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The first months of winter were mild with very little snow.

Then February arrived and brought winter with it.  -20 degrees for weeks at a time, and lots of snow.

Our daily walks stopped. It was too cold for Emma, and me too for that matter.  The days were spent in the house except for the times we went out to do the chores.  March arrived and still winter stayed, until a week or so ago.  The temperature rose, the snow stopped.  Could it be?  Was this the beginning of the end of winter?

Last night I heard the call of an Owl.  I was half asleep when I first heard it, and questioned whether I had actually heard it or not.  Then it called again, and I smiled. This was the first time I had heard it this year.  I smiled at the wonder of it.  The wonder of nature, and the seasons and the cycles of life.

This morning Emma and I headed out for our daily walk.  Down the driveway we went, just our usual walk until Emma stopped, lifted her head, and headed off the driveway into the trees.  I saw her stop behind a small stump and I could see there was something behind the stump.  I called her back, and walked in myself to have a look.

My wonder of the night before turned to dismay.

It was a Great Horned Owl.

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There were no signs of a struggle, no signs of injury.  Just the owl, still on the ground.

My dismay remained but eventually the wonder came back.  Not the wonder of the mystery and magic of life, but the wonder of how and why.

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How had this owl gone from calling out in the night to lying dead on the ground?  Was it the same owl that had called out?  Was it sick? Was it injured? Was it old?

I will never know the answers to my questions.

All I will know is the wonder, the dismay, and the wonder.

Change

Change happens whether we like it or not.

Some things change because of a decision we have made.  Those kinds of changes are always easier to accept.  I decided this year not to have my ewes bred.  It was so nice not to have to think about borrowing a ram, or buying a ram.  No loading ramps, and hauling trailers.

I will miss the lambs in the spring, but I won’t miss the worry and fretting about when they will be born.  Last year both my ewes struggled to give birth, and it was not an experience I want to repeat.  So no baby lambs for these girls next year.

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Looks like a nice year for wool coming up though!

Another change is not of my doing.

We have known for years that there was going to be some logging done near us.  So it wasn’t a complete surprise when the equipment showed up.  The past few weeks have been very different on the farm.  The silence of the nights are broken around 3 or 4 a.m., first by the sound of heavy machinery starting up, and then by the  sounds of the saws.

I think twice about heading down the road with my truck, and I don’t even begin to think about walking the dogs down the road.  The logging trucks go up and down hauling the logs out.

This was the view onto the road from my driveway.

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This is the view now, and they aren’t finished yet.

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It looks messy right now, but I have to say, it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  It won’t take long for the shrubs and wild flowers to come back, and it will definitely decrease the risk of forest fires.

I will be glad when all the activity is over, and our farm and valley can return to its quiet ways again.  It’s just another change, and we will get used to it.

All this was happening in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  All those trees coming down.  I didn’t have the heart to go out and cut another one down, just to decorate and have in my house for a week or so.

So there you are, another change.  No Christmas tree for me this year.

When I really thought about it, what I liked most were the pretty lights, and all the favourite decorations that brought back so many memories.  I didn’t need a tree to have that.

So here is my Christmas window.

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Everything I need for that warm, Christmas feeling.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

The Rat Came Back

The rat came back, but not the very next day.  It took seven years.

My very first blog post was about a visitation from a pack rat.

It’s Not a Mouse

The other day I was out in the hay shed and noticed something.

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A huge pile of debris on the very top bale.  Bark, sticks, brush, all kinds of junk.  My first thought was, “Oh those kids, they packed all that stuff up into the hay when they were playing.”

Then I realized the kids hadn’t been here for a while, and the pile was new.

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I climbed up for a closer inspection.  The pile was so big I was worried a beaver had moved in, but no, I knew what it was.  It was back, a pack rat.

A quick call to Brother Dan, confirmation that he had a rat trap, and a short drive to pick it up and I was set.

It didn’t take long.  The next morning, the trap was sprung, and there was a dark shape inside.  Just like the first time, it wasn’t a mouse.

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I climbed up the hay, and brought the trap and the rat down where I could have a closer look.

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I have so say, as far as rats go, he was a fine-looking fellow, with a nice winter coat.

As cute as he was, he couldn’t stay and make his home with us.  He would have to be moved on.

Emma took over guard duty to make sure he didn’t escape.

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Later that day, the rat was relocated to a much better place than my hay barn.

Seven years between rats, I think I can handle that!

 

 

 

Mini Murmuration

We had another little taste of winter this morning.  The wet snow was falling when I went out to do the chores.

I could hear many birds chirping, and finally found them all sitting up high in a poplar tree just outside the sheep pen.

I watched for a while, then went back to the house to get my camera.

This was something I wanted to try to capture and share with you.

