Sunday, June 29, 2008

An evening at the cottage

On Tuesday evening we visited a cottage...wish I could say it was our cottage, but sadly no. The story actually started last Saturday when John & I went to see the Horse & Oxen Pull at Conquerall Mills (photos of that event coming soon). While we were there, we met a man vacationing from the Boston area of the U.S. We got to talking and he told us he owns a cottage on the ocean and vacations there 5 weeks every year. He then invited us over to visit. (need I say...folks are friendly around here).

So, Tuesday afternoon we headed off to the Lahave Islands. On the way there, we stopped to watch a bald eagle. He was magnificent. Here he is, after being chased by several seagulls....brave souls.He decided to take another chance, and flew off with some seagulls in pursuit. Wonder what he did to get them riled up?After one wrong turn, we arrived at the cottage safe and sound. After some chatting on the deck, we took a lovely boat ride. Do you think we made it through this narrow passage? Well, we did! The sun came out and we toured a couple of bays. Here is our host with his cottage in the background.The photo below was taken after we toured our host's new neighbour's cottage...a 2.2 million dollar cottage. Gulp. After touring the neighbour's cottage, we headed back to the boat where I managed to fall down some seaweed covered rocks and land on my backside. Mostly I landed on my elbow and my camera (and ego) took a beating. I then bled all over the boat (a wooden boat, thank goodness...blood washes off). The starfish in the photo fared better than I did...back into the ocean he went after his photo op.And, a photo of my favourite man.

Back to our host's cottage for a tour there before heading home. A beautiful cottage, and a beautiful evening.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Keets - 3 week update

We finished our coop over the past week or so. John and his son G added the door on each end. One end has a large door for us to open and be able to clean out the coop. The other end has a smaller door that drops down to become a ramp for the hens to go in and out. The door is maybe larger than it should be, and now we're wondering if we should add a door that's higher up so they can fly in and out if they want. We're thinking that may eliminate some of the predators (foxes).

In the meantime, they are still in the dog crate. They graduated from the plastic bin a week ago. The first day they were in the crate, one of them got out...they are still too small for the bars to hold them in. So I lined the crate with cardboard boxes.

They still don't fly around but can hop up on top of their water jug. John found all three of them together one day. They do that a lot. We added a branch from one side of the crate to the other, but we haven't seen them on it yet.We stopped turning on the heat lamp this week, and they seem to be fine. Soon we'll move the crate down into the coop.

Time to go clean out their temporary home...the fun side of farming!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blue Rocks

Last week we found ourselves in Lunenburg, a popular tourist spot. We saw the sign for Blue Rocks...a road we've never been on...and decided to check it out. It was a foggy day, and the landscape reminded me of our trip to Newfoundland last year.We spotted some herons and stopped to take some photos. They are such majestic birds. We went all the way out to the point of Blue Rocks, which looked like it must be a true fishing community. It was a lovely bay with some quaint homes and cottages. I'm sure it's a wonderful place to be in the summer, but winter must be very isolated. I should have taken some photos there, but I didn't. On the way back towards Lunenburg, we spotted a woman painting at the side of the road.I asked if I could take her photo and we chatted for a few minutes. It turns out she lives on the other side of the province, but tours the area so she can paint on site. Her name is Joy Laking, and she'll be exhibiting in Lunenburg at the end of July. She said she has painted the view of this old building every year for the past 30 years.

And, one last photo. This is a little tourist shop which was closed the day we were there. It looks like they might have some interesting things. The outside is certainly full of character!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lunching on the deck

