Wednesday 3 April 2024

It's Easter!

Chickens at Sunrise

I got busy cleaning out the barn. There was the old hay and poop of having chickens in there through the winter plus I wanted to get teh mobile coop out of there now that the winter is over. The barn wasn't stinky or anything because I had kept up with adding more bedding, but I knew stirring up the straw on the floor was going to be nasty work, so I made sure to have the proper gear on. You do NOT want dehydrated chicken poop dust in your eyes or lungs.

clean out started

Over the past month I've been slowly gathering all the gear I'd need for the goat. Things needed too milk her, trim her hooves, and otherwise simply house her, but since the weather had finally stopped with the wind & rain for a bit, it was time to get the last minute work done. Between installing the temporary goat pen, hauling straw and hay, as well as cleaning out and renovating the barn, I was worn out before she even got here.



This is the lovely lady named Star. She arrived Sunday with her milking stand and I got her set up with a proper collar and leash. She's never been trained to a collar or halter so I'll have some work ahead of me there, but she seems to be a quick learner. She needs some work on her hooves and to gain a lil weight but is otherwise in fit condition.


I had put up a small pen just to get her used to "this is home" before letting her roam. Getting her to go in the pen was an interesting exercise in goat psychology, but we did manage. She explored it a bit while I sat on the other side of the fence but .... it didn't even last 15 seconds after I walked away. I knew goats need companions but OMG she was just the neediest and hopped/clambered over that fence lickity split to follow me.


At first I thought the goats and chickens could co-habitate since goats are herbivores and wouldn't steal the eggs, but Star quickly taught me that she could not be trusted anywhere near chicken food, not even if it's up on a shelf. It's fine, it was time for the chickens to move back out to their mobile coop for the summer anyway so I'll just make sure there's a goat proof divider in the barn before next winter.

on stand


Monday morning was our first milking. I didn't realize she'd be so fussy. Seems her previous owner was just letting her loose as soon as she finished eating because she let the kids take care of the rest. About halfway through the milking at 7:30am, Star simply refused, so I packed up and went back inside for breakfast and then tried again at 10am. The second milking I was able to empty her out. The full amount of milk was about 2L.

I spent pretty much all day Sunday and all day Monday hanging out with Star to keep her from panicking. I did switch her to morning AND evening milking because she looked really full at night and I wanted her to rest comfortably. On Monday, Star spent her time as a mix of on a lead and off, which allowed me the freedom to come in the house occasionally (even though she complained at the door the whole time) or even just sit outside with my laptop. As long as we could see each other she was happy, so she didn't go too far. We even went for a little hike together. This whole week was very tiring for me so, to save my sanity and hers, I hurried the search for another goat.


Enter, Flossie. This yearling doe arrived on farm Tuesday afternoon and will be ready to be bred for the first time in about 6 months. She's a Nubian/Saanen cross with a great line of milkers before her.


As you can see, there is quite a size difference right now but Flossie should mature to be almost as big as Star over the next year or so. They're currently battling out their social standing and should be good friends by the weekend.

I knew goats need a buddy... I thought I had a week or two.... I was wrong, so very wrong. So now I'm a bit sunburned from being outside pretty much all day for three days to goat-sit Star through her herdless days.

We popped out to the shop on Tuesday and picked up some cheap chocolate because.... well because cheap chocolate, and I'm feeling so old with this shrinkflation stuff. I remember Buying a "solid 1lb chocolate rabbit" for $1.99...... On sale they were around $4 and only weighed 330g instead of 454g. The $1.99 ones were 100g.

Peppa is still her tiny precious self and enjoys sunbathing daily. One of the upsides is that the floor is one place she can stretch out and roll over without falling off something. I swear this cat has no sense of how wide a ledge is at all. lol


Well I hope you all had a good long weekend. I'm looking forward to taking the next few days to catch up on all the laundry/dishes/etc I had been neglecting, and then taking a few days to just do "nothing" (aka the minimum of feeding the humans and animals and then zoneing out in front of the tv). A belated Happy Easter to you all!

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Progress in Pics

I spent some time gathering all the "big"(tennis ball) and "huge"(basket ball) rocks on and near the driveway. Most of the big rocks were dislodged by that plow driver but the huge ones have just been along the side near the bushes and I figured I might as well grab those 4 or 5 while I was at it. (For reference, the rocks surrounding the raised house area are "ginormous" and those gravel bits are about as big as a finger section each.)

