Posts Tagged ‘Royal Roads’

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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  Tuesday was quite the windy and rainy day.  The day started out ok, without any warning of what was to come.  I was actually thinking about going outside to tackle the remaining compost containers. 

But, things to do, places to go.  Bustled around, got ready to take little Youbou to the vet’s for his acupuncture treatment.  Yesterday’s session was short and sweet.  He only needed a few needle placements.  His right leg, which was once just lifeless, he dragged it around .. had progressed to the point where he was kicking like a bucking horse, it was so strong .. he did this when the vet attempted to place a needle at a specific point in his foot.  These needles are so very fine, he doesn’t feel them at all.

So now our next appointment isn’t for 6 weeks.  When he does have a relapse .. due to his feeling so good that he tends to run around quite a bit and he is limping a bit .. then I just massage his little back and leg and he’s much better.

We set off in the early morning .. sun was shining on our return home.

I was deciding where to start with the outside work.  But, during my second cup of Yorkshire Tea .. the rains commenced. 

The skies were grey .. the pounding rains kept up all day.  I heard that there was snow and hail .. but couldn’t see any here, by Swan Lake.

I actually like rainy days and love the feeling of being  in our nice warm home.  Pots of tea.  Kitty kats curled up, sleeping in their beds.

So, I started the arduous task of deciphering my hastily scribbled notes from the recent, intensive … Master Gardening Course (Gaia College, through Royal Roads).  What a life changer those classes were.

As I busily typed away, I was once again back there in the classroom, totally focused on the wealth of information that was being given to us.  I remembered the dark and rainy evenings, driving out to Langford.  I’m not a good night driver and the roads were very dark, it was a challenge to drive slowly on those nights.  But I wasn’t going to let a pouring rain stop me from attending those classes.

Names kept popping up, as references given throughout the course.  Names like  Forester & Environmentalist Ralph Zingaor –  who used a potassium-phosphite fertilizer (which has been around for decades)  to stall or reverse the symptoms of Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum ) on trees in California.  And he was not allowed to use this fertilizer and had to have it labelled as a pesticide in order to use it!!  Does that make sense?  no.

Here’s another one: Phil Callahan – who was the first person ever to connect the insect’s antennae frequency to plant infrared spectrum… amongst many other important discoveries:   http://www.whale.to/b/callahan.htmlSo

So very much information to discover, it’s quite breathtaking.

I didn’t take pictures yesterday, there just wasn’t the opportunity, so I decided to post some pics taken a year ago.  When I wandered around Beacon Hill Park .. and some eagle pics from Swan Lake.

Went shopping .. picked up some ready-made spinach/ricotta cheese lasagna roll-ups .. quite tasty and I plan to make a large batch of these.   They look to be quite easy .. so I can then freeze them in meal size portions.

I got over my disappointment of not “meeting and greeting” the actor who plays “Ken” on Coronation Street.  That’s life and this is a new day.   But, having sat in the front row during the whole show and listening to his amusing anecdotes, DH & I enjoyed a few chuckles while watching yesterday’s show.

We viewed the little guy who plays “Simon” in a new light .. he truly is a little chatterbox and quite a smart little person in real life.  “Ken” noted that he is a brilliant little actor and we totally agree with that.  His facial mannerisms are spot on and he always has that mischievous glint in his eye.  A sweetie, for sure.

Well… the weather today looks promising, but I can see those little grey clouds here and there!

Time to get on with this most lovely new day, I say, I say, I say!  – to quote “Fred Elliott” .. a former character on CS.  He’d often repeat his words and that was fun.



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Thursday, March 15, 2012

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  The winds returned yesterday .. .I spent a bit of time moving the bird feeding stations onto branches that were a little more sheltered so that the little winged darlings could feed!  

The hummingbird feeder in the backyard had been buffeted so much that all the nectar was gone .. so I put some in and hung it on a tree branch.  Then changed the location again, as I saw the little Anna zipping about .. looking for it. So I placed it a bit lower in the little archway.

