Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Total B(ody) S(trengthening)

After having lost 25 lbs since the start of the year, I've often felt that I needed to amp up my exercise.  Sure I get lots of ambling around here, get the occasional bit of a work out chopping wood or pushing wheelbarrows of compost to spread on the garden, but I felt like I should be doing more.  The dog walks these days are at a slower pace to fit Calli's speed.  I had thought that I should get up early and take the two collies for a brisk walk first thing in the morning, but I can't seem to drag myself out of bed in time.  I am hoping to train for the 10km Sun Run again this year.  It takes place in April, and training starts in January, and I'd like to get some sort of a work out before that.  

Meredith has been going to various exercise classes on and off, and now is going twice a week to a Total BS class.  She had a coupon for a free class so I took her up on it Monday night.  The instructor is one of those effervescent types, and she talked on about a new form of exercising that she is really interested in bringing to her class.  So we got a taste of it on Monday night.  Sets of strengthening exercises done at an increasingly intense pace with a recovery period in between.  Some of them weren't bad, some were exhausting and I couldn't complete the sets, and I could feel muscles being worked that had never been worked like that in a long while.  At the end we did quite a bit of stretching.  I went home and did more stretching, and glugged down water.  I could feel muscles tightening up a bit, and was dreading what the next day might bring.  I was feeling particularly smug on Tuesday morning because I felt pretty darn good.  The quadriceps that were aching the night before, didn't feel as bad.  Going up and down stairs was okay.  Since I wouldn't be sitting around all day I thought I would be okay.  And I was, for the first while.

About noon we headed out for a few groceries.  First to the butcher shop, then the green grocer, then the grocery store, and then another grocery store.  I noticed that I was feeling pretty stiff every time I got out of the car. Larry left me at the last store and continued on to the Co-op to get chicken feed.  He seemed to be taking a while to get back, and then I remembered I turned the volume off on my phone the night before.  I checked, and sure enough there was a text from him17 minutes earlier.  Larry had locked his keys in the car, did I have mine.  Fortunately I did, and I texted him back and asked if he was still there.  He said he was walking my way, was nearly half way.  The Co-op was 2 1/4 miles away.  Actually only two miles, but Larry had not thought of taking the angle road that cut off a bit of the distance.  I said to wait and I would start running.  Optimistic or what?  First off my footwear wasn't suited for running, but I tried.  My legs were so stiff at that point that it was a chore to walk at a decent pace.  I set off down the side of the busy highway.  When the legs loosened up a bit I managed to get a few seconds of jogging in, no more. A cold northeastern wind was blowing, thank goodness I had a hood on my jacket, and I was walking with the wind.  By the time we met up I had gone about 3/4 of a mile and Larry a mile and a half.  He turned around and we walked the mile and a quarter back to the Co-op.  My legs didn't loosen off any more.  When we got home I could barely get out of the car.  The dogs didn't get an afternoon walk, we were done.  I seemed to get even stiffer as the evening went on.  

I thought I would take a bath.  I'm not a bath person, I can't remember the last time I had a bath. I pictured myself laid back in a hot bath reading a book.  I used to do that a lot as a teenager.  So I have one arm full of a big towel and book and robe etc.  With the other arm I'm reaching up to the top shelf of the cupboard next to the sink in the utility room where I think there is some Epsom Salts.  There is, and by the look of the bag, probably the last time the salts were being used was out in the barn to soak a horse's foot or leg.  As I am dragging the bag off the top shelf I managed to drag a plastic container that is now teetering on the edge, threatening to drop into the egg bucket below.  My hands are full and with the back of my hand I manage to push the container a bit to the right so that it drops into the sink and not the egg bucket.  But darn it all, if it doesn't go and bounce from the left sink into the right sink, where the cleaned eggs are on a rack.  I guess I can be thankful that only one egg broke.

I get all my stuff into the bathroom and realize there is no plug for the bathtub.  I'm not the only one that never has a bath, showers all the way at this house!  Back to the utility room I go, and look in the junk drawer.  Found a plug for the sink, but that is too small for the tub.  I start looking looking for something that will at least slow down the exit of the water down the drain.  I see a nipple from a baby bottle, leftover from our bottle feeding lamb days.  And guess what, it is just the right size and does the job perfectly.  I get the hot water going and start filling the tub.  I dump some lumpy Epsom Salts in from the grubby looking bag.  I get in the bath slowly and carefully, guarding my sore quadriceps.  I position myself with my legs fully submerged.  And then I start to get too hot.  The ceiling exhaust fan is going.  I lay still and try to ignore the panicky feeling coming on.  I finally have to do something, so open the window over the tub into which the arctic air coming from the east blows in, suck in some cold refreshing breaths, and submerge my legs again.  I think about the book, but I know I'm not going to be able to stay still long enough to read.  I get that panicky feeling again and finally just give up and get out of the bath. What a waste of a lot of hot water.  I'm reminded again why I much prefer showers to baths.  I'm a little looser when I head up the stairs. 

