Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Little Snow Duck

This weather is truly exasperating.  Yesterday morning it was snowing, with the wind blowing so hard that it was difficult to see across the road. Gradually the snow slowed, then stopped, and as the afternoon wore on, the sun came out. The wind still blew, as if winter was saying, “I’m not giving up yet!” Can you see the little snow duck?

Poor little robin in the snow

At least when the days are like that, I can cheerfully paint, not thinking that I should get outside and do some work. This is my latest acrylic rendering. It is a place on the Bay of Fundy, call Margaretsville.

I only have a tiny garden, (and I use that term loosely), but it is enough for me. I’m not much of a flower gardener, but I do enjoy what I have, and am so pleased when the seeds, or bulbs I have planted actually come up. One might call my garden a helter-skelter garden, with no planning, and things too close together, but I enjoy it anyhow.  I have a friend who has beautiful gardens, knows all about plants, and has a gift at planting just the right things, in just the right places. I usually plant things I have bought from my grandchildren, when their school is having a fund raiser.

I did manage to cut some of the dead stems out, last week when the days were warm and the sun shone. I can’t spend a lot of time all at once, but I figure a little bit of work at a time is better than no work at all. It is at times like that, when I’d dearly love to be at it, even for an hour, that I am frustrated by my physical limitations.

My latest felting creature is what I call my "Say what?" bear. When I was finished with her/him, it just looked like it was saying "Say what?" I like it when the things I create make me smile.

Today, the sun is shining, with just a trace of snow along the ditches. Winter and Spring, having a tug of war, and I'm not sure who is winning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ahhhhh, Spring

     I have welcomed Spring to the mountain.  I have rejoiced in the warmth of the sun, and I wonder, when will this dream end, because I know this is Nova Scotia, and there is bound to be a change in the weather, even though the calendar says it is the beginning of Spring.
     Here are some pictures I took last Tuesday. A very nice day, still with a chill, but nice. Lindsay, Sadie and I took a walk around the yard, and went down to the orchard, where Dawn was busy pruning.

Lindsay and a tree planted ~ 13 years ago.

Lindsay and Sadie in Orchard

Dawn hard at work

Ice still on the pond

      That was Tuesday.  Then came Thursday....... Remember, this is Nova Scotia.

My favourite shot from den window

     Of course, the snow didn't last.  The last two days have been sunny and warm and tomorrow is supposed to be the same.  Yesterday I spied these.....

........a promise of spring, but also a caution not to get my hopes up. These beauties will poke their little heads up through snow.  I choose to hope for spring to come gradually, not strangely, as in the last few days. Too much warmth is not good for the apple trees.  They will be fooled into swelling the buds, and then, BANG!!! a freeze. Not good. Oh that winter would be winter, spring be spring and summer be summer, and not all mixed up in a ten day period. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Finishing up my tale......

            A lot of years have passed since our time in Shelburne, and returning to the valley meant deciding just exactly what we were going to do with the acreage we had bought.  Thankfully, the only animals we had were cats.

            It was decided that we would grow apple trees, so Boss did a lot of studying up on a varieties, root stock, clearing land, planting and harvesting.  There were about 20 trees already on the property, the big old fashion trees, where you needed really tall ladders and arms three feet long in order to get all the apples off the top of the trees.

            Most of these trees were spy trees, meaning they were the last ones to be picked. Oh, the days of the men, picking, atop the ladders, putting some in their basket and dropping the bad ones, and the women picking the lower branches, at first, and then picking up the drops, which were hidden in the snow, all the while trying to evade the shower of apples falling from above. Ah, the days of wet knees, frozen fingers and bruised heads and shoulders. These trees were eventually cut down to make way for the new orchards. How sad. Not!!

            As time passed, land was cleared, and orchards were planted, in 1984, 1986 and 1991. We planted strawberries, then more strawberries, and dried Jacob Cattle beans on any land that was semi-cleared of rocks. We hired the young people in the community to help with the hoeing, the planting and the harvesting of the various crops. I wrote about those days in a haphazard kind of way, but I can remember rereading the notes, and then disposing of them, because I didn’t want anyone to read my words of desperation and frustration after I my death, which I assumed was imminent. Through all these years, Boss was still flying on a regular basis. It always seemed to be when harvest of berries was on. He of course worked around 5 days a week, when he wasn’t away. Guess who was left to call the pickers, pick them up, help them pick and take them home?  I wore so many hats in those years, that if I was paid for each “job” I would be a millionaire several times over, and living on a south sea island, sifting sand through my toes and drinking a Pina Collada, while reading my favourite novel. What was that song the Everly Brothers sang? Oh yes, Dream, Dream, Dream. WAKE UP!!!!! 

            I was a Guide leader for 11 years, and a Sunday School teacher, while all the above was going on. I can remember several summers where I would be in the strawberry field the first part of July, then go to guide camp for a week, come home and go help a neighbour pick his raspberries, help out at Vacation Bible School, then start apples in September.

            I often wonder how I ever got through the months. Perhaps it was because I had a lot of laughs with my guides who were kind enough to work with me, even though it meant a few strawberries in the head. I stood my ground, or rather, sat my ground.

            I continued to pick apples even after my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but it was pretty painful at times and I was always weary.  I enjoyed the folks in the orchard. We always had a fun time. When my first granddaughter came along I was happy to leave the orchard and become baby sitter to Rae and then Lindsay, as Dawn became the orchard worker and berry picker. In the past few years I have been "Timmy's On Wheels", taking coffee and snacks to the pickers. When I worked in the orchard, Boss would always say, "Why don't you take a break, and go make the coffee!" Yeah, uh huh! Bless the breaks. It was also a "break" to make lunch and supper too. Yeah! Uh huh!

