Monthly Archives: May 2015

Baby Bird

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The other day while Hubby and I were doing a delicate and graceful ballet of chores, he, outside mowing the grass, and I, tripping over a very fast running Junior inside while attempting to clean, finish laundry and try to make it into the shower, we were blessed with a view seldom seen (at least by us). Hubby called me from outside (this is how we operate, calling each other like our phones are walkie talkies) to see “how fast I could get outside”. His statement is laughable at best since it was a breezy day and Junior was still running around in his pajama bottoms, and I had the laundry half into the machine. While heading into the back yard Hubby had come across a baby bird in the grass, it’s parents yelling at it from above. Since going outside in a hurry wasn’t an option I ascertained that the bird was not in the back yard, since our dogs would surely dispatch it quickly, and that yes it was still alive (hubby sometimes leaves out these details for dramatic effect). Once Junior was clothes, my chores on the go, I did what I do best. Googled. Since I’m a nature lover, but yet don’t know everything there is to know about country life, I needed to know how best to handle a baby bird. Do you wear gloves so that the mother doesn’t reject? Do you bring it inside for feedings every 3 hours until you release it back into the wild? Within minutes I discovered that baby birds are rarely rejected once touched to be replaced into the nest, and that certain times you should not touch a baby bird on the ground.

If the baby bird is featherless, and the nest has been knocked to the ground, carefully set reattach the nest to a sheltered branch, or if the nest has been damaged or you cant find the original nest still in the tree, make a nest of shredded paper in a small basket and place in the tree, replace the baby bird into the nest, carefully placing its tiny legs under it.

But if the bird indeed has feathers, it is called a fledgling and should not be touched. A fledgling may have “fallen” while attempting to practice for it’s first flight, or it may have been pushed from the best as a weaker bird. In the case of a fledgling, it is best to not intervene, but perhaps ensure it is safe from cats, cars, kids and dogs.

I slipped into some shoes, bundled up Junior and went outside to determine the little birds fate. After waiting for a few minutes to get Hubby’s attention as he whipped around the back yard on the John Deere, we were pointed in the direction of a large pine tree in our side yard. Junior and I crept close to take a look at the baby bird. It was indeed a fledgling, (I really didnt want to be touching a baby bird anyways), and it had aleady hopped up into the lower branches. Since the neighbours cats usually leave our yard alone during the day, and the dogs were fenced in the back yard, I figured the little bird was safe. Figured……

Later on, as I took my turn on the mower, and Junior was napping inside, Hubby ushered me over, head shaking, and then I saw our poor fledgling… in the back yard!!! And of course… dead. My stupid dog (or smart?) had made sure the intruder did not live. Poor birdy. I suppose, that if the little baby had hopped/fallen from the branches, and then under the chain link fence, and into the yard, that it for sure would have eventually been killed by any number of predators. But a nature lover, can’t help but feel a little guilty as it’s certainly not a fun thing to witness. But in the words of my father, and since it was a starling fledgling, “there would be one less (insert expletive) bird” in the world. According to my father starlings are notorious for inserting their eggs into other birds nests since they are too lazy to raise them. Although a quick google search doesn’t show this, and I wonder if it’s a farmer’s predjudice against the birds since they are a bit destructive.

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Mompreneur

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My maternity leave was up months ago, yet here I am, 3pm in the afternoon and yes, I still have my pajamas on.  Not because I’m too lazy, or ran out of clean clothes, but because today is a work day. Nope, I sure don’t work Monday to Friday 9am until 5pm, instead I work pretty much from 6:30am until 9pm, every gall darned day of the week. On top of the constant cleaning up after a busy toddler and the never ending vacuuming of dog hair, I have a business to run. It has no set hours, other than “when Junior is cooperating or napping” and there is no guaranteed salary.  Sometimes I put off getting dressed to finish up an order, or I work late into the night while Hubby watches tv, patiently waiting for me to emerge from my craft room.

For the past few years the business was a casual hobby, but with mat leave over, it’s official, I own a burlap and rustic décor shop.  Concentrating on the unique, and rustic bride, I sell mostly table runners and overlays out of burlap, but have recently branched out into artificial flower bouquets wrapped in birch, or upcycled crates made into card boxes. Today’s project was the sale of cheese cloth as a back drop swag for a wedding ceremony. Although Hubby was supportive, I’m sure he thought the box would sit around for a while, amongst many other half finished projects, but within 1 hour of posting a picture, I had tripled my investment. Behind me as I type, I am cutting out burlap table overlays, and over on the hutch are 3 orders ready to be delivered or picked up. On the clothesline outside is a length of cheesecloth recently dyed to a pale pink (okay okay, well maybe I was aiming for a dark purple, but pink is nice too), and wooden signs are piled close at hand for when I have a second to take their picture for the website.  The business doesn’t pay all the bills but it pays for some of them, and allows me some wiggle room as a mom (sometimes now I buy the name brand peanut butter…. If it’s on sale).

