Wednesday, October 22, 2014

'Rocky' Mountain High


This has become post from the hot place underground where the not very nice people are supposed to roast in eternity.

First trying to email the photos from my phone to blogger, had to do it in multiple parts, multiple times, which meant multiple posts.  Then when trying to get those multiple posts into one, the computer in the library kept on freezing up on me when I tried to move the photos with the 'photos from this blog' option, so I finally ended up copying and pasting the photos over into one.  I tried to make the photos the usual size, but they aren't coming through very focused, so I've left them smaller.  Could be the computer monitor here, which seems to have a faint double shadow to all the text.

Now I only have four minutes left on the computer here at the library.  So to cut it short and sweet, Larry, Jake, Luna and I went for an amazing hike yesterday, we were gone three hours.  We did the killer climb up to the radio tower on top of one peak, and then did some exploring once we had rested at the top. We saw a few deer and a bear plop, had a great time, were pretty darn tired by the time we were done.  Here are some pictures and I'd better hit publish before the computer boots me out.

I'll be back tomorrow to try and sort some things out
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Friday, October 17, 2014

From the 'You learn something every day' Category

We walk through our bush most mornings.  I've always been interested in nature, so am always 'looking'.  Every once in a while I see something that I haven't seen before. I saw this on Wednesday morning, and remembered to take the camera back with me yesterday.  This is what it looked like on the bottom.

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And this is what it looked like on the top.  The ball thingy was soft and squishy, but would bounce back into shape once you stopped poking it.

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 I kind of thought it must be a mushroom, but in my 50 odd years of wandering the woods of B.C., I don't remember ever seeing this before.  I spent some time looking at pictures of edible mushrooms of B.C., which happened to be the site I ended up on first.  There were a lot of mushrooms there that I know I haven't seen either.  I can't imagine ever forgetting seeing this. It can get up to 12" across.

Bear's Head Tooth Mushroom  Hericium Americanum
Photo from northernbushcraft.com

I didn't see any pictures of my mushroom.  So yesterday after taking the photos, I got back on the computer and searched for images of 'mushrooms with a ball on top'.  There were loads and loads of pictures of puffballs, but as I scrolled down I finally found what I was looking for.  This is what it is, Geastrum Saccatum, commonly known as the rounded earthstar.  There are lots more amazing pictures of them here 

There were a few other mushrooms/fungi out there, but nothing as exciting as the earthstar.

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On a rotting birch stump

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Way up on a dying alder tree.  I remember writing on the bottom of these when I was a child. The writing would turn dark.

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And finally some ink caps? busting out of the horse manure pile.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend

Here in Canada, the second Monday of October is Thanksgiving.  That's always a big weekend for us, as it marks the end of the summer season for the two farmers markets we attend.  Saturday started out fair, and we had decided that Larry would sell at Abbotsford on Saturday, so that I had more time and energy to get all the flowers and vegetables picked in the limited amount of daylight we have now, for Sunday's market.

I went with him to the market to help set up, and then not long after it started to rain.  And rain it did, hard.  We have two market tents, one set up behind the other.  The front tent is over what we have to sell, and the back tent is over the utility trailer we use to haul everything there, and which also holds all the extra jam.  When it rains, we have stop the rain from running off where the two tents join.  The easiest thing is to grab both little sidewall parts and turn them up and clamp them to form a little gutter that sends the water off to each side.  We had a bit of a puddle forming at one corner of the back tent, near the gutter.  We used a board to push it to the edge where it would gush over the side.  One particular time I got a little enthusiastic, and pushed the water too fast.  Instead of going over the side, it went 90 degrees the other way, and into the gutter. It was too much water too fast for the gutter to hold, so it came shooting out.  Larry just so happened to be bent over looking into the egg cooler at that moment, and ended up with his hair washed.  I've got to give him a lot of credit though, he had the sense to just hold his head down, instead of straightening up with the shock of that cold water hitting him, which would have sent it all pouring down his neck.  Thankfully we had a big towel with us. Thankfully he was still speaking to me afterwards....well it was Thanksgiving after all!

I left about 10, and as I drove west I could see that it was going to clear up, and so figured that if that was the case, I might as well give the dahlias a bit of time to dry off before I cut them, so stopped at a couple of thrift stores on my way home:)

There were lots of dahlias to pick, although it doesn't really look it in the first two pictures. It seemed to take me ages to get them all cut.

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About 16 buckets full.  Luna was the only one that hung out with me.

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I only take flowers to the Sunday market, as there is a vendor at the Saturday one that only sells bouquets.  I knew flowers would be in high demand on Sunday, since it was Thankgiving, and I had wanted to have lots made up.  Usually I have about 12 bouquets done, and then take the rest of the flowers with me and make up more bouquets at the market.  Sunday morning the alarm didn't go off as planned, when I checked to see that it was set, I must have actually turned it off.  Thankfully though, I woke up only 40 minutes late, at 5:40 instead of 5am.  I got 10 bouquets put together, and we headed off about 7:30.  We quite often have a little mini lineup in front of our booth, as we don't start selling anything until we are all set up.  We learned the hard way that if you start selling things before you are all ready, sometimes you never really get it all done.  So at first I felt really uncomfortable with the little audience out there, but now it doesn't bother me, and sometimes I have a bit of conversation with one or two.  We were all set to go at 8:55.  By 9:05, all 10 bouquets had sold, so for the next couple of hours I put more bouquets together, another 12 or 14 of them.  As I was trimming the stems on the first one, I got a little enthusiastic and cut into my wrist with the pruners at the same time.  Our First Aid box only had mini band aids left, but our neighbour vendors were better equipped.  I wasn't bleeding much yet, but I knew it was coming.  In the end it took 3 bandaids to keep the bleeding under control.  Between making bouquets, and wrapping them up for customers, and helping Larry out a bit, it was a busy morning.  It wasn't a really heavy day for jam sales, but Larry was kept busy with the veggie sales and wrapping jam in newspaper and trying to get the shelves restocked.  I was sure glad when the last flower went into a bouquet, and I only had the mess to clean up.  I meant to take photos of the actual bouquets, but forgot.

After the market we went for lunch with a friend and fellow vendor, and then Larry headed home with the dogs.  I went to the care home where my mum lives.  The plan was that Meredith was going to cook Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday for us all in her new place.  I took my mum out there, a 45 minute drive.  I remember when I used to drive my mum places, and she never stopped talking, and I would be in heavy traffic and I would wish she would just be quiet for a bit so I could concentrate on my driving.  Now it is just the opposite, she really has nothing to say, and I struggle with things to come up with that she can understand, and try to get a bit of conversation going.

Meredith did a wonderful job of the meal.  All homemade...turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Roasted yams and squash and a vegetable medley.  Homemade apple pie for dessert.  I told her that I had taught her well!:)

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Meredith has turned into a real thrifter too now that she has her own place.  Notice the unmatched blue and white plates she is collecting, and the dark blue table cloth topped by the white lacy one, they are a few of the things she has found.  Her paternal grandma (deceased) would be happy to see Meredith using her dining room table and chairs.

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 David was there too and he took my mum back home, as it was also the direction he had to head.  We came home with a doggy bag that fed us on Monday, and had a relatively relaxing day off.

The markets are still continuing, but there will be less vendors now, and the Abbotsford one has the option for some vendors to move into the basement of the church.  I will go to two or three of those between now and Christmas.  White Rock changes location, we will be outside for a few weeks and then will move inside the hall when the weather gets really miserable.  We will go to every one of those, nine Sundays until the middle of December.

Suzanne asked how the coyotes were doing.  They are still out there, we don't see a lot of them, but we know they are there, the dogs let us know.  Yesterday afternoon one was near the property fence next to the north chickens.  Today the chickens were squawking and dogs were barking, and there were two coyotes in the field just north of the fence when we went out there.  We don't have any bigger fire power than a pellet gun or an airsoft pistol.  We went in and finally managed to find the pellet gun, and then some pellets.  By the time we got back out there, the coyotes were no longer to be seen.  We took a couple of practice shots, hey, I managed to hit the broad side of a round bale at about 250 ft.!  A bit later, I was at the chicken coop and glanced at the field next door, and there was a coyote again.  I ran and got the pellet gun and managed to get three shots off.  The second one sent it running, although I know I didn't hit it.  Oh how I wished at that moment I had a couple of wolf hounds to let loose on it.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

As our chickens were being carried off one by one by coyotes last Wednesday, this is where we were. Knowing that now takes some of the pleasure out of the afternoon. 
 No rock climbing for us though!



