Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas Snows

Snow on the solar
December brings me around to a new year to look forward and a past year to contemplate. It was a full and active year for my art and for the family. The garden brought us an abundance of produce. The hay brought us a tractor once the hay hit the 5 foot mark and we desperately wished to see in the distance. My spouse adjusted to the tractor quickly and is enjoying the machine. I am enjoying the vast horizon now.

With the snow upon us this month, the tractor has been equipped with blades to plow the long driveway. There hasn’t been enough snow for that job yet, but he has run the tractor down filling in some low spots with gravel and testing the width of the drive with his wheels. I made his trips out on the tractor more enjoyable with my gift of a garage door opener. Apparently once a farmer gets on the tractor, he wouldn’t want to get down too often especially in the cold snow. No worry though, we are back to doing our exercises on the gym equipment.

Our Tree
My daughter and my grandson enjoyed a child’s and an adult’s wish with a trip to Disney world. We enjoyed a week of quiet and  work without time issues. We also had our trip earlier in summer with our grandson and friends with their grandson. The trip was very successful in that plans are underway for a repeat excursion. 
Now that the Christmas tree is up and the festivities begun with seasonal events, we prepare to hunker down for the winter storms. We won’t avoid going out and enjoying the season and the white stuff. There is also work inside that will keep my spouse busy as he completes the basement walls, builds a requested trophy case for the grandson, and plenty of shelves for me.

Christmas Bulbs
But before the winter work begins, there are friends to visit this week and a few concerts to attend and feel the essence of the season. One of these concerts is my grandson’s class event. A children’s concert with all the old traditional carols and skits brings back the childlike glow of Christmas time. The other concert will be an adult choral group that I know will fill us with 

glee and awe. Our wishes go out to everyone for a safe, warm, and happy Christmas and winter season.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

November Greys

With the colours of September and October finished, the grey period before the snows come is presently here. Fortunately I did get out for a plein air painting when a friend requested an old bird house picture to be painted. I just caught the last of any colours remaining. Now the cold has arrived and a few flakes have fallen to give us warning of what will come soon.

The Birdhouse-Vacancy
George's new tractor will be recruited for another job this winter. Blades and tire chains were purchased in preparation for my spouse to take on the long 1400 foot driveway. He enjoys running the tractor however this one is minus a cab so let's hope the thrill remains throughout the season of snow. We prepared for hunting season also with "No Hunting" signs on our many acres. I roam the area and with a youngster living here too , that is worry I can live without during this time of year. We enjoy the visits from our deer and are fond of watching them come and go. We did come across a few hunters stopped below admiring their trophy . And leaving here  the other day, a big stag came out in front of us on the road and then vanished into the brush on the ditch edge. They sure disappear quickly.

Last of Pumpkins
The garden is sitting vacant and a few deer have found some remnants left there from the summer harvest. Again we had too many pumpkins. I remarked that we should put a small stand at end of the drive next year. The rest of the garden was a success although my daughter did have to fight a scourge of cucumber bugs that required her to replant twice. Our hawks are still with us. And we were surprised to learn they are becoming rare sights in the area. Some of the strawberry farmers complained that the disappearing hawks, bats and a virus has been devastating the strawberry crops. They did look a little thin this year. The corn down the road also had patches in the fields. You learn a lot about your environment working a garden and listening to the local farmers. I'm glad we have our hawks working our fields but haven't seen any bats. The insects did seem to be more plentiful this summer.

