Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Storm and Storage

First view
Expected path(s)

Hurricane Lee started pointing at us the week of Sept 11th. By the 14th we were certain that it was gonna come close enough that the chickens needed to be locked up and the random stuff in the yard needed to be tidied. I also made up a big dish of cottage pie/shepherds pie made with ground pork that we took to calling "piggy pie".

Chickens and their coop safe in the shed

A big casserole dish of "Piggy Pie"

The storm went by on the 16th and went right up the Bay of Fundy. This meant our island, and especially our side of our island, didn't get the full force of the storm... but we did get a bunch of it.

Sept.16 at noon
61km/h with 114 km/h gusts
Sept.16 at 4pm
60km/h with 107km/h gusts
The next morning

After the storm we took stock and really the only damage was the final 3 panels of the old greenhouse flying into the bushes(we've been meaning to take it down and re-purpose the struts but haven't yet because the re-purposing plan isn't clear yet), and a handful of roof shingles that came off. We're gonna have a roofer go up and patch things before winter but it probably won't even hit our $1k deductible so it could be a lot worse.

After the storm we went to the shore to see what got washed up on the beach. It turns out, THE BEACH got washed up! The whole left of that photo is someones dirt driveway(or at least it was) and the boulder wall was shifted and the pebble beach washed up over the boulder wall to cover a good portion of the road! Yeah, glad we didn't go near the water during the storm. That would have been insane!

The chickens are moulting(as is normal in the fall) and thankfully it's been a mild/easy moult where they only loose a few feathers at a time as the new ones grow in. I do get to see the lost feathers around the yard and in the coop but the biggest sign on the chickens themselves is poor Romeo's tail. He's lost all of his big fancy feathers and just has a normal hen looking tail.

A pic from AprilA pic from September

This past week I've been trying to get a bunch of canning done. We got a bunch of carrots, apples, and some beets. I've processed all the apples and a few other things like baked beans and veggie broth and bone broth. I'll be getting to the beets and carrots soon but they were less urgent. (Hard to make Hugslut an English breakfast with no baked beans) ;-) I'm also making some apple scrap vinegar with the apple peels and cores, That should be ready in a couple months.

All sorted and rinsed off before being stored in the basement. The yellow bucket of apples were surprisingly "grocery store quality" and only the grey tub needed to be processed right away.
Corncob broth and baked beans cooling on the counter.
My apple peeling and coring setup. That bucket took all day
but I had plenty of videos watch while I worked..

We are safe and sound and still waiting for the interviewers to notice how awesome Hugslut is. So now that you're pretty much caught up, I'll leave you with this DuoLingo quote that hurt my feelings. :-)

Monday, 11 September 2023

Welcome Lily and Marsha.

They've been very slowly getting to know the main flock. After an entire 2 days in their crate moving closer to the main flock in the fenced in coop area, they spent about a week with the new girls fenced in and the main flock allowed to roam so they could see and talk to each other but the main flock couldn't do anything worse then yell at them. After everyone seemed to be calm about eachother's existence, they got to share the same fenced area and a pile of treats.

It's been a couple days now and although they sleep in the same coop now and don't fight, they don't hangout together either. The new girls tend to hang out at the coop while the main flock go on their noon nap under the deck, afternoon walk along the bushes, and evening scratch in the long grass. Hopefully they will eventually become all the same flock, but I'm okay with them being polite roommates for now.

Lily and Marsha were sold to me as "ready to lay" which means they're the right age to start laying any day now, but as with most biology, there is a margin of leeway. They're Amerucana Blues which means that even in a few months when they are their full size, they'll still be slimmer than the rest of the flock. They're going to lay blue shelled eggs and the first one will likely be so tiny that they're useless... but I'll try to remember to get a photo for you. :-)

I know it's been a while but with everything involved in integrating the new girls including changing crate liners two to three times a day, as well as a few escapes when the scrawny new girls decided to brave squeezing through the electric fence instead of waiting the 5 more minutes for me to come get them and bring the crate in for the night.... well I've just been tired.

