Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Bike Ride

The weather today was amazing so I headed out late afternoon for a bike ride around the Grand River. I was keeping an eye out for Bald Eagles because this is the time of year they start traveling down the Grand again. I did not spot any eagles but I did come across a red tailed hawk. It seemed to not even notice me even though I was about 15 feet away. I was able to photograph the hawk for 15 minutes and then decided to head home after taking close to 100 photos of the bird. I was able to watching it spot, catch and eat 2 snakes and it was very interesting to observe. This one must have had enough encounters with people on the trail that it has learnt people are harmless, well most of us at least. Here are a couple of the photo's I took:

This is a snake that has wrapped around the beak.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Season in the Garden

The vegetable garden has been hit by a killing frost. It has actually been a long time coming for my area, we usually receive a hard frost near the end of September so we have been lucky this year. After the frost there is very little variety left in the garden with brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets, radishes and a few hardy herbs being the only things left.

I spent the afternoon cleaning up the plants hit by frost and doing some clean up in the perennial borders. I miss the summer garden but it will be nice to have a reprieve from the majority of garden chores until next spring.

I have found a window to use for the cold frame I am wanting to build. I ended finding a double glazed window that is 2'x3' at the ReStore. The ReStore is a nonprofit store that sells used/donated building materials and the proceeds are used to build low income housing. I have not made up my mind what plans I am going to use. I have two plans: The first is for a cold frame that will fold up via hinges. The second one is for a cold frame made of plywood that is fastened together with metal brackets & bolts which then can be dismantled for storage. I will have to figure what I am doing soon or it may be to late to even use a cold frame.

I will end with a series of photos from the beginning of the vegetable garden this spring to fall:


Early June

Late August

Today, October 27th

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Trip to the Apple Orchard

It is apple season so what better to do then go apple picking. We went to Orchard Home Farm which is located about 15 minutes north of Brantford. We have picked apples there for 3 years now and they always have quality apples that are very large and at a reasonable price. On this outing we picked 30lbs of apples with equal amounts of Northern Spy, Cortland & McIntosh apples. We will probably go back in the next week or two to pick 50lbs more which should be enough to last through the winter/spring months.

It is nice to get out of the city and visit u-pick farms. It brings you in contact with where food comes from and makes you realize that produce is actually seasonal. It is also nice that it is at its peak of freshness.

Here are some photo's I took well there:

There honey bee's. This is located on the side of there barn right by
the front registers. The black pipe is the entrance so you can observe the
bee's without disturbing there activity. They have been really active
in previous years but this time it has been cold so they were not
moving much.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Garlic Planting

I decided today to brave the veracious mosquito's near dawn and head out to plant my garlic. I have stuck a couple clovers around the yard a few times before and it performed well. Now that I have actual vegetable beds I decided to plant a double row.

This is how I planted it:

I broke up the heads making sure the clove separated cleanly
from the bottom plate(root) of the garlic head.

I then planted the cloves pointy end up, 3" down and
3" from side of the bed as well as from the next clove.
I put the rows 4" apart which I think is about as close
as you would want them to get.

After the cloves were spaced, I watered them in. After the
water drained I then reset any that moved out of place.

Finally I carefully back filled and light tamped
the soil so water will not collect in the area.

Now they just need to root and break ground in the spring. Garlic is best planted later in the fall because if it breaks the ground before snow fall the shouts can be damaged. I have read that if the garlic does happen to break ground to early it can be mulched with 3-4 inches of mulch to protect them from freezing & thawing. It is also best to only use large cloves, the small ones will not amount to much in terms of head size. The small ones can be planted and used as fresh garlic in the spring and summer months though.


Well I was out I also picked any peppers that had turned colour. There are still about 6 peppers that are green, it will be nice if they turn but with the frost we have been getting I am surprised they are even alive still.

On another note, I am thinking about building a cold frame. I have been going back and forth about putting up a hoop cover but with our climate I don't think it would perform well or last long enough to be worth while. I will have to be on the look out for a couple old windows.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Algonquin Park Trip

I am back from Northern Ontario after one amazing weekend. The weather was perfect, good lighting, nice temperatures and lots of wildlife. I ended up seeing two moose, one wild turkey, a group of diving ducks, a couple blue herons and of course red squirrels & chipmunks. The leaves were actually just starting to fall, with about 80% still on the trees, so it was not the prime time but still very nice. We went on five short hikes, one bike trail and saw three water falls.

The drive up was nice, good traffic and weather. You can actually see as much scenery from the highway as you see in the park. The ride home was a little ruff though. Heading south bound on highway 11 was slow due to an accident on the north bound lanes which ended up crossing the south bound lanes, glade we missed the actual accident. Then highway 400 was very slow so we exited and later found out a load of beans spilled on the road, talk about spilling the beans. Then well traveling the back way we missed a couple turns and were sent on a GPS route from hell. After leaving at 3pm we arrived at 9:30pm, under ideal conditions we should have arrived at 7pm.

Here goes the photos, I chose 24 of the 526 photos that were taken, they have been shrunk down t0 2.5mb total so they should load fast:

Wild Turkey, this was our Thanksgiving turkey. She was observed not eaten.

Red Squirrel, not sure if it wanted food or wanted to attack. It seemed to like the camera.

Chipmunk, taken on Hardwood Lookout.

Blue Heron, taken at Ragged Falls.

First Moose sighting, he was crossing highway 60, just inside the park.

Second Moose sighting, seen about 10 minutes down the road from the first on.

Red-breasted Merganser's

Red-breasted Merganser having a Perch breakfast

Muskoka Falls, This has a hydroelectric dam to the side so the flow is very much reduced.

Ragged Falls

A small creek-waterfall on the side of highway 60. Water falls from a boggy pond.

Muskoka Falls landscape

Smoke Lake

A small lake in the Muskoka area.

A Maple Tree growing in a rock crevice. It is amazing the little ecosystems you find in the rocks.

Smoke Lake, view from hardwood lookout trail taken by my Mom.

Moss in the woods.

Rock & Trees on the side of highway 60 taken by my Mom.

Oxtongue Lake

A canoe portage we hiked down.

Perk Lake

Lookout Trail at sunset followed by a hike back in the dark, Good thing I brought a flash light.

A tree taken by my Mom on Old Railway Bike trail

A fern growing on a rock cliff.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Weekend Spent Being a Leafier

I am off to Algonquin Park for our thanksgiving weekend, Oct 11-13. It is the park that was made famous by the group of seven painters and is truly an amazing place to visit.

The plan is to spend time viewing the fall colours which are at about 100% at the moment. Also to do some hiking, biking and maybe some canoeing. It is suppose to be a spectacular weekend of sunshine with day time highs of 20c(68f) and no pesky bugs like in the summer.

I am hoping to also see some moose, it is the rut season so they should be moving around more, never seen a mouse in person before so fingers crossed. The thing I want to avoid is bears unless at a very large distance, I'd rather not be dinner.

We are staying in a hotel so it should be comfortable in the evenings and is equiped with a bathroom and kitchenette. Those will be the only luxuries though, no internet and the last time I was up there was not even cell phone coverage, now that's ruffing it.

I will follow up with photo's next week.