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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Because it was in a coyote's mouth and had no other option.

We were away at Oliver again.  We are basically empty nesters now, so when we go away, we need someone to look after the chickens for us.  Just so happened that this week, David has been house sitting at our neighbours, so we asked him if he would look after the chickens at the same time.

Off we went, Monday afternoon, and managed to arrive there just before dark.  Wednesday evening just before 8, we were walking back from the Oliver library and I got a text from David, 'How many chickens are supposed to be in the south coop, I only count 27?'
I told him there should be about twice that many.  He wandered around in the dark, found one more hen in the compost box, found a small amount of feathers, and in a brushy area, found a hole dug under the fence between us and the neighbours. He filled it in as best he could that night.

I told him to leave the hens in the coop the next day, and we would come home that day.  I was hoping there were some hens that had flown up a tree, out into the back yard, into the vegetable garden, and they would show up the next day. No such luck.  The first thing that I noticed when I checked the hens in the coop, is that the little rooster was missing.  He is a wild thing, no where close to being any kind of pet, but he's been here for at least five years, and I thought it was sad that he was gone too.  It surprised me though, because he can fly well, and I thought if any of them was to get away, it would have been him.

At 6:20 am Friday morning, I was grinning from ear to ear when I heard him crowing somewhere near the front of the house, up a tree I guess.  When I went out later he was over at the north coop, waiting for those girls to be let out, and he spent the day hanging out there.  Too bad he doesn't lay eggs! 

Hanging out with the young ones.  Do chickens go grey as they get older?  He seems to have grey on his formerly all black tail feathers
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So we are down about 16 eggs a day, and missing 25 to 30 hens:(  These were the older ones that I had kept over from the previous year, and weren't laying that well, but it still means we will have about 9 dozen eggs less a week to sell.  Judging by the eggs collected each day, those chickens were all nabbed on Wednesday, after they had laid their egg for the day.  It must have been a flippin' assembly line out there, coyotes carrying those chickens away.

Ironically, Thursday morning, before we left Oliver, I got a call from a neighbour here, that walks down the road daily.  On Wednesday, someone that drives that way often, stopped to tell her that on her way out, and on her way back 40 minutes later, both times she had seen a coyote crossing the road, carrying a chicken.  Because the coyote came out of the field next door to us, she left a note on their gate. They don't have chickens.

Friday we spent time beefing up the defenses.  The fence that confined the south chickens to a smaller area, that had been taken down to hay that field, was put back up.  There's more than enough room in there for 28 hens.  It moves them about 30 feet back from the property line.

Some of the lucky old ladies.  They all rushed to the fence when I went over there.  'Where's our pear peelings?' they asked.
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In the field where the north coop is, we did some work where there was a chance of the coyotes digging under. The fence line is a constantly evolving beast.  Brush and blackberries grow through it.  Fence posts tend to lift out of the ground gradually, taking the fence wire up with them.  We like to leave some of the underbrush, it is a safe place for the hens to dash to in case of an aerial attack. It is all made harder by the fact that both chicken fields border on the neighbours.  We are going to talk to the south neighbour and see if some metal gates he has, close to our property, that are part of the coyote's travel path, can be wired over to make them impassable. Making the area next to our fence a bit of a dead zone, with no easy escape for a coyote, can only help.  We don't have the energy or good enough backs to clear out and redo the whole fence line.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Oliver Berries and Other Stuff

When we are at Oliver and are walking or biking along the dyke, I'm always keeping my eye out for berry patches or interesting plants.  The vegetation is quite a bit different from what we are used to. I was hoping to score some Oregon Grapes, which are not real grapes but grow on a bush with holly like leaves, and are commonly used for landscaping in this area.  I'm not sure if I'm just too late, but the few clumps I spotted were totally berryless.  What I did see this time were bunches of blue Elderberries, which can also be made into jelly.  The one person that walked her dog past us while I was picking them, actually knew what they were and had made jam herself with them, which was really quite surprising.

