Unfortunately not the kind of date the title might suggest, even though it didn't happen until after 10 this evening. The kind that involves a lot of hot fruit and sugar and jars and a canning pot.
Every other Sunday I take eggs out to White Rock for some of our market customers. This time I happened to mention to them that if they needed jam, they could let me know, but I had a limited selection. I've avoided making jam since the last market in December, and I was in no rush to get back into it. I did have to break down this week though and make a case (12 pint or 500ml jars) of raspberry jam. I have a customer who buys raspberry jam by the case. He says his 90+ year old dad lives on the stuff. Anyway, he is running out, so I had to make a couple of batches this week to keep the old fellow happy.
I figured I might get one or two requests from my egg customers, but I sadly underestimated that. Everyone wanted blackberry. Weird. I had requests for 10 jars of it. I had one jar in stock. So I convinced myself that since I had all those blackberries in the freezer (remember those 60 buckets we picked?), I might as well just make some. So two batches of blackberry tonight, and another one of raspberry for good measure. I was just cooking, literally. I had my pant legs rolled up and sleeves pushed up. I was hot! Anyway, all done. The jars have all sealed, and I'll have to wait until morning to see if they've set. Fingers crossed.
Jake had another trip to the chiropractor's on Wednesday. At least this one wasn't during a snow storm. His pelvis was 'out' again. After the last visit, we were to keep him quiet for a day or two, which we did, sort of, and the adjustment held for a couple of days. But then after that he was limping again when he got up from a resting position. No doubt running around in the snow, slipping on ice, etc was his undoing.
Dr. Lana said he wasn't quite as bad as the first time she adjusted him, and this time told me to keep him quiet for five days. So I wanted to know how quiet was quiet. She said on leash, no opportunity to do any crazy erratic movements, no scrambling on the wood flooring, no mad charges down the stairs. Thankfully the snow is just about gone, although there is still some in the bush, and it is old, icy stuff.
Really though, Jake is a relatively easy dog to keep on leash, although he can really look 'sad' and make you feel sorry for him. There is a gate at the top of the stairs, and he only goes down on leash. We don't make any fast moves, no mention of taking dogs for a walk or out for a pee. Those words by themselves can create a mad scramble to charge down the stairs, made much worse because each dog figures they should be the fastest and the first. No tossing toys in the house.
So when we go outside in the morning, Jake is on leash, and wondering why he can't race with Luna from the back door to the first gate. After dragging him around with me into the chicken coops and the sheep barn, I was reminded that actually he DOES. NOT. WANT. to go in there. And the sheep were totally freaked out too. So now he gets taken so far, and then I have a big clip thing on the leash handle, and I just clip that to the closest fence. He waits patiently, and will sometimes lie down. I haven't taken him through the bush, because of the icy snow still on the trail, and he just can't figure out why the change in routine. Why is it just me and him walking up the road first thing in the morning, when he'd rather be racing through the bush with Luna.
He's a dog that is quite happy to stay outside after we come back from the morning walk, and lay on the driveway. Can't let him do that, because all of a sudden he might leap up and charge over to the fence to see what the chickens are cackling at. Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day. The sky was clear when I woke up and stayed that way all day. The kind of day that just kept you in a good mood and smiling. So Jake got to share in it too, from his vantage point on the deck.
I am doing my two mile walks still, and it is fast enough that he keeps up a steady little trot. My theory is that some steady trotting like that, with his pelvis in the correct position, is good. It gives the muscles, ligaments etc. a bit of a gentle work out while everything is in the correct position, some practice so to speak, at holding it all in the right place. Dr. Lana said that would be fine, we are just trying to avoid any erratic movements.
Two days down, three to go. Pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.
We were supposed to start our training sessions for the 10K Sun Run last week. Unfortunately the snow ended up causing it to be cancelled, so now we are starting a week late. Meredith and I did go out last Saturday, when the road had finally cleared off enough, and we tried out the first session. And it seemed pretty easy. I do hate to run, but we start out so slow, with our shuffle of a run, that I'm sure that we are moving faster when we are doing the walking part.
