Posted on November 7th, 2012 No comments
Insulating the inside of the patio room. Big job… lots of mess, but will be warmer when the temperatures drop.
Posted on March 16th, 2012 No comments
Incredibly warm pre-spring weather. The snow is practically gone, and the greenhouse is getting its beneficial annual flooding already. The geese have been going over head for 3 days or so, and Gene said he heard a robin. Check out the March 2011 pictures.
Transplants that are starting to germinate – bravo, lobelia, asters, rudebeckia, xeranthum, thymophilia.
Other things in: snaps, verbena, forget-me-nots, parsley. The peppers are up & tomorrow I will put in the tomatoes.
Posted on March 4th, 2012 No comments
Well January and February came and went and we’re still waiting for our 1st real winter storm. We’ve had a few light snowfalls, and a day or so of blowing snow, but still only ankle deep accumulations. The temperatures here, as with the rest of the country, have been unbelievably warm all winter. Today is -2 and sunny.
So far the planning for this years garden has been minimal. Perhaps I will stick to my guns and actually cut back. I planted a tray of onion seeds in early February and they are well up. I also put in a few early peppers and 4 tomatoes in February, in order to have a few by July, and then put in the rest of the pepper seeds this week. The tray of tomatoes won’t go in until the end of March. Then the cucs, zucchini, squash, etc early in April. As for flowers well that’s the cutting back part. There’s going to be bare spots in my garden I guess, but I will have more time if I just keep the vegetables, perennials and shrubs maintained, and a few beds of annuals that will self seed. I will start a few though, but haven’t decided yet just which ones.
The winter all in all has been majorly uneventful, but I’ve so enjoyed our new soap stone stove that I’ve hardly left this room during the day except to eat. With a large south facing window, and all my toys out here (books, jig saw puzzles, knitting and computer) I really have been quite content to hibernate. But if spring is as warm as the winter has been I’ll be out doing yard work in no time.
The chickens have had an easy winter with temperatures warm enough to allow them outside for afternoons each week. They’re starting to pick at their feathers a bit though, which is always hard to figure out. They should be getting all that they need, and the lighting in their coop isn’t too bright. Maybe they are just plain bored.
We’ve had at least one coyote go through the yard all winter, but oddly no deer or other wild life, except for 1 stray cat that adopted our back door as a perfect place to get fed. Gene managed to capture him and take him to a distant location. He might have been allowed to stay accept that he was beating up on the other cats, and didn’t seem to get that the food was to be shared.
Posted on December 31st, 2011 No comments
December has been an incredibly warm month, +3 to +4 on a few days, and hovering around -2 or so for several days at a time. There have even been a few nights above zero, which is unheard of in this part of the country in December. The thin base of snow we got with the previous 1 or 2 light snow falls didn’t completely melt, so I got my wish and my perennials remained covered.
The chickens have been happy to be getting out a little on most days up until this week, and this will shorten their long winter of being cooped up. We’re looking at a few days this coming week of about -8 to -10, but then up to -1 to +1 again, a warm stretch that also means a coop clean-out day.
The busy part of this month was our pre-Christmas renovations, using the deadline as a motivating factor to get the final touches (well the functional ones at least) done to the patio room. The stove got installed at the end of November, which took 2 days as the mason came here to build it in place. This was a major mess (but an appreciated one as we had been waiting for weeks for our turn to come) with the entire floor of the patio room covered with plastic tarps and 4,200 lbs of heavy soap stone piled everywhere. Once installed we had to wait another 4 days for it it cure, before we could fire it for a few light burns over yet another 2 days. Then finally we could fire it up, and it’s been warm ever since. [These stoves are not designed for continuous burn as they store the heat in the double walled soap stone. After a couple of loads of wood (in the morning for instance) you must let it burn down to embers and then you shut down the damper and let it be. The heat will radiate for up to 12 hours, but our room is not as well insulated as some, so we us usually fire it up again in the early afternoon, and then again at night.]
Gene then had to install the tile around the stove, and also a matching patch at the entry. I closed in the old concrete footer around the room which we had insulated last fall, but never encased. I also needed to build a woodbox, and to get the mess that always seemed to accumulate around the entry more manageable, I built a boot stand. Then there was some furniture pieces to paint as the stove contributed a new base color so we went from a blue green accessory color to a wedwood navy shade. This all happen the week or so before Christmas and thus the tree and decorating didn’t happen until Christmas week, and neither did the baking or food planning… for a 3 day stretch of company, which was what the renovation deadline was all about.
The stove was installed in a central part the room rather than a corner – which is advised to allow maximum radiation. So for our layout the area behind the stove basically functions as the entry aisle into the house from the doorway (1/4 of the room), while the front three quarters of the room remains the sitting area, which also includes the big picture window. My freezers need to remain out here however, so they have been temporarily disguised behind the panel backdrops on the left.
As planned I spend most of my time in this room …now my computer room, reading room, knitting room, jig saw puzzle room, TV room, and sitting in the sun room. It’s great, but not as warm as I had hoped.
