Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell to the Old Year

The sun shone its face down for the last time on this old year.

 We bundled up to enjoy the last rays of 2012.
 The house stayed warm from the sun's heat, instead of the gas furnace kicking in every 2 minutes.
 And we smiled and played the day away!

Thanks for reading! See you next year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Moving On

Thank you all for your nice comments. It meant a lot to me. It was a very sad accident, but I've learned from it and I will start over again in the Spring. It is still a little hard to believe though, and I catch myself going to the window to watch the chickens in the backyard :( The good news is that the coop suffered very little damage and there is nothing so big as to compromise the structural integrity.
 In other news, I got my seeds in the mail today, which will definitely help me look forward to Spring.
 My Blue Tinge Ethiopian Wheat. How thrilling! I hope I get at least a little bit of wheat from this experiment.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day Disaster

I am writing this at 2:30am, as I still have adrenaline coursing through my body and I can't sleep.
I woke up for apparently no reason. But once I woke up, I smelled a bit of smoke. It is a very cold night, -25c, so it is not unusual to smell smoke from all the wood fires burning in town. But this was a bit different. With dread in my stomach, I looked outside and saw smoke coming from the chicken coop. Because it had been so cold tonight, I had put the heat lamp inside the coop with chickens, because Betty had been moulting.
I threw on my dressing gown, pulled on some boots and mitts and ran outside to face the worst. The heat lamp had fallen -probably knocked down by the chickens fighting each other or something- and was smouldering in the sawdust. Both chickens are dead from smoke inhalation. I threw snow on the smouldering spot and unplugged everything, but other than that, there is nothing more to do until morning. I feel sick inside. I wish I had left the heat lamp out. I wish I had left their door open. I guess they could have frozen then, I don't know. But I feel so guilty and sad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Christmas

I hope you had a wonderful holiday! I wanted to share some pictures of our Christmas.

Here is Kesten leaving the traditional cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. I think he just wanted them for himself.
 All the presents under the tree. There were sure a lot this year!
 The stockings are hung and filled, waiting for morning...
 Kesten loved playing with his new toy train, which he even unwrapped by himself (mostly).
 I loved playing with my new presents! An incubator (take note, you chickens), a rotary tool, and a paper cutter. This has got to be one of my more eclectic mixes of presents.
 Kesten and Boos were all tuckered out from all the present opening and playing!
 The advent calendar had the final piece placed on it Christmas morning.
 This is the little rocking horse that my dad painted for Kesten. It was a big hit!
We ended the evening enjoying Christmas dinner with some friends. What a lovely day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is drawing nearer. I've finished all my present making and buying and mailing. Now onto grocery shopping! I finally remembered where I put the Christmas lights too, so I will be putting those up.
Here is a toque I made my sister for Christmas. I will be posting the pattern I wrote for it in the new year. It is inspired by fur traders and the Hudson's Bay Company.

 My little boy is all ready for Christmas! He just started doing an army crawl this week and has been getting into his presents. I think he will enjoy unwrapping them! He'll be six months old on Christmas day. How did that happen?!
Enjoy these Holiday Days!

Friday, December 21, 2012

On This Winter Solstice Night

 The home lights are shining cozy and warm while outside it is a frozen minus 16 Celsius.
The chickens were all snug in their coop with the heat lamp on. Until I took this picture and realized there was just one chicken in there... Betty escaped! I soon got her back inside and locked the door, only to realize that Honeychile' is now picking on her (probably because she looks puny now that she is moulting). So I've been scrambling about, trying to come up with a solution so that they will both be warm tonight and not kill each other... I hope it works.
And now the days will start to get longer from here on out. We've made it to the halfway point.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

These Chickens...

...Are not the smoothest eggs in the carton. Not too bright, these ladies. Betty (on the left) has decided that now would be a good time to go into a full blown molt. Mid-Winter. With a cold snap just starting. So, I decided I would hook up the heat lamp to come on at night and give her the warmth her feathers would have otherwise been giving her. But with the heat lamp on, the chickens refuse to go into the coop. So I shut it off, wait until they are inside, then turn it on. But they hate it and escape. So fine! No heat lamp! I will lock them in with it when it gets really cold, but for now, they can just cope. Which they seem to do just fine. They are amazingly cold hardy, these birds. They are protected from snow and wind and frozen ground inside their run, and their coop is insulated so they will be fine. I just wish we were getting eggs from the little rascals, but since Betty has started moulting we are on a break (Honeychile' hasn't given us any eggs since last Spring! Her purpose is as a companion bird right now, but her days are numbered, as I have a very exciting Christmas present on the way!)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Arable Land: My Summer Wheat Project

