Friday, August 29, 2008

Colours

We've been busy the past few days with friends visiting from Ontario. We were so happy they made the trip, and it has been wonderful showing them some of our favourite parts of the South Shore. One of the things I love about this area is the wonderful colours in the summertime. Hope you enjoy these photos I captured from our last couple of days of touring.The photos shown here are from Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, both very popular tourist destinations.
On Wednesday, we headed out exploring. First, we stopped at a gift shop in Petite Riviere. (more on that over at Nova Scotia Treasures soon.)Then we headed over to Risser's Beach. Unfortunately it was overcast and raining. Or maybe I should say fortunately....because we had the whole beach to ourselves! Our visitors are nature lovers and liked walking on the beach just as much as we did. We walked the length of the beach and boardwalks and then headed back to the car. A quick drive (really, less than 5 minutes) took us to Crescent Beach. We drove the length of the beach (yes, cars are allowed on the beach) and then headed to LaHave Bakery for lunch. We've been to the Bakery many, many times but we've never been up to the 3rd floor. Some people we met last week told us about Homegrown Skateboards, so we thought we'd pop up to the 3rd floor to take a look. The owner and designer was there. I loved his work space...high ceilings, open spaces, and wooden plank floors. His skateboard designs are all originals and one of a kinds. I know we'll be taking our son Cody there when he comes to visit. After lunch, we took the cable ferry across the LaHave River and headed to Lunenburg. Lots of touring and photo taking, and I finally found a lined fleece jacket to replace the one that Cassie chewed the sleeve out of on a car trip we took with her just after we adopted her last year. At the end of the day, we headed back home for a wonderful bbq'd salmon dinner (as always, courtesy of John's wonderful cooking skills).
Thursday, we spent the morning touring our own property. Then we headed to Mahone Bay for some shopping. Onwards to Chester...shopping for the girls and beer drinking at a pub on the bay for the boys. We joined the men and had a lovely dinner on the deck waterside. This is the life!
Our visitors left this morning, so it's back to life as usual for us. Looking forward to our weekend family visitors...DIL and Miss M. The big event for our farm life this weekend...it's time to let the smaller 6 keets out into the wild. No more lounging around the coop and waiting to be fed for them!

P.S. I must mention here that we came close to losing our 3 big guineas on Tuesday. Our guests arrived late afternoon on Tuesday, and the guinea hens came up to the car park to greet them. The dogs saw the hens from the house and burst through the screen door. Mulligan tore after the hens, the hens went flying, I went running, and Mulligan just about had fowl for dinner. What a welcome for our friends! I'm happy to say, the hens were smart enough to get out of reach, and are happy and healthy still.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dining at the Seaside

Friday was a warm (well, John would define it as hot, hot, HOT) and gloriously sunny day. Unfortunately, we spent most of the afternoon at the car dealership waiting for some minor repairs to be done on our CRV.

But, as luck would have it, it was finished late in the afternoon...which just happened to be a great time to think about finding a place along the water for a drink and/or dinner.

We thought we'd try a place we hadn't been to before, so we headed east to Chester Basin.Frankly, The Seaside Shanty Restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside.But, what a lovely view from the screened in porch!John had seafood chowder, which was packed with all kinds of seafood. I chose a pasta dish with shrimp.I don't think it will go on my top list of places to eat, but the scenery makes it worth a visit.
In my book, you just can't beat the combination of warm sunshine & water views!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blueberry Adventures

Last Thursday we headed out with the dogs for a drive, and discovered the Lunenburg County Winery. (well, we actually went looking for it to see what it was all about and didn't get too lost trying to find it!)
They have something like 12 varieties of wine available at the liquor stores, but approximately 25 at their winery. The wines are made from 100% Nova Scotia fruits. Their best selling wine is blueberry wine. They also make kiwi wine (not the New Zealand type kiwis...Nova Scotia has their own kind of kiwi...smaller and smoother skinned). Here are the resident dogs:
And, if you're not into wine, you can pick your own blueberries. They have fields and fields of blueberries. You can go where you want, and the scenery is lovely.
We didn't go blueberry picking that day (no dogs allowed out of the cars and it was too hot to leave them behind) but we did pick up some wine to try out.
I'm happy to report their blueberry wine is delicious (and their best seller for the past 12 years).