The garlic are about three inches tall already and the onions are bouncing back as well. Sorry no pics of them right now but I didn't think of it while I was outside today.

Peppa has settled in to our routine but has developed a lil kitty cold (feline upper respiratory infection). The SPCA did warn us that she get it after being in the shelter with so many other cats. She's doing well and her only symptom is a runny nose(clear) that makes her sneeze, so it's mild and should pass in a week or three. Gotta say that sneezing cuddle bug does mean I've woken up in the middle of the night from getting sneezed on... not fun... but I am very happy that she likes us so much already that she's picked her spot to sleep being between our pillows.

Hugslut mounted a floating bedside table and it's perfectly level. We decided to get a wall mounted cabinet so the drawers in the bottom of the bed weren't blocked and I really like it. It's a gazillion times better than the large cardboard box I've been using this past year. :-)

We're having a contractor in to change the drafty garage door in the basement to a nice sealed "garden door" style double door that leaves plenty of room to be able to roll in wheelbarrows or the lawn mower or whatever.

It's framed, anchored, and sealed in place which is all that's happening today. Tomorrow he'll be back to finish the wall with insulation and particle board on the inside and all the siding on the outside (the vapour barrier is already in place of course) as well as installing the deadbolt.

Right now, with a feed bag wadded into the deadbolt hole and no insulation... it already feels so much warmer in that room than when the garage door was there.

It was a bit of a bumpy ride today. At one point the smoke detector went off and we couldn't silence it because of the smoke coming from the contractor's chainsaw. That's right... He was using a gas powered chain saw and the only reason you can't really say it was indoors is because there wasn't a door at the time.

We had to stand on the deck for a few minutes for the basement to air out enough because the silence button does NOT work on gas smoke. Somehow it knows it's not burnt dinner.

Tomorrow I'll be trying to carve a path for the goat yard fence behind the shed/barn because her gotcha day is fast approaching, and maybe I'll get to stapling the hardware cloth down around the greenhouse to keep the voles or squirrels or whatever out.

Monday 11 March 2024

Some big news and a lot of little bits

Feb 19th the snow melted just enough that the chickens came out for a scratch

I know it's been about a month and I have been so busy, but at the same time, nothing much has changed. Well, there are two pieces of big news, but I'll save that for last.

The solar company had sent an electrician to add a sub-panel and actually wire the solar panels to our breaker box. About two days later was that freaking scary day I told you about last time where I thought power was still flowing though a flipped breaker. All that's left to be generating our own power is for NSPower to come out and replace our regular meter with a net/2-way meter but I have no clue when that's gonna be.

This is part of the the driveway plowing aftermath on a melted and drained day. We're going to have to have the whole thing re-graveled. I'm getting someone to come give us a quote for that soon, but it's still the rainy season so the quarry isn't open right now (not safe for the big machines) so the work will be later.

A while ago (end of Feb?) there was a little bit of warm weather and I spent a whole day tackling a bunch of household chores/repairs/spring cleaning. I washed the windows and their frames, adjusted The Cantry door so it actually latches, dusted everything, swept & mopped including sweeping the basement, and finally got around to the stairwell lights. These lights have been slowly burning out one by one but now they're all working, and all LEDs, so I shouldn't have to change them again any time soon. :-)


~ ~ ~

Okay, both parts of our big news are because we were searching for a dog. We've been visiting the SPCA whenever a pooch caught our eye but they were often adopted the day before, and once the hour before we could get there. There were other dogs, mostly beagles, but we were looking for a collie, a retriever, a rottweiler, or just a mutt that has the same sort of people focused and happy to train personality.

Getting disappointed with not finding a dog for us, I looked at kijiji. and found a dog that would be lovely for us... but he was part of a pair and the owner would rather they go together, and his partner would NOT be happy in our home. Apparently she was super triggered by "tech noises" so our home where even the coffee pot beeps twice a day just wouldn't work. 

While I was on kijiji I spotted an ad for a white goat. I mean we were GOING to do meat rabbits this year but... goat! So we got in touch and went out so see.

The white goat in the ad was quickly bought but the owner said that the black goat would be ready for purchase in a month.(Beginning of April) A month suited us just fine as there's plenty of prep work we need to do. Her name is Star and she's friendly to us, a great mother to her kids as well as patient with other kids in the herd.

