Tag Archives: woodland creatures


Off my needles, and a bird heavy (but not heavy bird) post

This gallery contains 12 photos.

It’s been a busy time, what with a trip to Calgary over spring break and the arrival of spring while we were gone.  We left when spring was on the horizon and returned to hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and blossoms.  Plus, … Continue reading

The birds and the fish and the ways they make babies

One of my best friends drove Jeremy back to me on Friday (he went down to Victoria for Farmer2Farmer – a farming convention) with her very-nearly-5-year-old son.  The 4 of us (5 with Mia) went to the North end of the island to Morning Beach Park to check out the birds and the beach after the herring spawn of the past coDSC_1033uple of weeks.  Supposedly this is one of the bigger herring spawn in recent memory – it was crazy seeing the big fishing boats filled to capacity, water almost going over their decks.  The water was beautifully milky.  Beautiful, until you realize that it’s milky because of the fish jizz in the water.  Beautiful, until you think about the future smell.  I remember how bad the east side of the island smelled for MONTHS last year after the herring spawn… and this year there were fish on both sides of the island, and way more of them.  I’m not looking forward to the upcoming stench.

Eagle part 2.That said, Saturday was lovely.  There were hundreds and hundreds of birds down at the beach.  The eagles were mating (did you know that birds mate in the air and that the ladies have to fly upside down to make it happen?  I didn’t until last year, around this time… you should definitely watch eagles doing it Eagle in tree watching eagles gallivanting to matesometime) and chasing away the seagulls.  We must have seen a hundred eagles.  It was spectacular.  And then we had cider and we were all sleepyheads all afternoon.  I ended up reading the aforementioned 5 year old “Oh, the Places You’ll Go“, one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, and started worrying that I spend too much time trying to get through busy periods, only to realise that another bout of insanity is upon me.  The past couple of weeks have been SO full of marking for me, and now report cards are smack on top of my head.  Last week was really hard without having Jer around – there’s simply a lot of things to do around the place when I’m away from home for 10 or 11 hours a day.  Mia certainly wasn’t very happy for a couple of days.  Spring break is less than 2 weeks away, and my hope is that next term has fewer weeks of just getting through, and more weeks of enjoying my time with my students and my home.

Aforementioned 5 year oldI haven’t gotten much knitting or quilting or weaving done lately, although I do have a couple of projects that should be completed in the next week or two, my very first quilt being one of them.  Pictures will come soon!  However, we did get some fencing done last weekend, and I can show you pictures of that.  We also did go over to our neighbours’ this weekend, for a fantastical birthday cake that I made (I, as in not Jeremy, for any of you who have ever become confused over who bakes the cakes in this house), and I have a picture of that too.
We're ready! Fence pulling time! Birthday cake extravaganza!

First swims

Often firsts are the hardest, and then once you get over that hump you wonder what took you so bloody long.

We were in Courtenay for the Vancouver Island Music Festival on the weekend and it was bloody hot.  Not as ridiculously hot as it’s been in past years, but because it was 13 degrees out last week, 25 felt pretty much unbearable.  So we went swimming.  In the glacial water of the Tsolum River.  If you could call it swimming.  It probably took us 20 minutes to get in.  It wasn’t so cold that you jumped in and out, but we certainly didn’t stay in for long.

Today, however, after we worked for a couple of hours in the morning (and had a luxurious early-afternoon nap), we went swimming.  We went down to the lake, and jumped in.  And it was perfect summer swimming weather.  We could have been in the lake for HOURS.  Plus, we took Mia with us and she swam, maybe for the first time.  She was great.  She’s great.  Swimming is great.  We’ll do lots more for that.  Probably tomorrow.

Tomorrow one of my oldest friends ever is coming to visit with his lovely wife and their twin daughters.  I can’t wait.

Other highlights of today include tomatoes and corn and squash that grew like mad over the weekend, dinner with lovely friends, drooling all over my hand during my nap, and watching a cicada (we think?  care to correct us?) crawl out of it’s shell in the greenhouse.  Tres cool.

How busy is your beaver?

