Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Combined Efforts?

   As I was browsing through kijiji this afternoon and was seeing all the fabulous deals on antique furniture near Mr. Pretties new job (somewhere we really wouldn't have driven to to do a pick, which is saying a lot, because we'd drive almost anywhere in the name of shabbiness!) I started thinking about how badly I wanted my own shop a couple years ago.  Like bad, bad, imperative to continue living BAD. Then Mr. Pretties company closed down and things were tight, no extra monies for fab finds (sad, sad times), then I went back to work full time, then Mr. Pretties went back to work and I stayed home part time but we'd had to move because our landlords wanted our house back to live in themselves (that's a story for another time.  I think I need therapy for the emotional breakdown my separation from that house caused) and we moved into a nice little town, but with a house that is much smaller (and a lot more spendy) I hadn't even given it a thought.  But then a lightbulb went off and I realized that we have a garage attached to our house, a garage that is very '1920s' like this house and that it looks exactly like an old barn inside complete with barn beam rafters, old 12 pane windows and dutch doors and the only use I had for it was... dun dun dun dun... housing the chickens.  Yes.  We have chickens. In our garage.  Two years ago I would have already had it set up to house all our shabby chic sale items and been able to decorate it in perfect shabby shop style for pick ups...  now I'm wondering can I house my chickens and shabby goodness at the same time?  Our chickens do not smell, they have no odour what-so-ever, are fairly quiet, are fluffy and adorable, and their coop is actually quite shabby chic... it even has an over the bed netting, old bank bag pillows, and they eat/drink out of old black and white enamel containers,  they really kind of fit in...  We have no garage-type stuff in there, it's actually just storing all our furniture that wont fit in the house (which is a lot, there are no less than four vanities, 5 dressers, 2 dining tables, an uncountable amount of random wooden chairs, and boxes of enamelware)... 

It's something to think about...  my only worry is that our current landlords are talking about wanting to move into the house themselves (they live with their parents.... I don't know...) so I don't want to get to 'into it' and get crushed when we have to move the day after I set it all up the way I want.  Maybe I'll stick with sewing my chickens some white ruffly curtains.  Or maybe I'll take some 'me time' out in the garage this afternoon while the little pretties nap. Or quietly pretend to nap.  Or just scream and yell while throwing stuff around their respective rooms and I pretend their napping.  Whatever.  Did I mention the last time I took 'me time' in the garage during naptime the chickens ended up with a paris inspired pink distressed coop?  And for some reason don't want to use it? Yet, my new white silkie chickens, who are absolutely shabby chic in all their white foofiness absolutely adore it.  Maybe they just have better taste than my four brown/black/buff silkies...  I like pretending that the chickens actually A) notice and B) appreciate when I foof up their coop. In reality I know they only care when I bring them treats and water.

What have you all been up to???

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Renting A Farm Is HARD...

If not impossible...

Wow! Mr. Pretties and I have been mercilessly searching for 'the one' for the last couple months - partly because we're desperate for a farm, and big partly because the current homeowners of the house we live in want to move back into it.  Which is a little bit on the inconvenient side for us.  So we've been searching.  And driving through rural communities I had no idea existed.  And looking at livestock ads on Kijiji.  Let me tell you - looking for a rental farm is like trying to find a unicorn.  I don't think it's because we're picky, because really, we're not.  Okay, maybe I am a little bit in that I want an OLD farmhouse.  Not a farmhouse someone built a few years ago when they bought some acreage.  And I'm picky in that I have to like the home owners.  I know, why?!  Because I'm a freak like that.  I don't know what my problem is but I've found that anytime we've rented from people I felt 'off' about it hasn't worked out.  The last three people we've rented from we really liked and became friends with.  We will always have a relationship with those people and I'm so grateful that they came into our lives and that we were fortunate enough to get into a business deal - such as rental property is - with people like them.  I guess maybe I've been spoiled?  Or unrealistic? Or both probably.  But the fact of the matter is, I want to like the people we rent from.  We found a couple we thought were fantastic, totally got what we wanted to do with the house/land and even came up with ideas we could collaborate on together which were fabulous.  When we went to look at the farm however, it was beyond awful.  And I'm very open minded.  It wasn't a place we could have children living in, even temporarily and it crushed us.  Then we've found all the 'farmhouses' without land, and the farm land without a house, etc... and we found a beyond wonderful farmhouse not farm from here that was everything we wanted and more, but the homeowners were so completely unprofessional in the way they verbally attacked their current tenants infront of potential ones that it was uncomfortable.  They had no respect for the house or land they owned and couldn't understand their 'hick' neighbours and the animals they kept.  It breaks my heart everytime I realize that so many of the people who are owners of 100's of acres at a time are basically just sitting on it until a company offers them the big $$$ to sell it to them for development site.  Then we wonder why the future or farming, and thus food in general, is doomed.  Their needs to be some responsibility about who's allowed to buy up big lots and what they're allowed to do with it.  Then again, I think all current agriculturally zoned land should be green belted.  It's the necessary thing to do. 

