Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hen House Pandemonium

RT and Rhoda and Molly the polar bear dog and Tommy the Corgi Shepard cross arrived. We have been having a great time exploring the joint and eating fresh Veg and grass fed beef. Xena has been having a wonerful time with her new friends. Taking a particular liking to Tommy. Here she is giving him a slurp. Note the giant muscular body suspendend on short legs. Handy during the upcoming tale:

We went out to gather some eggs and water the chickens. What I didn't notice was when I moved the run earlier in the day I had left the gate shutter in the run to keep the chickens in the coop. I watered them and then got the eggs and started pounding on the back of the chicken coop to get them to come out in the run so that Rhoda could see them. Puzzled as to why they weren't flocking to the pile of goodies I had left them, I opened up the back bottom clean out door and was going to persuade them to move towards the light. From there on pandemonium reigned.

Tommy zipped through the door and was in the coop. The chickens in clucking, flapping panic, unable to escape. Until RT discovered the gate was keeping them from entering the run. He lifted the gate, the chickens squirted out the run, the Rooster in the lead, and Tommy in hot pursuit. Down the run he tunneled, his short legs an asset to his chicken napping single mindedness. He wasn’t listening to any exhortations from me or fazed by RT's surprise as he wittnessed a flock of chickens spurt out of the coop like white pillows through a ten horse fan - Tommy right after them - a dog intent on saving the world from the dreaded chicken curse.

Like a furry guided anti-chicken missle. Feathers flying, the cacophony reached a crescendo until I managed to knock one of the pop hole pails out and let the trapped chickens escape. Into the jaws of Molly and Xena. Well not exactly jaws. Xena just stood their imobile, puzzled: “ What-- you can do that?” and Molly was simply dogging the panicked rooster. The first one out of the run. "Don't worry girls I'll be back with help." Sure.

Curious about this dandy chicken strutting with his tail feathers flapping in the breeze, Molly kept following the rooster. No harm meant, no biting. From the Roosters perspective, however, judging by his panic--he was being chased by a polar bear with unbelievably large teeth. The Rooster made the safety of the tall grass and collapsed.

Right about then Matthew and Chief Joseph stopped their pickup on the driveway across from the chicken run. They had been cutting a tree for the sweat lodge fire from the bug kill pine in the upper field by the pond. Taking in the scene they got out to offer their assistance with the round up. Matthew saw the cowering Rooster hunkered, hiding motionless, in the grass and pronounced him dead. And then, miraculously, reached down and picked up the now squawking hideout and handed him to Jo-Ann. Now Jo-Ann, it turns out, knows a lot about psychologically damaged Chickens. She took the rooster, shushing his mad panic protestations by putting his head under her armpit. His clucking slowing to a some what calmer “clk clk”. Which in chicken talk is undoubtedly , “ Oh My God, I thought I was dead did you see the teeth on that polar bear.”

Eventually we managed to round up the chickens and restore peace and order. Tommy was dragged out of the coop, puzzled we didn’t really appreciate him doing his all out best to rid us of the deadly chicken menace.

Fortunately only one of the chickens was seriously injured. It was touch and go but today she is up and about sans tail feathers and with some bite marks on her back. Lounging about and eating and drinking. Not moving very fast.

Tommy has taken a wide bearth of the chicken runs in subsequent ventures to the great outdoors. Can't blame him for his chicken tyranny. He was just doing what comes naturally. And he did it with astonishing skill.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Real Estate Deals

Here's a couple from the Coast perusing a building on the new property. I believe we have talked them into something in the 600K$ for this little fixer upper.

Actually it's our friend RT & Rhoda and doggies out for a chunder along the new piece of property we bought. Eating Saskatoons we walked partway up the West property line and cut back via the Christmas tree field to the house for a lovely cup of tea. Before I put RT to work in the Wood Barn..

Monday, July 28, 2008


Just a small rant. Packaging. I am always astounded when I see such extravagantly wasteful examples.

I bought the most expensive eggs I could find in the local food mart. I just had to see. We had to save ours for company. These were just for the Saturday morning meeting in Fraser Lake. These are high priced, gotta be good for you, brown eggs. Don't they? Have a look at the packaging. Three part plastic --two to hold the eggs and one to put over top so that the advertising on the labels would be easier to read. Each egg is individually marked. These babies go for close to five bucks. And more than one ran when I put them on the grill. I picked up a cool health tip recently: Don't eat anything that the packaging says is good for you. Chances are it isn't. Have a look at the packaging and ingredients ( if you can decipher it ) on any "Healthy, loaded with good triglycerides, full of fibre etc. etc. product that tries to tell you it can solve all our health problems.

