Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A barn! A barn! We have a barn!!

I am really pleased and excited to say that finally, after more than a year of needing one, we finally have a barn for Lucky Nickel, Tucker, and Twilight.

I am so relieved that this winter they will have a proper structure to shelter in, rather than my little hoop house made of a cattle panel and a tarp!  The guys who built the chicken coop for me were able to put this up over 3 days.  Now we are just waiting for the roof panels to come in, which should be in the next few days.

The barn is made from rough-cut lumber, which is ideal for an outdoor building and is very sturdy.  It is 10 feet square and has two very sturdy doors which lead to each compartment.

One side is for Lucky Nickel, who insists on bashing everything with her horns and generally intimidating the sheep. The other side is for Tucker and Twilight, who are calm and peaceful and just want to be left alone to eat their hay in peace.

The barn has two lovely windows (on the sheep side) which are 3 by 3 feet, and 4 by 3 feet.  They open and have screens, which makes for great ventilation.

Because they were low enough for Lucky Nickel to reach when she is on her hind legs, the builders put a cattle panel piece over the outside of them, and some boards on the inside, so she cannot break the glass with her horns.  It is very difficult to find cattle panels around here, so I am glad I had one for this purpose.  The other one will probably become part of my garden set up.

Each compartment has a hay feeder area that was also made with cattle panel pieces.

One for the sheep...

...and one for her highness.

Nickel's is smaller than the one for the sheep, because she is a little portly and there is only one of her, whereas there are two sheep and they need to put some weight on.  Now, they will be able to eat without Nickel constantly charging at them and chasing them around. Do not let this innocent face fool you - she can be a bully!

I have enclosed the critters in the barn tonight as a test to see if Nickel will try to jump over the centre wall.  I hope she won't.  If she does, some additional boards will need to go up.  For now, the sheep are eating peacefully...although somebody is trying to see if the hay is greener on the other side of the wall.

 What if they have better hay than mine?

In her younger days, she would have been up on that middle wall like a shot, and over onto the other side.  These days, she's not quite so agile.  She is 7, after all!

Munch munch munch.

I went outside and looked back through the window.  I can see she's thinking about whether she can make the leap.

Everybody's in their place for the night!  And I will sleep much better this winter knowing that they are safe and cozy every time we have a big snowstorm.

My next objective will be some decorating.  I haven't decided if I will do name boards on the doors, or a 'barn quilt' decoration for each door, or what.  It will be fun to get creative with it.  I'll update when the roof goes on.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Friday's Hunt v. 4.08

I had a lovely visit from my parents for the past 3 days, so I didn't get around to doing Friday's Hunt on Friday, as I prefer to do.  However, I'm still doing it before the deadline.  I have had a busy week and anticipate another busy one ahead, which has limited my ability to visit other blogs and to do my usual comments on other Friday's Hunt participant blogs.  I will try to catch up soon!

Today's prompts from Eden Hills are:  Starts with H, Simple and Green.

Starts with H
Marc found a shed snake skin on the pile of barn boards that he is using in his garage project.  I decided that the skin looks like a husk of a snake.  Husk usually only applies to the outer covering of fruits or seeds, but I am using a little poetic license and applying it to this outer snake covering! It is most likely from a garter snake - the only kind we usually see around here.

I think most of us could use a few more simple pleasures in life, and focus a little more on the things that really matter.  It is difficult for me not to get all wrapped up in my work and my other responsibilities and not take time to just be, and enjoy the moment.  This weekend I enjoyed many moments on my parents' visit - just experiencing the simple joy of their company.

We had a lovely walk in the local waterfowl park, and here is my mom smiling with delight as we went on a simple walk in the park with my parents' dog, Bella.  Bonus points - my mom is wearing a green sweater and Bella has a green collar!

Here's another simple delight - watching young ducklings (late in the season!) zooming around on the pond at high speed.  They looked like little motorboats - look at that wake!

Although the leaves are just starting to turn colour around here, there is plenty of green still visible. On our walk in the park, I took this photograph of a sleeping duck surrounded by a whole cast of different shades of green, including the greens reflected in the water.

Finally, here is the pale green seedpod of the wild cucumber vine (Echinocystis lobata).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Friday's Hunt v 4.07

Really cutting it close this week - just not having the best of weeks.

Starts with G
Marc is really coming along with the garage project.  He thinks it will be completed this fall.

The upper vertical pieces of wood are pallet wood, which he has planed and cut to size.  The lower horizontal boards are barn boards from my old collapsed barn at the NS farm.

My most frequently consumed "candy" is a handful of these.  I try not to keep candy in the house since it is too tempting.

I went around the house and yard looking for latches.  There really aren't any.  Instead, I give you some barnacles who are latched onto sandstone.  Barnacles will latch onto many surfaces - boats, rocks, shells, and anything else that gives them a spot where they can feed.  The water snail isn't latched onto the rock like the barnacles - not sure if that one is an actual snail or it may be a snail shell that is inhabited by a hermit crab.  You can see the older barnacles are a sort of yellowish-green colour - probably they have a bit of algae on them - and they are much larger than the younger ones.

