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    CSA: Community Supported Agriculture

    2012 - 08.20

    Stumbled across this the other day, and there’s at least one member of the audience who will find it interesting.  It’s the SFU: Local Food Project, and one of the things they talk about is Community Supported Agriculture.

    C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA’s are a  commitment between a farm and a community of supporters. Supports pay up for their share of the harvest at the beginning of the season, so farmers have a source of income at their time of highest expenses. The farm provides the supporters with fresh high quality produce throughout the season, usually in a weekly box.

    They have a nice list of different CSA related organizations: http://sfulocalfood.ca/resources/where-to-get-local/community-supported-agriculture

    Who knows you might even find the rest of the site interesting too.

    Growing from Seed: Jiffy-7

    2012 - 06.09

    For Easter Karin got some seed starting kits, and she’s had pretty good success with them so far.  In fact so much success that she needed to give away a bunch of the seedlings because they all sprouted.  So that’s pretty cool, and maybe she’ll talk more about her experience herself.

    The point of this post though is to expound a little bit on the Jiffy-7 Pellets which are very interesting things.  They are an integral part of the seed starting greenhouse that Karin used, and you would think that because they are called Jiffy-7 that you could just go anywhere and buy additional pellets and refill your greenhouse.  You’d think that, right?

    Well it turns out that the pellets come in different sizes, which isn’t really that problematic, but you’d think that they might be Jiffy-1, Jiffy-2, Jiffy-5, Jiffy-7 pellets and such.  Turns out that logical system doesn’t apply to the Jiffy pellets, regardless of size, they are all called Jiffy-7 and they go from about 18mm to about 60mm.  What this really means is that it’s significantly more difficult to find the right size pellet, because they all have the same name, and the sizes are not always clearly marked or indicated either on the boxes of additional pellets, bulk pellets or on the Jiffy Greenhouses themselves.

    So the bottom line is that they are a great product, but that you need to be especially careful that you know what size you’re looking for so that you aren’t disappointed.

    The Problem with Crows…

    2012 - 06.04

    My sister has a problem with crows, and in truth it’s not that many, it’s not like it’s a murder.  But she’s had a bad experience where they were aggressive and attacked her.  You would think that after something like that it would be easy to get the powers that be to take action.  Sadly not so much.  The evil masked arch-nemesis known only as “Strata Council” has been totally ineffectual, and incommunicado.

    Some people are wrongly under the belief that you can’t mess with birds, and that’s simply not true.  It is true that birds fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment (here in BC anyway), so your local city is unlikely (and in some cases unable) to do anything about them.

    Here’s the quick summary:


    • All birds are considered wildlife and are afforded full protection under the BC Wildlife Act.  A person commits an offence if the person except as provided by regulation or by an issued permit, possesses, takes, injures, molests or destroys a bird or its eggs.
    • Under the Wildlife Act Designation and Exemption Regulation 253/2000 Schedule C, point 2, the following species of birds and their nests or eggs can be destroyed without a permit: crows (except common ravens), black-billed magpies, European starlings, house sparrows, rock doves and brown-headed cowbirds.
    • Some species of birds are classified as game birds.  Hunting seasons and bag limits for game birds are published in the annual Hunting Regulation Synopsis.  This synopsis is available via a link on the Ministry of Environment’s website.
    • For injured birds phone the nearest animal rehabilitation centre.

    If you want to read more you can read the actual Wildlife Act: Designation and Exemption Regulation or just Schedule C.

    It’s always important to know the rules…

    So what do these exempt species look like?

    Crows except for the common raven:

    Wikipedia: Common Raven

    Wikipedia: Common Raven

    So this one you can’t touch, but all other “crows” are ok.

    The Black-billed Magpie:

    Wikipedia: Black-billed Magpie

    Wikipedia: Black-billed Magpie

    The Common Starling/European Starling:

    Wikipedia: Common Starling/European Starling

    Wikipedia: Common Starling/European Starling

    The House Sparrow:

    Wikipedia: House Sparrow

    Wikipedia: House Sparrow by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos under the GFDL

    The Rock Dove (aka: pigeon):

    Wikipedia: Blue Rock Pigeon

    Wikipedia: Blue Rock Pigeon

    And finally the Brown-headed Cowbird (not to be confused with the brown-haired Cowbel [which would be me]):

    Wikipedia: Brown-headed Cowbird (Male)

    Wikipedia: Brown-headed Cowbird (Male)

    Best make sure you double check the regulations before doing anything about the birds, but as of this writing it was legal to destroy their nests or eggs without a permit in BC.