Glad to see my garlic growing away.   I’m just waiting for a nice day to spend outside and I can start chopping up some kelp around the new green growth.  Still have a fair amount of garlic from last year.  Enough for us and some to share with friends.  I wonder if I’ll actually take the time to properly braid some strands this year? 

I’d started out doing that last year, with the best of intentions.   My desire to do so had diminished, as I dug up more and more small garlic bulbs.  I’d bought 4 lovely garlic types from Richters, so the problem wasn’t the quality of the bulbs.  Discovered that garlic likes sun … I’d planted them in relative shade.  Even though the soil was lovely, rich in mulch, it still needed that sun!  So this year, they are in the sun. 

And everywhere else also, it seems.  I can see garlic greens popping up everywhere in the side garden .. and I was so positive that I’d dug them all up!    More of the magic of gardening.

I’m so glad that I’ve continued on with this blog.  I’d started it after I retired, someone suggested it would be a good way to keep in touch former coworkers who also loved gardening.

I have discovered other gardening type blogs over the past year and it is so fun to find out how others are gardening, from all over the place.  Very interesting people.

There is Bridget, in Ireland, they live in the country and have the most lovely goats: http://arignagardener.wordpress.com/author/arignagardener/

and Claire – a creative chef  and intrepid gardener .. her fascinating blog:  http://promenadeplantings.com/

and Paul, who is a creative gardener and is sharing the gardening adventure with his children at:  http://seedtosalad.wordpress.com/

and Malou, who gardens in Holland: http://malouprestado.wordpress.com/author/malouprestado/

and Susanne, who currently is living in Australia: http://theemeraldgarden.wordpress.com/author/yomtoto/

It is such a joy to read their blogs and find out what is happening in the gardens where they live.  I take a little time travel each time I visit their blogs.

I feel as if we have become such good gardening buddies and I find so many interesting ways to do things and wonderful new foods!   Claire has lovely recipes for pumpkin biscotti (beautiful pumpkins from France, I haven’t seen any here). 

And they all have links to other blogs too!

Well, time is running out .. tonight is our last Organic Master Gardening Course (Gaia College) at Royal Roads and I will have to leave shortly.  Wah .. it’s been a huge adventure, this course.  A complete departure from the normal ways of gardening.  So I’ve begun this adventure and am very happy.

The most amazing instructors and a great group of learners we are.

So I’ll say nighty night till tomorrow.  When I will come back and talk about more gardening and the exciting things that happened today!  Yes, I met more gardening people… what a wonderful day this has been  … and I’ll share more pictures!

It’s been a lovely day.


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Monday, March 5, 2012

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My, how this month is moving right along .. .seems like we were just dealing with a mid-January snow.  And then I started my organic master gardening course and now there are only a few sessions left .. sob!

It’s been a terrific experience to be learning again, especially about my most favourite subject, gardening!  And to do so in the presence of other like-minded people.

We had our outdoor pruning session on the weekend and were very fortunate to have been able to walk around the teaching grounds of Royal Roads.  We learned the proper method of sharpening pruners and shears.  How to maintain them, what to look out for when choosing quality tools.  Safety was emphasized.  Quite an intensive learning period at the beginning or our outdoor session.

Next we followed our instructor, a Certified Arborist, as he led us to a variety of trees, bushes and plants.   Explaining and discussing proper pruning methods.  Espalier.  Fruits.  How to determine how and why to prune branches, especially fruit trees.  And roses.  Climbing and bush. 

We saw pollarded willows .. here’s a link with some information on pollarded willows:  http://www.bluestem.ca/willows-pruning.htm

There was a hollow tree, part of it’s trunk filled with concrete, a dangerous practise from the past, when the trunk heals over, it’s not evident that the cement is there and is a dangerous situation when the trees are later  cut down .. here’s a site on that:http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/text/hollow_trees.html

White Mulberry tree .. used extensively in China, by the silkwork industry .. and here is a link to the tree, and this shows that this tree is causing problems in Southern Ontario, where it is blending with the native Red Mulberry trees: http://www.treecanada.ca/tree-killers/white-mulberry.htm  see the section: “impact on trees”.

So I took copious notes and was able to translate 99% of them.  So very much information given to us during this session.  And of course, I had to take photos .. who knows when I’ll have the opportunity to walk those grounds again!

