Eating Local

Wednesday is my day off, and the day I head to the feed store. The feed truck arrives early in the morning on Wednesdays, so I know they will be freshly stocked. Some weeks, they sell out of my poultry feed by the weekend.

Although stocking up on fresh feed for my feathered friends and the rest of the barnyard crew is my primary goal, my route takes me down country roads past many micro farms like ours, so all year long I stop along the way to pick up whatever is in season. The less I have to buy at the grocery store the better, and there is just something special about eating seasonally. Everything tastes so good! And fresh produce preserved in season runs a close second.

RG grows lots of different veggies and fruit, so my stops are predicated by what other locals have that we don’t. One farm grows wonderful kiwi; it’s on my list from November through till February. Another place grows delicious organic cherries. In early summer as soon as their ‘Cherries for Sale’ sign goes up, they get a visit from me. The cherries always sell out completely in less than a week. I usually stop at Dan’s Farm Market too, he grows a wide variety of unsprayed food, if we’ve eaten all our broccoli for example, or our lettuce has bolted and turned bitter, I can get some there.

Then there is the little table at the end of a long driveway on Oldfield, steel cash can welded to its side, that in July and August proudly carries a selection of good sized mixed bouquets tied with twine, for the ridiculously cheap price of, (I kid you not) a TWOONIE! These twoonie bouquets always sell out before noon. I try to buy two.

Also starting in July each year, Wednesday becomes corn pickup day, right through until the crop is done. Resident Gardener grows sweet corn each summer, she has a nice patch growing now, but she doesn’t grow near enough to keep us in corn for the whole year. Luckily sweet corn grows incredibly well on our peninsula so it’s easy to get. There’s a place on my route that offers a baker’s dozen of peaches and cream corn picked that morning for twelve bucks, and worth every penny.

I buy enough on my Wednesday trips to see us through till next summer, and freeze it. It’s worth the trouble. Home frozen corn tastes about a million times better than store bought, and it’s so easy to do. We all love to sit down to a nice feed of summer sweet corn in the middle of winter!

This also means of course that Wednesdays are corn-on-the-cob days, which Dear Husband likes very much. I cook up a couple cobs for us to butter, salt, and gnaw on, and in the same pot of boiling water I blanch the rest of my bakers dozen for 3-4 minutes, plunging them into ice water to cool quickly. After dinner I stand each blanched, cooled ear in my trusty Angel-food cake pan, and slice off the kernels. If I had a table with a hole in it, I could just set my pan above it, push the cobs through, and the kernels would effortlessly strip off, like you see on the internet, but I don’t. Maybe one day.

From there its into a freezer bag and then the freezer. All in all it takes about twenty minutes each week to process my bakers dozen. I used to spread the kernels carefully on cookie sheets and then bag when frozen, to keep each separate, but I’ve learned that if I just reach into the freezer and shake up the bag a few times while it’s freezing up I can cut the cookie sheet step out entirely.

By October my freezer is bursting with corn and lots of other homegrown and local food that we usually manage to finish over the winter. The bits and pieces we don’t get through by the time the season rolls around again go to lucky chickens. But they never get any sweet corn, it’s so darned tasty it’s usually all gone by May.

Duckberta the Accidental Duckling

I had read about getting hens to hatch duck eggs, and since I had fertile duck eggs, but no broody duck, I thought I’d give it a try. Spring was turning to summer, and so far, no prolific duck mama had come sauntering out of the bush with a passel of ducklings (also something I had read about).

So I gave a broody Orpington hen a half dozen duck eggs and put her to work. A week later, I went out after dark one evening and candled the eggs to see if they had started developing. Hmmmmm, none had. It seemed our Duckbert might be a dud as a stud. So I disappointedly pulled the duck eggs and gave her some chicken eggs instead. At that point, it was the shortest, straightest road to my Orpington finishing her brood cycle in a timely manner, which would keep her a happy, healthy hen. 

Twenty one more days passed uneventfully by, at the end of which mama Orpington produced a most satisfactory passel of chicks. I added a few more chicks out of the incubator and all was well. 

