Archive | October, 2012

Winter and Critter Observations

29 Oct

The weather has turned colder and snow has started to fall. a light dusting but something to watch out for. The paved road #222 has worn down into grooves, not quite ruts, where any melt water collects to produce a thin layer of black ice that runs along the grooves. Nastily slick when covered by a snow dusting, especially on the curves. Saw one car that had slid off the road into the ditch and rolled. The city had reported a 20 car pileup on one of its bridges. Seems every year we have to re-learn how to drive in bad weather.

Rodent Restaurant in our Rav4 Cabin Air Filter

I had to take the car into Winnipeg for a lube job  and oil change. Trips into the city now have to be connected to some must-do reason. Discovered a new aspect of country living that I had not noticed before: some rodent had decided recently to take up residence in the car near the cabin air filter. The thought that we were breathing in rodent bits as we drove was a bit revolting, especially with concerns about hanta virus. Seems like a frequent visual inspection is in order. On the way home, in the dark, we missed  hitting a deer,  on the highway, by a hair’s breadth. It passed between me and an oncoming car. I had averted my eyes to avoid the glare of the oncoming car. The deer came from that car’s side. My sudden braking action showed the value of seatbelts. A double dose of critter contact that day.

Deer caress fender,

Rodents set up home snack bar.

Battered, munchy car.

Bald Eagle Nest on Top of Hydro Pole

While checking around the neighbourhood I noticed a bald eagle nest on top of a hydro pole. Empty of course but it did get me thinking as to how the parents and fledglings avoided the wires. Big birds but obviously graceful in close quarters. I’ll have to keep an eye on it next year to see if the nest is re-used. Judging from the size of it I assume it will be re-furbished. I thought the little dogs in the area would have to watch out for coyotes but eagles are a new item.

All the basic chores to prepare for winter have been done except for winterizing the lawn mower, an easy chore.


Winterizing To Dos

22 Oct

It finally stopped raining and the wind has stopped howling. I was able to get on the roof and clean out the eaves. They had a netting over them but there was a lot of smelly, decomposing sludge in them. The screening will have to be replaced next year. At least they are now clear and can drain.

Laid bags of leaves over the line from the well just to make sure that there are no underground problems in that area. Put a bucket over the well head itself to protect it from meandering deer and to provide a minimal climate control which will be important come the freeze and thaw cycle next spring. Water in its many forms seems to be a consistent theme in my life, especially during these colder seasons.

More small herds of deer are crossing the garden more frequently. Deer scat everywhere. Who needs fertilizer?

No pics this post unless you want to see pics of bags of leaves and deer poop pellets.

Preparing For the Cold: Work, Work, Work

16 Oct

Snow Fence and Leaf Cover over Septic Field

This week and next are devoted to getting ready for winter. A big task was putting up the snow fence and laying out a bed of leaves over the septic field and our water lines. We are grandfathered in; otherwise, we would have to have a holding tank since we are on the lake. We have used leaves before as well as bales of straw. Both seem to work well. I find that leaves are easier to dispose of come the spring. They make a great mulch for the garden and can be mulch-mowed into the grass. The fence not only catches the snow along with the leaves. The principal purpose of the fence, however, is to keep out the deer. Over the winter they seem to have an appetite for anything organic. We do not rake and bag  the leaves anymore. A neat lawn is not priority. We are not are not in the suburbs! Our first year we did bag leaves: 63 big bags! Never again.

Turned over the garden to let it regenerate over the winter. Nothing was left except one tiny cucumber and small remnants of swiss chard. The birds have picked over the red berries of the asparagus. Nothing left but feathery ferns. Some might have fallen to the ground. Maybe new spears in two years.

Lake Wiinipeg, Looking South, Mist, October

Today was very foggy. The fog lasted all day. Water drops hung heavy on the branches sparkling in the sunlight.


Crystal Mist Drops on Bare Limbs, October

Surprising beauty

Crystal drops hang on bare limbs

October geese calls.

To Do List for The Coming Two Weeks

13 Oct

The snow has gone, as expected. The weather, at least for the next few days, is going to be dry and pleasant. As long as it’s not too windy or wet, things will go along fine. The following is a list, in no particular order of priority, of what I have to do. The weather will determine what and when. Some of the chores will be familiar to city folk:

  • Pruning branches overhanging the roof or brushing up against the side of the house.
  • Cutting down and cutting up trees and branches knocked down by the recent snow and wind.  Cut them into firewood.
  • Cover the septic field and water lines, and put up snow fence.
  • Mulch mow the lawn and winterize the mower.
  • Check the eaves and downspouts.
  • Clean and store the deck and garden furniture.
  • Clean and store the BBQ.
  • Store the canoe.
  • Turn over and mulch the veggie garden.

White Tailed Deer Doing Its Business on the Lawn

The list may not seem extensive or onerous to many but in the country this is basically do it yourself when the weather is right. It means climbing ladders, into trees and onto the roof, powering up the chain saw, and getting down into the dirt. When all is done the house will be snug for the winter.

One nice thing about this time of the year is that there are no bugs. So far we have been lucky in not having any rodents invade the house for shelter. Deer are passing through. There is plenty of deer scat scattered around the grass and mixed in with the leaves; gloves are mandatory! Next year there will be tufts of extra thick and healthy grass to show where the lawn was used as a latrine.

One good effect of the recent storms has been on the beach. It is now wide and sandy where once it was rocks and cobbles. The seasonal timing might be off but it looks good. The water is lower as the south winds have pushed the water back into the lake’s north basin.

