Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Trip To The Dump

On the way to the dump yesterday we saw a Mama bear with three cubs standing in the middle of the road.  They took off into the brush before I could even think about grabbing my camera.  Then a forth cub ran out across the road to catch up.  Cute, cute, cute.  Wait a minute.  4 cubs.  One mama bear AND FOUR CUBS!!!  Population explosion.

As we were disposing of our trash, this overly friendly fellow appeared on the other side of the dump.  He hung around for pictures, which was cool.

He looked like he was trying to figure out how to get down into the pit.  The lady working at the dump was surprised to see him there.  Not that bears at a dump are unusual, but this is free tip week.  The dump has been very, very busy. 

He started making his way around the pit.  Getting closer.
Ok boys, time to go.  Get in the truck.  #2 called me chicken.  Yup, that's right.  Get in the truck!

Dump bears are less shy of humans than forest bears.  But still...  free tip week.  The dump is very, very busy.  Middle of the day.  Mama bear with 4 cubs.  Population explosion.  Early spring.  Not a lot to eat yet.  Bear less than 100 feet away...  GET IN THE TRUCK!  That guy was hungry.

There were two pick up trucks blocking the end of the dump driveway.  One facing each direction.  Doors open.  Social hour.  Not unusual in the sticks.  The truck blocking us pulled out, and we started to drive out.  There was a woman with her camera phone standing there by the ditch.  There was a groundhog.  We took pictures of the baby groundhogs in our back yard 2 years ago.  They are pretty cute.  Then the dogs killed them.  Bloody mess when they got one of the parents.

This woman kneels down beside the ditch.  Now I'm fascinated.  The groundhog is less than 2 feet away.  She holds her hand out like you're supposed to to greet a strange dog.  The groundhog walks towards her.  #2 and I both start laughing.  #2 asks, "Is she really that stupid?"

The groundhog stops and looks at us.  I swear he's asking, "Is she really that stupid?"  He goes back into the ditch.  Picks up a potato chip bag and puts it on his head.  Tosses it.  We all laugh.  He moves back towards the woman.  She puts her hand out again.  He slowly makes his way towards her.  She's so happy.  She's making friends.  He stands up on his hind legs.  Looks at her hand.  And bites her.

I am roaring with laughter.  The look on her face is priceless.  Like it never even occurred to her that he might bite her.  Too funny.

As we drove out I said to #2, 'Hey lady, there's a real friendly bear in there.  Why don't you go see if you can pet him, too!'

Husband says I am mean.  I thought it was pretty funny.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring Clean Up

It's tip free days at the dump this week, which also means spring clean up at our house. 

The first trip was mostly from my new neighbour's yard- my parents.  They cleaned up a bunch of stuff left by the former owners.  Our couch- a total wreck- and a few smaller items from here topped the load.  Furniture has to go to the big dump, and I got 'lost' on the way to the dump.  Not actually lost, I still knew where I was, but the dump wasn't where I remembered it 'should' be.  Nothing like driving up and down the backroads with a truck full of junk.  We made it there before they closed.

Day 2, I took two loads to our local dump.  I don't go at all through the winter, so I had quite a build up.  4 bags of garbage and 22 bags of recycling.  There was a bear sitting on the hill watching when we got there.  He ran off before we could get a picture though. 

The first time I went to the dump when we moved here was in the winter.  I pulled in to this fenced off area in the woods.  Everything was white and clean, covered in fresh snow.  They told me to go throw my junk in the pit.  Totally disturbing.  You couldn't tell it was a dump, except for the signs.  And there I was, tossing garbage in the woods.  In the spring, there's trash everywhere, stuff that's blown out scattered along the fenceline, and it smells like a dump.  In the winter I feel like I'm being unfaithful to Mother Earth, and I'm a bad environmentalist.  So I don't go.

Yesterday we spent the day cleaning up around the workshop.  There's still a lot of junk left by the former owners to clean up.  An old oil furnace that's been sitting in the workshop since we moved in got the boot.  I'm not sure if it came out of my house, or if they picked it up somewhere with plans to use it for something.  We found 3 5 gallon pails of used oil just off the yard, along with about 10 empty 5 gallon pails.  The empties will get cleaned up and reused.  The oil has been relocated to the garage where it will find a new purpose and get used up.  Some broken feed dishes, broken buckets, broken heat lamp bulbs, etc, were cleaned out of the workshop, chicken coop, and tack room.  Then we were off to the pasture.  I think I could spend half the summer out there and still not get all the bailer twine and netting cleaned up.  I filled 4 feed bags with it yesterday, and called it a day.

