Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

It's really hot and muggy (ugh!) here in Ontario this morning.  It was 32C before the sun started to shine, and now the sun is shining ... the thermometer is climbing.  So I decided to get a little crafty this morning, outdoors before it got unbearable.  With a little strip of cotton, a stolen red maple leaf from my neighbour's tree, and some red acrylic paint I got to work ...

... and made my own Canadian flag.  By painting the back of the maple leaf, and then pressing it onto the cotton, the leaf outline with the veins showed up quite well. And since it turned out so cool, I decided to add the side stripes by overlapping leaf prints.  I like how it turned out and will proudly hang it up for our Canada Day celebrations tomorrow. 

Here are a couple that the kids made, the top is by a 5-year old and the bottom is by a 2-year old (with a bit of help). 

If you want to make one yourself, we used a small sponge brush to brush the paint onto the back of the leaf.  Lay the leaf paint-side down in the centre of a rectangular piece of cotton.  Lay a paper towel on top of the leaf to catch any oozing paint.  Rolled over the paper towel with a small rubber roller (or you could just press on it all over with your hand/fingers).  Peeled the paper towel and leaf off the cotton to reveal the leaf print.  The side stripes can be painted with a sponge paint brush as well.  I'm going to hang these from a bamboo garden stake. 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mossy Garden Stump

I often find myself admiring the simple beauty that slowly evolves when trees meet their end, and the forest welcomes the trees back into the good earth. 

Moss on fallen trees is always so pretty to view and feels lovely when we gently run our hands across.

I have some mossy patches here and there in my yard, but sometimes the heat of the summer sun makes it dormant and dries it till it's crispy.  I also have an old stump that is slowly rotting away without any real purpose.  I decided to combine the two.  I took the stump and hacked away at the top with a heavy axe only because I couldn't find our small hatchet.  I'm sure my neighbour (sitting on his deck) was impressed with my prowess.

I then dug up a shovelful of moss from the north side of the shed.  Did you know if you ever lose yourself in the deep woods that moss grows on the north side of the trees ... a bit of a naturalist compass.  Right.  Back to my shovelful of moss.
I soaked the moss well with water just as it sat on the shovel there.
I packed some black earth onto the top of the stump and then lay the moss on top of that.

I placed the stump in the shade garden amongst the woodsy ferns and scented astible, and of course all that's left to do is wait.  A gardener's essential tool being patience.  I'll mist the moss each morning because when I watered it with even a gentle spray, the dirt started washing away.  I hope it turns into a nice spongy mossy top on the stump through the summer :)
Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Painted Ponies and Movie Trivia

Yesterday my daughter and I went on a little excursion.  We packed only a few necessities like water and camera, and hopped in the truck and drove across highways and byways.  We ended up two hours from home in very pretty countryside far to the west of us on the Niagara Escarpment between Grimsby and Welland, Ontario.  If you've never been in this area, it's very picturesque.  It's also close to the Hamilton Air Museum and we were very fortunate to see their restored heritage World War II Lancaster Bomber ... in flight! 

But we didn't drive all that way just for the scenery or airplanes.  We were looking for a farm.  A horse farm.  And not just any old farm ... one specializing in gorgeous coloured Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods ... and we found it!

The farm is aptly named Blazing Colours Farm and the "blazing colour" is the best part of the visit.  The breeder aims to produce beautifully coloured Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods, beyond the traditional shades of bay, black or dappled grey. 

This farm produces beautiful horses in colours of cremello, smokey black, pinto, buckskin, palomino and sabino (the white markings as in the horse above left).  Yesterday they hosted an open house, and my daughter, who follows them religiously on Facebook, begged me to go with her.  I miss seeing the horses when I used to take her to her riding lessons, and now she goes on her own to lessons in university town, so how could I refuse? 

Pluto & Scooby

Now these two gorgeous Thoroughbred brothers  (above) are a rarity.  They were sired by the stallion Cloud Ten, who was also owned by the farm, but has since been sold.  In 2005 Cloud Ten made headlines as he was the first white Thoroughbred to be foaled in Canada.  Aren't they just the most amazing silvery white?  Their names are Scooby and Pluto, and they're 3-year old stallions.  The owner plans to use them for stud services and also train them for pulling a coach for hiring out for weddings etc.  Wouldn't they look amazing as a pair pulling a wedding coach? 

I just couldn't take enough photos of these beauties, but I'll spare you scrolling through more than just a few ;)  The colour of these Thoroughbreds is cremello sabino, but just know that in the sunshine, they glowed a silvery white ... like unicorns. 

And this brings me to the movie trivia portion of my post.  Their sire Cloud Ten was sold to Disney together with another white gelding named White Pharaoh, and they were used in the recent movie "The Lone Ranger" as the horse Silver.  The horses looked identical, so they were good for doubling each other, and the studio found out about them through a You Tube video.