When a hen finishes her hatch, she moves the family, lock, stock and barrel, off the old nest and onto a fresh one. Once my hen had made the switch, I moved in to clean out the old, tired nest. And lo and behold what did I discover, tucked away behind the broken egg shells in the furthest corner of the nesting box? A duck egg! I guess I hadn’t got them all, three weeks before, when I had switched out the eggs. Oops. But it couldn’t possibly be alive. Could it?

It was possible actually. Muscovy eggs take 10-15 days longer than chicken eggs to bake. So if my Orpington had been sitting on that egg all this time, and if it WAS fertile, it would be due to hatch within the next week. And it was suspiciously heavy.

 I took the egg into the house and candled it. Yep, there was a little duck in there. Damn! What was I going to do with one duck egg? And potentially one duck? Ugh. I was in the middle of tearing out my incubator room, preparing to move to a new one, and didn’t have any other hatches on the go. Singletons were a pain to raise. But I couldn’t just let it die. Sigh. So I unpacked my smallest incubator, plugged it in out of the way in a corner of dear husband’s shop, and placed the egg inside. “The chances of it hatching are slim”, I reasoned with myself. “But I have to let this play out.”

Over the next few days, as we continued with our reno plus the spring farming chore rush, the egg sat there baking in DH’s shop. I forgot to turn it. A bunch of times. It ran out of water (used for humidity) several times too. Daily ten minute cooling as is recommended for hatching ducks? Hahahaha. We were all just so busy. Whenever some member of the family asked, I told them not to get their hopes up and assured them it couldn’t possibly hatch. 

Until the day DH came in the house and announced excitedly “there’s a chip out of that egg!” With the egg being in his shop, he’d taken a bit of a proprietary interest in it.

“Oh crap” I thought. “if the damned thing does hatch, what on earth am I going to do with it? I have no incubator room, no brooder. It’s all packed away in boxes!”

By the next day, with my family all eagerly awaiting events, and me warning everyone that this likely wouldn’t end well, the egg had a clear hole in it. It was a hard hatch, as is to be expected when an egg goes through as much as this one had, and it took another whole day before little Duckberta, named for her father, appeared. (We have no idea if she is actually female, she may be renamed to Duckbert the Second at some point.)

Duckberta was quite weak, but rallied enough within 24 hours that I thought she just might make it. We set her up in the laundry room, in a Rubbermaid bin with a grate over it; a heat plate, food and water inside, and stepped around her as we went about our family life. She started in crying pretty quickly. Lonely, as singletons always are.

DH helped, by taking her into his office next to the laundry room, where she snuggled and tunnelled around inside his hoodie as he used his computer. This is the man who generally has nothing whatsoever to do with the farm animals, except driving the hay truck once a year. He has taken a liking to ducks though, and before long Duckberta had him wrapped around her little webbed finger.

After a couple days of ongoing peeping complaints, at times strident, from one lonely little duckling, I realized mama Orpington could spare a child, and I brought Duckberta a little Barred Rock buddy. He quieted her down immediately, and they lived together quite happily for a couple more days. By that point though, we were all getting tired of stepping around a smelly chick brooder every time we went into or out of the laundry room. It was time for a more permanent solution. 

I wondered if mama Orpington would take Duckberta under her wing, if she showed up with little Barred Rock? It was worth a try. That night after dark, I took the chick and the duckling out to the hen hotel and slipped them under mama’s skirts where they settled down immediately.

The next day, Duckberta was ambling around the brooder in the middle of a crowd of 17 Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red chicks, just another one of the gang. She didn’t move as quick, and she made more of a mess when she ate, but other than that, she seemed to fit in just fine. Thank goodness. A couple days later when I accidentally spooked mama off the nest one night, I noticed that Duckberta had staked out the prime nest real estate, right under the middle of mama. Evidently she was coping just fine.

There have been a few challenges, like figuring out how to get her the extra vitamin B she needs to grow strong. But we are working things out as she grows, and, a much faster grower, she is now twice as long as the chicks, although not quite as tall. A duck out of water in one sense of the phrase, she has taken to life with her chicken family like a duck to water! 

