Monday, September 30, 2013


                              I went to "Art Battle" at the local bar last evening.  Artists have twenty minutes to create a painting from scratch and the audience votes for their favorite.  The winners from three rounds face off in the final battle.

                     Fueled by adrenalin and alcohol  (which are two of my favorite things)  I really liked this event.  I may even try it myself sometime.  I always aim for a looser painting style and if you start a canvas while your IN the bar.... I mean how much better can it get?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013



                         I am an advocate for chickens.  I've spent enough time with them to know that they feel pain, fear, and the joy of being free.  My grandson helped me load 24 meat birds in the back of my PT Cruiser to take them for slaughter to a private and humane farmer.  I turned up CBC radio and didn't talk on the way because I didn't want to bore them to death.   By the time they arrived at their final destination they were calm and already drowsy.

                       A good death is just as important as a good life.

                       I know a few people raising birds in their back yard makes very little difference in the big marketing scheme of things but if you have the opportunity please try to buy local free range chicken.

                      I gave my grandson some cash and a chicken dinner and asked if he would do me one more favour.  

                      He had to clean my car.

Saturday, September 7, 2013



                 I threw a few squash seeds down over the hill in an area where I had spread some manure a few years earlier.  The squash flourished and spread and to my surprise yielded a good crop.  My squash this year are also 'smarter'.  They are in an area where the goats graze and I guess they got tired of being trampled.   Instead of spreading laterally they went up...  straight up any tree or bush in the area.  I'm proud of them and their ingenuity.
                These are hubbards squash the biggest of the beasts and have been known to grow up to fifty pounds under good conditions.  So I still have some work ahead of me.  I have to get them out of the trees without sustaining a concussion and transport them to a cool dark spot where they can sit and ponder their fate a little longer.  If one falls on my head I will probably end up being a vegetable myself.  Harvest time will be an adventure I'm sure.  A few months along when they have cured I will need a hatchet or a large sharp knife to get through that tough outer shell.  Some people just drop them from the back of their half ton truck to get things started.

              I'm usually bleeding when I'm done this part.

             This all sounds very discouraging I'm sure, but I have a tough outer shell myself  and for such a large vegetable and all the delicious things you can do with it's worth the work.  
             On a chilly winters day I will set down to a steaming bowl of Curried squash soup and my world will be toasty warm again.         SQUASH SOUP...YUM!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I just really like this and thought I would add it here


This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

- Walt Whitman


Sunday, September 1, 2013


                Online I discovered 'The Sketchbook Project'.  They come up with little art assignments no matter what your skill level and get your art mobile in various ways so that it's enjoyed by a bigger venue.

                This project is Pen Pal Art where they send you a small canvas.  You slip a little note about yourself in with the art you create and send it with the goal that they match you up with someone similar and send their painting to you!  You have now met a pen pal in the world of art and can follow up with them if you wish. eHarmonart!   An oil might even meet and acrylic.  Great idea.

                     The catch was I procrastinate and there was a deadline so on the final hour of the final day I dug out the acrylics and ran with my goat to the post office.

                     Can't wait to see what I get in return.   They'll probably match up this goat with a jackass.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


               I think most of us at some time during our early years have had a teacher that has inspired us.  That special person embedded  in our memory bank that stood out as encouraging and real. Someone who went that one step further to make us want to learn.
               A friend told me the story of such a person.  A brilliant math teacher who later developed Alzheimer's and was known to 'wander away' from home and get into some odd predicaments.  She later had to be placed in a care home.  This poem that is influenced from my friends memory can't help but be tinged with sadness.  Or is it?  


        Miss Betsy Love spends all her time 
        in the lower pasture
        she squats to pee by the sun drenched stump 
        of a rotting oak
        mice tickle her toes
        scamper under her skirt and chuckle
        she dips ripe berries in the crested brook
        sucks fresh fallen fruit
        smiles that rusted smile of happiness
        Miss Betsy Love no longer trusts the numbers
        old chalk dust memories
        circle her mornings like spiders
        so she measures her days and the pressure of
        at Gorman falls
        the slant of the sun in late August
        she lies herself down in the afternoon rain
        to study the bellies of sheep
        and the earth
        like the bottom of and old wooden bucket
        Miss Betsy Love can't do the math
        if you take one life and divide it up
        she comes up with a number hard to believe
        as she claws through the brush and speaks to
        the wind
        the blood on her skin becomes crusted and dry 
        and she knows that somewhere
        people are counting
        counting her days 
 poem by annie

Thursday, July 25, 2013


                 The haying is almost done.  Put in by my 74 yr old neighbor who has been kind enough to help since we moved here.  He's wiry with skin as weathered as the old equipment he drives but still moves with that spring in his step.  His favorite sweat encrusted hat is turned up and patched this year where it has frayed.   Around his neck is an old rag that he dips in the brook to cool himself.  I see him stop the tractor several times to look for pheasants in the tall grass and watch him pop a few babies in his shirt pocket. 