A mompreneur is someone who chooses to concentrate on being a mom first, and being an entrepreneur has to fit into any available space leftover. Sometimes I don’t work a minute on the business, choosing to roll around in the grass with Junior or read the same book over and over and over and over again to him. But there are some days where the challenges of juggling both my business and my mom life wear on me. Often times I very much need a mug of coffee, but have to nuke it 4 times before I have a chance to finish it. Sometimes I forget orders, or have to email quotes while Junior is on my lap banging on the keyboard.  I don’t get sick days, coffee breaks, or medical benefits.  My house is sometimes quite the mess with half finished projects, orders to be completed or my newest yardsale find that I will “eventually” turn into a new project for sale. But even with all that, I still don’t miss office politics, wicked tight deadlines or wearing business casual. When we factored in my old salary versus what we would be paying in daycare, gas, and parking, I was hardly coming ahead. But with my business, I am contributing, be it only a little, to our finances and I get to raise our son.  I’m proud to be a mompreneur.

Farm Fresh When Possible

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I love farmers. I hope you do too. I love seeing those signs, “if you ate today, thank a farmer”, and I love meeting the hardworking generations that keep happy and healthy food coming our way. I’m not talking about large industrial factories pumping out wingless birds, and those places that keep their cows packed into tiny plots of mud covered land until slaughter time. I’m talking about your local dairy farmers, your hobbyists, and those people that drive tractors to work and whose “rush hour” is that time of day that milking happens and all the cows try to cram into the barn door at the same time. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a tree hugging vegan hippy. I love food, all kinds of food, but I’m striving towards embracing more local food. With Porkers fattening up on the farm next door, and the farm fresh chicken eggs that I had this morning, I love knowing that what I consume, at least had a great happy life. My grandparents were dairy farmers, and my dad grew up playing in the barn and driving tractors. The highlight of my Christmas holiday was the yearly hay ride pulled by “the Old Oliver” tractor that my grandfather still tends to, although each year the tractor gets a bit harder to get going. And just like the fact that tractor is making fewer appearances at our holidays, real farmers are disappearing fast. After a conversation with our neighbour, who has 3 daughters, he just doesn’t know the future of his dairy farm. His girls aren’t that interested in continuing on with the family business, and when he retires, he may simply have to sell the herd, and use the barns for storage. It’s a sad state of affairs when so much of the population is pulling together to support these businesses, but yet nothing concrete is done. Local farms have hardly any government support and if you think that our Hydro bill is nearly $300 a month, can you imagine how much a farm has to pay with all the milking equipment, fans and lights? The least I can do is to attempt to buy as local as possible. And it’s not just the people I want to support, I know it’s not for everyone but have you ever thought about the life your burger had before it became a burger? Okay, no, I won’t make you think about it. And don’t worry I have a bag of chicken nuggets in my fridge that I eat, but totally ignore how they were made. But when I do eat local, farm fresh eggs, I know those chickens are running free, and have names. Porkers will have had many hands petting him over his lifetime and he will have enjoyed life rooting around and laying in mud. I know some people who refuse to eat farm fresh anything because they don’t want to think about how happy the animal was before it came to the plate. I think this way of thinking is a bit backwards. If you are going to eat meat, own it. Really know what you are eating as much as you can. Eat the best you can, and eat local when you can. Make the choice to go local. And get out there, pull on those rubber boots and shake a farmers hand. Meet the people who make it happen. Those are real people, real honest, honest hardworking folks. I just wish that dairy farm is around long enough for me to send Junior over there when he is older to help with the milking. Don’t get me started on the waning work ethic our generation seems to have. That will be another blog.