Although the day she comes across her first real puddle or pond, she will likely give her poor dear mama a heart attack by jumping right in for a swim. As ducks do.

The Winter Field

One of the cool things about living for twenty-plus years on the same piece of land is being able to see the long term results of our actions. Like the 150 foot hedge that we planted along the busy road fifteen years ago. It’s twenty feet tall now, ten feet wide and impenetrable. And beautiful in the fall.

Or our “winter field”. The winter field got its name because it is the only field that stays dry enough that we can have the horses on it a little bit in mid winter when everywhere else is too muddy. To protect both the land and their feet, our ponies spend much of the wet season in their roomy barnyard paddock, on top of some serious drainage (4 feet of rocks, gravel, then hog fuel).

When we first moved to our muddy valley, a couple horses had been left too long on the winter field, nibbling it down to bare earth. After the horses left, we did nothing (no money, no time and three small kids) and by the next spring, much to our relief, it had greened right up with a mix of grass, clover and plenty of weeds. A couple years later we started putting our own horses on it. They ate down the grass each year, but not the weeds, because horses are picky. We tried to encourage the grass, because more free grass means less outlay on hay to feed hungry horses. We did our best to avoid overgrazing and kept the weeds sort of under control by mowing, hand pulling and, one expensive year, even plowing the whole bloody thing, fertilizing and reseeding. We tried the same approach in the northwest field.  Sadly, a couple years later, both fields looked just the same; grass, clover and plenty of weeds. 

More years went by, and then in 2012, we got six chicks and built their coop next to the winter field. By 2013 we had lots of chickens (that’s another story), who happily free ranged in the afternoons year round, nibbling greens and enjoying bugs, scratching things up a bit but not too much, leaving their droppings behind. 

Life continued, and here we are another eight years later, with the winter field transformed! Especially the area nearest the coops which looks amazing. The thick emerald grass is trimmed slightly tall and fairly even by the flock’s sharp beaks, and completely weed free. It looks like the ‘after’ picture of a weed n feed commercial, except for the chicken poops nestled here and there. Ten feet away, the grass is still lush, with scattered bits of clover. Ten feet more, the grass / clover mix is more pronounced and there is a weed or two. About forty feet away from the coops, where the birds don’t hang out as much, it looks more like the before-chicken winter field.

It has to be our free range poultry who have made this dramatic difference, nothing else has changed! It appears that given the right set of circumstances, chickens are superb groundskeepers. 

Regenerative agriculture is having a moment right now, and I totally get why. One regenerative ag strategy involves running livestock lightly on the land where they can forage their own feed, fertilize with their droppings, and disturb the soil moderately with their activities, improving fertility and production. Our winter field, before and after introducing chickens, is an accidental testament to this idea. It’s quite remarkable.

Around here, as we experiment with more regenerative approaches (my new raspberry patch is ‘no till’ and RG uses lots of the techniques), the health of the soil and the plants and animals that it nurtures just keeps improving.

If I had the time and energy, I would have chicken tractors, staffed by feathery groundskeepers, set up at forty feet intervals all over, and let the place really go to the birds.

Phytophthora In My Raspberries

Phytophthora root rot fungus has been creeping through my poor raspberry patch for the past few years, wreaking its slow motion havoc on first one cane, then another. 

High soil moisture, something we have no shortage of around here, creates an ideal habitat for Phytophthora. It prefers heavy soil and slow drainage and its spores can swim from plant to plant through the soggy ground. In my patch, affected canes grow, set fruit, then wither away, their roots rotten. It really sucks.

I have two means of control, removing infected canes and improving drainage. This helps, but the patch is slowly declining. So this year, I decided to start fresh, and put in a new raspberry patch in a higher spot. I had to buy new canes, since mine are probably all infected, so I chose Phytophthora-resistant varieties, some summer fruiting and some everbearing, ordering them in January to be sure of supply. 

