St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Last Saturday, as I was spreading gravel onto the driveway, a few flakes of white stuff began dropping from the sky. Within a few minutes, it was too heavy to continue working outdoors, and within hours, everything was covered. It may not be impressive compared to Newfoundland's 48 cm the same day, but it is a reminder that Denman Island is still affected by Canadian winter weather, in spite of the crocuses and daffodils that are either blooming or well on their way. The crocuses at the right were actually photographed more than a week ago outside the library.
Wendy took advantage of the stoppage of outdoor projects to draft me into replacing some drawer slides in the kitchen. It is amazing what a difference it makes to have drawers that open without tipping!
Incidentally, the snow picture at the left is taken from exactly the opposite angle to the photo of the gravel pile in last week's diary.
It took a couple of days, but the snow all melted. The daffodils are coming along nicely and we look forward to their blooming before too long. Those of you in cooler climates will undoubtedly be green with envy to know that the stores have had bedding-out plants for sale outdoors for the last month.
I was back shovelling gravel again on Thursday. It looks like we have enough to do the entire parking area of the driveway, which, after the walkway, was our main priority. Another day or two of work should take care of it. I have the siding up on the woodshed, and some roofing ordered for it. It will have a blue roof to match our blue doors, and will look quite spiffy. Only the fact that it has no square corners will reveal that it is "Denman architecture".
We have more new neighbours. We suspected in the fall that we had racoons - someone had been digging in the garden - but finally we got the definitive evidence. The culprit's identity is unmistakable. This was taken by the light of a 15-watt porch light, because I couldn't use a flash through the glass. We had been leaving apples out for the deer, and we did see the deer eating them, but apparently they were not the only ones doing so.
This week, the annual herring spawn took place. It is a major event for the local fisherpeople, and a huge fleet of trawlers has been plying the waters of Baynes Sound trying to catch as many fish as possible during the limited run. The boats follow the fish, so every day they are in a different part of the Sound. Unfortunately, on Monday, when we had the best view from the ferry, I didn't have the camera with me. Trust me, it would have been a spectacular photo, with dozens of boats in a small area.
So, you'll just have to settle for a merely scenic photo with a single herring boat in it. This photo demonstrates the rain shadow effect: there are snow showers over the mountains on Vancouver Island, but Denman Island is in clear sunny weather.
Speaking of weather, we have had a bit of everything this week. On Wednesday, it was stormy with heavy rain most of the day. On Thursday, it was sunny (the photo above was taken on Thursday), and I was able to get some outdoor work done. Today, I had plans to do more outdoor work, but we ended up with heavy snow showers.
My plan for today was to finish the roof on the woodshed. I got everything ready yesterday: posts cut to length, plywood, tarpaper, metal roofing, nails and screws all ready to go. I was expecting a dry day suitable for outdoor work. Instead, the snow showers soaked everything. I don't want to put roofing over wet surfaces, so it will have to wait a few more days. The roofing metal will be bright blue to match our exterior doors.
On the various good-weather days we have had this week, I have spread gravel over all of the parking area of the driveway, as well as on some soft, muddy spots at the top of the driveway. When we got the invoice for the gravel, I discovered that a "truckload" is about 14 tonnes! I have moved about 12 tonnes of it so far by shovel and wheelbarrow. The driveway and front entrance path are looking "right some fine" now. They'd better be, because I ain't moving any more gravel!
There are catkins on some of the deciduous trees - some kind of poplar, I think. I was going to show you a photo of them as a sign of spring, but instead it is a sign of our continuing unsettled weather: there's snow on the twig, and more snowflakes falling. Oh well, it could be worse. At least it is above zero, and most of the morning's snow has melted already.
The top of the evenin' to ye! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I finished installing the roof on the woodshed this week. The colour turned out to be an exact match for the doors on the house and garage. The roof is flatter than recommended for metal roofing, though it still does have a pitch to it, but it looks good and was easy to install. If it doesn't drain quite as well as it is supposed to, well, it is a woodshed, not a house. It will keep our wood supply considerably drier than what we have had up until now, which is the space under the deck.
I still have some trim details to finish off. It has been too wet this week to do much outdoor work, but the weekend forecast is good, so I should be able to get it all finished soon.
This week, the Denman Phone Directory came out. This is a local publication by the local United Church Women, and is incredibly handy. Unlike the phone company's directory, which includes the whole Comox Valley area, this book is just for our island. It is small enough that I was able to scan it into a database, and now I can search it by address or phone number, as well as by name. Just the thing if we want to know who placed a particular classified ad in the weekly paper.
We had a local fellow come in to prune our fruit trees. They had been neglected since before we bought the property, and we were concerned that their health, as well as the fruit yields, would begin to suffer. Claude started to work with his shears with frightening speed and little deliberation (or so it seemed), and soon there was a huge pile of branches on the ground. However, as it turned out, he knew exactly what he was doing, and within a short time, our apple, plum and pear trees looked like something from a manicured orchard instead of the Amazon jungle. Not only did he do an expert job on the trees, he gave me a lesson in pruning, explaining what he was doing and why, so that in future I can do the job myself.
We have modest expectations for the garden this year. Rather than get carried away planting rows and rows of vegetables, we are going to concentrate on the fruit. In addition to the fruit trees, we want to grow lots of raspberries and strawberries. Wendy removed a row of blackberries which last year produced very seedy (though tasty) fruit in extremely modest quantities, yet the vines of which threatened to take over the entire garden. We will replace them with a second row of raspberries.
Last fall, we started training our strawberries into the beds adjacent to the one that we had last year. So, this year, we should have three beds of them. We will have to protect them against birds and now raccoons, but the fruit are worth it!
We are thinking of using electric fencing to keep the raccoons out of the garden. Because the little ... darlings have hands, rather than plain paws, ordinary animal fences mean nothing to them. They just climb over or dig under. Modern electric fences are safe and economical, and there are types specifically designed for raccoons.
We do have some flowers in the garden, but we don't really plan on spending a lot of effort on them. Here are some rather pretty croci that popped up under the plum trees this week.
Just a short note this week. It was a quiet week: lots of rain and not much happening.
It is too soon for apple blossoms or grapvine leaves, but there are leaf buds starting to open on some poplar trees behind the house. The first of our daffodils have opened. There are a lot more where they came from, just waiting for a couple of sunny days to pop open.
The fire department was called out to a chimney fire this week. Not terribly exciting compared to a house fire, but worrying enough for the residents who decided to call 911 when they saw the top of their chimney glowing red. Good call! I used my Interactive Map to locate the address just before I dashed out the door, and a good thing too, since I was the second person to respond to the hall and got to drive one of the trucks. Knowing where I was going was a good thing.
That and a radio call asking what the residents' names were prompted me to develop a version of the phonebook database I mentioned last week for the department. It combines the phonebook lookup with the interactive map to show name, address, phone number and a map highlighting the location on a screen that can be quickly printed and handed to the driver. I showed it to the Chief toay and he liked it. Every piece of software needs a cute acronym, and this one is called "FIRE": Find Island Residents Easily. The name was Wendy's idea.
This weekend, we are off to Vancouver to visit my mother and my brother Adrian. The highlight of the brief visit will be meeting my newly-discovered cousin Roger and his wife Maureen from Australia.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013