Archive for Living the Life

A Teeny Egg

What a joy to come home and find a teeny egg in one of the nesting boxes today.

The teeny egg on the right is from one of our chicks. The long brown egg on the left is Chip's.

The teeny egg on the right is the first egg from one of our chicks. The long brown egg on the left is Chip’s.

Florentine and Benedict hatched in mid-October which makes them four and a half months old now. Since then, we have been watching them for signs of typical hen or rooster behaviour. Until now they have kept their cards close to their feathered chests and kept us guessing and betting.

And although we got proof today that one of them is a hen, we still don’t know who is which!

They are hard to tell apart. Ben, on the right, is bigger and whiter. Flo, on the right, has a tall tail and is far more curious.

They are hard to tell apart. Ben, on the left, is bigger and whiter. Flo, on the right, has a tall tail and is far more curious.

Although this egg is teeny, as the hen develops and gets used to the process, she will lay more normal-sized eggs. Perhaps her eggs will eventually be as big as Chip’s – since Chip is the bio-mother to one of them. But the pale pink colour is typical of a Chantecler, which would come from her father, Roo.

Although this egg is teeny, as she develops and gets used to the process, this hen will lay more normal sized eggs.

It gets lost in the egg carton!

Teeny eggs like this give new meaning to a 3 egg omelette!

Teeny eggs like this give new meaning to a 3 egg omelette!

Advertisements

Comments (3) »

Snow Day!

As the day winds down, the snow just keeps falling steadily. It has been snowing heavily for a couple of days now and the accumulations are shutting everything down. And, although the local forecasters keep claiming that the storm is over, we have proof that we are still in the thick of it. No end in sight, says me! We are sitting at 28 cm at our place so far. I’d like to break 30 cm, at least.

A thick white blanket covered everything!

A thick white blanket covered everything!

As the day wound down, FM measured the snow in a bunch of places. This 28 cm reading was the deepest.

FM measured the snow in a bunch of places. This 28 cm reading was the deepest. But it continues snowing!

The Queendom came to a stand still today:

No work – A district-wide snow day closed all the schools in the valley. FM decided not to risk a challenging drive in and attempted to work from home (between outages!)

No power – Truthfully we have had power some of the time but it was out for a chunk of the morning, out again for a few hours in the afternoon and then just as we were thinking about cooking dinner. Out here, no power means that our well water pump doesn’t work so our water supply is limited to what is left in the pressurized tank. It also means that our septic pump cannot pump UP to the field so you better limit your grey water and flushing. The good news is that the power outage was not due to one of our fallen trees. The other good news is that FM dusted off the generator in order to brew up a second espresso this morning!

Everywhere we looked was beautiful!

Everywhere we looked was beautiful! We sipped tea and read in between walk-abouts.

No heat for the chickens. The two read heat lamps in the coop are out so it cools down pretty fast in there. These birds are hardy but Tweedle Dee is in a full moult right now and has lost most of her feathers. With sparse feathering on her wings and about half of her usual down, she is practically trembling. It baffles me that this would happen to her in the winter. I’m thinking of sneaking her inside beside our wood stove. (Don’t tell FM)

Taken in the days before the snow, you can see her bald patches and chicken skin showing.  Brrrr.

Taken in the days before the snow, you can see Tweedle Dee’s bald patches and chicken skin showing. Brrrr.

No light in the coop and this makes the birds CRAZY! A few months ago, the power went out so I headed out to check the chicks. There was mad flapping and crashing and begawking going on as they flew around in a panic. Ever since, I have left a battery-powered night-light inside which gives them a little glow.

Florentine is the only one brave enough to peek out at the storm.

Florentine is the only one brave enough to peek out at the storm.

And on the fun side:

Snowshoeing instead of shoveling! Our driveway is LONG and there is no way we’d consider shoveling it but tramping the snow down with snowshoes was pretty fun. We managed to drive one car out to the end of the drive for easier escape tomorrow. The car acted like a snowplow and left a smooth center between the tire ruts.

After sinking deeper than my calf-high Bogs, I realised snowshoes were really in order.

After sinking deeper than my calf-high Bogs, I realised snowshoes were really in order.