After this load gets dropped off, we'll still have time for one more walk about tomorrow.  The space we use is pretty well cleaned up now, so we'll be working back farther into the trees.  Who knows what trash and treasures await us there.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Garden 2011

Planting carrots.

The 2011 garden started back in February, when I cleaned up the sunroom and started organizing seeds.  Then I started the tomatoes and green peppers in pop bottle greenhouses on February 8th.

That was all I started inside this year, and honestly, I kind of neglected them.

Plastic went on the greenhouse on April 19th, and I started tracking the temperature on April 22nd.

April 22- Greenhouse current 93, low 26, high 95
April 23- Greenhouse current 48, low 30, high 99. 8 inches of fresh snow.
April 24- Greenhouse current 87, low 27, high 109
April 25- Greenhouse current 107, low 31, high 111
April 26- Greenhouse current 55, low 28, high 111
April 27- Greenhouse current 41, low 32, high 60. and it's raining!
April 29- Greenhouse current 100, low 28, high 108
April 30- Greenhouse current 108, low 25, high 117
May 1 - Greenhouse current 65, low 44, high 111. Repairs due to heavy wind. 
May 3 - Greenhouse current 96, low 32, high 115.
May 4 - Greenhouse current 108, low 25, high 115.
May 5 - Greenhouse current 100, low 24, high 121.
May 8 - Greenhouse curent 109, low 27, high 126.
May 10- Greenhouse current 94, low 28, high 123.
May 11- Greenhouse current 115, low 42, high 122. 

May 12- Greenhouse current 94, low 46, high 117. 
May 13- Greenhouse current 64, low 55, high 88.  Rain.
May 14- Greenhouse current 105, low 45, high 107.
May 15-  Greenhouse current 100, low 27, high 105.
May 16- Greenhouse current 68, low 24, high 113.  Freeze.
May 17- Greenhouse current 113, low 27, high 113.
May 19- Greenhouse current 102, low 42, high 122.
May 20- Greenhouse current 109, low 44, high 122.

April 25- Started  Pumpkins, cucumbers, sunflowers, swiss chard, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Tomatoes, transplanted, still inside.
May 3- Crickets chirping last night. Frogs croaking today. Sunflowers sprouting. It must be spring!  Started Zucchini, straightneck squash, onions, chives.

May 4- Started dill weed.

May 5- Husband offered to plow the garden.  I rototilled the greenhouse.  #2 offered to help, but couldn't go deep enough.  It took 3 hours to do it myself.  Told husband to go ahead and plow.  Anything, so long as I don't have to rototill it myself.  He showed remarkable restraint, and didn't plow under the asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb or mint.  Started Cabbage, mixed herbs-4 cinnamon basil, 3 english thyme, 3 echinacea, 4 sweet marjoram, 3 oregano, 3 parsley, 5 stevia, and corn x 2 trays.  Planted peas outside. 
Discing the garden.

May 8- Cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkins, and swiss chard have sprouted. 

May 10- Flowers- multiple assorted seeds in each pot. 'Cause let's face reality. I'm not going to remember what they're supposed to be anyway.  Planted carrots outside.  12 packets of seeds for 4 rows.

May 11- Cucumbers are up.  Moved greenpeppers and tomatoes out to greenhouse.

May 12- Onions have sprouted.  Started celery. Finished last bit of peas. Chives sprouted. Started a pot with very old, dry garlic that we didn't eat this winter. I doubt any will grow.

May 13- The long white squash are the first to push their lid off. 
Long White Squash

May 14- Started Romaine, parsnips, root parsley.

May 15- Disaster in the greenhouse. A plant stand fell over in the wind. The mixed herbs and cabbage are extremely well mixed.  Cucumbers and pumpkins knocked out of their pots.  One tray of corn spilled, dill spilled.  Peppers and tomatoes in bad shape from the cold.

May 16- Another cold night.  2 tomatoes survived. It looks like the cukes, pumpkins and squash are done.
Golden Hubbard Squash- after the freeze.
 May 17- At least the cauliflower likes the cold.  Added seed to the pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes- all sweetie tomato seeds. Started 5 pots of cherokee purple tomatoes, a heritage variety that's supposed to ripen in 72 days. Fingers crossed. Planted the last of my alpine strawberry seeds.

