Thursday, June 28, 2007

Chick has Chickens

As you know it all started by Rhiannon and I wanting to hatch some eggs. Maybe if we could have got the original incubator at the original time none of this would have happened... maybe.... Then the plan was to hatch a few eggs from my friend's flock and give them back to her as chicks.

But that isn't how it happened. By the time we got an incubator, my friend's rooster was gone and the last viable eggs past their 'due date'. And by then, I wanted to hatch a lot of eggs and raise some chickens to eat. And somewhere in the back of my mind at some time (I don't remember when - it just sneaked in there, very stealthily) came the idea of keeping some of my own chickens to lay eggs. And then when I called a place to buy some eggs for hatching, it turns out she was going out of business (moving) and was selling her flock. So in addition to having some 20 of her eggs in my incubator, I bought 8 of her chickens. There are 5 Silver Laced Wyandotte hens and a rooster of the same kind and two Buff Orpington hens. Isn't the rooster pretty? I love him! I am sitting a little on pins and needles hoping my neighbours don't hate him... At first he only crowed a little bit and not until I let them out of the coop in the morning. Now he crows inside the coop at 6am or so and he crows heartily when I let him out. I love the sound. I think he has an awesome crow - rich and expressive. It is a total cock-a-doodle-doo.

The black and white one with the most white on in this picture I named Lacey. Rhiannon has named one of the brown ones Pinky (she's missing some feathers on her back and you can see her pink skin) and the fluffy brown one Brownie. The other 4 black and white hens are very hard to tell apart - she is struggling to come up with names for them. I think Prickly was a name for awhile....

So eggs. Yes, we have had eggs already. Although it will take a week or two before we are in full production after the stress of changing homes. But someone has laid an egg almost every day - she lays it outside the coop - just a perfect little egg sitting there in the dirt. I popped two of them into the incubator and now we are collecting them to put under one of the broody hens so she can hatch some chicks herself. Then she will happily look after all the chicks I hatch indoors and think they are her own. Yesterday someone else laid an egg in the egg box, too.

All this chicken getting and coop finishing happened while Dean was on the road. Rhiannon was so excited to show him the chickens when he got home. And he likes them. (whew!) She has been wearing overalls since we got them and I call her my little farm girl. At dinner she announced to him that he is a farmer now... LOL! Well, maybe not quite! But as it happens, he's married to a farm woman (farmeress?) and the father of a farm girl!

So there you have it, Chick has chickens!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Story of the Coop

And after that whirlwind of building, this is what it looked like when my building girls went home....

So there are no pictures of the final stages in progress.... well, because I did that all by myself... (said with a touch of pride and a touch of irritation at my son who could have helped me...)

And there you have it - my coop!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Feeding the King (don't tell Dean...)

Last night having a delicious dinner of lettuce wraps and strawberries and whipped cream for dessert (lettuce from the garden and strawberries picked that morning). Tigger absolutely loves cream and he smelled it from outside. Soon he was sitting on a chair looking longingly at the table - maybe he was wishing we would leave the room so he could jump up on the table and help himself. We couldn't resist his orange cuteness. So we fed him whipped cream from a spoon.... Isn't he cute? Doesn't he look so polite there, sitting up so straight? Don't tell Dean....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What I Love About Him

My relationships have taken a rather circuitous route. I've learned and grown and changed a lot. One of the consequences of all that evolving was that I ended up alone, a single parent to three children. Dean and I have been together for almost 10 years now. He is the love of my life and we have had some great times and we have learned and grown a lot together. One of the greatest challenges in our life together has been the step-parenting aspect. It has been challenging for all involved - for my kids who sometimes want things from him they don't get - for him who sometimes gets pushed beyond what he ever thought he would - for me who is always in the middle, loving them both, sometimes more than they love each other...

But this week end is not a time like that. This week end Dean and Drew have gone camping together. It wasn't my idea. I didn't nag or drop hints. The only thing I did was book the campsite at Dean's request. The planned the food, they packed the food, the tent and everything else they needed with excitement and anticipation. We all watched the weather forcast and as it got worse and worse as the week progressed, I thought for sure they would cancel. But they both knew that it would be almost impossible to reschedule and they would not get to do it this summer. So even in the rain, they packed up. It was sunny when I dropped them off. I left them there at Ellison, both of them with huge grins. I laughed and said they were just so glad to get away from me!

