So the Farm Fund is now fully operational.  I’m proud of myself for getting moving, even if it’s a small thing.  I sold some stuff and took back a bunch of bottles, and pulled up the total from almost $3 to almost $30.  Let’s hope I can keep it up for next month.

My to-do list around the house is currently so big it is overwhelming.  I’m trying hard to get motivated to pare it down some, but it’s easy to give in and spend the time perusing knitting websites instead.  I’m thinking about reinstating the sticky tab system, which fell by the wayside sometime during Christmas.  

Largely I think I need to get rid of stuff.  I have so many possessions it’s impossible to take care of them all and still do all the other things I need to do.  I didn’t have this problem until I had a baby, but darn those things are time sinks.

My poor old dog is still holding in there, although we did have a health scare involving incontinence and elevated liver enzymes.  She has since recovered after a course of Milk Thistle, but she gave me a good scare.  We are losing all her old agility comrades one by one, several of them younger than her.  

RuRu is a lot of fun right now.  He counts and repeats nearly everything I say, as well as offering his own (often hilarious) original thoughts.  Don’t fart around him, he’ll point the finger at you (“Mommy POOP!”).

So that’s my life, in a nutshell.

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Move yer duff, Farm Fairy!

Okay guys.  So it’s been awhile, and really, not much has changed.  I mean, I have a job working at an outdoor equipment supplier in the middle of the night (that sounds sketchy, but it’s not), but I still have no farm, not even a house.  One day, while contemplating my situation, I got really frustrated.  I’m tired of holding patterns and talking about dreams instead of reaching for them.   I decided I had to do something to further my farm cause.  The result of this was…. The Farm Fund!

I got a one gallon glass jar and dug up some paints I had in the house.  I spent a lot of time stalling over-thinking my decor.  Eventually I got frustrated with myself again and just painted it.  I’m not totally happy, but it is done and the project is moving forward.



The rules for the farm fund are:

1. All spare change I find will go into the farm fund.

2. Any money I come by via extra means will enter the farm fund.

3.  Money will not leave the farm fund save for farm-related purposes (Directly or indirectly)


At this point there is just over $2.50 in the Farm Fund.  The jar cost more!

I have just posted a Craigslist ad listing RuRu’s dog rocker for sale.  I had a hard time parting with the toy, because I had dreams of him playing with it.  He doesn’t really play with it, though, and it takes up a lot of space.  When it sells, I’ll put that money in the Fund.  I’ll trade my dreams of him playing with it for my dreams of a farm.  Hopefully I can do the same with some of my other things.  I just have to keep telling myself I’m trading dreams for dreams, and maybe I can find it in me to get rid of some of my unused craft supplies, my formal dress from university grad, and other treasures.

Cheer me on, guys!  This is the beginning, and it’s small, but even the tallest tree was just a tiny seed once.

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Giant Pumpkins

So the other day while shopping at my favourite grocery store (which is ranked lower in my esteem than farmers’ markets but still higher than other grocery stores), I noticed they were having a “Guess-The-Weight” contest.  The subjects?  Two giant pumpkins, dubbed “Ernie” and “Bert”.

I love Sesame Street (the old stuff, back when Cookie Monster could actually eat cookies, not the watered-down dribble of today) and got unreasonably excited about their names.  It didn’t cost anything to enter, so I happily filled out the form.  I folded it and dropped it into the ballot box.  Just as the paper slipped irretrievably out of my fingers, it hit me:

What the balls am I going to do with a 172 lb pumpkin if I win?

We don’t have a porch or get trick-or-treaters at our little condo.

I guess one of our friends or family members will have the most awesome pumpkin ever this year.
I know, first world problems, right?

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I Suck at Endings

I mean I *really*, really do.

If I buy something like a bottle of vitamins, I can never finish the bottle.  I religiously take them until there’s only a handful left in the bottle, then I can’t do it.  I used to think it was resource guarding (because I do that, too, sometimes), but now I think it’s a inability to end.

I think it stems from a fear of missing out, like if I finish something it closes a door and I can never have that thing again.  What if I finish the vitamins but then I NEED ONE before I get the chance to buy more?  What if I quit that job but then I regret it because the next one is worse but I can’t go back?

