Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Landscapes and Road Trips (page 1 of 2)

Pictures from Brome Fair, Labour Day 2013

I went away for Labour Day weekend to get a good hike in at Mont Mégantic (I also visited Lac Mégantic for one of their evening benefit shows at Musi-Café, the bar that was obliterated during the August train derailment). This was the view, in the distance, of the nearby village Nôtre-Dame-des-Bois from a lookout point on the way up Mont St.-Joseph. The road seen is the access road to the park.

In La Patrie, where I was staying, the bunnies decided the most familiar and comfortable place to hang out was under my car.

Look at that relaxed rabbit. Just look at her. Punk.

In a Sherbrooke parking lot, this lovely plant was blooming and a bumble bee fertilizing all of its flowers. I would love to know what the name of it is, and I’d like to get some seeds. 
Back in Stanstead,  cows doing what hippos do, in an overfertilized pond. Don’t drink that water, girls. 

 After taking the Vermont route through Derby Line and Newport up to the Quebec border at Mansonville, I finally got to the big Brome Fair at Knowlton.

I took many pictures of the home canning, gardens, baking and crafts section, but here is one category I would like to enter in next year: the mixed garden basket.

I would also like to enter the category for best Jamiroquai chicken, but chickens are not allowed in Montreal (except Rosemont) and I’ve already got my hands full with the aforementioned punks. 

Some more birds I’d like to be in possession of, especially with my miniscule woods-and-pond :

In the general category I’d like to enter the punks in next year (rabbits and guinea pigs) just because I can, I found a very very large and sleepy Holland Lop. Now I know what breed Elizabeth is at least half of.

 When I was a girl on the farm, we once got some fertilized eggs for our pet goose. She hatched three white geese and three African geese, like these:

The sheep section was interesting to see – some full wool, some recently shorn. Some so recently shorn, they had to wear little suits to be comfortable and protected.  Here’s a sheep with a very relaxed demeanor:

And two more, a different breed, who look quite curious (or hungry and waiting. Please keep your hands out of their pen. Management not responsible for injuries.)

A cow and calf from a Charolais beef farm:

An Ayrshire from a dairy farm. I find it interesting that the cartography of her spots seem to depict the limits of the sovereign seas!

And the big draw on a Saturday night: the midway. 

A mountain meadow in an urban setting

Another pictorial entry here…

Across from the Montreal General Hospital on Cedar Avenue, Park Mont-Royal begins. And it starts with stairs to a meadow.

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Urban soil and how we handle it, in perpetuity

A little over a month ago, I had an informal meeting Eric Duchemin, Associate Professor of Science and the Environment at UQAM, who has intelligently fostered entire classes of students working in urban agriculture for several years now. I participated in the École d’été sur agriculture urbaine in its second year, and learned (and forgot) some of what I know now – it was a challenge at times to keep up with the blistering pace of some French parole, and it can sometimes be more of a challenge to insert oneself into a conversation, but I did my best.

The meeting was prompted by a grad student giving a talk about the urban agricultural history of Montreal, and I took the opportunity to ask Eric some questions about remediating urban land and returning it back to primary use – forestry and agriculture.
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A Point Pelee pictorial

I am not that much of a birder (I recognize about 50 species of bird, now, which used to be less than 20) but I do like to get out there and take on a challenge once in a while. Two years ago I took a trip to Point Pelee and then continued on to Detroit and all the way in to Nebraska taking the Amtrak California Zephyr. This year, I visited Point Pelee and Detroit again. (I’m saving my Detroit post for another day.)
First we’ll start with a pic of Canada Goose that is entirely too used to people taking its picture, on the boardwalk at Ile Bizard. I hoped the birds wouldn’t be that familiar with us at Pelee, where thousands of us flock to see them at this time of year. And thankfully, there was not that much goosey terrestrial territory at Pelee (they prefer open meadows of shorn grass near water – just the kind of territory we love to provide when we doze wetlands for our sub-standard of development). Though you will see Canada geese having proper nests in proper wetlands. They are an aquatic bird, after all.
In the woods, where ever you go, you’ll see all manner of creatures, from snakes to moles to deer. Deer paths are readily identified as being used enough to not be an illusion, but not used enough to be human. 

This plant, a low-lying ground cover that I highly recommend replacing your front lawn with in a mix with other ground cover, is in bloom. Its common name is Creeping Charlie. It withstands some traffic and mowing without losing its attractive purple tone.

And this lovely white flower, which I happen to have in patches in my front yard, I’m encouraging to grow in my backyard where there is less light and traffic. It is a white violet, and there are purple violets, and white with purple centres…

…and also a different species of yellow violets.

A very large fungus shaped like a cone grew on a snaggy tree on a low-traffic seasonal footpath…geez, I should be looking this stuff up. Does anyone else know what kind of fungus this is?

Point Pelee is the southernmost part of Canada, and is representative of an endangered ecotone – a region of similar ecology, with populations of hallmark species that interact in community. It is Carolinian Canada, and much of the Carolinian and Mixed broadleaf forest in Canada has been needlessly destroyed by agriculture and urban development.

This prickly pear cactus is one of two populations that can be found in Canada. It grows in the open savannah.

This is work that I personally would like to be involved in, as a botanist/ecologist and as a person who likes mucking about planting things. It is also something we need to do within cities and everywhere that is not a productive agricultural field or pasture. (And if we don’t do it, then we deserve to be covered in kudzu.) 
Off of the woodland path, a young cottontail rabbit hid in the foliage until I stayed quiet for long enough that it came out. It browsed the small plants growing at the edge of the path, until it darted across to safety when newcomers came along. 
Update on June 11th: I have located some photos taken by my trip partner, Jeff Greenwood. We saw a “lifer,” a bird rare enough to get birders coming from all over to see it:

Kirtland’s warbler

And on the last morning (the 18th of May), Jeff found this mother robin feeding a brood of four chicks right in the sign at the Visitors’ Centre:

Eastern Ontario Autumn colours

These two photos are worth sharing, from my trip to Eastern Ontario over Thanksgiving weekend.

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