Tag Archives: renovations

Disasters, of the chicken and wardrobe varieties

When we were in Tofino, a couple of our neighbours did a fantastic job of caring for our chickens.  One of them happens to have chicken-in-danger radar.  I thought it was just for her chickens – she would wake up in the night, knowing that there was a raccoon nearby ready to attack.  Ends up her radar transfers to our chickens as well.  3 days in a row we had a hawk in our chicken yard, trying to pick off the birds.  Somehow, all of our chickens were well and accounted for upon our return.  We didn’t see the hawk.  We still haven’t seen the hawk.  Jeremy saw a hawk today, but it wasn’t attacking anything.  We have, however, lost (as in they’ve disappeared, without a trace, and without losing very many feathers) 3 chickens.  Both of the Boots fellas… Boots, and Boots V 2.0.  Also one of our black laying hens.  And Jer’s favourite bird was attacked.  It’s living in a box in our house right now.  It smells like sick chicken and I don’t like it.  We don’t know if a hawk attacked the bird, or our dog (she’s done it before, but only once), or a raccoon, or something else… I’m pretty convinced that it’s a hawk right now.  Anyways, the rest of the birds are on pretty significant lock-down unless someone’s outside with them.Chicken in a box

My grandfather refurnished a family wardrobe for us last year, and it was supposed to live in our bedroom, but no matter how hard we tried it wouldn’t go up the stairs.  So I filled it with yarn, and it hung out in our kitchen for a while, but the plan was to move it into our spare bedroom and get rid of the ugly particle board wardrobe that was in there.  But in order to get the ugly one out we had to take it apart.  So we did.  It’s in pieces outside.  I didn’t even think about whether the wardrobe would get around the corner.  It did, but barely.  I didn’t think about whether it would make it through the door.  It didn’t.  Not even after we took off the door and the doorframe and put a couple of holes in the walls.  So now the wardrobe, still looking like a yarn store and pretty as can be, is back in the kitchen, and the spare bedroom seems a lot bigger without an ugly, yet somewhat useful, wardrobe.Wardrobe disaster

Orwell underwater

So I cut down a tree.  It was my first one.  Here’s a stop-motion animation of the event!

Jeremy said that when I wrote on facebook  that I’d cut a tree down,most people would think I was cutting down a Christmas tree… he said that I should say I fell a tree instead.  So I did that too.  I fell me a tree.  It was a maple.  It was scary as heck, and my muscles all hurt, but it was exhilarating and awesome and I’m proud of myself.

Meanwhile, Jeremy hung Imagecurtains.   Aren’t they pretty?  We should be proud of him too.  This is obviously not true.  Jeremy taught me how to cut a tree down, and was taking pictures of me while I was doing it.  However, he also DID hang curtains this week, to try to keep some of our lovely warm air in our living space, and not vent it out through the holes in the windows.  ImageHe also put in a new fancy water tap, so that our water doesn’t taste like stinky sulfur!  Yes, we planned on putting it in immediately after we moved, but it’s in now, and isn’t it nice?  Especially when the camera is focusing on the clean utensils in the background?


Underwater, of course

We went to the distillery on Hornby on Saturday.  It was…

(I couldn’t figure out what adjective to use right now, so I looked on my “farm mac” – all of the keys are a really dirty shade of brown – thesaurus for another word for cool and it’s informal options are “trendy, funky, with it, hip, big, happening, groovy, phat, kicky, fly”.  I don’t like those.  Points to someone who can find me that right adjective.  It’s certainly not “groovy” or “fly”.)

I felt like the still belonged in an Orwellian underwater H.G. Wells undersea space odyssey journey.  It was one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen.  Apart from my puppy, obviously.Image


Less pretty these days than normal, as she is in a “rolling in poop twice a day” phase

  The company was founded by an Icebreaker Captain and an organic chemist… you should go.  It’s the real deal.

So is roasting sausages over a bush fire.  They were delicious.


It’s almost December. You’re allowed to sing. I promise.

