Warm Apples and Oatmeal, Not For You, For the Chickens.

Our almost 3 week old Red Rock Chick. Her feathers are coming in and you can start to see colour,, a change from the all black she was when we got her at less than 24 hours old..

When the weather is nice, I put most of my attention on outdoor tasks. There is always a small voice whispering to me; “When will you get to the dishes piling up, the closet that needs cleaned out, the planning that needs to be done?”.

With our Alberta weather, it’s usually not long before I am back indoors and can hush my anxieties with getting back to work inside.

Today I woke up to cooler weather and wind, a day that is fine to work outside but not as enjoyable.

Still fine clothes hanging weather.

I went out to take care of our 6 Red Rock chicks that are almost three weeks old. In our five years of being here, these are our fourth group of babies to join the homestead.

It’s been quite a journey.

This is our first time having Red Rock Cross Chickens. They are a combination of Barred Rock hens with Rhode Island Red cockerels. They are considered good layers. I have also read they can be aggressive with other breeds so this could be interesting.

I was 23 when I decided I wanted chickens. I was working as a Massage Therapist in London, Ontario and one of my clients would chat to me about her chickens. She lived just outside of London and had a few chickens that she adored.

Every morning she brought them out their breakfast, oatmeal and apples.

Holding onto that vision, 16 years in the making, I would bring home our first chickens. With in one month of us moving in, the girls and I picked up 6 baby chicks.

We brought them home to surprise everyone.

Our first animals added to the homestead.

I hadn’t thought it all through but knew we could handle 6 baby chicks, surely. So, they stayed in our on suite bath tub until we had a proper coop set up.

It sounds crazy and it was!! We were not even close to being fully moved in yet and here were these little “chirpers” in our bathroom.

We purchased a cute little chicken coop, put it together, mostly in the house, and then had it ready for the baby chicks once they were four weeks old. We still needed a heat lamp in their with them for 2 more weeks but they did great.

When we moved here, I was looking for adventure, something different and I definitely got it.

It turned out, out of the six cute, little, baby chicks, four of them were ROOSTERS. Let me repeat that, four of the six chicks were roosters. This was not how I had it planned. We wanted eggs.

Collecting eggs!!! Fresh eggs are delicious. We also sell our eggs, it has mostly been the kids business but this year we are hoping to sell more eggs and so I will be more involved.

As the chicks got older we had to decide what to do. We couldn’t keep four roosters.

The plan was to kill and butcher three of them. I told myself, this would be a great experience for all of us. Dave hunts but the only animal I had killed to eat was fish. I thought this would be good for the kids and I to connect with where are food comes from and understand that for us to eat meat an animal dies.

You are probably thinking…..how can I go from the dream of caring for chickens and hand feeding them oatmeal and apples to chopping off their heads and freezing them for food?!

Exactly!!

Anyway, the day we had planned to do away with our three extra roosters was cold and windy. Dave had everything set up and we encouraged the kids to be involved.

Before we got out of the house I broke down in tears. This was going to be much tougher than I had imagined.

We were able to experience the death of the roosters. It is true, chickens do run around with their heads cut off for some time.

We all helped out with plucking the feathers. Dave, who is used to gutting and cleaning up animals, took us through it and we all learned the anatomy of a rooster. In the freezer they went.

It was quite the experience.

Honestly, it took a while for me to cook one of the roosters, and no one seemed to mind.

I learned a lot that day. I felt proud that, as uncomfortable as it was, I experienced the reality of what it means to be a meat eater. I have never felt so grateful and yet so sad.

It left we with a lot of questions and some of those questions I have answered and some stay unanswered for now.

The one understanding that I did have that was very clear to me was that I cannot care for animals and then kill them.

From that day on, we have only taken animals home that we know we can care for as long as we need to. Our chickens are for laying only and we enjoy them so much.

The one rooster we did keep turned out to be the meanest rooster EVER. That is an entire blog post of it’s own.