So it's been a little bit impossible and a lot disappointing.  Hopefully it all works out the way it's supposed to, but perhaps because we're going through a lot of changes in the Pretties household I'm just not sure what way that is right now.  Renting is a hard world when no one wants to rent to families with children, or pets of any kind.  Not to mention the average price of monthly rent has gone up approximately $500 since we moved into this house less than a year ago.  Ouch.  Obviously this isn't great blog material, but sometimes things just need to be aired out in the open.  I so much want to be on a farm doing things that give me daily blog fodder, I love blogging and I miss blogging, but the only thing I want to blog about is our chickens, what great farm activity we did, what's growing, what's not, etc... instead of 'Went to look a farm today - no dice' every day of the week.  No one wants to read that, and I don't want to type it.  I feel like there's a place we're supposed to be in in this point of our lives and we aren't there and I'm not sure why, or how to get there. I feel like I'm constantly using the life GPS and receiving the 'Cannot find exact location...' error and can't find anywhere that sells a paper map to my destination.  Waahhhh...

On the other hand, meet the ladies:

I think they were 5 weeks old in the picture.  They're now almost 12 weeks old and big huge fluff balls of fabulousness.  They live a happy life in our backyard and our neighbours love them. Part of the reason we're uber sad to leave, this will likely end our chicken keeping for a little while.  But they have been SO much fun.  And completely do NOT smell. At all. Seriously, my guinea pig smelled worse by far.  The little pretties are completely in love with them, and unfortunately they are completely in love with the fluffy orange tabby, Wilma.  They think she's the big chicken.  Clearly we would have some survival issues on a real farm ;)  So that's been a nice spot light for us this summer.  We have a friend with a farm who will happily taken them temporarily until we can have them back again, so they'll always been taken care of.  Any one considering chickens should totally go for it though, they are as enjoyable a pet as a cat or a dog (we have both) and are less noisy!

Hopefully they'll be a blog post soon about the new farm we're moving too.  Crossing our fingers and our toes, and buying our lottery tickets ;)  Hope everyone's enjoying some gorgeous weather today like we are!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Have Given Birth - Again!

Not really.  Well, really, but not really in the sense that I went off and had another unannounced baby ;)  Really in the sense that the heirloom cherry tomatoes and black tomatoes have sprouted!  I've had them in their Jiffy pots for maybe a week now (I'm trying not to obsess over them, that usually leads to destruction) with their little baggies-come-greenhouses on sitting in our south facing windows on the landing.  I decided I'd mostly ignored them long enough and that I could sneak a peak at what was going on in there, and low and behold, little spouts!  I am SO proud, it's like giving birth all over again!  However, I had written labels nicely on the pots so I would know which ones were cherries and which ones were regular so that I could plant them together accordingly come warmer weather.  I noticed today that all the condensation from their greenhouses has washed the majority of those 'markers' off.  I have no idea who is who.  Crap.  Hopefully I can sort them out when they have, say, more than one miniscule leaf poking out of the ground.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

HotDog! Get Your HotDog Here!

