A Letter from Home - April 2020

We'll be posting "Letters from Home" (sent to Topsy retirees) periodically. Thanks for reading. 
White sheep with front feet on a metal gate, with two large round steel grain bins in the background, sun setting behind them

Hi Chris, Dianne, and Don

This is certainly a challenging time.

We’ve cancelled public events until the end of May and will reassess then. We may lose the whole season. Retail sales have slowed dramatically, although yarn is still selling. Knitting is a popular isolation activity, apparently.

We can apply for some of the subsidy programs but that will take a while to kick in. Leah is on top of this thank goodness, and the lack of visitors is giving her a chance to catch up on all the accounting. She is very much looking forward to the day when she can get back out onto the land and out of the office part time. We have not laid anyone off yet, but that is day to day. As you guys always said, if this was easy everyone would do it.  We have a lot to be grateful for, and this is a pretty good spot to be during these uncertain times.

As a group we've decided to work the farm like we rented it for the long weekend:

To work on predator-proofing the fences (the coyotes are coming in and out at will), we will use every piece of fencing that we have in the ATV shed. Chris, I am following through on your plan for stand-off wire and barbed wire at ground level.

A culvert has been installed in the stream near the bluffs so that a vehicle can drive from Lighthouse pasture to Battery pasture without getting wet. An added bonus is it protects the fence from debris.

Will has been rebuilding all the gateways out of reclaimed wood. This week we start driving new cedar posts into the ground to hang them on.

The kids and miscellaneous volunteers have been working on grey barn clean out. The west hayloft is nearly cleaned out. We'll redo the floor before deciding what to do with the space.

We have dismantled the old, east bin and we'll use the material for other projects. The new metal grain bin is installed; we have dubbed them Don and Sancho (1 tall, the other stout).

The burning pile has been relocated to the far south-west corner of the upper barnyard; this will free up valuable real estate and hopefully cause fewer tire punctures.

We'll start out-building construction soon: new ATV shed beside fuel tanks, extend woodshed westward two house everything to do with morning chores, a permanent, steel roof kitchen for the yurt, and an awning between A-frame and foster lamb pen (visitor comfort and water deflection).

Kyle has been focusing on bees, firewood, major gardening work at his place with Kayleigh, and keeping the flock in top shape for lambing.

Gravel pathway across a lawn, with bridge made of two large stones in foreground

I have been attacking standing water like never before. So much work has been done to cure foot rot permanently that controlling field moisture levels seems a good place to put energy. Major drainage work done on west barnyard, still need to get into the east side. Really need to rent a track vehicle for a weekend. Our 4wd Kubota loaders do a great job (and I am also learning their limits). Have also have added rock around the new barn, will send pics later.

Shearing happens this weekend. We are not really set up for it but that prep ought not take very long given the tidying that has happened. It’ll be strange to not have folks visiting, but we’re going to livestream it.

Ian and Sally are doing less hands-on work; but are both still very much involved. Ian's cancer treatments are taking a lot out of him, yet, he still holds his corner up. He's been doing some machinery work and has been moving yards and yards of gravel in a borrowed dump trailer. He has put lots of effort into organizing the many boxes of inventory in our two shipping containers, Alice and Bill, so that the most recent 12 boxes could be logically stashed.  Sally is hard-pressed to do much as she'd like. It's still a full time job doing the garden expansions, social media/customer interactions, organizing volunteers and adoptive families, and now sending regrets. Many are kindly donating their adoption fees. French lessons for the boys, baking for shearing and all the other misc things that come in front of her daily.

The two boys and Cole (summer student) heroically pulled a hypothermic kayaker from the water this week before anyone else could arrive (the ferry boat was 3 to 5 minutes behind them). They acted as warriors with only consideration for the suffering of another, and the deeply instilled knowledge that they, themselves, could make a difference.

close up of red and green lettuce, baby broccoli and carrot tops in dark rich earth

Our social media is focused on Victory Garden promotion. I am personally concerned about the national food supply chain. This seems a productive way for people to spend their time and a great way to de-stress.

The pastures are starting to turn green. Kyle will turn the sheep loose on Lot 64 as soon as is prudent. Thank goodness, as we do not have much hay left.

Signing off for now, going to make good use of this sunshine.

Forever love from home.


Triangular stack of large round hay bales with the sun setting behind them