Still here…


Crazy – the difference between one year and the next…I kept putting writing a post off – didn’t want to talk about the ‘Covid’, and conversely – didn’t want to ignore the struggles some are going through by sounding all positive and upbeat and ignoring the issue.

We’re all affected of course, in different ways. My daughter is in a province where things have totally run amok – as a paramedic is considered on the front lines, and has gone from having to mask and glove depending on the call – to having to suit up like she might have to haul a victim out of Fukushima. And there’s no end in sight.

A lighter moment – Daughter and favourite partner – somebody saw fit to gift some coffee cards 😊
When you happen to come across the fire department practice and get to go up in the ladder truck 😬
And get the captains helmet 😁

My son – has been working up here since last November….simply hauled his travel trailer onto the property and set up house. Went from hauling the forest to the factory sixteen to eighteen hours a day – chains on chains off reliably miserable logging roads in mountainous terrain hoping he wasn’t going to run out of horseshoes and be one of ‘those guys’ at the bottom of a thousand foot drop off. Left that to haul tankers of fuel (we call it a bomb) to places I’ve never heard of despite living here now most of my life. To places where two days of no cell service or contact are the norm – where if you don’t come back after two days somebody will go looking for you….and hope it’s just a breakdown and you haven’t been hijacked ( we call those loads the winning lottery ticket ). First haul of fuel to a mine – a set of wheels decided to go in a direction his truck wasn’t….tires that had just been replaced at a garage the previous day. Somebody didn’t do their job…..as my son put it ‘hopefully they didn’t wind up in somebody’s living room’. Trucking is an ‘essential service’ yet employers are working their drivers like rented mules – there’s a shortage of qualified drivers these days.

Yep – that’s a road….

Finally left that to take a break and now spends his days hauling dirt from one pile to another fairly close to home for the winter.

The bomb
Forest going to the factory

My hubby – after working at the same garage for twelve years as the head mechanic – left for another garage that has some kind of concept that Covid protocols exist for a reason. The shop he was working at, still to this day has nothing in place. No sanitizer, masks, signage….customers can sit at the lunch table and cough all over you should they wish. He had to draw a line in the sand. If he gets sick – if I get sick – who the hell is going to look after the livestock- assuming we survive it.

Son, hubby, buddy – some nice planks from the mill
Yep bought a sawmill!

I went back to work last October, as a veterinary assistant in a large/small animal clinic where most of the large animal livestock is dealt with on farm. I liked the job, I loved the days when I was out on the truck. But -the hours are incredibly long, you don’t have time to eat, there is never a minute when you don’t have to race around and do something else. Covid multiplied the workload by ten – nobody allowed in the clinic, all forms dealt with online…. customers dealt with in the parking lot…Ultimately – its a perfect job for somebody who literally has no life other than that. I’m not exaggerating. There was nothing left of me to give to anyone or anything at the end of the week. I left the job October of this year. I need a better work/life balance than that – Covid or not.

Supply and demand – even though we’re in an area where we’re not inundated with cases of Covid – shopping for anything has become a gong show. People have collectively lost their minds. We’re fine here in my household, food is not an issuebut try and find a snap lid for canning (none), navy beans or any dry beans (none), pint jars (none), yeast (none), rice (none), you get the picture. I have been preparing for insanity such as this for most of my life. Whatever I can’t make myself – I keep a supply of (yes canning lids – though I’m damn near out). I keep my hunting license current, my ammo stocked, purchase game tags whether I use them or not. This year I canned almost double what I would normally….nothing like seeing empty shelves in the grocery stores to kick start a whole new level of workload.

The climate change issue that plagues us these days dictated that unless my vegetables learned to swim they weren’t going to survive. We simply hopped in the truck and went south to a huge vegetable market and bought what we couldn’t grow. Next summer I need to come up with a way to garden in the rain – I don’t think it’s going to change. Ordered my seeds yesterday – unbelievably- many are already sold out.

It’s times like these I’m glad I insist on the slaughterhouse returning ALL of our beef and pork. Beef bones (beef stock). Beef kidney fat (bar soap). Pork kidney fat (pastry lard) – and so on.

I’m also happy to share the skills I have – a friend spent the day here a few weeks ago because she wanted to learn to make soap. She too has been canning up double her usual menu – and expanding her skills to get through the winter. I’m happy to see people I know digging in for the long haul, neighbors starting gardens, people looking out for each other. Our local community Facebook page administrator has started a food/gift drive for any local families that need help this year- so far seven families are on that list, including seniors – put on that list because people in the community know they might be needing some help and put forward their names to the administrator. Makes one think that things will ultimately be okay one day if we can all just keep our shit together.

Bright spots to be had….when the Covid lockdown hit our granddaughter came up stayed with my son – 12 years old – she’s always took to the farm like she’s been here all her life. Set about doing her school work online, taming the barn cats and kittens, getting up at four o’clock in the morning to meet Bruce in the barn to do chores, feed pigs and chickens and cows – chase AWOL steers back into the field with a shove to the rear and zero concept that they outweigh her by a thousand pounds.