This morning I felt better than last night, but didn't improve any more during the day.
Meredith said her hamstrings were sore.  The second class of the week got moved to Wednesday this week, usually it is on Thursday.  To bad, as it was not long enough for us to recover.  I was planning on going again this week, but tonight is too soon.  Meredith isn't going either.  She actually saw the instructor today and told her she probably wouldn't make it tonight.  The instructor said she was sore too.....Well that just made me laugh! 
I feel don't feel so bad now.

Mt. Cheam from the freeway on our last trip to Oliver

Monday, November 23, 2015


One of the stores where I buy my canning jars decided to put them on sale to clear out their stock at the end of the season.  Not that canning has a season for me, but it definitely does in some stores. The only problem was that they decided to put a limit of 6 boxes of everything at the sale price.  So every time I went in there I loaded up the cart with 6 of each size of jar, 500ml, 250ml, and 125ml and some were of two different brands, so I was able to get 12 of some sizes.  They were either Bernardin or Golden Harvest.  As well they had the pectin on sale, both the no-name and Certo, and also lids for the standard jars as well as boxes of lids and rings for the widemouth and standard jars.  Some days I took a load out to the car, and then went back in and went through the checkout again.  Sometimes Larry was with me, so we each got a cart.  By the time the jars were all sold we had about 150 cases of jars, and loads of lids and pectin.  The jars will probably take me 1/3 to 1/2 way through next year.  I do get a lot of jars back from customers, I give them 25 cents off their  next jar of jam for each jar they bring back.  The jars were nearly half price, and the boxes of lids and rings were a relative steal, at $1.14 for the standard ones, and $1.74 for the widemouth.  The regular price for those wide mouth boxes of lids and rings was $6.99.  Good grief.  The boxes were all stacked in the family room for quite a while, but one evening while I was making jam, Larry set about and cleaned out the closet under the stairs and now they are all stacked neatly in there.

On this particular day we had another load in the back seat of the mini farm truck car.  The people that I had bought the squash from had a tough time selling them all.  At one point they lowered the price to 10 cents a pound!  I dropped some boxes off for them one day, and they gave me some free squash, ones that were blemished on the outside.  They talked about donating them to the food bank and the Salvation Army kitchen and chucking them down the ravine.  I said that before they chucked them down the ravine, to give me a call as I would be quite happy to come and pick them up and bring them back for the chickens.  Just before Halloween they had managed to sell most of their squash, but they had two wheelbarrows full of spaghetti squash for the chickens if I wanted to come and get them.  We got them that afternoon, and since we were half way to town we continued on and got that load of canning supplies in the picture above.

Some of those squash were massive
The hens are more than grateful.  Here they are early on a frosty morning, digging right in. 

If I remember they get one a day, and for the most part the whole thing, skin and all, is gone by nighfall.

We have some more cool nights coming after today's rain.  I'm wondering how cold it can get before it is too cold for the cabbages.  It's hit -3 or 4 Celsius so far, and they seem to be fine, especially the red cabbages.  The forecast was for it to go down to -10 at night later this week, but now that's been adjusted to -5.  I should probably cut the biggest cabbages at least, as it would be maddening to have them all freeze and then turn into mush.  There are still carrots and beets out there.  I could mulch them well and they would be okay, but that just gives the voles a nice cosy spot to munch on them, protected from the elements, so that might not be an option.  

In the meantime there are still dahlias that need digging up.  Tomorrow looks like a good day to hopefully get most of that done.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Pattern

Some of you might recognize a pattern here.  I go AWOL for a while, so we must have gone to Oliver.  That seems to be how it works.  And then we get back and have to get ready for a market, which takes up all of Sunday by the time I've visited my mum out that way.  Then Monday is recovery day sort of, but this week I had some paperwork that I needed to deal with, which I did.  Tuesday was appointments, Wednesday was planting garlic day (finally!), and here we are at Thursday already.  The daylight is so limited now, it seems like we spend a good part of it exercising the dogs.  Which is certainly what we did last week.  We actually had five nights away this time, which is the most since back in the Spring before the farmers markets started.  I didn't make any jam, or do any sewing, although had taken supplies to do both.  What I did do was read two books of just under 400 pages each, in three days.  We went to the Remembrance Day ceremony. We fit in two decent bike rides, and lots of walks.  The weather was sunny three of the days were there, cloudy one other, rained twice a little bit overnight, and then on Saturday was cloudy and threatening rain, or raining lightly, depending where you were.