I’m planting them without disturbing the soil underneath, a regenerative gardening technique that we have good success with here. I lay down feed bags, pile RG’s precious compost high on top, and plant straight into it. The feed bags will rot, smothering the weeds and grass I laid them on top of first, and the raspberry roots will grow down into the earth, and all through the delicious compost. I will seed grass on the pathway bare spots, and as the grass grows between my bermed rows, I will mow it and use it as mulch. (I’m imagining broad emerald green pathways between fruit-laden hedges…can’t you just see it!?!)

It’s nice starting from scratch, having the opportunity to change what I don’t like about my old raspberry patch. I made the pathways between the rows good and wide so I can get a lawnmower around easily. This will provide plenty of elbow room for picking at harvest time too, my old patch is crowded and it’s hard to get down the rows and spot all the berries.

Deer and rabbits are plentiful here, so an effective barrier is a must have. I used metal posts that won’t rot in a few years like my old pencil posts did; some recycled from an old rain shelter and some good old t-bars that were lying around. DH kindly chopped the ends off some rusty bed frame rails for me, so I’m using those too. 

Metal hardware cloth or chicken wire works well to deter the bunnies. I went with the cloth this time, folding it so that half lies on the ground, skirting the entire border, and half climbs up the fence. I top this skirt with several feet of deer netting, zip tie it all together, and secure it to the ground with six inch landscape staples. That’ll keep the little buggers out.

The gate is half recycled 2×2 and chicken wire panel and half bent green willow, with zip tie hinges. No need for it to swing freely, it won’t see a lot of traffic. I still need to hang netting or something in the archway.

I planted my new raspberry canes the other day, and picked up two more today to fill the last two spots. If these do well, I shall put in two more rows next year or the year after, planting them up with suckers from whichever of my resistant varieties (Prelude, Nova, Killarney, Joan J and Honey Queen) do best. 

I have a few marionberries and a couple thornless blackberries well established  in my old raspberry patch along with my ailing raspberries, so if the new patch does well, I will let the marions and blacks take over the old one. Phytophthora doesn’t affect them. 

One of the gardening hacks I’ve learned over the years is to flow with the realities rather than struggle to make something thrive where it doesn’t really want to. If my old raspberry patch doesn’t want to grow raspberries any more, I won’t compel it to. In the garden as in life, persuasion is better than force.

The Chores Equinoxes

Spring is just around the corner, March 20 to be exact. Here in our muddy valley, the first chores equinox of the year, which took place yesterday, is a sure harbinger of spring.
Chores equinox happens twice a year; it is the first and last days that the evening chores, which must be done at dusk, are done after one sits down to dinner.
I love both the spring and the fall chores equinoxes. This time of year, I look forward to all the long evenings I can spend outside after dinner. In the fall, I look forward to chores being the last outside job of the day, followed by dinner and a snug evening indoors.
It felt a little strange walking out there with a full tummy last night, rather than an appetite!

A South-facing Barn

In my experience, nothing beats a south-facing barn. On cold sunny winter days like today, with the snow blue and crunchy and the mud frozen into hard ridges underfoot, the morning sun rises at just the right angle to flood both stalls with sunshine right to the back wall. Lucky equines, to be snug and dry and munching breakfast while sunbathing.

In the summer the sun tracks much higher in the sky, and except in the very early morning the stalls, thanks to the roof’s overhang, are plunged into deep shade, a cool retreat from the heat of the day.

Our prevailing south westerlies and winter northerlies are well blocked by the barn’s design. In stormy weather, the big sliding barn doors may sway a bit in the wind, but they never slam open, or shut. The rain never blows inside the open stalls either. It’s the height of mud season right now, and except where our little desert flower donks have peed the stall floors remain dry as a bone. Resourceful and fastidious donks have set up their own temporary “indoor” pee spot, about 2 x 2 feet, which they use carefully and exclusively, so they can avoid putting even one dainty hoof on that horrible white stuff. They have a separate small spot where they deposit their manure. Good donks, this makes them easy to clean up after.

The loft stores upwards of 250 bales of hay and thanks to our new roof vent keeps it dry and mold-free year round – an impressive achievement in our wet west coast climate and a real money saver, since we can buy enough hay for the whole year at the peak of haying season and at its best price.