I've also been getting back to learning french and programming as well as journalling regularly. I used to think that journalling was just for getting out big feelings, but I've gotta say, having a place  to plop all my random thoughts and plans and things I wanna do and books I wanna read and thoughts on a video I watched and all that stuff. I have been leaning into trusting my systems because honestly, there is NO way I am going to remember everything I want to remember, but I don't have to as long as I record it somewhere I can find it.  

Yesterday morning I opened the freezer to a sad sight. Four litres of duck broth that I had carefully made, skimmed, and filled to what I THOUGHT was a reasonable level to allow for expansion.... decided that they were going to smash open their jars despite the generous headroom available. All that effort, wasted. Ugh. This is part of the reason why I do canning. I just didn't have the spoons this week.

There's warnings coming now that Hurricane Lee will likely hit here on Friday or Saturday. but don't worry for us. We have food and water and a battery powered radio and a safe place to tuck the chickens indoors while the worst goes by. Stay safe and know we will too. :-)

Monday, 21 August 2023

Not-So-Happy House-iversary

Lately Hugslut and I have been doing a thing we call "Tea at Ten" where we actually put down our screens and just have a tea and chat before bed. It's really helped our sleep but I tell you, new patterns/routines are HARD so we're going to have to actively work on this for a while before it becomes the new normal. I've also been taking time in to carve out a lil me-morning routine. It's been great, because otherwise little things like journaling or practicing french get swept under the rug of the day-to-day bustle.

Yesterday Hugslut and I went out to a local restaurant called The Salt Banker to celebrate our "house-iversary" which was technically on the 16th. We had a lovely meal and then sat on the dock for a bit to watch the birds and waves as we talked. I was a really nice way to celebrate our first year here.

When we came home, Henrietta(our brown hen) was looking sorry for herself. She was moving around, but she was walking slowly and wasn't joining in the lawn scratching with the rest. I gave her a look-over and she didn't have any obvious injuries/swelling or anything in her crop and her vent didn't look too bad with just a bit of poop on the feathers, but she was lethargic and seemed a bit warm so I made sure there was plenty of food and clean water nearby and tried to get her to drink a bit before setting her down to rest in the shade. I figured if she hadn't perked up be bedtime I'd bring her inside for more direct care.

I went inside for just two hours, and since we were going grocery shopping, I decided to check on Henrietta again, only to find her stone cold dead. I took her away from the others to bury her right away... And after a brief cry and thorough hand washing, we went to the grocery store. The rest of the flock still seem bright and healthy today so it's unlikely it was a catching disease, and more likely a long term issue from her previous illness that she hid from us, or flat out old age. We really have no way of knowing how old she was. The hens all laid eggs today as well so the rest of them aren't stressed/upset by her death. I wish I had known something was wrong sooner, but that's birds for you.

Today the gravel guy came to do the pad for the new greenhouse and patch up the driveway, so that's ready for later. I want to get excited for the greenhouse but I don't think I'm done being sad about Henrietta and it's kinda weighing down everything else.

Sorry this update is such a bummer, but that's farm life for you.

Friday, 4 August 2023

Slow & Steady

There hasn't been much going on lately. Just keeping on keeping on. I've been working on the garden but I have to face reality, that sunflower/squash bed just isn't going to get planted because it's already too late, and the wild birds(mostly doves and maybe robins) keep eating the lettuce. I'll be surprised and grateful for whatever comes of this year's harvest but I doubt it will be much. Hopefully I'll be better prepared for next year. 

I have learned quite a bit about our property and the climate/ecosystem we live in this year. 

