Thursday, July 30, 2009

No Sweat

Actually a lot of sweat. Chief Joseph invited me to the Sweat yesterday. I went early to help him prepare, cutting the metre long pine in half and setting up the fire. When we started to light the fire it was 5 p.m and 28℃. I would have thought that a Sweat would be just to hot on a day like today. Actually it makes no difference +28 or -28, it can only get so hot inside the Sweat. Even tho it was blistering outside, when the flap opened between rounds, it felt like someone had turned on the air conditioning. Wonderfully cool. That's the thing with a Sweat. It goes from gentle heat to ferocious and then to cool in a cycle. A spiritually soothing experience.

One of the spiritual exercises he charged us with was paying attention to the cool breeze that rushes in the door when the flap is lifted. To have it remind us that one day we will take a last breath, to enjoy the breath we have now to the fullest.

I've been spending some time the last couple of days staining the front porch. I will put some porch and floor enamel on the top of the steps, complete with some sand for traction, and sheet in the roof. I will move the light over the door, which currently is shrouded by an old ice cream bucket, to the centre of the ceiling and perhaps install a photo cell switch. I also will paint the grating that covers the floor. The grating makes boot cleaning easier. It's so hot the stain is drying very quickly -- and I am taking pains to ensure I am only painting in the shade. I am using an oil based stain, my preference for covering old barn wood. Acrylic latex paint, my first choice, needs to have temperatures of at least 12℃ overnight. Until recently, a rare event around here.

Hard to believe that little bit of staining—two coats, ate up two gallons of stain. Or the metric equivalent.

What looks like old ski poles and hiking sticks hanging on the wall beside the porch is in reality cow flap movers and shifters. The hot weather making that daily exercise a lot easier.

This morning Sandhill Cranes are in the East Pasture heralding the new day with their song.

The link has a sound slider so you can hear their cooing. I suppose it's an acquired taste but we look forward to it. Early in the Spring they come overhead in vast wings of hundreds and hundreds. Two of them seem to stay around our pastures all spring and summer, leaving in the fall. These are big birds, over a metre tall. Xena and Cleo seem to be getting used to their presence.

Hope you enjoy your breath today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cool Strategy

I feel just a little bad about whining about the heat with what my friends in the lower mainland are putting up with. But relativly speaking going from 5 to 30℃( 41 to 86℉) is a pretty wide spread. We have developed a few strategies for dealing with the heat wave. For example we get up early to do any chores we have to get done before the sun turns to scorch. And of course lot's of cool refreshing beverages. There is nothing like water to quench the thirst. The Dogs prefer the taste of water right from the hose. And of course the ultimate in cool off— popsicles:
Xena has clearly passed on the lick and chomp method of hogging the whole Popsicle to her Sister Cleo who took to it with Olympic finesse.
Oh well, I am collecting Popsicle sticks anyway. We've been on the hunt for those plastic home Popsicle makers but haven't found any in Fraser Lake or Burns Lake. I have plans for a frozen yogurt concoction with a stick.

Another thing we use is gel filled neckerchiefs. I can't remember where we bought these ones, perhaps it was Surplus Herbies in Kamloops. If you Google it you can find plans and sources for making your own. They work by cooling the carotid arteries on both sides of the neck and make an amazing difference for quite a while.

To replenish them just soak in water. To make them truly magic, keep them in a water filled plastic container in the fridge. Chilling.
Ice cold watermelon is not an option but a requirement.

Stay Cool.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hot Tamales

Well, no Tamales, but a whole lot of Hakurei Turnips. It has been a week of really hot weather with another week of it forecast. Now, I am only talking about late afternoon highs of 30℃(86℉). But around here, where at the start of the month it was almost freezing at night, that is HOT.

We have been getting up early to work in the garden and get our chores done in the cooler parts of the morning so we can hide from the afternoon heat in the luxurious cool of the house. The tire garden really needs a lot of water in this heat.
Somethings been eating our garden, especially the squash. I'm not sure what it is but it isn't pretty:
None the less, the squash have been really growing. I tied a couple of the Red October squash's up with some a high tech squash holder -- commonly called discarded socks. Well worn, and squash friendly:
We planted another couple of tires of Hakurei turnips. They are a fast growing delicious, mild
turnip that has more of a sweet radish texture.
We had saved some seed from last years turnip crop and were happy when they germinated and outgrew the new commercial seeds we had bought. Except that they didn't produce any turnips just went directly to seed:
Very puzzling. The commercial, store bought turnips are growing like gangbusters without any of them going to seed. I am at a loss. Can seeds be made to not grow another generation?

I may have left thinning some of the carrots a little to long.

We've been lounging about this afternoon munching on baby carrots from the thinning. Delicious.

Stay cool.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Road Ahead

The start of my morning walk. This morning it was a walk to Fraser lake, some 20 kilometers down the road. The hills at the end seemed to take a long time. I was wearing some new high tech duds my Daughter Sara bought me for my birthday. Really nice, at the end of the walk, on a very hot day, I had consumed a liter and a half of water but was dry as a bone.