    Unexpected Visitor

    2011 - 08.08

    With Karin on vacation I had expected that the house would be a little more empty, but what I really wasn’t prepared for was an unexpected visitor!  What gave it away was it the whole “unexpected” part?

    So I’m in the en-suite taking a cold pill because I’ve got a bit of a sore throat which mostly only bothers me when I’m talking (but I could totally record a smoky jazz album right now, if only I could do jazz), and I hear this chirping.  Not really that strange, the slider to the balcony is open in the bedroom (blinds closed), and there are birds out there reasonably regularly.  Seems as though one of our neighbours (above us) has contraband bird feeders.  That coupled with Karin’s jungle (e.g. garden) means that we see little birds on our balcony reasonably regularly.  Pretty timid little guys, took us quite a while before we were able to get any pictures of them, as they’d take off pretty much as soon as they saw us through the doorway.

    But as I walk into the bedroom, it becomes clear that the sound isn’t coming from the balcony.  Ok, no problem, Karin mentioned that she’d seen them perched on the outside of our windows before, and sure enough it sounds as though it’s coming from near one of our open windows in the livingroom.  Unfortunately, it turns out that this little birdie decided to visit the inside of our apartment.

    2011_08_08_IMG_6320 by dcowley
    I own this place!, a photo by dcowley on Flickr.

    So I watch for a few seconds, and it’s clearly trying to get out, and doesn’t like our guest rewards program (no air miles).  So I fiddle with the blinds for a few minutes trying to get it to either fly high enough to get out the little tilt out window (30cm/1 ft) or to fly in the direction of the open door to the balcony.  Neither met with any real success.

    A phone call to the parents to see if they have any brilliant suggestions, and the best one was trying to herd it with a soft broom, or use a pillow case to catch and bundle it.

    I have one of those grabber things, and I got a tea towel and used the grabber thing to hold the tea towel hanging down to try to herd the bird, this was mildly successful, and at one point I had it inside the towel, but it got out before I could take it away from the window.

    Moving some furniture around so that I could hopefully herd the bird all along the front windows and eventually to the balcony door, this met with some success, I was able to close the blinds behind the bird and keep it moving towards the balcony, but it didn’t want to turn the corner and leave the windows behind.  So after some additional effort and a couple of failed attempts, I managed to get the tea towel over top of it, then carefully trying to tuck the bird into the towel I was able to carry it to the balcony door.  I tossed the towel to the balcony floor so that the bird would have some space.  It landed fine on top of the towel, and then flew up to the railing and then away.  So thankfully the story has a happy ending.  I however have a bunch of cleaning and putting back to do.

    In some of the pictures you can probably see a purpley substance, I’m not sure what it is, but I figure I had best clean it up.  I had not actually planned to work on that area of the house today, but luckily I can be flexible.

    Here’s the pictures from the encounter:


    Unexpected Visitor, a set on Flickr.

    Via Flickr:
    A bird flew into my appartment today…

    No that’s not the beginning of a joke, it actually happened.

    Backyard Flowers

    2011 - 07.30
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    Backyard FlowersBackyard FlowersBackyard FlowersBackyard FlowersBackyard FlowersBackyard Flowers

    Backyard Flowers, a set on Flickr.

    Via Flickr:
    Flowers from the Abel backyard and deck.

    So these are some of the photographs I took when I managed to distract Honey enough to allow me to take pictures.  I’m not really a flower guy, so for the most part I couldn’t tell you what kind of flowers they are, actually I suppose that’s not true, they are “pretty flowers”, yup that’s a technical term!

    These are also from the Wednesday photo day.

    Honey and the Whale

    2011 - 07.28
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    Honey and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the Whale
    Honey and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the Whale
    Honey and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the WhaleHoney and the Whale

    Honey and the Whale, a set on Flickr.

    Via Flickr:
    Unlike Capt. Ahab, Honey always gets her whale.

    “You can call me Stuffie” said the Whale.

