Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Drive with a View

 This morning I headed off to a farmers market in Abbotsford.  They are holding five markets before Christmas.  I hadn't planned on going to this market, but we were swamped with eggs, and this was a place I could sell some.  It sure is dark these mornings.  I had lucked out though and it was going to be a beautiful day.  That is Mt. Baker in Washington off in the distance.  Here I am only 7 miles north of the Canada/US border.
It is illegal to drive while using a cell phone in B.C.  It has to be a hands free device.  I guess the same would apply to try to take a photograph while you are driving.  No worries, I couldn't manage to do it anyway, and had to pull over.

Looking across Matsqui Prairie

Isn't it beautiful, with the sun just coming up behind.
Mt. Baker is an inactive volcano.  You used to be able to see a couple of steam plumes to the right of the peak, but I haven't noticed them for a long time.

The market went well, and lots of eggs were sold.  I had cut all the decent dahlia flowers and put them in bunches of 10 or 12 blooms.  I know they won't last very long as cut flowers, as their time is just about done. I decided to use them as a fund raiser for the Heart and Stroke foundation.  I had 20 bunches, and they brought in donations totaling $58.20.  I will donate that in memory of Larry's aunt Margaret Wyatt, who passed away in February of this year, and of my dad, who died of a heart attack while out on his sailboat, 24 years ago at the end of November.  

A Room with a View

Yesterday I thought it was time to do something with the quince that I brought back from the Okanagan.  Quince are a weird kind of fruit, well they seem sort of exotic to me.  They are covered with a heavy fuzz, tart and tough and not really edible when they are raw.  They have an exotic perfume though, and have been described as tasting  like a cross between a mango and a pineapple, or if you want to be more ordinary, a mixture of apple and pear.  Not sure how you even compare those crosses, but who am I to question it.

Most of the quince were ordinary, well as ordinary as a quince can be.

But there was one that was definitely trying to morph into something else.  I'm thinking a seal.....

Seal or not, it was off with it's head and into the pot with the rest of the chopped up quince.  I cooked the life out of them, and then came the filtering of the juice.  It was a long messy project, which, because I really try to do too many at once, involves many pots and filtering systems that seem to cover most of the kitchen counter.  
I started out with one of those conical ricers, but it was slow going.  I would filter out most of the juice, then dump the still really wet pulp into a bowl, and go through the same thing with the next lot.  Then it went through two different sieves, before I ended up with this.  It is actually much more translucent than it appears here.


The pulp that was left over was all dumped into a colander with fairly big holes and left to drip over a big pot.

In the meantime, there are things happening outside.  This is my view from the kitchen window - dog butts, man butts, and chicken butts.

Larry is cleaning out the small bed at the top of the driveway.  That is where I want to plant the garlic that I also brought back from the Okanagan.  Jake keeps dropping his small ball, well actually a Cuz, if you are familiar with those, that he recently resurrected from some unknown spot, minus it's legs.  Every once in a while Larry chucks it somewhere.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I'm trying to stop the quince jelly from overflowing.

Outside the kitchen window, a black butt appears.  Yippee, the rototiller, gotta herd it, gotta herd it, gotta herd it.....  Thankfully she keeps her distance, and can be told to lie down and stay.
Larry is mixing in some rotted manure

Back in the kitchen, the jelly is finished, put in jars and processed, and here is the end result.  I am always fascinated that the juice ends up this colour from a yellow fruit with creamy coloured flesh.  And you don't have to burn it to get it looking this way!

And back outside, well those red and black butts decide that there are a couple of spots that didn't get dug up quite enough, so figure they will help out.  They keep an eye on the house though, just in case.
Notice Jake's ear and body posture, and his licking lips, when David, who hadn't even looked at them, walked up the driveway.  Do you think Jake knows he shouldn't be in that garden, or maybe he is remembering being told off before.   Luna couldn't care, it's all fun and games to her.

Looks like we're going to have to fence it off again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What We Do...