This week we do repeats of 'shuffling' one minute, and then walking for two minutes, with a five minute warm up and cool down at each end. This past Monday was the first official training session. Our group of 'learn to runners', which consists of about 25 or so, all went out together. The first session was 34 minutes, and then we did a bunch of stretching at the end. We are out in the dark, so we have to be pretty conscious of the traffic. The group leaders are all wearing bibs with reflective stripes on them, and then the rest of us are wearing whatever reflective stuff that we have. There was some packed snow still in spots on the sidewalks, and the sky had cleared and some of the bare pavement was icy. Everyone made it back safely though, and it seemed relatively easy.
We have a group session every Monday night, and then we have to do two more each week on our own. Tonight Meredith came over and we went out together, again in the dark, and by that point it had started to rain. We just ran on what we thought was going to be a quiet street in front of our place, but there were still more cars than we expected going by. No sidewalks and still snowbanks down each side of the road. I wore a reflective safety vest and Meredith had reflective wrist bands and a head lamp. Guess it doesn't help when you chose to run at the same time that people are getting home from work. Most of the time we were able to step over the snow piles and get well off the road. Thank goodness the rain was only light. Not like yesterday when it was one dark miserable wet day, and we walked the dogs on the dyke in the pelting rain. Hopefully we can do our next session on Saturday in the daylight.
It's been more than a week since we've seen the sun. There's been a whole lot of grey and white and wet. The snow is taking it's sweet time to leave. The hayfield, which is a south facing slope, is showing quite a bit of green. That was no doubt helped along by Pride, who had access to that field last week and kept himself busy pawing through the snow to find the grass. I hope he clobbered a few moles on the head while he was at it. Mole hills are rife in that field. The field to the north of us is almost all green, no doubt because it is very open and exposed and when the snow was blowing, most of it blew away. The neighbour's field to the south is still all white, as is our back hayfield. The top of the driveway is still a skating rink.
It was pretty exciting to see the sun yesterday afternoon though, and I headed out to the hayfield for a wander. A couple of weeks ago Luna lost a Flying Squirrel toy out there. I did mention to the collies that perhaps they could find the toy.
Then I saw Jake tugging on something, trying to pull it free from a frozen clump of snow, and I thought 'Wow, he's found it already, good boy Jake!'
And then I saw what it really was.
He did get a little stick fetching in
And then there was a little mole/vole hunting
If you tell Luna to find a toy when you are outside, that only means one thing.
Her 'soccer' ball. She ran off and brought it back from somewhere down the driveway.
And the chickens are happy that the snowy is slowly going. This green is under the fir trees, so the snow was only thin there.
It's the temperature that affects the chickens more than the ground conditions. Here they march up the snow to see if I've brought them any treats. We cleaned some stuff out of my mum's fridge, freezer and cupboards. The chickens are getting some of it. They think it's pretty great.
And this morning, it's all grey and raining once again.
He was the Lab puppy that my sister in Ontario was 'puppy walking'. That means that she raised a young pup, socialized it, trained it, got it used to all sorts of different situations, before it went into formal training to be a guide dog.
Here's Chance the day he arrived last March, just 10 weeks old
And Chance doing some of his training at the mall.
And this is Chance just recently.
Cathy did such a good job with Chance, that he has already moved on to formal training. She spent hours working with him, and just after he was a year old, about two weeks ago, she was told that the time that all puppy walkers dread....had come.
There was a very emotional handover to her puppy supervisor, and Chance was gone, and he had left a huge hole in Cathy's life.
Not that I thought it would make her feel any better, but I thought I would send her this. A book bag/shopping bag/whatever bag. One of those pillow panels sewn on the front. A late Christmas present/early birthday present/thanks for doing such a good job with Chance present.
And here's the back.
And Chance, well he's Mr. September. That's him in the CGDB calendar.
And Cathy, she said after a break that she would do it again with another pup.
