Happy New Year

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:

13 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. Awesome to catch up with what you’ve been up to. The new light strands look great and I love the maids a’milking. The herons settling int he trees at the back of our place is a sure sign the weather is about to pack in!
    A cougar?! Eek. We kiwis get very squeamish about predators

    • We’re a bit sqeamish about predators like cougars ourselves. We get black bears very occasionally as well, again usually just passing through. I worry a lot more about dogs and people straying where they shouldn’t – in issue in NZ as well, I know.

  2. avwalters says:

    January is a catch-your-breath month here. Much to do in the way of snow removal. Otherwise, I’ve been in the seed an nursery catalogs. I’ve found the last four orchard trees, and am dreaming of the new-imporoved garden….

  3. Sounds like a lovely holiday season. I can’t get over the size of that Maple – would love to see a pic of it’s growth later this year. Here at the house we have owls, eagles, hawks, raccoons and coyote to worry our chickens. Out at the farm it’s all of the above plus bear and cougar. Our dog has encountered the cougar – she apparently annoyed it away with her incessant barking!
    That Sula looks like a big sweetie pie and I bet she was happy to spend the day with your family.
    We too are finally giving up all of our old Christmas lights – next holiday it will be new LED’s for us. Guess I should try to buy those now – I bet they are on sale. I was pleased to see our local hardware store takes the old lights for recycling – it makes me feel better about the lights that haven’t quite given up the ghost.
    I love Butchart Gardens and have visited a couple of times but never during the holidays – I bet it is quite a spectacular site then.
    Great catching up on all of your comings and goings – I look forward to your next post. Happy New Year!!

    • I love the new LED lights, and the price has come down a lot. We’ve started changing over the household bulbs as they wear out.
      Sula was lovely – only 2, so lots of energy and the elder daughter and I took her for a long walk in the woods on Christmas afternoon.
      We live quite close to the Gardens (maybe 3-4 km) so next time…

      • M just said the other day while listing out things he’d like to do this year – visit Sailors Small Farm and the Matron of Husbandry!

      • It would be lovely to see you! Wait for the Black Ball to start running again. The CAD dollar the way it is, this is the year for you to come up here, that’s for sure. Mud will have have turned back into hard ground again by the time the Coho is back on. And then, take me with you to visit Trapper’s Creek!

      • It’s a plan I look forward to taking shape!

  4. valbjerke says:

    We generally let predators be….sometimes fire a shot over their heads to discourage them. This winter though we’ve had a very persistent fox manage to take one of our geese and a duck. A few nights later he was back – herded the lot out to the field – nothing quite like running across a bumpy field in the dark with your rifle trying to take a shot. Still haven’t got him – geese and duck living in the barn at the moment.
    On the upside – our jersey had her calf Jan 5 – minus twenty at four in the morning! So though gardening, baby chicks etc are a ways off, it’s awesome to have milk and butter again! Gearing up to start making cheese 😊

    • Congrats on the calf – and the milk! Jersey, mmm – nothing quite like all that cream. I don’t have access to raw milk these days, but I grew up on it – we had a barter arrangement with friends who kept two Jerseys, and the milk in the gallon jar would be about half the volume, the rest was thick cream.
      We don’t get cougars, bears etc very often – we’re in far too populated an area, and only once or twice on our own property. And we’ve not had foxes at all, for which I’m grateful. You don’t want to be breaking an ankle trying to catch up to him in the dark – won’t help the poultry at all.

  5. df says:

    I love the shot of your heron and am also envious. We have a heron who spends a fair amount of time around our place, especially down at the pond, but I’m darned if I can get a good picture of him. Your new Christmas lights look very pretty, it must have felt good to get those in place; I remember reading about your woes with lights last year! I’m still reeling over 100km/h winds – we get high winds here quite a bit, but that’s really fierce.

    You packed a lot of news into this update, I’m going to need to read it again to feel properly caught up. Sounds as though your Christmas was really nice – a good break, perhaps, as you head into 2016 with lots of ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’. It’s a good time of year for pondering those, and you’re in good company I’m sure. Happy new year (albeit a bit late!).

    • Happy New Year to you and yours as well! I wasn’t happy with the backround for any of my heron pictures, but it could just be that I don’t like that gravel pit view with the warehouses on the road above. It’s actually at least 1 km from here as the heron flies, but it seems closer because of the zoom. We just flew back through Toronto from a short vacation, and the snow seems to be mostly gone, though every body of water seemed frozen solid except for the Lake Ontario. The expanses of western Ontario and the Prairies – all white.

      • df says:

        Hope you enjoyed your visit to Toronto, getting to see our landscapes from up in the air is always pretty neat. Our snow is nearly all gone as well and this morning it’s raining. My stepdaughter and her partner (who has never seen snow) are coming for a visit this month, and we’re worried that we’ll be without snow. It looks like we have some coming, but you never know till you know.

        Just looking at that hawk picture again too; doesn’t he look relaxed! That’s a good attitude to adopt for staring down any challenges on your plate. 🙂

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