Most of the time, my inability to end just results in long phone conversations and partially finished craft projects.  Sometimes, however, it causes bigger problems.

My desire to own property is a certainty.  I have never doubted it.   It would be easy to buy a piece of property elsewhere for the same price as our condo.  We could be living the dream RIGHT NOW.  But what if I get the property and it somehow doesn’t work out, like we discover we can’t afford it or Mister is allergic to it or something?  The idea that once we get out of Vancouver we won’t be able to get back in is somehow ingrained into my brain.

Even if I reconcile the “out of Vancouver” bit, purchasing a piece of property will dramatically change my platonic relationships.  I know that moving out of town is not going to end all of my friendships, but it will force them into a different phase.  Suddenly, all my friendships will be long-distance relationships.  I’m sure they will still be as strong as they are now, but I’m not sure I’m prepared for one stage of friendship to end and a new one to start.

I didn’t realize I was bad at endings until a year or two ago.  Now that I realize it, I’m starting to develop strategies to cope.  If I buy a new bottle of vitamins before the old ones are gone, I don’t have the problem of not finishing them (sometimes I even mix the old bottle into the new one, then I don’t know when one ends and the next begins).  I’m getting better, and well I know I’ll never be totally comfortable with endings I’m sure I’ll get brave enough to make them happen.

In the meantime, who wants to move out of town with me?  Any takers?

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Making myself useful

It’s just after 11pm.  I was hoping to be asleep by now, but I’m not.  I figured if I’m going to be awake I might as well be useful and update everyone as to what’s going on and taking me away from this blog.

Not too long ago, I got pretty durn frustrated with myself.  In my vivid imagination, others were frustrated with me as well.  Why was everyone so grumpy?  Because I was always saying I couldn’t do things because I had no money, and never doing anything about it.

So when an opportunity to work a night shift suddenly appeared on my Facebook feed, I took it.  I sent in my application, and got a call back the next day.  The whole thing happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think about it.  Suddenly, I was employed!

The job is a retail job.  The store I work at uses a door-to-floor sales model – that is, there is no store room in the back.  When people ask “Do you have this in another colour/size/material in the back?”, the answer is always “No”.  Merchandise is delivered to the store three times a week.  It is unloaded from the truck and then distributed immediately to the sales floor.  The shipments arrive right as the store closes, and at the same time the Night Stockers appear from the woodwork to git ‘er done.  If there isn’t a shipment, there is still a store to be tidied, inventory to be taken, and new products to merchandise.

I didn’t really want to work retail, but the hours meant that I didn’t have to put Little RuRu in daycare.  The hours also mean I don’t have much of a social life (or much time for blogging).  A successful woman I respect once told me that while you could choose to put your child in daycare, you had to be able to look back at your decision in 20 years and be happy with the outcome.  I really don’t think I would be. I’m not trying to judge those that do.  Everyone has to do what is right for them.  I saw the opportunity to both work and stay home, and I took it.  The decision is not without its sacrifices.

So, every evening as soon as Mister gets home from work I head out the door.  My shift finishes at 1am, and I am usually home by 1:15.  I read a little to unwind, then tuck in for the night.  RuRu wakes me up around 7, we have breakfast and read books, then go back to sleep for a couple of hours.  In the afternoons we walk BoBo and try to do chores and/or prepare dinner.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays I also walk a dog.  These days I don’t get a nap.  RuRu goes to Granny’s house or hangs with Mister while I work.

On top of that, right around the time I started this new job I took an unpaid internship writing articles for a Green company.  I can’t say I’m happy with the speed that I’m turning the articles out, but I’m happy that I took the initiative to try.

All in all, a lot is going on in the Farm Fairy household.  We have to cram all of our weekend into one day (Saturday) and Mister and I barely see each other during the week.  Despite it all, it feels good.  It feels good because it instantly made my goals feel more attainable.  It also is nice to be able to treat ourselves a little (perhaps a little too much the first paycheque!).  The people I work with are awesome, and I am noticing my self-confidence returning.  No longer do I feel like I have nothing to contribute to a conversation, since I now LEAVE MY HOUSE and talk to REAL ADULTS.

