St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Happy New Year! This is a short Denman Diary, because it was an uneventful week.
I have been continuing to work on the wellhead cover that I reported on last week. The basic structure is now completed. I have it insulated, with mouse-proof wire on both sides of the insulation. The exterior is red cedar. I have installed an electrical connection for a light bulb to provide a source of heat in extremely cold weather. Tomorrow, I will finish assembling the roof. By next week, I should be able to show photos of it in place.
Wendy, in the meantime, has almost finished disposing of the mountain of brush that was left over from our tree pruning earlier this fall. The larger branches are firewood. The smaller ones are now part of our privacy fence along the road. Since we now have enough of that, what remains is going to provide reptile habitat towards the back of the yard. (Translation: the rest goes on a big old pile.)
I recently got a new computer, and have been moving my files and software over to it. Of course, there are lots of incompatibilities (Vista to Win7). The biggest headache is my weather software. Microsoft have changed the way some of the critical functions work, making migrating it a major chore. Needless to say, I have been muttering scurrilous remarks about Bill Gates' ancestry. With any luck, I'll have it moved in another week or so.
Speaking of weather, we almost set a record for the driest December on record. A bit of rain this week spoiled the chance of a record, but we only had 1/3 of the normal rainfall for the month. We did break the old record for the driest 4th quarter.
Here are a couple of pictures of Liesl.
This year got off to a good weather start with a two-day Pineapple Express event. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we received over 115 mm of rain. It was very welcome after getting only 75% of normal rainfall in 2011.
With the mild winter so far, everything is still growing. Our December rose finally lost its petals in the wind, but there are a couple of buds showing colour that could open if the temperature stays mild. We have one flower blooming right now: a buttercup. In summertime, we curse buttercups, as the are horribly invasive and try to perform impressions of strawberries in the berry house. But at this time of year, any flower is nice.
My project for the last couple of weeks has been to make a cover for our wellhead. I finished and installed it this week. For reasons known only to himself, the previous owner had brought the water pipe out of the well casing above ground, instead of below the frost line as is standard practice. In subzero weather, this required insulation, which he had provided in the form of a batt of fiberglass stuffed into a plastic barrel. Not only was it ugly, but it was a potential health hazard, attracting mice.
The cover I built is made of yellow cedar frame, with red cedar boards, and a metal roof. The roof and walls are insulated with fiberglass, which is protected from rodents on both sides by steel mesh over the vapour barrier and tar paper. I wired in a light bulb socket to supply heat on the rare occasions when the temperature gets cold enough to require some additional heat. On those occasions, power will be supplied by an extension cord from an adjacent outbuilding.
The roof hinges upwards for routine servicing, and can be removed altogether for major work.
I am off to Fort Saskatchewan today to visit my father, who is in hospital with advanced cancer.
As you may have noticed, there was no Denman Diary last week. My father passed away on January 9th, from cancer, at age 89. My two brothers, my sister-in-law, and I were able to visit with him one last time before he died.
We spent two weeks making all the necessary arrangements and going through his effects, while Wendy looked after the cats back home. It was a gruelling time, and I was very glad to arrive back home yesterday.
In the meantime, Wendy looked after my journalistic responsibilities by documenting the long-awaited installation of the new Denman Island ambulance station, next door to the fire hall. We had expected it to be completed last March, then in September. Ten months late sounds about right for a government operation. I don't even want to think about the budget!
At any rate, it is here now. I noticed today (sans camera) that the building looks essentially complete, and the quonset garage is also installed. With any luck, the ambulance staff will move in soon, a good thing for both them and the Fire Department. They get to move out of sub-standard accommodations (to put it mildly) and into a brand new building, and we get to renovate and occupy more badly-needed space in the fire hall.
Today, in the wind and pouring rain, Wendy and I spent a couple of hours fencing in an enclosed area just outside our front door in anticipation of a new family mamber expected next week. Stay tuned!
As promised last week, here is our new family member: Larkin the greyhound.
Like almost all pet greyhounds, Larkin is a retired track racer. It used to be that racing greyhounds were considered to be machines for making money, and, like any machine, were discarded when they no longer worked. Times, fortunately, have changed, and the majority of retired racers are now rescued and adopted through the efforts of volunteer organizations.
We have looked up Larkin's racing history. Her career lasted from January to July of 2011, and was un-illustrious, leading to her early retirement. This was good for us for two reasons. First, it allowed us to adopt her at the relatively young age of two years old. Second, it meant that her prey drive was low, improving the odds that she would not chase the cats. However, "slow" is a relative term with greyhounds. Her racing speed was over 36 miles per hour from a standing start!
On Thursday, we drove down to Victoria to meet her and her foster parents. On Friday morning, we drove back with her in the back of the car.
Because they have lived all their lives on the track, greyhounds are very much like puppies in that they have to be taught everything. Fortunately, being adults, they learn faster than puppies. Luckily, Larkin has already been house trained, but everything is new to her.
Having a greyhound is new for us, too. Before being allowed to adopt one, we had to fill out a long and detailed questionnaire and have our property inspected by the adoption agency. We have learned (fortunately from books, not the hard way) that greyhounds can never, ever be off-leash unless they are in a fenced yard. If Larkin ever got loose, we would never be able to catch her. Even an Olympic sprinter on steroids can't keep up with a greyhound.
Larkin is a real sweetheart of a hound. She is still a bit unsure of herself and her surroundings. She has moved around a lot on her journey from the track to here, and does not yet know that this is her permanent home.
The cats, so far, are not impressed. Discretion being the better part of valour (and the better part of a lack of valour, for that matter), they are keeping to the basement for now. We will gradually introduce them. In the meantime, Larkin sleeps in a crate in our bedroom. Greyhounds are familiar with crates from their track days, and it gives them a sense of security to be in one when they sleep. It gives us a sense of security, knowing that she cannot chase a cat while we are asleep.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013