Archive for April, 2012

Trouble At The Henhouse.

Just after hitting “post” for my last blog entry, there was a terrible noise in my front yard.  it sounded like roosters fighting, except our two remaining roos have been physically separated so that they quit damaging each other.  I got up and looked out the front door, and there was a fox savaging one of my hens.  Oh, damn.


I ran out to chase the fox off, then ran back in to get gloves and shoes so I could dispose of the carcass.  However, the carcass started trying to run away from me when I went to pick it up – my hen was injured, but not dead, and able to run from me, which I took to be a good sign.  I scooped her up and took her to the back porch, where I installed her in a rubbermaid container to recover.
While I was doing that, the fox made off with four more hens.  Or maybe the fox made off with the other four first, I don’t know.  I do know that when I went out to round everyone up, there was a terrible racket in the bushes – the fox was doing its creepy fox-shriek, and I could see flashes of its fur through the underbrush.


I went to chase it off, as it was pretty close to the chicken coop, and there was Bobby the barn cat, standing over a hen, holding her ground against a creature three times her size, calmly swatting at the fox every time it tried to swoop in and make off with its meal.  I don’t know if Bobby was protecting “her” hen, or just wanted to eat it herself, but it was pretty incredible to see her face down the fox as it shrieked and charged her, over and over.  It took me a minute to get to her, as I am ungainly and the scrub was pretty thick, but I did eventually chase the fox off and scoop up cat and hen, one under each arm, to go back to the house and check for damage.


Bobby was fine, but the hen, though alive, was in rough shape, with deep puncture wounds under her one wing.  She did not seem to be suffering, so I set her up in her own sick bay next to the other live hen, but she died in the night.   We never found the other three hens.


So our flock has gone from 12 to 8 hens, in one fell swoop.  Very disappointing.  We could shoot the fox, I suppose, but I don’t know how much point there is to that, what with the skunks, coyotes, and wolves, not to mention the neighbour’s dogs.  We knew there had occasionally been a fox in the yard, but it hadn’t shown itself much, and we figured the dogs being loose was keeping it from hassling our critters.  Then, of course, the dogs ran off, and have been mostly tied up since, so I guess the fox got bold.  I guess we’ll be looking at building more and better fences…

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It’s beautiful outside, today.   It was overcast when I woke, but it’s sunny now, and shirt-sleeve warm.   I went for a waddle around the yard and barn, which was nice after a week and a half of rain, sleet, snow, and otherwise miserable weather.


Of course, we did this a month ago, too.


Last frost here is usually the last week of May, or even the first week of June.  It was looking like an early spring, and got everyone’s hopes up, but it may or may not actually be…you just never know with Saskatchewan weather.


I’ve started tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers (they did not do well last year, but I’m an optimist), some broccoli, a few melon seeds (early, I know, and I will start more later, but I just had to), plus some assorted herbs and flowers.  Next weekend is 4 weeks to tentative planting, and I will start a bunch more things.   Hubby has been out digging in the garden, and just managed to plant all the peas before the crappy weather set in; hopefully he will be able to get the rest of the early stuff, like the radishes and spinach, in this week.  We are determined to have a garden this year, baby or no.


I, of course, have had baby on the brain.  Seven more weeks, give or take.  I am done work next Friday, and then have all sorts of plans for things to get done around the house – cleaning carpets, painting a mural in the baby’s room, cooking up a bunch of stuff for the freezer – I probably have more ambition than energy, though, especially with planting the fruit trees, moving the buck goat and alpacas, and helping get the garden in.  We’ll see.  I plan to spend my first couple days being completely lazy, but I might make a prioritized list of what I think should be done…


Anyhow, I just wanted to post up a quick note; I don’t have much to say this week, but I don’t want to just leave everyone hanging, either…


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On Books

Hubby and I went on our big annual date yesterday.  There is a huge used book sale, which is a fundraiser for a local symphony – it runs for a week or ten days, has the selection of a mid-sized bookstore (though often older stuff), and, best of all, the books typically cost a dollar or two.  We used to drive in from Alberta to get our year’s worth of reading material; luckily, it’s a much shorter drive, now.


Fortunately, Hubby gets at least as excited about the book sale as I do.  He marks it on the calendar months in advance.  We’re a good match, that way.  We usually buy a big box of books.  Each.


People tease us about our books.  We do have quite a collection.


“Get an e-reader,” they say.  “You can fit a million books on it, and take it anywhere…”


While I’ll admit that shelf space is sometimes (usually) an issue, I have no desire to get rid of any of my books.   I could see an e-reader  for fiction and ‘fun’ reading, but I can’t imagine taking one out to the barn to check a goat symptom, like I have done with a book.  I don’t think it would be all that easy to read in a sunny garden, either, when I’m trying to decide whether to run the rows east-west or north-south.  You couldn’t leave one on the dash of the car with the doors unlocked, and I don’t know how long the batteries would last, but I would hazard a guess that they wouldn’t make it through an entire camping trip.  I’d hate to try to figure out what I needed to download again if the thing crashed, too.


I love having a big reference library.  We have books about just about everything we do or want to do, from astronomy and anthropology to butchering, canning, gardening, physics, home design, weaving, and travel…and more.


“Just google it,” friends say.


Except that half the time, again, I need to take the information to the barn, or the orchard, or get some details when I am up to my elbows in blood, dirt, or goo; places I don’t want to take my laptop.  Or, I have to figure something out during a power outage, like whether or not the cistern pump needs re-priming after the power has gone off.  Google is pretty amazing, but it’s not always that convenient.  The internet out here is sometimes sketchy, too, so I wouldn’t want to have to rely on it being available when I needed to know some critical detail, like how long to process peaches at 1400 feet.


I want our kid to grow up surrounded by books, and to be able to have the same sense of discovery and wonder I got when I got bored and picked up some random text off Mom’s shelf and learned about anatomy or China or mythology.  I want him to be able to escape into other worlds with broad horizons.  I want him to stretch his imagination, and I want him to learn how to teach himself things.  An e-reader is just not the same as running your fingertips along a shelf of books, and picking one up because the cover looks cool.


Yup, it’s a fact.  I love books.



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Internet issues

Sorry folks – been having internet issues…everything is fine out here at the acreage, but our connection has been sporadic, at best.  Will post again soon when things are sorted out 🙂

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Well, another new month, another fact-finding trek down to the root cellar!


As of today, a few of the potatoes are starting to go a little soft, but the majority are still firm and basically perfect.  Potatoes are amazing.


The beets are mushy, and pretty much done.


The cabbages are still firm, but have developed some white mold on the outermost leaves.  They are still fine to eat, once you peel off the few outermost layers, however.


The onions are still fine, but there are not many left, and we will be running out soon, despite our efforts at conserving.


The pumpkins all went mushy in the last couple of weeks, though the spaghetti squash are still going strong.


We are starting to go through the canned fruit more now, as we’ve run out of frozen.  It got to the point that I am now buying any fruit that is on sale at the store, and chopping and freezing it, as I still want my smoothies, but I struggle with paying $7.50 for a little baggie of frozen peaches.  Unfortunately, this totally blows our local eating thing; the six pounds of strawberries I cut up and froze last week were from California. This is not going to stop me from doing that, however, or from buying other long-distance fruit (fresh or frozen), as I am not willing to run any risk of compromising baby’s health over a matter of principle.  We will plan better (or at least put more fruit in the freezer) this summer and fall, and chalk this up to a lesson learned.


I don’t imagine we’ll have much left by next month, but I sure am curious how long those darn potatoes are going to keep on keeping on for…

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