Or so Animal Control told me this morning ;)  Some kindly fellow knew we wanted HotDog more than he did and turned him in late lastnight and we picked him up early this morning.  SO relieved, words cannot even say!!  Thanks for listening to me whine lastnight though.  Yay!!

Anyone Seen A Hotdog?

Oh please, oh please, oh please say you have!!!

Today we ended up with a completely FREAK snow storm that resulted in a snow day.  A snow day in Canada is a big deal.  Seriously.  So we had a lot of snow.  We had blizzard like conditions upon arrival home from work tonight.  It was disgusting. It was freezing.  It was starting to freezing rain.  And our sweet little Hotdog went out for a bathroom break.  And noticed someone left the gate open for him. Unfortunately Mr. Pretties didn't put two and two together for almost an hour.  We've spent the last three hours combing the frozen tundra like neighbourhood to no avail.

 I hadn't realized, but realize quite well now, that Hotdog was actually our fifth child.  We've lost cats before, and cats are smart, cats will come home on their own if they're able.  They'll catch a mouse if they're hungry and they'll outwit any human/dog/car, so although I do worry, it's not necessarily the end of the world.   Except for the time our cat Pickle got out and got attacked by a new neighbourhood beast of a dog and died.  That was actually the end of the world.  I'm still dying inside over that.  But dogs don't know how to take care of themselves.  Specifically Hotdog is a miniature dachshund who is afraid to go on his leash and as a by-product has no interest in going for neighbourhood walks.  Thusly, he is lost after moseying two houses away. 

The thought of him out there alone, cold and scared is literally teetering on the edge of self implosion.  It actually completely explains the phrase 'I just can't handle the thought' because really, I can't handle the thought, any thought, that doesn't involve Hotdog sleeping in his warm bed with his dachshund lovie.  This is the dog that shivers when it's cooler than 20 degrees in the house.  It's -3 tonight.  The snow is twice as deep as he is tall.  I honestly don't think we'll ever see him again.  The kids are going to be absolutely crushed in the morning when they wake up and he's not there.

 I said to Mr. Pretties I just don't think I can go on without him in our lives, he's like trying to live without an arm or a leg (if arms or legs constantly stood right infront of where you were trying to walk at any given time and barked maniacally at any sound that could possibly be someone knocking on a door within a 50 block radius) and even though people DO go on to live without arms, or legs, or both, I don't want to. 

We adopted a puppy before Hotdog, a basset named Turnip who we adored, but who came to us unknowingly with Parvo and within six weeks had to put him to sleep. It killed us.  Hotdog lit up our lives again, he made the hurt not so bad and helped us heal.  And now he's gone.  The big city snow plows are up and down our street every half hour which is ripping me apart, he's either going to freeze, get run over, get buried in a snowbank or get found by a family who wants to keep him for themselves.  Of all the scenarios, if it came down to it I would choose a new family for him so long as he was healthy and happy.   Tomorrow I'll put out all the calls to the shelters, vets, and pop up signs.

 I knew we loved Hotdog and that he was family, but I didn't realize how impaired we'd feel without his presence.  Just knowing he's not in the house somewhere makes it so silent and lonely.  Above all, Hotdog was a fabulous companion.  Who really liked to ruin my stuff.  A lot.  But I still loved him.  Even that time he wrecked my brand new, more-than-I'd-Tell-Mr-Pretties-I-Paid-For sheets. 

Here's hoping for a miracle, because that's what it's going to take to get our weiner back.  I absolutely dread the thought of having to deal with the reality that he wont be back, ever, and having to pack up his stuff because it's too painful to bare.  The thought alone makes my insides feel all slithery.  I'm not even being dramatic. At all. Okay I am, but it's how I work through the pain.   

Monday, March 14, 2011

What goes around comes around...

Or so it's seems...