The temperament of these stallions (and all the horses on the farm) were incredibly calm and friendly.  There were none of the common traits associated with stallions with wild behavior and gnashing of teeth etc.  You could pet them through the fences & in the stables and they were alert, but so gentle.  Really amazing. 

Another stallion out in the field, who was a bit sleepy in the dazzling sunshine, was this beauty (above) an amazing Warmblood named Mirabeau, also cremello but he was a gorgeous golden white. 

I was trying hard to get a photo of his eyes, which were aqua blue, but he was so sleepy I just couldn't capture them properly.

This cremello Thoroughbred (below) is El Dorado, and he was stunning!!

The buckskin colour is another favourite here at the farm. 

It's unusual to see Thoroughbreds in this colour, and below is a buckskin sabino Thoroughbred named Simba Twist.  He was very playful out there in his paddock, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the attention he was getting.  He looked like he had personality plus!

Simba Twist
A well-chewed fence out back.
Inside the stables were many of the farm's brood mares and foals.  The foals were around two and three months old, and the quintessential of cute.

They all had their own personalities.  Some were very curious and noses were poking out of stalls when they heard people pass.  Others were shy and not to sure about so many hands stroking their soft coats.  The mothers were so very gentle, and if they were getting a bit worried by strangers petting their babies, they calmly, but effectively walked between the stall wall and the foals blocking us from their babies.  Only one mare had had quite enough and her head tossed up with teeth flashing when my daughter tried to pet her, so we just moved on without bothering her further.

This little filly (below) was my favourite ... Balou ...

Her colouring will be "smokey black" when the baby coat sheds.  You can see the darker, smoother coat coming in around her eyes and muzzle.  She was just so friendly and sweet and loved being fussed over by all the visitors.  It was hard to tear myself away from her.  Her little muzzle was so tiny, it could fit in the palm of your hand, and her head and neck reminded me of a tiny sea horse.

You can see the wonderful markings on this handsome stallion Sato (below).  Sato is a palomino sabino Thoroughbred stallion.  My daughter told me Sato is the original stallion the owner of the farm started with.

Sato (above & below) had beautiful golden eyes, and he was enjoying peeking round the corner of his stall at the other horses in the fields.

 This guy was really hamming it up for the camera ... I'm sure he knew how good looking he was ... this is Golden Time, a palomino sabino Thoroughbred stallion (below).
We nick-named him "The Tongue".  He was worse than my dog for wanting to lick you!

Are you still with me?  I know there are a lot of photos (175 taken in 4 hours!!), but I was just so thrilled with these beautiful beasts, I can't help but want to share them with you.  Just a few more ;)
My daughter's absolute favourite horse at this stable is Arts Aero, a black pinto Oldenburg Warmblood stallion (below).  After everyone had had a chance to tour the stables and the fields and kiss all the noses of the sweet little colts & fillies, we were given a demonstration in this lovely arena by the stable owner and her companions.  They had a few fun jumping competitions against each other with lots of laughs and comments with the group of visitors.

We've seen Arts Aero and the horse (below), who I'm pretty sure is named Mocha Twist at the Royal Winter Fair for the last couple of years.  He's a beautiful example of a pinto colouring.  Notice the owner is riding Arts Aero bareback in these photos.  They train horses and riders here as well as their breeding program, and it's just a wonderful clean, bright and spacious facility indoors and out.

Arts Aero is another calm and cool stallion.  Just look at him with all these kids crowding him.  He didn't move an inch!  Only his head moved around ... those feet stayed planted, which was a good thing because some of these kids were in sandals and flip flops.

And so ended our day at Blazing Colours.  I'm sure my daughter could've spent a week her entire life at these stables and been quite happy.  I truly hope she can one day realize her dream of having her own horse farm, or at the very least own her own horse.
Thanks for stopping by today!
what?!  you want to see a couple more photos?!  you're worse than me ;)

the end!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Good Neighbours

Yesterday when I wandered around my backyard checking the progress of some flowers and endings of others, I noticed this peony had come into bloom.  I hadn't even noticed that it was in bud, but it is rather hidden by the bleeding hearts.

It's gorgeous with such pretty pink petals delicately streaked with a darker fuchsia colour on the outer base.  I planted this I think two years ago, and this is the first time it has bloomed.  It was a happy moment and I bent down to smell it wondering if even unscented peonies carried some distinctive fragrance.  I was so surprised to catch a beautiful scent from this peony!  I didn't remember that I had bought a scented one, and I am in love with it.  I'll be clearing some bleeding hearts back from it to give it room to grow and grow and grow!  Bleeding hearts do so well in my yard, that I have no qualms of ripping out a few when something else grabs my attention and wants their spot.

In the front yard, my white peonies are also doing quite well.  My husband gets a peony support on top of the plant as soon as he sees the shoots coming up, so it hopefully falls nicely above the ground and not splayed all over like a drunken fool ... it doesn't always work though ...

