Thursday, October 30, 2008

Veggie Gardens on the way

What do you do for excitement? Today we had a truckload of dirt delivered (well, not a whole truck...only "4 yards") and we spent an hour or so filling up our six garden boxes. These will be our veggie gardens next year. Not too exciting for us (at least not until next year when they are full of growing things) but the dogs were thrilled. You can see Cassie running full tilt, and that's Cinder with her head in one of the boxes. She likes to eat the compost. Yum. Mulligan is off digging a hole...thankfully not digging in the garden boxes.
The next step will be to put wood chips down between and around the boxes to pretty things up a bit (really to keep the grass mowing job a little easier)

Tomorrow? I might be digging in another spot for a flower garden to use up the leftover dirt (if I'm not too sore from today's shovelling) or...maybe a nice long walk on the beach instead.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our circus

When I was the owner of a dog biscuit company, I posted to a blog called Barks & Bites. Since it was dog related, I often talked about our pets. Something that I haven't done much at all since we moved to Nova Scotia.
My camera is being repaired, so I haven't been able to take photos for the past few days (something that bugged me this morning when I went to let the guinea hens out. There were some beautiful photos of trees and wet leaves that I would have loved to take). I took these photos last week...not great pics, but the most recent ones I have of our crew.

This is Phantom. He's 15 and the oldest of our 4 animals. He mostly sleeps, meows at John to give him fresh water, and keeps active by getting chased by Cassie every day. This is Cinder. She's our 12 year old Giant Schnauzer (soon to be 13). We never thought we'd have her for this long. She's had medical problems all her life and now she has a lot of trouble getting around. She sleeps a lot too, but around 4:00 every day she gets a burst of energy and spends some time with us outside.We adopted Mulligan from a rescue group when she was a 6 week old pup. She's 9 now. We're not sure what she is, but we think she is part black and tan hound. She is timid and gentle, but sometimes Cassie pushes her too far and she'll fight back when she has to.And here's Cassie. We adopted her from a rescue group in September 2007. She'll be 5 in December. She has truly tested my patience over the past year, but 90 per cent of the time she's a great dog. She's the one that likes to snuggle with us most, but she's very dominant and bullies the other dogs whenever she can.One thing about having 4 animals....it's never dull around here. There's always something going on that makes you question your sanity!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The comedy of colour

This was our sunset 3 nights ago. Amazing.

I painted our kitchen yesterday. I thought I'd share a couple of conversations...

Wednesday night:
Sara: I'm looking forward to painting our living room someday, but it won't be this year. The brown really gets me down.
John: Brown? The living room is brown?
Sara: Well, what colour would you say it is?
John: I don't know. Tan maybe, or taupe.
Sara: Tan is brown. Anyway, it's going to stay the colour it is for a while. But I'm going to paint the kitchen tomorrow.
John: You don't like the yellow?
Sara: Yellow? It's green. I'm going to paint it yellow.
John: no response. (I think he figured it was a no win conversation and would be better off to keep quiet)

Thursday:
Sara: John, I want you to come and take a look at the kitchen before I finish it off. I'd like to prove to you the difference in colours. (pointing to old and new colours) The old colour is green. The new colour is yellow.
John: Yellow? Looks like brown to me.
Sara: Brown? That's not brown. It's a golden yellow. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy place

A few weeks ago, I bought a side table at an auction. It was too high, and thanks to G. and John it's now the right height. I was going to paint it, but it was previously painted with a terrible crackle finish so I started stripping it yesterday. A good reminder to me that I do not like refinishing. I do not find it relaxing, enjoyable, or satisfying. I worked on it for 2 1/2 hours yesterday and ended up feeling totally frustrated. I plan to tackle it again today and I will go to this happy place in my mind...My apple tree swing. These photos were taken last week during an apple picking break. These are the views from the swing...this is what you get to look at to the front: (guinea hens not guaranteed)To the back:To the left:To the right:How could you not be relaxed sitting on my swing? (yes, I have officially adopted the swing as my own. Too bad, Miss M!)

A little chilly for swinging today. But I might need it after tackling my little refinishing project!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What a difference a week makes

I haven't posted anything on the blog for a week. Sometimes I just need a little break. After a while, my brain is always mentally constructing something to blog about. When I'm doing something, my brain is on a play-by-play...writing it all in my mind. That's when I know I have to take a step back, take a little break, and actually live.
This is the whirlygig I bought at an auction a few weeks ago. After a couple of minor repairs, he is ready to go. There was some debate at the auction about whether he's a rooster or a roadrunner. I like roosters, so I'll go with that. He has a wonky arm, and tends to be left handed.One week ago, the trees were in beautiful fall colour. This is our driveway, on our walk back from getting the newspaper with the dogs. This tree was gorgeous and red and looked especially beautiful when the sun shone. You can see some Christmas trees on the right. These belong to our 78 year old neighbour. He has 13,000 trees and trims them all by hand! (Lunenburg County is the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the world, according to the sign on the highway)This photo was taken last week, and is the view to the left as you look out our living room windows. If you look out the windows now, you see bare trees and can get a glimpse of the lake that lies below our property and is out of view during the summer. These trees are growing up around the stone pile that runs through the centre of our 2 fields. The rocks are now covered in leaves and they have their own sort of beauty at this time of year.

And then there were seven...When we left home to take John's brother and SIL to the airport on October 9th, we had 8 Guineau Hens. When we returned there were only seven hens. One of the younger ones has disappeared. The red tailed hawk that lives around our fields was in evidence that day, so maybe he had a meal of guineau. We'll never know. So now we're down to 3 of the original 4, and 4 of the second batch of 6.John has built me some garden boxes. There are 6 boxes, all 4 feet by 4 feet, with about 3 feet between each box. These will hold our vegetable garden next year. I tried digging gardens into the ground, but it's too rocky. Hence the raised beds. The photo was taken from one of the upstairs bedrooms to give you a feel for how everything is situated. The apple trees are off to the left. Wood chips (available free every Saturday from a local lumberyard) will go over the black paper (which is there to try to kill the grass). We may have to put a fence around it to keep the deer away, but our neighbour has success with just a scarecrow.

Yesterday we went to the landfill (aka dump) to purchase some compost for the garden boxes. John went into the office to find out where we needed to go. Good thing he went in, and not me. If I went in, we wouldn't have ended up with any compost. But he's a sweet talker and can sweet talk anyone into just about anything. I call it his boyish charm. Apparently there is a government law (we're not sure if it's a provincial law or a federal law) that says they can't sell compost "by the bag". Therefore, you need a pick up truck or trailer to purchase their compost. They use a front end loader to give you compost, and front end loaders don't work well with CRV's. We had brought several rubbermaid storage bins with us, so John suggested we put our bins on the ground for the front end loader to dump compost into. Well, it took phone calls and special permission, and some turned backs while we did this, but in the end we came home with a bunch of compost. Now we need some dirt. Who knows what kind of adventures we'll have getting dirt to fill our garden boxes!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival

I mentioned in an earlier post that we went to the Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival with our visitors from Alberta. Scarecrows were here, there, and everywhere. Here are some photos...maybe some inspirations for Hallowe'en decorating?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Please Vote

Our political leaders, from the Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival.
Today is Election Day in Canada. Unlike our U.S. neighbours, we have had a 5 week election campaign and today is the day for us to decide how this country should move forward.
So, to my Canadian friends...please get out and vote today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We always hold our family feast on Sunday of the long Thanksgiving weekend. So yesterdy John and I stuffed ourselves with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and of course pumpkin pie. The smell of turkey is wafting through the house today too...I am boiling the turkey carcass and will be making turkey soup later today.

I should mention here that our Giant Schnauzer/Poodle mix Cassie decided to help herself to pumpkin pie as well. Unlike last year (when she ate a full pie) she only got a mouthful before having it taken away. (someday I will learn that nothing is safe on the kitchen counter)

Anyway, although the stock market is crashing and the world is in economic upheaval, we do have lots to be thankful for.

I am thankful for...
...my husband and partner in life, John, who makes every day a good day (even on our bad days)
...our children, who are all great people and wonderful contributors to society
...our grandchildren, who are young enough to still think it's exciting to visit their Baba and Bama
...our cat, dogs, and guineas who ensure we never have a dull day around here
...our neighbours, who have generously helped us to adapt to country living (teaching us how to raise guinea hens, giving advice on dealing with wildlife, inviting me into their homes to learn how to make pickles, shooting porcupines out of our trees...)
...our wonderful home in the country, which gives me reason to give thanks for the beauty of nature every day
...our friends and family who keep in touch and come to visit us in our new home and province
...and my blogging friends, who generously share their lives and take some interest in mine

What are you thankful for? Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apple adventures

Did I mention that we have many, many apple trees? And many, many, many apples? Too many for the deer to eat. So I've been busy. Yesterday I picked a bunch of apples.Three pails for us, and a wheelbarrow full for the dogs. We feed our dogs a natural diet, so they will be eating apples with their meat and starches for the next days/weeks/months. We get the good apples from the trees for ourselves. The dogs get the good apples from the ground. The deer get the apples from the ground that drop overnight. And the composter gets the deer leftovers.

The thought of peeling thousands of apples didn't ap-peel to me (ha! couldn't resist). So I bought myself a nifty little tool from Lee Valley Tools. This baby peels, cores, and slices all in one motion. All you have to do is stick the apple on a set of prongs...and crank the handle. It starts to peel the apple...And then it slices the apple...
And voila, you remove the sliced apple and the core stays on the prongs. You remove the core, and start over again with another apple. The whole operation only takes 30 seconds! The sliced apple goes into the pot, the core goes into the composter, and the peels go to the guinea hens.
And what do you do with all those apples? You make applesauce.And you freeze bags full of them. And you make applesauce bread. Yum!
Spiced Applesauce Bread - taken from the 1983 Westway United Church Cookbook. This recipe was submitted by Dorothy Girard and it sure goes over well around here!
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
3 tbsp milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds
Topping: 1/4 cup chopped nuts, 1/4 cup brown sugar (I use slightly less), 1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a bowl combine the first five ingredients. Sift dry ingredients and add to applesauce mixture. Fold in nuts. Put in loaf pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter. Bake for 1 hour (I needed to bake for 65 minutes) at 350F. Makes 1 loaf.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

10 days with visitors

Today we took our visitors (John's brother and SIL from Alberta) to the airport after a 10 day visit. I think (hope) everyone had a good time visiting and touring. They spent their first two days touring the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton in my little red bug. (while we were busy with porcupines and neighbours here at the farm). When they returned, we did lots of day tours with them.

Friday we took them to some spots I've blogged about before. I didn't take my camera with me since these are our favourite local spots, and we've been there many, many times. We stopped in Petite Riviere at The Maritime Painted Saltbox Gallery. Then over to Risser's Beach for a walk along the beach and boardwalk. A quick drive over to our favourite walking beach....Crescent Beach. And then a stop at the LaHave Bakery for a late lunch. A great barbequed dinner by John and a relaxing evening.
Saturday we toured Mahone Bay, which was hosting their annual Scarecrow Festival. There were scarecrows everywhere. (I'll post more photos from the Festival in the next couple of days)

John and his brother waiting patiently while "the girls" shopped

We headed back home and were joined by John's son G, DIL, and our granddaughter Miss M for a family dinner.( a little side note: I haven't shown any photos of the inside of our house before. We have an open concept main floor. This photo shows the dining room side (obviously!) The kitchen goes off to the right and I was standing in the living area to take the photo. The 3 paintings shown are all watercolours and were painted by my mom about 65 years ago.)