On Sunday, we did actually go blueberry picking at a different spot. We met G, DIL, and Miss M in Centreville (about 1 1/2 hours away from home) and went picking at a huge blueberry farm. (and I mean huge!)They actually bus you to the fields to go picking and you're assigned your own bushes to pick from. Here's a photo of everyone hard at work. It's a requirement to eat as many as you pick. (you must show a blue tongue when you get back on the bus)Here's our little crew getting ready to leave after picking our fill:And a group shot of all of us with our pickings (John is not in the photo, but you can see his shadow so we'll are there!)
And now we get to eat blueberries to our heart's content!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This and that

I'm going to intersperse this post with some photos of our tree/window art in the sunshine. (a previous post showed the windows, but it was a rather gloomy day).Tuesday was a great day. We spent the morning in Bridgewater doing lots of errands, then decided that a lunch out was in order. We set off towards Green Bay, and discovered a great vegetable market just outside of Bridgewater in Hebbville. We picked up humungous zucchinis for the dogs (we feed them a natural diet) and a dozen freshly picked corn for us.Then onwards to Green Bay for fish and chips at MacLeod's Canteen. Yum. It was good. After lunch we went to Risser's Beach for a long walk. It was quite windy, but a lovely sunny day. Back home to a feast of bbq'd corn and lots of Olympic viewing.Last night we headed to the cottage of one of our new American friends for dinner. We met some very nice people from Maryland and had a good pot luck dinner on the deck...overlooking the ocean bay...while watching the most beautiful sunset we've seen in a long time.

But despite imagining what life would be like if we lived oceanside, I really do love our little piece of farm heaven. I thought you might like a guinea hen update (after posting about nothing else for weeks with the first batch of hens, the second batch has been sadly neglected).
The coop is currently divided with chicken wire until the second batch of keets gets big enough to cope with the larger hens. The age difference between the 2 batches is six weeks. Quite a difference in size! I'm happy to report that we haven't lost any keets from the second batch...still 3 out of 4 hens from our first batch (we lost one keet when it was 3 days old), and 6 out of 6 keets are thriving in the 2nd batch. The only predators we seem to have to worry about (so far) are our own dogs! Mulligan and Cassie are desperate to get down to the coop (Cinder doesn't seem interested), and Mulligan has tried to tear open the ramp door when the hens were locked inside.
This afternoon we are off adventuring with the dogs. Who knows what we'll find?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Friends on the farm

Some lovely flowers from the always thoughtful DIL.
G, DIL, and Miss M joined us for an overnighter at the farm on Saturday. We had a delicious (but rather late) supper cooked by John (as always). Sunday was spent fixing up the last of the comments that the home inspector made on his report when we purchased our home. Then we all headed down the 1/2 mile driveway....G with his chain saw, John on the tractor and Miss M in the trailer, DIL and I on foot. G cut up a lot of dead fall and some trees that were threatening to crowd the drive.

Once they headed home, John and I took the 3 dogs down to our lower field. There's a small pond there that I thought they'd like to jump in to have a cool down. They loved it. I wasn't sure it was a good idea once they dried off....for a pond fed by a natural spring, it was a little on the smelly side.

We found tons of raspberry bushes still with some ripe berries and started picking them....until John spotted these monsters: Ewwww.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am terrified of spiders. These guys put an abrupt end to our berry picking adventures. Who knew such humungous spiders would live here? Another bonus of living in the country. Yay.