There is no way to shovel this on. Using the car like a plow had a similar effect.

There is no way to shovel this one. Using the car like a plow had a similar effect.

Hot Tubbing – Aren’t we glad we opted for the wood-fired variety! We spent hours in the tub over this snowy weekend.

It's hard to read but that thermometer reads 106!

It’s hard to read but that thermometer reads 104° F (40° C)!

Is there a better place to enjoy a snowfall?

Is there a better place to enjoy a snowfall?

Creative Cooking – We had to pre-thaw a tub of homemade chili in the hot tub and then transfer it to a pot on the wood stove. We warmed up some of B’s Foccacia loaf and had a candle lit dinner for two.

FM floated the chili container in the hot tub jsut long enough for it to loosen.

FM floated the chili container in the hot tub just long enough for it to loosen.

We already had the stove cranking out the heat so warming the chili and foccacia was simple.

We already had the stove cranking out the heat so warming the chili and foccacia was simple.

You gotta roll with the atmosphere that nature provides.

You gotta roll with the atmosphere that nature provides. FM is sipping a scotch while waiting for his rustic dinner.

Leave a comment »

Costco Time Machine

After a morning of watching yet another 10 cm of fluffy snow fall on the Queendom, we finally heard the plow drive past on the main road to town. We drove in to do the weekly shop. Camouflaged Trumpeter Swans filled the nearby fields. It finally feels like winter has arrived.

Winter looks like it is finally here to stay.

After months of cold temps but no snow, winter looks like it has finally arrived.  The snow just keeps on coming down. Hooray!

We went in to Costco to grab a couple of jugs of milk and somehow we found ourselves wandering through the *gardening aisle*!

Why is Costco always four months beyond real time?

Why is Costco always four months beyond real time?

Does anyone in Canada buy potting soil in mid-February? How about barbecues, tents, kayaks and grass seed? There was a bafflingly wide selection of camping gear, patio planters and gardening gloves.

There must be some logic to this marketing ploy. I suppose that some suckers fill their carts with this summer merchandise in hopes that it will make winter pass quickly. But most locals know that the frost-free date stands fast at May 24 and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. Filling a quarter of the store with unseasonal goods seems crazy to me but someone must be buying this stuff. It is pretty valuable stock space to dedicate just to amuse the patrons.

The part that frustrates me is that when I really need new gardening gloves or a hose in August, this section will be filled with artificial Christmas trees and reindeer. Bah humbug!

This snowman says, "Spend less time at Costco and you're life will seem richer!"

This snowman says, “Spend less time at Costco and you’re life will seem richer!”

Leave a comment »

Forecast Interpretation 101

Today was a leisurely Saturday. This morning, without an alarm set, we eventually made our way downstairs to enjoy delicious home-roasted coffee and indulge in a few chapters of our books (typical weekend fare at the Queendom). Before the morning slid by, FM pulled up a local weather forecast and announced that a big wind storm was headed our way. With predicted wind gusts of over 100 km/hour, we decided that we had better head out soon for a run and enjoy the dry, overcast weather while it lasted. We figured that we could get a few hours of trail running in before heading home to brace for the imminent power outage and fallen tree event.

As we ran, the weather began to change and we were both soaked to the skin by the end. As we drove home, we noticed occasional snowflakes accompanying the rain on the windshield.

Funny. Snow was not part of the forecast.

Soon after arriving home, stoking the fire and donning dry clothes, the snow flurries truly began. With the temperature hovering just at the 0° C mark, rain and snow seemed to intermingle for the whole afternoon. But there was barely a breath of wind.

Twelve hours later, there were about 5 cm of snow accumulations on the ground and still no wind. 36 hours later, we had another 5 cm layer of snow but still no wind. The torrential windstorm that had forecasters running for shelter never materialized. Instead we have been treated to occasional snow flurries punctuated by crystal clear skies.

This type of forecasting seems to be typical here in The Valley. For two years we have searched but not yet found an accurate place to check on the upcoming weather. We have found four different sources of weather forecasts which often predict different weather, but none is ever accurate. One site even claims “A poor time for outdoor activities” every single day! Really!