He is over five years old. We have given him the simplest of names, Rooster. Just the other day as I was giving him water he pecked me hard on the finger. Part of the adventure, I guess.

He still gets the oatmeal and apples.

We have six more baby chicks coming at the end of June which will give us twelve laying hens. A dozen eggs a day for our egg selling business.

Lots more chicken stories to come.

Here is Rooster before he became really mean. Now he has an outdoor pen. The hens free range part time and stay in their outdoor pen part time.

What is your perfect day?

When we moved to our little piece of land, I had a picture in my head of what my days would look like.

I had binge watched Alaska The Last Frontier, Mountain Men, The Edge of Alaska and really anything I could find that made me feel a little bit closer to the dream I had of living the sunrises and sunsets, smelling the dirt, hearing the sounds of birds, coyotes, roosters crowing, the kids finding their adventures, wild and free, being outside and feeling that amazing exhaustion that puts you to sleep the minute your head hits the pillow.

Well, as you probably already know, life isn’t filled with dream days, but I believe the tough days, the challenging days, the sad days all help make the perfect days perfect.

A gift from baby bear.

So, 5 years plus, into this homesteading journey, Sunday was one of those “Perfect Days”.

I was expecting rain in the early afternoon so we got up and going right away, which is not our normal approach. We run late hours and especially on weekends move slowly.

The kids and I had been planning Father’s day, which we thought was Sunday, but really we were a week early! Everyone agreed to celebrate it as we had planned, leaving next Sunday for Summer Solstice which is a big deal in our house.

Baby Bear and Dave got outside and started a fire, I had bacon on and before you knew it we were enjoying our breakfast outside around the fire.

Fires are such an amazing gift. I remember when I lived in Banff, Alberta, I had a smelly candle that smelled like campfire. I’ve heard of people showering off the smell of a campfire, which never occurred to me that you would want to.

So, with the fire going we started our projects. Homesteading sometimes feels like that is all that it is, these projects that never end, don’t get finished, as soon as you finish one you are already behind on the next one. If you aren’t careful you can get sucked in, lose your love for the lifestyle, forget why you are doing it and feel like crying in a corner. Yes, many days, many days.

The longer we are here, the more I have learned about how to manage these projects in a way that serves us.

Mixing big projects with small ones in between for that good feeling you get by completing a project.

Nailing down time lines, list of materials and cost so we know exactly what we are dealing with.

Including projects that are just mine. Mine to learn, create, spend time on and complete. Too many joint projects left me feeling like I do when I do the dishes, or cook the meals.

I needed Homesteading to be satisfying.

Anyway, on this perfect day, a couple of projects that have been in the works for a long, long time were about to get completed, mostly.

Dave went off to finish a basketball hoop.

Mother’s Day gift for me a year ago. It was a very exciting day!

I went of to work on my Herb Spiral, garden bed that I had been obsessing over for years.

Not finished but so happy to be working on it!! A Herb spiral garden. I will be adding dirt and plants next. Even a little pool for frogs.

The kids mostly played with few arguments, the rain never came.

Next, I finished a Father’s Day gift for Dave. He loves his garlic and this year we planted it in the spring. Its a new garden bed near the house.

I made him a Dad’s Garlic garden sign. I had learned how to put posts in when we did our Raspberry Plant fence and so let me tell you that post is solid and that sign will be there for the Grand kids to enjoy one day. Everyone signed the back.

Father’s day gift for Dave, sturdy as ever with a bit of crookedness in the sign to reflect my carpentry skills. Made with love.

I was able to take the first shot at the basket! The kids spent time playing basket ball.

First shot on the new basketball hoop!!!!

We enjoyed a steak dinner. The kids watched some shows and Dave and I sat outside enjoying the beauty of the garden and watching a thunderstorm roll in. We tucked in the cucumber plants, checked on the baby chicks and called it a day!

Big skies, bring so much awe. A thunderstorm rolling in.

A day I will remember forever, but probably not the exact details. I will remember the smell of campfire, the laughter of the kids, the excitement of creating, working, the mud under my feet, the good taste of food, the sense of awe that comes from big skies and falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

A perfect day.

