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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Gorgeous Day, Hanging out with Alpacas

Well it doesn't get better than the beautiful day we had today. It was sunny first thing in the morning and the temperature was lovely and hot. We even hung out down by the pool for a while. Husband went in, but it was still too cold for me (76 degrees F). It is difficult getting the pool up to temperature this summer due to lack of sunshine (we use solar heaters) and the fact that any heat we have is lost over night. If we get a couple more sunny days, it will make a huge difference!

Today our daughter went to a local alpaca farm. She has a summer job working for a radio station, driving around to events and places helping to promote them by posting photos and writing information that goes on the radio's website and other social media. She had contacted the owners to see if they would like her to promote their business and they were happy to have her. My husband and I tagged along. I had visited this farm a couple of years ago with my kids and previously posted about it. This was the first visit for my husband.



We learned a lot about alpacas and how to raise them from the owner. (He is a retired secondary school math teacher and was a fantastic tutor for our son this year, too!)


They all wanted a treat from the bucket! They are very gentle. One thing I love about them is the sound they make which is little bit like Chewbacca from Star Wars.


I think this little one is about three weeks to a month old. I just wanted to hug it, but it stayed just an arm's length away.


My daughter really tried to get these little ones to come closer.


Almost!!


No, this isn't a disturbing picture of an alpaca having some sort of seizure. She is just enjoying a nice rolly dust bath.

I'm a real sucker for animals. If money were no object, I would have a perfect little hobby farm with chickens, ducks, a couple alpacas, maybe a sheep or two, perhaps a miniature horse. I do realize what a lot of work it is to have animals, so for now I'm more than happy to visit other peoples' farms.

The alpacas are tidy, inquisitive animals. They are not good at being solitary animals, you should always have at least two. The couple who own the farm make most of their money selling the fleece. I am certainly not a knitter, so the fleece is of little interest to me. Because these pack animals are originally from South America, they have all been given Spanish names.

Back home after supper, I put in some time raking and loading up more apples. At least this bunch is bigger than the first very small ones which made clean up easier.

It is amazing what a difference a change in weather can make in one's mood and perspective. I was about to say I am looking forward to another nice day, but when I just checked the online forecast, it indicated rain for the next seven days. Oh well, I have some books from the library to keep me happy for a few days.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Great Outdoors

When the heck did it become July 26th? Summer seems to be zooming by and I'd be hard pressed to say how I've been spending my time. Today, I awoke to a cool, drizzly morning. When I got dressed, I put on shorts, and a long sleeved top. It just felt too chilly for short sleeves. After the light rain passed over, I got outside to do a little weeding in my vegetable garden and a perennial bed. My goal has been to dig out the "baby" trees that have shown up where they shouldn't be. Many of these are walnut trees, no doubt planted by squirrels. The others are what I call Manitoba maples. Yesterday I got started on some and had to call on my husband because they were just too difficult to dig out. Well, naturally a small job became a big job and after much cutting, lopping, digging, and loading up of the Gorilla cart (three times) and dumping in the burn pile, most trees were gone. They had grown up in and around a giant old mock orange and some other shrubs.

I set my sights on smaller trees that had to go. I didn't start without my two best friends:


-gardening gloves and bug spray!

I managed to get rid of a few more, although there was one that I must confess I just cut off close to the bottom. I never would have been able to dig it out without a complete massacre of all plants and shrubs around it. I also tackled some basic weeding.

With those jobs being done, I moved on to the next one. It is an apple year with our old apple tree which only produces every two years. Someone else is also aware that it is an apple year.



Now, don't get me wrong, they can eat as many apples as they want. We don't use them as they are too tiny, sour, and insect ridden for us. However, they don't stop at apples. They enjoy beans, peas, and parsley.

They apples need to be raked up so that the grass can be properly cut. As well, they quickly rot and attract wasps. I got my rake and tackled the job.


The apples get raked into piles.


Then, the apples are scooped up and loaded into the Gorilla cart (what would we do without that thing??) and pulled by the lawn mower and dumped elsewhere. This process will continue several times throughout the summer until the apples are done dropping from the tree.


