View From The Glen

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Smug to Satisfied

At 9 pm last night I was standing in the kitchen with a glass of shiraz. Still in my heeled boots, grey skirt, and artfully draped scarf, I gazed out the window into the night feeling ever-so-slightly smug at the success of the historical presentation (on Richard III) I had delivered earlier in the evening.

There is something about living on a farm though that nips smugness in the bud very effectively.

At 9:12 last night, Andrew walked in the door after doing his nightly walk out to the barn to see that all was well, and in his arms he carried a lamb that had been injured.

By 9:15 last night, I had forgotten about the presentation and the glass of shiraz and was bedding down the lamb while Andrew gathered a syringe and painkiller. We spent the next half hour or so making the lamb comfortable while splinting what proved to be a broken foot.

This sort of thing is why all my clothes – even the good ones – are machine washable.

The dog was piqued. I had used her bed beside the fire for the lamb, and with a sniff of disgust she trotted into the living room with a look that clearly said “Fine, I’ll sleep on the couch then.”

But at the end of the night, as I finished my wine, and watched the lamb peacefully sleeping, it struck me that the public recognition I had got for my presentation was nothing compared to the private knowledge that we had made this tiny creature feel better. There was no guarantee – shock or infection might still kill him – but for the time being he was safe, and I was content.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Split Rail Fences

In a previous post I mentioned the photogenicity (word?) of split rail fences.

To prove my point I give you this post: Split rail fences in all their glory.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Minute by minute

Did you know that I can get live feeds to keep me informed to the minute as to what our Prime Minister is discussing with President Obama today. I can join CBC’s live blog and know exactly what words tripped out of Harper’s mouth as they trip. I can follow twitter and get second by second coverage of what anyone and everyone who is present thinks of every gesture, word, and nuance.

Does anyone else think this is weird?

Frankly, I’d rather wait for a few hours and then get a cohesive, well thought out, intelligent report from a trusted news agency.

Just because you can get your live comment heard around the globe doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Smartie figures it out!

Two years ago, the sheep reputed to be the smartest in our little flock, Smartie (not to be confused with Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glenkill - thanks Leonie Swan for an entertaining mystery novel) gave birth to two perfect lambs - Oliver and Rose. She ignored Oliver, and so we bought him into the house and fed him by hand. He was one of the family really, his little hooves trip trapping around the house, his favourite trick to leap into Andrew's arms. He only lived a few short weeks, but he sure was an endearing little guy.

Then last year Smartie had twin girls. Portia and Jessica. Who she completely ignored. We bought them into the house, fed them by hand and they thrived and are the healthiest yearlings in the barnyard now.

After that, Andrew threatened to turn Smartie into mutton if she didn't figure it out, (Erik in the middle of reading The Hobbit licked his lips saying, Mmm. Mutton - apparently this meal featured in his book and had quite an impact on him as he has never ever had mutton.)

So this year, when Smartie lambed - twins again - we were watching pretty carefully. But she couldn't be any more different. She looks for them, feeds them, bleats for them when they skip off, and is a model mother sheep. When I took this picture she had just finished stomping her hooves and was glaring at me with a steely glint in her eyes. Keep away from my lambs, she's saying.
Which makes us all very happy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The torrential rain last week made for sodden fields.

Which then froze solid.

Leaving a glassy surface.

Which we turned into an ice rink.

Skating across a pond - hey, anyone can do that if it's cold enough. But how many people can claim to skate across their fields?

The kids were playing hockey using golf clubs. Perhaps I should introduce them to the real thing. I'm thinking I'm not a true Canadian Mom if I don't let my kids play hockey!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yellow Roses

I should premise by saying this has nothing whatsoever to do with Valentine's Day, but every year sometime between end-January and mid-March, I get this uncontrollable longing to fill my home with yellow roses.

I like winter. There is great beauty in it. But there can also be some long dreary weeks when the desire to hit the slopes ebbs, and the skating and snowshoeing have lost their lustre. When it starts to feel like winter is closing in and there is as yet no hope of spring - that's when my dreams are of yellow roses. A spot of sunshine in the grey cheerless heart of winter.

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kitchen Renovation 2008 - Part 3

Thursday, Feb 7 2008
We are looking after Jake for a week. He and Lady don’t seem to mind the mess. I’m the one who minds the most. Last weekend was ok – Anna had some friends round for a tea party and we could manage. But it’s getting progressively worse. I don’t think I’d invite anyone over now. It is driving me crazy and I have to keep envisioning the final finished kitchen, complete with beautiful firestone sink to maintain my sanity.

One unexpected positive spin – since I can’t cook, and we have to resort to either take out, or prepared food, I’ve noticed that I have more free time. No longer do I rush home and have to start the cooking prep – I have time to drink tea and read with the kids while the frozen lasagna cooks. Hence, I suppose, the popularity of prepared foods. I’ve just never thought about it before. On the down side, the “gourmet” chicken pot pie we had was decidedly inferior to the one I make.