It started raining pretty early in the evening. But Dean called to say they had decided to stay anyways and have an adventure. So I am leaving shortly to go and collect them this Father's Day morning, with my heart full of love for both of them.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Curse of the Black Cat

Its funny how things work out. Just over a year ago, we got Sampson (Delila) and Coppellia after Sheeba's sad disappearance. Coppelia for Rhiannon to be mainly indoors and Sampson (Delila at the time) for Drew to be mainly outdoors to help Tigger with the outdoor mousing responsibilities.

But it turns out that Sampson preferred sleeping with Rhiannon and hanging out indoors and Coppellia preferred to be outdoors or hanging out with Drew.

In fact, I started to have my doubts about having 3 cats as Coppellia turned out to be a ferocious killer. And she killed a lot more than mice. She killed birds. Lots of birds. She killed all 5 starlings nesting around the garden. And started on robins.

We joke that the birds banded together and put out a hit and hired an owl. Because Coppellia is gone. Its been more than a week now. Too long to have been treed somewhere. And the liklihood of her being lost are slim. She is tatooed so if she was found by someone, we should have been called. There has not been the grief that there was for Sheeba and I feel a bit bad about that. Rhiannon who has long preferred Sampson, has only been upset about proprietorship. She doesn't 'own' Sampson and demanded for awhile (and probably will again) to 'own' another kitten.

But I am thinking that 2 cats is nice. Its a bit more manageable. And neither Sampson nor Tigger are that into killing birds which I was not entirely comfortable with... but both are great mousers. And Dean hasn't had allergic reactions to Sampson's dark grey fur. Maybe if Tigger and Sampson don't bond more and Sampson gets too lonely, I might consider another black female kitten....

But in the meantime, I am sad for Coppellia, our little black friend. I think Sampson misses her, too. I find him curled up in the places she used to curl up.

Coppellia was our 4th black kitten. Our first, Mina (pronouced meena) lasted only a few months. Then there was Jake who lasted exactly a year. Then Sheeba who lasted for 2 years and captured our hearts totally and now Coppellia who also lasted a year. Curse of the black cats!

Good bye Coppellia. Thank you for sharing your short life with us. God speed you on the next part of your journey!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Feathered Friends

Chicken coop is on the agenda for this week end. My friend, Sheila, who is my handyman is coming from Calgary with her saws and tools to make my coop. In the meantime Rhiannon and I started this today in hopes of hatching some of our very own feathered friends. The odds of these eggs working is stacked against us. Some of the eggs we had for too long before the incubator arrangements were made (previous arrangements didn't turn out). And the other eggs although fresh and fertilized have been washed which is not a good thing when it comes to hatching. We are just a couple of days outside the range for our first eggs. So we sang some healing chants and handled them each with love. We filled the entire incubator with 42 eggs - as much as it would hold. Hopefully some will hatch...

Rest well, sweet eggs, may the miracle of life begin within you!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Gardening Surprises

Rhiannon and I were a bit shocked to see what had sprouted in the pot with her pomegranate. We transplanted it a couple of weeks ago and she wanted to keep it in her room beneath her skylight. Then the other evening when we went in there, we glanced over there and there was a rather large visitor... I think it is a zucchini.... I guess we'll find out when it bears fruit, anyways. (It will go into the garden today...)

Here it is from above...

And here is another surprise. When we moved in here, there were flower beds surrounding the house and then two large flower beds in the lawn - one on the east side of the house and one on the north. None of them had been tended to for sometime. At least a year but maybe longer. I focussed my energy on making my vegetable beds and on rehabilitating the beds around the house last year. This year, I have been focussing on rehabilitating the flower bed to the north of the house - the one with the gorgeous poppies. Turns out it is mostly full of peonies which are very happy with the care they are getting. And I planted some flowers given to me by my friend, Karen. And there was this one plant that I wasn't sure what it was. Looked like it would be some kind of daisy. I carefully made sure I didn't kill it (unlike the peonies - I tried to kill all but 2 of those but they all survived and flourished... maybe peonies are masochisitic and like that, I don't know). Anyways, I nurtured this plant and as it got taller and taller, I looked forward to seeing what flowers it would have. And then... and then... it turned out to be a weed! Huge plant with small white flowers.... I'm still laughing... the jokes on me, after all. I'm sure the peonies are getting a kick out of it! (and Laura, I know you are laughing the 'you deserve it' kind of laugh right now!)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Look what we all did!

