Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Flying Trip

 Things have been a bit crazy around here for the last little while.  Trying to get the market garden all planted and weeded .  Getting ready for the markets etc.  My sister is visiting for ten days or so.  On Tuesday morning we made a flying trip to Oliver. We stopped at one thrift store on the way, and tried for another, but it was in Princeton and isn't open Monday or Tuesday.  We had a great time yesterday morning though at the thrift store in Oliver.  They had a bag sale, which means that for $5 you get everything that will fit in a paper grocery bag.  They work hard to roll things up tight and stuff them in there.  Between us we filled two paper bags, and that included fitting in a small box fan/heater.  After we had hauled that back to the house on our bikes, we set off again and visited a garden center along the river.  I chose a route that took us down a steep rocky trail from the upper bench to river level.  A bit more than Cathy bargained for!  I bought a few heat loving, drought resistant flowers, stuck them in the ground, and I hope they will survive until it rains again or someone arrives to water them.  I've pretty happy though, it's rained an inch and a half at Oliver this month, which is as much as the previous four months combined. We always have to water and mow and weedeat and weed when we are there, and this time was no different.

Here's my new skinny sister.  She joined in with us on the Whole 30 style eating when she visited in February, and then continued on when she went back home.  Between the two of us we have lost 50 lbs.  It's a lifestyle now.  Yes we have the occasional treat/cheat.  The first night we went for a walk, ended up at the drugstore, and found a deal on good dark chocolate (85%) for $1 a bar.  We may have eaten a bar.

Here's my squash plants that are planted along the fence line in the back yard.  There they catch a bit of water from the neighbour's lawn irrigation, and obviously it is agreeing with them just fine, as they have grown quite a bit in three weeks.  
We always turn our water off when we leave, then we don't have to worry about a leak and us not being there for weeks.  Timers to water the plants would be nice, but we just worry about something going wrong and no-one noticing.

The rose along the west side of the house is in full bloom.  Just beautiful!

And conveniently covering/perfuming the bathroom window.

The snapdragons come back every year, and they self seed too...bonus!

I planted the gaillardia, and they are doing well this year.


Last time we were there, it was the smell of lilacs filling the air.  This time it was honeysuckle.  

I have planted more squash in the vegetable garden.  A few different clumps.  The grapes along the back fence are loaded with baby bunches.  The sage bush is in full bloom.  With enough water, things grow amazingly well in Oliver.

Mt. Cheam on the drive home Wednesday evening.  About 45 minutes from home.  There is a  4x4 road and then a hiking trail that takes you to the top, from the other side.  I want to try that one year.  David has been to the top twice.
We had some bizarre weather on the way back.  We went from sun at the start and finish, with a wild thunder, lightening, pounding rainstorm through Manning Park.  It was coming down so hard that at one point we had to pull over as we couldn't see.

Back here in Abbotsford, we are smelling cow manure.  This morning they are spreading liquid cow manure on the field next door.  Thankfully the wind tends to blow the smell away from us.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ticked Off

I used to read posts from some of my bloggy friends, in which they were complaining about the amount of ticks in their area.  I used to feel all smug because as far as I was concerned, ticks were not an issue here.  They are mentioned occasionally, but I had never found one on our dogs.  Many years ago I removed a tick that had taken hold in the corner of my mum's dog's eye, but that was the extent of my experience.  They were not something that I spent any time thinking about.   That all changed about a month and a half ago.  I was massaging Luna on the back of her neck.  I felt a little bump, and I've felt bumps before and whenever I've looked, it's always been nothing.  Maybe a bit of an old scab, but it was never a tick.  Well this time it was.  I was shocked, and a bit grossed out.  I had to google the best way to remove them.  I got an old pill vial and put some rubbing alcohol in it.  Grabbed the tick with the tweezers and pulled.  The skin pulls up and then breaks free from the tick, and the tick gets popped into the alcohol to kill it.  Some polysporin is put on the skin at that spot, if the dog hasn't moved and you can actually find the spot again.  Then a few days later I found three more on Luna.  We couldn't decide if they had come back from the Okanagan with us.  Or maybe Luna had picked them up at Princeton.  We had stopped to walk the dogs there and I remember Luna rolling in the grass, and Princeton has loads of deer.  Then one evening Jake was doing something and then suddenly stopped and scratched up near his head.  I felt around and found a tick on him.  I've lost track now, but I think we are up to about a dozen, including some just lately. The worst were two that I missed somehow on Calli.  Kind of on the underside of her jaw.  The biggest one was the size of my finger nail, or a gross swollen small grape.  It still makes me shudder to think of that one.  I figure we have ticks here.  In fact I know we do, because yesterday morning I was sat right here at the computer.  Earlier I had felt like something was crawling on me.  I had looked but seen nothing.  This time I felt it on my leg, so I pulled up the bottom of the jean leg, turning it inside out, and there on the inside of the jean was a tick wandering around.  I itched all day, and more than once yanked my t-shirt off to have a check.  I've done so much reading about ticks my mind is whirling.  What types we have here, incidences of Lyme disease, paralysis, etc.  It's mind boggling, and scary, and I just want them all to go away.  

This is the one that was on my pant leg.  It's trying it's best to 'just go away', but is stuck in the egg yolk on my breakfast plate.  It looks like a male American Dog tick, but some sources say we don't have those here, so it must be a Brown Dog Tick. 

 The dogs are getting the 'tick massage' daily.  I keep checking my head and neck.  I read that Rose Geranium essential oil helps keep ticks away.  I need to find some of that. 
 If you really want to gross yourself out, Google 'ticks on dogs' and then click on 'images'.  
You'll wish you hadn't.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Garden Tour

I'm getting behind again.  I took the pictures for this post last week, so the plants look a bit bigger now.
Thought I'd give you a bit of a tour of the vegetable garden down by the house.  The garden is not very organized.  Little bits of stuff planted here and there in some parts.  Still patches of last years kale and collards that I am still picking little new leaves off, although their days are numbered.  This garden is on a slight south facing slope.  In the bottom southeast corner there's a little patch of  red cabbage.  At the top of the picture you can just see a bit of last years kale.  That will be chopped off shortly, and I've already inter planted some fennel amongst the kale plants.

Just to the east of that is a patch of chard.  The older seedlings are doing well, and to the right of it there are a few rows of newer seedlings.

Heading further west is more of last year's kale, with my fuel stand bean support in position, but not set up and ready to go yet.

On the other side of the path is a pretty decent patch of arugula, with garlic behind.  I can see a slug on the arugula.  I wonder if anyone found a slug in their bag of arugula at the market on Saturday:(

Below the arugula is a patch of lettuce, then some beet seedlings under the cloth, and some more fennel under the screen.  While we were away I wanted to give the seeds that I had just planted some protection from birds, chickens, cats, whatever might get in there while I wasn't around to protect it.

Here's a look from the top. Garlic, then arugula, a bit of old kale interspersed with fennel, lettuce, beets and more fennel.

To the right are a couple of rows of raspberries and lots of buttercups.  I gave up on trying to keep the base of the raspberries cleared out.
After the raspberries there are basil seedlings under the plastic tunnel, a bed of cauliflower, then broccoli and  then cabbage at the bottom.   A row of snap peas runs along the left.

On the other side of the peas (on the right edge of the photo) is a bed of spinach and one of turnip greens.  At the back is more kale and flowering brussel sprouts that didn't come to much of anything last year.  The chickens will get all the old plants when I finally pull them out.  Meanwhile the bees are working hard to pollinate those flowers.  I'll leave a plant or two to set seed.

I haven't grown turnip greens before.  Can anyone tell me what they are like?
Here's a peek under the cloth.

Above the basil tent is a bed of kale, about 60 plants I think.

In the green house are tomatoes. Some already planted in the ground, and some in pots either to sell or plant outside somewhere.

There is one piece of bench still set up in there.  On there I have sunflower seedlings and a variety of squashes.  I seeded them all just before our last trip to Oliver.  I covered them all with a big clear garbage bag to keep the soil damp.  We were only gone a few days so I knew they wouldn't germinate before we got back.  While we were away a mouse had a hay day under there and dug up and ate most of the seeds.  A few survived and have since come up, and I have reseeded the rest.  It took me three nights of setting traps before I caught the little b#gger.  I had already caught one a month earlier that was kindly eating my lettuce seedlings off each night.  Tonight I was out there late and managed to get a slug that was just slithering up between the sunflower pots.  It's me against them, in all sorts of ways.

Outside, we've added a bit of red and white to the blues.

Solomon's Seal


More blue, Columbine

Okay, that was sort of a boring post.  I'll see if I can do better next time.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Back from Oliver Again

Saturday night we got back from a short visit to Oliver.  The weather and scenery were beautiful as we headed to Osoyoos from Keremeos, on our way there.  Lots of irrigating going on.  The Similkameen River runs parallel to the road, between it and that mountain range.