What is your perfect day? What makes it perfect?

How Do You Eat an Elephant? What Does an Elephant Have to Do With Yoga?

How do you eat an Elephant?

One small chunk at a time.

Have you heard that one before?

What does an elephant have to do with Yoga?

I’m going to tell you.

Sometimes Yoga can feel intimidating, especially when you first start.

I think it’s natural to think we “should” be able to flow in and out of these poses. 

That is a Myth.

I think most of us come to Yoga to learn how to thoughtfully move.

To learn what Yoga has to offer.

The KEY here is the word LEARN.

We don’t practice Yoga to already be good at Yoga otherwise I would have nothing to teach.

So…….so each Pose can be broken down into smaller movements or places to focus, JUST LIKE EATING THE ELEPHANT ONE PIECE AT A TIME until, gradually we start feeling better in the pose, or have consumed a whole elephant.

I do this with everything in my life.

Here is an example using Handstand.

Working in Pike Pose here. Creating shoulder strength and working on alignment.

I started with wrist strength.

Then Core engagement.

Working with my mental FEAR.

Shoulder strength.

And technique.

I’ve been working on Handstand for a while.

I’m not there, YET, but my wrists are super flexible and being a Massage Therapist for so many years I consider this a miracle.

My Core continues to grow stronger and I am more aware of activating it as needed in life. Less chance of injuring my low back.

Working on the fear I have had in falling translates into things I fear in life.

My shoulders, joints included are stronger and healthier.

And truthfully I am having FUN.

Using the wall to help me with balance. Yes I fell a few times.

What Pose do you want to work on?

I can help you break it down into smaller steps.

It’s easiest to start with ground up.

Meaning start with Feet placement, and work up.

I LOVE THIS STUFF and am happy to help!

Leave a comment below with a Pose you would like to PLAY in.

Happy Sunday.

Carrie

How to Keep Yoga Top Of Mind

So, you have decided that Yoga is good for you. You have signed up for classes or purchased an online Yoga membership. You know your “why”.

You loved the first class.

Or maybe you are attempting to get back into yoga. You felt really good when you were practicing before. Now just to get back at it.

You make a decision that now is the time. Lets do this Yoga Thing!

Then, it all happens. What happens?

Your intentions, your goals, your efforts are interrupted.

You run through your days, packing lunches, preparing food, grocery shopping, taking care of sick kids, or friends, neighbours, parents. You are paying bills, planning vacation, taking pets to the vet, cleaning. You know what I mean.

Each night you lift your feet off of the floor swing them into bed, and think, huh, never got that yoga in today. Sleepily, you decide you will try for tomorrow.

Yes! I know!

So, what is this Top Of Mind Thing?!

I have heard this phrase used in the business/entrepreneur world. It simply means keeping what is important to you in your face. That is my aggressive way to express it but you could phrase it keeping what is important to you at the forefront of your thoughts. Visiting your intentions regularly.

For me this phrase works perfectly when it comes to Yoga.

You want to add Yoga into your full life, keeping it Top of Mind can help you do that.

Here are ways to keep Yoga Top of Mind in your day to day life...

  1. Practice with your kids. Not all the time, but include them into this new activity you are enjoying. Their excitement for you can keep you going. Involving your partner or family is lots of fun too.
Big Sky Yoga - In the Park 
A fun time to practice while the kids play in the park or join in.

2. Practice with your pets. For some reason pets love yoga and being with you when you are doing yoga. Take some cute pictures and enjoy the experience.

One of Big Sky Yoga’s students pets. Looks like they would like to do some yoga.

3. Practice Yoga off of the mat. You don’t have to have a yoga mat to do Yoga. Come into a Standing Forward Fold Pose as you are folding laundry. Watching TV, a perfect opportunity to be on the floor enjoying Head to knee Pose, Butterfly Pose, Happy Baby Pose and so many more.