....on a glorious Fall day.

If you're a hen, you find a nice dry sunny spot to take a dust bath.

If you're Jake, you find someone to play fetch with

And make yourself look like a weird flower while you're doing it

If you're Calli, you find a nice sunny spot to relax in

If you're Luna, you play a game of soccer, go harass visit Pride, play some more soccer, herd a hen, visit Pride, play some more soccer, bark at the door or window to go in, take a break, play soccer, visit Pride, stalk Smudge.....

Or check out the view from the roof.

Or take a rest on said roof, while you supervise the painting

And if you're me, you work on getting the trim around twenty-five windows painted.  Seventeen down, eight to go for two coats of paint, and four for one coat.

The windows used to be the cream colour of the fascia board along the roof edge.  The siding has faded quite a bit, so we wanted something a bit more dramatic.  I'm liking it, and am thinking of some sort of dark red/rust colour for the doors.   We are running out of painting days though, so doubt I'll get it all finished before winter.

The Setting Sun

I love it when we've had a dull day, and then the clouds break and the sun comes out just before it sets.  It seems to make the the colours so vibrant, and this time of year everything seems to just glow.  About 5 yesterday afternoon we headed over to Douglas Taylor Park to take the dogs for a walk.

When I first looked at this shot in the camera after I had taken it, I thought, ooh, look at that big hawk sitting on the telephone wire.  The joys of needing reading glasses:(, which I actually have, just not with me.

A blueberry field on Mt. Lehman Road

On the trail, where the sun was gone and the light was dim, and I was trying to get the dogs to stay still enough so that they wouldn't be totally out of focus.

Lousy picture or not, a good time was had by all:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much is That (pathetic looking) Doggy in the Window?

Here's Luna, looking a bit like a drowned rat, peering in the living room window.  The only thing is, the living room is on the second floor, and she is standing on the roof!

That's what happens when your deck has no railing, and the roof over the end of the garage is right off the end of the deck.  And it just so happens that if you go up that roof and round to the front of the house, and over the top of the family room, you end up at the living room window!
And yes, she got let in, but through the door. 
Only Smudge is priviledged enough to come in through the window.

Wet and Windy

We've had 48 hours and a few inches of rain.  This is the orchard garden.  It was a part of a hay field/pasture until about 3 years ago.  It's not the best drained location. On Saturday we were in there picking the last of the zucchini and squash, and pulling up all the plants.  That bare area to the left of center was covered with squash.  I even rototilled the piece in the foreground between the fence and the first row of blueberries.

If this rain keeps coming,
I think we'd better keep the canoe handy.

Yep, hard to imagine that only two and half days ago this was dry enough to rototill

It's not bothering the dahlias though.  Wind and rain haven't put them off yet.

And this was where the potatoes were planted.  Some of them did rot in the ground when we had some record rain in September.

And the rain doesn't bother the dogs either, they're ready to play anytime.
I think it might be time to invest in a new Flying Squirrel though.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Of Mice and Men........and Toasters