I don’t know if the builders were barn design experts, or if our barn’s functionality was just a happy accident, but either way, the almost fifty year old building still does its job beautifully. Over the past few years, it’s needed some restoration work, as well as a new roof, and it’s been money well spent and a job well done by our soon to be son-in-law. This morning, as I hung out enjoying the sunshine and listening to the equines contentedly munching their hay (such a peaceful sound), I once again quietly thanked whoever designed and built it. Form and function, this humble barn has it all.

West Coast Snow Dayz

With more than a foot of snow falling over the last couple days, getting around the barnyard has been a trial. Especially hauling full water buckets. RG came home today from a weekend at her boyfriend’s (it’s ok, covid safety is important to our family, he’s in her bubble) and promptly shoveled all the hundreds of feet of trails I had stomped through the drifts while doing chores, right down to bare ground. She also texted me a few times as she worked, to warn of particularly slippery areas. ❤️

DH cleared the whole driveway, multiple times. And worked on our road along with the other neighbourhood guys and their tractors. A narrow lane really, that dead ends not far past our place, the municipal plows don’t exactly prioritize it. He also carefully filled the back of my truck with snow, packed and levelled for safety, in case I need to go anywhere. We have a fairly large parking area and drive, his snowbanks are now taller than his tractor. ❤️

Chores were so much easier this morning, even though I had some fence repair to do. George had once again knocked down the electric line between him and the donks, in a fit of pique about the weather I’m sure. I can tell it was him and not the donks because a) he is the one with the temper; and b) the donkeys have not set foot outside their stall since the ground turned white. I had to move their water inside, when I realized about twelve hours in (!) they had not gone for a drink since it started. The chickens don’t like it either. All the barnyard crew are getting fed up with this white stuff, they tell me so every time I go out to see them. Except the ducks who love to eat it, puddle around in it, and turn it into a soggy poopy mess, much like they do bare ground.

I am getting fed up with it too. I don’t know how my prairie relatives manage their version of our Canadian winter. Better than us west coasters handle this snow I’m sure…

A Dog’s Life

Our little dog Chance is a creature of habit. He is also blessed with a robust internal clock, so that all his days, as far as he can manage them, unfold right on schedule. From the moment he wakes up, to climb sleepily into my lap where he will snooze for another hour and a half while I drink coffee and read the news, (the only time of day he even considers snuggling in the recliner with me) until he successfully wrangles me onto the couch in the evening so he can press first his head, and eventually his entire length, up against my leg and, you guessed it, sleep, each day’s events unfold in the most predictable, most delightful (from his point of view), manner.

At the same time, he can be very adaptable if he so chooses. Nimble in fact. If one day I randomly hand him a dog biscuit as we are coming in from the barnyard, he adds this exciting event to his list, and the next time we come in from the barnyard, he beelines to the closet door behind which the dog biscuits live, where he stands eyeing me with a confident air, genially wagging his tail. If I keep walking, turn the corner and head up the stairs, he quickly deflates, his body language screaming his disappointment, and trails glumly after me up the stairs. He will keep asking for days, if not weeks, every time we come in from the barnyard in the afternoon, before he’ll sadly strike “receive dog biscuit after barnyard” from his schedule. Lord help me if I give him that après barnyard treat more than once in a month! He almost needs counselling to finally let go.

The daily schedule around which Chance’s life orbits consists mostly of events involving food, although specific types of snuggle time on specific pieces of furniture with specific people are right up there too. As is going outside at specific times (ostensibly to relieve himself, but really to yell at anyone, man or beast, daring to use the road in front of our house), play time with Arrow, feeding the horses in the evening, and to cap each day, his chew chew (rubber bone stuffed with tiny treats).

I admit I do indulge him, and yes he is a manipulator. I am quite aware and I do allow this; I take reciprocal pleasure in making my dog happy. Chance’s schedule harmlessly choreographs our days, and has for years. I know that his schedule makes my little rescue dog feel secure, but sometimes his fervent adherence to it still surprises me. 