Because ours is getting things done.  And not hanky-panky things (although he, or she, may be getting that done too).  Dam things.  Holly-cutting, bark-stripping, dam-building things.  Currently, we’re just breaking the dam up every day or two, and he (I‘m going to call it a he for now, because from my research, this is the time of year that 2 year-old beaver bucks head out on their own to strike it rich) is slowly putting it back together.  So far no one is winning, which is okay with us for now.  If he starts pulling ahead, we’ll have to kick our beaver battle up a notch because he could end up flooding the chicken house and making our lawn a big pond, and while I wanted a moat around my house when I was, say, 5, it’s not really ideal right now.

Fred is no longer with us.  My cousin Madeline was here over the past couple of days, and she said that it’s very fitting, seeing as Fred was killed in the last book.  I’m not sure if that makes Jeremy a death eater or not, but regardless what it makes Jeremy, I like to believe that it makes Fred a lot happier.  She’s buried in our leaf pile with the remains of our ducks.  She was getting worse, I think, and from all of our research, she very possibly could have made the rest of the chickens sick if we didn’t do something about it.

And I’m sick.  I’m home from work today with a stupid head cold (almost half of my students took at least 1 day off this week because they were sick, and I swear I’m going to figure out who started this stupid cold and deduct 10% off of their Health mark).  I’m hoping to get some things accomplished around the house, as well as some of my homework for my University french course, but I’m also hoping to knit and sleep and watch bad movies.  Any recommendations?  I’ll take recommendations for good movies too.  Jer and I just watched My Dog Tulip, which was absolutely lovely, and which I’d recommend for anyone who even kind of likes dogs, and also anyone who appreciates good animation.

The meaning of independence

I’ve had a bit of a hard week.  It’s one thing to be independent when you live in the city, or in the summer when daylight goes on forever, or when you’re not away from home for every single moment of sunlight in the day.  It’s another thing completely to be independent when you come home to a freezing house and when the Canadian coast decided to remind it’s inhabitants that while we live in a temperate climate, we still do happen to live in Canada, and that means snow.  Not much – the warning for 10 cm that had me more than a little jittery yesterday panned out to about 5.  Now I know all of you non-coastal folks are scoffing at 5cm, or even 10.  I used to scoff at this too.  “Snow warning?!  10 cm is like a dusting of snow around here!  We only get warnings for when there’s going to be more than a metre!”.  I know.  I get it.  But it’s different here.  5 cm of snow usually means 5 cm of snow on top of a sheen of ice in a part of the world that owns 5 plows and shares a sander with Seattle.  5 cm of snow means a lot of people stay home from work, and those that don’t often end up in the ditch.  I saw 6 cars in the ditch yesterday, and only 2 today because I took the old highway that stays a couple of degrees warmer (so gets less snow).

Other than my stressful but not epically so drives to work, here’s a list of why I don’t want to live alone on a “farm” when winter is rearing it’s cold windy face.

  • the house is BLOODY cold.  Our house is not the most insulated house you’ve ever seen, and our windows are not the most airtight.  I don’t light a fire in the morning because I don’t have time, and so when I get home from work, it takes about 4 hours to warm up half of the kitchen.  The bedroom hasn’t been above 10 degrees since Jeremy left.  A hot water bottle helps at night, but it’s still cold.
  • power outages.  We had one on Wednesday, so not only did I arrive home in the dark, but it stayed dark until going on 10 pm.  Hard to get much done in the dark.  Especially when you’re SURE that your laptop was plugged in all day and you have a little hissy fit because it won’t turn on and you figure a power surge killed it and everything on it.  Power outages also mean that if you’re on a well, you can’t use much water or else your well will de-pressurize, and guess who doesn’t know how to re-pressurize her well.  Me.  Guess what Jer will be teaching me when he gets home.
  • food.  Namely, I’ve been eating salmon bagels for dinner.  And perogies.  I made chili on Monday, but then I got tired and the house got messy and I was too exhausted to clean it.

