DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Black Bears

I have a resident black bear on my property. I have seen it twice and spotted scat not far from our log cabin. I watched it a couple of day ago cross the road at the edge on my property. It was coming up from the river. Later in the day, i saw it make the return journey.

I love the black bears. They are gentle, quiet creatures that mostly forage for berries and roots. It is a privilege to have them in large numbers in Canada. Bears around the World are under great stress from loss of habitat. In Europe, they are rare. In Asia, they are dropping in numbers in the wild. There is also a long cultural tradition in Asia of capturing bears and displaying they as a circus animal. This is a sad sight of the abuse of a wild independent animal.

In Ontario, bears are hunted, mostly for trophies and not food. They are hunted mostly by American hunters. Local people seem disinterested in this hunt. When there was a Spring bear hunt, (It was banned a few years ago by the government) I was often amused to spot American hunters in our small town, dressed like Rambo. When you engaged them in conversation and asked them what they were doing in the area, (quite off the beaten track) they invariably replied, "We is hunting the b'ar! Mostly they were from the mid-Atlantic states or Ohio.

In the Spring hunt they used dogs to flush out the bears so often hunters travelled with a pack of hounds. The lead hound rode on a platform on the hood of the pick-up truck. It was quite a show.

Bear hunting is really a disgusting hunt where the bear does not have a chance. Smelly baits are put out that attract the bears. From a tree stand the bear is slaughtered not hunted. Those that use dogs drive the logging roads and let them loose when they pick up a scent. The dogs tree the bear and the hunter merely has to slaughter the bear in the tree.

The Spring is the time sows have cubs with them. While sows were not to be killed invariably cubs were orphaned. I think this is why the government shut down this part of the industry. There is still a bear hunt in the Fall which had it's season lengthened to where there are still family vacationers in the bush. (An accident waiting to happen.)

Bear, like wolves before them, have been wrongly portrayed as vicious dangerous animals. In fact, they are quiet and gentle and shy, particularly the Black Bear. They will retreat more than attack when confronted. In the movies and the public mind bears are represented as displaying their teeth in a threatening display. This is not a normal bear display.

Given the great number of bear and people contacts there are few attacks. There are ill-tempered bears that are aggressive which means all encounters with bears should be treated with respect and caution. From a short distance it is interesting to observe these wonderful, playful animals that are wonderful mothers. They only want to be left alone to forage for food and care for their young.

To watch a truly wild large animal, like a bear, going about it's life in the wild is an awe inspiring experience much more exciting and profound than watching one in a zoo.

It is truly sad to see a dead bear dumped in the back of a pick-up or just the head displayed as a hood ornament on some truck as a bragging trophy for some less than noble hunter.

There are noble hunters who hunt for food, say a little prayer for the sacrifice the animal makes and offers a gift of tobacco to the spirit of the bear after the kill. All killing for food, should be done with reverence and respect.

To view a wonderful slideshow on bears visit this website ,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Harvest Time

Here is a small sampling of some produce from my garden. My grandchildren came with their grandmother to help a little in the garden. This is the result of some of their effort. I will have lots of onion. There are more to pick yet. We harvested these as the sow, Ruby and her tribe seemed to have rooted them up anyway. Olivia picked this basket of carrots, which I will pickle and freeze. I even got some green peppers, not easy to grow here due to lack of heat. And of course, lots of cucumbers. I want to make brine pickles with most of them although I may make some sweet pickles, relish and dill pickles ( I have a nice crop of dill. If I do not use it friends and neighbours will be helping themselves.) The sample of potatoes are Yukon Gold, which I have grown for the first time. I usually just grow just the red Norland potato, which is my favourite.
There are lots of these lying in the garden hardening before I pick them up for storage. Travis and Dillon and Grandma Shaun dug a lot of the potatoes. The Yukon Gold were grown in a tower of three old car tires filled with old manure. Veronica wanted to try this, (comparable to growing potatoes in a barrel.) It work rather well.

Good news ! I got my first red tomato today. I have about 60 plants with lots of green tomatoes. Time is running out. The average first frost day here is September 15. With some luck it might put off for a further week or I could protect the plants a little to extend the season.
Otherwise, "where are those recipes for using green tomatoes!!"

Harvesting stuff from my garden is always exciting but the work is daunting.

Where is Veronica when I need here? She returned to the US last month. I miss her more than she appreciates. Our homestead adventure was very much a joint venture. Besides transforming my house into a home and working toward putting up a year's worth of food, she brought joy, playfullness and laughter in our lives. This was much enriching to this old bachelor who has lived a solitary life for a long time. Movie nights, armed to big bowls of popcorn and some DVD's, saw us retire early. There is not a movie, good or bad that I cannot fall asleep in front of. I think out of contentment for now I watch movies to the end, alone while with Ms. V, I don't think I saw the ending of a single movie. Unfortunately, Veronica moved on and I have carried on to try to accomplish some of what we dreamed. A lot will not get done I am sure.

