The Ravens (funny, I just feel like they should be capitalized) are getting pretty cozy with me.  I have two that I see every day, and I can’t believe how casual they’ve become with proximity. They let me get closer than I’ve ever been to a raven, but that may be because I am acknowledged as the purveyor of kitchen scraps.

I haven’t seen them necking, but I suspect they are a mated pair.  I hope they have a nest nearby or will next year; I’ve never been close to a raven chick and that would be fun to watch.  They spend their time lumbering around the paddock and lurking around the chicken coop, and they make short work of anything that goes in the compost, which is really inaptly named now, as nothing has time to compost.  Except for the onions.  They don’t care for onion breath, it seems.

They are loud!  Not their voices (not just), but the air they beat with their wings, and the thump they make landing on the ground or a roof.  From inside, I can hear them land on the ground! The noise they make clattering around on the steel shed roofs is unholy, and more than once has brought me outside to see what’s making the car crash noises. They are big, heavy birds, and they act like it too.  Somehow they make walking look ponderous and wearying, and every takeoff looks like a hard won battle with gravity.

So, we are supporting them with leftovers; I love their constant presence, love that they trust me so much, and yet I fear that they will kill chickens once the chickens are freed to range.  The robin I had lost her nestful, and I blamed the cat for awhile, but I eventually figured out it was likely the Ravens.

There are four chicks in this picture. One is doing a burrowing/dust bath/camofluage thing. Can you find him?

They’re loving their playpen. Really, they seem like a bunch of exceedingly happy chickens.

They’ve trampled the long grass flat, mostly, although they still get snagged and tripped up in it and fall over. That’s funny.

They all run outside when I open the hatch in the morning, and they crowd back in the hen door when I approach them. Except this morning, when I strolled up for a look and two of them promptly slipped through the fence like water to get away from me.

That’s a problem.

Luckily, it’s very important to chickens to be with the other chickens, so the teensy one immediately slid back in, but the other one had more trouble doing that, trying gap after gap before he found one that he could fit through. That smallest chicken is a spitfire, always in the forefront and thick of things. I’m gonna have to name them soon.

I’ve added some panels of smaller gauge wire to the lower feet of the fence, defying what seemed impossible and further increasing the utter charmlessness of the whole structure.

Coop style

The size differential between the smallest one and the largest two is still shocking.


New procedure for the chicken coop:  I’ve stopped mucking it out, and I’ve added a thick layer of fresh grass clippings.  Now I’m going to just add grass and leaves and whatever and let the henhouse floor build up.

The birds seem to love it.  It’s soft and much cleaner and attractive; they look bright and colourful springing around on their new emerald green floor, and they like lying down on it too.  It gives them more to scratch around in.  They pick out single blades of grass and eat them whole like a strand of spaghetti.

Chicken Run

The smallest bird got out of the box today while I was there to witness it.  I’m glad, because its neurotic running back and forth against the wall and frantic cheeping was a little sad.   He/she was just so sure he was missing something.   When he finally launched himself to the wall and over, hoo boy, what a party.  Hilarious-  zipping around, screeching, SO excited.  So now they can all come and go from the box.  Even though he’s a fraction of the size of all the others, he has no problem keeping up.

I made them a daytime play area, caging it with wire fence.  It looks like I was going for a stint on Canada’s Worst Handyman, but that’s because I hate wire fencing with such a fiery passion.  After those days last month fencing and battling with so many scraps of tangled fence to clean out the “wire shed”, it is officially my least favorite building material, handily surpassing black death/Acoustiseal.   I did the bare minimum of draping and wrapping and patching so that it may look like a disaster, but it does the job.  It’s only meant to protect them from birds of prey at this point, so that they can get a taste of being outside.  I can open their hatch in the morning while I work outside, and I shut them in safe at night.  I’m counting on no coyote or bear attacks in broad daylight.  Hopefully by the time they tire of their porch, they will be big and tough enough to become more free ranging.

It took hours for one to make the step out, and it was because he was pushed.  Cautious beasts.  But they were all out by the end of the day, I think. I saw different groupings of them on the outside, and they seem to like sitting in the grass.

