Saturday, 19 December 2015

Two Days To Go

This morning, with only two days to go before the North Pole reaches it's furthest tilt from the sun, we finally got our first snow fall. For me, it was a welcome sight. This pristine blanket brightens an otherwise dark and dismal landscape. It completes our familiar seasonal rhythm and as the poem, Desiderata reminds us, "... no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should".

A male cardinal strikes a greeting card pose.

A gold finch looks plump and prepared for the cold months ahead,

I'm experimenting with a couple of new beehive winterizing strategies. Firstly, there is the addition of slatted racks above the insulated bottom boards. These will elevate the honeycombs from the cold and drafty bottom entrances. And secondly, I've added small, three sided boxes which fit over the top entrances to deflect wind from the interiors. Luckily the hives are only a short walk from the house as I'll need to monitor all entrances to make sure they are frost/snow free and allowing carbon dioxide and moisture to escape. Anyway, I like to visit the hives regularly, press my ear over each entrance and listen for that reassuring hum from within -- my own personal 'Message From The Queen'.

Each of these boxes house a honey bee queen born in 2015.

These two dwellings enclose honey bee queens born in 2014.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Home Invasion

I've had a home invasion. Thankfully, not by the two legged sort that would involve the police department but the four legged, rodent variety.

So far this season, I've trapped twenty-three mice and one mole in areas of the house not considered my living quarters. But in the past couple of weeks I've heard loud gnawing sounds coming from between the walls. Then I heard thumps and the sound of running feet -- and not tiny feet either. Rats have invaded the  house in the past and I suspected this was again the case. Yesterday I came face to face with the culprit in an upstairs room. It was one of the red squirrels.

Two red squirrels reside on the grounds around my house. One has a short tail and never ventures north of the house. The other one has his original long tail and never goes south of the house. They are both territorial and stay out of each other's established domain. The one that is entering my house is the South-sider with the short tail. It must learn that the house is my domain. Here it is not welcome. Steps will be taken, etc. .... (scowl, hands on hips).

Today I received a cute little rodent that is very welcome in my home. It was a gift from my sister who is an expert sewer and quilter. She took one look at the crude eyeglasses case I had made out of an old sock and presented me with one of her much more 'up market' creations. I love it!

My spiffy new eyeglasses case which my sister made.

It replaces this one that I had made from the toe of an old sock.

Goldfinches frolic on this December 10th record high of 11.2 degrees Celsius.

My winter gardening -- mung bean sprouts. Very tasty!

Ellie Mae stakes her claim to the centre of the couch.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

December Notes

The season for a retired person, such as myself, to enjoy indoor hobbies is definitely here. Outside work is on hold until Spring and indoor entertainment can enjoy full blown indulgence. Tomorrow my friend Willis (the family's 1929 Willis upright piano) should be playing a sweeter tune after it's session with Tom the piano tuner. Reading, bird watching, long telephone chats with friends and dabbling with water colours while listening to podcasts are at hand. And of course there is the delight of touring favourite blogs from around the world. Trips without leaving the farm, so to speak.

On the practical side, now that summer chores are suspended, I know that I've promised myself to tackle the boring task of de-cluttering shelves, tables, cupboards and closets. This battle against my inter pack rat is always a challenge. Too often 'stuff' accumulated over decades only gets shifted from pile A to pile B. Nostalgia and sentimentality are the enemy of my good intentions and items long past their employment (like my reference books, largely ignored for the more convenient resource of the internet) get to live and collect dust for another day/week/month/year/decade. But, it's all too daunting for now. Time to gaze out the window and see what's more interesting outside!

The plumes of my Siberian bamboo indicate wind direction.

A northern cardinal snacking on a wild cucumber vine seed.

Chubs, the cotton tail rabbit hopping over my garden's frosty lawn.

Thomas, a local tomcat, sneaking into my garage to check on the handout dish.