Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ticked Off

I used to read posts from some of my bloggy friends, in which they were complaining about the amount of ticks in their area.  I used to feel all smug because as far as I was concerned, ticks were not an issue here.  They are mentioned occasionally, but I had never found one on our dogs.  Many years ago I removed a tick that had taken hold in the corner of my mum's dog's eye, but that was the extent of my experience.  They were not something that I spent any time thinking about.   That all changed about a month and a half ago.  I was massaging Luna on the back of her neck.  I felt a little bump, and I've felt bumps before and whenever I've looked, it's always been nothing.  Maybe a bit of an old scab, but it was never a tick.  Well this time it was.  I was shocked, and a bit grossed out.  I had to google the best way to remove them.  I got an old pill vial and put some rubbing alcohol in it.  Grabbed the tick with the tweezers and pulled.  The skin pulls up and then breaks free from the tick, and the tick gets popped into the alcohol to kill it.  Some polysporin is put on the skin at that spot, if the dog hasn't moved and you can actually find the spot again.  Then a few days later I found three more on Luna.  We couldn't decide if they had come back from the Okanagan with us.  Or maybe Luna had picked them up at Princeton.  We had stopped to walk the dogs there and I remember Luna rolling in the grass, and Princeton has loads of deer.  Then one evening Jake was doing something and then suddenly stopped and scratched up near his head.  I felt around and found a tick on him.  I've lost track now, but I think we are up to about a dozen, including some just lately. The worst were two that I missed somehow on Calli.  Kind of on the underside of her jaw.  The biggest one was the size of my finger nail, or a gross swollen small grape.  It still makes me shudder to think of that one.  I figure we have ticks here.  In fact I know we do, because yesterday morning I was sat right here at the computer.  Earlier I had felt like something was crawling on me.  I had looked but seen nothing.  This time I felt it on my leg, so I pulled up the bottom of the jean leg, turning it inside out, and there on the inside of the jean was a tick wandering around.  I itched all day, and more than once yanked my t-shirt off to have a check.  I've done so much reading about ticks my mind is whirling.  What types we have here, incidences of Lyme disease, paralysis, etc.  It's mind boggling, and scary, and I just want them all to go away.  

This is the one that was on my pant leg.  It's trying it's best to 'just go away', but is stuck in the egg yolk on my breakfast plate.  It looks like a male American Dog tick, but some sources say we don't have those here, so it must be a Brown Dog Tick. 

 The dogs are getting the 'tick massage' daily.  I keep checking my head and neck.  I read that Rose Geranium essential oil helps keep ticks away.  I need to find some of that. 
 If you really want to gross yourself out, Google 'ticks on dogs' and then click on 'images'.  
You'll wish you hadn't.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Garden Tour

I'm getting behind again.  I took the pictures for this post last week, so the plants look a bit bigger now.
Thought I'd give you a bit of a tour of the vegetable garden down by the house.  The garden is not very organized.  Little bits of stuff planted here and there in some parts.  Still patches of last years kale and collards that I am still picking little new leaves off, although their days are numbered.  This garden is on a slight south facing slope.  In the bottom southeast corner there's a little patch of  red cabbage.  At the top of the picture you can just see a bit of last years kale.  That will be chopped off shortly, and I've already inter planted some fennel amongst the kale plants.

Just to the east of that is a patch of chard.  The older seedlings are doing well, and to the right of it there are a few rows of newer seedlings.

Heading further west is more of last year's kale, with my fuel stand bean support in position, but not set up and ready to go yet.

On the other side of the path is a pretty decent patch of arugula, with garlic behind.  I can see a slug on the arugula.  I wonder if anyone found a slug in their bag of arugula at the market on Saturday:(

Below the arugula is a patch of lettuce, then some beet seedlings under the cloth, and some more fennel under the screen.  While we were away I wanted to give the seeds that I had just planted some protection from birds, chickens, cats, whatever might get in there while I wasn't around to protect it.

Here's a look from the top. Garlic, then arugula, a bit of old kale interspersed with fennel, lettuce, beets and more fennel.

To the right are a couple of rows of raspberries and lots of buttercups.  I gave up on trying to keep the base of the raspberries cleared out.
After the raspberries there are basil seedlings under the plastic tunnel, a bed of cauliflower, then broccoli and  then cabbage at the bottom.   A row of snap peas runs along the left.

On the other side of the peas (on the right edge of the photo) is a bed of spinach and one of turnip greens.  At the back is more kale and flowering brussel sprouts that didn't come to much of anything last year.  The chickens will get all the old plants when I finally pull them out.  Meanwhile the bees are working hard to pollinate those flowers.  I'll leave a plant or two to set seed.

I haven't grown turnip greens before.  Can anyone tell me what they are like?
Here's a peek under the cloth.

Above the basil tent is a bed of kale, about 60 plants I think.

In the green house are tomatoes. Some already planted in the ground, and some in pots either to sell or plant outside somewhere.

