Thursday, December 9, 2010

Laughing eyes

Laughing eyes
Originally uploaded by Misty Croney

Stand over here, I need to take a picture.

No, not like a goof ball, like this, here. (I bend and twist his head so he's in the light)

Now, stay there. Stop laughing (I say through my own giggles, they are so contagious). I want you to look thoughtful.

Think about english. (His eyes glaze over and become dull)

Ok, not english, think about math. (His eyes liven up again, but standing still with a camera in his face is taking it's toll. He's starting to giggle again. I'm losing him.)

Think about not being a goofball. (Click)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


On more occasions than not, I stumble into my weekends.  A million things to do zip by my brain and yet, I sit still and watch the time be wasted.  As much as I want things done, I don't want to do any of them.  I just want them done. 

I crawl up the stairs from bed, having slept in, because the devil (or angel, depending on perspective) on my shoulder told me I deserve it, and I believed them, to find Owen going full tilt.  I make my coffee and contemplate my day, knowing full well, half of my ideas won't get done and watch Owen play. 

I'm in awe of him.  He leaps into his days.  Bounces from bed with ideas seemingly carried from his dreams.  One foot touches the floor and he's a lion, a soldier, a .... Ordinary objects become extraordinary and he's traveled through time and around the world before I've finished my coffee.  All the while my butt remains planted.  My mind unable to decide with ease where I should start on my long list of chores.  So it gives up and I sit here. 

Where did that go? That boundless energy?  The eagerness to greet the day?  I must have vacuumed it up by accident because I haven't seen it around in a long time. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Art of conversation

At the supper table:

Owen: I know how many sides a circle has.

Me: How many?

Owen: 1

Me: How many sides does a square have?

Owen: 4

Me: How about a rectangle?

Owen: 4

Dad: How about a tetrahedron?

Reiley: 28.  I bet it's 28.

Dad: I bet someone is talking out of their butt.

Reiley: I can't help it, it's in my genes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hot November Sun

This really isn't my story to tell.  But one I was told that changed the impact of this day for me. 

Since our very first years, we've gathered.  Held close in our mothers arms.  For something we had no way of understanding.  The poppy a new toy to fiddle with attached to our mothers coat.  Stories were told about relatives we never met.  The story short, for no one knew how it really went.  Just that it did.  Once in school, old enough to know the word war but not truly the meaning of freedom, we sat on the gym floor and listened to the veterans.  We gathered quietly outside and stood in the cold and watched them lay the wreaths.  The sadness on their faces a truth, not a gesture. 

The cold she said, was what she noticed most.

The scene could not have been more different from the one we grew up with every November 11th.  Everyone gathered on the tarmac, soldiers remembering soldiers in the very place our countries have made the most recent sacrifices.  People remembering, who understand and know in a way I never can. 

She stood there dressed in uniform, but instead of the biting cold November wind on her cheek, she felt the hot Afghanistan sun.  Then over the horizon the thump thump thump of chopper blades cut through the ceremony and those needed scattered to meet the helicopter carrying one of their own. 

It couldn't have been more real or surreal.  Soldiers of the present remembering soldiers of the past.  Some they called friends. 

I'll never be able to imagine the reality they know, but I can be thankful and honour them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The power of love.

The tornado ripped through town picking up the house and tossing it into the land of Oz.

Well, it wasn't a tornado, but it was stronger than the so called hurricane we had.  And it did pick up the house and toss it 20 ft away, leaving the turkeys in an unfamiliar world.

In the past 4 days we've had more than 5 inches of rain, leaving everything soaked through. The turkeys are still here, but I must say, having turkeys in weather like this is not fun.   The poultryminium 1000 we built is showing wear, has no bottom and only one wall.  It was perfect during the summer and offered plenty of shade and shelter and allowed for grazing.   Recently, the cows and horse have been chewing on the tarp that is its roof, making holes and the rain has decided to fall horizontally.  So the turkeys are wet to say the least.  The tips of their wings and tail feathers are brown.  The tail feathers are nothing more than the center quill and look more like ass end of a porcupine.  There isn't a dry place in the field to move the coop to.  The best I can offer is a spot without puddles and even this is now hard to come by.  Keeping an eye on the weather, I can point the wall of the coop into the wind, giving them some reprieve.  So long as the wind direction doesn't change the turkeys stay relatively dry.  When it does change though, they're off to Oz.

Friday I spent the day an hour away in meetings.   Mart walks in the door, home from work to the phone ringing.  It's our neighbour, Fred. 
Fred: Have you looked out the window?
Mart, confused, but accustomed to Fred's odd way replies: No, why? 
Fred: Your turkeys are on your lawn.  Where's your wife?
Mart: Work
Fred: Can I videotape you trying to catch the turkeys then?

My loving, patient husband suits up in his rain gear and goes out to round up the turkeys.   They had wandered from the pasture, under the barbed wire fence and onto our lawn.  Since they had already been under the fence Mart thought (and sensibly enough) that they could and would, walk right back under and into the pasture again with guidance.  He forgot they're turkeys.  There are a few things dumber than a turkey, but none come to mind right now. 

I should add that between the barbed wire, at approximately the level of a man's crotch, there is an electric fence wire we use to divide part of the field.  Oh, and it was on.

Our turkeys are friendly enough but not used to being handled.  Ready for the roasting pan, they are nearing 25 lbs each.  Not having any luck herding the turkeys, Mart simply picks one up, carries it over the fence and returns it to the coop.  It was simple really.  I don't know what the fuss was about.  It was only a 25 lb turkey flapping its wings and kicking its legs and trying to escape what it believed to be an attack on its life, with Mart trying to hold it under one arm while straddling the fence and getting electrocuted every 10 seconds in the crotch.  No big deal, really.  Before long he had all 5 back in the coop.  They were wet, disheveled and bright blue in the face showing just how put out they were by the whole ordeal, but no worse for wear.  They're turkeys, and with fresh feed in front of them, they quickly forgot the whole thing I'm sure.  Mart, likely not.  