This is the beginning of a root cellar, (cold storage room) I am building in the basement, a project Veronica put on the list, which I had long thought of building. I have framed it up and will be insulating it against the heat from the rest of the house. By October is will have lots of produce and canning in it. The bottles are for wine we were going to make with some wild fruit, blueberries, raspberries or choke cherries. I don't think it will get done this year. Being a sober sort it is a low priority for me. The white pails are for brine pickles and saurkraut.

More cucumbers and yet more cucumbers. This is last weeks picking. I get over a bushel a week out of my patch. And, or course, there is the ever abundant zucchinni, (courgettes to you French cooks.)

Another view of the roots cellar project. Ignore the junk, on my work bench. It will be Winter before I tackle it. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 28, 2006

More Barnyard Activity

Paulo, the peacock, wondering where the ducks are that so dirtied their pool. His tail is growing. it will take another year to gain it's full length and splendor. This doesn't stop him from displaying for any fowl who will pay him attention. I really must find him a lady peacock to impress.

Rosy, the Duroc sow, looking a little angry and confused. You would be too if ten 25 pound piglets are sucking the life out of you. Her blue eye show in this picture. (double click on the photo for enlarged view) You don't often see her eyes, obscured by her ears. She has a haunting look.

Two of my meat variety cockerels. They will weigh 18 pounds when fully grown: a large chicken.

A clutch of eggs, a hen has been sitting on for some time. I hope she hatches out some chicks soon. Posted by Picasa

Some Barnyard Companions

Lucy, the pet calf, earning her keep trimming the lawn and fertilizing:)

The noon time pig pile. Damn! they are getting big at 6 weeks. Nine? Where is #10?

Here is #10 sunning herself and enjoying a little alone time with her kitty companion looking on.

Everybody's favourite bunny. Certainly mine. My grandson and daughter-in-law covet her.
She may be moving to suburbia to be pampered as a family member.

It seems four is Blogger's limit of pictures. I will post some more another time. Posted by Picasa

Katrina Revisited

With the anniversary of the Katrina hurricane and it's frightening destruction of the US Gulf Coast there will be lots of reflections what was wrought and how American's have recovered.

The reality of the "recovery" is shocking with the system of corporate greed and government bureaucratic inertia has seen some favoured contractors get rich and few individual residents get any government financial help yet. The levees have been patched up and may not withstand a storm much more modest than Katrina, not to mention how homes (where there are some intact) with tarped roofs or FEMA trailers will fair. Many evacuees have not even returned, and may never be able to. Infastructure has not been rebuilt and plans for recontructing neighbourhoods of homes have not begun.

To read about the sad state of affairs I suggest this article by Bill Quigley He is more articulate than I could be.

President Bush will visit Louisiana this week for the usual photo op. After last year's upbeat promises to have the Federal government help rebuilding, Bush shows a lot of nerve to show up this year in the face of the incompetance his government has show.

Besides feeling sad for the folks of the US Gulf coast as they face another hurricane season, I am sad at the decrepid state of the great Republic. Corruption and incompetance seems to be the "normal" for so much of American society. Add to these social cancers add racism, class struggle and the adherence to irrational economic theories that don't work in a crisis.

The US used be admired for it's ability to "get the job done". Well, the job is not getting done on many fronts. It fills one with sadness. When are Americans going to feel rage at the failure of its governments and demand the decline of the Republic be reversed?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Home Grown Lunch

I just realized my lunch was completely home grown. Passing by the hen house I picked up three eggs with the idea of making an omlette for lunch. With a detour to the vegetable garden I picked an onion and pepper to fancy up the omlette. Beating the eggs with a little milk from this morning's milking of Daisy I was ready to make the omlette in the pan inwhich I melted a little home made butter. The chopped onion and pepper was added and I turned out a lovely omlette which I garnished with a sprig of parsley from the patch by the house. Voila! A lunch serving worthy of a good restaurant. I could have had it with a glass of milk, or buttermilk but instead I had a glass of my homemade ginger ale. With a little more planning a side order of homefried potatoes or a couple of slices of tomatoes would have made it a more complete meal. As it was, it was very satisfying on a couple of levels.

As my garden matures and my meats are put in the freeze I will be eating many more such home grown meals throughtout the Winter, thus avoiding trips to the market.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Cabin

This is the cabin Parker and I built on the Temagami River so he could enjoy this camp with his children and friends creating those memories that nourish our lives all our lives. We continue to work on it. Iincreasingly, it has become a centre of many good times. This recent photo was taken the day family visited.