Here’s a happy little thing that happened to me last week!  A reminder of the serendipity of everyday life and a reminder that strangers can be kind.

I was shopping at a local supermarket and had cut my hand on a cardboard box.  No bandaids on me so I wrapped a tissue around my hand.  When I reached the cashier, I asked if she would happen to have a band-aid.  No .. sorry … she replied .. when, quick as a flash, the young man standing next to me in line swiftly brought out a bandaid that he had stored in his wallet!

Well, I was taken aback by the sheer surprise of that happening!  I thanked him very much and decided that immediately after I took my groceries to the car, the next thing I’d do would be to buy a box of bandaids, which I did!  And put some right away in my wallet.

And on the weekend, while chatting with friends, someone cut their hand .. and guess what!  I swiftly brought out my wallet and handed him a bandaid!  And, yes, he is going to get some bandaids for his wallet! 

This is how kindness spreads.  Starts small.  And continues.

Well .. it was a great weekend.  Not much gardening done.  But that’s ok.   once the rains clear up I can go outside and dig and plant and all kinds of fun gardening type activities.

First of all, I am going to empty my 3 composter bins and then I will start the process of properly layering them in, as I have learned from our mulching class.  Using hay, or goat manure/hay mix, kelp, seaweed, vegetable waste, cardboard, glacial rock dust, on and on.  So the lovely microbes can grow and prosper and properly break down the compost.

Then … well, there are a myriad other projects for outside .. part of the joy of gardening.


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

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Where does the time go .. eh?

The days are just flying by … and part of the reason, I know, is that I’m spending many hours in studying new information.

I blush to think of how I used to think that I was so knowledgeable about gardening.  After all, I used to take vacations just to work away in the garden.  I have a passion for gardening, preparing the soil for plantings, working hard to amass materials to assist in the growth of plants.

But my world changed completely on the night of my Introduction to the Organic Master Gardening Class at Royal Roads .. that was a dark and stormy night (the kind that Snoopy used to write about) … I am not a good night driver, yet, I did not let the pouring rain and dark roads stop me from travelling to the OMG introduction session.   Because of the bad weather conditions, there were only a few people there .. and that is understandable.

Our Course Facilitator talked to us about the course and what to expect .. yet .. little did I know then .. that gardening as I knew it .. would take a radical change to enter a world of awareness.

We wouldn’t be focusing on the latin names of plants, that information we could find from books.  Instead, we would be learning about the worlds beneath our feet.   The harmonious co-operation between organisms and plants.   Well . . I sure looked forward to that.

Since that night .. I’ve been part of the class … we’ve been encouraged to question everything and so we do.  We aren’t expected to sit quietly in our seats, calmly taking in the information from the instructors.  So we have lively classes .. everything is questioned .. nothing is taken for granted.  My goodness, this is satisfying .. this quest for knowledge.    Quite a change from my childhood Catholic school years … shut up, and listen.  No questions allowed.  brrrrrrrrr

And so I find myself drawn to the textbook and the online resources .. and wonder, will I ever fully understand the workings of this earth?   Well, I think that I will learn as much as possible .. there is so very much to learn.


So I’ve been rewarding myself with little walks daily .. I really want to spend the whole livelong day sitting at the computer, researching terminology, making copious notes on my lined index cards .. my portable note system (thanks, Kristin, my flying teacher, for that!)  I simply can’t imagine not using this system for notes!

And because I know that physical activity is a must, I’ve made an effort to just get out there and go for a walk for at least an hour a day.

More treats for me include working in the yard .. .yes .. yes .. yes!!

Incentive for this is that the first week of March .. the pruning lesson will be held in our yard!  So .. time to move the mulch .. move the propagating flats .. so that there will be room for everyone to move around the yard.

So, I’ve not been posting everyday … and I really like to post .. but sometimes, between the “learning” and the walks & working outside & preparing supper .. the time just disappears.

One thing I’ve been doing .. is taking pictures .. and sometimes, when I’ve moving things around in the yard, I have a feeling that I “should” take my camera .. in order to record some fantastic gardening event.