He truly loves me, I can tell.  He'll cross the driest desert, sail the largest ocean, climb the highest mountain and catch turkeys in the rain, just for me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I knew something was missing, but could never quite place my finger on what it was. An uneasiness of some sort, always waiting for something.

The town was never home. We lived there, but when asked where I was from my childhood town passed my lips. We lived in the town for 8 years but had not grown roots. We tried. We joined groups, reached out to make friends, bought a house. But it all remained superficial. Something to do until...Until what, we didn't know.

I think choosing to live somewhere and ending up somewhere makes a big difference in how you view the town. Perhaps that's why it never felt like home. Why that uneasiness and sense of being in transition never left.

In the late fall of 2007 all the stars aligned and we were presented with an opportunity to move. So in February of 2008 we packed up, left the town and moved home. This little town, half the size of the one we left was immediately that.

Friends were made easily, we found a rhythm and the sense of uneasiness vanished. We unpacked. We stood still. And quickly our roots dug deep into the mud. I love our little town. The beauty of it never ceases to amaze me.

Now you can ask and I'll tell you, I'm from Windsor. I live in a little community outside town, where the population of horses exceeds that of people, called Greenhill. But we call it home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Yesterday I spent the day at home on the couch sick.  I prepared the coffee table with necessities so once snug I wouldn't have to move.  I had the phone, remote, glass of water, the usual.  Unfortunately I forgot that daytime television doesn't change depending on health.  Daytime television is worse than being sick.  But I was snug.  I didn't want to move.  So I flicked through the best of the worst and settled on Gene Simmons Family Jewels.  The guy is pretty funny and his kids are funny, so I was surprised.  It wasn't awful.  Glad I didn't move from my perfectly snug spot at any rate.  The best part of the show was when they showed him in the morning wearing cozy jammies with feet in them.  The kind I wore when I was 5.  The kind I wish I could still fit into.  With the zipper up the front and the rubber grips on the bottom of the feet.  I guess that's what having millions of dollars will buy you.  Fuzzy jammies with feet.  Sigh.

It reminds though of Owen wearing those jammies.  He had a few pair when he was small.  He only wore them until he was 2 or 3 though.  Unlike Reiley who wore a pair until he was 8 which he had really out grown when he was 6.  Some things are just hard to let go of. 

Anyway, Reiley and Owen would often linger in their jammies long into the morning and play together with the big duplo legos.  I don't pretend to understand the motivation behind what my boys do, or how they come up with their ideas but that one morning still leaves me scratching my head.  It wasn't until I was changing Owen's diaper that I noticed a huge blister on the inside of his knee.  I mean huge.  Red and chaffed  and painful.  I asked him what happened and he said he didn't know.  So I asked Reiley, he didn't know either.  Come to find out, they had been playing with the legos like usual and Owen had on his jammies with the feet in them like usual.  But that morning they decided it would be fun to see how many legos they could stuff into Owen's jammies and zip them up.   They stuffed so many legos into his jammies they were stuffed down his legs and when he walked, they rubbed a blister on the side of his leg.  To the boys I'm sure this was quite funny.  Seeing Owen double in size with squares sticking out everywhere.  After the blister I'm not so sure how funny Owen found it.

That was the end of that game and the end of the jammies with feet in them for Owen.  Not by my choice, by his.  I never understood how he couldn't just love those kind of jammies, but now that I think of it, maybe he has his reasons.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I am not a morning person.

On the weekend I will slowly open my eyes around 9:00 and stretch out on the bed, which by then I will have all to myself. I might go back to sleep or just stay there, not wanting to exert any energy required for movement. When I was younger, 9:00 was early.

Dusk is my favorite time of day. When the sun hangs low and the trees are dark.

It surprises me that I haven't offended the morning yet with my crankiness or lack of visitation. Instead, when I do wake up early it greets me with scenes like this. Makes me think that perhaps I need to spend more time with the sunrise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The football game

There was a football game at the house tonight.

The players:
Reiley: the self proclaimed awesome player

Dad: the quarterback

Owen: the kid who brought a baseball bat to a football game.

The whisltle blew.
Reiley the self proclaimed awesome player, threw the ball to Dad the quarterback.

Dad the quarterback tossed it to Owen the kid who brought a baseball bat to a football game.

After Owen the kid who brought a baseball bat to a football game hit the ball, a time out was called.

But the fans got bored and demanded more action.

So Dad the quarterback tackled Reiley the self proclaimed awesome player.

Owen the kid who brought a baseball bat to a football game gave chase and the action all ended up way to close to the camera mom.

Around the sun

Owen and I were reading about space the other night for his bed time story.  He was asking about astronauts, space ships and planets.  I showed him the diagram of how the planets orbit the sun.  He sucked up all the information like a sponge.  Hungry for knowledge.  You could almost see his brain feeding on it all. 
Owen: So the sun stays still and the planets go around it?
Me: Yup.  Can you guess how long it takes earth to go around the sun?
Owen: How long?
Me: One whole year.
Owen, his brain chewing on this new information: One year!  That means I've been around the sun six times!

I suddenly felt like a big space explorer.  I've been around the sun 32 times!  He always makes me smile by the way he sees the world. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 21: Raw Hide

I can't really choose a picture of the day.  It's more like a story of the day.

Shady, like most dogs, loves raw hide bones.  So much so that she will run to the closet where we keep them if we even whisper the word.  She's getting so good, that she's learned how to spell the word.  Before offering her one, we would ask if there were any b-o-n-e 's in the house, to avoid disappointment if we had run out.  She's caught on to us.  She knows what that spells. 

She'll spend hours happily chewing away.  Her eyes roll back and glaze over like a junkie.  Happy time for Shady.   Until the cat comes along and ruins her appetite.


When they were babies they'd open their eyes knowing something new.  Like magic, they'd wake up and know how to smile, sit up, crawl, talk.  With each turn of my head they grew, and when I turned back they were someone new. 

Last week we spent camping at Kejimkujik National Park.  The park has been a part of me as long as there has been a me.  Who knows, that very well may be where I became an anything.  Every single summer of my thirty-two years I've spent time at Keji.  It's home.  There is a scar on my right foot from hitting a tree on my bike.   The tree is bigger now, it's bark chewed from handle bars who caught in the same place as mine. 