On Friday afternoon we drove to Okanagan Falls, which is 15 minutes north of Oliver.  A good place to visit, gas always seems to be cheaper there, and was four cents cheaper than Oliver and even a cent cheaper than Abbotsford.  Okanagan Falls was were we first began our Okanagan adventure, four years ago.  We were familiar with the trail that runs alongside Skaha Lake on the old Kettle Valley Railway rail bed.

  Looking north near the start of the trail, after crossing the trestle over part of the lake.

That's the highway you can see, partway up the hill.  The trail stays along the lake.

I'm always in hunter gatherer mode, so while I stopped to collect some Ponderosa Pine cones, Larry checked out a cave up the sand hill.

Looks like a death trap to me.

I thought I'd be able to pick the cones right off the tree, but not a chance, they wouldn't come off. I had to sort through the ones on the ground.  We stopped in various spots and I ended up with three plastic grocery bags full.  I was trying to pick up just the perfect ones.

We rode to Kaleden, which is roughly 1/3 of the way along the lake.  The light was already starting to dim. One day we are going to leave ourselves enough time and attempt the ride all the way to Penticton at the north end.  One other time we got about 2/3 of the way.  We figure it will take about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half, and then of course there is the ride back.

The pine cones get sorted into smaller bags, and I sell the bags at the market for a couple of dollars each.  If sales go like last Sunday's I'll be out of cones very quickly.  
I knew I should have gathered more!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


 We have a couple of hay fields at our place.  Years ago when we had four horses and a small flock of sheep, we weren't able to hay it, it was all eaten as pasture.  As the years went by, the horses started to die off, and the sheep herd dwindled, and we started to make some hay for our animals.  Then we were down to just a few sheep, no lambs and one horse, and we had lots of hay and were able to sell some.  Now we have no horses and just one sheep, and we got tired of our old equipment and the physical exertion hay involved, and we handed the grass over to our neighbour.  He has been cutting it twice a year for the past few years, and we are happy we don't have to deal with it any more.  This year, being such a dry year, the first cut was done in May, the earliest in quite a few years.  And then we ran out of rain, and it was really dry and warm, and the grass didn't grow enough to make it worthwhile to do another cut.  The rains returned in September, and brown grass was all of a sudden lush and green again, but it was too late in the year to cut it for hay.  There was a lot of grass out there, and it seemed like it was going to waste.  If we had a really cold winter it would die off and then there would be a lot of dead grass mixed in with the first cut of hay next year.  So we offered the grass to our friend.  She raises cattle and has a booth next to us at the farmers market in the summer.  On Monday night she brought three bred heifers over.  A heifer is a young animal that hasn't calved yet.  We locked them into our old riding ring for the night, and this is what met me when I walked out there in the morning.

They had done a fair bit of eating overnight, but were happy to get out to 'greener' pastures.

There was a bit of jostling as they came down the alleyway.

At one point we ended up with two in the hay field and one still in the alleyway. She was leaning over the fence and looking a bit worried about not being with her buddies.  Luna and I went up another field to get behind her and gently moved her down to the gateway.  Of course they've never seen a dog on wheels or a soccer playing one either.

Lots of grass to keep them going for a while.

After they've trimmed this field up, we'll move them out to the back one.

Kind of fun to look out there and see something different.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Collard Thief

I looked out of the window the other day, and what do I see, but the sheep on the back lawn.  When we had a few sheep she had a bit more of a name, either the fat ewe or the young ewe.  Well now she is the only ewe, so she is just 'the sheep' or 'the ewe'.  We have a little gate that goes into her field that is on a springy hinge, put in way back when so that when we were carrying an arm load of hay, we didn't have to struggle to open a gate.  Over the years, some of the sheep figured out how to open that gate by getting their top lip behind the edge and pulling it towards them and then barging through.  I think the hinges have got weaker/rustier over the years and don't spring the gate shut as fast or as strong.  Anyway, it is all fine, if the sheep doesn't think there is enough food in her field, she can let herself out, go along the back of the barn and around the corner, and depending which gates are open, has a choice of other spots to eat.  It's pretty darn handy for the most part.  The only negative part is that we MUST REMEMBER to make sure that the gate that would let her onto the back lawn from the alleyway, is closed.  And sometimes, we forget.  

Luna came out with me and virtually slithered down the steps from the deck and across the lawn to get to her.  It's so hard to capture her intensity with the camera, because generally she doesn't get down low, although she sure was going down the stairs.