But you know what?  I came home from work early today – I get 1 block a week off at the end of the day, and today I just decided to leave and so caught the 3 pm ferry home, and got a whole hour and a half of daylight at home.  I saw a beautiful red-shafted flicker above our bird feeder, and had a wicked snuggle with Oz.  Yup.  I snuggled with a cat.  As many of you know, I don’t like cats.  I’ve never met a cat I liked.  Kittens, sure, but then they grow up into cats.  And I don’t like cats.  I had an argument with a girl in Turkey about dogs and cats.  She said that dogs were dumb.  I said cats were mean.  She couldn’t refute me, but we all know dogs aren’t dumb.  Come on now.  Anyways, I’ve always thought of cats the way I think of those evil evil evil she-devils in high school and middle school that are nice and lovely and sweet and kind, and then the second you do one thing wrong, their claws are out and you’re bleeding.  Again.  I didn’t like those girls then, I don’t like them now, and I don’t like their feline counterparts.  Why should I?  Cats are mean.  Yes.  Maybe they’re independent.  Lovely.  Doesn’t mean they have to be mean about it.  There’s nothing wrong with leaving a conversation.  You don’t have to do it with your fists though.

But Ozdick isn’t a cat.  He’s a dog.  Really.  He lets me wrestle him and he has yet to claw me.  I can scruffle him, and not the way you scruffle most cats – the way you scruffle a BIG dog.  And he likes it!  He begs for it.  So I like him.  We’re buds.  He’s not mean.  He’s not really a cat.  I swear.


I meant to write last weekend.  I got busy.  Jeremy got sick.  So I meant to write this week.  But I haven’t been getting enough sleep, and I felt sick too, and I was behind on school planning, and things simply got away from me.  So here’s a bunch of pictures, mostly from LAST weekend…

Oh.  And no eggs yet, so no one wins.  We just got a light on a timer set up in their house, so hopefully that happens soon!

Happenings on the farm

We made blackberry wine the day before we went to Calgary.  Squished it through our little fingers.  Got it under our fingernails and stained the dirt black.  I wonder when my fingers will ever be clean again… At the wedding in Calgary, I told a friend of mine who lives in the NWT about it around a bonfire at some unnatural time of the morning.  We decided to trade a bottle for a hunk of moose meat.  He’s going hunting in a few weeks and that makes me excited.  There’s a strong likelihood that he won’t remember, and I don’t know how we’ll make the trade because we don’t see each other often, but it still makes me happy to think about it.

We got to squish 27 pounds of blackberries with our hands for wine

Yesterday, as we were walking down the road in the rain to get our mail, I saw a small lizard (alright… so salamanders aren’t technically lizards, but it looked like a lizard to me, so there) on the road.  I tried to encourage her to get off of the road, but she must have been mighty cold, because she wasn’t moving very fast.

Her name's Sally.  We found her on the road and brought her home to our woods.

So we picked her up, took her to the mailbox, and took her home with us.  I put her under a big log out in front of our house, where she can hopefully stay dry and warm and not get run over by a truck or oldsmobile driving down our road.

But first I brought her (or him, I'm really not sure) inside to take pictures

First though, I had to take pictures.  She was sweet and lovely and I liked holding her (or him, I really don’t know) in my hand.  She has 4 toes on each of her front feet and 5 on each of her back.  Interesting, no?

She's not very big

Yesterday we also picked one of our apple trees, and finished picking all of our plums.  Some of the apples are saucing right now, and we’re dehydrating most of the rest of the plums.  The rest of the apples will turn into sauce or pie or crumble or crisp over the next few weeks.  Our tomatoes are still ripening, and we hope to get some more after this run of rain.

Apples, plums, and cherry tomatoes

Jer thinks these apples may be Cortlands – kind of like a MacIntosh.  They’re really good and sweet, but not super crisp.

We picked these from the most fruitful of our 3 trees

I missed this picture when we were doing salsa and oven roasted tomato sauce, but I’ve been asked to put up more pictures, so…..

Salsa and tomato sauce for the winter

And THIS is a caterpillar we found.  We think it will turn into some variety of silk moth, maybe a cecropia?  I forget what the other name we found was… it was long and had lots of syllables in it.  This guy cocooned under one of our maple trees, on a bench, so we moved it under the porch.

This guy cocooned under our porch

There’s another one that we think is the same that actually cocooned on the fender of my bicycle… if it lasts there all winter, we’ll see what happens in the spring!

He hung out with Jer for an afternoon