Now to figure out what's eating my garden..besides me and a few close friends.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"To the moon, Alice!"

Forty years ago today I was sitting in a small pizza place on Hastings street in Burnaby near Sperling Avenue. I was with my wife and two friends Bev and Bob. We watched the ghostly images of Neil Armstrong making the first tentative step on an extraterrestrial body. I remember feeling like it was a turning point in Human History, certainly " a giant leap for Mankind". I still do.

There is just a sliver of moon today, perhaps tonight I might be able to catch a glimpse. It sets at around 9 p.m. tonight so probably it won't be visible. I will certainly be looking. And wondering.

Were looking forward to spending some time with friends of ours RT, Rhoda and familly, Tommy and Molly. Looks like we are going to have a week that will actually give us some summer temperatures. Time to hill the spuds with straw. Maybe sneak a few new ones..

Xena is very interested in Orbs also. Especially ones that bounce. Here she is contemplating her next move:

Hope your having a great day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life and Death

The doggies and I started yesterday in the usual way. Going for our morning walk. Cleo gets very excited, jumping up and down and running back and forth. Xena wagging her tail. We set out across the field to a path that runs along our fence line parallel to our driveway. I cleared it of fallen trees and saplings and I like to take it as an alternate route down to the Savory gate. It's like a walk in a park. Spruce, Fir, Willow and Poplar standing watch. In places the undergrowth is crowded out and the ground mostly bare, covered with old Pine and Spruce needles. I was also checking out a half dozen beetle killed pine, some two feet across that I will take down for winter wood in the next couple of days. A hundred feet of forest separates the fence line path from the driveway, effectively hiding it and giving the illusion of being deep in an arboreal forest.

Usually the dogs scurry, back and forth through the path, always coming back to see how I am doing. I imagine they wonder why I don't relish the pursuit of the chattering tree thing, checking out the old log that houses the ferocious vole. Sniffing the trail of various forest beasts that have passed through, but maybe, hopefully, lie in wait, just over that hillock or behind the next fallen tree.

This day there was none of that once we entered the path. They just disappeared. I couldn't see or hear them. I called them and they came back, staying with me for a few moments and then gone again. Not gone far but out of sight. With cows wandering all over the property I don't want them to be beyond my eye or hearing. I had to repeat the come back whistle a few more times.

When I crossed the driveway at the end of the path, just at the bend I looked up the hill and saw a black and white Belgian Blue cow lying in the road. The dogs were at her face, just looking at her, no barking, not trying to harass her in any way. Touching her face like she was a friend of theirs they hadn't seen for a while.

I called them and they came to me, whimpering. I walked slowly towards the cow not wanting to startle her, but something just didn't look normal.

As I got up to her she tried to turn on the road towards me. If a cow could show despair she was doing it. I looked up the road side bank and about five feet above her I could see the cause. A large white calf was lying in a tramped down hollow, at first I thought the calf had been attacked by some animal and disemboweled.

Our walk was over for the day, we went back to the house, the dogs reluctant to leave, to phone my neighbor and give him the bad news. We arranged to meet where the cow was and I went back down the hill. He showed up and looked the situation over. He doesn't speak clearly as he had some trouble with throat cancer and neck breaths. I didn't have trouble understanding what he was saying. The calf had been still born. Sometimes when they give birth the cows will have a nerve pinched paralyzing their back legs. That's why she was just lying in the road, unable to rise. I stayed with her while he went back for his horse trailer and reinforcements. I sat close by on a rock just talking to her. It was all I could think to do. He returned about an hour later with his trailer and daughter, another local farmer. The three of us couldn't move her into the trailer so we just waited for some more help he had called. Really all we could do was just be with her, keeping her restrained with a neck cinch, his daughter, Sally at the haunches,whispering soothingly to her girl, me at the head. I just kept rubbing her neck and scratching behind her ears. She seemed to like it as much as my dogs do. As I looked at her a big tear slid from her left eye and dribbled down her face. Surprised, I mentioned it, Sally explaining she believed animals had feelings. At that moment, by the side of my driveway, I had no room for doubt.

When another four hands showed up we managed to pull the cow up a ramp improvised from a sheet of plywood and into the horse trailer. I went with my neighbor, in his truck, everyone else in another to help get D-7, the stricken cow to the safety of the barn. There was a rifle leaning against the transmission on the passenger side. It wasn't hunting season. Sally had made reference to it. Apparently Larry, the farmer, had told her it was for her if she didn't work hard enough on the cattle pull. Every one laughing at that story. Lightening the moment.

We got D7 back to the barn, propped her up with fresh smelling hay. Penicillin ministrations to follow. Apparently the paralysis can last for a week.

Getting the truck and horse trailer out of the barnyard turned into a bit of an act. I'm pretty sure there is a country and western song to describe it. The Chevy got stuck, being pulled by the Ford, talk of getting the tractor, another Chevy, loaded with wood ballast, pitching in to finally get the job done. I offered to get my Toyota and pull them all out..

Several hours after I had left I returned home. My day hadn't unfolded the way I had it planned. But it had unfolded never the less. Later in the afternoon my friend, Chief Joseph had a sweat. He wanted to try out some new "grandfathers", sweat lodge rocks that he had been gifted from a sweat lodge holder who had a supply from Nazko near Quesnel. They were very strong. The hottest sweat I have been to. I needed to remind myself that the sweat could melt my Soul, but it couldn't melt my skin. I needed it.

Today is my 59th birthday. I am eating right, losing weight, working toward running a Marathon. I asked my wife for a red Ferrari for my Birthday and suggested she dye her hair blond. She pointed out I already have a blond ( Xena) in my life, and gave me an orange Husqavarna instead. Maybe she knows what I really needed!
Hope you get what you really need today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Given the last week of rain I was pleasantly surprised by the progress the garden is making. A real treat was the Hakurei turnips we planted. They are a delicious crisp sweet white globe about two inches across and so tender you can eat them like an apple.

We had a pile left over after thinning and enjoyed them yesterday raw and in a stir fry. They are extremely fast growing, like a radish so we are hoping to get another crop before freeze up. Several of our cabbages have headed up - a little early for storage, but welcome none the less.

It was a Sunny yet slightly overcast day yesterday and it looks like it is going to be the same today. When we got up this morning it was warmer inside than outside - something that hasn't happened a lot this year.

A common site around the wetter areas and along the roadside ditches and depressions are Cow parsnips:
A very interesting and prolific plant. It is edible but caution is advised as it's juice can cause skin problems due to it's photo sensitizing properties. Apparently best eaten like stewed celery before it's bloomed. It's also reported that the flowers mixed with oil act as an insect repellent. Don't know if I'd want to be smearing it on my skin given the above mentioned photo sensitive properties.

We have noticed that the river hasn't flooded this year. Just not enough snow load from last winter.

Today's plans include a 10K walk. I'll see how I feel when I get back and decide if I want to start cutting up the winters wood. We are going to need a lot this year if we decide to heat the house, green house, and chicken pens with wood all winter. Around here that's +6 months.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Snake Heads

We rarely see them here. This is one we found on our walk the other day. Ignored by the doggies. The other sunny day. More on that later.
It's been raining heavily for the last four days. Today we have a weather warning posted for our area about heavy rain. I can look out the window and see that. Welcome to sunny July in Endako.. Ah well, a great excuse for shop work. And getting the Linux network up and running. Now all our machines, including My Mac Pro have Linux on them. Our print server is Fedora 11 and the rest a mixture of Ubuntu Jaunty and Kubuntu. I run Linux on Vmware Fusion on my Mac and dual boot our working machines with Vista and Xp. I suppose I will have to install Win 7 on a partition also - but don't get me started..

This was a treat for us a day ago:

We have half a dozen tires of strawberries that I got from a friend of mine. They seem to really like the heat up against the shop. They went very nicely with my stab at Lemon Halibut. Not a 100 mile diet, but the Spinach and Strawberries were from our garden and the Halibut from Prince Rupert.

for a look at what a real haul of strawberries looks like check out my friend, Carol's blog.
We made the most of the last Sunny day we had a couple of days ago and made the back steps a little more Croc secure:
Cleo is intently interested in something in the shop:

So far I haven't been able to get Jo-Ann to fall down them to test it out. But it is pretty skookum.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independance Day

Happy 4th of July to all my friends next door. Hope your having a great time!

The weather has warmed up a bit. We haven't had to light a fire for a few days now. It's been really interesting this year to watch the progression of wild flowers. Now were in the Scentless Chamomile(Matricaria maritima) phase- which is often mistaken for Shasta Daisies. It looks like we've woken to snow in the far fields.

The wild roses are in full bloom:

I have been trying to fit some "fun" projects into the mix. Like getting a table saw rebuilt. I had one given to me that was left out in the rain. It ran, has a great 2 h.p. motor but it was pretty much rusted shut. I am restoring it to better than factory condition. I tore it all down, cleaned up all the rust and old gunked up trunnions and am polishing and repainting everything before I bolt it all back together.

When I am done I should have a pretty handy addition to the shop. I am working with a minuscule table saw now that really can't cut a straight line consistently no matter how I try and tune it up.

Yesterday I got the skid steer drive back together and with the carburetor rebuild it is acting like a new machine. Now to rebuild all the wiring and gauges..

Today's project is getting some handrails on the back steps. Jo-Ann had a bad fall off of them ( don't wear Crocs on wet steps) so it's been moved up the priority list. Not having made a set of handrails before It will be good practice for the ones on the front steps which are about twelve feet long. I was thinking something funky with branches.