Video Experiment

For a while I thought we weren’t going to see any deer today.  Then we got 5 of them, all at once!  They got very active, with them attacking each other and chasing each other around, before things settled for a while.  It turned out to be Mama and the twins, plus two others I didn’t recognize.

I’ve been able to upload videos directly into posts from my phone, but I am quickly running out of space on my free WordPress account.  We’re not in a position to upgrade, so I’m going to try uploading a video onto YouTube (I just activated a new channel today), and embedding it into this post.  If it works, I will upload other videos that I’ve posted here, then switch the videos in the posts to embedded YouTube files.  I’ll then be able to delete the videos from here on WordPress and free up some space until we can afford to upgrade our plan.

So please do let me know in the comments if it plays properly for you on whatever you use to view this blog!

Many thanks. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

That’s going to hurt…

automotive-defect-broken-car-wreck-78793.jpegWell, I’ve taken the van in this morning to get the safety inspection.

This is a bare bones inspection required in order for me to be able to transfer our license and registration to this province.  Whatever else they find, as long as I can get it fixed within 30 days, they can sign off on it as a pass.

It failed.

When the mechanic came in, his first question to me was “were you planning on keeping this vehicle?”

There are a lot of little things wrong with it.  Whoever owned it before us didn’t maintain it well.

Here we thought that buying from a dealership would save us from this hassle.  I never thought that the dealership would be the one to screw us over.  I would have been better off buying a vehicle off of LetGo.

Ah, hindsight.  It’s always perfect.

To be fair, the engine itself is sound.  If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be worth fixing.

The mechanic did find where our power steering was leaking.  Apparently, it wasn’t spotted because it’s leaking into something, and not just onto the ground.  It’s not a safety issue, though, so that can wait.

At my request, he also checked my driver’s side door to see why it’s dropping.  The bushings are worn out.  Again, not something that affects the safety inspection.

There were only two things to cause the failure.

One, is the brake light at the rear of the van.  The one that’s above the lift gate.  If it had just been a bulb, it would have been a quick fix, right then and there.

Turns out, it uses an LED light bar.  Which they didn’t have in any of their parts vehicles in stock.  Which can only be purchased new, directly from GM.  Which makes it considerably more expensive.  Also, it would need to be ordered in.

The other failure was with the ABS indicator.  The light has always been on since I’ve owned it, and the onboard computer always has a “service ABS system” warning.  So I figured there would be something, there.

It turns out the problem was with what WASN’T there.

A connector.

It turns out the connector for the relevant wiring was gone, and the wires themselves were tied off.

I had to ask.  Why would someone do something like that?

His best guess is that it had come loose and was dragging on the ground.  Rather than replace it, the person who did it just cut it off and tied off the wires, so they wouldn’t be dragging on the ground anymore.

He also mentioned in passing that he’s not impressed with these systems.  The ABS warning light is on on all his own vehicles, and it’s a common problem.

They did a quick check, and it turned out they did have a connector in stock that should fit.  I gave the go ahead to do both the light (which is when they found out it wasn’t just a bulb and couldn’t do it) and install the connector.

It didn’t work.

The connector was the right kind, all right, but the indicator lights continued to show.  He even drove it around a bit to see if it would turn off.  When they tested it, it kept coming up as erratic readings.

They found where the problems where.

On their own, the cost to get everything fixed really isn’t that bad.  All together, though, it’s going to be almost $650.

The only way we can afford that is if we go into the money set aside to fix the broken power pole.

Granted, the pole can’t be fixed until the ground thaws.  Which means sometime in May.  If we use this money, we likely won’t be able to replace it all of it until the end of May, which means the pole won’t get replaced until June.  My brother was going to get the power restored to the barn at the same time (they plan to paint it this year, and will need power for the equipment).

We don’t really have a choice.  We have to get the work done and the registration transferred.  We’re already behind on that.

*sigh*

Moving out here was supposed to be a help to our financial situation.  All these extra expenses are making it harder for us just to get caught up on extra expenses related to the move.  So it’s extra expenses on top of extra expenses.

It’ll work out in the end.  It’s just going to be a painful ride for a longer time.  Being the cynic realist that I am, all I can think of, what will happen next?  Because there’s always something, isn’t there?

