Harvest began on August 1. By August 26, Neil and his parents were finished harvesting the peas, lentils, canola, and durum, and only had chickpeas left. Neil's dad finished harvesting the chickpeas sometime last week, except for some spots with heavy Kochia. I understand the crops were pretty good.
I'm so glad the harvest was relatively short and Neil didn't have to stay at the farm much this year. (Last year, they harvested almost continuously for seven and a half weeks.) Plus, it was fantastic -- and I'm very thankful -- that Ross, a relative from Alberta, was there to help with harvest, especially when Neil couldn't be there (when I was sick or he had classes).
The farm has been on the market for several months now. Here's the listing: MLS #225062.
Regarding Neil's real estate endeavour: He attended a six-day course this month for which he'll write four exams tomorrow (September 25). He also sent in his Phase 2 assignment last Tuesday, and he'll write that exam on Monday, October 2. After that, providing he gets at least 70% on everything (and I have no doubt he will), Neil will be able to get his license!
Neil has already had his photo taken for cards, advertising, etc. (I'm dying to see how it turned out!) Also, before he can start working for Century 21 Conexus Realty (Regina South), he has to provide them with 200 names and addresses for an announcement letter. (So, if I know you and you live in or near Regina, don't be surprised if you get one!)
We had our new bathroom window installed on Monday morning and 10 minutes after the installer left, I noticed the window frame was not level. Not even close. I called the company right away and the installer came back that afternoon. He determined that the window was defective. How annoying. Neil and I agreed we wouldn't be happy with the crooked window (especially since we're tiling up to it) and said we'd like a new one even though it would be a major pain in the butt to wait another six to seven weeks to have one manufactured. Anywho, I received a call this morning and they're sending someone out on Monday to take the window out, try to fix it, and put it back in. I hope it works.
On Tuesday morning, I grouted the wall tiles we put up last week (one wall of the shower area and behind the toilet and sink). That was more challenging than I expected (of course), but it turned out okay I guess. Neil went to his first Phase II (Residential Real Estate) class in the afternoon.
I took the girls to Yellow Grass on Wednesday and we stayed overnight. My aunt Janet was visiting from Ottawa. It was great to see her as well as my YG family (except Robyn who's in San Antonio with her mom). In the afternoon, we went to my parents' farm to see the bison. This is one of the bulls.
Neil was at the farm (at Avonlea) harvesting all day Wednesday, Thursday, and today. He just got home a few minutes ago. I'm pleased to report that I managed to get all three girls to sleep last night and tonight fairly early and without any major problems. I find that so exhausting! Also, I never know how it's going to go. Neil is better at getting the girls to sleep, especially Sophia and Georgia. Unfortunately, I have to do it solo again tomorrow because there's a Rider home game. Ah, but I'm going to a Stampin' Up! party Sunday evening and Neil will be on his own. I'm SO looking forward to that party! And not just because it's an evening out, but because I have so much fun stamping with this group.
We're going to try to get more bathroom work done tomorrow. We hope to apply sealer to the floor and wall grout and work on toilet plumbing. Can't wait to have a toilet up here!
I have a really sore neck and back right now. Guess I should try to see my chiropractor tomorrow too.
In other news, Neil was at the farm swathing all day Wednesday and Thursday, and yesterday we did some more tiling. Have I mentioned that renovating a bathroom is NOT fun?! Still lots to do (tiling, plumbing, trim, sink and toilet installation), but I can see the end. The new window is to be installed on Monday.
(I started drafting this a week ago, but we've been so busy, I just couldn't get back to it. Hope I can also find time soon to write about the Antiques Road Show, Sophia's preschool graduation, and more.)
Neil and his Dad seeded durum, lentils, peas, canola, and large and small Kabuli chickpeas this year. Seeding went fairly well except for a few equipment breakdowns. It's been raining off and on over the past week, so that's good news for the crops.
They started seeding on May 2 and finished on May 19 -- about half as long as their usual seeding time. I'm so glad it's done! I'm also glad it wasn't continuous; Neil was home four or five days during that period. The final stretch of five days straight was tough though. I'm so thankful for Laurel's help on Wednesday evening (she took Sophia shopping while I took the other two to Madeline's swimming lesson) and Mom's help on Friday (between Sophia's swimming lesson and preschool). It helped keep me sane.
