Sunday, October 30, 2011

Soccer Players

Most of you know how Luna loves to play soccer. 

 I think I've found her a worthy opponent.  It would involve a trip to Africa, but then I've always wanted to go there.

The only thing is, her opponent might decide to play dirty, and eat her for lunch. 
 I bet he'd be red carded though.
He's certainly better at getting the ball out of the river than she is.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson

aka Nelson aka bedroom cat.
Nelson was my mum's cat.  She adopted him from the Langley animal shelter six years ago this month, a couple of weeks after her keeshond Keesha was put down. 
 Now that was a Thanksgiving dinner to remember.  Mum and Keesha were here for dinner.  Keesha had some sort of major seizure/event.  David, Larry and my mum all went to the vet, just around the corner from us, who thankfully had had his turkey dinner the night before.  While I continued cooking ours,  unfortunately the vet suggested that considering Keesha's advanced age, added to what the xrays were showing him, that it was best to let her go.
Before we sat down for dinner, Larry and David had buried her under our oak tree.
Let's just say that that Thanksgiving dinner was not a joyful event.

Anyway, my mum felt the immediate need to fill the hole the Keesha left (although there was many a time that she found Keesha annoying, and would have been glad to have her gone).  I suggested that she adopt a middle aged to older cat, but no, she wanted a younger cat.  

Nelson (who was listed as Nero), had come in as a stray, extremely matted, and now sported an unbecoming lion cut. His back, sides and all but the end of his tail had been shaved.  Mum figured that she would be able to sort that out, and to give her her due, she was excellent at keeping her animals well groomed.  We never saw a better groomed keeshond than Keesha, and Nelson also was kept looking good, once his hair grew back in.   Oh, and once we figured out that a comb was better for his coat than a brush.
So Nelson thrived.  He quickly went from an inside cat to an inside/outside one.  He had a cat door, so he could come and go as he pleased.  He was company.  My mum's mental state had it's ups and downs.  She suffered from depression.  Having a pet is supposed to help with depression, but when she was at her worst, she found Nelson extremely annoying.  He is a very very vocal cat. I think somewhere under all that hair there is a Siamese cat lurking.  She took his meowing as demanding food, of the canned smelly kind.  I tried to convince her that if she ignored him, instead of eventually giving in and putting meat in his dish, the meowing might decrease.  She could never hold out.  It wasn't so much that she was giving in to Nelson, it was that she couldn't stand the meowing.  It was a love/hate relationship, sometimes heavier on the hate than love.  She wanted us to take Nelson, I refused.  Reason being that we had an old cat Smudge that had been on her own for a long while.  Add Luna to the mix, who fixates on Smudge, and then take Nelson who is terrified of the dogs.  Add to that the fact that we didn't want another cat, as well as my Mum trying to use us as an easy 'out'.  Then she would get to feeling better and Nelson would be sort of back in her good books again.
At one point I had found someone looking for a cat, we had a few telephone conversations, and it was all set for me to meet him at my mum's to pick up Nelson.
My mum phoned me at the last minute to cancel out, she couldn't do it, she couldn't let Nelson go.  The guy was already on his way out from Vancouver, and I had to phone and tell him no.  
Several times after that, she regretted that decision.

So time moves on and my mum had a stroke last May.  She has not been at home since then.  Nelson came and went, he had a feeder, and every few days I was there,  and gave him a brush and some attention, and gave him some smelly canned food.  He was always in the house when I arrived.
Then he wasn't there.  He was still eating the canned food but we rarely saw him.  Turns out one of the neighbours that used to stop by to give him some attention, was now feeding him at her place, and letting him inside.
Unfortunately she did not want to keep him.  I tried to convince her that Nelson would be better with her than at our place, but it was in vain.  
So last Sunday we brought him home. His safe place is in an under bed storage box in the spare bedroom/storage room/repository of all things that we don't know where else to put.  He has a litter box and food and water in there.  He ventures out a bit when he feels it is safe.  Tonight at supper time, the dogs were in the basement, and it was just Larry and I, and he wandered over and sat by the dining table, looking relatively relaxed.  
Smudge seems to be pretending he isn't there.  Luna is managing to contain herself and stay when she is told.  Don't expect any pictures of Nelson and Luna together any time soon.   He is doing lots of 'wowwwwwwing'.  The spare bedroom is next to ours.  He 'wowwws' something awful a few times during the night.  Last night Luna was shut in our room and we gave Nelson the run of the house.  He still 'wowwwed' enough to wake us up.  He is quite a spooky, nervous cat, and I don't think he's really used to men.  It's going to take a lot of time for him to transition from a house with one old lady, to here with another cat, three dogs and four people, two of them being male.
If we move towards him, he usually just scoots back into his hidey hole under the bed.  It took a lot of coaxing to get him up on the top of the bed last night.  Funny though, the camera flashing a few times in front of him didn't seem to bother him.