Hwy 1, formally known as the Trans Canada, and which we just call 'the freeway', is about 3 miles due south of us. Normally we can't hear it, but when we have a weather system coming in, or specifically a mild, damp weather system, the freeway lets us know. We can hear a dull roar of traffic, even though there are hills and ravines and stretches of trees and buildings in the way. This morning the freeway was roaring. We had been warned for the last couple of days that this cold, snowy spell was coming to a dramatic end. A winter storm warning, with it's red banner, had been splashed across the weather page. A warm front was moving in, which, before it beat the cold monster to it's knees, would bring us some more snow, then freezing rain, and then just straight rain, and a lot of it.
We just got a skiff of snow overnight, and it was about -6 this morning. After we did the morning chores, I went out and removed the snow accumulation from the costco shelter that we have over our old travel trailer. That's the third time I've done it this week. Then I started looking at other roofs that might not hold up under 8 inches of waterlogged snow. I pulled snow off the north chicken coop, and then worked on the sheep barn. A little bit of freezing rain came down while I was out there, but not much. Sometime in the early afternoon it started again. By this time the temperature was close to the freezing mark. The rain was making a bit of a crust on top of the snow, and on a few other things, but it was nothing to worry about. The road is brown slush. Water is dripping off the roof. The roar has died, and now I can clearly hear the train a few miles to the north.
Luna says she will be quite happy to have a less icy place to pee. And I think I'm going to knock the snow off that hedge before it gets all heavy and wet and pulls it out of shape.
This morning we woke up to blowing snow, temperatures of -12 C and a wind chill of -24 C. Probably seems like nothing to some of you, but I suppose it is all what you are used to. This is unusual cold for us. Not a record by any means, but probably the coldest we've had it for a few winters now.
I already know that very cold or very hot temperatures affect Calli's back feet, with their nerve damage, so I had booties on her back feet before we even went out the door. We own two dog coats. I don't know if they actually needed them, but I put them on anyway. One that fits Jake (barely) and another one that would fit Luna or Calli. I figured Calli had that good Lab undercoat, and a bit more of a fat cover than skinny minny, no undercoat Luna, so Luna got the coat. Calli got a reflective vest and a bear bell, so we could find her out in the bush. She has been wandering off the trail, scrounging up things, and taking her own sweet time to respond to our calls.
We didn't get very far, and both Calli and Jake were sitting down and holding up one front paw and then the other. Back to the house I went, and put booties on all four feet of both of them. The booties are just cheap little things from the dollar store, and they worked well, but every once in a while, one would come off in the snow, and the dog would stop and hold up it's foot. We did get going, finally, and Luna started playing with Jake. That was good, as it took his mind off the weird feeling of wearing a coat AND booties. Next thing there is a yipe, Luna stops dead in her tracks, and won't put her back left leg down. I said 'Forget this', and I just scooped her up and started slogging back to the house. I eventually had to put her down, and she used her leg, so thank goodness it was nothing major. Next thing Jake stops, one naked foot in the air, and I scooped him up and carried him the rest of the way. Looks like it's going to be a mostly inside day for the dogs.
So although this story(thanks Suzanne) makes sense, does it depend somewhat on what a dog is used to?
There is no way she would have let me pull on those snowballs like she was. She would have been leaping like a fish on the end of a line if I had been pulling on the hair like that. I just left her to it, and a bit later she was all cleaned up.
More snow today, about 6 inches on top of what we had left from Saturday morning. It was a different kind of snow, and it balled up on Luna's hair something fierce. Jake not so much, but his hair is much softer than Luna's, and of course Calli only got a few around her feet.