I find solo parenting so exhausting and challenging (whine, whine, whine). Hats off to anyone who has to do it frequently. I think it's especially difficult for me right now because I still spend a lot of time nursing Georgia. It drives me crazy if I have to delay feeding Georgia while I tend to the other two, or if I don't know what the other two are doing while I'm busy feeding Georgia. Sophia and Madeline still need a lot of supervision! I also learned that, on my own, it takes no less than 90 minutes to dress and feed four people (the girls and me), do the girls' hair, and get us out the door in the morning.
As the farm business winds down, Neil is taking steps toward a new career in real estate. How'd this happen? Basically, the opportunity presented itself and Neil jumped on it (the truth is he needed a little push, but the point is, he's doing it!). Here's how it all went down.
A few days after we learned the farm business was ending, I started looking at job postings, both online and in the newspaper. We had also picked up calendars for SIAST and the U of R, and Neil went through some career quizzes online. It was a very confusing and stressful time.
I bounced many ideas off Neil but he was less than enthusiastic about them (quite understandably, I was a bit more keen on choosing a new career for Neil than he was). Then I saw a posting for Century 21 Dome Realty. When I mentioned it to Neil, he didn't dismiss the idea. I think he said, "I guess I could do that," which is about as much enthusiasm as Neil could muster for anything at the time. For a few more days, we continued to be confused about what path Neil should pursue (there were several on the table), but when all was said and done, this seemed like the right direction.
We prepared Neil's resume and a cover letter and sent them in. Neil then called the hiring manager and she scheduled an interview. She wasn't able to meet with him for almost three weeks, but when they finally met, she said she was interested in having Neil join their team. I think Neil's pretty lucky: one resume, one cover letter, one phone call, and one interview -- you can't beat that! It's not an instant job by any means, but that's fine. We have to pay for the training and it takes about three months, so it'll still be awhile before Neil starts working, but it worked out nicely that he was able to help with seeding.
Neil is now taking the real estate training courses. They're self-study courses, but he can also go for some classroom instruction on Tuesday mornings. He's attending his third class right now. In order to get his license, Neil will have to pass assignments and an exam with a minimum grade of 70%. I know he can do it! So, if anyone needs a Realtor in the Regina area (after a couple months), please keep Neil in mind!
May has always been an extra busy month for us due to seeding. This particular May is certainly no exception; in fact, in may be the craziest May ever.
I suppose I should give a quick update on the farm situation: The land went up for sale a month ago and they sold 1.5 sections. They're also not renting 1.5 sections they had previously rented, so they're down three sections, but they still have to seed about three sections (I think). It's going to take about two weeks and they're starting tomorrow. Can't say I'm thrilled about that -- not only because Neil will be away, but also because it means spending (risking) more money. I guess they have to do it though; they can't let the land lie fallow (I'm sure there's a good reason, but I don't know what it is).
I knew they were planning to seed, but I didn't know when they were going to start and I really didn't want to think about it. I may have been subconsciously hoping a miracle would occur and Neil wouldn't have to go. So when I learned this weekend that they were going to start seeding this week, I whined enough to have Neil stay in the city for one more day (today). Well, I think we made the most of it.
Last Monday the bomb dropped: Neil and his parents won't be farming anymore.
It has been a difficult couple of weeks for all of us. Many tears have been shed. When I had a few minutes last week, I jotted down my thoughts (see "Continue reading..." below). I'd like to change half of it now, but I won't. That's how I felt that day. I don't feel quite so well now.
Now there's a knot in my stomach that won't go away. I feel like I'm holding my breath much of the time. The stinking reality of the situation has sunk in. And if I feel this bad, it must be excruciating for Neil and his parents. I'm sure we have all experienced a wide range of emotions -- none of them good, except perhaps a tinge of relief (I may be the only one though). I can't even explain how it feels (I don't really want to), but this website does a pretty good job. Basically, it's a lot of grieving for many types of losses. On top of that, we're facing the fact that my maternity leave income is not enough to live on for the next nine months. There probably wouldn't have been enough income from the farm this year anyway, but for some strange reason, it's a hell of a lot easier to continue hoping (or pretending) there would be.
