230 Bales of Hay

We got a deal on hay.

In the morning we drove the truck to Wainfleet to borrow a big thrower hay wagon, so we could drive slowly to Vineland to pick up hay. It was a nice drive. It was nice to just sit and talk and sip scalding cups of coffee while the rain turned to snow.

We arrived at the hay barn and everything was very old, but well kept and neat as grandma’s kitchen. The old Dutch guy who helped us load was sturdy. His age was somewhere between sixty and seventy and he was in better shape than both Brent and I put together.

It took an hour to load the 230 bales into our wagon and we were sweaty in the cold morning, but proud as the old dutch farmer pulled the wagon out of the barn with his old massy tractor.

He asked if we were interested in a baler. Sure. Who wasn’t interested in a baler?

He took us out back to his canvas covered barn and we were shocked at all the new farming equipment. It was like a John Deere showroom. Harvesters and double rear wheeled four by four tractors. More haying equipment than I could imagine. While standing in tractor heaven I asked why he was driving the old 1950’s massy and he said “she’s my favorite.”.

Driving home with our load Brent and I scarfed back bananas, almonds and water. We discussed different lifestyles and how a dutch farmer survived all these years and raised nine kids. You don’t have to go overseas to see different cultures. Just ask a farmer.

Back at home we decided not to unload in the leanto where the hay would be used because of the mud, so we unloaded into the slightly less wet back garage. Our good friends Tim and Tanya showed up in time to unload and we owe our friends a debt of gratitude for all the free (paid in beer and food) labour. We chatted with each other, panting as we threw the bales and the boys stacked. It’s a great work out and a great way to laugh at each other. I get to throw fifty pound hay bales at my husband – there isn’t a wife alive who hasn’t had moments where they’d like to whip something at their husbands. It’s a good marriage building experience and trust exercise. No wonder farmers have such good relationships.

We finished the day with a beer and a heaping helping of gratitude. Sometimes it’s dangerous to stop by and you might be wrangled into unloading hay. Just ask Darren V about the second load of hay. He was wearing his good shoes too.

It’s not all Roses, but it is MUD

Life on the farm during the spring thaw is a challange. It’s too wet to use any equipment and too brown for any natural food to be available. The animals are outside more and starting to forage for themselves, but still very excited to see grain or hay coming from their humans.

The rain has been heavy and the sky sadly lacking in sunshine. The waiting continues with heavy hearts as we dream of spring. When the grass is green and full and the trees blooming with leaves. Gardens fill in with beautiful life and flowers open and spread their scent.

However, now is time for rain. Mud. Wet. Clay.

I could use a row boat to feed the animals as the mud is thick enough to pull off my rubber boots. I was carrying a bale of hay across the horse paddock yesterday with Autumn hot on my tail when my boot sunk six inches and stayed. I put the bale down, while Autumn pulled at the hay, and had to use both hands to free my boot from it’s muddy grave.

I wiped my muddy hand across my wet brow and gave Autumn’s neck a gentle push and continued to the tractor tire hay feeder. I was covered and sadly wearing my favorite lambie jammie PJs. I love to feed the animals in my PJs.

The ducks are surprisingly hardy and are seen waddling around the muddy paddock in search of bugs. The chickens are even braver as they wander around the muddiest parts of the field hoping to find a juicy worm.

It seems everything has turned the same drab brown as the ground, trees and fields. It’s a horrible mud brown that sticks to everything. My floors are constantly dirty as is my little Princess Super Tazil Puppy Dog.

Taz is constantly in search of mud. You can put all three dogs in an area with one mud puddle and Taz will lay down in the middle. Gizmo will walk gingerly around and Poco will get wet, but only if it’s something valuable.

How can one little eight pound pup bring in so much mud? She actually waded into the pond today while frog hunting and was a filthy shivering mess when I went to check. She’s devoted.

I wait with little patience for Summer, but then the bugs and heat are our newest complaints. Thank goodness I live in Canada where the seasons are constantly changing.

Another Car? Really?

A year ago I sold my 1998 Volkswageon Jetta TDI with nearly 500,000 kms on the original engine and body. I really loved that car, but it had reached the stage of life that required a large influx of work and I didn’t want to invest into a car over a decade old.

Brent and I thought we could get by with his Jetta aka “the tomato” and the F350 truck, but we soon learned that the price of fuel would make it next to impossible to affordably drive the one ton dually. We started looking for something fuel efficient and cost effective.

Together we decided to purchase a vehicle from Florida and drive it home. In mid-December we flew south and brought home the 1986 mercedes benz. She is a tank. We named her Bertha and it became apparent that Bertha was a thirsty girl. She was also old.

It didn’t take long before the car hunt began again. With Bertha listed on numerous websites I started my search for a car that was a little fresher. Perhaps born in this decade.

After some internet research and talking with friends the first thing we decided was to discover what was most important to us in a vehicle. In about a second we agreed it was fuel efficiency. We also wanted something green and friendly.

Size was our next discussion. Eke. We had the truck for big things, so size was not an issue. We don’t have children and our three little pups will fit anywhere. When I saw the Smart Car I was drawn. It fit everything we wanted including: size, green and at 68 mpg it is the most fuel efficient vehicle on the road.

Hours were spent looking on line for our Smart and the prices were all over the place. Ten grand could buy you a 2010, 2009, 2008-05. Milages ranged from 40-156,000 kms. We set our budget and struggled to find our Smart.

We weren’t in a rush, but when I found the 2006 with 56,000 for under $8000 I was excited and she was close: St. Catharines. Most of the Smarts for sale are in Toronto. They market it as a city car, but I think they’re missing the rural market who are forced to drive fifteen minutes or more to hit a grocery store.

We learned that Smart came to Canada in 2005 and to the United States in 2008. They introduced a gas version (much less fuel efficient) in 2008 thinking it would be better received than the diesel. The first Smart was created by Swatch and Mercedes in the mid 1990’s and the engine notably died at the 60,000 km mark.

After over a decade of German engineering the three cylinder Smart will go forever on a thimble of diesel fuel. It makes my environmental heart beat a little faster.

I was overly excited when we pulled into the dealership to look at the 2006 and when I walked up I immediately said “no. no. no.” It was so small up close. Tiny. I could see why people would make fun of this clown car, but then I drove it. The passenger compartment was spacious and extra care was taken to make the driver’s side comfortable. The car ended abruptly behind the driver’s seat, but you could still fit a couple of puppies and some groceries in the back.

The semi-automatic shifting was fun and the vehicle was peppy. I loved it as soon as I pulled a U-turn in the middle of a narrow street. Fun to drive and fun to park.

On the QEW it was stable and quickly accelerated up to 130 km/hr without hesitation. We passed a few transport trucks with ease and moved through traffic with agility. I was searching for a draw back and couldn’t find one, except my husband was not that keen on the Smart. A guy thing, but it was too late because I was smitten.

Now, to negotiate. Gizmo’s time to shine.