We had a late start to pouring bronze for my sculpture this year. We managed three burns with the weather. Part of that delay was running into rain days. I shell my ceramic coats outdoors because of the mixing mess. Those days I couldn't shell or cast metal. Rain and molten metal do not mix. However we did get the furnaces started up and now know what needs to be tweaked for next spring. And I have the winter to prepare my sculpture pieces indoors. Hopefully we can catch a full season for my bronze art next year. I am in my studio often now. This is the season that I ramp up production for the summer. I have many projects to complete and a few new ones to get underway. Meanwhile I prepare for my favourite time of the year. The Christmas season alway fills me with joy. My cards are being prepared now for mailing soon. Yes, I'm one of those rare ones that still mails out Christmas cards and I enjoy receiving them even more.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Autumn Harvest
On to the field

As we watched the hay on our land consume the view, we waited for the farmer to arrive and bush  hog the area. I missed walking on the land and coming up the drive was a walled entry along both sides. The hay was taller than I was and I couldn't see the animals, if indeed they were even there in the hay. Finally my spouse decided it was time to go after his dream of a tractor and in one day we purchased a suitable sized one  with the help of the salesman man and the research we had on hand.

Proud man
What an exciting day when the tractor arrived. A few days were spent getting use to the red machine and George was finally out on his first excursion on the land. Eventually another neighbour farmer had dropped in to see if he could salvage some of the hay. As we left for a weeks vacation, the farmer had entered the land and started the bush hogging himself. When we arrived home, most of the job was done.The hay itself had not been good enough to cut so that he continued the cutting. George finished the rest of the area and the view was expansive across the fields. We went for a walk across the area and back into the woods. The path itself took time to find. It is amazing how quickly nature reclaims the area if not used by man. Meanwhile we explored one area we had stopped the farmer from cutting. An hour passed as we tried to exit a tractor path maze that he had cut into the area. It's a great place to send some visitors for a maze experience. We will trim that area next spring so we don't lose those visitors.

A bit of polish
With the hay down, the deer returned. While cutting, the red tailed hawk became quite bold and close to the tractor. We have had a few hawks visit since the cutting.They are like sea gulls following a fishing boat and know what the tractor will turn up for them. The garden also exploded in food and we have had to use the tomatoes in a sauce and eat more than our fill of green beans. Bags of vegetables have gone out of the house for others to share. Now the squash and pumpkin are coming into the house. Another successful year in the garden despite an early fight with cucumber bugs.

Now that the air has changed and the trees are showing a small bit of colour, we turn our attention to preparing for the new season. The tractor will do a last lawn cut but the fields are still low and don't appear to need a trim before the winter. George will purchase a blade for the tractor and attempt to keep the long drive clear for the winter snows. Our neighbour that has been clearing us in the past assures us he will be available  if George cannot handle a large downfall. It is a skill and George has proven to be able to handle this new machine. Of course it has wheels so that puts it in George's realm of enjoyment and attainment. It is also good to see neighbour support for his new enterprise in controlling the land.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Spring Explosion

A lovely start to the weather promised a great summer ahead. The forecast changed as rain came in for enough days, that people were commenting on whatever had happened to summer. It was a great beginning for plants though as the rain helped everything green flourish. Unfortunately living in 49 acres of hay, the result is being swallowed up by the height of the hay along our drive and surrounding acreage. We did do a cut around the house giving us some space and a path to the garden. The garden was enlarged this year set on the success on the last year’s crop. Alas it has been taken down by a cucumber bug and with help of a few chemicals, reluctantly applied, we shall have to restart the garden. It is some relief knowing we are not alone and others in the area have the same pests attacking their gardens. 

I did plant some more flowers and my daughter planted many bulbs. So here is hoping that they will add colour in all the green. The next item on the grooming of our home will be the bush hogging. We are trying to hold off as it is an expensive operation and required twice a year. It really is starting to become claustrophobic with the hay and time to bring in the farmer for space to breathe and roam again. Others insects seem to be flourishing as well. Carpenter ants are over embellished in numbers this season. We watch to be sure we don't bring them indoors. It would seem this season the live stock is that of insects instead of our former creatures. Once the hay is cut, I hope to see more of the deer and other animals. We know now we do have a skunk and a porcupine having seen them earlier in season but not lately. We suspect we did have an unseen visit by a bear. 

We did take a walk to the far side of the acreage before the hay grew and found our lot pins. There is a gorgeous path in the woods aligning our lot to two neighbours. the path leads deep into the woods and makes for a wonderful exploratory stroll. We plan to visit again. I did take some photos of the wood walk.