I did stop to admire my window boxes. They are doing well now, filling in nicely.


I really like creeping jenny in window boxes and urns. It makes them look so feminine and pretty.

Did I mention how much I love crocosmia? It is the reedy looking plant with the red flowers.


I came in to have a snack (and to bandage up a blister that I still managed to get even though I was wearing gloves), and then naturally it started to rain. So I did not get the raked apples loaded up into the cart yet, but they'll certainly be waiting for me when the rain does eventually end.

Guess who isn't the least bit bothered by the rain?


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Walk Around Wednesday- Blooms, Cat, Rain and more

Yes, I realize it is Thursday, but I planned on posting this yesterday, using photos I took on Tuesday. Come for a walk around the property with me.


-spiderwort


-close up of spiderwort bloom


-daylilies are in bloom - beautiful sunny yellow, so eye catching across the yard


-a soft, peachy orange


-a gorgeous, hot reddish orange daylily


-one of my favourites, these are big, sturdy blooms


-I like the colour combination of the "hot" daylilies with purple sandcherry


I only have two roses. This Hansa is normally quite healthy and prolific, but it didn't get cut back properly, so it has had to move forward from a severe cutting back too late this spring and is only now showing a couple of blooms. I'm not much of a rose officiando.


-taller cranesbill are now blooming and fill in spaces in most of my beds


-best year yet!


-purple coneflowers (Echinacea)


-one of my most favourite - crocosmia         -didn't realize how blurry this photo was until I uploaded it :( 


I am quite happy I took pictures of the current blooms, because naturally this morning began with thunder and torrential downpours. These pictures do not capture the intensity of the rain...




Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail managed to make his way home through the rain and picked up quite a few sticky seeds in his fur on the way.


He's looking a bit bedraggled. I brushed the seeds out of his fur after he was done eating. I can hear him meowing from the windowsill again, as I am typing this.

How are your gardens growing? For those of you in hot, dry places, I would gladly send you some of our rain if I could!

Oh yes, one final addition: we now seem to be the proud "owners" of a skunk. It crawled under a little low porch (the one I stand on to hang laundry - on the two days it didn't rain), it rummages through my compost container (no I don't put meat scraps in it), and it digs around looking for grubs in the lawn. So far, smell is not a problem, and Scooter has not decided it is his long lost mommy, so we are o.k.  I'm just a little concerned about accidentally surprising it with dire results. Anyone have experience with a resident skunk?


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Fifty-One

Yesterday I turned 51 on the 15th which I thought was a neat twist on the numbers. Both of our kids were working yesterday, so husband and I went for a drive. It was the first nice day in I don't know how long. Husband has recently acquired a little new-to-him convertible, so I pulled my hair back and secured it on my head and away we went.

We were on a bit of a quest for something to put on our den wall. Since I had painted the den a few months back, this one main wall has remained pretty much bare. We had some ideas. I love William Morris designs and we thought maybe a tapestry hung on the wall would be great. I also like botanicals or maybe a nice pastural scene. I don't even mind animals (sheep, a stylized rabbit, maybe some cows?) We travelled about an hour or two from our home, to the east to a few small towns along the lake. Oh my, there were some amazingly beautiful homes. (Who lives in these??? What do they do for a living?) The sun was beating down and there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was just so nice to be out.

We didn't find anything that really suited us. In fact, most of the art and prints and other wall d├ęcor in the shops had nautical/ cottage / wilderness themes to them, due to where we were and that's not really what we were after. However, it was nice to poke around and see what was available.

We stopped for a drink and a bite to eat. Yes, I took pictures of our food and felt a bit foolish because that's not really what I do. ("Here's a picture of my lunch! Allow me to bore you with other details about my life!") The reason I took a picture was that I was thinking of soon to be retired John Gray at Going Gently as my husband ordered a Scotch Egg for the first time. It's not really a common food here, but of course I knew what it was from reading John's blog.


