Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mrs. Plug the Plumber

Mrs Plug the Plumber

Front Cover
Puffin Books, 1980 - 24 pages
Whenever a plumber is needed in the town, people call for Mrs Plug. And wherever she goes, Mr Plug and the baby Plugs go too. Then one night she uses her plumbing tools to save a rich man from a robber and the family end up setting sail on their biggest plumbing adventure ever!Based on the classic ‘Happy Families’ card game, this highly entertaining series is ideal for reading and sharing at home or at school. It is guided by the Education Adviser, Brian Thompson, and written by the award-winning author, Allan Ahlberg.‘The best thing to happen to beginner readers since Dr Seuss’ Children’s Rights Workshop.

About the author (1980)

Allan Ahlberg is one of Britain's most successful authors. With his late wife, Janet, he has produced such prize-winning 
titles as EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM and PEEPO. His poetry collection, HEARD IT IN THE PLAYGROUND, won the 
Signal Poetry Award. Allan lives in Leicestershire

About the author (1980)

Allan Ahlberg is one of Britain's most successful authors. With his late wife, Janet, he has produced such prize-winning titles as EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM and PEEPO. His poetry collection, HEARD IT IN THE PLAYGROUND, won the Signal Poetry Award. Allan lives in Leicestershire

We had the book.  The title is stuck in my head.  We finally got the plumbing sorted out, the waterfall has dried up. It only took us four attempts.  On Boxing day we heated up the connections and removed the pipe and the shut off valve.  The new pipe was cut, we did a quick read-up of soldering copper water pipe on Google.  The ends were cleaned, a new elbow added.  The hardest part was cleaning the old solder out of the shut off valve so the pipe would fit in it.  I did that while Larry went out to do the evening chores.  Feeding Pride and the Old Ewe, collecting eggs, shutting in the chickens.  While I was blasting that blow torch into the valve, and it was making weird noises, it suddenly dawned on me that I was probably destroying the rubber seal.  Since it was now just after 5, and being Boxing Day the stores had closed early, I couldn't find a store open to go and purchase a new valve.  We had to put the old one on.  I'm happy to say that our soldered joints worked just fine.  The valve was not fine though.  It leaked like mad, and....the next piece of copper pipe, running horizontal just under the ceiling, had now developed a pin prick leak.  We set up the waterfall, and then turned off the water overnight.  The next morning the valve started to seal itself up.  The drips went from two per second, eventually to one every ninety seconds.  And then I said, I wonder if the shut off part will work. What good is a valve if you can't shut it off?    So yeah, I had to turn it.  No, of course it didn't shut the water off, it was squirting out through the tap part.  When I opened the valve back up, the one drip per 90 seconds was now a steady stream.  So I went out to pick up feed for the animals, and got another valve.   We bailed the bucket out a few times, and turned the water off again overnight.

Yesterday morning we finally got at it again.  Because this valve was not quite the same length as the previous one, we had to add another short length of pipe below the valve.  The joints to solder had certainly grown in number.  We got the new piece of horizontal pipe cut, everything fitted together, and started soldering.  It all worked fine except for a leak at the last joint we did.  So heat it again to take that joint apart, clean all the old solder off (that is the hardest part) and try again.  Thought it was working, but saw the pipe actually push apart.  Then it dawned on us that there was a bit of residual water in that horizontal pipe, which had turned to steam and was blasting out through that last joint.  Fortunately the pipe was only about a foot long, so we used a knitting needle to shove a narrow piece of rag down it numerous times to mop up all the water.  Cleaned off the flipping pipe and inside the connector yet again (did I already say that was the worst part), and finally our last attempt worked.  Of course a lot of it was in an awkward position.  Working an inch from the ceiling gets hard on the shoulders.  So what did we learn from this?  Well first of all, make very sure that all the water is out of the pipe.  It's easier to buy a new valve than try to clean all the solder out of the old one.  Use heat and a cloth to wipe out the old solder before the final sanding if trying to reuse a fitting.
I don't think I'll add 'Plumber' to my resume just yet.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mystery Solved

Coyotes.  The fence that we had fixed nearly three years ago, and actually was left to lean out slightly in the manner of the top of prison fence, was probably now leaning a bit too much.  David was outside washing his landrover.  He heard the chickens cackle and looked over, and there about 100 ft away, and 60 ft from the house, was a wacking big coyote, stood under the maple tree in the middle of the sheep/chicken field.  He chased it off, and saw it go over the fence.  Unfortunately in this situation, we are not a gun owning family, and have nothing more powerful than a pellet gun.  David got it and went over the fence to see if he could get a shot.   Larry rounded up some fence posts, as the old ones had rotted off, and David and I pounded some in, and the fence is straightened back up where it should be.  I still can't understand why there were no feathers on the other side of the fence.

IMG_4908On a good note, we got the Christmas trifle made before all that happened.  I'm now sipping coffee with Bailey's.  I need it.  Our hot water is turned off.  Just before we went out to fix the fence, I heard a noise in the sewing room.  Three fine streams of water were spraying from the hot water copper pipe coming out of the top of the water heater.  They were hitting the wall and running down.  We are going to try and patch it with rubber pieces and hose clamps for now.  People are grumbling about needing showers.  Wish us luck!

Update:  For a while we had a water feature in the basement.  Water dripping down the copper pipe, into a bent pie plate, waterfalling over the edge, where it was guided by a cookie sheet into a five gallon bucket.

I was wrong, it was the cold water inlet pipe.  To stop the leaking we would have had to turn all the water off to the house.  It is now patched with hose clamps and pieces of bicycle inner tube, which will hopefully get us through to Wednesday.  Repair supplies for that soldering project were purchased this afternoon.

Have a very Merry Christmas.!


Bah Humbug

Trying to stay with a Christmas theme, but at the moment I'm not feeling very jolly.  There's words I'd much rather use, or one word, and it starts with F:(

We got hit again, as in something came and went on a killing spree in our north chicken field this time.  I was out yesterday afternoon, and Larry was just returning from a 40 minute walk with the dogs.  As he got close to home he heard a chicken cackling, and then more than one chicken.  He arrived home to discover another massacre.  No bodies this time, but 6 chickens missing, three injured, one of which was dead by last night.  He and David, who had been watching a football game on the TV at the time, hunted around.  They found chickens in shock hidden in weird places.  There were patches of feathers all around the field.  There was no evidence of where anything(s) had come in or out.  I did a pretty good search of the perimeter this morning, and there are no chicken feathers outside the fence.  No evidence of coyotes going over or under.  It's a bloody frustrating mystery.  I just feel so furious, and helpless.....and sick.

We went to bed last night (I guess that goes without saying).  My clock wasn't showing the time.  It is one of those things that broadcasts the time onto the wall or ceiling.  It's great!  Larry had been doing some cleaning and had knocked it to the floor.  I finally got the time working, but it was showing three hours later than it should.  Finally found the right button to fix that.
Luna usually sleeps in our room, on a mat in the corner, but sometimes she does that reverse sneezing thing, it can be quite bad and go on for a long time, usually around 5am.  And when she figures it's time for you to get up, if you happen to rustle the sheets even slightly, she walks over and pokes you with her cold nose, and 'encourages' you to get up.  Larry moves, and she comes and gives me the cold nose.  So I started shutting her out of our room so I would get a better sleep, since I need all the help I can get some nights.  If she's not in our room, when she thinks we should get up, she starts doing a gentle woof every ten seconds or so from the living room, which wakes me up.  Larry sleeps through it all.  So I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't.  Last night she was in our room.  She must have eaten something gross, because she was stinking up our room something fierce.  Also, the Fat Ewe, was baaing the sheep field.  Kind of like Luna's morning living room woof.  Not loud, but regular.   Unusual for sure.  I listened for a while, and figured I had to check it out, because there was no way I'd fall asleep while that was going on.  It was already past midnight.   The Fat Ewe and Young Ewe were stood in the field, which was strange.  Normally they would have been in the barn. This is the field where the chicken massacre took place, it's also the sheep field.  The sheep were out in the hayfield when the killing took place.  I have to wonder what the result would have been in the sheep had been in there.   So there I am in my nightie and crocs with a flashlight, in the drizzle, trying not to slip in the mud.  (Going downstairs to get boots and a jacket is too much work and gets the dogs all wound up, barking etc). The Old Ewe is down on her side, thrashing away in the barn.  That was weird too.  She hasn't done that in more than a month.  Has actually been doing quite well for an old lady.  Anyway, I heaved her to her feet and went back in.  Shut Luna out of the bedroom.  Finally fell asleep.  Was the Fat Ewe looking out for her friend?  Something similar happened before.

