Month: May 2023


The barn, as we call it, is really just an old shed. It may have once housed animals, but that would have been long ago. It most surely served others before me, a tool shelter used in various combustion engine repairs.
As a child, i remember rafts of logs driven by lumberjacks still floated the waterways around here.
The barn, like the house, is built with a patchwork of hundred-year-old timber, with walls of rail road ties hewn from those logs floated down the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers. Some ended up at the E.B.Eddy plant, where the first house builder and owner worked.
A tin roof has seen better days but still works. Not a chance I’d be up there. The climb would be fine, but the idea of ripping my hands on old nails and metal means I give this sort of thing a pass.
But not my country kids. Snow accumulation on the north side lingers, affording them access. I tend to stay out of their adventures and let them find their way while testing themselves.
Big sister Charlie has been trying to climb this roof for a week. Each morning, waiting for the school bus, she tries.
The arrival of spring and melting snow ❄️ means her window of opportunity lessens each day.
This morning, while I was assigned to hold the dog leash, she made it to the top.
This is the day…



Monday to Friday, I get to make my children breakfast and see them off to school.

We wait at the end of the driveway for the big yellow schoolbus.

So happens the gal driving the bus is part of a big local farming family. Missus took prom photos for them some years back.

That’s what it’s like in the country. Circumstances delightfully “repurpose” inhabitants as needed.

She waves as she pulls away.

The kids waste no time waiting for the bus. They climb snow banks and barns.

Right until I spot yellow approaching a quarter mile up the street. Then they re-assemble, don backpacks, ready to embark.

But on this day, Charlie finds a wounded Cottontail recovering from what must have been a harrowing night.

There’s blood on the rabbit’s ear as it sits immobilized by an old stove. Coyotes are all around us, lurking, occasionally at any hour of the day.

We hear their yapping most nights, often just outside our bedroom window. They are big and healthy lately, perhaps bolstered by a peak rabbit year.

We find their scat all over, and sometimes what little is left of their kills in the mornings.

For this lucky bunny, last night was no kill, just scat.