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The lone poplar tree,

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The arrival of the birds.

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Leaving the poplar and soaring through the sky, and then returning.

I made a video too, and you can watch it here.

Mini Murmuration

At times like this I wish I was a better photographer, or videographer in this case (Nephew Chris MacArthur, where are you when I need you?).

What I saw was so amazing, and the video just doesn’t do it justice.

I called it a murmuration, but when I checked, I learned that a murmuration really only applies to starlings.  I don’t know what kind of birds these were, but they made my day!

 

 

 

winter!

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The brown fields and grasses are slowly being dusted by white.

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Just the other day the sun was shining and the “icing sugar” was only on the mountain tops.

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I was able to spend time trimming the lavender and lamb’s ears in the warmth of the sun.  Quite unusual for the middle of November.

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The cows and sheep were still grazing and resting in the fields.

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Isn’t he a handsome fella?  It always amazes me how fast they grow.

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I guess it’s a good thing, because that means there is less time to get attached to them.

Tomorrow some of the sheep and Jack, the steer, will be “leaving” the farm.

I know some of you would prefer not to hear about that (you can stop reading now if you like) but it is part of life here and I would be sugar-coating things if I only talked about all the happy days and sunny ways of life on the farm.

In order for the freezer to be filled, there has to be one difficult day.

I once read a story about a farmer who was being questioned and judged for raising his own meat.  His reply has always stayed with me, and I like to think it applies to this little farm too.

“My animals are well cared for, and have a wonderful life on this farm, and they only ever have one bad day.”

I will be glad when that day is over.

 

 

I let time slip away from me again!  I can’t believe my last post was in September.  Where did the time go?

I did take a trip to see Brother Bill and the fall colours were spectacular.

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I have also been on many, many walks with the dogs.  Again, enjoying the fall colour.

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Buck’s markings look like he is wearing a necklace.

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Odin even joined us on a couple of the walks.  Most times, he stays home and waits for us to come back.

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We have had quite a bit of rain too, the creeks that had dried up are flowing again.

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There were even a couple of frosty mornings,

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turning the fields white and crunchy.

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For the most part, October was quite warm.  While I enjoyed the weather, I didn’t enjoy the things that came with it.

Do you remember my sun room/greenhouse?

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It has turned into a sanctuary. Unfortunately, not for me,

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but for flies.

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So disgusting, and disappointing.  I had visions of myself sitting out there, enjoying the warmth and protection from the wind.  I guess that will still happen, once the cooler weather stays around, and I can get all the fly corpses cleaned up.

There has been one very interesting change on the farm.

Last year I had included a rooster in my chicken flock.  This past summer the 4 am crowing, and the attacks on the hens became too much, and the rooster went in the soup pot.

I was left with five hens.

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Over the past few months, I have noticed some strange sounds coming from the chicken pen in the early hours of the morning.  It kind of sounded like a rooster learning to crow.  That wasn’t possible though, the rooster was gone.

As time went on the crowing attempts became more frequent, and I was able to identify the source.  The black hen.  What was going on?  She was a hen, not a rooster.  Hens don’t crow.  Or do they?  Early yesterday morning, before daylight I was able to capture the crowing in a recording.  Have a listen.

Crowing Hen

So my hen is crowing like a rooster, and for the past couple of weeks has stopped laying eggs.

What has happened? Has the rooster returned and taken over the body of the hen?  Did the hen really miss the rooster and try to fill his boots?

Or maybe she has made a very personal decision, and has come out of the chicken barn.

What do you think??

 

 

 

 

Puddle Cousins

Thank goodness for Pro D days at school.  An opportunity for the three dudes to visit the farm again…this time with the leader of the pack.

It all started with games on the leader’s tablet.

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It was wet and rainy but they wanted to go out, so I sent them out to the hay barn. I knew they  would stay dry there.

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That was my theory anyway.  The next time I looked out the window to check on them, what did I see???

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All four of them out in the rain jumping in puddles.  So much for keeping them dry.

Call them back inside for story time with Uncle Tom/Grandpa.

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The story seemed to keep changing but the cousins didn’t seem to mind.

They worked up an appetite laughing.

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The rain had stopped, and the bellies were full.  It was time for a walk.

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What is it with the puddles???

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They had to hit every one we came across.

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Then we found the best puddle of all…the lake.

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The mud around the lake was just like quicksand.  One of the dudes got stuck and wasn’t able to move.

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The face said it all, “Help me!”

Good thing the cousins were there to answer his call.

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They pulled, and pulled to no avail.  Those boots were not budging.  I had to put the camera down and help.

Time to leave that puddle and continue the walk,

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making our way home.

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Tired cousins and tired dogs,

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A perfect end to a perfect day.