We take the kids.  Like my mother I mark the campsite number on their hands so they don't get lost.  Or if they do, an adult can send them the right way.  Then we set them free.  With a ride down the trail we blink and our baby becomes a boy, our boy a young man. 

Like a rite of passage, they grow here each summer, just like I did.  Owen even has a scar from crashing his bike.  I couldn't love it more.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This is Hobbes.  Ive told you about Hobbes before.  The incredibly easy to tease cat with many names.  But really can you blame us for teasing him when he allows pictures to be taken looking like this?  He is 11 years old and he hasn't really changed (his missing tail being the exception) since I brought him home.   He's independent, thinks dogs drool, a chronic napper and will try his luck asking other family members for supper after he's been fed.  He's also the softest thing I've ever touched.  Ever.  He's a great cat.  He's also my picture of the day.  (After he finished cleaning his junk in the front yard.)

Project 365

6:365 Mart
Originally uploaded by Misty Croney

On July 28th I started a little project. Together with a group for support, I decided to take a picture everyday for a whole entire year. I'm currently on day 11 and I've already run out of things around my house to take pictures of. So it shall be interesting to see what I find to change things up a bit. That's the whole idea of the project though. To help me (force me) try new things, take pictures of things I wouldn't normally and break out of my comfort zone. I'm pretty comfy in my little zone.

This picture is from day 6. We went to Scots Bay along the Bay of Fundy. The tide was way out so the beach was long and the mud extra squishy. If you'd like to follow along visit my flickr page.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Maybe it's genetic. My Grampy loved the rain too, and never missed the chance to drive through puddles, wether it was on bike, tractor or truck. Or maybe having the name Misty predisposes me to liking the rain. Either way, I do like the rain. And puddles.

Today we had my most favorite kind of rain. Warm and straight down, not too hard, just steady. Almost lazy. Just right to leave drops hanging from leaves and bikes and toys forgotten. The whole of outdoors stood still. Quiet. The only sound was the rain. All the trees and plants seemingly heaved a collective sigh. Not a bird or bug was seen or heard.

I like plodding around in raincoat and rubber boots on days like today. Weaving my way around the newly washed world. Witnessing the toys lying wet in the grass, the hammer next to the not yet completed shed, the bird feeder hanging still for the first time in days. Everything is different and everything is the same. Everything stands still and listens.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

F#*$ing broccoli

I learned lesson, well I forget what number I'm on now but it's a lot, in gardening the other day.

Last year the little green worms ate all my broccoli. So this year I've kept a keen eye out for the little garden munchers but they haven't been around. Last year we had lots of moths. Cecropia and Luna moths, plus others I liked to call Neapolitan moths because their colour reminded me of ice cream, spattered the door and wall of the house under the outdoor light each morning. This year, they came back, but we apparently have more birds this year. Instead of moths spattering the walls, we have moth wings on the deck like autumn leaves. Birds give me heart attacks daily, crashing into the house and snatching away what must be a juicy breakfast.
At any rate, less moths mean less eggs laid by moths on my broccoli, which mean less green worms, which should mean more broccoli. The plants looked healthy all spring and early summer and I was excited to see the heads forming. Then, for no reason that I'm aware of without analysing a soil sample, they bolted. Went to seed. Beautiful little yellowish white flowers where broccoli heads are supposed to be. No broccoli for us again.

So I've come to the conclusion that some people are meant to grow broccoli and others are meant to buy it from those people at the farmers market. Lesson learned: don't waste time trying to grow broccoli.

On another note, my chickens will be leaving on the 31st. I have to bring them out to a farm to be butchered. The dilema is how to get the 9 chickens to the farm. Without making a mess in my truck.

Friday, July 16, 2010


It's funny who we surround ourselves with sometimes. Alot of the time it isn't people we would necessarily choose. Most of the time it's by circumstance. Like work, you take a job and hope the people you'll be working with are nice. They may not be who'd you pick to spend 40 hours a week with, but you make do the best you can because what choice do you have. Sometimes it works out and a new friend is found. Other times you quit your job.

I attended my new sister in law's stagette party recently. I never had a party for my own wedding. I guess at the time, I didn't really have anyone local that I was really close with to be bothered.

At the time of my engagement I was working at a jewelery store. It's probably the last place anyone, myself included, would imagine me working since I don't really care for jewelry, or dressing up, or being indoors, etc. To be honest, I was snobbish towards the job. I was fresh out of school with a piece of paper, it's ink still wet, that read Bachelor of Science. I thought I was over qualified. It was retail, anyone can get a job in retail. So long as I didn't have a criminal record and I could solve a simple skill testing question, I was in. I took the job because I had to. Mart and I had student loans we were drowning in plus a 3 year old to raise. I tried working in my field, on farms, but despite the good pay the hours are impossible if you want to see your kid. So I put what I loved to do, the only thing I loved to do, on hold. I worked at a jewelery store that had decent hours and paid over minimum wage plus commission.

Just tonight, while thinking of the party held for my sister in law, I remembered suddenly that I did have a party. A surprise party at that. The girls from work told me we were having a staff meeting and everyone had to attend or else. The or else was because I loathed staff meetings. I thought they were the biggest time waster ever conceived by the retail industry. Apparently my manager new that and made sure I attended. When I arrived, there were balloons, snacks, cake and gifts all prepared for me. Prepared by people that I spent numerous hours with, but not who I'd call on a Saturday night. We were all different ages and in different places in our lives, with completely different interests.

It surprises me to think that a group of people could do something so thoughtful for me and 8 years later I forget. It was a year later that I left the jewelery store. Some of the original staff were still there, but most were gone. I've never seen or heard from any of them since. Why would I? It makes me wonder if they remember throwing the party for me.

I don't make friends with girls easily. In fact I have only 2 close girl friends. People who know me inside and out and still like me. I'm not sure why. It scares me to think that perhaps I've just had my head stuck up my ass all these years and have been completely oblivious to the friendship offered. Perhaps I've been too busy noticing how different people are instead of how alike.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A whole glass full of strange.

