Monday, September 28, 2015

After the Market

It was a good market on Sunday.  The weather was good, sales were good.  Compare that to the week before when the wind and rain made things pretty miserable.  Customers were rather thin that day.  And I don't meant that just the skinny ones came out.  When we only sell 28 dozen eggs in four hours,  you know that a lot of people didn't bother to come to the market that day.  Not that I really blame them, I probably wouldn't want to venture out to the farmers market on a day like that either.  But....think of us vendors.  We were out picking the vegetables the day before in the rain.  Or baking all those delicious pastries and breads and other baked goods that you love to buy.  We especially need your support on days like that.  The days that we are struggling to keep things dry, or keep our tents from blowing away, as we set up and take down and stand out there for the four hours in between in the miserable weather. A lot of those items are things that need to be sold that day, and won't carry over to the next week.  We took eggs home that day, it wasn't a problem for us, as they were only a few days old, and were sold within the next week.  We did have a lot of mushrooms left over though.  After trading some for tomatoes and apples with the vendor next to us, and handing generous bagfuls to family members, we ate a LOT of mushrooms that week, and are still working our way through them.  We were one of the luckier vendors I would think.  Sales were decent enough to make it worthwhile being there, but for some vendors I'm sure it wasn't.  The market can't be cancelled every time there is a poor weather forecast, because for many vendors the prep for that particular market starts days before.
Compare that to this past Sunday when we sold ALL 39 dozen eggs in the first half hour, and sold ALL of the mushrooms as well.
Okay, off my soap box now....

After this past market I met a friend for coffee, and then stopped at my secret source for crab apples.  I haven't been there for a few years, but this year I messed up on getting enough crab apples to tide me over until 2016's crop.  So I had to go to my back up plan.  Thank goodness the old tree had some.  Not a bumper crop, and many of them were too high up to reach, and it's a bit of a walk to get to it, and it's in a park, so not exactly convenient to go in with a ladder.  

Anyway, I wandered around and managed to collect about 15 lbs.   

 I probably could have got a few more, but the sun had set behind the trees and it was getting cold and I wanted to get home so I could drive to a good viewing spot to see the lunar eclipse.  Although come to think of it that field would have been a good spot to see it, with it's view of Mt. Baker off to the east.  But I didn't have the camera with me and didn't want to wait that long and didn't have enough warm clothes, so head home I did.  (Larry heads home with truck and trailer right after the market because the dogs have been in the house for 8 hours).

When I got home I quickly heated up the leftovers from  Saturday's roasted vegetables and crockpot pork roast cooked in apple sauce (yum!), and scarfed it down.  The three (David was here that evening) of us jumped in the car and drove around the corner and up and over the hill we went.  From there, there is a great view out to the east of Mission and Mt. Baker.  The sky was clear and we were expecting this magnificent sight.  Or I was.  We pulled over and sat.  We could see another car parked further down the road.  There was nothing to see.  We sat there, waiting.  And then David said, 'there it is'.  And there was the palest little sliver of moon, you could hardly notice it.  It was already well up in the sky.  And then we realized that it just wasn't dark enough yet to see much of anything.  And we all said to heck with it, we're not sitting here for another half an hour or more for it to get dark enough, let's go back home, and we did. 

So around 8:30 or so I went out on the back patio, it was a pretty cool evening, and managed to get a few not great shots.  I honestly didn't know what I was doing.  I have taken some decent moon shots before, but last night I just felt dumb.  I tried pretty well every setting on the dial, and managed to salvage a few sort of half decent shots.
  Now there was something interesting I noticed.  I don't know if you can see it in these photos.  You may have to click on them to enlarge them.  Can you see the tiny red dot to the right of  the midpoint of the moon?

50 seconds later. This shot below is a bit blurry, but that red dot is now in front of the bottom right quadrant of the moon

There was another picture of a big blurry blob of a moon, that I didn't post, and that red dot is back off to the right of the moon again like in the first picture.  And then in this shot below,  taken two minutes after the photo above, the red dot is just to the right of the moon, not quite at the mid point on the right side, but much closer to the moon than the picture I didn't show you.  These pictures are posted in the order I took them.  I'm wondering what that red dot is.  I didn't notice that red dot when I was taking the pictures, but did when I loaded them to the computer.   Since the moon is moving up and to the right, as you look at these pictures, the position of the red dot, if it was sort of stationary, makes sense in the first two photos.  But in the invisible third, and then the fourth picture below, how did it get back to being on the right side of the moon again.  Is it circling the moon?  Anyway, that sort of fascinated me.

This is my favouite shot here.  The moon is almost starting to come out of a full eclipse.  It was taken 10 minutes after the shot above.  I don't know where the red dot is now.

The eclipse is half over.