For myself, I am getting established in the area with new friends and contacts in the arts. It has made for a very busy season. My spouse has been on a lay back vacation with small jobs and distractions. He is now warming up to attack the basement conversion with the drywall and flooring. He is also becoming engaged in getting the bronze casting equipment tuned up for a new summer season. We wait anxiously for news of the sale of our house in our last home town. This will definitely cement the move here.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Long Winter Slips into Spring

A New Season Reluctantly Arrives

My wrist free from a seven week cast, I am strengthening the arm to pick up my work where it was last left due to injury. With the stronger sun I can sense the warm days just barely from reach as a few icy blasts hang on to the old season. The fields are yellow with just a few patches of snow and the water gurgles along the ditches and streams. 

Crazy Deer
The deer were playing in the fields recently, springing high and running in circles and I guessed that was their way of kicking up their heals in celebration of the new season arriving. Birds are more active in number and a new hawk with a brighter orange tail has set up his territory here. 

My daughter has begun the garden seeds in trays around the rooms in the house and we are talking about bringing the deck furniture out and purchasing a few options for them. Tires will be exchanged in the next few weeks signaling the official end to winter. I am already sporting some new sneakers. My spouse is discussing getting my bronze casting equipment out to repair the furnaces and get then ready for a new season of bronze pours. I am back on the Nova Scotia Rally Map so expect some visitors and the bronze is always a highlight. My studio sign will be ready to place for the first time next to the drive coming up to the house.

Having met some of my local peers in this last month, I am in my first exhibition and had an article in the newspaper. I also was focused in a live auction event in the nearby university. So I am feeling at home in our newly adopted area, and expect to see my new colleagues more often during the summer. I am waiting on visits from my old friends also. We will both be going into our second summer season here with a more relaxed and familiar attitude enjoying the best of what we were introduced to last year.

There is still plenty of work to do in our new home. The basement was stalled so a fresh attack on getting the walls and floors together there will be an activity for my spouse. We will have to call on our plow man again to refurbish the driveway. It stood up well for the winter but two flood and ice days did wash out some areas and a new surface in a few spots will be required.  We will be waiting for the height of the hay to determine a call on the bush hog again. This year we may cut a little more into the second field so we can walk further to that tree line. Meanwhile, my camera will be nearby as our old residents return to our 49 acres.
New Hawk

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Real Winter and A Rare Visitor

February brought with it one of those old fashioned winters with blizzards, snow, and worse of all, the ice. A few weeks ago, as I was waiting for my grandson to get off the school bus, I noticed the wide thick extensive ice flows in our ditches. My grandson also noticed the inviting ice and decided to slide down the ditches once he got half way up our 1400 foot driveway. With giggles of delight he slid up and down the flows and although the thought occurred to me, that he should have safety gear on, I was caught up with his impromptu outdoor fun. All was fine until he asked me to push him harder on the ice as it wasn’t as fast as appeared on the surface. 

So I stepped on to the surface with care and for a few slides all seemed safe. Then without warning, and so suddenly, I was engrossed in pain and down on the ice surface. I knew it was serious and after 5 hours sitting in emergency with ice packs wrapped around my wrists, it was confirmed my wrists was broken. Of course, the break is with my dominant hand which I put out to break the fall. Fortunately, if one is looking on the bright side, it was a clean break and didn’t require surgery. With two weeks of pain and a reset and another week of pain, I am doing better and only have a few weeks left to wear this cast. There will follow a bit of physio I expect while I wait for strength to return. The only pain left is with my spouse who has had to take on my share of the work load.