When you live on a farm, there's not much escaping the rodents.  You hope that they stay outside, and don't cause any trouble.  Rats are quick to move into a pile of hay, and quick to help themselves to anything edible they can get at.  Mice are the same, just smaller. 
We live in an older house, one that was never finished, and we have had mice in the house a few times in our 24 years here.  After we renovated it, we seemed to get rid of the problem, as the access routes were now blocked off.  I had noticed though that the weather stripping on the bottom of the garage door was missing a few pieces, and it was just one of many jobs that hadn't been dealt with.  To get to the point, I discovered we had a mouse Thanksgiving Monday.  Didn't actually see it, just what it left behind.  Once you know you have one, well you start noticing the evidence here and there.  And some of the evidence was on the kitchen counter.  Yeah, gross.
I set the 'can on a dowel with peanut butter on it, over a tall bucket' trap out that night, but didn't catch anything , and there was evidence in the morning that the mouse had been on the counter again. Yeah, gross.  Didn't catch anything the next night either.
Other things were going wrong too.  The kettle had decided it didn't want to heat up water most of the time.  The fridge was occasionally freezing instead of just cooling, and then the toaster decided it didn't want to stay popped down.
Larry and I headed out on holiday, and left instructions to make sure all the food was put away, cupboard doors were closed, and to check the counter every morning.  Put the trap out, and stop and buy some of those snap traps. 
When we got back from holiday, the first thing I asked was about the mouse.  Hadn't caught it, but hadn't seen any evidence of it either.  I said that well it's not like it just went away.  I looked too, and there was no evidence it had been around.  Too good to be true I thought.  And to continue the upswing, the toaster started working properly again.  It stayed popped down when you pushed the lever. 
Yesterday there was the lovely smell of fresh baked apple muffins at one end of the kitchen, and a weird smell at the other side.  Didn't think too much more about it.  A bit later when I came for another muffin (who's counting, certainly not me), I smelled it again, but stronger this time.  Got the sniffer going, and tracked it down to the toaster, and it was a dead smell.  Meredith said she had noticed the smell earlier, but of course it was me that had to figure it out.  I got Larry to come over and smell the toaster, and he just about gagged.  He said to throw the toaster out.  But, he didn't do it.  So I took the toaster outside.  When David came home, I got him to pull out the crumb tray, but there was nothing.  He peered in all the nooks and crannies and ventilation holes.  Nothing.  I got the flashlight and did the same, but still couldn't see anything.  I really needed to know though.  So I got the screwdriver and started to take the toaster apart.  As soon as the bottom was loose, I could see the dead mouse in there, in the end where the lever was.  The sickening part was that I had had two slices of toast for breakfast that morning. 
Gross. Gross. Gross. It was enough to make me retch.  The toaster is now in the garbage, and you can be sure that I've checked the kettle as well. 


Can you please throw this toy for me?
I'm such a good boy...

And do you see what my naughty sister is doing?

Nice try Jake.
He was caught in the act.  Larry was on the roof cleaning out the gutters, and I was around the back painting.  He glanced down to the front lawn, and there was Jake working on his fifth egg.  Then Larry watched him get up and head around the corner of the house by the front door.  He had found a nest of eggs in the corner of a garden, up against the house.
Luna showed up to do some cleanup, while Jake tried to lay the blame elsewhere:)
Thankfully he survived the night with no desperate retching or pleas to go outside.  They get fed eggs anyway, so I guess it wasn't too much of a shock to his system.

Camping, the last part.

After we left Ellison campsite, we headed south of Vernon to Kekuli Bay campsite on the side of Kalamalka Lake.
A relatively young campsite, it's been there 10 years, with not a lot of shade.  Lovely this time of year, but probably too hot for me there in the middle of summer.  That evening as the sun was setting, we took a walk around the nature trail mowed through the grass.  Down the middle of the trail there was lots of coyote poop with pieces of apple in it , from the orchards on the other side of the highway.  We heard them howl after dark.
That's our truck and trailer in the middle of the picture

And after the sun went down.

It got really cold that night, and that was the only time we attempted to use the furnace, which was not throwing out any heat.  Bummer!  We piled all our blankets on the bed, and were really happy when the sun came up the next morning.

The showers there were still operating, and then after that we took the dogs down to the lake.  Not the best of beaches, but the dogs got a swim. 
There were some shrubs loaded with rose hips in the campsite.  I was discreetly trying to pick some, since you're not supposed to be picking anything or removing anything from a park.  I got a pound or so, and am going to attempt some rose hip jelly.  I did try it once before with some small rose hips I picked around here, but it was a flop.
After stopping in Kelowna to visit some relatives at their lovely place in Gallagher's Canyon, we headed south and spent our last night at Okanagan Lake campsite, the same place we spent our first night.  This was a Saturday night, and the campsite was at least half full.  Wow!  We were still able to get a lakeside spot.  We couldn't figure out why a lot of the campers were farther back in, snuggled in against the hill, and these lovely lakeside spots were still open.  We sure found out the next morning.  The wind blowing off the lake was really wicked, we had our winter jackets on to keep warm.  We weren't interested in going to the beach at all, so took the trail back up the hill, and along the top part that we hadn't finished on our first visit.

