Thanksgiving Day canoe & swim

Hard to believe but it was so warm on Thanksgiving Day (October 10) that my friend Pam stripped down and went swimming in the lake we canoed into. About 45 minutes in there are some docks that people have built and anchored just off shore. We tied up and took in the sun. Glorious. Happy.

Canoe at dock

Pam swimming in Bell's Lake October 10

Kim in canoe on Bell's Lake


This fall has been super beautiful, and pretty warm. I have the wood stove going today but really it’s almost the first time. Last weekend, Thanksgiving was an amazing time. Thanksgiving dinner was at friend Tony’s with other good friends and we ate outside, at the edge of the yard, next to the field.

Sarah and Sabina made delicious apple and pumpkin pies.

Over the course of dinner, the colour in the air reddened as the sun set. You see how contented we all look after all that turkey and pie!

And then the moon came out… bon fire time.

Definitely NOT Yum-Yum’s

A couple of nights ago I had dinner in a local restaurant, in one of the small towns near where I live. Their complementary appetizer, set on to each diner’s table, is a plate of sliced dill pickles (possibly home-made) and kalamata olives (the restaurant has Greek owners).  My dining companion is not fond of either (pickles and olives that is) and so at the end of the meal there were a few of each left over. The waitress was going to package up our leftovers and asked if we wanted the olives and pickles. I said sure, being a fan of both. But then my friend asked what they would do with them if we didn’t take them. What possessed her to ask this I don’t know! The waitress announced that they would be recycled, ie thrown back into the pickle barrel so to speak. That they were allowed to. By the health department. Because they went into vinegar. Eeeeeeeek! I don’t care, I just don’t believe vinegar can kill everything!!!

Dead pickle.

Okay, so in a moment of dead-brain, I agreed to take the leftover pickles and olives. The next day I opened the styrofoam container they were in and gagged. Into the compost and recyling. Another local diner checked OFF my list.

How to stack wood

Every man [sic] looks at his wood-pile with a kind of affection. I loved to have mine before my window, and the more chips the better to remind me of my pleasing work. [1] — Henry David Thoreau

Falling down is the one wrong thing a stack of wood can do. [2] — Dirk Thomas

Last winter I ran out of wood, mainly because I was at home more and at my city sublet less. This was a big drag, especially after I saw my hydro bills. I have two sources of heat in my house: electric baseboard, which I use when I’m away, and airtight wood stove. Electric baseboard heat was costing me $300 a month! I nearly choked, rates had gone up so much.

Winter wood

So I asked a friend if I could buy some wood from him; he always has alot of it stacked in his yard. Here we are, digging it out of the snowbank, stacking it into the tractor bucket, loading it into the trailer.

It was freezing and alot of work to do this, and in the end the wood was too wet to burn properly. I vowed to get a load of wood in for the next winter.

Klemmer Lumber was delivering mixed loads – half hardwood, half slab wood, at a good price so I had it delivered. Daunting task ahead to stack it but the big problem was where to stack it!

Wood delivery

Continue reading How to stack wood

How to rescue raccoon kits

Early this spring I heard some noise under my house and thought it was groundhogs as usual. Although I hadn’t been bothered by groundhogs for a couple of years, I’d gone through 8 or 9 years of trying everything I could to get them from digging and nesting under my house. Well, it seems I’d succeeded in banishing groundhogs but ended up with raccoons. I spotted this mother raccoon on my deck railing, headed for the bird feeder in April.

Mother raccoon

In late June my friend Tony was here building me a wood shed and one afternoon we heard this wailing and chattering coming from under the house and back porch. Neither of us were sure what it was. I phoned a friend of mine in Toronto, Alissa York (author of Fauna; you’ll know why I called her if you go back a few pages in these posts and see the raccoon cake she made for the launch) and held the phone receiver to the noise. “Baby raccoons,” she said. “Sounds like they’re in distress. Have you seen the mother?” Oh cripes, I told her, there’s been a dead raccoon out on the road for two days. “Go look at it and see if it’s got teets, that’ll tell you if it’s the mother.”

Sure enough, the raccoon dead on the road had been a nursing mother and we concluded that the racket coming from under my house was from orphaned kits. But I decided to leave them alone for a day just in case I was wrong. The next day the noise was louder and out popped one of them from under the porch.

Raccoon kit

I didn’t know the first thing about baby raccoons, or what I should do. My main concern was that they were under my house and if they died down there it would be a hellish odour for weeks. So Tony and I lifted a couple of boards off the porch deck and I started to pull them out. I had gloves on and a heavy shirt for protection but they were sweet and mild as kittens. I went online and did some research and called a woman I know who’d “rehabilitated” several raccoons in her life. All the advice said, don’t get friendly, don’t touch them, don’t feed them, call an animal shelter. I called every animal shelter within 100km, plus animal control and the Ministry of Natural Resources. I got NO help except from one animal shelter worker who said she’d call around to try to find a “rehabilitator” who would take them. I never heard back from them.

At first, I thought there were just two or three of the kits. I entertained the idea of feeding them until they were fully weaned because it seemed that they weren’t. I called my vet to see what I should do and got a Raccoon Milk Replacer formula for them because you’re not supposed to feed them cow’s milk.

Raccoon Milk Replacer Formula

12 oz of water

1 tsp of corn syrup

1 cup rice pablum

1 egg yolk

The picture above shows this first little guy that came out on his own managing to eat some of it. It was cool and rainy out at the time and as I started to pull more kits from under the boards, they came out wet, dirty and shivering. Info online suggested towels, blankets and hot water bottles. Here are two kits sleeping together on top of a towel-covered hot water bottle in a box.

By the end of that second day I’d pulled six kits out and put them in my wood box. All six curled up on the hot water bottle together. I tried to get formula in each of them with varying success but it was clear they weren’t able to eat on their own. I was feeling pretty distressed because I knew I didn’t want to raise them, it would be a full-time job. And my friend Shelly, the “rehabilitator” I mentioned earlier, said if I raised them I needed to be prepared for them to stick around my yard acting like pets for up to two years,  at which time they’d start to mate and turn vicious. So what to do?

My wood box turned into a raccoon cage.

I got the name and number of the local guy who deals with nuisance animals for the county and called him. He is an experienced trapper as well, making his living off of trapping animals in the winter. He’d also been part of a group that had built a new animal shelter in the county. I liked him and trusted his knowledge. He talked to me about humane ways of dealing with wild animals and said that it would not be humane for me to transport the kits somewhere else and let them go (which I considered doing). He said they would suffer slow deaths from starvation or predators. He also told me that it’s illegal to transport raccoons further than 1 km because studies show that a raccoon’s range is that distance. If they are moved outside their typical range, they are often killed either by other, territorial, raccoons or by diseases they don’t have immunity to. He helped me think through this dilemma, and my options, which were: commit 100% to saving them and rearing them, or kill them humanely. It was a hard choice to make but I knew I didn’t have it in me to raise six raccoons. In the end, I asked him to come get them.

The very next day as I was pulling out of my driveway, I saw to my surprise, raccoon kit #7 waddling through the grass at the edge of the yard. I got out of the car and went up to him but he arched his back and hissed at me. I later saw him back in the trees and when I went toward him he scurried up one of them. I don’t know if he managed to survive, but he may very well be out there still.