Monthly Archives: June 2015

Beaver Trapping Lesson

Beavers

A lot of people have the idea that hunters and trappers are terrible people who hurt cute furry animals. We had a reminder lesson on the truth when we attended a Manitoba Water Conservation demonstration on how to safely and humanely remove problem beavers. Dick and I attended because we thought it would be a neat adventure and it was. I felt a bit sad when the expert trappers took out two dead beavers and dissected them so we could see the oil and castor sacks. They also showed us how one claw on the rear foot is double to be able to scoop oil and groom their fur so they are water proof in their environment.

There are about 7000 problem beavers taken each year. They are almost all two year olds. At the age of two they are driven out of their lodge by their parents and must find new territory. Since there is only so much beaver territory, and beavers can produce as many as 8 babies each year, the youngsters end up moving into farm land and doing what beavers do. When they find and block a critical drainage ditch (like this one) and begin turning farmland or pasture into beavers ponds, they have to be removed. Live trapping simply doesn’t work. Beavers are highly territorial and if you move these youngsters to a wild area, they will be attacked and killed by adult beavers already present or eaten by predators. And so they have to be trapped and killed. The trappers are licensed and hired by the Conservation District to remove problem beavers at the request of land owners. They use humane instant kill traps designed to snap onto the beaver and break its neck. Alternatively they use weighted leg traps that drown the beaver. The trappers sell the hides, the oil and especially the castor. The castor is used in the finest perfumes and as a natural flavour in food and brings in $50/lb. Some beavers are eaten, especially by local Aboriginal groups.

We got a lengthy lesson on beaver lore and their life cycle and how they interact with their habitat. We were shown all the time and effort that goes into fooling beavers so they are trapped. Beavers are really smart and you need to hide the traps and use caster from other beavers so the beaver rushes in all pissed off about an intruder and spoiling for a fight. Even then, the beavers often trip the trap with sticks and avoid being caught. The older the beaver, the smarter and more likely to not get caught.

We learned about the problems trappers face. City do gooders like to come and spring the traps to “save” the beavers. The traps are valuable and so they get stolen whether by greenies or by common thieves. We learned a lot about beavers and their role in the country. We got to enjoy some fresh air and views of the country flora and wildlife. For me, the highlight of the trip was we got to ride in an all terrain vehicle (called a Gator around here) traveling to and from the beaver dam. That was a first for me and a lot of fun.

Riding

Vehicle

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How does your garden grow?

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My 50th parallel garden is growing by leaps and bounds in the usual 16 hours a day of sunlight in summer up here. I planted this from seed except where I specify otherwise. We are already enjoying the garden bounty. As I thin we munch what I thin in our salads. We shall shortly be eating our first meal with turnip greens. Turnip greens are a luxury I was introduced to in the south. We are also enjoying fresh herbs in cooking. The cat also loves fresh catnip. The catnip is growing so fast any cat in town who wishes to get stoned can join mine. (Catnip and herbs above.)

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The tomato plants were purchased ones. This is actually my second set. The May long weekend blizzard killed my first set. They have gone from just starting to bloom to having fruit.

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The cucumbers started from seed three weeks ago are doing very well. I am looking forward to fresh cucumbers and pickles and relishes.

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I put in two roots of horse radish. They have both come up now. I’m not sure if there will be enough root for my to use int he fall but I have located an abandoned garden with horse radish growing wild and crazy everywhere and I will take some from there if I need to.

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Potato plants took forever to appear from seed potatoes but are finally growing. We LOVE fresh potatoes from the garden, especially those little wee ones.

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The beans are just about to bloom. You can also see radishes and lettuce into the next row.

SAM_5619 Spinach. Love it raw. Hubby loves it raw and cooked.

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Baby carrots. Nothing beats a fresh carrot from the garden washed off under the hose in summer sun.

SAM_5623Garlic from seed garlic each plant one clove from the bunch of seed garlic. We are big garlic eaters and I want fresh garlic for my pickles..

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This is an experiment. It is plants for spaghetti squash started from seed. Will it beat the frost and produce something edible? We will see.

