Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trust me on this, you DO NOT want to fall through the ice

Yes, on Sunday Freda fell through the ice when she took the dogs out for a walk by herself. She was rescued because a girl at our neighbours house happened to look through the window and see her. She lived to tell the tale, and I will tell the story later.

Freda lost one mitten when she fell in, and it marks the place where she fell in -- this photo shows that location. It was quite far out from shore, as you can see. Freda was only out there because she was trying to rescue Tawny who fell through the ice when she took off to chase birds.

Taz and our first snowfall.

It's been a while since I posted some photos of the dogs, so I thought would do just that, and this time I would give Taz some air time of his own, instead of having to play second fiddle to Tawny all the time.

All dogs love to chew things. A smart owner gives their dog something that they can chew instead of the dog finding some chewable things on his own (i.e. shoes). Tawny loves to the Cheweez (an Alpo product - strips of rawhide sprayed with a tasty enzyme that aids digestion) which we give one after each meal. Taz likes those but abosultely loves to chew the rawhide bones. (Tawny will chew them for a bit and then loses interest, until you smear it with peanut butter. haha) This is a photo of Taz in deep concentration with a new 'bone'. He often likes to carry a bone along on our walks, but then usually drops it at some place when he gets a good sniff up his nose. Amazingly, he can usually find it when we say 'go get your bone' but sometimes he is unable to. Gven the snow is now here, I don't like him to take the bone along on the walks, so he will have something to chew on afterwards.

Despite being a dog with an apparently ferocious bark, he does like to snuggle and get all tucked in.

Our first serious snowfalll of the season started on Monday night. This photo was taken on Tuesday morning. It actually got above 0C by Tuesday afternoon (+0.4C according to the weather man), and the snow was very wet and almost like rain.

This photo was taken on Wednesday morning. Still snowing, and not much different from Tuesday morning, except it looks like the lake is starting to open up again...

We are supposed to get above zero temperatures by the end of the week, so this snow may not last. I think we received about 15cm so far, but very very wet and heavy...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mother Nature can be cruel (follow-up to deer)

Deer story - the preamble...

I was reviewing some other photos that I took of the deer on Sunday morning. I think this photo tells the tale quite well and explains how the deer broke his right front leg and ended up where he did - I have written my speculation onto the photo. The ice on the east side of the lake (bottom of photo) had been forming for several days, and is relatively thick. However, the rest of the lake was open, perhaps due to the constant wind we had been experiencing, until Sunday. The wind died down overnight on Saturday and there was a film of ice on the lake. At the bottom right of this photo, you can see a relatively large area where the thin ice had been disturbed. From that place, you can see a clearly visible trail across to where the deer is laying down, where the ice has been broken and has refrozen.

My guess is that the deer was crossing the lake, fell through the ice and broke his leg at that time, thrashed around in the water for a while trying to get out. Since the deer had only one good front leg (conjecture) it was unable to get out of the water so decided to swim across the lake. When it got across the lake, it was confronted by the coyote brush wolf and was trapped. You already know the rest of the story.

I saw this part of a wing this morning when I was taking the dogs for a walk. Obviously some predator had enjoyed lunch, no doubt to this bird's great dismay.

But that's Mother Nature - some animals are food for others.

Update (Jan 1/09): The animal was a brush wolf, not a coyote. At least, that is what it is known as locally.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The saga of the young deer


Freda woke me up to "come and see the two wolves". Looking through the binoculars I could only see one on the opposite side of the lake. I said where is the other one and Freda said it is swimming toward the shore. As we watched, it got to the shore and stood up - then we realized that it was a deer. The deer saw the predator at the same time and froze there. As we looked at the situation through the binoculars, we realized that the wolf was not a full-size wolf after all, but was a coyote brush wolf. A coyote brush wolf is unlikely to be able to deliver a killing blow by itself, and a healthy deer could likely get away from a single coyote brush wolf but not if it is cornered against a partially frozen lake.


We watched the coyote brush wolf coming and going, trotting off into the woods for a few minutes and then reappearing, but never really getting closer than 10 or 15 feet to the deer. We didn't know why the deer didn't get up and run when the coyote brush wolf went away. You can see that the deer had to break the layer of ice on the lake as it swam (see swath of broken ice running horizontally across the bottom of the photo), so we thought that perhaps the deer was exhausted and perhaps even frozen to the ice. Although deer are food for predators like coyotes and wolves, Freda and I thought it needed to have a sporting chance to be able to get away from the coyote brush wolf, so we decided to walk around the lake with the dogs (on leash, of course, when we got to the lake because we didn't want them to go through the ice!). We figured that our presence, along with the dogs, would scare the coyote brush wolf away to let the deer have a chance to live another day.

About 10:30am
As we got near the deer, on the other side of the lake, we could see that it wasn't moving. We couldn't figure out why it didn't run, unless it was frozen to the ice (which does happen).

Strangely, we were able to get quite close to the deer. I showed this photo to a few people who hunt deer and the consensus seemed to be that this was a young male deer, about a year old. You can see that it is growing some horns, but they are just spikes, so it definitely is a young deer.