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008
The kitchen comes along. It is now almost completely de-structed, which means we’re just about ready to re-construct. Thank goodness for Andrew. The big difference between him and me is that I went to Toastmasters last night and grumbled to everyone there about my lack of kitchen. What does Andrew do? He shows up and gives a hilarious speech about the kitchen, complete with props (a beer, a saw-z-all) and “scientific” numbers (the Nielsen factor of 2.733, by which you multiply your worst case estimate of time & money to see what it’s really going to cost). I might have elicited a few sympathetic glances; Andrew had everyone in an uproar – even me, which surprised me as I thought we accidentally threw out my sense of humour along with the kitchen sink.

He’s right about the Nielsen factor. The guy who quoted on the floor originally said if we allowed $10/square foot that would be plenty, but his estimate came in at almost double that. So we’re going to do the tiling ourselves. How hard can it be??

We also had the fireplace guy in to tell us what a fitted insert would cost, and that is going on the list of things to do – although maybe not until later in the year. No rush now, after all (though it is still bitterly cold winter outside).

You can spend hours debating the simplest things. Like the position of pot lights. Andrew has been doing all the wiring before the ceiling goes in. We debated the pot lights for ages, before the eureka moment: That I have no idea where the best position for pot lights is, so we should stop discussing this mute point and just put the darn lights somewhere.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dirty Old Town

It's a dirty old town today with a whole lot of dirty old weather.

A Spring thaw is one thing. But a mid winter thaw - when you know the mercury will plummet again tomorrow - is quite another.

The difference is that a spring thaw brings with it the promise of snowdrops and new life pushing through the dark earth.

A mid winter thaw brings only grey sodden fields and muddy roads - and the certain knowledge that it will get worse again before it gets better.

Still - there are compensations.

The Enchanted Forest is opening up again. And split rail fences are photogenic no matter what the weather!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

I read this book last night.

I stayed up late to finish it. And wished I hadn’t. It looks innocent enough by light of day - but it was quite another thing at night!
The house was dark and quiet. Too quiet. The back door creaked as I opened it to let the dog out into a wind-whipped night, and standing there waiting for her, I felt a chill as if I were Mary Yellen standing on lonely Bodmin Moor waiting for smugglers to rattle by.

Reading atmospherically-charged novels late at night is dangerous business.

Monday, February 9, 2009


It doesn't matter that it happens every year, or that we've seen it a hundred times, or that we'll have a bunch more before Spring is here...

It doesn't matter that it's minus 20 degrees celsius outside, and the wind is howling through the bare apple orchard...
It doesn't matter how bad times are, or how much of a rush you are in, or how late at night or early in the morning it is...

The first lambs have been born, and they always brings a sense of wonder and joy into the world. It's something you never tire of, and always have time to enjoy.

No matter what.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Visit from Michelle

We had a great weekend having my sister and her family visit with their kids (2, and one on the way - take that Mr. Porritt!). Grace was away at her grandmothers - skating on the canal and camping out at the cottage - but Anna and Naomi played happily, and little Rhys (14 months now) ran madly around happy as always. I would have taken pictures, but the spare batteries I bought because I knew mine were almost spent ended up in Erik's light sabre. Who taught him to change batteries, anyway?

Michelle, as usual, looks great. Pregnancy is agreeing with her, and we spend some time discussing potential names.

(Sorry, Stephen, I really can't say Durfel is growing on me. I've tried, I really have.)

Stephen also likes Duncan, which I also really, really like, but as they already call Rhys "pieces" (as in Reece's Pieces), Andrew helpfully pointed out that they'd end up with Rhys's Pieces, Duncan Donuts and Naomi Bar. So not Duncan then.

So it was a great weekend with food and wine (being forced to drink Michelle's share was tough...), and the first of the new baby lambs, which is always such a great moment.

Naomi named him Jeremy. The lamb, that is.

Kids and the Environment

I just read an announcement from Jonathan Porritt, Chair of Britain's Sustainable Development Committee, who said,

“I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate.”

“I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible."

Oh dear.

Andrew and I consider ourselves pretty committed to the environment. You know, the whole raise our own food, and contribute to animal biodiversity thing that makes sense to us and makes everyone around us shake their heads. We conserve water, keep the thermostat low, recycle. Heck, despite a busy schedule, I even manage to line-dry our clothes in the summer months. And we’ve just spent a fortune making environmentally friendly energy upgrades to our old farmhouse (actually we’re still spending the fortune, - and may I say how thrilled we are we actually get to take advantage of the government’s $1300 renovation tax break!).

So yeah, we do our part. We could live quite comfortably off our own land if:
1. We didn’t have to work to pay boring things like a mortgage and the hydro bill; and
2. I knew how to spin wool and turn it into clothing (instead of actually being unable of sewing a hem – Andrew does all the mending in our house.)

But oops!

We have three children. Bright, intelligent, articulate, socially and environmentally conscious children, and that, according to Mister Chair of Britain's Sustainable Development Committee, is irresponsible.

To which I reply that I am equally unapologetic about asking Mr Porritt to go and take a flying leap off a short pier if he’s so serious about decreasing the world population.

As for me, if I could have more kids right now I would – we’re obviously going to need more bright, intelligent, articulate, socially and environmentally conscious people in the world if we’re to have any chance of combating this kind of regressive short sightnedness.