This is the day…

Wednesday last, my area was hit by an ice-storm. Missus had been warning me about it for two days, whereas I tend to ignore forecasts. Not her, she is on it daily. In fact, the only reason I pay it much attention at all to what’s going on outside the house is because of her reports.
I have two weather station apps on my phone. One I keep calibrated to display in Celsius, the other in Fahrenheit. That is what I mostly use them for.
I was brought up on Fahrenheit and Imperial measures and had Metric and Celsius rammed down my throat late in my education.
So I have them mostly for reference, or to answer a question from the kids.
Not missus, she watches the weather like a hawk. You could say she does this out of habit because she also likes the smell of her clothes after they have dried out on her clothesline.
I set her up with a beauty system, even built her a set of steps up to a platform by an old cedar that takes advantage of the prevailing breeze.
From there, she dutifully dries her clothes in the sun and wind.
Four trees came down out back in this ice storm. Those were just the ones in my backyard. Hundreds more at Rooster Acres are down or damaged by the weight of ice. It took a day or so to melt and let go.
The four trees in my backyard surrounded my yard shack. I put a new roof and tar paper on it last year to better protect bedding straw we use for chickens and rabbits. To say nothing of the newish lawn tractor I keep in there. Nor the Kawasaki Mule 4×4 and other assorted tools and machines were affected.
The trees fell around and away from the shed.
I am thinking of how to compensate my kids for taking bush saws to the limbs of the felled trees and earn some coins.
More specifically, what argument to use with Missus to override her concerns about sharp objects and children.
Last year, Howie wanted to saw some wood for a grand plan he had to build his own “lab” out back, under the main fort and over the unused sand box, long since devoid of sand.
It’s the stray cats you see, they will use it as a litter box. I do not like my kids playing in Toxoplasmosis Gondi any more than the next guy. I have not put more sand in for five years at least.
Howie used the bush saw adequately. He is a chip off the old block because like his old man, whenever he uses a tool he might bleed, at least a little. That is the price you pay for learning.
I tell this to his ma, but she is not so convinced.
In any case, we had no power, no water, and no heat for a few days.
Missus and the kids rose to the challenge. Luckily, I got us a generator some time ago for times like these.
Unfortunately, I had to choose for heat for the kids and victuals, while the basement sump pump stopped working. I have devised a plan for next time: last week we had 18 inches of water in the downstairs for a couple of days.
High and low pressure switches on the furnace went out. The hot water heater automatically shut off too. And what did Missus do?
Not a word of complaint.
She went out and fetched water from the sisterhood who live closer to town while we brought up pails of water from the basement to operate the toilet.
As well as the using the toaster oven to feed the kids, I used the BBQ to make coffee.
Twice I took us all out to restaurants. Once for supper, once again on Friday morning for breakfast. It was to celebrate my daughter’s twelfth birthday (at least, that was our excuse).
Sure enough, after two days, power came on later in the afternoon just in time that day for Missus and daughter to bake her a cake and cupcakes.
Water and heat. Flush toilets, running water, hot water, and a heater of some kind. I do not have a woodstove, but you can bet my next place will have one if I have my way.
In fact, eventually I want solar panels and big storage batteries enough to power us for a week. But that is for later.
It was an adventure, for the kids and their mother. One night the kids slept in our room on mattresses because we did not have heat for both bedrooms. They loved that.
And the boy figured out that we could get internet if we ran an extension and plugged in the modem and antenna from a splitter because they do not draw that much power.
He had a “best of me” moment when he figured out that the antenna points toward a tower a mile or so away and has nothing to do with our utilities. We just had to tap in from my office. I didn’t even think of it.
I took him up on his suggestion and together, we ran the cable behind my desk. Soon, we were all connected. I kept him home from school and let him play on his tablet for that.
Yesterday, Missus used two big pots holding ten gallons each on the electric stove (which worked as of late Friday and did not interfere with her Easter dinner). These she used to draw me a bath, adding cold water to make it warm and cozy.
I got to take my first bath in at least a decade.
You know what I mean.
Not one complaint from her, the children or even the dog. We just handled the challenges, taking each issue in stride.
These moments are wonderful reminders of what a gift things like flush toilets, electric stoves and furnaces really are. Few people even camp anymore, many won’t even try.
Last night, my landlord’s son came over at eleven pm, having finally figured out the right way to reset the gas hot water tank. He kept apologizing for not figuring things out sooner. I told him to forget about it. Fuhgetaboutit.
Soon after he left, I could hear Missus sneak down to use the washroom and use the sink to wash her hands. Just now, she says she’s going to take a “well-deserved” long shower.
Bless her and the way she smells.
We are back to normal.
This is the day…