Happy Mother’s Day

Well, here I sit, nearly 9am, coffee cooling nearby, and my eyes hurt to open them. My luck, I’ve got a nasty head cold. As a red head, one of my downfalls is the inability to enjoy temperature changes like a normal human being. Going from hot to cold, and vice versa, just doesn’t do me any favors. With temps outside soaring suddenly to near 30 degrees I’ve already been sun burned and it’s only the first week of May! I apply sunscreen (albeit, not often enough) and then when I bake outside I sweat like a… well, you get it. Then when I come inside to the cooler temps of the house, and the frigid temps of the basement, my body can’t process this change. Then, try sleeping in it, fans blowing all over me, but room is hot. Arg. Super head cold. So I’ve rolled downstairs while Junior still sleeps, and figured I would get in some crafting. But here on my computer is a card from Hubby for Mother’s Day. Poor guy has to work today to feed all the lucky moms that get taken out, but he was kind enough to buy me flowers and coffee yesterday and this morning, my card. And the card promises that we will purchase some apple trees as my mothers day gift when the shed gets delivered. I’m so happy. Until Junior is old enough to make me a pasta necklace, I’m not one to enjoy getting fancy gifts like jewelry, and I’m tickled pink that Hubby remembered that something as simple as a tree makes me smile. I’m looking forward to picking out some trees this year and waiting patiently for apples to appear over the next few years. I can’t bake for the life of me, but it will sure be incentive to give it a go. I love apple pie, and apple crumble, and I hope that Junior and Hubby will someday enjoy the fruits of my labour.

No excuses, well, maybe

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Its been too long since I’ve blogged and there hasn’t been any good reason, okay, well, maybe when I have a spare moment to blog I instead use it to sit on the front porch with a cold glass of whatever I can find. Now, don’t go thinking I do that alot, but with the nice weather we’ve been very productive around the house. With the truck back in the driveway (we haven’t even started to pay off the repairs, but at least it was less than we thought originally) we’ve had to budget our spring. Where I would normally purchase plants and flowers for my door urns, and my hanging planters, I’ve made do this year with plants I have found in the garden that needed splitting anyways. I planted Soloman’s Seal in my front urns, which once full grown will be tall and lucious and fill in the space incredibly. I have split many of my hostas to fill in bare spots in the garden and even found some Bleeding Heart plants growing in an old compost pile at the edge of our property. The house garden is done, and I just have a few more hours to attend to a “middle of the yard” garden. To keep it all in prospective, so far I think I have spent about 12 hours weeding and transplanting. It is at this time I am happy that the vegetable garden has been delayed until later in the summer. (once the shed arrives, the garden fence can go up and our goal is to at least dig some of it out so next spring it’s ready to rock).

Hubby has had to cut the grass already, and has already broken the new lawn tractor. Okay, in his defence, it probably wasn’t his fault, and it was a relatively easy (for my dad) fix. He stopped by and drilled, hammered and pressed the piece back into place and voila, good enough to run!

I ditch dove for a tree, and I think it’s some sort of a crab apple, so that should look nice in our front yard. It’s about 5 feet tall so it should take well. And it’s a good thing I found it since the lilacs I transplanted from my moms property didnt survive and only 2 trees survived from my grandparents yard, a maple and an oak (we think).

The acorns I have been coaxing to life also seemed to have kicked the bucket, but I will keep trying. They budded out and shoots started to emerge, but growth has come to a stand still. It would have been nice to grow oak trees from acorns collected from southern ontario from where hubby’s family is based.

I am determined to grow something, so I also had collected some apple and pear seeds from some fruit we had kicking around in the fridge. I folded the seeds into a paper towel, added water and put them into ziplock bags on the widow sill. A month later I opened the bags to find the pear seeds still looking the same, but the apples had sprouted and even had roots. I have transplanted those to little pots on my window sill as well. Cross your fingers, cause I really want apple trees.

Our country life is a daily blessing for me. Our neighbours are wonderful. Last week Junior and I attended a neighbours son’s 7th birthday party, and the farm wife next door came to help me garden. I also gathered a crew of neighbours and friends to visit the farmers and specifically check out our investment.

Yup, investment. A long while back we had the farmers, and past owners of our house, over for dinner and they had mentioned getting pigs this year. Of course Hubby and I chimmed in and let them know we would be very interested. Well, back in the city, the actualy event of purchase would normally come after several quotes, phone calls and perhaps a handful of emails, but here in the country, we simply received a call that “our pig was in”. Thankfully we don’t have to pay for the pig, aptly named Porkers by one of the farmer’s daughters, until fall when he goes to get turned into bacon. So in celebration of our new investment we invited a few neighbours, their kids, and a friend of mine and her son to visit the farm. While all the adults stood around watching one of the pigs root around  and chatting about the weather, kids were running through barns, and chasing chickens. It was an ideal evening.