Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pear Sex - Rained Out

This is our Bartlett Pear tree.  It's covered in blooms, and looks just lovely, even when it's pouring rain.

On Monday, it was busy with buzzing bees, doing their thing.

We've since had two days of straight rain, and there's not a bee in sight.  

Last year there were lots of blossoms, but not the right weather for good pear sex, so we only had about a dozen pears.  In a good year we can get 100 lbs or more.  
I'm sure hoping that we get some more decent weather so the bees can get back at it.

Seems we get a few days of nice weather, and then get blasted again with enough rain to make everything all soggy again.  One of these days I'm hoping the ground dries out and  stays that way for a few months.  It would 'bee' a nice change.


When we sell eggs at the farmers markets, we have to label them as per the Health Department's instructions.
Name, contact information, and date laid or sold.
We depend on our customers to return their cartons, and they also will give us any other cartons they have on hand.  We encourage them to so, because obviously we have to put the eggs in something, and it  makes sense to recycle when possible, and in the end it saves them money, because if we had to buy cartons, we'd have to charge more for the eggs.

It used to say 'Please return your empty cartons' on the label.
Then I added the word 'clean'.  Maybe I need to make the word 'clean' extra large, in flashing fluorescent letters. 
Sometimes we get cartons back that look like this.

That egg shell is stuck in there.  
The outside of the carton looked like this.

On the plus side, they do make handy kindling when we are starting the wood stove.
And those styrofoam cartons, which we don't seem to get as many of these days, at least those you can wash out if they are dirty.

Monday, April 23, 2012


You know the old 'hindsight is 20/20', the 'shouda, woulda, coulda, etc.  Yeah well, it bit me this morning, the hindsight thing. 
Jake had been showing some slight signs of improvement with his knee.  More times of  getting up from a down position without limping. The last few days or so I was allowing him to do the bush walk off leash.  Still controlling him verbally so he didn't do a lot of dashing around, but giving him that bit more freedom.

This morning I actually had a leash with me, just in case I thought I needed it.  Sometimes as we are about to go through the gate to the bush field, by the way the dogs are acting, we know there is some fresh coyote activity.  No signs of anything this morning, so off we went.  When we got to the back southeast corner, Luna suddenly was barking from the other side of the creek in the neighbours property. The creek as it crosses the property line, is in quite a deep cut in the ground.  We haven't fenced that part because there just isn't an easy way to do it.  Jake was gone after Luna before I had a chance to tell him to stay.  I can get all the dogs to stay if I get them before they start running, but once they have got running in a situation like this, they are so focused on what they are after, that a person might as well save their breath.  Next thing we hear Jake barking well into the neighbours.  Then we hear what sounds like coyote shrieking.  Then I start shrieking.  My theory is that if they are having trouble with a coyote, the more noise I make, the more back-up it sounds like is coming to their rescue, and hopefully the coyote will just keep going. Of course I am screaming for the dogs to come back.  Larry had run around the trail and met Luna half way.  I'd slid down into the creek bed and well, wasn't sure where I was going to head or what I was going to do next.  Then Jake came running back.  I hauled myself up the bank and made my way round to the rest of the gang.  Calli had been behind me, and had got herself stuck, so thankfully she didn't go anywhere.   There was a bit of blood in the corner of Jake's eye, and a bit in the fur in the top of his head.  I took a quick look and nothing seemed major.  When we got back to the house I got something to clean him up and have a better look.  Then I realized it wasn't just a skin wound on his head, it was a half inch opening right down to the skull.

So called my handy dandy vet just around the corner, and they said to bring him right over.  Poor Jake, he was sedated, shaved and vacuumed, had two staples put in the top of his head, and a stitch in the corner of his eye, where there is a smaller puncture wound. Thank dawg it missed the eyeball.  The vet thought the two wounds were made by top and bottom teeth, as in the coyote bit him.  At first I wondered if he had run into a barb wire fence.  I did wander out there later and the fences were either smooth wire or the non-climbable stuff.  No barb wire to be seen.

Although not really visible, the stitch is in the corner of this eye. 
It took Jake a long time to shake off the sedative.  Now at 12 hours later he is looking much closer to normal, but up until I left to go to agility this evening, he was wobbling around like he was an 18 year old dog.  It was worrying and sad to see him like that.  He got a shot of antibiotic and is on oral antibiotic for 5 days.  Hopefully it all heals up fast.  His nose seems to be swollen tonight. Poor little Jake.