The sheep came over to me, maybe I had an apple?

No I didn't.  
There is a patch of collards and kale at the top of the driveway near that open gate, that she would always help herself to when she got out.  It had a bit of a fence around it to keep the dogs out, but it certainly wasn't sheep proof.  A while back I finally beefed up the fencing, thinking that if the sheep got out again, at least she couldn't get at the greens, because she's helped herself a few times over the summer.  So I was feeling all smug when I walked over to check on it, and low and behold if the sheep hadn't pushed underneath my netting and got in there and eaten a few bunches of collards, and this time some of  the kale as well. Sorry veggie customers! Then she had crossed the driveway to where I had cleared out the garden where the salad greens had been growing, and there had been one volunteer chard plant that was looking really healthy that I had left.  She had eaten that off too, as well as an unusual looking lettuce growing next to it.  
Frustrating, although, yes, it is our own fault.

Luna, quit looking like a bird dog and give her a nip for me!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Bone Thief

Yesterday afternoon Larry made the drive into Vancouver to the ophthalmologist, for a checkup on his Fuch's Dystrophy cell transplant.  He wasn't back by late afternoon, and the dogs were expecting their walk. Since they had been to the dyke in the morning, I took them through the bush in the afternoon.  Now I think this may be the first time I've walked through there without Larry since the cougar/deer incident.  I had the Bear Bell and the Kougar Konker with me, which really is probably unnecessary, but it made me feel better.  I'm sure a cougar or a bear has been in our area other times, and we have been totally unaware.  I wasn't nervous, and it's easy to see through the underbrush now, so I didn't feel like I could be surprised by something hiding close by. This picture is for you Henny, because your picture of Eli with his bear, so makes me think of Jake with his rabbit.

And I've discovered that Jake is the little stinker that is carrying bits of deer carcass back to the house.  He usually pokes around where the deer was, picks up a bit of something and carries it out to the trail and along on our walk.  Then he may drop it somewhere along the way when something smelly catches his interest, or he may carry it all the way back.  He thought this bit of backbone and ribs really was something extra special.

He didn't even care when I picked up the rabbit and started flinging it around.  For Jake to pass up the chance to fetch something, well that's a rarity.
Luna ended up with the bunny, and she mauled it a bit and flung it around herself.  She will amuse herself with a toy, whereas Jake always needs human intervention.

Larry arrived home just as we got back to the house.  His appointment was quite long as testing was done on his left eye, and he had paperwork to fill out, and he is now on a six month waiting list for cell transplant surgery for that eye.  The one that had surgery at the end of June is still improving, and he now has 20/40 vision in it.  He is looking forward to getting rid of the cloudiness in the left eye as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chiropractor Day

Today was the dog's chiropractor appointment.  Now this probably surprises some of you.  Yes, there are chiropractors for dogs, and cats, and horses too.  The dog's chiropractor also treats people, but she has two special rooms that are just for dogs.   There's even an office dog, their own.  He gets to go to work with his owners! Lucky dog:)  We started using a dog chiropractor when Calli was first injured, over nine years ago. We have a different chiropractor for ourselves; we have been going to him long before there we ever used a dog chiropractor.

 Heading to the chiropractors is the same route we take to the dyke, only a little farther, we have to continue on past the creek to Fort Langley.  The dogs know the route to the dyke, at least it seems that way, and it's almost as though they seem a little disappointed when they get out of the car, and they are in a paved parking lot, with no creek in sight.  Jake has been showing signs of slight lameness, on and off, in his left front leg.  Dr. Lana said his tail was out of adjustment, as was his left shoulder.  She worked hard to get him adjusted, and Jake was not happy about it, and he told her once that ouch! that was NOT comfortable. As soon as he is done though, it is straight to the cookie jar, with very pointed looks from the jar to the Dr., but he had to wait until all the dogs were adjusted.  Something in Luna's back was out, which is par for the course with her.  She is hard on her body, I could probably take her every week to the chiropractor and there would be something that needed putting back in place.  Calli was pretty good, nothing much was too out of place,  and Dr. Lana was flabbergasted when I told her that she was 15 years and 9 months old.

It was an absolutely beautiful Fall Day, and as promised we stopped at the dyke for a walk on the way home.  Jake and Luna got a bit of a swim, I had nothing to throw for them, and not a stick in sight, but I managed to fake them out a few times by throwing rocks.  Calli had a deep wade, and put her head under a couple of times to find the perfect rock.

Look at the old lady go!  We walked two miles and all at a pretty good clip.  This was on the way back, about half a mile to go, and carrying the rock in her mouth.
Calli the wonder dog @ 15 3/4years.