Sunday, March 31, 2013

Snapshots - The Last Part

When we head to Oliver, we take up a load of stuff that has been added to the Oliver List since the last time we were there.  When we are there, we have two lists going.  One of things to bring back home with us, and another of things to that we need to take there the next time.  Quite often I've accumulated a few things from my thrift store visits.  So I picked up this fake vintage, made in China, little holder thingy.  50 cents. Couldn't really think of a use for it, but it was cute, so I had to get it:)  Eventually it ended up under the kitchen window, and right above the back splash behind the sink.  It matches well with the old original arborite counter top, which in a lot of places has come unglued from the wood underneath it.


This trip we finally had room in the truck to take up a compost bin.  Something I'd picked up for free off Craigslist.  Turned out it was someone I knew that was wanting to get rid of it.  I can't remember life without composting, and had been feeling bad about just throwing the vegetable trimmings etc. in the garbage.  I feel much better now that we have somewhere to put them.  Jake kindly peed on it:(


We also managed to fit a step ladder in the truck too.  So wouldn't you know it, the day after we got there, we came across a garage sale.  There was a nice wood step ladder for $10, sturdier than our aluminum one.  Larry made a comment about it being sturdy.  When Larry comments on something like that, I'm assuming he's interested.  I asked him if he was.  He wouldn't commit.  There was a sign posted that said No Reasonable Offer Refused.  I offered $5.  The lady countered with $7.50.  I countered with $6.  She dithered on it and the finally agreed.  In the end I only had $5.75 in my pocket, which she accepted.  Then we got into a long discussion about border collies since they had one there, and making your own treats, since I was giving the dog some dried liver bits from my pocket.  I told her how easy it was to make them.  She said that info was worth selling the step ladder so cheaply.
They were moving to Belize, taking their dog and their cat.
We brought the aluminum ladder back home again.

The day that we leave involves cleaning up, which includes doing laundry.   When I was hanging sheets on this umbrella clothes line I was thinking how much I would have loved this as a kid.  Four sheets pegged around it, and you have an instant fort!  Jake liked the shade it provided.  I made sure my underwear was hidden in the middle:)
We did finally meet the lady that lives behind us, and she has two dogs.
Those pieces of cedar lattice to the right of the sheet, we found those on someone's free pile.  They'll be handy to make a little fence around the vegetable garden.  We also got a heavy duty plywood storage cupboard for the shed from a free pile just down the road.  I've always got my eyes peeled for a bargain!


In the Fall I planted 50 daffodils at the front of the house.  They were just starting to bloom.  It's fun to see what plants are already there.  There are lots of Wallflowers, which make me think of England (where I was born).  I think it's the smell.
Got the gardens cleaned up, which was pretty easy compared to what I have to tackle here, and was able to put the dead stuff in the compost bin:)


Calli travels in the back of the truck in this crate.  You'd think she would be glad to be out of it, but no, it was her favourite place to sleep.  A couple of times now Larry has taken it out of the truck when we are unloading, and then a bit later bent down to pick it up, and just about wrenched his back because Calli has got back into it, unnoticed.  We left it on the back porch, and it was her preferred place to snooze during the day.


One of the many vineyards in the area.  Oliver calls itself the wine capital of Canada.  This is Burrowing Owl Winery.  We took a tour through it a few years ago.


The sign on the gate to this field said 'Wildlife Management Area'.  Couldn't figure that one out.


Last walk on the dyke on our way home.  This is close to Osoyoos Lake.  You can't tell by the photo, but the bench below the top of the dyke, right behind Luna, drops sharply into the river.  Calli, despite being told to stay, either really is deaf, or chose to ignore us, and went down it anyway for a swim.  Of course then she couldn't get back up, so we had a struggle to stop ourselves from falling in while we pushed and pulled her up the bank.  Therefore she was put back on leash.


Hope you had a Happy Eggy Easter!
Nine eggs from the new hens today:)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Snapshots of Oliver -Success!

Back in January we made an attempt to hike to the radio tower, which you can just see on the top of that rocky hill, looking from our back yard.  It was a dull snowy day, and we hadn't really planned on going to the top, but we just kept on climbing, and in the end we had to turn back because we were scared of running out of daylight.