CONTRASTING BOYS & GIRLS a retrospective

a retrospective
From 2020,
so he says, “except it’s made out of cardboard.” Adding, “Look, I put-ted a liner in it. Mommy says I can use it in the bathroom.”
He wanted to use it in his room. Mom asked me to help her. His compromise suggestion was we could attach straws taped together and run those down into the toilet. She wasn’t convinced and sought authority.
“Howie what I like about this idea is your imagination and how you are inventing plumbing. Not a chance you can use that in your room because you share a room with your sister and she’s not OK with it. And, we already have a toilet. How about using it out where there is no toilet, like in the fort we just built?”
“GREAT IDEA DAD,” he says enthusiastically (capital letters are inadequate here), can I go now???
“Sure thing bud, it’s almost dark but you have just enough time,” I answer, catching the look from missus, the one that says, “see, this is why I keep you around.”
I take his picture, for her, for later. She rescues the extra large roll and substitutes a small one. I ask if rain is in the forecast. She says no.
Introverts are like that, always an eye on the future. I haven’t checked a weather app in months though I have two on my phone.
In seconds he’s enlisted his sister to help him carry his “invention” and open door handles while rubber boots slide on and suddenly, it is quiet in our kitchen.
Missus and I know these are the moments. The moments. We look at each other, our smiles like the clinking glasses of toasts and cheers.
It is this we wanted, never suspecting it could be this good. Not ideal, but perfectly imperfect. Like a portable toilet made of cardboard and plastic and scotch tape.
Charlie comes back in first. “He used it and then dumped it out,” she reports, adding, “I didnt like that.” Oh, we know sweet Charlotte, “you are a good sister,” we tell her.
Moments later, he’s back, triumphant as the inventor of a portable toilet should be. “It worked?” I ask. “Yup,” he answers.
Then he’s at my side, showing me how he will use discarded cardboard rolls from toilet paper and Scott Towels to attach plumbing to his contraption to eliminate the “dumping” step in his elimination protocol. We discuss the merits of using the two seater outhouse already in existence a mere ten paces from his tree fort. “But dad, I’m scared in there,” he interjects, discounting the suggestion entirely.
I send him to the window. It’s even darker now but the outline of the forest is there. “How many trees do you see? Count them.”
He counts, I think he’s ball parking because he says one hundred. I accept his answer. Someone used this on me decades ago and at last, it is my chance.
“One hundred? Well that’s how many washrooms there are outside because each one you can use to piss up against. That’s what boys do.”
He hesitates. I may have him now. It’s at least a stalemate. He is going to sleep on it.
Good night little man. No TV tomorrow either.
From 2018,
On our way to see grandpa Howie, we plan to stop at Tim’s Horton’s so we can bring dad a small decaf and a Boston Crème. At age 89, rules are out the window.
Charlie: daddy, do you know everything?
Dad: Yes, daddy knows everything.
Charlie: do you know what I’m going to say?
Dad: does it have to do with hot chocolate and donuts?
Charlie: no.
Dad: I have limits.
Charlie: did you know that if your wife isn’t beautiful, you can change the way you see her so she IS beautiful?
Dad: …
Charlie: did you know that?
Dad: thank you for reminding me.
Charlie: your welcome.
Dad: how about we get you some Timbits and a hot chocolate too?
Charlie: OK. Can I come in with you?
Dad: absolutely.

There you go,
Team Human in development.
This is the day…

Sir Omelette

Sir Omelette
He was born as the son of Little Dude, the most elegant and well-behaved rooster here at Rooster Acres. Not too big, not too small, his line of roosters is a perfect addition to our workforce.

Last year the fox killed a dozen of our workers, including Little Dude.

I can imagine him going first, sacrificing himself to protect his flock. Indeed, how we found the dead leads me to think, or at least imagine, that he went down first while sounding the alarm.
The rest of the hens scattered. I found some deep in bushes, having worked their way into the middle of the brambles and standing there, quietly immobilized, hoping the danger had passed.

As we gathered corpses and shored up defences, the boy found chicken tracks leading into the forest. The two children and I followed them through the brush, a little snow still on the ground helping us find our way.

The Ancient Forest beside us has numerous old structures left standing from previous tenants who had constructed a great paint ball battle ground. It was to these that little not-yet-named Sir Omelette had fled. Reaching the end of the tracks, the three of us puzzled at how they seemed to disappear, and we stopped and looked around. There, on a board nailed across two trees about four feet up, stood this little chicken, just a few inches high himself at the time, pacing back and forth, making worried sounds.

I grabbed him and handed him off to daughter, and she tucked him safely into the crook of her arm and jacket while cooing reassurances to the escapee.

Back in the chicken pen, he was released to grow up some more, ample food, protected, and that is what he did. By late spring, he looked increasingly like his old man, and crowed a hoarse rooster call each morning soon after.

Alas, while rebuilding the flock on behalf of the company, Sir Omelette sired two sons. One was a virtual twin, the other a mix with a red hen that daughter called Fire Feather. That she is reading the Warrior Cats series no doubt influenced her and equally without a doubt, Fire Feather is an entirely appropriate name.