Apparently I needed to see the pig – in the house 😂

The bees outdid themselves this year – went from two hives to five via one split and two swarms….gave one swarm away – wintering four hives. Think I might leave it at that – mind you Bruce thinks ‘maybe two more hives’ 😊

Managed a quick trip to see my daughter and grandson – a little nerve wracking considering, but as she pointed out – her household is about as safe as safe gets as her dad also lives with her and being health compromised they’re uber strict on protocol. Oddly, as we did some shopping and errands, the mask mandate was being followed there better than it was being followed here at the time.

I’m shrinking! (Actually best and only grandson is 6’6”) ❤️

Let’s all decide we’re going to get through thisbecause really, we have to. And as much as we instinctively want to close ranks and look out for number one….we need to also recognize that there are people finding it tougher than we are – and do something about it. If all you can manage is to check in on someone, then do so. If you’re going for groceries anyway – is there something you can pick up? Check in by phone, check in by text – sometimes people just need to hear another voice.

Thinking of all of my followers, all of the bloggers I follow. Take care and stay safe!

About valbjerke

Farmer, Transmission Rebuilder, Self Sufficiency Nut. Like the old school way of doing things. "Fast is fine - accuracy is final" (quote by some way back famous gun-slinger - likely just before he got shot dead)
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11 Responses to Still here…

  1. avwalters says:

    S’wonderful to hear from you, and to know all is as well as can be expected. It’s been a crazy year, everywhere. And what an extra dose of pleasure to hear your generous approach to hard times. We could use a lot more of that. Hang in there.

  2. DM says:

    As AV mentioned, it is good to hear from you. Loved the pictures! Wow. Those are some big rigs your son has been driving…especially that fuel trailer. wow. And that grandson of yours…especially love that photo. Your granddaughter is so fortunate to be able to spend this time with you guys….experiencing getting up early in the morning to do chores…one of those experiences that will stay in her memory for a life time.

    • valbjerke says:

      Every now and again I manage to coordinate a ride along in one of those trucks….lots of fun 😊And yes – despite the anxiety of the year – getting to hang out with the grandkids makes my day.

  3. Paula Dane says:

    Val!
    I love to read your blogs; I feel as though I am right there with you.
    When you get a moment you could write a book!! I’ll be first in line to purchase ( signed copy please!).
    Paula

  4. Hey Val, there you are! (Had been wondering… Well, about everybody really, but especially those not seen or heard from for a while; ) As always with your jam-packed posts, just too many thoughts to remember now that I’ve finished. (Next time, I REALLY need to go get a pen and paper to write them all down before starting *and not the first time I’ve had that thought either, lol)
    So good to actually see everybody you’re telling us about and that things are going well, relatively speaking… Covid times = total insanity much of the time, but sure makes you stop and think about what’s important though, hey?:/)
    Still laughing about the bees (always happy to multiply, if they’re in a good way; ) and happy Next-Gen Farmer bringing the pig in the house for inspection. (Hey, to me, having the knack for animal husbandry is a gift and she’s so lucky to have the farm and knowledgeable Grandparents to learn from♥️) Is that wee piggie a Tamworth?
    Take care and thanks for getting in touch: )

    • valbjerke says:

      Hi! Actually the little pig is a mixed breed of I’m not sure what – his litter mates were white (although one did have spots). Pigs are a riot – I enjoy getting them every year.

  5. Val, so glad to see you post. Yes the current time is difficult and you see me melt down once in a while on mine. We do what we have to do and try to protect the ones we love. Our county is very mask resistant and we are seeing stats on more and more cases each day, more hospitalized and the first few deaths, but still so many don’t take the COVID protocols seriously. I hope you stay back with us here and keep us in your life.

  6. steveknife says:

    Great to hear from you and yes it’s like absolutely crazy right now . Life just started moving way fast.
    Chickens, garden all good but building projects paused because wood 2×4’s went through the roof and some wood mills closed.
    The knife industry is struggling shows are few, guys are trying different social media to sell .
    I will say blacksmith skills are in high demand.

  7. valbjerke says:

    Blacksmith skills – yes! Interesting how time’s like these, those of us who have ‘old time’ skills are suddenly much in demand for our knowledge. I’ve been fielding Diana of questions on everything from the proper way to process food, how to raise livestock, gardening – you name it.

    A 2x4x8’ ‘econo stud’ for framing up here is running around ten bucks. Crazy. Now that we have the sawmill we are being inundated with people who want us to come harvest trees off their land and turn them into lumber.

    Blacksmithing – over the last year or so I’ve been rounding up things I need to set up a forge…..expensive project so I’m taking my time. I’m interested in making gates/hinges/tools…..for the farm. I see that ‘forged in fire’ has driven the price of most everything through the roof 😊

  8. valbjerke says:

    * dozens * of questions.

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