Still, we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and our basic bills are being paid.  For that, at least, I am thankful.

The Re-Farmer

Spoiled!

I must admit, I’ve been very spoiled for the last decade or so.  Today was one of those days of realization.

Why?

I went shopping for Easter.

When we were living in the city, it was such a simple thing to run out to the grocery store.  We’d found stores that carried things, or varieties of things, no one else did. All of them were relatively close. By far my favorite grocery store was one I went to to get those things I’ve never seen carried anywhere else. Like Knorr bouillon cubes. A common enough item, normally – so long as all I want is beef, chicken or vegetable. This store? They had the cubes in mushroom, basil and garlic, fish stock, and more. When I made meals in a jar, I could include cubes in a mix and match of flavours.  I can’t even find those at the Knorr website!

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stock photo

Then there were the salts. Such a variety! Smoked salt, Persian Blue, Hawaiian sea salt, red wine, black sea salt, French Grey, Fleur de Sel…

Today, we actually found both Fleur de Sel and smoked salt – and the price tags on them were rather shocking!

This particular favorite grocery store specialized in European imports – mostly Italian and Polish (the only place I could find a Polish cream fudge). They had the biggest selection of olive oils and pastas in the entire city – vinegars, too, I’m sure – and were voted best deli, year after year.

Then there where the cheeses. Oh, so many varieties of cheese out there! And I’m talking about just in a regular grocery store, never mind places that specialized in them.

In our Easter baskets, I would try to include some new or different cheese, at least 2 types of salt, tiny bottles of different kinds of fancy olive oil, infused vinegar, and even try different kinds of stuffed green olives – though our favorite turned out to be dried and salted black olives.  When I wasn’t able to bake bread for our basket, my favourite grocery store had a number of wonderful varieties, baked in their own traditional Italian wood fired oven.  I just had to make sure to be there shortly after they opened, because by noon, their daily bread inventory was decimated.

There was just so many places we could go to, with so many regional and ethnic varieties or foods available, it was awesome to try new things, any time we could afford a little extra.

My older daughter and I were chatting recently about this change in availability, and the surprising things we found ourselves missing. She mentioned that for some reason, she’s suddenly started to crave century eggs, of all things.

Trying to shop for our Easter basket was a good illustration of how much things have changed.

We could have gone to our usual grocery store, a 15 minute drive away. We’d have a choice of 2 stores in this town. One of them is a Sobeys, so it’s got most of the same inventory a city store would have, which isn’t too bad. Selection is limited due to the relatively small size of the store. The other grocery store is part of a local group of grocers, so while it’s even smaller and has less variety of some things, it also carries things the big store never will, but are more desirable for living in this area.

Neither are places we’ll be able to find fig infused white balsamic vinegar.

For our Easter basket, I liked to include extra special things. So we didn’t just include salt. We would have a unique salt; usually two different kinds.  There would be a type of cheese we hadn’t tried before, or one we would get only for special events.  One or two types of olives would be included.  Even the horseradish paste was available in a variety of types.

For our first Easter after our move, I knew we weren’t going to be able to match our usual baskets, but I still wanted to find some special things.

Which we weren’t going to find at our usual grocery store.

I knew I wasn’t going to find it in the next nearest town, where my mother lives.  They have even less variety in the one grocery store.

We could probably have found all these things in one of the many regional or ethnic grocery stores in the city, but did I really want to drive the hour and a half to one of the stores I found online, hoping it would have what I wanted?  No, I did not.

In the end, we decided to try the town I’d been taking my mother to the hospital to, all last week.  I’d helped my mom do some shopping there on the last day we went in, but I was focused on her, not the stores, so I didn’t notice too much about how they were.  Still, one of them looked big enough that I thought we’d find some interesting things.

Which meant a 40 minute drive to go grocery shopping.

So we made a day of it, taking some time to explore the main drive and check out some shops.  Which was good, because we found one really awesome place we’ll be coming back to, for sure.  When we have money. 😀

We also got to see a film crew turning a street corner into a Christmas scene.  Looks like a movie production was taking advantage of some unique architecture.  No clue what movie was being worked on.