One day (and night) at a time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Raking up Fall

Yesterday was a beautiful Fall day.
The leaves were dry, so with the help hindrance of my lovely sidekick Luna, we got all the leaves on the driveway raked up and spread down the raspberry rows.  I had to tell myself to not worry about trying to get every last leaf, because there are many many more to come.

Thank goodness for yesterday.  Today was just the opposite.  5 degrees Celcius when we walked through the bush this morning, with rain to boot.  Yuk.
I had to break down and get out a pair of jeans today.  The first jeans I've worn in months, since sometime in the Spring.  It's that British blood, weren't we all raised wearing shorts and knee socks?
I will admit to wearing the occasional full length pants since then, but to me jeans mean cold weather, and I'm reluctant to give up on mild sunny days just yet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remember the Alien?

Actually it was an alien spaceship

because when I cut it open, these two green men were inside

And then I killed them, and hacked them into little pieces. 
Is it cannibalism if you eat aliens?

Like predicted, they were woody, and tasted like turnips.
I found a little spaceship kohlrabi yesterday, and when I cut it open, there were no aliens inside.
It was nice and crunchy and not woody and tasted like broccoli stems.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Okanagan Falls

So yeah, we figured Okanagan Falls was a good place to be.  We spent three nights there. 
We did lots of walking and bike riding. The first full day we walked up the side of Skaha lake on the TC trail for quite a ways.  And then of course found a place with good access to the lake, and the dogs got a good swim.  Skaha Lake is much warmer than the Similkameen River.
Afterwards Larry and I headed off south down the side of the Okanagan River.  It runs in a channel with dykes on each side, and there are a few weirs along the way, with dramatic warning signs about the certainty of drowing if you decided you wanted to swim in the turbulence below the weir.

At the end we were looking at Vaseaux Lake, which is between OK Falls and Oliver.  A great place for a blanket, a bottle of wine, and whatever you like best with that.
We had to make do with water and a couple of granola bars.

The next day we took the dogs down that same walk.  Not a relaxing walk.  Jake and Luna kept heading to the water, and I kept having a fit every time they got too close to the weirs and their turbulence.  All the extra walks the dogs were getting had caught up with Calli, and her back end was collapsing.  I had taken a harness along for just that situation, but it was a lot of hard work holding her up.  We were glad to get back to the truck and go exploring up Green Valley Road.  We did figure out where we went wrong on our trip into the OK Falls/Oliver area.

Lots of salmon swimming up the river, and we could see a few trying to jump up the weirs.  I tried to get pictures of the jumping, but despite hanging over the rail of the bridge, and trying to be patient, it never worked in my favour.

The next afternoon Larry and I got on our bikes and rode over that trestle bridge and along the trail to see how close we could get to Penticton before we ran out of daylight.  

We only got 2/3 of the way, because I got distracted by some big patches of Oregon Grapes, and had to stop and pick a couple of bags.

We did hit a stretch that passed through a residential area, at Kaleden.  This is the Kaleden Hotel, or was.  Looked like a good place to me for a haunted house at Halloween.

And then there was the dog beach at the park on the east side of the campsite.  Great sand, shallow water.  The lake always started off calm, but the wind would pick up and blow straight off the lake.  Not particularly pleasant if you weren't in a bit of a sheltered spot.  This last morning it was just a breeze, you can see the ripples in the next photo.  Much nicer:)

You had to throw the balls out a long way before the dogs had to swim.

