I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Saturday, January 28, 2023

January eh.....

January  25, 2023

This un-January-like January, drags on. The temperature hanging too close to the freezing mark for my liking. Never much above and never much below. The older folks around say they have never experienced as mild a January as this, in their lives. There has not been a need to don the warm woollies for hiking, a light quilted jacket being sufficient. The gray days march on, interspersed once and a while with a glimmer of sun, usually too late in the day to have much effect on the solar panels. We did have two glorious, full sun days, punctuating the sunless ones.

Almost every day, there has been a new skiff of snow, sometimes just a dusting, sometimes enough to shovel. The dribs and drabs of snow are slowly adding up, and cushioning our snowshoe trails, making for pleasant, quiet walking, just a soft 'crump' with each step. There has been little to no wind, so the snow is also sticking prettily on all the boughs and branches, outlining them in white.

The fresh snow dusts in any animal tracks that have been made overnight, muffling them and making it difficult to discern who made what, although this rabbit track is fresh and easy to see, its big feet spread out into snowshoes.

This is a shot of a grouse's overnight accommodation. You can see where it plummeted into the fluffy snow, spent the night in it's snow cave, then wandered out come morning, leaving a little deposit behind.

Our resident Marten has been all over, sticking it's inquisitive nose into every tangle of brush it comes across. The resident fox scouts around the yard and buildings at night, here and there it's tracks come and go from a hole it has dug in the snow,
having pounced and dug after some unfortunate critter. The upheaval it has made, mars the smooth expanse of snow stretching across our clearing.  

Every morning, the 4 to 6 Blue Jays are waiting for their ration, big puffy gray-blue lumps, sitting up in the branches of the crab apple tree by the tray feeder. Apparently we have traded the 18 to 20 jays we've had in previous years, for a surfeit of Hairy Woodpeckers. There are at least 4 hanging around, one or two visible at the feeders whenever I look out. They take turns, with some noisy altercations, on the hanging peanut feeder, which the Chickadees are also enjoying, as they pick up the bits the woodpeckers dislodge onto the snow beneath. A female Pileated woodpecker has been on the tray feeder a few times, and there are always fresh holes drilled into the standing dead beech trees in the bush. Those dead trees would also explain the increased number of Hairys this year.

The overwintering pepper plant has put out another fruit, and a couple more tiny ones are forming.

The one amaryllis bulb I potted up and brought in before Christmas, has bloomed, a cheerful spot of colour.

the last of a clump of 3 blooms
I'm working through processing my beautiful pie pumpkins into two cup portions, and recently re-stocked the pie shell supply for the freezer. (Love Aunt Molly's rolling pin.)

So, January plods on, February being the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. I live in hope that we will still get some lovely cold winter weather. There is a snow storm on the radar for overnight into tomorrow morning, so this may not get posted for a bit, depending on road conditions after the storm, for our trip to the library!

                         Addendum: Morning, January 26. Yeah!


Friday, January 6, 2023

Waiting for the sun......

January 5, 2023

The world is totally white again this morning. All the tree branches are lined with sticky snow. The 'rain-slush-yuck' was falling heavily last night, as we could hear it plopping and shushing down on the roof over our heads. On trying to clear the back step this morning, it is a granular, icy mess. We'll need sun to clear the panels, as this won't come off easily.

The Christmas storm landed here, lots of snow, but not too much wind. Our son made it north mostly in front of the storm, but did hit some heavier going on the more northerly part of his route. Other guests from further away, stayed safely home, so it was just we three for a cozy, snowy Christmas.

The lovely Christmas snow on top of the December 16th dumping,

Morning of December 17

added up to close to two feet of snow, and made for a beautiful hike around, breaking trails on a sunny Christmas day. (header was taken Christmas Day). Sadly, the weather changed, rain and warmth came and the snow settled alarmingly, showing bare ground wherever we had labourously shoveled, ploughed and blew the snow away. The temperature has been hanging around the freezing mark, day time just above, and night time just below, for a lot longer than one would expect in January, and the long range does not show much change. The skies have been gray, the couple of sunny days at Christmas were the last full sun days we've had in this unusually long stretch of dreary weather. The moon, heading now toward a full Wolf Moon, has not been seen through the heavy cloud cover, although the diffused moonlight through the clouds, is enough light to see out across the clearing and discern objects and the bush edge at night. Last night I observed a large black thing sitting up on the tray feeder across the drive from the house, easily visible from the bed room window. After a few moments of motionlessness, it spread it's wings and drifted down and off to the south...a Barred owl. Over the Christmas period, on tramping out the trail to the compost bins one morning, I discovered this.