This last trip, we decided to hike up a trail that started from the 'Welcome to Oliver' sign on the north side of town, which would be out of the above picture, off to the right.  We were going to walk to the start, but ended up driving the down the highway in the truck, and parking it by the sign. We just knew the trail went up the hill, but didn't know how far.  It was really steep in spots, steep enough that at times I was putting my fingers on the ground in front of me to try find something to help haul me up.  We had Jake and Luna with us, and they did collect a few chunks of cactus now and again.  It wasn't long before we reached the spot were we posed the dogs on the rocks, and had the deer peering over the top looking at us, on our last visit.  There was a wide trail heading up the hill, and so we just kept walking, and climbing.  After a bit we realized we were getting close to the radio tower, which was off to the south.  No worries about fading daylight this time, so we just kept going.  Eventually the trail was actually passing behind the radio tower, and we had a bit of a 'discussion' as to which trail to take.  There was a smaller trail heading off in the right direction, but Larry didn't think it was the right one because it didn't look used enough.  He kept going on the main trail, and I turned off on the other one.  Those traitors of dogs decided to keep going with Larry.  And then I was alone, and it seemed so quiet.  All I could think of was that we had just done what you really aren't supposed to do.  We'd split up.  I kept going along my little trail, it was was taking me right up to the tower.  I was wondering where Larry was, and luckily I saw him way off in the distance standing on some rocks looking around.  I screamed and yelled and finally he heard me and eventually we were all together at the top.  Success.  It's a 1300+ ft elevation gain to get to the top.  It had taken us about an hour.


There was a big heavy wooden helicopter landing pad up there.  Makes sense I guess.  Can't expect the maintenance guys to hike up the mountain every time they needed to go up there.  We had taken a water bottle with us.  Jake and Luna were so desperate for a drink that they were nudging at the bottle as I was getting it out of the holder.  Never seen them do that before.  We had forgotten the doggy water bottle with it's built in dish.  So one small swig for Larry and I, and the rest was given to the dogs.  One poured water into the other's cupped hands, and the dogs drank it all.
Unfortunately I'd taken the camera without the case and the spare batteries.  So then I find out that the batteries are low, and by that time you get that warning, there might only be 6 or 8 pictures worth of life left in the camera.   I was quickly pointing and shooting.  Unfortunately I didn't notice that the setting had been switched from Av to Tv, and most of the pictures were almost black.  I managed to salvage a few, but the colour is mostly washed out.
Looking to the east.  That's Mt. Baldy.  No, not the bald patch surrounded by white, on the right in the photo.  It's that white mountain in the middle:)  It's a ski hill.


 David and his girlfriend went there in February.  It was midweek and actually was closed that day.  It was a day for the employees to ski.  The employees said they could ski with them for free, and gave them free ski and boot rentals as well.  How's that for going above and beyond?

Looking to the north east.  The old part of town where Wyndson Cottage is, was hidden by the mountain slope.


Looking south.  We'd ridden our bikes on most of those roads the day before.


We spotted another trail leading down on the east face, and a few minutes down there we recognized the spot where we'd turned around in January.  It was a shorter route down, and we were glad to be able to get in the truck and drive home.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Snapshots of Oliver Part One

We've just got back from six days in Oliver.  Well in fact the first day was spent getting prepared to leave, which took us until lunchtime, and then four hours driving, and the 6th day was the same thing in reverse.  The four full days in between were relaxing though, sort of.

We always do lots of walking.  Most of it on the dyke along the channeled Okanagan River.  Easy for us to get to, and easy for Calli to walk along, and the dogs can be off leash as long as we are out of the town boundaries.  Not that we don't see a lot of people breaking that rule, but being new in town, we are starting out at least by being 'good'.

There are some patches of prickly pear cactus off the beaten path, so every once in a while we'd see Jake or Luna trying to walk while holding up a leg or two, and I'd tell them to wait and go and pull the long spines out of their leg or paw.  Maybe one day they'll figure it out and stay on the track.
Calli was happy, she had her rock, and Jake had found a piece of wood that was almost like a square ball.


At this particular part of the dyke, there is a scrappy looking  farm.  Not a big farm, but one of those that has all sorts of paddocks and fields and rough looking buildings.  There seems to be just about every sort of farm animal there.  Cattle, horses, a llama, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, and this last time we saw pigs wandering around a big paddock.  The chickens though, they had the best accommodations.  

