Saturday, June 23, 2012

See Ya Birdie

Today I built a 1x2 and chicken wire cage for when birdie gets a bit older and fluffs out, but before he's ready to fly away. This is what it looks like:

Later on when I was handling him during a feeding (I'd been trying to avoid a lot of hands on contact to give him a better chance of survival in the wild), I noticed he's got a broken leg. So I contacted the wildlife rehab center again and said that I'd be happy to continue raising him, but would they please take a look at his leg and splint it if need be. It turns out they really don't deal with birds at all, but they directed me to a lady in Stayner who might just be interested. So, after a quick phone call I was in the car for the hour long ride to Stayner. The things I do for this bird! I thought the lady was gonna patch him up and we'd be on our way. Instead, when I showed up she took the bird from me, shoe box and all, and told me that once an animal is "put in her care" she really can't allow it to go back home with average joes such as myself. 

I have very mixed feelings right now. I'm glad that he'll be raised with a clutch of other injured starlings which will improve his social skills and make him a better wild bird. I'm glad that she knows how to fix his lil broken leg. I'm even kinda glad to not have somebody to feed every 20 minutes. Just a little bit. I also miss that little bird, I've been his momma for 3 days, and I really got a kick out of watching the lil fella grow. I've just built him a fantastic cage. I've got a whole playlist of starling songs on youtube that I was using to teach him what his kin sounds like. I've got towels cut to fit his box. I've got about 5 kilos of cat food. I thought I was in this for the childhood of the bird, it feels like... well, an empty nest! I'm happy that my birdie's gonna get great care, I'm just kind of sad that it won't be my care. 

As a side note, I'm sure that cage would make an awesome grazing pen for a couple chickens, or a few rabbit does. Just sayin'. Mom say no... but mom always says no ;-)

Day 8

The lil guy is still hanging in there, starting to have a little better motor control, sprouting some new feathers, especially along his breast. This wing feathers are gonna start erupting from their quills any day now. Still eating, still pooping. I'm gonna need a name for him. Stormy just isn't sticking. And lil' guy or birdie just sound lame. So, what should we name him? Also, as he's growing I'm quite shortly going to need a cage for him. He's only gonna be ok in the box another day or three. Anyone got a cage I can borrow for about a month?
Pictures to follow once I get back on my own computer!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The lil' fart, 7 days old

Startling Starling

At work, we have a nest of european starlings living in our awning at the front of the building. Wednesday morning we found two baby birds dead on the ground, which is always sad. Yesterday morning, they found a third baby bird, this one alive. By the time I got to work at around 5 pm, he was still alive, and no parent had been by to check on him or feed him, as near as we could tell. So being the big softy that I am, I had to try to do something. There are too many cats in the neighborhood, and there was a big storm rolling in. I called the local wildlife rehab center. It turns out that being spring they've got a high call volume, and when baby skunks, deer, raccoons and foxes are in the offing, my poor little starling just didn't make the cut. They did however direct me towards some resources on raising orphaned birds incase I wanted to try to save him myself. First I checked with the MNR to make sure I wouldn't get in deep ca-ca for having a wild bird in my possession. It turns out that starlings are one of 6 species of birds exempted from the National Fish and Wildlife Act. And so, I give you Birdie:

I think eventually I'll call the little fella Stormy, but I'm trying not to get too attached yet. I know the first 24 hours are crucial, and even after that he's not out of the woods.
He's about 6-7 days old. Full of piss and vinegar, eating well, pooping well, and keeping warm, which is all I can really ask of the little guy for now. He survived the night!

I'm gonna raise him with lots of time out doors, and recordings of his own kin singing, and hopefully he'll release back into the wild like a little champ when he's older.

I haven't quite introduced him to mom yet... she's gonna have kittens for sure, but it's a little late now to just toss him back to the wild... stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


"Today marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. On June 18, 1812 U.S. President James Madison sets out on the invasion of Upper Canada, something he said was "A mere matter of marching"... Thanks to the sacrifice of Redcoated Soldiers, citizen militia and fierce First Nation warriors we can proudly wave the Red and White today! 

God Save the King!"

As a fitting way to celebrate the big day, Andrew and I as well as a co-worker and her husband went to see The Encampment, part of the Toronto Luminato show,  What I didn't know is quite what what that involved, besides a bunch of tents (200 actually) set up inside of a fort. 200 different artists (or groups of artists) were invited to take part in the display. Each was given a figure of varying prominence that was part of the war effort, or lived in the village of york, and was to artistically represent that person, within the confines of their 7'x7' white canvas wedge tent. 

We brought a picnic dinner to eat in the parking lot, and started wandering through at about 7:30. By 10:00 we had to leave after rushing through the last several rows, and missing one section altogether. It takes the time folks, if you're gonna go see it, give yourself the full time. At dusk, a solar light comes on inside of each tent, and the whole encampment glows. The ambiance was very cool.

