Day Five of Eighty Nine

Planning our Garden Planters

You’d think with 80 acres of land we would have a huge vegetable garden, right? Maybe some day, but as many failed attempts have proven, our current lifestyle precludes a successful large-scale veggie patch.

The good intentions started in April end around August when the endless toil of weeding and watering have proven more than our limited time allows. Rather than shouldering the guilt one more year, but still yearning for the taste of a fresh tomato ripened naturally in the sun, we turned to container gardening on our sunny sun deck. Not as easily ignored and easier to water and maintain, for the past two years these containers have provided those sweet, juicy tomatoes and more. All within steps of our kitchen!

We haven’t hit the perfect balance of what to grow or how much to stuff in the containers but we’ve had success. It all starts with the soil and this year we will replace much of it again, to satisfy the needs of those hungry veggies.

Last year we experimented with row covers so we could get plants in the ground earlier. This year we are upping this more using different covers as mini greenhouses. Stay tuned for further reports on how this pans out!


Day Four of Eighty Nine

Dear lazy asshat dumper,

I’m writing to you to let you know that you, um, “forgot” the belongings you left in the bush beside our access road. I doubt forgetfulness had anything to do with this, as I’m sure it was purely intentional and due to laziness and stupidity.

Returning home, we were around a half kilometre up our gravel access road when we spotted a huge pile of garbage bags dumped in the bush beside the road. I’ve included a picture of your garbage below, in case you need a refresher.

Animals had already started working on the pile and some bags were ripped open and spewing contents by the time we happened upon your crap. Household garbage mostly with many recyclable cardboard and plastic containers. Drug paraphernalia too. Your garbage is painting a rather unfavourable picture of you, do you realize or care? Returnable pop and juice cans too! There were enough returnables in this pile to pay your dumping fee. Lazy, ignorant asshole. Why?!?

We have some fine upstanding neighbours who regularly patrol and even park at the bottom of our access road around the time the local landfill closes to deter those who arrive after closing and decide to dump their crap up a nearby forest service road rather than bring it back home. It’s too bad they weren’t around to snap a pic of your license plate number and take some notes as you drove by. Can’t you tell time or know how to check the landfill business hours? They haven’t changed in years!

Just wanted to let you know that we had exactly 40 minutes from the time we spotted your mess until the dump closed to get home, grab gloves and a supply of garbage bags, return to the site of the crime, clean it up and off to the dump. And…. we did it! Then again, we aren’t lazy or stupid.

Thankfully, most of the bags were still intact enough we were able to slide them into new bags without spilling the gross contents. While it pained us to not separate out the recyclables and returnable, it was the choice between making it with our load before the dump closed or not, and having to store your crap for a few days since the landfill isn’t open 7 days a week. You’d know this if you’d taken the time to check their business hours first.

We were trying to keep an eye out for mail with your address and name we could then report to the police. We’ve done this before, and sad to say we will likely do it again. Unfortunately, with this load we didn’t have the time to sift through and find the evidence we were looking for which I’m sure it was there since you’re clearly not that bright.

You’d think a good samaritan act as ours would go unpunished, but we end up paying the dumping fee when we do this. In this case the fee was $6.00. Not a sum that’s going to break us, and judging by the food containers in your garbage, you eat well enough that the $6 fee wouldn’t break you either. You’re welcome. Again.

Yes, you’re welcome you ignorant, entitled, lazy jerk. You clearly lack basic intelligence and the lack of respect you show for our environment is jaw-dropping. Next time I hope to have those extra few minutes to dig through your crap and find a name and address.

Just in case this post is making you squirm with guilt, here’s a pic of the crap pile. Maybe you recognize it?

Garbage dumped off of forest service road. Gross.

Day Three

“I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too.”

Simple words, spoken with a level of tenderness expressing the deep love between two people married for 62 years and 8 days. Those were the first words said to each other, face to face, after delivering my dad safely home from his 10-day stay in the hospital. The COVID pandemic had kept them apart, contact maintained by hit and miss phone calls. Not near enough for two people as inseparable as my parents. Nor a suitable replacement for a wedding anniversary celebration. Those simple words of greeting though, made clear what was more important than any date on a calendar.

There is a long road ahead for my dad and I hope they’re able to return to their daily routine of lunches out at their favourite haunts. Best friends hanging out, enjoying the company of the other. Amazingly, they never seem to run out of things to chat about. Ever.

They’ve set the bar high when it comes to happy relationships. Their 62nd wedding anniversary was spent apart. Never before has this happened that I’m aware of. “I’ve missed you.” Those words, and that moment, will stay with me forever. Happy belated Anniversary mom and dad, love you both.

Day Two of 89

It’s All About the Poop

If you keep animals, it always comes down to the poo. How to clean it up, where and how to store it, and how you process or deal with it generates much discussion and content. From the casual chat at the feed store to academic studies, poop is a popular topic. Here on the Bent Pine, we deal with many types of poop. Horses, dogs, chickens, bees and our token feline Malcolm all produce waste that is processed and often scrutinized.

Bees poop? Well, of course they do! Everything does, right? While we may not clean up bee poop or have volumes of it that need processing, it’s something we take note of. What comes out in the form is waste is often a good sign that all is well, or not, within that organism. Bees, in this northern climate, will venture out on warmer days in winter and early spring for a “cleansing flight”. Or for the less fragile a good old “poop flight”. Thousands of brownish dots covering the snow around the hives are easy to spot. But it’s the consistency that concerns us, checking for signs that our bees may have a case of Nosema which is basically bee diarrhea, and which calls for some bee medicine.

