Meet Sydney. I've decided she's a girl gopher. It would appear that Sydney has decided she no longer wants to be a country gopher and has decided to sublet a little apartment up at the Big House.
I can only assume she's decided that the space behind this white box, atop which sits our little Hibachi bar-b-que, is a good neighbourhood to raise children in. Here she is checking out the new landlord. She hasn't met the local ruffians, Luna and her trusty sidekick, Willow. I'd rather she set up home there than in my garden, but I'd hate to see her or her brood come to any harm.
Speaking of my garden. I am officially a potato farmer! Remember how, a month ago, we had to move all that snow by hand with shovels? Well, the same is now true of the garden soil. I'm having to turn it all by hand and it's a big, back breaking job, so I'm turning and planting as I go. As I make my first real foray as a gardener, it's becoming painfully evident that what I know about growing vegetables could fit on the head of a pin. I find myself apologizing to the plants. Seriously. All evidence so far would indicate that I will reap an outstanding crop of weeds, nevertheless, I'm proceeding in good faith and trusting that the plants know what to do. What's new in your neck of the woods?
So, I saw my first garter snake the other day. Two, in fact - can you see them both? I never would have spotted them if Willow hadn't been nosing around them. To quote my friend, Christina, I don't know a garter snake from a cobra, so I had The Frenchman come outside and identify them for me. After he assured me - several times - that they weren't poisonous, I got up close and personal with them. I'm not a fan of snakes, but if they help keep the mice population down, they're welcome to stay.
Now that the weather is beginning to warm, our animals are taking great pleasure in spending lots of time outdoors. It pleases me to no end when Luna joins Willow and me outside, boldly trotting along behind us like a puppy-cat. Willow remains pretty focused on (read: obsessed with) playing fetch while Luna explores and expands her territory.
I marvel at how well she blends in with her surroundings and I almost lose sight of her completely when she's sitting on our gravel drive. Yesterday she shared a couple of her favourite impressions with us.
Luna: "Hmmm...I wonder what's down this hole?"
Eventually, she settled in and watched with disdain as Willow attempted to rescue her ball out of the gopher hole she'd dropped it into.
Warning: The following post uses a ridiculous amount of exclamation points. !!!
MY BEE SUIT ARRIVED!
*wild happy dancing*
Last month, I registered for an Introductory Beekeeping Course scheduled to take place in June. It's being held in some obscure location outside of Regina, SK, roughly a 2 1/2 hour drive away. I haven't been this excited about anything since I found a kitten under our Christmas tree when I was six. I still don't know how I'm going to make it work, given that I'll be away from home for two nights and I can't take The Dog with me. The Frenchman will be working and his company will be in the midst of their busiest season then. I've done all I can do. I've set my intention ("I'm GOING!") and thrown the details into the wind with a hope and a prayer that it will all sort itself out.
I'M SO EXCITED!!!
I can barely contain myself.
Incidentally, it's impossible to look chic in one of these get-ups. I don't care! Colour me Happy!
Life has been pretty mundane around here lately. I don't mean to disappear, but I just don't feel the urge to blog when I don't feel like I have anything meaningful to share. You don't really want to know about every little event that occurs here, do you? I finally faced facts and accepted that 99.9% of the clothing I have hanging in my closet doesn't fit me anymore. They all appear to have shrunk. With the wedding of my niece looming a mere 25 days hence, I'm now, in the eleventh hour, attempting to drop a few inches. I'm being diligent about putting Spock through his paces (if you're new here, that's my pet name for my treadmill), and I've also begun to follow the Weight Watcher's Points Program. I'm very determined to trim down. I just hope I see some positive results early on, so I don't get discouraged. We got more snow here a couple of days ago. I swear! It didn't stick around for long though and the temperatures are forecast to get warmer as we near the end of the week. I sincerely hope so. Spring, if you can call it that, is not pretty in these here parts. Everything is a dull shade of brown, dusty and dirty from all the sand that was spread on the roads during the worst of the winter season. Consequently, I've not been inspired to get out my camera much. So...ho hum, right? What exciting things have been happening in your world?
This past Saturday, my neighbour and blog buddy, Catherine and I went to a farm fair together. For one day only, local farmers gathered together to bring a few of their animals to market and offer them for sale. We're still a long way from being ready to properly house any new animals, so I exercised extreme restraint and opted to bring lots of photos home instead. Just look at all the fabulous critters that I had to leave behind! I should be sainted, seriously. That said, if anyone had placed a baby bunny in my hands to hold, I would not have been responsible for my actions. Just sayin'.
There were lots of different chicken breeds in various stages of growth from wee newborns just minutes out of their eggs to full grown roosters and egg layin' hens.
There were ducks, and pheasants, and geese, and quail, too.
Why is it that these little creatures are so appealing when they're nestled in wood shavings and doing their best Disney character impression, but they're not so adorable when they're in my kitchen drawer? His bad luck that I may have several of his distant relatives moving in with me soon. Then, we happened upon these darling miniature pigs and I nearly lost all my resolve.
Knowing how The Frenchman loves pigs, I sent him a text and attached this photo.