Do not be alarmed by the pink colour of the food. The umbrella over our outdoor table was red and it cast a rosy glow over our food and drinks. Husband declared the Scotch Egg to be "awesome". He was especially pleased that he was able to substitute the side of smoked cheddar with a chunk of blue cheese.


My Caesar salad was excellent. (Real bacon, thank you very much)


My ice cold Stella was perfect on a hot day. Husband had a cider. I really despise cider, but he loves it.


I love the sign for the restaurant. You can't get more Canadian than that!

The drive home was equally nice and I took some pictures on the way. The views are gorgeous.




Ha! Expert photographer that I am, I managed to get myself in the shot!

Back home, the kids got home from their respective work places and we ordered Chinese food (husband went to pick it up, we are too far away from town for delivery) and we sat down by the pool and had supper together. Then, of course, it began to rain, so we went in the house for dessert. I normally bake a cake for everyone's birthdays, but I really didn't expect husband or the kids to attempt a cake from scratch and homemade icing (they did one year with memorable results), so we had picked up not one, but two small cakes (I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so got them both). Here are my kids ready to bring the cakes to the table and sing Happy Birthday after having a little fun with the barbecue lighter.


Not sure what son is doing, maybe he already started singing.

It was all very fun and just the way I like it: low key and just husband and my kids. I'm not one for big celebrations. I don't even like birthday phone calls. In fact, I don't even like talking on the phone. I can't do small talk. In my regular life, I am a true introvert.

As I was reading blogs recently, I discovered that many people have the same birthday as me. So, if I missed out on some of you, happy birthday to all those July 15th babies, or any July babies for that matter. Most of us are probably Cancers, an unfortunate horoscope sign by association, but real lovers of home, security, honesty, and fairness.

So, yesterday was lovely. Ahhh, but Mother Nature didn't want us getting too smug, so here was this morning.

More rain. I took the hanging plants down so they could get a drink, too.


The bird bath stays filled. Birds don't even use it. Those are metal birds that are attached to the bird bath. The cat sat in it once, though, when it had no water in it.

In fact, the power flickered on and off a couple of times this morning. I gave up on writing my blog until now, this evening. It cleared a bit later in the morning but the day stayed cloudy and not nearly as warm as yesterday. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

I'm not really a binge watcher. There are only a small amount of tv shows that I regularly watch and I'm not a big movie person. However, I recently discovered a crime drama on Netflix that I absolutely couldn't tear myself away from. What else are you going to do on a rainy day after you throw in a load of laundry? I am now finished two seasons of "The Killing". It is so good. There are two more seasons and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of it! Has anyone else watched it? Don't tell me what happens, please!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Not as Happy about it as Gene Kelly

I was going to post "It's raining Again" by Supertramp, but there isn't a whole lot of rain in it and it's rather whiney. "It's Raining Men" doesn't really project my meaning either. So here goes:


I am less enthusiastic about the rain than good ol' Gene Kelly, but the quantity of rain is just about accurate. UGHHHHHHH.


This is getting a little ridiculous.

Monday, 10 July 2017

It's Bloomin' Lovely!

After whipper snipping until I ran out of battery power, I cleaned up grass and weeds I had cut down. Then I went around and actually had a look at what is in bloom. Many flowers have faded including peonies, lupins, and centaura, but here is what is in full bloom at the moment. Take a walk around my yard:

delphinium - I think it might be Pagen Purple


Annabelle hydrangea

another sweet little hydrangea that I've forgotten the name of


yarrow (achillea)


limelight hydrangea (I'm pretty sure)

close up of the hydrangea above


potentilla


I'm not sure what it is, but it's tall and hardy. (maybe some sort of tall coreopsis?)


close up


some spirea, bellflowers, and plants that aren't ready yet (autumn joy sedum, daylilies)




the arbour with trumpet vine (not yet blooming) and hanging pots of gernanium with smoke bush in the background
It's amazing to me sometimes, when I realize how many plants and shrubs I have. I used to read gardening books for fun and knew the latin name for most things. I've not put the same kind of time and passion into it lately, but it is still nice to see results of my efforts.

And for those of you in Ontario, yes, it rained last night.