Some time in the early hours, I made a bathroom trip.  Wow, the moonlight outside was something else, really really bright.

This is the moon about 7 this foggy morning, directly to the west from our bedroom window..  At some point it must have really lit up the bedroom, but I managed to sleep through all that.

And so ends another not very short post.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

This Morning's Walk

I'm trying to write more, shorter blogs.  Somehow I doubt I'm going to be very successful, because it seems when I finally get started, that the short part tends to go out of the window.
So we'll start off with a fairly simple one. Pretty well every morning after breakfast, we take the dogs to the back of our property and round the trail through the bush.  First thing is to get Calli in her chariot. 

 See the bell on the ledge behind Larry.  I've started carrying that with me again.  Firstly because of the two bears that were seen just down the road recently, and secondly because we saw a pile on the trail on Monday morning that looked suspiciously like one of those 'cougar marking it's territory' piles.  Jake was having a good long sniff at it, which is what made us notice it, because we may have missed that pile of leaves amongst all the other leaves that are on the trail.  It was a definite pile, with what looked like a clear scraped area around it.  Oh joy.  Anyway, we are going to keep walking through there, me clanging the bell when I remember it, and Larry carrying the Kougar Konker.  We actually had neither this morning, but he had a pitchfork instead.  Yesterday he spent some time with the tractor and a chainsaw out there clearing some of the brush and branches that were overhanging the trail, and that he tended to bang his head on (mostly because he wears hats much more often than me).  This morning he wanted to fork some of that cut  brush off the trail.  He was well armed.
The walk was pretty well uneventful.  This Broadleaf Maple tree took a big hit in our windstorm of three and a half weeks ago.  See the big scar about 20' up? 

 A massive branch came off it, and had the decency to fall parallel to the trail, but not on it.  Very convenient for bucking up into firewood.  I paced the branch out and it is about 75' long.  That should give us a few night's firewood for the winter of 2016/17.  We are heading into the 30th winter at this house, and the 30th winter of cutting firewood for our woodstove, which supplies half of our heat.  We lived here for about the first 10 years with only the woodstove for heat.  We were laughing  during a winter power outage.

Here's the end that broke off the tree, it's about 20" in diameter here

While trying to get Luna to pose on the branch to show the scale of it, (which she doesn't because it just disappears into the brush), I manage to catch a photo of the elusive sasquatch  Larry running off.

Continuing on the trail, that's the backside of that tree in the middle of the photo, and another big clump of maples on the right.

On the way back I stop at the north garden to check on the zucchini.  They've really slowed down now, and are looking pretty sad, and like they are almost done for the year, but I managed to scrounge up three this morning.  The lemon cucumber plants look like they are on their way out too, but there are lots of cucumbers.  Like the zucchini, I'm trying to pick them all at a certain size.  I didn't have a box so just had to fold the bottom of my jacket up to carry them all.  At this point the dogs and Larry have continued back to the house.  I picked a small handful of the Heritage raspberries, a Fall bearing variety, and ate those of course.  I wouldn't like vegetable gardening half as much if I couldn't eat while I was out there.

The second crop of figs is ripening too.  They aren't as good as the first crop, as we haven't had much sun or heat in the past few weeks, so they aren't as sweet and tasty, but that doesn't stop me.  I like to eat.

And this evening when going out to check on whatever Jake was barking at, I saw this!  Looking east and slightly south, over Abbotsford.  I climbed up onto the roof to get a better shot.  Can you see the moon off to the right near the tree and just peeking out between the clouds?

Did you know that there is a Lunar Eclipse this Sunday?  It's supposed to be a sunny day too (here), so hopefully will be still clear in the evening.  The moon will almost be fully eclipsed as it appears above the horizon. It's a Supermoon too! Got to remember to watch:)

Max view in Abbotsford
Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 7:47 PM
Global Type: Total Lunar Eclipse

Abbotsford: Total Lunar Eclipse

Begins: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 5:11 PM
Maximum: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 7:47 PM
Ends: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 10:22 PM

Duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Shades of Fall

Today I was gearing myself up for a two market weekend.  It was three weeks since I had been at the Abbotsford Market, and I was due to go to the one this Saturday, or so I thought.  I got an email telling me which vendors where at the market, and I wasn't one of them.  I wasn't included in the Facebook posts either.  Hmmm.  I contacted the manager, and apparently on my application it said my next market was September 26, but if I wanted to come tomorrow, there was room for me there.  In the end I decided to just wait until the 26th, as I couldn't think really remember telling anyone that I would be there this Saturday, and those that get the email and see the Facebook posting wouldn't be expecting me there tomorrow.  Also, the weather is supposed to be the pits this weekend, so to just have one wet market instead of two seemed like a weird sort of bonus to me.  And then I felt like I had been awarded a free day!  Although not really, because then I didn't do the couple of batches of jam that I had planned on doing this afternoon, but went outside and puttered around instead.