He replied with (and I quote) "Oh my God...just get them." My mistake was in asking if he was serious. When will I learn?! I came *this* close to bringing home a miniature pig, people! I did get their contact information for future reference and The Frenchman does have a birthday coming up. *grin*
With the Frenchman away for five days, enjoying a mini vacation in the Big City, I felt the need for a change of pace myself. I'm limited to what I can do and how long I can do it, due largely to The Dog and her needs. Nevertheless, I opted to take yesterday "off" and just putter around the house doing only those things that I wanted to do and that I enjoyed. I read, baked a pie, played with said Dog, read some more, ate pie - you get the idea. To take my little staycation a step further, I also slept in our newly redecorated guest room last night. I'd read somewhere once that everyone should spend at least one night in the room their guests will occupy so you know what kind of experience they'll have. By doing this, you'll discover if the room is too hot or cold, if there are weird noises, or it's too bright in the room, for example. What better way to feel like I'd gone somewhere without actually leaving home, than to spend the night in an unfamiliar environment. Yes, this is the degree of boring that my life is, that I would find this exciting. Sue me. I slept like a (non-colicky) baby. The room passes with flying colours. This morning, I'm preparing brunch for my new prairie friend, Catherine. She's coming over for a 50 cent tour of our home and then we're off to spend the day together with farm animals. The Frenchman left me with strict orders not to bring any home. Spoil sport. Incidentally, the above photo was taken last year. Flowers and springtime are still like misty dreams around here.
The birds have returned. Surely spring is not far behind. After shunning our offerings of seeds all last fall, they are finally visiting our little makeshift culinary establishment and partaking of the fare. I can only imagine the expletives that filled their little bird brains when they landed here expecting to set up house and found mountains of snow and temperatures that were still dipping to well below zero. I take pleasure in doing what I can to help keep their bellies full and make their experience in my backyard a little warmer.
Since celebrating my 52nd birthday roughly a month ago, I've begun to notice that professionals I deal with seem considerably younger than me. That never used to be the case. Without exception, they all used to be older than me, and presumably wiser. Now, they all look like they just graduated from high school. Fortunately, no one has started to call me ma'am, yet. I think that would send me completely over the edge. Early this morning, The Frenchman boarded a plane for the west coast to visit his daughters for five days. I'm a little envious, mostly of the restaurants he's going to be dining in while he's there, however, I have my own plans for my five days alone that, weather permitting, will include a day trip and chickens. Not necessarily in that order. Painting continues apace on the main floor of the house and, by that, I mean that I've painted one feature wall five times. FIVE times! The light in this house confounds me. A paint colour will dramatically change in hue from one end of the wall to the other due only to the quality of light it receives. The aforementioned wall gets direct sunlight and separates the kitchen from the living room. We weren't fond of the teal blue colour that was used there, so I painted two other colours over it thatdid.not. work either, before finally electing to go with the same warm shade of yellow* as the kitchen that lays beyond it, out of sheer desperation. It's cheerful, I'll say that much for it. And, it's going to stay that way for a while. Just sayin'. Speaking of the kitchen, let me share two quick Before & After shots with you. We just installed subway tiles and it's amazing how much more clean and polished the space looks now.
Our pup, Willow, loves to be outside and her black fur soaks up the heat of the sun so well that she can spend hours on our porch in relative comfort in spite of temperatures that are still well below zero. She loves to survey her property and chase anything that dares to enter into her air space - birds and airplanes are treated with equally. The other morning I left her to bask in the brilliant sunshine while I caught up on some work in my studio. I caught a glimpse of something dark moving outside the window in the field across the road and leapt up to see if Willow had crossed the invisible boundary into forbidden territory. Imagine my surprise when I saw this gorgeous fellow loping down the road.
Unfortunately, my little pocket camera is limited in its abilities to capture images clearly past a certain distance, so the quality of these photos aren't the greatest. Willow never did notice the fox's presence, thankfully, and it eventually trotted off after checking out a gopher hole and finding it vacant.
Something tells me we're going to have to make our chicken coop more of a fortress than a palace...
Last Sunday morning, we awoke to yet another winter wonderland. At least two inches of snow had fallen over night and the view outside our windows was blindingly white. A perfect day to stay inside and set up the completed guest room together. In keeping with my usual modus operandi, I almost forgot to capture "before" shots of the room prior to painting over the dark blue walls. If you'll enter the room with me and rotate to the right, I'll give you a quick tour of the previous space.
After a year and a half of marriage and the purchase of our new home, my husband informed me that he really does.not. like the colour blue on walls. Huh. Oh well, he has other redeeming qualities and I wasn't attached to this colour either.
This room gets bathed in gorgeous sunlight in the morning.
Once again, the first thing we did was replace a broken, plastic light fixture with one that had a retro feel and matched the one in the studio across the hall.
Now, cross your arms, close your eyes and nod your head real fast. Voila - here are the after shots.
The Frenchman needed a space where he could do paperwork and work on his computer, so we bought a small writing desk for this purpose and set it under the cantilevered roof where it fits perfectly.
I know what you're thinking, but he insisted that he didn't want much.
