Monthly Archives: May 2018

Baby Robin’s Regimen

My mother says I have to learn to preen and groom myself. She’s sitting up in the walnut tree, watching for danger while I fix up my feathers.

I’ll start with my throat and shoulders.

Then the right armpit …

and the left armpit.

Looks like that one needs a better job done on it. I think I broke out in a sweat when that crow flew over. Better give myself an extra preening there.

What are you looking at? Can’t a bird have any privacy?

Oh, I see! You think I made that mess on the fence rail? I have no idea how that got there.

Just check that shoulder again.

Now this one is really tricky. You have to be able to bend a lot. No problem for me!

One last good stretch to help my wing muscles grow,

and I’ll be soaring with the falcons. Well, maybe not the falcons, but soon I’ll be able to keep up with mom and dad.

Here I go!

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Alberta’s Wild Rose

Rosa acicularis, the wild rose, was named the provincial flower of the province of Alberta in 1930. It grows in most parts of Alberta and brightens up the landscape with its delicate fragrance and  colourful blooms.

Dotted with delicately scented flowers, the foliage is thick and thorny, making an almost impenetrable hedge, to the joy of small birds trying to escape predators.

This day, the sunlight was too bright for the true soft pink of the roses to show  in the hedge below.

 

The wild rose speaks:

My name is Rose, but I am told,

My fragrance may not be so bold,

Yet it’s as sweet e’en if my name 

Were something else, and quite mundane.

“A rose by any other name … “

My soft scent would be just the same.

My petals delicate and pale

Disperse aromas without fail.

The thick protective hedge I’m on

Will guard against the evil one.

My thorny branches scratch and tear

At anyone who passes there.

Sleeping Beauty’s castle stood

Enveloped in protective wood

With thorns to cut and make afraid

All  those who would assault the maid.

But after all those hundred years

I’m still around, for you, my dears.

 

More “Snow”

As one of our bloggers mentioned in the last post, there is another kind of snow lying around these days. I found some just down the street. I believe this huge tree is a cottonwood or its relative, a grey poplar. Its  fuzz-covered seeds now fill the air and lie on the sides of the road, looking like real snow.

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The black cottonwood that I’ve seen in Montana has darker bark, and leaves that are more rounded than those of this tree. This is why I wondered about it being a grey poplar instead, although they are still related.

The fluffy bits are like cotton balls, and maybe this is where the cottonwood got its name.

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I’m so glad this snow will eventually blow away and that we don’t have to shovel it. Quite possibly it makes good fluff for lining a bird’s nest.

Do you have any fake snow where you live?

Two Coasts, Two Kinds of Snow

Today, May 24th, it snowed a foot or more on the east coast of Canada. This is not normally May weather, even for the province of Newfoundland.

As I stepped outside in my front yard on the west coast of Canada, it looked like snow too. But a second look told me the white “flakes” on the ground were actually tired dogwood petals that had finished blooming.

As I turned to walk towards the front yard, I saw more snow. But this time it was in the shape of snowballs from my snowball bush (part of the viburnum family).

I really sympathize with the Newfoundlanders today, but I wouldn’t want to trade places with them. I like our kind of snow better.

Three Strikes, You’re Out

About 20+ years ago one of my neighbours had planted several small rhodos outside his fence next to the road. On my way home from work, I noticed one of the small plants lying on the side of the road, where deer had pulled it out of the ground. The deer problem was bad around here. If you wanted to grow anything, you had to have a fence around it.

Since the frontage was out of the neighbours’ line of vision, and they might not know their pIant was uprooted, I stopped, picked up the rhodo, and brought it to their door.

“The deer must have pulled out your rhodo. Thought you might want to  replant it.”

“Oh, thanks. Yeah, those darned deer. Just set it over there,” the neighbour said, and pointed to a shady spot near the door.

A few days later, another of the rhodos was pulled out and the scenario was repeated (I stopped, delivered the poor plant so it could be saved).

This time I was met with a sigh as they took the plant from my hand.

The third time I passed by and saw a rhodo uprooted, I stopped and knocked on the door. The neighbour’s adult son answered.

“Sorry, but the deer keep pulling out your rhodos. They don’t seem to like eating them but they don’t know that until after they pull on the leaves and uproot the plant.” I handed over the foot-high shrub.

The son took the plant from me. “Thanks,” he muttered, and flung it into the shrubbery a few feet from the house.