Marketing and packaging. For the betterment of corporations everywhere.

Divide and Conquer

I added a movable divider to the skid steer tote.  The skid loader, a 1980 1845 Case is pretty old and the driveway is gravel with the odd pot hole.  Not the smoothest terraine to deliver packages over.  The other day while trying to move a small smoker a buddy had given, me the skid loader went into spasms and dumped it on the ground breaking it.  I was reluctant to use it to transport tools from here to there.  But not now: tada!

Of course Ewe, the cat, had to check it out.  Xena also tried it.  I thought she wanted to go fro a ride as she stood on the platform.  But as soon as the engine coughed to life she jumped off- smart girl.

Had another sweat last night.  It started late, around eight o'clock. One of the rounds was so hot I had to remind myself that my hair would probably not catch on fire as there was too much steam. We just lay in the lodge for a half hour after the pipe was taken apart, indicating the end of the sweat, and relaxed.  I drove home a little slower driving past a couple of deer and a fawn at the start of our driveway.  I poured my mellowed body into bed and slept like a baby. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cat House

It became apparent yesterday, as I was removing the board and batten doors from the garage, that I will have to make lounging provisions for Boose, our yard cat. She likes this tall shelf which will have to go when I put an inch of spray foam on the walls

I will have to make her something similar in the new layout so she can feel at home. The perfect spot ,high and isolated. I watched her get to the top shelf and acrobatics --more accurately, catrobatics involving careful and considerate route planning and execution were required. I was impressed. And yes, just a little envious.

This was a pic that Jo took and shows why the new garage roof is required. When the roof was first installed it's ingenuity would have been pretty impressive. The top ridge line was covered with transparent green house plastic to let the light in. After time it deteriorated and peices of plywood was added to cover the leaks. It doesn't look like any preservative was used. Without it a low pitched roof like this would deteriorate fairly rapidly.

The building to the left is the large pole shed that I am considering for a drive through equipment shed. It's big enough; the problem is that the foundation appears to be some large rocks, and not enough of them. Still the bottom plate appears sound.

This overview shows the house and three sheds. The little shed to the right is destined to be the high rise chicken house for the meat birds. The "red shed", destined to be the green house, is hidden behind the large shed with the rust coloured lichen to the left of the photo. The camper - well that's overflow housing compliments of my brother in law Grant and sister Echo.

So many projects. Oh well, one at a time.

I really got a good lesson on this yesterday. I was pulling the nails from the old garage doors which were heavy and sagging on some poorly secured barn door hinges. The thing came apart one nail at a time. As much as I would have like to multi-task the operation, to speed it up in some way, it just couldn't be done. One nail at a time. Grab the clinched over ends with a small goose neck and straighten them. Pound them back. Flip the door so I could get a four foot goose neck nail puller to work. Easy, "Cinchey", as my youngest daughter Treena used to say. A phrase she used 15 feet on her first rock climbing adventure with Jo-Ann and I.

One nail at a time. After a time all the nails were gone and the boards neatly stacked in the wood barn ready for re-use.

Jo-Ann was admiring my handiwork ( I assumed that smile on her face was admiration..) and spotted a few nails left in the gravel floor of the garage. I had raked the floor several times to get rid of just such tire puncturing caltrops . This necessitated a trip to town to get a magnet on a stick. It's true: I like things on sticks. This one was designed for picking up just such errant metallic tire magnets. To my surprise, in short order, I managed to get several handfuls of nails; large ones, small ones, staples, the small deadly roofing ones and ring nails - the kind that go in and don't come out.

All this "de-nailing" produced a large coffee can of nails and screws from tiny finishing nails to ten inch spikes. And I may have answered the question of why men insist on keeping cans of bent nails. At first I thought I was operating with a delusion that they could be re-used. But the last time I straightened a bent nail was to assist with a tree house construction and I was 10. No, my current theory-until I get a better one: we keep them as trophies of our projects. Each bent and twisted nail an undeniable record of our labours.

If anyone knows of any 10 year olds building tree forts or such I have a bonanza for them. They may have to collect pop bottles to pay for the postage ..

Friday, July 25, 2008

Board of Life

I discovered this beauty when I was dismanteling the old shelving and workbench in the garage in preparation for a new roof, door and insullating.