There are pros and cons to living in the country. Just to define what I call country: we live 20 km from a town with a population of 1500 and 12 km from a convenience store. When my brother in law first visited, he chuckled that a store 12 km away would still be considered convenient. We have 2 neighbours, one across the road from us that is only visible in the winter, the other a 1/2 km down the road. The area we live in, called Greenhill, consists of a road (Greenhill Rd) and about 150 people, though I'm guessing at that, it's probably less.

A pro to living in the country, we have land. Enough to raise cattle and keep a horse. The dog isn't tied, the cat hunts. Deer visit from time to time.

Con: Coyotes and bears visit from time to time too.

Pro: Only the people who live on our road, travel on our road. Generally there are no strangers (I'll add more to that part later).

Con: The mail man won't deliver to us. We apparently live outside every post office's coverage area.

Pro: Because there are so few of us, neighbours look out for each other. To me, that is a huge pro.

Pro: Privacy. No one is around. No unexpected visitors.

Con: Privacy. No one is around. Sometimes we get unexpected visitors.

Privacy is nice. A big reason why we love the country so much. The reason it's a con too is because things like what happen this morning do happen. Maybe they occur in more populated towns too, I don't know. I've never really lived in one.

At 5:30 am this morning our door bell rang. We immediately thought the cause of such an early morning visitor was that something happened to the cows. Or worse, something happened to Fred, our neighbour. Mart answered the door and saw a man, mid thirties, soaking wet from the knees down walking around the back of the house. Mart went out the kitchen door to the deck and found him drinking water from the outdoor tap.

Mart: What are you doing?

Man: I'm thirsty, I was told you'd oblige.

Mart: (seeing his soaked clothes and coming to the only conclusion that made any sense) Did you get your 4 wheeler stuck or something?

Man: Yeah, it's exhausting

Mart: Have you been out all night?

Man: No, all afternoon.

Mart: It's 5:30 in the morning.

Man: Yeah, I know.

Mart: Well get your water and get out of here.

The man, obviously out of it, saw no problem standing uninvited in our back yard drinking from our tap. He didn't ask permission, say thanks or ask for help. He drank and drank and drank, then staggered down our driveway. We aren't sure if he was drunk, stoned, dehydrated, injured, or all of the above. He looked like he had a very rough night.

I spent the morning sleeping off what felt like an unearned hangover headache, half expecting someone to come by and ask if we'd seen a man or a 4 wheeler. We have no idea where he came from or where he went. He may not have even been driving a 4 wheeler through the back woodlot and river. People do, so it's logical, but who knows. I'm just not a fan of a stranger showing up on my front steps at 5:30 in the morning. I wonder if he's ok, but I hope he doesn't come back. He wasn't looking to break in, or steal, he was just there for water. The whole thing was just weird. Maybe this sort of thing is kind of a pro: strangers steal water, not possessions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

road trip

Five hours in the car with a 6 year old and 13 year old in the back seat. Thankfully we have air conditioning. How was our drive? Oh, fantastic. A breeze really. Like a day at the spa.

Owen: Mom. Mom. Mummy. Mo-Om. MomMomMomMom

Me: What!?

O: I love you.


O: Mom I'm done my lunch and my drink is all gone.

Me: Good.

O: Mom. Mom. Mommy. I need to pee.

We are in the middle of the "no services for 70 km" part of the trip. I look back to ask if he can wait and see him sitting fists clenched, legs crossed next to an empty medium size Dairy Queen cup. We pull over and water the weeds in the ditch. We can't get to the trees because of the moose fencing. Or maybe they just don't like people peeing in their woods and it's really people fencing. Either way, at least he's a boy.

O: How many more hours?

Me: 2 hours and 45 minutes

O: Oh.

O: How many more now?

Me: 2 hours and 43 minutes

O: Are we even moving?!


O: Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mooooommmmmmyyyyyy. Mom. Ma. Mummy.

Me: What!?

O: I forget.

Reiley (shaking head): Owen you are such a kid.

O: Oh yeah! Well you're an animal! My teacher said so. She said we're all just animals.

Caged animals. Exactly. Stuck in a vehicle, stuck on the highway. Just trying to get from point A to point B without completely loosing it.

How was our visit? Fantastic! The wedding was wonderful. We all had a great time. I just need to work on my particle beam so we can avoid the drive and travel Star Trek style.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

As promised

Originally uploaded by Misty Croney
Here she is. My sweet little one. Because her mother isn't afraid neither is she. She waddles right up to me, still learning how to work her long legs. She isn't exactly graceful, but bursting with life. She tries to spin and buck and jump. Amazing to think she's only a day old.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I'm stunned. Happy and proud and stunned. I have that new, proud mamma glow. Can you see it? Grinning ear to ear, I sit here stunned.

I got home from work today, just an hour ago and went out to the back yard. Mart was working on the chicken coop. The cows are in the closest pasture to the house, but were down over the bank out of sight. Suddenly we see a vulture gliding over the tree tops, directly over our heads and the field. I thought, that's weird. Vultures don't come around for nothing. I wonder why he's here. Not expecting anything but a vulture with a nose for chickens, I walked out into the pasture. I had to check if the cows needed more water anyway. I never expected to find what I found.

Smokey calved! A pretty little girl. All cleaned up and licked off. She was even standing. Old enough for her fur to dry but that's about it. I place her about, well, it's 6:30 now, so an hour and a half old. The vulture was fast sniffing out the after birth.

I'm going to do the only thing there is to do and let nature take it's course. Though, I am human and our species isn't known for letting nature do anything on its' own, which is why I'm here. It's stopping me from going out there. I would feel better if I saw the calf nurse.

I'm stunned because I didn't know she was due. I'm happy and proud because she is the first calf born on our farm. First calf of Two Crows farm. Did I tell you we named the farm? Two Crows for two crows joy! For days like this.

The calf was nursing last evening, so I felt better going to bed. I put the horse in the other field so he wouldn't be a jerk and I'm glad I did. This morning they were all laying down in the tall grass, soaking up the morning sun. She's about 80 lbs, which is a perfect size. She's just little. We've named her Xanadu for the X year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 chickens

After all that we missed the turkey order.

