Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'se the Bye

I am writing from St. John's, Newfoundland, oldest city in Canada, and on the opposite side of the country to where I usually hang out. Charming doesn't even begin to describe it. I will post properly when I get back on Wednesday, but as a teaser I will let you know that I was given a peek into the vaults at The Rooms and a private viewing of some of the Grenfell hooked mats.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Our First Batch of Cider

Bless the gentle apple. In spite of a hot, dry summer the Discovery apple tree has yielded a bounty of juicy, delicious fruit. This heritage variety has delicate pink flesh.

But we're not the only ones after the apples. Here's our resident woodpecker at his mischief. What he does is peck a hole in the fruit - not to eat it but to attract bugs, which he returns to dine on later.

I picked a wheelbarrow full in about half an hour.

We chipped the apples an an electric fruit crusher, then filled the press. It went easily at first but took a lot of effort to get the last litre. Thank you, Archimedes, for that useful screw idea.

Enjoying the incredible tangy, sweet taste of fresh cider

We got only about 12 litres of cider from all those apples. It took about 3 hours in all - pleasant work, but still...It really makes me rethink my nonchalance about the rows and rows of bottles of juice I see in the grocery store.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sea Anemone *Correction: Sea Urchin*

I found this sea urchin shell on the beach this morning. Quite mind-boggling in its design.

It is so thin that the pinkish colour you see is actually the skin of my hand showing through.

This sweet funny face belongs to an urchin of a different sort, Nettie, who is here visiting for a week of holiday camp. She is a German Shepherd/ Jack Russell cross, which also boggles the mind in terms of logistics.

Friday, August 14, 2009

News Flash!

The chickens can use the ramp to get in and out of the coop! They figured it out on their own, bless their little pea brains. No need for me to abandon any last shreds of dignity I may possess trying to herd them in.

Thank you Julie and Sue for your advice.

A Change in the Weather

Finally, after weeks and weeks of sun, we have been blessed with several days of rain. The parched garden is drinking it up.

This one's for Jude. This volunteer artichoke came up in the middle of the lawn, and has been struggling. With the rain, it blossomed. (Jude has some lovely thistle pictures on a recent post. Even if you're not interested in thistles, visit her. She's brilliant.)

And speaking of brilliant, Leigh van der Schyff, an artist whose work is so evocative of African textures, patterns and rhythms, sent me this swirl of cloth scraps. She is a new person in my life, and I am so happy to be part of her family. Visit her online gallery, her work is extraordinary.

My wonderfully talented brother Dave carved these garden sentinels for me. They were originally created about 10 years ago for a gate in the Kootenays, and have travelled with me to several homes. I think they like it here.

Since it has been clouded over at night I haven't seen the meteor showers, but did catch this gorgeous sunset last night (absolutely no Photoshopping!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Mom Angst

I think my chickens are afraid of me.

I did the best I could to prepare: I read all the manuals, I did the breathing exercises. I built a cozy coop - well, maybe it was an outhouse once but it was a STYLISH outhouse. I gathered earwigs for them, I fed them fresh lettuce and tomatoes from the garden.

But now when I come near them, instead of looking happy and relaxed like the picture above, they huddle, with the bravest one giving furtive glances to see if I'm still there.

There was an incident.

I spent all day attaching repurposed chicken wire (it had been used to protect trees from the deer and sheep) to a lovely hexagonal pen my brother Dave built out of some modular steel tubing we had in the shed. I buried the edge of the wire and gathered and placed rocks around the perimeter for security. I made a door, and voila, I was ready to welcome the chicks to their new yard.

I had anticipated a bit of anxiety about the long ramp to the ground. I opened the door and gave them time to look around and venture out.

After a half hour or so, my brother Dave decided to speed things up a bit. He reached inside, grabbed a bird and let it flap to the ground. The others got a bit agitated for a moment but soon forgot about their missing sixth. Dave gave a few swats with his arm and herded the rest out unceremoniously.

They LOVED their new yard. Instantly they were pecking and scratching and eating bugs.

Then it started raining. And Angus the cat came into the orchard to see what was up. And the chicks started running in circles to get away from the rain and the orange cat peering at them through the wire and they found the only space in the wire that it was possible to get through and ran out into the vast open unguarded orchard.
I scooped Angus up and ran him into the house, yelling at Dave over my shoulder to grab the chickens if he could.

After confining an outraged Angus I returned, to find Dave calmly rounding up the chicks. He got them back into the pen easily enough and went back to his work, whistling jauntily.

A shameful and traumatic interval followed where I ran around the 8 foot wide pen like a total idiot, trying to gather up the chicks to get them back into the coop. I hope and pray there were no hidden cameras. I eventually caught them all, but am sure the fragile bond I was trying to create has been terribly damaged.

Is it too soon for therapy?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Cuckoo Marans Have Arrived!

Five weeks old and goofy as all get out.

I finally have a down day after 2 weeks of visitors, so I'm just going to enjoy the little peeps and wash my dishes, and maybe treat myself to a hot shower.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cornucopia of Colour

The greenhouse is generating ripe produce as fast as we can pick it. Here is one afternoon's harvest. The dark tomatoes on the bottom are Black Krim, a heritage variety that has a wonderful rich, slightly smoky flavour.

I managed to save a few sunflowers from a well-meaning but overly eager hoe. They are now starting to blossom.

A cornucopia of yarn came into my life this weekend as I was the extremely lucky winner of a basket of locally spun fibre from Qualicum Bay Fibreworks at our Fireman's Picnic. I hope to soon visit Qualicum Bay and meet owner Anna Runnings. Apparently the mill's equipment is 100 years old and she custom processes fleece to individual spinner's specifications. These four cones are a range of naturally coloured Polwarth, Romney, Merino and silk blends, and the big skein of dark brown Romney is some of my own attempt to spin a bulky two ply after miles of lace weight three ply.

These colours reflect the maturing palette of my garden. It has been awfully dry and very hot the last couple of weeks.

The vivid magenta of this amaranth gives a welcome burst of colour amidst the straw.