Monday, January 29, 2018

Just Ducky

Well don't you just love the latest addition!  These two ducks just make me smile.  $1.50 each at the the thrift store last week.  When Meredith first saw them she said she thought they were wearing big diapers.  So I had a few options for this post title, the others being 'Ducks in Diapers' and 'Getting all our Ducks in a Row'.  I was going to take the ducks out and set them down amongst the hens, and see what happened, but I didn't leave myself enough time. 

The morning we were getting ready to head out of town, I grabbed them and went out the front door and stuck them on the grass.  They said they were disgusted at the mess on the front lawn.  Well at least we got the fir branches sawn up and picked up what was big enough for firewood...but the rest of the mess is still there.

The clean up after the ice storm continues.  This is the northeast corner of our property, in the north chicken/sheep field.  You can just see a bit of the road on the left.  That big shrub thing, leaning both east and west, made a big mess of the fence line.  It's almost impossible to see that under the right leaning part, there is a big thick trunk and a mass of branches crushing the fence and sticking into the neighbours.  I had seen a couple of coyotes hanging around over there, and worried that they were going to use the downed tree as an access point to our chickens.  We checked it all out, both sides, and Larry pointed out that once we started cutting, we were going to make access even easier, so we had to keep going until the job was finished.  It was a gigantic mess of blackberries and many willow branches, and a big trunk and then the fence to fix after we got everything out of the way.  

Larry suggested we fence the corner off, which I  poo poo-ed at the start, because although it sounded  the quickest solution, jobs like that always take much longer than they should.  After we had checked out the mess from both sides, I changed my mind, and occasionally things do go well, and the fence actually did.  So we have a corner fenced off, that is the new piece we put up in the photo, and we can work on that willow at our leisure.  It will be a long while yet though.

We have got the driveway mostly cleaned up.  We told the neighbour he could just have all the great big rounds from the bottom part of the maple; we have enough other stuff to deal with.  
Here we are in the south chicken field working on the top half of the maple. 
The hens like to gather round and 'help out'. Ha, I wish!

Our wood pile looks a bit funny.  There are actually five rows here.  The back two are dry stuff that we can burn now. We had burned the front two rows already this winter, and so had started stacking fresh stuff in the empty space. Then we ended up with space in the middle so were trying to fill that up with the new wood too.  It was a bit awkward, and then we had so many small pieces (like some of those fir branches) that didn't need to be split.  So those small rounds are just a pile waiting to fall over, they don't lock in and hold each other together, so we've had a few stacking failures.  Right now we got the middle rows finished and are working on finishing off that front row.

Here's another of my 'thrifty' purchases.  Not the best picture, but a 2' x4' wall hanging, $2 (how could I pass that up!).  I think I might use it at the market to decorate our booth.

Early afternoon last Thursday we headed off with some trepidation to the Okanagan, a bit worried about the weather and road conditions we might run into.  It was raining when we left home, with a few wet flakes mixed in.  
The worrying was all for naught, the sky cleared, the roads were clear and the fresh snow made for a beautiful drive.

We made a rest stop at Manning Park Lodge

Ravens on the snow bank

Just east of Hedley.  Much less snow here, it's an area with quite a dry climate.
The snow in the cattle trails on the hillside made for an interesting pattern.

Keremeos area


Dusk creeping in.  Getting close to Osoyoos.

By the sounds of it, there has been a ton of rain at home. 
Not sorry to have missed it.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mother Nature Wows Us!

You've seen this picture already, but this was taken between 4 and 5 pm on Friday
Fascinating with the icicles, but rather boring colour wise.

This was today at the same time. I can never get the camera or the phone to capture these just right. The sky was stunning.  These shots are all taking generally looking to the southwest, but the sky, all 360 degrees around us was stunning, with mixtures of pinks and oranges and strange bluish clouds.
Oops, I've used that word three times, but it really was......stunning!
I'll admit I was even getting a bit teary eyed over the sheer amazingness (stunningness?)of it.

That's our slimmer, now half size maple on the right. 
These first shots are taken with the camera from the living room window. 
You can see the branches missing from the cedar trees where the other half of the maple crashed into them.

We were heading out with the dogs at the time, and it wasn't as dark as these photos make it look.
I took a few more pictures with the phone, which made it look a bit pinker than it really was, it was more orangey, but you get the idea.