The problem became three roosters. I have tried that before; it is too hard on the hens. I am convinced Granny, one of my favourite chickens over the years, was weakened by a pair of juvenile roosters After she died, I killed them both. I also culled Sir Omelette’s lookalike son last week, something that the children and I debated over breakfast for most of the month. Daughter has no loyalty to the Little Dude looks and prefers the fiery looking rust colours of Fire Feather.

The problem is soon after, Fire Feather and Sir Omelette suddenly became mortal enemies. Sir Omelette realized two of the younger hens were aligned with his son, and without his son’s brother there, it was the time to strike.

Only Fire Feather fought back. Both birds were covered in dirt and circled each other menacingly each time they got close. In just a day, Sir Omelette was blinded in one eye, blood visible on his little rooster face.

The boy suggested we quarantine Sir Omelette in his own yard, splitting the flock between the roosters. I asked him how that would work, who would build a box for him, that sort of thing. He reassured me, “I will dad, I’m a big boy now.” He had my ear. And there is a penned off area at the back where we sometimes had put a new chicken for a few days until the others get used to them. It has an old doghouse converted into chicken coop we use for such occasions.

I sent daughter out to let the chickens out by herself this morning. I could see through the window as she walked among them examining the results. She came back in and told me it looked like Sir Omelette was blind in both eyes. I suspected she was exaggerating but the problem was no less severe. She reported that Sir Omelette was likely beyond repair. “Do you mean I should put him down, Charlie?” I asked. She nodded, then suggested I find some sleeping medication and feed that to him until he just goes to sleep.

I put the kids on the school bus and Remington the dog and I went out to have a look. Sure enough, Sir Omelette was staggering around the pen, attempting to fight Fire Feather, mistaking hens for roosters while lurching to and fro. I snatched him up in my arms and he was gone in moments.

It’s not my favourite thing to do, that is for sure. I liked that rooster; I liked him a lot for the ordeal he had suffered and the bond we had in rescuing him.

Roosters are remarkable animals. Like adult human males, they contribute only a tiny amount of DNA to new chicks. While women are the burdened but precious creators of life, we men are the expendable males but powerful defenders of life. It is the rooster we hear when a fox or coyote comes near. I’ll know his alarm all the way to my office at the front of the house. It is the rooster whose loud calling brings attention to the Cooper’s Hawk who might be sitting in a tree overlooking the flock.

When I feed the birds, the rooster eats last. First, he will pick up pieces of bread and put them back down to show the hens where the food is, making a short “tuk-tuk-tuk” noise while he is at it. Once the hens have all had a chance at the treat, then he will take some himself.

There may be lessons learned in all of this. I am not sure. I had three crowing roosters a week ago, now I have one.

He was a fine bird, and I am hoping it gave his life purpose to serve here at Rooster Acres.

For a man, dying for a cause is honourable, while killing for a cause is sometimes necessary.

Goodbye Sir Omelette.

This is the day…




That’s the thing about Rooster 🐓 Acres, its commitment to diversity.👏
What an impression that leaves on our workforce.
The only thing is, by diversity, I mean various species, and also whether they are alive… or dead.
This little Cottontail lived in or under an outbuilding all winter. I’d often see her or him just before dark or at sun up. 🌞
His or her tracks decorated my whole driveway some mornings.
It would eat leftover oiled sunflower dropped by birds under their feeder outside the window by my office desk.
The odd time, when feeding pellets to Spotty (the domesticated rabbit) late in the day, I’d take a little extra and leave it at the carport entrance for this brave little one out in the cold.
The food was always gone by the next day.
And so the children found her (or him), lying prone under the back porch steps. When I pulled it out by hand, she (or he) looked well fed, just dead.
The back side of the animal was alive with maggots, but only in a small area, indicating a recent condition.
The children honoured her with a proper burial in the forest under some trees. 🙏
I liked that Cottontail. I’m glad she came to die near me under my back porch.
Missus said maybe she was just old. Could be.
Maybe she just quit.
This is the day…