For the Love of Hobby Farming-Part 2

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“The girls” as we call them are free range during the three seasons, but they are confined to the insulated chicken coop during the winter. It’s during the winter months that the pecking order is most evident. We have a few different breeds, Barred Rock, Brown Leghorn, and my favourite Easter Eggers, combining these eggs in a basket is country beauty at its best.

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There certainly is a sense of satisfaction when taking good care of all our assorted hobby farm residents. With the start of extended daylight and the end of winter in sight, the relief is visibly felt by all to know the season does come to an end.
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For the Love of Hobby Farming

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This month we’ve decided to give you an inside look at our little hobby farm, the animals and how we manage the farm during our Manitoba winter months. Every farmer spends most of the summer preparing for the dreaded long winter, making sure you have enough hay, that the fencing is safe and secure and to ensure the run in the sheds are prepared for the wintery blast.

The last few winters, the weather has been particularly pleasant for the most part, with the exception of a few very cold days, during which time special care is provided for the animals with extra grain rations and bedding.

The morning feed for the sheep starts whenever the sun rises, sometimes I think their routine reflects our routine. They literally only exit their sleeping quarters at approximately 8:00 a.m. How perfect for us! They understand the value of morning coffee!

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They wait for us to open their fence, we do lock them up as we are surrounded by neighbourhood dogs, plus coyotes. Once we release them, they are off for their breakfast of mixed grains, lentils and chickpeas. Sheep by nature are followers and they love routine.

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Maverick our future guard dog is much to young to protect his herd, but he definitely thinks he is part of the group!

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The hay bale gets placed in a pen, we hand fork it to the edge, the sheep then eat the hay through the page wire, this system works great for keeping their feed clean and leaves very little waste. It is a win/win!

Sheep are creatures of habit, they love routine and in winter they always travel in single file. They are easily trained and are highly motivated by grain.

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Now for the animals that are near and dear to my heart, in the country during the winter we call them hay burners. Cody and Shadow are our quarter horses and their short sidekick Turbo the pony and Maria the miniature donkey.

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Creating Balance for 2017

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The start of the New Year always fills our hearts and minds with anticipation, and a feeling of new beginnings. Striving to create a balance between family, personal goals, business goals, and much needed down time looks different for everyone. I’ve made a list for myself that will incorporate goals for the upcoming year. To keep me accountable for the things I would like to accomplish, I’ve created a vision board. This will be a visual reminder during the year to refocus on specific goals because I know what happens when life gets busy we let things go and lose sight of good intentions!

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Personal Goals:
Faith- Devotion to God, nurturing our soul.
Family – As a wife, mother, grandmother; knowing these relationships must take priority.
Friends- Be there for your friends; you need to be a friend to have a friend.
Fitness – Need to establish a regular routine to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Business Goals:
Bed and Breakfast- Entering into our fourth year as bnb owners we continue to strive to offer country hospitality to our guests. We are grateful for all the wonderful people who cross our paths, and whom we have the privilege to share our farm with.

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Field to Vase Goals: 

Going into our second year of flower farming, we are very encouraged by the response of the local community. We will be amending a few soil issues as well as refining our draining around the garden. With that being said, I’ve ordered more flowers and have admitted to seed addiction! lol. We are looking forward to sharing the bounty and creating many bouquets for your enjoyment.

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Our Katahdin Sheep Goals: 

Our desire to use our land to raise purebred Katahdin has been a learning curve for sure. The long term goal is to sell commercial breeding stock, the short term goal is to understand and educate ourselves in a very complex balance of running a high health herd. Nutrition, genetics, parasite control and farm management play a huge part in the overall health of our sheep. This journey is at the beginning. Working together with my husband in this area has been very rewarding. We both have different gifts and when combined we make a great team! TL Vision 4

Creating a balanced life is very personal, keeping things and goals in perspective might take awhile to master. How we use our time changes through the seasons, and even possibly week to week. Using the vision board, will help me to stay focused, determining where my time spent will bring the greatest results.