    So we took a few pictures yesterday, I made sure to empty my card before I left home, and I essentially filled the 4GB card during the day, of course that only actually represents the equivalent of about 10 rolls of film (to those whom that’s still a useful analogy).  These are shots of Honey dog (mum and dad Abel’s Corgi) and her favourite stuffie (the Whale).

    I had actually gone down to the backyard to take some pictures of some roses, and possibly a nesting robin (couldn’t see it from below), but Honey followed me out and wanted to play.  So in order to be able to take some pictures, I pretty much had to play.  She’s by no means a “big” dog, but she’s definitely persistent, and will happily drop the stuffie at your feet and encourage you to play, if you don’t take the hint, she’ll move it closer (even if it’s already on your feet) essentially saying “Notice me, and play with me!”  So despite trying to tire her out, I’d be taking a few pictures and I’d feel the stuffie and perhaps her snout on my legs.  That said, she doesn’t bark and rarely whines, so it’s all good.  It also meant I had something other than flowers to take pictures of.

    At one point I think I actually had her pretty much tired out, she had retrieved the stuffie, but then went and dropped it in the garden and laid down in front of it, as though she was guarding it (didn’t get a picture of that though) which reminded me of this Travelers Insurance commercial which we had seen the week before (“The Cat Burglar”).  Alas the break was short lived.  Anyway, enjoy.

    Note: this stuffie has lasted a long time, she tends to destroy her other toys reasonably quickly but it seems as though this one has been around for years now.

    P.S.  There may be a few additional photo posts in your future ;-)

    Sunny Weather

    2011 - 06.05

    Of course, after I was in a freezing cold dunk tank on a freezing cold day, the weather turns nice…just in time for the weekend I set aside to do pre-report card marking.

    I’m finding it particularly frustrating today because I’m getting my report card time inspiration to paint, garden, bake, etc.  I know that I shouldn’t do those things, but I don’t want to mark either, so I’ve been drifting all day without feeling like I’m getting much done.  Time for a list!

    Things I managed to accomplish today:

    • read some of Beloved (on The List)
    • eat breakfast
    • get dressed
    • do a couple of small visual journal entries
    • reread the beginning of a short story I wrote yesterday
    • decide I shouldn’t reread stuff so soon after writing it
    • feel depressed about my fiction
    • clean up some stuff from the table
    • sort marking
    • realize that “holy crap I’m missing a bunch of math tests”
    • play some Facebook games
    • read some of Beloved (on The List)
    • create some draft posts over at Random Synapses for the six (6?!) books that I’ve read but haven’t posted about.
    • agonize over the fact that I’m so behind in my posts
    • admire my garden, and realize that I’ve got a half dozen baby cherry tomatoes and two baby brandywine tomatoes.
    • glare at my marking
    • play some Facebook games
    • draft some math comments for report cards, hopefully saving me time for next year
    • consider whether 11 am is too early for wine
    • decide it is, regretfully
    • play some Facebook games
    • try to figure out what would be good for dinner
    • decide to delay that decision
    • realize I forgot to go to the library yesterday
    • think about putting on nail polish
    • play some Facebook games
    • feel guilty about neglecting Cowbels
    • write this post

    I’m taking away from this that I have in fact accomplished some things today…so YAY! I’m also taking away that I feel guilty about many things, and negative about many others…so BOO! I need to work on that.

    Time Lapse Photography/Video

    2011 - 05.09

    While reading one of those lists of suggestions for mother’s day, we came across a couple of interesting suggestions, a bird camera with motion sensor to automatically take pictures of the birds as they come to feed and a plant cam which does time lapse videos of plants growing.

    In truth they would probably sort of interest both of our mom’s, but they SCREAM Karin, and she’s a little infatuated with them at the moment.  So we’re doing some research into software and equipment for doing time lapse photography/video so if anyone has suggestions, or experience please share.

    Turns out that the stuff which we found is actually available locally.  So we might have to check them out and see what prices are like, and maybe talk to someone who hopefully has used them.  One of the coolest features of finding the website behind them, is that they have some accessories, the coolest being the option to power the camera with a solar panel instead of batteries, so that you can just keep it running indefinitely.

    This all ties in nicely with the new balcony garden which Karin has set up, so we’ll see how it pans out.

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