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Zuchinni started from plants about six weeks old. We have fried zucchini almost every morning with our eggs so I am looking forward to being able to pick and cook my own. My only regret is I could not  find plants with yellow zucchini, common in the south, here in the north. Yellow zucchini has a nuttier milder taste. Maybe next year I can start my own from seed.

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Chives from purchased plants.

SAM_5627 This was a volunteer I guessed was a squash. It is beginning to look suspiciously like a sunflower.SAM_5621

I put in one row of corn. It’s kind of silly to put corn in a small garden because they need so much room and give back so little but if we are lucky we can have one or two meals of our own fresh corn. You can see baby beets and turnips beside the corn. Most we will eat as greens as I thin. I few I will find other uses for.

Little Trees

Tree

Update: I have just been informed this is not a pine tree, it is a white spruce tree, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss.

I am a tree lover. I could outdo an Elf from Tolkien’s Middle Earth in my love of trees. Tu B’Shevat is my absolute favourite holiday. I suspect my love of trees is because I am a prairie girl and trees are precious and few and far between. Our new stick house has a lot of trees. Most are not native and flowering (but without fruit) and they have been neglected. We are far enough north that most pretty decorative nursery trees do poorly. And not unexpectedly many of my nursery trees, especially the ones that some previous owner wanted to make into a hedge, have winter burn and insect damage and are doing poorly. As they inevitably die I intend to replace them with local native trees and shrubs like wood and prairie rose. Wild roses make lovely hedges.

Among the trees were twelve little local pine trees, either white or black pine, they are too young to tell. They were likely dug up from a ditch or railway right of way where they get mowed anyway. That is what the locals who want pine trees do. This kind of tree, once it takes off, is a hardy lovely majestic tree that towers high and sways gracefully. As a baby it is delicate and doesn’t like most places where it is transplanted. It can be easily killed by either flood or drought. These trees also require a commensal fungi without which they wither and die. The locals move a lot of baby trees before they get one established.

Most of my little trees were in fine health. I inspected them carefully, gave them some nice slow release tree food, told them how much I loved them and urged them to grow. One was covered in aphids being tended by ants. The one nearby was just started to be infected. Oh imagine the maternal rage as I hosed off the aphids attacking my poor green babies. Weekly inspections and more hosing have done the trick. Aphids are gone. Just let them try it again. Mom is on defence with her hose at the ready. One little tree was crooked, tilted over by about 30 degrees, A support, some twine and some digging and the wayward youngster is now set upright to grow as trees should. Two little pine trees were set in my garden. Now that is a good place for a baby tree in terms of being tended and loved but bad if you want to rototill in spring. I had decided to leave them for now and then move them at some undetermined later date.

There was one tree that was not doing well. I tried. I watered it, I added food, I begged it to grow. Nothing. All the other trees sprouted new buds, extended the new green tips, and grew and grew. This one remained stubbornly more brown than green and had no signs of life. No buds, no change, just increasing brown. Several times my husband said “That tree is dead!” but I refused to give up hope.

Today I gave up. With much regret I uprooted the poor dead thing and moved one of the garden trees into its place. I took the biggest ball of dirt I could manage so hopefully the required fungus will move it with it. Since I was already on a roll, I moved the other little garden tree into an empty space between two slowly dying nursery trees. I watered them both carefully, and made sure they were properly straight. I apologized for disturbing them and explained as best I could about rototillers. I hope they understand and choose to grow. I am too old to hope to see them in full adult glory but maybe someone else will one day enjoy them.

Safety near the front of line.

FutureWe bought a lot of stuff to be done over the summer and I am slowly working my way through the list. My latest job is I got the two safety bars into the bathtub. I have heard it said that the way to stay financially solvent is to be very careful to distinguish want from need. I have found a good way to spot need is when you don’t really want it but you know you should.