Some of the displays were incredible, thought provoking, and informative. One booth walked you through the evidence submitted during the trial of a york woman of the time period who killed her child. At the end you were invited to cast your vote (the old way using stones cast into different bins) whether she should be granted mercy, or punishment. Another told the tale of a york postal worker, and gave the viewers an idea of the length of time required for a letter to arrive, since they were hand delivered. We were invited to write a post card, which the artist will then attempt to hand deliver in the traditional fashion. Some were a bit of a reach in terms of "creative interpretation". Perhaps if they had provided a little write up about the person and their artistic piece it would have made more sense. A few were downright bad, and 2 in particular were just vulgar. One was a pair of silhouettes of provocative naked women papered over in the "personals" classified section of a questionable paper (lots of flesh showing!) with bullets clipped on where their nipples would be. Another had not much in it but gay pride memorabilia and a chandelier with a condom unfurled over each candle. I don't understand what either display had to do with the war (certainly we didn't have condoms or pride parades or rim fire bullets!), and there were families with young children wandering though. Art can certainly be risque sometimes and that works, but in this case, I didn't think they were appropriate. 

All in all it was a really fun way to spend an evening, I learned something about a time period I consider myself fairly versed in, and commemorated the start of our war. The display is still on for several days, so if I have any readers in the Toronto area, I highly recommend it. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fiddle camp!

On August 24th, Andrew and I are headed down to Jackson NY to finally meet fellow blogger and homesteader Jenna Woginrich. We'll be enjoying her home cooked food, pitching a tent in the farm field, and best of all, learning to fiddle. That's right folks, I'll be getting kitted out with a fiddle, bow, rosin and case, and she swears I'll know how to play it by the end of the weekend. My fiddling efforts have largely slacked off since I've moved home, due to lack of support from the family. I returned my rented fiddle to long and mcquade's, and while I have a long term loaned fiddle from a friend (her grandfather made it, it's kinda a family heirloom, she's just letting me play it because nobody in her family has an interest right now), it's not the same. She's pretty, with stocky little mountain ponies carved into the back, but she is also old and I'm terrified to break her.
So, looking forward to August, and a fiddle of my own!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Old Lace

There are few things quite so whimsical or romantic as lace, particularly old, hand made lace. This isn't old, but it is crocheted by hand. It counts.

The style is called fillet crochet, and it consists of open squares or "windows" and closed windows created by making stitches through the middle of them. You can make patterns with the closed windows, but it's not always easy to discern unless your stitches are very tiny and even. The sample at the left is what I did last night. It's been over a year since I crocheted anything, so it's a little crooked and awkward, but still pretty in it's own way. I made it a little longer and finished it into a bracelet.

I'm making another strip now, this one 7 windows wide, with a pattern of x's and o's along the length of it. I'm thinking of my sweetie with every stitch while we're apart, and pouring all that love into the lace. I think it shows. I haven't decided yet whether it will decorate my next re-enacting dress, or if perhaps I'll use it to trim a cotton nightgown I'm thinking of making. Who knows?

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Well, I'm finally starting to get some barn calls rolling in, and I am massaging some fantastic equines! But my rubber boot got some big tears in them, and they just weren't keeping my feet clean or dry anymore. So I had a choice: do I replace them with more gum boots that will serve in the barn and still have to buy a pair of riding boots later on this summer when I start taking western lessons? Or should I just bite the bullet and buy the cowboy boots I've dreamed of and drooled over now?
Needless to say, pictured to the left are my new babies. Friday my brother and I went down to Herbert's Boots and Western Wear in Alliston and picked out my new horse boots. They are an ariat design, which means that unlike typical leather soled cowboy boots they've got rubber soles which will give me a little more traction. They also have built in arch support and gelly insoles. They're as comfortable as they are beautiful, which is important when you're standing, and chasing a horse around his stall for an hour or more at a time.
As a water proofer I decided to go with a traditional beeswax, vaseline and lanolin recipe rather than dubbins or some highly toxic aerosol spray. It just felt more right to me. I picked up the beeswax at the farmers market yesterday, it was made by bees right here in this sweet little town. I came home and used a double boiler method to melt it, and then mixed in a healthy scoop of bag balm (which, after all, is just lanolin, petroleum jelly and a little tiny smidge of  8-hydroxy quinoline, which should have no effect on the leather).  I used a soft flannel cloth to apply the yellow goo, and rubbed it in using tiny circles, then buffed off the excess with a second, clean cloth.
Here's to kickin' up your heels in style!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Camp Wind-down

This weekend we had our year end camp with the pathfinders. It was a very very wet weekend, but we had a lot of fun anyways. Friday night it rained so hard (and I learned my jacket isn't waterproof any more) that I didn't even bring my clothes into the tent. I stripped under the vestibule and left my soggy clothes in a pile outside. Saturday had some sunny bits though, and we had no rain during our hike, only a little drizzle for archery and manhunt.
Having a wet weekend means a long unpacking process for the leaders though. I've got two tents I had to dry out on the line, and all my personal gear was sodden. Somehow I still think it's worth it. I must be crazy.
I'm already excited for next year! This year we decided that our unit is just too big to cook as one group most of the time, so at camp we split into two patrols. We only have one patrol box though, and it's basically just a big chest with a hinged lid that everything gets dumped into. I want something with a partition for utensils, possibly something on legs, where the front folds down into a cooking surface. Then there are shelves inside. Possibly something a bit like this:

Andrew and I are working on designs, and then in the fall when we start having our meetings again we'll likely do a weekend where we make two boxes, paint, paper the insides, and fill them here in my garage.