Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bird Update

I know, my blogging has been lagging and I have a lot to update. But I'll start with my bird update. After the dramatic hatching you can see here, there was a very sad incident less than 24 hours later that involved a door left open and a certain gray cat. He ate that first little chick whose hatching (birth?) we captured on Rhiannon's camera - the one with the cool black markings around his eyes. Sampson ate the entire thing - beak, feet and all. I felt like crying! The door is now covered in signs made by Rhiannon (who unfortunately is the one who left it open...) and no more such incidents have happened.... although Sampson does occasionally pace back and forth in front of the door...

Then we waited for the next eggs to hatch - there were 19 of them. Some Ameraucaunas and some New Hampshire Reds that we got from the lady who sold us the chickens. 4 hatched. 3 Ameraucaunas - 1 black and 2 grey and one New Hampshire Red. Very disappointing.... I'm really hoping they are all hens and we can add them to our flock. However, we were hoping that we would have enough to add to our flock and to eat all the little roosters and extra hens...

It is getting a little late to start another hatching. So I called Okanagan Hatchery and ordered 35 chickens - 10 each for two of my friends who have agreed to help with butchering if necessary (I'll get into why that might be necessary in a future post) and 12 for me with 3 extra. Okanagan Hatchery only traffic in broilers which I was hoping to avoid as I don't really want to support the over-breeding of birds. Todays broilers have been bred for such fast growth that heart attacks and crippling are not uncommon. I talked to the guy and he told me I could slow their growth by feeding them wheat to avoid those problems. I needed them right away to fit in with my chicks so I went for it. When we arrived to pick them up, he threw in 5 extra. So we have 46 chicks in the basement now.

Here you can see the two left from the first hatching amidst all those little yellow fluff balls we will be eating for dinner... They have become the leaders of the flock which isn't necessarily a good thing as they are very skittish.

You can see the two gray Ameraucaunas here.

And the one standing on top of the feeder and looking right at the camera is the New Hampshire Red - barely distinguishable from all those other yellow fluff balls who will be dinner.... So far we can tell her apart by her wing feather development.

And who is the chicken I am holding at the beginning of this blog? That's Lacey our prettiest Silver Laced Wyandotte who faithfully lays us eggs who let me catch her yesterday.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Rather unusual for us, we had company for 16 days straight. So it feels rather like we have been on holidays for 2 weeks.

First Martha came, my sweet, beautiful, little sister. It was so nice having her here - great talks, walks to Friesens for treats, laughing and beaching. She was here for 10 days - left the day after my birthday. She got to meet my closest friends here in Vernon and come out for my awesome birthday dinner. It was just so good to be near her, to hug her and to spend time with her.

Then, the day after she left, Ronni and Megan arrived from Calgary. The Okanagan put on its finest hot days. I have been so blessed with great friends. Just to hang with Ronni puts my life in a certain perspective. She has known me since Kaetlyn was 4 months old. We met at church serving in Young Women's. It was a funny beginning. There were 3 of us and our other friend, was always worried that we didn't like each other and so we each thought that we the other didn't like the other (if that makes sense). Finally one day as we were running errands together (picking up field hockey equipment for some activity, if I recall correctly), I got up the courage to ask her why she didn't like me. And we have been fast friends ever since. She moved away from Winnipeg and introduced me to e-mail in its very early days. We wrote long e-mails to each other. I saw her through a bad relationship and she saw me through the end of my marriage. She knows about everything there is to know about me.... and she even loves me anyways! She has been such a gift to me. I love the continuity of our friendship and how we are embedded in each other's lives.

And so we holidayed together - it's become our tradition the last couple of years. She comes here at the beginning of the summer and we go there at the end. So this last week we went almost every day to the beach, we went to the water slides, ate ice cream at the Garden Parlour, went out to Alexander's and talked and talked and talked, took the girls out to BP in their fancy dresses and talked and talked and talked.

I miss her....

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Perfect Day

Yesterday I had the perfect day. Nothing could have made it any better. So what was my perfect day you ask? Well it started with a quiet morning, up all by myself. The first thing I did was to call my mother and wake her up. It only seemed appropriate considering what I put her through 42 years ago - waking her up at 7am was not so bad. We had a nice chat and I went to work in my garden. I weeded and hoed a bit and planted some seeds - seemed like the thing to do. I make up my own rituals. So I planted seeds with my hopes and dreams for this new year - the things I hope to grow in myself.

Dean made a delicious breakfast and then we packed up to hike into Cosens Bay with lunch food and beach toys.