Now you may be wondering if these peonies are my "good neighbours", and I guess in a way they are.  I myself try to be a good neighbour. 

I don't have wild, noisy parties in the summertime, I always told my kids not to scream like banshees when they were playing.  I don't cut my grass really early on Sunday mornings or during the supper hour. 

And I never ever let my dog run across my neighbours' lawns to pee on their gardens.  I don't even let my dog walk on the lawn side of the sidewalk, he has to walk on the curb side, and I always pick up after my dog ... even when we walk in the woods and open fields.  I really try to be a considerate dog owner because I know not everyone is crazy about them and their habits.

Yesterday I had been getting a laugh from a large noisy grackle family squawking and splashing in my little gurgling water fountain on the patio. 

The birds are so big they can barely squeeze into the largest basin, but one young bird did and he looked like an elephant in a bathtub (sorry no photo of that, I didn't want to scare him off to jump up for the camera). 

So when I had to go out in the afternoon and came home to a neighbour's cat sitting outside my backyard gate watching this bird family, I had no qualms of letting my dog lose to chase him off.  I don't own cats, and I really love my backyard birds. 

There were six goldfinches at the feeder ... one is on the back of the feeder, and one is on the pole to the right.

I felt somewhat awkward, however, when the dog chased after him across two good neighbours' yards before trotting happily back home.  And don't worry, my pup wouldn't harm a cat, he just likes to give chase.  He knows also, that he's not to go past the hedge bordering one side of my front yard, or the drop off our lawn to the neighbour's driveway on the other.  He's a well-behaved herding dog, and they like to stay close to home and their family, so he doesn't wander. 

 My neighbour got a dog about a year ago.  You couldn't ask for a more beautiful dog ... golden retriever, calm, gentle and well loved. 
But my neighbour, who I don't believe has ever owned a dog prior to this one, has no dog ownership manners.  This dog has knocked down a child in my care, and the neighbour did nothing to reprimand it.  I've recently seen the dog jump up on an adult across the street and put his enormous paws on the 6ft+ man's shoulders!  I could tell the man did not think it was "cute" or even "funny" and was probably a bit alarmed, again the dog owner did nothing. 
The dog gets lots of walks with three adults living in the home, but whenever they come around the corner onto our street, the dog is let off his leash, and he happily runs ahead of the owners, up onto my lawn and pees every time around the edges of my garden. 
I work in that garden regularly, and I don't wear gardening gloves.  The thought of grabbing some weeds with dog pee on them disgusts me.  I don't want my flowers to suffer from the effects of dog pee either. 
the pee garden :[
So what do you do.  What would you do? 
our houses are close as you can see
Last night when I was closing up the front windows, there was the neighbour and his dog coming home from a walk in the dark, and the dog was sniffing and peeing all around my garden directly below my window.  I'm sure the neighbour saw me in the window, and maybe I should have called to him and said "please keep your dog out of my garden", but I kept quiet because I don't want to cause waves.
I know this is bothering me more and more because last night I woke up in the middle of the night, and my first thought was "what to do about that darned dog!".  I originally wanted to plant a garden and bushes along that side of the yard, but now I don't think that will be enough. 

I want to put up a short fence in line with the existing garden at the top, to the spruce tree, and then down the small hill to the road.  We'd like to plant about 3 bridal wreath spirea in front of the fence on the road side of the spruce tree, and another burning bush beside that existing one at the end of the garden.
I think the dog will still pee on the bushes and then squeeze through them to his own side.  Now I want to put up a fence, nothing fortress like, just enough to keep the dog out.  I'm angry.  I don't want to talk to the neighbours about it because I already asked them quite nicely not to park in front of my house (they rarely park their cars in front of their house, and they were always parked in front of mine for days at a time).  I thought I asked in a considerate manner, but apparently they thought otherwise.  I heard back from their son that a good friend of there's growled "I don't care what Wendy wants, I'll park my car where I want!!" (there were many swear words peppered through the comment).  This is a friend that visits them a lot.  Now I just cringe when that friend is sitting on their deck overlooking my yard in back.  Why can't people just take it for what it is and just say "ok, no problem, I'll park in front of my house".  It did take me about eight years to finally say something.
So the dog issue festers with me.  The dog has marked my front yard as his own territory and has established his habit well.  When the neighbours are in the front, the dog actually sits on my front yard rather than their own.  I read somewhere you can buy coyote urine and spray it around your yard for these types of cases, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about the Purolator man delivering a bag of coyote urine to my door.  How would they collect this stuff?!  A fence is maybe something I could pull off a little easier.   
Anyway, this is my rant.  I normally don't like to rant on my blog, but I just wondered if anyone else has this trouble and how they resolved it.  Thanks for listening guys :)


My dog Cody

Linking up with Fishtail Cottage Garden Party

 Garden Party 2

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