The alarm went off  at 6am.  What the...?  All the messing around with the clock had somehow got the alarm turned on.  I fumbled in the dark and thought I turned it off.  It started up again 8 minutes later.  Fumbled around again and finally got it right, I think.  (I'd better remember to check it when I go to bed tonight) Luna knows that the alarm is all about.  Since there was no sounds of anyone moving in the bedroom, she started her woof, ten seconds of silence, woof, etc.  I wanted to just yell at her from the bedroom, but didn't want to wake Larry, (it amazes me what he can sleep through) so I stormed out there and gave her heck and tried to reassure Jake that it wasn't HIM that I was mad at.  Went back to bed.  Couldn't get back to sleep.  Got up earlier than usual, and was heading outside to have a look around, see if any chickens had come out of hiding.  Got downstairs to the utility room where Calli sleeps.  As most of you know, Calli has nerve damage, which among other things resulted in some loss of bladder control, and no bowel control.  We have to make sure she pees in the evening.  Larry thought he had accomplished that.  Obviously not, the utility room was a disaster area.  Feeling like the jolly Christmas elf I was not.

Anyway, after my long wander outside, in the field next door, I'm feeling just as frustrated.  There is no evidence of what happened to those chickens.  Mink or weasel, no, they wouldn't/couldn't have carried 6 chickens off.  A family of raccoons? maybe, but then we'd at least find some feathers on the other side of the fence. Same for coyotes, but how did they get in?   Eagles, sure, but they don't work in flocks, maybe in a pair, and we've had one grab a chicken before now, but 6 chickens?  It is just like the chickens were lifted off into the sky, and the worst thing is not knowing what we are up against.  Is it coincidence it happened when the dogs weren't here?

                                                                   Bah Humbug!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas to Me!

Now that I've finished with the farmers markets, (my last one was last Saturday), I've put the jam pot and canner away for a month or two.  I'm free to concentrate on some other projects.  Of course they are not the projects I (and Larry) should be concentrating on such as finishing a flight of stairs or a bathroom.  Heck no, we are so used to living with those things the way they are, that I don't have much inclination to even start them.  Although maybe if Larry got the ball rolling.....?

Now we have another place to furnish at Oliver, and since the purse strings are suddenly much tighter, I've been having fun finding furniture on a budget.  We were given some, and I've found some things at the thrift stores and a few garage sales.  We have some furniture pieces here that we are not really using, so I've been trying to figure out if I can make any of them work at the Oliver house.  When you are trying to decorate a 520 sq. ft. house,  there's no room for furniture that doesn't have a purpose.

What ever I did was going to involve a lot of sanding.  I started out doing it by hand.  Grew tired of that pretty quickly.  I've always wanted one of these.  I researched them on line, and this is the one that I settled on.


  I actually asked Larry if he minded if I bought one.  I was buying one anyway, but thought I'd be considerate and ask him first.  I had to convince him how well it worked, and no it did not leave big swirls on the wood.  I said we'll stop in at Rona and talk to one of the salesmen there.  We ended up with the wrong one, salesman that is.  He was a quarter sheet sander kind of guy.  Just couldn't understand why anyone would want to pay for that 'expensive' peel and stick sandpaper, blah blah blah.
We left and I said I'm still buying one, I'll just go to the other Rona and get it there, and I did.  I love it! Sanding is effortless.  The dust collector works really well.  Not the easiest thing to open, but it works great.