And of course I'm whipping myself with a wet noodle for not having him on leash, for the sake of his knee. Why didn't I even consider that a coyote chase might be in the cards.  A $153 mistake, and that's getting off pretty cheap.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hood Ornament

 The other day when Whirlwind Dave decided it was time to do some slashing and burning  cleaning up around here.....

He commented that there were a few mice running around in the front of the tractor.  It seems to have been a winter of mice living in vehicles.  Two cars here are blasting out from the vents, bits of insulation, feathers and whatever else the mice used to make their winter headquarters.  The day I'm driving and a mouse crawls out of those vents will probably be the day I'll have an accident.
So this morning when David started up the tractor, he had a hood ornament for a little while.

The mouse looks a little PO don't you think?

It stayed in place for a while, and then bailed off at the back of the barn, where no doubt it will wait until the tractor is parked back there again.
If I need to use that tractor, I'll be banging around all over the engine cover before I flip the lid to the battery cover and hold the wire to the battery terminal.  That's our hi-tech starter.  Under that lid is  a great place for mice to hang out.  Shudder

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Flippin' Fur Factory

Nelson has adapted well to living with us.  He'd love to have some nose to nose conversations with Smudge, but she doesn't want to oblige.  Sometimes he can get within inches of her without her hissing, or occasionally  swatting at him, but she has no interest in getting close and cuddly.  He is entertaining, some of the things he does, what with being a younger cat, and the whole thing has worked out much better than I had thought.  He does spend some time outside, usually early morning and in the evening, and quite often brings a selection of vegetation back in with him.  It's that hair.

And speaking of hair, it's everywhere.  Probably it's worse now because it's Spring and officially shedding season, but since he actually spends 80-90% of his time inside, I'm not sure that he actually needed to grow a winter coat.

My mother used to complain about the hair he left around.  In fact she used to get very worked up about it.  I used to think 'really, is it that big of a deal?'.  
I eventually convinced her to switch to a higher quality food, having heard that it could help reduce shedding.  She went from Friskies to Orijen.
Didn't make a difference.

Now I'm feeling her pain.  Nelson doesn't just shed, he drops hair in clumps.  So instead of of random hairs joining the light airy dusty bunnies that accumulate in those dead air zones, we have these smoky grey clumps, not hidden in the corners, but out in the open.

Doesn't matter if you've just groomed him, or groomed him several times that day (yesterday).  You can vacuum, and you are guaranteed a few hours later to find clumps just sitting in the middle of the floor.
He has this very soft undercoat that mats easily and just seems to fall out in clumps. everywhere. all the time. endlessly.

Last Fall when he first arrived, I started saving his hair.  Not sure why, I guess just to see how much I was actually getting.  There was enough to clothe a few more cats.
You can't brush him, because all that does is glide over the outer hairs.  You have to comb him to get to the root of the problem, and he is generally good about being groomed, thank goodness.

If there is a next cat, and we have any control over the matter (sometimes they just show up) it won't be white, and it won't be long haired with a soft undercoat.

I think it will be a dog.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fowl Play

Hen - 1
Eagle -  0

It was a close call though.  
I was in the house, and thought I heard some sudden squawking.  Not the 'I've laid an egg' kind of squawking, but the 'something's wrong' kind of squawking.  I ran out of the front door, but didn't hear anything once I was out there.  I could see two hens looking a bit panicky, in the corner where the vegetable garden takes a chunk out of the south chicken field.  I walked across the driveway towards the fence, and suddenly 30' away from me, a bald eagle took off in flight out of the field.  There was a mess of feathers scattered around, and a poor frazzled hen bolted in the direction of the chicken coop.

I went to help her out.  She was missing all her tail feathers, and some on her back.  There was some blood and she was favouring one leg.  I stuffed a bit of hay in a small dog crate and put her in it in the barn in the dark and quiet and left her there for a few hours.  Later I moved the crate to the chicken coop, and left her in it overnight.  This morning she didn't look any worse, and this afternoon I let her out for a few minutes, and then put her back in the crate for her own safety.  To keep her safe from the other hens that is.  At times hens can be vicious, the term 'hen-pecked' was coined for a reason.  Tomorrow I'll give her more freedom.  Maybe I'll set up the dog x-pen and put her and the crate in there.  She'll probably make a full recovery.  I've found that chickens seem to recover well from injuries.