Here's another interesting bit of latching - this water snail shell has developed a "hairstyle" of some kind of seaweed which has latched on to the shell and grown a little forest of white.  This snail was still living in the shell so I suppose the seaweed doesn't do it any harm.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Friday's Hunt v. 4.06

Last night I was at my spinning group evening, so I didn't get around to doing Friday's Hunt until today, Saturday.  The prompts this week are Starts with F, New, and Self Portrait.

Starts with F
Fungus starts with F.  Here is a little mushroom that I found this week in the goat and sheep area. It has been very dry here for the past few weeks, if not months, so we do not have much fungus growing in the form of mushrooms in the woods.  This one was the only one I found.  I don't know the species and I doubt it's edible, but I liked the glowing creamy surface colour and the way that it somehow managed to avoid being stepped on by one of my critters!

I am really excited about my new chicken coop that is still in the process of being built.  There used to be a dog house in the yard which was fine, except that our dog doesn't use a dog house, and it wasn't useful for much else!  Here's how it used to look from the balcony on our bedroom.

And here's how it looks now!  I tried to take the picture from the same angle - the old one above was from the house listing photos from before we bought it, so the tree on the right is larger now.

I really wanted to re-use the roof, which was extremely well built with cedar shingles and proper ventilation.  This dog house was built like a fortress!  It took the guys who were building it for me several hours to dismantle the dog house enough to get the roof to a point that it could be lifted. They created a frame on which the roof rested while they built the taller walls for the chicken coop. 
This way I will have a small but secure coop that I can easily enter and clean out entirely.  The chickens will have plenty of space for nesting boxes and roosting places.  This is much more useful than a dog house for us.

Quite quickly, the new walls were up and in place.

The roof had to be put back in place using a tractor with forks on the front.  It was a delicate operation.

The guys didn't exactly follow standard safety procedures (the kind that I write about for my clients!) but they did a great job and the roof was carefully put into place and re-attached to the new building walls.

Now they just need to install the door and the board above the door and the coop will be complete.  I still need to build a few nesting boxes and roosting areas.

There is even a 3 foot square window with a screen installed, for ventilation and sunshine.

There is an electrical box on the back of the coop that used to power heated blankets that the former owner used in the dog house.  Now I will use it for the heated water bucket for the chickens in the winter.  When I opened the panel after the building was finished yesterday, I found some existing residents.  I didn't have the heart to evict them - they are so adorable!

I will try to find them a new home away from the electrical wires and re-house them.  Maybe I will build a mouse house on the back of the coop.

Self Portrait
I didn't like this category very much, because I don't like pictures of myself very much.  I took this picture in my yarn and fibre area today using the self timer.  I took it in this place because I wanted not only a picture of myself, but a picture that shows what is on the inside, just as much as what is on the outside.  Here, I am surrounded by things that I adore.  I love yarn and fibre, and my loom (to the left of the picture - my hand is resting on it).  I love colour - especially bright greens and blues.  I have rabbit and chicken figurines on the top of my shelves - favourite animals of mine.  I have some hedgehogs up there too.  In the background are things from my childhood like my mouse house (the bright yellow item on the bookshelf top in the back) and the miniature display case my Dad made on the wall.  There are mice that my mom made in the mouse house.  It's also a bit of organized chaos in my craft area, which is rather like my brain - organized chaos.  So even though I don't like self portraits, I do like the things that surround me, and the they are the things that make me who I am.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Friday's Hunt v. 4.05

I didn't quite make it to my usual goal of posting Friday's Hunt on Friday.  As is often the case these days, a busy week and a lot on the go.  I'm playing catch-up now, so here's my take on the Friday's Hunt prompts from Eden Hills:  Starts with E, Drop(s), Happy.

Starts with E
I was lucky last weekend to get away to PEI for a day and a half, thanks to my in-laws, who offered us a treat of a night away after they had spent some time at this cottage during the week.  We stayed the Saturday night at a cottage in a place called Point Prim.  It was very pretty there.  On the way to the cottage, we stopped for an ice cream at the Cows Ice Cream factory in Charlottetown.  Here is Marc with the ENORMOUS cow that they have on the grounds.

The cottage where we stayed looked out over the ocean.  We could walk down to the beach from the backyard.  The land drops very precipitously, so you can't walk too close to the edge when you are up at the top, otherwise you might drop to the beach below!  Here the tide is high so the beach is mostly underwater and just the large blocks of sandstone are visible.

After the high tide level drops, you can see the same area turns into a beach with interesting wave formations in the sand.  That land is the background is the same land as seen above, but the top picture was taken on Saturday afternoon and the bottom one was taken on Sunday morning.

The entire time in PEI made me very happy.  The cottage had a swing-set in the yard that faced the ocean, so I sat there swinging and looking at the sea and sky going on forever.  I was really very happy to be there.

I also spent time paddling about in the sea.  That made me happy too.  I need to do things like this more often!

Bonus shot - a while ago, one of our prompts was for a sunset and I had trouble getting one because of all the trees around our house that block our view of the sunset.  I was so lucky to be able to photograph this stunning sunset from the cottage deck in PEI.

