Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Visiting one of the last remaining urban wetlands – the Technoparc

First, I wanted to mention to readers that I’ve got a new pop-up to subscribe to my email list. The plan is in the high season (now), blog every two weeks and, for the weeks in between, send an email. Then in the low season (6-7 months of the year), blog once, email once per month. Each email will have a link to the latest blog post, but the point is have content only for subscribers: Q&As from readers, DIY projects, and timely news you can use – all while keeping it short and sweet. So please enter your email!

Two weekends ago, I participated in the Good Friday Migration to save the Technoparc Wetlands. Read more about it – and see the French-language Pimento Report on YouTube (embedded) here.

I’ve been draggin’ my heels on writing this post for the past week over a false reason. I’ve been making it a bigger deal of writing a blog post than in than the writing actually is, because the issue is a bigger deal than most people realize. So I might say something controversial, but seems clear enough for someone to say.

Part of the game of development is “build it and they’ll come.” There’s no big influx (except if it’s downtown – proper brownfield building development!) but in the meantime, the first occupants will pay for servicing the building and the taxes. Though this is just kicking the can down the road, cities sees that new development, that new tax base as proof of … something usually vanity-related, and a revenue base for existing services. In time, because there’s no incentive for municipalities to forego development without a large NIMBY crowd, their services:tax base ratio will get skewed again. Development sure looks like a Ponzi scheme.

Situated in this tension, with no voice but for those who speak up in time, is always, always nature, where the birds carry on with their nestlings like they always have, only the conditions are less and less optimal while the development games are played to make them unwelcome. Continue reading

A clutter of resources to help you plan your garden

Well, here we are, late March! Are you ready to get down to designing the layout of your garden? For those who have space – such as those who’ve not planted a garden before, or those who get to plan theirs anew every year – you need to have a rough plan. This’ll let you know how many seedlings you should start or have on hand of each kind of plant. Know first that we gardeners always get overambitious, and end up tending tonnes of seedlings we have to give away! What’s worse is planting seeds that never germinate, or else germinate and fail. Planning helps deal with this disappointment.

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A seed library at the Westmount library

Once upon a time when I was at the Westmount Public Library, I saw something to get excited about: they’re reusing their old card catalog, situated near the main circulation (borrowing) desk, as a Seed Library.

I spoke with Daniel, who is responsible for it. It started in May 2016, and last year they reopened it in April 2017, when they learned that’s way too late for most gardeners. So this year, they’re opening the seed library on Monday, February 26. The quick explanation of what it is? “Free seeds for members for more than 50 varieties of plants. ”

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Meet my squirrel! Mangey, but adorable.

This little guy or girl comes by my backyard every day and raids my two bird feeders, sometimes with the help of another squirrel.

Because it has sarcoptic mange, I’ve been concerned about its winter survival. You can treat mange with ivermectin, selamectin, or any of the avermectins. These are insecticides that kill mites and other parasites (even some internal worms, too) in pets and livestock. Left without treatment, the animal will suffer fur loss and diminished immunity, not to mention being driven mad with the itching. It will also lose out on some time better spent food gathering and stashing. Finally, there’s an increased risk of transmitting it to other animals and species. I certainly don’t want this, but I’m not sure if the mites that affect squirrels also affect birds.

It’s possibly illegal for me to have done this, but as my dog, Daisy, died and couldn’t take her HartGard pills with her on her journey, Continue reading

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