May 19- New squash seed. Golden Health- which look like golden hubbard in the picture, but don't say anything about pies- by McKenzie. What a rip off- 10 seeds in the package! And sunburst hybrid. Not much choice left at the stores.  Straightneck squash sprouting. Walmart & Home Depot both lost a lot of plants in the freeze. No tomatoes! I did get two replacement peppers. 

May 20- Corn sprouting.  Planted spinach and beets outside.  Home Hardware has no tomatoes.  S-i-l asked yesterday.  Apparently I'm not the only one looking.  Come on Cherokees!  3 Starfires from the second set of starts- still inside- are ready for their first transplant.  

Learning experience so far-  keep the delicates in the house til June!  Keep the semi-delicates in a greenhouse stand in the greenhouse.  Put all plant stands back to back in the centre of the greenhouse.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

They're Here!

27 Orlopp Bronze turkeys, and 52 Columbian Rock X Red chicks. The chicks are quite fiesty, fighting over the water dish, and they had no trouble finding the feed.

The turkeys got their beaks dipped, and some of them even went back for seconds. Then they all settled under the heat lamp for a nap. None of them have touched their feed. They're scary little beasts!
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Friday, May 6, 2011


We've been awfully busy here in the woods. The great white north is no longer white. We did have a couple of late April snowfalls, including one that dumped about 8 inches on us in about 2 hours. We do still have a bit of snow around the edges of the pasture, under the hay piles, and through the trees, but in the open spots it's now mostly clear.

It is apparent that winter is officially over. We have entered construction season. Do you have to be Canadian to get that joke?

There's just enough grass poking up to have all the critters out causing trouble. Tori decided she wanted in to the south corner that we had fenced off. She jumped the gate. The boys are claiming they haven't been trying to teach her to jump, but I have my doubts. Once she got through there was no holding back the cows. They knocked part of the gate down, leading to the first repairs of the season. Dorie and Mindy finished munching in there and left Casper and Nelly behind. Casper panicked a bit when he realized mom was gone. He ran around in a circle, found the escape route and took off running and kicking to catch up. Nelly panicked in turn, bursting through the gate and racing as fast as her legs could carry her. It was funny when she came to a dead stop beside Dorie, and looked around as if to say, "What are we running from?"

We've been milking Dorie for a few weeks now, for a total of about 3 cups of milk. Casper is just not willing to share. Plans are in place to build him a pen as soon as the manure is cleaned out of the milk room. Then he'll be sleeping beside his mommy, but with no access to the udders, and we'll finally get some milk. Provided of course that Dorie agrees to this plan and doesn't decide to rip the stall apart the first night to set him free.

Nelly is now wearing a halter full time, which was very nice the day that she and Mindy decided to wander off on their own. We have the yard fenced off with two strands of barbed wire for the horses. We were short on hay, so we let everybody out to pick through the remains of the hay pile. The two of them ducked under the barbed wire and headed into the woods across the road. Thankfully I noticed before they got too far. I petted Nelly and grabbed her halter. She walked back to the yard with me no problem. Actually, she was easier to lead than some of the horses we've owned. Mindy didn't want to be left out there all alone, so she followed us back. I'd like to get a halter on her too. Despite her size, I think she's friendly enough that we could still train her to lead.

If only the goats were that easy to retrieve. They wander down the edges of the road and eat the bits of grass and brush that start growing early in the season. Almost daily one of the neighbours will stop or honk to let us know that they're out again. Not for much longer though, with any luck. I bought a gas powered post hole digger. Insanely expensive, but I can say this already, it was worth every penny. We should have fences up all over the place this summer with no problem. The ground is still frozen in some spots, but it won't be long now, and we will have an official goat yard, including private quarters for Oscar. Then we'll need to buy him a friend. We considered keeping Bullwinkle as a whether (castrated) to be Oscar's room mate, but decided we'd rather have a second billy to service the girls as required.

Bullwinkle gets cuter and cuter all the time. He seems to think he's much larger than he really is. No fear. He'll face off with Nanner (who hasn't found a new home yet), his daddy, the rooster, even Nelly (who still likes to pretend that she is a goat).

