Women of the Woods and Wilds

On this, International Women’s Day, I thought I would briefly feature strong women who have helped influence my love of nature, farming, the environment, the outdoors, and the challenges I have made goals in my lifetime.  Any quotes not otherwise credited are from Wikipedia.

As an English Lit. major, I have studied many of the works of two sisters who are (still) widely-read for struggling to eke out an existence as early pioneer women in Canada. “Catharine Parr Traill described her new life in letters and journals, and collected these into The Backwoods of Canada (1836). She described everyday life in her community, the relationship between Canadians, and the natives,  the climate, and local flora and fauna. More observations were included in a novel, Canadian Crusoe (1851). She also collected information concerning the skills necessary for a new settler, published in The Female Emigrant’s Guide (1854), later retitled The Canadian Settler’s Guide.”


In 1852, her sister Susanna Moodie, living a few hours away, published one of my favourites – “Roughing it in The Bush”, which “detailed her experiences on the farm in the 1830s. In 1853, she published , “Life in the Clearings”, about her time in the (then-village) of Belleville.  The inspiration for the memoir “…Bush” came from a suggestion by her editor that she write an “emigrant’s guide” for British people looking to move to Canada. Moodie wrote of the trials and tribulations she found as a “New Canadian”, rather than the advantages to be had in the colony. She claimed that her intention was not to discourage immigrants but to prepare people like herself and her sister, raised in relative wealth and with no prior experience as farmers, for what life in Canada would be like.  Moodie taught her daughter how to paint flowers and Agnes later illustrated  the much-used Canadian Wild Flowers, published in 1868. ”    Because of my degree,  I had to do several courses just in Canadian Literature and found it interesting that Moodie’s books and poetry inspired our famous Margaret Atwood to write her collection of poetry, The Journals of Susannah Moodie, published in 1970.   Moodie was also the inspiration for one of Atwood’s later novels, Alias Grace” and it was at this time that I was getting my B.Ed. in Kingston, and was thus able to meet Atwood as she gave talks there about the Kingston ‘Pen’, where murder convict Grace Marks was held.  Grace was mentioned numerous times in Life in the Clearings, and thus, as a direct result of Susanna Moodie’s writings, there have now been both a television film, a t.v. series (produced by Sarah Polley of Road to Avonlea fame) and a stage play. Sadly, as we have no television, I was unable to watch Alias Grace, but no doubt we shall look it up online at some point.  Interestingly, Moodie was also  a source of inspiration for Carol Shields, who published a critical analysis of her work, Susanna Moodie, Voice and Vision.”  Shields also mentions Moodie in her novel, Small Ceremonies.  So those two sisters were certainly inspiring to many more than just myself!

(I’d like to give a shout-out here to my cousin Linda Baxter, for recommending I read Gladys Taber’s farming chronicles as well – I’ve one of her books waiting for me at the library right now! More on her in another blog…)

Having lived and taught in and around Haworth, West Yorkshire for several years, I have walked the same pathways as the Brontes, heading out from my stone cottage to traipse miles of haunting moors, so well depicted in this other set of sisters’ works.  Especially Emily and Charlotte have always been very inspirational in my love of the wilds, as well as one of the reasons I’m such an Anglophile at heart.  I could write volumes about my experiences of and around the Brontes, and their Haworth village, but I’m sure most of you have read Wuthering Heights, and/or Jane Eyre, both novels which are highly descriptive in capturing their  beloved, untamed ‘wilderness’.



While most people are familiar with the only other portrait of the Brontes (painted by their ne-er-do-well brother Branwell, and which originally included him standing behind them , then angrily painted out in a telling psychological statement) the above is a newly-discovered portrait of them, found just a few years ago and not shown until last year, after much research had been done to authenticate it. It is believed to be by E. Landseer, a frequent visitor to Yorkshire at the time the three sisters were still alive.   

Haworth main2 (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC).jpg

above, Richard and me when I lived there last, in 2009, outside Haworth’s Black Bull (Branwell’s favourite pub) and just across the street from the Bronte parsonage where the family lived most of their lives.  A quick two minute walk and you’re out on the wild and windswept moors that inspired so much classic writing.