          " I can't save them all"  he says.  But he tries.

                I like him. He is an ad for the values I've come to appreciate as I get olderHard work,  tenacity,  perseverance.

           The two lads that show up to help stack the barn are a quarter his age but he can out do them both.  They sweat profusely,  guzzle water,  and compare blisters while he works around them. 
           I'm probably riding in a small pocket of misfortune right now but I've had a hard time getting good young men to help out.  They lack strength,  fortitude,  foresight,  and plain old common sense.  They should know how to stack wood,  fill gas tanks,  tie a slip knot.  These are things they should have learned from their fathers and grandfathers.  They complain of allergies,  bad backs,  fear of heights.

           One young man left the top two feet of our barn doors unpainted as he was afraid to go up the ladder further.

           I wanted to tell him that when I was his age I went sky diving.  I jumped out of a plane at 3000 feet.  I was scared too.   But it was Sunday and I spread open to the silence and finally descended close enough to hear the organ playing in the little country church far below me.    I wanted to explain it all to him.   To tell him there is nothing to be afraid of in this great country of ours,  our charmed world.  The only thing he should fear is that extra 85 pounds he was carrying aroundthe little fat globules clutching the side of his young arteries.

          But he is not me.

          I tell the young men to go to the swimming hole to cool off.  I bring lemonade and more water.  I ponder over how much I will pay them.  I worry the hay will not be all in before tomorrows rain.  But then the miracle happens.  A car drives in the yard.  It's the neighbors wife and she's here to help.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Jake and I love this little poem by Patty Barnhart.  What an appropriate last name she has...


When I Am An Old Horsewoman

I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,

And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
... And listen to my horses breathe.

I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.

I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to ALL
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.

-Author Patty Barnhart

Thursday, July 11, 2013




 It's true what people say
that you can talk to the animals
but the thing is
you must listen first
for that faintest whisper
subtle, precarious
like tendon sliding over bone  

Today he tells me that he will trust
this one encounter
shift his weight toward me
offer something up
beneath his eye a muscle shivers

It is not with words 
but the space between them
where animals speak
if you listen carefully
it will be a song
like the prayer of horses
in their own tongue 
poem by Annie and Jake the pony 

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Rats giggle when you tickle them

They're voices are so high pitched you need special instruments to hear

But when you do they're laughter becomes immediately evident

               I take pride in the fact that on my little farm I treat my animals with respect.   Not just the animals I own but also the ones I encounter.   I am not a practicing Buddhist but I appreciate some of their teachings,  and I like the phrase that we are "all sentient beings."   Yes, I have been known to carry a wayward spider outdoors to safety.   Yes, I have brought in a sick chicken and nursed it behind the old wood stove.   Yes, I have trapped invaders and spent hours transporting them to more remote areas.

               The exception though is rats.

               I had no idea the damage rats could do and their speed of reproduction until the winter they invaded the barn and feed room.  At first I thought I might be imaging it . Maybe that gnawing and tunneling was a weasel and I could just set a trap and problem solved.  I went out one night with my trusted 3000 candle power flashlight and there they were.  Rats.  Feasting,  frolicking,  hosting open sexual orgies in the storage room.

               What would you do?

               I put out rodent bait, the stuff that says it works quickly and waited.  In three days I found dead rats, and a few more staggering weakly in the yard wondering what had gone wrong with their ideal life.  Shortly my rat problem was over.  Or so I thought....     

               In mid April I called in our neighbor with his front end loader to move the manure pile next to the barn.  He was almost finished and was lifting the last bit of steaming goodness  next to the barn wall when I went out to pay him.  I saw something drop out of the bucket of his loader.  Two baby rats.  Two pink... hairless creatures... eyes closed... squirming and nudging each other.  Newborn baby rats Out of the corner of my eye I could see the loader heading with the last load out to the far pasture.  The ground was clean now, and there were no siblings, no mother, nothing scampered near by

               What would you do?

