Sunday, September 30, 2012

Seasons come, seasons go...

I took a few photos with my iPhone while walking the dogs back to the river the other day (the Beaudette River runs along the back border of our 86-acre property.) Not quite my Nikon Digital SLR, but really it's amazing that pictures from a phone are any good at all. I remember growing up with rotary dial phone and getting all excited when we got a phone with push buttons. And the idea of people talking on a phone and being able to see the person they were conversing with was VERY sci-fi. Well, hello Skype! Things change, seasons come, seasons go..

Quite a few trees are still green in the hardwood forest next to our lot. We have mostly white pine and white spruce. Our neighbours on all sides have the hardwood back there!

The big tree turning red on the left is on our property, and it's a burr oak. I don't know how old it is but its trunk is massive. It and the white spruce next to our house are the oldest, biggest trees on our property.

Obviously this isn't a recent photo, but it shows the incredibly tall white spruce on the right. They used to make ships' masts out of these trees. The big tree between the house and the spruce is a black walnut that's approximately 85 years old. We have six of them! The squirrels LOVE it here, and I find black walnuts stored EVERYWHERE.

Back to autumn...

There's Tristan, plodding towards me. His arthritis is really slowing him down (despite medication) but he still insists on coming for a walk. I just let him follow along at his own pace and he seems quite happy. It makes me sad that he can't run the way he used to!

The mighty Beaudette River.

And Tristan can't resist water.

In he goes!

A happy boy.

Another shot of the burr oak.

Have a good Sunday. Our house is still undergoing renovations (almost six months now and I'm ready to scream!). I'm going to try and sort out some of the chaos today, and get some pics of the cats enjoying our new couch. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

More beaked wonders

The ducks demanded more airtime! So here we go...

This is one of the girls born back in May. She doesn't have a name yet. I'm getting around to it!

Now, remember Warren the Upper Canada Village duck who overwintered with us last year? He went back to the village in May and has been keeping busy impregnating the hens and generally enjoying himself. My friend Tammy visited the village the other weekend and took a couple of pictures of Warren (whose name is actually Vern, but when we got him, we were told it was Warren, so that's what he's known as around here!)

Here he is, swimming in the canal. He looks pretty darn happy!

And here he is with a friend...

...or is that a girlfriend?  I think the ducks may be spending the winter with us again this year, but I don't have the final word on that yet!

Here's that pretty little miss from the first photo, going out for a free-ranging session...

And three more of the ducklings from May:

Jimette, "As yet to be named", and Twitchy! For a long time, I thought Twitchy was a girl. Uh, no. He got that name because he had a seizure as a duckling, and it kind of stuck!

And here is one of my favourites (ssshhh, don't tell the others!)...

...Ducky Duddle. He is just super sweet! I handled him a lot as a little one (he was the first-born of the May batch) and he's very tame. He likes it when I scratch him under his chin. Beak. Chin. Neck. Whatever that part is called! Just a nice mellow duck who likes to hang with his peeps.

And here's Tristan chilling with Moishe!

As you can see, the dogs and birds get along very well.

Another of my cutie girls, Karène.

I think Amy Winehouse (who is a he, not a she, oooops!) is boss drake now, but I'm not 100% sure. it's possible Charlie Sheen may still have that title.

Twitchy having a late-afternoon snooze.


...okay, that's not a duck. It's one of the chicks born in June, after Emma Muff hatched out 11 babies from a secret nest in the barn! I'm thinking rooster here; how about you? He's just gorgeous and has a "muff" ("whiskers" sticking out from his cheeks) just like his mama.

In other news, we just got a new couch, of which the cats highly approve. It's a sectional and all four cats can fit comfortably on it, with breathing space between them. Pictures will be taken in the coming days!
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sophie the duckherder

Sophie is mostly yellow Lab, but I swear she has some Shepherd in her. She was born on a farm and came to us after her first family had to give her up, so I don't know her whole story, but she does have some Shepherd-esque qualities!

When I got her, I was told she could herd chickens. I never really put her to the test, but the other day, I had to round up three wayward duck -girls and get them back to the barn. They've been going AWOL lately over the fence or through the barn, bent on investigating the garden. Fortunately we haven't had any predators about lately.

Sophie was with me when I found the girls behind the barn, so I asked her to help me shepherd the ducks home. And she did!

"Come on ladies, let's move it along!"

Waddle, waddle, waddle... there go Bianca (bottom), Danger Duck (middle) and Karène (top)!

"Smartly now, ladies, before the raccoons and foxes and coyotes come out!"

A little deke to the left...

...a little deke to the right...

...and soon the girls were back at the barn!