This last month our Pastor spent some time on teaching us to make plans. There is nothing wrong with making plans, in fact it’s biblical, but we need to hold these plans loosely because ultimately its God who directs our steps. Real life comes to all of us, meaning we can make the perfect plan for our year, but often life gets redirected and our course needs to change.Being flexible to incorporate change and still be focused on goals is a challenge for us all.
In conclusion, dream big!
Having a vision for your life and business creates passion and that passion is the driving force behind personal change in order for us to get things done. Most of all enjoy the journey of finding your passion!

Cheers to an amazing and blessed 2017!

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Holiday Favourites

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Here are a few of our absolute favourite recipes that we love to enjoy here at Thistlelane with our family and friends. They have become a tradition for us and we hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!

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Bruschetta

  • 2-3 cups of diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp of bruschetta seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Mix these ingredients together at least a few hours for the flavours to blend. Store in the fridge. Cut a loaf of french bread horizontally and spread on garlic butter. Add the tomato mixture and top with feta cheese. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes and then broil to melt the cheese. Carefully cut and enjoy! 

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Caramel Corn

  • 6 quarts of popped popcorn
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of corn syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda

Place the popped popcorn in a greased baking dish, large enough to gently stir the popcorn. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and then add in the vanilla and baking soda. Mix well and then pour over the popcorn and stir until everything is well coated. Bake uncovered at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely and enjoy! 

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Traditional Mennonite Christmas Cookies (Schooner Kuchen)

  • 1 1/2 cups of cream
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups of flour
  • Icing:
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp of heavy cream

Mix in the order above. Make sure the dough is easy to work with and not too tight. Might take a few times to get it just like Oma does! Roll out and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Ice when the cookies are cool.

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Double Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust:

  • 1 cup of chocolate baking crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of butter

Cheesecake:

  • 3 packages of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 squares of white chocolate melted
  • 3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate melted

Glaze:

  • 6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

Mix together butter and crumbs. Press on the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Put half the batter into another small bowl. Stir white chocolate into this bowl. To the other batter  add semi-sweet chocolate. pour white batter onto crumbs. Spread the dark batter carefully on top. Bake for 50 minutes. Mix the ingredients for the glaze on low heat and then pour over the cheesecake. 

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Thank you for your business and continued support.

We look forward to what 2017 will bring! God Bless. 

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Friendsgiving

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Holiday Crafting with Friends

There is nothing better to kick off the upcoming Christmas season than a gathering of friends. All of us have memories of family get-togethers, Christmas programs, work banquets, and many assorted Christmas related events. On the other hand, a simple event to celebrate the women in our lives and the gratitude that we feel towards each other can only be called “Friendsgiving”.

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Our Friendsgiving Day, the scene is set, a rustic bed and breakfast venue, candlelit tablescape with the scent of cinnamon and soft Christmas music playing in the background. The perfect atmosphere for a festive start to the day.

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The menu for the event consists of vegetarian quiche, farmhouse quiche (spinach & bacon), caramel pecan topped cinnamon buns, miniature pancakes topped with raspberry sauce, whipped cream and maple syrup. Plus, a full dose of coffee for each of us.

After much chatter and laughter, combined with a need to move around and do something, the party moved to the horse barn for the crafting portion of our day.
Creating a Christmas wreath, under the influence of a lot of coffee, our motto being that we can do this!

With a few basic instructions, pruning shears, wire cutters and a barn full of natural foliage that had already been separated into various evergreen piles, our creativity flowed. So much fun was had as we started experimenting with the look we were trying to achieve; helping each other decide when more or less natural greens were needed and helping each other twist wire around stems.

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The final decision, what kind of ribbon to personalize our wreaths, should it be burlap, plaid, shimmer gold, white or classic red. Using all natural materials, mostly evergreens, we had a common thread throughout our wreaths, but the finishing touches that we added, clearly reflected our individual personalities and added that personal touch.

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How precious each one of us is, we bring different gifts and ideas together including respect, love and we value each other. How special to appreciate each other’s God given uniqueness. To have a friend is to be a friend.

Thank you ladies for joining me for this fun event!

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Fall Decor on a Budget

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Surrounded by natural beauty in the fall season, it stirs a desire to decorate our homes both inside and out.