We are taking steps. We created a resume for Neil this week and sent it to a prospective employer today. It was a difficult first step, especially for Neil, and yet when I think of all that needs to happen with the farm over the following year, it seems like such a small thing. Many challenges lie ahead. I could go on and on, but I won't.
Instead, I give you my new favourite quote (which I just happened upon this week):
Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist, but also the ability to start over.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Neil and his Dad finished combining last evening! That was so good to hear. Now if only the harvest would produce some much-needed cash. We'll see.The harvest took seven and a half weeks this year. It's unusual for the harvest to be so steady with no real breaks. There are often breaks while waiting for certain crops to ripen, but not this year. They may even have finished a week or so earlier if not for a few equipment breakdowns and the odd little rain. I'm so happy it's done now (and it is convenient timing for me), but I think a few longer breaks would have been nice. We're all very tired.
The city strike ended on the weekend and the leisure centres will open again soon. The one where I had registered the girls for swimming lessons will open early next week, so I think the girls' lessons may begin as early as next Tuesday (Madeline on Tuesdays and Sophia on Thursdays). The city website says dates for registered programs will be adjusted. I'm so glad Neil will be more available to help with this. I couldn't have handled it on my own this month.
The temperature dipped to minus seven last night. I hope that doesn't mark the end of this nice weather we've been having! After work yesterday, I picked all of the tomatoes that were at least starting to turn colour, about 30. I probably left twice as many green ones out there, but I don't have time to process a bunch of tomatoes. Neil picked all of the jalepeno peppers on Sunday, so they're in the fridge, and there's nothing else edible (except basil) in the garden that would be hurt by the frost. I made some of our favourite fresh salsa on Sunday with our own tomatoes, peppers, and red onions. We'll certainly make a few more batches with our bounty.
I have to attend the Annual General Meeting for the Preschool Fine Arts tonight. It is my last duty as a board member for that preschool. If you recall any of the trials and tribulations I went through with my position last year (for example, see Lessons learned), you'll know I'm positively ecstatic about this coming to an end! I have already purged 918 preschool email messages from my computer. Yes, 918, including both sent and received. It was craziness. Way too much work. It will be nice to see the other board members tonight (they are nice people), but otherwise, I wish I didn't have to go. Oh well. The nice thing is that Neil is coming home today, so I don't have to take the girls with me or over to Laurel's. It will also be great to have a break from putting the girls to bed! I find that to be the most difficult part of the day--when I'm very tired and they're not very cooperative.
P.S. For a good laugh, see What have I done? in which I speculate that I may have made the wrong decision in volunteering to be the preschool volunteer coordinator.
I do not understand my child. She was fine when I left her at preschool (but I had rearranged my lunch hour so I could stay with her for awhile and I was there for 30 minutes), and she was happy when I picked her up from preschool (in fact, she recited the numbers one to eight in French all the way to Sharon's house and I was so proud of her!), but then after I hugged her and said I'll be back in a couple of hours to take her to dance class, Sophia would not go into Sharon's house. She ran as far as she could from the door, about 40 feet, and refused to go into the house. She said she wanted to go with me, and of course, nothing I said made her budge. I ended up half lifting half dragging her into Sharon's house and then Sharon had to hold her to stop her from coming after me. I learned later that she screamed for an hour after I left. I feel so sorry for Sharon at times like this.
After work, I took her to dance class and while she was happy the whole time, she was behaving pretty poorly; not listening to me mainly. Then this evening when it was time for her bath, she refused to cooperate, but she had to have one. So I caught her in the living room, took her to the tub and washed her from head to toe, all against her will. And if you know my daughter--practically 50 pounds of solid muscle--you know that was no easy feat. It drives me nuts that I should have to overpower her to get things done, but honestly, I don't know what else to do sometimes. Not only do I dislike doing it on principle, it's physically very difficult. My back ached during that bathing episode, and I just hope I didn't injure it.