Pump arrived on Tuesday and it looked like we wouldn't be able to get the training for it until the 16th.... so what was a little bit more effort on my part? I managed to get this trainer here from Kelowna yesterday morning. There Kaetlyn is holding her new pump... too bad I didn't shut the closet door first....

There she is with the $53 sensor inside her and learning how to program the pump to receive the signal.

And there she is with the transmitter firmly attached. See that look on her face? She has been wearing her new pump and the sensor since then.

Friday, June 08, 2007

To Warm a Mother's Heart

Last night after returning on a high from our dance recital and winding down at home with my 2 girls (Dean on the road and Drew at a friend's house), I was on the computer blogging and Rhiannon wanted a cuddle. Kaetlyn went to give her a cuddle and when I went upstairs shortly after, here is what I found.

I wish I could have captured the golden light from my bedside lamp that seemed to surround them with grace, or the murmured conversations about Rhiannon's amazing performance and gentle teasing and joking that I overheard on my way up the stairs.

Truly a sight that warms a mother's heart - two sisters in each other's arms - my two loves, loving each other.

It could lead to a dissertation on the true cause of adolescent malaise and for me to expound on how when we feel loved and supported and needed and valued, that it is so much easier to be loving to those around us and how teenagerhood is too often a time of estrangement, marginalization, judgement and impotency.

And I could go on about the shift I have seen in Kaetlyn since we first started this whole pump fundraising thing and she got to feel so loved and supported and seen and valued by those around her.

But I'll just leave you with this photo and the tale of my full heart!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


The 10 weeks of my latest dance class are over. My third annual performance was tonight. And I am still on a high. It was incredible. And I don't mean what I did. Sure, I did something. I facilitated - I created a space for my dancers to dance. I encouraged and observed and sometimes suggested and appreciated and noticed. But they danced. I am in awe once again (for the third time) of what great dancing young children are capable of - the grace, the rhythm, the boogie, the sweetness if they are simply given the chance. I have been down at the Inner World school for the last 3 days - cleaning, painting and decorating. Our dance this year was set in the future on the Gloomy Planet and 11 dancers arrived by rainbow rocket to cheer the place up....

Here is the room before anyone arrived. See my rainbow rocket? Rhiannon and I painted that yesterday. During the dance, each dancer emerged from the rocket to do his or her dance. And do you like my little house? The trees were originally painted by me for my very first performance.

And here is my very favourite dancer - her third year of performing. My inspiration for the whole dance class. In fact, without her, there would be no Dancing Buas. It was because I couldn't find a satisfactory creative movement class for her that I created this dance class. This year she was a Panther doing a jungle dance and she was amazing. She did an incredible interpretation of the music (African drumming). I am only sad there were no grandparents and no dad there to watch (dad playing in Canmore and the grandparents MIA). But I was so proud of her. I just wish everyone could have seen her great performance - she really put a lot of effort into it.

And here are the panther and the sunshine fairy posing before everyone else got there in front of the house.

And here is another of my dancers. She is incredibly graceful and naturally does beautiful ballet moves. I love to watch her. You should have seen her little leaps tonight. She is the friendship fairy.

And here they all are dancing to the last song.

Wow, what a night. You know, I think we often just don't give kids enough credit - or the space, unfettered by our own expectations, to really show us what they can do. They really did something tonight. They were amazing and I am in awe of them.

I am very satisfied right now. I feel like I genuinely gave it my best effort and I think it went really well. I wouldn't change a thing and I think each kid is pleased with themselves and feels like they did something real.

(and see those black slippers? They were Andrew's when he was 4...)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Last Minute

I spent the day today at the Inner World School as I did yesterday preparing for my dance recital tomorrow (Thursday at 5pm). A friend dropped by around lunch time. Looking around the room, she says, "this is a little last minute, isn't it?"

I answer blithely, "This? No, starting tomorrow would be the last minute..."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Purolator just left... Kaetlyn's pump is here....... Kaetlyn's pump is here! Oh my God! Kaetlyn's pump is here.... we really did it!