Although it was daylight when the photo was taken, I had to darken it considerably to show the details. Some hapless critter had been snacking in the compost bin, headed out across the field, where there is no cover...and the owl got it, it's track ending in big wing prints etched in the snow. We know we have a breeding pair around, as we hear them regularly, and a couple of years ago, on a walk through the swamp trail, we discovered two young owls hanging out in the trees there.

A Marten has been coming and going under the back step and porch. Probably it has discovered good hunting there, and that is OK with us. 

A female Pileated woodpecker has been showing up on the tray feeder where we have been putting cracked corn, and the Chickadees are a constant delight...(from earlier in December)

The trail cameras have been showing deer moving through, heading down to their winter yard. One buck got up close to a camera. He looks rather thin and bony, perhaps as a result of the rut.

The sun is apparently going to make an appearance on the weekend, and we are looking forward to that! 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

How one thing leads to another....

 December 11, 2022

Presently, I am cleaning the oven.

One recent evening, I popped an apple pie into the oven, and, horrors, forgot to put a pan under to catch the drips. Not bad at the time, pie came out, I saw the mess, but darn it was late. A job for tomorrow.

Last night, (its dark in my small oven, with no light), popped in the clay pizza pan to preheat because it was pizza night. Here I am prepping the toppings, (I harvested the three small peppers off of my indoor pepper plant and used them).....and that awful burning smell arose. NO! I hate, hate, hate a stinky oven. It totally destroys the pleasure of the good aroma of stuff baking in there. Well, I smeared the smoking mess around a bit in the hot oven, trying to get at least some of it out...

This morning, a great day, the snow is falling, the ground is whitening, yeah, yeah yeah! Motivation for Christmas baking, but darn, I have to clean that oven!!! So, here I am, waiting...... I should use a baking soda paste, but I want to bake, so have cheated and am using up the last smidge in a spray bottle of Easy-off. Gloves, mask and window open.

As well as trudging along on the Papilon shawl, (I'm on the 7th and last page of the pattern) I've done a bit of sewing. There is always a pile of stuff that needs mending, and I make myself work through that before I do any of the fun stuff. Somehow, just recently, I've been hooked into replacing a zipper and fixing a pocket on a neighbour's favourite hunting coat. I have until next November....!!!

So, I made a little quilt sandwich, and fashioned a pouch for my NEW Kobolibre2!

Yes, I've given in. A lot of books I'd like to read are in electronic format. Our library is small, and yes, they can get books in on loan, but it takes a while, and if there is something I'd like to read, I'd rather strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. It will be an adjustment, because to me, there is nothing as good as holding a real book in one's hands. 

Another small project is a Japanese knot bag. I've cut it out, but that is as far as I've gone yet. 

So, the waiting continues...Hope the motivation remains! And YES, the snow is falling, falling, falling!!!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Lifestyles, contentment and thankfulness....

Leigh's post over at 5acresandadream.com has got me thinking, about  lifestyles, thankfulness and contentment.

Over 5 years ago, we retired from our jobs, packed up and moved here, to the hill. After a couple of years of fruitless searching, we found this property on-line, came to see it, and knew.

We downsized our living space from a 2 and ½ story house

with basement, dining room, living room, kitchen, back porch, verandah, (I loved that verandah!!)

and 3 bedrooms,
to a square log cabin with no basement, unheated back porch, a bigger verandah, and the Battery House.
August 2017

It involved absolutely getting rid of 40 years of stuff we wouldn't need. We were never on the consumer bandwagon, but one does acquire stuff, especially as members of one's family pass on, and there are important family things one cannot bear to dispose of. I don't know how many truck loads of stuff we hauled to the auction barn. We filled two storage units, one small and one regular sized one, with the stuff we were keeping. Knowing that we were going off grid also contributed to the clear out...how many electrical appliances does one own, griddles, mixers, blankets, etc.? I knew how small the kitchen was, and what little cupboard space there was. When all was said and done, I don't really miss any of it, really, (although on recently making Christmas fruit cake, I wish I'd kept those cake tins with the removable bottoms!!)...but, bread pans work. A cake is still a cake, no matter it's shape, and the fruit cake pans, bundt pans, angel cake pans etc. all went. (can you see that I like to bake?)

It was very strange to lock the back door on the way out (oops, almost missed the kitchen clock on the wall), the last time, and be homeless for a week until the sale closed. We lived in a tent with a screened dining tent alongside it, on a friend's acreage for that week, no bills, no commitments...it was very freeing...just let the lawyers do their thing.

Our house is small, there is a place for everything we need, and mostly, everything is in it's place. The bonus is all the space we have outside, to watch the changing seasons, and the surprises that Mother Nature dishes out. To have free sight lines (within our treed boundaries) to the sky, to the morning and evening sun, the moon rise and set, to see the clear swathe of Milky Way across the night sky, to watch the sun throughout the seasons on its inexorable journey along the horizon, to the south in winter, and (yeah!) after December, head north again.

My garden THEN

Only part of my gardens NOW

I am content. We have our good health, food I can grow, heat from the wood we harvested, electricity from our panels and battery bank, and a source of good water. What else does one need? I am so thankful that we live in a country where this is possible.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Random stuff....

A Happy Thanksgiving to all our American neighbours. 

We have a nice skiff of snow now, that I hope won't melt, but temperatures are drifting up into the plus side of freezing today.

First snow

 Last night we ate the final fresh broccoli shoots and pak choy in a stir fry, livened up colourfully, by the chopped red peppers I froze earlier. I love to look at something I've made and identify all the stuff in it that grew in my gardens.

The overwintering pepper has put out 3 peppers, but seems to be slowing down on the blooming front now, since daylight hours are shorter.

Just before the snow came, we had visitors in the yard.

We watched a flock of turkeys meander all over, constantly vocalizing with each other. Apparently this wasn't the first time they'd been here, as a trail camera close to the house caught them strutting by on another occasion. 

When starting a knitting pattern, it is wise to read through all the instructions first. In the case of the Papillon shawl, that is a bad idea, as it looks very, very confusing. Even the designer says to just start and work through the instructions one at a time. With some trepidation, I finally did just that, and she is right! There is a lot of counting involved, but it is much easier than I expected, and the pattern makes total sense. 

There is still a long way to go, and think I'll have to invest in a longer circular needle cord.
Back at our Thanksgiving time in October, on a foray around the back roads enjoying the coloured leaves, we came upon an eagle and a crow arguing over some road kill. 

The bird swooped up in front of the car and perched in this tree, waiting for us to leave.



Saturday, November 5, 2022

Winter...where art thou??

November 5, 2022

 Harvesting lettuce in November???

Plants putting out buds and blooms???

perennial poppy


brown-eyed susan

We have had a long string of warm sunny days, with nights well above freezing. I find it very unsettling, as this weather, at this time of year, is such a deviation from what I have been used to all my life. 

The pond is low, awaiting winter's top up.

The pepper plant I dug up, potted, pruned and brought into the house at the end of September,

has been putting out blooms that I've pollinated, and now there are tiny peppers forming.
 There are furry, white butt bugs flying around...
aphids in their winged phase

Chainsaw milled hemlock timbers for next summer's project....the root cellar.

another pile is behind this one

 and chainsaw milled pine lumber for other projects.

Indoors, I started to quilt the Christmas wall hanging... but it is so warm and sunny outside... not much is getting done on it.


Come on snow!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Preparing for winter...

October 25, 2022

Over the last few days, Mother Nature has blessed us with sublime warmth and sun, a reward for enduring close to a week of wet, grey days. It has been great weather for getting the garden beds ready for winter. Today is a little overcast and dawned foggily, but it is still fairly warm, and expected to go up to 20C (68F) later. Over the weekend and yesterday, the afternoon temperatures topped out at 23C (73F).

The leaves are mostly off all of the trees now, just the oaks

and beeches
still cling firmly to theirs.

 The trembling aspen leaves

seem reluctant to drop until a breeze wafts through and then they shower down like fat gold coins, carpeting the ground beneath the trees. 

With the last few dry days, the colourful leaves covering the trails, have dried and faded to brown,

 so now a walk through them is a noisy, crunchy business.

The garlic was planted a week or so ago,

and over the past few days, manure has been spread on the other beds, and my quota of mulching leaves for next summer has been collected, bagged and stored in the barn.

I just love my 'Yellow Beast'! Its makes short work of collecting all the leaves I need. (I reuse those industrial strength bags until they are in tatters.)
I dug out the crocosmia bulbs and rearranged them in the tire planter, so hopefully they will give me more blooms next summer.  It was obvious that the corms had spent a lot of their energy making babies instead of blooming! 

Asparagus ferns are cut and laid over that bed, a little more protection for the roots, until we get a blanket of snow. 

The strawberry bed has been dug out, replanted and mulched with some fresh straw I scored from a neighbour.

Hubby has reinforced the hardware cloth sides, and once the lids are put on next spring, I defy those striped vermin to get my berries!

The bed of greens and the broccoli patch soldier on, as we have not had a frost heavy enough to finish them yet. 

The winterberry bushes are loaded this fall, a vibrant pop of red colour.....lots of food for my feathered friends.