Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!

video
Well what to say about New Years Eve in Frankfurt. Originally we had intended to go to a club or something adventurous, but we decided we were not really that kind of people so we opted for going to see fireworks. We kind of hummed and haa'd over going for a while but eventually we decided to go see the fireworks along a bridge near Roemerberg where we had been earlier that day. We thought about bringing our bottle of cheap German champagne along with us to celebrate, but decided against it because we feared public drinking laws (wow were we ever mistaken).
We figured there would be some nice, organized fireworks right at midnight and that there would be some people out there viewing them with us and that it would be a pleasant time for all. We hoped on the U4 (a subway) and headed to our destination. The subway was full, but we found some room and squeezed ourselves in.
Once we arrived it was a different story. There were people everywhere! Fireworks were already being shot off randomly and it was only about 11:40. And there was alcohol in the hands of nearly every man, woman and child. It was bring your own booze night.
We finally made it to the riverfront with fireworks going off around us (literally) and waited for the official fireworks to come. They never did.
I think that New Years eve in Frankfurt does not celebrate the coming of a new year, but rather is a highly accurate reproduction of the bombings that took place near the end of WWII in the city that basically leveled most of it to the ground. The above video does not nearly do it justice. As it drew closer to midnight there were more and more and eventually it was as if everyone was firing them off. People were drunk and screaming and it was a great way to usher in a new year. About quarter after 12 Amanda and I headed back to the subway to beat the crowds.
We ended our night with some guy firing off his handgun in front of our hotel. While a bit unnerving we made it safely, and have since shared a glass of bubbly and are now getting ready for a bit of tv and then off to bed for another day.
This was a great way to end the first half of our trip in Frankfurt and we both are glad we went.

Happy New Years to all of you!

P.S. I have just been informed people are lighting fires in the street. How fun!

Fireworks in the Street

Good evening everybody,

So it is new years eve and things have already started to get exciting here. Our day overall has been pretty eventful. We did sleep in until 9:00 ish but considering that we are on vacation we thought that, that was okay. Our hotel has renovations in its eating area so went down the street to PUR which served us a lovely European style breakfast. It included sausage, eggs, juice, fresh fruit, as well as a selection of cold cuts, cucumber salad, pate, cheeses and breads. It was very good except it was a bit of a free for all to get a table which confused for about the first 10 min.

After breakfast we headed out to Roemerberg which Ryan's grandparents had suggested to us. We had a very good time there. We visited a cathedral, went to the Frankfurt Historical Museum, and also visited a very busy shopping district. We enjoyed a late afternoon snack of chocolate croissants and Fanta.
Late in the afternoon we attempted to go the Palm Garten but it was closed. A lot things were actually closed today because its new years eve. We then walked back through the shopping district which was mostly closed.

We started off our evening with some train station food. Which here seems to be very good. There are a least a dozen food choices and all very good that we have tried so far. We have tried a pastry shop tried Le Crobag. They have very good croissants and donuts and other unhealthy pastries like that. Tonight Ryan tried Erich Zeiss which has meat on a bun. He doesn't know what he ordered but says that it was tasty. I had fish and chips from Nordsee. It was good i ordered the snack size which was three pieces of fish the size of large chicken nuggets and a wack of french fries. It was also good. We also purchased some evening snack such as ritter bars, chips and a few other 'healthy' items ( I did actually get a few nectarines from a fruit vendor). We also tried a drink called Mezzo Mix which is a mixture of coke with orange pop. Its good and kind of tastes like a creamsicle. While at the train station (which we use to go everywhere and is very handy) we picked up a few souvenir items as well.

Well arriving back at the hotel we got to enjoy some fireworks (it get dark here before 5) some teenagers were setting them off in the street right in front of our hotel. We had a very nice view from our window. One of the teens which appeared to be the only girl in the group set off one large firework and it hit the window the apartment building across the street. A family also came outside with the child and had sparklers going for a while. Right now i can hear fireworks going off all the over place. There will be a big display going off at midnight. If we get adventurous we can go into the old part of Frankfurt which is supposed to be the best place to see them.

Early in the afternoon when we were in the shopping district there were all kinds of tents set up. We went to take a look and found that there were thralls of people lined up to get wine. Apple wine was advertised a lot for a Euro a glass. We figure that this is also part of the new years events that go on here.

HAPPY NEW YEARS
Amanda

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Made It!

