Tuesday 30 May 2023

Forest Fires & Farmers Market


Map showing the evacuation area as of May 29th

We're safe. The fire isn't coming here. 

The smoke sometimes drifts in our direction for a bit so the cars need washing and I only go outside when it's clearer so I haven't done a lot of the work I wanted to this week but ... 

Between the stresses of: 

  • the forest fires wrecking so many folks homes and livelihoods
  • the job hunt(which seems to be going well but takes time) 
  • not catching any rabbits yet and knowing they can more than triple in a month or two
  • offing my first rabbit when I do catch one
  • worrying about the smoke affecting the chickens
  • needing to plant stuff but not wanting the rabbits to eat it before it can even grow
  • not actually having the ability to fix any of these
  • etc
... Well I'm not really surprised I pulled something when I was stretching this morning. Hugslut is holding up better than me. She's launched herself in to a programming project to keep her mind sharp and has rocked a few interviews. Neither of us are sleeping well but that makes sense under these circumstances.

 - - - In earlier news  - - - 

We went to the farmer's market on Saturday. It was lovely. About a dozen tables with a various crafts, one from a local brewer, three or four of the soaps&candles variety, two selling potted garden starts, one with veg, one doing meat preorders, and one with baked goods.  Sorry, I didn't think to take any pics.

I'm slowly growing my social network and now have a few lines on local products. We now have our own eggs, a supplier for local milk, a deposit on 1/2 a pig ready the fall, and a local nursery where I bought some herbs for the garden.

So, It's not the end of the world, it just smells like it.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Time flies

Wow, it's been about two weeks! Chickens are doing well. I have to keep encouraging them to eat their calcium and I realized that the previous owner mentioned feeding them "raw milk" and yogurt and such so they probably don't recognize the crushed shells as what they're looking for. I put some yogurt mixed with their oyster shells and they went gaga for it. I mean, I always planned for excess whey to go to the other animals but we don't have a cow yet so, they can have a spoonful of yogurt here and there to encourage shell intake.

My head has healed up nicely. Dunno if the scar is permanent or not.

There hasn't been any rain lately and the weather has been hovering around upper single digits celsius over night and hitting 10-12 during the day. We had a little cookout on Friday to celebrate Hugslut's first interview. Because of the type of work she does, the interview process for each position is usually 3 or 4 events long. This means that even if things go as fast as they possibly could, it could still be a weeks before an offer. Not knowing what's next means stress. Stress means neither of us are sleeping the best. Low sleep means...

duolingo screenshot of the phrase "too much coffee" in french and english

I've been working on creating a farm notes program. I've found a bunch of options online but they're either made for full scale farms or they are glorified journals. I'm building something small but detailed so in a year I'll know how many eggs to expect for this time of year, and in two years if one of the chickens has health issues I'll be able to see what the chickens been eating and where they've been pastured. I realize these photos might not mean much to most but it's basically the whiteboards where I started planning out how the parts of the program would be connected to each other.

While we were out and about one day we met a fellow D&D lover and invited her to the monthly board game night. That'll be about a week from now. Hugslut and I also went to The Hawk beach for a walk and the water was super beautiful with teal and darker blues. 

Monday 8 May 2023

Very draining week

A beautiful sunrise... stabbing me right in the eyes as I try to do dishes. The winter sun rises enough to the right of my view so that it isn't a bother at all. There are some downsides to spring. lol. The greenery pictured is the cores of celery I'm attempting to root. I figure we buy it often enough, might as well try to get it growing again. (I could do from seed but I have enough happening on that front.) 

Warning, this may be about 3 blogposts worth of post..... you have been warned.

We do have some important news: Hugslut was part of a downsize where her (ex)company chopped a huge portion of their workforce. Because she's a fancy office/salary type person there's of course a severance and we have our savings so it's not the end of the world. Hugslut's taking the week off (considering she had already decided to take a vacation next week) before getting back out there. She's got some great referrals and because she's coming off a well known company, finding a new job should be not too hard... We'll just be a little nervous until it happens is all.

In OTHER news: I cracked my coconut. I was working in the yard and stood up too fast hitting my head on the underside of the overhang siding. Thankfully it just barely scraped my scalp and didn't even really bleed. It just oozed for a few hours and now I have a scab about 3 or 4 inches long but only about a millimetre wide on the top of my head mostly hidden by hair. Not gonna post a pic of that but the inch & mm in the same sentence was probably the most Canadian thing I've said this year. I scared Hugslut though. I came inside and, apparently much too calmly, called out to her that I needed her to come see if my head was bleeding. I mean what else was I supposed to do? I wasn't gonna climb the stairs first. lol 

In OTHER OTHER news: The hearse is back in action! It has been SIX MONTHS since we have been able to drive it and now I shall tell you the tale. WAAAAYYY back at the end of October we ran the hearse battery dry by playing tunes and having the doors open while handing out candy on Halloween and had to get a jump-start. Well what you might not know is we haven't been able to use it since. I'm pretty sure it was about a week later that we tried to take the hearse to the grocery store and it wouldn't start. 