I must say John will be surprised to see these photos. I went back on my own to snap some photos. I couldn't get a shot of the largest spider...I would have had to lean over these 2 guys to get the photo. And I was NOT going to do that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bird Rescue #2 & Mushroom update

So...I've already told you about our adventures last weekend...when we rescued a bird who decided to visit our chimney and wood stove. On Friday we had another bird escapade.

We have a few feeders in the yard. The one shown below is filled with sunflower seeds. I was puttering in the garden while John was BBQ'ing and I heard a strange flapping sound. There was a bird hanging upside down with his leg caught in the joint of the feeder stand (where the red arrow is pointing). I rushed to get my gardening gloves and carefully put my hands around his wings to stop his flapping, then lifted him up and out of his wedged position. He flew away happily. I'm hoping there was no damage to his foot.

While I was busy doing this, John ran for the camera. He was too late to get a shot of the bird, but managed to take a photo of me imitating the bird with his leg caught.Ha ha. Never a dull moment around here.

Here's a little mushroom update on our driveway mushroom reported in an earlier post. (it turns out we have many many mushrooms growing on our 1/2 mile drive, but this is the biggest and most interesting to us). Here it is in all it's glory. A little less red now, but fully opened. Still pretty cool looking. (and for those of you who asked...yes, I was laying on the gravel to snap this photo)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tree Art

If you look in our trees, you might just find some window art. I haven't created one for a few years, but made several when we lived in Ontario.
I use old windows (collected from various sources) and glue cut glass to the window panes. I love the look of them with the sun shining through (which you'll just have to imagine because it was overcast the day I took these photos).
Sometimes I add grout between the glass. I just finished the window below (you'll see some white pieces, but these will turn clear once the glue dries)...something I have been working on since we moved to Nova Scotia. I'm wondering whether I should add grout between the glass or just leave it alone?
This window is fairly tall...probably about five feet. Now I'll have to find a good place to hang it. We certainly aren't lacking in trees to choose from!
Grout or no grout? Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy endings

I mentioned on Saturday that we had a something trapped in the stove pipe running to our wood stove. We couldn't get it free because the damper doesn't open up with a big hole. There didn't seem to be any way for us to get access to the something to help it free. It struggled all day Saturday, which was terrible to hear. Saturday night it stopped and we thought maybe it had died. But Sunday morning we woke up to hear more desperate scrabbling sounds coming from the stove pipe. Ugh.
But this story has a happy ending. John took the flashlight to have one more look at the damper. It just didn't make sense that there wasn't a large opening. He flashed the light around the interior of the stove and to his surprise a bird was in the upper corner of the stove looking back at him. Somehow the bird managed to find his way from the stove pipe to the stove (we still haven't been able to discover exactly how)
So we put a towel over the bird, and I wrapped my hands around both sides of him (a little difficult to do since the bird was trying to make himself as small as possible). John had removed the screen from the nearest living room window, so once I got hold of the bird I carried him over to the window and released him.

I'm happy to report he flew away with no problems at all! Yay. I love happy endings.

Do you love poppies as much as I do? These poppies are from SeedBallz, courtesy of DIL (what is a DIL you ask? Daughter in law). I am happy to report that our SeedBallz worked great. We have pink poppies, yellow poppies, strange looking 4 petal poppies, and my favourite...red poppies. The only problem is that I placed my SeedBallz in amongst our wildflower garden and they are mixed in with lots of other things. They look nice, but I would have been smarter to place them on their own somewhere so they'd stand out more.