This was a originally a garage remember, so the walls are only 2×4. The windows and doors are tight and the floor well insulated, but we will need to think about how to better insulate the walls and also may need to drape the windows to conserve heat when the temperatures drop to -25 to -35.
Posted on November 21st, 2011 No comments
Winter started around the 7th of November this year with a good snowfall and a week that started out mild and sunny and progressively got colder. This past week we have had another snowfall with a strong wind and very cold temps at -26 to -30.
I added more straw to the kitty house hoping they will keep warm in there all huddled together. Had to dig them out after the 2nd snowfall so they had a place to congregate by the back door where I feed them, but for a few days I fed them inside their house so they didn’t have to come out and stand in the cold wind.
Needless to say I’m going outside as little as possible, which is only to feed the chickens and gather the eggs by 9am so they won’t freeze. The chickens have been laying most of their eggs in the berths closes to the heat lamp which helps. Today is supposed to go back up to -3C so they might get to go outside in the next day or so but I have to shovel the snow away from their back door and re-spread the padding of straw over the snow for them.
We’re still waiting for our soapstone stove to arrive…. only 7 more sleeps. Then finally we will have our winter hibernation room comfortable and warm so we can spend the rest of the winter enjoying the new space again. This week we’ve so been wishing we had it here by now since we’ve had to keep the door from the kitchen into that room open to keep the walls in there from freezing and causing condensation…. so the whole house has been cool.
Posted on October 28th, 2011 No comments
Spent a good part of yesterday washing windows. The day was cool but I figured we wouldn’t have many more nice days so found my ladder and got to it. I also dug the remaining carrots and pushed a few more wheel barrel loads of new soil into the greenhouse.
Long time between updates – mostly because I had a WWOOFer here (Willing Worker on Organic Farms). She was great, and I was very happy to have her here and to get to know her. We got a lot done. Between the 26th of September and the 19th of October we completely mulched the gardens, dug and bagged carrots and parsnips, clipped and cleaned up a long row of nan king bushes, cleaned up the raspberry patch, picked off the tomatoes, peppers and cucs in the greenhouse and cleaned out all the plants, built a winterized window frame for the chicken shed, and did some tree limb trimming amongst other things. We also spent time in the kitchen baking as she has the same diet restrictions as I do so we shared some recipes, AND we did 3 jig saw puzzles, AND she managed to read 5 books, along with a few trips to the city for some days off.
During the 1st week of her visit we were having very hot days hovering around 30c. By the time she left we were getting back to more normal temps and frost on the ground most mornings, but still the temperatures have been mild and pleasant for working outside. She picked off the last of the tomatoes in the greenhouse on the 18th of October.
Gene has finally been able to get my winter root cellar dug… which is basically a hole in the ground with an old water tank lowered in. But as long as it’s deep enough and insulated from the top we should now be able to winter our carrots, parsnips and onions well into spring, and separate from the potatoes in the cold room (as they shouldn’t be stored together). Now I will also have cold storage for the apples as they get picked early in the season (September) before the cold room is cold enough to keep them crisp. So today we will put the vegetables down there and my job will be to build the insulated cover.. so I’m told.
The chickens have been day camping most days right up until this week but there has been little in the way of grass or weeds that they will still eat, as the grass is dormant and the weeds are no longer growing much after all our frosts. I let the chickens lose in the greenhouse for a couple of days to scratch up the beds and eat the dandelions that were still lush in there. They loved that because they had more space to roam than in the day cage outside.
We had an inch of rain this fall, but other than the one rainfall we haven’t had any precipitation at all. I’m hoping we’re not going into a dry winter…. I like lots of snow over the perennials as not everything gets a layer of flax straw mulch, and what does get mulched winters much better with a deep blanket of snow.
The day before yesterday I built an addition on the kitty house and winterized it… another job that I didn’t want to be doing when the weather gets cold. Buffy’s two kittens have been living in there for a month or so now, and all the cats are going in during the nights to huddle for warmth. I’m attempting to handled one of Buffy’s kittens as much as I can so she tames a bit. Josey’s 2 and Buffy’s second one are all beyond catching, but somehow the one female kitten has decided not to dash when she sees me coming.
Posted on August 28th, 2011 No comments
Yesterday I saved a duck. Yup, literally. How a wee duck got herself parked right beside the kitty house out back I don’t know, but when I looked out the patio door she was surrounded by 3 cats who weren’t quite sure what to make of it, but who were quickly getting it figured out that she was small enough for a cat to pounce on. The little duck was almost tame and although she waddled away from me at first, my clapping at the cats to get them away startled her and she squatted down so I was able to scoop her up. I headed for the back road with her where I was hoping there was still a bit of a pond left to put her into. She struggled a fair bit, but was happy to see the water from the spot in the ditch where I set her down. I didn’t see a momma duck anywhere, and this one was still too young to fly. Maybe it was a practice flight that ended in the back yard in the first place.
