All posts by Selka

I'm a Canadian woman living in an off-grid tiny house on a small organic orchard farm in Nova Scotia, always aspiring to a "better"- more conscious, ecological, and organic- life. I blog to keep my family and friends up to date; to share things I've learned and discovered with difficulty so that hopefully, it will help others who internet research to proceed with less difficulty; to maintain a practice of writing; and to create an illustrated journal of the arc of my life. I try to post every second day. I write about my garden, my travels, Iceland, my chickens, dog, bees and other pets, books I read, and stuff that I build and make. My husband is passionate about bicycling and he sometimes pipes up with stories about bikes and bicycling. Sometimes I swear. You can follow on Facebook too, but all I ever do there is put up my blog posts.

Packrat relocation project

An unusually quiet night on the ranch:  the packrats are gone.

I caught them both last night.  For the record, dark chocolate and/or dried blueberries are the irresistible bait of choice.  I got nowhere with honey on previous nights.

When I came home last night the trap was sprung but I had to look close to see the small shape huddled perfectly still inside the trap.  I gathered up some comfort fixings into a big tupperware,  transferred the rodent into it for the night, and reset the trap.

The other packrat was not so meek.  When he got trapped, he tried to escape so vigorously, it sounded like a tin can was possessed, and it woke me up.  Crash!  Crash!  Blearily I moved him as well, into the tupperware, and went back to sleep.

They went in a cycle all night- a little sleep, a little attempting to escape- squeaking and thumping against the lid of the bin.  Then back to sleep….

In the morning they were so cute.  I’d put an egg carton in the box, since they seem to like them so much.  Both of them were sleeping on top of it, snuggled together with their heads each poked down into one egg cup of the carton.  Adorable!  Smelly, though.  I’m so glad to have caught them.

I bagged up a big chunk of their midden- which is mostly egg cartons, straw, and grape leaves, although I recognized one square of fabric clearly tugged out of my scrap bag.  All this and the box of stinky packrats into the truck, and we went on a really long drive up a forestry road.

I set up their new digs first, making a nice egg carton pile in some really dense brush.  If I do say so myself, I think it was a much better design than their original.  If I were a packrat, I’d be damn psyched about that nest.  All ready for the release, I went back to my truck …. just in time to see one of them run over the seat and up into my dashboard!
Continue reading Packrat relocation project

Packrats, meet your doom!

That didn’t take long.  One week of coexistence, and the packrats must go.  The key letter in that decision is the “s”.  I distinctly heard two packrats at work in separate locations, and where there’s two, well, the problem is about to be fruitful and multiply.

I got a live trap, and Omega-3 and his girlfriend are about to be relocated.  I’m going to take them out on a firewood trip and release them, and to be extra nice, I’m going to bag up all the cardboard and grape leaves they’ve been gathering and bring that along too, to give them a head start on their new lives in the woods.  It is starting to get cold; I understand their motivation.

They really haven’t been a problem yet, except for the noise.  I can’t believe something so small can make such a racket.  Although, they probably feel the same about me in the daytime.  Could you cut it out with the air nailer over there?  We’re trying to sleep here!  Big night ahead of us.

All is well at home

Sliding back into life and business as usual at home.  Iceland is receding into my semi-relevant history, at least for everyone else.  “Hey, you’ve been away for a while, right?  Where?  How was that?”, as though I can sum it up in a few words and we can get on to what’s at hand.

For me it remains visceral and present.  Iceland changed me, and part of me remains there.  All day I’m thinking of the horses and the lava and opening my eyes in the morning to sky.  Iceland, Iceland, Iceland!  Like thinking of blue cars makes them appear, I see connections to Iceland all the time now in places I would never have noticed before.

At home it’s getting colder and more motivating to get the barn sealed up.  I have a pet packrat now and firewood to cut and it’s time to make money.  Worst of all, I have no Internet!  Bell’s Turbostick has utterly failed me, so posting posts is a terrible ordeal…

Info salad

The floor is done!  Very pleasing to do a real sweep, and now it’s green light on walls and windows, because one rather needs an expanse of floor to frame on.