It was a good day today weather wise.  We got some work done on the firewood.  
I made a great score on Abbotsford Bidding Wars! 
This evening our neighbour called and told us he had purchased a log splitter recently and he was quite willing to bring it over in exchange for a bit of firewood. 
When we get to the massive logs that are beyond splitting with a swing of the maul, we'll get together with him and his splitter and get 'er doneπŸ‘

Recently I made a comment on another blog, and then another blogger (Granny Marigold) asked me if I would tell the story that I referred to there. So here goes.  I just hope Larry doesn't read this post, and if any of you see him, do me a favour and don't mention it.
When we build something here, we first shop at home and use anything that could possibly used for the project.  We accumulate a lot of 'stuff'.   When we were building the south chicken coop, for the door we used one that we already had. I'm not exactly sure where it came from but it had a window in it (perfect) and it had a door knob.  It just so happened that the door knob was one of those privacy ones, like you'd have on a bathroom door.  The kind that you push and turn the door knob in to lock it.  The locking part was on the outside of the coop.  You had to be conscious of that when you were turning the door knob.  This particular evening Larry had gone to collect the eggs and close the coop for the night.  I guess he closed the door behind him, and he locked himself in. This is many years ago now and I can't remember all the details.  Eventually I noticed him missing, and I went looking. I finally found him extremely mad at himself, at the door knob, at the world, waiting in the chicken coop.  I couldn't understand why he hadn't been making a lot of noise or something.  He was just fuming and waiting.  I think I said that I would have kicked the wire out on the window in the wall.  
Needless to say probably the next day that door knob was taken off and reversed, so that the locking part was on the inside. 
You didn't hear this story from me πŸ˜‰

Saturday, January 13, 2018

More ICE!

Well this will be a winter to remember.  We have had nonstop rain for two days now.  Yesterday we got a snowfall warning that seemed to come out of nowhere.  It turned out that it was only those some miles to the east of us that got the snow, but we did get a bit of freezing rain.  Thank goodness it was just a bit, because a fraction of a degree colder would have made for another terrible mess.

It was very pretty this morning though.  It seems that there was a bit of warmth in the ground so there was no freezing rain at ground level, but everything from a couple of feet off the ground had a pretty layer of ice on it. The contrast of the frosted trees and the green grass was beautiful.

Looking south over our hayfield to the neighbour's property

Looking east over our back hayfield. The Alders back there are pretty battered looking from the previous ice storm

Same place looking south

Iced over Wild Chervil, an invasive weed
Looking east over the close hayfield

Icy Cotoneaster. So pretty with the red berries.

Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki'

In the afternoon we went out.  Most our ice at home had melted.  Going uphill we ran into more ice which slowly decreased as we went back downhill to the flat land of Matsqui Prairie.  We went into town to pick something up, and went quite a ways uphill, but no ice in that area.  Back down to the flats, but more to the east, and all ice free.  We drove past the place we used to live 30+ years ago, and what a dump it looks now.  Across the eastern half of the prairie towards the Fraser River, and all of a sudden the ice reappeared, and got worse and worse.  We took the dogs for a walk along the dyke there in the pouring rain, it was miserable with an east wind blowing at us. Fascinating to see all the ice again though, but not quite so fascinating to the dogs when a few branches along the edge of the fields decided to crash down.  Everything except the road and the gravel dyke was layered in ice.

Luna figured she had earned a few treats for plonking her butt on that cold and icy bench

Looks like tomorrow afternoon and Sunday may be decent for working on our firewood stash.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Update on the Arch

What arch?  That's right!  We dropped a word in the right ear, he came and looked at the tree, said, "yes, it is hanging over our wires, I'll get that taken down for you".  Shortly after that, the crew that was working on some trees just up the road, and had done a minimal amount of trimming at our place the day before, was back.  We had talked to them yesterday trying to convince them it was their job to take it down, but had no luck.  Private companies are contracted by the utility company to go around and trim trees. Maybe sometimes they need someone cracking a whip at their backsides.  Anyway, there was much discussion, one guy on the phone describing the situation, another taking pictures or video, I heard someone asking if they had rope..... Finally it got underway.  There wasn't much for us to see.  We went and watched a little bit.  One guy in the bucket up above the branches, leaning over and sawing with a chainsaw.  We were inside watching our favourite lunchtime show (no, not a soap opera) and there was a thump and I looked out and the arch was down.

They sawed the big piece up some and shoved those pieces off to the side so that the driveway was clear.  I went out to look and spoke briefly to the guy who had done most of the work.  He looked exhausted and his hair and face were all sweaty.  He said that he didn't know who would be doing it, but someone should be by to do some clean up, which I'm guessing will probably just involve chipping the smaller branches along the road side.  Anyway, I won't complain, as we did say we would just be happy to have it on the ground. That metal box is still attached to a piece of the old power pole, and is strapped to the new pole.  I guess someone will come along and transfer it over at some point.  Our internet line is still not strung back up.  The guy actually showed up to do that while they were cutting the tree, and said he would come back today after they were done.  He was a no show today.  Not too worried, the line may be drooping, but it is fully functional.

The first order of business for us was to get some of the logs off the corner of the fence of the chicken field.  Looking from the field out to the road here.

Larry had to do some sawing to get a couple of them into reasonable sizes so we could just move them.  The end of one was jammed into the wire.

 It is very heavy stuff.  We had a couple of heavy steel bars that we used to lever the logs out of the way.  We managed to straighten out the fence wire to a usable degree and tied it up to what was left of a couple of posts and to the trees.

Most of the wood we will salvage for firewood.  There are a lot of hours of sawing, splitting, picking up, stacking, cleaning up, burning branches,  ahead of us.  We don't work as fast as we used to.