We fit in one last bike ride before we headed home.  The weather this day was perfect, with very little wind. I certainly could have stayed longer.
 This is looking west across the Okanagan River where we walked and rode, with Green Valley Road in the background.  It winds it's way up to that low spot between the hills. That large green spot on that hill to the left is a vineyard.

Grapes behind deer fencing and under bird netting were everywhere.

We headed home about mid afternoon, with a dog stop at Princeton and the cold Similkameen River again.

It was a bit of a white knuckle ride from Princeton to Hope, it was dark through the last half of that stretch.  I sure didn't remember doing all that uphill on the way out.  It was much steeper going back down:(, and the brake on my side of the truck just didn't seem to work at all.  A relief to get back down to the relatively flat land.  
And then we got home and found out that the tail lights of the trailer weren't working.  Lovely.  At least this time we had remembered to put insurance on the trailer, which we hadn't remembered to do when we took the one day trip to Ft. Langley.  

It's always good to get home, I guess, although I wasn't so sure about it this time.
It was a great trip, mostly relaxing, I got two books read.

The Old Ewe and April had both survived our neglect. 
My mother.....well we are still working on that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oliver, or Maybe Not

Early afternoon we headed north out of Keremeos, took the turn off to Twin Lakes, and tried to end up at Oliver via the back roads.  A lot of twists and turns and downhills, and when we stopped to read the sign at the White Lake Radio observatory, we could smell burning brakes.  One of the wheels on the trailer was hot.  We took it easy after than, but didn't come out on the main highway quite where we thought we would.  Larry remembers on a previous trip coming out right at Oliver.  This time we were much farther north, past Okanagan Falls.  Definitely took a wrong turn somewhere.  So we headed back south to Oliver and started checking out the campsites we had read about.  We had planned on spending a few days there.  We were interested in cycling the trail that runs along the Okanagan River. What had sounded just lovely in the accommodation guide and on the internet, wasn't quite that in person.  All the government campsites were closed for the season, which is really frustrating, and more than one person we talked to felt the same way.  There is a lovely campsite right in Oliver, next to the river and the Trans Canada Trail, run by the town.  Nice grassy sites, next to a park. Closed at Thanksgiving.  We wasted a lot of time and gas, driving back and forth. A few of the RV parks were right in the town, with nowhere to walk the dogs close by.   It wouldn't be so bad with just Jake and Luna, but Calli makes it a bit harder.  Because she has limited bladder control, she doesn't always pee in the appropriate location.  When she's gotta go, she just goes.  So you kind of want some sort of grassy area really close by.  Anyway, Larry remembered passing a more 'rural' looking campsite on the drive between OK Falls and Oliver.  So back north we went.  Well that campsite had closed early because they were doing renovations.  They were quite helpful, and phoned a few other places for us.  Back to OK Falls we went.  There is a lovely government campsite there, but of course it had just closed.  We drove around town, and then ended up at Sun and Sand.  The kind of place we would normally avoid.  There were only three other RV's in there on a nightly basis, so it wasn't full, and all the rest were there year round, although not occupied. It was even partially shut down for the winter.  The water hookups were turned off, and the washrooms, including the showers, were closed.  On the plus side though, there was a park right across the street, and at the other end of that park, was the Trans Canada Trail.

Here's the dogs and I the next morning, in the park, looking back at our truck and trailer.  The dogs seem to know that Larry is moving around in the trailer, and are waiting for him (in vain).  Before we walked up to this bench, there was a whole flock of quail, sunning themselves on the concrete pad.  One of those photos that the camera batteries said I wasn't going to get.

Looking the other way there is the Trans Canada trail, running over that trestle bridge and then all the way along the lake to Penticton.  On the other side of the campsite was a park and beach, and part of that beach was assigned to the dogs.
 We figured we were in a pretty good spot. 

Goodbye Oliver, hello Okanagan Falls!


Our next stop was Keremeos.  That was where we had originally planned on staying the first night, so the second day it was only an hour or so drive.  