Over the months we tried a trickle charger/battery conditioner, we tried an emergency boost pack, we tried to jump it off the truck, we tried to get it rolling first( and then realized the hearse has a theft deterrent thing that only lets you roll it backwards unless you find the hidden button to turn off something about the gears?) AAAAAAnyway, it was frustrating and neither of us really had any inclination to fight with it too much in the colder months so it mostly just sat crooked in the driveway. 

The truck is fine for day to day and Hugslut loves to drive her lil green car, but for any distance

After Hugslut realized her calendar was open this week, she did a bunch more research and ran some experiments in jumping the hearse. On some advice that seemed to fit our situation, we drove in the truck aaaaalll the way to Canadian Tire for some 25ft long HEAVY DUTY jumper cables. These things are so heavy and cost about $100 but they can pass much more juice through them than the dinky lil jumper cables that came with the emergency kit we kept in the car.

Old and BustedNew Hotness

It was money well spent though. We hooked them up and the hearse jumped off the truck first time! Turns out that the battery can sometimes have enough juice to run the interior control panel and such, but still need more volts to actually turn over the engine. The smaller cables can't pass the high volts needed for this type of jump and the thicker ones certainly can. We were actually kind of worried the starter was broken or something and all it was, was insufficient juice. :-)

As recommended we left both cars running 10 min before disconnecting, and then we took the hearse for a two hour drive to celebrate but also to make sure the alternator had time to charge the battery and all stuff.

On the way back it was starting to get dark and I noticed... the interior light was on in the back of the hearse... We got home and started poking around. Eventually we came to the same conclusion, for some reason the hearse would just not register the back door as closed. On further investigation we found the contact plates that send the "closed" signal weren't connecting properly and rigged something up temporarily so the battery wouldn't just drain overnight again. We'll get it fixed up properly soon but Hugslut is pretty sure that's what caused the entire thing to begin with which means our most comfortable long drive car is back on the road!

This, is my fenced off garden area. I finally got everything up so lets see if I can explain this 3d fence thing... The yellow posts on the outside hold the white electrical tape/ribbon/wire. It's like, a woven ribbon with wires running along the edges and down the middle. This is what carries the zap. 

The brown poles on the inside are slightly taller than the surrounding electric fencing. There's a white cord running along the top and three ribbon lines run around at various heights... I know they're hard to see in that pic.... okay I have a pic of the peanut butter lure that shows off the blue ribbons. We'll get to the lures later but for now look at the 3 rows of blue ribbon. I also put some loose ribbon tied to the white cord because when the wind vibrated the ribbons it made a buzzing noise I'm hoping the deer will equate to bees.

I thought the lures were a key component to this new system. (The carrots at the center are really just to tell me if the system has failed.) The peanut butter, which is barely folded in tinfoil, is to get the deer interested and zap their sensitive nose with a nice big shock so they never want to come back to it. (the sides are open to let the smell out). 

That said, I'm pretty sure I watched the first deer explore the weird wobbling lines. Poor thing didn't bump into it, didn't even snuffle the tinfoil packet. He reached out with his lips to the fence line like a horse and got zapped on the extremely super sensitive inner lip! He jumped straight up so high and then ran away so fast the rest of the deer were like statues for a whole minute trying to figure out what upset him. Hopefully that was the big drama and the rest can pass by deer grapevine but there will likely be others. There was a young deer that I saw take a daffodil flower and spit it out half chewed just yesterday so clearly somethings have to be learned by each deer.

The way the 3d fence design works is this:

  1. The deer learn the electric fence is no fun
  2. They look to see if they can safely jump over it instead
  3. They see the second fence right in their landing zone
  4. They decide not to get tangled up in that mess and find an easier meal
See the thing is, with a running start deer CAN clear a single 6 ft fence, BUT the 3 ft fence that is 4-5 feet outside a 5 ft fence just isn't doable. . .  at least that's what the experts say. This year is about experimentation so I'll try not to cry too much if it all gets destroyed somehow.

I was reading up on keeping a rooster with hens and because he needs more protein than them, he may not be getting enough since I had bought layer pellets. I decided to give the chickens a couple of days of food at a time to test how much they want to eat and that wound up being educational. 

