Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Early Season Snow

Here in Antigonish County we received a very significant snowfall yesterday and overnight. November storms aren't all that unusual, but this was a bit much.

The temperature has been zero or below, so the full load of snow hasn't yet fallen from the roof. 

Clearing the walkway is somewhat of a waste of time until the snow comes down. Some of the overhanging snow came down , but not all.

It also appears that our installation of a protective roof for our internet receiver seems to have done its job. 

We are putting off going out to clear off the car and BBQ for awhile yet.

Our neighbor who clears our driveway had been here already, even though no snowplow has been through.

Bill's tractor is under a blanket of snow. It will get parked in a snow-free zone later on. This is a bit early to declare no more tractor use.

Similarly there seems to be a wheelbarrow parked here somewhere.
It is also amazing how the dark, dreary day gives pictures which are essentially black and white!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hot Peppers and Other Things

Several days of this mid part of November have been a bit conducive to some outdoor chores.
Bill spent part of one day cleaning out the gutters. 
We can never remember when the last time was. We were at least not stuck doing it on a freezing day. Several trips up and down the ladder were a necessary evil.

The leafy debris seems partially decomposed. Not bad stuff to deposit on the nearest garden bed.

We had a couple of very cold days, but by this Sunday it was a bit warmer, although very breezy. Bill embarked upon the installation of a metal roofing shield to protect our internet receiver from snowy avalanches from the roof of the sunporch. 

No one seems to listen when told snow cascades off the roof periodically through the winter.We did have them come and lower the receiver somewhat so the top wouldn't project above the roof line.
While "watching" this installation, I decided to harvest the Ring of Fire peppers from the planter that has been in the sunporch for the last few weeks. 

Many peppers were nice and ripe, while some were still green. All the fruits can be used, so I sorted them according to their maturity.

The ripest are in the basket and will dry for a time just sitting on top of the refrigerator. When fully dry they can be stored in a glass jar and used when needed. Sometimes I grind up a bunch and use them as pepper flakes. A little trial and error teaches one how much is appropriate for a recipe.

The greenest were chopped and placed in freezer bags. 

It is easy to fetch a sample for any given recipe when a freshly chopped one is wanted. 
These are quite hot peppers, so I was a bit cautious not to get pepper juice on my hands or elsewhere that might prove painful.
That seemed to be the closest to gardening that got done today. I expect I could have done a few more things, but we just had a look .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Myriad of Fall Foliage

We have been having quite an admiration for the development and continuation of fall color all this month. Even with a few vicious wind storms, some plants still have interesting leaves to share. The range of shades is quite something. Sometimes I find it hard to fully appreciate November.
(Click on any image to bring another view or to comment on a pic)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Tasks Almost Done

November has brought relative cooperation weather wise so we have actually got the majority of pressing tasks completed.
Carrots are still in the ground, but don't represent a very big job. I dug part and ended up with a nice bucket full.

One was very peculiar with three prongs. We get very few mis-shapen ones. Jodi got to snack on those that were very puny, assuming he didn't help himself to any he liked.

We grew celeriac this year for the first time. I harvested a few to see how they were doing. They certainly have a lot of rootiness and a lot of tops. I must ask around and see what to really expect.

I trimmed them up, washed them ans used some to make a Potato and Celery root gratin.

This has been a super year for parsley, so I picked some more along with some thyme. I shall miss the parsley when the real cold comes.
Bill stowed all the peony pots in the back garden until spring. 

The in ground pic isn't particularly interesting!

The bulbs are planted and almost all the "strays" are safely in the ditch.
We do have to install a bit of a snow protector for our internet receiver so it doesn't get demolished by snow coming off the roof of the back porch.
We had a very windy, wet Remembrance Day, but no damage was incurred. Today we are back in the chilliness mode, but nice and sunny.
There is still quite a lot of nice colour out back, although things are getting quite worn.
Fall crocus are still popping up here and there.
The birch trees are pretty well denuded, but look nice against the blue sky.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day 2011

Remembrance Day always has a personal significance since my father was a veteran of World War II. Like so many, he seemed reluctant to tell many stories of his time overseas. One can only imagine the memories that would exist.
We grew up with the annual ritual of the Poppy campaign, which my Dad looked after in our community. There were some jaunts to the Royal Canadian Legion in Hillsborough, about a half hour from home.
One rather tangible record of some things that were brought to our attention was a cache of almost 500 letters sent to my mother during the years Dad was away. I received these after my Mother's death and read through all of them. They were all numbered so the proper sequence has been retained.
I think I was most surprised at the literacy of these letters, as my Dad gave very little indication of that part of his being. This is one of the most poignant excerpts....

" June 10, 1942
....... it must be great there now in the mornings about the time you go to school. I can just see the spider's webs and dew shining in the early morning sun, and the bobolinks would be nearby bursting....and the gardens would be just showing lines along the rows where the seeds are just coming through the ground. The hard working beans with their bent back. Did you ever take notice of seeds coming up? Well there is a lot of fun looking at the different ones as they start though the ground. You will have to look twice to see the skinny onion, and the squash jumps right out of the ground at you. Hey, what am I getting down on this paper anyway, asking a farmer's daughter if she was ever in a garden, and only a dozen years ago i hardly knew a carrot from grass. You will have to blame it on this I told you before, at times I have no control over it. So maybe I had better put it in my pocket for awhile......"