I love seeing the eagles, but leave my hens alone!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

We Did It!

The Sun Run has come and gone.  I'm kind of sad now.  The build up over the last three months for this day's run....well we went there, did it,  got the t-shirt, and  I have one sore knee to show for it.  And if you want Meredith's input, it would be the same, except she is now hobbling along again on her sore heels (faciitis).
So here's how it all played out.

Got up at 6, showered, ate, and headed to Abbotsford to meet the bus that our running group was heading into Vancouver on.  We had a real Trucker Mama of a bus driver. (She used to drive the big rigs). She was a bit PO that she didn't know exactly where she was to drop us off, so basically she pulled over on the next street north of the starting line, and we all piled out.  The weather was cloudy, but before we got off the bus a big patch of blue sky appeared, so I did a hasty change of clothing underneath my sweatshirt to a sleeveless top.

                                                  Kind of like the girl's line-up and the boy's lineup.  
We were in the boys line-up I guess, but it was much shorter:)
We stepped off the bus, and we were frozen.  What felt like an arctic wind was blasting up Howe Street.  First things first though, we lined up at the portapotties, and then checked out the starting area.  There weren't too many people there yet, so we set off walking.  Anything to warm us up.  I was in shorts, with an old polar fleece sweatshirt that I was going to ditch once the run started.  We ended up going in towards the skytrain station and Granville Mall, where it was warm and wind free.  I ran up and

down the stairs a few times to warm up, and we did some stretches.  About 8:40 we headed up towards the start line with another stop at the portapotties, and their even longer lineups.  Squished ourselves into our starting section on Georgia Street, and waited and waited and waited.  We were registered in the  1 - 1 1/4 hour group, and were stood near the back of the pack.  Waaaaay off in the distance we could see heads bobbing after the starting gun went at 9, and I thought that we'd be moving in no time.  Ha, the only moving we did was in place, trying to keep our legs warm and loosened up.

Looking towards the start.
We were in the white group                                                                    Behind us

 Eventually we started to move, at a walk, and crossed the start line at 9:45.  We were running by the time we crossed the start line.  We tossed our sweatshirts over the fence, where there were already bags of clothes that had been picked up.

Almost at the start line

Very quickly we were running downhill, and made sure that we didn't get going too fast.  We were past the first kilometer in what seemed like no time at all.  One down, nine to go.  The course flattened out, and there were a few sharp corners which caused a bit of a bottle neck.  I think at one of them we had to sort of run in place a few seconds while everyone got round.  The walkers were supposed to stay to the right, but there were more than enough annoying ones that were walking down the running section.  One was fine, but get a few walking abreast and they created a wall.  For the most part though, in a second or two a hole was created and you could get past and keep going.  We were going a pretty decent clip for the first few kilometers, Meredith's heels were okay, but then somewhere between kilometer two and three, the pain kicked in.  We kept going, probably not as fast as we could on a good day.  Just before the five kilometer mark we hit the steepest hill on the route.  Meredith thought she was going to have to walk it, but she managed to make it up.  There was a bit of flat, and then over the Burrard Street Bridge.  We were past the halfway mark, and I felt pretty decent.  Meredith was feeling worse though.  Her heels had ramped up a few more notches on the pain scale.  She was starting to struggle, and around 7 1/2 kilometers she said she was going to have to walk, and she told me to go ahead.  
And like the kind, caring, concerned mother I am.....I ran off and left her:)

Between 8 and 9 kilometers,getting close to the Cambie Street bridge, looking forwards and backwards.  Runners and walkers as far as the eye can see

I picked up the pace a bit, it was mostly flat, there was a rockin' band playing under the Cambie Street bridge.  I even had enough energy left to put my hands over my head and clap along with them.  Up the ramp to the bridge, then there was a long stretch of mostly flat.  I picked up the pace a bit, the finish line was getting close.  Once I hit the downhill coming off the bridge, I really picked up the pace some more.  Now I really felt like a runner.  I was passing quite a few people, and I managed to keep that pace up to the finish line.  I felt awesome at that point...probably mostly because it was over:).

