Tuesday, April 30, 2013


We have a lovely old magnolia tree by the pond. I can't say it was the reason we bought the property, but I know that when we realized this gorgeous tree was a member of our new botanical family we were both really, really glad.

When it blooms, this tree is a picture of abundance, grace and joy. A gift for the winter-weary, all wrapped up with a big pink bow.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Auction revisited

Yes, those are lamps from street lights for sale. I'm sure all kinds of people went to the auction looking for those.

The annual spring Coombs Farm Auction happened a couple of weekends ago and Kim and I went - we had so much fun the first time we went we decided to make it an annual tradition. (In my family, where we treat traditions with a level of seriousness and commitment most people reserve for their religious beliefs, we believe that if you do something, anything, twice it's a tradition and must be observed faithfully for ever after. Once, if you really have fun.)

If you're a long time reader of the blog and the above photo looks familiar, there's a good reason: the same players were there, bringing the same farm stuff (aka "junk") to be auctioned off by the same family raising money for a children's charity. Here's last year's photo, so you can aompare it to the one above.

Same sign, same guy, slightly different junk. Better weather, though.

This year I didn't try anywhere near as hard to find a diamond in the rough - I just took pictures instead.

Is this junk, or is this junk?

Old rusty barrels.

Dirty and cracked bottles.

Rusty, broken-down Ford tractor.

A fancy cabinet-style incubator with no top and a circuit board full of straw, chicken poop and feathers. It must be functional. For sure.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A lovely cup of tea

My friends Jean and Jim drove up from Victoria the other weekend and it was a perfect excuse to visit a place I've been wanting to see for a while: Teafarm. It's a local farm owned by Margit and Victor, who are experimenting with growing tea (real tea, from the camellia plant) as well as blending teas (black, green, white and herbal) and making art.

Jean and Jim picking out Rooster tea as a surprise for Kim

They sell and serve their tea and pottery in a converted dairy barn filled with light and with amazing views out to pastures and hills. When you first arrive you're treated to a sample of their daily brew, served in one of Margit's handmade cups. Then, if you like, you can order up a proper pot of whichever tea you like (and there are dozens to choose from) and even try a sweet treat, some of which incorporate tea flavours.

It's entirely charming, and the tea is so flavourful I have already purchased four different kinds from their Chinese Zodiac line: Monkey (green tea, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, orange peel, cardamom, fennel), Goat (lemon balm, hibiscus, licorice root, rosehips and ginger), Pig (roasted green tea, rose petals and vanilla bean) and Snake (white tea and holy basil).

If I'm waxing rhapsodic it's because I think this tea has saved me: for the last six weeks I have been on an elimination diet to try to determine if there are foods that are exacerbating my arthritis. Which means I eat rice, chicken, a small assortment of vegetables and peaches. No gluten. No sugar. No dairy. No eggs. No coffee. No nothin'. But I get to have green tea, and so the ritual of making a fresh pot of flavourful tea has replaced all the other food rituals and treats that used to make my life worth living.

And what lovely tea. I have settled into a routine of a pot of Monkey in the morning with breakfast, Goat with my afternoon break, Pig when I'm settling in for a relaxing evening, and Snake whenever I'm feeling I need an extra lift. All made in the favourite tea pot Kim gave me as a birthday gift many years ago, and sipped from one of my three beautiful handmade tea cups.

A lovely cup of tea indeed.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Look what we found in the orchard yesterday, on the ground in the orchard, tucked into the edge of the strawberry bed. It's a miracle it survived the marauding chickens.

And the best part, beside that fact it's impossibly sweet? It has Frankie hair woven through.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't read this if you're still wearing your snow boots

Fawn lilies

I don't mean to rub it in - I really don't - but spring has officially arrived at Mucky Boots. Glorious, wonderful, miraculous spring. If it hasn't made an appearance yet where you are and you'd rather go have a stiff drink instead of reading this post I understand - I really understand.

But in case you're in the mood for some signs that spring has sprung, here you are.

Bleeding hearts

The first entrant in the annual Tulip Parade


Budding lilac

The funny little shrub that always gets in the way when I'm mowing the lawn

If you're needing some consolation you might notice that there are raindrops in every single one of those photos.

That's spring at Mucky Boots.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tidying the edges

Gather round, children, and listen well because I'm going to pass on a few words of wisdom. Not my own, but words that were gifted to me about the time we moved to Mucky Boots. Words that for some reason stuck in my head and have been proven true over and over in the four years since. Here they are:

Tidy paths and borders and edges make a garden shine.

(Pause for reflection.)

"What does this mean?" I can hear you asking. Well, it's supposed to mean that if I mow the lawn and weed the perennial beds but don't take the string trimmer to the edges then the garden looks sloppy. But it's even better than that. Tidy edges are so powerful that all your beds can be a mess but if the edges and paths are all tidy the garden still looks great.

Messy edges means messy garden. Tidy edges means tidy garden. And it almost doesn't matter what the garden itself looks like. I am inspired to express this with the following equations:

  • Messy edges + tidy beds = messy garden. 
  • Tidy edges + messy beds = tidy garden. 

As a mathematician I find this perplexing.

So, if I am feeling just a wee bit overwhelmed by the weeds in my perennial beds (it is April, after all) I can start by using the weed whacker along the border, or sweeping the path free of debris and instantly feel better. Not to mention more motivated to keep on with the weeding.

Kim asked me if I was going to use this as a metaphor for life, and I have to say I was tempted. If not for life then at least for housekeeping - as in my house is a mess but if I make my bed I feel instantly in control of the chaos. But I think, for once, this will be just a post about gardening.

There. That's it. Go tidy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


We have been on a tear the last week or so, probably because of the gorgeous weather (which is ending today with the clouds rolling in and rain expected). But whatever the reason, I have been working like a little beaver on the spring clean up of the perennial garden while Kim has been taking apart some beds that were infested with morning glory, finding homes for all the blueberry bushes and strawberry plants that were displaced in the process, and then finding a solution for our badly managed, sprawling compost pile. And when Kim gets to work she puts on her apron.

I bought this apron for her on a driving trip around Nova Scotia about seven or eight years ago. It came from a leather worker in Cape Breton with a very quaint shop overlooking the ocean, and I knew when I saw it that it had to be Kim's. It's a sturdy thing made of orange sueded leather, and Kim says it's the most comfortable apron she's ever worn, thanks to the stretchy suspenders. It's totally adjustable, and doesn't pull on her neck or get in the way when she's working.

And maybe it's the orange colour (is it possible to be anything other than happy while wearing an orange apron?) but whenever Kim puts it on there's an extra bounce to her step and an extra glint of determination in her eye. Because if she's wearing the apron it means there's an interesting construction project in the works, one that requires her cleverness and ingenuity. And that makes for a happy Kim.
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