That's our trailer, the farthest out, just visible between the trees

We didn't hang around for too long that morning.  Off we went, south through Penticton.  I was on the lookout for a fruit stand.  I can never decide which one to stop at though.  Larry said 'look there's one that says they have plums' (I needed plums as our trees had none this year).   We were already past, so continued up the highway, turned into a gas station and then came back.  A feisty little Italian lady with a strong accent was running it.  They had plums, and concord grapes, and quince (that was a bonus, hadn't even thought of those).  I asked if they took debit or credit, as I didn't have much cash left.  I couldn't understand all she said, but the gist of it was that we would have to go back up the highway and get some cash from the gas station.  So off we went, got the cash, turned around at the gas station yet again, and bought lots of plums, grapes, quince and garlic.  Then back over that same stretch of road for the fifth time as we headed toward home.

We made a stop in Keremeos for some lunch and a walk for the dogs down to the Similkameen River there.  After Jake and Luna went in a few times, they started balking at getting their toys, and then we realized that the water was really icy.   Too late, I'd already thrown Luna's toy back in.  Luna and I ended up about 500 ft downstream, all the while I was encouraging her, and throwing rocks at the ball. She would walk out part way, and then wouldn't go any farther.  Kind of looked like how you and I feel when that cold water hits the crotch.....I could sympathise.  Finally she got brave enough and took those couple of extra steps to grab it.

After that we just played a bit of catch on the shore

Back along Hwy 3.  Wow some of those hills seemed mighty steep on the way home.  Got home just before dark.

It was a fun trip, and the weather was just lovely for the time of year.  I love the light in the Fall and the changing trees.  The Okanagan can be really hot in the summer, so this was nice.  The only thing is that the days are really short, and it made for some long evenings in a little trailer.

And a bit of a 'Random act of Kindness' that came to it's conclusion tonight.  When were were eating our food from the A & W in Princeton, I noticed something on the ground under the picnic table.  It was a Surrey dog licence, with a 2011 sticker on the back.  I decided to take it with me.  Yesterday I called Surrey city hall, gave them the number on the tag, and they gave me a name and phone number. Actually, that shocked me.  I had expected them to contact the owner, and give them my phone number.  Anyway, got hold of the person, who hadn't even realized that her pup had lost his tag, but it had only been purchased in the last month.  She was thrilled that I had it, and when I offered to mail it to her, well she wanted to know how she could pay for it.  I said I wasn't worried about the price of a stamp.....When she gave me the address, it was close to White Rock, and I said I'd just drop it off, as I was there all the time.  Did that tonight, and she was so happy, which made me feel really happy, and it was just a feel good situation all round:)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Camping - Part Two

We headed up the highway, and after making a detour half way up a mountainside when we made a wrong turn, we finally saw the sign for Fintry campsite .  We turned off the highway and headed up Westside Road.   It was 34 km of a winding, very narrow in spots, road.  Quite a bit of the time there was a steep drop off on my side, with next to no gravel shoulder.  I was keeping my eye on the trailer in the rear view mirror, and I commented that ya know, if that trailer wheel drops over the edge, the truck will be going with it.  Pretty nerve wracking in a few spots.  So we get to the turnoff, and there is a Closed sign slapped over the campsite sign.  I was choked.  We drove down the steep hill to the campsite anyway, and sure enough the gate was locked.  There were houses nearby, and a guy rode by on his bike.  He said it had closed the last weekend.  The website had said it was open to October 15th in one spot, and to Oct 31st in another.  A publication we had said it was open to Oct 25.  Granted, it was now Oct 14th, but it should have been open at least for that night.  What really made me mad though was that they hadn't bothered to post a 'Closed' out on the highway sign, 34 winding, scary kilometres back.  We parked on the road, and took the dogs for a walk.  It was an old farm site with quite an interesting history.  We didn't see a soul.  After some discussion we decided to continue on up that side of the lake, and try for Ellison campsite.  Thankfully the second half of the road was better than the first.