Oh thank you! Thank you everyone! Thank you Mary Sue and Monique for urging me on, for your support for all your time and efforts. Most of all, thank you for your love and care of my daughter. And thank you Marty for getting us started with $1000 on the very first day of our fund raising. Thank you Lynn and Jill and Julie. And thank you Century 21 - Carla and everyone there. And the Alliance Church who finished off our donations with $1,200.

Oh my God! It is here. We really did it!
Look here is the pump. (I'll let Kaetlyn open the box when she gets home... I just opened the parcel)

And here is the sensor.

And you know what the package of instructions says? "Enclosed in this package you will find materials to help you change your life with your MiniMed insulin pump."

You all did that. You changed my daughter's life with your belief in her and with your time and efforts. And with your love. Do you know what a relief that is to my mother's heart? It has been a burden I have carried mostly alone since Feb 23, 1999. When you have a child with an incurable disease, you never forget it and you worry about what they need about what their life will be like. I can tell you that burden is so much lighter today - to see how much other people love her and care about her and give her real tangible support that she needs. Thank you for sharing my burden.

Are there words for that?

Oh my God! The pump is here!

Warning: More Garden Pics

I just couldn't help myself.... One of the first things I do in the morning is to stroll around my gardens, seeing what has changed from the night before and who needs water. This morning 2 more poppies had burst open. Aren't they stunning? I'm in love!

And this is the peony that was getting ready to open in the last gardening post. And okay, I have to admit, it is pretty spectacular!

And to not be prejudiced against what nature provides, aren't these clover blossoms pretty, too? And doing such wonderful things for the soil as well.

And look! Peas! I LOVE peas! I even ate one of these. And it tasted great!

This is the first year I have grown nasturtiums - the edible flower. And I think I like them, too. They are just so startlingly bright amidst all the green.

And then it rained and it rained and it rained and nothing will look the same tomorrow morning. I can't wait to go see what the rain did.... And now I had better go to bed...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sprouts and Blooms

Tired of hearing about my garden?..... tough! hehe! Here are this morning's pictures. Turns out, I think I love purple flowers... I transplanted this from a generous gardening friend and it just started to bloom yesterday... I'd really love to add some purple bearded irises to my garden.....

Did I mention my distaste for peonies?.... Did I mention that I counted 12 peony plants in my gardens?.... Well, here is the next kind getting ready to open. I have to admit, it is rather pretty and it is doing remarkably well with absolutely no fiddly farty from me. (I refuse on principle) Maybe I'm starting to like them or maybe this is a good example of cognitive dissonance....

Here is a beauty I am absolutely not ambivalent about. This morning my first poppy burst open. I think it is breathtakingly beautiful... Those colours, the fragility of the petals...

So, when I am done with all the seeds I plant in the winter/early spring indoors and some have sprouted and grown and some have not, I take all the dirt and dump it back into my big bag of dirt for reuse next year. Then my generous gardening friend gave me this lily (canus lily?) and so I dipped into my big bag of starting soil and planted it in this pot last week.

And that was that until I noticed some little friends in the pot with it. I think this sprout is a cucumber but it could be a canteloupe... but it looks like a Japanese cucumber to me... There is also a pepper sprout but I couldn't get the camera to focus on it - its too little.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Paradigm Shift

This is not apple juice and this canning jar is not sitting in my kitchen.... Its pee and its on the shelf behind the toilet in my bathroom. And no, no one is sick - this pee is not heading for the lab. Its my pee and when my jar is a bit more full, I am going to dump it on my compost. Soon, I hope to have my whole family peeing in jars and dumping them on the compost.

Did you know that most compost fail because of a lack of nitrogen? Instead of composting aerobically, they compost anaerobically which takes much longer and is much stinkier and encourages dogs and bears and mice to move into your compost. Did you know our pee is full of nitrogen? Did you know you could even mix pee 1 part to 5 parts water and pour directly on your plants as fertilizer (if they need nitrogen)?

I discovered this book. I have it on order from the library but in the meantime, the entire book is available online at that link and I have read most of it online. Reading this book has been huge for me. It has been a paradigm shift. In this book, the author, Joseph Jenkins, brings together his personal experience and practical advice with years and years of scientific studies. Things 'they' have known since the 1960's in North America. It has been a life changing book for me. Eventually, when I have my compost set up properly, I will be composting all my human manure.

