Archive for the ‘Carter’ Category

Perfect day

Yesterday was a just-about-perfect day:

  • We spent the morning at the Farmer’s Market, catching up with our friends and buying yummy organic food from them
  • We spent the afternoon snowshoeing in the fields behind the house with our dog
  • We spent the evening (and well into the night!) playing cards with our neighbours, the dairy farmers up the road.


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This morning we woke to a howling blizzard. I took more satisfaction than usual in the morning ritual of kindling today’s fire from the still-glowing coals of yesterday’s, and watching it catch and then roar.

Heating with wood is like baking your own bread. It takes a fair amount of planning, organization, effort, and hard work, but you have not only a greater appreciation for the end product (even an imperfect loaf of home-made bread tastes better than store-bought), but a communion with the process. You have to tend the fire throughout the day. Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned – a log is wet or rotten and doesn’t burn well. Sometimes you forget to check it and it burns down too low, and you have to waste kindling (which you split last week with great effort and freezing fingers) to re-start it. But it’s all part of the process – and part of a direct connection with the elemental energy of fire.

And even if it weren’t for the environmental and spiritual benefits, just knowing that if the blizzard should knock the power out, we’ll still be plenty warm is worth the extra effort.

Carter, our half-husky, took two steps outside, and turned around to come back in (we let him – who’s to argue when the dog thinks it’s too nasty to be outside?). I think I will spend a good part of the day baking, and maybe put some soup on in the crock-pot as well.

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Photo post: Morning walk

Carter and I go out for a walk every morning around 8am. Sometimes I take one of my field guides, to identify wildflowers or trees. Sometimes I take a bag to gather herbs. Sometimes I take my camera:







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Carter vs. Chrysemys picta

On yesterday’s walk, down by one of the smaller ponds in Mike’s back field, Carter suddenly got very, very interested in something in the grass. I looked, but didn’t see anything at first glance. Carter’s body language made it clear that there was something there – something he wasn’t too sure about.

“Probably a big old bullfrog,” I thought, “Or maybe a snake.”

I went over to take a closer to look at where Carter was staring at, circling, with his hackles starting to rise, and a growl starting. There was nothing. I looked closer. There was a rock. 

Carter barked at it. 

“Why are you barking at a rock?” I looked even closer, “Aha! It’s a turtle. Carter, it’s OK, it’s just a turtle.”

It was about 6 inches across, and all pulled into it’s shell, of course, faced with a circling, growling, barking 50-lb dog.

I got down close enough to see its head pulled in tight, green with yellow and red stripes, just a regular turtle.

Carter didn’t agree. He barked. He circled. He barked some more.

“It’s just a turtle, Carter.”

I decided he would eventually get bored with an immobile turtle, so I wandered off a ways, figuring that he would eventually join me and continue the walk. Carter continued to bark at the turtle. I wandered off and looked at some wild flowers, picked a few strawberries (they’re not quite ripe yet). I called Carter. He ignored me and continued to bark at the turtle.

This continued for ten minutes. I got annoyed, and decided that enough was enough. I went back to the dog and the turtle, grabbed the dog by his collar, and picked up the turtle and tossed it into the pond, where it sank to the bottom and was immediately obscured in the mud. Carter bounded in after it, but he doesn’t really have the concept that things sink in water, so after looking around for a bit he failed to find the turtle floating on the surface of the pond.

And we finally continued our walk.

It was probably a Midland Painted Turtle.

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Chick update

I took these photos on Friday, when the chicks were three weeks old:


Since then we’ve had to secure netting across the top of their enclosure to stop them from flying out and getting lost in the garage. It’s still much too cold for them to go outside, though (we had frost last night that looks like it got my grapes!) even if the coop was built, which it’s not.

They are all eating and drinking well, and really enjoying the greens (clover, grass, and dandelion) I cut for them. Most of them now eat the greens first before starting in on the grain. And they’re starting to get their beautiful adult plumage, though I haven’t seen any signs of a comb on any of them yet.


So I will need to figure out how to rig taller ‘walls’ on their enclosure for the next couple of weeks until they’re ready to move outdoors.