When we pulled into Ellison, it was a relief to see that it was open.  The shower building was still operating, and there were a couple of other trailers in the park.  A crowd! 

One of the disadvantages of camping at this time of the year is that the days are so short. By 7pm it was fully dark. We made sure we got our money's worth by heading for a shower, and it helped to pass the time. During the night the wind picked up. We were in a bit of a bowl below the cliff edge, so most of the time we seemed to be out of the wind, but every once in a while a big gust would come through, and rattle the awning that was out. Jake doesn't like the wind, and he was 'worried'. One of the dogs was growling at the weird noises the awning was making occasionally. I was wide awake, and to tell you the truth, it was a bit creepy. I was hoping no trees were going to fall on us. Another big gust came through, the awning made a big bang, and when I peered out I could see it hanging loosely. Either that, or me suddenly talking to him woke Larry up, and there we were at 1:30 in the morning, out in the kind of creepy darkness rolling the awning back up. No damage was done, and the weird noises stopped, and Jake settled down a bit. It had clouded over the afternoon before, and a few drops of rain came down during the night, but the next morning it cleared off and turned sunny again. 

In the morning we took the dogs down to the grassy area by the play ground, got out the soccer ball and toys for Calli and Luna, and had a game of soccer and of  'fetch'.
That's one thing about this time of year, there's no one around, and we took the opportunity to be a little more lax with the 'dogs must be on leash' rules.  It's not like they are running around out of control anyway.

After that we took a walk up the nature trail.  We got up pretty high, and could see across the lake.  Our trailer is somewhere in the trees just out of the picture on the right.  That mountain in the center has a fresh dusting of snow.
See that bald spot in the middle?  Well to the right of that is Fintry Park, where we had wanted to be.

All those brighter green cottonwoods along the water are in the park.  What you can't see from this angle are the large hay fields behind the trees.

 After lunch we hiked down to the pet beach.  There are a lot of rocky cliffs all around the edge of the lake.  The beach was great, lots of sand and water was still relatively warm.

And look, there were groynes there too!  Across the bay was the people beach, and it had the same kind of red sand.  The dogs had a great time.

After we had figured they had swum enough, we just let the dogs play around on the beach.  Jake doesn't play alone, he has to have someone throwing something for him.  Luna can amuse herself, and it was quite hilarious watching her.  Calli likes finding a rock, the bigger the better, and she will then put it down, dig a hole which the rock falls into.  She eventually rescues the rock, and starts the process all over again.  She only does this with rocks though, never toys.  You will notice here how her back legs don't participate.  They don't bear much of her weight, and can't move backwards, so when she is past her balance point, her back end just goes down.  You can read about her accident in Calli's Story .  We have found that when we go away on holiday, her back end becomes weaker.  Not sure why, maybe because her routine changes, she gets more exercise on consecutive days, who knows.  Her right hip is the weakest, so she starts collapsing to that side, and by the fourth day out she was pretty bad.  Not so much when she was loose doing her own thing, but walks became an issue.  Running the leash between her front legs, past her right hip and under her tail helps, as it puts a bit of pressure on that side and helps to support it, but by the end we were using her tail as a handle to keep her back end up.  I did make a harness when she was first hurt, and have since loaned it out to a friend.  I'll have to see about getting it back for times like this.
She does enjoy playing in the sand though!