There is one piece of bench still set up in there.  On there I have sunflower seedlings and a variety of squashes.  I seeded them all just before our last trip to Oliver.  I covered them all with a big clear garbage bag to keep the soil damp.  We were only gone a few days so I knew they wouldn't germinate before we got back.  While we were away a mouse had a hay day under there and dug up and ate most of the seeds.  A few survived and have since come up, and I have reseeded the rest.  It took me three nights of setting traps before I caught the little b#gger.  I had already caught one a month earlier that was kindly eating my lettuce seedlings off each night.  Tonight I was out there late and managed to get a slug that was just slithering up between the sunflower pots.  It's me against them, in all sorts of ways.

Outside, we've added a bit of red and white to the blues.

Solomon's Seal


More blue, Columbine

Okay, that was sort of a boring post.  I'll see if I can do better next time.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Back from Oliver Again

Saturday night we got back from a short visit to Oliver.  The weather and scenery were beautiful as we headed to Osoyoos from Keremeos, on our way there.  Lots of irrigating going on.  The Similkameen River runs parallel to the road, between it and that mountain range.

It was a windy day too, you can see it blowing the water.
That was a small fire burning on the mountainside.  It has been pretty dry through that area, and maybe even more so at Oliver.

It was pretty at our place.  The wallflowers were in full bloom, and the scent of them is just lovely.  We also had the scent of lilacs from the hedge on the property to the east of us.

Luna has put her ball into the vegetable garden.  She's pretty good, she knows she is not supposed to go in there, and will usually wait for one of us to come and fish it out.  Not that there was anything planted in it at that point.  We had rototilled it at the beginning of March.  Last week I pulled about ten weeds out, that's it!  If I left a plot here for nearly two months, it would be just covered in weeds.  But then you need water even for weeds to grow, and Oliver is lacking in that so far this year.

Okay then, don't get my ball...NOW.  I'll just roll and get myself covered in dry grass, which I'll then take into the house.  See how you like that then!

Squinty eyed Jake waiting patiently, and then when you don't throw it right away, impatiently, for us to chuck that toy again...and again...and again.

 And when you tell him 'That'll do!' he moves right in to get a foot rub, as in my foot rubs him.

We got a bit of a wake up call this time, as to what it is like to live with neighbours really close.  We are lucky, as there is a big hedge between us and the neighbour on the other side.  There is a back lane behind us, and the house of the other side of it mostly has the blinds closed, and their back yard is not wide open to us.  Until this Spring there has been no one living on the other side.  Then we finally met the lady that has moved in.  She's a dog lover, shares one (a dog) with her ex, and is more than willing to lean over the fence and throw something for Jake.  That was fine. 
But now the weather is warmer, and she has acquired a significant other.  The first morning we were there, it was nice and sunny.  I was just about to let the dogs out the back door for their early morning constitutional, and look through the window and see that there is some foot massaging going on just on the other side of the fence.  It was just too....odd.  I knew Luna would bark, and I would be taking Calli out onto the lawn, holding her up by the tail, to manually express her bladder, and it was just too weird seeming with them so close.  So we all went out the front door instead.    The next morning it was fine as it wasn't so warm, the chairs were empty.  During the day I put up this temporary privacy screen.  I was glad I did as that evening they had company and they were sat out there again.  I don't want to be on display every time I come out of the door.  Of course they are used to no one actually being at our place, so I'm sure they feel we are invading their privacy.  I know they will be sitting in that spot quite a bit in the summer, if they are still living there, as that will be the only shaded spot.  I'm going to try come up with something temporary that we can use when we are there, that is a bit wider than a sheet hanging on the clothesline.  I had to clothespeg it to the chair to get it to mostly stay in place.

We ate well.  Did you know you can make daisy pancakes out of just egg and banana?

And if you find a really good deal on chocolate bars (yes, we treat ourselves with the occasional little bit of dark chocolate) it's wise to stock up.  And then reconsider and go back and buy another ten bars!

I said I wanted to go on a decent bike ride while we were there.  It was sort of a cloudy day, not too warm, although Larry had just stripped off his jacket in this photo.
See that piece of mountain between his helmet and the telephone pole.  That has the radio tower on top, and we live to the east of that.  Just to give you some idea of how far we had ridden at this point, and we weren't halfway yet.

We forgot the water bottle, and then joked that we could always go to a winery for some liquid refreshment.  There were another nine wineries listed on the other side of that signpost.  
I think the look on Larry's face is a reflection of how his backside feels.  We both had a bad case of numb bum.  He had the padded seat cover, and I had the padded shorts, but that only helped for a little while.
More training in the saddle is what we need.  We rode about 20 km.

We did some walks too.  Calli at 15 years, 3 months, one week plus, is still chugging along. ( I figure after a dog turns 15, you can get really specific as to how old they are)  This was a 65 minute walk.