               Rat Facts:     
                                      Rats can become fertile at 5 wks and   have five litters a year of 7 to 15 pups
                                      They can chew through wood, metal and even concrete
                                      They can swim half a mile
                                      They can fall 15 meters and not be injured 
                                      They can go longer without water than a camel
                                      A rat can survive a large amount of radiation
                                      Rats can kill small baby animals and pets

              What I did was walk quickly over and raise my oversize five pound thrift  - store rubber boot over their heads.
              But I couldn't bring it down. 

              Why?  Life is a paradox sometimes.

              What I did was go to the house and make a nice cup of chai tea.  The mother rat would come back and get them, and I would get what was left of the poison and put it out.

               Murder by accidental poisoning is easier.  I must remember that for future reference.

               When I came back an hour later they were still there. I glanced around but only the pony was staring suspiciously through the smoky barn window.

               I ignored all those rat facts above, bent down and slipped them quickly in the left pocket of my jacket.

              According to the Comprehensive Manual of Rat Care you can't just feed newborn rats anything.  So much for my plan of just blending up  leftovers with the sour milk in the fridge.   They need something close to their  mothers milk, and you can give them a little dilute pedialyte to hold them over so I headed off to the drug store.  I searched through no less then a dozen cans of infant formula, reading the ingredients, hoping to find something that said 'Recommended for Rodents.A helpful clerk approached.

                "How old is the baby" she asked 
                "Newborn" I replied. 
                "Has the mother been breast feeding ?" she inquired                  "No,  I think the mothers dead I said 
                She gave me the 'look' and stumbled back a bit into the display of breast pumps.  
                "You think?"  she gasped.

                 Shortly I headed home with my supplies :
                 Bottle pedialyte   $7.95
                 Syringe                  $2.98   
                 Isomil Advance infant powder  32.95!!

                 At home the babies were wiggling around in their new shoebox home and I found it remarkably easy to flip them holding the loose skin on their neck and give them their first feeding. 

                 Like I'd been babysitting rats all my life.  

                 I will tell you proudly that the rats lived.   At first I fed them four to six times a day.   In eleven days their eyes opened.   They grew fur.   They started to come out and anticipate their mealtime.   They 'held' the syringe and sucked greedily.  I started giving them pieces of fruit and seeds and dry bread.  They started to play with one another and they ran up the sleeve of my sweater.   Yes, they became cute.   I mean, look at the picture again.   What amazed me the most was how clean they were.  They were constantly washing up.  Disturbed when I spilled something on them they washed each other.
                It was cold and damp that spring and I kept them longer then I should have.   I moved them to a larger cage and started introducing bits of meat and bugs.   The one weekend hubby and I got out of town my trusted neighbor friend helped look after the place.   We had loaded the car and I was shouting last minute instructions.

               "Oh, and I forgot to mention the two rats in the back porch.  "Instructions on the cage,"  I yelled.
                We knew her well and we felt confident as we sped quickly away. 

                It was a warm Sunday in late May when I scooped the little creatures in my jacket pocket and headed toward the river on our old A.T.V.   About a km from our house I put them carefully at the base of an old hollow log.   I deposited enough dog food and scraps to last them about six months.   Although I knew they wouldn't stay around it made me feel better.

                 Rat Facts:
                                      If a member of a rat pack becomes ill they will care for it
                                      A lonely rat becomes depressed 
                                      Rats like chocolate
                                      Rats are affectionate, curious and intelligent.  They love games
                                      Rats are an important part of Eastern spirituality
                                      They have been used to sniff out land mines and have been found to be able to detect tuberculosis
                                       95 % of wild rats don't make it through their first year

                  As I drove away I looked back to see them scampering around the tree.  I know I imagined it , but I thought I heard a giggle.

                 Over head a hawk circled.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


                      A few days ago I thought I would do something I enjoy so I went to an art show sponsored by V.A.N.S. (Visual Artists of Nova Scotia)

                It was a disappointment.   There was little there that appealed to me and this organization should really change it's name because we had to view the exhibit in the dark.  Yes, you read it right.   We viewed it in the dark.   There's an oxymoron for you. 

                The show was held in the basement of a lovely old building  (no windows) and on entering we were told to put on these mini headlamps and stroll through the exhibit like miners.
                I didn't really understand it all but the show was about narcissism and seeing things in 'a new light.'   I know one thing for sure.   I'm too old for this faddy art and conceptual stuff where  'you'  are part of the exhibit.

