Submitted by Robyn Hewer, 460 Realty
Due to poor timing, the Hewer Family found itself living out many of what have now become “COVID Cliches” over the last 7 months. We bought our Great Big Project Home last summer and moved in at the beginning of September 2019. We had big plans for the house and the yard, but I was also 7 months pregnant at the time that we moved so we knew a lot of our renovation and gardening plans would be on hold until at least the Spring.
Fast forward to March of 2020; our beautiful daughter had been born, we had spent Christmas enjoying our time with family, my husband started a new job and now we were ready to get going on some of our ideas!
First up – the chicken coop! We retrofitted an old lean-to attached to the shop and Jackson (Mr. Hewer) built the birds a run that was predator proof and had a viewing window so the kids could sit and watch the chickens do their thing. But alas, here we hit COVID CLICHÉ #1 – backyard chicken tending was trendy now that everyone was spending more time at home with their families, and no birds were to be found. It was a sellers market for chickens for sure, and I saw bidding wars on Facebook groups, people jacking up the prices, starting side hustles of selling chicks and fertilized eggs – oh boy! We finally were able to track some layers down and now are the proud owners of 17 hens.
Having worked out of town for most of our adult lives, and then living on a very busy road in Nanaimo when we first moved back home, we knew that one of the first priorities would be getting a family dog when we moved into our forever home. We looked at rescues across the province with the hopes of getting a socialized young adult dog who was good with chickens, feral cats and young kids…… Turns out that dog doesn’t exist and that is how we ended up with COVID CLICHÉ #2 – our pandemic puppy Kevin, who joined our family when he was 8 weeks old, at the end of April.
If you’ve been keeping count, you would now realize that I am at home with a four year old and a baby, a coop full of chickens, two feral cats, a new puppy. Oh and working from home! Weekly Zoom meetings to try to keep up with the real estate market and the industry changes, virtual showings for clients, and even re-marketing properties that were listed right before the pandemic hit. The weather was warming and I was ready to get started on my sanctuary – the vegetable garden. I pruned back the overgrown area where the previous owners had their garden, pleaded and begged family and friends to help us build a garden fence to keep critters (both ours and wild) out, and was ready to get planting. AHA! COVID CLICHÉ #3 – everyone else at home was also starting new vegetable gardens, or expanding theirs, even starting container gardens on the decks of their condos and townhomes. Stores were selling out of seeds, couldn’t get stock fast enough, or just weren’t open, and later in the season the canning sections of all stores were empty – no jars, no lids, no canners! Thankfully my parents and I had some seeds from the year before and lots of neighbours planted too much of this and that so I was able to get some starts from people and have a fairly successful garden, with some variety of vegetables from my usual plantings. (Does anyone need Leeks? I have a surplus!)
It was a wonderful Spring and Summer at our home, even if we did run in to some unexpected roadblocks caused by COVID. I am grateful that our family and friends are healthy and that I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my kids (and the rest of the funny farm) during those first few months of the unknown. We’ve embraced being stereotypical COVID homesteaders but hope that our efforts continue way beyond the pandemic and that we can soon safely invite others over to check out The Hewer Homestead!