Our Market Farm

We’ve had a pretty busy season here at our old island home and things we’ve been wanting to do have slowly been falling into place.  Our biggest news of the year has been several weeks in the making….

That’s right!  This year we’re launching our veggie box program and market stand and you can check it out here: http://ouroldislandfarm.wix.com/ourfarm

If at all possible, we’d like to kindly ask that you to find us on Facebook at Our Old Island Market Farm, like the page and share it with as many people as possible – especially if you or your friends are in the island – but obviously everybody is welcome to ‘like’ what we’re doing.

The past two years we’ve been learning PEI’s growing seasons as we’ve been growing all the vegetables for our own needs and sharing our excess with friends and neighbors.  This year we are ramping up production by incorporating some highly intensive gardening practices to maximize our output and offering weekly vegetable boxes valued at $25.

The last several weeks have been crammed with starting seeds, planning the garden layout and revamping our rotation plan and determining the produce needs for ourselves plus several weekly customers.

Over the next few weeks, the seedlings will be hardened off and ready for transplanting under row covers until the risk of frost has passed.  In the meantime, bathroom plumbing is underway, the original 130 year old doors are being stripped of several coats of paint, new wood flooring is being milled and finished for installation and plans for the kitchen addition are underway.  Suffice to say, if you’ve been missing our regular posts, stay tuned, things are about to get a little crazy.

 

A Year in Review

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Well suffice to say my blog efforts didn’t quite pan out the way I intended in 2015.  Not to say that progress hasn’t been made on Our Old Island Home, I just haven’t been faithful in sharing our progress with you.

Vanessa and I have been working full time at our new jobs.  I’m with Paul Davis Systems, an insurance-related restoration contractor on the island.  Vanessa is working at Cavendish Farms, processing one of PEI’s grandest commodities.

The gardens did equally well for us this year as the previous year.  We had greater success with some of our crops – our winter squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, garlic and onions were not only superior to 2014, but provided above and beyond our needs for the year.

Some of the successes in 2014 however, were failures in 2015.  Our corn was one such crop.  Between the dry summer, our neglect resulting from working full-time to just bad luck we didn’t have a single ear come to maturity.  Most formed on the plant, but went directly to the chickens where the ears were picked (pecked?) clean.  Our beets and cucumbers didn’t come to much this year either.  I blame the new garden plots we haphazardly prepared in the spring for their lack of contribution to our table.

Otherwise, the remaining crops (carrots, potatoes, turnip, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, greens and zucchini) did as well as the previous year’s effort.

The hen house welcomed six new layers this year.  We did lose a couple of birds, but the remaining nine hens are providing, on average, seven eggs per day.  We’ve been selling our excess eggs to friends and co-workers.  The sales cover the cost of feeding the birds, but even still as I’m writing this, we have thirteen-dozen eggs in our fridge.  Vanessa has already frozen a couple dozen eggs for baking (yes, that’s do-able) and I’ll be pickling a couple dozen this weekend.  No, I’ve never had a pickled egg, but a co-worker of mine suggested it.  Hey, I’m game to try anything.

As the gardening season was drawing to a close, our attention was refocused on the house restoration.  This year, we completed the insulation in the attic, installed several new windows on the second floor, started taping and seamfilling the drywall, started setting the piers for the new porch and framed the floor for the new mudroom addition.  With fall coming to an end and winter bearing down on us, the added insulation, vapor barrier and windows will make for a much more, um, comfortable winter than last year.

That’s what’s been happening here.  On a more personal note, here’s how we’re doing:  good.  Very good, in fact.  Life is busy and looking back, I cant believe another year has passed.  But we’ve made intentional changes this year.  We’ve made time for each other.  No matter how busy life gets, we take time to watch the moon rise over Pleasant Valley and the sunset at the beach.  We go for long walks together with Murdoch along the trails behind our house and explore parts of the island we’ve not seen before.  Ultimately, this is the one true gift we can give each other – time.  Virtually every other gift will fade, tarnish, wear out or breakdown, and instead of filling our lives with stuff, we rather make memories and experiences.

And finally, in spite of my rather sporadic posts, we still get people asking how things are going here.  For whatever reason, some say we inspire them, others just enjoy the read.  Whatever the reason you find yourself reading these words, I make this promise (no it’s not a resolution):  I will do my very best to keep posting and updating our progress regularly at Our Old Island Home.  That’s all I can do: try.

Vanessa and I wish you all the best that this new year can bring.  Blessings!

 

Making Peace with Winter

Call it the winter blah’s.

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Last year, writing about our new life on the east coast came entirely easy.  Everything was brand new and an adventure we wanted to share with our friends and family – and anyone else who cared to read about what we were doing.  But now that we have a full year under our belts, the challenge is to keep writing about what’s happening and how we’re progressing without sounding too redundant.

Take this winter for example.  We’ve had a pretty easy cold-season this year, up until last week that is.  Four storms within a week-and-a-half dumped almost 5 feet of snow on our old homestead.  Writing about the storms, the snowfall, shovelling out (and our good neighbor bailing us out with his snowblower) would sound too much like any of the storm posts I wrote last year.

I’m starting to rifle through the mail-order seed catalogues and could tell you about what we want to plant in our gardens this spring – just like I did in my post last January.  But does that make for an interesting post?  I’m not sure.

