Tree Musings

This is a short post, because I’m still packing here. Growing up on the west coast, I’ve always loved the trees. I feel at home in the woods, in parks thick with foliage, and in the cherry-tree lined streets of Vancouver and my old neighbourhood. And I’ve been thinking a lot about them in general lately.

I’m sad we didn’t get a family photo on the farm, under this gorgeous cherry tree, while it was full with blossoms. This is a picture of it just around this time last year, through the freshly-painted window that would soon be my baby’s room.


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We finally planted the magnolia tree that has been sitting in a pot since about this time last year. I wanted to buy a tree for the baby. Having decided to move, I wondered where to plant it, and finally decided it should be here. Sweet Pea’s first home, her birth place, ancestral land. Yes. The new lady of this house is an avid gardener, and I consulted with her as to where she’d like it. She suggested a spot in the front yard, and we got it in the ground just yesterday. I know it will be well cared for, and I love that we’ll be able to see if when we come by on walks.

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And, in what I think is wonderful timing to be taken as a very good sign, our cohousing community is having a tree planting on Sunday, the day after we move in. When we took a load of boxes there the other day (in fact, the same day the magnolia was planted), there were a bunch of potted cedars and instructions to choose one, label it, and show up to plant it on Sunday. Almost all were already claimed, but this little shorty was still looking for a human to choose it – perfect for a 9 month old! My girl’s got a tree with her name on it at the new house.

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I’m pretty happy about that.

Be Bee Friendly

My dad took this beautiful photo outside of our office a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, it’s bee-opolis! Can anybody tell us what the bush is? I’d be interested in getting one for our yard.

We’re all aware of the vanishing honeybees issue. While we’re not quite ready to start keeping bees (though it’s a hopeful one-day project for me), we’re keen to make our yard and garden more bee-friendly. I found this helpful list and want to keep it in mind as we choose our plants:

In our yard, we find lots of  buttercups and honeysuckle (reportedly planted by my great-grandmother). We have lavender and rosemary, and several fruit trees. There are hawthorn, hazel, and maple trees. The Mr. plans to plant a blueberry bush, and I’d like to add cilantro, thyme and a variety of mints to our herb garden. Fruits and veggies… well, we’ll see. 😉

First Snow

EDIT: Apparently adding pictures from my iPhone didn’t work as I’d expected. Here you go. 🙂

It’s been a while, and I have lots to share with you. Due to some renovations that have been happening around here, we’ve been without Internet for leisure. The good part of this is that we’ve had time to get things done. I’ve had a chance to read a little, stitch some, had people over for dinner (it is important to keep the landlords happy while they’re improving the house) and I’ve even been going to bed before midnight. Most nights.

I think I figured out how to blog directly from my iPhone, so here is a picture taken this evening. Weird effect on the snowflakes that I kind of liked, due to not knowing how to turn off the flash on my iPhone. We’re stuck “in” (snow tires tomorrow?) and that’s just fine with me tonight.

 

Miss Cora, by the way, loved her introduction to snow. She was happy and confused (mostly happy once she figured out that snow was safe and she could EAT IT).

An early morning look at the road.

 

 

Sunday Photos

Just a couple photos, and not much to say, on this late Sunday night.

Today we boxed up our first 1/2 dozen eggs to give away. I think there are 5 more in the fridge – we did well this week!

Early evening, we picked blackberries.

There are lots, and they’re beautiful and tasty. I’m making jam tonight (more on that later) and will have some to freeze for baking as well.

And Cora is recovering from surgery. Public Service Announcement – do NOT let your dogs get ahold of corn cobs! She gave us quite a scare. She’ll have her stitches removed later this week. But, she is eating well again, and her energy has definitely returned. I think the t-shirt look is kind of sweet (she’s tried many different colours this week). She’s been driving me crazy, whining to go out constantly, but we’re glad things turned out as they did!

A House For The Ladies

Our chickens are arriving on Saturday! The Mr. has been very busy working on the coop, so I’ll show you some work-in-progress. I am slightly embarrassed by how long it’s been since I blogged, but these things happen.

One of the advantages to being married to somebody who works on-call is that on occasion he doesn’t get called to work and ends up Getting Things Done at home. When I left for work today the coop looked something like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I got home, I was amazed to see this structure up over that old sandbox. My husband is awesome:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an interesting note, almost all of the materials we needed for the coop and the chicken run came to us for free. The door shown above was found abandoned in our garage. A lot of the wood was scrap that our dads had. The fencing and shingles were donated by somebody who had them laying around… people clearly want eggs. We wanted to get a visual as to where the coop would sit in relation to the run, so we brought it over. Mostly, I pretended to help bring it over for the below picture (excuse the closed eyes, I thought the whole thing was pretty funny), and my dad took over from there:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guys discussed placement options. I believe we have decided on the coop being outside of the run with their ramp leading in, roof sloping down toward the back fence with the flap for egg collection facing the yard. Subject to change, of course:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check back in on Saturday for an update!

Chickens! It’s True!

My dad sent me the following list for what that old sandbox could possibly be. There are some great ideas! Here they are in case you ever have an old sandbox to deal with:

  • a sheep shearing pen
  • a pigeon loft
  • just a cleaned-up sandbox for visitors
  • a place for a garden
  • where the hot tub goes (I like this idea!)
  • a pond
  • a litter box for a lady with many cats
  • a source of sand that would be reused beneath a brick patio and/or walkway
  • a place to put a swing
  • somewhere to practice building sand castles
  • a base for a tool shed
  • a base for a greenhouse
  • a base for a playhouse
  • a base for aliens to land their spacecraft put
  • a bench beside it and run your feet through the sand on a hot day
  • a cactus garden
  • a zen garden
  • fun archeological dig area
  • source material for making your own glass
  • an eco-friendly place to make plans (just add a stick to draw things)
  • a practice sand-trap for golfers

But, I’ll stop holding you in suspense. Cynthia was right with her guess – it is going to be the base for a chicken coop. To be fair to my grandma, she also guessed correctly, but she told me in person (isn’t that sweet?). It’s true, we’re going to get chickens. Only a few for eggs, and no… no rooster.