Jumping in poop volume from smallest to largest, is our herd of mostly geriatric horses. A horses produces on average 15kg (33lbs) of poop per day. When the horses are out grazing on our 32.5h (80 acre) property, the poop is distributed and returned to the land. In other words, we do nothing. It does, however, tend to build in volume around the barn because the horses return there for water and grain supplements. In winter, once the snow is here to stay the horses rarely venture far from the barn, so despite our best attempts at keeping things under control, the melting snow reveals a rather shitty landscape. March and early April are not the prettiest months where livestock are kept in this neck of the woods!

Rather than picking up this poop after the thaw, we break it up and spread it around the field close to the barn. Put on some tunes, jump in the UTV side by side and start dragging behind us whatever the latest concoction of “shit splitter” we’ve chained to the hitch. We’ve tried many iterations over the years. Big, heavy chain harrows aren’t a good match for our version of field which is more along the lines of woodland hillside than flat field. Today after realizing that our chunk of chainlink has deteriorated to the point of uselessness we added a length of heavy pipe to weigh things down. After a few stops and starts, the contraption held together and piles of poop were broken down and dispersed in a satisfying manner. The feeling of accomplishment when looking over your shoulder at your efforts is perhaps a bit hard for a lot of people to grasp, but trust me – it’s a thing.

Poor chainlink harrows have seen better days!
The “after”. Look at those happy, content horses!

Our dogs, one Maremma, one Maremma/Akbash/kangal cross livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) and quick-draw Aussie Shepherd poop in the woods. Dog poop found close to the house is always from visiting dogs who haven’t the same scale at home to foster similar habits. For this reason, it’s not a routine thing for us to pick up dog poop like urban and suburban dog owners do. However, as with the bees, it can be interesting to see what’s coming out the business end of our country dogs. Deer fur in a recently deposited pile usually explains why they weren’t as interested in their daily kibble as usual.

Then there’s the cat, Malcolm. He’s one hell of a jerk. Whether hunting exposed ankles or small rodents, his taste for blood is unequalled. I’ve had several cats in my life, all of whom have used a litter box without problem. While Malcom doesn’t have a problem using the box tucked away in the basement, he prefers pooping outside. Even in the snow. Non-cat people might not blink at this, but cat people usually get stuck pondering and picturing this. Cats usually go to great lengths at avoiding all forms of moisture. Cold moisture in the form of snow is typically even more avoided. But not Malcolm! The spring thaw reveals a level of cleaning on our sun deck that we hadn’t anticipated. Weird feline.

Clearly, poop is a hot topic around the Bent Pine, and if you’ve managed to stick around until this point, you’ll have a better idea why. Farmers, animal owners and new parents are endlessly obsessed with poop, maybe you are too?

Time to clean the chicken coop!

Day One of 89

View from our place. Not quite this green yet, but soon. Very soon!

It’s been over five years since I started, and I still find myself in “pinch me” territory when it comes to my job. Today is Day One of my three month sabbatical offered to all full time employees for every five years of service spent toiling in our technical world. Full salary and benefits and three months to pursue interests and regenerate. Pinch me, indeed!

The scheming and dreaming and planning for my time off began years ago. After all, it’s kind of a big deal, this perk. The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed our original dreams of an extended trip visiting family and exploring my ancestral home of Norway and that of my husband’s in Britain. My goal of experiencing the summer solstice in Norway, high above the Arctic circle, will have to wait.

Dialling back on travel plans several times to suit our shrinking world due to the pandemic has been hard. Thankfully, we are very fortunate to live in British Columbia, Canada, in an area that has no lack of outdoor adventures to fill our days. Our 6.5m (21’) touring kayak may not get her dose of Pacific Ocean salt water this year, but the 135km (84 mile) Okanagan Lake is worthy of more than the day paddles we’ve done to date. Numerous boat-access-only regional and provincial parks dot the shore and early planning is making us wonder why we hadn’t done a multi-day trip since moving to the area almost 14 years ago.

Three years ago I bought into the E-bike craze with a Rad Rover fat bike. A year later, Geoff followed suit, tired of chasing me and my (alleged) smugness. With many successful and enjoyable kilometres behind us, we’re planning some bike-packing trips. Within our region, there’s a plethora of trails and rail-trails to explore from easy day rides to multi-day rides. The hard part is in narrowing down which routes we want to do since I’d need more than three months to explore them all properly!

I’ve made a list. Okay, I’ve made several lists. A trip list of places within our region we want to explore and preferred mode of transportation. A list of projects, big and small, to complete on the farm. A list of projects to complete around the house. Some of the items are new and some have been on similar lists for years. The hard part is going to be balancing the quest to check these items off with learning how to find merit in actual downtime. Maybe I’ll find out what it’s like to actually sit outside and read a book for more than a rare few minutes at a time?

I’m planning on writing a post everyday. It might be just an image with a simple caption or I may drivel on as I have here. I may write but save the draft to publish at a later date. My plan to write daily is driven by good intentions only, so fingers crossed. The capturing of my good intentions will be done here, on a blog that’s been neglected for far too long, using WordPress, which is also the reason I have 89 days to spend as I wish. You see, I work for Automattic, the company behind the WordPress platform which powers 39.5% of all websites on the web. Thank you Automattic, I’ll do my best to make the most of my time off and further our quest to democratize publishing at the same time. See you back at work in 90 days!