The finish line, next to B.C. Place

I found the end of the fence and got around it and walked back towards the finish line.  I had no idea how far behind me Meredith was going to be.  Thank goodness she was wearing a bright blue shirt, and not one of the ubiquitous Sun Run shirts, as it made it a lot easier to pick her out of the crowd.  
Poor girl, she had to hobble the last 2 1/2 kilometers.  She couldn't even walk fast.  She had a lady ask her if she needed a bandaid (she thought Meredith must have a blister).  She managed to run the last 20 feet or so across the finish line.  I finished in 1:07:17.  Meredith finished in 1:22:  Not quite as fast as I was hoping to do it, but I did keep running for that whole time.

Afterwards we trooped into B.C Place stadium, where we were offered juice, water, bagels, oranges and  bananas, and Power Bar products.  Some of the lineups were incredibly long, so we skipped those.

In the stadium.  The crowds had thinned a lot by the time this was taken

        Leaving the stadium to walk to the bus, I just about froze .  Here I am modelling the latest in runners gear, the garbage bag.  I had that packed  in  the pocket of my water bottle belt, in case we had to wait for the start of the run in the rain.

Back on the bus by 12:30, and home just before 2.  Trucker Mama bus driver dropped us off at the fairgrounds where we had started.  The only thing was the parking lot was packed, as the Flea Market was in full swing.  She took us down a narrow aisle and tried to make the tight turn at the end to come back up the other one.  It involved someone getting out to make sure she didn't flatten a little car.  Some choice words were said about the drivers ahead of her, backing out of and waiting to get into parking spots.  It was rather entertaining:)

And some random blathering...

There were a ton of people that had entered themselves in the 'wrong' group.  Your timing chip gives you the correct time, no matter where you start.  Don't run in the 45 min - 1hr group if you are going to start walking in the first kilometer, you just get in the way of the runners behind you.

If you are walking, or have to stop running and walk instead, make your way over to the right where the walkers are supposed to be.

There were spectators all along the route, clapping, cheering, holding up signs, ringing cowbells.  I couldn't decide if I was in a parade or in a ski race.

Lots of music along the way, most with a real good beat, some not so much.

There was a guy running in flip flops.  He kept even with us for quite a stretch.  If he ran the whole thing, it makes me cringe to think of what the skin (or lack of it) between his toes must be like.

Meredith passed some poor person flat out on the ground, getting full CPR, people yelling, the ambulance arriving.  She said it didn't seem right to keep going past, but there was more than enough medical help there.  Hope he made it.

There were a few other people sprawled off to the side here and there along the way.

There were plenty of water stations.  Note to self, next time (yes, there will be a next time!), keep to the middle of the road near the water stations.  Too many people stopping suddenly to grab a cup, or suddenly cutting in front of us to quench their thirst.  We carried our own water.

The weather was just about perfect for me. The sun didn't come out.  Could have done with a bit more of a breeze, which I thought we'd get along the ocean, but we left most of the breeze behind at the starting line.

Just under 49,000 people registered for today's run.

Karen BrandsonAbbotsford

Meredith works for the podiatrist again tomorrow.  He's always been asking her how her training is going.  She'll be hobbling around in the office tomorrow.

Now the hard part will be to keep up this running.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Two More Sleeps

Two more sleeps before Sunday's run.  I'd better make them good ones.  Well I'll do what I can to get to bed at a decent hour, and hope that hot sweats, weird dreams, and random leg aches and pains don't deprive me of a good night's rest.  Yeah, in my dreams....

I read in last weeks paper, in the Monday section devoted to the Sun Run, a wise person saying that 'you run the best run you can on the day of the race'.  She was referring to whatever things that could affect your peak performance.  Things like a upset child that kept you awake most of the night before.  The cold that seems to have come out of nowhere.  The hot sweats, weird dreams, random leg pains....hey that's me!
Words to live by.