It was being used as a bench top work surface. It is a georgeous piece of fir. At least twelve feet long it has to be eighteen inches wide and an inch and half thick. a few cabinet projects come to mind when I looked at this mother of all boards. One problem, not insurmountable, is that I only have a sixteen inch thickness planer. Oh well, that's why Makita makes four and a half inch grinders..

I also managed to score a bunch of nice looking one by eights that were being used as overhead storage. ( Mostly for Pack Rat droppings) These eight foot rough fir planks are over an inch thick.

I am carefully piling it in the wood storage barn. And realizing I am going to have to make some more storage racks out there. That was a late last fall project that got called on account of cold.

Tomorrow I will salvage the wood from the two front swinging doors and maybe start to tackle the dismantlement of the roof. Jo-Ann pointed out that some of the roof boards look like they are still in good shape. Some of course are rotted right through -- the purpose of putting up a new trussed metal roof. I was thinking that with some power and light and a decent floor this rebuld would make a nice shop. We are considering using the large shed to the North as a garage. It would take a bit of work, especially re bulding, or to use a Mike Holmes expression, re-structureing the foundation. With a dropped ceiling, metal siding and a couple of twelve foot garage doors at either end it would make a pretty useful garage for a couple of pieces of equiptment. And I would, of course, make provision for the barn swallows. Without their help this place would have a lot more mosquitos.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eat Dirt

Twelve billion earthworms can't be wrong.

One of the joys of living a bit remotely is the surprises we find in the mail box when we go to town. Today I got a parcel from my Daughter Sara and Husband Kevin. My belly button was 58 years old recently and she sent me a celebration package.

I got a cool "T" shirt. From now on simply referred to as "my favorite T shirt". And I know there's a snow shovel in the back ground. We like to keep on on the deck " just in case ". Yes it has snowed here in July. Hopefully not this year.

And a great book on gardening vegtables and herbs. I want to expand my gardening experience to include herbs.

I also got a package of some healthy stuff. Dried tomatoes. They are delicious so I am not sure about the truth in packaging.
I also got in the mail the two most read magazines of middle age men. Victoria Secret and Lee Valley. I don't subscribe to Victoria Secret -- must have been a postal error.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The July Harvest

To those of you in warmer climes the title of this blog would be "the late May Harvest". My gardening buddy Carol Browne is even harvesting watermelons. However, remembering that less than two weeks ago we were waking to 3C (37.4F.) temperatures, this bunch is a bit of a gardening miracle. The round black object on the squash is a lens cover for Jo-Ann's camera.

I really enjoy the white radishes. Large, juicy, not too hot with a solid core. No bug bites or worm holes this year. Knock on wood rubber.

The tires make such a huge difference, soaking in the daily sunshine and assisting the yard or so of soil in each unit to maintain an after dark temperature in the tires many degrees warmer than the outside air.

Jo-Ann thought the spaghetti squash was getting too large for the tire. I don't know. I think we could have let it get a bit bigger. But it will be a great test. This one is the size of the largest ones we had last year and they were plentiful and a welcome addition to suppers.

Had lunch today with some old work buddies who were taking a break from jobs at the coast. Some interesting conversations. I was sitting with an electrical design technician-cum-gourmet chef who provided some interesting recipes for the bumper radish crop. Who would have thought that radishes have a life outside of a salad bowl. Another buddy an IT professional was no slouch either-- contributing a few delicious sounding ideas involving Nan bread and filling.

I am fascinated with the people behind the people. As if I needed a reminder that people are so much more than their jobs. I spent a lot of years trying to define myself by what my job was. Not a very spiritually uplifting way to live. I really enjoyed being with them. Listening to how the world looks through their eyes and feeling very grateful for the life I have been blessed with.

And now for some lightly blanched radishes gently cooked in butter with garlic, a bit of sugar and Parsley..

Friday, July 18, 2008

Monster Garage

In order to make putting up the joists easier, and to facilitate the insulation of the garage it was necessary to complete the dung out.  I had already hauled away several defunct fridges, a standup freezer ( I had to duct tape that one so what was inside couldn't get out..) and a couple of stoves. 

This round was all the other crap that had been stuffed in there.  The Before:

The after:

What came out ready to be burnt and buried when the weather allows.  

and then joists, spray foam, inside sheeting, loose fill insulation, some windows and doors.  It will be nice to have a heated garage this winter.  If I get really ambitious, and time allows I will even dig out the dirt floor lay two inches of insulation  and then drop a slab in.