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I did get them made into jelly on the 'Last Day', along with a couple of batches of pepper jelly.  My plan was to get all that done on the Thursday, but you know all about the best laid plans......

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There were some good patches of chokecherries too, but they are still sitting in a bag in the fridge.

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Also lots of rose hips, it makes me want to try a batch of rose hip jelly again.  I've tried a once or twice, and have yet to be successful.

Since this is all about berries and such, I want to show you our grape haul from the previous visit. A little seedless table grape, a bit over ripe, but oh so sweet! Then some purple concord grapes which have been made into jelly, and some kind of wine grape I think.  Grown right in our own backyard there, despite only getting a good watering every few weeks.

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Last year I tried growing garlic, which didn't work that well, it didn't get very big, and also potatoes, which did not too badly, all things considered.  This spring I planted potatoes again, they did okay, and also a couple of rows of beets, and they did decently as well.

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 In fact last Tuesday we had beets and potatoes for supper, along with a can of salmon.  Kind of like camping, you just make do with what's on hand. 
In the rest of the little vegetable garden I planted some seeds from the gourds I brought back from Keremeos last year.  I think there were 6 different kinds, but only two seem to have come through.

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The previous visit they were just little tiny things, and inch or two long, but this time there were a good size, although looking a little parched.  They plumped out after I got the sprinkler going.  There should be more the next time we visit.

Thankfully this last time the lawn grass was just a bit longer, and as patchy, but not full of big tall weeds like the previous visit.  We are hoping next year that it fills in a bit more.  We weren't sure if we should put some seed down when we were there, since no one is there to keep it watered.  Larry did a couple of small test patches to see if there is enough moisture in the ground and with the dew to get it germinating and growing, and fingers crossed there will be a bit of watering from the sky.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Last Day

Last Friday we left Oliver for home.  The day we head to Oliver and the day we head back are pretty hectic, and we never seem to be able to leave from either place at the time we would like.  Well of course it's all a function of what we are trying to get done before we head out, do less, leave earlier, dah!.  But there's just sooo much to do right now.  The last thing we did before we left Oliver was to take the dogs for a swim at the lake.  It always works better to tire them out before we start driving, that way they settle down better in the car.  We had meant to take them to the lake before the last day, but just didn't seem to get there.  They did get lots of walks and games of fetch at the dog park though.

A month ago when Meredith and I went to some garage sales on a Saturday that I wasn't at the farmer's market, I picked up a life jacket for Calli.  She can swim just fine, and loves it, but the only thing that she will fetch with any consistency, whether on land on in the water, is one of those orange street hockey balls.

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I'm not sure if it's her eyesight or aging lack of coordination or... but most of the time now when she tries to grab the ball while she's swimming, she doesn't reach far enough and ends up just bumping it farther and farther away.  If she's heading straight out, that means she keeps heading farther and farther out into the lake.  We can't even call her back, as she can't hear us.  Then those repeated open mouth grabs means she starts to gag on water.  So while all this is happening at least now we don't have to worry about her getting tired and sinking.  She does seem to have the sense to give up after a bit, and will turn away, and then sometimes circle and give it another go.  At least on this second attempt she comes at the ball from a different angle, and is pushing it across the lake.  We did get smart and pick up the ball and wait until she heads out, and when she turns to look, we lobbed the ball between us and her, so then she was heading back in.  If she can touch the bottom, she had no problem getting the ball.

There were a couple of times that we had to send super fetcher Jake to rescue the ball, and there was one time that I was wondering if I was going to have to strip off and swim out and fetch her back.

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After the dogs were out and dried off, the lake settled back to being like a mirror. Beautiful!

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It was very pretty driving between Osoyoos and Keremeos.  There are two ways to get to Keremeos, south through Osoyoos, or north through Okanagan Falls and then you head southwest. Both take 45 minutes, give or take, but the Osoyoos route wins out fairly often because that is the closest McDonald's and we are rather partial to their $1.59 coffee and muffin deal!  These photos were between Osoyoos and Keremeos.  It was a beautiful Fall day.

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There are even a couple of sets of 'Hoodoos' along the way.

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After a quick stop at Keremeos for some apples and peaches, and a break for the dogs at the brake check above the mine west of Princeton, we finally made it back at 9pm.  Larry drove the daylight part of both trips.