The warm colours that are displayed everywhere we look and the crisp clean air ignite us with creativity. The true beauty of fall decorating is that there is no need to purchase anything. There is no right or wrong way to make a fall vignette, just add or delete natural elements or move things around till they feel just right.

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A few things you will need:
Pumpkins, grow your own or pick up a few at the store is quite inexpensive.
Garden pruners for foraging in your back yard or someone’s bush. Always ask for permission first!
Any plaid guilt or throw, most of mine come from second hand stores.
Look around you house for anything rustic country such as birdhouses, wreaths, old pails, garden pots and even a small bench. Don’t be afraid to be creative and the older the item, the better!

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Now start putting things together in a layered effect, constantly stepping away from your vignette to see how it’s looking. Before you know, you’ll have the most beautiful, unique fall decor for your exterior!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Thistle Lane’s Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Ingredients:

Crust:

1 cup graham wafer crumbs,
1/3 butter
Mix crumbs and butter together. Press into 8 or 9 inch spring form pan. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.

Filling:

3 pkg cream cheese
3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
Dash of each: cloves, nutmeg and ginger

Mix together cream cheese, sugar vanilla and eggs. Divide mixture in half, too one half add pumpkin and spices.
Pour the plain batter over the crust, gently top with pumpkin batter.
Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the centre is set.
Let cool completely!
Best taste for cheesecakes is the day after they are baked!

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Top with either a drizzle of chocolate or caramel and add a dollop of whipping cream! The next day call a friend and make yourself a pot of coffee. Enjoy!

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Girls Gone Wise

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Thistle Lane Guesthouse offers a retreat weekend package for young women called Girls Gone Wise. We have teamed up with our local church to offer a Christian Ministry directed at young women from the ages of fourteen all the way to college age. The possibility of doing a mother daughter retreat would be a welcomed idea, for there are many biblical truths we address that are for women of all ages.

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The book called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, is written by Mary Kassian an award winning author and well know speaker. It has twenty main contrasts between wild and wise that we touch on throughout the weekend. We have divided those chapters into four main teaching sessions, due to the time involved, this retreat weekend is a condensed version of the book.

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According to scripture there is a measure of “Girl Gone Wild” in all of us, this retreat is designed to help young women discern between wild and wise decisions, learning about God’s design for womanhood.
Our young women have a tremendous amount of pressure to conform to the world’s patterns and standards. We would like to empower young women to choose God’s biblical truths as their moral foundation for spiritual success in their lives.It seems there are so many of us living with brokenness, dysfunction, and pain and without clear direction of what the bible tells us when it comes to being a women of God.
This retreat will be offered as a private booking at the Bed and Breakfast for any group of young women, it is taught by qualified leaders, who are actively involved in our local churches. We are very clear in presenting the plan of salvation, the girls are asked to bring along a bible, if they do not have one they will be given a bible as a gift.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3 5-6

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Weekend Agenda
Friday night, arrival between 5pm -6 pm
6 pm dinner
Girls Gone Wise is based on Proverbs 7
7 pm Session 1- Heart- What Holds First Place in Her Affections
– Counsel- Where She Gets Her Instruction
– Approach- Who Directs Her Love Story
– Attitude- Her Prevailing Disposition
– Habits- Her Priorities and Her Routines
9:30pm – Bonfire (weather permitting)
Saturday 8:15- 9:15am-Breakfast
9:30am-Session 2-Focus- What Commands Her Attention
-Appearance- How She Adorns Herself
-Body Language-Her NonVerbal Behaviour
-Roles- Her Pattern of Interaction
-Sexual Conduct-Her Sexual Behaviour
Noon – lunch 12-1pm

Afternoon activities- Crafting Session 1pm-3pm
– Horse Care- with supervised rides- 3pm-5pm
Saturday DInner-5:30-6:30
7:00pm-Session 3 -Boundaries- Her Hedges and Precautions
-Authenticity-Her Public Versus Private Persona
-Neediness-Whom She Depends on to Fulfill Her Longings
-Possessions-How She Handles Her Money and Resources
-Entitlement-Her Insistence on Gratification
9:30pm movies/free time
Sunday morning Breakfast 8:30-9-30am
10am Session 4 -Reliability- Her Faithfulness to Commitments
– Speech-Her Speech Habits
-Influence-Her Impact on Others and Their Impact on Her
-Sustainability-Her Ability to Nurture and Sustain a Relationship
-Teachability-Her Willingness to be Corrected and Instructed