Cindy spent the winter just outside the main entrance of the house, leaving the north side unguarded. The day after we moved her back I saw a skunk in the trees behind the garage. Cindy was at the end of her chain snapping and growling. The next day Ebony was out when the skunk appeared. She did the typical dog routine. "Hey, who are you, don't you want to play with me?". She came back to the house with that goofy dog grin, tongue hanging out, stinking beyond belief. Ebony spent the night outside for the first time in 6 years. The next day was Waldo's turn, although he didn't get it nearly as bad as Eb. #1 saw it happen, and the skunk crawled in a hole UNDER MY HOUSE! I watched and waited and kept the .22 handy for the next few days. Kept the dogs all tied up, even Wonder, who never got sprayed. But they say an ounce of cure is worth a pound of pure prevention.

Well, wouldn't you know it, that skunk got Ebony again! While managing to avoid me and the gun, of course.

Well, Cindy was just not happy that that old skunk was marching across her territory like that. The night before last she snapped her chain. Yesterday morning we had a very dead skunk, and a very proud pooch. And she even managed to kill it without getting sprayed. She's awesome.

As for curing the stench, there's a lot of advice available online, but as is typical for me, I didn't quite follow it. I let Ebony go ahead and stink that first day. There are advantages to living in the woods with neighbours too far away to hear the dogs bark all night. The next day we dusted both her and Waldo with plain baking soda. The day after that I bought a big bottle of peroxide and a spray bottle. We've been spritzing them 2-3 times a day. Waldo, Wonder and Cindy are all fine. Ebony still has a bit of a stink to her. She's also bleaching more than the others. She usually gets a touch of chocolate lab looking through the summer, but this year she's got a head start.

The chicks have been enjoying the spring weather, and the arrival of the first bugs. They've been out scratching in the dirt, having sand baths, and escaping their chicken run daily. Egg production is in full swing now, with 15-20 eggs a day. The boys are in their glory. They could eat eggs everyday all year long. The gray hen who went broody didn't hatch a single chick, but moved on to a new nest. She pecks at us when we try to steal her eggs. I don't think that she's aware that she needs to spend some quality time with the rooster if she wants to raise babies. I've been thinking of trapping her and a few others in the rabbitry with the rooster and seeing if that will improve the odds.

The greenhouse is amazing. I would highly recommend one to anyone who experiences real winter, even if they do have a longer growing season than us. I've been monitoring the temperatures daily, and tracking them on facebook-cause I can facebook from my phone now- and then I'll be able to chart them and compare next year. I've been moving my plant stands in ,d starting my seedlings out there. Sometimes it's still dropping below freezing over night, but I have sunflowers that have sprouted in jiffy trays with the plastic lids (double greenhoused), and broccoli, in a tub without a lid, started poking up yesterday.

I also rototilled the greenhouse yesterday, raked it and leveled it. #2 offered to help with the rototilling, but couldn't (or wouldn't) get the tines in deep enough to please me. We have issues with crab grass (I think- the kind with long intertwining roots) coming back in the garden year after year. So I did it myself, buried the tiller a few times, fought with it to keep moving forward, picked out a million rocks (or at least it felt like a million), and pulled out as much of the grass roots as I could. Husband had offered to plow the rest of the garden earlier in the day, and I had refused. I was worried about my asparagus, comfrey, and strawberries getting demolished. Husband has not exhibited much care or concern for those kinds of things in the past. After three hours of hard labour in the greenhouse, I relented. Go ahead. Kill everything. Just don't make me do it myself.

Husband was awesome. He did exercise caution, and did an amazing job with the plow and discs, and it barely took an hour. He did knock off half the root of the huge blue flowers. They were planted by the previous owners at the edge of their garden. My greenhouse is just a couple of feet past that. The bees love them. So I pulled the broken chunk of root off and replanted it in the same row on the other side of the greenhouse. With any luck, I'll have twice as many huge blue flowers this summer. Maybe sil will chirp up and let ya all know what the huge blue flowers are in the comments. Cause she's smart, and flowery, and she knows stuff like that. She told me once. But I couldn't eat it, so I don't remember. Although for some reason I think it had something to do with dolphins. How weird is that?

#2 has been doing a bit more tilling today, on the sides of the greenhouse, and at the back, where the tractor couldn't fit. Those will be the first spots to plant outside, probably on Sunday. The peas will go in behind the greenhouse this year. They were nearly irresistible to the goats last year. Since I'll be working mainly at that end of the garden in the early days of spring. Hopefully I'll be able to keep them safe until the fence is up and secure.

I am attempting to post this by email from my phone. First time for me, so hopefully it will all work out and not appear as a scrambled mess. If it is I'll attempt to fix it (and add pictures) when I get home.
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