Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Paddling Down Memory River

A month or two ago Meredith acquired a kayak, a real kayak.  No money was exchanged, but a few hours of work and a lot of good will made the kayak hers.  Since it's 14' length was way too much to fit in the storage locker of her condo, it's snuggled up here in the barn/shop with our two.  She was wanting company on her first trip in the kayak, so she asked us if we wanted to go on Victoria Day (Monday).  We said sure and we had some discussion about where to go, but with it being a long weekend and a lot of people out camping and places being busy, and the water levels of the lakes and rivers being high, we couldn't decide.  I came up with the Nicomekl river.  About a 40 minute drive, and not a swimming or great boating spot, which meant not too many boats or bodies in the water, so that is where we ended up.

We put the kayaks in at Ward's Marina, which is part of Elgin Heritage Park, home of the historic Stewart Farm. Ward's Marina is the home of the Mud Bay Yacht Club, and is where my dad used to moor his 20' sailboat.  My Dad passed away 31 years ago on that sailboat out in Mud Bay.

Anyway, I sort of thought of all this while we were there, but they were just memories and I didn't feel too emotional.

Now there should have been pictures of this first bit, but alas, there aren't.  We unloaded the kayaks and Larry went to move the truck, so Meredith and I carried the two smaller ones down the concrete boat ramp.  The tide was way out, the river at this point is very close to the ocean, so is greatly affected by the tides.  The concrete ended, and it was mud....so off to the side was more mud and lots of oyster shells or something else maybe, but I seemed to think the ground would be firmer there, so I  said I would check it out.  Ha ha, I instantly sank to my ankles in goop, so glopped my way out of the shoe sucking stuff.  In the meantime, a couple of other kayaks had pulled up to the dock, and were unloading there.  Well duh, why hadn't we realized that was the way to go.  Another guy was pushing a wheel barrow up the ramp from the dock and had a smirk on his face, probably silently laughing at me the idiot prancing around the muck.   We hadn't boarded the kayaks from a dock before so we were hoping the other people would leave in case one us made a fool of ourselves and tipped our kayak.  Fortunately, it all went okay, maybe some rocking kayaks, but kayaks and paddlers all remained the right way up.

We set off upriver and came to a bay with lots of boats moored.  After my dad died, Larry and one of his brothers bought the sailboat from my mum.  The frugal brother decided that he was not paying a monthly rent at the dock, he was going to put in a mooring in the bay where it was a free for all.  That's probably a whole chapter in itself, the floating of some massive thing out there and then sinking it.  I think the first one started to drag, so they had to do it again.  Anyway for the rest of it's time in our family's possession, the sailboat was moored in that bay.  
When we paddled through there it was like the marine version of a homeless camp.  Sure there were some decent looking boats, but other moorings had all sorts of oddball things tied up and floating next to some sort of boat.  Things like those white plastic clamshell car top carriers.  Anyway, it was interesting to paddle by, to say the least!



I had my phone in one of those waterproof bags, hung around my neck, and took pictures from there. At first the edge of the bag was covering part of the lens, so those pictures were garbage.  It was hard to see the phone and just very awkward, so I am going to look for a cheap point and shoot and use that.  

We kept going upriver and went past some expensive houses with expensive boat houses and expensive boats.  The property in the background here has a windmill. I've actually been to it once.





I took this picture because David lived at this property for a semester while he was going to UBC (University of British Columbia)  It belonged to a lady he knew in the horse world, and made his commute to university half of what it would have been from home.



At this point we had reached the dam on the river and have turned back downstream.  The tide was coming in so the paddling wasn't any easier.  That black blob on the sand bar was a heron just about to take flight.



Wards Marina straight ahead!



Larry had had enough, but Meredith and I paddled downriver to the next bend.



She almost looks like she is levitating in this one!



One of the boats moored at the marina.



I took a photo of the kayaks in the back of the truck when we got home, so we could remember how we had strapped them in, which worked quite well.



Today I decided to look up some photos that I could remember.  
So this is Meredith in 1986, in my Dad's sailboat, on the same river, with some young guy, who the heck is he, oh, that must be Larry!



And then were more pictures when Larry and my dad took a trip to Saturna Island.  Here they are heading down the river to the ocean.



My mum and Meredith and I took the ferry over to Saturna Island and joined them for an afternoon of sailing.




I have to admit I did get emotional looking at these pictures.  My dad loved kids, and Meredith was the only one of his 6 grandchildren that he got to meet.  He passed away a few short months after this photo was taken, doing what he loved.



Monday, May 14, 2018

Chicken Day

I think I post about this every year, so it is a story you have heard before, but it cracks me up every. single. time. So for my sake you have to read it once again (or not). 

