you much of the water, but I swear it’s there.
This deep in the summer, the pond is a little mucky, but it’s still my favourite part on the property.
Our nephew totally made my summer.
Care to join me on an evening walk along the creek?
We’ll start at the front of the property where water from farms to the north of us drains onto our land. It flows along the border of the front field, cuts under the driveway and then picks up another stream. From here it snakes along the perimeter of the corner field following the edge of our pine forest.
Partway along, we come to an old bridge that once connected the field to the forest. I discovered this bridge on one of my first rambles in the early months of owning the farm. I remember how excited I was, although I have yet to attempt to cross the bridge.
Some day, we may repair the bridge and establish some pathways through the forest.
As we near the mouth of the pond, the creek drops, swirling under trees, around boulders and over rocks.
Unusual weather for January in Canada–five degrees and day after day of rain this week–has the water high and flowing fast, yet ice still coats the grass along the shore.
We end our ramble at the pond where the ice is melting in this January thaw.
Just one small problem, we’re on the wrong side of the creek and the bridge is out. Be careful getting home. 🙂
Have a great weekend everyone. May I suggest you go for a ramble?
I think this hole in the ice is a sign that someone had a bad day.
But someone else didn’t take the warning.
“What do you mean the ice isn’t safe?”
“My foot’s cold… and wet.”
(And just in case you’re worried, the pond is pretty shallow here, so when Bax did actually break through, he was able to climb out without any trouble. Although he was a little miffed that the ground cracked and he ended up wet. I also had him on his long lead so he couldn’t wander too far.)
We’re two weeks away from New Year’s Day. Every year that we’ve been at the farm, I’ve been able to go skating on the pond on New Year’s.
Unless we get a serious cold snap for Christmas, I don’t think skating’s going to be on the activity list.
The surface of the pond is more about reflections these days than it is about ice.
The water is trickling in the creek.
The deer paths around the shore are very, very squishy–not even close to frozen–mud.
The reeds are still green.
A thirsty puppy even has a place to get a drink.
2016 is coming no matter what. Skating? I’m not so sure.
What’s the weather like where you are? How are you planning to celebrate New Year’s? Do you have any traditions you’re looking forward to?
The nature of farm living is that it’s tough work. Last night, after a day full of hard labour, my skin was stinging from scrapes, thorn pricks and a pretty decent sunburn.
My muscles and grip strength were gone. At one point, Matt had said, “Pull!” as we were stringing the fence in the garden. And at my response–“I’ve got nothing left!”–he just laughed.
It was after 5 o’clock, and the dog still needed his afternoon walk–a daunting prospect.
But the nature of farm living is that there’s also an incredible setting, right in our backyard, so Baxter and I headed for the pond trail.
Matt cut this trail for us last year. Some of our hard work earlier earlier in the day had been sharpening the mower blades (with help from my parents), attaching the deck to the tractor and mowing the grass.
In addition to doing the lawn, Matt did a pass over the trail, so Bax and I had a lovely space to hike.
We walked alongside the lilac hedge that leads from the house down to the water.
We turned left and followed the trail along the shore towards one of our old apple trees. This tree is a showstopper this year. Absolutely covered in blossoms.
From there, the trail heads into the small pasture behind the barn, following the fence at the edge of the marsh.
It loops around past the manure pile and then up to my favourite tree.
We took a detour by the garden to check out the new fence.
And as I headed to house, Baxter decided he was going to stay out for awhile yet. He laid down beside the garden and gazed back down the trail and across the farm.
The view is fields and forest and trees and marsh, and it’s worth any scrapes, pricks, burns, aches, hard work and exhaustion.
The payoff–this farm–is exactly where I want to be.
Ice storms are so 2013. For 2014, ice is going to be fun. We started on Jan. 1 with a New Year’s Day skate on the pond.
Well, I was the only one who actually skated. Matt and Baxter just trotted around the ice rather than gliding.
Walking was safer than skating in some areas. Although the ice is mostly smooth, frozen coyote tracks here and there are tripping hazards.
A few stumbles aside, a skate on my own pond was a fun way to kick off the year. This is how I’ll take my ice from now on, please… at least for the next month or so. In July I’ll probably want it cubed and in a glass. Although with the temperatures we’re having right now, the pond may stay frozen solid well into summer #polarvortex.
How did you spend New Year’s Day?