Three women who are inspirational horsewomen were very significant in my outdoor and competitive career. Marie Hearn was a ‘take-no-prisoners’ toughie who let me work for her in her small stables through my late teen years, and it was she who put me on to the (new at that time) National Coaching Certification Program, which for equestrians could take years to fulfill the requirements.  Luckily for me, I was able to take a ‘crash’ course (and for me, that was literal in several instances) and do it all in an intensive 3-month live-in course.  Victoria Andrew, who was responsible for seeing the manuals written for the national course at that time, and who is now considered one of the few top National Master Learning Facilitator/Evaluators of the country was my primary coach.  No one could have whipped me (NOT literally, but she did have me in tears once insisting I CARRY a whip) into being less of a suck, and more someone who could stand the pressures offered by The Great Outdoors and the world of dedicated horsepeople everywhere.  Vicki is truly an inspirational woman to so many in all aspects of education and higher learning, not just in the equestrian field.  Her constant challenges made me a better person as well as coach, and she instilled in me more bravery than I could have imagined I would ever possess.


above (Vicki, to left) coaching me at my first jumper show on Pal O’Mine, in the Ottawa Valley, 1986. She had raised the rail to 3 ft. 3″, higher than we’d jumped previously, because we were about to go into the ring for the jump-off (final round) of the 3 ft. class, and she wanted us to be ‘sharp’.  We were 4th in that class, and a few weeks later I went on to become nationally certified to coach others, which would only ever have happened by being under her stern yet motivating and encouraging tutelage!  Truly a strong woman to remember on this, International Women’s Day!

The third horsewoman I mentioned above is one whom I have written of many times before here in this blog and on social media. This is Kim Walnes. Many of you will know that she and her amazing life are so inspiring that I have gathered a group of filmmakers together to produce a documentary about her, and run the first stage of a group fund-raising to ‘kickstart’ the process.  To read more about Kim and the film project, have a look at the following article, where I am quoted a number of times (in fact, every paragraph in quotes is my own writing, though I don’t get credit for a byline, of course!)


Lastly, while many of you may not think of my mother as a rough-and-tumble outdoorswoman, it may surprise you to learn that she has taken a log-house building course, helped fell and strip many logs to build a cabin (until my father died, aged 47, and those plans were sadly put aside), hiked up into the Alps, lived and worked on a building site in the ‘wilds’ of Sierra Leone, Africa and was the person responsible for my very first love of nature, by both reading (A.A. Milne’s stories of The Hundred Acre Woods and Thorton Burgess’ “Adventures of”… series) AND by introducing us to “Country Walks”.  This was always capitalized when spoken, because they were a big deal.  She would drive myself and my sister (and sometimes Brenda and Lesa Floyd if they were visiting us for that weekend) to a “Back Road” (also, always capitalized as such).  We would hike and explore for hours, and always found new places and sights to talk about for days.  It was also Mom who encouraged me to go into nine months of Katimavik immediately following high school, as it was another experience that would make me strong and show me how much I loved the wilderness (and being a hermit!).  Because of Katimavik I was able to live for three months along the Cabot Trail, on cliffs right above the ocean, see the Northern Lights at their strongest in my three months in the dark winter of Dawson City, Yukon (where I also got to eat caribou and moosemeat, dog-sled and help the museum catalogue in the Robert Service cabin there!) and help a farming family on the prairies of Manitoba!

Now, while Joy and I both STRONGLY despise guns, and I have had a running campaign on FB for years about better gun laws in the States, I do find the following photo amusing, as it is of  “Wild” (albeit horn-rimed-glasses-wearing) Mom in her days of dating my father. (She was trying to impress him by target-practicing with his “pea-shooter”.)  It was taken by Dad, with the house his parents built in the early 1950s  and in which we all lived together later in the 1970s and ’80s,  behind her).  Actually, Joy is standing only 30 or 40 yards from the site of the log house  on which she and my father had chosen to build, which at that time in the mid 1980s had become a lovely pine forest, as planted just after this photo was taken, by my grandfather.

joy, gun

So, here’s to all the strong WOMEN OF THE WOODS AND WILDS who have inspired me to live on two farms in Canada, in a log cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, and in a stone cottage on the windswept Yorkshire moors….  Happy International Womens Day! 