Have an old RV that you can't sell?
Turn it into an instant chicken coop!
See the ramp leading to the door?
Maybe the hens are laying their eggs in the kitchen cupboards!


Gotta say though....  Our hens don't have such deluxe accommodations, but they do have green grass!
Here's some of the new hens.  They are all brave enough to go outside now, and one of them is laying an egg.


And they can lay out and sun bathe.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken Day

Yesterday was chicken day.  We were picking up 55 'ready to lay' pullets from the hatchery.  Of course it is never quite as simple as that.  First it involves 'rehoming' the hens we already have in that coop.  We have two coops.  This was the south coop.  They are small coops, and there's a limit to the number of hens we can have in them.  The hens in that coop had originally been purchased about this time, two years ago.  They were supplemented with 20 more hens purchased in the summer of last year.  Then due to coyote predation, the numbers had been whittled down a lot.  We had marked the hens from last summer with a leg band.  So we moved what was left of those 20 over to the north coop, whose numbers had been reduced also.  There were 12 hens remaining.  I had planned on emptying that coop after Christmas, but we were always able to sell all the eggs, so I hadn't needed to.  Then suddenly we get a call from the hatchery that our pullets will be ready the next week.  (They never seem to be able to tell you an exact date much beforehand).  I did what I normally do, put an ad on Craigslist for the 12 old hens.  Within an hour or two, I had the first reply.  Phoned them, had a long conversation, and arranged for them to come that night.  They were going to phone me as they were leaving home, or if something came up and they couldn't come that night, they'd let me know that too, and they'd come the next night.  For any of you that have had a lot experience selling things on Craigslist....well you can guess how that went.  They didn't phone and they didn't come.  The next evening I contacted the next person on the list.  Sounded like he was coming that evening, you guessed it, he didn't come either.  I took off my 'gone,pending pickup' addition to the ad, and changed it to 'still available'.  Posted an ad in the Vancouver section as well as the Fraser Valley.  Got a reply quickly, yep, want them all, will come after dark, here's my phone number.  Called and her mailbox was full.  Forwarded my number, emailed her back.  Phoned twice later and was able to leave messages, but got no response.  By now we are at Friday evening.  We have to pick the new hens up on Monday.  We need time to get the coop cleaned out, and I always like to pressure wash it between flocks, so it needed time to dry.  My option now was to take them to the auction on Saturday morning, to be sure they would be gone.  I had two more replies.  Phoned the next one.  Managed to convince them that they needed to come that evening, which they did, thank goodness.  Larry cleaned out the coop Saturday morning.  I pressure washed it in the afternoon.  Took the nest boxes out and pressure washed them too.  Left it all to dry until Monday morning, and then put things all back together again.  Made a few adjustments to how things were arranged, spread some hay around on the floor and in the nest boxes and we were good to go.

When we arrived home with the 55 pullets in various wire cages and dog crates, Luna immediately realized there was something exciting in the truck.  She was quivering with excitement, and once we opened the back of the truck she just sat....and stared....and stared. There is no way in a photo to capture the bottled excitement in that one black and white dog.  Calli and Jake showed no interest at all.  Jake kept hoping though that WE would show some interest in his stick.

That top cage had a previous 'meeting' with Larry and the tractor, and needless to say, the cage came out the loser.


Luna escorted us back and forth down the hill, and then ran under the coop, her favourite spot to be in that chicken field, while we unloaded the birds into the coop.   She's not really interested in the chickens as individuals,  in fact I had to coax her into the coop.  I'm not sure what it is that gets her all wound up about them.


Since these birds are raised in a barn, and are shocked at the sudden change in their lives, they do not rush to venture outside.   While I was watching them after they were all unloaded, something set them off and there was a great kerfuffle,  a virtual chicken tornado, and this hen flew about 30 feet out of the open door.

This doesn't LOOK like Kansas!

I was hoping I would just be able to walk up to her and pick her up, and as I got behind her she suddenly flew the 30 feet back, landed outside the door, and walked back in.  I couldn't have planned it any better.