Suddenly the ridiculousness of how we live and dispose of our 'waste' seems so blatantly obvious to me that I can't understand how I didn't notice before. Animals in nature, eat nature, digest nature, eliminate in nature and then nature uses the nutrients in the elimination to grow more food for the animals. An unbroken cycle - a symbiotic relationship. Yet we humans, eat nature, digest it and then flush the nutrients that the earth needs with our drinking water, instantly contaminating it and eventually, we flush this toxic water into our lakes and oceans killing what grows there (did you know that as of 2005, Victoria dumps its raw sewage straight into the ocean?) Yet we see this as sanitary and there are many who will find my little jar unsanitary.

We are a fecal-phobic culture. We have come to fear our own manure. In North America agricultural fields are used up and no longer productive in less than 100 years. In Asia where they have been using humanure for millennia, they have been growing on the same fields for thousands of years.... Unfortunately, they are racing to copy our dirty western ways and all this is changing now.

Reading the Humanure Handbook I have come to see what a difference composting can make to our planet. It is amazing what composting can do. When you have enough nitrogen in your compost, you get thermophilic composting. The little bacteria, with the proper food, raise the temperature of the compost and eat and destroy all the pathogens. This process can be as quick as 72 hours. And you can compost almost everything. You can compost animal bones, meat, citrus peels, eggs, animal products - everything. You have got to check out the studies he quotes in his book. They have even composted gasoline contaminated dirt and at the end of 90 days, the gasoline was all gone and there was just good compost. It is difficult to compost chlorine but even with PCB's (which have chlorine in them) after 90 days, there was a 40% reduction in them.

And you don't need a skookum, expensive, plastic composting toilet to get started. You can do it with a toilet seat over a bucket, which is what I am going to do. You should have sides on your compost to keep in the heat. I don't have those right now so I will wait to add poo to my compost until I do. I am going to use straw bales for the sides. So for an investment of $30 and whatever a toilet seat costs, I am going to be composting humanure instead of contaminating the beautiful lakes around here.

This is not the same as an out house. Out houses are not a good idea. They contaminate ground water. They don't compost. To compost you add all that vegetative matter - kitchen scraps and weeds, sawdust, cotton and wool, etc. Those that do compost humanure swear that it does not stink. If you cover pee and poo in the bucket immediately with ample amounts of weeks or sawdust, it keeps it from stinking, apparently (I'll keep you posted and let you know exactly how true that is).

To me, this knowledge has been earth shattering. I am simply astounded and amazed. And I can see what huge implications that this knowledge has for the entire planet. Why, it could solve most of our current pollution problems! It could make toxic earth whole again. It fills me with such joy and hope, it feels like a religious experience! I certainly have not done this book justice with my meagre descriptions(which is not new knowledge but a collation of what is already known). This book is worth reading. There is way more to it than what I am able to write about here and my feeble attempts don't do it justice. Read it!

One of the things I like best about this idea is that you don't have to go and buy anything to start doing it. It is so simple. And he also has ideas and suggestions for how we could implement these ideas in cities with dense population where people can't compost their own.

So maybe you think I am crazy and this is way out there. And unsanitary. And gross. Now the next time you flush your humanure down the toilet and waste it, I want you to think about the fact that you have just eliminated into perfectly good drinking water which is now contaminated. Talk about gross....

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Strawberry Day

Today was the day we picked the first 2 strawberries from our garden. Yes, the could have been a bit more red, that is true. But, hey! They were mostly red! And that makes today a strawberry day! Rhiannon and I were so excited!

And here she is all dressed up for violin lessons. I don't know why but she really likes to dress up for her violin lessons. It probably has something to do with the fuss her teachers make over the way she is dressed. But today really has to beat them all. Dressed so fancily Rhiannon just knew she needed some gloves. So she used her gardening gloves. She even wore them to violin lessons (had to take them off for the lesson, of course). Her teacher was duly impressed.

Later, wearing her bathing suit in the +32 degree weather, she used those same gloves to pick that strawberry. She went out to the garden with basket over arm and gloves on to inspect them. You should have heard her excitement when she found that one. That wasn't the very first strawberry, though. I ate that this morning....