We’re going to name one Camilla.

A Couple Days in Photos

Yesterday, it rained. A lot. The dog refused to go out, I went to a cold and wet (and totally disappointing) workshop about gardening and composting… and we acquired a cheap pond:

Today, we were all eager to be outside. The Mr. is working on our fire pit, which we are definitely looking forward to using:

Cora would like you to see her favourite collection of “sticks.” Yes those are huge branches trimmed from a tree, and yes she does try to drag them around:

And I am excited to let you wonder what this old sandbox is hopefully going to become:

Go on. Take a guess!

Of Fences

Miss Cora is growing fast and is definitely craving space to run. The Mr. has been working hard to complete and repair our fence – everything is ready now except for the gates (and one was in the process of being put up last I checked!).

I love this view of our yard, and you can see where the gate is going to go. I hope to be able to post an update shortly! We have a lot of work that we still want to do with the yard, but I think there is good progress so far. I really enjoy the stepping stones that somebody who lived here previously put in. I’d love to tell you about our next project, but I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.

So in the meantime, what do you think of our tiny decorative fence in the photo below? All the credit goes to my husband, who needed an artistic break from more mundane yard work one day. He calls it a fairy fence, and I just love it. My friendly little gnome from IKEA has been looking for a good outdoor place since I bought him 6 years ago. This is just perfect. I haven’t yet identified the flowers he’s hiding in though (in case you haven’t noticed, I do not have much of a green thumb).

I heard through the grapevine that my great-uncle (who still works hard on the farm) was pleased that we were doing the fence… but liked this little one best of all! I think that so far, I agree.

My Husband the… Farmer on Call?

For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a new teacher. This is his first year working after completing his education degree last year. As is usual around here, he was hired as a teacher-on-call. We’re feeling very blessed and a little lucky that he is getting lots of work!

Today the Mr. did a half-day in a kindergarten classroom. I was working from home to keep an eye on the new puppy. When he arrived home at 2:30 I noticed that he took a little bit of time getting in to the house, but I was busy so I didn’t pay too much attention… until he came in to tell me this story! It made me laugh, and we can all use a good laugh, so I thought I’d share. For sake of forming a picture in your head, do keep in mind he was in his work clothes. He can write it better than I can, of course, so here it is in his words:

I pulled in to our driveway this evening after work and looked down towards the barn to see three sheep (two lambs and their mother) staring back at me as they wandered around idly on the driveway. There was no one else in sight, and so I went down to see if I could find someone. There were no farmers to be found, but inside the barn I found an old hockey stick leaning up against the wall by the steers’ enclosure. I’d seen a farmer coaxing a pig to move with a walking stick once and, I thought, a hockey stick does look a bit like a shepherd’s crook! So I grabbed it and walked back over to where the sheep were grazing. I never got close enough to them to use it as I had intended, because the minute they saw me coming they bolted and ran up the driveway toward our house. Apparently I’m much more intimidating when I’m carrying sports equipment.

I moved slowly toward them with the stick held out lengthwise in front of me so I could block them if they tried to get past me. They ran back toward the barn, but stopped outside it. The lambs moved in closer to their mother as she began looking around for an escape route from the crazy man with the stick. Apparently she wasn’t willing to give up her freedom just yet. I kept creeping closer though, crouched like a stalking predator and she finally relented and went in to the barn, the lambs trotting behind her. I went in after them and closed the sliding door behind me.

Now I had to figure out which pen they had come from, because they couldn’t be left free wandering around in there. I spotted an empty pen at the far end of the barn from me with the plywood used to block it knocked over. I figured that was theirs. The problem now was that the ewe and her lambs had moved to the opposite corner from their pen and were cowering in a corner with me…  in the way. They needed to go down a narrow run to get to their pen, and they wouldn’t move unless I chased them, but it seemed like me that the ewe, hefty as she was, might knock me over as she ran past. I didn’t relish the idea of being knocked on to the floor of a place where livestock are constantly relieving themselves. I went for it anyway, and to my relief I was able to move far enough over to let the ewe go by as she and her babies ran for their pen, their last hope of getting away from this crazy, scary man with a hockey stick. I propped the plywood back up and went home, the sheep staring at me in bewilderment as I left. I made sure to close the barn door tightly behind me as I left too, since I had no desire to match wits with any more sheep.

So there you go.

My husband the teacher, and occasionally, farmer-on-call. I guess there’s nothing like learning on the fly! And of course, every good FOC needs a dog who is acquainted with the sheep. Cora, on our little walks, has been startled by the noises they make (though she does like the horses). I thought it was probably a good time to get her used to them, so we all stood by the fence for a while. I think she… in fact, I think WE… are going to be just fine.

A Little Stroll

At the end of my workday, I thought I’d go for a short stroll around the block to stretch my legs, get some sunshine, and see my new neighbourhood. Boy, did I ever see the neighbourhood! Apparently, the shortest “loop” around here (that is, turn left out of my driveway and keep turning left until I’m home again) is 3.7 miles (5.9 km).

The blocks are bigger here. 😉

I think this was a “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more,” moment. Or maybe, “I’ve a feeling we are in Kansas after all.”

Annoyingly, I didn’t wear the right shoes. On the good side, I no longer feel guilty about that extra spoonful of peanut butter on my English Muffin earlier.

And on the very pleasant side, neighbours waved at me while I walked. Huh – neat!