I feel like I’m moving forward, making positive steps.  Who knows where this will lead me? I’m excited to find out.

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Rewards-based chores

Recently, I’ve implemented a new chore system in the Farm Fairy household.

When the baby arrived at our household, the balance of who did what was thrown way off kilter.  Suddenly there were a whole lot more responsibilities, as the little one had needs which we had previously not had to contend with.  I’m not going to lie, it was seriously hard to find our groove again.  The sheer volume of chores was daunting, and we were overwhelmed with the influx of “baby” things.  The fact that our home was so embarrassingly out of control left us crabby and short with each other.  It was far too easy to just avoid the whole situation by packing up and going out somewhere.  Once the door closed behind us, we were relaxed and could enjoy each others’ company.  However, I knew we needed to deal with the state of the place at some point.

To start with, I decided to try a system where I rewarded myself for cleaning.  This idea came from Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog”.  For those of you who haven’t read it, the author describes a situation where she has to go to a class that she doesn’t always look forward to.  She buys herself a chocolate bar and eats a small piece of it every time she accomplishes one portion of her journey.  Walked to the subway?  Chocolate.  On the train?  Chocolate.  Transferred to the bus?  Chocolate.  Eventually, she effectively trains herself to go to the class without needing the chocolate.  This should apply to cleaning, right?

The first system I made was a colossal failure.  I remembered a system my sister used to use, where she wrote her “To-do” list on little scraps of paper and pinned them to a cork board.  When the task was completed, she would tear down the job from the board.  She described a sense of satisfaction from clearing the board, and found that that feeling of accomplishment was, in itself, rewarding.  I didn’t have a cork board, but I did have a bunch of sticky notes from various realtors and charities.  The fridge would serve as my cork board.  To keep myself on track, I made a rule that I HAD to finish one sticky per day, or do three the next day.  When all the stickies were gone, I could reload the fridge with more.  As an added bonus, I decided that when I finished all my sticky tabs I would treat myself to a Fudgesicle.  That’s plenty motivating, right?

It seemed like a great system, but after about two weeks it started to fall apart.  I missed a sticky one day, and then the next I didn’t finish three, and it just snowballed from there.  Eventually my “sticky debt” reached a critical mass and I avoided the whole thing.  It was easier to pretend it wasn’t there than to admit I had failed.  On top of that, my first go around had 42 stickies on the fridge.  That is WAY too many stickies to complete if the reward is a measly Fudgesicle.  If the reward had been a trip to Hawaii or a new car, then maybe I would have finished it.

The stickies stayed sad and forgotten for a period of time while I grieved my failed system.  Eventually, I decided I could rebuild it (I had the technology!).  I had learned from my mistakes and this time around, the sticky system seems to be sticking!

Here’s the new system:

These are the job stickies.  There are a mix of colours, each chore is randomly assigned a colour.

Underneath the job stickies are the finished stickies.  There’s a column for me and a column for Mister.

I have simplified the rules a lot to make the system flow better.  The rules are as follows:
1.  You must complete one of each colour sticky (that’s 5 stickies) to get a reward.

2. Each participant is the rewards commissioner for the other, so the reward is always a surprise.

3. You can’t write a chore on a sticky that is a colour you need to complete your 5 unless there aren’t any of that colour currently on the jobs list.

4. If a sticky has been up there for more than a month, you can’t add another sticky of the same colour until that task gets completed.

5.  No guilt allowed.

So far, it’s working out pretty well.  Sometimes we fly through the chores and sometimes we don’t, but because we don’t allow guilt the system doesn’t become uncomfortable.  We have fun thinking up rewards, and I usually have a couple for Mister hidden around the house (because the rewards are more effective if they are immediate!).
I think this system could easily be applied to other things besides chores, if you so desired.  For example, someone wishing to exercise more could put lists of things like “Go for a 30 min walk” or “Do 10 sit-ups” on the jobs list.  As long as the stickies are measurable and you know you can achieve them, you’re golden.

Now, go forth and motivate!  I’d love to hear how it turns out if any of you get the inkling to try it.  Good luck!