Yesterday was such a feeling.  I was approaching the back garden gate and suddenly I noticed a big fat honeybee .. it was sparkly new and firmly attached to the fence panel.  At times it would move one of its legs or antennae .. and I wondered, was this a newly hatched queen??? I know nothing about bees (oh, maybe sometime I’ll do some research) and thought that the queens must first appear, right?   And then the workers?   Then I noticed another honey bee . .. this one was slimmer and on another fence panel.  So I spent some time just watching them, taking photos .. full of appreciation for this delicious moment in time, observing the amazing magic that is nature.

At the end of the day, I looked for the bees and couldn’t see them .. but this morning, there was the big fat one (that doesn’t sound quite right, but I was comparing the two types of bees) and voila .. there it was … and it had disappeared in the early afternoon ..so I wondered what happened.

So …. Wednesday was another lovely day  .. .full to the brim with new knowledge and the joy of nature.


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Monday, February 20, 2012

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  Saturday was a busy one.  Normal running around.   But, today was Seedy Saturday, so I wanted to spend some time there later on.

Over to the Tillicum Mall … saw a funky little food truck, plants growing out of the sides (at least I think they were real).  I was just about to walk on by when I remember that I was carrying my little camera .. and so, I stopped and took a few photos.  Never miss the opportunity.  I’ve not seen this truck before and might not again!

Wander around the mall .. I like the friendly atmosphere of this place.   No big box stores here .. those places seem to dehumanize people.  Ceilings up to the sky.  Endless rows of products.  Easy to feel anonymous in the crowds.

Not so at Tillicum.  There is a nice relaxed feeling there.   Quite a variety of small stores .. where customers can chat with the store clerks.  Enjoy conversations and jokes.  Little cafes, coffee shops.  There always seem to be sales there.

And there is a sort of neighbourhood ambience there also.  Quite often there are presentations, entertainment.

Last year I happened to visit and there was an antiquities show there, large tables set up …with such a variety of things for sale.  The sellers went around during the year collecting things and then sold them.  Prices were quite reasonable.  Although I was tempted .. I resisted the impulse to purchase a set of tiny silver plated teaspoons.  They would have made a dainty wind chime, but I have too many projects not finished.

Later on in the day, decided it was time to head on down to the Seedy Saturday.   There had been speakers throughout the day, but I really just wanted to buy some different seeds.

Arrived at the Empress parkade .. full .. hmmm .. decided to just drive around to see if I could find a free parking space.  If not, I’d just go home. Well, a block or so away, there was an empty spot ..so I carefully parked my little car and walked to the Convention Centre, paid my admission and went inside.

The place was buzzing .. I can only imagine how busy the whole day was, from morning till now.   I was surrounded by excited conversations taking place between vendors and customers.  Tried to visit as many tables as possible.  Enjoyed some great gardening conversations.  Bought a variety of items.

Surprise, surprise, bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a few years, quite a nice surprise.  She is also enrolled in a wonderful gardening program!   Saw the most amazing pumpkin on their table.  It was so beautiful and didn’t look real, so I just kept taking pictures!  Talked with the lady who grows these and other vegetables … .I’ll be looking for the upcoming Fernwood plant sales .. she’ll be there!  I want to grow one of these pumpkins.  She laughed and said that at home, they kept moving the pumpking around from room to room.  How fun!

I was reminded that the Camosun Plant Sale will be taking place at Royal Roads in the Spring .. omg .. I haven’t been to one of those for so many years.   gulp, watch out, wallet, here we go!

I’m digging out packets of seeds from my purse and my carry bag .. let’s see, what did I buy on Saturday:

Rheinische Zucker Erbse Pea seeds from Salt Spring Seeds, http://www.saltspringseeds.com/  & I subscribe to his newsletter.

Italian large leaf Basil, from Omega blue Farms, Qualicum Beach, OmegaBlueFarms@gmail.com

Red chieftain potato seedlings,  (no farm name)

Red Orach, Sunbird Seeds, Victoria, B.C. – these will be striking, tall red plants ( and I see that they self seed .. so next year I’ll be giving these away.