The teaching sessions are hands on with a variety of video segments, sharing, question/answer and referencing the Bible.
What’s included in the retreat package?
– Girls Gone Wise Book
– Notebook
– All the meals are made right here at the Bed & Breakfast
– Towels and bedding
– Crafting supplies

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Please call for pricing, and any other questions you may have! We require a minimum of 5 women and a maximum of 9 women, including chaperone/ youth leaders. We hope to see you this fall/winter!

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Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Buns

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A family and guest favourite that we just had to share!

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Dough:

  • 3 cups of warm water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp of instant yeast

In a large bowl add water, sugar, eggs, oil and salt. Mix and then add 3 cups of flour and mix. Add yeast into the rest of the flour. Stir it in. Add to the mixture until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Turn onto floured surface and knead the dough until smooth and not sticky.

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon

Roll out dough and spread with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up and slice to desired size.

Caramel Pecan Sauce:

  • 1 2/3 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1-1/2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups of pecans

Boil together cause ingredients for 30 seconds. Add pecans and pour onto 2 (9×13 inch) greased pans. Arrange cinnamon buns over top of the sauce. Cover with tea towel and let rise for about 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Turn onto sheets of foil to cool.

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Enjoy these delicious treats morning, noon and night!

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Farm Fresh Flowers

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Let’s start from the beginning, why flower farming? Well, two summers ago I started to cultivate an outdoor riding area which was to be my riding coral. Last summer, I worked my horses in this particular area but something was not quite right, the dirt was very nice. It had a lot of organic matter (old hog manure) which caused me to think, I should really be growing a garden in this location. We can always put the riding ring beside the garden, why not!

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Since vegetables did not pull at my heart strings, that left me with flowers! So the research began and ever since then, I have not looked back. I learnt as much as I could, plus with a little bit of seed knowledge from my young married years, I moved forward with this exciting new venture!

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I began most of the seeds in my basement under lights and by April, I moved all my seedlings into my old green house. Things were starting to look promising.
Early spring, we put up temporary fencing to keep the horses out of the garden and give definition to the space.

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Then, it was time to put the baby plants into the new garden. Planting a few thousand seedlings actually should be classified as a sport, because I felt every muscle in my body and found a few that I was unaware of. Next year the plan would be to train physically prior to this spring time event so that I’m better prepared physically and mentally!

Our Goals-

  • To provide fresh local flowers during the growing season for the Guesthouse, and Horse Barn Rentals
  • To sell locally grown flower bouquets
  • Entertain the possibility of offering bulk flowers for DIY brides and events

Our Obstacles-

  • Heavier clay soil than first anticipated
  • Abundant rain, which drowned out a third of our crop, right off the hop along with a few deer
  • Bugs that were unfamiliar to us, eating my precious Zinnias and Sunflowers
  • My pony Turbo, who is actually related to Houdini and has no problem showing me how he can enter my garden whenever he wants and step on all my flowers

Our Solutions-

  • To continue to learn about flower farming; knowledge is power
  • To bring in extra topsoil to amend the soil and add organic matter
  • To continue to work on organic farming practices to conquer bad bugs and encourage good bugs and growth
  • To educate the consumer on the need for locally grown products; flowers included

Our Joy-

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The first year of flower farming has been a learning curve. It seemed as though germinating, transplanting, and growing in the greenhouse was the easy part. Once the transplants hit the dirt, I thought they would take off; it was not so easy. Learning what kind of soil and its drainage was most important. Eventually, after a slow start we started producing flowers and at times more than my market could use!

Thanks to good friends, they received a few flower gifts along the way. There is a sweet joy that these home grown flowers bring to my soul. I can’t explain it, you can just feel it. The season is almost done, and I can hardly wait to start again next year!

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