It was a windy day too, you can see it blowing the water.
That was a small fire burning on the mountainside.  It has been pretty dry through that area, and maybe even more so at Oliver.

It was pretty at our place.  The wallflowers were in full bloom, and the scent of them is just lovely.  We also had the scent of lilacs from the hedge on the property to the east of us.

Luna has put her ball into the vegetable garden.  She's pretty good, she knows she is not supposed to go in there, and will usually wait for one of us to come and fish it out.  Not that there was anything planted in it at that point.  We had rototilled it at the beginning of March.  Last week I pulled about ten weeds out, that's it!  If I left a plot here for nearly two months, it would be just covered in weeds.  But then you need water even for weeds to grow, and Oliver is lacking in that so far this year.

Okay then, don't get my ball...NOW.  I'll just roll and get myself covered in dry grass, which I'll then take into the house.  See how you like that then!

Squinty eyed Jake waiting patiently, and then when you don't throw it right away, impatiently, for us to chuck that toy again...and again...and again.

 And when you tell him 'That'll do!' he moves right in to get a foot rub, as in my foot rubs him.

We got a bit of a wake up call this time, as to what it is like to live with neighbours really close.  We are lucky, as there is a big hedge between us and the neighbour on the other side.  There is a back lane behind us, and the house of the other side of it mostly has the blinds closed, and their back yard is not wide open to us.  Until this Spring there has been no one living on the other side.  Then we finally met the lady that has moved in.  She's a dog lover, shares one (a dog) with her ex, and is more than willing to lean over the fence and throw something for Jake.  That was fine. 
But now the weather is warmer, and she has acquired a significant other.  The first morning we were there, it was nice and sunny.  I was just about to let the dogs out the back door for their early morning constitutional, and look through the window and see that there is some foot massaging going on just on the other side of the fence.  It was just too....odd.  I knew Luna would bark, and I would be taking Calli out onto the lawn, holding her up by the tail, to manually express her bladder, and it was just too weird seeming with them so close.  So we all went out the front door instead.    The next morning it was fine as it wasn't so warm, the chairs were empty.  During the day I put up this temporary privacy screen.  I was glad I did as that evening they had company and they were sat out there again.  I don't want to be on display every time I come out of the door.  Of course they are used to no one actually being at our place, so I'm sure they feel we are invading their privacy.  I know they will be sitting in that spot quite a bit in the summer, if they are still living there, as that will be the only shaded spot.  I'm going to try come up with something temporary that we can use when we are there, that is a bit wider than a sheet hanging on the clothesline.  I had to clothespeg it to the chair to get it to mostly stay in place.

We ate well.  Did you know you can make daisy pancakes out of just egg and banana?

And if you find a really good deal on chocolate bars (yes, we treat ourselves with the occasional little bit of dark chocolate) it's wise to stock up.  And then reconsider and go back and buy another ten bars!

I said I wanted to go on a decent bike ride while we were there.  It was sort of a cloudy day, not too warm, although Larry had just stripped off his jacket in this photo.
See that piece of mountain between his helmet and the telephone pole.  That has the radio tower on top, and we live to the east of that.  Just to give you some idea of how far we had ridden at this point, and we weren't halfway yet.

We forgot the water bottle, and then joked that we could always go to a winery for some liquid refreshment.  There were another nine wineries listed on the other side of that signpost.  
I think the look on Larry's face is a reflection of how his backside feels.  We both had a bad case of numb bum.  He had the padded seat cover, and I had the padded shorts, but that only helped for a little while.
More training in the saddle is what we need.  We rode about 20 km.

We did some walks too.  Calli at 15 years, 3 months, one week plus, is still chugging along. ( I figure after a dog turns 15, you can get really specific as to how old they are)  This was a 65 minute walk.

I did plant a few squash while we were there.  Two each in two spots along the fence line, where I'm hoping they can catch a bit of moisture from the automatic irrigation next door.  A few more, as well as a few pepper plants, in the actual vegetable garden.  Fingers crossed for a decent rainfall or two or three in the next few weeks.  We mowed the lawn and then watered it well before we left.  Calling the back a lawn is a bit of a stretch, but what is there is better than just plain dirt.  We've realized that we can't fix the lawn until someone is there full time.

And to finish off this rambling post, a shot of a cute corner of the garden.