Sophie blew it just before the barn, though. She got a little excited and one of the ducks started to fly. Now, the dogs are very good about not chasing the chickens and ducks, but if somebody starts flying, it's a whole new ball game. They love to run after the flying creature, with me yelling at them to stop (which they always do.) They aren't malicious about it. I think the dogs want to fly too! Plus those girl-ducks are strong aviators and could fly up onto the barn roof if they really wanted to. (The drakes are too heavy for that. It would be like flying Butterball turkeys.)

I called Sophie off, and Karène (the one being chased) landed and waddled into the barn.

Anyone else got a duck herder out there??

If you're not Canadian and have never heard of a "deke", enlighten yourself here!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Harvest Helpers

Back when I was working in Toronto, doing a lot of packaging design in my graphic design career, I worked on a product by Bernardin called "Harvest Helpers." I came up with a bunch of wordmarks for them, and I can't even recall if they actually used one of them! Anyway, I've got different harvest helpers in m life now....

... like my beloved chicken Charlotte, who loves to sit on my shoulder and snuggle! She also looks to me to rescue her when she's being pursued by an overly-randy rooster. Wait, I think "overly-randy rooster" is redundant!

We were supposed to get a frost last night (and we did) so we brought in all our squash, pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. I got lots of pumpkins, including white ones called "Lumina." 

We got a couple of wheelbarrow loads full of these beautiues. The greyish one on the right is a Grey Ghost squash, from seeds given to me by my friend Ronna. She grew some last year from seeds given to her by our mutual friend Sigrun. She even made an amazing garden birthday cake with some of the squash!

I accidentally pulled the stem off the squash in this pic, so I plan to eat it soon.

Here's my other harvest helper with some of the bounty!

We also dug up some the Yukon gold potatoes, and the red ones whose "breed" I forget! And I found some tomatillos lurking out there too.

(Note chicken butt sticking up near top of wheelbarrow!)

These year I tried growing red seeded citron, which is a heritage melon

Very pretty, but they aren't eaten raw. Traditionally they were used in citron preserves. My friend Eugene has promised me his secret family recipe!

I thought the vines were particularly pretty. That old carpet on the left is being used to mulch weeds.

Here's Gordon digging for taters. The chickens LOVE it when we garden. They run around snapping up the worms and other bugs we unearth.

A boy and his chickens. You can see Lord Gaga and Beaker in there. We fenced my vegetable garden this year, not to keep out the deer, but to keep out the dogs. My dogs are FIENDS for tomatoes. They don't care if they're green or red, unripe or bursting. They were decimating my tomato plants every summer, so I finally got fed up. Gordon and our friend Bruce put up a great fence. On the downside, I think I may have created a bunny sanctuary in there, but they do less damage than the dogs! Many a summer, we'd be looking for Tristan (or Sophie!) after putting him out for a bedtime pee. I'd take a flashlight down behind the barn, and find him happily inhaling tomatoes in the dark!

Gordon found some old kale in there, which he gave to the ducks.

 And here's my favourite chicken again. Ssssh, don't tell the others!

She's really sweet and will sit on my shoulder or lap for ages. She likes to be petted. 

Holding this pose is a good shoulder exercise! Excuse my filthy shirt, the result of the aforementioned potato digging.

The macro got a nice shot of her beak!

And I couldn't resist a picture of handsome Beaker...

Hope you're enjoying some autumn bounty, wherever you are!

And here's a lovely shot from the pumpkin harvest in 2009...

Yes, no shame. Not at all. I'm oh-so-classy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Woof! Enjoying the late summer sun

The macro lens is good for portraits! I took a bunch of photos yesterday afternoon in the lovely sunny weather.

Tristan, who turns 10 next month. He is a Lab/Vizsla cross we adopted five years ago this November. Now he's lived with us for as long as he was at his first home!

And his buddy Sophie, who turns 10 this month. She and Tristan were a package deal. She's mostly yellow Lab and was born on a farm somewhere in Quebec. She just looooves it when I put a hat on her. Can't you tell? (she says, sarcastically!)

We love them both very much!


Tristan has really slowed down. He's got arthritis issues that he's on meds for. But he still seems happy and enjoys his walks, even if his pace has slowed down a lot!

Sophie has a great nose. She probably smells a deer somewhere way off across the field. The soy and otebo beans are about ready to be harvested.

The dogs are excellent with the chickens and ducks. Errol Flynn saunters by with only a slight backwards glance!


I put this big old squash in the duck and chicken run. Sophie went in, picked it up, and carried it out for a snack! That dog will eat ANYTHING.

My pretty girl.

My handsome boy.

I let all the birds out to free-range yesterday and everyone had a lovely afternoon.

Enjoy the weekend!