Today, I had the little 'chicken' door open, but didn't see any venture outside.  Later this afternoon I went down there and propped the 'man' door open for a while.  A few got brave and stepped a foot or two outside the door.  Baby steps!  Hopefully tomorrow they will be a little braver.  It will be a couple of weeks or so before these young ladies start to lay.  That gives them a chance to get used to the outdoors and eat some greens and live a more organic lifestyle before they start producing eggs.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Starting Off on the Wrong...Shoe?

To change it up a bit, and in reality to make it a bit easier on ourselves, we decided to drive ten minutes today and run on the dyke at Matsqui Trail Regional Park, along the Fraser River.  No hills!
We got out of the car and Jake and Luna were all excited because this was a new place.  Meredith got the training app on her phone going, and we started walking.  All of a sudden there was a yell from Larry who was behind us.

Yep, he forgot to change out of his slippers before he left home!
We all had a good laugh, well except Luna and Jake who were probably wondering why, five minutes after arriving at this new and exciting place, that they had to get back in the car.
We drove home and just ran our usual hilly circuit around our four mile block.  There was a bike race taking place along one of those miles, so there was something a bit different to distract us, slightly.  

And in case you are wondering, no Meredith and I did not purposely go out and buy the same runners.  We each had our running style assessed by a different person, and they each decided that that model of runner would be the best one for us.

The Chair Project

I had wanted to put a chair over the cold air return for the furnace at Wyndson Cottage.  It's a big grate in the floor, and Jake is sure that there is a monster living down in there somewhere.  We don't have a furnace here, so it took him a while to get used to the roar of the furnace.
I had a style of chair in mind, but never seem to find anything on Craigslist that fit the bill.  At the end of January we wandered around the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) Furniture and More store when they had their end of the month sale.  So we saw this chair.  I think we paid $37.  Not a grab it and run kind of bargain, but good enough for me, and it makes you feel good to know the money you pay is going to help an unfortunate someone, somewhere in the world.  I wanted to paint the chair and recover it, to take it from dark and dour to light and refreshing.  Did I really write that?  Anyway, I wanted to change it up.  Besides, the blue didn't go with the colours there.


The first thing was to take the seat and the back off.  The seat was easy, just four big screws that were holding the seat to the frame.


I pulled out the million many staples that were holding the seat fabric down, added some more padding, and stapled the new fabric on.
The back was harder.  There was no removable frame.  The back was stapled into a groove in the chair frame.  Then piping was pushed into the groove and stapled in there too.  The stapler I had wasn't capable of doing that.  It took what seemed like forever to pull all the staples out.  I did count some of the staples, and figured I pulled out somewhere between four and five hundred of the little buggers beasts.


Oops, forgot to mention that before I did any upholstery, I did paint the chair with some homemade chalk paint, distressed it a bit, and waxed it.

Since I added padding to the seat, I thought I should add some to the back as well.  I wanted to replicate the button tufting.  It was interesting to see how it was done.  That piece of foam with the holes cut out, and then the button thingies pulling the fabric down into those holes in the foam, and then through a heavy piece of cardboard at the back and the the two wings were opened out to keep the button in place.


 Of course me adding a couple of extra layers made things a bit more difficult.  I covered the buttons with a neutral fabric.


 We went through my fabric stash and found one that we thought coordinate sort of with the furniture in the living room.  There wasn't a lot of the fabric, but plenty for the chair, and enough left over to make some cushion covers.  I used the old piece of fabric as a pattern for the new one, and marked where the buttons went through on it.  I used the foam as a pattern for the extra stuffing.


Pushing the buttons through the fabric and then through the first layer of extra padding.


Actually it's kind of neat how the fabric pleats itself as the buttons are pulled through and tightened up, which I neglected to take a picture of.  I struggled to staple the back padding onto the chair frame.  Wasn't pretty, but figured I could glue some trim, called gimp, to cover the staples.  The sides weren't too bad, but across the top of the back was kind of a mess, and the mess was wide and I didn't think the gimp was going to cover it all.  I didn't know quite what to do, so the chair sat unfinished for a week or two.  A few days ago I was mentally ready to tackle it.  I took out all the staples I had put in across the top of the back.  I cut a long narrow strip of some stiff plastic stuff. Thin cardboard would have worked too.  I put it behind the fabric and pulled the fabric tight over and behind it, and then tacked it to the chair with upholstery tacks.  I was much happier with that, and there was less mess to hide.  Screwed the the seat on tight, hot glued on the gimp, and it was done.