These were in no way a record of war, but rather a journal of the day to day, or week to week activities of life in the Army.
All soldiers knew they couldn't give much information of actual military activities since they would be censored out.
Dad had a bit of code that as Mother received letters let her know where he had been in recent history. The mundane tasks of staying alive and reasonably comfortable make up much of the focus. 
The other main theme was one of extreme homesickness. Dad missed home and family very much. My older sister was only a baby when he left for England. The highlight of any day or week would be the arrival of letters and the precious parcels that brought a bit of home to the boys.
There also seemed to be a continual need to obtain a supply of cigarettes, a commodity that was in a constant state of flux...too many borrowed, too few arriving!
My Father was joined by three of his brothers overseas and remarkably all returned home in reasonably good  shape. Such was not the case for many .
Watching the history of the Silver Cross Medal today brought home that fact.
Remembrances now cover many generations both past and present.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November is trying to be enticing

Except for a couple of days on the past weekend, November has been quite a pleasant month weather wise. Daylight savings has come and gone, so apart from being dark at 5 PM , it is nice to have a little more light in the morning. Bright sunshine has been the order of the day for a few days, so we have been stimulated to get at some of the remaining fall jobs.
Stowing all the miscellaneous pots in the "storage ditch" seems to be an annual pursuit. There are always a lot of strays that need to be overwintered below grade. 

Grace and Jodi were very faithful "helpers" during the whole procedure.
The ditch needs to be cleaned out a bit each fall. 
The soil/compost blend is either used to repair a spot or two or sifted back in around the pots. Bill used some today to fill in a few of the tracks made last week by the small excavator installing the new power pole. 

We were also heartened to find the lovely seed pod on our Magnolia tripetala had finally started to burst, indicating some degree of ripeness.

I picked the pod in case critters might take a fancy to it. The seeds have an interesting little attachment to the pod. 

Our walk about saw lots of rather interesting colours today. Our Enkianthus have chosen to turn a beautiful golden colour this year, rather than the red they sometimes do. 

The azaleas are showing quite a lot of red, but perhaps not as vivid as some years. 

This Japanese Maple goes through a number of red shades as the year progresses.

Even the green of the Hellebores is nice in contrast to the fading gold of the hostas nearby. 

There are still lots of golden leaves attached. Some beech trees, no doubt. 

There are lots of fall crocus still popping up. they look quite perky on a sunny day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November on a Bright Day

November is not the favourite month of the year, but yesterday was very bright and cheery. A few more outdoor jobs were done and some beautiful spots noticed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our Not So Great Electrical Adventure

Sunday, Oct30th saw north eastern Nova Scotia being treated to an early season NorEaster. Most of Sunday was wet, but not very stormy. That seemed to change in the evening when strong winds came up. About 8PM we heard  a terrific bang and the power went off. When we investigated, we discovered the entire electrical mast and meter had been torn off the house and the power pole in the front yard was down. Further investigation saw quite the destruction of our electrical panel.

A large branch from a maple tree had fallen on the power lines and pulled down our old and somewhat rotten pole.

James found all the external bits about 50-60 feet down towards the gully.

Our plight was reported to NSPower via our neighbor's phone since the phone lines were lying on the ground as well. Late that evening one of the willow trees completely uprooted just as James was driving down the driveway. He had his chain saw, so cut away part of the blockage then and there. He removed the rest  the next morning.

An electrician was lined up to inspect the panel first thing Monday morning. That resulted in the need for an entirely new installation of both internal and external electrical stuff.
By late afternoon the new panel and associated parts were installed and inspected by the NS Power rep.
We were heartened to also see the big truck bearing a new power pole arrive mid-afternoon. We were somewhat concerned how this access to the pole site might happen without cutting down more trees or totally wrecking garden areas.
The tracked excavator was able to travel up the driveway, around the front lawn and "park" just above the gully bed to deliver the new pole and remove the old one. 

The lawn received some "tracking", but this wasn't too serious. Bill went out yesterday and raked things smooth and tamped it down a bit. New grass will grow!

Remarkably, he managed not to demolish one of our favourite rhodies or a couple of Hydrangea.
Hole #1 was dug where the old pole came out and the pole lifted and put in place and back filled. I suspect there are some rather dishevelled Oriental Poppies in the immediate area!

Hole #2 was dug to install an anchor, the hole is about 5 feet deep.He managed to insert this in the bed rather than the lawn, so it may not be so "in the way". Aesthetic, it is not! Maybe I will paint the bright yellow sleeve green come spring.

The upheaval to this bed may have been a mixed blessing, since we have been trying to get some renovation done in this area.
It was late Monday and the Power guys hadn't come to hook up the new wires, so we spent another night in the cold and dark. Our generator didn't get used, but the fridges and freezers fared all right. Some camp stove coffee making was about the only heroics involved. Our neighbor very kindly invited us for supper on Monday. Our darkened house didn't see any Halloween visitors except Ava for a few minutes after her visit to town.
The linemen were on deck first thing Tuesday morning and very efficiently installed the new wires. 
We were powered up by about 9AM.
Telephone service has been scheduled for repair Wednesday afternoon. All in all we were glad that no more damage was done.