Technological challenges continue on the home front.  My Snow Leopard is not making friends with any TurboSticks, so no internet, and worse, I have no memory card for my camera.  So taking pictures and posting them are both terribly difficult.

I’ve resorted to walking around with my laptop and aiming it at things to take Photo Booth pictures, but this is really stretching it now, and the pics are mirror imaged and poor quality.

Had an unusually loud night last night.  I stupidly dropped some small food wrapper by my bed, so of course, Omega-3 was on it like hot fudge on a sundae in the middle of the night.  The scritching woke me up, so I slowly crept my hand to the light switch and flipped on the lights.  He took off like a rocket, blasted at top speed to the farthest side of the barn and dove with a crunch into something rustly.  Very funny.  And no further disturbances for the night.  I could imagine it’s little packrat heart pounding – how can the sun come on so fast?

The news is full of Newfoundland, the peninsula I grew up on devastated.  I listen hourly for the news- stranded on Random Island, homes lost in Port Rexton, army based out of Clarenville, nurses going to work at the Bonavista hospital by boat – it’s very unusual to hear anything about that part of NFLD, let alone that it be the lead story hour after hour.  The fact that the Port Union fish plant was virtually destroyed is a really bad piece of news.  That’s going to take a long time to recover.  So, as are many, sending love and thoughts to the Island, kinda wishing I could help in a more practical way.

Living with Wildlife

Omega-3 is the cutest!  About the size and colour of a flying squirrel, with big pink mouse ears.  I caught a glimpse when s/he was doing laps in the lane between my stacked boxes and the wall while I was quietly writing after dark.

I also know now it’s not nesting in my stuff, but rather in a corner of the “old barn”, the exiled, untouched, un-reno’ed third of the barn that I’m not working on, and it’s dragging in grapes and grape leaves from the vine on the outside of the barn.

I know this rodent could be a BIG problem in many ways, but I have this romantic notion that we can all get along.  I really don’t want to trapkill or poison it, and as long as it doesn’t fuck with me and my stuff, can’t we co-exist?

I just need it to be a little quieter.  I’m used to the scurrying, but get startled awake by the gnaw, gnaw, gnawing.  I stare, listening, trying to think of what the hell the packrat could be destroying now, and wondering if there’s anything worth getting up for to check on or maybe save.

But I can’t find any damage in the daytime.  Although at night it sounds like a beaver is consuming a 2×4 under my bed, I can’t find evidence of what O-3 is snacking on in the night.

Mogi’s cats only work the day shift, so until I have lockup and can borrow one and make him spend the night in the barn, the packrat is safe during the day.  Maybe Ill just leave my compressor plugged in overnight, so it can randomly scare the daylights out of both of us in the wee hours.

It’s kind of nice, to hear life around me.  Sometimes I hear Mucky chewing or sighing, and the packrat being a packrat in the night… it’s not so bad.Living with Wildlife

Garden, R.I.P.

I can’t say I didn’t expect it.

What I didn’t expect was that it would go down to deer.  Not weeds, or lack of water.  Deer utterly destroyed the garden, and more so by trampling it than eating it.  It looked like a herd thundered through it.  Mucky must’ve had an off day to allow this.

Even with the destruction and inconvenient conclusion that a deer fence is vital, guard horse notwithstanding, I’m happy with my gardening success this year, and even post-deer, there are quite a few meals on the ground.

The scarlet runners were as fail-safe as always, and many escaped the depredations.  I’m sorry I missed the amazingly quick spiral climb they do up their trellises.  The other beans and peas, despite being completely defoliated (by the looks of the stalks, they were quite healthy before attack), forced out a fair number of pods.  Celery- healthy, ignored, but not long like you’d buy in the store at all.  All leaf.