So little time, so many projects.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Table Dancing

Back into the "Ugly Duck" and we found a table that suited our kitchen better than the round one. The round one didn't have a leaf and this one had a little more room.  Just in case we get visitors..

The round table made it's way to the upstairs library.

 Nice.  Tables everywhere.  The big improvement was having a table on the balcony to gaze over the joint.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Table Stakes

We picked up a round oak table for the kitchen. Which left us with a design dilemma. Well O.K a storage dilemma.

Our current kitchen table got moved to the balcony. What a difference. We had a rough table out on the balcony but took it down when we laid the new decking a year ago. I really missed having a table out there. Nice to enjoy the balcony during the summer time.

I spent the day dunging out the garage in preparation for a roof rebuild, some insulation and perhaps a couple of windows. I am always astounded how the largest part of reno projects around here consist of clearing out the sites preparatory to doing the actual construction. And this time: two pails of bent nails. I don't get that one. Saving bent nails. And I do it. These ones were left out in an un heated garage so basically turned into a mass of rust.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yet Another Tire Hot Bed

We were tooling around in the garden today adjusting the sprinkler system and trying some underground drip lines. Gotta like that idea, no waste, water goes directly to the plants roots.

While we were out there we had a bit of a brainstorm. We have a couple of tires of soybeans for edemame growing and they require a bit warmer temperatures. We had wrapped tires with green house plastic before. Screwing it to the sides of the tires. We had some plastic left over and came up with this idea: Put the plastic on the inside of the tire, sticking it down into the soil for stability and putting a tire "lid"( with horticultural fabric for venting) on top. 15c rise in temperature. Lots of light.

Tried it with the tomatoes all tho we didn't put a top on them. It also helps cut down the wind on the plants. We've been having a lot of high winds and cold temps lately. This looks like another innovation in the world of cold weather gardening.

I opened a package from my trip to Flin Flon and found my Auntie Mabel ( no relation other than name to Mabel the Moose" and found she had put this hat in the package of goodies.
This one goes on the "good" hat rack. Thanks Auntie.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Boxed In

This is one of those projects that seemed to take an inordinate amount of time: I have been working on it, a bit here and there for over a week now.

Some friends dropped by a couple of days ago and I swung them into action, cutting and drilling and screwing and bolting. After a couple of hours it was done. The new skidsteer dumper pallet. Actually very handy for moving stuff around the place. Mixing garden soil, that kind of thing.

Now I can get that last apple tree planted. Nice to do that before fall. Well maybe it is fall as the temperature is about 12c and we turned the furnace on to take the chill off..

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

That Time Of Life

I was at the dollar store in Vanderhoof when my life changed.

I had bought a package of envelopes and the store clerk asked me if the senior citizens discount applied. Apparently they have a policy that Mondays is senior citizens discount day. If your over 55. I am. This month I will be 58. I took the discount. And went into midlife crisis. Now I know, technically, that it's midlife only if I plan on living until I am 116.

I immediately explained to Jo-Ann and the perplexed clerk, that I was leaving her for a blond 20 year old. Perhaps several. And buying a red convertible. And a motorcycle. I was going to grow a pony tail and call guys "Dude". And wear gold chains.

On the other hand --joining an Ashram was kind of appealing. Perhaps I could take the name "Pukawongolamablom". I probably would look very spiritual wrapped in saffron.

Jo-Ann took it rather hard. She was gurgling and laughing nervously when we left the store. I beleive she was making peace with my upcoming life changes.
Usually she doesn't take my remonstances too seriously. This time I could see that she knew I ment business.

Today I am building trusses for the garage remake, with my brother, Tiny. Perhaps I will explain to him my upcoming change in life path. My spiritual quest. I am sure he will be supportive. He will cover up his excitement for me with some expletives. He is like that.

Time frame I am not sure of. Maybe after the fall harvest. That should be in about two weeks. Less if we eat a lot of zuchinni.

Ommmm, dude.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Dirt Diet

I have a theory that we don't eat enough dirt.

Everything is homogenized, sterilized, sanitized, iodized and chlorinated vitamin and fiber enriched. No wonder we have some weird diseases cropping up. And our general health is going down hill. We don't eat enough whole unprocessed food. Food fresh from the garden. Vegetables with traces of the soil still on them. Vitamins au natural.