Here's one of the pieces I'm working on.  It's one of the dressers that became redundant when we put the closet system in our bedroom.  I think this was Larry's dresser.  He also had a matching night stand.  I had a nine drawer dresser in the same style, and a four drawer tall chest.  That must be why we got married, we had matching bedroom furniture!  Furniture I actually hated grew to dislike.  The drawers had two handles, so you always had to open them with two hands.  The handles clanged every time you let go of them.  It was made to look like maple, but it probably isn't.  It was kind of a cheap copy of vilas maple.


A $20 pine bookshelf from Craigslist


The $15 Halloween desk from Craigslist.
I didn't realize what I was getting myself in for with this one.
They are all works in progress at the moment.


And yes, I've made time to do some Christmas shopping.  I've been out three days in a row now.  I haven't actually walked the length of the mall yet.  I thought I might do that on Monday.  I don't think I have anything much left to buy.  It might be kind of fun to walk through the mall and take in the Christmas panic ambiance without the worry of having to find that perfect last minute gift.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Back To Our Regularily Scheduled Programming

The excitement of yesterday morning's snowfall came to an end about noon when it started to rain.  So this morning we are back to damp and drizzle  and a bit of wet mush left on the ground, which is pretty normal for us.  I was out there in the drizzle about 1:30 yesterday, collecting eggs so I'd have enough for our customers in White Rock that afternoon.  I looked over the fence and what did I see....

Yep, that damn silly persistent hen had flown up to the top of the fence and landed out in the snow, and had plodded her way down the field to her favourite laying spot.   I darkened the photo to try make the tracks stand out.  That big blob is where she landed and then you can see her track winding off into the distance to the left of my footsteps.   I slogged my way down there to have a look, and there she was.


Really?  You'd rather lay your egg here on the cold wet ground? (At least there was less snow under the trees)  Not a good place to raise your kids you know!  That the chicken coop in the background between the trees, so it was a fair slog.  Considering that most of the hens took one look outside and elected to remain in the coop, well she's one determined hen.


And she was sitting on one massive egg, just like Tuesday's.


I did help her out a bit and carried her back to the coop.  At least this morning the snow won't be as deep when she makes her trek.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Wonderland Wednesday

Just in case you were wondering if we had fallen off the edge of the earth, or had got buried in a snowdrift, or were running in circles and couldn't find our way out of the's a few pictures from this morning.


We've flirted with snow the last few days.  I drove home from White Rock on Sunday evening in a blizzard, which petered out to half strength after a few miles, and by the time I was half way home it had fizzled out completely, and there was nothing here.


There was a dusting of snow on the ground both Monday and Tuesday morning, but this morning there was a few inches, which has just about doubled itself in the last three or four hours.  The chickens were not impressed, and thankfully we cleaned out both the coops and the sheep barn yesterday, as they will be getting a lot of use if this keeps up.  Some of the bolder hens made the 50' dash to the sheep barn this morning, but they'll probably lay their eggs in there, because the snow is now deeper and they won't want to make their way back.


The dogs enjoy it of course, although it's quite a workout for Calli, as the snow impedes her back legs, and she has to drag them through it.


Lovely to look at, but the novelty will wear off fast.  We are right around the freezing mark, so the snow is great for snowmen and snowballs, but not so great for driving in.


For once Luna's undercarriage won't be covered in mud, yay!





The hen from the south chicken coop that  usually flies over the fence and heads to the right down that row of evergreens, and lays an egg in the open on some dirt, wouldn't have been too pleased this morning.  Hopefully she will be forced to lay her egg on some dry hay in a cosy nest box.  Poor thing!:)


And speaking of malls, I haven't even ventured there yet this shopping season.  Probably haven't been there since last year.  Maybe tomorrow:)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fabulous Friday (Afternoon)

Friday morning definitely wasn't too fabulous.  It started out with a heavy hail storm, and then the sun teased us momentarily, and then it poured rain, and so it went.  And then in the afternoon, the sky cleared off, and it was beautiful.  We figured we had better dash down to the dyke and take advantage of the break.  It was 2 in the afternoon, and the sun was already pretty low in the southwestern sky, but it was so nice to see some bright blue sky and sunshine.

Luna waiting to see if we are going to come down to the water.