The Town Is Slowly Shutting Down

10 Oct

Gimli Harbour Looking Towards the Yacht Club

Commercial Fishing Boats, Gimli Harbour

On the Hard at Silver Harbour

Took a trip into Gimli  today. The town has really slowed down since Thanksgiving. With the weather most people have shut up their cottages for the winter. The marina was a ghost of itself yacht-wise. Dean Thorkelson of Lake Agassiz Marine  had his crane at the end of the pier hauling out some of the Gimli Yacht Club sailboats. Haulout time is now getting short. Pretty well all of the power boats are out of the main basin. All that’s left are the small fishing boats. They will be out as long as there is water. Come the ice many of them shift will be to ice fishing. The yacht scene is similar in Silver Harbour, row upon row of boats. I feel sad at such scenes. The boats are out of their element, stranded on the hard. Most will not be in the water until May or June next year. The season is so short. I remember a few years ago taking the ferry from Tswassen to Vancouver Island on New Year’s Day and seeing sailboats cruising in the straits. I thought, “How idyllic.” Back home the ice on the lake was six feet thick.

Gimli Beach. Getting Ready to Make Dikes

The  beach, of course, is deserted. The town has started to prepare for any potential flooding by piling up mounds of sand ready to create berms in the low areas. October and November are the season for major storms. The wind and rain will howl down out of the east and north-east often for days at a time. Lake water will pile up in the south basin. Shoreline erosion will be possible for many. Fortunately our house has a natural, elevated shoreline. Still it has to be watched. Then the freeze-up will happen. It will be cold but more still and peaceful. More on that another time.

Of course, one of the benefits of the slowdown is that finding a parking spot is much easier. Another is that walking on the sidewalk is easier too. Some of the stores are changing from their summer hours. Not too many are shutting down though. I must admit that I miss some of the hustle and bustle of the summer. Old habits?

Nature Rebounds

9 Oct

It’s quite amazing how nature compensates to stay in balance. This past summer was clear, hot and dry, fortunately not drought conditions. The days were long and balmy. October has changed all that what with snow, rain, cloud and constant rain. Plans to get on the roof to prune overhanging branches and to clean the eaves had to be put on hold. I have no plans on being blown off the roof and becoming a stupidity statistic. Also, the wet has delayed plans to mulch leaves and grass as a final cut for the lawn. So I will have to try this week. I will have to put up the snow fence over the  septic field and use some of the leaves to catch snow to form insulation over the field and connecting water lines. I’ll also have to bag some of the leaves to cover the water line from the well head. No point in taking chances of a freeze up. I have used straw in the past but find that leaves work just as well and do not have the disposal problems of straw. Some of the straw will be used as mulch in the vegetable garden. I will not be raking and bagging all the leaves as in previous years. Last year I bagged 63 giant size bags. Mulching and insualtion seem much more practical and result in less blisters and no sore back.

After the snow and frost I had to pick the last of the spaghetti squash and swiss chard. The squash had hardened nicely. The chard surprised me in that it was still growing. Hardy stuff. The zucchini, summer squash, had died off weeks ago. Wimpy by comparison.

The driveway is turning into a gravel pit and occasional mud bath. The gravel here can turn into a sticky gumbo that does not want to let go of shoes and cars. Does wonders for hardwood floors. It seems to find its way into the house no matter how careful you are.

Deer in the Garden

Female Spruce Grouse Coming Out of the Conifers in the Garden

Larger local wildlife is becoming more evident. Deer have not been as visible over the summer as they have been in previous years. The principal evidence has been the decapitation of plants in the flower garden and multiple scat deposits on the grass. With the snow their tracks can now be easily seen. Next year the grass will grow extra thick wherever they have pooped. Small flocks of female spruce grouse wander out of the conifer wind breaks. Birds seem extra cautious since we have at least one resident bald eagle scouting the area.One delight of the season is the fall supper. Last weekend we went to one in Riverton. Two weekends from now we will go to one at Camp Arnes. The food amount and quality is amazing. So much for the diet.

The “S” 4-Letter Word and It’s Only October 5th!

5 Oct

View looking to the lake, October 5

Woke up this morning to this!  Deck chairs and tables all covered in the stuff. So much for raking the leaves, cleaning the eaves and doing a final mowing of the lawn. Ah well, maybe next week. At least it will be gone then. The ground will be softer so that I can hammer in the posts to install the snow fence around the septic field. When the leaves dry I will have to bag them to lay over water lines. I need the roof to clear so that I can check the eaves and prune any overhanging branches on the roof

I cannot stand all this delayed gratification. Admittedly Spring came early but did Winter have to be such a copycat season?

One frustration of this time of year is the combination of snow and wind, the storm season. They keep on interfering with our internet wi-fi. We used to have dial-up. It felt like we were in the third world. Oh correct that! The third world does have high-speed and wi-fi just about everywhere. Unless you live in a major urban centre here in Canada you have to scrounge around for weather sensitive wi-fi service.

The Driveway, October 5

Complaining aside, I must admit that the scenery is beautiful right now. One of the advantages of a country winter is that it can be picture-perfect. The snow stays white and pristine for a long time. I notice this when we have to drive into the city: dirty, brown, ugly, slushy, gritty and “potholey.” Manitoba can be cold but invariably the sun will shine against a clear sky. so it’s still sunglasses and sunscreen time. Soon the deer will be coming more frequently to the yard. Often they will form a wallow on the leeward side of the house out of the wind.

Is It October Already?

2 Oct

Where did the summer go? Maybe I’m having an extended senior moment.

Went to a Fall supper in Riverton yesterday. Boy, what a bargain! Good price and great food. Crowdwd. I never realized there were so many people in the area.