  1. There are deer around but they are well fed and easy to deter.(unlike ontario deer).
  2. There are rabbits but they are well fed which means they're less likely to fall for a trap, but also less likely to raid the garden. 
  3. There are few if any hawks/eagles in this area and most (if not all) soaring birds are vultures or ravens.
  4. There are no ground predators on the island. No coyotes, racoons, skunks, foxes, weasels, etc to hunt the chickens. Their biggest threat is traffic, and we're not getting much of that down here.
  5. This dry spring was unusual, but the temperatures were not unusual, so I can be fairly safe planting much earlier than I did . 
  6. The sandy soil of our lot doesn't hold water at all which is great during heavy rains, but does mean watering is required if doesn't rain for a week or more. I'm hoping to help retention without compromising drainage by using compost over the next few years.
  7. Our yard is a great diversity of plants, but if the grass isn't cut when it starts to get tall at the end of May, it quickly grows waist high and thick enough to shade out the rest so it becomes the only thing growing in that area.
  8. Areas where the grass is kept at a reasonable height, are flourishing with clover and thyme and many other plants.
It's hard to find the energy to do much with the stress of the job hunt messing with our sleep, but I've been working on some indoor stuff like my coding project(for chicken records), trying out some personal knowledge database tools like Notion and LogSeq(for storing and finding info), and a little bit of baking.

banana bread with chocolate chips

Thursday, 20 July 2023

Chickens, programming, and pork

Realizing time was getting away from me, I spend an afternoon in the garden and finished planting the corn block.(the rows on the right) The sunflower block is next.(The big area at the back) 

I've gotten back to working on my programming project. It's a record keeper for my chickens and garden that might later expand to a general external-brain type dealio. Not much to show yet as I'm working mostly on the background connections but it's slowly coming together. 

In the middle of May I put 4 of my best eggs in the basement fridge (more consistent temp) to test longevity. It's been two months so it seemed a good time to test one. I cracked it open and found it to be just as fresh and lovely as if it were yesterday. The yolk was high and the whites still had the thicker portion that usually gets watery quite a while before eggs get close to going off. This told me my original timeline of 4 eggs from May to be opened July thru October will not be enough and I picked another four to go towards science. I mean this one also went towards breakfast but, you get it. 

The girls are currently in summer production mode which means I'm pretty consistently getting 3 eggs a day.(Henrietta hasn't been laying since she got sick so that one egg may have been a fluke.) I noticed this week that Isabella's legs had started to get swollen and flakey and the others were starting to look a bit flakey too so I started treating them all for scaley leg mites. It basically involves slathering their legs in vaseline every so often for a few weeks. They don't like it and I basically have to ambush them at bed time so they're too groggy to complain too much, but their legs are starting to look better already. The extra grease it great for their feathers too but does mean that the dirt clings to them more causing the chickens to look either gorgeously silky smooth... or completely filthy, depending on where in the cycle of treatment they are. 

From the left: Jennifer in her new blue dress, Isabella, Henrietta, Romeo, and Kelly

While treating their legs I noticed how bad Jennifer's rump was getting. She seems to not be able to say no to Romeo and it's putting a strain on her feathers. I got a chicken saddle/apron for her and just put it on yesterday. Hopefully that will give him something to hold to and she won't get injured. Thankfully none of the other chickens seemed to take too much offence to it. I wouldn't want her to get picked on over protective gear.

A vertical freezer FULL of porkMy rough count of quantity and weights.

Last night we picked up our 1/2 hog from Yellow Brick Road Farm. It was a little earlier than expected but our pasture/woodlot raised pig was at size so there was really no point in waiting another two months. I'm so very grateful to be living in a community with these opportunities. We are now very "meat rich" as Jennifer says with OVER 90 LBS of roasts and chops and ground meat and sliced pork belly and more. We decided against any additional processing this time, but next time we may pay the extra for bacon, sausages, or cured hams... or maybe by then I'll be set up enough to give the curing and smoking it a go myself. :-)

That's all for now.... I think. :-)  Until next time I'll just leave you with this:

Monday, 10 July 2023

Food, Weather, and Chickens

Thyme growing wild in our yard.

There's a lot of different types of plants in our yard that I just really couldn't ID when it was mowed so short last year. I'm very glad I mostly let it go this year while mowing high in the areas I needed walkable. This leaves a large portion(over and around the septic) that I don't really use right now with beautiful long grasses that swirl and sway, and the rest has plenty of beautiful flowers.  