4. Practice Yoga anywhere. At the park with your kids, enjoy some Warrior Poses, Pyramid Pose. Play with some arm support poses in the grass. Handstand is a great one here and usually the kids join in.

5. Get a Yoga Buddy. I have seen this time and time again with my Yoga students. Either coming to class with friends or meeting a new friend in class, doing Yoga together is fun. It keeps you wanting to get on the mat and even plan Yoga meet ups.

These two Yogi Mama friends.

6. Get involved in a Yoga community. This could mean an online community or hanging around before and after classes to chat. Attending Yoga events in your area and getting to know others who are making Yoga part of their life. This creates social connections adding to the Yoga experience.

Lots of laughs and fun in the Big Sky Yoga classes.

7. When you register for Yoga, if you can make it work with your schedule and resources, purchase a session or a membership. I see the students who have made the financial investment show up to class much more often than those with drop in passes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the option of drop in passes and classes. They are needed.

8. Subscribe to Yoga blogs, follow Yogis on social media, take out Yoga resources from your local library. Having Yoga images and information available to you can help keep you inspired and motivated. I encourage you to choose resources that encourage you. Sometimes seeing the Yoga superstars can actually work against you, where as someone who is showing the process of Yoga can be helpful.

9. Keep you mat out even if it is rolled out and put to the side. Seeing it will be a visual reminder of your intentions.

10. Adding in reminders or alarms on your phone can help you step outside of the things you need to do to get to the mat.

11. Add a picture of a pose, or you doing Yoga, or someone you love doing yoga to your screen saver on your phone.

Do you have any things you do to keep Yoga Top of Mind?

I hope that something here resonates with you and helps you enjoy some time on your mat.

From one Yogi to another.

Carrie

Why I am Relentless in my Self Care: I am a Regulator

This is a picture of me at my Spartan Race last year in Kimberly. I had to be Relentless to finish the race. Up and down the mountain for five kilometres and twenty obstacles. It was tough going. At the moment Spartan training is part of my Self Care and the Relentless attitude comes from my efforts towards my SELF CARE.

If you know me, you know by now how passionate I am about my own self care and the self care of others. When I refer to self care I am not referring to the glamorized, media definition of the words. For me Self Care is simple, inexpensive, practical and most importantly consistent. It has to be personalized to each person and their situation and season they are in.

Over the years I have grown and evolved in this self care journey of mine. It seems as the years go on my reason for caring so much for myself becomes clearer and affirms every step I have taken to put my self care practices into place and fires my passion for sharing Self Care with others.

As I sit here, typing this right now, more than ever over this past month, I have understood how important it is for me to be able to be a calm, safe, loving and encouraging place for those around me and for myself.

I have learned that in order to create that space for me and those around me I have to be taking care of myself. Really be taking care of myself. Fighting to take care of myself when there seems to be a million reasons not to. I have had to become a warrior, holding boundaries (which has not always been easy for me), importantly making space for me in the always full calendar. When I fail, I have had to get back up, over and over and keep going. I have had to be and continue to be RELENTLESS.

If you look up Self Care on the google machine you will read many different perspectives. As I have travelled this road, I put my blinders on and walked what I felt made sense. Taking care of myself has, hands down helped me to be a better human, woman, wife, mother, neighbour and business owner.

So, what is this part about being a REGULATOR?

I am a very grateful Mother of four amazing kids. We are a neurologically diverse family and part of that is Self Regulation takes time to develop and can always be a challenge.

What is SELF REGULATION?

It is the ability to know how to respond to big emotions in a way that serves the person and others. Being able to communicate what they are feeling, being able to feel it and then being able to know how to respond or navigate it. If you have small kids you know exactly what I mean.

It feels like the end of the world if toddlers do not have their red cup. The red cup is the only cup they will use and a full out scream-fest can manifest when that cup is not presented to them.

They may appear anxious, irritable, impulsive, destructive or aggressive. Taking their brother or sister’s red cup out of their hands. They may throw the cup to the floor announcing they refuse to use this cup.