That mountain was across the other side of the highway, to the north.  Standing in the campsite, it looked twice as high as it does here.  We really felt like it was looming over us, and were hoping the big earthquake didn't hit while we were there.  Keremeos is in a narrow east/west valley.  The mountains to the south are just as high, and at the campsite the sun had dropped behind them by 4 pm. That's their shadow on the scree slope. 

Campsites in Keremeos seem to be limited, I think this might have been the only one in town.  We tend to shy away from the private campsites, but at times you have no choice.  This one was fine for the one night we stayed there.  Great for the dogs, as where I was standing to take this shot was part of the old Kettle Valley railway I believe, and a good place to walk the dogs off leash. This was the only place we used the poochmobile, and Calli WAS. NOT. HAPPY.:(  She whined and complained loudly the whole ride.  A place new to her, so she wanted to be out and sniffing around.
So we stopped here on the way back and did the fetch/swim thing.  We were slaves to the dogs. 
Still the Similkameen River, and it was still cold.  Don't Jake and Luna look cold?

Calli had got a rock and she was happy. 
We let her walk the rest of the way back.

Later on we left the dogs in the trailer and headed out by ourselves with the bikes.  Great to ride past all the orchards, check out the fruit stands.  
See some really unusual fruit trees.

See that fence on the left side of the road.  Many of the orchards are behind 8' fences to keep out the deer. Makes them look more like a prison than an orchard.
Windfall fruit all over the ground.  It was making my frugal fingers twitch. We did 'steal' a peach, it was not bad.

We rode through the 'downtown' area.  Checked out real estate, bought some snacks, bought some fruit.  That evening we went to the end of the campsite where there was a big grassy area.  Had a resounding game of fetch and soccer.  Far enough away from the river to be safe:), but close enough that a couple of hot collies could head over the dyke and into the river to cool off.
So yeah, really, as a campsite to be in with the dogs, it was pretty darn good. We didn't even put the leashes on them.  Straight from the trailer up on to the dyke/rail bed and away we went.
The campsite had pay showers.  In the end we decided to wait until our next stop, hoping for free showers. That was a mistake.

The nights were cold, and since we didn't have the furnace going while we slept (too noisy for me, who cares about Larry!), the batteries in the camera weren't very happy.  Maybe they were just getting old anyway, but in the mornings it took them a while to agree to actually work, and I missed some nice shots.  I took the batteries out one night and put them under my pillow, but that didn't help either.
And speaking of the furnace, it was so nice to have it. Not that Jake was very thrilled about it.  He was never quite sure were to lay to get away from it, what with the actual furnace in the middle of the trailer and a hot air vent at each end.
 Last year at this time when we were camping, we found that the furnace wasn't working, despite having been serviced that Spring, and it made for some long cold evenings.  
The advantage of staying in a private campsite. 

Is that toast for me?

Because our trailer is so small, three dogs laying on the floor means you are constantly stepping over them every time you need to get up to get something.  So we'd get Luna and Jake on one seat, and we'd sit on the other, and Calli was either under the table or out in the middle of the floor, which left a bit more of the floor space bare.

On to Oliver!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heading out.

The days of two farmers markets every weekend came to an end, so we were desperate to get away for a bit of a break.  The weather forecast wasn't so great, so we waited a few days, and then finally we and the weather were ready.  We had actually hoped to leave Calli at home ( I know, I know!), just to make it a bit easier on us.  That wasn't meant to be though, with David away working in California, and Meredith working and house, horse and dog sitting for our neighbours.  She'd only be at home here enough to feed April and Pride, let out and shut in the chickens, and collect the eggs.  So Calli and the poochmobile came along.