It was a cool day to be enjoying the river. I was one of those brave souls that day. The summers here are too short to pass up a chance for a dip in our river. It is a wonderful river with clean and clear water as it descends from the Temagami Wilderness area. The water is soft and makes your hair feel like silk. It is clean enough to drink untreated. I have done so for 26 years. It is a privilege to have access to such a river in a world where plentiful clean water is increasingly scarce. Canada still has an abundance of it, if we don't stop abusing it we will degrade it.

I celebrate this river every opportunity I can as a gift from the Divine. Such water should be a right and not a privilege.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

# 1 Grandson, Dillon

Dillion is my oldest grandchild. He is 9. The other two are Olivia, 8, and Travis, 7 ,who just had his birthday party at the cabin on the river.

Dillion is the one child that seems to want to share some of my interests. At least, he is polite enough to listen to me. I love to point out things about the flora and fauna around here. He likes to make collections of nature things he finds. Of all the children, he is most fascinated with the animals . When he first shows up: off to the hen house he runs to picks up the eggs, then, he visits all the animals and picks the small ones up: hens, ducks, kittens, piglets, whatever he can catch.

Dillion talks of becoming a Vet. I once thought of that myself but I have since learned being kindhearted and sentimental about animals is no way for a vet to be. It is a tough heartbreaking profession. A rural vet in particular works long hours and works with many large animals. I have helped a vet do an autopsy on a cow in the field that had been dead for three days. I also helped a vet cut up a dead calf, in three pieces to get it out of the cow. Such things are grim and not for the timid and soft hearted. Then there are the perfectly lovely pets that are brought in to be euthanized. I, once, took a lovely pup that the vet was about to put down. When Dillion learns some of these realities he may change his mind.

Dillion, like the other grandchildren is quite accomplished. He plays the keyboard and attends school in French (his second language) maintaining a very high standing. (As I have struggled for years to learn some French, I am most proud of the children being bilingual. This will mean Dillion's mother will not be the last of the Lajeunesse clan to have a facility in French. The chance to work in two languages and share in two cultures is a great advantage and enriching experience. { Now I am editorializing}.

The grandchildren play a wide range of sports. Dillion and Olivia have played on the same hockey team and they are now on a competative swim team, doing quite well.

Dillion more that the other two children is eager to come out to the farm and spend time at the log cabin we built on the river. It is always fun to see him and talk with him about all we share an interest in.

Dillion holding one of the part silkie chicks we incubated. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

Porcine Life

About a month ago Ruby the Duroc Sow presented me with a litter of piglets. Below is the last piglet moments after emerging into this world.

Not pretty but always an awesome moment for all mammals.

First feeding at the Ruby Dairy Bar.

While life drama's unfold around the farm. Paulo the Peacock struts his stuff overseeing all as if he was the Lord of the manor. Each morning, he visits me at the back door as if to check on my progress in getting ready for the milking of Daisy, the cow.

About four weeks along the porcine family is still sucking the nutrient out of the increasingly thinner Rosy. Weaning will come as a pleasant relief. I will be castrating the five boar piglets soon, an unpleasant task. . . . . don't ask! Sentimental animal lovers, like myself have some difficult moment in farm life. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Well! here I am. I am back! I have been offline for over a month.
My computer broke and I had to get another. My brother-in-law brought me one and my nephew put it all together. Thanks, y'all! (That Floridian 'V' infected me with some southernisms.) I used her computer while she was here but sadly she has returned to the U.S.

Yes, my homesteading mate gave up on me and our project of creating a lifestyle of traditional skills and efforts. I am sad to see the end of our relationship at a point she had captured my heart.

'V' decided we had no future together and left with some of my heart. I am too old and experienced in matters of the heart to be heartbroken and seriously wounded. All the same it is sad and disappointing.

We had some wonderful times together and shared a dream. I tried hard to created a homestead we could both live with. It was taking time but each day brought progress.

It seems "Happiness is. . ." not a new pair of clotheslines! It seems she wanted much more on a faster schedule that I could deliver.

When 'V' left, I got custody of the animals. They are a great source of interest and work for me. Daisy, the cow, I continue to milk. Ruby, the sow delivered me ten heathy piglets. Lucy, the calf is growing nicely and is a great pet as she has been hand fed. My forty laying hens are in full production and my twenty meat birds and ducks are nearly full grown. Paulo, the peacock, is always present strutting his stuff. I also have 9 female rabbit looking for a buck. My gentle New Zealand giant died. I also have one female pheasant. Ben the dog and my 10 cats are always underfoot. (They were not 'V's favourites)

While I am often alone, I am not lonely, so many animals depending on me.

I also have a enlarged vegetable garden to harvest and process. This will be an overwelming task alone.

In the midst of all this I am trying to finish the log cabin my son and I have been building and do several projects around the house that 'V' wanted to be seen done.

No time for depression these days. That will come in the depth of Winter.

'V' is living in northern Alabama near much of her family. I hope she is happy there and never regrets moving on from our dreams here. We remain in touch and friends, I trust.