Every year when we buy new pullets (young hens just about ready to lay), I put an order in for the next year, March or April I say.  Most years I never get a phone call back from them, and because it is now my responsibility to call them, like many things, I put it off.  Anyway, I finally made the call near the end of April and was told it would be very soon, she would give me a call back, which she did in a week or two, and last Wednesday was declared chicken day.  Because we had lots of customers who were able to take care of all the eggs during the winter, I said that we would put the new hens in the old coop, which has been empty since the beginning of last year.  We put a temporary fence up so that they could have a grassy area to wander.  Once they got laying I would get rid of the oldest flock, and the new hens would fill their spot.  The old coop had some leaks in the roof, we had a bit of discussion on how to fix that, but the decision was made for us when I noticed a robin's nest built over the window of the coop, under the protection of an overhanging bit of tarp.  Every time we went close, the mother flew off, so we had to figure out how to disturb her the least amount. I did have a quick peak and saw eggs, so knew she needed to be on that nest to keep the eggs warm.  So our quick roof fix was to take a piece of that same plastic I used to repair the greenhouse, and cut it to length.  The width was enough to go from the bottom edge of one side of the roof, over the peak and to the bottom edge of the other side.  We got it up there, then a breeze picked up, so we had to get it up there again, but it didn't take long and we got some staples in along the edge and it was good. 


I was the last person to pick up their pullets that Wednesday afternoon, (hey, might as well let the hatchery feed them as long as possible!).  We used to take cages but now we empty out the back of the truck and throw a bit of hay in and the pullets are all put in there.  It easier all round as far as I am concerned.

I pulled up to the gate when I get home, Jake was laid on the driveway, and then Luna appeared and ran down and then stopped, head in the air, sniff, sniff, sniff, I smell chickens!
Now generally, she isn't really that interested in the chickens.  In her younger days she would follow one around if  it got out into the back yard.  She loves to go with me to the south coop, which is off the ground, and lays underneath it while I do what ever I am doing there, but generally she just ignores them now.

The camera doesn't capture the intensity, she really is like a coiled spring here, the excitement, oh the excitement....chickens in a truck!!




Oh, chickens in a truck, moving around in there!!
Does this photo make my butt look big?
Yes it does, but your butt is not big at all. 


We backed the truck up to the coop door, we could get it close but there was still a bit of a gap with the tailgate down.  The chickens don't want to leave the truck, so that involves me climbing in there, hoping I don't put my knee(s) on a nice fresh poop, and using my arms to sweep groups out.  Some cooperate and jump to the coop, some do everything in their power to stay in the truck.  Luna sat in the gap between the tailgate and coop, and I had to tell her to lay down, which she did, and then she had chickens fall on her as some didn't quite make the leap from truck to coop.  Did she care or move, nope, she was such a good girl. 

I let her go into the coop after, and here she is looking as border collieish as she ever does.





I got a peek in the nest while we were there.  One had hatched the day before, and now there were one or two more!!



Ramona is giving me a reminder that shearing time is coming up.



And a couple of days later there were definitely three!


The pullets had already started to lay, and Thursday we got fifteen little eggs.  On Sunday we were up to twenty five,  so that is 50%! I think we might donate these little eggs to the food bank.  The yolks are quite pale compared to our other eggs.  Maybe another week of eating grass will colour them up a  bit.



Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Christmas Present

Kind of a funny title for this time of the year, but the last part finally got finished the other day, and I wanted to share the transformation.

When Meredith bought her condo, I seemed to be involved in the furniture she acquired.  I either found it for her, did a makeover, helped her do a make over, was there when she bought it at a thrift store or garage sale, you get the idea.  I always felt that she needed a little counter height table in her kitchen alcove.  She had a little tea cart in there that was originally my mum's, and had a dining  table and chairs from Larry's mum on the other side of the dividing wall.  The tea cart wasn't the right scale,  but at least it was a something  that you could store a few things in or put something down on.

About a month or so before  Christmas the table below, a 'bar' table they called it, came up on Bidding Wars.  I sent this picture to Meredith, fully expecting like everything else that I sent her, she would say 'thanks, but no thanks'.  
Well she proved me wrong, and said she was interested, maybe because I had added in that I would do a makeover on it for her as a Christmas present.  So I managed to be the winning bidder of the set at $15.


The table how I pictured it from the photo, size wise, and the size it really was when we went to pick it up, were quite different.  

Anyway,  took it home, took it apart, and started sanding and painting.  It dominated the utility room for quite a while.  



The wood stove made made a handy horizontal surface for the stool legs.  Obviously it wasn't in use at this moment!





I got excited when I started sanding the top and a nice wood grain appeared.  I texted Meredith and said that maybe I should just stain the top.  So I kept sanding and there were some flecks of the dark original paint buried in the wood grain.  I sanded more and then the wood grain disappeared.  See that    medium brown round area on the left?  The wood grain veneer was so microscopically thin that I had sanded it away!  So back to the painting plan.



My mistake was not to continue sanding all of the dark paint off, as it took quite a few layers of the white to give an even finish to the table top



The stools were covered in vinyl, and it was ripping around the edges.  I came up with various options for reupholstering the stool tops.  I even found these extra large linen cushion covers at the thrift store.  They were a natural off white, and had a large pattern embroidered on them in a shimmery bluey grey colour.  One cushion had the embroidery on both sides, so I just bought the one for 75 cents.  When I got it home I was so taken with it, and my mind got working, and I thought it would look great on the seats of Meredith's dining room chairs.  Many years ago I had recovered them for my mother-in-law in a 'fashionable' (at the time) blue green with coloured flecks.  There had been two cushions at the thrift store, and luckily when I went back the next day, the other cushion was still there.  I gathered together a few options that I had for recovering the stools, and showed them to Meredith the next time she was over.  She picked a blue and white striped denim, like the overalls that guys working on the steam trains are pictured in.  