And to ‘celebrate’ the first of 3 Nor’easter winter blizzards we are having right now, here’s me ice-fishing during my ‘wild days’ of Katimavik – in Portage La Prairie, MB:

icefish (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)


Thrice the Ice, Not As Nice!

In the last few weeks there've been
Several storms of freezing rain
Then the temps do plummet
'Til we're at minus 20 once again.

Thus, the ice will crystalize
And, by moonlight, looks unique.
On distant hills it sparkles...
But by day, it's not for meek.


No, the meek shall perish, certainly!
As down they go to break their bones
(This is why St. Peter's church
Has a pianist with different tones-

For Sonja, the organist there most oft
Fell and broke her wrist
And now ole Julie's called to play
All the hymns on Pastor's list!) 


Which would be fine, except Julie
Doesn't know one Lutheran song
Nor any of the liturgies
Tho' all TRY to sing along...

For, though Pastor favors Jesus Loves Me
He won't let her play just THAT
So she has to practice endlessly
With hymns that go too sharp, too flat

Although in Offering, and Communion too
There is room to play some Bach...
(And Rich has got some pop music
So Julie's Easter songs will ROCK!)


This piano fiasco's not the first
Of all the problems caused by ice
We've had layer after layer freeze-
Not once or twice but THRICE.

And thus, even where there's snow
(As deep as 3 feet here and there!)
We cannot ski, or take horse out-
Legs must be treated with more care!

No one wants bloodied ankles 
By falling through the ice
But likewise, even on the lanes-
Walking up and down ain't nice!


And every walkway, drive and road
Or parking lot in town
Is just as much an ice rink
And will quickly drop you DOWN.

You can't sand or salt or ash it
Or spread kitty litter 'round
You can't even CHIP it, though some try
As it's far too thick on ground!


The roads are just so slick
As we fishtail side to side
We often skid into the banks
Down Lucy's Gulch - a HORROR ride!

Cars in ditches EVERYWHERE
And this has been 3 weeks...
Never has a winter had 
So many sideways dekes!


Richard's fallen down four times
But Joy and Julie, with bad knees
And pins as well in Julie's back
Make sure they strap on THESE:


Useful but by no means sure
To get one A to B
Without a nasty fall or two
Housebound it's best to be

It's nasty for the critters too
And Smitty's had so many falls
(While we haven't grabbed HIS photo
This dog's got the same-type SPRAWLS:


Poor Chevy's got the worst of it
He's imprisoned through and through
He WANTS to work, or at least play
But a fall might break him true

A horse's legs are fragile
And he isn't shod with spikes
But Richard did snowblow a path
Where he could roll and buck and - YIKES!



They can of course go in or out
Into their wee paddock
But it isn't fun to stand around
For weeks on end. Joints LOCK!


So really now, we feel it's time
For spring to come and melt
This nasty ice and deepest snow
And sun warmth can be felt.

And Richard can drive Chevy 
To cut wood and tap the trees
And we can walk around the farm
With much more calm and ease

Instead of all this tension
Wond'ring where next should we step?
We WANT to move and exercise!
(Though we may not have Chev's pep!)


Bards: on Beards and Beams

First, today – it is imperative to explain something – especially to those who perhaps haven’t been used to reading others’ blogs (or even documents from other sites, etc).  It has come to my attention, though I’m apparently not allowed to mention names, that some more senior folk who read The Bluebellmountainblog from our Blue Belldon Farm HAVE NOT BEEN READIN’ IT RIGHT.  That’s correct.  Not readin’ it right at all.  Those who are regular followers receive an email from WordPress, the management system that hosts many of the bloggers’ chapters from around the world.  These do NOT come from me, folks, it’s an automatic send from WORDPRESS.  Now, I thought WordPress just sent a blue LINK to the latest blog posting.  But I now find out that they send a COMPRESSED email of the entire post, sometimes including photos, but often with lines/words missing, and the photos can’t be viewed properly (yes, that’s right – those of you who’ve complained that though I keep saying ‘click on any of the smaller photos to read the captions and blow them up’ ) and the words are very small and faint … well, guess what?  YOU  AREN’T  MEANT  TO BE  READING THE BLOG  FROM YOUR EMAILS!    No wonder you click on the photos and nothing happens,  no wonder  it sometimes appears to disappear off into the left margin, no wonder there’s often words missing,  yet when you tell me this and I check them, they are ALL IN ORDER.  Please click the BLUE TITLE of this blog in your email.  Surprise!  That takes you to a lovely place  – THE ACTUAL BLOG!   Untitled2