I also finally got fed up with not having windows, and on the way to make some I hung my door, the old front door of a store.

Now, the horse can do this. He’s fogging up the window. He does it all the time. It’s a little unnerving.
It went well; the Interac and Visa stickers peeled off no problem.


Raptor stage

What?  Not cute?

They’re not cute anymore.  Feathered feet?

They’re in their awkward, ugly stage; plenty of feathers yet not quite enough.  They look raggedy, a little half-plucked.

Two of them have hardly grown in two weeks, and the biggest two have tripled in size, now looking like full grown chickens, one with hilariously extravagant feathered feet. I still can’t tell which are the roosters, and there still doesn’t appear to be excessive aggression.

The black one that was the No. 3 gangster before I left is now one of the three smallest, having not changed at all in size.  He(?) feels plump and vital though.  They’re funny to hold, all pissed off but helpless at being held upside down.  So undignified! Continue reading Raptor stage

Vancouver Full Moon Riot

Partially by chance I was in Vancouver on game 7 night and wasn’t about to miss the action so I joined the crowd at Georgia and Hamilton an hour before the game started.  I wasn’t expecting that much action.

About 5 minutes after the game was over it had nothing to do with hockey any more. The small orange flames of the car fires leapt up and black smoke started to billow up.

The tension was building early and there was an aggressive edge on by the second period.  On my immediate left (like, the guy whose back I was pressed into) guys were threatening to knife each other because of some comment of Boston fandom, and one fight had broken out a little farther away.  On my right, guys were readying themselves for when the bunch on my left started to fight for real, and I was exactly where I didn’t want to be, between the two, and couldn’t move. Where I was standing the crowd was as tight as the last Nirvana concert I was at; a guy near me joked that having raised an arm, he couldn’t get it back down to his side.

Trouble started before the game was even over.  At the end of the second period there was an outflux of older people, children, and others unable to take the crush of the crowd. Continue reading Vancouver Full Moon Riot

A mild breeze

Seems like every time I get into a canoe it’s a battle.   With a strong current, with a less experienced co-pilot, or, as it turns out, with the wind.

Wow.  It’s kind of cool feeling like the water is a quiet, easily predictable ally, while the air around you is a trickster sprite.  The canoe reacts almost before you even feel the breath on your face, and you alternate between J-stroking fiercely in the lulls, and battling to just hold position when it blows up.  There’s nothing like fighting as hard as you can and still going backwards.  Or else, rectifying your heading, and then seeing the water stipple a little, which means that the wind is about to grab the empty end of your vessel and whip it around like it’s a sail.  You can’t stop for a moment to rest, or you lose so much “ground” it’s just depressing.

Hell of a workout though.

Nova Scotia I: Where to begin?

What a monstrous clean up is required.

We arrived at the property yesterday afternoon.  It was a beautiful day to first see it, sunny and mild.  Nova Scotia is gorgeous; I love it, all the churches and mix of colorful small houses and rolling hills of trees.  We hacked our way into the “driveway” far enough for my dad to park his truck in, and set up our tents and screened refuge.

The neighbour came over, pointed out a couple of wells and a survey pin.  I like the wells.  They seem built to last, and full.  Of course, it’s been very wet lately in Nova Scotia; everything is very green and lush.

My brother’s pictures manage to make everything look romantically weathered, but the reality is pretty dismal.

The house is a disaster of garbage.  The floors are covered with disintegrating debris that used to be clothing and bedding and paper, etc.  The drywall is rotting on the walls, the roof is breached, and the whole thing is tipping, drifting sideways off the dubious “foundation” points.  The whole thing hovers over a hole in the ground that’s full of water and more garbage.

I’m disappointed that I can’t save the house.  Dad says I can’t, that every aspect of it is compromised now.

The barn roof and loft have collapsed, and there are other little outbuildings and former outbuildings that have started to return to the earth.

There is still a meadow.  The aspens slope towards the middle, clearly seeding themselves further into the field every year.  There are fruit trees everywhere, but it’s like espionage, finding them.  The other trees are growing up so thickly through and around them that the canopy has completely closed over them. Continue reading Nova Scotia I: Where to begin?