Sunday 30 December 2012

Hello 2013!

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Boxing Day Critters

 Boxing Day Bunnies and Hens.  The rabbits prefer the colder weather, they don't do well in the heat.  The chickens, well they love a good warm patch of sunlight.  Sorry ladies, snow in the forecast tonight, I better plug in the water heater and throw a little more hay in the coop and extra rations in the feeder to help warm them up.

Saturday 22 December 2012

My Beautiful Boy

Cutter, who just gets better with age

Monday 17 December 2012

Holiday Wishes

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful, happy, safe Holiday Season.  It's a time to take a breath from our busy lives and relish time with those we care for.  I hope that includes a wonderful Schnauzer buddy.  Take care and see you in 2013!

Friday 14 December 2012

Texture-before and after

Photoshop textured image

Raw image off camers

Photos showing the image off the camera and after a quick addition of texture in Photoshop

A chicken portrait

The handsome Blanche.  Love the beak on the Plymouth hens, reminds me of polished wood.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Reviewing our first year with chickens

I have twelve gorgeous hens, they were born in April 2012, two days later I picked them up and moved them into our spare bedroom for the first few weeks.  Mick constructed our amazing hen house and run.  I had a wonderful time watching them this summer as they explored and scratched, ate up garden leftovers, devoured bugs, worms, grubs, snails, slugs...even a field mouse.  We waited in anticipation for the first eggs to appear, we waited and waited, and then September 7th it happened, our first egg.  Production started slowly, but the girls are hard workers and by the end of October we were getting anywhere from 6-10 eggs daily.

December eggs
Egg production is controlled by many different things, age of the hens, their health, moulting and one of the largest factors is the amount of daylight, you see, chickens are seasonal creatures, we are all seasonal beings in truth.  As the days get shorter nature tells them to slow down laying and take a break over the cold, dark months to direct their energy at keeping themselves warm until next Spring.  The constant stress of producing endless eggs will shorten the lifespan of a hen.  Those eggs you pick up at the grocery stores are from hens that are kept indoors with almost constant artificial light to force the girls into a state of continual laying...until...they...just...wear....themselves...out.  With intensively raised chickens this takes about 18 months when the hens are sent for slaughter and manufactured into all manner of things that don't really resemble a chicken at all.

My ladies have slowed down a bit in December, the daily number of eggs currently is 6-8 I expect that will slow down still more over the next month before picking back up in April.  I have heritage chickens, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Orpingtons and Columbian Wyandotte hens, they are multi-purpose birds developed by small farms for decent egg production and as a nice plump bird for the table.  It does mean my egg production is not as high as the egg laying crosses, but in return they are gorgeous, funny and healthy.
We share our eggs with friends and family, but mostly, we enjoy them, any extras are cracked on the dogs dinner, lucky hounds.  We have eaten our eggs poached, fried, scrambled, baked and made omelette's,  lovely sauces, quiche, Yorkshire pudding, dutch baby, pancakes and yesterday I tried my hand at a sweet custard.
This gorgeous creation is my own Maple Baked Custard, delicious, trust me, I will be making this again

The whole experience with chicken keeping has been incredible, I can't believe I have lived in the country for almost 20 years before adding chickens to our yard.  I find myself gazing over the websites of poultry breeders contemplating adding a couple more breeds in the Spring, or, perhaps a trio of geese?

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Textures and mood

continuing with adding texture day two

Monday 10 December 2012

Playing with Photoshop

I have been working on my Photoshop skills, this week it is adding texture to photos, more to come later this week.

Another Goodbye

Bailey - August 24th 1998 - December 8th 2012

Bailey's family said goodbye to their girl on Saturday, I know the decision was both difficult and kind.  What a blessing that we can make the passing easier for our companions, but, nothing really prepares us for dealing with the burden of that decision.  This is something I have dealt with far too often in my life with dogs, and one I know I will be dealing with over the next couple of years.

