"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Manure Blues: The sequel

To add manurey insult to manurey injury, my dog discovered the freshly dumped doo-doo in the fields yesterday afternoon. Not only did she gallop and cavort through the steamy stuff, she decided that eating it would present a new culinary adventure.

When I let her into the house and bent down to dish out her supper, I almost gagged. She had bits of manure hanging from her snout and sported brown smears up beyond her bony ankles. GAH!!! Thank heavens she's not the type of dog that likes to give kisses.

I banished her to the mud room for the rest of the night, where she moaned at me through the closed door every twenty minutes. It was too cold to put her outside in the doghouse all night, and since her hips are so sore lately, I didn't have the heart to leave her in the mudroom either. So inside she came, stink and all.

My reward for allowing my disgusting pet to sleep inside? A desperate 3am wake-up call - Neko scratching at the door for dear life - that I didn't get downstairs in time to answer. Note to self: NEVER run downstairs to aid a barfing dog in your bare feet. GAH GAH GAH!!!!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Manure blues

Ahhh, springtime. Finally. What could be more magical than springtime in the country? Violets and crocus peek their purple faces up to make sure the snow is all gone before relaxing into bloom. Forsythia and magnolia burst into yellow and pink magnificence to celebrate days that have grown longer and warmer. The finches have returned, and I can finally take the suet down before it starts to melt. Wrinkly green and ruby nubs coming up by the garage remind me that rhubarb cake-making time is just around the corner, much to D's excitement. Springtime is a luscious reminder of how good it is to be alive.

And nothing quite reminds you of how alive you are like robins chortling and bluejays arguing outside the bedroom window at 4:30am, or the return of marauding raccoons staking out the compost pile. Not to mention the fragrance of freshly spread manure wafting in through all the windows you left open before you went to town. Mmmm, country living in springtime: it's a whole new experience in aromas, and definitely not for the faint of nose.

Today, for example, I hauled Jade's exersaucer outside so she could soak up some April sunshine while I planted my frost-resistant pansies. I dressed her in a warm sweater, wrestled her hat on and sprinkled some cheerios on the saucer. Then I hunted up my gardening gloves and new trowel and hunkered down to do my first planting of the season. We were happy as two little clams, Jade and I.

And then we heard the rumbling.

We turned to see my brother-in-law tearing across the south field in the big tractor, hauling my father-in-law's newly acquired manure spreader behind him. The poop was still steaming.

Jade was delighted. She adores anything that makes a lot of noise and began waving enthusiastically at my brother-in-law. I just sighed. I calculated that I had approximately ten or fifteen minutes to get planting before the smell hit us and absorbed into our hair and clothes.

It's not that I'm averse to poop; I understand the necessity of well-rotted manure when growing crops and gardens. After two years of living here, my nose is finally growing accustomed to the sour, familiar fragrance that floats through the Bruce at this time of year. No, I'm not a wimpy city girl who can't handle a little doodie. It's just that I had a bad experience with it last year and haven't quite forgiven my brother-in-law yet.

"D'you want some sh*t for your garden, Kimmy?" C asked me last fall. He'd just climbed down from his tractor and ambled across the lawn to where I was pulling out the last vestiges of my tomato plants from the garden. I eyed him - and the giant load of crap he was hauling behind the tractor.

"Is it well-rotted?" I asked. "I don't want anything that's going to attract bugs or be too smelly."

"Oh, it's good sh*t," he assured me, knowing full well that I couldn't possibly tell the difference.

"Wellll....okay. But not too much!"

"Don't worry, I'll dump off enough for your garden. It'll be fine.."

I took my best school-marmish pose and shook a warning finger at him. "C, however much you think you should drop off, give me a quarter of that."

He shrugged and went back to his tractor. I went back to my garden, then went inside to make supper and forgot all about my scheduled poop delivery. Until I went outside the next morning and saw the GIANT PILE of crap C'd dumped on the edge - not even the middle - of my garden!!! What part of "not too much" did that boy not understand? ARGH!!!

It took my husband and I over two sweaty, back-breaking hours to dig the stuff into the garden, and even then it barely got mixed in. "Don't worry," C assured me, "it'll break down over the winter. It's good sh*t, I told you."

