What is it about the scent of wood smoke in the air that makes Autumn feel so close? I built a fire outside in our fire pit early this morning. The sun, shining in a cloudless sky did little to dispel the chill that compels me to hunt for sweaters in the back of my closet. Our furnace has come on in the house the last two mornings, luring us out from beneath the heavy quilts that we've burrowed under in bed. Autumn is typically the saddest season for me. It's the time of year when I experience a distinct, if intangible, sense of loss. In an effort to self-soothe, hot baths replace showers, candles are lit to lend a warm glow to rooms made prematurely dark by an early dusk. This morning was different. This morning, with the sweet scent of wood smoke in my nose and the crack and pop of the fire, I felt immensely blessed. The morning felt unhurried as I listened to the geese honk in the neighbouring fields, feasting on tailings from the farmer's recent harvest before seeking warmer climes. With my little flock contentedly scratching and pecking nearby, a fresh cup of coffee, and my dog and cat napping beside me in the morning sun, I felt little need to rush about my day. May your day be filled with moments of calm and may you find much to be thankful for.
I've been participating in Stacy Reck's Living a Goddess Year for the last couple of months where we explore what it means to live a goddess life. One of our recent assignments was to create a crown* for ourselves. This is mine and I have to admit, I'm quite fond of it. I've decided to put it on display in my studio where its playful magic will be near at hand. *If you'd like to create a crown of your own, you can download templates here.
We've been getting a lot of rain lately and it's all a little too familiar. After nearly 30 years of living on the west coast, I've had my fill of wet weather. Forecasters are predicting a week of sunshine and warmer temperatures this week. I hope they're right.
Today the weather is cold and dreary. It's windy and it's doing its best to rain. Everyone in the house is napping, except me. It's the perfect day to snuggle beside the fireplace and enjoy a hot cup of tea.
There's a working blacksmith shop that operates on Sunday afternoons during the summer months in our small town. It was great to see the work being done using ages old methods and century old equipment. The men were all more than happy to talk to The Frenchman about his desire to pursue this as a hobby and offered a few tips of the trade to him.
Raspberries aren't the only things I'm harvesting these days. These creatures seem to have invaded my garden overnight and I'm getting quite good at catching them. My little flock loves them and they're a tasty protein treat.
We can't ignore it any longer. Pearl is not a girl. After only a few short weeks, we knew there was something unusual about her, but thought she was simply a different breed, a leghorn slipped in with our brown hens by mistake.
It was Wendy Woo who first suggested that she might be a rooster and all evidence seems to point to this being the case. At first we thought we might have a transgendered bird. There have been cases of a hen assuming the characteristics of a rooster when none are present in a flock, with incidences occurring about 1 in 10,000. A quick review of our breed on-line, however, and it confirmed that the pullets, or hens, are red and the cockerels are white with brown markings.
He has begun to make tentative, albeit enthusiastic, attempts at crowing in the morning and I cringe at the thought of him disturbing our neighbours. Then I remember listening to their dog bark for hours without end and I get over it. He's also made a valiant effort to mount a hen or two. The hens in question give a startled squawk and run away. Initially, I was a little conflicted about having a rooster in our flock. I do love roosters and he does bring a certain ineffable quality to our little family. When the time comes and we want to increase our flock, we'll be able to raise our own. We've come to know him as Pearl, but I suppose that will have to change. We're still casting about, giving some thought to a suitable name befitting his station.
I think he's developing into quite the handsome fellow. So, what surprises has life had in store for you lately?
We had a mighty storm blow through here last night. Today, we're picking up the pieces and counting our blessings. To be completely honest, I missed most of it. I had run out to the chicken coop to close windows and made it inside just as a plow wind hit. The short definition is a high velocity wall of wind. It brought with it heavy rain and hail. I didn't really see the storm from inside the coop, but I heard and felt it. The Frenchman was afraid I was going to get blown away, a la Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and came to rescue me during a brief lull in the storm. By then, enough water had accumulated in the flower beds and garden that they resembled wading pools. A quick survey of my garden was pretty disheartening. The plants look like they've been hit by machine gun fire and they were blown over and laying flat. I spent some time this morning assessing the damage and doing what I could to shore up the plants that could be saved and harvesting what couldn't. The winds were in excess of 100 km./hr. (**) and tore one of our old growth trees right out of the ground. All of that aside, no one was hurt and we suffered minor damage. Farmer friends had two grain sheds blown over and there has been a lot of crop damage.
I love the patina on this old license plate I unearthed on the property last year. It's bent and beat up and I haven't had the heart to throw it away. In part, because the motto stamped on this plate reads "Home of the R.C.M.P.". Not only is that no longer the motto of my new home province, my brother is also a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The colour is serge red, the same shade as the dress uniform for the 'force', as it's known familiarly. The current license plates are green. It feels like a little piece of history and I'm thinking it might be kind of funky to display it on our chicken coop somewhere.