So I've been working hard trying to make sure the shed/barn is ready for her as well as re-learning everything I'll need to know for her care.

Now the second part, just this weekend a border collie was up on the SPCA website and we were going into Yarmouth for goat supplies so, we stopped in at the SPCA and learned that unfortunately he was a bit too much for us. He came from a severe situation and we knew we didn't have the experience to help a dog who wasn't house trained and couldn't even handle the word no...

That said, while we were there waiting our turn to talk with the receptionist, Hugslut found the tiniest(6lbs), sweetest, friendliest black cat named Peppa.... and since we both fell in love with her, we adopted her and went out to buy cat supplies as well as the goat supplies.

Exploring every dark creviceSitting on the couch for petting

watching bluejays through the deck door this morning

Peppa spent all of her first night exploring the house and cuddling up to us for petting. In the morning it was clear that she did eat the few kibbles we left out and used the litterbox so we know she's settling in. Her first full day here(today), she did eat some wet food in the morning and has spent most of the day sleeping as well as watching us and cuddling close to hang out. You can look forward to many photos of our dainty lil Peppa.

Saturday 17 February 2024

It's been a rough few days, but otherwise fine.


It snowed on the 10th? and dropped a good foot of snow overnight. We tried to back the truck up to see if we could just drive out of it and the answer was a definite no. 

Normally we would just wait 2-3 days for the snow to melt but this time it's staying under zero for at least a week and we had to get more chicken feed and we wanted to go out for Hugslut's birthday on Saturday so it needed to be plowed. 

On Thursday I checked with the neighbours and one gave me the number of a plow guy and he said he'd send over one of his guys. The guy showed up, plowed, got paid, and left.

Near the house was fine... But two hours later when we went out to pickup chicken feed we found the driveway was not only missing all it's snow.... it was also missing most of it's gravel! 

Our driveway is going to be SO muddy this spring until we can get it regraveled.

How our driveway used to beThe bare sandy earth it is now

I texted the main guy and (politely) told him his boy is shit when it comes to gravel driveways. He seemed concerned and asked for some photos, then . Probably nothing going to come of this because we're not likely to sue for damages but Hugslut said he's lucky we aren't more american. The next day, the wind blew the snow around enough to hide the mud, but not for long.

Friday I noticed out heat pump was flashing strangely. I realized I had no clue when that started and got out the owner's manual. 

Turns out this particular frantic flashing means "turn it off at the breaker and call a certified technician", so I did just that. I went downstairs, turned off the breaker, came back up..... and the heat pump was still on!

I turned it off with the remote and called our solar guys while freaking out. The reason I called them instead of a general electrician was because they were the last ones to touch the breakers. They had an electrician at our house on the 8th to connect the solar panels to the breaker box and install a little "sub-panel" of breakers because our main box was completely full.

After an hour on hold, a few emails back and forth including sending photos and the video as proof of "why I think the heat pump is still getting electricity" totalling to HOURS of stressing out that our house was gonna burn down or something.... Until I got a call at 6pm and it turns out the guy shuffled the breakers harder than I expected and turning off the correct breaker for the heat pump does actually turn it off.

The upstairs heat pump used to be in the lower right of the main panel. The electrician used that location as the breaker for the sub panel and didn't explain what got shuffled so I just assumed the label that says "heat" in the sub panel was that displaced heat pump.

Nope. He moved the heat pump up a couple spots and moved a baseboard heater to the sub panel because he heat pump didn't have enough wire to stretch that far or something. If you zoom in, he DID change the label on 22/24 by adding the word "pump" and he accurately labelled the breaker in the sub-panel as just "heat" like it was previously labelled.... but OMG was that a lot of panic over him just not telling me while he was telling me everything else.

So yeah, I'll call a HVAC compaany Tuesday to come look at the heat pump, but we do have the baseboard and space heaters so we're not going to freeze. It'll just cost more to heat the place for now. 

Oh! and on the 8th I also had a general contractor by to give us some quotes on insulation/renovation projects for the basement. Not sure exactly when the parts will be in for that, but we'll have a much less leaky basement soon. The garage door is just pitiful at keeping in the heat.

The solar project is on track and the next step is for the local power company to come out and install a net-meter and confirm everything else is installed correctly before finally flipping the switch. 