Up at the top, you can just see the hazy moon.  It was a glorious end to a very good day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fabulous Fleecy Fun

This past weekend, Marc and I had a wonderful trip to Prince Edward Island.  My in-laws treated us to a night at a lovely little cottage in a place called Point Prim.  It was a wonderful night away - quiet and comfortable - and I think we might go back to the same place next year.  Of course, since I am a fibre fanatic, I was thrilled to notice that we were going to be quite close to the Belfast Mini Mills location in PEI, and then I saw that on the same road, there was a new fibre destination called "Fleece and Harmony" (clever name!) that of course warranted a visit.

We left New Brunswick on Saturday morning and wanted to pack as much fun as we could into our one night holiday.  I'll do another blog soon about the places we visited on our way back on Sunday. Saturday afternoon was fibre day though, so we'll start with that!

We set off to the Belfast area to visit the two fibre destinations I'd identified as worth a visit.  I was really excited to see what new treats awaited me at Fleece and Harmony, and I was not disappointed. The owners are sisters who gave up life in the big city to start a sheep farming and fibre milling operation on the island, and now they have a wonderful shop that sells an array of their own yarns, as well as a well-curated selection of yarns from other Canadian sources.  I had a great time chatting about all things wool, and of course couldn't resist some new yarns for my stash.  For example, I had to have a couple of skeins of this stunning tonal spruce green wool - I love the depth to the colour and the bounce in this yarn is pure energy.  It was hard to choose from all their beautiful  colourways.

I grabbed a couple of skeins of their "fiddlehead" variegated wool, and another skein that made me think of our holiday - sea and sky and fields and sand.  The shop had some lovely knitted socks made from the fiddlehead colourway.  Maybe that's what these skeins will become!

Several unexpected bonuses arose from our visit to Fleece and Harmony (do check out the lovely sheep pictured on their website)! First, they have the most unusual cat named Smokey.  This cat (I apologize, I didn't take a picture of him) is one of the longest cats I have ever seen.  He also has a rather unusual face that is very endearing.  He's a Persian cat, but he has a different look.  Anyway, the best thing about Smokey is that when you pick him up, he puts his front paws around the back of your neck and shoulder area and starts massaging with his paws. Yes, his little claws are a bit prickly, but seriously, this cat gives you little kisses while he is massaging you, licking your neck and ear while he's at it.  It's the most adorable habit I have ever seen in a cat.  I seriously wanted to kidnap him! A picture next time, I promise.

Second, we were able to visit with the sheep!  They have a beautiful flock that is mostly white, but there are a few other colours in the mix including a deep chocolate brown and a silvery grey.  The sheep are well fed and happy on their pasture.  Look at all those cute little sheep bums!

One of the sheep was clearly on vacation on shearing day, or was hiding really well in the long grass when the shearer was there, because it still has a lot of fleece in comparison to the others. (turns out this sheep is actually just a champion at growing fleece!  Wow!)

Such beautiful natural colours in those fleeces!

Third, they also sell fresh eggs!  I had to go back on our way home to buy a dozen, and they are very good eggs.  I've already enjoyed several of them.  Fleece and Harmony also sells lamb meat, if you eat lamb, which I don't, because I don't eat animals that I also have as pets, but a lot of people like it, so now you know.  Anyway, when I went back to get the eggs, by happy accident, they had some freshly-dyed yarn that was not quite the right colour for a custom order they were making.  Naturally, it was in my favourite colour family, so even though it wasn't quite dry yet, having just come out of its rinse, I had to grab a few skeins to take with me.  Score!

I highly recommend a visit to Fleece and Harmony if you're in PEI for a visit - well worth it!  They also sell products from their website if you can't make it to the island!

Next, we drove a few minutes down the road to Belfast Mini Mills.  Their primary business is the manufacture and sales of small-scale mill equipment.  No, I am not going to start a mill.  They do have a shop there with some lovely yarns and fibres, as well as a delightful collection of farm critters, including goats, silkie chickens, guinea fowl, donkeys, sheep and more!  This goat was one of my favourites.

They also have a pair of enormous Flemish Giant rabbits - just look at them next to Marc's feet. They're huge!

I had hoped to see the daughter of my Cotswold cross ewe, Twilight.  Unfortunately, the owners were away so the employee tending the shop didn't know which one was Twilight's girl.  Maybe next time.  Here's Twilight though - I am sure her daughter is just as lovely.

I was delighted with the felt sheets they had for sale that have a thin but vibrant coloured layer applied to the white background felt.  The sheets are 18 inches long - a great size for some needle-felted landscape work.  I have some ideas already!  I also bought some matching coloured wrapped yarn that is just beautiful.

Going outside my usual colour range, I couldn't help but pick up a couple of skeins of this scrumptious mohair blend.  Will I knit it, crochet it, or weave it?  Not sure yet...

I also picked up a couple of skeins of a silk blend made with silk that is produced without harming the silkworms.  It's a soft and supple yarn - I am looking forward to using it in a special project.

All in all we had a fabulous vacation, even though it was only one night away.  I'll write another blog soon about where we stayed and show some pictures from our time by the water.