Bailey's blood is behind many of our Dinsdale Standard Schnauzers, she produced three wonderful litters giving us Rosie, Cutter & Hope and Fiddle, these four dogs have gone onto produce many beautiful and influential Schnauzers.  Her progeny have been American and Canadian Champions, Specialty winners and Best in Show Champions.  Too many titles in obedience, agility to keep track of along with therapy dogs and titles of Canine Good Citizens & Neighbour.

Thank you Bailey for being a wonderful representative of the Standard Schnauzer Breed, but mostly for all the great pups that have followed you in becoming the best family pet possible.  Well done Bailey, well done girl.

More photos of Bailey have been posted on our Face Book page

Tuesday 4 December 2012

A wolf in sheeps clothing??

I find the chickens immensely relaxing and funny to watch.  I can sit for ages enjoying their antics, it's like my own Comedy Show.  While I find it relaxing, I think it has the opposite affect on the dogs.  Hope quivers with excitement, Fiddle works hard to ignore them, Cyrus loves to leap in front of the run fence to see if they will flutter off, Hexe is obsessed with going to see them, funny enough they seem to spook her a little, she quickly trots back looking over her shoulder to see if they are following her.  Mersey is still certain they are intruders that she must bristle her hackles at and give a low gruff woof if they show too much interest in her. 

I love to watch videos of farm dogs mingling with the livestock, seemingly at peace with them, obviously I have never seen such a farm video with a Standard Schnauzer playing this role.  Wait, Fiddle would be happy to 'play' the part, however I am no fool, I know the moment I am distracted there would be once less chicken in the coop. 

Wednesday 28 November 2012


November 28th and we have not yet had to turn on the furnace, excellent!  Our little wood stove easily deals with the mild November we have had.  Last year we made it through the winter with one tank of oil, granted it was a mild winter, but, I am hopeful of a repeat. 
This is the morning ritual of praying to the wood stove god, a being of immense power and pleasure to Daisy.  Daisy sets up her vigil in the same spot each morning, silently staring in an almost hypnotic trance at the great black bringer of warmth.

Monday 26 November 2012

Frosty frosty morning

Yesterday was our first snowfall, didn't do anymore then a light sprinkling on the grass, gone within minutes.  We have had lots of cold mornings this month, this was our first really frosty one that actually stuck to schnauzer beards.

Sunday 25 November 2012

November rose hip

Gorgeous autumnal coloured rose hip peeking out beside the gate, so lovely, even the branches and thorns are beautiful on this climbing rose.

Saturday 24 November 2012

A determined chicken

It's pretty much impossible to change the mind of a determined chicken

Wednesday 21 November 2012


An old photo of Hugo, one of our first Standard Schnauzers.  I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this guy, he could be such a jerk at times, I say that with love...I think.  Hugo came to live with us just before he turned two years old, he was litter brother to my first dog, Kodie.   Unlike his sister who loved me from the moment I took her home we had to work hard to form an attachment with Hugo.   I don't think it was us, just a result of his first formative months, maybe being raised in the shadow of his sire who was a formidable dog.  He taught me a lot about this breed.  In the end he bonded much more strongly to Mick then myself, but that was OK.
I bred Jewels to Hugo when he was 12 years old, he gave me a wonderful gift, his daughter, Gussy.

Friday 16 November 2012

He's a cool dude

Yep, that's our guy Cy, a casual sort of guy.  Of course as I type this he is doing major zoomies around the room. The boys got style.

Thursday 15 November 2012


I haven't picked up a pencil for years, the chickens have inspired me to put pencil to paper and attempt to reclaim what small skill I still have, Blanch is my first pencil sketch in progress.  The chickens are very graphic and a nice introduction back to drawing.