Sunday was my favourite day of the 10 day stretch. G, DIL, and Miss M stayed overnight on Saturday and Sunday was just a great family day at home. Here are some photos of our afternoon walk on our property.Even the guinea hens joined in! Can you see them in these two photos (above & below)?"The knuckleheads" as John calls them (the hens, not the relatives)This rock pile runs through the centre of our property...it divides the two large hay fields in half. About one hundred years ago, these rocks were all picked off the fields and dragged here, as well as to make some stone fences down the side and back of our property.We grew some pumpkins for Miss M this summer. Here we are picking them for her to take home and use for Hallowe'en decorating.Monday we got back to touring and headed up to the Fundy coast. We stopped at Annapolis Royal for some walking and a fantastic lunch, and then headed over to Digby.

Tuesday the "boys" and "girls" went their seperate ways for lunching and visiting. And our last day together was spent touring Lunenburg. You might have read my blog post about tall ship chasing just a while back. Well, one of the ships we took photos of was the Bluenose II. When we were in Lunenburg yesterday we got to watch them tow the Bluenose II to it's winter home (no more tours this year).This photo was taken as the crew was preparing the ship to be towed. They just moved it a little farther down the harbour, and we watched while eating fish and chips at a restaurant overlooking the harbour. We toured Blue Rocks after lunch and then headed back home for a fantastic farewell bbq.

A great 10 days! I've probably left out lots of things, but that's what happens when I wait a week to blog. The next few days will be quiet around here. Thanksgiving weekend will be just the 2 of us (and our motley crew of pets)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Frog friends

I collected frogs when I was young and at one point had over 100 various frogs. I don't know why, but I got the urge to sew some last week...Felicia and Fern are available here. Today: heading into town to pick up groceries to get us through the next few days with our visitors. We'll be welcoming our visitors back with a bbq'd salmon dinner after their trip to Cape Breton.
Tomorrow: A full day of touring with our guests...possibly lunching at the seaside in Chester, touring Peggy's Cove, and then to dinner at DIL and G's house.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Never a dull moment

Yesterday was a touring day...showing our guests from Alberta some of our favourite spots close to home. This morning started out with a beautiful walk to get the paper. I was alone with the 2 dogs this morning since John had to wait for the electrician to call (a little problem with some dimmer switches they installed for us a couple of weeks ago).

What a beautiful walk! The trees are turning amazing colours, and the ferns that line the drive are a deep golden yellow. The driveway is covered in fragrant pine needles. It's so silent, all you can hear are your feet crunching on the gravel and the crows and jays cawing. Every few minutes a squirrel will chatter at us and tease the dogs, who are never quite quick enough to capture the squirrels when they give chase. The smell of the forest is unique at this time of year. What a great way to start the day!We keep the dogs on leash when we go down the driveway, but when we return to the apple trees we let them run free. This morning I let them off and walked to the house while they explored the woods surrounding the original farm lane. Then I saw one of the large birch trees shaking back and forth and heard crackling sounds. What was happening? A huge porcupine scrambling up the tree to get away from the dogs. Thank goodness the porcupine got out of the way or we would have had a couple of noses filled with needles. I yelled for John, we rounded up the dogs, and then John started making some phone calls to find someone to help us deal with the porcupine.Poor big old 'pine was just minding his own business and then we came along. The locals all tell us to get rid of the "pines" when we see them. Our nearby neighbours are all away right now, so John called a farmer just down the way that we had met earlier in the spring. He and his wife came over just as we were waving goodbye to our guests, who were headed off to Cape Breton for a couple of days.So the 'pine got shot and the farmer and his wife stayed for coffee. I'm thinking to myself, how weird is this? The advice from the farmer... "gotta get a gun". How many times have we heard that piece of advice since we arrived? I've lost count. Aside from poor porky's demise, it was a lovely morning visit with our country neighbours. Once they left, I gathered up porky with a shovel, loaded him in a box, and used a hand truck to move him to the far reaches of our acreage, with my apologies to him for his early demise. Hopefully the scavengers will have a nice meal before our dogs get near there.

Just another day at the farm for us city-country folks. Never a dull moment.