Hello and Welcome! We are the Dwyer Family. We farm in the beautiful Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada. We are a Christian, Roman Catholic family with five children. We own and operate 'Dwyer's Farmhouse'. It's a farm vacation get-a-way place. Our guests stay in a farmhouse and experience a working farm. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures.....there is never a dull moment here! This is our farm story....
The Renfrew Fair happened on the weekend and we were there!
First up was the sheep show...
Lydia entered the peewee class...
Lovely children showing sheep....
Calm, beautiful sheep...
It can get a little monotonous....
Until this happened...
I need to get a closer look at this....
The look on Johanna's face....the look on Jack's face.....this is priceless.
That is the look of determination. Her lamb decided to do some dancing and she wasn't going to allow any of that. Johanna is the boss in that ring. There is no way she would let go and then run around trying to catch that lamb.
I'm not sure what's going on here....
But the lamb finally settled down.
She was placed 2nd in the senior division for showmanship.
There is always a tie up display with the 4-H Sheep Show. We've had fun other years with 'Sheep Dynasty' and 'Ewe are Beautiful' themes. This year the kids had suggested "A Rainy Day" theme when they started thinking of ideas back in the spring....and then it turned out that it rained all summer!
And sure enough the sun went in and it rained...it poured! And they had to move the show inside....
Oh yes...and I made cupcakes....sheep cupcakes! One of the members from the other club was celebrating her birthday!
It was back to school yesterday! Hard to believe that there were only 3 getting on the bus here....
Johanna moved out on the weekend. She is starting her 2nd year of nursing. The move out was way more emotional than I was expecting. It dawned on me that she grew up....and I still remember the day we brought her home from the hospital like it was yesterday. Lots of tears!
Grady is working full time at a dairy barn....not far away. He has early mornings and some late nights. Last week was gruelling as they just put robotic milkers in the barn and they were moving the cattle over to try them out for the first time. Anytime I mention this to people they just look at me like...WHAT? Of course I can see them picturing R2D2 buzzing around the barn with a milking stool and pail....milking all the cows! Bahahahaha....one person even asked me if that's the way it works. That would be so much more entertaining than the reality of robotic milkers.
Here is a very good video by Andrew Campbell the Fresh Air Farmer....click here. It shows and explains all about robotic milkers. I showed the girls and then they said....but where are the robots?? They were hoping for R2D2....we all were!
I decorated this cake the other night....
It was a joke for a girl that really is not fond of frogs.
When I finished it....it was getting late....and I was tired....and then I realized that lilypads are actually GREEN and not white. DUH.
Terry was asleep on the couch and I woke him up to say....Did you lock the hens in over at the farmhouse? He came alive said....ah frig. no.
And then I said "Lilypads are green....not white....right?"
He looked at me stunned. WHY? Why does it matter if they are green....or white?
She's lost her mind.
I showed him the cake.
Feeling sorry for me he said that they could probably be white.
I googled it.....they are green....always.
cake decorating fail.
The girls are planning a Busker Fest. On our road. next summer. They are going to shut down our dirt road and have a Buskerfest.
They have been planning and making posters.
They don't even know what day of the week July 20th is next summer....and the official start time keeps changing. But it doesn't matter.
They love hula hoops and they do all these tricks with them. A couple of weeks ago I took them into town just to buy hula hoops and it was our lucky day....they were all on clearance! They bought several...all different sizes....spending their own money! And they were the good ones with the water in them.
I overheard them one day during their planning....Sophie told Lydia that they couldn't do that because one of them would get hurt. And then Lydia said....We'll get someone from the audience to do it then!
I'm NOT volunteering.....
Remember we were featured in Edible Ottawa magazine for their July/August issue? They have just put the article online and I can share it with you now! It's here. Happy reading!
It hasn't been raining everyday! It's starting to feel like summer....only the sun sets way too early and it's cold at night and the leaves are starting to change.
But we are finally getting the hay done....1st cut.
And it's fair time.
Haying and fairs usually don't happen at the same time. Actually they never happen at the same time.
Sophie had her first experience showing sheep on the weekend....and she loved it!
We invited some of her friends and their families to join the 4-H Sheep Club and show our sheep this year. That's the fun part of 4-H....you don't need to own the animal to show the animal. We had 6 kids coming on a regular basis to work and train their lambs for the fair....plus the 4 lambs that our kids were showing too.
The night before the show they all came over to scrub their lambs and blow dry them off....a total spa treatment for the next day.
And then it was off to the Cobden Fair the next day....
Johanna had a very busy weekend as she also showed in the 4-H beef and dairy shows.
Grady had a pretty good day....
Lydia was thrilled when we found out that there was a peewee category....
She even got to speak with the judge....
Sophie also joined the 4-H Rabbit Club this year. It was on the condition that we would not have to have a rabbit. I don't want a rabbit.
One of the leaders was happy to let Sophie borrow her rabbit "Cutie Pie" and we had been going to her place to train it to go thru the agility course all summer. "Cutie Pie" was a pretty lazy bunny at the start...it had only ever been in rabbit showmanship at the fair...but Sophie was persistent with her and Cutie Pie was soon running thru all the tunnels and jumping over the bars.
She even entered her in the high jump event on the last day of the fair and Cutie Pie cleared 4 bars! Sophie was thrilled and is already talking about next year...
Actually that's not news...we have NEVER milked our cows.
