Category Archives: To do lists

Learning to dabble

It was exactly one year ago this week that I got home from Saskatchewan, having quit my job at the University. I wanted to come back to the farm and grow all our own food for the year. I fantasized that I would have so much time on my hands: to read a raft of books that I’d wanted to for years, to ride my horse every day, to do everything from making our own maple syrup, to milking the goats, to making our own mustard and other condiments–was I ever wrong!

The reality was that I rode my horse only three times last summer, read nary a book, didn’t even get the goats bred (mercifully realizing there was simply no time), and bought mustard and mayonnaise. I did manage to make maple and birch syrup!

While my ‘Year in Provisions’ project has been successful (I have learned a lot of useful skills along the way and I still am living off the bounty of the past summer’s labour), what I was unsuccessful at was letting go of my guilt. I felt guilty that I was no longer earning a wage, and I couldn’t let that go. I didn’t consciously realize it at the time, but I was driving myself overly hard in order to ‘make up’ for my lack of cash. I went at the project last year with such a guilty vengeance that I managed to seriously hurt myself.

Despite the fact that my husband was totally supportive of my project (and still is), I created this mindset all on my own. Because of this, I didn’t enjoy the work as much as I had envisioned enjoying it before I left Saskatchewan. Instead of biting off what I could actually manage sensibly, I took on too much. The final straw that broke the camel’s back was when I set to converting an extra 3000 square feet of grass into a vegetable plot, far too late in the season to be realistic. The result was I spent several weeks on crutches having blown both my knees out working up this new garden spot.

Fast forward to this summer, and the project is on again. In February we had about a ten day stretch of really nice weather. Suddenly I felt totally behind and stressed right out: I’m not ready, I haven’t gotten my seeds yet, I haven’t set up the tomato beds, I need to plant the green manure crop, sharpen the tools, clean the garage, make labels for the eggs, build a raised strawberry bed, and so on.

After a couple of days (and an exhausting reverie of unnecessary, self-inflicted mental anguish) the weather once again returned to its normally frosty late winter state, and I began to relax. As I felt my body unwind, I finally realized what I was doing to myself. I recalled what a friend said to me one day last summer when she looked at my crutches: “You’re too old to be that stupid.” Apparently you can work yourself nearly to death when you are younger than 40, but older than that and, well… she’s right. Getting older should mean getting wiser.

One year older and a bit wiser, I recognized that if I didn’t ‘get a grip’ I’d likely hurt myself again this summer. So I have vowed not to push myself to the brink of disaster. I am going to consciously enjoy the fact that I am living my dream: I’m developing a farm, growing my own food, learning useful skills, and  am surrounded by wilderness and animals.

I finally accept that I can’t do it all. This year my goal is to learn to balance these aspects of my life better, and realize that these moments of my life are fringed with joy. Instead of being obsessive about not being normal, I’m beginning to dabble.

My mobile napping unit.

A new found use for my wheelbarrow: it's my mobile napping unit.


Filed under Food Security, How to..., Just for fun, personal food sovereignty, To do lists

To do list

I should call this my ‘bucket list’ because nearly every one of these chores requires a bucket. Also, with farming, you hope you manage to get the ‘to do’ list all done before you kick the bucket!

Re-org freezer

Re-organize freezers in prep for 1/2 cow (by Thursday)

Defrost fish

Weigh/quantify fruits/veggies in new freezer


Set-up butchering station a la Clarence

Butcher ducks, can

Butcher chickens, can

Kitchen/food prep

Pick-up cut and wrapped cow from butcher, frozen (Wednesday)

Pick-up fresh meat and fat for canning

Render cow fat, freeze in bags

French fry potatoes, freeze in bags

Wash, slice and dry carrots

Bag and freeze kale

Sterilize canning jars

Make bread

Make cookies

Make a pie

Pasteurize milk

Make ricotta cheese

Make bread from whey from cheesemaking process

Pasteurize milk

Make yogurt


Can fish

Can fresh stewing meat

Can duck meat

Can some chickens

Animal Husbandry

Clean out poultry nursery, wash down, dry etc in prep for newbys arriving Friday

Set up nursery with new bedding, lights, water, feed etc before Friday!

Clean goat pens, duck pens, transfer chooks and turkeys, clean big chicken barn pen, new bedding for everyone

Set up automatic watering system for chickens

Fix fencing in chook run


Dig dahlias, store

Plant garlic

Plant tulips

Take down bean poles, store

Compost debris in garden

Harvest last of kale

Harvest more carrots

Place hay bales on top of carrots for winter storage


Filed under To do lists, Uncategorized