Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Garden Update

Our garden is growing as if it's had too much rain!  Butterfly season has arrived, along with flowers that provide beautiful fragrance.  I can't keep up with the weeding, so we've hired some help!  Here are a few of what were blooming over the last three weeks.

A very bright Painted Daisy.

A small but beautiful Spiderwort, one of the Transcantias.

These are some of the huge bright pink 'napping' peonies, double blooms so they don't serve the bees like are white ones do, but very pretty.  Sadly, they are so large and heavy that they fall over and lie on the ground to take their 'nap'.  The lawnmower doesn't like it.

These royal blue Iris are just stunning, a garden highlight before our day lilies start blooming.

Can't leave out the white Iris, they'd feel left out.

A tiny pink wild Geranium.

And tiny pink blooms on a 'wild' rose bush, wild in the sense that we just ignore it and it keeps blooming.  Don't know where it came from.

And here's a mystery plant for you.  Does anyone know it?  Believe it or not, it's an Allium, known correctly as Allium siculum, but the common name Mediterranean Bells seems much nicer to me.  The blossoms face downwards, and the hornets obviously like to visit.

This is what the garden looks like as a whole, lots of green plants growing like mad.  In a month it will be day lilies up front, and a month after that it will be the 8 foot high false sunflowers along the back.

If you're interested in the veggie garden, here it is, or most of it.  Mostly a garlic crop, along with my row of enormous rhubarb plants in the back.  A few tomatoes on the left, but blight keeps wiping them out.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Crops Update

It was three weeks ago that I shared pictures of the spring crops emerging.  I'm following these crops over the summer to watch how they grow until harvest.  Most of these are easy to identify, but the various spring grains all still just look the same.  We'll see as the season unfolds.

The Corn is growing fast, thanks in part to all the rain we've had - although eventually it will need some heat!  In places the plants are 18" high.  Remember, a clean field like this means it has been thoroughly sprayed to keep down weeds.  Most of these crops are probably GMO crops.

The Winter Wheat is looking good, almost showing a touch of yellow.  The grain has tassled, though it too could use some heat in the next month for the grains to mature.  This will be the first of the grain crops harvested.

Soybeans are filling in well.  They don't get planted until after the danger of frost, and will be one of the later crops harvested in the fall.

And I finally found a field of canola to follow.  It's a Brassica, a member of the same family as cabbage and radish, and it looks like it at this early stage.

And here's a new one on me, a field of spring grains and peas.  I noticed the farmer leaning against his tractor deep in conversation, so I stopped to ask.  He said the mixture here is Oats and Barley, with the Peas added for protein, and it will probably be cut and baled while the grain is still immature, for forage used as cattle feed.  Thanks for an email after the last post which put me on the right track.

There are lots of fields which still look just like luxurious grass coming up to me.  They could be Barley, Oats, or Spring Wheat, but I'm going to have to wait to tell which.  For now, they look they're doing well after all our rain.

Not everywhere is doing well though.  We've had so much rain here that farmers couldn't get on some fields until late; those crops are only emerging now.  And in some fields the wet conditions have prevented spraying, which causes other problems.  Here's hoping the season balances out for all these crops.  Next update in about 3 weeks.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Those Seagulls

We stopped for lunch on our way home at the waterfront in Wiarton, home of Wiarton Willie.  The bay was blue, and the gulls were screaming.

This is Colpoys Bay, the southernmost bay on the east side of the Bruce Peninsula.  The marina is on the far side, but the centre of the waterfront is a public park.

We could look out a long distance past Malcolm Bluff on the left to Hay Island in the distant centre.

The old railway station in Wiarton was rescued and moved to this location some years after train service ended in 1958.  Now it's operated as the office for the adjoining campground, a tourist info centre, and a small museum.  I liked the sidewalk, which I presume was made to suggest railway tracks leading to the station.

The station itself was built in 1904, but the picnic shelter on the left was added only recently.

