Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If You Build It They Will Come

I have been rather disappointed with the lack of birds out here on the farm. Actually, I am rather happy about the lack of Grackles and Sparrows. Those birds were the bane of my existence back in Delisle. They were known to empty out a feeder in a day!

This past summer we had Goldfinches by the dozens and Hummingbirds galore. That was extraordinary, watching a hummingbird try to spear another at the feeder. We had little else. The usual suspects who don't eat from feeders were around too. Robins, Magpies (eeeww) and Ravens.
What I missed were the songbirds.


The finches left in November and there is still a pair of Robins flying around but little else. Until... I moved the feeders from out in the open to a stand of Saskatoon bushes. Now my feeders are the place to be!  White-breasted Nuthatches, Chickadees and several species of Woodpeckers all come daily. The Cedar Waxwings are doing a fantastic job of clearing off the old chokecherries and saskatoons, making ready for the new crops to come.


The birds are also just loving the deer bones. Who would have thought? They chip off tiny bits of meat that the dogs teeth can't get to and then they go for the marrow. Very interesting how nature takes care of itself.  Nothing is wasted.


I look forward to the spring when the birds return from their winter homes. Until then, I will fill feeders and enjoy the antics of those who remained behind. And soon, very soon, the Great Horned Owls enter their mating season and I will be once again serenaded by their haunting calls.
Oh bird watching, I love you. Wonder when I became such a geek?


Monday, January 27, 2014

Catching Up

Well that was a long non-blogging break. I will catch you up on all the details and then resume business as usual.

January 3rd Paul came home from work early. He had a fever and the chills and felt just lousy. Saturday morning offered no improvement and then I felt it coming. My muscles started to ache. So I did what I always do when I feel something coming on. I go for a long walk outside. Fresh air and a little exercise always seem to do the trick. Not this time. By the late afternoon I knew what was going on. The flu. 

Fearing Athena would catch our illness, I basically quarantined the little lass. I kept her bedroom door closed and the window open while she wasn't in it. She played in different rooms that the one we were in at any given time. I boiled water on the stove for 3 days to bring up the humidity. (Our central humidifier is not working. That is another story for another day. Suffice it to say I am angry about that.) It worked because despite my nagging question ten times a day of "how are you feeling?', she never did get sick. (Huge sigh of relief)

This illness really took a toll. I have NEVER been sick like that. My main symptoms were extreme fatigue and muscle pain. I am pretty sure it was the dreaded H1N1. At least I am immune now. It took me a full week until I felt like I had my energy back, and then I got a cough. It wasn't a bad cough and I didn't cough at night but it was enough of a cough to make me feel as if I did about a thousand sit ups and it lasted long enough to make me worry about peeing my pants when I did cough. Ahem. Yesterday, a full three weeks after I first got sick was the first day that I didn't cough. That was a long illness. I did have some time to knit when I could muster the energy. I made myself a hat which is now known as my "flu toque".

On top of this flu story, Paul went away on a trip to the Dominican Republic with our son-in-law. I was feeling horrible when he left but I didn't want him to cancel as he has never been on a hot vacation and has been bugging me to go for years and years. I am not a traveller. I don't like airplanes, hotels, hot weather or eating at a buffet. He wanted to go in the worst way. So I told him to go and he did. He and Jordan had a great time together. It was so nice of our daughter to suggest he go with her Dad. Quite a sacrifice on her part. But, after four days in, the guys were ready to come home. They missed us like crazy! :) We missed them too. Paul told me I would have hated everything about the trip. He would never ask me to go again. Even the wine wasn't good!

One of the blessings we had while Paul was away was that our weather was well above normal. We have been above 0C for two weeks! It was nice not to have to struggle with cold and snow while I was still sick and all alone. I must say though that it seemed each night when I went out in the darkness to put the dogs to bed in their kennel, the coyote pack seemed closer and closer. Their howls and yips seemed right beyond the tree line. I am sure they were no closer than they are every night but when you are alone in the wilderness your imagination tends to run a bit wild.

Athena also turned 10 during this time. 10!! Her cousins came up to spend the day with her and it was the highlight of her week.

Athena has started home school skating. She skates every Friday afternoon. As luck would have it, there are four girls between the ages of 10 and 12 and the rest are teenagers. She has made friendship bracelets for them already. They skate and hold hands and talk and play. Even the teenage boys give them pulls with their hockey sticks. Like I always said, home schooled kids are the best!

We had what was probably the best home school week we have had in 4 years last week. Everything ran smoothly. We accomplished a lot. We even started some subjects that have long been put on the back burner. It was encouraging and invigorating and I hope we can continue that momentum in the winter weeks to come. The long and short of it was we had a loose schedule and added lots of fun stuff. We learned to do the "Can-can" in her classical music course, we watched an excellent documentary on wolf pack behaviour and I am reading aloud a new book which she adores. The Indian in the Cupboard. My voice was still all crackly last week and it was difficult to read without gulping down copious amounts of water but I carried on. This next week will be better in the voice department.

Today the weather has turned cold and it isn't warming up any time soon. Time to settle in and really get a lot of learning in. When spring arrives in a few short weeks we will want to get on with our outdoor projects. Now is our time to hibernate, so to speak. To gather for extended warming meals, to read for long stretches of time, to watch some movies and eat a lot of popcorn. Downton Abbey is calling out to me. I have only watched the opening episode of Season 1 but I was hooked from the start. Winter is also a time for planning for all that we hope to do and be and accomplish when winter slowly turns into spring.

PS I ordered my first chicks! I am so excited. 4 Barred Rocks, 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Ameraucanas and 2 Chanticlers. Lets hope most will be hens. Not sure what I would do with roosters!