Well after missing out on our first flight out of Buffalo we managed some great weather there yesterday and found our way to Detriot. We arrived more or less on time in Detriot, possibly a couple minutes behind, but once there realized that our flight to Frankfurt was going to be 15 minutes early and it was on the other side of a rather large airport (and we only had 1 hour to make the connection under the original specifications).
We figured we were fairly good for heading over, but decided to walk at a brisk pace anyway, just to make sure. As we were nearing the gate we heard "Last call for boarding for flight NW250 to Frankfurt". Needless to say our brisk pace turned into a full out run for the gate. Running on one of those moving sidewalk things is quite an experience. Kind of like you are flying...especially when it ends.
We ended up making it there just in the nick of time and we were one of the last few people on. We had some great seats up near the front of the plane, just two aisles from 1st class. The meals aboard the plane were nothing special, but were filling and edible so I really cannot complain. The rest of the flight was shorter than I expected, but uneventful and I managed a couple hours of sleep, with Amanda getting just a bit more.
Our next adventure came once we got to the airport. We eventually managed to figure out that we would need to take a shuttle from the one terminal to another one in order to get to the trains. Once there we were able to purchase a 2-day transit pass for Frankfurt so that we could get around. It took us a while, and with a little help from an information counter to figure out which train to take, but eventually we found it and headed for the main Frankfurt train station.
The train ride was brief, maybe 8-10 minutes, but the bags were heavy and we were tired. To our excitement we discovered that our hotel is about a 2 minute walk from the train station(I can see it out the one window of our room, it is one of those big rounded ones that have really high ceilings and pigeons, just like in the movies). Even at 10am we were able to get an early check-in at the hotel which was nice. Hotel room is nice, but nothing special. It is almost a corner room and has a nice view of some lady in the room across the street playing with the blinds as well as a brown/tan cat staring out the window.
Once checked in we dumped our stuff back in the room and headed back to the train station to get "breakfast". We both had croissants and orange juice/soda stuff(Fanta) which we took back to our hotel room and ate while sitting on the floor(which is where I read your comment mom, not a cafe, but close).
Now Amanda is taking a nap and I am blogging. We might go the zoo later on today, but we shall see where things go. We were thinking of going to Stuttgart or Lunen at some point, but it will not be on this part of the trip as the train tickets would run us in excess of $300Cdn for a round trip, which is out of our range. If we really get the bug in our pants to go the cheapest option seems to be to rent a car for a day at $120, which is still a bit of money.
So far that is all. We have had an eventful trip to say the least, but it has been enjoyable. We are very much looking forward to what lies around the next corner.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What a Day, What a Day...

Well yesterday was supposed to be our first day off to Frankfurt, Germany from Buffalo, New York. We arrived in Buffalo 4 hours before our flight was supposed to leave and our trip through customs was straightforward and uneventful. After we got through customs we ate a quick lunch at one of the little cafeteria areas and then decided to play a couple of games together on the computer while we waited for our flight to Detriot (we had just this one lay-over).
We eventually noticed that it had started to snow a bit outide, but eventually it really started to snow. Amanda went to check the board where it lists the flights and it looked like ours had been delayed by an hour, which was really bad as we only had 1 hour to make the connecting flight in Detriot.
After lots of waiting and waiting and with the blizzard going strong outside (we had parked ourselves in front of the window to watch the antics of the airport grounds-crew as they struggled in the snow) we found out our flight had been cancelled :(. We had already known that we would not make it to Frankfurt, but were at least hoping to make it to Detroit.
We were then further saddened to hear that all the flights to Detroit were full for the next several days. As we waited in line we discussed our options and thought we would ask for ANY way of getting to either Frankfurt or London. Once we got to the front of the line (by now 5:30pm) we were told that we had been automatically booked on the next flight the next day, which would be exactly the same as that day's flight.
So, we decided that rather than return home in the bad weather we would take a hotel for the night. We eventually found one that had a reasonable emergency rate (I didn't know they had these) and we asked for the shuttle to come pick us up. While other shuttles came and went(several times) we waited for ours. It took them an hour. Needless to say we were not impressed, however, in retrospect, it was worth it.
The hotel we are staying at (it is now morning the next day and we have some time to kill before going back to the airport) is very nice with comfortable beds and a really great full breakfast, with waffles, eggs, french toast, bacon and much, much more. We would likely stay here again if we were ever in this position again, just hopefully with a more adept shuttle driver. (we are only 5 minutes away).
So today resumes the battle. Once again we have to go through security, wait for hours at the airport and hope our flight and connections all run smoothly. We are hopeful, and are very much looking forward to our trip, which is still going to be lots of fun, just a day shorter...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Quiet Week

