Caught up in the whirlwind…

…of moving. And getting our little piece of land a little more livable. So our blogging the adventure has been a little non existent. Add to that the fact that we have not got our power yet, and obviously we don’t have Internet either. Still, our apologies for not  posting as of lately. But, I’ve just hooked up a new app on the old iPhone and finally figured out how to get it all working. So, now we can blog from the boondocks! 

Today is a colder one (10C), steady rain and a strong wind. It kind of brings all outside work to a halt. Yesterday we were able to finish up the side on the chicken coop and get the flashing on the roof tied in. Water-tight just in time for all this rain.

The chickens are doing well and getting bigger. Steph built a few chicken tractors to get them out and about during the day. Next project is to fence in the chicken run and get a permanent setup for them to be outside and protected. 

Anyway, just a quick note letting you know we haven’t forgotten about this blog and sharing with you, just weren’t really able to for a while. But no, steadier posts will be coming. Cheers!


Tin roof on the coop!

My dad, as part of his recent farmyard clean up, offered some tin roofing he had left over from building his barn years ago. Of course I’ll take it! Free tin roofing. Sweet. We were planning on putting a tin roof on the chicken coop anyway. He even gave us a bunch of tin roof screws (the ones with the rubber washers on them so they’re waterproof). Total cost of roofing the coop: $0.00! Just a little elbow grease.



Chicken Coop Progress

DSCF2257Well, yesterday was a great day of progress on the chicken coop project. This building looks taller than I thought it would, but I guess that’s probably because it’s built on stilts. Reason for those stilts is to keep the chickens safer from animals that would otherwise dig under the chicken coop. On the bottom of the coop we installed some heavy expanded metal mesh that nothing will be able to chew through. Also, the elevated coop will serve to provide the chickens some shade on those days. There are a lot of other oddities about building a chicken coop as opposed to say, just a regular garden shed. I’ll do a walk around video explaining all the specifics needed for a good chicken coop when I’m done with the build.

In the mean time, I did some footage while building yesterday to show how I built my roof trusses.


Welcome little chicky!

Steph has had pretty decent success incubating our little chicken eggs. Eight of the twelve hatched over a week ago and are doing well. Healthy, chirpy and really goofy/clumsy. Little chickens are funny creatures.

From some figures you read online, 50% success rate during incubation is considered to be a good number. By that, Steph is doing really well, especially considering she made the incubator herself.

Here’s a little video of one of them busting out of the shell. This was after they pipe (when they first poke a hole through the shell) and zipper (when they poke a circle around the whole shell for them to push against).

No small jobs

Working mostly by myself setting up our little homestead, it’s amazing how quickly time and the days go by. It’s also amazing how little work I can get done compared to what I had wanted to get done. I’ve found it frustrating at times. I was wondering where on earth is the time going? Then, when I stop and consider at the amount of work that can be involved with accomplishing a single task, it all kind makes a little more sense. Setting up bare land is an incredible amount of work but I love every minute of it.

In this video, I’ve tried to capture the work that is involved with simply cutting the grass, so I can till the land, so I can plant some trees, for wind protection. Simple. Easy. Small job. Ah, but only in the mind. At the end of the day, rest has been earned, and in 20 years when the trees are tall and stately, it will be worth it.


Meet the neighbours

I’ve heard people say that there is a different sense of community or neighbourhood when you live in the country. I’ve learned of situations and projects where people who are living down the road show up to help out. It’s always sounded nice.

I’m so happy to say that we are witnessing this first hand. We’ve met almost all of the neighbours that live near us. I’ll be unloading wood, tilling the garden on my tractor, or planting trees and a new neighbour will turn off the gravel, pull onto our little plot and introduce themselves. Everyone has offered future help should we ever need. I’ll reciprocate the kindness, although right now with pretty much just some bare land, I can’t offer much. But I genuinely do look forward to when I can offer something, maybe a fix on the tractor or even a little muscle moving something.

Today, I met one of our neighbours to the south. Really nice guy and we had a good chat. He keeps bees, and also has chickens. That’s pretty rad. And then, when he was about to leave he said he has a little gift for me. Opened up his truck doornail pulled out a dozen fresh eggs that his chickens laid. “Here’s some breakfast for you.”


Such a little thing. 12 eggs. But man did it say a lot. We really appreciate it, and it made our day. We’re not even living here yet and we already feel incredibly welcome, and appreciate the people around us. We don’t even have a single building out here, but it’s already starting to feel like home.



The Plan:

Hey everyone. So, I figured I should kind of put  out some info about what this whole blog/site is about, and to bring you up to speed on where we are at, what’s been happening, and what the plan is for the future.

For years my wife and I have talked about eventually wanting to move out of town and into the country. Even before we were married (which was almost 14 years ago!). Something that’s always been in the back of our minds, and something that we’ve always wanted quite badly, but always kind of put off the reality of doing it because of the high costs that can be associated with building a new house  and setting up a little farm in the country.

