Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open Farm Day

As mentioned in my previous post, on September 19th, Jared and the kids and I participated in the first ever, "Open Farm Day". Sounds like kind of a cheesy idea, but for people who live in the city and have never been to a farm, I think that it's a great idea! And for those of us who grew up on a farm and miss it dearly - it was great to be out in the open and away from the confines of the city for a day.

Our first step in making this day a success was to plan out which farms we would visit. There were various ones opening their doors all around the province, but there was a pretty large cluster of them around the Steinbach area, so that's where we focused our day. The first farm we went to had a free "Pork on a Bun" lunch sponsored by Manitoba Pork. We hit that one up first to eat some lunch and spent about half an hour or so playing a few carnival type games that they had set up and letting the kids jump in the inflatable bouncer. Next we were off to the bison farm! We took a trailer ride out to the pasture to see the  buffalo which the kids thought was wonderful! We weren't allowed to get off the trailer to take a closer look because buffulo can't tell the difference between a person coming at them and a coyote trying to steal their babies. So if you get too close, they'll attack. And nobody wants to be bison food! This farm was our favorite one of the day and very much how Jared and I would someday like to run our own small farm - we don't want bison, but hopefully a few cows and chickens and maybe pigs. Anyway....the animals live outside 100% of the time. They are grass fed and the farmer doesn't use any sort of antibiotics or growth hormones on them. Very natural, which we are very much in favor of. He raises them to eat and we ended up buying a couple pounds of stew meat after the tour. It was delicious!

The next farm we visited was pretty much the complete opposite. It was a dairy farm with a few hundred head of cattle. I can't remember the exact number, but it was huge! There were a couple smaller cows outside when we pulled up that were very friendly! They came right up to the fence and let us pet them. Then we headed into the barn, which was interesting, but broke mine and Jared's hearts. The cows were all fenced in with a bit of straw and the barn was divided into two "sections". The first was the resting station which had a bit of hay for the cows to lay down in. If they wanted to get to the other section where the feed was, they had to walk past the milking station. It's all automatic and the milking machine uses infared sensors to detect where the teets are. So once the cow has been milked, it can go to the other side to get food. If the cow's udder isn't full enough yet, it has to go back to the resting station until it's full enough to be milked. We didn't ask if the cows were ever put out to pasture - I sure hope so! Apparently some of the cows milk up to 6 times a day. It made me sad to think of them being cooped up in there doing nothing but eating and producing milk ALL.DAY.LONG. What a sad life for them.

The last farm we hit up was fun for the kids, but Jared and I were a bit disappointed with it. They had what they called, "Scarecrow Forest" and you could walk through the woods at the back of their property and there were different scarecrow scenes set up - washing dishes, camping, playing hockey, etc. It was neat to see, but nothing spectacular. They also had some fresh veggies for sale, but nothing I was interested in buying. They had some old John Deere tractors on display which the kids enjoyed and one very large John Deere for them to climb onto. I think that was the highlight of the day! They also had a 'bale maze' which was basically ten bales making a path to a bunch of round bales for the kids to climb on. Not much of a maze at all! There was also a petting zoo, which turned out to be a goat, a couple chickens and two bunnies. But we weren't even allowed in the cages to pet them. We also could have paid extra money to do the zipline, but we already had to pay to get into the forest, so we declined. They were offering free tractor rides for the day (normally you'd pay extra for them too) and it was a bit of a bust as well. It was a tractor pulling a bunch of steel carts and the girl driving took us down the ditch along the edge of their property for about a mile and then back. She kept zig-zagging while she drove and it made me motion sick. The kids thought it was okay. Overall, we still had fun, but it sounded a lot better in the description than it actually was. At least the kids had fun and it was a fun day away from the city.

And now, without further ado - the pictures! It was a beautiful day outside so I got some great shots of the kids!

On our way out to see the buffalo.

 The bison.

 The very friendly cows that let us pet them.

 Inside the dairy barn. 

 That is one full udder!

 At the last farm - "Scarecrow Forest"

 Playing on the hay bales....

 King of the bale maze!

 Wandering the forest....

 Playing on the antique John Deere's.

Shaela fit inside the tire of the large John Deere!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Absense Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?!?!?!

Is that true for blog readers as well?!?! I'm not so sure. I think it may make you lose interest and never check back in! I hope not - but in any case, I apologize for my absense! Part of the problem is that I like to include pictures of what we've been up to in my posts. And I'm a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to uploading pictures off of the camera. Right now apparently blogger is telling me that image uploads are disabled for I'm just gonna have to live with a photo-less post.

Let's last post was about Xavier's first day of preschool. We are now just over a month in and he is LOVING school! He really enjoys playing on the play structure and doing new puzzles at school. Still not sure if he's really made any friends yet. But he's a very independent kid, so I'm not too concerned. His teacher is fantastic and we really like her. And I have been enjoying the good hour and a half of solitude I get while he's gone and Shaela and Cohen nap.

What else have we been up to? On the 19th of September, we attended "Open Farm Day". It was a new initiative started this year by the MB government where farms around the province 'opened their doors' to the outside world and we got to come check out what they do and how they make their livings. It was a really fun day with the kids visiting four different farms around the Steinbach area. Our favorite was the bison farm - I'll post more about it in the next day or two when I can actually share pictures.

Xavier has also started back to gymnastics which he is also thoroughly enjoying. His teacher is great and I know she's doing a really good job of introducing the basics - but sometimes I still wish she would teach them more. For instance - they have yet to work on cartwheels at all! I could do one by the time I was three. Maybe one of these days I'll just have to take him to the backyard and we'll have at it. I would show him at the end of one of his classes, since we all get to go in to the gym to play for a few minutes, but A) it's been quite a few years since I have attempted one and I don't want to hurt myself, and B) I'm pretty sure the other parents would think I'm nuts. We'll see. Maybe one of these days I'll get brave enough to do one with him there....

Our dear little baby boy is also 6 months old already! Again, I'll post an update with pictures in the next day or two. First, I have to do a photoshoot with him (hoping for tomorrow)! He's growing like a weed, though and trying out all sorts of new foods. I'm awaiting the arrival of my new Cuisinart food processor that I ordered on Amazon today and then I'll be hosting a baby-food making frenzy in my kitchen next week. It's going to be great!

Well....I think that about sums up what we've been up to - I know, riveting! I promise to update with more pictures very very shortly!!! And perhaps update the look of the blog a little??? Feels silly to have sea-shells as my background when clearly it is no longer beach weather around here. :(