Well this week has been really quiet around the farm. Amanda and I are heading to Europe on Monday so we have been busy getting ready for the trip as well as attending a number of family functions. Everything is running fairly smooth on the farm and I got a fresh load of hay today which will last us well until after we return from overseas.
Other than that things will be fairly quiet now until the beginning of February when more will start to happen with sheep containment, vegetables as well as the poultry. You can look for a few blogs while we are in Europe, and hopefully we will learn lots and enjoy ourselves while we are there.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Whirlwind Weekend


Well it has been a few days since either Amanda or I have last posted. While there has been plenty to post about it has been a bit of a struggle to find time to actually make the posts, but I have finally found a spare moment.

We did in fact butcher Albert on Thursday. Butchering an animal is an experience, at least for me, that forces you to think about life a little bit. I will not go into details on here, but needless to say he made a delicious meal and was not as tough as I thought he would be. Below is a picture of what he looked like coming out of the oven.

We cooked him really slow and with plenty of liquid and spices and he turned out great. Amanda and I are excited to see what a younger bird will taste like come next fall, but it will be a bit of wait until then.

Saturday ended up being a very successful day for me out on the farm. Amanda kept busy getting things ready for the Christmas play at church and then cleaning up around the house for our annual Christmas party on Sunday.

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts the sheep have been making short work of the west facing wall on their sheep pen. So first thing on Saturday I went out with the Kubota bucket tractor, propped up the corner and restacked the bales. I had to get Amanda to come and help me because we needed to make the sheep stay in their house while I drove the tractor into the pen. Everything worked out alright and, while maybe looking slightly less elegant then when it was built, the wall is now up again.

I also managed to pick up some re-bar which I pounded through the bales at the edge of the wall and down into the ground. This, plus the chicken wire Iwill add should keep it stable against the sheep. The water bucket was also remounted off the ground to make it easier to pick out the pen for filling. Before the only way to get to it was to lean over the fence and dangle your feet, or lift it with this hoe thing(Randy keeps telling me the name, but I forget), but now you can reach it just fine.

I also managed to raise the fence height on the duck pen as some of the ladies have been escaping. While they don't run away, it would be nice if they would stick around. Unfortunately on Sunday another one was out, so apparently my solution did not completely work, but I will be adding some chicken wire so that 'might' keep them in.

Also spread some 'fresh' straw around the duck pen to clean it up a bit as it gets kind of messy in there. When I say fresh I mean it was part of the wall the sheep knocked over, but it was a whole lot cleaner then what was in the duck pen.

Did a few other things around the farm on Saturday, but never managed to get any work done on the main outer fence for the sheep. The biggest concern will be when the coyotes are around.

Well that is enough bloggin' for now. Take care and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The First Pig Built His Out Of Straw

We all know the story of the three pigs and the houses built out of straw, wood and brick and the big bad wolf that blows them down. Well, while the story may have been a devious plot by the brick industry to boost sales, there may actually be some truth in it.

With all the running around the sheep do and with Rogue chasing the ewes in and out of the straw house it looks like things are taking a heavy beating. It is actually worse than the picture makes it out to be and the front wall continues to crumble further everyday. Once one bale comes out the rest are never far behind. To compound the problem the sheep also start tearing at the bales once they are out and the twine comes off making everything fall apart.
Looks like I will be spending some time this Saturday lifting up the roof and rebuilding the wall. Oh well, part of farming. I will likely drive re-bar in the outside bales this time and wrap the leading edge with chicken wire so that this issue will not repeat itself again.
Looks like today is Albert's day. Tonight Randy and I will be butchering him and once slow roasted he should taste just fine. This is just the chance Master Quackers will need to exert his authority, and hopefully all the ducks will be able to share quarters again.

Till then...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mischievous Duck

So this morning after I drove Ryan into work, I came home to find one of the female ducks hanging outside the pen. It appears to me that perhaps the mode of escape is flight. She seemed able to get of the ground while i chased her around to get her back in the pen. I have to say I haven't been back out to check if she is out again. Kes was no help and just watched as I chased the duck around.
Today was also the first day that the ducks did not go nutso over their food. Maybe they are just having an off day.
I have not been out to see the sheep yet but perhaps this afternoon (I'm in the middle of making some fudge).
I did forget to mention yesterday that apparently Kes loves duck food. She just consumed it like she had never been fed before. This is extra surprising because she doesn't really seem to care for dog food. She is a fickle old girl but we love her!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are You Starving?