This room is separated from my new studio space by a narrow landing about two feet wide so we duplicated the same colour scheme and beadboard wallpaper detailing in order to create a sense of continuity.
We left the original, patinated 100 year old door on this room for privacy.
We have yet to mount a modestly sized mirror, a couple of shelves, and some more artwork before this room will feel complete, but Luna approves of our efforts so far.
I've been feeling out of sorts lately. As I was making up a batch of waffles for breakfast the other morning, it occurred to me that I might be feeling homesick.
When we first relocated to the prairies from our mountainous home province, everything was exciting and new - an adventure.
Now that we're beginning to integrate into the community, I find that I'm feeling out of step. It seems like everything is done differently here, from the items on offer at the local grocery store to the naming conventions of roads. There's a distinct loss of the familiar and I'm feeling like an alien on a strange planet.
When people you thought were your friends let you down, it adds weight to your burden and presents you with options you'd rather not have to consider.
Add to that, repeated bungling of my personal and medical information by the local medical establishment that has left me with a complete lack of confidence in their abilities and I find I'm longing for home.
The Frenchman tells me he's been feeling the same way. We have each other and I know that as the days progress, we'll eventually settle in here and feel less like outcasts. In the meantime, we continue to work on our home, focus on the positives, and look forward to a change in the weather.
Omnia transeunt - This too shall pass.
By the way, in an effort to thwart the spammers out there, I've changed the comments settings. If you have any problems leaving a comment, e-mail me and I'll see what I can do to remedy the situation. Thanks for your understanding!
The temperatures have begun to warm to a few degrees above zero during the daylight hours - no double digits yet, though - and the mountains of snow in our yard are beginning to melt. It's a mixed blessing, the transformation of snow to water. In some areas, they're preparing for flooding. I think we'll be okay. That's the good news. The bad news is there's more snow in the forecast.
There's nothing sadder than watching a gorgeous rose bud wither and wilt before my very eyes. Okay, there may be a few things, but that one definitely ranks up there. Keeping your roses lasting a long time is really quite simple.
Every night upon going to bed, gently cover your bouquet with a plastic bag. You don't have to seal it, simply covering the blossoms seems to do the trick. Again, I have no idea why this works, but suggest that it has something to do with the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen that the rose blossoms are absorbing during the night.
If you have space in your refrigerator, setting them in there over night will also extend the life of your beauties, however most of us don't have that luxury. A cold room will do the trick, but if your temperatures outside are as cold as ours have been, I don't recommend subjecting them to that horror. If your bouquet is prematurely sagging, a brief soak in a tub of cool water will perk them up temporarily, as well.
Shortly after we bought our new home, we received a visit from a delightful couple in their 70's who regularly drive by our place to check on her brother's farm while they're away in Mexico for the winter. They stop by periodically for a cup of tea and bring us farm fresh eggs. We got to talking and they invited us to drop in and see their set-up, once the roads were passable.
After what felt like months of blowing snow and frigid temperatures, we were blessed with brilliant blue skies and no wind on Sunday. It was a perfect day to visit new friends. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by this gorgeous ambassador who boldly strode up to us, in spite of the presence of Willow who was so excited to be visiting someplace new, she didn't even notice the cat. Some guard dog.
The first stop on our farm chore tour was the pig barn. They have two pigs who seemed very excited to meet us and were as curious about Willow as she was about them.
Everyone got in on the act and there was lots of lovin' goin' on. One of the pigs got so relaxed, enjoying the attention The Frenchman was doling out that she literally got weak in the knees and flopped over on her side.
Sadly, these pigs aren't long for this world. A hard fact - there are no pets on the farm. (There will be on ours, but we're not from around here...)
Our next stop was the chicken barn where we met Grandma, the matriarch of the felines. At approximately 8 years of age, she's old for a barn cat. I thought she looked very serious and wise.
Apparently, she and the other cats keep the mice and the gopher population down during the spring and summer months. I think our little Luna is going to have a big job on her hands...
Altogether, they have about two dozen hens and a couple of roosters.
They sent us home with a dozen fresh eggs and lots of ideas. The Frenchman was so inspired, he spent the remainder of that day and evening planning and designing our chicken coop. Now, we just have to wait until the 10 foot high snowdrifts melt so we can get near the outbuilding we plan to renovate. Concerned that our one neighbour might be disturbed by the noise, I asked The Frenchman if he thought we should have a rooster and he said "Absolutely!" I love that man.
"Say Yes. Be generous. Love more. Trust yourself. Speak up. Slow down." Patti Digh Author
"We're all downstream." David Suzuki, Environmentalist
"It's impossible, that's sure. So let's start working." Philippe Petit, Wirewalker
All content and photos are original to Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember and are copyrighted, 2006 - 2013. Please do not copy, or download any content without express written consent. All content and photos remain the sole property of Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember forever unto eternity. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Karma will kick your ass. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm a Superficial Dabbler - I know a little bit about a lot of things and I'm an expert at none of them. I’m a city girl with a country soul, a curious nature, and a very short attention span. I believe that animals are angels wrapped in fur, come down from heaven to model unconditional love. I'm also profoundly blessed to be married to the man I prayed for and God provided.
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