ImageThis log has a piece of flagging tape on it from when part of our fenced-in farm area was a path through to Dusty Road from our house.  We flagged the path off because I was perpetually getting lost.  I get lost less now.  Not a lot less, but less.  It was a little sad to see it burning,

And, finally, I dug up my gladiolas.Image  They were diseased with thrips this year, so we’re hoping to treat them and have better luck next year.  Any advice?

Spiced Butternut my ass

Some jobs, some vacations, some days and weeks and months and years are more successful than others.  Some to-do lists get accomplished quickly and simply.  Some take more time.  Some never get finished, for a long list of reasons, be they lost or forgotten or impossible or reduced to irrelevancy.

I had so many plans for this vacation.  I made a mental list.  I was going to reupholster a chair.  I was going to knit socks.  We were going to go to Tofino.  To Victoria.  Cross-country skiing.  Hiking.  We were going to go to the New Years dance.  I was going to get all of my marking done.  Read a book for school.  Read a book for me.  Get in a bunch of firewood, clean our bedroom, lounge in bed and eat bonbons.  I was going to paint the living room, the entry-way, touch up the kitchen.  We were going to finish our renovations (for all of you who know anything about renovations, please don’t laugh here.  Or not out loud at least.  I’m still a little sensitive about this part).

And then the plans started to fall apart.  I couldn’t paint because we hadn’t finished drywalling.  We couldn’t go to Tofino because Mia’s in heat and I don’t want a litter of unwelcome and half ugly puppies (even though they’d be at least half beautiful because she’s the prettiest puppy in the world).  Same for Victoria.  Jeremy got sick and was in bed for 8 days and pretty useless for the 2 days prior.  I’ve never seen him so sick.  I never wrote down my mental list and just kinda got caught up in painting.  And sleeping.  I did sleep a lot.  One day I stayed in bed until noon!  Reading a book!  So I guess I did that.  School got forgotten and ignored.  And without Jeremy to motivate me, I neglected the firewood too.  The bedroom is never a priority, and our renovations will never be done, especially now that our roof is leaking, and we can’t find the leak, so we may be heading into a new renovation sooner than anticipated.  Poop.

Before Jer got sick though, we finished some of the drywalling, picked a paint colour, got Jeremy’s mom to pick it up in town, I opened the can, was surprised at it’s greenish hue, took one swipe of it on the wall and was aghast.  It was supposed to be spiced butternut.  It was neither spicy nor butternutty.  It was Mountain Dewish.  It was yellow with a side of green.  It bordered on neon.  It was not warm or inviting or calm or pretty.  It was bad.  I kept hoping it would get better.  It didn’t.  Not with a second coat, not in different light, not the next day.  So we decided to go darker, bolder, more orange, and paint the other walls of the living room a neutral.  I love the one wall – it’s called Autumn Harvest, but in Martha Stewart’s catalogue it’s called Pencil, because it’s orange pencil coloured.  I wish the other walls were darker – they’re too white – but they’re totally passable and I love our new room.  The baby blue is gone.  Thank goodness.

Christmas was lovely (our first at home in our home!) – we had a friend stay over Christmas Eve and we spent Christmas morning opening presents and drinking tea around our woodstove.  We went over to Jer’s ma’s house to get further spoiled and feast.  New Years was a bust – I painted and cursed at the daffodil citrus chartreuse wall and Jer was feverish and in bed by 7.  And now I have to go back to work tomorrow and I’m not ready but will survive because that’s how I roll.Chartreuse mountain dew disaster! New loom!

Who can name the birds?

Who can name the birds?

Living room all set up pencil beats butternut Beautiful unpregnant puppy


I stopped by a cafe today to visit a friend and we started chatting about our weekends… she spent it with old friends.  Dear friends.  The kind of friend that you don’t make in a day or a week or a year.  I have a lot of those friends and feel very grateful for it.  I spent my weekend with a number of those friends as well.  One, who I’ve known since 2002 or 2003, her son, who I’ve known since he was born, and one who I’ve known since grade 7.  So 1994 or 1995.  We went cross-country skiing together on a school trip and I hurt my ankle and she didn’t really like cross-country skiing so we skied together.  We were pretty much friends ever since, but not always the best of friends.  We were quite different – I was into punk rock.  She was into the colour pink.  I was a treeplanter and lived in the bush.  She went to Australia and New Zealand and became a teacher.  I became a teacher.  She had an old truck in high school that only had an am radio.  His name was Bob.  I have an old truck that has a cd player but shouldn’t.  His name is Truckasaurus.