I told Larry that I had seen a patch of feathers in the chicken field.  I had a feeling something might have been going on down there.  Jake had been doing lots of barking, I know there had been a hawk hanging around, but when I went out to check when the chickens or Jake were telling me that things were NOT all right in their world, there was never anything to see.

Larry searched the fence line and couldn't find any evidence that it had been breached.  He even went into the neighbours and looked from their side. It wasn't until he cut some underbrush away that he found two holes under the fence.  We do like to leave some of the underbrush, as it gives the hens somewhere to take cover in case of an aerial attack.  So he got his chainsaw out and cut some lengths of wood and pounded them into the ground to block the holes.  In other spots there are roots or extra wire blocking any digging. 

Since it was time for her ladyship to go out for an afternoon pee, I took her down to the field.  The noise of the chainsaw doesn't bother her, especially since she probably can't hear it anyway:)  The border collies couldn't get into the basement fast enough.

I 'suggested' that well, since he had the chainsaw down there......wouldn't it be a good idea to start sawing up that top of an alder that blew off in a windstorm we had three weeks ago.  

Didn't tell you about that, did I?  
Our power was out 32 1/2 hours in total.  Us and about 500, 000 others lost power.  I was at the Abbotsford market that day.  Thank goodness Cathy was with me.  The wind hit, and it was terrible.  I had been somewhat prepared, and had both the market tents fastened down as best I could.  They couldn't really move around, but the wind was blasting the tops so hard, we had to hang on to the framework to keep them from being destroyed.  People started to pack up.  A pottery vendor had their whole display blown over and smashed.  We couldn't pack up because we couldn't let go of the tents.  We couldn't take the tents down because we needed someone to hold each corner, and there was no one to help.  Eventually we got help and we managed to get the tents down.  The apron rack blew over and aprons blew down the street.  I was lucky, only one jar of jam was smashed, but the heavy apron rack crashed into the elbow of one of the helpers, and he was writhing in pain for a bit:(  It was absolutely terrifying, the force of that wind. The market closed early and we headed home.  We managed to avoid getting hit by flying debris, and then we came to this spot.  Vehicles were stopped on either side, but eventually they each, one at a time, were either brave or foolish, and made a mad dash underneath that tree, including us. You can sort of see there is a big branch sticking out by the back vehicle.  That meant you had to swing onto the gravel shoulder to get past it, which just added to the hairiness of it all.  I was in the truck pulling a trailer, our market trailer, so I just gunned it and bounced about a bit when I had to swing onto the shoulder, but I just wanted to get through there as fast as I could. 
This is looking back after we were safely through. 

So  back at home, Larry worked at cutting some of the branches up and  I hauled them out of the way and made a big pile.  Obviously the chainsaw noise doesn't bother the chickens, or at least this one.

On Monday we had got the two piles of douglas fir (from my Lumberjack Window post) loaded onto the trailer and then stacked in our rinky dink woodshed.  It has been drying for months, stacked in the field.  We have had a summer like no other, hot and dry.

I picked up some branches from that mess and the hens had a great old time scratching where they had been.

And then I went and got a camera instead of using my phone and took a few more Fall coloured pictures.

Here's some peppers that never even got planted in the ground.  They are pretty hot ones, so I might try adding them to the next batch of pepper jelly.

My weird squash.  I can't remember what kind I planted here in the center of the bean poles.  I ended up with two big squash, but they don't look like any of the ones I was supposed to get.  I used seeds I saved from squash we ate.  Not a good idea now that I think about it, maybe?  Maybe those squash were hybrids?  I'm just hoping the squash is edible.  Even if it isn't to us, I'm sure the chickens will be happy to have it.

Loads of green tomatoes still in my tomato jungle.  My gawd, what a mess that is.  Working at trying to get the excess stems cut away and let some light in to the green tomatoes.

Orange squash.
Orangey red tomatoes
Orange Chinese Lanterns.

Just in case you were wondering, I have hardly touched my new camera yet.  
That is going to be a winter project.

And a little bit of excitement this evening, sort of. We were walking the dogs around the block (about a mile in total).  We were almost 3/4 of the way around.  A neighbour shouted from his front door that there had just been two big bears in his neighbour's front yard, but now they had gone around the back.  He suggested we turn around and go back the way we came.  Ummm, no.  Put the dogs on leash, and kept on going.  Didn't see a thing, darn.  I wanted to see some bears, from a nice safe distance that is.  Time to carry the bear bell with us again on our bush walk in the morning.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wilson Mountain Fire

Four and a half weeks ago, two fires broke out at Oliver at the same time.  The last I heard, the Testalinden Fire that I showed you yesterday, was caused by lightening, and this one, the Wilson Mt. fire, was maybe caused by a downed powerline.  There was a heck of a windstorm that passed through Oliver that afternoon, followed by a bit of rain and lots of lightening.  We ran into it in Keremeos, on our way home that day.  