You can make your own seed balls with other kinds of seeds too. Here is a link to how to make your own seed balls. Looks like a fun project.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Magic Mushroom

This is growing
in the middle of our driveway

Two inches of red mushroom on a 1/2 mile long gravel drive. Magic.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday we had a lovely trip to the north coast of Nova Scotia. We drove up to Middleton, and then headed west.We stopped in Annapolis Royal for a lovely lunch at a restaurant called Compose.We ate on the deck (shown above) with this beautiful view:John had a lobster club, and a had "the Mozart"...an open faced sandwich with sliced chicken breast, peaches, curry sauce and melted cheese and side salad with orange dressing (divine!)After lunch, a walk along the boardwalk took us to Fort Anne. (photos of that will be available soon at Nova Scotia Travels and Treasures) Then we were off again, heading further west to Digby. Here's a view of the ships in the harbour.We took a walk out on the docks for a closer view of the fishing fleet...scallop boats mostly. We made a stop at the fish store on the docks for some fresh scallops, and popped them into the cooler in our car for the drive home. It was late in the day, so we took a "short cut" from Digby over to Highway 8. The short cut involved a rather interesting "road" that had me telling John to turn around because I must have told him the wrong turn. We met someone coming up the "road" on our way back. He stopped and we had a little discussion. Turns out we were on the right road (which was more like an ATV trail) and we were told it was a government highway (I think it's been a while since the govt put any money into that road's upkeep!) So, the other driver told us he was going to brave it, and to follow him. The condition of the road got me into hysterical laughter for a few minutes, but we made it through. The other driver stopped when we reached the first town (Bear River) and we all congratulated ourselves that we made it. I think our short cut took a few times longer than the regular route would have taken!

Closer to home, we finally found a roadside stand selling vegetables (something we had been looking for all day). We picked up some freshly picked corn, huge blueberries and some tomatoes. What a feast when we got home! Barbequed corn on the cob (in their husks), followed by bbq'd scallops wrapped in bacon and fresh tomatoes. Blueberries with ice cream (for John) and blueberries with yogurt (for me) for dessert. Yum!

So, that brings us to today and the reference to the name of this post.

I woke up to some strange noises this morning...it sounded something like scratching on tin. I got up to see what the dogs were into, and they were all looking very innocent...Cinder on the couch and Mulligan and Cassie sitting nicely outside our bedroom door. Hmmm. Couldn't find anything wrong. Morning routines got me forgetting about the noise for a while but it came back. It turns out we have some kind of animal trapped in the stove pipe that goes to our wood burning stove. My guess is a squirrel, or more likely a bird. John and I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get our visitor out of the stove pipe and into the backyard. Once we got our strategy plotted, we opened the damper for the squirrel/bird to drop down into the stove. Nothing happened! Okay, maybe we didn't open the damper the right way. Still nothing. It turns out that our stove is made with small vent holes and no big hole into the stove pipe (maybe this is why we got smoked out of the house a couple of months ago while trying to light a fire in the stove?) We tried to take the stove apart to get to the squirrel/bird but I think it's built for a professional to do that. So, all day we've been hearing desperate scrabbling noises from the stove pipe. And I feel awful that whatever it is is going to die in there. (and yes, we will be phoning a professional to clean out the stove pipe before we try lighting a fire in the fall!)

Next project for the day was to move the 6 keets down into the coop. First I cleaned out the coop. Not a nice job. Who knew hens could poop so much? I had to scrape the floor with a shovel. I started to wonder how I would do this through the winter. Not a pleasant thought. Once the coop was clean, we put up chicken wire halfway across the coop to separate the larger hens from the keets until the keets get bigger. Then it was time to move the dog crate with the keets down to the coop. 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You see, when we moved the original 3 keets down to the coop we didn't know that the keets could have fallen through the bottom of the dog crate. There was paper there, but no firm bottom. (we discovered this after we were finished and were folding up the crate). So this time, we knew we had to do something to keep the 6 keets from falling through the bottom of the crate. 