Mr. Pretties and I looked at an old farmhouse last spring (scare alert: a year ago to the EXACT date) and had a month long debate about it (No joke - a MONTH. LONG. DEBATE.  I wouldn't suggest it personally) because it was at a time when Mr. Pretties didn't need to be close to work anymore and my job was fairly disposable at the time.  We also needed more bedrooms.  Come to think of it, we still need more bedrooms...  Oh, and it was 120 years old.  And a farm.  Those should have really been the only two factors going on.  Seriously, based on that alone I think we would have made the right choice.  Instead, since I was in near-end pregnancy nothing-doing phase and couldn't grasp a two hour away moving situation we decided to move exactly 11 houses away from our current one, to a house with twice as many bedrooms and a full attic.  It's old.  It has charm.  The basement floods.  The dirt in the yard is equal parts non-fertile soil and what I'm fairly sure is imitation soil.  While I can't say that I don't like the house, I do, it's had a hard life and no one loved it. I take a fair amount of pity on it and help it esthetically where ever I can.  But last week just did me in. An unsuspecting mouse found it's way into our new mattress.  And died.  I believe this crossed about 200 lines for me.  Let me just say, I don't have a problem with mice in general.  I will wrestle the cat for one if it's caught and put it back outside (where it promptly comes back inside no doubt). I even think on a cute scale they score about an 8.  However, when I go out of my way to be respectful of them and the mouse community does something like shacks up in MY bed and then DIES?!  Oh no.  We're through there buck-o.  So these small things are what I use as moving ammo/moving motivation.  I also hate the neighbourhood - but that could just be me... 

Okay so where were we here?  Oh right.  The House.  With a capital H.  For 'Hell yeah!' because it's awesome. And, because, house starts with an H....  moving right along here... so I was doing my nightly house search online (I do this EVERY night.  I figure anything good will pop up and be gone right away so I stay on it) and I was reading an ad about an old Heritage Home in Olde Rural London and thought 'Hmm... that sounds about right...' and went to view the pictures.  They all looked so nice, very 1880's typical, but something about them seemed familiar.  Until I got to the picture of the outside of the house (who posts the outside house picture last anyway?) and nearly fell out of my chair.  While screaming 'My House!!! My House is Back!!!! Mr. Pretties did you hear me??? My House is BAAACCCKKKKK!!!' in my outside voice.  I love this house. I. Love. This. House.  I Love. This House.  It doesn't matter how you say it!

(it's had work done - it no long looks so scary and abandoned) 
It's like my kindred spirit, but instead of my skin and bones it has brick and mortar. Which I'm cool with.  It's in the country.  It's surrounded by corn (which I have a small anxiety inducing concern about with the Littles - however I think electric fencing will solve it) It has an old barn.  It has an old chicken coop.  It has old farm fencing.  It has an already tilled vegetable garden that probably has REAL soil in it.  Did I mention it's old?  And charming?  And has TWO staircases?! You know, for those times when you wake up and are all  'Hmm... which stairs should I take today?  Newspaper or kitchen first?'  Or for when the kids are burning off energy, they could run down one set and back up the other and do like hamster wheel exercises.  Please note I sad said 'could' not 'can' because if that actually happened they'd be outside in the pasture faster than they could even say hamster. It has mainfloor laundry.  Even the kitchen is nice and I find that most old houses have crappy renovated-in-the-70s kitchens.  This has a renovated in the 70s kitchen, but they used classic wood for the cupboards, painted the rest white, kept the hardwood throughout the entire house, and put in new counter tops. That makes it entirely acceptable.  Did I mention the main staircase is curved? 

(I love that they labelled the picture, just incase there was any confusion about exactly this picture was about...)
And it has a veranda.  It might also have Coyotes.  Two words for that though. Electric.  Fence.  Amen.  Wait, that was three.  Oh well...  But there's this stickler of a dilemma.  I work here.  Two hours away from there.  I cannot drive to work everyday.  I would have to quit my job on the whim that I would find one just like it in London.  Which may not be so...  But part of me doesn't care....  We have to decide soon though.  Unfortunately it's the same realtor we dealt with last year and he already thinks/knows that we're mental and is learly that we're wanting back in LoL  I don't blame him.  I'll bring him a box of chocolates.  Or 100.  Before I quit my job ;)  Did I mention the school bus stop is at the bottom of our driveway? Or that I ordered chicks last week? Or that I'm afraid of squirrels?  Uh... never mind the last bit. No one needs to know about that. 