                I hung around for almost and hour hoping the lights would come on so I could speak to some of the artists and ask them what the hell they were thinking.   The artists were supposed to be wearing name tags (go figure).  It didn't happen though and it turned basically into a groping session.

               "Oh sorry," said the voice from the male firefly standing next to me. (see photo)   "I didn't mean to touch your breast."

               "That's o.k" I said.  "What's annoying me most is there's supposed to be punch and finger food somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it"

                His EverReady flashed back at me!

                "Veer left he said, and feel along the wall until your thigh hits the table" (I thought I heard him moan.) 

                "Thanks," I said

                 I'm really nervous I might end up here next

Thursday, May 30, 2013




So much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain 
beside the white

      William Carlos Williams 

                   I have always loved that little poem.  I have heard that it has been analysed to death for all it's possible subtle meanings but because I like color and art I appreciate it for it's simple visual image.

                   I happen to own a red wheelbarrow and some white chickens and I know exactly what the man was talking about.

                   I tend to like narrative poems.  Something that portrays an image or a moment in time.  Something I can identify with.  Not too long ago I came upon another little poem about a red wheelbarrow by an author named Gabriel Gadfly. (Yes, I guess that's his real name)

                   At the time I stumbled upon it (literally) I had a broken right leg in an awkward leaden cast and was unable to do my usual tripping through the woods and gardening that I very much enjoy.  Because of my venerable state I thought  that was why I was so open to the sentiment he stirred up in this poem.  I thought that was why a little tear stained my eye as I read it.

                  However, long after my leg had healed I read it again and felt that same little pang of connection.  Was it because it was now ingrained in me and my experience, or is it simply just a damn good little poem... a love poem.  Whatever,  I'll share it with you


I Have Put The Red Wheelbarrow To Use

Since your leg is broken
and you cannot easily go out,
I have brought the garden
into your bedroom.
I have emptied your
chest of drawers of your
underwear and your shirts
and filled it with clean
black soil, with explosions
of yellow red chrysanthemums,
clustered bellflower,
stalks of bright snapdragon.
There are sunflowers
standing in the closet
where you hung your
summer dresses
(it was the only place
the sunflowers would fit.)
It has taken me hours
to cover the floor with
dark sweet earth and
fill the carpet with
fresh shoots of grass
(yes, I even brought
the green beetle,
the wriggler earthworm,
the polka-dot ladybug,
because I know
how you love them.)
Be careful with the
wisteria hanging over
the bed. It is tacked up
only precariously,
but it was a necessary
final touch.
This poem © Gabriel Gadfly. Published Aug 12, 2011
See more of Gabriels poetry  Here

Saturday, May 18, 2013


The young couple invited their elderly pastor for Sunday dinner. While
they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked their
son what they were having.
"Goat," the little boy replied.
"Goat?" replied the startled man of the cloth, "Are you sure about that?"
"Yep," said the youngster. "I heard Dad say to Mom, 'Today is just as
good as any to have the old goat to dinner"

                          I recently explained to a friend that  goats are not for the faint of heart.  I believe you have to be of sound mind and body to own a goat (or completely the opposite).
                  You cannot have just one goat.  They are herd animals and if you lock up a lone goat it will cry and complain.  It  sounds a lot like a woman being attacked or raped.  Trust me.  Or just ask my poor concerned neighbors!

                  Just yesterday I bent over in the barn and before I could blink my goat had pulled out and swallowed my favorite earring from my left ear.

                   I also have a goat who helps my pony escape from his stall.  This involves two actions, lifting and pushing a lever.   I wouldn't have believed it, except after seeing him go out the driveway and head for town for the third time, I hid in the barn and witnessed it myself.

                  Awhile back I made the mistake of forgetting my cell phone on a hook in the barn.  Only the goats could have reached it and unhooked it, but why they had to drag it over to where the cow could piss and s..t on it I'll never know.   I was not pleased, and neither was the Rogers salesman when I passed it to him for repairs!  

                  Don't get me wrong, I love my goats.   I have learned and finally adapted to their escape tactics, their curiosity, and their energetic antics.

                  The goat in the photo is Abbylove.  She is now sixteen years old and is quite calm and a bit feeble.  In earlier times though she was always planning and scheming.  You can tell by the grin on her face.