I did plant a few squash while we were there.  Two each in two spots along the fence line, where I'm hoping they can catch a bit of moisture from the automatic irrigation next door.  A few more, as well as a few pepper plants, in the actual vegetable garden.  Fingers crossed for a decent rainfall or two or three in the next few weeks.  We mowed the lawn and then watered it well before we left.  Calling the back a lawn is a bit of a stretch, but what is there is better than just plain dirt.  We've realized that we can't fix the lawn until someone is there full time.

And to finish off this rambling post, a shot of a cute corner of the garden.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Something a Bit Different.

Today we went to Fort Langley and met son David and his girlfriend at a British Car show held at the Community Hall.
David had been here for a few days to learn about a new computer program that the company he is working for is going to start using.  

The show was held by the  L.A.M.B. Motoring Club

It was on the grounds of the lovely community hall.

This was my favourite car, the Triumph Mayflower.  It was cute, with the two colours.  The bonnet (hood) is up for inspection

And the boot (trunk) is open and all ready for a picnic.

This was the inside, (sorry for all the reflection), with a cute little fold down table in the backseat, and I  loved the china tea cup:)

David and Christina admire an MG

 Here's one for you, Harvey!

 There was a beat up old double decker bus, complete was a lady conductor with her money bag over one shoulder and the machine that cranked out the tickets over the other.

I went up the little windy staircase at the back to the upper level.  It was always easy to spot David in his bright orange.

I have yet to perfect the art of a good selfie, I'm always squinting at the screen, trying to see it.

The token Land Rover.  Hermione is owned by someone in the same club as David.

I guess this was the other part of the 'mostly British'.  That little trailer on the back folded down to the size of a tent trailer.  Pretty cute combo don't you think?

Afterwards Meredith joined us and we all went out for lunch.  The food was good, but it was spoiled by the length of time we had to wait to be seated.  Seems that five is an awkward number.  They 'couldn't' add a chair to the end of a booth because that may block the aisle in case of a fire.  There were sections of the restaurant that weren't being used.  When we finally did get a table meant for 6, we were right next to one of the unused sections.  There was only a small piece of wall sticking out a couple of feet,  between us and a table for 6 in the next section.  David was actually on the phone to another restaurant to see if there was space there, when we were finally seated.  Then after ordering, we had to wait far too long to get our food.  We saw people seated after us, eating first.  I was looking for someone to complain to when our food finally arrived.   We aren't a complaining family, but I was close to changing that.  I'm going to the restaurant website to see if there is a place to leave a comment.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thrifty Yard Art

Saturday of the previous weekend, we headed out to some garage sales.  There was actually one just a couple of miles away, which is pretty unusual.  Their stuff was divided into two spots.  The household, 'woman's' stuff was in the carport.  Decent stuff, good prices, she just wanted to get rid of things, as they were moving.  
The man of the house has his stuff down by the barn.  Tools, etc.  He wasn't going to let his stuff go very cheaply.  I tried to bargain him down on some garden tools because I thought he was asking too much, but he wasn't going for it, so I left the tools there. 
 I'd bought a nice looking microwave for $8 from his wife, and then on our way out, I passed an old bird bath base.  I kind of thought, even though it was missing the top, it would make a neat piece of garden art.  It had a $5 price tag, I offered $2, and the hundred pound hunk of concrete was ours.  It probably was that heavy, it took the two of us to get it into the trunk of the car.  As we are driving it back home, it suddenly occurred to me what I was going to use it for.

I don't know what that metal thing on top is called, kind of like a wind vane compass sort of thing.  I bought that for $2 I think, last year.  It's been sat on the patio table since then.  The circle on the bottom of it just fits around the top of the concrete base.  (Darn, I realized after that I didn't have it sitting on there straight, but you get the idea).

Because the base used to have a bird bath top on it, there was a hole in the top that looked a bit funny.  I couldn't find anything that fit over the hole and fit under the metal sculpture.   A few days later I was at the garden center, and saw the perfect addition.  Loved that rusty metal bird, it was perfect.  I was hoping it would fit underneath and cover the hole, but it wouldn't.  You know the prices of garden art at the garden center, it's not garage sale/thrift store pricing.  I was pleasantly surprised to see this heavy metal bird priced at $5.49, so it seemed like it was meant to be.

To cover up the hole, I put a bit of soil in it and shoved some Sempervivum (hen and chicks) in it, and hope it takes root.

I have the perfect place for it to go.  David kindly dug out a massive Siberian Iris for me when he visited this week.  When I get the big hole filled in, I'm going to set my yard art right there.  I'll post a picture.

 And here's a piece of yard art for Oliver.  I was at my favourite thrift store's half price sale yesterday.  I saw this little brown bird, it's about 8" tall, and thought it was a quail.  We see lots of quail at Oliver, so this fellow is heading there

Or maybe he would rather stay here, he kind of blends in with the hens.  When I was paying the $1.50 for him, the lady at the checkout called him a guinea hen.  He's a quail to me.

And since we are on the subject of birds.  Here's my 50 cent 8" x 12" bird print.  None glare glass.  At first I thought they might be Robins, but now I don't think so.  Anyone?

Thrift stores, garage sales, finding something great for very little makes my heart go pitter patter:)