Each day after early morning barnyard (for me, he stays behind snuggling in bed with DH) he and I go into my office where I nudge my computer awake and grab him his daily half a dentabone. I throw it, he grabs it excitedly, and I “change my mind”, chasing him down the hallway and into the living room, growling that I want it back. He dearly loves being chased, he cavorts and practically giggles as he goes. Then I laugh and give up, he plops down and begins to devour his treat. I retreat to my office, shut the door, and start to check my email. After a few minutes, his single soft ‘scritch’ at the door signals that he’s ready for breakfast, which I serve in the kitchen, then back to my desk. Another ‘skritch’ a few minutes later tells me he is ready to go outside. Generally his barking gets him brought inside again, usually by DH, and eventually another soft ‘skritch’ tells me he is ready to take up his position on his six inch foam bed under my work table, where he snores away the remainder of the morning while I conduct my business of the day.

The other morning, I had a deadline and was already working when he got up from DH snuggle time and skritched at my door for his dentabone. Knowing that he would just sit there, softly skritching every few minutes, until I gave him what he was “owed”, I grabbed half a dentabone, opened the door, and dropped it at his feet, then closed the door, sat back down, and got back into my task. Until. Skritch. A minute or two. Then, skritch. “Oh jeez.” I thought, “He’s got to be kidding, it’s not enough to get the treat, he wants me to chase him too?” Realizing that the quickest route to peace was to indulge him, I got up again and opened the door, whereupon he grinned up at me, picked up his half dentabone in his mouth and tossed it high in the air over his shoulder into the hallway, pivoted, pounced on it, took possession, and ran down the hallway giggling, with me in hot pursuit. 

“Excellent” I could practically hear him thinking as he plopped down to chew, “that’s done properly now, and rightly so.”

A Redemption Story

Last Sunday night, a heavy old tubular steel gate that had been hanging, chained and locked, at the end of our barnyard driveway for more than 25 years vanished in the night. All that was left behind was the plastic netting (carefully folded and set aside) that had been zip tied along its base to keep chickens and ducks from wandering onto the busy road, and a couple broken chain links. DH reported our theft to the police, and the fellow who took our report said it was a first for him in more than 3000 calls…usually people enter and exit through gates to steal stuff, they don’t actually steal the gates.

Scavenging a gate from between two fields elsewhere on the property, DH and RG spent much of the day installing and theft-proofing it. Of course, as with any farm chore, the usual number of tangential roadblocks cropped up along the way, each having to be dealt with as it arose. DH’s farm truck battery died at the feed store where he’d stopped to ask them to call us if anyone came in looking for farm gate hangers. RG had to go give him a jump, after one from a kind stranger didn’t work. Then, as well as the new chains and locks, DH had to go buy a new truck battery. Funny how vehicle batteries always die when the weather turns cold, isn’t it. It ended up being a fairly expensive day. Good locks, chains, and truck batteries don’t come cheap.

On the advice of middle daughter, the organized one, I wrote a quick Facebook post and sent it to a couple ‘what’s happening in our community’ pages. My post got lots of attention, so it didn’t take long for the local print and TV media folks to come calling, looking for a story. We indulged each as they came, because of course any publicity just might help. Maybe someone had seen our large (12 feet long!) gate travelling down the road. Maybe someone had noticed a big old gate appear in their neighbourhood. With a replacement looking like it was going to cost north of $300, and the usual insurance deductible meaning the cost would assuredly come out of our own pockets, we really just wanted to get our old gate back.

Lots of folks reacted to the story, we read all the comments, which ranged from sad to mad to everything in between. We enjoyed seeing RG on the evening news – it’s always fun when family is on TV. And that was it, I thought, Muddy Valley Farm’s fifteen minutes of fame. I’d been surprised by the level of interest, and was happy when things started to settle down. I liked the idea of sinking back into quiet obscurity.

The last interviewer who had come by had said as he departed “You never know, it might just turn up, I’ve seen it happen.” I wasn’t holding out too much hope, but thought that if our gate was to reappear, it would come in the form of a call from a good samaritan reporting a gate in the ditch somewhere. Mostly though, I thought that probably we’d just never see our old gate again. Luckily, the gate we’d scavenged to plug the opening onto the busy road wouldn’t be needed between the barnyard field and the Tarzan Tree field until the weather improved, and we could let George and the donkeys out onto grass again.