The chickens have been completely uninterested in leaving the shed since the snow came. It seems they're trying to wait it out as well. I am getting an average of 4 eggs a day from the 5 hens and it's only February. :-) There's been so many eggs that we are actually having problems keeping up, but that's perfect. I always wanted to have too much so I can share.

It's still hovering around zero but the snow is starting to melt in some places thanks to the sun... which is hiding today. 


Sunday 28 January 2024

Bumpy Start to the Year

A few weeks ago the new light bulbs arrived and I got to work converting our basement lights from fluorescent lights to LEDs. This meant removing the ballasts and rewiring the fixtures to allow the new bulbs. (The ballast is that black box in the middle.)

Fluorescent ballast during removal

It took a whole day but now the basement is so very much brighter, the lights come on the first time you flick the switch, and we're using so much less electricity to do it. Unfortunately the very same day, My brain was busy with the lights and I misplaced a jar lid in the dishwasher. It was on the top rack, but near the edge and it got knocked off to melt when the drying cycle came on.

The cap that fell into the dishwater heater

That was pretty stinky but it paled in comparison to the next bit of rotten luck. The brakes were acting up on the truck and it wouldn't hold brake fluid so we had to get a neighbour to pick up Meg at the repair shop, and then drive us back there a few days later. It was just a rusted pipe/hose thing so the bill wasn't too bad, but I'm pretty sure that somewhere in that back and forth is when we caught COVID.


That swab up the nose test has got to be one of the most uncomfortable things, that didn't cause pain, that I have ever done. SO ticklish/scratchy/weird.

Of course we notified everyone and also filled out the government notification thing. I also made us a big pot of turkey/egg-drop/spinach/bone-broth/etc soup so we had something to reheat & eat for a few days.

Thankfully COVID didn't hit us too hard. Hugslut was notified by the gov that she could pickup some antivirals at the pharmacy (which she got) and I was notified that if needed I could pick up an inhaler to ease breathing (but I didn't need it). The medical system here is surprisingly good considering how much the folks who grew up here complain.

At one point I realized that I was super sick and not doing much of anything except making sure we both took our meds and got enough fluids/food... and I realized that I was still making it out to the chickens every day and didn't have to call anyone to chicken-sit for me. I did need to have a sit down after and only made it out once a day during the worst (the chickens could technically be fine for a few days at a time), but that fact alone kinda made me laugh at the concern I had a few years ago.

At one point I had worried that being the main caretaker of several animals would mean that I couldn't really "have the luxury" of getting sick. Turns out that although I WANT to check on the chickens two or three times a day, there's no reason to think I have to be more than human.

The chickens are finally one flock

Everyone's laying except Isabella

Now that we're feeling better and only have a bit of lingering cough and fatigue, I've started getting back to the housework (which is understandably behind) and some baking.

My appetite has returned with a vengeance so in addition to normal food, we've been enjoying banana bread and lemon pound cake.

Hopefully soon I can get back on track and if the weather co-operates I may even get back to putting soil in the greenhouse and removing some trees. Until next time, stay safe. :-)


Tuesday 2 January 2024

Happy New Year!

After a week off where I actually lazed about for a few days, I am ready to get back at it.

We kind of had a white x-mas in that it was foggy, but only in the last day or so has it reached freezing temps, even over night. I baked some banana bread but it is gone already. It really can't last in this house. Far too delicious.

Isabella has her fluffy feathers back but is still working on regrowing all those guard feathers so she spends a lot of time in the shed to be out of the wind. The hens have been arguing over nest box space, I think partially because Isabella keeps sleeping in there; so, I've set up a second nest box in a dark corner and hopefully that will let them all do their business in peace. Lilly is laying now but was hiding her eggs under the table so I cleared that out and put the new nest box nearby with some fake eggs in. Hopefully she'll get the hint.

With the help of a multi-sensor thermometer and hygrometer system I can now keep an eye on the greenhouse(2) and shed(3). The display doubles as a sensor for indoors(IN), and for now I have the extra sensor in the basement(1). Once we get the basement sealed up properly I'll have it outside for an accurate outdoors temp. (The weather app seems off sometimes.)

Other than the nesting thing, the chickens seem to be getting along and they certainly enjoy scratching around the yard between the shed and the bushes. Hopefully by next winter I'll have some rabbits in the shed to worry about as well. :-)