And here's Luna

And Google has just informed me I've used up my 1 GB of free photo storage space, so now I'm going to have to pay! Who'd a thunk it:)  Well I think I can afford the $5 a year they want to charge me for 20 GB.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Camping - Part One

I always have visions that we are going to leave home at some nice early hour, but no, despite most of the packing being done the day before, it was heading towards 11am before we pulled out.  I guess it doesn't help when I say things like 'have you checked the tire pressure', which then involved topping up 7 tires with air.  It all takes time....

Anyway, we finally hit the road.  Calli rides in the trailer, where there is more room for her to stretch out, and she is the dog the least likely to be bothered by things rattling and banging.  Jake would be freaking out back there.  Jake and Luna ride in the small area behind the truck seats, where the little sideways jump seats are located.  Every once in a while Luna would pop up, rest her front feet on the center console, check to see Larry was going the right way, wasn't speeding, and maybe if she was lucky, she could get a pat or two.

After about three hours on the road, we made a stop at Princeton.  The dogs got a walk, a swim in the Similkameen River. The trees on the other side were glowing in the sun.

A short walk back along the Trans Canada Trail and we hit A & W for a late lunch.  Nice friendly folk there.  The young guy came running out with Larry's sunglasses that he had left on the counter, and then when he saw the dogs, he asked if they'd like a treat.  So he came back out with a milkbone for each of them.   We walked back towards the truck, and I stopped in this gazebo that had panels with some of the history of the area.  A lot of reading, but after I got so far I gave up.  Had already come across two spelling mistakes (dawned instead of donned, and site instead of sight).  Okay, I'm a bit anal about things like that, but come on.....didn't anyone edit it before the expense of getting it all printed onto big wood panels and put up for the tourists to read?

Next stop was a fruit stand in Keremeos.  Loads and loads of different squash and pumpkins to pick from.  Inside I bought some prune plums for jam, and we bought a few apples to taste test.  Granny Smith, Elstar, Gala, and Golden Gala.  The Golden Gala won hands down.

We headed for Okanagan Lake Park.  There are two campgrounds there.  One is on the hillside above the lake, but it was closed for the season.  The other is about a kilometre south.  It started life as a gravel overflow lot for the other campsite, and I remember being in it as a kid.  Now they've planted trees and divided it up like a proper campsite, and it is on lake level.  We'll probably never be able to afford waterfront property, and this might be as close as we'll get.

The view out of the back window of the trailer.

The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn, which really isn't very early this time of year.  Okay, it really wasn't as early as it looks, but I wanted the meteor  jet trail to show up, and I liked how this turned out.

This was more like it.  The sun wasn't up yet.

Do you see what's coming around the corner, that Luna's looking at?

A mallard hen, obviously used to mooching off the tourists.  Luna played 'herd the duck' from the water's edge.

We dragged our chairs out into the sunshine, and taste tested the first two apples

The duck was there for any handouts, but she didn't get any.  We're not mean, just figure wildlife shouldn't be fed by humans.

The campsite was being put into winter mode.  That meant the washrooms and showers were locked, and the water was shut off.  There were a few pit toilets, some with paper, some without.  That morning the parks guys came and were blowing the water lines out.  There were only about 6 or so campers in the campground.  At that point it was free, as they hadn't got the paper work for the winter rates set up.  Lucky us! 

There was a great walking trail between the two campsites, and a pet beach along the way.

Are we there yet?

When we stopped for a swim, look who reappeared.  This is about 1/4 mile on from where she originally showed up. 

And here's a little education for you.  A different kind of 'groin'.
That was a new one on us.

We walked along to the other campsite, wandered up the hill, and then found an upper trail heading back to our campsite.   Down/stays are handy in places like this.

And just like some people, Calli likes to collect rocks from the different places she visits.  If we let her take them all home, we would have a rock garden by now. 

I think the most used command on this walk was 'wait'.  Luna had to be protected from her lack of fear and sense.  She seemed to think she was part mountain goat, so sometimes she was back on the leash.

Halfway back down the hill.

We packed up and moved out just after lunch, heading for Fintry campsite on the west side of Okanagan Lake, north of Kelowna.