Those big bruisers from the part of the tree hanging over the driveway......we might end up putting a Free Wood sign on them and hope someone takes them away.  Not sure how, they would have to cut them up first.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Ice Storm

This is old news now, but I thought I'd post some pictures of the ice storm.  The ones that I took didn't really do it justice.  I should have taken more when the sun was shining, but for some reason I didn't.

A shrub in the Bittersweet family Euonymus Atropurpureos as far as we can figure.

Sky starting to clear


And more blackberries

Did I ever tell you we have a lot of blackberries?πŸ˜‰

The old hay baler encased in ice

Stucco wire sculptures

When the sun shone on it all, it was ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!!
This picture does not do it justice, but you get the idea.  Driving past blueberry fields, or scrubby brush, or just about anything with the sun shining through and reflecting off the ice, was just incredible.

Bella said she would stay inside and admire it from a warm spot

The flowering cherry at the back of the house.

The other side of the tree at night with the moon shining through it.  Now I should have used a tripod to get a clear picture, but interesting all the same.

The ice storm was over on Saturday, Dec 30.  We got our power back on after 53 hours on New Years Eve. Our neighbours got it a little sooner, but because our power line had been ripped off the pole, we became an outage of one.  Fortunately we didn't have to wait much longer.  I heard of two different people who were still waiting for theirs a week later!

The ice didn't really start to melt much until Thursday.  There were piles of ice under the trees.  I picked up a couple of branches to show the thickness of the ice. 
An ice caterpillar!

It was an inch thick on these two branches.  
Look how skinny the caterpillar branch is!

Lots of icicles on the windward side of the house

I stole the next four pictures off the internet.  Bradner Rd is to the east of us and a little higher,  and probably more open to the east wind, and they were hit with more ice than us.  I drove along it Tuesday last week in the early morning sunshine.  I had an appointment so had no time to stop, but it was just stunning!  The chainlink fence around the tennis courts was a sheet of ice.

I passed fences that looked like this!

I didn't see this, but isn't it just magical?

And the poor linemen that had to work in conditions like this!  
A big thank you!!

Red sky at morning......

The whole ice storm, tree falling over, power outage has a chapter two.  When the big maple tree at the bottom of the driveway came down, it bumped the power pole, which made it lean slightly.  This made the line that crossed the road in front of us hang a bit lower.  It did get mentioned to a couple of the crews....

Anyway, as of Friday it was still doing okay, was still there.  It was the internet/landline/cablevision line.  We were doing our usual end of the afternoon dog walk around the block.  We got up to the corner where we turn down a lane, and where we take the dogs off leash.  There was a large tractor trailer coming down the road and turning the corner to head past our house.  I looked at it and said, 'do you think this will be the one that takes out the line?'  Larry joked about running down there to see, and I said that I think we will know.... And there was the most incredible boom and flash, the dogs bolted (not far, they were okay), and we knew it wasn't good.  We walked the other three sides of the block and on the last stretch talked to neighbours who had either walked up to the corner or were stood looking.  The truck had ripped out the line and broken both the pole at the bottom of our driveway and the one across the road.  By the time we got to our corner the firetruck was there and we couldn't go through because of the downed lines.  We had to detour through a neighbour's field, cross our road behind the firetruck, climb the gate into the field next door to us, walk along the fence line and ended up walking to the bush and scrambling through there in the dark(thank goodness for the snow still on the ground to light it up a bit). The fence was either hidden in the blackberries or was that 'non climbable' stuff with holes too small to get the toe of your boot in, and we weren't agile enough to get over it.  We would have had to heave the dogs over as well.  
Anyway, we got back to the house and of course had no power once again. The weekend before we had been loaned a generator Saturday evening.  We hadn't returned it yet, so fired it up once again and sat with a lamp on and watched the tv (we don't have cable vision, just use a roof top aerial that David calls 'peasant vision'). Hydro showed up a bit later and were there all night working to replace the two poles and the lines and our power was back on again by 6 in the morning.  We were impressed!  Unfortunately for our neighbours that live on the block across from us, the internet/landline/cable line didn't get replaced for a couple of days. Our internet was fixed later Saturday morning, and since we don't have a landline or cablevision, we were okay.

It will be a winter we won't forget for a while.  
We still have our arch.  We are still hoping that someone might take it down for us, but not sure that is going to happen. I won't bore you with the stories that go with that.  
We've finally had some dry hours the last couple of days, so have been picking away at getting the driveway cleaned up.  Lots of large branches to be sawn up, without touching the arch. The maple is nice to split for the most part.  I like the challenge of trying to split some of the ones that are awkward shapes, but I also know when to give up on them!

So there you are, I've probably bored you once again. 
This photo was from this afternoon. 
Do you like the prop under the arch? 
Ha, it's kind of a joke!
Meredith had said we should prop that side up and make it like the entrance way to a ranch. 
I think this is as close as we'll get!