I opened the crate and tried to get the keets into a box. They were freaking. I was freaking. And one of the keets escaped into the shed. John quickly got the doors to the shed closed and we spent 15 minutes trying to get the keet back into the dog crate. Let me tell you, those little guys can move fast! I gave up on trying to get her back with her buddies, and managed to get her into a rubbermaid bin and put the lid on. Then we spent a lot of time trying to corral the other 5. Picture a lot of flapping around (the keets), a lot of standing around feeling defeated (me), and one person trying to be logical about it all (John). Part of this process included John grabbing the lid from the box with the keet inside (forgetting there was a bird there), the keet escaping, and us starting all over again trying to get the one keet back into a box.

All's well that ends well. We got all 6 down into the coop and they were happily pecking away at their turkey starter when we left them.

I guess it is a day for guinea hen adventures. We had a message from our neighbours on the phone...they want us to call if we see a hawk around. Apparently a hawk killed all their guinea keets. Not sure what they plan to do about the hawk, and maybe I don't really want to know.

Ahhh, the fun adventures of life in the country!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

90 days

90 days ago was our first night in our new Nova Scotia home. Some days it feels like we don't get much done around here, but thinking back over 90 days makes me realize just how much we have accomplished.
Unpacked, unwrapped, and found a new home for 11,000 pounds of stuff (all in the first week!)
Repaired a lamp broken in the move.
Sourced a new base for our hand blown glass floor lamp and had it shipped from Ontario.
Found a doctor (a near impossible task in small town NS)
Found 2 sources of raw meat for our dogs.
Walked 80 miles to get the morning paper (I figure we missed about 10 days, and it's a mile walk each day)
Dogs porcupined 7 times
Four trips to the vet (annual visit, Mulligan's cut paw, and 2 porcupine quill removal visits)
Painted the upstairs hallway
Painted the spare room/tv room
Sourced a new ride on mower and have created a "lawn" (the previous owners had the house sitting in a hayfield with no mown grass around the house)
Attended 4 auctions
Found 3 spectacular beaches
Purchased a crabapple tree, and 3 shrubs (1 forsythia, 2 burning bush)
Created 4 gardens
Created a flag stone walkway to the screened in porch (was previously gravel)
Built a coop for the guinea hens
Raised 3 keets now living in the coop
Currently raising 6 more keets
Fixed the deficiencies listed by the home inspector (caulked the windows, caulked around the tub and sinks, installed a dehumidifyer in the crawl space)
Trimmed branches growing in the 1/2 mile driveway
Created a stained glass window (pictures coming soon)
Survived tick season (glass jar with 100s of ticks to prove it...yay, the ticks are gone for this year)
Attended 3 horse pulls
Met a bunch of new people (and even ran into 4 people we knew at the South Shore exhibition)
Discovered the world's best chocolate peanut butter pie
Completed the screening on the screened in porch (the eaves)
Repaired the 2 doors on the screened in porch
Repaired the shingles on the shed
Upcoming plans:
Build a deck
Trim the apple trees
Figure out how to use the wood stove
Stack the wood we ordered
Paint the kitchen
Host 2 batches of guests for 2 1/2 weeks
Move the 6 keets to the coop
Pick thousands of apples (and make ??)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lunching in LaHave

One of our favourite places to go is Crescent Beach. We love to walk the beach in any type of weather. Between Bridgewater and Crescent Beach is another Nova Scotia treasure...LaHave Bakery.Listed in "Where to Eat in Canada" for each of the past 9 years, LaHave Bakery is worth a stop.You may have to be patient to get your treats but it's worth it. The menu is rather limited...sandwiches, pizza (not your run of the mill pizza slices) or soup. We usually pick up a sandwich (thick slices of home made bread, lettuce, tomato, cheese, real meat (not the packaged sliced meat), and maybe even some radical rhubarb relish.The bakery also offers lots of cookies and squares. And as you can see on the shelves, lots of jams, jellies and spreads. The building is an old one with lots of character. Love those original tin ceilings!There's a lunch counter and lots of tables (indoors and out). Here's our favourite spot to eat...Right at the end of the wharf. And what a view (well, you wouldn't get John in your view, but insert your favourite person instead)