The hike was beautiful on the sun dappled path and with the incredible view of the jade green lake and rare mariposa lilies blooming.

And for a special treat I had my sister visiting for 10 days so she was here for my birthday. Here she is carrying the cooler bag down to the beach.

It was so beautiful down there. The water was warm and clear and so very green. There were a bunch of boats at the other end of the beach but the hikers beach was almost entirely empty except for us. Everyone was there except for Kaetlyn who is not quite ready for hiking yet...

Dean, Martha, Rhiannon, my handsome boy.

We swam, we visited, we ate, we floated around and laid in the sun. It was really the perfect day!

But it only got better. We were home by 4 in the afternoon. Kaetlyn, Martha and I got ready to go out and meet some friends for dinner.

Here we are, all gussied up. I think we look pretty hot, don't you? What could be better than going out with my beautiful daughter and my sweet sister to meet some of my closest friends? I can't think of anything....

And my friends spoiled me.

Gave me wonderful gifts and we had great conversation. After they kicked us out of the restaurant, we talked in front on the sidewalk for an hour.

I am so blessed. I have such wonderful friends! I started a new journal yesterday for my birthday and I brought it for everyone to write it to get me started. This is what Kaetlyn wrote: "Amazing,that is how I think you are. I hope I end up as amazing as you with loving friends like yours...." And I am sure she will be far more amazing but she is right, I do have wonderful, loving friends. I am so very blessed. At the end of my perfect day I was filled up with sun, with water, with great food and conversation and with the wonderful, healing, rejeuvenating love of my family and friends. It was truly the perfect day.

And when I got home, late last night, this lily that one of my friends gave me earlier was blooming.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer Garden

I took these in the early morning sun yesterday - while it was still cool enough to be outside.

Sunny daisies that I love. I think I've loved daisies since I was my Aunt Heather's flower girl and got to wear a wreath of them... Too bad Dean is so very allergic to them. So I get to enjoy them in the garden only...

And here is a new plant for me this year - Salvia. Finally something that is thriving in this tough spot.

And hollyhocks about to bloom!

This is the first bed I planted this year - well actually lots of things planted themselves. I'm going to have more coriander than even Mary Sue can use! I love this bed's lushness.

And I love the merriness of those nasturtiums peeking through the squash leaves. Its my first year for Nasturtiums, too. I haven't eaten any flowers in salad yet but I will be planting them again, that's for sure!

And tomatoes.... I think I'm going to have lots of tomatoes this year. I have a total of 34 staked plants and then 3 more little volunteers.... well, they are not so little any more, actually!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's Easy Being Green

Easier than you think or at least, easier than 'they' would have us think it is. Very quickly the corporate machines that depend on our ever-increasing consumerism for their very life and prosperity recognized that the 'green' movement could decimate their fortunes. So the took the concept and twisted it, creating 'green' products. And they were delighted to find that they could charge considerably more - especially by packaging it in very small amounts and so the corporate machines were happy and people lulled into thinking that they were making more responsible choices by continuing to buy, buy, buy green products.

And I don't mean to say that buying organic isn't good or that there aren't some great 'green' products out there. But I have one very big beef with this so-called green movement. Have you noticed the packaging? I can buy conditioner that is made in Vancouver (less emissions to get to me) and has no bad ingredients. But I have to buy it in 1 cup plastic bottles at a time. At best, I can order a 2 cup container in special. I can buy organic ketchup but I have to buy it in the smallest plastic bottle that ketchup comes in. And we use a lot of ketchup around here. What's that about? How 'green' is my choice when I am contributing to the ocean of plastic as I support more sustainable farming practises? Why does it have to be a trade-off?

I've been thinking more and more that living a more sustainable lifestyle means buying a whole lot less and buying in really different ways. We have become so dependant in the way we live. Most of us are dependant on the system for our electricity, our heat, our water, communication, entertainment. What would we do if it were suddenly to collapse or be bombed or something like that? In about 2 generations, so much information has been lost about how to be self-sufficient. Most of us don't know how to make our own soap, our own bread, sew our own clothes and many don't even know how to grow their own food. It's a scary proposition. As we have become urbanized, we have become very vulnerable. I've been thinking more and more that to be more sustainable means to do more things myself.