Part of the reason I didn’t want to install these is that they remind me of old age, which is creeping up on us, and getting feeble, which I actually worry about more than dying. However, one of us already took a bad fall and at our age we’re entitled to a little extra security. And then again I know a woman who fell in her bathtub and broke her leg in a most awkward fashion and it was two years, four surgeries and months of physiotherapy before she could walk without a cane. She was 32 years old and an athlete. She had to pay to have her safety bars installed after that because she couldn’t manage herself. Now if I fall and hurt myself and need a long rehab, I won’t have to hire someone to install the bars before I can go home.

These safety bars are not cheap but I got some from the Sears Clearance catalogue so they cost me about half of buying anywhere else. They do the job just fine. They have been sitting in the bathroom in their box staring at me, making me feel guilty, since they arrived about a month ago. They should have gone in sooner. They were really more important than lights, tomato plants, curtains and new door knobs. Now they are installed, gleaming and all proud looking smug, finally.

These safety bars were a real pain to install. First I had to find the stud. The bathroom walls are done with plywood so the stud finder didn’t work. I kind of guessed based on the construction I viewed while checking out the support for the ceiling light. Then I had to drill a hole which turned out to be two holes. That is a two step procedure because the screws are a bit thicker than space between the tiles. This meant I had to first drill a hole through the porcelain. Fortunately, one of our cement cement bits worked very well. Then I needed to change the bit on the drill so it went into the stud. I ended by slathering up the big screws with bathroom silicon so that when they were screwed in, they were also sealed against water. The result is some very securely installed safety bars. I wouldn’t recommend climbing on them, but they are perfectly secure for grabbing.

Oh and I had one very nice experience. An old timer in town asked me how I liked my little house. I told her I loved it. Someone had built it right and I told her about how I had installed the ceiling fan and how well put together the house is and how much I appreciate the excellent craftsmanship.

“My brother built that house,” she said with a huge grin.

So thank you to the late Mr. Ben Lashewicz, a thoroughly competent builder, who built our little house in 1961. I appreciate your work. He built it for his daughter Patsy. Later on another Lashewicz lived in it. And it remained in the family, changing hands as the family grew, until recently. I just knew this was a much loved little home. One can feel such things.

Alonsa Lawn Nazis versus Neighbours

Neighbours

Our neighbour, the real thing.

Yesterday I had my first negative experience with our new home. We are trying to avoid debt and we had a lot of expenses with our house. One of the things we did not buy was a lawnmower. Instead we hired a local fellow at $20 pop to mow for us. The problem was this fellow wanted us to have a regular weekly contract with us whereby he would come once a week and we would pay him. We didn’t want this because, frankly we can’t afford it right now and secondly lawn doesn’t always need a cutting every week and we certainly can’t afford to waste money. The new fellow did an admirable job but he is a busy guy. Every time we called him to come mow it would be days before he did. The result was an increasingly shaggy lawn with a lot of dandelions going to seed.

Yesterday we got a letter from the local government. It seems we were in violation of local by-laws about lawn mowing and weeds and such and we had to cut our lawn IMMEDIATELY or face having the government come in and mow and we would charged $16 an hour. Strangely enough, the same guy we contracted and who was five days overdue because of how busy he is, was also the same person who would have been ordered to come in and mow. Some Alonsa Lawn Nazi had complained. In a flash I was reminded forcefully about the nicest thing of being a full timer in a rig. When the Lawn Nazis show up you can pack up and leave and give them the finger on the way out of the campground.

I hesitated to use the term Alonsa Lawn Nazi because it diminishes from the horror of the real Nazis and what their victims went through but I decided I would use the term anyway after seeing how common the term is on line and how precise the definition in the urban dictionary is:

“A nosy or tyrannical person/neighbor who tries to control your life or other peoples property that does not belong to them. Also known as socialist.”

Honestly, why anyone would take the time to complain about our shaggy lawn when we have already arranged for regular mowing and we haven’t been living here two months? It is absolutely beyond me! And whose business is it to tell me how often I mow my lawn? Who is being hurt by my shaggy lawn? Whoever it was that filed that complaint needs to get a life. They clearly don’t have enough to do with themselves. I also think people should not be able to file anonymous complaints and get local government to enforce their idea of lawn etiquette on others. Whoever the sneaky little coward is could have just come and talked to me and I would have explained our situation.