I think I'd be hard pressed to find anything that I found more satisfying than harvesting something I've planted, laboured over, worried about, and grown myself. I love peas. I've always loved vegetables and would ask for extra helpings, even as a child. Peas are probably my favourite.
What's not to love about these streamlined little pockets topped with a jaunty fairy cap of leaves? A satisfying pop breaks open the rich green capsule to reveal a row of perfect spheres, plump and sweet to the taste. It doesn't hurt that they're also packed with nutrition. There truly is nothing sweeter than produce picked fresh from one's own garden. Feeling truly blessed.
What blessings are you harvesting today? #augustbreak2014 August 1st Prompt: Lunch
This season is breezing by too quickly. There is so much to do while the weather is warm, yet, summer seems to invite laziness, so I've been enjoying a time of rest, as well. I watch a thieving robin nibble on raspberries in my garden. The same raspberries I've been patiently (sort of) waiting to ripen before harvesting them myself. Dragonflies, copper wings shimmering in the sun, alight delicately atop dandelions growing in the grass. I watch a hawk sail over the wheat fields, wings outstretched and leisurely flapping once, twice, before gliding effortlessly further away. I savour the slightly sleepy state I'm in. My skin absorbing the sun's heat, a precious gift of summer. My dog pants a steady rhythm where she lays beside me in the shade, hot in her black fur coat, tongue lolling long and pink, moisture dripping off the tip to fall in tiny puddles at her feet. I decided earlier today that August is my favourite month. It's when summer feels most present. Even though it's not quite August yet. I'm rounding up. I love my life. I love the ordinariness of it. Here's a brief summer portrait of me, at my most authentic. - bare faced, bare legs, bare feet. - standing in my garden, dew soaking through my shoes and chilling my toes. Holding a watering can, listening to coyotes howl and yip, near, but not visible. - dirt under my fingernails. - strolling with my dog and cat in the cool of the morning air, coffee cup in hand. - sipping refreshing lemon iced tea. - watching my chickens scratch and peck at the grass in their run. What would your brief summer portrait look like?
With the exception of some minor tweaking, the chicken coop and adjoining run are finally complete. (You can't see him, but The Frenchman - who is responsible for the lion's share of the work - is happy dancing off-camera). Neither rain nor wind nor gloom of night kept him from getting this project done. I'm not kidding. You can see where we started here and we've come a long way, baby! The roof of this old grain shed was replaced with weathered metal sheeting to keep the hens dry. No easy task given the sharp angle of the roof and persistent bad weather. There are two access doors to the coop. The small man-door on the south side generally remains free of snow drifts during the winter - a consideration we had to keep in mind during the entire project.
Post holes were dug by hand and fence posts secured in the ground with quick setting cement. Next, chicken wire was attached. A ditch was dug around the perimeter of the entire fence line and building and hardware wire was sunk to deter any predators that might attempt to dig their way in. Worst. Job. Ever. The trees had already leafed out by the time we'd begun work in earnest, so we've left them in place, for now, and will decide what to do with them, if anything, in the fall. Most of our winter weather (read: freakish blizzards blowing horizontal snow) comes from the northwest, so The Frenchman used weathered boards we had on hand - doesn't everyone...? - to construct another layer of fencing along two sides. It has provided a welcome level of privacy for us and we like how it makes the entire project look like it's been here for years.
A secondary metal roof was added on the north side of the building to cover the chicken door and provide an area of refuge for the hens to enjoy regardless of the weather conditions outside. They have access to shade no matter the time of day and this is the area they seem to prefer most.
We're experiment with using a combination of wheat straw and pine shavings as litter, for now, although we had a devil of a time sourcing wheat straw. These large bales, weighing approximately 950 lbs., are not easy to get home, either. We had to enlist the help of a friend with a trailer to drive several miles out of town to pick it up and then deliver it to us. I'm still working on a bit of landscaping around the coop with a layer of rocks and gravel that will also serve as added security. I'm attempting to grow lavender for the first time and I also have a pot of lemon thyme. Eventually, I'd like to add a few planters on the outside of the fence to pretty it up and introduce a few more bug repellent plants. For now, we're going to put our feet up and relax with our hens for a while. (If you're new here and want to see what we did in the interior of the coop, click here for a short tour.)
All content and photos are original to Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember and are copyrighted, 2006 - 2014. Please do not copy, or download any content without express written consent. All content and photos remain the sole property of Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember forever unto eternity. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Karma will kick your ass. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm a Superficial Dabbler - I know a little bit about a lot of things and I'm an expert at none of them. I’m a city girl with a country soul, a curious nature, and a very short attention span. I believe that animals are angels wrapped in fur, come down from heaven to model unconditional love.
I have decided not to display the awards that I receive. If you like my blog, leave me a comment. I read and appreciate them all. It's the connection with the friends I make here that I treasure the most.