The corn are the most successful and unmolested vegetables, if you don’t count the zucchini that won’t fit in the fridge.  I’m already wise enough to only plant one zucchini.  A megalomaniac  among squash, they are.  Tomatoes, trampled, although my upside down tomatoes are passably successful.  Possibly too much water.  They aren’t reddening, although I hear everyone’s tomatoes are doing that.

I got the cutest, perfect cucumber- amazing considering total neglect and trampling.  I’m surprised it had enough heat, likewise for the jalapeno peppers, which also came through.  My favorite of the flight-of-fancy plants, though, is the watermelon.  At the end of a gnarled, shriveled, pale thread of a stalk, a perfect, green sphere of a watermelon, exactly the size of a softball.  ♥! Continue reading Garden, R.I.P.

Barns and bats and rats, oh my!

I came home to a dismal, depressing scene of neglect and destruction, no cat, and a frustrating mountain of work.

It could have been worse, but still, it was enough to make me weep.  Hours of cleaning and a long therapeutic session of cleaning the paddock restored my space and my sense of hope, but the mountain of work remains ahead.

I think I have a packrat.  It ate my rice cakes, made half of a sheepskin vanish, and appeared to be subsisting on flax seed.  Clearly, it cares about nutrition. I did not find it’s abode, but I’m sure it’s very well lined.  My cat would roll over in her grave, if she had one, at this home invasion.

The other cats clearly need to be encouraged to exercise their feline instincts around the barn.  They’ve been hanging around, but they’re not used to me around too.  When I came “home” after dinner last night, I scared one cat so bad he fled out the second story window, and I don’t know if he leapt straight out or if he climbed down the outside wall, the way he seems to get in.

I had a choppy sleep, too, waking up often to the sound of scrabbling, and trying with my flashlight to catch a glimpse of the invader, whom I’m calling “Omega-3”.  I’m really not into it running across my face in the night or something- that would be entirely too “country” an experience for me.

Doors; windows; lock-up:  Urgent!

Happily, I still have bats roosting in the other side of the barn.  I’m glad the reno has not totally dislocated them. Build bat house- on list.

Back in BC

My milk run flight back home bounced up and down off the major cities like a ping pong ball.  Three takeoffs and landings; enough to make one sick.

It’s nice to fly over BC’s green-carpeted mountains and remember that I love this place. So much wilderness, so close. And Vancouver doesn’t look so badass from the air, just squeaked into the flat space of the river delta where the mountains shrug aside.

All the verdant abundance we have here, this surfeit of trees and resources and adventure, makes me wonder why Iceland took such a hold on me in comparison.  Just look at the gorgeous Keremeos valley, a pastoral landscape and serene photo ops like many we just saw.  In this whole country, we have so much more than little Iceland, about the size of Newfoundland, does.

All I can say is that there’s something about Iceland that defies description or definition that exists only there, and I can hear it calling me back…

Complete story of my Iceland adventures

Iceland concluding.

Almost time to leave this place.  My suitcase is packed (full of books and wool), and our last night promises to be too cloudy for Northern Lights.

I’m still here and I’m already starting to mourn for it and longing to come back.  I love this place so much in ways I can’t even define.  Time to start learning Icelandic.

It’s a good thing photos don’t take up physical space anymore.  We have many, many gigs of pictures that I can’t wait to start sifting and playing with, not to mention posting more about what we actually got up to here.

My newest prize possessions

The Prophet in Icelandic!  In Icelandic!  The Prophet!  I cannot describe my joy at this.

Closely followed by the delight of The Handmaid’s Tale in Icelandic (Saga of the Handmaids).

I can report that used bookstores are the same everywhere; I want to stay in them all day and cart home a box of books.

The logic of the high prices of books in Icelandic revealed itself today: any foreign book translated into Icelandic is being translated, published, and printed for a total audience equaling maybe the population of Victoria, BC.  So that’s a very expensive prospect and it’s only done for a few of the most popular books.  “Eat Pray Love” is prominent in bookstores right now.  Most books don’t get translated into Icelandic- most Icelanders will just read them in English if they want to.

Complete story of my Iceland adventures