All right, enough tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. To be fair, WordPress SHOULD, when emailing their notifications TELL followers to click on any blue (such as the title I’ve given the blog posting, for instance, which is the first blue you likely see).  I guess they assume most people are aware that BLUE, whether it’s underlined or not, is usually a link to something else on the world wide web.  Oh, and when I think about the long days I take to write these, proof-reading and centering all the text and photos (as much as allowed by wordpress) captioning many of said photos,  picking background colours and making sure links within the article are ‘live’, ONLY TO FIND OUT SOME OF YOU POOR SOULS are suffering through gobbledegook that looks like this:


Right!  Onwards and upwards, and again – thanks to all who read, whether regular followers (who get the emails) or for those who follow from links in social media or elsewhere.  Today’s fun?  All about New Beards and Old Beams.

In the usual fashion of this blog, making Much Ado About Nothing, I shall quote the famous Bard, from his play of the same name:

“He that hath a beard 
is more than a youth, 
and he that hath no beard 
is less than a man."

You will know by now that Cammie, our goat (Richard named her for a Camaro, his first car) and Chevy (named for his beloved ’73 Nova, and because the horse is like his ‘new car’, which he’s meant to be spending MORE time on than said Nova…) are here to be help-mates in the work of living self-sufficiently.  Cammie was very young, and not particularly healthy when we got her last spring, but we have now found friends down the road who are living far more self-sufficiently than we’ve managed to be yet.  These folks just acquired a billy goat and after breeding their own herd of nannies (called ‘freshening’) so that they will have kids and then be subsequently milked, we are now part of their ‘rent-a-goat’ program and have been keeping  Bearded Billy to try to get Cammie pregnant as well.

Billy is not a particularly personable goat.  He doesn’t run around and ram things like I was afraid he might, with his wee backward horns (esp. afraid of fragile tendons on Chevy’s legs, and sciatic nerves in husband’s hips).  But neither is he interested in all and sundry like Cammie has always been.  In fact, he’s usually hiding out in Cammie’s insulated dog-house.  At night the two are in there together, and it’s toasty-warm.  But during the day, Cammie’s always out ‘sight-seeing’, and Billy stays indoors:

cammie and billy

He WILL, of course come out for FOOD!  They (incl. Chevy) are given hay 3 X a day, and beet-pulp once a day, sometimes on bitterly-cold days, mixed with a bran mash and some bits and bobs like apple or veg. slices and a sprinkling of molasses.  The past few days have once again been down in the minus 28C region, and thus Chevy, who likes to spend most of his time outside, has a fine ‘beard’ of ice on his whiskers.  This does NOT mean he’s cold – horses are MEANT to live out, and by far prefer it.  (Goats, as Billy has clearly shown, are NOT).

Thus, we have a livestock cocktail of one bearded male with ice and one bearded male ‘neat’.

that bit of fuzz in the top right?  That’s Chevy’s iced-up beard!

Having owned horses for more than 40 years, I feel that every winter I have to defend the fact that horses ENJOY being outside in even the coldest/stormiest/snowiest-or-rainiest days and nights.  The best and healthiest way to keep horses is to let them have a small fenced area (like our wee corral or paddock) with a run-in shelter IF they desire to be inside.  Obviously, once having a riding stable in the freezing Ottawa Valley with more than 20 horses on the property, many of them with fussy owners, I HAVE had fresh-bedded stalls each night and blanketed animals who only went outside a few hours at a time during the day.  But this is NOT what horses most enjoy, nor does it keep them as healthy as they should be – it leaves them more vulnerable to colds and other illnesses because their natural immune systems aren’t being allowed to work properly. And horses have OILS in their coats that are like the oilskins fishermen wear – precipitation is repelled. And if there are icicles on them, it just means their insulation is working – their double coats.  (A horse’s coat is like insulation in the roof of your home; if there isn’t any insulation all the heat escapes through the roof and you won’t see snow on the roof.  Same with le cheval.  If they are healthy, and have ample winter fur, you will see snow and ice on them meaning their body heat is not escaping. )