Really. No turkeys. Bet you didn't know there was a turkey store.

But, 10 chickens, just 10 days old showed up at the house last night. Weird, I know.

Thursday, late afternoon, my mom called me at work to inform me that my sister in law would be flying in from Victoria and landing at 7 am. She'll have the kids with her, could she stay with me? Her mom was having emergency surgery to remove a large brain tumor. Of course, my answer was yes and she could stay as long as she needs to and no I don't have plans that I can't change and of course I'll babysit. Her mom has a tumor! She's family! There is no question.

My sister in law is an only child in an already small family. So she isn't used to the cavalry swooping in to help. It was over whelming for her on a stressful day. Tears of gratitude peaked through now and then. She isn't an only child anymore. Not in our family.

Her mom's twelve hour surgery was a huge success, the tumor was removed, it was benign and she's her normal self. We're completely blown away that a doctor can remove your skull, tinker with your brain, stitch you up and you're completely fine. Like nothing happened. Luck. Huge amounts of luck worked in her favour and as we heave a huge sigh of relief, we chuckle and think that brain surgery is a piece of cake.

Her mother, who lives in the same town as my folks, will likely be going home tomorrow. So my sister in law will follow with the kids. But she has no ride. So my mom drove up last night with plans to go to the hospital with her today and drive her and the kids home tonight.

Mom pulled in our driveway last night around 8:30 and with her, she brought 10 chickens.

So that is the story of how we got our chickens. An odd weekend of family and toddlers and luck and chickens. It seems to us that there are many things more difficult than brain surgery. So far, acquiring poultry is one of them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

and so it goes

Like plans often do, ours changed.

I was planning on bringing Stella back this spring, but instead she remains in her herd with many others, likely spending the day grazing, swatting flies with her tail and licking snot from her nose. Cows are glamourous creatures. I decided to leave her behind for the sake of safety. She is not a safe cow. She has no problem planting the top of her head under your ribs and sending you flying. So, since I like my ribs intact, I left her and brought two others instead. They are a kinder, gentler sort. Smokey and Too Dew, which we've renamed or nicknamed Toodles.

Toodles because Owen says it nightly to us as we leave his room from tuck-ins and stories. As he says it, he can't help but curl his tongue over the side of his front teeth creating the most adorable smile and snaky ssss sound at the end of the word.

The two, plus calves (Winston and Wellington) born last fall are gaining weight and happily settled into their new home with Bud. No chasing, no escapes, no charging or frantic, panicked cows this year at all. Just boring cows, grazing, swatting flies and chewing cud. Just the way I like it. Last weekend we finished the fence around the back pasture and let the gang have at the knee high grass. The second field in the 3 field rotation. Laying down, they are nearly hidden. All you can see is the odd ear flicker or swoosh of a tail.

There is still a list of to-do's as long as the fence line, which is probably why Mart was dead silent on the end of the line when I called and informed him the turkeys would be arriving in less than 2 weeks. He was clearly unhappy to hear from me while standing in the locker room of his gym, sporting nothing but boxers. My call informing him indirectly that I had another project for him to do, without actually asking him if he would, was probably poorly timed. So while I'm in the dog house, I'm making plans for a turkey coop. We shall see how good my carpentry skills are. Hopefully I'll look so pathetic he'll come rescue me, or, you know, I could just ask him nicely....

My most favorite aunt wrote in our wedding guest book nearly eight years ago, "Martin, you will never be bored with your new wife". I remind him that this is what she was talking about.

Monday, April 26, 2010

pale grey

They say (I don't know who, just they) that horses are colour blind. I imagine being completely colour blind means you see everything in shades of grey. Like watching my old TV. Except I could imagine colour and in my mind imagined what colours Casey and Finnegan really were. Horses, having never seen colour before wouldn't know it exists.

Patches was the horse I grew up with. A beautiful Canadian mix kind of mutt with a thick neck and round rump. He was smart and full of mischief. We went away for a week to a riding camp and when we left, the house bordering his pasture was pale yellow. To him perhaps pale grey. When we returned, the house had been painted a pale blue. To him, I imagined this would also look pale grey.

I let him loose in his pasture and laughed as he galloped from one end to the other, tail raised, snorting and huffing at this house, who was no longer pale grey, but instead, pale grey. Obviously what I imagined about the sight of a horse was a tad off. Regardless, it caused excitement in his day.

Today, I'm watching guys paint the store across the road from my office. It used to be pale grey. Now it's bright blue. If I were a horse, what a day I'd have.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring means farming

It's been a while since I updated the farm part of my life. I guess it's been since the whole fiasco when the cows were loose for two weeks. You're probably thinking not much goes on in the winter and that would be true I guess.

Last fall, well, last November my mom was coming to pick up Stella the cow, Fuzz Butt the bull and Bud the horse to bring them to her house for the winter. I don't have a barn yet (oh I dream and count my pennies nightly) so Stella and Bud needed a place to stay comfy cozy. Fuzz Butt was going straight to the butcher.

That was the plan anyway.

We tried to get these elusive cows into the trailer but they wouldn't have it. Everyone was uncooperative that morning (including the humans) and Fuzz Butt hid in the woods and the horse was being a dink and not listening. He is usually a great cattle horse, but not that day. Have you ever packed to go on a trip and watched the dog's reaction? Ours dances around like a fool, forgets how to listen along with her manners, as soon as she sees the first packed bag. She races back and forth from the house to the car, trying to hide away under the dash any time the car door opens. There is only one thing on her mind and that is making darn sure we do not leave her behind. Well, Bud was kind of acting like that. A dink. Except I was on his back and needed him to preform an important task. The only good thing was the animals were still in the pasture. A huge bonus from the drama that played out a few months earlier. Poor husband was left to build a corral in November, when the sun sets at 4:30. So I would cook supper and see him out the window, pounding away at fence posts by the headlights of our truck. That really was all he wanted to do after work for a week anyway I'm sure.