The museum did have a few momentoes of the railway age, including this picture of a locomotive.  I'm fascinated with that time in rural Ontario's history, because the age of rail was so significant and pervasive when it arrived, but it has died out almost completely.  They even had a stained glass window of Willie.

As for the seagulls, they were more than annoying!  These are properly called Ring-billed Gulls - there is actually no such species as 'seagull', but we tend to label all the gulls that way.

These gulls had obviously learned about picnics and available food scraps.  But they weren't content to pick up the scraps - they wanted right in on their share of the food!  I made the mistake of taking my plate out of the van to sit at a picnic table for lunch.  Six gulls were there in seconds, dropping out of the air to only a foot or two away.  When one attacked my head I had had enough, and headed back to the van!

I'm afraid picnics at this location have been destroyed by these overly aggressive gulls, but as long as you have no food, you can walk around and be totally ignored!

Thus ended our little expedition up the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory and Flowerpot Island.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

St. Margaret's Chapel

Not much traffic heads down the Forty Hills Road on the east side of the northern Bruce Peninsula.  It's a twisty, turny, up and down narrow gravel road with some sudden sharp bends, through forests dotted with small parcels of open farmland.  And in the middle of this back road you find an exquisite small limestone church, St. Margaret's of Cape Chin.

I remember stopping here with my mother and aunt on one of our first trips up the 'Bruce'.  I must have been 14 or 15 at the time.  It's always struck me as a beautiful place in an out of the way spot.

I was surprised at how welcoming it was, so I walked in the gates and got a few pictures on a perfect sunny day.

The chapel was built starting in 1925, made of local stone and wood, with a lot of local volunteer labour.  Architecturally it is stunning, with the lancet windows, the bell tower entrance, and the gently sloping buttresses, all in light coloured dolostone.

Several Anglican churches in the peninsula have joined together to create a joint ministry, keeping several small churches open that otherwise might have closed.  This is one of the best cared for small rural church buildings I know of, even though services are only held in the summer.

Through the trees I saw what I think must have been the original Cape Chin one-room school.  It was a congregation meeting in the school that committed to building the chapel next door.

The door was open (in the middle of the week), with a welcoming note inviting visitors to come in - so I did.  It's a larger church than you'd expect in a location like this.

The stained glass design over the door was beautiful.  A lot of the stained glass windows feature wildflowers.

Although I have no particular connection here other than a memory of stopping here with my mother 55 years ago, I found it a very peaceful, spiritual place to visit.  Glad we stopped and I took a look inside.

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Friday, June 23, 2017


We only saw a few critters on our trip up the Bruce, but one was a very friendly Garter Snake.  I'll get to the man-eating seagull in a day or two.

This gull was friendly, but didn't quite attack us.  As soon as we sat down on a bench and got out our lunch, there it was, with two or three of its friends, ready to scream a little for crumbs.

We sat there relaxing and enjoying lunch, and I happened to look down at my boots.  A nice little snake!  Rising up from beneath the boardwalk, also presumably to see if there were any crumbs.

It didn't stop coming toward me either, as I sat still watching.

But then it must have seen or sensed my presence and backed off a little.

It certainly wasn't afraid of us, and we showed several kids in a family eating lunch on the next bench over.  The kids were thrilled.

My third critter to share is the largest groundhog we've ever seen!  This is the sculpture of 'Wiarton Willie', by the beach in Wiarton where he lives.  Wiarton Willie emerges on Groundhog Day to offer his prognostications on the coming spring weather, the most famous weather prognosticator in Canada.  He's our 'Punxsutawney Phil'.  

A larger view puts it in context.  Quite a nice place to stop for lunch - except for those seagulls!

It's not known how many Wiarton Willies have passed on, but it's several!  The original prognosticators were a trio, Grundoon, Muldoon and Sand Dune.  The first Willie, an albino groundhog, appeared in the 1980's and lived an incredible 22 years.  At least two other 'Wee Willies' have served the town since the original died in 1999.  As you can imagine, Groundhog Day in Wiarton is a MAJOR celebration!

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