So although I have big dreams of finishing around the hour mark, or just under, I'll just do the best I can with whatever I'm dealing with.  Meredith has already told me that I have to stick with her, unless she is having a bad day, and then she'll give me 'permission' to go ahead.    Makes sense, we trained together, and we want to run together.  (Well except I have a bit of a competitive streak, so I might be chomping at the bit, a bit...) She worked with a podiatrist on Wednesday and got a free diagnosis (faciitis) and advice.  So ice, orthotics, rest, anti-inflammatory and a topical.  She felt quite a bit better yesterday, and said she's running on Sunday no matter what.

I've completed every run in our training routine, even though there were a couple I should have missed early on when I had a bad cold.  The plan works.  I've gone from to a non-runner, to a runner.
  Monday's run was a killer.  It was a warm day, then it clouded over and got a bit muggy.  Then our group leader took us down into a park area, it was more like cross-country running.  We were down in the trees (still leafless) in a bowl, with no air movement at all, up and down little hills.  There was a killer steep trail to come out of there.  It is the only time that I had to walk when I was supposed to be running. I can't run in the heat.  If I keep this up, I'll have to be up at the crack of dawn to run in the coolness of early morning.

Last night's run I did on my own.  We had a big rain/thunder/lightening storm late afternoon.  I thought it had stopped raining about 6:30.  It was now or never.  When I stepped outside it was pouring again, but Luna and I went anyway.  It was tough, maybe partly because I'd been pushing wheelbarrows of manure around all day. I was having trouble with my left leg.  We were drenched.
This morning my left leg was worse, hip and back of the knee area. It would be related to my back, although my back feels fine.  I think it's slowly working itself out as I move around.
On Sunday I'll run the best race I can on that day.

PS -  I thought a little weight loss might be a side benefit of all this running.
Seems I thought wrong:(

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Gimpy, Limpy, Mind Over Matter Group

What a crew we have here.  Calli is gimpy, always will be, and no offense meant by using that term.  Perhaps the PC term would be physically challenged.  Jake is still dealing with his limping on and off issue, and now Luna has come up with something sore on her left front.  The last couple of days I noticed she was a bit iffy on it at times, and then last night, after actually crashing for a decent length of time, she was seriously limping on it when she got up.  So today we tried to keep her quieter.  Kind of like trying to tie down a tornado.  Took both Luna and Jake through the bush on leash this morning.  I made the mistake of commenting that it wasn't going too badly, mostly because Jake wasn't able to rush ahead of Luna, so she wasn't bucking at the end of the leash because she was left behind.  (I haven't been too successful at teaching her great leash skills)  No sooner had I said that than we crossed a fresh scent of something, probably coyote, and the bucking started in earnest.  She spent a lot of time in the house today, and she wasn't given access to any soccer balls.

Meredith has joined the limpy, gimpy group.  We joined the Sun Run training clinic together, we've done the other two runs each week together, every single one we are supposed to do , and now Meredith is having issues with her heels.  So much so that she decided that she was going to miss today's run.  So I had to go on my own.  I haven't done any of the training runs on my own until today.

 I'm official!

Remember at the start how I said I hate running.  I still hate running, the only difference now is that I know I can do it, but I still don't really enjoy it while I'm doing it.  I do like how I feel about myself after it's done. That feeling of success, the feeling of doing something that I once thought impossible, that smug feeling as I run down the road, and the cars pass me.  But no, I don't actually enjoy doing the running.  Running with someone else is easier.  It's harder to let yourself give in if the other person is still running.

 So I was a little worried about this morning's run.  I couldn't even take Luna with me to keep me company. The first running interval was 15 minutes.  I started out slowly, as the first interval is always the hardest.  It takes a while to get into that automaton kind of state.  Half a mile generally downhill, and then a mile uphill. The sun was shining. I was in a tank top and shorts.  Thankfully the air was still cool, as I fade rapidly if I'm too hot.  I knew I would be close to the top of the hill before the 15 minutes was up.  I managed to run all the way to the top before I checked the time, and I had gone one minute over.  I walked one minute, and then ran 14 minutes.  This time it was mostly flat and then some downhill.  Walked another minute, then ran 10.  That 42 minutes got me back to where I had started running, plus a little bit more.  According to Google maps, that 42 minutes got me 6.8 kilometers.  I'm kind of excited.  My secret goal was to run the 10k in about an hour.  At that rate I could.  Of course a lot of those 50,000 other people might get in my way.  Sure today was only 42 minutes.  On Monday we ran 50 minutes non-stop.  The Monday before that we ran 60 minutes, with a one minute walk after 40 minutes.  These last few weeks we have been told we are physically ready, it is just the mental part that gets in the way.  I think one of my biggest success of all these weeks of training was this morning's run that I did on my own.  We have one week and two training runs to go until the big day!