And in Dog News, Carter’s doing well too. He only has his splint on for his daily off-leash run in the back fields now. He’s walking (well, limping) on his bad leg most of the time in the house – which is a big improvement over a week ago when he was still hopping around on three legs in the house most of the time. Hopefully within another week or so, the muscles and tendons will be strong enough for him to go without the splint entirely.


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I suspect there will be many posts in which I rhapsodize about the chickens…

Today the chicks are one week old, so I got to switch their bedding from paper towel to wood chips. This is because in their first week they are still learning to recognize food, if they had wood chips for bedding, they might eat them, which would make them sick. 

This is nice for a number of reasons:

  • The paper towel got very mucky very fast. The thick layer of wood chips is much more absorbent, and therefore stays cleaner, which is much better for the chicks. 
  • Cleaning the bedding is easier because I can stir the dirty bedding then add a layer of clean on top for a few days, before needing to clean the whole thing out.
  • The chicks scratch in the bedding (think of a cat in a litter box) and so do some of the ‘stirring’ themselves, again keeping the whole thing cleaner, more pleasant, and healthier.

However (you knew there had to be a catch). They scratch very enthousiastically. One of them was trying to dig to China, I’m sure. Which is incredibly cute, but sends the wood chips flying everywhere – including into the water font:


Within two minutes, the font was full of wet wood pulp. Not good. So my ingenious solution was to raise the water font up on a block of wood. Hopefully this will minimize the amount of bedding that ends up in the water. I’ll go and check on them in a few minutes to see.


They are growing feathers! At vastly different rates! Some of them have long wing feathers already, some still have only tiny little stubs. Some are starting to grow tail feathers (I wonder if those are the roosters?) in tiny little straggly tufts.

They are all well. There’s one I’m a little worried about, it’s smaller than the rest and seems weaker. At least one runt in 25 chicks is to be expected, however, so I’m just hoping it’s healthy and will develop normally, even if it ends up smaller than the rest.

And in Carter news: The result of last night’s vet trip is that he is out of the cast and back in the same type of splint he had when this whole debacle started. The vet is very confidant that his leg has healed enough to be safe in the splint. He is not allowed off leash outdoors, nor is he allowed to play with other dogs for another few weeks, but we’re getting there. As we were leaving the vet just after 8pm (we had the last evening appointment), they got a call saying a fellow was on his way in with two dogs, each with a face full of porcupine quills. For one of the dogs, apparently this would make the third time they have pulled quills out of his face!

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Chickens: The chicks are doing really well. They’re eating and drinking and gaining weight and getting bigger and louder and trying to learn to fly. And they’re still incredibly cute. Yesterday I started them on green food in addition to the chick starter (which contains corn, roasted soybeans, wheat, flax meal and minerals). I carefully harvested (with scissors) a tempting selection of green grass, clover, and dandelion leaves from my back lawn, chopped it fine, and mixed it in with their regular food. They liked it just fine. No new picture because they still look exactly the same as they did 2 days ago.

Carter: While he was boarded at the vet’s over the weekend, they x-rayed his broken leg to see how it’s doing. Result: he needs to be in the cast for two more weeks. Then last night t! noticed that the cast looked wrong, and saw that it had ‘slipped’ down his leg about an inch. Where his toes used to stick out the bottom, now they are barely visible. And more importantly, the cast now sits below, rather than covering his elbow. So we’re back to the vet’s tonight to get the cast re-padded.

Field: While I was out walking the dog the other day, I noticed something that looked suspiciously like strawberry leaves. I thought that was silly, the back field couldn’t be full of strawberries, could it? Maybe there is some kind of weed that has strawberry-like leaves. Then I spotted some that had flowers:


They’re strawberries all right! And  they’re everywhere. So in a couple of month’s time, we’re going to be overrun with wild strawberries. I expect the birds will get most of them – in fact I’m guessing that’s how they got here in the first place. Maybe I’ll try to find a nice big patch and rig some bird netting up over them in the hopes of getting a few…

and Garden: I haven’t had a chance to do very much digging. Hopefully soon. I have, however been stockpiling perennials in the garage. Blackcurrant bushes. Rhubarb. Blueberry and cranberry bushes. Asparagus crowns. Grape vines. And herbs: lavender and thyme. Now if the rain will just stop so that I can get out there and plant!

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