            That pretty well brings this trip down memory lane up to date. I’ve left out a lot, but some things are better left unsaid.  When Heather went off to university, Boss retired from the armed forces, and in his “retirement” became a full time farmer.

            Thus ends this look back on the crazy life I have led. I started out as a city girl from Ontario, and a teacher, and ended up living on a “mountain” in Nova Scotia, as a farm wife +, wondering what is next for me. What ever it is, it better include a Pina Collada......or at least a cold lemonade.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Pigs....

            This portion will be very painful to recall, and write about.  This chapter concerns our ownership of two pigs.  Where or where was the big bad wolf when I needed him?  Just thinking about it makes me upset, and I begin to beeble.  In the experiences that I shall relate, I reach the apex of my climb toward total insanity.

            I have confessed an interest in, even a liking for the feathered friends that came to live on our farm, but no matter how hard I try, I can feel only contempt for the four-legged muck-slingers that moved into the barn.  Pigs!  Just the sound of the word gives me shivers.  I thought chickens had bad table manners!

            It isn’t that I started out with hostile feelings.  I must admit that I was not overjoyed by their presence, but I tried, I did try to like them.  We named them, naturally, Tim and Tom.  I really become disenchanted with the porkers during a three week period during the winter, when as fate would have it, Boss had flown away to some sunny island and I remained to do the chores.

            Every day I would bundle up, fill a large bucket with water and trudge my way through the snow banks to the barn.  Multiply the mixing of a bowl of yucky baby pabulum by about fifty and that is what I had to mush up for these impatient critters.  As soon as they heard me they would begin their “hurry up and feed me” snorting, making all manner of disgusting noises.  Between the odour in the pen, the slop that I was mixing, and the guttural noises, I normally drew near the brink of nausea, but that would have made things worse.

            To understand what I would go through at feeding time you must see the pig pen as it was, so I shall endeavor to explain its setup.  The pen was adjacent to the chicken pen with a wall between and a screen door from the pig pen into the chicken’s side.  This information is important to a story I shall relate shortly.  To return to the pig pen, the front part of the pen was boarded in up to the height of my armpits, and there was an entrance to the pen made in two parts.  The lower part was stationary and the upper part slid up and down as a window does.  It could be removed completely.  The feed boxes were attached to the front wall at close to floor level.  There were also two large tubs for water.  Later, there was a divider down the middle of the pen to separate the pigs.  This was necessary for two reasons.  The main reason was that one pig was pushy and would eat all the food, after chasing the other one away from the trough.  The second reason was that although these pigs were neutered, they did not act that way, and they constantly tried, each in turn to discover if they could do what they thought they should do, but couldn’t because neither had what it took and even if it did the other one didn’t.  The frustration might have killed them and besides they’d never put on any weight with all that activity.

            These swine were always hungry, and just as soon as I started pouring the slop over the wall into the feed troughs, which I did with great difficulty due to the height of the wall, they would dive right in and as a result they would be hit in the head, thus ending up wearing as much as they were eating.  They would gaze up at me with this quick-sand like glop rolling down around their ears and over their eyes, and my stomach would do flip-flops.

          Another problem I had was feeding the chickens.  Normally I could have entered the chicken pen through the regular door, and not have to go near the pig pen.  But at this particular time the chicken pen also was partitioned.  I can’t recall exactly why now, but it must have been because we had chicks brooding in the front part.  I could get to them without difficulty.  The problem was, that in order to feed the other chickens I had to go through the pig pen.  Remember the door I told you about a while ago?

            Well, picture me carrying a bucket of water, and perhaps a can of feed, climbing over the lower half of the entrance to the pig pen.  Once in the pig pen I had to reach through a hole in the screen door,  unlatch the door, then climb over the lower boards which were there to keep the pigs from joining the chickens.  It sounds like a fairly simple task, and perhaps would have been except that one of the pigs had vengeance in its heart.  He probably didn’t like getting hit with the slop, and he chose to impede my journey through the pen and over the boards.  It was almost as though he lay in wait for me, knowing I’d have to come through his territory sometime.  I imagine this bit of buffoonery made its day.

            As I was saying, it would lay in wait, and as I swung my leg over the gate into his pen he would run at me, snorting.  It scared the daylights out of me the first time.  I feel his greatest enjoyment was when I had managed to get the screen door open, and I was half into the chicken pen.  It was then, when I was straddled the boards, that the little piggy would grab and hold tightly to the bottom of my pant leg.  I would kick and wriggle my leg off before he would let me go.  I’d have to rest a few minutes with the chickens before venturing back out to face the enemy.  What bugged me was that the four-legged pant chomper would allow me to leave unmolested.  I can imagine him sitting back there in the corner, grinning that vile piggy grin, and saying “Come again toots!”

            To be fair, I have to admit that he never really bit me.  I guess he was satisfied with teasing me.  The only compensation I have is that I had the last laugh, and ended up chewing on his leg, after it had been cooked of course. It was I who was wearing that crazy little grin. Snort!


There was more to this but I ended it here, because what was written was more about the neighbors that I got together with.  I don’t know whether to write more, and if I do, do I just jump forward to the orchards.  How much do I remember????