Fast forward to maybe a year or two ago, and I’m pretty sure I was having a midlife crisis. No corvettes in the driveway, crazy hairstyles, piercings or a brand new whacky wardrobe. Nothing like that. Just the thought that life is passing by too quickly. It used to be said that 3 score and 10 was a good long life. 70 years. I’m almost 1/2 way there now. That was really starting to stir in me. At a deep level. I know people live longer now than ever before, but, older age to me is more about relaxing, visiting, enjoying your achievements and not working towards accomplishments like the younger years are. My younger years are disappearing all too quickly. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to have always had good jobs, live in a nice house, and be comfortable. But ultimately, I was living a life that I had not deliberately chosen. Again, there was nothing wrong with that life, it’s just that it’s the exact same life that everyone around me lives. Get a decent job, get up in the morning go to work for some company that treats you well, come home to your nice little house in the suburbs. Look forward to weekends, put the kids in the sports that they should be in and just the feeling of doing what everyone around me is doing.

On a deep and honest level, that life isn’t me or my wife. We feel like a fish out of water going through those motions. Again, nothing wrong with that if you enjoy that life. We simply don’t. I get so much more satisfaction out of doing something myself, building something, making something than I do going to the store and buying the latest model of a similar product. When I was working for a big company, I didn’t have the time to build, create and explore activities that really give me a deep sense of satisfaction. My wife is the same way. Who we are as people, what makes us excited, what makes us tick just wasn’t lining up with the so called “american dream” that we were living.

And now, fast forward to current day. After seriously thinking of it for a few years, we figured it would be better to dive right in, pursue the life that we would rather live, than continue on in drudgery living someone else’s dream. Okay, maybe drudgery is a little too strong. I am incredibly thankful for the life that we’ve been able to live thus far. God has been incredibly good to us. Instead of drudgery, more of a constant questioning in our minds of what we are doing and why we are doing it. So, December of last year, we bought 12 acres of land. Close to our currently home of Strathmore Alberta, but on a gravel road, free and clear bare land that has only ever been used as pasture. This is our blank canvas. No one has tried to establish their dream on this land yet. Now we are going to establish ours.

The process has unfolded and is currently working out like this: We had planned on taking several years to develop our land and weren’t planning on moving out there right away. Then earlier this year I was laid off from my work. I worked in oil an gas, and with the currently oil market the world is in right now, downsizing had to happen. The sense of relief that I felt when I was let go was indescribable. After months of watching my co-workers get laid off, their lives being flipped upside down in one quick morning meeting with HR; the flaws in the “american dream” were making themselves more and more obvious to me. I was so sick of working hard for a company, and sitting there like a duck in a pond not knowing if or when I was going to be the next to get shot at. The feeling of (false) security from having a good job with a big company that we’ve been raised to cherish and value so much, was holding me in that pond. I could have up and flown away, but everything in our culture teaches us otherwise. Then, one day, bang! I was laid off.

With the decision to no longer work for that company made for me, we took that as a cue to hit the ground running on the plan that we actually came up with. Not the “american dream” that is fed to us from birth, but rather our dream. A simpler life. Maybe with less riches and convenience, but with more reward satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. What an incredible blessing to get laid off!

From that point, we realized the next logical option would be to try and sell our house. We weren’t very optimistic about this actually happening though. In an economic downturn, houses typically don’t move that well. But thanks be to God, our house sold in 5 days, for more than we were hoping to get for it! What?! Crazy.

So now, present day, it’s a Saturday and it’s raining. We have to be out of our house June 26th. We have purchased a 5th wheel to live in while we build our own house. We had a 30’X36′ metal building delivered yesterday that will be my workshop. We’ve got a bunch of shelter belt trees being delivered (out on the bald prairie, tress are one of the first things you want to deal with on new land. Even before grass and a lawn). I’ve purchased a tractor, quad, pick up truck and a generator. We bought a beehive and 8000 bees. We have some fertilized chicken eggs incubating in our kitchen right now.

Immediate action items are: (there goes that BS corporate lingo again) get the foundation poured for the shop building; decide on a plan for the house we’re going to build; install a septic field; build a driveway; bring power and gas onto our land; get a chicken coop built; plant our garden; pack up our house and get ready to move. There are heaps of other smaller things to be done, but as you can see, we have our work cut out for us. It is going to be a busy busy summer, but one that I am looking forward to like no other.

All of the work that I put my energy into, pays off directly to me and my family. There is no big cheese sitting in a downtown office that charges my labour out at over twice what I actually see. When you work as a tradesman in oil and gas, the bosses make at least twice the money per hour off of the work you do than what you get paid. At least. You are a cash cow to them. If you choose to be.

We choose not to be. Or I should say, we are choosing not to be. Hopefully it will pay off. Hopefully it works out. There is no guarantee that it will. But, I’ve spent almost half my life living the other way, the “american dream” way, and I see serious flaws in that system. Might as well try something different. The “american dream” will always be there.