Just before we were ready to leave, I happened to look at the sheep, and realized that The Old Ewe was not to be seen.  Then I remembered that when I had shut the chickens in after dark the night before, I hadn't seen her with the other sheep then either.  Immediately I realized something was wrong.  When you only have a few animals, you get to know them well, and any slightly off behaviour sticks out like a sore thumb.  Three sheep grazing, and one laying down in another spot by itself, well it's enough to warrant a second look.  So into the field I went, and there was TOE in the barn by herself.  Head down, flanks sunken, looking, well, like one sad sick sheep.  I pushed her out of the barn and out onto some fresh grass.  Wasn't interested.  Her legs seemed weak, and she was holding one front one weirdly.  If I put her off balance or tried to move her too fast, she went down.  She seemed to be trembling a bit.  I was trying to figure it out.
I went in and dug out my sheep literature.  The B.C. government info lists a whole pile of main symptoms and secondary symptoms, and gives suggestions as to what might be the cause.  Nothing matched up.  Dug out my old 'Raising Sheep the Modern Way'.  Looked up salt poisoning.  Trembling and leg weakness were listed.  A few days before, I had put in a new salt block.  Nothing much other than a few tiny bits were left of the previous one.  The new one was getting lots of action, so salt overload was a possibility.  The cure was to give plenty of fresh water.  I added some molasses to some warm water, and offered it to the ewe.  She drank 1 1/2 to 2 litres.  I gently pushed her back into the field, and she eventually lowered her self down under a tree.  Meanwhile we just waited.  Well not exactly waited.  The zucchini got picked, the few pears that were left and half a bucket of the Fall raspberries got picked as well.  Didn't want to leave Meredith with a dying sheep.  A conundrum.  Here's our chance to get away, we were all packed and ready to go, but it didn't seem right to just go and leave a sick sheep behind.  We kept looking at her to see if there was any improvement.  Larry came in once and said he thought she was chewing her cud.  I went out to look.  No she wasn't.  But then lo and behold, a bit later I looked, and yes she was chewing her cud.  A positive sign! She chewed for a long time, looking totally normal while doing so, so I said let's go! 
And we were off.  
And do I know if it was a salt overload?  Nope, but seemed like a good possibility.  Needless to say, the salt block was removed while we were away.

Manning Park.  
That's fresh snow on that there hill.  Some lovely fall colours on the few deciduous trees, which I totally sucked at getting a decent photo of.

Since we were later leaving home, we didn't get as far as we had planned the first day.
The first night was spent at Bromley Rock campsite.  It's a government one, one of the few that was still open.  There was only ourselves and one other camper in there.  That's the Similkameen River right below us.

The dogs got some beach time that evening, and then the next morning.  Some swimming too, but the water was really cold, so it wasn't long before they were shivering.

Calli stuck to digging in the sand.

After the water time, I dug out Luna's basketball.  Figured since the campsite was deserted, she could chase the ball around.  Larry did comment that we'd better be careful.  If the ball went over the edge and made the wrong bounce, it would be in the river.  Luna sent it over the edge and then brought it back up.  The second time that happened, she came back up without it. 
I went to look and the ball wasn't just in the river, it was about 20 feet out, and heading downstream.  Right there the river was fairly smooth, but it was moving along at a good clip.  Just a little further downstream there was a back eddy, so I was hoping the ball would get caught in there and come closer to shore.  The wind was against us though.  It was blowing the ball farther out into the river, so it didn't get caught in the back eddy, it just kept on going.  Luna and I were following it along the shore.  She seemed quite concerned.  I kept telling myself that I wasn't going to take any drastic measures to try and save a $3 ball.  We kept on going.  Most of the river bank was big rocks and boulders that we were scrambling over. I kept seeing something ahead that I thought might send the ball into shore.  There were some small rapids. One time Luna swam out and got behind the ball and pushed it towards shore.  I encouraged her, frantically yelling 'push, push'.  One push was all she did.

We kept on going, scrambling over the rocks.  I kept looking for something that might direct the ball closer to shore.  I found a long stick.  Finally I saw a rock that the ball was headed right towards.  I was hoping that it would pass on the shoreward side, but it didn't.  It did get caught in the water swirl around the rock though, and pulled in behind it, which directed it closer to shore.  I could see that the water was getting shallower, so picked up speed to get ahead of the ball, kicked off my shoes and socks and waded in, and voila!

Meanwhile back at the campsite.....
Larry had walked the whole length of the site with the other two dogs, hoping to spot Luna and I down by the water.  He didn't see us.  He pictured me slipping and hitting my head on a rock.

