Monsoon June

“Let’s just sit quietly and listen to the secrets the rain wants to tell us.”

-John Mark Green

It’s been raining for weeks here on the farm. The sunshine tries to make a break for it in the sky, as the clouds part and her light shines down, but only momentarily. Then the rain clouds move back in and begin their deluge again.

To say everything is wet, would be an understatement. The ground is so saturated the rain is simply pooling and puddling at this point, and there is MUD beyond all mud. We have definitely had a monsoon June kind of start to summer.

All this rain has turned the pig pen for the meat hogs into a flowing torrent of stink. The pigs do have some high ground where their shelter is to escape from the elements, but the remainder of the pen is just muck! It makes for some tricky chores, wading through the mud and fighting off hungry hogs. We are ever so thankful for our LOOP pickups, and the pigs enjoy four to five 5 gallon pails full of goodies each day.

The little broiler birds, who are definitely not so little anymore, have made the big move out to the back field. They now share the grassy area with the donkeys and alpacas. Each day they get moved one coops length onto new grass, so they are free to range, while still having free access to grain and fresh water. So far so good out back for the birds! The donkeys are sure to follow along after a coop move, cleaning up any spilled grain!

I think the boys out back are getting just as sick of this rain as we are. The donkeys usually take to the bush for cover from the weather. But the alpacas have quite taken to the pigs, and hardly leave the side of their pen. We think this is because of their herd nature and protective instincts that they like to stay close to the group of hogs out back.

Dan used to tease me that we weren’t building an ark and we didn’t need to collect all of the animals. I think he may be taking back those words as the rain continues to fall today.

Along with everyone out back, the three little pigs, goats and laying hens have all been enjoying their LOOP foods as well. The little chickens from the Pickup Palace coop have been integrated into our flock, and they spend their days out with the older girls exploring and checking out their new surroundings. I think they are going to fit in well! The three little pigs do not venture too far from the pig haus in the rain, but on the occasion the sun does shines, they can be found out back of their pen taking in the rays. The goat pen has also become a lush oasis, with the creek flowing heavy and little pockets of water forming mini ponds in the bush.

Despite all the rain, our garden seems to be surviving. It was such a good decision this year to move the garden, allowing us a sloped pitch for drainage. All this rain seems to be running right out, and there has thankfully been no flooding. While we need the heat and some sunshine to help everything out, there is flowers on the tomatoes and pumpkins, we are actually growing peas this year that are thriving and our potatoes definitely look good, but need a hilling. One of these days I’ll be able to get in there and get my weeding done!

My flower beds are also blooming in spite of the weather, spreading joy with colour. They are also in a desperate need of weeding, which won’t be happening anytime soon. My lupines have taken off this year and I am so excited. I started them from seed two years ago and placed them through out the beds at the front of the house. My side garden of hollyhocks is suffering a little this year, but with time, it will be full and beautiful.

Our fruit trees suffered this year from the weeks we had of below minus forty cold in the winter. The tops of the trees all died, leaving only some new growth sprouting from the bottoms. It was a hard blow for us, as some of our trees had been here for four years. So far, it would appear that the berry bushes have all survived. We had our first harvest of haskap berries. These arctic berries as they are sometimes called, are almost a mix of a saskatoon and a blueberry. I look forward to having enough one day for mead or wine! My raspberries all look at though they will be back in full bloom this year and we look forward to that season as well.

I made sure to take advantage of a break in the rain to collect wild rose petals again this year. They flourish all over our property here and have so many benefits when made into rose water. Wondering how to make your own?

  • Collect fresh petals. I like to leave one petal on the bud so that the roses will still turn into rosehips later in the season.
  • Rinse with cold water to wash away any bugs or pests.
  • Put the petals into a small pot, adding water to just cover the petals.
  • Heat over a low heat, making sure to not let the water come to a boil. A boil will cause the properties of the petals to be destroyed, and will alter the colour of your water.
  • Heat for 20 minutes, or until the colour has left the petals.
  • Strain off and store in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

The rainy days have also made it a little harder for hive inspections, but we make sure to take advantage of any breaks in the rain to check on our busy little friends. A couple weeks ago we did out first split on one of our hives. We didn’t want the bees to swarm and leave, so we took several frames of eggs and brood, along with some bees, and put them into a smaller box called a nuc. They will stay in the nuc until they are able to create queen for themselves, or we intervene and add in a queen bee. At that time, they will be moved into their own hive box to start saving up supplies for the Winter. Both of our other hives now have the honey supers on top, and we are keeping our fingers crossed the rain won’t hold them back too much for honey production this year.

The rain may be here to stay for a little while yet, so we are not letting it get our spirits down. We take full advantage of the sunny days we get, and on rainy days, we take some well deserved down time. I’m keeping up with all my summer reading, am excited to be starting a new book club with a good friend and as always, take advantage of the time indoors to knit. We’ll wait out the rain knowing the sun has to be coming back out soon!

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