The question are you starving is one that I posed to the sheep this afternoon when Kes and I went out for a look at them. Their troff was empty and they were once again eating the side of their house. Anyway in decision with Ryan we decided to give them an extra quarter bail of straw to hopefully curb there veracious appetites. They had also completely emptied their water bucket, so I had to fill that up too. I hoped in the pen for a little visit while i contemplated the eating habits of the sheep and Rosie friendly as usual, walked right up to me. Although to be fair to her it seemed that she was more interested in my cell phone than me. She soon realized that it was not a food item.
Once the troff was half full again the sheep went at it like crazy. Bess was rather pushy about the whole situation and climbed over Muncher and Martha to get the troff. If she had just moved down a couple of feet there would have been no need for pushing. Apparently sheep aren't quite that smart though, Or maybe she just enjoys dive bombing the other sheep.

The ducks are doing fine it seems. They are always hungry in the morning when i got out there and are starting to get a little gutsy. When you are inside the duck pen the door stays open because it does not have a latch on the inside. Well now after having them for a few weeks I think they have figured this out and start to edge towards the door. I think the ducks think that freedom is so close they can almost taste it.
Speaking of duck freedom we were away for the weekend and Randy was watching/feeding the ducks and sheep. Well he came around and found one of the ducks wandering around the yard just having a good old time. It is not apparent how this duck (we don't know which one it was) escaped but this may have not been the first time as apparently there was another duck sighting at an earlier date. Hopefully the truth will become apparent soon.

Another exciting thing happened today. Our second seed catalogue came today in the mail. I'm pretty excited about flipping through the pages and seeing what kind of exciting produce could be coming out of garden in just a little while.

Its also snowing today which is lovely

Friday, December 11, 2009

Master Quackers and the Fight for Candy Mountian

Well it seems the ducks have divided themselves into two camps. First there is the older male, Albert and his two females that hang out with him. Then there is Master Quackers and the remaining four hens. Well it seems that Albert has taken over the duck shelter and will only let his two hens in with him. This means that the other ducks must sleep outside in the cold, which I cannot imagine is a whole lot of fun (at least the sheep share their shelter).
Personally I am rooting for Master Quackers, but this just solidifies my resolve that Albert needs to make a quick trip to a crock pot or something. He is much older than M.Q. and likely will not be as successful at breeding with the hens the younger male. His stubborn bossy behaviour is also threatening the health of the flock so the nail is in the coffin so to speak (although in this case that expression is much closer to reality then its regular use!).

Everything else on the farm is rather quiet. It is very cold outside this morning (-8 C) and it is getting hard to find time to get maintenance chores done outside because of the light levels and the busy Christmas schedule. We have a couple more Saturdays that we might be able to get a tiny bit of work done on, but with the wildness of Christmas, we shall see how much work actually transpires.
I am hoping this cold snap warms up slightly as I was hoping to be able to run one plow pass over the back field before winter. It is a game between waiting for it to dry out, but not freeze up so we shall see what happens.
Until then...Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Third Times a Charm!

Well I have evidence that our third ewe has been bred! Wendy had the honour today so we only have two to go (although it may have happened for them before i got out the marker).
Other than that it was a quiet day around the farm. I gave the sheep a couple more pumpkins this morning as well as the hay, but Rogue left the hay to eat the seeds and pulp out of every pumpkin before any of the ewes could get there...little bugger :p

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Too Much Fresh Air!

Well, it has been a while since I blogged but I thought I should give it a go. I had a really great day today as I got to be outside all day long. I did my usual, bark at and chase the sheep around their pen. This is a ton of fun when you are on the outside of the pen (although Ryan and Amanda prefer if I do not chase them), but when you get thrown in the pen it is a whole new ball game! I also ran around the field and dug holes looking for mice.
Ryan and Amanda had their car parked in the field with all the fencing supplies in it and they have figured out that when I have had enough for the day I jump in the back of the car and will not come out for anything (I have them so well trained). They thought it was funny so they took a picture:

The car was a bit messy, but I found some room and I guess the mess is what happens when you are busy building a fence.
Later on today Amanda's dad stopped by and brought me a present! I love Ryan and Amanda, but this is probably the best present anyone has ever given me. It was some smoked pork bones he had been given. There was not a whole lot of meat on them, but they sure do taste great. Amanda gave me one a little while ago and I worked on it for about an hour or so.