So in that regard-- Radish reborn: Reds and a very nice, mild white one.

With all the weather we've been having lately the radishes and lettuce didn't seem to be doing well. Some friend of ours were over and we were walking through the garden and I was telling them how we didn't get any radishes because of their early dust up with the dreaded, light sucking, ( but astoundingly delicious) Lambs Quarters. Ellen looked at the radishes and told me that they seemed to be doing all right. Lo and behold.

She also gave me a lesson on zuchinni. I didn't know that there are male and female parts to the plant. Now I do. So much to learn, so short a season...Perhaps tomorrow or the next day - lightly steamed zuks..

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independance Day

Happy independence day you guys! Let's make sure the spirit of independence grows and flourishes. And thanks for your contribution to the progress of the world. It's amazing to me, how many people, Americans included, castigate the U.S.A with nary a thought to the enormous progress this world has made due to the blood and sweat of the nation the founding fathers conceived.

Eat cake and dance. Hopefully cake made with the 100 mile diet.

My planting plans have been waylaid a bit as I changed the skid steer's bucket to the fork lift tines. I am building a dumping box that can be picked up by the fork lift tines to help move crap around. and mix soil in. Picture a pallet that is super sized and with reinforced sides. Photos to follow.

I picked up a cool alarm clock at the second hand store in town, "The Ugly Duck" It's my favorite store in Fraser Lake and is full of treasures. As a matter of fact today I will be taking the trailer to town to get a load of furniture for Grandma's. My friend Carol Browne, prolific blogger and consummate photographer, has a penchant for birdy clocks. If she plays her cards right.. well this one if just for clucks. And it keeps pretty good time too!
I also scored this froe. I might just hang it on the wall but on the other hand it looks like it could be useful if we're ever attacked by rampaging vicious ceder blocks..
And like the link above suggests it's pretty nifty, and safer, way to make kindling. And it won't be long before we're doing that again.

This antique stove was the find of the month. We are going to use it in the kitchen to store spuds and onions but we will need to do a bit of rearranging before that can happen.
In the meantime it sits in the corner of the living room.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Deed Is Done!

We are pretty excited around here this morning. We just found out that we have officially registered an 80 acre parcel of land in our name. I.E. we own it. It's the parcel in red just below our existing property marked in green. The new parcel is important to us because our driveway passes through it. Before this we had to cross some one elses land to get to ours. And the fir and poplar provide a great visual break from highway 16. We were always worried that some one would come along and log it off, or block the road, or --burn it down. As land goes it's probably not that great, mostly slopeing, with two right of ways and an easement. One of the easements is for an old telegraph line that hasn't been used since the late 1800's. The other is for a Gas line that also crosses our existing property. There is a flat portion near Savory road that has a building site on it with a bunch of cobbled together houses - all delapidated that were built by an interesting character that could be the subject of another post. He was squatting on the land and would build a place only to rip parts of it down for another dwelling.

Fortunatly he is long gone, having duped a local logger into clearing all the pine ( which wasn't the squatters ) from the property.

When we got home from a beans and bacon run to Prince George we were dissapointed to see that a major wind storm had struck. All the Spud plants were blown over.

Imagine my releif this morning when we got up and the plants had righted themselves. Amazing things. It was a pretty big windstorm because we found stuff scattered all over the yard. I was thinking of putting some plastic around the plants to act as a wind guard but we don't get winds that strong very ofton.

When we were in Prince I saw this cool tracked dump truck device and had to get my picture taken with it. The ultimate rock hound machine. The body is shown swiveled around the tracks. Don't know what the purpose of that would be but it sure is cool. I didn't ask how much it was worth going on the assumption that if I had to ask I couldn't afford it..
Today I finish the tree planting and sprucing up the garden getting ready for sawdust mulch.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day

Take off 'eh. Another birthday!

To celebrate we are working on becoming a little more self-sufficient. Today I am still planting apple trees. Well, O.K. digging holes.

We are adjusting the drip and spray irrigation in the garden and tomorrow we will be going to Prince George for supplies. And some shut off valves to make adjusting the system a little easier.
Xena has discovered that playing in the swimming pool is a great way to cool off after chasing Ewe around the yard.
I am amazed that the hole still has water in it as we dug it at the end of May. The ground is hard clay so that is probably holding the water. I just may get some EPDM liner and make a more permanent water feature/Xena splash pond.