After thinking about everything, especially that threatening letter from the local government we decided on two things. 1) We can’t wait on the local guy to mow. We need to take care of our own mowing. We have to incur a little more debt now and pay later thanks to the Alonsa Lawn Nazi. We went to Dauphin and bought a lawn mower and whipper snipper. 2) One or both of us are running for office next election to protect ourselves from whoever this Alonsa Lawn Nazi is. Next thing they’ll be telling us we have to mow every Monday Wednesday and Friday, or we have to hire their nephew to mow, or we can’t have a vegetable garden or maybe my Hello Kitty lawn ornament has to go because they don’t like the look of it.

We rather laboriously spent about four hours mowing all of our lawn with our new electric mower. Because the mowing was overdue, it was thick, the weeds were high and it was hard work. The other problem was we ended up with funny little tufts all over when the lawn was done. We figured we would give the tufts time to pop up, mow them and then it will be easier because we will keep it up and we won’t have to depend on someone else. The worst of it the Lawn Nazi is probably watching us and congratulating themselves on getting action against us for our crime against humanity. Meanwhile, the weeds on the municipal owned land are higher than our lawn was.

Some of our neighbours walked over to chat and check out the new lawn mower. We told them about the letter. They were all shocked and shook their heads and said how disgusting it was and agreed whoever the Alonsa Lawn Nazi is, he or she should get a life. I said how upset I was and this was the first time I had actually found myself wondering if we had made a mistake moving here. Everyone hastened to assure me this was wrong. They shared stories of their own Alonsa Lawn Nazi letters. It would seem that Lawn Nazis occur in all places people congregate. There always has to be one snoopy, nasty, tyrant wannabe, who just can’t wait to butt their nose into other people’s business.

As I prepared my supper I looked out the window and lo and behold. One of my neighbours was mowing the lawn with his fancy wide ride on mower demolishing the tufting and uneven spots. After he was finished he said that he was so disgusted about the cowardly Alonsa Lawn Nazi that he decided to make certain our lawn was immaculate, just in case those tufts violated the order to mow immediately. And that is the difference between a Lawn Nazi and a Neighbour. It would seem there are far more neighbours in Alonsa than Lawn Nazis.

New tenants

We have new tenants. When we moved in I noticed a partial damaged nest left by some barn swallow built in a previous years. Even though the barn swallows were very busy on the utility building next door, no one seemed to be bothering with the single empty mud ledge under my eaves. That actually suited me just fine. I don’t like the swoop and dive aggression and the flying poop machines too close.

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Today I noticed a couple has moved in. They are busy renovating. Initially my response was to borrow a long ladder and chase the birds out before they had a chance to lay eggs. Before I did that, I decided to read up on the birds. Imagine my stunned surprise to discover the bird is considered “threatened” in Manitoba. I know that endangered species and related lists have become highly political and some species get added, or left off, as it is convenient to government policy. Even so I thought,

“Oh Mother Earth, what is your world coming to if these delightful acrobats of the air are threatened?”

So they can stay. Disturbing them is illegal anyway. This bird eats flying insects on the larger side, not the smaller ones like mosquitoes. We have an ugly local fly, bigger than a housefly, smaller than a horsefly, that bites like the dickens and is called the “bulldog” by the locals. One of the nieghbours had to make the three hour drive into Winnipeg to treat an infection left by a bull dog last week. While I was out observing my new tenants, one of these bulldogs started harassing me, looking for a meal. As I swatted and waved and shooed one of my delightful new tenants swooped down and picked it out of the air.

I like these birds even more now!

Spoiled Milk Cheese

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One of the disadvantages of living in the country is that stuff on the grocery shelves of the small stores doesn’t turn over as quickly as in the city. I forgot this and bought a 4 litre (about a gallon) of whole milk last week and yesterday I noticed a strong flavour to it. I don’t exactly drink a lot of the stuff. A gallon of milk lasts about a month. I just assumed that the stronger flavour was the taste milk gets when cows are moved from feed to pasture, which occurs about this time of year around here.