We've come to think that 'being green' means buying more expensive things and different kinds of things - throw out all your plastic containers and buy metal or glass ones. It's still buy, buy, buy. What if being green was actually a lot easier than that? I mean, isn't it easier to have a rag bag full of cotton rags made from old clothes than to purchase paper towel? Isn't it easier to save your plastic bags instead of buying packages of them? Sure, preserving your own food takes more effort but it is so much more nutritious and definitely a better bargain than buying organic. And thrift store shopping is more time consuming but you won't have to spend so many hours working to pay for all those new clothes.

Thinking this way really clicked for me when reading the Humanure Handbook (have I mentioned that book before....? lol... and I probably will again!) When I realized that I didn't need to purchase a $2000 composting toilet but I could make one from a 10 gallon bucket (did I mention that he included the plans in the book for several different kids of toilets?). I suddenly saw the fraudulent ways of the corporations who had got us to see 'green' living as more expensive and generally harder to do. It isn't. There are so many things we can do right now that are easy and make our life easier and less stressfull. All these thoughts and some great women in my life inspired me to run this workshop at the Inner World School this summer..... It's Easy Being Green. Next Tuesday is our first one! I am so looking forward to it! Following is the write up from our brochure. (maybe tomorrow I'll go back to talking about chickens...)


Our flagship this summer will be a workshop that will go every Tuesday from 10am - 1pm and is open to all ages. The topic is "It's Easy Being Green". Too often it seems that making a choice that is better for the earth (green), costs more money, takes more effort and generally makes life more difficult. This workshop will focus on the easy things we can do that lesson our impact on the earth. We will be starting it off by decorating thrifted t-shirts with slogans, like: "It's Easy Being Green", "Buy Less", "I Love the Earth", "Can't Be Bought", "Not For Sale", "I Am The Earth", "Don't Pollute" or many other ones that we think up. In the following weeks we will do many things that focus on easily living with less impact on the earth - we will sew cloth napkins and make a rag bag and make rags from old clothing, we will pick up litter, make our own soap, we will make art from recycled materials, we will do field trips to thrift stores and the farmer's market and much, much more. Come every Tuesday or come for a few or only one. The cost per workshop is $20 or $120 (free for members) for the whole 9 weeks. It will culminate in an open house display of all that we have done and how it can be easy being green at the Inner World School that will be open to the public in early September.
It's Easy Being Green
Date: Tuesdays, July 3 - August 28
Time: 10am - 1pm
Place: Inner World School, 3306B - 32 Ave
Cost: $120 or $20 per workshop - free for members

To register, call Andrea at 503-5416 or e-mail

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's All Related

There has been a post simmering and bubbling beneath the surface for some time now. I've been searching for how I want to say what I have been feeling and thinking about. I saw David Suzuki speak here in Vernon at the Performing Arts Centre June 14. He is such a powerful and passionate speaker I was so moved by his presentation.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming - very overwhelming - to see where we are, and where we are heading as a species and as a planet. It is overwhelming to see what we have done to this incredibly beautiful and amazing planet. Do you know about the ocean of plastic? Please check out this article. You won't be the same after you read it - at least I know I am not. And very overwhelming to find out how long we have been heading that way - how long we have known what the chemicals we are surrounded by are doing to us. I think I have been grieving with the things that I have learned lately - the Humanure Handbook with all its studies performed in the SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES!!! and hearing David Suzuki and the book about the effects of pesticides on the food chain that changed his life written in 1962!!! and what I have been learning about permaculture and this article about what plastic is doing to our environment and then looking around and seeing how I am surrounded by plastic from my microwave oven to the shoes I wear to all the packaging on everything, to Kaetlyn's diabetic supplies, to this keyboard I am typing on, to our window washing equipment, to the toys my children have been playing with for 20 years.... and on and on - take a look - plastic is EVERYWHERE! It has become completely ubiquitous.

It can be so easy to judge myself and to judge others. It can be easy to feel so overwhelmed with where we are to where we need to be, that it feels like way to much to ever accomplish that we don't even try. It can be inviting to believe in God's magic wand that will 'poof' fix the planet and return it to its 'paradisaical glory' without us having to do it. Well what if that happened? We would just destroy the earth again with the way that we are living. How would we survive in such a paradise? We wouldn't know how because the way we live right now is creating a hell of this heaven we have been given to live upon. I think of the prophets of the Old Testament and it seems to me that David Suzuki is a lot more like that than old men handing out edicts about how many piercings a girl is allowed to have...

But I digress. As I was saying, it is so easy to go to judgement; it can be so easy to live in fear and terror. Yet this is the energy that has brought us to the point we are at. You see? It's all related. It's all about love. We have got to this point of disrespect with the earth because it reflects the disrespect we have for ourselves. We cannot love and honour the earth if we do not love and honour ourselves. Real change only comes from love. Only.