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What a world we live in

Some of you may know that last Saturday, the Northern Lights were visible from the Vancouver area.  Not in the city itself, due to light pollution, but North of Mount Seymour and out into the Fraser Valley.

I’d never seen the Northern Lights.  I could remember one other occasion where they had been visible, but at the time I had had no transportation to get out of the city and to a place I could see them in the middle of the night.  You can understand my excitement when Mister told me of the treat that awaited that evening, and suggested that we pack up and head out to have a boo.

Given the choice between heading east to the valley or north towards Squamish, we eventually settled on heading north to Porteau Cove.  It seemed to make more sense, since the spectacle would be to the north.  We decided to invite the neighbours along, and soon had two cars full of eager Aurora-Borealis-gazers.  Mister and I were the drivers, being the only sober ones of the lot (that makes the neighbours seem like lushes…they’re lovely, really).

As we left the Trans Canada and crested the first hill of the Sea to Sky Highway, a faint green glow was visible.  It streaked the sky from Mount Brunswick to Gambier Island like frost on blue glass.  At that moment, I wished that Mister and I were in the same car.  I hoped he was experiencing the same excitement I was (although I later found out that he hadn’t believed it was the Lights at that point – he thought it was light pollution from Squamish).

The glow grew stronger as we got closer to Porteau Cove, and the slowly-shifting green bands reflected off the dark water below.  When we pulled into Porteau Cove, other onlookers were gathered on the beach, their faces turned to the north but indiscernible in the dark.

Just after midnight, I unloaded the baby from his car seat and settled on the parking tie in front of our car, which faced the water.  We watched the sky and chatted, and Mister fiddled with his telescope.  I heard voices from behind me and turned to look.  A couple was getting into the car next to ours.  I heard the man say “Let’s go.  We’ll never see anything here.  It’s too bright”.  My heart fell a little.  There were a few lampposts leading into the park.  That wouldn’t ruin the view, would it?

The car started and drew away.  As its tail lights disappeared up towards the highway, suddenly the sky brightened.  The faces of people were now clearly seen, as we were all bathed in a greenish glow.  Green-white columns of light lit the sky from beyond the mountains.  They danced and waved, then they faded and were replaced by new.

I welled up.  It caught me by surprise.  I hadn’t expected to be overcome by emotion, but some part of me was incredibly moved by the wonder of the sky.  It was beautiful.

After a minute or so, the lights faded back to muted green.  As the night went on, the lights continued their pattern of short performances and long interludes.  At one point the waves of green stretched from one side of the sky to the other, shooting up from the mountain tops and reaching up towards the blue dome above.   We enjoyed every show, but none rivaled the intensity of the first burst.  One of these days, I’d love to see Aurora Borealis from the Territories, I’m sure the intensity I saw would pale in comparison.

Eventually it was time to  go home.  I wished we could have stayed, the display continued until 3am.  As we drove away, I couldn’t help but think to myself what a beautiful place we live in.

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Apparently I have a soft spot for the ridiculous, because this is the newest addition to my dream farm:

He’s an English Angora rabbit, and he looks ridiculous.  Not all of them look this ridiculous, this is a particularly fine show-quality specimen.   There are several breeds of Angora rabbits, including the English (pictured), French, Giant, and Satin.  They’re all pretty great, though.

They’re not just pretty faces (or lack thereof, in this handsome fellow’s case)!  Angora rabbits are excellent fiber animals.  Their fiber is very soft and highly desirable, producing a luxurious and comfortable yarn.  The Satin Angora, true to its name, is clothed in a satiny fiber that spins up into a lustrous yarn that is particularly prized (it also looks less ridiculous than the English Angora).

Probably one of the things I like the most about these rabbits is that it’s something I could start soon.   A rabbit can be kept in a house, I don’t need to wait until I have a large acreage.  They’re never going to make me rich, since one can expect to get about $100 worth of wool off a rabbit in a year.  It’s more of a hobby that supports a hobby!  I’ll spin and knit all sorts of great things.

Plus…. FLUFFY!

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Just some pictures of my son and various farm animals

This post is exactly as the title states – pictures of my son with various farm animals.  So far, he’s been delighted by just about every farm animal he’s come across, which in turn delights me.