Spaghetti Squash, Tiger Tom Tomato (golden striping on red/orange skin) excellent for lattice-work trellising & Kentucky Wonder Bean … from Brother Nature, http://www.brothernature.ca

And .. from Twining Vine Garden:  http://www.plantexplorers.com/twiningvine/index.php

They have quite a variety of unusual seeds and I purchased the following:

Spicebush, Chinese,deciduous flowering shrub, unique cup & saucer flowers

Miracle Tree, 7 seeds in the bag, quite large, ready to plant.  These are grown in poorer countries for nutrition. All tender parts of the tree are edible. Drought resistant, ideal for dry poor soils.  Not frost tolerant.   I’ll start half of the seeds and save the rest for later.

Winter Squash,French heirloom, smooth silky nutty sweet orange flesh .. more wards = more sugar.

Saskatoon Berry (noted that many sprout at the base of dogwoods & Rhodos) and American Ginseng (the ginseng has been stratified already)

Spicy Onion Tree – how could I resist!

Mock Orange, Chinese, drout tolerant, “bambi” proof ..

It was a great afternoon!  And a great day!


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Wednesday, January 25, 2011

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Well … I have the first class of the organic master garden course under my belt .. but not totally in my mind yet.  Last night I learned that I was not as knowledgeable about gardening as I’d previously thought.

I’d travelled with the rest of the moving parking lot that is the Colwood Crawl at 5:30 (I wanted to be early to class) .. an accident had just happened at the 6 Mile Pub and I was fortunate enough to have missed that one.

Funny how last night, the first night of the class (because snow had cancelled the classes for last week) .. was dark and rainy .. exactly the same weather that I drove through for the Information session on the course, a mere 2 weeks ago.  Not being a great night driver, especially on such a dark and rainy night .. I wasn’t going to let the weather deter me from the class.  Except for the snow, but thank goodness that Royal Roads had cancelled them.

I had brought with me 3 treasures of garden books … A-Z latin names and a few others .. along with my binder and my water bottle.   Imagine my surprise when I parked my car, grabbed my bag from the passenger seat and saw that the seat was soaked!  What the hey ….. had a window been open?  I quickly reached into my bag and, oh boy, the stopper (which I swore was tightly closed) had become loose and there was water everywhere.

Luckily, there wasn’t much damage done and I paper blotted the moisture and finally took the books to a hand dryer and let the warm air evaporate the balance of the pages.  Now I have delicately rippled pages and I’ll try to iron them flat.


For the next 3 hours and 20 minutes …. the doors to new worlds opened to me and I gladly ventured forth.  We learned about the secret inner workings of plants, what makes them tick, how they work and all sorts of intimate details.

Over the years, I’d read about the damages that pesticides cause .. to the soil, the environment, animals, birds, insects, people.  But nothing prepared me for the in depth explanations that were spelled out last night.   And again, I was aware that there are big companies making big money out of chemicals, ensuring that “problems” were eradicated so that maximum growth would ensure huge fail-safe crops.

In the past I’d read articles of how chemicals killed the soil and how some farmers were taking care to bring back a natural balance to the soil, introducing a variety of insects, encouraging weeds to grow.

But, I’d never been aware before last night how far reaching the money and power people can cause laws to change, in a snap of the fingers, to allow GM products.   There was a sombre mood in the class as we each felt the significance of  pesticides on farmland and gardens.

Among the positive things, our instructor talked about permaculture  and here’s a site that explains it:  http://permacultureprinciples.com/ and there are many more.

In this course we will be learning so very much information and I am so fired up with all that I learned last night.  A terrific benefit of this course is that, as a student, we are able to logon to Gaia College, access their library and also connect to gardening forums.  I’ve visited one this morning and I’m in heaven.

Anyway, I have so very much work to do, to view again the videos and slideshows that were presented last night, make copious notes, read, read, read.    To go over and over the information that was given.  Read a chapter of our course book.  Read, read and read some more.

The College uses Firefox as the web browser for the online information.  I’ve downloaded it …. totally agree with what this program is all about!  My life is speeding ahead in a new stage of growth and I’m so very very energized!

Anyway, time to start studying and making notes.

I am enjoying this learning curve tremendously!


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Wednesday, December 17, 2011

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  So much for bragging about living in the best little place in Canada .. Victoria, B.C.!  And posting sweet little pics of frost-tinged plants … oh how sweet!

Winter blasted us starting yesterday and continued full force today.  Yesterday would have been night #1 for my Organic Master Gardening Course at Royal Roads.  And also, Youbou’s interim acupuncture treatment was booked in the early afternoon.

Snow came pouring down yesterday .. stopped for a while .. sun shone brilliantly ..and then was tucked away .. replaced with driving snow.

So I had to cancel the acupuncture … and .. the Gardening Class was cancelled .. due to the weather.  What are the odds that, after waiting for years to finally enroll for a stellar gardening course .. on the first night of the series, snow caused the class to not happen.  Murphy.

And tomorrow’s class is cancelled also due to the snow.  Argh to the 100th power, I say.

I kept busy though, laundry and housework wait for no (wo)man it seems.  Yesterday I was met with 3 shocked feline faces as I swept through the house, dusting, vacuuming, and – yes, ladies and gentlemen .. the washing of the floors.

Three sets of eyes followed my initial activity as I became one with the zen of my cleaning energy.  Even dear little Youbou stared at me unabashedly while I moved through the rooms.  I guess they were trying to figure out what brought this on.  It’s usually DH who ministers to the cleanliness of the house. 

For the floor – buckets of hot sudsy water enriched with that most useful of cleaning products “Pink” .. which is no longer even pink, that’s how environmentally proper it has become.

Hours passed un-noticed as I focused on scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, washing …. I was really in that flow of housework.  I try not to connect with that part of my being too often.   Saving that energy for the garden .. much more satisfying.

Anyway .. on with the snow story.   This morning I shovelled my way into the back yard.   A vast expanse of snow transformed every surface and I slipped off of the sidewalk area several times.  In my quest to fill the bird feeders …did that several times during the day.

Spent long periods of time outside, watching the many birds flutter back and forth .. at times a few of them nearly collided with me, so intent were they in the quest of food.   After awhile, they just ignored my presence as they hopped around the surface of the snow, doing their little scratching dance movements .. seeing the sunflower seeds.

The hummingbird feeders kept freezing and I kept taking them inside the house to defrost.  I plan to pick up a few more and then, if a freeze happens again, I’ll just move them inside/outside.

Interesting developments with the front feeder.  Aft first, I’d defrosted it and hung it in the usual place .. on a branch in the cedar tree at the side of the house.  A few hours later, I checked on it and .. fully frozen!  So, inside, defrost .. and this time .. I hung it by the front door.    Happy to see the little Anna find it and feed away.  Then, the little darling flew up and down, to check out the location of the feeder, flew around in a sort of loop, and then hovered right outside the window … looking in at me!  For a long few minutes, he did this .. and I could see clearly his sparkly red coverings close up.   I think he was thanking me!  Then he settled down at the feeder an supped for awhile.

Awhile later, I was looking out the front window and could see the Anna sitting on an ivy leaf by the feeder.  He looked up at the feeder and then over at me, repeated this look .. look …look .. so finally I went outside and, sure enough, the nectar (3:1) had frozen .. so I went through the defrost again.

Later, still .. I was looking out the front window .. and notice that he had alighted on one of the little perches.  Stuck his beak into the flower and then had trouble .. he was trying to remove it, but it was stuck . .and he began to move about as if he was in trouble.  This happened a few times .. he was trying to get the nectar and somehow, his little tongue had become stuck onto the frozen solution.

So, inside, defrost and outside again.

With the back feeder, the solution was the same .. so .. inside, defrost .. and then I hung it from a eave near the kitchen door.   Tomorrow I’ll keep checking and I think that I might just trudge down to Canadian Tire and buy two more feeders, as backups.

Sigh .. quite a day .. more tomorrow.

And so I’ve posted pictures from my lovely walks at Swan Lake and Christmas Hill.  Walks taken in the days before the snow.


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