Friday, April 6, 2012

In The Garden - Potatoes

I have managed to sneak a bit of gardening in just lately.  Despite far too much rain, Spring is actually here, and it's time to get going on what I can.  I planted these potatoes on Mar. 22.  They are Warbas, which are an early potato.  I aim to plant them around March 3, but the weather was just too uncooperative for that to happen this year.  

This year I'm doing it a bit differently.  Usually I use a dibbler (broken spade handle) to make a hole and drop the potatoes in.  If the potatoes are a bit big, they don't want go to the bottom of the hole, and when I try to force them, there's a good chance I might break off some of the shoots, if they've already started to grow.  So this year I raked a trench and just spaced the potatoes along it.


The new potatoes are formed above the seed potato.  I raked a few inches of soil over the potatoes, and as the shoots appear, I'll rake more soil over them from the hills between the trenches, until the trenches actually become the hills.  Theoretically, the higher I can make those hills, the more potatoes will grow.  

Luna likes to get involved with everything.  She shot her ball into the garden, but she knows that she is not supposed to play soccer once it is in there.  She'll just lay and stare at the ball, waiting for me to get it for her.  Just like when someone is driving through the gate on the driveway.  She'll race to find a ball, start playing with it on the driveway, and then (you can almost see the smile on her face) she'll send it down the driveway, where it picks up speed and rolls towards the road.  She'll lay, staying inside the gate, and watch while you park the car, leap out, and race down the driveway trying to beat the ball to the road.  If she gets it just right, the ball hits the road and keeps on going.

Since the weather was still quite cool, I actually laid a piece of plastic over the soil to help warm it up, after I had planted the potatoes.  A few days ago I planted the second bag of potatoes in the bottom half of that bed.  The bag had been inside, so the potatoes were more sprouted than the first bag were.  It will be interesting to see if there is much difference in the two lots of potatoes coming up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

He's Still Broke

After quite a few visits to the chiropractor, getting Jake's pelvis sorted out to how it should be, as well as the tight muscles that went along with it, I was still seeing the same symptoms. (Lameness when he first gets up, which then he works through, and then seems okay)  So we went off to the vet. Luckily for us, our vet is just around the corner, well about a mile and a half away, since we are on a one mile square block.  Close enough that you can walk your animals there, or ride them if it's Pride.  It's been a godsend, especially in the early years when we seemed to be there too frequently.  I used to joke that I was expecting to be given a parking spot with our name on it.
After explaining all the symptoms, some of which Jake kindly demonstrated, because we had to wait a while and he had been laying on the floor, the exam began.  There was also a young vet trainee or wannabe in the exam room with us.  The vet spent a long time manipulating Jake's leg, to see if he could get any indication of where the problem may be.  The only time he got any reaction was when he did a posterior drawer test, and Jake indicated some pain.  There was no swelling in the area though. The then examined Jake's other knee (stifle), applying the same amount of pressure, and got no reaction.  His diagnosis is that Jake has probably hyper extended his caudal cruciate ligament (known as the PCL or posterior cruciate ligament in humans).  At that time he didn't feel it was necessary for x-rays.  So we are back on limited exercise and it's kind of a wait and see process.  Jake has very straight back legs, which probably hasn't helped, or maybe helped cause the whole issue.
It's always kind of fun going to see our vet.  The vet techs are fun and entertaining.  There are a few office cats that wander around.  The vet jokes with me about never bringing him a cut and dried, easily diagnosed, straightforward kind of case. Yes, we've had a few oddball issues over the years. He doesn't encourage a person to spend any 'unnecessary' money.
I wonder if Jake will ever do agility again, but it's not the end of the world if he doesn't.  There are more important things.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool!

Mother Nature played a cruel joke on us this morning.  It must have been because I was complaining about all the rain.

We are NOT amused!

 Actually I think the dogs were greatly amused.

Mother Nature might be working up to an apology though, I see blue sky in the distance!