Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Pets and Farm Animals (page 1 of 2)

I’m not using the term “livestock” even though, yes, on farms, live animals are profitable inventory. Livestock usually implies that they’re going to go to market to be slaughtered and turned into food themselves. While small farms can be wonderful places even when that is their objective, and I support that, it’s not my objective. I like animals alive and appreciate them that way.

How cracks in my asphalt driveway revolutionized my life

If you’ve been to this blog or my Facebook page at least once before, you’ve probably seen photos of my green driveway. They’re all over the place, like in the video here. And yet every year, just like several years before I put it in, some contractor dude who’s thinking “that ain’t right!” drops by with a card to “fix” it. (I can’t blame him for pounding the pavement looking for clients, but still…).

Sometimes he even jots a quote on the back as to how much it would cost me to rip out my green driveway and put down some blacktop asphalt driveway. You know, my green driveway cost a little more than what he’s quoting, because it was kinda fancy underneath, but I won’t have to “repair” the crack every five years like he wants me to. No, thank you.

I used to have an asphalt driveway. About the only thing you can do on an asphalt or concrete driveway that you can’t do on mine is play basketball. And maybe make chalk drawings, but you know, the city sidewalk’s right there, so that’s no biggie.

See, for a long time I had cracks in the driveway where plants would grow. That’s why they’d wanna “repair” it. But why would I let that bother me? Water percolating into the soil and being taken up by plants actually cools the air through transpiration.

“But frost heaves!” – it’s a driveway, not a highway; a little bump from a crack is not a problem.

“But bigger cracks!” More plants!

Why would I want black top + hot sun make my driveway and home hotter, rather than something cooling it down? Besides, when the plants were growing in the cracks in my driveway, guess what the bunnies’ favourite outdoor snacks were?

That’s right – Continue reading

When I got home from the nursery for the Rewilding garden session, I took this video of my bunnies and the butterflies out in the garden, for your enjoyment. (You have to click through to the Facebook post if you want my narration.)

 

Christmas decorations: a mostly homemade wreath

Here I was wondering “what the heck am I going to write about this week?” and then… the clue comes in: it’s Christmas! Time for the decorations. I’ve hung the string of lights in the window, and a wreath by my front door.

The wreath is one of my favourite things ever. I made it five years ago (which accounts for the dim quality of the photos I took from PhotoBooth on my iMac). Here is the play-by-play:

It’s made out of  Virginia creeper, which, if cut fresh, will be pliable enough to weave. Otherwise, if it’s a little aged, it can be softened up in a hot shower, and then wrapped around and twisted into a wreath.

Then I wrapped it around again with be-buttoned burlap ribbon, bought at the dollar store many years ago, and tied with a complicated bow. Off now to find out what else is suitable for decorating it. I know I have cranberries…

Using the plastic mistletoe and a foil ball spray with a ribbon from the trove of Christmas decorations:


How about with a rat? Too cute, especially with his cheek spots. 

My dearly departed Benjamin, AKA Beelzebubbles.

Well, I can’t hang it outside with Benjamin, but I can use IKEA rats or mice:

Mice work better. The brown mouse on the right has a ribbon around its neck. The white mouse swinging on the mistletoe keeps the mistletoe in place. Because of the lopsidedness of the wreath, I re-centred it to the left – as you will see in the next pic. 

I even had a red-anodized-coated copper wire in my tool box (I love it when the things I keep find a great purpose!) from which to hang the wreath outside. 

In the past year the wreath has one small addition that is perfect: the trapeze mouse has a little bell on a red cord around its neck.

I hope this post inspires you to make use of nature’s materials and your own hoarded craft parts to create a work of joy and fun.

As an aside, one of my European friends  who saw my wreath pics wrote to me:

Our neighbours didn’t take their wreath down after Christmas one year because they liked it so much. When they finally wanted to put it away in spring, they found that a robin had built a nest in it. They had to use the back door for months, until all the nestlings had left…

Hervé the white rabbit.

On the original version of this blog, I posted about my pets from time to time. I still have Hervé, you can sometimes see him in my photos and blog posts and social media shares, and he came to me, like all my pets, through a rescue route. 

Ringo’s Lost poster

I  want to show you pics of the new rabbit that entered my life. It was a few weeks after I lost Ringo, and someone found a white rabbit a few blocks away on St. Antoine, near Georges-Vanier metro – right in the middle of the road, early in the morning. They contacted Quebec Rabbit Rescue – Secours Lapins Quebec, who can only network for rabbit rehoming, as they aren’t a shelter. QRR gave them my poster to identify if it was Ringo, but it wasn’t. They asked me to take him in anyway.

He is young, friendly, full of energy and curiosity, and he’s got a big appetite. It took a few weeks, but his name arrived: Hervé.

One great thing about Hervé is that he actually likes being in the front yard, and his willingness to stay and graze influences the girl bunnies in a positive way. I’ve a lot fewer “escapes” – visiting the neighbours, or hiding under the car – than before. They then get to stay outside for longer.

He’s really fearless, actually. On Hallowe’en, he wanted out in the evening – no way! – and so was hanging around the front door as kids came by to trick-or-treat. He was also trying to get into the bowl of candy. He taught Elizabeth to go explore the bedrooms upstairs, looking for treats. Naturally, he attacked a few houseplants this way.

Here he is, the day he arrived

He loves being pet. Here he’s assuming the position.

He also humps my girls. And they take it (most of the time) in the most unperturbed way possible. After all, girls can be worse for humping, as it’s a dominance activity.


 

And now, I have some very sad news (as sad as losing Ringo). In the past 10 days, my “heart” rat Archie has wasted away from the effects of what I thought was a pituitary tumour, but it was pneumonia. I’ve nursed more than a half-dozen pituitary cases over the years, and I thought I knew the signs. I was wrong.

Archie has been my brave explorer and shoulder-rider over the past year, preferring my company at that height over the ground-level pursuits and other predations of Dweezil, my resident terrorist. Now, I’m feeding and medicating Archie through a syringe, while he sleeps the day and night away. He still bruxes and stretches so I believe he’s not comatose. It’s heartbreaking to see him this way, but we each have to face death, and if I can’t pull him back from the brink that I stupidly brought him to, then my job is to make it as comfortable as possible.

Archie exploring under the deck in the garden.

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