Sunday 11 November 2012

First offerings

Almost every morning when I let the chickens out of the coop and I check the nest box there is one beautiful morning egg left for me.  It is warm and heats up my cold hands.  The remaining hens lay a little latter in the morning, usually by 11:30am there are another 5-7 eggs nestled in little hollows formed in the shavings.  Our twelve ladies are providing us with close to a dozen eggs daily, my favorite is always that first beautiful warm offering.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Sunbathing schnauzer

Daisy is a lover of heat be it the southern sun, or, the woodstove

Morning patrol of the yard

Gorgeous bright, crisp Fall morning

Monday 5 November 2012

My little guardian

I try to take puppy Cyrus everywhere with me, it's so important to socialize Standard Schnauzer pups.  Sometimes, if I am preoccupied working out in the garden it's best I not take Cyrus along if I can't keep an eye on him...Cyrus doesn't really approve of this.
"Seriously, Lori, think of all the things that could happen to you if I am not there to oversee you?"

Friday 2 November 2012

Wet dogs

Really suck!  After almost a straight week of rain I am an authority on wet dogs.  I take back everything I said about the lousy drought this summer, at least the dogs were dry!!!!!!!!
Today is the first morning in what seems like forever that it isn't raining outside, thank you weather gods, my dogs thank you, most definitely my chickens thank you!

Cyrus says thank you too, although he doesn't mind going out in the rain, his owner does.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween

Monday 29 October 2012

Walking at the beach

I try to get Cyrus into town to walk a couple days a week, he adores meeting people and new dogs.  Today was windy and dark as we wait to see how much of the coming storm touches us in Southern Ontario.

Morning pleasure

Perhaps not a pleasure, more a necessity, haven't been sleeping well the last few weeks...probably months, seems to go in cycles.  This is both an enjoyed and much needed morning ritual.

Friday 26 October 2012

Slow Mornings

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Working girls

Plymouth Rock Barred Hen

The ladies gathering to see what I am up too

Columbian Wyandotte Hen
The hens, I don't have to say chickens anymore as we know now that they are all ladies (hooray the fellow I obtained the newly hatched chicks from was 100% correcting in choosing me hens) are mostly all laying now.  I average about 5-6 eggs daily, with Fall upon us the laying will naturally slow down, before we really got started.  But, such is the seasonality of laying hens, they are not machines, their hormones are governed by the seasons and the changing quality and length of light.  I hope they continue to lay occasionally throughout the winter and I know things will really gear up next Spring and Summer.
Buff Orpington Hen in the Nesting box

The mornings eggs
I was able to photograph one of the Buff Orpingtons busy laying an egg in one of the communal nesting boxes.  She looks so pleased with herself, I am sure she feels that the entire clutch has been produced by herself.

Plymouth Rock, not too pleased with me removing eggs

Have you ever seen a chicken blink?  No you say...well neither had I until I noticed a film over the eyes of the hens in some of my photographs earlier this year.  Check out the photo below of the same hen pictured above.
Some people call this the 'third' eyelid, technically it is called a nictitating membrane it is used to clear the eye of debris, or to add moisture (Blink is my technical term) while allowing the chicken to not lose it's vision.  Important stuff if you are a prey animal and everyone is trying to catch and eat you.

Monday 22 October 2012

October Leaves

 October leaves on branches, the wood pile, even on the Kale

Saturday 20 October 2012

The Looking Glass

Love catching moments of the dogs when they don't notice I am looking, like Cyrus on the porch step, he loves things that fly, birds, bugs, butterflies, anything will do.  Doesn't need to chase them, but loves to study them.

Eventually he always catches me looking

Friday 19 October 2012

Thief captured

We have some old fashioned roses around the property that grow wild like weeds.  In the Fall they produce loads of rose hips which I was thinking I would collect to make a jelly with.  Times are busy and I keep forgetting to do this, I started to notice that that 'birds' were eating the rose hips as the numbers were dwindling.  Not birds after all, look who I spotted out the window this afternoon helping himself to some vitamin C. 
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