I can't stand being the only one dealing with this. I need Neil to finish harvest soon and be here to help with this crap. They'll be done in about a week. This week of harvest, week seven, may be the longest *#&!#$* week of my life.
Neil came in from the farm yesterday afternoon because it was too damp to combine and my splurge club was meeting at 6:00 p.m. As always, I enjoyed getting together with my friends (the cheesecake was great too!). We're not going to have our clothing or splurge club this year (where we put money into a draw each month), but we are going to get together on the third Friday of every month. That's mainly what it's all about for the core group of us anyway.
I managed to make it through half of this pregnancy without getting sick at all, but now I've come down with a cold. Grrrr! I had a terrible sleep last night for various reasons and my cold got much worse overnight. That really sucks because I have so many things to do today. Mainly, I'm going to get groceries this morning
before Neil goes back to the farm (he's not going now!), then the girls and I we have two birthday parties to attend this afternoon. (Oh yes, I want them to finish harvest ASAP as much as anyone, but my immediate desire to have Neil at home with us is always more overwhelming--especially now that I'm sickly and unrested. What a life saver!)
For anyone wondering how Sophia did at preschool yesterday... she was fine, but Madeline and I had to stay for over 45 minutes. It did take some coaxing to get her into the classroom in the first place but she didn't cry at all, both when we went in and when Madeline and I said goodbye. When we picked Sophia up the teacher said she was happy all the time we weren't there; it's just that transition time she's having difficulty with. Also, I must say, this teacher is wonderful!!! I've seen a bit of her teaching now and it's awesome. She's great with the kids and she's so organized. I love it and I'm learning more French too!
I can hardly believe it's September already! I sure hope harvest is over soon, because our calendar is FULL and I'm going to need all the help I can get. Unfortunately, the combine broke down on Monday night with only 20 acres of lentils left to harvest. Then it rained yesterday. I think they had .7 inches at the farm, and we had 1.8 inches here in Regina. Hopefully, they can get going again soon. Nevertheless, I was sure happy to see Neil here at home Tuesday evening and all day yesterday. I've been so tired, it was a huge relief to have some help at home. I am very very busy at work these days, so I think that may be contributing to my exhaustion.
Perhaps in a moment of insanity, we've added another activity to our fall schedule and registered Sophia in Irish dance classes with the Prairie Gael Dancers. We had been interested in that for a couple of years as we really enjoy their performances at Mosaic every year. Laurel dug up the information we needed and registered Bronwyn too, so Sophia and Bronwyn will be in the class together this fall. The classes are Wednesdays at 5:30 to 6:15 pm starting next week. That means we'll have to go straight from Sharon's house to the class, but I think that'll be better than going home and trying to have supper and get going again within a short period of time (as with soccer in the spring and swimming this fall). Sophia has not been in any dance class since Feb 2004 and she still asks occasionally when she's going to go to dance class again. I think she'll enjoy it.
Swimming lessons were supposed to start next week too (Madeline on Tuesdays and Sophia on Thursdays), but that is looking very doubtful. The City of Regina inside, outside, and transit workers launched a full-scale strike yesterday and it doesn't sound like they'll resolve their labour dispute anytime soon. That means no swimming lessons (or garbage pickup, bus service, etc.) until it's settled. Hope they work it out soon.
Sophia has been doing pretty well controlling her tantrums. Two weeks ago we introduced a new reward for her. At the end of a tantrum-free day, Sophia gets a red poker chip. When she has collected 25 poker chips, she'll get to buy a "special toy". She's really looking forward to that. I'm not sure yet what the value of that toy will be. She can also earn white poker chips by helping with household chores, but so far she only has one of those. Madeline also gets a blue poker chip whenever Sophia gets a red one, but it doesn't mean anything--she's just happy to get one! Right now, Sophia has 10 red chips, so she's had 10 good days out of 14. I think she only had one tantrum on each of the four days she didn't earn one. That's not bad.
Time to eat breakfast and get the day rolling! I have a big day at work today and a preschool meeting tonight (preschool starts next week too). Then I have four days off. Yay!