The photos are taken over the span of several trips, so the constant outfit changes are due to the changing days and not due to some Bollywood-esque need to change costumes 37 times during a single dance number.

He loved the chickens, but they kept running away!

You couldn’t pet the pigs, but he loved them so. He kept signing “please, please, please” and pointing at them.

Goats on a bench are fun to poke

While standing in a herd of goats, he discovered that goats poop. Then he discovered goat poop can be squished under his feet. *sigh*. I should have put him in his boots.

He tried to open the sheep’s mouth to look inside. The sheep was very patient.

Last but not least, the Jersey steer. This was his favourite. He patted it for a very long time, and laughed while doing so.

So that’s it for this post.  Sorry for those who wanted something more wordy, but there are many out there who want to see pictures of the wee farmer.  I’m pretty stoked about the post I have planned for next, so stop by soon to see it!

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On miniatures

My apologies for my absence, life does get in the way.  We’re back at it now, though, and hopefully we can stick to it for a little while at least.

So a little while ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a photo of a miniature bull.  I was previously unaware of their existence, so I looked into them a little further.  Apparently miniature cattle are available in all sorts of miniaturized breeds, from Jerseys to White Parks to zebus.  They range from about 30 inches to about 36 inches at the shoulder, which is ridiculous.  My son was 30 inches tall last time we measured him (a month ago).  30 inches is the inseam on a pair of pants, not a cow!

So that got me to thinking.  Do I want miniature cattle?  At first I was really excited, but then I started to doubt my first instinct.  I don’t know why in my mind miniature goats are funny but miniature cattle cross the line.

The people that breed them explain that miniature cattle take less space, and can be kept on smaller parcels of land.  In this way, they’re great for people who would otherwise be unable to keep them, or who maybe would like to have a beef animal or a milk animal but don’t need that much beef or that much milk.   Miniature cattle are also easier to handle than their larger cousins, and are advertised as being ideal for 4H children.  They’re also pretty cute (the cows, not the kids.  I’m sure the kids are cute, too).

I guess my qualm comes with miniaturizing something that I don’t think needed to be miniaturized.  Miniature goats don’t bother me, since I’ve seen Nigerian Dwarfs in every petting zoo I’ve ever been in.  That’s normal.  Miniature cattle seem ridiculous, almost extravagant.  Something we made because we could, like chocolate-covered bacon.

In my experience, breeding for a single trait (size) often causes other traits (such as temperament) to suffer.  Once the desired trait is established, then the others can follow.  Those that know me know that I’m a devotee of Australian Shepherds.  Lovely, intelligent, loyal and level-headed dogs.  Mini Aussies have become popular of late, and while I know some that are lovely, I also know some that are pretty screwy.  It’s not the fault of the dog and I’d never hold it against the dog (or the people that love those dogs).  The breeder, while focused on getting dogs that are minis, forgot about the temperament bit (for the record…this also happens in regular-sized Aussies.  Breeders looking only for a certain colour or something end up with whackjob dogs).  In time, it will even out.  But whenever a breed is new you’re bound to get some interesting specimens.

So are these cattle established enough as a miniature breed that they’re stable?  Hard to say from photos.  I don’t think cattle have their temperament picked apart quite as much as companion animals, either.  If a cow is a jerk you just put her out in the field, or you eat her.  In that way maybe the jerk cattle remove themselves from the gene pool and win their very own bovine Darwin Award (mmm…jerk cattle).

Probably a more convincing reason not to get these cattle is their price tag.  $1000 – $2500 per animal.  Yikes!  To put that in comparison, I found a listing for a Dexter calf for $500.  Dexters are a very small breed, about 38 inches at the shoulder.  Keep in mind that the miniatures are 30-36 inches.  That’s a lot of money for a two inch difference!  I realize that not all cattle are going to be that affordable, it depends a lot on their breeding, age, sex, etc.  Just saying that’s a lot of money for half a cow.

I guess we’ll see.  We’re a long way away from a farm, maybe by the time we get that far miniature cattle will be all sorted and on every hobby farm from here to Florida.  In the meantime, just another thing to think about!

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