The week went by quickly, as weeks tend to do, and every morning as I walked out to feed, I’d glance up at the driveway entrance, thinking of what that last interviewer had said, and hoping…on the off chance…

Friday night was a frosty cold one, and the barnyard was gorgeous as I walked out to feed early Saturday morning. I glanced to my right as I crossed the winter field, and saw…something?…what the heck? I set down my buckets and fished for my glasses on their string around my neck, squeezing them on between my scarf and my toque, then peered up the driveway again. The gate almost looked like it had…doubled? Walking more quickly now (could it be??) I dropped the feed buckets at the barn door and headed up for a closer look. Were my eyes deceiving me…or…OMG, the old gate!!! It was back! Leaning against the new gate, it’s chain securely taped (so THAT’s how they kept it quiet!), it was definitely our old familiar gate. The rust spots were just where they were supposed to be, but the metal cash box (which we hadn’t used for years since we stopped selling manure) was missing. I didn’t care, our prodigal gate was home!!!

I pulled my phone out of my pocket, which was not easy as it was nestled under several warm layers, and called DH who was in the house enjoying his morning coffee. “THE GATE IS BACK!!!!” I shouted delightedly. “Really???” he said, and then he laughed and laughed and so did I. We were both shocked. What a head shaker. Then I texted my sister “holy sh!t, it’s back!”, but she never got the message because I accidently sent it instead to a random ex-coworker in my address book whom I hadn’t talked to for several years. Suffice to say I was a little stunned.

By now George was stomping around expressing his strong displeasure at his feed bucket’s delay, so I carried on feeding him and the donks, letting out the ducks and giving them feed and water, then over to the coops to do my chicken chores. When I got back to the house I quickly dashed off another post to let everyone know the good news. One of the nice things about good news is sharing it, so that was fun. Of course the media folks got back in touch for follow ups, and the TV guy is coming back today to interview RG again. I’ll have to congratulate him on his insight.

All in all, it’s been an interesting experience, and I’m thankful for it. Good and bad, these are the happenings that enrich our lives. At its heart though, this is a redemption story. Unknown persons came to our farm, did a bad deed, saw how it affected us, regretted their actions, and then righted their wrong; redeeming themselves in our eyes and, I believe, in the eyes of the universe too. Redemption narratives are as old as humankind, and for good reason; they give us hope. These days, with all that we are living through with this pandemic and everything else that’s going on around the world, a good redemption story provides sustenance to our souls. I don’t know who took our gate, and I likely never will, and it doesn’t matter.

As I said in my second post, we’re all human, and we all do stuff we later wish we hadn’t. And sometimes, we even have the courage to make it right. It couldn’t have been easy for whoever took our gate to return it, but they did so anyway. By doing so, not only did they make my day, they made a lot of other peoples’ day, and they redeemed themselves as well. Gosh I love happy endings. Happy Sunday everyone!

Rain Again

Oh the rain we had yesterday! Our little workhorse of a creek swelled up enormously as she digested her floodwater meal, gulping down every bit of it with her usual aplomb.

My neighbour up on the hill to the NW of us checked in at one point, reporting waterfalls gushing down from the heights above, down to form a “new” pond at the bottom of their place and then across the road and into the valley bottom along which our little Goward Spring Creek runs.

We were watching our creek carefully, as is prudent for those of us who live beside any waterway in stormy weather. As her crest passed around five pm, we still enjoyed a clear foot of space below our permanent bridges, phew! Again I quietly thanked those who put our house where they did, mere inches from the water’s edge and yet safe and dry for many years now.

Fingers crossed our luck holds. Last January we had 262 mm, the highest monthly total in more than ten years but still well off the hundred year high of 358 mm set in January 1953. Our place was built in 1972, so who knows what will happen if another hundred year record breaker comes along. Hopefully we won’t find out!

Measuring the gap