As they get older the part of the brain that handles self regulation grows and develops and they will respond differently. They may go and wash the red cup so they can use it. They may be okay with using the red cup tomorrow instead.

At that moment, you are a regulator if you are responding to them. They are looking to you to stay calm, not raise your voice and handle their big emotions compassionately.

If you have neurological diversity in the family, the development of the self control part of the brain takes longer and can even still be a challenge for adults.

Snuggling under our new weighted blanket!!!! Sleep feels so much better when you feel like you are being hugged all night long!!!

What does this all mean? For me it means that for my family and myself, I play a big part in helping regulate emotions and behaviour. Being able to do this from a calmer place allows me to equip them with skills that will help them self regulate but even then, it will depend on when their brain develops.

If lack of regulation is the cause of my kids meltdowns then punishing my kids will not bring the outcome that I want for them. I want them to learn how to stay calm, how to cope and how to adapt.

When I come at them with an angry voice, face or body language I only invoke frustration and feelings of shame and failure and I see how that seems to only increase the challenging behaviour.

Neurological differences are hereditary, in both my husband’s family and my family. With all of the science and new information coming out I am grateful to have an opportunity to create a life that reflects the strengths that come from this difference and have systems in place that support the challenges.

Are you a parent of young kids? Are neurological differences part of your world? Is there an adult, maybe a spouse that is neurologically wired differently?

How do I support my self care? Yoga, breath work, meditation, being outside, pauses and transition tricks.

If you are interested in learning more about what I do, you can find me at Outdoor Mom Yoga, on Facebook or Big Sky Yoga.

Another “Regulator” in our house! Love this girl!!

Our animals are great companions!!!

I Let Go and Decided to Enjoy the Movement

I started getting back to Yoga when my youngest son was four. I did not understand then how that decision would impact my life as well as my family.

I was looking for a way to feel better. I was used to feeling drained, exhausted, warn out, weak and done in. For the most part I had accepted that this was just the way life was, a busy Mama of four kiddos meant not much sleep and what felt like endless demands. There was a part of me that hoped it was possible to feel better, even a little better.

Off I went with my yoga mat to one class a week. That one class sometimes felt impossible to get to but the possibility of feeling better kept me going even if I missed a class or two or three along the way.

It did not take long for me to start to pull out my yoga mat at home, curious as to why this movement felt so good and seemed to breathe energy into my life.

At first it started with the benefits that come when I made space for me in my life. Being able to tell myself, the demands will always be there, take some time to take care of you.

I noticed I was less irritable and had a bit of spring in my step. This Yoga thing was mine. It felt good when the kids and my husband started to understand that Mom leaves on Tuesday nights to go to “her yoga class”.

After a surgery to remove an ovarian cyst, a knee surgery that removed 80% of my meniscus, fertility treatments, 3 pregnancies (forever grateful) and 3 C – sections, I did not know this body of mine. One of the things that Yoga provided for me was a way to get to know it. Each asana, pose, left me with a new understanding of my body and over time I was able to use this information to take care of myself better and to challenge myself safely.

The breath work became a tool I could take out at anytime to reset my nervous system. I noticed I was more in control of myself, less reactive.

As time went on I wanted to share this with all women. That there was a movement practice that brought about so much transformative change in my life. For me, it being practical, sustainable and not expensive was so important. That almost anyone could practice it was another amazing attribute.

I registered with the Alberta Yoga Collage in Calgary for my 200 hour teacher training. Started teaching as soon as I finished and a year later put my Massage Therapy Practice to the side to continue to bring Yoga to women as a transformative self care option.

When I first started practicing yoga, I was stiff. I felt like I was the last person who should be in a Yoga class. I was told I was wearing the wrong pants. I felt like an imposter. Who was I to think I could be a Yoga student? I challenged all of these thoughts because the classes felt so good.

In most of the postures I had very little flexibility. I was grateful for Child’s Pose and for the standing poses because I felt more comfortable practicing those. When I would attempt a forward fold, there was very little forward movement.