Let me expand on that. One of the ways we have got to where we are as a species, is by looking outside of ourselves for validation, approval, happiness. Consumerism has totally tapped into this. We are bombarded everyday by commercials and advertisements that flaunt our less-than-perfectness to get us to buy their product so that we can be whole. Buy this orange juice/cereal/breakfast bar to have this loving family having friendly banter over breakfast. Buy this car, buy this deodorant, buy this shampoo, buy, buy, buy, whatever you do, buy but don't think you will be good enough because you will still need more stuff. As a nation we are carrying an incredible debt load in our efforts to buy, buy, buy but somehow we never get there. Its consumerism's treadmill. Round and round we go but we don't actually get anywhere. Unlike the treadmill, though we are actually doing something, we are getting ourselves deeper and deeper in debt and we are poisoning our own environment bit by bigger bit.

As David Suzuki said, we are the earth - we are made from the elements of the earth that our mother eats during pregnancy, we are made from the elements of the earth that we eat everyday. We are the air and we are the water. We cannot poison any of those things without poisoning ourselves. Yet we are pumping toxic waste into all of those with increasing speed everyday. To think there would be no consequence is sheer stupidity and lacks the sense that animals have who instinctively do what we don't - naturally live in harmony with their environment. And why are we doing this? In our crazed thirst for love and happiness outside of ourselves - in stuff. We work more to buy more we go into debt to buy more we work more to pay the debt with increasing stress heaped upon our heads, in our lives, in our relationships. What is happening in the environment is only a reflection of what is happening in our individual lives. What really can fulfill us - time to ourselves, relationships, all these are destroyed in the is crazy consumer lifestyle.

But I digress again. As I was saying, David Suzuki pointed out as his First Nation's friend's have taught him, we are the air, the water and the earth. So how do we heal what is happening? With love. We love the environment in direct relation to how we love ourselves. Heal yourself and you heal the earth. Heal yourself, get off the destructive treadmill and love. Love yourself, love the land around you. Love and honour your own passions, dreams and abilities - truly honour and love those around you. It is amazing what can happen with a little bit of real love. The world is dying for a little bit of real love.

And this is why I am involved in the Inner World School. We create the Outer World with our Inner World and we have created this crisis in the Outer World with our collective Inner Worlds. I believe real change only comes from understanding, loving and healing our Inner Worlds. Only then are we really capable of understanding, loving and healing our Outer World. It may just be a very small thing reaching a very few children, adults and families in Vernon right now but it is what I can offer from my love. It is what drives me to continue and to offer this small piece of my heart. Because although love can be small, it is never insignificant. It is everything. It is God and the power of the Universe. And if my love touches only one child (and even it if it is my own child) then my efforts are not wasted. And this is what I believe salvation is - not the machinations of any religion or the observance of any outward ritual (although those can help) but what is in our own hearts - it is the love we have for ourselves and for each other that can save us.

This is a very long post. It has been brewing for awhile and came gushing out of me this morning. Congratulations if you managed to read this far!

I promise.... I'll be back to talking about chickens tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fine Feathered Friends

Yesterday we awoke to one wee pecked hole in one of the eggs and the sound of peeping coming from the eggs. We checked and we checked and we noticed each tiny fleck of shell that fell from the egg. But not much happened all day. It was a day of waiting. Here we are:

And then.... and then.... late last night, a different egg entirely burst open. In about an hour he was born (we are calling it a 'he' but we really don't know...) Here he is, struggling with his shell.

It was hard to go to bed last night. By the time we did, there were 2 eggs with little pecked holes in them. This morning when I woke up, there was another chicked freshly emerged from her shell and another almost out. Before long, there were 3 little chicks in the incubator.

Here they are in the 'chick brooder' which is really just an old swimming pool/sand box that I rescued once from going to the dump...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Canada Day Traditions

For the fourth year in a row, the main event of our Canada Day has meant driving to Kelowna to the Canada Day Celebrations there to hear Redfish play. They have an 'island' stage right down by the lake in a little lagoon and banked grass all around. It is one of the few times the kids get to hear Dean play. Last night they were the last slot (the best one) and the people were really digging it!

And here are some videos that I took with Rhiannon's little camera - not great but fun. In the first one, that is Josh's girlfriend who is always a lot of fun dancing. I especially love the second one with Steve's son and Rhiannon doing their funky dance! And the batteries were low so the camera just shut off mid-song... unfortunately...