My friend and I have always been able to count on each other, but I forget about her sometimes.  Not forget as in gone forever, but forget as in out of sight.  She flew in from Calgary this weekend for Birthday weekend extravaganza take II (Take 1 was pretty much the best thing ever), and even though I came down with a cold and the weather didn’t really cooperate, so we weren’t as active, I think I may have even had more fun, because sometimes all you need to have fun is a mug of tea, a cupboard full of board games (or just 1 board game), and really good friends.

I hope that my friends know how much I love them, and how much easier this life is because they’re in it.

And I hope that Birthday Weekend Extravaganza has 50 other takes, in different months of the year, so we can eat birthday cakes (and oysters, even if we have to buy them) year-round.

**Jeremy just realized that he left one of our new headlamps in the chimney he put up today.  It’d be really funny if he didn’t have to take the whole chimney down to get it back out… as it is, I still think it’s pretty funny, but I don’t have to take the chimney down…

The first thing to do…

The very first thing on my “to do” list when we moved into this house was to set up an indoor toilet, and I was ADAMANT that I didn’t want it to be a bucket.  It took until the middle of the winter last year to get a bucket.  We took it out for the summer, but it’s back in and I love it every time it’s too dark and cold and wet and rainy to head out to the outhouse.  It’s our oak throne, made out of old oak cabinets.

The second thing on our “to do” list, which I hoped to accomplish last October (over a year ago) was to take down the unnecessary and imposing loft over half of our kitchen.  We never used the space, the stairs took up a lot of room, and there was a skylight that wasn’t being properly utilized.  Plus there were these 2 posts in the middle of the room that totally broke up the kitchen and made a bunch of unusable space.  But then we got busy building a fence, starting a business, getting jobs, baking pizza (did you notice I used jobs in the plural?!  Jer had his first night baking pizza last week and it was super successful, he’s a star and I’m so proud.  Gush gush gush), killing chickens, moving woodstoves, painting kitchens and demolition just kinda seemed like a lot of work.  Until I painted the ceiling in the lofts this weekend.  Until Jer fixed  the lighting way up top with some lights my grandparents drove out in the spring, along with canning jars we used up, a canning pot we did double duty with, and a treasure trove of other goodies, and took out the sketchy ceiling fan.  Until we had 2 lovely friends come over with their bulk and their brawn and we said “Hey!  Loft!  You’re DONE!”

And then it was.  It is no longer.  Neither are the stairs, or the posts.  And now we have this wall that’s super super super tall and this window that looks like it was built for an elf and these two power outlets 10 feet up on the wall and if I wanted I could build (who are we kidding here… I could have Jeremy build) bookshelves that needed a ladder on tracks to roll across the kitchen because THAT’S how awesome my house is.

I’m officially living the dream.  The dream includes a bookshelf that needs a ladder.  The dream needed a wall that was big enough.  Now I got me a wall.  This week our woodstove will get tiled and then installed.  The ant-infested ceiling will get finished, and my house will be put back together.  Like I said, living the dream.

The difference a month can make

My mom and stepdad came for a visit last weekend – the original purpose of their visit was to deliver a wardrobe that my grandfather has refinished that’s been in our family for a long time (I don’t know it’s history yet… I’ll get better acquainted with it soon I’m sure), but after they picked up the van they’d rented to drive out to the coast and gone over to pick up the wardrobe they realized it wouldn’t fit through the doors (especially funny because I’d had a similar conversation on the phone last week with the lady from Hornby Denman freight who said that they’d get our woodstove in our door as long as the door frame was wide enough – sometimes it’s not).  So they returned the van and drove out in my mom’s little fast car.  It was a whirlwind visit, as they always seem to be, but we got a ton accomplished (cleaned out the greenhouse, canned green tomato mincemeat, baked a pie and tarts, dehydrated tomatoes, did 5 loads of laundry, cleaned out the laundry room, went to the hall’s 100th birthday, picked oysters, planted garlic, planted flower bulbs, moved our lawn furniture under cover, finished my Halloween costume… really.  2 days.  We were busy) and it was really lovely to see them again.  I don’t get to spend enough time with my family.