The following week the corral was ready and we arranged another trucker going to Yarmouth to come pick up the cattle. Fuzz Butt was butchered and yielded 630 lbs of the tastiest meat I've ever eaten. (That is a really good weight by the way, over 50% yield from live weight) Then it snowed and winter happened and here we are.

Stella calved this January and had a heifer (that would be a girl). Because the cattle we have are purebred Limousin, they are registered. When registering cattle, they need a tattoo. Our tattoo numbers are determined by order born in the year. The tattoo also has a letter and the letter is determined by the year. This year is X. Why? Because last year was W. So people can quickly know the year the calf was born by looking at the tattoo. We like to name the animals according to the letter year they were born too. So Stella has a baby girl named Xena. Xena the sirloin princess. I'd like to congratulate my brother in law for winning the name the calf contest.

Stella and Xena will be here soon. The grass is growing and the weather has been warm (ish). We are about 3 weeks ahead of where we were last year at this time. Bud will join them and I can't wait until he gets here. I want to going riding so bad it's darn near killing me. We may also have another little cow, who calved last summer joining us with her calf. Her calf will have the same fate as Fuzz Butt and possibly Xena this fall as well. We may trade Xena to our neighbours as payment for housing our animals at their farm next winter. Then she'll get to live to a ripe old age, having babies of her own just like her mama. It will be great having the animals next door. The horse will be here all winter! So I can ride all winter!

Fixing the fencing is in progress right now. We want to fence in the back pasture so we'll have 3 pastures to rotationally graze all summer long. Everyone will be happy and fat from the fresh grass. Our garden is tilled and ready for rows. We've added peat moss, compost (home made) sheep manure, cattle manure, rabbit manure (thanks Bunny Bunny, I'll never say you've never given us anything) I'm hoping to plant the onions and garlic (from started cloves) this weekend. But I say I, when I really mean Martin. I need him to handle the rig that is our tiller.

Martin made really good salsa last year, so I'm hoping to grow all the ingredients for it organically this year in our garden. I've never grown garlic or coriander before, so that should be interesting. I'd like to harvest broccoli this year rather than watch the green worms eat it all. If the potatoes are bigger than the size of a golf ball that would be a bonus too. Can you tell I'm better at raising animals than vegetables? Big bull, little potatoes.

I also want to raise a few turkeys plus there are a gazillion other things I'd like to do. At this Martin shakes his head and calls me a dreamer. But that's ok. That's what makes it fun.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


It took a while to get my head around it. I think it would for any parent. I think we always knew something was off, but just hoped it would be OK. That, I don't know, he'd grow out of it. I can't tell you the exact time it became obvious to me, but grade primary really made it clear to everyone that our boy had a learning disability of some kind.

It scared me. I can't speak for Mart, but I think he'd agree in the early years. It felt like a life sentence and I wouldn't accept it. I defended him like an angry mother bear. We couldn't be the only ones to see the sweet, smart boy, could we? But if he was a normal little boy, why couldn't he read the alphabet? Why could he remember one day and not the next? Why could he not see the letters on a page? Why was he so lost?

School was beyond hard. He cried. Everyday he cried.

I've learned to find strength as a mother. Learned to be an advocate. Learned that letters after your name doesn't mean you know best. The only way I can describe his life in school from primary to grade 6 is a fight. I fought tooth and nail, and stood before principals, teachers, professionals and told them they were wrong. That I may not know what is wrong, but I know my boy is not stupid and I know my boy does not have ADHD.

The first educational assessment done was in grade 2. He was still in French Immersion (it took me 2 more years to convince the school board to take him out). Because he hadn't been taught English reading or spelling, they told me they could not properly evaluate that area. (Which is the area he struggles in) Therefor his assessment was inconclusive, but his behaviour in class fits the profile of ADHD and from there out he was labelled.

There have been 2 things I will not budge on when it comes to my boy. 1) he has at least average intelligence and belongs in a class with his piers. 2) he does not have ADHD. The hard part has been how to convince people who have framed papers hanging on the wall, making them the expert, facing a girl young enough to be their own daughter, that they are wrong and I'm not just a delusional mother who won't accept reality. I know kids with ADHD, they take medication and are wonderful. But this was not the case for my boy and it was not going to help. It would be like treating him for an ear infection when he had a broken toe.

In grade 4 we got the assessment done again privately. This time it was magic. It was like she cracked open his head, looked at all the pieces and figured out how he worked. The report came and I was washed over with relief. Finally someone agreed with us. Finally someone with letters after their name, papers framed on the wall, saw what we always had. She found that he has a severe learning disability in phonological processing-rapid naming. Not ADHD. The symptoms of those 4 little letters were brought on by insurmountable stress and frustration. Eliminate one and the other will take care of itself. He had been coping the only way he could, which wasn't well, by avoidance.

Up until then we were lost together in the woods. We knew there was a mountain to climb, but we didn't know which one, or where it was. We were so lost. And our boy was losing himself. He hated himself. He hated that he couldn't read. Hated that he felt stupid. That he was different from his friends. This little boy held his secret tight. He didn't want anyone to know. Up until the second assessment, we had no way to help. My heart breaks at the thought of how much he was hurting inside.

Since then, we've moved. Changed school districts and we are, I dare say nearing the top of the mountain. Our boy is happy and proud and doesn't have to carry around a dark secret anymore. We have worked so hard to get here.

Then the other day, his LD specialist emailed and said "He is quite tired lately and I see he has ADHD, has his medications changed?" I freaked out. Frantically typed an email. Erased it and tried not to panic. Suddenly we were back to square one. After 4 years of progress. I was scratching at the earth to get hold and keep us from sliding back down the mountain we'd just climbed. That it took us 4 years to climb. I sent an email explaining. I hope she couldn't hear my panic. I hope she believes me. I hope we don't end up screwing something up and lose his program. All for 4 nasty little misplaced letters.

Sometimes I wonder if I brought this on him. Having him so young. I didn't want to be pregnant. It just wasn't supposed to be like that. I screwed up and he was being punished for what I had done. I know it's not true, but sometimes it wanders into my mind. I know in my heart why, if there is fate or a great plan, he was given to me. I would be lost in many ways without him.

