New Morning Farm – Week 2 and 3 Video Recap

Well, we missed a week of posting our video on the blog – but do not fear, because we did have the video made. You can catch up on our second and third week on New Morning Farm by watching the videos below. We are just finishing up our fourth week on the farm and we are heading back to Minnesota to celebrate the Fourth of July!

Playing Farmer with Chase and Dana

Our third week on New Morning Farm has come to an end. This week, Lorne increased our level of responsibility on the farm and allowed us to take over the morning and afternoon chores with the animals. It was a win-win situation; we loved playing Farmer and he was able to take care of other responsibilities he had outside of the farm. Here is what our typical day consisted of this week:

7:30 Wake up
8:00 Chickens (feed, water, collect eggs)
8:45 Pigs (feed, water, fresh straw, pet snouts)
9:15 Meat Birds (feed, water, fresh straw)
9:30 Cows (water)
9:45 Re-fill empty feed bins for next feeding
10:00 Breakfast and Coffee/Tea
10:45 Weed garlic
11:45 Place fresh straw around garlic to prevent future weeds
12:30 Lunch
1:15 Cows (water)
1:30 Weed garlic
2:30 Place fresh straw around garlic
3:00 Chickens (feed, water, collect eggs)
3:30 Pigs (feed, water)
3:45 Meat Birds (feed, water)
4:00 Cows (water)
4:15 Read books, work on art, make movies, take pictures, go to the beach

6:00 Dinner

We woke up each morning this week knowing that there were hundreds of little, living beings waiting on us to feed their hungry bellies. With this motivation, we stretched, yawned and made feeding them our first priority of the day. As we were wandering over to the chicken coop one morning, I looked at Chase’s curly locks of hair and screeched, “Chase, I think a bird pooped in your hair!” He noticed the white liquid dripping from the ends, touched it with his finger and then licked it. Yes, he licked it. Luckily, he informed me that it was just sunscreen and to this day, I am still unsure whether he knew it all along or if he was prepared to taste bird poop. 

Chase and I became more efficient with the daily chores as the week progressed. Chase mixed the morning feed for the chickens as I gave them fresh water. Once the chickens were distracted with the morning meal, I collected eggs. The chickens provide us with about 10 dozen eggs per day – which equates to 840 eggs per week! Nancy sells these eggs to eager customers in Winnipeg every two weeks for $4.00/dozen.

Chase and I look forward to saying good morning to the little piggies. They are always squealing around and trying to say hello to us as we feed them breakfast. The pigs have grown so much since we arrived on the farm and they are getting a little too pig for their current pen – they have been tearing holes under the fence, moving their feeders all around, and pushing against the walls. Lorne has a whole field fenced off for them, but before we can let them run around, we had to teach them to “fear the wire.” Training camp started this week, when we hooked an electric wire up to a post in the center of the pen. For the first few pigs who begin to sniff around this new device, they get quite the surprise when they hit the wire. Squeal! Squeal! Although it is never fun to hear an animal in pain, I know it is for their benefit because tomorrow we will be able to let them run free for the rest of the summer. 

Our week ended with a celebration of the Summer Solstice at Geoff and Theresa’s inspiring Boundary Creek Farm. Geoff and Theresa have been farming for 11 years now and are committed to trying any and all sustainable farming methods that they read about. This has resulted in a dynamic, successful farm that provides their customers with eggs, chicken, pork, garlic, honey and a bounty of vegetables. We saw, first-hand, how much their customers respect their famers by the sheer number of them that traveled 50 miles from Winnipeg to spend the evening on the farm. The potluck dinner was incredible, Theresa’s mint tea was heavenly and the bonfire, spectacular. 

Uh-Oh, I just got Meat Shouldered

In our pursuit to uncover unique tales of Canadian life, we recently heard about a hilarious new trend that is sweeping the Social scene. Socials are Manitoba’s form of an engagement party, but in Manitoba the couple actually profits from the party. Here is how it works: the couple finds a location, brings food, obtains a one day liquor license, and invites all of their friends to celebrate their engagement. Any and all funds they make on selling drinks goes directly towards the cost of the wedding. Genius, right?
Word of warning: if you ever find yourself attending a social in Manitoba, beware of  “meat-shouldering.” The act of meat-shouldering involves an individual stealthy placing a piece of sandwich meat on a person’s shoulder without getting caught. It is, inevitably, quite amusing to follow the “meat-shouldered” individual around to see how long they last without noticing their newfound Salami friend sitting on their shoulder. Although most Manitobans are familiar with the game, I have been told that Canadian Broadcasting Corporation celebrity host, Jian Ghomeshi, recently attended a social in California where he was shocked and disgusted to discover a piece of sandwich meat on his shoulder. His outburst has been a source of amusement for many Canadians and will, I am certain, only prove to further popularize the meat shouldering movement. 