When we did start on the actual grocery shopping, there was nothing there I couldn’t have found in the town nearer to us.  In fact, they had even less – except for a surprisingly large section dedicated to products imported from the UK.  Which was cool, because we found some flying saucer candy.  I haven’t seen those in at least 15 years!

So we went to the second grocery store.  While we got a couple more things, the selection there was even more sparse.

It wasn’t until after we got home and I started getting ready to make the pickled pink eggs that I realized I was out of an ingredient I needed, which meant we ended up going out to the closest town, after all.

What used to be such a simple thing now requires significant amounts of driving, with not much chance of finding what I actually want.

Now, none of this is actually essential in general, and certainly not for our Easter basket.  It doesn’t need to be fancy.  The basket isn’t as important as what it is for, and what the contents symbolize.  Plain table salt is just as acceptable as any other kinds.  So is any easy to find cheese.  Olives, olive oil and vinegar are our own additions, not traditional.  They aren’t necessary at all.  We’ve just become used to being able to do more, simply because we could.

Not so much anymore.

Now, if we want to have the same things, we have to plan on a day trip to the city and be prepared to drive to several different stores – once we find them, in the first place!  There is no equivalent to our favourite grocery store out there at all – at least not all in one place.  From what I’ve been able to find online, we’d have to visit at least 2 different places, and they are at almost opposite ends of the city.

As much as I enjoy things like (affordable!) fancy salt or le pleine lune cheese, they’re not worth all that extra time, gas or money.

And so, we will do without.

Even when it was easy to get these lovely little treats, I appreciated the fact that we could get them at all.  After all, I did grow up here in the sticks, when even less was available locally than now.

Still, I will readily admit, I was spoiled by the availability in the city.

I don’t know that I can say that I miss it, exactly.  I certainly do, but as the luxuries they were, purchased only when we had a bit of room in the budget.  They were never every day things.

I can definitely say that now, when we do find some of this stuff, I appreciate it even more.

The Re-Farmer

Pickled Pink!

Today, we started our pink pickled eggs for our Easter basket.  They are now in jars, where they need to pickle for 2-3 days.

Pickled Pink Eggs

We made more of them, this year; most likely we’ll only use 8 for the basket itself, but extra is always good!

My older daughter was a sweetheart and boiled a whole bunch of eggs for us while her sister and I went shopping for basket ingredients.

Here are the ingredients for making pickled eggs that are an incredible pink colour!

These are quantities to pickle a dozen eggs, though we probably could have done closer to two dozen in our jars.

For the beet liquid, I used the liquid from both a jar of pickled beets, and a can of beets.  The pickled beets are, of course, in pickling liquid and add their own flavour.  The canned beets are in water, so that just adds colour.  You could use just one or the other, to your own preference.

For the 12 eggs, I used 2 quart size jars.  They probably could have held about 10 eggs each; maybe 12, if I wasn’t concerned about them getting squished.  Only the most perfect ones will go into the basket. 🙂

Pink Pickled EggsIngredients for pink pickled eggs
for 12 hard boiled eggs

Ingredients:

1 cup cider vinegar
1 can beets
1 jar pickled beets
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
8 whole cloves
1 onion, chopped (optional)

Also: 2, quart size, canning jars with lids.

  1. Peel the hard boiled eggs.  (It’s handy to boil extra, in case some get damaged while being peeled.)
  2. Drain the beet liquid through a sieve into a measuring cup.  There should be about 2 cups liquid in total.  If you wish, you can chop up some of the beets and include them as well.
  3. Divide the eggs into jars.  Add 4 whole cloves into each jar.
  4. Mix the remaining ingredients together until salt and sugar is dissolved.
  5. Pour the pickling liquid over the eggs.  Seal tightly.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 days.  As the eggs tend to float, gently invert the jars once or twice each day.
  7. After the eggs have pickled for several days, remove the eggs from the pickling liquid.  Discard the pickling liquid.

When ours are done in a few days, I will post new photos! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Deer… doing a double take!

My younger daughter and I ended up going out most of the day, getting everything we needed for Easter, and to last us until the Tuesday after.  There is no way I’m doing the Costco shopping before Easter weekend.