I'm not feeling very enthusiastic or excited about work these days, but I know I will have a nice long break from it in only five months. Maternity leave will be a welcome change of lifestyle for me, as it was the last two times. Every now and then I get really restless for a change, and I know I'm lucky--so few people ever have the opportunity to leave their job for a whole year. I know that next year will be a LOT of work for me and that doesn't bother me at all; it's the change I'm looking forward to.
I think my current lack of enthusiasm for work also has something do with not being able to keep up with all of the other work I need to do at home. My theory is that as general life chaos increases, one's enthusiasm for work (outside the home) decreases. It's difficult to focus. A former GM of my company once said (10 years ago I'm sure) that to be completely productive at work, the socks in his dresser drawer had to be in order. That stuck with me for some reason. I guess because it rings true for me. I'm also disappointed that a big project I was looking forward to working on has been delayed until late this year or even January, so I'll probably be working on the same old stuff until I go.
I'm feeling less than thrilled with our house right now. It seems too small and too cluttered. I'm envious of larger newer homes, but I really don't want to move. I certainly don't want a bigger mortgage. I know we can live in this house, I just have figure out how to reduce or organize the stuff that's taking up precious space. For example, I can't walk through my house without tripping on shoes. Shoes are driving my crazy. We need to put them somewhere, but where?! I need to do something about this soon, because as it is, I don't think there's room in our house for five people's shoes! And that's just one thing that's bugging me about the state of our house right now.
I'm looking forward to meeting this new little person I'm carrying. Sometimes (like Tuesday evening), I'm quite certain that having a third child is complete insanity. Most of the time, however, I have no doubts about it. It may not always seem like the most rational decision, but in my heart, it's the right decision. It won't be easy, but we can handle it.
I'm never really happy when Neil is staying at the farm and I'm on my own with the kids, but harvest is a fact of life for us and I'd like them to get it overwith--the sooner, the better. I'm cautiously optimistic that this year's harvest will bring some badly-needed income. If it doesn't, we're going to be in big trouble when my income is reduced by 50% next year. I don't want to think about that though. There's really nothing I can do about it right now except try to cut back on spending, but so far I can't think of much to cut back on. (I did learn this week that there's a big market for renting out garage space to people who need to store their boats and such. I wouldn't mind doing that for extra money. Heck, we haven't parked in our garage for over three years anyway! We just need to clear out some stuff and I've been wanting to do that for a long time.)
Finally, I'm wondering what to do about Sophia's tantrums and demanding behaviour. I've read a bit about temper tantrums this week, and I think I need to determine what triggers her anger and frustration and what I need to do to curtail or minimize her tantrums. I also need to figure out how to deal with it when she's having a tantrum or making demands. She doesn't act so badly every day, so I wonder what makes one day different from the next? This week is a good example. Tuesday was horrid while Wednesday was just fine, but there was one big difference--Bronwyn was at our house Wednesday evening and the girls had fun together the whole time. In other words, Sophia was busy--not bored--and didn't want my attention every five seconds. Yesterday was so-so; Sophia had an hour-long tantrum at Sharon's and then another when we were leaving, but was pretty well-behaved at home. It seems so unpredictable, yet there must be some common conditions. Well, this is a topic that requires a whole lot more thought, and probably its own post.
We're on the verge of seeding--perhaps early next week (flurries are forecast for later this week). Some farmers have already started; my Dad began seeding on Saturday. I heard the first crop report this morning. One percent of crops in Saskatchewan are planted.
Ahhh, spring seeding. It sounds kind of nice, doesn't it? A new beginning. New growth. Hope for the future. Hope for profitability.
No, not for me. I can say those words, but I don't feel them. What I feel is my chest tightening, my jaw clenching, and my entire body stiffening at the thought of it. I dread spring seeding, and I don't even do the actual work of it.
To me, spring seeding means being a single parent for six days a week (for probably six weeks now and then again for two months in the fall). It means losing money, losing my spare time, and losing my sanity. I'm sorry I can't be more supportive to my husband's career choice. Perhaps I'd be more positive if I thought it would be worth it--that we'd have something to show for it in the end. But I don't. I don't expect to see one cent from it.
Oh dear, I sound awfully bitter. I just had to get that off my chest though.