After further researching this new trend, I have found that the degree of commitment to the game of Meat Shoulder profoundly varies among individuals. To some, this is simply a fun game to be played at social functions. To others, this is a game with strict rules where only the most “adept players will be crowned victorious, and the rest will be left in shame and humiliation.” To all of my American friends who are considering inviting me to their next social function, I may or may not be packing meat. 

We have now been dating for the same length as the longest conclave in Vatican history – three years, and the smoke is still burning!

Chase:Hello! Today is June 14th – Dana and my three year anniversary. It has been a great day, but rainier then the dickens! For the last week we have been doing a lot a different jobs around the farm. We bent 60 pipes to build the hoops that we covered with reemay, potted plants in the greenhouse and helped get the tractor out of the manure as best we could. We also had to do our first load of laundry this week and we watched them dry in the warm Canadian breeze. But, my favorite part of the week must have been playing the alphabet game with Dana while we weeded a single row of garlic for an hour – and I am not lying! It is good to know I can still have fun just playing in the dirt and talking to my best friend.  

Dana:Our second week has already come to end. It is so great to be working in a role that is different each and every day. Chase and I couldn’t be happier! We have been eating delicious, homegrown food, we have been working on rewarding projects, and we have been able to spend every moment with each other. Chase mentioned above that we “potted plants in the greenhouse,” but he failed to mention that I had actually potted 65 plants in the sweltering greenhouse while he worked on a construction project in the refreshing shadows. Quite the accomplishment! Hopefully all of the little eggie-plants and pepper poos will come up strong. I only worry because there were a few incidents when I was forced to play God, alter evolution, sentence someone to the death penalty – not sure how to put it, but I sure had power. This madness occurred due to two little seeds being planted in the same starter dish. This resulted in two plants fighting for the same space. I wasn’t about to continue this madness in the larger pots, so I had to decide – who was going to live and whose roots were going to be up-rooted? My decision didn’t reach any higher level of thinking than, “which plant looks the strongest?” Such a basic and Darwinist way of deciding life and death. We shall never know which plant truly was the strongest, but I hope the ones that lived, live a happy, moist, and sunshine filled life.

Chase:As you can see, I think Dana spent a little too much time in that greenhouse. Although, I did find it interesting how bad she felt sometimes when she would take out the little seedling over the big one. That cry-baby face that I have grown to love would come out and she would let out a little, fake cry and, “pluck,” out he went.  On the other hand, she was sometimes very ruthless – with a witch’s cackle, she would grab three stray strands of grass and tear them out of the dirt like a hungry goat.
Dana:Wow, what a funny guy Chase is today. I am watching him eat a pound of granola (thanks, Dad) as he laughs out loud about the jokes he just made above, which are sad but true. I am such a lucky girl and he is such a hungry guy. Happy three years!
What do you all think about the new layout? Stay tuned for our video recap this weekend! 


Witnessing the World

We woke up to another beautiful morning on the farm. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and, best of all, the wind was brisk and warm. I just knew this was going to be a good day. It may not be surprising but one of my favorite things about working outdoors, rather than in an office, is the ability to experience the day. Being surrounded by four walls all day, you forget how warm the sun gets and how much the wind is appreciated during the afternoon hours.

In fact, you forget a lot of things about nature when sitting inside all day and I am slowly learning them again. The thing I learned today was how to complete a task and take pleasure in the task itself, rather than just the pleasure of crossing it off my list. Does this sound familiar to you? I go about my life making so many lists that all I think about when working is how I am going to get the next thing on my list done. In my former life, I worked like a drone, just trying to accomplish the task at hand as fast and efficient as possible. While this may make the ideal employee, for me, it felt like the world was going by and I wasn’t even experiencing it.

Today, we had the task of planting tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplants. Instead of just planting, planting, planting, I actually took the time to feel the dirt on my hands and the way it tickled my skin when it went down my shirt. I noticed all of the life that was living in the soil as it squirmed around my hands. I heard the birds singing their lovely songs in the trees and wished I could carry a tune. I feel so much better at the end of a day, when I know that I witnessed the day first-hand. In my prior life, I would go days without spending more than five minutes in the sunlight. I would leave the house when the sun was still sleeping and I would get home after the sun had gone down. This life seems so sad to me now and I truly hope I never have to live like that again.

The glory of the day continued well after our planting was done. Chase and I wandered over to our favorite animals on the farm, the pigs, and filled their home with fresh straw. They delighted in the wonder of this new, fresh, fun and began to shuffle and sniff it around their home. I could spend a whole day playing with pigs. They are just like people – shy at first, confident with friends and curious as a cat. Everyday I spend time with them and everyday they grow a little more comfortable with me rubbing their backs and touching their wet snouts. One day, I know that they will become dinner, but for now they are my dirty, smelly friends.

When Lorne noticed my love for the pigs, he mentioned that Chase and I are just like Abner and Daisy Mae, a satirical comic that appeared in newspapers from 1934 – 1977. In the comic, Daisy Mae loves the pigs almost as much as she loves Li’l Abner.



Chicken Coop Clean-Up

Warning: if you have recently eaten or have a weak stomach, stop reading now.

I have always thought of myself as having a tough stomach. I grew up dissecting dead animals we found in the woods, I have assisted in gynecological surgical procedures and I ate my way through the back alley streets of Peru without any problems. Yet, nothing prepared me for the stench of cleaning out a chicken coop.

New Morning Farm has hundreds of chicken. There are the fluffy baby chicks that still cling to one another when they go outdoors, contrasted nicely by the featherless ‘things’ that have been in so many chicken fights it’s amazing they are still alive. All of these chickens live in separate pens in the chicken coop and all of these chickens have active digestive systems. Every couple of months someone is honored with the task of scrapping up and shoveling out the excrements. We were the lucky couple this time!

I rarely admit defeat, but this coop defeated me.

I blazed into the coop, pitchfork in hand, mask securely fastened to my face and ready to clean up the crap. Ten minutes in, I was doing all I could to stop myself from gagging every time I lifted up a new pile of waste. Suddenly, my gallant knight in rubber boots strode in to relieve me of my task and finish up the coop himself. All I had to do was keep shoveling the manure into the wheelbarrow and bring it to the tractor. An hour later, Chase emerged from the coop without any signs of disgust. What a brave boyfriend I have.

I took a final peak inside the coop and, surprisingly, I could see the bare wood floor. Chase’s ability to fight through the smell resulted in a beautifully clean home for the chickens. We layered in fresh straw and let the chickens back into their shiny new home. I am still deciding whether the deliciousness of fresh eggs is worth the disgust, but I am leaning towards yes – especially with Chase in the picture.

Cheezies, Choir and Coca Cola


Today, Dana and I slept in until 9:50AM! Although, to be honest, the other mornings we only woke up as early as 8:00AM. Turns out farmers don’t always have to wake up at the crack of dawn. We are getting very comfortable with our first farm family, Nancy and Lorne Hall. We have learned so much about Canadian traditions and political systems. They took us into the town of Gimli today to help with some flower planting and window washing at a local senior citizen home. Afterwards, Lorne and I went to clean up some grass clippings and he introduced me to the local snack “Cheezies.” It is similar to Cheetos but, I must say, far better – especially with a nice, ice-cold Coca Cola from a glass bottle, which Lorne says feels great on your lips and I completely agree. Lorne explained that Cheezies only have one advertising scheme, they make smaller versions of their snacks for Halloween so that they can be handed out to children. Cheezies are also coveted for their top secret method of making no individual Cheezie the same. Each one has a unique and different shape, making it one of Canada’s leading ladies in the snack food isle. 

Giant Mosquito in Komarno, Manitoba
Next, we stopped by the giant mosquito in the town of Komarno – which means mosquito in Ukrainian. The mosquito was created to commemorate the worst mosquito season in history. Cattle in the area didn’t even breed that season because they were too busy trying to get the mosquitos off of themselves. Officials reported that the mosquitos reached a peak of 30 bites per minute. 

We headed home for a delicious lunch of stuffed peppers and cucumber salad. Lorne and Nancy informed us that tonight they had choir rehearsal, which we were welcome to attend. We were excited for what the night would bring. Our lunch stretched on a bit and we began to feel bad for being too chatty, so we set out to finish weeding the raspberry patch. Dana and I are particularly proud of this project because it is the crop that Lorne is most proud of and we felt honored to help him. 

After finishing up our work for the day, we headed in for another incredible meal. All of the meals that Nancy cooks are made from scratch, with the majority of the ingredients coming from the farm. Today we had delicious meatloaf, made from the cows they raise, baked potatoes, cooked cucumbers and the world’s best coleslaw (sorry Dana). Her coleslaw had apples mixed in with the cabbage – I don’t know how I have been missing this my entire life. 

After quick showers, we all changed into our Sunday best and traveled a short distance to a neighbor’s farm. On the way there we drove passed an airport, where the famed Gimli Glider made an emergency landing due to the crew miscalculating the fuel based on the imperial system rather than the newly adopted metric system. Apparently, this exact plane was recently put up on the auction block but did not garner enough bidding to sell.

As we pulled into the farm, just in time for choir practice, we were not sure what to expect. But, we should not have had any reservations, because this was another group of welcoming, smiling faces. The choir consisted of 15 men, women, and children from around the community. The choir director asked Dana and I if we were soprano, alto, tenor, or bass, We looked at each other with nervous faces and told him we didn’t know. He placed us where he thought we might fit and for the next two hours we practiced our singing. Everyone was talented and supportive and so we ended another fulfilling and fun day on the farm. 

Choir practice
Just finished planting beans


Locked Up A-Blog

Well, we have now entered Canada – I wouldn’t exactly say that we were welcomed in, but they allowed us into their country for 30 days. Why, you may ask, are we only allowed for 30 days? Because we lied. While it is no excuse for common sense, there was some logic behind our madness.

The program that we are farming with is called WOOF-Canada and if you check out their website, they make it seem like telling boarder patrols the truth about your intentions to farm in Canada will cause them to deny you entry. That being said, we crafted a little story about staying with a family friend in Canada. Yes, we risked a $10,000 fine and time in jail just because we thought we would be able to “out-smart” the border patrols.

As we drove through the entrance to Canada we were greeted by a nice woman who asked us quite a few questions about our travel plans. We thought that we were doing great and that we would be off to farming in Canada in only a few short minutes. We were wrong. She directed us to park our car and wait for an officer. The first officer had us remove all belongings from our car and tell him more about our plans in Canada. So far, so good, the story was holding up and we had only slightly lied about our true intentions of farming. Next, we headed back inside to talk with another officer about our plans. This is where it all started going downhill.

The officer asked who we were staying with and I told him, “A family friend.” He accepted this answer and asked for her contact information. I had her contact information in an email printed in my car as well as in an email on my phone. He wanted to see the one on my phone – in fact, he wanted to search my whole phone. He told us to take a seat while he “did a little digging.” This is when I knew we were in trouble, because the email chain contained information stating that the border patrols have become a bit strict lately and that it would be better if we did not tell them about our farming intentions.

The minute he called me up to the desk I knew he knew the truth. He wasn’t some bifocal-wearing, old man who couldn’t use an iPhone if Steve Jobs were personally tutoring him. This was Officer Generation X, just waiting to bust us. The moment I realized this, I burst into tears. Not just a single, strategic tear that would show my sincerity – more like uncontrollable crying. He called Chase up to the desk at this time to answer the questions that I was trying to get out between sniffles and sobs.

We told him the truth. After he did more “digging” on Chase’s phone, he confirmed that our farming story was the truth. He informed us of the severity of lying to an officer and told us that he would only allow us to stay in the country for 30 days, after which we would have to leave or risk arrest. We have never felt so bad in our entire lives. We asked if we could speak to the first officer once more so that we could apologize – I was crying throughout this apology too. Embarrassing. As he was stamping our final paperwork to send us on our way, he began to discuss the rules of volunteering in Canada. Chase finally got him to crack a smile when he noticed my tears starting to well-up again and said, “Oh no, if we don’t leave now you are going to get round three of tears.” Officer Generation X laughed and sent us on our way.

To Canada and Beyond

Our trip officially began yesterday!  We are excited to meet new people and learn all about sustainable agriculture over the next year. Below are a couple of statistics to measure our progress as we go!

Trip Stats:

Miles on Honda Civic: 54,622

Blog Pageviews: 1,067
Gas Stations: 1 
Farms Visited: 0
Art Sold: 0
Dana’s Facebook Friends: 1,078
Chase’s Facebook Friends: 221
Woodticks: 1

Stay tuned for our horrific border crossing experience in the next blog entry.