Yeah, right. This spring, my garden is still covered in a thick, un-broken-down layer of manure that is going to take an industrial sized rototiller to plough through. Conveniently, my brother-in-law is "too damned busy" to help. So I'll have to resort to cajoling my husband, or enlisting one of his cousins to somehow get the poopy garden under control with some serious machinery. But at least we'll be able to enjoy the birdies chirping, the apple trees blooming and that faint, beguiling scent of spring manure while we do it.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Sunday Drive: Saugeen Bluffs Maple Syrup Festival

If there's one thing I get antsy for around this time of year, it's fresh, dark, sticky, delicious maple syrup. Having grown up in a small town where one could see tapped trees on one's bus ride to school, and where annual visits to the sugar bush were a given, I can't help but have an instinct for sugaring-off time. Warm days, slightly frozen nights, and the blood in my veins starts flowing in a decidedly spring-like fashion right along with the sap.

I have a friend in BC who may actually rival me in the maple mania department. In a recent email, he confessed to loving all things maple: maple ice cream, maple cookies, maple candies, maple perogies. Okay, I'm making up the perogies, but I KNOW he'd eat them if they existed. If he lived closer, I'd have invited him along on our Sunday drive a few weekends ago to the "Maple Madness" festival (disappointingly renamed this year as "Old Thyme Maple Syrup Festival") that takes place near Paisley.

Taking Jade there was something I'd been looking forward to all winter. There are all sorts of displays, lots of folks dressed up in costumes from pioneer days, live music, and several opportunities to watch sap being collected, boiled and turned into precious, precious syrup. And hey - there's a petting zoo! At the very least, Jade enjoyed her encounters with live chickens, sheep, llamas and goats. It was probably a welcome change from Mummy acting them out at home.

It's a good opportunity to get some fresh air, take in the forest surroundings, and eat copious amounts of locally made sausage and hotcakes smothered in that year's first syrup crop. Oh, how I love eating outdoors...

Anyway, that was our latest Sunday drive. I came home pleasantly weary from all the walking and with a very satisfied tummy from all the pancakes. What more can you ask from a Sunday drive?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

She's back, and she's....old.

You'll have to excuse my recent bloggy absence. Between Easter visit with the rellies, turning the big four-oh and trying to find a fitting way to honour the second anniversary of Rose's birth, it's been a helluva couple of weeks.

I've been thinking that I'd like to set up an annual award of some kind at the local public school in Rose's memory. Something that an average kid can win, nothing hugely monetary, but something worth having. I just have no idea what it should be or how to go about doing it. The ideas flitting through my mind seem to revolve around giving the award to a child who demonstrates an environmental conscience, or a child who tries to make her or his school a better place. But that's kinda vague. Then I started thinking it would be an award only female students could apply for, but then would I be fostering an attitude of unfairness? Hmmm. If any of you out there in bloggerland have experience in this kind of thing, or even some suggestions, please post 'em here.

Turning 40 seemed like it should have been a bigger deal than it was. I think having my big day sandwiched between Easter and Rose's birthday made it flow by quite easily. Several of my friends' experiences with achieving their fourth decade have been less than pleasant. I've heard stories from other 40-somethings who obsessed about their birthday to the point of anxiety or depression.

I suppose it's one of those milestones where you're supposed to look back on your life and figure out if you're where you wanna be, if you've achieved what you've wanted to achieve, blah blah blah. Frankly, I think my best years are still ahead of me. I get to grow older with a delicious man who challenges and satisfies me; I'm living in a place I adore with a lake that isn't going anywhere; I'll watch a baby girl who makes me giggle every day grow into a beautiful woman. I'm relatively healthy, not struggling financially, and I have been blessed with family and friends who truly care about me. So what if I'm "half-way to dead," as one poignant birthday card stated? At least I'm having a good time getting there.

To me, 40's just another number. 20, 30, 40 - whoop-dee-do! Now, knowing my younger sister is going to turn 40 in a few years and that my older sister is going to turn 50...THAT kinda freaks me out.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

In Memoriam

Rose Marie Lowry
April 3rd 2008

Silently a flower blooms
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The world of the flower, the whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom:
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

- Zenkei Shibayama