The one different variable we have this year is that both Vanessa and I are working full time.  I’ve already written about where we work and what we’re doing – and the job itself holds no interesting stories I can share.  We’re just doing our time there to pay the bills.

Sounds pretty winter blah-ish, doesn’t it?  The truth is, I’m no fan of winter.  I don’t really follow or play winter sports, I don’t care for the snow and cold and I’d rather be outside than in.  By the time February rolls around, I want it to all be over.  I’m sick of the snow and ice.  Bring on the mud!

But as I write this (in front of our wood stove with the outdoor thermometer reading minus 18 degrees), I remind myself that spring is just over a month away and we have so much to do in anticipation of the upcoming year.

So I’ll say this much:  at the risk of sounding redundant, I’ll simply post what’s happening and if there are still readers who want to know some of the (slightly) more mundane aspects of our adventure, then you’ll be happy to read-on in the upcoming days and weeks ahead.

Like I’ve said about the house renovations – it will be a long and arduous task to (essentially) demolish and rebuild our farmhouse, but it’s the memories that we will hold forever. Perhaps this blog will help remind us of every step we take.

Even if we’re up to our waist in snow.

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“and how the heck am I supposed to poop here” – Murdoch

 

We’ve only just begun

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“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”  [Thoreau]

It’s that time of year when we look back on what 2014 was and what we hope 2015 will hold.

For Vanessa and I, we’re grateful for what last year held for us.  The house renovations have been coming along nicely but slowed since we’ve been working full-time now.  We’re still eating our own vegetables we grew last summer: potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, corn, pickles, onions and squash.  The six chickens have started giving us about four eggs daily – even with winter’s cold embrace taking over.  And we have each other.  What else do we need?

We have our health, home, food and warmth – and with that, all of our needs are met.  Then there’s the other stuff we take for granted that’s really a luxury for most of the global population: we have cars, hobbies, music, internet access and more clothes than we actually wear.  I sometimes think it’s even too much.

One of the things I’ve loved most about our move has been our embrace of the concept of living with less.  At one point it was a conscious decision to do without some of the luxuries we’ve always enjoyed.  Dining-out together was a big one.  So was buying things we wanted but really didn’t need – just because we could.

Now we just want to live a simpler, minimal life.  Not militant minimalism, mind you – I don’t want to “make do” with two plates, two forks, two cups and two choices of clothes to wear.  But we can do with less.  In fact, it’s one of the more rewarding things we’ve done in our move.  We sold or gave away a lot of items we didn’t need or want to move to PEI – and we’ve not needed to replace them as of yet, either.

We’ve found that very little is needed to make a happy life.

So for 2015, if we’re talking resolutions (and I’m not really), then it would be to stay-the-course.  Keep our needs few.  After all, things will never make one happy – it just creates a desire for more things or bigger things.  We will unburden our lives by owning less stuff and doing more of the things we love.

For the past year we’ve been dreaming of our “big picture” together.  What we want our house to be.  How we’d like to farm.  The wood lot we want to purchase and how we’d use that for our needs.  But we realize a dream is just a dream without a plan.  This year, we’ll be expanding our gardens and offering limited weekly eggs and vegetable boxes for sale.  The woodlot we hope to purchase will be both an investment and a source of income.

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As for you, we hope you have a wonderful new year filled with happiness.  Dream big dreams, but don’t stop there, make a plan to see those dreams fulfilled.

 

Thankful hearts

We’re approaching a year since our move to PEI. In fact, one year ago this weekend we hosted our last Thanksgiving dinner with our family in Ontario. By mid-November we were heading east with a loaded down U-Haul truck and hopeful hearts. Since then, and now in the spirit of the Thanksgiving weekend, I have a new appreciation of the life we now have.

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I’m thankful for the beautiful island on which we now live. I’m thankful for the home we’re making and the fertile soil on which it’s built. I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in Canada – including the freedom to express my faith in the Lord without fear of reprisal. I’m thankful for the family and friends – both near and far – who have shown their unconditional love and support of the crazy adventure we chose. And I’m thankful for all those who have discovered and have been following this little blog highlighting some of our more memorable moments and milestones.

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This week I begin a new chapter in our life on the east coast as I start a new job. With winter approaching we find ourselves in need of employment and a steady income. Our little nest egg left from the sale of our Ontario home has almost been exhausted with the large expenses we’ve incurred this year: new house, new foundation, new roof, new well, new (used) car and countless trips to the building supply center for our ongoing renovations. My job now affords us to pay what little bills we have (insurance, electricity, internet) and leave an amount of disposable income for the ongoing renovations and savings we’d like.

I find the contentment in my heart and the size of my bank account to have no correlation – now more than ever. In spite of what our bank balance may be, I feel richer today than I’ve ever felt. I own my house, property and vehicles – all with zero debt. In fact, I recently told a friend that if I were to win a million dollars, I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to cut my own firewood. I want to grow my own potatoes. I want an old house to restore myself. I don’t miss any of the “luxuries” we had before our move. In fact, I’m happier living with less.

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I know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone – or maybe even the majority of people. But it is for us. And we’re truly, truly thankful for everything we have.

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving.