Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Watch Your Back!

Not the greatest photo, but look closely and you'll see that Dinny is giving free riding lessons to the neighbourhood birds! We're delighted to have Dinny back for the summer and by the way he cheerfully heads out to the field each day, I think he's happy to be be home.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Why, oh Why Can't I Chase Those Ducklings?

For a dog that is half sight-hound and still an impulsive puppy, Pippi shows remarkable restraint when it comes to NOT chasing the ducks. Her whole body quivers with anticipation and she lives in eternal hope that I'll give her the nod, but amazingly, even when the whole flock waddles past her, she stays put.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Miracle of Growth

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

No matter how matter-of-fact I try to be about this whole gardening thing, I cannot help but be amazed by the way things grow! A prime example is this bed of purple sprouting broccoli which, if you recall, started out looking like this (those microscopic green flecks in the foreground):

And now, mere weeks later, a thick forest of green! I was getting a tad worried that there was still no sign of sprouting shoots to pluck, but after looking up the variety I was reminded that it will take 200 days, or so for the plants to start producing the mini-heads that characterize sprouting broccoli. Typical - on the one hand, I'm astonished by the spectacular rapid growth and other other hand, terribly impatient to start harvesting!

Meanwhile, out in the orchard, birds are snacking on my not-quite-ripe cherries (carefully procured netting remains in its package, waiting for time enough to install...), a robin was seen rooting about in my strawberry patch (must net that, too!), and the grass in the orchard is madly spewing clouds of pollen because I haven't had time to build some new goat containment panels that will allow the goats to clean up without decimating the four new fruit trees in the upper part of the orchard! Ack. I feel like it's time to post a new, seasonal to-do list here, except the very thought of how long that list will be is just plain depressing!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Watch Those Ducklings Grow!

Remember a few short hours ago (or so it seems) when we could fit a dozen ducklings in the water dish? Not any more! We are enjoying the final few days of duckling fuzz before our babies fledge out and their true colours are revealed.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Giant red leaf mustard lettuce

For anyone who thinks lettuce is floppy and bland, try some of this! We scored some seeds labelled 'Giant Red Leaf Mustard Lettuce' at the Seedy Saturday seed exchange earlier this year and I threw some into the salad greens bed. Let me tell you, that was the best loonie I've ever spent! (at least, when it comes to salad greens!) The leaves are HUGE, a fabulous russet and deep, dark green - and the taste! Peppery, hot, tangy - they really spice up a plate of greens. We've had them in salads (they grow fast and were among the first we started harvesting), stir-fries, and sandwiches. This past week or so I've also been snipping off the tips of the flower buds before they have a chance to open and wow, do they add some serious zing to the salad! I must let a couple of plants go to seed so I can collect and save for next year.
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Super Dani!

Here's Dani doing her superhero impression at the Canadian National Futures Vaulting Championships in Chilliwack, BC. Dani's competing in the Women's Canter D division and here, though it looks like she is floating along behind her horse, she is actually partway through her dismount.

This is actually a pretty big deal competition as Chilliwack is simultaneously hosting Canada's first CVI (there are big time international competitors here, too - from all over the USA, one competitor from Australia, and another competing for China - though the latter now lives in the US). Many of the CVI vaulters are vying for scores high enough to qualify for spots at this fall's World Equestrian Games being held in Kentucky.

Lots of fun (well, fun for me as I'm a casual spectator). And, fun for Pippi who is on her first road trip. Today she discovered the joys of zooming around abandoned racetracks. As a dog who is half whippet, this has, so far, been the highlight of her journey!
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Iago Loves My Truck

... almost as much as I do! She knows the sound of the engine and appears from nowhere when we return with the horses (or after procuring a load of hay). She knows the engine will be warm and toasty and this fact makes her very, very happy. I've never seen a cat cuddle with a vehicle with quite the same degree of enthusiasm!
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Electric Fencing is My Friend

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Fi-Shock. All opinions are 100% mine.
I don't know exactly how they first figure it out, but horses know when the fence is off! Within days of figuring out that something wasn't working quite right, the beasties were reaching through, under, and over the fence of their paddock. Wires snapped, insulators popped off posts, and I was getting seriously worried I was going to show up in the morning to find the whole herd gone! Work deadlines kept me from getting out there to do a bit of maintenance and wow, by the time Dad and I methodically made our way around the perimeter yesterday, it was astonishing what a good job they had done of weed-eating under the fence line!

Anyway, armed with our bucket of essential electric fencing supplies (new insulators, nails, hammer, fencing pliers, wire, zap-straps -- or whatever those handy-dandy plastic ties are called--, and a sharp pair of loppers) we followed the fence, searching for places where something might be shorting out, trimming back weeds and branches that might grow into the fence (as I say, the horses did a remarkable job of tidying up for us!)

Brio the cheeky kept sneaking up on us, stealing tools, ruffling hair, blowing down Dad's unsuspecting neck (THAT made him jump!). When, at last, we were done, we switched the fence back on and watched. Sure enough, Brio investigated with what seemed to be a hair's breadth between her whiskers and the wire, but did not touch the fence with her muzzle. She turned away but misjudged the distance and brushed the now-hot wire with her shoulder. Zap! She did a dazzling sideways leap and the other horses sort of looked at her as if to say, "Dummy. What do you think they were doing to the fence all afternoon?"

Nobody else has come close to getting in trouble - except poor little Pipsters who, sadly, had to learn one of those awful lessons of puppyhood - that wet noses and hot wire do not good friends make...

Given that Dad and I had never installed an electric fence before we built the horse paddock, we are pretty happy with the way things have turned out. Horses are notoriously hard on fences of any kind and the electric really helps keep them from chewing, rubbing on, sitting upon, or blowing through. If we'd known about this company (Fi-Shock) and website before we started, we probably would have done a better job planning and installing the system in the first place. As it is, when we finally get around to building the new paddocks above the manure pile (as in, farther up the hill... not on top of the heap), I'll be checking in to see what info I can use and, maybe, invest in a solar-powered fence charger (I've always wanted one of those...)

Visit my sponsor: Fi-Shock

Pippi the Pippet Puppy

... with her freshly killed stick. It has been many years since I have enjoyed the pleasures of a new puppy. Pippi is just about the most entertaining dog with the happiest disposition that I've ever met (okay, I may be a bit biased, but still...) This photo was snapped during a marathon 'kill the stick!' game - pretty well all the other photos show a fuzzy black blur as Pippi whirled, pounced, spun, leapt, tossed, raced away with, tried to bury, and worried this stick she found while I was doing some grass-pulling along the orchard fence. It was very, very hard to keep my mind on my task and not just stop and play.
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