There have been a number of guests arrive at the farmhouse this summer and the first thing they want is a glass of cold raw milk....
I don't drink raw milk. I don't know where you can get raw milk.....as far as I know it's illegal.
Then I have to deal with all these disappointed faces....because there is no raw milk and no cows to milk.
I honestly don't think a dairy farmer could run a farm vacation where complete strangers are milking their cows all the time. Cow milking is complex. It's machines.....they don't sit on a wooden 3 legged stool and milk the cows by hand anymore. That ended years ago.
But I did milk a cow once at Upper Canada Village. The milking experience from the 1800s is still alive and well there.
Grady works for a dairy farmer. He milks cows. I wash his clothes. I don't want to milk cows. I don't think you would want to either.
So....after much disappointment about the no raw milk or milking of cows....the guests want to know why we have cows....and really...are we REALLY farmers? Because....isn't farming about milking cows?
We are BEEF farmers. Our cows supply you with meat...hamburger, steak, roasts....BEEF.
We have a cow-calf operation. This means that we have 120 mom cows that give birth every year. We have calves that 'start' in February....that means they are born in February....thru to April. And then more 'start' in July thru September. There were a few new calves born at the farmhouse property this year.
These calves stay with their mom's until they are ready to be weaned and then they are sold....by that time they are a little over a year old. They are not sweet, small calves at that point. They have grown to become large animals....nearly as big as their mom's.
And we have sheep. But unfortunately there is no milk with those either.....I've been asked. Apparently sheep milk is amazing....and I'm sure it is. But I don't have any. Our sheep are bred for their meat too. Lamb chops...leg of lamb....all that yummy goodness is from our sheep.
We have 25 ewes that dropped 45 lambs this spring....that means that they gave birth to them. They do have milk....but it's for their babies.
So we don't farm everyday then right? Because there's really no milk. Uuuummm....yes. With that many animals under your care it's hard to just walk away and say 'sorry gals and guys I'm just not going to bother with ya'll today'.....
We do manage to get the odd day away...but it does take some planning. There have been no vacations where we disappear overnight for days and days. I remember spending an entire summer day at a cottage once....visiting with relatives....and we came home with the lawn covered in cows. All just chillin'....relaxing.....laughing at us.....because we had a day away and they had had their own vacation day as well.
Honestly the vacations that I grew up with were so horrendous that I'm not the vacationing type. You can read about that here. It's much safer to just stay at home. The planning and organizing involved to try and take a vacation and leave all these animals here is a little overwhelming for me.
Some guests are shocked to learn that this whole farming gig goes on year round. There is no possible way that these animals survive here all winter....??
Yes. Yes they do. We feed them all the hay that we cut and rake and bale all summer....during the winter. And we make sure that the water bowls are not frozen....they need a good supply of clean drinking water all winter too. We keep them in sheltered areas where there is a windbreak or at the edge of the bush or in the barn. They are all very hearty animals and they manage the winters quite well.
So enough of this farming stuff....I made some cakes on the weekend.....
There were TWO 50th Wedding Anniversary cakes in one weekend....
And a family reunion cake....
And a puppy birthday cake....
I just got this new ruffle tip and it was my first attempt using it....
Usually the barn lofts are filled with square bales at this time of year. But they aren't. We haven't managed to even get the first cut finished. When August arrives we are usually thinking about second cut hay.
It's high stress. We need that feed for the winter.
We needed to have a day away. Away from it all.
So Sunday morning, Terry and I took the two youngest girls into Ottawa. We had plans to tour the Parliament Buildings and go up the Peace Tower but when we went to get the tickets, the line up was really, really, REALLY long. So we scrapped that idea.
We went to Mass at St. Patrick's Basilica. I didn't take any photos because I'm not used to taking photos inside a church and I was just too much in awe. That is one beautiful, spectacular church. The patterns on the ceilings and the paintings and the altar....it's just amazing. AND we had communion at the communion rail. I've never experienced that. Most communion rails have been removed from the churches...our church used to have one years ago but I never saw it used. Why?....I have no idea....but I wish that they could bring them all back. Communion at the rail was so very reverent and lovely.
After Mass, we grabbed a quick lunch and then walked.
And walked. And walked.
My photos aren't the best because all I had was my phone.
We watched the boats go through the locks on the Rideau Canal.
And we found this Celtic Cross. It's in memory of all the Irish workers who built the canal.
The busker festival was happening on Sparks Street so the crowds were phenomenal.
We enjoyed supper on a patio on Sparks Street. Terry checked the radar on his phone....because he is always checking the radar on his phone....and sure enough, we were getting a shower of rain back home.
The girls really enjoyed themselves. Lydia asked if this is always here....the patio or the busker festival? The patio! How had the patio always been there and we had never eaten here before!
We must have looked approachable or local because several people asked us for directions or what the name of a building was. Of course we had no idea so we just made stuff up and made people even more lost or confused.
We told them that we had no idea....we were actually tourists too!
I was hoping to get a photo of this 'Canada 150' thing with the girls but it was really busy all day long and I couldn't actually get it all in the photo unless I stood way far back....so it didn't work out..
We stayed for the Northern Lights show.
I thought it was random lights on the Parliament Buildings but it is actually a half hour show that tells the history of our country. It's excellent.
It was a great get-a-way....for a day....and now we are back to trying to do the hay.