November 2019 Newsletter

November 30, 2019

Well that was a November for the record books.  I can't ever in my life remember a November that felt like April!  Seriously, rain and warm temperatures and more rain.  I'm not saying it wasn't nice to stall the cold a little but as a result of all that warm, we were sure dealing with a whole lot of mud around here.  My 'mud room' was literally that!  Aaaack ... there's only so much of that a girl can take! lol  Anyway, we're glad to have that behind us and have some freezing temperatures to keep the mud at bay for a few months.

So what's been happening around 6S?  Well, we always say that things slow down a little in the winter for us but then we get here and we're like 'wait a minute ... feels like we're still going full steam".  Funny thing is ... even though there's less of them over the winter, animals still need to be fed and watered and cared for daily.  Though the cows are quite happy to make use of our big beautiful evergreens to shelter under keeping some cozy bedding material available for all of our groups of pigs adds a big chore to the list.  We're also weaning litters of piglets (cutie little suckers) and working to keep the hens warm and toasty.  

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Rick has been training our young border collie to work stock and since we don't have a round pen to work in and keep everyone calm and contained in these early days of enthusiastic practice, Rick built his own.  The bonus, as you can see, is that it is also supplies all the feed for the sheep in addition to enclosing them safely.  "Necessity is the mother of invention" my Momma always says.

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So now I'm gonna let you in on a little secret ... I'm not a huge morning person ... in that it's not my favourite thing to roll out of a warm cozy bed in the dark before sunrise to get after it.   Buuuut since not getting up isn't a viable option, once Iam up, the first thing I want to do is go outside.  Yup, a frosty, see your breath in the air kinda morning gets me charged up for the day.  So over time Rick and I have come to an agreement: I muster the troops and start the first charge of the day while he gets the coffee on and rocks breakfast.  The kids and I come in the house most mornings after chores to find coffee brewing, bacon or sausage frying and eggs over easy just the way I like them (not chirping, not dead, somewhere in between).   When I say he rocks breakfast I'm not kidding:  This man is the KING of breakfast!!!  Check him out:

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There he is ... my very own 'Mr. Movember".  Doesn't he make a cute house-husband? lol  Spoiled - that's what I am and I know it!  It's amazing though, what having a nutrient-dense breakfast does for a body.  Often I don't feel hungry till well into the afternoon.  Bye bye brain fog, hello mental clarity.  Good food is fuel for life!

Late this month on a whim, I grabbed our youngest son Travis and we hit the open road on a whirlwind road trip.  Rick and I had ordered a couple of pallets of natural salts and minerals from a supplier in central Alberta and the shipping costs to get them here would have been outrageous, so since the roads were good and I hadn't seen my family in forever, I used it as an excuse to get outta dodge for a few days.  Travis and I toured the whole province of Alberta in 6 days!  (Well ... it felt like we saw the WHOLE province anyway).  We stayed with my youngest sister and her family in Edmonton for a night, picked up the mineral the next day then headed down to High River and stayed a night with my oldest sister and her family there where my Mom and Dad were visiting and we surprised them for my Mom's birthday.  The next day we were back on the road to Burdett where my parents live and farm, then on our way home we made a stop in Lethbridge to see my other sister and her family too, and just after we hit the BC border once again on the way home and crawled at 30km/hr through some of the worst blizzarding conditions I've seen, we crashed for a night with Rick's folks as well.  Talk about a whirlwind week.  Each visit was super short, not nearly long enough to get the 'home fix' I was craving but oh so good to connect with family in person even for a short time.  


I hadn't been home to my parents farm in 2 years and the visit was long overdue.  There's something about a place that can just get deep into your soul.  Some look at the wide open, windswept prairie and see nothing.  Vast and without ornamentation, void and desolate.  But there is beauty in the prairie, one must just take the time and look a little longer and deeper to see it.  

My Momma, who always chooses cheerful, laughs when we talk about it and says "there's no mountains here to obscure the view", and when they visit us here in the valley she always looks forward to getting home to her wide open spaces.  She did for Travis and I what she does best ... filled our cups.  She fed us up with delicious, hearty, home grown food and fed our hearts and minds with the deep, sacrificial love that a Momma pours out on her own.

I spent a sweet couple of hours alongside my Dad, cow touring and land touring.  It's what we've done together since before I can remember.  Bouncing along beside him in the truck we stop to enjoy the herd, singling out one here and one there, talking about their mama's and their mama's-mama's.  He's known them for generations, he built this herd over the last 40 years despite the many fluctuations in the cattle market and life in general.  There are fewer of them now as he's pruned back over the last few years, they are the best of the best and as always a constant joy for him.  A connecting point we share with one another.  Then we drove out to see some of his land.  It's rented out now as a lifetime of working and walking have taken their toll on his knees which now keeps him from doing all the physical labor that farming requires.  His eyes move across the panorama of soil and grass and sky, in them there is a deep knowing, a connection between man and land, forged over time and purchased through blood, sweat and tears.  This is the place and these are the people who have shaped me and I am so thankful for them.  (below are a few pics of my parents farm)

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For those of you who've asked ... our son Grady is doing great!  He's loving his carpentry schooling and has 3 weeks left to go.  Not that I'm counting the days ... did I mention there's only 20 left?  lol.  He actually drove home this weekend and surprised us!  Yay!

Also, for those who've asked ... my cracked ribs are healing very well!  The first week was super painful but I started drinking bone broth in earnest on week two and the change was remarkable.  Within a couple of days I had considerably less pain and was back to my regular self shortly after.  Now the only time I feel any pain there is if I actually press on that location on my ribs or if I have to contort myself over and around my washing machine to get the drain hose unplugged, or if one of my kids accidentally runs into me!  ha ha  Such is the stuff of life! 

Well, I hope this finds you all well and looking forward to the holiday season ahead.Thanks for reading and especially for indulging my nostalgia of home and family.  I'd love to hear about your own experiences of place and home and how they've shaped you, so be sure to drop me a line.

Blessing from me and mine to you and yours!

Joy Stephens
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