I don't wish for my life to be any different. I love my boy just the way he is with his unique mind. I have been a mother longer than I've been an adult, but I have no regrets. Our boy will struggle with his learning disability for his whole life. I just wish for him to live life easy. I think most parents want the same for their kids.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jiggidy Jig

I've been on the road alot lately. So it is every spring and fall. Maybe I secretly want to be a goose, I dunno.

Sometimes it's nice to get away, even if it is for work. A hotel room all to myself is almost better than an empty house. I don't have to clean it. The quiet and privacy are as good as chocolates on a pillow. I have no one to answer to but myself. The miserably difficult decision of what to cook for supper isn't mine to make. Ahhhhh.

But then the conference is over and I go home.

I walked in the door the other evening, and was greeted by Reiley and a long, real hug. Which is surprising since Reiley, at 13 is too cool for such things and my hugs have been slowly reduced to one arm awkward pats on the shoulder. The hug lasted for like 5 minutes, and with my boots and coat still on was a bit long, but I wasn't missing the opportunity to hug my boy/man.

Shady, my only girl, even if she's a dog, trots up all excited to see me and actually speaks. Rooowwwwllll she says with her whole butt wagging in delight. Then trots off to fetch her new bone to show me. She carries it with pride. Tickled pink with herself.

Owen comes scrambling from where ever he was playing, leaps into my arms and tells me all about what I've missed in sentences without periods. He played with bouncy balls in gym and had pizza for lunch but not from the cafeteria, from home, cuz Dad made it last night and why didn't I pack his hat because it was cold and he's playing with his bionicles and do I know where his lost toy is....I wish I was six again some days.

Martin stands back and watches, I see his smiles. He waits his turn. His face is fresh shaven and kisses deliciously soft. His hugs are like batteries and recharge me. Ahhhh. I love coming home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The art of being grumpy if there is such thing.

It's ugly. I can't picture anything uglier. It feels ugly and I have no control. My sugar drops and like a full moon rising this thing builds inside me and I change right before your very eyes into a beast. Werewolves would be kinder I think.

I snarl and spew venom at anyone within range. The kids run and hide. The oldest son, teaching the youngest to just stay away. Martin treads carefully testing the degree of grumpiness, and asks what's for supper. I snarl, growl, show fangs. Wolves come out of the woods hearing my howls. If it's full blown he ducks. If it's not he guides me and I grumble and growl as I prepare the meat for the meal. Some days he tries to make the meal but ROAR, I don't want to eat that! So he doesn't.

When he's brave, Martin puts on his armour, yields his sword and tries to tame the beast. Deflects my bites and gets close enough to shove some food down my throat. Beer works. Or wine. Sometimes even a cookie. Then as quickly as it came, the murderous tendencies fade and I purr like a kitten. The beast is sedated. He gives me a scratch behind the ear and I change back into myself.

Some people in my family like to tease the beast (not naming names brothers) and poke me to see just how enraged I can get. A game to them. I snarl, they laugh. Which is why when I was a kid and kicked my oldest brother square in the nose, my mother told him he deserved it and I got away scott free.

It would be nice if I never got grumpy at all, but it's genetic. A characteristic of my father and I that the family has decided is within limits to tease us about. (no they did not consult us when that was decided) My father and I growl at each other and as life would have it, understand each other quite well.

At least my kids are like Martin. Slayers of dragons and not dragons themselves. My oldest brother has the kids with the grumpy gene. Who said nature doesn't have a sense of humour?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raven Hill

I woke up to the singing of a cheeseburger bird the other morning. Laying in the coziness of my bed, eyes still shut, but mind gracefully awakened. I smiled.

Cheeeeseburger. Cheeeeeeseburger.

Well, that's what it sounds like anyway. They're actually Chickadees. The morning call sounds like cheesesburger and the evening call sounds like chicka dee deee deeee. Either way, I was happy to hear it. Spring.

Funny hearing spring from outside my bedroom window. I guess that's why I left my eyes closed. So I could imagine the heat of the sun and green grass. I let myself lay in the daydream for a while, rather than crawl out to the reality of 2 feet of snow. No harm in it, it was Sunday.

I love where we live. One reason is the birds.

I first met them while standing in the field. The ravens' stealthy flight betrayed by the swoosh of wind over their wingspan. Six of them came flying over from the south. Hanging so low I could reach up and touch them. They coo to each other and speak in series of click clacks that sound alien. Without understanding the meaning I still found it oddly comforting. Kind. A conversation. The six veer off in pairs. Each to their own nest. Neighbours in a community. One pair nests in the woods just out of sight from the house. Their coos and click clacks could be heard all summer and soon the pair was joined in flight by two more. A family of four.

Last spring the ravens prepared their nest. In the same clump of trees on the east side of the house. Hidden from our prying eyes. But then something changed from the year before. A murder of crows, strictly forbidden by the ravens from entering the airspace above our fields, gathered across the road. The meeting could be heard for miles. Apparently crows don't take turns when talking.

The next day the ravens were gone and a dozen crows sat in our yard, on the fence post, in the pasture. The ravens had been dethroned. Their nest was empty. No young were born. The pair stayed, but did not defend their territory against the crows. I guess there was no reason. No young to protect. Ravens mate for life. In their marriage they share the successful seasons as well as those of loss. I felt bad for the pair.

After climbing from bed the other morning, with the chickadees song still in my mind, I looked out the window to see if I could catch a glimpse of the bird that brought me spring. Instead, I see the pair of ravens, perched in the old dead birch that we call the raven tree. Not a crow to be seen.

Monday, February 1, 2010

To Haiti with Love

It's old news the disaster in Haiti. The images no longer flash on the television screen during our dinner hour. But the kids are still there. Still dusting themselves off. Still struggling for what comes so easy to us. I turn the tap and water magically comes out. Clean. Cold. Good. My children go to bed each night swathed in warm blankets with loving kisses on their forheads. Their bellies fed and full. Knowing only a world of love, warmth and peace. We are lucky.