hester is one of my favourite places along the South Shore of Nova Scotia. A week or so ago, we headed over to Halifax to watch Miss M's music recital. Afterwards, we headed back home via the scenic route and stopped in Chester for lunch.The Rope Loft Restaurant is right on the shore. It was a very windy day, but absolutely lovely...bright and sunny. A perfect day for lunching on the deck overlooking the bay.Lunch was delicious. We both had the day's special...crab cakes with salad. John chose the caesar salad and I had the greek. Yum.This view shows the pier with more tables and chairs for the restaurant. The pier looks out towards the ocean. The hill on the other side of the bay has some spectacular homes. I wouldn't want to think about the price of them...out of our reach for sure!In the distance, you can see a yacht. The yacht is about 5 times larger than the ferry that goes from Chester over to Tancook Island. According to the people working at the restaurant, the yacht's name is The Intuition. Lunching at a table next to us were 3 couples...eavesdropping a bit on their conversation one man was a producer, and another an actor. When they left on their boat, they headed out to the yacht which led us to lots of speculation...but they were just sightseeing on their way to somewhere else. The restaurant has 2 decks. We were on the lower deck. The upper was closed off for the day. I'm sure it gets packed during tourist season (July & August). The windows along the building on the lower level were all topped with tole painted buildings and lighthouses. Very quaint.

Just a lovely afternoon. Can't wait to go back.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Keets at 2 weeks

It seems all my posts lately are about keets. We really are doing lots of other things, but I haven't taken the time to upload photos because we've been using dial up internet service since we moved, and it takes FOREVER to do a blog post. Dial up has also put a serious dent in my blog reading (maybe that's a good thing).

Anyway, our keets are now 2 weeks old. Notice the difference in the feathers?They have really grown in the past week. I'm not sure when we're supposed to stop calling them keets and start calling them guinea fowl...maybe when they have fully matured. The daily routine with the keets is not time consuming. In the morning, I check on them to make sure they're okay...I give them some of their feed (turkey starter) and freshen their water bowl. We keep them in our shed (which is attached to our screened in porch, which in turn is attached to our house) and I check on them whenever I pop into the shed (a few times throughout the day). After dinner (which in Nova Scotia they call "supper"...dinner means lunch around here) I check on them again and give them more feed.
Last night we were at Miss M's soccer game in Halifax and I forgot to check on the keets after supper. This morning I had a surprise. When I looked in their bin, there were only 2 keets! It quickly flashed through my mind that the last time I forgot to check on them in the evening, one of our keets died. Yikes. All was well, though. One of the keets had flown the coop so to speak...flown out of the plastic bin and was by him/herself in the dog crate. I should mention here that they are not flying yet. They sort of throw themselves around (mostly when they're excited and nervous) and sometimes can throw themselves about 12 inches high. I guess we had a high jumper last night.

So the morning routine this morning took a little longer. I guess it was time to graduate them from their plastic bin into the dog crate. One problem with using the dog crate is that they can squeeze through the bars, so I have lined the crate with cardboard boxes. Soon the keets will be big enough that I'll be able to remove the cardboard.

They seem happy in their larger home. The dog crate is more than twice the size of the bin they were in. The next step will be to move the dog crate into our coop. (photos of the completed coop coming soon). We won't be able to move them to the coop until they can live without the heat light in the crate.

And just to prove that keets aren't the only wildlife around here...
We have seen deer on our property many times, but on Wednesday night they came right up to the house. It was quite a foggy day and evening.
Tomorrow we're off to an auction at a farm, then to an ox pull, and then a Blue Grass family night at a local community centre. Never a dull moment here in the country.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One week old and growing strong

One week ago yesterday we picked up our 4 keets...our future defense system against ticks. Unfortunately, one died on Monday night and now we're down to 3 keets. Or maybe it was fortunate...if one didn't die, we wouldn't have known there was something wrong and we might have lost all four. But, here they are...I finally managed to snap a few shots of them. They are fairly nervous birds...maybe all birds are...and I have a hard time getting good photos.

The photo above shows the feathers starting to grow on their wings. One of the reasons you have to wait 6 weeks before letting them loose outdoors is that it takes 6 weeks for them to grow all their feathers.Can you see the size difference in the 3 birds? There is a noticeable difference when you look at them. As I mentioned in an earlier post, 2 of the birds were 3 days old and 2 of them were only 1 day old when we picked them up. I think the keet on the right is one of the younger ones, and the one we lost was one of the younger ones too. It's amazing what a difference 2 days can make in a bird's life!And isn't this a sad photo? Cassie and Mulligan are very curious about our guineas. They are outside in our screened in porch looking in on me in the shed with the keets. I'm not sure if they want to be friends with the birds or eat them!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ups and downs

We had a nice surprise on Sunday...G, DIL, and Miss M "dropped by" (a one hour drive from their place to our's). It was a gloriously hot day here in the country...a little too hot for some so we headed to the beach. Generally, it's about 10 degrees (celcius!) cooler at the beach. It was a great afternoon.