This morning when I poured milk into my coffee it went all lumpy. I checked the milk and found it was thickish almost lumpy in texture. It was not sour smelling yet but soon would be. I checked the expiration date and found it was set to expire today. Dang it! My mistake. Now back on the farm we rarely had sour milk because the one of homes we shared with was full of teenagers who drank it as fast as it was milked out of our three family milk cow. However, the odd time we did have sour milk, we made it into cakes and assorted other sweet things. Hubby dearest and I struggle to maintain our weight at a healthy level so the last thing I wanted to do was make naughty, fat layering foods like cakes and biscuits. Cottage chess on the other hand is one of our staple snack foods.

I did some reading on line and I decided to try my hand at cottage cheese. I read up on making both riccotta and cottage cheese. There is a whole lot of stuff on line about how store bought milk is pasteurized and you can’t do anything with it if it sours and you have to just throw it out. You can only do this kind of thing with fresh raw whole milk. If you try to start with store bought milk you end will end up spending the next three or four days sick from ghastly manufacturing caused bugs. I guess you can’t believe everything you read on line.

I poured the slightly lumpy milk into my crock pot and stirred in a couple of tablespoons of yogourt and then left it alone set on high. I finished up my morning coffee with almond soy milk, checked my email and then looked at the pot. The picture above is what I found. The liquid stuff was just boiling around the edges of the pot.

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I turned the crock pot to low and then went and did some cleaning and had a shower. When I got out, still wet from the shower, I separated off the curds and set them in a cloth to drain.

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Hubby dearest and I both tasted the cheese. It is a lovely soft texture, white, spreadable, about like ricotta with just a bit more of a ricotta tang than like cottage cheese taste. So I am not sure if I made ricotta or cottage cheese or something in between. It’s very tasty. The whey smells clean and faintly like yogurt.

The amount of cheese I got, about two cups solid, is worth a little more than the same amount as the milk I lost assuming it is cottage cheese. So much for those who say pasteurized milk can’t be used to make cheese. I’ll put in an update on the post if we get violently ill as the raw milk fans claim we will, but I don’t think we will.

How and Why I Toilet Trained My Cat.

Catontoilet

We had company visiting and while we were chatting my cat walked by to the bathroom and then a few minutes later walked back, meowed at me, and left. I excused myself to go flush for him. My guests were amazed. “Your cat uses the toilet?” This led to a discussion about how and why I toilet trained my cat and never spend a penny on kitty litter or time cleaning the litter pan.

Why was easy. Klinger had gotten separated from us and was gone for 8 weeks before we got him back. During that eight weeks I got really comfy with not cleaning the litter box and while it was good to have him back, I found I really resented having to clean that box again. I have asthma and artificial scents and fine dust make me wheeze. I found it was getting harder and harder to find kitty litter that was not full of stuff that makes me wheeze. Bad enough you have the natural dust but all that “fresh air” scent crap they add to cover the dirty litter box smell leaves me with watering eyes and a cough. So that was one reason.

And there was the cost. I didn’t really consider the cost until I started collecting the buckets and using them to make a container garden. That really hit hard. I had a whole bunch of these buckets each one representing about $12 and so that meant I was spending over $600 a year on kitty litter! You don’t think its all that much but add it up over time. I can certainly think of a lot of things I’d rather spend $600 on. That was the second reason.

Then there is the environmental cost. Kitty litter is made of clay which has to be strip mined off the face of poor mother earth. The litter then mostly ends up landfills. Do I really want to be involved in that kind of recycling? No. That was the third reason.