Today an auction opened up called To Haiti with Love. An auction which was organized and executed within days by people with hearts bigger than the whole world. Artists of all kinds offered gifts to auction from all over everywhere.

I've never sold any of my carvings. They are a hobby of mine that I enjoy fiddling away with. I never really imagined anyone would enjoy them as much as I do. But before I really even knew what I'd done, I had donated an owl to the cause. It is the only time I've ever revealed to the world a peice of my art. For all to see and possibly criticize. But it is all I have to give. I'll trade my owl, and put my work out for the world to see, this fragile rarely seen side of me, for Haiti. For the kids who don't even have anything to pull out of the rubble.

All of my carvings, all the art in the world, is such a luxury. Hopefully this week it will all be put to practical use and raise much needed money for kids who have so little. So please visit the auction and bid. You'll take home some wonderful art and help Haiti all in the click of a mouse.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Super Genius

Owen and Dad had a sliding party to attend Sunday afternoon with the beavers.

Dad: It's going to be a nice day. Minus 2 and sunny. A perfect day for sliding.
Owen: Yup, but not for haying.

I sometimes forget he pays attention to EVERYTHING and forgets nothing.

I've really got to stop letting him watch discovery channel. Sometimes kids can know too much. On the drive home I get this little lesson.

Owen: Do you know how to drift mom? Because to drift you go around the corner and turn the wheel a bit then back real fast then back again hard and then you're drifting. You have to do it fast. And you have to drive around the corner faster mom if you want to do it. They do it on Cars (meaning the movie) but that's not the real way because they only turn the wheel once and really they have to do it a bit one way then again the other way fast.

Me: OK, but do I have to try it today?

Owen: No because you probably don't know how but when I get big and I can drive I'll show you.

One of his favorite shows is Canada's Worst Driver. I never understood the appeal it had to a 5 year old, but it didn't bother me that he watched it. It's censored, it's on when I need him out of my hair while cooking supper and it's better than those crappy cartoons. I didn't realize that he was actually paying attention to the lessons. That he was actually learning how to drive!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Her name is Lucy. Or was Lucy. I'm never sure what tense to use. She has tan fur with a black back and looks a lot like a compact german shepherd. She's been missing since before Christmas, so I figure she must be dead. The only other logical reason for her to still be missing is that someone took her. I almost prefer the idea that she's dead. The thought of her being stolen just doesn't make sense in my head. Death is part of life, especially with pets, so for her to die is more acceptable for me. For her to be lost by no natural means, by a malicious human act, I just can't get my head around.

Maybe we'll find our neighbours dog once the snow melts, in the ditch. The victim of a hit and run. She often ran up and down the road and it wouldn't surprise me if that were her fate. There are many blind crests and turns on our road. I just wish we knew.

Yesterday our neighbour across the road, who just got a 1 year old yellow lab named Nova came to visit. Nova is missing. The last time we saw her was Sunday.

This neighbour had a dog Ben, who he let roam free. Ben, an intact male, made himself into a very bad pest. We feared causing a rift but had to tell the man to keep his dog home. Actually we didn't care if he stayed home, we just didn't want him on our property anymore. Shady couldn't go outside to pee without him humping her. (No she wasn't in heat) We offered advice (get him fixed, get an invisible fence) but the man is a stubborn backwards minded sort and his response was "I'm not getting him fixed, he'll get fat, and them there fences don't work worth a damn and I'm not putting a penny more into this dog". So he traded Ben for his sister. He's had her since the new year and has kept a closer eye on her. She's only been in our yard twice that I've noticed. Nova couldn't help her puppy self on Sunday when Shady and the kids went out to play and bounded across the road to join in. Mart and I worried that the problem would begin again, but she hasn't been back. So we've been pleased. The problem now is where is she?

There are sick twisted people who smile politely, do a good job in pretending and are careful in not saying anything that would reveal their true selves. But in our neighbourhood? Really? Most families on our road have dogs. People don't use our road unless you live on it or near it. Who would just happen to drive by, while Lucy and Nova just happened to be out, and take them? And why?

I really wish I knew where these dogs have gone. I'd like to know if they were shot, or trapped or hit. That would give closure to their families, and make me feel a lot more safe about my dog. If some sicko is out stealing dogs, how can I protect my dog from that? An odd thing to have to choose, an accident or a sicko, death or kidnapping.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Float like a butterfly

It seems fitting that I'm here during the time of year full of resolutions and weight loss. And since it's not February yet, those resolutions haven't even been broken yet.

I woke up to 2010 amongst four piles stacked high of files, each in a different state of completion, and working every waking hour. Feeling swamped and stressed and similar to a pile of shit, I decided to do something different.

I chopped off my hair. Well, that's not all that different, but it's been in a pony tail for a long time. I even highlighted it. Which to all the ladies out there wouldn't give cause for a cheer, but it did for me, as I've never ever had anything put in my hair. So I felt much the same as I did when I was 7 and was allowed to get my ears pierced. Finally taking the step long after it was considered cool. But still, my own token of whatever to show that I'm not so different from all of you. I just wanted to feel pretty.

I also checked off another item from my life list. If I were to actually write one it would contain things such as: husband (check), kids (check), farm (getting there), career (check), Africa, learn Italian, dog sled, learn violin and on and on. But the one I checked off has been nagging at me for a bit. So I'm super excited to have joined boxing.

If I had to identify myself in two words I'd say farm girl. That's probably the best fit. Being a farm kid, strength was always considered an asset. Growing up in, and working in agriculture, I've always been a little girl, largely under estimated, in a big man world. But, secretly I know that I can hold my own. Pound for pound I may even have some guys beat. This is something I've always taken pride in. So this boxing fits perfectly with me. It's full of heavy metal, sweat, swearing, grunting, ugly gym pants and workouts from hell. These girls are tough and there will be no gentle. When I leave, I am exhausted and satisfied I have given every ounce of effort. I can't lift my coffee mug the next day, but it feels so good. I float like a butterfly, heart and soul.

So this year has begun fresh and strong. What is good for the muscles is good for the mind. Twice per week I climb out from under my piles of work and give a heavy bag hell. At this pace, 2010 is going to be a great year.