First off, they're (as a flock) eating about four cups a day, not the three and a half I expected.
Secondly, they make a HUGE mess. Henrietta seems to show off her top hen status by standing in the food bowl and picking out the very best of the identical pellets and scratching the rest out for the others to clean up/eat.
Next, they will eventually eat pretty much all the food... but because it's all over the ground for a few days, it gets dirty and wet and that's not good. Sprinkling food on the ground that they eat within the hour is completely different to leaving it there a few days.
Finally, I've decided to make a change. We are going to get some proper chicken feeders. I suspect they don't like sticking their head inside the feeder that came with the coop which was why they had a hard time getting enough calcium for a while, but they certainly can't be trusted with the big rubber feed pans so we'll have to get them bell feeders. At the same time we'll pick up some high protein/low calcium feed as the bag of layer pellets is running low anyway. This way Romeo can eat a reasonable portion, the girls can also eat what they need plus we'll have the dietary wiggle room to treat them with scratch more often,  and we'll have the shells free choice for them to take as they need. They seem to have no problem eating the shells they need from the rubber pan but I think a covered "feeder" for them would be best so the rain doesn't just make a mess.

That seems to wrap up this very full week. Please enjoy this not as good as in person photo of the full moon a few nights ago.

Monday 1 May 2023

My Birthday Week

An abundance of eggs.

We did solve the mystery of the missing white eggs. Turns out Kelly is a DeKalb Amberlink and not a DeKalb White. Her "dirty" look is actually slightly brown feathers around her head and such. This explains the 4 egg days as well as the no white eggs because Kelly is laying the pale tan eggs with some calcium nubbins on them. 

My best guesses at matching chicken to egg so far.

We did wind up with a new chicken mystery. April 28 and 29 there was a "naked" egg in the poop tray first thing in the morning. These shell-less eggs are usually a sign of low calcium or old age not processing calcium correctly. By process of elimination the naked egg was the larger one, but the other eggs were also thin shelled so I figured out the girls in general were not getting enough calcium even though they're on layer pellets AND they've had free access to crushed oyster shell.

The feeder holding their crushed oyster shell may have been two whole inches too high for comfortable use so I lowered it, put lil piles of shell on the ground for them as well(which has been eaten daily), and added a couple spoons of yogurt into their lunch the past few days. There hasn't been a naked egg yesterday or today, but the largest egg was still missing from yesterday's collection. We did get one this afternoon but the shell was so thin it was utterly crushed in the nest box and got egg goo over the other two. Hopefully they can build up those calcium reserves soon and we can put this behind us. 

Birthday flowers from mumChives and Mint from Jennifer at
Yellow Brick Road Farm

Our sushi restaurant (birthday meal).My birthday gift to me.

My birthday went well and I had a great weekend. The new auto door for the chicken coop meant that one day I slept in until 7:30am! lol  I've been wanting a massage for over a year now but we've been SO busy, so Hugslut is also setting up a spa day for me to get utterly pampered.

Pardon, où est mon cafe? Ah, c’est ici. Merci. 

Salut! J'étudie le français beaucoup, mais je parle un peut de français seulement. Ma femme Hugslut étudie le français aussi, et elle parle le français plus que moi. Je viens de Ontario, Hugslut vient de Wales, mais maintenant, nous habitons dans Nova Scotia. Hugslut travaille dans son bureau à domicile. Je travaille á le jardin et dans la maison. Je prépare beaucoup de nourriture avec les œufs de mes poulettes et nous aimons des œufs. J'aime cuisiner le déjeuner ou le dîner, mais je ne ç'est pas que je veux pour le petit-déjeuner.

I made lasagna from scratch (made my own noodles and sauce, bought the cheeses) and it turned out nice. Way too much food for the two of us of course, but now I know if I host a dinner party, this lasagna plus a light salad will serve 8.

The weather has been fairly mild but I watch out for stuff like this. The wind gusts were up over 90km/h at one point. I had positioned the chickens to be sheltered by the house, so when I brought their breakfast out this morning their feathers were barely ruffled. (Their portable fence did need adjusting due to the wind overnight but didn't collapse completely so yay?) It’s blown it self out this afternoon and the rest of the week looks more normal.


As I was fetching something from the basement the other day I got a whiff of sewer smell and got really worried. Turns out someone before us just tried to macgyver a solution instead of buying a $3 part. There was a literal balloon screwed onto the end of this pipe that had eventually rotted making a hole for the gasses to get through. We went to the hardware store and got the right end-cap and I fixed it up properly.

Our deer damage. A single flower. 
(They don't like the taste of daffodils 
so I think it was a young deer.)
Bunny trying to see if we have 
anything good over here.

I've been keeping busy and planning the next few projects and I've been keeping an eye out for deer and rabbits to get an idea of what we're working with here. We didn't see any rabbits all last year(except the one in July) but there's one or two that visit daily now so I have to build the temporary garden fence with that in mind. We've also been planning what sort of fencing we're looking at going forward and I'm excited for what this year and the next hold.

Sunrise April 26th