The chair is a lot more upbeat looking now don't you think?


To save more of the patterned fabric, I just put the unbleached cotton on the back.


I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  The chair is very comfortable.  In fact at the sale at the end of February we bought a chair almost exactly the same for $25.  The legs are a little different, and it is green instead of blue, and it's for our living room here at Wyndson Farm.  It will be painted and reupholstered also:)


Friday, March 15, 2013

Raining and Running

We were under a rainfall warning for two days, and then we've had two more days of rain after that. Sometimes it actually stopped raining, and we even had a bit of sunshine (a very little bit) this afternoon.  Fortunately the dry weather today coincided with when we had to run.  I ran in shorts and a sleeveless top this afternoon, and I was still hot.  Doesn't take much exercise to get me over heated, and I can't function if I have too many clothes on.  Today was the easy workout of the week.  Didn't seem that easy though.  I have to remember that when I was training for the Sun Run last year, I went into the training in better shape.  I had been walking briskly between two and four miles most mornings.  This past year I didn't do any of that.  Well my knee felt so awful for so long that it just wasn't even doable.  So this year, now that we've got up to some longer times and distances, I'm struggling a bit.  Still able to do it, but it's hard.  So back to the rain.  We put off Tuesday's workout because it was pouring rain.  That meant we had to do it Wednesday, and it was still pouring.  I've got to say though, looking out of the window and imagining running in that pouring rain was worse than actually doing it.  On Wednesday we had to run a total of 55 minutes, plus three, one minute walks. I think we did 8.5 km, and did finally break the 7 minute per kilometer mark. (only because we didn't count the five minute walk at the beginning and the end).  My aim this year was to beat last years Sun Run time, but today I said I was just hoping to finish somewhere close to it.  Every time we run we include hills, so we are getting lots of practice at that.  What goes up must come down, and I've got to say, I do look forward to the downhill sections:)

At the airport, which is about 8 miles from here, there has been nearly 4 inches of rain since Monday night.  Monday afternoon I dumped out the Wyndson Farm rain gauge dog pool.  This is what it looked like this morning.  The sides aren't straight so obviously it's not a true depiction of how much rain we got, but no matter how you look at it, it's still far too much.


Made for some pretty sloppy walks through the bush


We can grow some good moss though


The fence posts wear wigs


But Spring really is on it's way.  We can hear the frogs croaking at night.


Although this spot, which I rototilled on Monday afternoon before the monsoons hit, won't be dry enough to plant anytime soon.


Thursday, March 14, 2013


I'm up to my neck in projects.  Mostly fun projects.  My new passion, making over furniture.  I'm also slowly getting some more important projects done too.  All the garden areas used for the farmers markets got rototilled by Monday.  Then it started raining Monday night, and hasn't stopped yet.  Those same gardens are now quagmires, but I'm glad I got it done because the weeds were springing to life, and if I don't beat (repeatedly) those buttercups back early in the game, it'll be a losing game for me.  There'll be more on the projects later, but here's a bit of a preview.

The greenhouse, which, I'm embarrassed to say, didn't get used last year, is now all cleaned out and organized and I have some seeds started.


The halloween desk, a project I regret taking on, but have put so much time into now that I'm determined to see it through, is closer to being all orange rather than thick black.  Did I tell you that black velvet was glued over the entire interior of the drawers?


This rough, primitive little magazine table is painted.


And so is this chair.


This chair is heading for Wyndson cottage.  It's been painted and reupholstered.


The sewing room is under review.  This is the good side.  I've been sorting out fabric and getting rid of a lot that I'm trying to be realistic about, and accept that I really WON'T do anything with that particular piece. At least 8 large bags or boxes have gone to the thrift store so far.  I'll have to make sure I don't buy it back.


And we've actually bought some parts to tackle a plumbing project that has been ignored for far too long.


Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Back At It

.  A week and a half ago, the computer was turned off, and it decided so much that it liked the rest, that it wouldn't turn on again.  The husband of a friend said he would come over to look at it.  I did offer to take it to him, but no, he wanted to see it here.  That was after David had fiddled around with it, which resulted in the computer case getting cleaned out with canned air (a good thing).  So then we had to do a frenzied clean up of the family room, which in the last year and a half had been abandoned to become a storage room for things we were accumulating for Wyndson Cottage, and things of my mum's I had kept but really didn't know where to put.  The family room got sort of cleaned up (another good thing).  While we were waiting for Bob to arrive, the computer decided, after nearly a day of silence, to start up on it's own (maybe a good thing?)  Too late to cancel Bob.  He figured that it was the power box.  The computer is nearly four and a half years old.  We don't have a surge protector.  He figured there was probably a power surge that knocked the computer down for a bit. May have been repeated power surges over the years that have weakened the power supply.  Recommended we get a UPS (uninterrupted power supply).  Finally did that.  Got the fancy dancy one that has a battery in it where the power coming in is stored, and it keeps the computer running for a little while if the power suddenly goes out. When I turned the computer off to connect to that, it wouldn't come on again.  I survived by borrowing other family member's laptops for a few days. I just find them awkward, although I was developing a bit of talent with the smaller Apple one.  Yesterday we bought a new power box, and David installed it last night.  Previously, he had moved the 18,000 photos that were clogging up one hard drive, to the other hard drive that was mostly empty. (Yeah, yeah, I need to sort through those pictures, probably three quarters of them could be deleted).  Last night he complained about how long it took the computer  to start up, so removed all the unnecessary programs that were all trying to start up at once.  So despite suffering some computer withdrawal, a lot of good has come out of this.  The innards of the computer case are clean.  The computer is working better, and faster I think, and hopefully some idiosyncrasies that popped up once in a while have been sorted out (although that remains to be seen yet).  If I'm near the end of writing a long email and the power goes out, I won't lose it. Okay, not something likely to happen, but darn frustrating when it does.  The family room is much cleaner, and I can walk from the stairs to the computer in a straight line.  I don't need a Stairmaster, I go up and down to the computer many times a day. 
 I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many times.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mother Nature Apologized

We had two miserable days of straight rain last Friday and Saturday.  It rained non stop for all that time.  Was it depressing, well yeah....a lot depressing.
But Mother Nature must have felt a little sorry for us, and decided she needed to appease us somewhat.  Or maybe a whole lot.  Finally, on Saturday, just before sunset, the rain stopped.  Or did it.  Well it couldn't quite get it sorted out.  We took the dogs for a walk around the block.  It started to rain again, but the low sun was shining through it.  And then it did stop.  I figured there must be a rainbow somewhere.   The last leg of our walk is a quarter mile heading straight at our house, walking due east.  As we rounded the corner to make that last leg, there was the most beautiful sight.  A huge rainbow arched above the road, seeming to be not far ahead.  One of the brightest rainbows I've ever seen.  Did I say beautiful? It truly was awe inspiring.  I was ahead with Jake and Luna.  Larry was dawdling along with Calli.  Of course I didn't have the camera with me, so I hustled home as fast as I could.  Unfortunately though, because the sun was almost set, the rainbow didn't last quite long enough.  I ran in and got the camera, and when I got back out there was just a little bit of the arch left off to the south.  Disappointing to not be able to preserve the magic, but then some things are just meant to be enjoyed in the moment.


But then I did see a big hawk fly over and land in a cottonwood tree, and hold it's wings out to dry out and warm up, as it caught the last rays of the dying sun.  I stood out there myself, enjoying the wonder of it all.


There were some pretty interesting cloud formations as well.


So after two days of rain, we had two days of beautiful Spring-like days, with sunshine and blue skies.  Luna and I renewed our love affair.. waiting....waiting...


..with the rototiller.


It's Luna's favourite power tool, and definitely high on my list as well.  I dragged it out of the barn, put some gas in, checked for oil, and it started on the second pull.


I tilled the plot at the top of the driveway.  I'd love to get some potatoes in there right away.  But then I'd planned to put dahlias there a bit later.  Maybe I can get the dahlia's going in pots, and plant them there as soon as the potatoes are done?


Doing the rototiller two step


Sending an evil look to the photographer after rounding the corner and realizing what was happening.


Two more plots got done in the main garden.  Got to beat those buttercups back now before they take over the whole garden.