I tucked the ball under my arm and Luna and I headed up the hill.  We were way past the campsite at this point, and came out at the edge of the highway.  Since I didn't have a leash, we went back down to the river and walked along until we got back even with the campsite.
All's well that ends well.  The ball went straight back into the trailer.
Oh, when we scrambled up the hill to the highway, I found two bright yellow Stanley crowbar thingies. 

On to Keremeos.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Okanagan

Been there

Got the t-shirts tennis balls.

There were are 6, but I can't find the other Chuckit ball. Maybe we found the same ball twice, come to think of it.  I found that one, maybe for the second time.  Jake found four balls, and Luna found one.
I think Jake found one of those green ones, three mornings in a row, right down along the water line in the photo at the top.  We were picturing a tennis court at the waters edge, at the other end of the lake (Penticton), and the balls being blown down to the Okanagan Falls end where we were. (The wind was blowing straight down the lake by mid morning).

Got back last night from a 5 1/2 day break from home, in the beautiful Okanagan.
All the boring details yet to come.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Poochmobile-Trial Run

Tonight I finished off a project that first started three years ago, or maybe it's four.  I bought a bike trailer off Craigslist, with the intention of making suitable for Calli, and maybe Jake as well, to ride in.  I know it was before we got Luna.  I took the two sling seats out, and then tried to figure out how to make a solid base in the bottom, while keeping it lightweight.  For some reason I never got it finished.
Because we are going to be doing some biking in the next few days, and will have the dogs with us, I suddenly decided yesterday afternoon to resurrect the project.  It was buried out in the barn, under bags of sheep's wool, wooden drawers and other assorted 'junk' that surely one day was going to be just the thing I was looking for.  Dumped the mouse poop off the board I had got cut for the bottom and dragged it all into the garage.  Figured out how to make the thin board a bit sturdier and better supported, and how to make a new wall.   The original trailer was that sort of triangular shape, looking from the side.  I wanted to make it bigger.  I took the handle that you used if you wanted to push the trailer like a stroller, and fastened it on the front.  Then I just happened to have a piece of heavy duty plastic that was the perfect size for what I needed.  Love it when things work out like that:)  Some velcro attached in the right spots, and the poochmobile was ready to roll.  I had never actually attached it to the bike until this morning.  Luna was the first victim.  She's game for most things, and the trial run went well.  So I went back and got Jake and put him in with Luna.  He is not so thrilled about that sort of thing, but he didn't make a break for freedom.  
Larry had come out to see, so I suggested he give it a try, with Calli as the passenger.  
We always ride bikes in rubber boots:)  As you can see by the road, it had been raining.  It rained all yesterday, and it rained most of today, so it's definitely rubber boot time. 

Tonight I spent a couple of hours sewing velcro and webbing along the edges of that plastic.  Now the top fits snugly down over my new front and sidewalls, and everything is fastened in place.  It all worked like a charm, I'm thrilled:)  Can't wait to give it a real workout.  I've also decided it's easier to get the dogs in the trailer via the back door instead of the front.

Can I get out now, I'd rather just RUN!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Pride has decided that he wants to go out into the bush field.  This just started a few days ago.

This summer we are really noticing that he is showing his age. (He will be 30 next March).  His back has dropped and he looks quite swaybacked.  He hasn't put the weight on that he usually does over the summer.  Other than that, he still seems healthy, and gets around just fine.

He knows that the apples are long gone, but makes a side trip just to make sure.

No, there's no apples left.

Where is he heading to?

We catch up to him down the trail.

What the heck is he doing?

There must be something in that soil that he likes or needs.  He does get loose salt and minerals daily, and has free access to a salt lick.  This just started a few days ago.  Normally he doesn't go along the trail.  Somehow can he sense that there is some tasty soil out in the bush?  Does he remember that he has been down there before, in previous years, and licked the soil in those low wet spots.
We have had five horses over the years.  At various times, and I wouldn't say it has even been every year, they have ventured into the bush and licked the soil in a few particular spots.
It's weird, and fascinating!