It’s been a while.
When did I last post, anyway? Definitely sometime before Christmas…
So I’ll go back a little, to November when we had some really good blows – up to 100km/hr. We’re inland from the water by a few km, so it could have been worse. We never lost power either, for which I was grateful, with a freezer full of chicken and three pigs outside being contained with electric fence.
I was surprised to see the heron on the dairy roof in mid November, in all my years (decades) here, I’ve seen one on the farm maybe once. This heron preceded the storms by just a few days. The hawk is a regular unfortunately – I see him almost daily, and maybe I shouldn’t say unfortunately, since he does do his bit with rabbits and mice, but he also hangs around the chickens way too much. Late November was the first time I was able to have the camera ready to hand when he showed up.
Big Leaf Maples are native to these parts, and they’re beautiful graceful trees in their prime. Sadly, as they age they tend to rot inside, and eventually shed branches. We have a few of these on our property, the largest, at least 100 years old, in our front yard. It has provided sheltelr, shade, climbing and grace to the front of our house for the better part of a century, but sadly had been succumbing to the rot in the last few years, causing us some concern for the roof of our house quite close by. In the last storm, one of the biggest branches let go, on the side away from the house fortunately, and so it was time for our friend Mike (he who prunes my apple trees and takes payment in chicken) to come and do his thing. It was over in half a day, and though I don’t have a picture of the result, the tree has had the equivalent to a buzzcut, just the main trunk and a few short stubs of branches sticking up and out – the theory being that it will work something like pollarding, as the big leaf maple is very prone to forming a new tree from suckers/shoots. I hope so, because right now it looks pretty stark.
One nice thing that came out of all that cutting was the big pile of logs that was left behind. I didn’t have time, equipment or energy to deal with it, but an acquaintance from church who does his daily early morning walk past our house stopped one morning when I was out there and commented on the wood. I explained and he offered to come and cut it all into firewood for me. I offered him half the wood in payment and we had a deal. A few days later, this guy showed up with an axe and a pair of gloves. One swing for every piece, he just drove that axe through each log as though it was butter. He’s easily in his late 60’s and wasn’t even puffed when he was done 20 minutes later. Turns out he’s been cutting wood since he was 8.
Christmas rushed upon us. Anyone who remembers my frustration with Christmas lights last year will be glad to know that when I turned them on this year I got about 10 seconds of light from them before they quit – well, all but 6 of them. I know when to give up, and this was the time. I now have two strings – one 150 m of regular sized lights, one 50 m of small lights, both LED. And they BOTH WORK. It was a lot of ladder work to replace the 10 old strings with the two new ones, but totally worth it.
The older daughter was house sitting in the nearby village over the holiday, but came over first thing Christmas morning, complete with the dog she was looking after and spent the day with us. Sula was a delight – we’ve not had a dog around for more than a year, and it didn’t take her anytime at all to show us how much we were no longer dog proofed. Our poor cat was outraged and didn’t show up again till midnight. Dinner on Boxing Day was at our place, with a free range turkey from my buddy Bryce, and was followed by a rousing game of Scattergories, a very successful Christmas gift.
A day or so after Christmas, we got the last mileage out of our annual passes to Butchart Gardens by going down to see the Christmas light display. This is much the same every year, and we try not to miss it. The gardens with not much growing this time of year are an extravaganza of light and creativity, with all the 12 days of Christmas featuring throughout.
New Year’s Day we went for our annual stroll at nearby Island View Beach, on an absolutely fabulously bright, beautiful first day of 2016, and I of course did not take the camera. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I’ve posted pictures of Island View in past years, if you’re super keen to go looking for them.
A family birthday always winds up our Christmas/New Year’s season, and we celebrated with a visit to the Royal BC Museum a favourite haunt, where we thoroughly enjoyed the Nature Photography of the Year exhibit from the Natural History Museum. Chocolate cake rounded off the day nicely.
Not a lot of farming stuff in that long litany…because there’s not much happening. The pigs are gone, the hens are being grudging about eggs, there is a lot of mud around, and it’s always dark before I get home from work these days. Outside work has been sporadic on weekends thanks to the weather and the festivities. Oh, there was a cougar. I never saw it, but the older daughter was just coming back to the house from shutting in the hens when her flashlight caught a pair of eyes. She assumed deer and scanned to double check – not a deer. A dog maybe? Nope, definitely a cougar. It loped off at a leisurely pace and that was the last we saw of it, so hopefully it was just travelling through.
Resolutions? I don’t usually make any, but goal setting – well – I’m working on it. Something about balance, I think. Between family, farm, work. Do I grow the farming business? Maintain the status quo? Drop the pigs or broilers? Hire someone part time whether for cash, barter or whatever? What is it I want out of farming? What’s the plan for the farm 5 years down the road, 10 years? Meanwhile, what about family plans? Work, university, school, health, recreation, togetherness. Our home – paint, maintenance, cleaning, decluttering, redecorating. The garden? Travel? And so on.
So here you go, the few photos I took in November/December:
Heron dropped in for a few minutes in November, just before the big wind storms.
Century old maple feeling it’s age dropped a couple of big limbs in the big winds of November
Arborist friend just before the tree got a massive haircut
Sula spent Christmas Day with us
Butchart Gardens – the Sunken Garden
Butchart Gardens – 8 maids milking under the heritage apple trees
Hawk with an eye on the chickens.
I bought new Christmas lights this year, AND they work.
Family birthday in early January
Days are getting longer! The afterglow at 5pm.