Nature knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all inaction.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Where we started
The farm we live on came with 5 outbuildings, in various states of abandonment and disrepair. Goal 1 – was clean out the spaces in the barn where the horses and cats would live, and remove traces of mouse and rat droppings, essentially, make the barn less alarming and more safe for humans and animals. While there are still two stalls to be cleared (and don’t get me started about the upstairs! We now have a barn lower level that is mostly safe and usable, with a couple of dark yet to be excavated corners.
The next project was to turn a rundown chicken coop that was used for storing junk, lawn tractors, and some type of animal other than chicken (maybe goats?). This building felt more overwhelming than the barn, dark, dank, some broken windows, more mouse and rat droppings, and a double wide door that didn’t quite open OR close.
How it went
The first step was emptying and cleaning out, including removing that double wide door and building a wall with a “man door. Because Aaron and I both work, and, we have, well, quite a few other responsibilities between teens and a plethora of animal friends, this was not a one-weekend project. Slowly but surely, the cleaning was complete, and my dad, recently retired, came out to help build.
One of my fondest memories is building a huge tree house with my dad when I was about 11 years old. We build it for our family, but also our neighbourhood. The place was hopping with kids of all ages all summer long! It was three levels, built around an existing tree, and had a little something for everyone, including a basketball hoop for myself and the older kids, two slides, a doll house area, and a “play kitchen” type area. I knew we could do it.
Well, weeks and weeks seemed to go by, again, interrupted schedules, only one of us being available at a time which makes large projects like building and installing framing trickier – and well, patience. Mine and his.
Then, it was time to call in more help. Aaron’s dad who is 82 years old and have build many a project in his life came to teach Aaron how to create a new curb around the crumbling concrete edges of the shed, to help make sure creatures who might want to harm the chickens didn’t get in and under. It was a bigger job than either of us had imagines, but we were really happy with how it turned out.
Next came painting, I decided based on what I read that the whole interior should be painted white so that bugs, mites could be easily identified and dealt with. We used a combination of
Next, my uncle offered to come and help, he’s also recently retired and wanted to spend time time at the farm helping out. We put him to work with painting and installing the hardware cloth – tricky stuff, even though Aaron wore. gloves he still got a significant cut – and we were one step closer to moving the chickens in.
The chicks (11 pullets and a cockerel!) were getting bigger by the hour it seemed, and needed more space ASAP. We decided since the coop wasn’t secure enough yet, we could build a temporary outdoor chicken run to at least get them a bit more space, and out of the house during coop cleaning. No more putting them in a box, that’s for sure! I was starting to really get stressed about when the coop would be finished, and I could tell everyone else was as well. It seemed like I would never be quite satisfied enough to feel that they were safe.
Where we are now
Well, eventually I had to accept that they just needed to get out there, and we did the best we could, with what we had. The coop still needs some finishing touches, in particular, adding a second feeder, and adding the nesting boxes (thankfully they won’t need those until around September) and lighting. The chickens were moved out the house on Thursday before a big weekend of birthday and visiting from out of town family. I could hardly believe it! Now, could we actually take care of the daunting work of cleaning out the “chicken room” before the party started on Saturday morning? Thankfully with help again from the girls, we did. People said they couldn’t believe we had chickens in that room – which is quite the complement, trust me!
Celebration! Athena’s 3rd Birthday Party, and our first big (huge!) group at the farm
And – then it was time to celebrate! As some of you know my long time friend (of 30 years) had a sweet little girl three years ago, who absolutely adores the farm, and in particular “her Teddy.” Sabrina asked to have her birthday party at the farm, and even though having a big party of strangers (essentially) was out of my comfort zone, I agreed, as I wanted to do it for them. I took care of Athena as a newborn when her mum was sick in the hospital, and consider our relationship more like a “Zia” and niece – and so was motivated to make it work, and make it fun!
In the end, 29 people came to the party, lots of little ones, a few older ones, and everyone had a blast hanging out, playing simple games, including just playing in the sandbox I got it in my head was a great idea to build the day before the party! I also made Hobby Horses and got supplies to make a Hobby Horse Obstacle Course which was accessible to all ages. I loved seeing the smiles on everyone’s face, and the squeals of joy. Athena kept saying “I’m so happy!”
We did a meet and greet with Teddy, and the children all gave him carrots, it was very sweet, and I could tell her enjoyed the attention. A few people asked if I would host birth parties in the future, and I said “no, it’s honestly not my thing.” Which felt good for me. I don’t mind at all doing it for Athena, or family & friends, but it’s not a business goal for me.
Last but not least, my cousin and her family came for a visit from BC, and we had another lovely farm tour experience. I could feel the difference between hosting one family, and hosting 29 people – and I confirmed for myself that small group and 1:1 is the best fit for me in my business.
Speaking of which, stay tuned for exciting offerings, or, go on over to my ‘Workshops & Events’ Page and check out what’s happening. Join us for a visit at the farm!