Monday, September 29, 2008

an apple a day

Or how about several thousand apples? These are apples from the four large apple trees we have along our driveway...I think they are 4 different kinds of apples, but have no idea what they are. I did a little tour by some of our other apple trees and found what I think are 2 more different types. We had the tail end of hurricane Kyle come through here last night...by the time he reached our place he was just a storm. Hundreds of apples were blown off the trees. Thankfully we didn't lose any shingles with this storm (something that has happened twice in the last 7 months). But we did have 6 trees come down across the driveway. It might be time for us to buy our own chain saw.
It was a great weekend. DIL and I went auctioning on Saturday and won lots of treasures. We had all our purchases lined up behind the CRV and a couple of men questioned whether we'd be able to get everything into the car. Who says women don't have packing abilities? DIL is an expert! (mind you, she had to sit with a table in her lap on the way home) John and G and Miss M went to an evening football game, and DIL and I had an amazing dinner in Lunenburg. What a treat!

Sunday was spent chainsawing dead trees and doing some touch ups to my auction purchases. Photo of my newly acquired whirligig coming soon! (must have been seeing all those whirligigs in Shelburne that inspired my purchase) A great family day.

Today: we're off to the airport in Halifax to pick up John's brother and sister-in-law from Alberta who will be visiting for 10 days. They've never been to Nova Scotia, so it will be lots of fun showing them around.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Simple dreams

John has been busy this week pruning some of our apple trees. We have 4 huge old trees on the right side of our driveway as you approach our home. (we have about 25 more big old trees spread throughout the property). According to our 78 year old neighbour, these glorious trees are at least 100 years old. It's time someone took care of them, so John has been busy taking off all the dead limbs...not an easy job as these trees are more than 30 feet high.

And I got to thinking...wouldn't it be great for our granddaughter Miss M to have a swing to swing on? So I mentioned it to John and he took some time out from his pruning and made a swing yesterday.I really did want this swing for Miss M. Truly that was my intention. But after I cleared away the dead branches (hence the gardening gloves and my trusty rubber boots) I had to try out the swing.Just a quick check to make sure it worked, you understand.And it made me so happy, it actually brought tears to my eyes (I kid you not).I have the best husband. His name doesn't fall under "handy man" in the dictionary. But he makes a fine swing. I'm sure Miss M will love the swing. But she may have a tough time getting her Bama's butt off the swing so she can have a turn.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Foundations and fences

Our property used to be a farm (now it's just a farm wannabe) and has the remnants of the foundations for the original home and barn.It's been at the back of my mind since we moved here 5 months ago that I wanted to clear out the foundation from the original house. I should have taken a "before" photo, but of course I didn't. It was filled with raspberry bushes, and junipers, and garbage....lots of garbage. Roofing tiles, bicycle chains, plastic wrap, plastic plant pails. Do people think that garbage like that is going to just disappear? Send it to the dump folks!Anyway, after a few hours of work, most everything was cleared out. I left a couple of trees growing and now I'm not sure what to do with it except keep it clear. Any suggestions?The wood remaining is from a huge old apple tree that had been growing out of the foundation. The tree has died and I'll need a chain saw (and a chain saw operator) to help me get rid of it.I don't know why I felt such a need to complete this project. I guess it's my way to acknowledge the history of our property and the people who came before us. Somehow it offended me that what was left of them was uncared for and filled with someone else's garbage.

Did you notice how small the foundation is? Modern day people would never live in such a small home!

My ongoing project...A fence that I'm created from all the brush that we clear. I'm mounding it up and will plant vines to grow over the mounds. I read about it years ago in a Harrowsmith Country Living magazine. I can't find any information about this type of fencing on the internet. I did a search for "living fence" and came up with some sites talking about planting willow cuttings, intertwining the branches, and having a fence that was living. My fence is a little different, but hopefully will be home for many birds and wildlife.

Today: washing our cat and 3 dogs and building a swing for one of our apple trees.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tall Ships

You've probably heard of ambulance chasers and storm chasers, but you probably haven't heard about tall ship chasers...that's us. After our trip to the cranberry farm on Sunday afternoon we headed back to Lunenburg to take some photos of the Bluenose II that had been in port when we passed through the harbour earlier in the day. As we approached Lunenburg, John noticed that the ship had set sail. We debated momentarily about what to do, and then set off down the coastal roads chasing the ship to try to capture it on film. We pulled over to the side of the road at the crest of a hill where two other couples had already stopped.We were in fact chasing the Pride of Baltimore II, shown here with only one of it's sails up. One of the couples had been on the ship the day before and gave us some information about it. It turns out that the couple we were talking to just moved to Lunenburg 5 months before from Ontario (two days before our move to Nova Scotia from Ontario). They have just opened up a Bed & Breakfast in Lunenburg.

Here is an interesting photo of the Bluenose II (in full sail), the Pride of Baltimore II, and a smaller sailboat passing through.And can you see the puff of smoke in this photo?The Pride of Baltimore II fired their cannon to salute the Bluenose II.

I was on top of the world on Sunday afternoon! What a great place to live.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Terra Beata Cranberry Farm

Sunday was Atlantic Open Farm Day. Fifty farms across Nova Scotia were open to the public, and we decided to visit a cranberry farm about a 1/2 hour drive from our home.Terra Beata Farms (http://www.cranberryfarm.ca/) had tours of their cranberry bogs and production facility throughout the day. The cranberries are grown in 1 1/2 acre plots (some are 3 acres, but will be divided in half). The ground is peat moss...up to 12 feet deep in some places!When it comes time to harvest the cranberries (usually mid October), they flood the plots one by one and use 2 of these machines to churn up the berries:The 4 wheels across the front churn up the berries while someone walks behind the machine. It's all pretty much manual labour. The berries are taken to holding tanks, and then are sorted in the facility by this machine: (in a previous life it was used by Highliner Foods to sort scallops)The machine takes out the squashed and mushy berries. The berries are then frozen, then sliced. (they have to be frozen first because they would only last about 2 days). After slicing, the berries are put into these metal boxes, which fit into the dryer (shown behind the metal boxes)Sugar is added, and then the berries are turned into the different products they sell. All their juices are not made from concentrate....which of course is a much purer juice than the mass market cranberry juices at the grocery stores. A stack of bottles waiting to be filled:We tried jams (my favourite was orange cranberry) and mincemeats, and all sorts of baked goods. Reading this post makes it all sound rather dull and boring, but I found everything to be really interesting. The farm has been operating for 10 years, and is expanding their equipment and staff to deal with larger customers and orders. It made me think a lot about our dog biscuit business that we sold earlier this year after 10 years in business. While we were in business, it was a constant struggle between whether to grow the business, or hold it at a manageable size without growing into mass production. We had a great discussion with the owner about this, and it was exciting for me to see a family business expanding the way they are.

Here is one of the recipes created by Terra Beata Farms: (and I can vouch that it is very, very good and very, very addictive!)

Warm Cranberry Dip
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 package (250g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup each: cranberry sauce, grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup each: sliced green onions, toasted sliced almonds

Mix all ingredients together in a pie plate or ovenproof serving dish. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, stirring once during baking or heat in microwave about 5 minutes, stirring once. Serve warm with crackers ao sliced raw vegetables.

Yum!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Whirligigs, Weathervanes, and Movies

On Saturday we headed down to Shelburne (about 1 1/2 hour drive) for the Whirligig and Weathervane Festival (apparently voted one of the top tourist festivals in 2007). There were whirligigs of all shapes and sizes and themes.Lots of whirligigs...not so many weathervanes (I have been yearning for a weathervane for many, many years).Shelburne's waterfront is full of historic buildings.John stopped to talk with someone who turned out to be from Shelburne.He told us that the waterfront was used for the filming of the movie The Scarlet Letter and the film company restored and refaced many of the buildings. They added the cupola/tower on the top of this building:And built this building just for the movie (wouldn't it be a great site for a farmer's market?):I have never seen the movie (I heard it wasn't that good...too bad....if it was a great movie, it would have been a great draw for tourists to Shelburne) but maybe we'll have to rent it just to see the buildings in the movie.

On our way back home, we took the scenic route and carried on with our movie theme. Just a short drive from Shelburne is Seacoast Studios.We stumbled across this on a trip several weeks ago, but I didn't take any photos. It's surrounded by high barbed wire fences, which is a little intimidating. We found out that it's a former naval base which explains the fences. We drove around inside the compound and there were a few people about, but it was eerily quiet. Since our first visit, there has been an article in the newspaper about them which gave us some more information.The property was bought by an American husband and wife team who paid $2.75 million for the property (nearly 70 hectares) and about $720,000 in renovations since April 2008.Right now they're filming a movie called Eternal Kiss...a vampire flick being done by Redstar Films of Halifax. I would love, love, LOVE to get Cody (our son...an aspiring actor)on to the set of one of these movies to see everything in action.

You never know what you're going to find on the backroads of Nova Scotia!
Next installment: Cranberry Farming

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fruits and Veggies and all good things

A couple of Search Me bags are being mailed to Georgia today. Yay! Here's a new bag I've added to my etsy shop. Isn't the fabric cute? Full of smiling fruits and veggies and little crosswords.Here's what you get to look for in my Search Me Food bag: Alphabet letter F (for food!), pear, lemon, orange, grapes, apple, plum, banana, cherries, leaf, squid, fish, popcorn kernel, rice, barley, smiley face, happy heart, lady bug, flower, teddy bear, shamrock, pearl, sea shell, butterfly, carrot.

Today I'm hoping to work on something creative just for me...maybe start a new glass window or painting. We'll see what the day brings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Miss M

John with Miss M and Blueboy

Happy Birthday Miss M! 7 years old and you are growing up so fast. We love you!

xoxo Baba and Bama

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A quick little tour

Last week we headed to Lunenburg to bottle some wine. Since the day was so beautiful, we carried on to Blue Rocks and Stonehurst. We had been to both places a couple of months ago when it was foggy. At that time, the area reminded us of Newfoundland (most of our Nfld trip last year was shrouded by fog). It looked quite different in the bright sunshine. I loved the colour of this fishing stage:The little villages are so picturesque, but I'm not sure I'd like to live in one.What a difference a day makes. Here's a comparison of a stage outside of Blue Rocks, where earlier this season we met an artist painting the site.And the same location (slightly different angle) last week:Of course, I love the sunshine but there's something about a foggy day (and photo) that's very intriguing. And...I couldn't resist adding a little bit of Nova Scotia colour!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The cycle of life

Life of a mushroom from the centre of our driveway...about a four week span.

Friday, September 12, 2008

These boots were made for...

I mentioned the other day that one of my prized possessions is my rubber boots (hence the blog header with my boots). Why? Well, they take me everywhere around our home...the garden, the coop, etc. They're easy to slide on and off and I don't have to worry about what I'm stepping in. Well move over rubber boots because you have competition.
Aren't they sexy?
Steel toes and water proof...now I can go anywhere. Yesterday John and I "walked the line". Our property was fully surveyed years ago and the trees along the property line were notched and sprayed blue. The spray was fading so we decided to redo it. One can of spray took us half way around the property. My boots were fantastic...no need to worry about the barbed wire lying on the ground from old fences, no need to worry about walking over the large stone fences around our property lines, no worries at all. My new best friends.
So, to Julia at Lineanongrata I say...you're not the only lady with a big set of boots!
I must thank Julia for giving me the "I love your blog" award.I have given up reading a lot of blogs since we moved to Nova Scotia. We're back to dial up internet access which makes everything tediously slow. But Julia's blog is one that's still on my daily list, so if she hadn't already received this award I'd give it right back to her. I'm supposed to name 7 blogs to pass the award on, but many of the blogs I was reading are no longer posting...moving on to other adventures I guess.
Speaking of adventures...I'm not sure what today will bring. We have to get more paint before finishing our survey line....something I'm anxious to do, so maybe we'll take "the girls" on a car ride today for more blue paint. Instead of painting the town red, we'll paint the trees blue. Woohoo.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A (not so) normal day

Today was a day for staying around home for me. I had to get some of the things off my mental "to do" list before I drove myself crazy. Here's what goes for a normal day around here...

Wake up because Cinder is whining and has decided that the rest of the household should be up and going. Get up, get dressed into my chore clothes, feed the cat, clean the cat box, let the 3 dogs outside to do their business. Microwave some potatoes for the dogs' breakfast and add it to their raw meat and veggies. Let dogs in. Fill up the water bowl with fresh water. Feed the 3 dogs.
Start to make the coffee. Pause to wonder why there is dirt on top of the coffee maker? Ponder about this for a couple of minutes, and then realize it's because the guinea hens were digging up my garden under the kitchen window yesterday. Wipe up the dirt. Finish making the coffee. Fill up the dog bowl again because Cinder drank it all. Wait till Cinder gets on the couch, then take John and other 2 dogs for a 1 mile walk to the road (well, half mile each way) to pick up the morning paper. Get back to the house and let the guinea hens out of the coop. Drink coffee and read the paper with John in the screened in porch. Spend 10 minutes trying to get Cassie to stop barking at the hens because the hens have decided they want to move in with us and spend their time right up by the house. Give up and take the dogs inside so they stop driving me crazy. Get my cereal and finish the paper. Take my cereal bowl to the dishwasher and hear "rat-a-tat-tat" coming from outside. Look out the window and see 3 guinea hens on the hood of John's car pecking at the metal. Yell to John to let him know and watch while he tries to shoo them from the cars. Chuckle. Check email. Search for the receipt for our newly purchased microwave that I put away somewhere that I wouldn't forget. (the receipt, not the microwave) Can't find the receipt. (thank goodness for small town stores that register your purchases) I'm sure the receipt will turn up sometime 2 years from now when I'm looking for something else altogether. Time to get outside.
Get out the stain to paint a strip of the house between the bottom of the house siding and the deck that the previous owners missed when they painted the house. (you would never notice this wasn't painted unless you sit on the outdoor swing in the early evening while John barbeques. The outdoor swing is positioned in such a way that every single night I think "I must paint that strip of naked siding"). Done. Decide that since I have the stain open I might as well go around the house and see if anything needs touch ups. Get to the front porch and decide I might as well paint that since the whole thing is in desperate need of a new stain job. Pause when I hear the guinea hens start screeching like they've never screeched before and decide to go see what's up. Go down to the apple orchard (where I think the sound came from). No guinea hens, but lots of apples that look ripe. Pick an apple and try it out. Hey, it's good! Eat my apple on the way back to the front porch and finish the paint job. Put the paint away and get paint all over my rubber boots (my rubber boots are my fondest possessions). Get out paper towel to wipe off my rubber boots. Start counting the pop cans so John can return them in town when he takes back our malfunctioning microwave. (Question to self and to the Nova Scotia government: Why do you call it a 10 cent per can deposit when you only give me 5 cents per can when I return them? Maybe it should be called a 5 cent deposit and a 5 cent tax. Question to the staff where we return the cans: why do you always ask us how many cans we have? Isn't it your job to count them?)
Back to outside work. Take Mulligan and Cassie outside to hook up to their chains so they don't eat the guinea hens. Decide to dig up the sod along the length of the house to make room for a garden next spring, as well as lay some flat stones to make a patio. As the thousands of rocks just underneath the surface of the grass make this a really tough job, get a a measly strip of 5 feet done and fill the wheel barrow. Wheel it to the end of the house to sod over a big space that the previous owner's did not sod. The guinea hens see me at the end of the house and come running. Get distracted and dig up 3 plants from the wild flower garden to move to the garden at the front of the house with the same type of flowers. Guinea hens follow. Go back to digging at back of house, guinea hens follow, dogs go crazy. Take dogs back into house. Go back to digging. Lay 4 stones to start the flagstone patio. Guinea hens decide they'd like to dig too and the dirt starts flying from the back garden. I run after them, screeching, to try to scare them away. They run, I run, they run...in circles. I go to the deck to sit down and ponder life on the farm. The guinea hens trot over to me and all 8 of them are within 4 feet of me clucking and chirping. I decide I've had enough digging for the day and go have a shower and some peace and quiet. The cat sits outside the shower and meows the whole time I shower. Yes, he's a little different and loves water. I get out of the shower, look out the window. And what do I see? All the guinea hens.
The day is half over. Think to self maybe I should have gone into town with John after all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hallowe'en Pumpkins

My newest Search Me bag...just in time for Hallowe'en.Packed with 25 items in a special Hallowe'en theme... Here's what to look for in the Hallowe'en Pumpkins bag:
pumpkin, black cat, orange spider, bat, apple, skull, smiley face, balloon, moon, star, alphabet H (for Hallowe'en!), popcorn kernel, button, google eye, pearl, shirt, teddy bear, leaf, happy heart, pom pom, bunny, turtle, butterfly, flower, foot. Wow!You can purchase them at my etsy shop: http://www.searchme.etsy.com/

Buy 3, and receive a fourth bag free!

Monday, September 8, 2008

What a weekend

Pictured above is the window art I completed recently...without grout. I decided to leave it alone...I thought adding grout might spoil it somehow. Instead of hanging it in a tree like our other windows, I decided that our screened in porch was the place to hang it. I love the way the sun hits it in the late afternoon. The rocker was purchased at an auction a month or so ago. The rusty bucket was one of a big batch of rusty buckets that I bought at a huge farm auction in Ontario last year. Rusty buckets? Yes, for some reason I really like them. I think the lot that I bought had about 15 buckets of various sizes, some with lids and cost me a grand total of $5. I kept the ones I liked, and sent the rest to a different auctioneer before we moved where someone paid $10 for EACH bucket. I love auctions...you never know what's going to happen.
Here's another shot from inside our screened in porch. The guinea hens by the car have the full attention of Mulligan (left) and Cassie. Unfortunately, the hens are not afraid of the dogs at all. And the dogs are obsessed with the hens. We now keep the dogs chained when the hens are out. But that didn't stop disaster from striking on Friday. The hens got a little too close, Mulligan lunged, and one of the smaller hens kicked the bucket (with some help from Mulligan). So, our guinea hen flock has dropped from 9 to 8. And I now know that keeping the dogs chained isn't going to keep them from snagging a hen!

On Saturday we spent the day at a horseshoe tournament. A couple we met just after we moved to Nova Scotia invited us. We arrived at 10 am, started playing pretty much right away, and didn't finish playing until 4 pm. We drew for teams, so I didn't get to play with John. I've never played before, which was a bit of a worry for me. But, my partner was very tolerant of my rather interesting throws. (I considered it a successful throw if I managed to get the shoe in the pit). I hit a string of outdoor lights once, then someone decided that the string of lights should be raised! And I made it an interesting game for the people on the pits to each side of us too. Watch your toes folks, you never know where my throws will go! So, my partner and I only one 2 games of the 11 games we played. But it was all in fun, thank goodness. Needless to say, I was totally exhausted on Saturday night.

On Sunday, the tail end of tropical storm Hanna hit our area. It was pretty much a non event around here. We had some heavy rain and winds for an hour or so. We decided to head to Crescent Beach to see what was happening down there.I was surprised at how many other people were there watching too. Almost all of us stayed on the rocks by the parking lot,but there was one brave soul who walked the beach barefoot with his dog. (the two specks in the photo below)How would you like to live in this cottage? The waves were crashing against the rocks. A bigger storm would have sent the water right up to the cottage.Today we are heading into town to complete a mile long to do list. And tonight? Tonight I'm going on a date with my hubby...out for dinner and then on to The Shore Club for a wine sampling (25 Nova Scotia and international wines) and silent art auction featuring the art by an artist we met a month or so ago...Joe Fitzpatrick...and his students. Money raised will go to the Terry Fox Foundation. A date with my husband, wine and art....sounds wonderful to me!