And then there is Klinger. He is a highly fastidious creature, even for a cat. He absolutely hates using the litter box if there’s anything in it. I mean this cat is a clean freak even for a cat. Every single time I cleaned the litter box he would rush right over and display all the signs of delight I feel when I find a public washroom long after the urge has started. I do think that he was holding it as long as he could because the litter box was so unpleasant. That’s not good for cats, especially male cats because retaining urine can help cause stones. Since he learned to use the toilet I have noticed he goes a lot more often then he did with the litter box. The toilet means he always has a nice clean place to go so he doesn’t wait. He even tells me when he has used it and frets until I flush it all away. Apparently he likes the smell even less than I do. That was the best reason. (We did not teach him to flush because people who have done that complain the cat likes to flush for fun over and over again all day and night long.)

So how did we do it? It was easy and hard. It was easy because the steps are simple and straightforward. You don’t try to train the cat all at once. You do it very slowly adding teeny tiny increments until the cat can do it. It was hard because you have to be SO patient while doing those teeny tiny increments. You also have to put up with accidents while learning. It helps to think of accidents as being your fault. An accident means you moved to quickly or made a step too big for the cat.

The steps are available from many excellent on line websites and you tube videos so I won’t detail them here. In summary you start by moving the litter box to beside the toilet for about a week. You then raise the litter a bit (about 15 cm or 6 inches) at a time leaving the litter box at each level for about a week. (Yes it is awkward putting up with the litter box by the toilet. It IS temporary and it IS worth it.) Once you have the litter box at the same level as the toilet and the cat is accustomed to jumping up to that height, you move the litter box over onto the toilet. You now have to put up with a week of moving the litter box every time you need to use the toilet but bear with me.

The next few steps are the trickiest ones and there are various ways of doing it including a neat commercial kit. I used a big bowl I had that happened to sit very nicely in the toilet and was easy to move off and on when I needed to use the thing. You get the litter down to under the toilet seat. The first time Klinger found the litter suddenly under the toilet seat he walked around and around, checked very carefully, tried to get into the small circle and failed. He then gave a cat shrug and balanced on the seat, did his business, covered it and left. This step represents a major hurdle. Some people start by putting a separate toilet seat over the litter box at floor level because of this. Once the cat is reliably using the litter in the bowl while squatting on the seat you can start slowly, very slowly, reducing the amount of litter and increasing the depth of the litter. The cute commercial thing actually has a centre hole that can be adjusted larger and larger. I kept reducing the litter in the bowl until I had none and then I let him get used to using it dry. Because we were living in the trailer when I did this, he didn’t have to learn over water. I did one other thing which I think helped. Mother cats train their babies to bury their waste. I think Klinger regards me as a mother figure so whenever I used the toilet I would invite him in and encourage him to watch me. After I was done I would put him on the toilet seat so he could see and smell. He did seem to “get” what I was up to. Klinger also responds to rewards of cat nip, praise and a nice ear rub. Every time he did something right he got lots of praise for it.

Over all it took about 8 weeks until he was reliably using the toilet. He went through a period where he started using the bathtub instead, when we first moved into the house, because he didn’t like the water in the regular stick house toilet. I had to keep the bathtub full with a layer of water to get him to get over that.  I actually saw him when he found the tub full of water. I could see his cat brain working. Hm tub with lots of water and no perch or toilet with only a little water and a perch. Toilet it is. One other tip is we removed the toilet lid. He can’t lift the lid up by himself and it’s not fair to leave him in that fix.

And that’s how and why I toilet trained my cat.

One funny note: One of my guests asked if the cat didn’t leave a mess I was worried about sitting in. The answer is no and if you look at the picture you can see why. When the cat is squatting on the seat all his equipment is well below. The cat leaves a lot less mess than a typical man! And he doesn’t leave the toilet seat up either. The women all laughed and the men all kind of squirmed and rolled their eyes.

Fledgling

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Summer is close by. When I got up I awoke to this sight on my front porch. Just yesterday I told my husband that I had so been looking forward to seeing the baby robins looking down on me from their nest. Yesterday the nest was empty and I felt so bad thinking the babies had been taken by some predators. And then I was greeted by this sight through my screen door in the morning sun. Predators didn’t get the baby birds. They fledged!