Peanut butter and oatmeal raisin cookiesHomemade salsa and some yogurt

I did some baking so we had cookies for games night, and this week I've also made some salsa which goes great with yogurt and cornchips. This experiment with salsa has shown me that I'm not really interested in canning salsa. Diced tomatoes and tomato paste are the ways I use tomatoes right now and I just mix up pasta sauce or salsa as needed. This is working well so far so there isn't really any reason to change that just because I'll be growing the tomatoes. 

The only downside to that plan is the fact tomato paste is not can-able with home systems. I could freeze some but I don't want to trust too much to freezers so I'm thinking about canning diced tomatoes and some tomato juice, and then dehydrating a bunch of the tomatoes and all the skins into tomato powder that can be reconstituted into tomato paste or sauce when needed.

Tomatoes are next years project anyway. Although it's been lovely weather temperature wise, the winds and rain have matched my expectations which make outdoor tomatoes unwise. Once the greenhosue is set up, the plan in there is tomatoes and cucumbers all summer and leafy veg and roots all winter. 

The sun is surprisingly strong here. IDK if it's a lack of smog or just the slightly different angle or the ocean making weird clouds or what but,,, It'll be 17C and cloudy so I'll walk outside to do some work and the sun THROUGH the clouds, will cause me to get very hot. Even the chickens hide sometimes even though the official humidex equals the official temperature. I know it's the sun because walking over to the shade is enough to feel the cool air. 

I'm trying to figure out how to work around this and I think the best bet is to just ignore what the temperature suggests to me and just avoid the sun. Work outdoors in the morning and then indoors in the afternoon. I must say it has been nice not needing the heater overnight anymore. Now that everything is reliably over 13C I don't need the heater to avoid waking up cold. I kinda felt silly using the heater at night in MAY but I need to remember that the climate here is very different and that I'm also not used to having control over the heat so I don't really know when they shut it off in our old place in Ontario.

I was tired of grocery store lettuce going off in the fridge because it was always too cold or too damp or too dry or who even knows, SO I had an idea to keep the lettuce on the countertops. I figgured since i could successfully root grocery store celery in water before planting it outside, I might as well try with the lettuce too. Even if it doesn't root, the heads seem heathy and green after a day and a half so I'm seeing this as a win. 

Another win, Henrietta seems to be completely recovered from her illness and has laid her first egg since going eggless last month. It has a white dust coating on it which is what happens when an egg stays inside the chicken longer than necessary, but that sometimes happens when a chicken is nervous. That said it is a full sized egg and she's looking well. I'm very glad Henrietta recovered her egg production. It means I caught the issue early enough. I want to treat some flaky skin on Isabella's feet, but everyone is bright eye'd and bushy tailed. One bonus I wasn't expecting from her health scare, is that Henrietta still lets me pick her up! So I do, and give her head skritches. Maybe one day soon the rest will see me as not-scary.

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

It's starting to look like a garden now

Got the seedlings in.

Mess Tent for the Chickens.

Got a "beach shade tent" to cover the chicken's feeder. I was sick of it getting clogged up every time it rained considering it rains here a lot. Seems to be working well and the chickens don't mind. 

We went for dinner one night at Anchors Away and saw some of the fire devastation close up. It's a really nice fish and chips and ice cream type place.

Partially ScorchedJust Shocking

Sunday we tried to go to a local race track but the day was called for weather and there was just some folks doing practice laps. It was fine, we got a nice drive out of it and even stopped for sushi on the way back.

I took 3 photos and none of them had a car in it. lol

Sunday afternoon I spent in the garden(and kinda over did it. I'm still tired/achey) and I got a lot done. I'm really worn out so no big explanations today. Rabbits haven't eaten the lettuce(yet) and I'm still trapping for them in other areas but I'm also using bobbex/liquid-fence on the garden posts and rocks to make the area less appealing.(The stuff STINKS)

"Its starting to look like a garden now" - Hugslut