In this seated wide legged forward fold (picture below), I sat on two blankets and would work to keep my torso upright. It felt so good.

I decided then and there that I was doing Yoga because it made me feel good. I was not here to perform or to put any pressure on myself to fit into these poses. I was not coming to class to put another demand on myself, I was here to take care of myself.

I LET GO AND DECIDED TO ENJOY THE MOVEMENT!

Oh, what a beautiful journey it has been and continues to be!! Making that decision to let myself off the hook. To do yoga because it felt good. To show up on the mat to move and breathe because I could, not because I had to. TO KNOW THAT BEING ON THE MAT, when I could, WAS ENOUGH. I believe that making that decision has allowed me to stay practicing.`


This picture is not here to show you that I can do this pose. Doing the pose was never my goal. I am sharing this picture because the space I now have in this pose comes from a place of caring for myself, the same as when I sat upright, sitting on two blankets in this same pose 3 years ago. Consistently taking care of myself has over time brought me to a place where I have more flexibility, more strength, more space to think before I react.
The simple intention of caring for myself has impacted me and those around me in ways I never could have known.

I am very grateful that I went looking for a way to feel better. I am very grateful that Yoga met me in my exhaustion. That my mat became a place to be, free from demands and expectations.

I hope you experience that same freedom on your mat.

Do I have to sit still to meditate or be mindful?

One of my favourite spots. Its a swimming hole, picnic area and place to pause.

This is pretty close to home and one of my favourite spots. It’s a swimming hole, picnic area and a place to pause.

I used to think of meditation as sitting in complete quiet, no interruptions for a few minutes to an hour.
That is definitely one form of meditation but for me and my season, moving meditations are easier to integrate into my day to day.

It can be walks outside, trips to the creek or even a local park. As I interact with those around me and my environment, using all of my senses. 

Hearing the sounds of the moving water and laughter, or arguing of my kids.

Seeing the colours and textures and shapes that make up the landscape.

Feeling the gentle rain land on my skin. Feeling my feet as they press on the ground. 

Tasting the bitterness of my warm coffee.

Smelling the damp vegetation, the mosquito spray, the fresh rain.

I can’t help but feel grateful without even trying to feel grateful. It flows out of me with each moment.

Including these opportunities where all of my senses come alive, consistently, has created equanimity in me.

This has come without me trying to get it, which is almost the most perplexing part of it.

Do you include breath work, meditation or mindfulness in your days?
How do you do it?
How has it changed you?

Summer Wind Down Yoga class – August 28th

Finish up summer with some YOGA.

“If it could only be like this always–always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe.”

Evelyn Waugh

Join me in Big Sky Yoga’s Last Pop Up Class of the Summer

Summer Wind Down Yoga

A Yoga Flow with a mix of intensity and slow flow.

Wed. August 28th

7:30-8:30pm

$15

Register by email.

dcwiwcharuk@yahoo.ca

This class will be held at the Five – O Club WEST Building in Didsbury.

Sunday

Shouldn’t you always give 100% effort to everything?

First of all I’m not a fan of the word “should”, but that aside, I have found that putting in 75% effort has allowed me to stay consistent in my practice. 

There are so many areas in my life where I feel challenged, where I am giving 100% or more and to be able to come to my mat as I am, without huge expectations or “should s” is a retreat!

Other things I do consistently,

🧘‍♂️I rest in my practice. I will take Child’s Pose throughout my practice. This gives me the opportunity to rest, come back to my breath and check in with myself.

🧘‍♂️I rest in poses. I love flows, moving from Pose to Pose is a beautiful dance for me but I also appreciate the time I get when I hold a pose. Softening in it as I need to so I can “rest” in it.

I do all these things whether I’m doing a restorative class or a high energy flow.

By practicing this way, I mostly eliminate any judgement or evaluation that I may have tried to put on myself. I lower the chances of being frustrated or feeling failure in my practice.

I am nourished on my mat.❤️

#bigskyyoga #didsburyyoga #nourishment #sunday