I noticed that the two or three rhodos left on the neighbours’ frontage were drying up and dying. I had tried three times to save the ones that had been uprooted, but when I saw that they didn’t really care about them, I changed my attitude.

“Okay,” I thought. “Three strikes, and  you’re out.”

The fourth time I drove by and saw rhodos in trouble, there were two of them lying on the ground, several feet from where they had been planted, looking limp and near death’s door.

I took them home, stuck them in the ground, and gave them a drink of water.

Today, the neighbour has no rhodos on his frontage, but in the photo below, you can see the two I rescued. They have been happy for over 20 years.

 

Kladrubers and Other Horses

Kladrubers have been  bred on the national horse breeding farm, Kladruby nad Laben, in the Czech Republic, for nearly 400 years. Originally bred as carriage horses for the German/Austrian royal House of Habsburg, this breeding line of  horses  was founded in 1579 by Rudolf II. Considered rare, the breed has survived with new blood being added from other fine lines from Spain and Italy.

The horses come in white (grays) and black and share some bloodlines with the famous Lipizzaner horses.

One of the main uses for the Kladruber was as a carriage horse for royalty. The white ones were preferred for happy occasions while the black were used for sombre occasions such as funerals.

The Kladrubers are put outside every day for their health and exercise.

At  Pardubice (which is not too far from the Kladruby breeding farm), a steeplechase event  was first held in 1874. The course has been changed several times  over the past 144 years with improvements in mind each time.  The Kladrubers, being bred for use as carriage horses, are not racing in the steeplechase, but in the photo below, they are making a drive-by appearance as a sideshow for the main race.

 

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Some facts about Kladrubers:

They have been bred for over 400 years.

A fire in 1757 destroyed about 200 years’ worth of breeding records.

Much of the breed was destroyed in the 1930s when they were killed for food. (What a horror that is.)

Since then the breeding program has brought the numbers of Kladrubers up again.

They are still used by royalty for their carriages, and public ceremonies.

The Swedish police has used them for special occasions.

Kladrubers are used by the Danish royalty.

The Czechs sent a breeding pair of Kladrubers  to Britain’s William and Kate as a wedding gift.

The white Kladrubers are only seen at the breeding farm at Kladruby, while the blacks are bred at Slatinany.

 

And now for the steeplechase, a variety of horse breeds, not Kladrubers, are running this race.

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You can see in the photo below, that the horse on the right is having second thoughts about jumping the obstacle in front of him. I don’t blame him! A broken leg could end it all.

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And off they go for another round.

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The photos were taken by friends who live within driving distance of this area, using a small camera, not with a blog post in mind. I appreciated the photos and information about their trips to the Kladruber farm and the steeplechase in nearby Pardubice.

While searching for more info about the Kladruber horses, I came across a blog that has amazing closeups of Kladrubers. If you are interested, please visit.  http://www.tresbohemes.com/2017/02/kladruber-czech-horses-of-emperors-and-kings/

Their post is wonderful.

 

Pasta Fun

On Mother’s Day we had a lot of fun. We decided to make fettuccine. Our dinner was already cooking (a beef roast, chard from the garden, carrots, mashed potatoes), but thought we would make some pasta just for fun and freeze it for another time.

We put the flour, eggs, oil, and water in the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and let the dough hook mix it up  to form a ball of dough that was not dry, but not sticky either. We let it rest about half an hour and then cut it up into eight pieces.


After pressing the pieces flat  we passed them through the roller attachment on the Kitchen Aid, first on setting #1 and then on #2 and again on #6. By the third pass, the dough was thin enough.

We set the flattened dough on a floured board and changed the attachment to one that would cut strips about 3/8  of an inch wide (I’m guessing). The sheets of dough were then passed through the roller, with the mixer at a slightly higher speed.

Once the fettuccine came out of the roller, cut into strips, it was important to dust those strips with flour so the ribbons of dough didn’t stick to each other.

The last sheet was ready to pass through the roller.

Quick and easy and fun to make, this fettuccine is not perfect, but we know the ingredients that are in it, and I like to know what I’m eating.

We put most of the fettuccine on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, to freeze and later put in ziploc bags, but it looked so good that we decided to boil a small pot of fettuccine to have alongside the potatoes, roast, and gravy.

It was delicious and, best of all, we had fun making it.