Then we went out again to get the thing I thought I had, but didn’t…

My older daughter got some photos of a new pair of deer that visited our feeding station today.

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It looks like a Mama and her youngster.

There is, however, something strange about that Mama.

Take another look…

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She has no tail!

Now there is a deer that likely survived a predator attack!

We seem to be getting more new deer visiting us lately.

My daughter also got a cute shot of Butterscotch.

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Butterscotch has been quite entertaining today.  I got some very dramatic photos of her this morning, as well as a funny video, that I posted on my Instagram.  We saw all of the cats except The Hand and Mothman today – I think the warm temperatures are being quite enjoyed by them!  They were certainly more playful.

The Re-Farmer

 

Hello, Critters

Ah, a much more pleasant day today!  Just the winds dying down makes a huge difference.  There are blizzard warnings for later on, but not in our area.  We’re just supposed to get a mix or rain and snow some time.

I’m still waiting for that last big blow-out before real spring (as opposed to calendar spring) arrives.

Interestingly, the better weather conditions did not translate into increased critter activity outside our window.

Nasty Crime Boy came to check out the birds.

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Later, we saw Beep Beep climbing one of the trees.  Rolando Moon came out to say hi when I brought the food out, and that was it for the outside cats.

As for the deer, we only saw Hungry Girl and Barbecue.  My being in the window taking pictures seemed to make Hungry Girl very nervous, so I didn’t stay for long.  I did get a couple of cute photos, though.  Including my obligatory tongue shots! 😀  I got both Hungry Girl…

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… and Barbecue…

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… just a peak of a tongue. 😀

It was a quiet day overall, which I’m quite enjoying.  Visits with my mother tend to require a few days of recovery time.  Seeing her every day for 5 days in a row?  I’m going to need at least a week to de-stress!  I did get a call from her today, and I was happy to learn she had booked an appointment with her local doctor for tomorrow – that was fast!  She didn’t get her brace on, though tomorrow she is hoping to talk to some staff about getting the assistance.  I don’t know how the process works in this province yet, but I’m hoping she will be able to get daily visits to put the brace on her, quickly.

I did get a quick trip into town to pick up some things for Easter that will need advance prep time, plus I got my van booked to get the safety done in a couple of days.  I really don’t know what to expect with that.  I’m hoping it’ll be inexpensive, but my paranoid side is thinking they’re going to find new, expensive problems in the process.  Because it just always seems to happen that way!  If all goes well, though, I’ll have the safety done in the morning, and by afternoon, I can get our registration and insurance transferred over.  Then I’ll finally be driving with this province’s license plates!  It’ll only be a month and a half past when it was supposed to get done. :-/

I just know it’s not going to be that simple.  There’s going to be something to complicate things, right?  😀

I am so looking forward to this hassle being over and done with!

The Re-Farmer

A Good Day to Stay Inside!

It was just a bit nippy out there! 😀

I posted a video, taken from the cat food area, on my Instagram showing some of the branches blown into our yard, though a few of them were there from a previous blustery day.  I took another video from the deer feeding area that I posted previously.

That was the only time any of us stepped outside today!

The wind actually managed to knock over some of the insulating foam we’ve got around the base of our house.

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I can see the one bin being blown over, as it was empty, but the other had stuff in it to weigh it down.  Plus, there were bricks holding up the foam.

It was the only area I had to fix, though.

I was holding the containers of deer feed when I took this photo.  You see those seeds on the bin and the step below it?  That was blown out from them, in just the few seconds it took me to get out my phone and take the photo!

I ended up not having to refill the cats’ food at all; I just got some of the snow out of what was already there, then refilled their water.  Only Rolando Moon braved the winds to say hello, and take a few bites…

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… and give my finger a gentle chomp, immediately after this shot was taken! 😀

The deer feeding area had only quick visits with deer, including one I didn’t recognize that came by, but didn’t go near the feed.  The area is just too exposed to the wind, I think, and they were very skittish.

I first saw what I thought was Barbecue, running away from the feed, across the garden area.  I’m pretty sure I saw Hungry Girl already ahead of him.

It turned out they were chased off, by two more deer I’ve never seen before!