Our little county house is home to so many birds it’s dizzying. Although I am no devoted bird watcher I have been watching long enough that I thought I had seen every variety around but yesterday I saw a new bird again and I had to go on line to identify it. It was a pine siskin, I had noticed a small flock of this tiny bird feeding on long tall black seed feeder. They are very common according to the information but somehow I went my whole life without ever noticing one before. The robin, on the other hand, is very common and a rather sassy bird. To me, robin says suburbs and mowed lawns. I was rather disdainful of this bird until I first spent time out at our bog and saw one living the wild life. Nature is harsh and this poor bird did not have a very successful nesting season. I can’t blame them for taking up residence in our suburbs where life is so much easier. This year I developed a brand new respect for the common robin. You see when my garden was tilled up I saw it was full of assorted grubs.

Worms are fine but I regard grubs with a deep suspicion bordering on hatred. Grubs include cut worms and potato beetles and all kinds of things I simply don’t care to share my garden with. The wonderful robin who built her nest in my hammock tree spent hours each day from dawn to dusk patrolling my garden along with her spouse. I would lie in my hammock and watch while this sharp eyed mom diligently cleaned my garden of all manner of grubs. Every few minutes she was carrying off a fat grub to her waiting brood. They would squeal with delight and the grubs would vanish. Every garden needs a robin with a brood of hungry babies. I even forgave her husband for being the first bird to start singing each morning at 4:30am at the first sign of dawn.

Robins also connect with me because when my children were very young we used to sing together. And one of our favourite songs was Rafi’s Robin in the Rain, I often found myself humming the tune while I worked in the yard and it brought back some pleasant memories of when I was a Mom with young children. I felt so bad when I thought the baby robins were dead that I laughed for pure joy to see that baby robin on my deck rail. Wow do they grow up fast! Then as I watched, Momma robin showed up with something good to eat and baby robin let out a demanding squawk. Momma obligingly fed her baby. Now I know what that strange squawk was that I have been hearing since yesterday. It’s not unlike the sound of the phone ringing followed by

“Mom can you loan me some money?”

My kids are well beyond that stage in their life. They are all self supporting, tax paying, solid citizen types and my littlest baby is not that far from 30. My don’t they grow up fast!

The Garden is Up!

This morning I went out to inspect the garden and cheek to see if I will need to replant anything. I was delighted to discover that there is stuff coming up in every row but one. SAM_5590

Here is my row of kale surrounded by weeds. (I will get to that shortly.) I don’t like kale but my kids asked me to plant kale so I did. At the end of the row on the left you can see my two zuchinni plants have taken very nicely.

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A pleasant surprise is all my seed garlic has sprouted. I’ve never had a lot of luck with garlic. Maybe this is the year.

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Beans are one my favourite seedlings. One day you have nothing at all and a few days later you have a row of little plants that actually look like something. Plus they produce enough you can actually get sick of eating them fresh from the garden.

The tomatoes plants I replanted have all taken and are growing like crazy. One of my horse radish roots and one potato have leaves above ground. I expect the rest shortly. Some of the rows look thin and I only have two sets of cucumber plants. If those don’t fill in soon I’ll replant with more but it’s too soon to give up. For fun, I put in sunflowers at the end of each row. I have never actually gotten any sunflowers to eat from the plants but they are so pretty and the birds love them. I plant them for the joy they give me. One thing I have not seen yet is anything from my row of corn. But I only planted the corn because hubby dearest asked me and you can’t get a lot of corn out of a little wee garden. If we get one meal I’ll be surprised, assuming of course the birds didn’t eat all the seed.

The northern garden is a strange thing. We have these incredibly long days in summer with the sun up by 4:30am and sunset not coming until after 10:00pm. Heat during the day and cool at night and usually lots of rain. The result is the garden leaps up so quickly you could almost measure the hourly progress with a ruler. So now the race is on to get the produce grown and in before the frosts of late August. This summer I can’t afford it, with all the expenses of the house, but next spring I hope to have the row garden converted to at least a few above ground box garden containers and have a green house. We’ll see. We gardeners always like to dream big for next year.