I have continued trying to get on with whatever art projects that I can handle with my left hand but it certainly put a crimp in my plans. Now that the weather has settled down, I am drawn wishfully to the woods to take another photo of the old car swallowed up in snow coverage. I look enviously at the West River with a partial blanket of snow, ice and melted middle, wishing for a plein aire painting experience. One day, while looking out at the fields I saw a dark shape slinking across the field, stopping and crouching, and slowly moving forward. I knew it was too big for a cat, and hurried for my camera excited at the prospects. With the zoom, I could see a lynx or bobcat in the finder. Awkwardly holding my heavy Nikon, I clicked for the few minutes left before he melted back into the woods. It’s not the best of pictures as it was at the full length of my field, but it did encourage online discussion of the breed. I believe I have a shot of the elusive lynx. It appeared to be too large for a bobcat. I would have loved to gone out to that far area to see the tracks, but the broken arm was already telling me that I had extended its use for the day.

So while I await freedom from my injury, and from the indoor living I am restricted to, I plan my events for April and the onset of a glorious spring. It will be glorious to me despite the weather it will bring, as I shall be out and about with camera, paints, and walking the woods and fields. New and exciting initiatives also await me with April month and full use of my right arm again.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A New Year and New Season

Snows and Cold

Only after Christmas was celebrated and over, did it feel like we have entered a new time with our move into the house. The activity and bustle of Christmas, as enjoyable a break it is, upsets any routine and project work for about a month. Added to that, the season decided to remain warm and white-less. January brought in a freeze where we were finally convinced the winter had arrived and behind that the snows spread their carpet. With the tree unclothed from the ornaments and everything put away, my spouse and I braved the harsh cold and dragged the tree into the tree line to end its life where it began. 

Black Headed Chickadees
The birds have made a steady flight path to the feeder and tracks are always present from the pheasants to and from the feeder and into the woods. I’m especially intrigued with the circling motion made with the tracks around the feeder as if circling the pole is requisite for dining. The hawk arrived a few more times and lately an eagle has made the bare trees its station overlooking the fields. Snowmobile tracks carve a line down the far field to the drive and off along the road. Our neighbours were given permission because this has been a long time route for them and they are discrete and do not bother us by nearing the house or covering the whole of the fields. Our neighbour has also begun plowing our drive and we noticed he went of the track at one point. His speed with the truck is ominous as he comes up and down and disappears. We do have some driveway markers up but the pure while of the whole wide field can leave you astray from the edges of the drive after a snow fall. My spouse found collateral damage after the plow left in the form of a mouse in the drive. We have noticed mouse holes in the snow out in the field. Hiding in the snow may work against large flying prey but not a speedy plow.

Light  on Snow
I encourage the more mice taken by the birds because it is obvious a farmers hay field will have these rodents in numbers. My daughter discovered this after writing off her vehicle on a mountain road recently. The suspension let go suddenly in her vehicle but her cool head kept control and no one was hurt. The wrecking yard employees were intrigued with the nest in her wheel well and the bird seed shells left in large numbers. The car had become a home but I guess the mouse had left before the crash or definitely was left behind on the mountain. We check our cars now and are cautious leaving doors open in the house and garage. One morning as my husband was filling the feeder, a mouse jumped out from inside where he had nested despite a squirrel and the birds eating at the feeder. Maybe our victim of the plow was this former resident. We are giving a little more time to the birds to help them out but if we seem to be making our rodent population fat, the feeders will have to come down. The feeders were removed after a second vehicle was discovered to have a nest in the heater box. They will have to take care of their own needs as before, but I do miss watching the birds and photographing their visits.

Bright Day

When the freeze hit after Christmas our excursions into the woods and outdoors were limited. Promises of warmer temperatures and this new blanket of snow will have us out again in the woods for pictures of white carpeting in the trees. And I hope to paint the West River now that I see it freezes as well and the colours of streaking grays through the surface interest me. My grandson’s new sled should also be hitting the long slope from the house to the creek very soon now. I would expect that to be quite a thrill for him and await the day. Meanwhile the white fields and the tracks left each day are of a constant interest to me. I’m glad it also seems our herd of deer made it safely through the hunting season. With the seasonal festivities over with and as we settle into the winter regiment, we are relaxing and finally enjoying our daily activities and awaking to each new day with intrigue.