Jer’s been out all evening and I’ve spent the night slicing the last batch of cherry tomatoes for our dehydrator.  I just filled it one last time, but I feel DONE.  I don’t want to preserve any more food.  I just want to eat it all.  Just like all of my students will be eating all of their Halloween candy tonight.  There was an interesting debate amongst teachers today as to which day was worse – Halloween or the day after.  Most went with the day after.  I’m not looking forward to tomorrow – cranky, sugar-high and sugar-hungover, sleep-deprived children who know that there’s nothing left until Christmas which is almost 2 months away except endless rain.

Do you remember September?  Remember those records we kept hitting for our dry, hot fall?  Remember Thanksgiving weekend?  That wasn’t so long ago… I feel like the whole property hasn’t been dry in months (yes, I’m full of poop.  This is how I feel.  I know it’s not true.  It’s still how I feel).  I feel like the sky hasn’t been blue in years.  I feel like I’ll never put on a pair of shoes again that don’t have rubber up past my ankles.  When Jer left the roof was dripping every couple of minutes onto the wood stove – it started yesterday but he went to town today to get the chimney for our renovation and it’s been raining all day so he didn’t get up onto the roof.  It’s not dripping every few minutes now, but every second or two.  We also only have a garbage bag covering the hole where our new chimney is going, and the garbage bag has a hole in it.  That hole leaks even more consistently.  I can only imagine what it’s like for all of my friends living in unfinished houses.  I don’t envy you during the winter months, that’s for sure.

We’re off to Victoria this weekend to visit friends and celebrate my birthday.  A couple of weekends full of love make even the rainiest months easy to manage.

Eating like strumpets

I was out in the garden this morning harvesting tomatoes, seeing as we finally finished processing the glut that we’d had in our kitchen for a week or more – we canned another 7 quarts and 4 pints this morning (with roasted fennel and home-grown hot peppers – oh my GOD is it good) to bring our saucy total so far this year to 26 quarts.  I was staring at all of the red in the greenhouse and didn’t know how to feel.  Not long ago (2 weeks?  3?) I was stressed out because we hadn’t put away enough tomatoes.  Now I’m losing all of the skin on my hands because of the acidity of the fruit – in addition to the sauce, we’ve got 2 cases of salsa and 4 litres of dehydrated cherry tomatoes (they’d probably fill a fridge if they weren’t dehydrated).  So I saw all of this red, and a small part of me felt like sabotaging the whole greenhouse to not have to do the work.  But then I noticed our glut of eggplant, the basil that needs to be picked and made into pesto before it gets cold, the winter squash to be harvested before next weekend’s (last!) market, the cucumbers that are still producing and need to be picked and pickled, the beans that are going like CRAZY and need to be processed, and the apples.   Oh the apples.  Plus our chickens are only about 2 weeks away from being dispatched, and Jeremy’s taking down walls and building floors (at this exact moment we have a big hole where our kitchen window used to be.  I’m scared to ask how long it will be like this for…).

Back to my story.  So I was in the greenhouse.  There was granola in the oven.  There was bread rising on the stove.  The dehydrator was going.  And our neighbour walked by.  Phew.  Welcome distraction.  Ends up that she’s in pretty much the same place as us – there’s food piling up in all corners of the kitchen (and pantry.  and living room.  and on the couch) that needs to be dealt with.  Plus they have a baby.  I can’t imagine September with a baby.  I remember September being busy last year and I didn’t have a full-time job!  I just keep reminding myself that in the dead of winter, when I open a jar of tomato sauce and it tastes like summer it will be worth it.  It will be SO worth it.

Next weekend is Thanksgiving.  Last year we hosted a Thanksgiver Feast Fest.  This year I think it will be a smaller affair, but it sounds like we’ll have a couple of guests and we’ll eat like kings and queens and strumpets, because they probably had more fun when they were eating anyways.