Yesterday brought another hot & sunny day...over 30C...but we're back to cooler and duller weather today. A good day for getting things done.

The day started off badly. One of our keets died during the night. I think I know the problem, but we may lose at least one more keet who looks in bad shape (shivery). Dampness is a real danger to keets. Keets can be killed by damp if their mother leads them through wet grass. After finding a dead keet, I was cleaning the papers from the bottom of their bin. The papers were all damp. We had been moving the bin in and out of the crate on Sunday so Miss M could pet and hold the keets, and probably spilled some of the water from their bottle. I had also spilled some when refilling the trough. I thought I was being brilliant by using a rubbermaid bin instead of a cardboard box, but the plastic bin would keep everything damp whereas a cardboard box probably would have dried.

Fingers crossed we won't lose another one.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The first step

Well, we have now taken our first step to becoming hobby farmers. This wasn't in our original plan, but even good plans need to be worked and changed.

Last weekend, John's son G as well as Miss M came to visit (DIL was away for a couple of weeks working in Ontario). John and G spent some time building a coop...yes, a coop. Not for chickens, but for guinea fowl. It seems that guinea fowl are one of the secret weapons that country folk around here deal with ticks. (yes, it always gets back to ticks right now in our lives) Guineas LOVE to eat ticks and all sorts of bugs. One adult guinea can clear one full acre of bugs.
The foundation and cedar shake roof of our coop were repurposed from some pieces that the previous owners had left behind on the property. They were in excellent condition, and I think maybe originally intending as some kind of playhouse. John and G framed around the foundation with 2 x 4's and covered them with plywood. We didn't use chicken wire for any of the walls. Apparently we'll be worrying about predators (raccoons and foxes) who will be able to tear through chicken wire with no problems. So...all the walls are plywood. The doors aren't finished yet, but one end will be a full door that we can swing up in order to clean out the shavings on the floor. The other end will have a smaller door that drops down to create a ramp for the guinea hens to go in and out. Here is Miss M going through the smaller door. I found someone selling keets (baby guinea fowl) on the internet. In one of those odd twists of fate, out of the whole province of Nova Scotia the seller was located just a five minute drive from where we live! Friday we picked up our 4 guineas. (we won't know whether they are cocks or hens for some time yet) Two of the keets were one day old, the other two were 3 days old.
Here is Jessica holding one of the keets. This is her first time incubating guineas. She sells chickens and geese, and now guineas and peacocks.
Apparently it's recommended to get day old guineas (rather than adults) so that they bond with their location. If you get adults, it's quite likely that they'll fly away and head back to their original location.
We transferred the keets from Jessica's cardboard box into our rubbermaid bin. They'll stay in the bin for a week or so, and then we'll move them to a larger space.

We put the bin into a large size dog crate. The crate is wrapped in cardboard boxes and a blanket to keep the drafts out. Can you see the four of them in the corner? They are on top of their food dish (4 cavities from a cardboard egg carton) filled with turkey starter. There is also a watering dish (the dish is filled with rocks until the keets get they don't fall in and drown), a light and a thermometer. The temperature for their first week is supposed to be 95F. I tried and tried, but couldn't get the temp above 80F. But they seemed to be fine...chirping away and bopping around to the food and water, and pecking at the straw.

Now that we've made it through the first 2 days with no problems, our biggest concern is the dogs. Cinder (our 12 year old Giant Schnauzer) isn't interested in the keets at all. Mulligan and Cassie are very curious and always want to go into the shed to see them. Here is a photo showing their first introduction.Not to worry...I was holding their collars so the couldn't grab the keets. I'm hoping if we show them to the dogs every day the dogs will get used to having them around and won't try to eat them!