Thursday morning last week I went out for a early morning walk with Jake and Luna.  I walked the three blocks up the hill from our place to check out the results of the other fire.  It had come, in some places, within about 50 feet of the row of houses at the base of the mountain.  I assume that was because that last 50 feet was being kept damp by homeowners and the local fire department.  As you can see the mountain is mostly rock, sand and grass, with the typical low shrubbery of desert type regions, and the occasional Ponderosa Pine.  As we went up the windy little road to the water tower, which is only part way up the mountain, we spooked a small herd of deer that were browsing on that last fifty feet of live plants.  As is often the case with fires, parts were burnt and parts were untouched.

I was sorry to see that the little valley I love to walk through looked like it had been scorched (the path heading off in the middle of the photo)

It does open up the possibility of forging a new, more direct route to the top of the mountain from by the water tower. That's not the top, it's just a rock bluff part way up.  It featured in one of last year's posts I think, Larry climbed up there, and then Luna decided to follow him.

The smoke and a helicopter heading to the Testalinden fire to the south.  That's where the burning was happening the day before.  The evening before we drove past the little airport and there were 8 helicopters parked there for the night. (Do helicopters 'park'?)

Looking over the south east part of town

But already new life is appearing.  I'm betting that come next Spring, the mountain will be covered in grass and Spring flowers.

And just because....some Autumn Crocus back at the house.

Here's the Testalinden fire as seen from the dog park that morning.  A lady came over to talk to us (Calli often attracts attention) and she said that she sure hoped those fire fighters knew what they were doing with their controlled burns.  We had those same thoughts. 

Later on that morning while I was trying to get two batches of jam made before we headed back to Abbotsford, all sorts of sirens went off. I looked out of the door and smoke was pouring up again.  Turned out that the sirens were for an accident up the highway that closed it down for a while.  A woman in a car went off the road and hit a power pole and the wires were hanging dangerously low over the highway.

We decided to head home via the 'back way'.  That took us up to Fairview road and right towards that controlled burn.  We were just another car load of those annoying 'rubber neckers'.

I didn't think we'd be able to get through, that the road would be closed.  No problem though getting to the White Lake Rd, where we turned.  Lots of traffic coming the other way, due to the highway closure.


 Looking back south after we are just about to join up with the Twin Lakes Rd.

Even when we got to Keremeos and took the dogs along the old train bed and for a swim in the Similkameen river, we could still see the smoke directly to the east, showing over the top of the farthest mountain.

This is where Calli had her big rock.  She went in the water too and there was a moment of panic when she went a bit too deep, but it was all okay in the end.

Jake says forget all the picture taking, just throw me that stick!

Makes me almost embarrassed to make a big deal out of these fires, after seeing video and reading stories of the fires in Northern California.  Hundreds of homes burned.  A fire going from basically nothing to 50,000 acres in a day.  Even here in B.C., there was a much more devastating blaze less than an hour's drive from Oliver to the east.  Homes were lost there also.  Thank goodness we are heading into cooler weather and a good chance of rain.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Fire

On Wednesday when we were at Oliver this past week, I was making jam.  Nicole, my sister-in-law, told me I shouldn't be making jam there.  I was supposed to be on holiday.  I wish!  Well in the summer we wouldn't be able to go to Oliver as often if I wasn't willing to do some jam making while I'm there.  I need to do it, either there or here....unless I retire....hmm, don't tempt me!

I happened to look out of the front door at one point and saw this! Holy crap!  Had the Testalinden fire had a revival? The smoke was roiling and boiling just above the house on the right, just like a volcano eruption.  You can see a bit of flame just above the left corner of that house.

It had been a sunny day.  Eventually that plume of smoke went right across the sky and make a thick line from the western to the eastern horizon.

I turned on the radio and after a while they mentioned that there was no cause for alarm, the firefighters were doing some controlled burning on the mountain.  There was no other explanation.  Obviously there were still quite a few hot spots up there, so maybe they were just trying to remove any fuel that was left around those hot spots to prevent a flareup?  That's my best guess.

Larry had gone to the library, and also did some driving around to get pictures.
From town it looked pretty spectacular.


And from higher up even more so.   

See the plane dropping water, and see that house in the middle at the bottom of the photo?  Do you think they were a little worried?  I would have been.

That evening the mountain was really spectacular.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  We drove up by that orchard again and tried to figure out how to get a decent picture.  None were totally successful, but this one of Larry's came close.  A tripod would have helped.

 In what may be a smokey picture overload, this story is to be continued.