Freda went off with Tawny and Taz so the two dogs wouldn't frighten the deer too much. As I got even closer to the deer, it got up very clumsily and lurched off trailing drops of blood, with its right front leg just kind of dangling. The leg was very clearly broken and completely. I wasn't ready with the camera so wasn't able to get a photo of the deer. The above photo is of the spot where the deer was laying in the water. You can see the blood had been pooling in the water. I think it is quite unlikely that the deer was able to swim across the lake with a broken leg, given the thickness of the ice on the lake (1-2 inches thick in most places). We think that perhaps the coyote brush wolf was able to somehow attack the deer when we were not watching it or else perhaps the deer slipped on the ice and somehow fell and broke its leg that way.

In any case, it is now more than 12 hours since we last saw the terrified deer clumsily crashing its way through the thick underbrush, and it is more likely than not that the deer is now in deer heaven. We hope that whatever predator did catch it in the end (because it would have been an easy catch) was able to put it out of its misery quickly.

Update Jan 1/09: these were not coyotes but are what are locally known as brush wolves - they are larger than coyotes and smaller than the classic wolf.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nov 20th - ice starting to form on the lake

Nov 20, 2008 - pano
In this panorama, taken from our porch, you can see that we have just had a skiff of snow. It has been unseasonably cold for several days and ice is starting to form on the lake. The normal high for this time of the year is +3C but it has been below 0C since the weekend. We also have a new snowplow contractor this year, and you can see that they have located a yellow box filled with grit for icy road conditions at the right side of the photo (by the road, of course!).

More from Nov 14th

Nov 14th - pano
This panorama is taken from the bench at the lookout. What a beautiful day!

Of course, Taz and Tawny take every opportunity to fill up on dog salad - or long grass. They seem to eat it as an aid to digestion - for roughage since it is not digested. Taz loves it more than Tawny and we have noticed that he has more digestive issues.
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Nov 14th - pano and dogs at play

The weather has been extremely mild lately. I don't think I have worn shorts for as long as this in any previous year. This photo shows proof that I was wearing shorts on Nov 14th. Hard to believe!

Nov 14th - pano.
At the far left is our neighbours' house, still under construction. Then just to the right of that you can see our other neighbours. The tree with the broken branch approximately marks the left side of our property. Taz is just to the right of Tawny (who is easy to see because of her light colour), in the tall grass just left of the mowed area. I started mowing part of this area this year because we had the lawn tractor and it made it easy to do so.

Taz loves running around outside with his rawhide bone. He usually drops it someplace of course. When he does, and he comes back empty handed (so to speak) you say to him, "Go get your bone," and 95% of the time he will run off and come back with it. It really is uncanny how he seems to remember exactly where he dropped it, considering how short an attention span he has...

Tawny, of course, loves playing catch. Here she is showing off her acrobatic skills with a Frisbee. We had two other fabric frisbees which have been lost in the tall grasses somewhere (how annoying!). At least they were well worn so it is not such a great loss.
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Nov 14 photos - miscellany

Hi there,
Sorry it has been so long that there has been regular posting. I have been fighting with severe headaches and also with Vista on this new computer. I still haven't found how to easily copy photos from my camera, like I used to to be able to do with XP.

Anyway, here are some photos from November 14th.

November 14th was very mild - still shorts weather - and Tawny shows it by leaping into the water to fetch a stick. This was in the back 40.

Freda noticed this curious scat. This is full of hair, so it clearly is from a predator. This may be the post-digested remnants of a hapless deer, or something with similar hair.

Our flooring replacement was completed on November 14th. The thresholds were glued and then had to be weighted down with whatever we could find, so here we used everyone's favourite beverage - A&W Root Beer!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Salute to a brave and modest nation (Sunday Telegraph)

A variant of this article has been making the email rounds. This is the original (as best as I can tell), remarkable tribute written by Irishman Kevin Myers about Canada's record of quiet valour in wartime. This article appeared in the April 21, 2002 edition of the Sunday Telegraph, one of Britain's largest circulation newspapers and was reprinted in Canada's National Post on April 26, 2002.

Salute to a brave and modest nation
Kevin Myers - The Sunday Telegraph - April 26, 2002
A photo of a Royal Canadian Air Force recruitment poster.

As our country honours the last of its four dead soldiers, we reprint a remarkable tribute to Canada's record of quiet valour in wartime that appeared in the Telegraph, one of Britain's largest circulation newspapers.

- - -

LONDON - Until the deaths last week of four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by a U.S. warplane in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops were deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will now bury its dead, just as the rest of the world as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.

It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored. Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.

Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the "British." The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack.

More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth-largest air force in the world.

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated -- a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality -- unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British. It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves -- and are unheard by anyone else -- that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth -- in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.

Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace -- a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan?

Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun.

It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost.

This week, four more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

- - - - -

Kevin Myers (born and raised in Leicester, England) is an Irish journalist and commentator, who currently writes for the Irish Independent. He is a former contributor to The Irish Times newspaper, where he wrote the An Irishman's Diary column several times weekly. Until 2005, he also wrote for the Sunday Telegraph in the UK. This article appeared in the April 21, 2002 edition of the Sunday Telegraph, one of Britain's largest circulation newspapers and in Canada's National Post on April 26, 2002.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Completing the flagstone patio

Nov 3/08
We didn't have teh time or energy to put the flagstones on the patio section this summer. What we did do was spread out the piles of sand/dirt and put landscape fabric on top of it. We did this last part because the dogs liked going over in the sand and then they would track a lot of dirt in the house afterwards. This is what the area looked like afterwards.