Well, it is now official, the seeds are ordered! This Spring, Summer, and Fall, I am embarking on a new project, an experiment to grow a small plot of wheat in my backyard. Books and websites have been pored over and the research is in. It sounds like you can get a pretty decent yield of wheat from a 100 square foot plot of land. The first year might not be so good, as experience will help you get a bigger yield, but after awhile, you can expect to get about 90 cups of flour from 100 square feet. I have some friends on a farm who are also going to try to grow some as well, and they even have a flour mill that we can use to grind our wheat berries. This will be a project that I hope to document from preparing the soil, to the harvest, threshing, winnowing, and milling. Because we are growing small amounts, we will be doing most of the harvesting, threshing, and winnowing by hand, which should be quite the experience!
The seeds I have ordered are from Salt Spring Seeds and I have ordered two varieties: Chinook Wheat and Blue Tinge Ethiopian Wheat. We will see what variety does better here. Blue Tinge Ethiopian Wheat has one of the shortest growing seasons, so hopefully that will help in our Northern climate.

If you're interested in learning about growing wheat in small amounts, Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds writes a very informative article and there is also a good book called Homegrown Whole Grains by Sara Pitzer.
Stay tuned for more on our Arable Land Project!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Snow in the Trees

 The weather has been just perfect lately - warm enough that I can take my little man outside, but cool enough that I can still ski. We often get a snowfall at night, waking up to fresh powder. If we hurry, we can ski on the roads before the ploughs come through.

The woods where I ski make a enchanting snowy tunnel, transporting you to a fairytale. It feels so Christmassy.
 The chickadees are busy hopping through the branches and bunny tracks lay fresh across the trail.
I tow my sleeping baby behind me in our chariot. It is a wonderful setup. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Marzipan Fruit

I made some homemade marzipan today, which was pretty easy to make and super yummy! Every year our Danish friends would make "Marzipan Men" at Christmas time and we would enjoy them at their annual Christmas Tree light-up (with real candles, the Danish way!). When I found a recipe for marzipan in my Country Wisdom and Know How book, I thought I would give it a try. They also suggest making fruit and veggies with marzipan and painting them with food colouring. I didn't have time to make a lot, but I'll be making some more later. I might make some marzipan men too!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Colds, Thaws, and Tango

The weather has warmed up for a couple of days, melting off the roof and into our rain barrels. But our colds aren't improving yet. My little boy is sick too, napping to make up for the lost sleep during the night. But last night he slept much better, making us both very happy. Yesterday I snuggled him into a blanket and he slept so cozily with the kitten while big flakes of snow came down. It was very sweet.

Last night was our first Argentine Tango class and it was so much fun! I always love to dabble in something new and a little obscure, so I wanted to give it a go. Who would have thought that in a little town like Fort St James, you could take a tango class? We were all a bit nervous at first, shuffling around the gym floor like grade 8 kids taking the dreaded dance unit in gym class. But we warmed up fast and by the end of the night we were tango-ing up and down the floor (maybe even a little bit of sideways!). Our teacher is so excited and passionate about tango and her enthusiasm is catching. I have to say I am hooked! I am definitely looking forward to our next lesson.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sights While Skiing

I went for a short ski this afternoon through the woods. It was cold and crisp and very beautiful. It felt so good to be out moving through the trees in the quiet of the forest. One of the joys of Winter.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Yesterday we headed out on the snowy road in the woods to cut down our Christmas tree. We like to cut them  from under power lines or over gas lines where they will just be cut down anyways.
 After searching around for a good tree, we finally discovered the one. I cut it down and we dragged it back to our car. The snow was so deep, it was coming over our boots.
 A really tall tree! We had to cut off the top so it would fit in our house.
 Kesten was all tuckered out from the fresh air!
 All decorated now, it looks great! I love using homemade, old fashioned decorations. I have some vintage glass balls, too. I made some popcorn garlands for it this year, with rosehips instead of cranberries in between.
We haven't used popcorn garlands for a few years, ever since our incident in our old house. We lived in a really old house and the first year we had our tree, I kept waking up in the morning to find our popcorn garland broken. I would repair it, wondering how it happened, but sure enough, next day I would find it broken again. It was a mystery to me until one night, I was lying on the couch, watching a movie, when I was horrified to observe a mouse scamper across the floor, climb the tree and begin to nibble on the garland! Well the popcorn garlands came down and we started to foster some cats through the SPCA and that was the end of our mouse issues. I feel confident enough this year that we won't be having that problem- No mouse would dare come into this house with Boos around. She is one ferocious hunter!
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