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Worried about Zika virus? Consider Muscovy Ducks

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With the advent of the Zika virus in Florida and elsewhere, folks may want to reconsider their attitudes about the quiet, mosquito-hungry Muscovy duck. These easy-to-keep, sociable creatures make themselves at home in a variety of environments, from city parks … Continue reading

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48 hours… without power

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The recent storm brought freezing rain that coated roadways and weighed down tree branches and power lines. The result was multiple power outages throughout Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. We heat with wood, and cook with propane. In the past … Continue reading

Preparing for “a long winter’s nap”

20151215_103737_resizedWe scrambled to put our lavender (and our five fig plants) to bed before last week’s snowfall. We covered more than a hundred plants with straw and extended a temporary fence to keep animals from crushing them over the winter. Hidcote and Munstead have proven to be hardy in our climate, but protecting them from desiccating winter winds will help prevent die-back and give the plants a head start on spring growth. We could have covered them sooner, but the micro-climate that benefits our hillside valley acreage gives our plants a few more precious weeks to harden off before real frigid temperatures set in.

Most of our heirloom apples trees their crop weeks ago, but a few stubborn holdouts remain. Not far from the carriage house, a Gravenstein variety tempts us with green-red fruit just out of reach. Near the duck house, one of the “three sisters” is still covered with sweet red apples that we’re storing in pallet-bins to supplement the goat’s rations well into February. The ducks prefer fallen apples, mushy and soft from the recent freeze and thaw cycles.

20151216_094859_resizedLast week’s snow cover is mostly gone now, melted off by warm rains and short bursts of sunshine the past few days. From now through Christmas, we can (thankfully) look forward to above-freezing temperatures in the daytime with an occasional snow flurry. After last year’s grueling winter, I’m happy to spend the holidays snow-less.

“Blood Moon” Lunar Eclipse – Cape Breton, NS

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Farewell to Winter

Finally, evidence of Spring.  Buds are are swelling on the apple trees, Robins are feasting on earthworms in the soft, moist earth, and temperatures feel almost balmy compared to the unusually frigid lows from which we are recovering.

The next few weeks will be filled with activity; repairing fences and pens, tilling and planting bulbs and root vegetables, working on the greenhouse, spraying fuit trees with dormant oil and carrying out a myriad of other chores familiar to farmers and gardeners everywhere.

Here in the Maritimes, between early and mid-Spring, there is a 2-3 week bug-free window, a blissful time with few flies or mosquitoes to torment us. We try to get as much done outside as possible before everything “greens up” and we must break out the repellant to keep the bugs at bay. This year, we are making batches of natural insecticidal soap to keep us from becoming mosquito bait. Here’s to an exciting Spring!

First dusting of snow

It won’t stay longer than a few days, but the snow that greeted us yesterday was a surprise, in the wake of unseasonably warm weather. Ah well, all good things… First Snow

Jack Frost is late…

The goats are still on pasture, as we’ve yet to get a hard frost this fall. Whether it’s due to global warming, or just part of a natural cycle, we’re thankful there’s been more time to work outside in good weather.