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This one dared come to the feed for only a few quick mouthfuls.  I noticed the mark on its neck and, once the photos were uploaded, confirmed that it was indeed a scar.

It looks like there are antler buds on this one, too.

The other deer didn’t even get that close…

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This second one started towards the house, but only a bit.  Then they both ran off.

It wasn’t until I uploaded the photo that I saw the red mark on its inner leg.  It looks like a fairly fresh wound.

This one also seems to have antler buds starting to show.

Happily, Hungry Girl and Barbecue did come back later, but only for quick visits.  The area, however, was just full of redpolls, today, in spite of the winds!  Those little guys sure do move quick!

We humans, on the other hand, stayed warm inside.  Normally, we would have gone to church for Palm Sunday, but if it’s this windy by our house, the roads would be far worse.  Instead, my daughters baked some more bread, since we were going through the last batch so quickly.  I started a list of what we’ll need for our Easter baskets and prepared some recipes.  The girls requested I bake a special bread I used to do regularly, when opportunity allowed.  It’s very similar to challah, and I enjoy making pretty shapes with it for our basket.

Our Easter basket is based on the traditional Polish Easter baskets of my family’s tradition, which means it will be full of symbolic foods, plus a few token chocolates, if we happen to pick them up.  The bread is the centerpiece, and of course, there are lots of eggs.  We make sure to have both peeled and unpeeled eggs (no unnecessary work is to be done on Easter Sunday, including peeling eggs, if it can be avoided).  One very non-traditional way of doing eggs we’ve decided to do again is pink pickled eggs.  Those require 2-3 days to pickle in, among other things, beet juice. Sometimes we like to do herb and olive oil marinated goat cheese, but those need about a week to marinade, so it’s too late to do that this year.  The basket will also include ham, kielbasa, butter, cheese, salt, horseradish (we’ll be buying that in a jar, this year) and a few other things.

I had asked my mother again about the horseradish growing here, and this time she told me where she’d last transplanted them.

Under the spruce tree, next to the house.

I tried to get her to be more precise as to which spruce tree she meant, since there are quite a few by the house, but I never did get a clear answer.  She seemed to assume I would know exactly which tree she meant! 😀

Ah, well.  We’ll see where it comes up and will know for next year!

We make sure to have the basket ready by the end of Good Friday, so it can be assembled and taken for blessing on Saturday.  The contents are then used for our Easter brunch.  It’s one of our favorite traditions, and I’m really looking forward to it.

This tradition is huge in Polish culture (shared in Ukrainian culture, too).  I recall when our Polish priest had to finally retire for health reasons, and we got a new and younger priest that was…  I don’t know, actually.  Just “not Polish.”  😀  When Easter came around, he announced that there would be no blessing of the baskets.  I don’t remember the exact explanation, but basically, it wasn’t “Catholic”, so it wasn’t going to be done.

Boy, did he have a revolt on his hands!

By the time the uproar was done, he was doing the basket blessings.

That priest didn’t last long.  He was a very bitter man.  I don’t know how he was ever ordained in the first place.

As far as I know, no priest assigned to this parish has ever tried to end the tradition of blessing of the baskets!

The Re-Farmer

Quiet – and critters

Oh, how I’ve learned to appreciate quiet, boring days.

Not that today turned out to be either quiet, or boring – but it was close enough!

The temperatures dipped a bit today, but the windchill made it feel so much colder.  I was glad not to be going out, that’s for sure!  It was still pretty mild in our area.  In other areas South-West of us, I heard they were closing down the highways in some areas.

Though I was looking forward to sleeping in today – and even stayed up much later last night as well – it seems my brain had other ideas.  I ended up waking up at about the same time as I have been for the past week!  Ah, well.  It could be worse; my husband is up even earlier, every day, because it’s just too painful to be lying down.  That’s the crazy thing about back injuries.  There is no position you can stay in for any length of time before the pain forces you to shift.  So there’s that cycle of getting up, sitting down, getting up, lying down, over and over again.

My older brother was going to drive my mother to the hospital today, had she needed to go.  Since she didn’t, he just had a visit with her, instead.  It’s quite a drive for him to come out here, so that was really nice of him.  He even texted me a photo of her eye, though it didn’t come in for almost 3 hours!  Ah, the joy of cell phone dead zones.