Monday, May 6, 2013




                  This is a watercolor 16x20  based on a photo I saw on a site called Paint My Photo a great on line community where photographers put on their photos for artists to paint.

             The photo was begging to be painted in my opinion and was put on by a lady 'Lillian Lee.'  If you are a photographer or do art of any kind join Here and it will become a source of thousands of free photos to use in your work.  The community is amazing and interactive and there are lots of little niches to join and explore.

                 I'm essentially a 'closet artist' painting smaller pieces that I give to people as gifts.  Now that I'm taking out big brushes and waving them around and slopping on gallons of paint it's fun and feels right.  I see that term 'emerging artist'.   I think I'm still one of those.  Shame it took me sixty years! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013




 " God loved birds so he made trees.  Man loved birds so he made cages"

Jacques Duval


                      Not long ago I acquired peafowl  and I'm no expert on their sex lives but I'm learning.  They don't reach sexual maturity until about two to three years and my hens are barely two yrs.   The male peacock though is over four,  and you can tell come April his thinking turns amorous.   Like a lot of males he struts and spends a lot of time on his appearance.   He spreads his elaborate tail feathers and rattles them to attract the females.   He circles and seems to push out his private parts and 'wink' at the hens.   They seem aloof,  uninterested, and continue picking the various insects falling from  the garden plants.  He's irritable and he screams a lot, but bless him, at least he spends a lot of time on foreplay.   If he has been lucky enough to have  a sexual encounter I've missed it.   Perhaps I tell him,  next summer when the girls are a bit more mature, and bored with the same old garden tour they will be more impressed.

                 I did get a surprise  though, when one of the peahens started acting strangely.   She would disappear for most of the day and them come home to frantically gulp some food and water and tear off again across the field.    She reminded me of myself when I was working as an  E.R. nurse.  No time for a decent lunch or bathroom break,  just rush rush.  She had that same familiar wild look in her eye.  Then the final straw.   She stopped coming home at night.

                 One misty afternoon in late August I decided to follow her.   She sprinted across the pasture and through the page wire fence.    By the time I did a not so graceful  critical-crotch  maneuver over the fence and picked myself up to check for broken bones  she was in the woods.     I eventually found her sitting in a hollow looking glassy eyed.    At first I thought she might be ill.    Although fairly tame, I can't normally touch or  'pet'  these birds.   They keep an arms length distance.  Now just as a heavier rain started to fall I reached out and ran  my hand over her back.

                 Slowly, very slowly,  she stood up to reveal five perfect eggs.

                 During the day my peafowl are free range but every evening at dusk they come home and roost in the rafters of the barn.   They are safe.    I know I'm probably pushing my luck.    There's hardly a day that I don't see a coyote prowling the perimeter of our fields, not to mention the raccoons and hawks.   Now here she was venerable, and because of her age and what I understood,  her eggs probably weren't fertile so it was all for nothing.   But how was I to know for sure?    So I did what seemed sensible.  I went back to our barn and built her a nest.

.               Up in the hay mow and partially covered with a tarp and the softest hay I could find it was a glorious nest.

                I went back to find her still sitting there  meditating.   I put her eggs in a bag and she let me lift her without much fuss.   Once I had the right grip I headed off.    I knew I'd never get over that fence juggling a ten pound struggling bird, so I walked the quarter mile perimeter to the gate.    It was raining briskly now,  and my hair mixed with hay and sweat was plastered to my forehead.   I was soaked to the bone.   My glasses were steamed up,  and  I needed to pee badly.   But I felt it was a noble thing I was doing so I stumbled on.

               I deposited her on the  nest and gingerly slid the eggs underneath her.    I wanted to crawl in myself it was so calm and inviting up there in the rafters.   I sighed  knowing what a wonderful conscientious farmer-woman I had become and went in the house to clean up.

              Thirty minutes later she was gone.

              She didn't come back for two days.   I couldn't find any more eggs and she ignored the penthouse nest I had constructed.   After a week I bit my lip and destroyed the eggs.

                   Sometimes I'm even a little angry that we import wildlife to a country where they don't belong. We lock them in cages and stare at them.  We expect them to cope in a habitat they're not adapted too.  Next season I will be ready.  I'll get an incubator and try and keep the females penned.  They are here now, a part of my life on Windy River Farm.  All you can do is try and protect the things your love.

             Are you having any fowl adventures?