Jake standing at the swimming hole doing the same thing

Calli getting some loving

The colours were lovely

But the wind was cold


And then Jake found the stick of his dreams

But it was so waterlogged and heavy he couldn't carry it.  Luna tried, but she just did some log rolling



He had to leave it in the end.  
Both collies made one last hopeful stand at the swimming hole on the way back, but there was no swimming today.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Amusing Themselves

Our dogs aren't particularly great at amusing themselves.  That's probably a good thing, because quite often when dogs decides to amuse themselves, it's generally not something you really want them doing.  You know, running the fence line to bark at people and other dogs going by, harassing livestock, digging holes in the lawn or garden, chewing up something that was not meant to be chewed.  If you have a good relationship with your dog, they generally want to be where you are.

So the other day after our bush walk we stopped at the hay field and played fetch with Jake and kicked the soccer ball for Luna.  Calli wandered out and started hunting, which involves snuffling down mole and vole holes, and maybe doing a bit of digging.  It wasn't raining and was mild, which this time of the year means it's a great day, so when we went inside, we left the dogs out.  This time of year they spend a lot of time drying out in the basement, so it's nice if they can spend a morning outside.

I was doing a mega jam making session for the last big market of the year, and I got a kick looking out of the kitchen window, watching the dogs entertaining themselves out in the field.

Jake decided to join Calli in the hunt.  I realized after that Luna had taken the opportunity of the gate being open, to head out to the horse shed and clean up what Pride had spilled from his breakfast.  I try to feed them a grain free diet, and they do their damndest to eat what grain they can.


Jake, I heard that China is down there somewhere.  Do you see it yet?


Before too much longer, Calli had had enough, came back to the house and started barking at the front door to be let in to her mat in the basement.


Jake stuck it out for a while longer, and as he was coming out of the field, Luna appeared, and they both started walking towards each other in that funny way dogs do when they are about to play.  Jake grabbed a toy and they chased each other for a bit.


So then Jake told Luna about a possible trip to China, and they both went back out to the other side of the hay field.  Luna wasn't too interested in hunting though.  She did catch a whiff of something interesting blowing on the wind from the south.


I've got your back if you've got mine


I'll keep watch, you keep digging.


Jake, I think I see something happening back at the house


You're right, we're outta here, let's go!


And that was the end of that, but it had kept me entertained for an hour or more, dashing to the window with the camera on 20x zoom, trying to capture the essence of the dog's morning.

Yes, there are a few holes in the hayfield now.  There are so many mole hills that when we harrow the field, those hills should fill in those holes.  Unfortunately I don't think a mole or vole was hurt in the shooting of this adventure, although I did see Jake jump back one time like something had nipped at HIM!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Man About Town

Our little rooster has decided to share the love.  Here he is letting the hens in the north field know that he's on his way.  One night he slept with them.  Lately he seems to spend the day with them and then goes back to the south coop to sleep with the older, more experienced women.


That's him in the header photo, with a 'proper' tail.


Thursday, November 29, 2012


A couple of weeks ago when I was visiting my mum, she made a comment about November...two births and two deaths.   Mine and Meredith's births are the 6th and 23rd of this month.  My dad died 26 years ago today (29th), and my maternal grandmother died this month also, 24 years ago, although my mother didn't remember the day.  The past few days I've been sorting through some of the paperwork that we shoved into a big box when we were clearing my mum's place up in the Spring.  Lo and behold I came upon information regarding my grandmother's death.  She died on my birthday:(  That just seems weird and kind of sad, and I don't recall ever knowing that.  My dad died young, only 61, and I'm not that far off that age myself.   It makes me realize how young my dad was, and it seems so unfair.  He missed so much.

In that pile of paperwork I came across three recommendations that my dad must have brought with him when he came to Canada in April of 1963.  I had to chuckle at the wording of this one.    He obviously didn't come to work drunk,  got there on time and put in a full day:)


                               He was fun loving guy and was game to try just about anything.



He was a bricklayer for 13 years in Canada before making a major life change when he was 51. 
Ten years later he died out on his sailboat.  Meredith was two years old.
I wish my kids could have grown up knowing him.