Well, this is more like it. I've done most of the things I had to do yesterday and today, and now I'm just relaxing a bit while Madeline naps. Neil took Sophia to the farm today for the last day of combining. :-) She has been asking to ride the combine every other day for the past month, so I'm glad she had another chance. I'm really enjoying this quiet moment!
One of the more urgent things I had to do this weekend was to plan in more detail a birthday album I'm making for Sharon (the girls' babysitter) and get special paper distributed to the other families whose children attend/ed Sharon's Childcare. They are to write a message (thank you, happy birthday, whatever) on the paper and then give it back to me along with a photo of their child and some money for a gift. I'll compile everything into a mini scrapbook album before Sharon's 40th birthday which is on the 28th. I was able to give the paper and instructions to seven out of eight families yesterday and today, and I should see the eighth mom on Monday. Whew! I had to do this before our trip to Edmonton (Tuesday).
I also did my preschool volunteer work yesterday--about two hours worth--so that's out of the way too. For now.
Neil just called... they are finished harvest!!! (except for the seed cleaning, cleanup, etc.)
I'd better get back to my chores now. It never ends, of course, but at least I had a little break.
As of yesterday, 51% of the crop had been harvested in Saskatchewan. The five-year average was 86%, and last year at this time, 99% was in the bin. Neil says we're further along than 51% on our farm; perhaps 65%. They finished harvesting peas and lentils a couple of weeks ago and have since been waiting for the other crops to ripen. In the meantime, they swathed quite a bit more than usual.
Though there had been heavy frosts all around, our crops seemed to have escaped a killing frost until this past weekend. Now, ready or not, all crops are dead.
They've been combining durum the past couple of days with pretty good results. Neil thought it was running about 45 bushels to the acre. That's a very good yield. I was going to say it will be nice to have some farm income, but it's more accurate to say it'll be nice to pay down some of the debt.
After the durum, they'll harvest canola, large chickpeas, mustard, and small chickpeas. Hopefully, our harvest will be finished in the third week of October. Thankfully, the weather is cooperating. Tomorrow is supposed to reach a high of 26 Celcius--10 degrees higher than normal for this time of year!
A blogging friend, Misty (one of my favourite bloggers, by the way), asked me what we grow on the farm and what we're harvesting right now, so I thought I'd answer those questions right here for anyone else who's interested. Also, I meant to use this blog to record things like this anyway, so I should have mentioned it sooner!
This year we grew canola (200 acres), large Kabuli and small Kabuli chick peas (garbonzo beans) (680 acres), green peas (600 acres), large green lentils (1120 acres), yellow mustard (480 acres), and durum (1420 acres). I use the term "we" loosely since I don't do any of the actual farm work, but I do have a vested interest!
For us (Sharptail Ridge Farm), harvest started on September 3 and has been going fairly steady for 10 days. (That's when they started using the combine; some fields were desiccated--i.e., sprayed to kill/dry the plants--earlier.) With everything being so late this year, we've been very fortunate to have a neighbour helping (and using his combine as well) because his crops aren't ready yet.
So far, all of the peas have been harvested, and as of this evening, all of the lentils except 60 acres because they weren't dry enough yet. Next will be the mustard, but they don't expect it to be ready for a few days or perhaps a week.
It would be nice if everything was ready to harvest because it's always better to have the crop in the bin rather than sitting in the field vulnerable to frost, rain, or snow (yes, it's possible at this time of year), but I will appreciate having a bit of a break from single-parenting!
I've had an extremely busy three days and I'm so very tired right now. There's no way I can get into details of the weekend thus far, but I just have to get this one bit down...
Neil had to work today (which is unusual because they rarely work Sundays, but harvest is so behind right now, it's important they keep going while the weather is cooperating), so I was on my own to get the household chores done and watch the kids. Whether I like it or not, Sunday is our day for laundry and groceries and it has to get done on Sunday or it just won't get done.
It seems Madeline's at that age where you just can't take your eyes off of her or she'll be doing something or getting into something she's not supposed to. Usually it's something like getting a cup, filling it with drinking water, and then spilling it all over the floor.