Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Broody Update

As of the afternoon of March 2nd, Peabody, the little black hen, is sitting on 12 large Red Sussex eggs. My friends dropped off the eggs and I numbered them with pencil and popped them into the coop. Peabody took that time to hop off the plastic eggs she had been incubating and go and get a drink and a bite to eat. I checked back soon afterwards and she was fluffed out on top of her dozen eggs, looking very pleased with herself.
 Hopefully the pencil markings will help me keep track of which eggs are the fertilized ones and which ones came from Eggwina, as Peabody will likely attempt to steal those eggs for incubation too.

It looks like Eggwina is keeping her company. Tonight is supposed to get really cold, close to -20c, but from what I've been told, the eggs should weather through it ok. In ten days I will attempt to candle the eggs to see what is growing and what isn't and hopefully again at 17 days. It will be interesting to see what comes of this!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our First Dog Sled Ride

Our annual Caledonia Classics dog sled races happened again over the past weekend. And we turned out to watch, as usual. There was a change in venue this year, as there is virtually no snow on the lake. Our unnervingly warm weather has melted and refrozen the snow until the lake is a big mess. So the races were held in the forest instead. It was a beautiful location, but it did make viewing the races more challenging (and the racers had to race in timed heats, not mass starts due to a narrow trail). 
 The corner that was set-up for viewing was an exciting corner, as the dogs flew around it and the mushers tried hard to keep the sled on the trail.

 A group from Valemount came up to do public rides and so, Kesten and I got our very first opportunity to ride in a dog sled. Here they are getting the dogs ready.
 I was so impressed at the strength and speed of the dogs. There were two mushers behind us, so altogether 3 adults and one child, and the mushers had the brake on most of the time so the dogs didn't go too fast. We flew! It was really very thrilling.
 It was a cold day compared to the weather we have been having, about -10c when we went for our ride. By the time we got back, my face was feeling quite frozen from heading into the wind. Another thing I never thought about when riding in a dog sled, is that the dogs kick up bits of ice and snow as they run, and you have to shield your face from those small chunks. I got a good sized iceball to the forehead. Haha. Kesten was lower down and seemed to avoid both these problems. He looks a bit grumpy in the photo below, but he had lots of fun. Oh, and I think some of the sled dogs had gas.
 Cedar and Daddy stayed warm by the fire. There was yummy food, as always. If you ask Kesten about the highlight of his day, he would say it was the cupcake he ate, not the dog sled ride. Ha!
 In the picture below, you can see a very broken sled to the left of the red truck. This sled belonged to one of the stage racers. Apparently he smashed it up going over a creek wrong.
 And at the end of the day, Kesten and I got to ride again in a sled pulled by a single dog for the Kid and Mutt races. So much fun!

Canada Lynx

Look who sauntered up to my camera last week! Since then, I have got my camera set up better to attract lynx, so here's hoping we'll see more of these guys throughout March. (I also got this one running by and this little snowshoe hare, the favourite meal of the lynx).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Broody Hen

Well, it looks like Peabody, my little black hen, is intent on being a mother. She is huddled over a couple of plastic Easter eggs (one of them is only half an egg) with her feathers puffed out. I've decided to finally give her a chance. I'm going to try and get some fertilized eggs for her this week and see what happens. Last night I made a nice little nest box for her with some clean wood shavings and some straw, but as usual, she has taken the eggs out of the box and is sitting on them in her own chosen spot. My only other hen sticks close to her side, unwilling to hang out alone. At night, the two of them snuggle in tight together. For this reason, I won't be separating them during the incubation time. Fingers crossed that it all works out! I'll try to keep you posted.

And it looks like Boos is getting all broody too, sitting on the coop, that contains the chicken sitting on the eggs. It's all about the solidarity. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Hybrid Deer

So after sending my video to some experts in the province, they believe that the fourth deer in this video is likely a hybrid deer. They are not very common at all, which is pretty exciting that I got a video of one.
Hybrid deer occur when mule deer and whitetail deer ranges overlap. They are often the result of a whitetail buck mating with a mule deer doe (although it can go the other way), as mule deer and whitetail deer have different mating practices that make it easier for the pairing to work this way. Whitetail bucks are used to chasing their ladies around until they get tired, while mule deer usually just stand still for the deed (well, let's just get this over with). So when a whitetail buck encounters a mule deer doe during the rutting season, he can't believe his luck and thus little hybrids are made. Mule deer bucks, on the other hand, are often saddened and confused when whitetail does run away from them, causing them to spend long hours in front of the mirror contemplating what part of them gave such offence. So it is much less rare that baby Hybrid deer are born to whitetail mothers.
As it turns out, it is a good thing that mule deer mother these special little fawns. Hybrid fawns are not too hardy, with only about 50% of them surviving past their first 6 months. Mule deer does are typically larger and more defensive of their babies than whitetails, giving those poor little hybrids a better chance at survival.
One of the reasons that Hybrid deer have such a poor survival rate is that they become confused when approached by a predator. A whitetail's response would be to run away and a mule deer would "stott," bouncing on all four feet at once, bounding over boulders and barriers (I'm pretty sure they make a "boing, boing, boing" sound as they go). The hybrid doesn't seem to do either, but pretty much runs around in circles. Hence, another reason why it is rare.
Hybrid deer males are sterile, but the females can mate with either whitetails or mule deer. The hybrid deer look a lot like the fourth deer in my video above: Dark long tails like whitetails, a white rump like a mule deer, and mule deer ears (maybe a bit smaller). For more information on identifying them, check out this informative article: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2012_heffelfinger_j001.pdf

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spring in February?

I just don't know what to think! It's been hot and thawing for a few weeks now and it doesn't look like it is going to let up anytime soon. I love winter, but I also love spring. I'm torn. Oh well, can't control the weather, might as well embrace it. I am enjoying this sunshine. It has been a cloudier than usual winter and this sunshine just hits the spot.

This little girl turned 9 months old just over a week ago. My husband says in three more months she won't be a baby anymore. Sniffle. That's not true! She'll always be my baby.
 I sewed this little dress for her in 12-18 month size, but my needle was in the wrong spot on my sewing machine. It took in more of a seam allowance than intended, so it fits her now. Oh well. Live and learn.

 Valentine's Day was very special for my little Kesten. He had seen these balloons in the grocery store the day before and begged me for one. I went back later that night, after he was asleep, and got them each balloon. Was he ever excited when he woke up to find it! Oh, and the chocolate :)
And Cedar has been inseparable from her balloon since we first gave it to her. It follows her around at meal times, and play times, and snuggle times.
 Out in the woods, I think I found a flying squirrel tree. Waaaaay up, there are four hollowed out holes in the tree. I bet there are some flying squirrels in there, snuggled up and sleeping away the daylight hours.

 My little goofy girl.
 Look what she can do now!!
 And my silly boy!
 He said that this was his moustache.
 Kesten's new favourite game is "baby otter." In the bathtub, he swims on his tummy and catches "fish" (foam alphabet letters) with his mouth. In the snow, he rolls around and slides on his tummy.
 And on Friday, he decided he finally didn't need anyone to push him on the ice and skated up and down the rink several times.
 Yesterday we made our first trip into Prince George in about 5 months. It's even harder to get our massive shopping list accomplished with two kids to load in and out of carseats, but we managed in good time yesterday. Hopefully it will be several months before we have to do it again!
 And today in the bush, I stumbled upon 3 hummingbird nests! I have been searching for them for a couple of years without luck. They are so well camouflaged, I must have walked by these nests 4 or 5 times before I noticed them. I love that they are held together with spider webs and decorated with lichen.
 Since hummingbirds are pretty territorial, I think that these nests might  be made by the same bird, from different years. From what I have heard, Rufous Hummingbirds don't often re-use their nests because they get so stretched out as the babies grow. When they are first built, the nests are just big enough to fit the tiny eggs inside.
 I wonder if there will be a nesting hummingbird here this spring?
Two weeks ago I got my first video of a lynx passing by my game camera! Lynx season is just starting up, so I'm hoping to capture more videos before March is done!
And here is another marten, just passing by!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sewing: Moose Pattern

This is a fun little pattern that I envisioned one night and had fun bringing to life. I bought some fun fat quarters to sew these up (you only need less that half for each colour) and tried as best as I could to write up a pattern for them. I've never written a sewing pattern before, so please ask if you have any questions about what I've written. I'm providing you with the link to download the pattern and instructions (If you try to print the pattern off the blog, the sizes will likely be wrong). Enjoy!

Moose Pattern and Instructions: Printable version.

Moose Pattern Instructions

What you need:
1 main colour fabric (MC)
1 contrasting colour fabric (CC)
needle and thread
4 matching buttons
stuffing of your choice

1.Trace all the pattern pieces onto the fabrics, as written on each pattern piece. Add a 1/4” seam allowance and cut out. Using a fabric marker or chalk, mark the locations of the ear and antler placements on the head of the moose, and the leg placements and tail placement on the body. Mark the button locations on the legs.
2. Body: With right sides facing, sew along the moose's body, leaving a 1” gap at the bottom along the belly. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, stuff with stuffing and hand sew closed using an invisible stitch.
3. Legs: With right sides facing, sew along lines of each leg, leaving a 1” gap along the side at the top. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, stuff with stuffing, and hand sew closed using an invisible stitch. Repeat for other 3 legs. Position the front two legs in place on the body of the moose. Pull a thread through one leg, into the body of the moose and out through the other leg. Place a button on this leg and sew back through the leg, body, and out through the first leg, placing a button on this leg. Continue sewing back and forth through the buttonholes until the joints seem to be strong. Bring the needle through one leg and knot behind the leg (between the leg and the body) where the knot wont show. Repeat with the hind legs.
4. Ears: Match a main colour piece and a contrast colour piece with right sides facing. Sew together, leaving the bottom un-sewn. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, and tuck the 1/4” bottom up inside the ear. Press flat. Repeat with other ear. Fold each ear in half lengthwise and hand sew onto the location on each side of the moose's head.
5. Antlers: With right sides facing, match up the antlers and sew along the lines, leaving the bottom of the centre un-sewn. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, stuff with stuffing and hand sew the gap closed. Place the antlers in position on the moose's head and hand sew into place.
6. Tail: With right sides facing, match up the tail pieces and sew along the lines, leaving the bottom un-sewn. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, tuck the 1/4” at the bottom up into the tail, press flat, and sew with the contrast colour facing down into place on the body of the moose.

Be sure to add a 1/4" seam allowance to all pattern pieces!

*These pictures below show how to trim up to the seam in order to have the seam sit flat when flipped right side out.
* Trim any fabric on corners as well, like below.

Here is a good tutorial on how to sew an invisible seam.

Thanks! Happy sewing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winter Fun With Little Ones

As much as I love winter, it can be a little hard on my little ones. The snow is too deep to be able to walk through, some days can be a little too cold to play outside, and all those layers do make it hard to move around. But we've had lots of fun so far, both inside and out, and I have to admit that I am a little bit sad that there is only a month and a half of real winter left!

Now, on to the fun! Cuddles and snuggles, kitties and blankets can warm up a day!
 Kesten has nearly mastered the art of taking selfies.
 We went for a ski on Family Day. Right at the start we spotted this snowshoe hare in the branches. See it? No? Look to the right of the photograph. You can see its ears above the bottom fence wire.
 My intrepid husband pulled the kids in the chariot while we skied. They both managed to stay awake the whole time. Kesten loved going under trees that hang over the trail. He calls them tunnels.
 A whole row of "tunnels!"
 On days when it is too cold, we bring the snow inside to play with. Food colouring in water and eye droppers add to the fun. Later, he introduced cars and construction vehicles in there.
Were they co-operating in this picture??? Maybe. Cedar likes to touch the snow too, and then she tries to eat it. So does Kesten...
 Trains and animals also help pass the time indoors.
 And when the world is mostly black and white outside, it is fun to brighten it up by looking through some coloured blocks! We hold the blocks up to our eyes and see what colour the snow is now.
 Cars and blocks. What else can I say?
 Oh. Food. Food is also a nice way to pass the time inside...
 Especially when it is so much fun to feed yourself!

We built a snowman one day when it warmed up and the snow was just perfect for packing. (Our snowman is now buried past the waist in new snow).

 I've had to dig the chickens out from all of our snow and we've had even more since this picture was taken.

 We also took the kids out for a snowshoe last weekend up Mt. Pope (just to the third bench). The forest is full of wonders. As we were unpacking everything from the car and getting ready, Kesten said, "Oh, a deer!" And sure enough, a mule deer was prancing away into the shelter of the trees. Good eye, Kesten!
 It looks like hard work, but he enjoys a challenge.

 Cozy babies enjoying a snack at the top. It was lightly snowing, so whenever we lifted the cover of the chariot, they got a bit of a snow shower.

Winter really can be one of the funnest times of year.
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