The good part is that most forecasts err on the dismal side. They show a week of rain coming our way but, in reality, the rain never comes or comes in short spurts.

When we lived in the Lower Mainland, the forecast always predicted rain and it was always right. Rain clouds would roll in and would actively rain for weeks at a time. But here, on the island, in the valley, the weather is completely unpredictable. No one is able to predict the amounts of snow, the gusts of wind or the number of  beautiful sunrises each week.

The lesson is, if you want to know what the weather is, look out your window. If you are heading out on an adventure, prepare for everything, because that is what you will get. Don’t wait for some website to claim that it is a good day for outdoor activities because you will never leave the couch.

So with candles, snow shovels and raincoat at the ready, I am off to stoke the hot tub fire in anticipation of the storm! Or maybe we’ll get a glimpse of that fabulous full moon!

** next day update ** While we soaked in the hot tub last night, the stars came out and the moonlight brightened the snow-covered grass but still no wind storm. Some forecasts still predict its arrival but, I for one, am not holding my breath.

Leave a comment »

What a Month!

It all started one month ago today. I went from being healthy, athletic and adventurous to being hooked up to machines that go beep all night. But luckily, because I am so healthy, athletic and adventurous, one month later, I am well on the road to recovery. Soon, this little episode will be nothing but a foggy memory.

It all started with a mild belly ache while I was working on the chicken coop but soon it progressed to doubled-over pain. After the pain continued to escalate, we figured that it was appendix-related, because of the right-sidedness, and we headed into town to the hospital. In no time at all, I was hooked up to an IV and given morphene. The CT scan told a very different story. This was no appendicitis. I had a twist in my large intestines, causing a complete obstruction, and I needed surgical intervention right away.

I suppose the mere suggestion of emergency surgery was enough to scare me straight but that is what happened. There in the ER, as spontaneously as it had twisted in the first place, my intestine decided to untwist itself on its own accord, instantly reducing my pain and allowing me to walk away and head home minutes later.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t end here. We were told that this twisting  had probably happened before to a lesser degree and had a high chance of reoccurring, perhaps even more severely. I was told that I needed surgery to remove the damaged section of intestine and it needed to be done soon.

Despite my initial reaction of shock and denial, I managed to come to terms with the severity of my situation and realise that I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. ‘Elective surgery’ is a misnomer because surgery is never something that you would elect to do. I simply had to count myself as fortunate. Firstly, because the twisting hadn’t happened during one of our wilderness adventures, a few days’ journey from help. Secondly, because I narrowly averted a high-risk, emergency bowel surgery when I visited the ER.

In a relatively short amount of time (10 days), I was able to land a consultation with a general surgeon and I almost enthusiastically signed the papers for my surgical booking. I emphasized that I would easily be able to clear my schedule and come in for a last-minute cancellation, if that occasion arose.

It did. Within that week, I accepted a cancellation date, was admitted to hospital and had my surgery done. 20 cm of intestine were removed and I now sport a 14 cm abdominal scar. The whirlwind of time and activity then came to an absolute halt as I lay in a hospital bed for five days. Although my brain was murky with the concoction of drugs flowing through my back and my arm, my memories are snippets of precise clarity. There was gentleness from the night nurses, moans and cries of fellow patients, pain that took over my ability to think and a dry, parched feeling in my mouth as I tried to speak.

With FM ever perched at my bedside, we chatted whenever I surfaced about the issue of the moment, plans for the future and other random bits. He managed the streams of visitors and kept family up-to-date with my condition through emails and phone calls. He brought up concerns with the nursing staff and brought me tasty treats from the outside world, once I was given the green light to move beyond ice chips. He supported me as I took my first shaky steps around the ward and watched with interest when my first staples were removed.

This was taken right before 7 of the 13 staples were removed. Its going to be a beautiful scar! Can you picture a zipper pull tatto at the top?

This was taken right before 7 of the 13 staples were removed. It’s going to be a beautiful scar!   Can you picture a zipper pull tattoo at the top end?