So hopefully we wont have another month long 'discussion' about this house.  Mr. Pretties is actually a lot more open to the option this year than he was last.  Something about me telling him 1,000 times that we should have moved since, and that he's agreed every time.  I think he's seen the light.  Or got tired of hearing about it.  And chickens.  And pink Wellies.  Or maybe he's tired of hauling all four pretties everyday to school twice ;)  A bus stop at the end of the driveway does sound pretty sweet... unless you take my neurosis into account, and then it's just one more thing to worry about, you know, because bus accidents are so much more common than car accidents...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Antique All The Way...

The Pretties want to go rural.

 I'll give you a minute to digest that morsel of information.

You good?  Excellent!

After a year long hiatus from the blog, and approximately 300,000 life changes (including, but not limited to, a new 2010 baby girl

 Mr. Pretties retiring, moving houses, and going back to work) we've (meaning, I've, because Mr. Pretties is a lot life tofu in that he will adapt to most things that I want to do. Which is awesome. Clearly) decided that with being aware of where our food comes from and the quality of it's life has lead us to want to not only know where it lives, but want to live nearby.  I don't think we want to take on raising our own meat (beyond the odd chicken), simply because we don't have the knowledge, the money (lol), or the man power, but would love the opportunity to live in the same community and join a local CSA that allows for farm visitation, volunteer time on the farm, etc... I think that would be awesome and all around 'right', if there is such a thing.  Although I don't altogether love the part about eating animals in general, it appears to be a fact of life for us, and any part I can play in supporting those who give their animals a happy, quality, fairly natural life would be fabulous.

We'd (I'd)  also really like to try my hand at raising various things too. I'm not saying we're going to get rich, or break even, but I've been doing tons of research this past year (as in our Google browers now only has the capability of showing my farm related entries, it doesn't know any other exist anymore...) and a few things that've really caught my eye (and heart, most of my brain waves, and most of  my very being, to name a few) have been alpacas as fibre animals, angora rabbits for fibre and show, bees, and Jersey Giant chickens.

How giant is a Jersey Giant?  Glad you asked.  Here's come vintage perspective for you:

 I love the idea of caring for heritage breeds and planting heirloom/heritage fruits and vegetables in our garden (why wouldn't I? Who doesn't love an antique veggie seed?!).  I know part of me is very much in love with the romanticism of swinging a basket in the sun while collecting fresh eggs, but I strongly believe a much larger part is in love with spending the day mucking out stalls, making trails through the snow to bring my animals food and water, and for providing them with a good life while they provide for us as well.  It would be a great trade off. 

With that all said, these few, poorly worded paragraphs have taken me three days to complete.  I'm not joking.  Did I mention I'd also love to write a few children's books?  I figure if I start right now I might have them finished sometime in the 30th century.  If I type fast.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let is snow, let is snow, let is snow…

Or not…

And a snowy good morning to you all!!! 

Today we’re seeing the very first fat flakes of snow this winter, and c’mon, we live in CANADA!  Despite being Canadian however, I don’t do winter.  I don’t do cold weather, and I don’t do mounds of brown slushy much that has spewed itself over every walking service from my door to the car and back. 


Don’t get me wrong, a big snowfall can be a wonderful thing, say, when you have no where to go, no pressing errands to do, and can curl up on the couch with a fluffy warm blanket, a cup of steamy tea in your favorite chipped cup, and the fireplace roaring (or in our case, being completely silent. For some reason gas fireplaces don’t do the roaring business. Unfortunate really.) while you watch tufts of  white magic (that sounds like it might be a code word for a drug.  If it is. Disregard reference) flutter silently from the sky. I think the silence in which these mass piles of snow fall are what makes it amazing.  Let’s examine that thought shall we? (come, please? It’ll do my brain good), rain for instance gives us the whole relaxation package with it’s sleep inducing sound effects on the roof, but essentially as soon as it falls it disappears down the sewer gone from our lives (Usually.  Unless you’re in our city this past summer, then it’s actually filling up your basement and calling your insurance broker letting them know it’s time put some new ‘clauses’ in your policy, however, that’s a whole ‘nother post), like it was never there and an hour later it might be completely dried up and in it’s place a rainbow. 


Our fluffy friend snow on the other hand,is busy stacking itself up 3’ high and lasting for what must be no less than 10 years, make’s no sounds at all.  Nothing. Maybe that’s part of the magic.  When you were a child would  a snow day have been as fabulous if you’d tossed and turned listening to the 200,000 tons of snow coming down all night? Wasn’t it the best to expect nothing other than another day of trudging through the snow to school and walking around with soaked jeans all day (because you were too cool to wear snow pants or appropriate foot wear in grade 8.  Oh wait, was that just me? ) and waking up to white.  And more white.  Rubbing your eyes, giving yourself a little peppy tap in the face to wake up, and realize this isn’t an early morning delusion but that the  entire street (block, town, etc…) was covered in thick blankets of white with more coming down and knowing you can snuggle back down in your duvet and doze back off?


That is the very best kind of snow.  Unfortunately it usually has a life expectancy of 48 hours before it’s plowed, salted, sanded and shoveled into submission, turning that white magic into goopy brown gravel encrusted masses that pile up on the side walks, park lots, and most importantly, my kitchen floor.


And then it freezes.  And the everytime you walk out the back door you manage to slip and land on your rear because you managed to walk across the only dime sized patch of ice not salted to death by Mr. Pretties.  Oh.  I guess that’s just me again.  See what I’m telling you? Winter and I don’t get along.  The world would be a better place if we woke up to those magical mornings covered snow, enjoyed the day off and then have Mother Natural give the snow a call, something like ‘Okay Snow Flakes, listen up, the town has to start living again, let’s move up and out, mission completed!’ And off it trots to the next unsuspecting town.  No brown much an all the wonderfulness of a beautiful white day.  See what I’m saying?

Sorry you had to listen to a weather forcast today, but I had to get it out there.  And really, it’s related to this blog because if we weren’t recipients of ‘the cold north’ syndrome we’d have garage sales and antique markets ALL year. Yeah. Not just, say, 6 months of it.  I try not to think about it because I’m really (REALLY) going through Aberfoyle withdrawal right now.  If I want new treasures I have to hunt the thrift stores which all of a sudden have huge mark ups, and, I’ve gone back to work so with Mr. Pretties and I working opposite shifts, there isn’t much thrifting time.  I know, right?  *tear* or scavenge Kijiji, but it’s been slow going on here lately.  I did however score a box of vintage dented Christmas balls for which I was STOKED (not so much stoked about the price. At $3 EACH.  But I REALLY wanted some. And The LLP has already smashed one. I cried. Just saying. And yes I know I shouldn’t have put them on the tree at all knowing the LPs are loving redecorating it about 2 million times an hour).  I found some 1920’s Christmas lights with fabric cords which I thought were absolutely adorable (not to be plugged in ofcourse…  some how I don’t think burning the house down is the way to go this year…) but the seller wanted $40 per 8 light string.  I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain Mr. Pretties would lost his stuff if I told him I was buying 8 Christmas lights that couldn’t actually be lit for $40.  It’s just a hunch…

How’re all, your holiday plans going out there?  I can’t wait to see everyone’s Christmas House Tour photos in all the tours coming up, I know Rhoda at Southern Hospitality started one yesterday and the Nester at The Nesting Place is having on next week, they’re so much fun to look at, everyone has such great ideas on how to decorate outside the box!   


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