My mother’s eye is noticeably better today; amazing how quickly it’s recovering now that she’s off that one medication.  The new medication is considered a blood thinner, too, but it doesn’t lead to bleeding the way the other one did.  She even let my brother put the brace on her leg, too!  That is such a wonderful step for her.  Now I just hope she’ll be able to get home care to help her get it on.  Theoretically, she can do it herself, but it would be very difficult to get all those straps tightened on her own without the brace shifting out of position, and it’s really important to have that knob properly aligned.

After seeing my mother, my brother came over to our place and we had a nice visit.  Plus, we checked out the door on my van.  The door that he worked so hard to replace has started to drop again when I open it.  *sigh*  It isn’t much, but after what happened previously, I’m a little paranoid about it.  We tightened the hinges again and it’s better, but it looks like it’ll be something that will need to be continually monitored.

One of the things he and I have been talking about was setting up security cameras.  I had been thinking around the house (more to capture the visiting wildlife… 😀 ), but he was looking to put one above the garage door, too.  It’s the perfect spot to cover anyone coming in and out of our driveway.  So while we were still in the garage, he closed the door from the inside to look at where the cables would be coming in from a camera mounted outside.  Over there, he points out to me.  You see where that wasps’ nest is?

!!!!!

Turns out we have a fairly large wasp nest inside the peak of the roof, against the garage wall, plus there’s a row of 3 more new nests, just a couple of inches long, and what looks like the remains of other beginning nests.  It was fairly dark (since we don’t have the electricity to turn on the lights, thanks to our movers), so I couldn’t quite make out all of them.

We’d never seen them before because any time we go in the garage, it’s through the main door, which hides them when it’s open.

My husband is allergic to stings.

Those are going to have to disappear.  Preferably before it warms up enough for them to come out of hibernation.

So I’m doubly glad my brother came over!

He didn’t stay too much longer, though, as he was concerned about road conditions, but he still took the time to check out the barn, which also needs to have power restored to it again.  When we get our power pole by the garage replaced and electricity restored there, he’s arranging for the barn to get hooked up again, too.  At some point, we’ll look at restoring the water, too.  When we got running water in the house, with a new well dug in the yard, a trench had been dug towards the barn.  The pipes for the septic field, as well as for water to the barn, were installed all at the same time.  Along with a water pump in the barn, two heated water fountains had been installed for the cows, so they would always have water, even in the coldest of weather.  When, how or where all this got shut down, we don’t know, so there’s going to be some sleuthing to do before any of that is restored.

Add that to the list of things that needs to be worked on, now that we’re living here.

It’s a long list.

In the afternoon, my lovely daughters did some more bread baking, giving me a chance to catch up on my crochet.  With the blustery weather, we weren’t seeing a lot of activity at the feeding station, and what activity we did get was very quick!  I managed to get a cute bluejay photo…

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I love how they tilt their heads like that.

Hungry Girl and Barbecue came over as well.  They dashed in quickly, and seemed very antsy – probably eager to eat and then find some shelter from the wind! – so I didn’t try to take very many photos.  Seeing me in the window seemed to make them more nervous, and I didn’t want to startle them away from the food.

I did manage to get a very pretty profile picture of Hungry Girl.

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In going through my folders of photos, I’ve got quite a lot of photos like this; the deer frequently look behind the house while feeding, so many images are of them in this pose.  I never tire of seeing, them, though.  They’re so lovely!

Ah, but of course, I got some fun pictures, too!  This time, it was Barbecue to was sticking his tongue out (though from the lack of antler buds starting to show, I’m thinking he might actually be a she!).

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This one had me laughing out loud, but I think the next one is some kind of record…

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I think that’s the most tongue ever, in any of the shots I’ve managed to get over these months! 😀

They didn’t stay for much longer after this.

Tomorrow we’re technically supposed to warm up a bit, but the wind is supposed to increase, with more snow.  How much of that will reach us, we shall see, but it’s still going to be another chilly one.

Oh, how I’ve already been spoiled by the calm, warm days we’ve had for the past week.

I think I’ll go through those seed catalogs I got in the mail and dream of warmth and green, growing things.

The Re-Farmer