As if a light were suddenly turned on, I felt instantly better and no longer could tolerate sitting in a hospital bed all day. Soon enough, the hospital din of beeps, tones, rings and alarms became almost intolerable. It seems that once you are conscious enough to hear all the noise, your discharge papers are issued. All my tubes and trolleys were unhooked and I was allowed to go home.

This Impatient Patient endlessly sits and waits for her discharge papers

This Impatient Patient endlessly sits and waits for her discharge papers

On that clear, cold December day, as we ferried across the Strait and drove up-island, I felt that my eyes were seeing beauty for the first time. I relished in the views of coastal mountains dusted with snow and the sun shining brightly but giving off little warmth. As I crawled into my own bed, I felt as if I had been swallowed up by heaven. There really is no place like home.

In the week since arriving home, I have hunkered down and done very little, except read. The big efforts of my day include putting a log or two on the fire, surfing the web for easy Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews and sitting amongst the chickens on the porch. But each day, I rest less and take on more projects (admittedly small ones). Running and racing are a long way down the path I am on, but I will enjoy the opportunity to re-learn and re-train. Next time someone asks “What are you training for?”, I will answer “For my health” because that is the truth of it all.

Remembrance Day 2013 will long be a day that I remember, but not for the right reasons. For me, it was more like the beginning of a lesson in Thanksgiving, as it reminded me to be grateful for my health and my healing.

Comments (4) »

A Winter Wonderland

The snow-less, cold snap finally snapped this week and we joyfully received a refreshing dump of snow. About 15 cm of dusty, dry powder now covers everything around the Queendom. Following on the snowfall’s heels was a clear, bluebird day with temperatures plummeting to -11° C. I took a gentle trudge around the place and am almost speechless at its unbelievable beauty. That white blanket of snow blissfully covers up the bare, mucky, unkempt land that we call home. I, for one, would love snow cover year-round.

The gentlest of breezes would send snow puffs down from the trees. The pond is frozen solid, too!

The gentlest of breezes would send snow puffs down from the trees. The pond is frozen solid, too. Should I attempt skating?

This is our flock’s first experience with snow and they are not at all sure about it. When I opened up the coop, they all hustled outdoors in their usual way but, as soon as they reached the snow’s edge, they balked (or I should say they ‘bawked’). Although the new chicks were truly curious and unafraid, Tweedle Mum quickly called them back inside and everyone spent the morning on the roost under the heat lamps of the coop.

Tweedle Dee is completely unsure about the new white blanket.

Tweedle Dee is completely unsure about the new white blanket, despite the cleared pathway across the drive.

My loyal followers know that I will do just about anything for my hens and this sort of challenge appeals to me – and I had no other pressing issues at hand. So I cleared a path from the coop to the porch of the house, where they often sit in the sun or hide underneath. I sprinkled scratch down the new pathway and sat back to see who would take the bait.

Did I shovel the driveway? NO! But I did shovel a path for my girls. Who wants to be cooped up anyway?

Did I shovel the driveway? NO! But I did shovel a path for my girls. Who wants to be cooped up anyway?

Tweedle Dee stood for a long while at the gate, eyeing the snow and the path, but didn’t dare venture out. So much for the Chantecler breed being a frost-hardy Canadian heritage breed!

Of course, it was Chip who first dared the pathway and spent a leisurely day puffed up in a sunbeam on the porch.

Lured by scratch and a chance to sit on my lap, Chip was the first to brave the snow.

Lured by scratch and a chance to sit on my lap, Chip was the first to brave the snow. From her first days with us, she has always proven the most adventurous, fearless and willing.

The others waited for her all-clear call and then joined her. As far as I’ve seen, none has dared to step into the pantaloon-deep snow banks on either side of the pathway. It looks like we’re raising some chicken chickens!

Chip, Peeps and Tweedle Dee eventually braved the new experience. Tweedle Mum and the chicks soon followed. If you can get one chicken to do something, the rest will copy and follow along.

Chip, Peeps and Tweedle Dee eventually braved the new experience. Tweedle Mum and the chicks soon followed. If you can get one chicken to do something, the rest will copy and follow along.

Here they are, running back to the coop at the end of the day.

Here they are, running back to the coop at the end of the day. (They were moving fast!)

Comments (2) »

%d bloggers like this: