Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Doesn't this look fun?

I'm feeling ill today, but this photo perked me right up - I wish I was there! What a cute little photo, it looks like such fun! Thanks, Mainichi!

Monday, April 28, 2008

BeanDreams and Mayflowers

My daikon radish and bok choi are doing well (the radish are REALLY going gangbusters!). I've only had to keep them indoors a couple of days when it was only going to be about 5 deg. C outside - too close to zero for my comfort! :)

A sunny, beautiful day highlights the delicate beauty of our Provincial Flower, the mayflower. Got some nice shots today! :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Squirrel Gets a New Coat

It's a beautiful blue-skied Easter Sunday (Eastern Rite) here in Nova Scotia. Saw this cute little guy outside, and you can see him clearly losing his (now dull) winter coat, and all that lovely shiny spring fur coming in. I feel like grabbing the Furminator and giving him a little help - I don't know he'd be too happy about it though... :D

Sad Environmental After Effects

A disturbing story coming from India, that is surely just the tip of the iceberg globally. The richest farmland in India is imbued with pesticides, poisoning the water and the land - thereby poisoning the people. People are dying of cancer, yet they're using more and more pesticides, because they aren't killing the bugs off like they used to. Yields are going down at a time when higher yields are critical.

Farmers haven't even heard of organic farming, and without those practices in place, things are only going to get worse. It's a sad state of affairs, that the promise of all the chemical fertilizers and pesticides of the '70s has created such a (mostly) unforeseen, terrible outcome.

Read more about this disturbing trend, that's only going to get worse as more and more countries fall into the cycle, here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A well-rested cow produces more milk

And what gives better rest: sleeping on a straw bed, or a waterbed? Apparently, Saskatchewan farmer Mel Foth has found that indeed, a waterbed is preferred not only by people, but by his cows! Moo-cows spend half their day lying down, and getting to rest on a waterbed prevents them from getting "bed" sores, and helps them rest better - thereby making more (and I would guess, better tasting) milk! A happy cow is a productive cow! And one really productive cow takes up less resources than 5 low-production ones, which is good for the environment.

And the stalls are easier to clean, too!

Read more on the CBC.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


It's a little early yet, but I've heard that mayflowers (the symbol of Nova Scotia) have already been seen in bloom. So I wandered around a bit to see what I could see.

Mostly, I found the following - lots of buds hidden under large, flat leaves:

Then, when I was heading back home, I paused to take a distance shot of the view. I backed up to get a better look, and I found these guys!

As always, their perfume is heady!

When I was walking back, I heard this squirrel taking a total freak out (as usual) - took me a while to see where he was hanging out! Silly squirrel.

When Spring Stink is Shared

I laugh, because it's not happening to me. Okay, I laughed a LOT, but I bet the affected people in Western Europe aren't laughing.

Farmers in countries like Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are spreading a winter's worth of manure on their fields - Dutch farmers are forbidden from doing so during the winter, so they had to wait until now to do it. However, because of SO MANY farmers doing it all at once, there was a massive quantity of stinky smell created. And thanks to weather patterns and strong winds, poor old London, England is now reeking of cow poo.

Kinda reminds you of how interconnected countries are - the environment doesn't respect national borders. :)

And I'm still laughing.

I'm sorry! :)

Read the full story here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

BeanDreams: The Sprouting!

Wow, that was fast! But my little guys have already made an appearance - hooray! :)

In this photo taken moments ago, the daikon radish are closest (and biggest), the bok choi is furthest.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pheasants and Frogs and BeanDreams

Was just out for a walk with Casey, and heard the first frogs of the season, peeping in the swamp! Must have been the warm and very moist weather we had today. The peeping is a sure sign of spring in these parts!

And now, I'm sure of it - while out, I heard TWO male pheasants doing their "this is my territory" sound: like a weird turkey gobble, followed by the (quite loud) noise of them rapidly fluffing their feathers. It creates a vibrating drum beat sort of sound in the air.

This might explain why sometimes we see a male with 3-5 females, but at other times, a male with just one. The male with just one female might be new, and just getting his family grouping started.

The male with the lone female was hilarious today - while I was cooking supper, I could see him standing in front of his woman, stretching his tail feathers up in this lovely water-fountain-looking display. And she would go "that's nice" and scoot around him, and keep going on her way. Then he'd follow her, get in front again, and it would all happen again. She seemed more interested in food today, than what he had in mind. ;) Pretty cute. Hey, she must be somewhat interested, she's staying with him and not going off to the guy who's awesome enough he can take care of FIVE ladies. ;)

Oh - I just brought in my windowbox planter for the night, and my bok choi sprouted already, hurray! :)

All in all, a fun spring evening!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What a sunset tonight!

A beautiful cap to the lovely sunny spring weather we've had lately - we're in for some rain tomorrow.

Good night, sun!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Phlox

As I noted last year, there are some gorgeous displays of spring phlox in Japan. This year is no exception! Mainichi had this great aerial photo today of a large phlox display in Hitsujiyama Park, Saitama Prefecture.

Ah spring... :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring Days and BeanDreams

It's a gorgeous spring day, warm enough for just a light fleece jacket. So I decided, since bok choi and daikon radish like the cooler weather of early spring, I would plant some now, in a window box planter. I'll take it in in the evenings, when it drops below zero C, and during the days, as long as it's above freezing, I'll put it in a sheltered sunny area of our back deck. I just couldn't take it anymore! It's WAY too early to be planting things in the earth, but I think this plan might work. And even if it doesn't, maybe I got some of the gardening fever out of my system! :)

Other animals are out enjoying the nice weather: I keep running into ducks having a nice little swim in some of the swamp runoff "streams" in our neighbourhood. And the other day, I saw a huge crow deftly snap a twig off a tree, and carefully gather it in his claw, then make a happy little chortle noise. Guess it's nest building time! :)

While I was out digging in the dirt today, a little lady squirrel joined me, happily eating the sunflower seeds I put out for her. What a little dear she was.

I got out my seeds saved from last year. The bok choi seeds were very easy to get out of their pods - the pods were very delicate and broke open easily.

The daikon radish, on the other hand, were encased in much tougher and thicker pods:

After a lot of picking at it with my fingernails, you can see the little seed inside:

A little more picking, and there he is!

I got some great soil mix from the Superstore the other day, so these little seeds should have a good start in life. :)

So, even without beans (for now), let BeanDreams 2008 begin!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

No freakin' way-- Crusty, delicious bread with NO KNEADING??!!

I am blown away, and will be even more so if it really works. I was on the Mother Earth News page, and saw this article: Easy, No Knead Crusty Bread

I'll wait here while you go read it, and copy out the recipe for yourself.


You're back? Great! Holy crap, can it be THAT EASY? I mean, it's like a lazy person's DREAM method of bread making! It's something even I could do! No 3 hours, knead, rest 3 more hours, beat down, knead, 3 more hours and on and on it goes. Just mix the ingredients, wait a half a day, fold over, lightly coat in flour, pop it in the oven and you're done???!!! Soft bread inside, thick crusty coating outside. Wow.

If you missed the link at the end of the article, be sure to watch the video from the New York Times on YouTube showing the process step-by-step.

Something that struck me as unusual, but is probably a very important step: Remember to heat the Dutch Oven ahead of time in the oven - the video says that you want the pot "blazing hot".

It's still too cold here to have a consistent 70 deg F room temperature, so I'll have to wait another couple of months, but I am SO TOTALLY TRYING THIS!!!!

Monday, April 07, 2008


Oh dear, looks like some poor birdie (looks like a dove) had a mishap with our window today...

I just was on the phone, and saw the light catching this perfect imprint, (caused by the oils in the feathers) of a bird thwacking into our picture window at a high speed. You can even see where his beak is! It's really quite amazing. Too bad for the bird, though! Didn't see him around out there, so he was likely just stunned and flew off.

Can you make out his imprint? He's practically sideways, with one wing stretching upwards, and one pointing downwards. I've never seen such a complete imprint before--astonishing.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

First Robin of Spring!!

Hooray!! I heard Dave's mom saw one the other day, but this is the first little dude I've seen this year - spring really is here! He only stayed a few seconds, then was hot on the trail of a worm and ran off towards the neighbour's property. Hope he got something good!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Night Visitor - What the heck WAS that????!!!!

Last night, we heard Casey barking towards the back of the house. After chastising her, I asked Dave to take a peek out the back and see if our raccoon had returned. He peered into the dark and said, "Nope, but there's a cute little mouse out in our feeder". And we both said "Awwwwww". Dave kept watching, and I came over to join him. But we both realized it was NOT moving like a mouse. I flicked on the outside light really quick, so we could get a better look, and we both recoiled in fear! What the heck IS that???!!!! It was a normal looking squirrel, but the eyes were all wrong: huge, dark and black - so creepy!! We had never seen anything like it before - a squirrel AT NIGHT??? It was so strange to see something that looked almost familiar, but was still very alien. We watched it for quite a while, flicking on the light occasionally to get a better look - I saw it start to run around at super-fast speed around our two feeders.

So, we were totally freaked out - we had never seen anything like it before! I spent some time this morning online, and found out that it was a flying squirrel!!! Can you believe it? I didn't realize they were nocturnal - that explains the huge dark eyes. And the running around in the dark. :) And it turns out that they are incredibly fast-moving as well! So, mystery solved. We feel better now. :)

I found this fantastic site, that has great pics, and a map that showed we indeed have flying squirrels in this area (which we never knew!). Check it out for all the information you could ever desire on Flying Squirrels, a totally complete site:

I can't believe I've lived in Nova Scotia my whole life and never knew we had such creatures here. :) We'll be watching for him again!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Moulting is hard to do...

The seasons are definitely changing around here (finally!) - the goldfinch males are starting to get decked out in their mating plumage! How cute!

It sure is an awkward "in-between" stage though...he looks a little moth-eaten as he changes from his dull, female-like winter feathers to his bright and colorful canary-yellow summer hues. (Forgive the poor quality of the photos, it's hard to get a clear shot from the kitchen.) :)

Here's a pic of what he'll look like when he's done (the guy in the middle).

I've heard a lot of new sparrows singing in the trees the last couple of days, I think some have returned from their winter journey. Yay! Spring, spring, spring!! (It helps that it's also my birthday at the end of the month, I'm a little April biased!)

Remembering Loved Ones in the Future

Well, the future is now. This is a fascinating development in the funeral industry in Japan - maybe it'll catch on elsewhere too! Using a bar code hidden in the tombstone of a loved one, visitors can use their cell phone to access select photos, text and other files relating to the deceased. Instead of visiting a cold, impersonal stone, family members can see photos capturing happy family memories, and read biographical notes. It's a great way to preserve the life and times of loved ones. And think what a wonderful boon this sort of info would be to professional and hobbyist genealogists!

It's really expensive right now (about $10,000 USD), but it's a fascinating idea for new ways to preserve our past for future generations.

I first learned about this on Mainichi this morning, and found the full story on Reuters. So interesting!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spring? Is that you?

Well, I think this is the earliest I've ever seen the Colt's Foot bloom - maybe spring really is on the way?

Fingers crossed...