Jumping and skittering about, crunching and crinkling…I wish I was only talking about the beautiful fall leaves as the sweep across our paths and through the yard. Unfortunately those sounds and actions are also the mice and one large rat that have started prepping for the winter months.
When our yard was full of junipers we never saw a little critter. Since we have taken the junipers out, it is a battle each year. For the most part they are good and just find some nice rocks to burrow under, however the Hot Tub has become the luxury villa for the winter with its radiating warmth and abundance of insulation that makes for perfect little nests for breeding. We are on it and are doing our best to keep them away from our areas. If they make a nest in the compost or find a warm place far away from the house, I am not going to hunt them, but come near my areas and they gots’ta go. Although, with the amount of snakes we saw this summer, they are likely being driven up the hill to the house.
Since our harvest we have been taking it easy, just enjoying the fall and taking advantage of some decent weather to get a few last weekends of fishing and camping in. To be fair though, the camping is taking place in lovely rustic cabins with woodstoves that kept us warm during the almost freezing evenings. Our beautiful cabin lead to some stunning mornings, some fantastic fishing and another critter fiasco.
Our ever inquisitive dog enjoys treeing squirrels at any opporunity she has and does not realize that all critters roaming the ground in the forest are not squirrels. In between fishing, we spent some time enjoying a private dock and a beautiful fire pit overlooking the lake. Late on our last evening as we were watching the embers slowly blinking out Ellie was getting quite miffed at us for not letting her into the cabin to go to bed. She is a little spoiled and assumes that her will is our command…unfortunately she is mistaken. Instead of letting her into the warm cabin to curl up on her bed, we kept her outside with us for those last fifteen minutes. Just as I was heading in, she took off and yanked the leash tight, chasing one of the forests critters who had made the mistake of coming to close to the cabin. Mere seconds later, a hiss, or what we thought was a hiss, and then a very freaked out and extremely upset Ellie.
It took only a few more seconds for the stench to reach our noses. Skunk! Ellie had gotten the blast square in the face, and from the looks of things right in her mouth. POOR DOG! We scattered, heading to the lake to try and get her to drink some water, instead she headed straight for the ground and proceeded to rub herself anywhere she could, rocks, grass, weeds, you name it.
Luckily the main store had some skunk remover for dogs due to other sprays that summer. We did our best in the pitch black to wash her down and get that horrible smell off her. We then spent a very uncomfortable and smelly night in the cabin where poor Ellie looked completely dejected, sad, and uncomfortable. All I wanted to do was wrap her up in cuddles and take it all away, but that smell kept me from doing so.
The next day when we got home we gave her another bath with the skunk remover. She still stunk quite badly so I started looking into other remedies. I knew tomato juice was a go to household item for getting skunk smell out, and I was lucky that it was really only her head that smelled. So I popped open one of our cans of tomatoes and drained all the juice I could. I mixed it with some baking soda and a little bit of Dawn and pasted Ellies head with the concoction. I then had to hold her hostage in the tub while it somewhat dried onto her fur. Finally after the first rinse, she didn’t waft skunk wherever she went. Thank goodness for tomatoes! We used that concoction three more times before she finally stopped smelling.
The poor girl also got the spray directly in the mouth so we wanted to help her out with that too. She got a couple chewy treats to clean up her teeth and the roof of her mouth, and I again search some home remedies to see if there was anything else I could do to get that taste out of her mouth. Carrots! Apparently they help dogs who get the spray in their mouth. She was a lucky girl, we had just picked some fresh carrots from the garden so for the next few days she got carrots with each meal.
The weekend after that stinky event, we decided to get back to work in the yard. Our goal for the fall is to finish our gabione wall and prep the left side of the yard for next spring when we are going to cut paths and start on the next phase of walls. There will be no growing over on that side this coming year, so we can accomplish a lot.
In order to finish the gabione wall we needed just a few more rocks. We had lots of large ones that fill the cages nicely, but we were lacking in the smaller ones that filled in the spaces between the large ones. No problem! What is better than a drive up a winding dirt road with colourful trees on either side…NOTHING! Although we were there to lift rocks and do some heavy lifting, it was worth it for the stunning imagery that fall paints throughout the forest. We did however keep Ellie fairly close as we didn’t want any other fiascos. She stuck close, lourding over us from the top of the rock pile.
Once home we managed to finish off the last few cages. We do have 1 more to add, however it needs some paint before we can fill it.
This summer taught us that hauling the wagon up and down the steep incline is going to wear itself thin very quickly and that we do not want a lifetime of two people needing to secure the cart on the way down or up. We instead decided to put a set of stairs down from the arch to where the current path splits. We are then going to carve a new path, with a switchback in on the left side. This will make it possible for one person to easily take loads up and down.
We will try a different style of gabione wall for retaining the path. As it won’t be a very high wall needed, we will be using 4″ fence posts, dug in and secure, with lighter duty wire (heavier than chicken wire, but not as heavy as the stuff we were using) strung from post to post on front and back. We will then fill between the posts with fist size rocks, keeping with the rock theme, but making it possible to build our walls a little faster.
That is the plan for next year. We may also build a new shed/chicken-coop up at the top of the yard, but that is still a maybe. We will see where we are at with the new walls and if we are up for building a coop. We definitely want our chickens, especially now that our city has passed a backyard chicken bylaw allowing them to be kept within city limits. The coop will be large enough to have a bit of a storage shed built on so that we can keep our yard tools in there instead of the garage, where it is cluttering our wood-working space. We are also hoping to power it with solar rather than running electricity from the house.
Off to make a tasty dinner using some of our haul from this year. Earlier this week I made a delicious squash soup, which was then used as a base for some mac n’ cheese the next night. It was delicious, complimented with some homemade bread for dipping. MMMMMMM. Looking forward to all the delicious dinners to come this winter! Hopefully I won’t wait as long for the next post and find some news to share next week.