Okay, I will admit, it is not the best picture of me, but it is just a bad angle. I was not angry in this picture, but just yawning and it didn't come out right. I did get angry when Ryan and Amanda tried to pet me while I have the bone(I have some possessive issues), but I usually just growl or run away. To prove it here is a picture of me moments later:

Well that is all for today. Amanda was actually in part of one photo, but it didn't make it onto Ryan's blog so I will post it here because she is my friend :)


*Disclaimer*...Amanda is the photographer in the family which is why she usually ends up in less photos then Ryan and Kes, but we love her just the same.

A Long Day...

Well we had a good day. I started my day today at 4:30am working on some stainless steel for a local winery. They needed the project done today and I needed to get some work done at home so the obvious time slot was early morning before light. I managed breakfast at 6:00 with my good friend Randy Gillespie and eventually made it home and was able to start working on the fence with Amanda by 8:00. I should note that those two hours did not consist entirely of breakfast, but it was delicious none the less.

That by the way is a good face to make while hammering in fencing staples. Normally one would not swing the hammer that hard to hit a staple or you might miss...as in this picture:

Anyway...
We actually got a fair bit of work done on the fence today, although not nearly as much as I had hoped. The existing fence is in really rough shape, but we have elected not to fully replace it as we are not sure how long we will stay here and do not want to invest in a fully new fence...so patchwork will suffice for now.
What we have done for the fence is to take 12.5ga wire and weave it through the existing fencing to pull the top of the wire fencing taught so that it does not wobble. The rest of the fence is quite grown in to the ground so we have a rigid top and a rigid bottom and if the rest of the fence is wobbly, well, it will have to do.

Above that we run one more 12.5ga wire which we insulate from the posts and from the other wires. This wire will be the "hot" wire for the electric fence which should prevent coyotes from climbing over...or at least we hope. We still have a fair bit left to do on the fence, but we made some real progress today. It is amazing how long things always seem to take when you had hoped to get it all done in one day...I guess that is life.
We unfortunately do not have any pictures of Amanda, but needless to say, she worked really hard. Hopefully tomorrow we can get some more pictures of the fence and describe it a bit more, but that will have to do for now.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cozy On A Cold Day

So the cold weather is coming and as evidence of that this morning when I looked out the window there was some snow coming down. As you may be aware animals are not as particular about the weather and are probably better equipped to deal with it. The sheep for example are not fazed in the least, when i was just a few moments ago they were just lying in the pen enjoying the bit of sunshine that is available. There was one exception to this which was Rouge who was standing nicely inside of the sheep pen. I would have to say that he would not be considered a manly man.
Rosie has maintained her very friendly personality despite the fact that we gave her a run around last week when i caught her. I fed her a pumpkin and pet her for a while (I feel that saying you pet a sheep sounds a little funny but its all part of the make Rosie super friendly plan).
The ducks also don't seem to mind the cold weather. They do huddle up a little bit more then the sheep but still sit out in the open. I wanted to get a good picture of them today so when i gave them there food i stayed in the pen. They were not very happy with this situation and they were the loudest that i had ever heard them be. Apparently i upset there morning feeding routine. video

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away.....

It has been rather wet the last couple of days which has meant we don't have a whole lot to do around the farm. Amanda has been busy with a few things here and there, but hopefully we will get to log some real hours this weekend finishing up things on the outer fence so we can have greater protection from the coyotes.
So far two of the ewes show evidence of Rogue's work, but we are waiting for the rest. I believe that sheep have a 19 day cycle so it might take a little bit before another one shows, but a few of them might have been bred before I got the marker out.
Other than that things are quiet until the weekend. Still looking for an acre of land, but I think I have a good lead on that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Down With Ducks

It was a moderately uneventful day yesterday and I'm sure today will be about the same but there is still always something going on. This morning i went out to feed the ducks who always act like they are starving. I have started giving them two bowls of food because they always seem so crowded around one. However they apparently don't care about crowding and still all inhale food from one bowl and then move onto the next one. I am learning that they also enjoy lots of kitchen scraps. Over the past number of days they have gobbled down apple peelings, broccoli stems, and tomatoes. They seem to enjoy them all but i think the apple peelings have been the favorite to date.
Kes and I worked outdoors a little bit yesterday despite the cold weather and painted the railing that is by our front door. It still does not look really fantastic (the last person did kind of a bad job painting it and the old paint has big gobs stuck to it) but at least it is not rusty anymore.

I guess that's all for now. Happy first of December