So the keets are nice and cute right now. I pick them up several times a day to get them accustomed to me (hoping that all this will keep them around and not fly the coop so to speak!). Want to see what they'll look like in a few weeks? Click here for some more information from Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Variety is the spice of life

I won't lie to you. Since we moved, I've had a few days that I feel sorry for myself. What was I thinking? How did I think I could move so far away from what I was used to? How did I think I could cope in the country?

But...then I have many more days when I know we did the right thing. Yes, we moved far away from everything we knew, but we're off on an exciting adventure. We have family close by and love being around. We have access to some of Canada's most beautiful scenery, beaches, and ocean. The sea food doesn't get any fresher than here. And yes....I am a capable person and can learn to adapt to country living!

I was gardening the other day and thought I heard someone hammering. John was busy cutting the grass, and we don't have any neighbours close by. This is what I heard:
A pileated woodpecker busy finding a meal. None of my photos did it justice. He was huge....and something we rarely saw in Ontario.We walk down our half mile driveway every morning with the dogs to pick up our paper. The walk takes us through forest and the woodland flowers are amazing at this time of year. John saw 4 deer one morning when he went alone. I haven't been as lucky.We have seen deer quite a few times wandering at the edge of our hayfields. I love watching them.
Today has been interesting so far. I've been up on the roof helping to fix some shingles, and I've painted the stairwell. The only painting I've done in the house so far is the upstairs hallway. I painted it before our furniture arrived, knowing that heavy furniture would be placed in the hallway and the walls would be much easier to paint without moving furniture around (our upper hall is about 9 feet wide and is now John's office, as well as my mini library).

And...John was into town today to buy "turkey starter". Any guesses what that is for? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Back on track

Where does the time go? It's been busy around here as we get settled in our new home and find all the new places to go for everyday things. The last move we made was 10 years ago, and although we made a big adjustment from living downtown in Canada's capital city to a town of 3500 people, we were still a half hour drive from all the things we were familiar with.

Moving 1600 kilometers is a different story. We've been busy discovering the fun places to eat, new places to see, and new things to do. We've also been busy trying to figure out where to buy groceries, where to buy meat (we used to go to a butcher, but it seems the best place for meat is the Superstore), where to get our hair cut, get a new doctor, the best hardware stores, where to bottle wine, etc, etc. It's falling into place gradually.

I won't kid hasn't been easy and it has been a big adjustment. Our worst problem has been getting used to ticks. The tick experience has coloured everything else, and has made it harder to adjust. I'm not talking about one or two ticks. I'm talking about sending the dogs out for less than 5 minutes, and having them come back in with over 25 ticks on them. Yuck. But, we're dealing with it. Dealing with ticks has got us off on a new adventure, which I'll be posting about in the next few days or weeks.

But...we have discovered some wonderful beaches. We are not just fair weather beach people. We like going to the beach in rainy weather too. Sunday May 25th, we headed out with a picnic to take a look at a couple of beaches close by. The first one we visited was Crescent Beach. There is a sign posted that you can drive out onto the beach "at your own risk". Well, there were a couple of vehicles on the beach, so we gave it a try. Was the tide out or in? We didn't know for sure, but it looked to be going out. Here's a view of the dark and rainy sky.

Crescent Beach is very long, and quite narrow. It's a beautiful sandy beach, that has a very gentle slope. It will be a great place to bring our granddaughter Miss M when she comes to visit.We had a lovely picnic...nothing special...a couple of types of cheese and crackers, some olives and apples. We had our binoculars with us and watched a fisherman out in the bay pull up lobster traps.

Crescent Beach leads to an island community, which we spent some time driving around. We didn't cover the whole area...but will do that on another trip. We then headed out to Risser's Beach to check it out. Risser's is only about 5 minutes from Crescent Beach. Risser's is part of a provincial park and has camping facilities. We headed out to the boardwalks first.

I'm not sure how long the boardwalks are, but I think we walked for 20 minutes or so on the boardwalks and then we came to the beach.I'm looking forward to visiting on a sunny day. The beach seems to go on forever....another lovely sandy beach with a gentle slope that will be wonderful for Miss M. We walked along the beach to the outbuildings (which weren't opened yet) and then back to our car.

Not a sunny Sunday, but a lovely day nonetheless.