Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

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.

Milkweed seed offer, to plant before the ground’s too frozen

Oh, hai, long-forgotten blog, and my patient or happenstantial blog reader!

I have not died. While I may have disappeared, I haven’t gotten sick and/or completely wasted away. I simply took a solid year off, using COVID as a flimsy excuse while the rest of the world rediscovered the joys of gardening and baking bread. These were things that I was already doing, sometimes well, sometimes badly. Unfortunately for me this year, I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to blog about them. I was enthusiastically doing other very quiet things this year.

I can always talk about them in the coming year, and as a matter of fact, I do expect next year to go better in the garden. Two weeks ago, I had the city prune the locust tree that was casting too much shade to produce the bumper crop of tomatoes I’d hoped for. The tree will grow taller, and its twinned apple tree may also fill out and add shade in future years, but the opening up will let more sunlight hit the ground.

I also thinned more than half the violets from my prolific patch in the front yard and weeded out all but one or two clumps of the equally-prolific feverfew. Along the fence where the vegetables go, I added more mini-bulbs from the previous year’s tulip harvesting; these will not produce flowers for a few years, but each year that produces a leaf will strengthen the bulb for eventual flowering. Unless the squirrels get to them first.

A very satisfied squirrel, who wasn’t fazed one bit by my chasing him/her up the tree, tulip bulb in mouth.

Next year I may prune back the box hedge even further, but this year it was a source of great pleasure (and some nutrition) for my rabbits, who hid between the fence and the bushes and pruned them from the base to as high as Parker could reach, standing on his hind legs (he’s my main garden assistant). New bunny Willa, found in the park across the street on August 23rd, also taught the boys to resume their lawn-mowing duties.

New founding rabbit Willa
New rabbit Willa, the week after I found her, getting her used to the idea of outside-at-home. Soon after this, I let her out with my boys and she reinterested them in grazing.
Inspiring cooperation at the one job I give them

After having moved around a few more plants that I hope took root this autumn, I’m thinking of transplanting the milkweed to the back yard – rather: seeding it, and once it’s taken, remove all except the best-placed two to three from my front yard.

Which brings me to today’s offer

…which I posted on Facebook and Instagram and didn’t think to mention here until after Indian Summer was over:

As the caption says, there’s still some time to plant milkweed, because the seeds need to freeze to germinate. So long as you can scratch it into the soil and then add some compost, you can plant it.

I bought a lot of these milkweed packets as a gift for people subscribing to my mailing list. I still have about sixty packs to sell and donate. You can buy-1-donate-1 where I will donate a pack to an organization or establishment for every one sold, or buy-1-gift-1 to give to someone you know who will plant them. 1 pack for $2 or 3 packs for $5, postage included. Click the link to PayPal me, and include your address and which option you choose: Donate or Gift.

If you receive the seeds too late this autumn, you can keep them in the fridge (which is where I’ve been storing them) and plant them early next spring.

There. Blogging drought ended. I have a few more projects to tell you about soon. And if you have any questions or comments, I’d like to hear from you as well!

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 – CRACK SALAD!

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Six weeks before the frost sets in (traditionally, people consider Canadian Thanksgiving the first-frost date, but it comes later), gardeners can often get an early start on the next year’s garden and crops. This time of year is perfect for doing transplants because roots are not likely to experience water and heat stress. It gives them a chance to establish themselves before the coming winter.

So I decided that it’s time for an event: a fall-oriented gardening session (click to read the outcome) to prepare a garden for next year and plant native species.

This hands-on event for the avid or casual gardener is a collaborative learning opportunity about native and cultivated plants for biodiverse wildlife gardens. We’ll share knowledge on gardening and native species for both shade and sun. You’re also welcome to bring plants from your garden and for swapping with other gardeners.

(More about the event, and then the video!)…

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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…

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