It was Jake's turn for the chiropractor today, in another freaking snowstorm like the trip with Luna in November. We have been noticing that Jake was limping for two or three steps on his right hind when he got up from his chair or the floor. If you didn't see him get up, you'd never know anything was wrong. Before making an expensive trip to the vet, I wanted the chiropractor to check him out first. Dr. Lana said his pelvis was quite twisted, and Jake was not happy when she was adjusting it back into position. We are hoping that it does the trick. It wasn't an instant fix, she said it might take a day or two, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Since the University had closed for the day due to the weather, David was able to drive me, since he is the only one with snow tires. We went from everything all white and snowing at our place, down the steep hill to the valley along the river. Just past the dyke where we walk the dogs, the snow had stopped, the road was black and wet. It was like coming into a different world. Of course on the way back, we drove back into the winter whiteness. A farmer at the bottom of the steep hill back up to our neck of the woods flagged us down and told us not to attempt it, he said most had failed. I'm sure David on his own would have tried it anyway, but his dear mother suggested we had better take the safe option.
More snow is predicted for tonight.
And Luna, well she hasn't been this clean for a long time.
No question is Luna's mind. She'll take being a stinker (literally), any day. Eau du poisson is her smell of choice.
The salmon have been spawning somewhere up Nathan Creek, which is where we go for a walk along the dyke. Just about every time we've been down there lately, Luna has managed to find a dead and smelly salmon to anoint herself with.
Here's the setting. Golden Ears glowing white with snow, and the bare blueberry bushes adding a cheery touch to the flatlands. And that schoolbus....well it takes a scenic side trip through the bushes. Actually, it's been sat there for a long time, not sure why. They use old school buses to transport the pickers. Maybe they are just storing it there, or maybe it's there as a lunch room of sorts during picking season.
And here we are. We had a photographer along this time. All pictures are courtesy of Meredith. Not quite sure what I was yapping on about here. Practicing my flying technique may? And the dogs, well they are there somewhere. Jake and Luna are probably already at the swimming hole, which we tell them is closed for the season. That's where those pilings are out to the left of my left wing arm. The water level is quite low, and the swimming hole has changed a bit. Now there's more sand, which Calli thinks is a great thing.
Jake is ever hopeful.
Got a stick, or a ball, or damn it, got anything?
This is the only fish we saw. Calli just gave it a quick sniff, and here is looking for the rock that she had been carrying. We don't think that Luna even noticed it, although really we weren't keeping a very good watch for Luna and her fish shoulder roll at all.
We did get in a bit of water play near another set of pilings. If we haven't taken anything with us, sometimes it's hard to find a stick that will even float. Most of the wood is waterlogged stuff that has been washed downstream.
Jake was the only one that got any swimming in, and not much of that. There was a bit of ice along the edge in spots, so the water would have been very cold. When it comes to fetching, Jake doesn't have any common sense, so we have to use ours.
Jake on stilts, or maybe pilings.
See these teeth woman.....you'd better throw that stick
It was a gorgeous afternoon, the third of four dry and relatively sunny days we had in a row.
And there were three tired and happy dogs
When we got home, I was taking my jacket off in the utility room, and all of a sudden I'm wondering why I'm smelling fish.......
Luna was about eight feet away. I went over to smell her. Sure enough.....
Meredith gave her a whiff, and she thought it was just the remnants of the previous trips. I didn't think so, as I hadn't noticed the smell before. There was no evidence of anything gross stuck to her back, but I got out a soapy rag and rubbed it over her shoulders anyway. Cleaned her off, repeated a couple of more times, and now there's just a hint.
No doubt she'll be looking to top it up on the next visit.
And those four nice days we had, well they are now just a memory, because look what we have this morning!
My original blurb is below. This blog was started to show some of our customers where their food is coming from. But...since there aren't actually many of our customers reading it, and just because I wanted to... this blog now is all over the map. Lots of dog stuff, places we go, things we do, and of course gardening and animal stuff, and whatever else I feel like rambling on about.
We live on a 10 acre hobby farm in the Bradner area of Abbotsford, British Columbia. We are vendors at the Abbotsford and the White Rock Farmer's markets, selling a large variety of items. These include jams, jellies and marmalades, sewn items, free range eggs, cut flower bouquets, fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit. We grow organically, although are not certified organic. At the present moment our hobby farm houses 4 adult humans, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 4 ewes, 1 horse and 80-99 laying hens.