This was Christmas morning.  Doesn't Meredith look so excited?  Haha, not!



The reveal



It's funny how the camera can't really 'read' the stripes, but they are all vertical around the edge of the seat, well matched at the seam, so that you can't even notice it, and run in a straight line across the top.  The 'piece de resistance' was the piping that I took off the big cushions and used between the sides and the top.  I loved how it turned out.

In postion at Meredith's.



Meredith went to visit David and Melissa in Edmonton this last weekend, so we made daily visits to her place to feed her cat. We took the seats off the chairs, brought them home, and I stapled the cushion sides on them.  I've got to say I really loved how they turned out.



The seats aren't as white as they appear, and the design is a bit more blue.  They don't get used much at all, so they should stay decent looking for a long while.
The table and chairs are a Duncan Phyfe style, a copy, not an antique.  
I think Toast the cat approves too. 


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Still Here

We had a very wet Spring this year, cool too.   Not as bad as some people, who had snow until past the middle of April.  It's all relative though, I think everyone had a later, colder, wetter or snowier Spring.

The Trilliums in our bush have been blooming for quite a while.  They have all reached the pinky purply colour now.  One day I saw a clump of bigger looking Trilliums (not only do they have three petals, but most often seem to grow in clumps of three), so I crashed through the bush to get to them. On the way I came across the deer skull from the cougar kill of a few summers ago, so I carried it over to the Trilliums.  There was something about the contrast, death and rebirth maybe, and I was so taken up with the skull next to the Trilliums that I didn't even get a decent picture of them.


  
Now I'm not really big on using dog coats, but with so many rainy days, sometimes you just want to have less 'dog' to dry off when you get back to the house.  I found the nice red one for Jake at the thrift store just recently, it is a good fit and lots of coverage, and it only cost me $5.  I think he looks like a red burrito!




Luna and Bella had some deep discussions about the endless rain.....



I took the ducks out for a paddle in the drainage canal I dug next to the new row of rhubarb I planted. I've already mentioned the local Bidding Wars group on Facebook that I'm active in.  Well this time I was the winner of a whole bunch of rhubarb plants.  Enough to plant a row of about 20, and another 20 or so that I potted up and will take to the market, which starts in a week!



Then I took the ducks for a visit with the chickens, who didn't give a hoot, or a quack!  The wet hens have the same 'tail down' posture of the ducks.


I planted some kohlrabi and broccoli seedlings, and spread some of the ash from the wood stove around them.  It's supposed to help prevent club root.  The big plants are kale from last year, which are sending out nice tender leaves before they flower and go to seed.



There's a new man in the flock.  The little rooster in the header photo passed away a few weeks ago, he was a good age, he lived at least nine years at our place.  Just after that a free little rooster came up  in a Facebook group I'm in, so I offered him a good home, and went and picked him up.  I like to have a rooster to give a warning when predators are near.  There was a great carry on the other day, I could hear the rooster's little voice shrieking 'danger, danger'.  When we ran outside there was nothing to see, the hens were all hiding, so maybe an eagle had made a low pass.



Getting this new little guy, who is quite vocal, made me realize that our old one wasn't using his voice much in the last while.  I like to hear a rooster crow!



All the rain meant there was lots of opportunities for getting stocked up with jam and marmalade.  I didn't take all those opportunities, but did get some made.  The fixings for Three Fruit marmalade in this picture



When you have two leaky boots that are opposite feet, the Fashion Forward Frugal Farmer puts the two good ones together and makes a statement! 



And does something fun with the leaky two!



And then it seemed like we went from a wet cold Spring straight into Summer.  Warm and sunny, shorts and t-shirt weather, and the dog's first official swimming session of the season!




The greenhouse is getting a bit of use, I've planted a few tomato plants and potted up some of the Red Russian kale that seeds itself in the vegetable garden each year.



The trees have all burst into full bloom.  That's the ornamental cherry in front, the Bartlett pear in the centre, the Comice pear to the right of it by the barn, and to the left an unknown apple tree just coming into bloom.  On the left of that, quite tall, is what's left of a cherry tree.  We'll be lucky to get any of those cherries. That dark thing down the left side of the photo is the cover over the patio umbrella which I should have cropped out.  It is hiding a clothesline of laundry, of the sort I wouldn't want to be in the photo­čść



When you stood next to the fruit trees you could hear the wonderful roar of many many bees hard at work. Here on the Bartlett tree.



And another bee on an apple blossom



A few tulips whose days are just about done



And pansies, that I'm pretty sure were planted here in Spring of 2017!!



Even out in our bush, the wild cherries are just a mass of blooms, we have never noticed so many as this year.  The pink is the salmonberries blooming.  


And now, unfortunately, we are back into cold and rain.