“Become dust - & they will throw thee in the air; Become stone - & they will throw thee on glass." Muhammad Iqbal *Beyond the bushes, boiling with dust, is 4Shoes West boundary road.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Bringing in the Sheaves

Here in MB, Canada it has been a dry year. 
MB is the home of a thousand lakes... it's not like we've been drought stricken, but it's been dry enough in our area that the yard has only needed mowing 3x this entire summer (rather than the usual every 9 or 10 days), & the high areas are somewhat brown & crunchy. We've had a few sprinkles, & a lot of thunder & lightning action, but not enough moisture to leave any actual puddles. 
Until last night, when it rained steadily for several hours. The ground just drank in(!) all that cool rain, but there were even a few small puddles in the barnyard this morning & the wondrous smell of rain lingers in the air. 
Now the really cheery part for the 4Shoes... 
Conditions the summer of 2017 have finally been perfect to harvest the first hay crop on land that we cleared & seeded years ago! 

A rough likeness of the process to aid you in imagining 
the level of destruction in which we were up to our ears. 
Notice how I have painstakingly photo-shopped in snow-
banks & flakes (no 2 of which are alike, just like real 
ones)Because I'm totes creative & thoughtful that way.
Initially, we were forced to hire a cat to come in the winter of 2011/12 & knock down stands of willows & poplars by the thousands. Then the cats' blade scraped up a layer of soil that was literally rife with blankets of roots. 
When the snow had melted, the next step was dragging that field over & over & over again, separating trunks & sticks & roots & rocks from topsoil, and depositing all the debris into yet another enormous burn pile. Straight up - we have had a LOT of bonfires, yo. 

Cannot count the hours invested... but I can count
the dollars, which have been significant. NO shit.
The Spring of 2013 we dragged again(!), then tilled & seeded a Horseman's Blend in hopes of soon(?) harvesting home-grown livestock feed. Naively, we actually thought the hard part of the west field was over at that point... Fate must have been laughing her ass off. 

Mother Nature is a tenacious gal & loathe to let go,
so each succeeding year we had been back in that west field mowing down, ripping out by force, & burning re-appearing baby poplars & willows by the thousands*, while simultaneously gnashing our teeth over low spots sprouting cat tails. Until this year, that is. 
The West Field had LEGIT not been harvested in 34 years.
Mother Natures' tangles ensured a lot of hard graft for us to
wrestle it away from her. Mother Nature is a greedy, temper-
amental, persistent biotch.
But then, so am I.
This first & glorious harvest off the west field is a long-awaited payoff for having battled for what has (at times) felt like forever, for nothing. 
The effort has made us very thankful(!) to live in the age of heavy equipment. Especially when we've come in hot & exhausted at the end of hard days, but knowing that we can hardly imagine how much more difficult it was to accomplish these kind of goals in the pioneer days. 

The Barn Field...
Because on this side of the fence is the barn,
& because super-original names just come
 easy to us. 
We currently hay 3 other good parcels that we call 'the barn field', 'the lane field', & 'the wild field' because, crazy-level imaginative here. This year, in addition to ongoing grazing pasture maintenance & various farm upgrades, we have started clearing what we call 'the bottom field', which has been left gone wild for 34+ years & currently serves as a lovely, cozy bed & breakfast for a. lot. of deer. 
The Lane Field...
Because it runs alongside 4Shoes Lane, which
is an actual road allowance that dead ends at
our property. Forever & ever, Amen. 

But the 4Shoes is here for the long haul, & progress demands as much of our land as possible be productive so that Mr Shoes & I can continue to live comfortably after Mr Shoes has retired from his lucrative career. 
I shall be very careful not to go off on a *rant  about the hardships of the small holder, which often as not require at least one dependable outside revenue stream. 

*Right now. Later? No promises.

*The 4Shoes has been slowly tamed back into productivity for a decade now. Originally, it had been a thriving farm, but the owner just before us was a self-named alcoholic hermit who just liked living in isolation & so he let the farmed land drift steadily back to bush for 24 years. 

Mother Nature can reclaim almost everything in 24 years... 
Then the 4Shoes family came along, & she has had to loosen her tight grip... because we just won't quit! 

I couldn't even begin to calculate how many man & equipment hours we have logged, but now we often hear admiring words, "Your place is just BEAUTIFUL!", which feels very satisfying, because, who wouldn't enjoy some outside validation for a decade spent planning & executing a dream?

No actual sheaves were brought in, because sheaves are grain crops, not hay.
I think, technically, we are bringing in the equivalent of stooks, but I could be wrong.
Go ahead folks, edu-ma-cate me, please!


  1. You're place IS beautiful! It was a lot of hard work to reclaim all that overgrown land that was left unused (except by the deer) for 24 years. I give you a lot of credit for taming it back into a manageable working farm. And I love the names. You really need signs made up for all those fields ;)

    1. Thanks GHM.
      Funny you should say that about signs... I have a huge oak log that I've asked Mr Shoes to slice on the diagonal so that I can make signs. I'd only been thinking of signs for our riding trails, but if there are enough slices then I can see the fields having their own signs too.
      Good idea GHM!

  2. Wow I read and read with a gaping mouth. What a great work and knowledge you put in this beautiful ground!

    1. Work, yes. Knowledge has sometimes been a kicker... :-)

  3. That's an amazing amount of work! I can totally understand the tenacious part of it. :)

    1. Yeah, it's like a mission almost, to achieve the vision we saw through the chaos 10 years ago.

  4. "Forced to hire a cat" had me going for a few seconds. Being a cat person, my mind immediately had me picturing my darling Sweet Potato bringing in a little income! :D Loved this trip to the farm - I think I was made for it - loved "the B&B for the deer."

    1. Haha, I do have a couple of monster cats earning their living on the 4Shoes - Harley the 28 toed Maine Coon & Blitz the puzzle-patterned Lynx Point Siamese.
      Believe me, those deer have been living the good life!

  5. What a lot of work! I think that every time we go to our north place how much work it was for them to clear the land of trees. But its worth it now look at that hay!

    1. A long time coming... but yes, worth it now.

  6. Wow, 4Shoes is something to be damn proud of!! A great vision, and much better use of your land. The local deer may not think so, but they are resourceful. To say those fields were/are a ton of work, is putting it mildly. Love it when perseverance pays off. Lucky are we, that understand the value of being caretakers of our land. I know people think we are nuts, taking on property, debt and working towards our dream retirement place. But if one isn't dreaming, they are dying.

    1. Thanks Aurora.
      If you're not dreaming, you're dying...
      I like that!

  7. wonderful post. You have been very busy! Like you don't do nothing...ha ha

    1. Haha, I do more 'nothing' than I should, so I'm told.


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