AND yesterday I also found a huge wasps nest, buzzing with wasps, attached to the side of the chicken shed. I was wondering why there has been so many wasps on the flowers lately. I wish they had picked a different spot because they just can’t stay there. Not that I will be the one to tell them… that will be Gene’s job.
Today, another adventure. Buffy the cat FINALLY had her kittens a few days ago. We found the spot she had them, but because she is so venomously protective and wild I couldn’t get near them to even see how many she had (but from the size of her before she gave birth she must have had at least 5 or 6). Anyways, she eventually moved the kittens to another spot in the horse barn because I had disturbed her, but I hadn’t gone looking again. Today, however when I went to gather the eggs from the chicken shed in the early evening I found Buffy in the lower chicken berth with her 1 (remaining) kitten. I don’t know if she was in there over night or if she got in there today when the chickens were out camping, since I often leave the courtyard doors open once I’ve loaded them, but the chickens had been back home again since late afternoon. Anyways, she couldn’t stay in there for lots of reasons – one being it’s totally closed up at night until about 10 am so she couldn’t get back out again for food and water, AND if she was stupid enough to startle the chickens they would likely lite into her and she’d have no where to go… not that she would leave with a kitten there… so there would be quite a commotion, and with injured chickens in the process. And chickens would eat a tiny newborn kitten. However, getting Buffy out of the chicken shed was a minor battle.. she just wouldn’t be forced out. I eventually rolled the kitten away from her with a stick and was able to ‘capture’ the reason she was so intent on staying. But even then she simply would not leave and by this time we are both mad…. me with my hoe trying to pull her out of the cubby hole, and her with claws and teeth fighting me off to the death. So.. I put the kitten in a box and just walked away and after about 20 minutes she came out. I kept showing her the kitten so she would follow me and eventually she did. Back to the horse barn we went where I put the kitten in the ‘Really’ nice little spot I had made them. I left her to inspect, but not before I put some food nearby for her as a peace offering.
As for gardening: It has continued to be hot and dry so I have to constantly be doing a watering rotation every 2 – 3 days to keep the plants from burning off. So far I still have lots of bloom, but lots of things are quickly going to seed. I collected seed from Thymophilia, Brachycomb, Tidy Tips and Sweet William today, and started dead heading the sea holly, and tansy before they seed out all over the place. I also clipped off the seed heads from the delphinium because they are getting to be quite prolific as well. Tomorrow I will collect seed from the Selene CatchFly, and dead head the lupines which are about to pop their spring-loaded seeds.
Ha, the adventures for the day aren’t over. As I’m typing this (at 10:30 pm) I’m hearing a thumping and rattling out on the veranda. Investigation finds me 5 racoons out front drinking from the cats bowl and trying to get at the pail of crab apple cores I left out there to take to the chickens. I ran to get my camera, but they left before I could get a shot. FIVE racoons – and I’ve never once seen a raccoon in this yard. Oh brother. So I went down to the chicken shed to close up their sliding back door to the courtyard (which is well fenced) just in case FIVE racoons figure out a way to get inside the courtyard (possibly from the top). These chickens have never been shut in – ever – so in the morning they aren’t going to like not being able to get out at day break. I will be checking the perimeter of the courtyard caging for any signs of tampering, including the roof.
Posted on August 15th, 2011 No comments
Yeah, a bit of rain came with a mild thunderstorm last evening. Maybe today I will get back to weeding now that the ground is softer for digging in. With the heat and ground so dry I’ve been doing very little of that.
The tomatoes are coming on nicely now so this week will probably see a batch of salsa happen. Nice to be able to use vine ripened tomatoes this year, since with the blight last year I had to pick them all in the green stage. Yesterday I picked a 20 liter pail of cucumbers, and the fillet beans in the garden have peaked. There are still raspberries but they are dropping fast now. I will miss walking by the patch and having a snack. The crab apples are ripening though, so I’ll be eating lots of those on my way by.
I deadheaded the sweet rocket yesterday since I don’t want it seeding out this year, as well as the rest of the artimesia. I did the angelica a while back so hoping it doesn’t pop up everywhere next year. The sea holly and tansy are still in bloom, but the maltese cross also will need to be dead headed today.
Found out that Josey did in fact have 2 kittens, not just one, which means she was in the process of moving them the day I found the one on the barrel. It’s impossible to get to them though as she has them in a spot where they can quickly run and hide so they will not be at all tameable. Buffy is ready to pop any day and she huge so will likely have a full litter.
Posted on June 23rd, 2011 No comments
Posted on June 3rd, 2011 No comments
Now that the living room is painted I’m on to the patio room. The walls need a color of paint decided on, but I can’t seem to get there. In the meantime I have to get all the ceiling repairs sanded and primed and then the whole ceiling painted. That choice is easy – white.
Gene has started his long anticipated project of closing in the back patio. When it’s done and the patio room is painted we are planning a ‘patio party’ for my birthday. It’s a deadline… and that works. The uprights, ledge and door are installed, next comes the lower wall and the screening and then the ceiling. To hide the very old and stained concrete pad will look for an indoor outdoor carpet, or perhaps a surface paint.