So here’s Chevy and his full beard:


When they DO go in or out, I have for the winter months at least, strung up 4 sleeping bags across the doorway, with weights in the bottoms to keep them from blowing too much in gales. That way they are slightly more protected inside, but can still come and go freely.  A doggie-door for livestock, if you like.  Cammie is generally the leader, in and out, when the 3 go out in sunshine to eat as they did for lunch today.  Chevy is usually the middle, and the bottom of the pecking order is poor Billy.  This is mostly due to the fact that he was ‘the last one’ on the property, so any animal thus  is typically relegated to the bottom in that case. But as Billy is the most shy, this is another reason he’s usually last:


Like all herds, the pecking order takes some time to be sorted each time they are fed as well.  Cammie and Chevy usually DIVE into the hay pile,  but Chevy isn’t particularly happy about Billy having the first bites (just in case we hid some treats in there and they were meant for CHEVY – which we never do, but hope springs eternal in the heart of a horse!) As always, click on each to enlarge and read:


By the way, to illustrate how much snow we have, there are FOUR rails, a foot apart each, on that corral fence. So the animals are standing on more than two feet of HIGHLY compressed snow, and yes, Chevy could step over it except a) we have two lines of electric wire going around it and b) he’s not an idiot, and he senses that the snow on the OTHER side isn’t compacted, and he’d fall through up to his belly!

Anyway, after the first few bites, Billy is always allowed into the ‘pack’ to begin eating:


And then everything settles down while they munch and enjoy:

To the point where Chevy, his belly full, often takes a break and dozes off in the sunshine:


Chevy didn’t like being awakened by me for this photo op!  Note the frost on his belly and flanks – see above re: insulation. Note also that whilst Cammie is unbothered by my proximity, Billy has become wary…

Not to be outdone in the iced-up beard department, Smitty is constantly chasing balls and bones thrown into snowbanks. He thinks it’s great fun to come up looking like this…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


and then he generally looks very put-upon, as if he’s freezing and deserves to be allowed back in IMMEDIATELY (even if he’s only been out for 5 minutes!)

Also, another male likes to get his beard icicled up when out snow-blowing, and then gives the same sad face as Smitty, begging to be allowed back in:


But Richard DID spend the last 3 days mostly inside, because he got a special job that now has nostalgic appeal added to it as well.  All my favourite old places have had ceiling beams, and one of the reasons we loved this place (via the online site that had all the photos when it was listed for sale) was that there were beams in the living room.  But my 3 cottages in the U.K., and my log cabin in Montana all had beams in the KITCHEN, and no self-respecting farm kitchen, especially with that part of the house being here since the 1880s, should be without!  When we moved here, of course (see prior before and after blogs for renos on the kitchen:

https://bluebellmountainblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/recent-reno-country-kitchen/  )

the kitchen was stuck in the 1970s.  But I knew that the header that was there between the main kitchen and the pantry area would eventually make a great ‘beam’.  I covered it only temporarily for the last 20 months, mostly trying to hide the ‘pink’ paint-job:



This ‘cover up’ of the 1970s header was meant to be a temporary stop-gap until such time as Richard could properly cut some barnboard for a real-looking OLD BEAM.  It’s taken until this week, however, to get it!

When my cousins left their farm in Ontario several years ago, they offered me some barnboard to do my Rustic Revivals art projects with.  I have used a number of these old much-weathered boards for just such a use, but when Richard suggested that we use the last few of the ones we brought out here with us, I knew right away that that was a more permanent idea, and as a tribute to Cousin Pete, who passed away just a few months ago.  I just wish his wife Linda had been able to see the completed beam when she visited this summer, but she’ll just have a great reason to return now!  Look at the character in the lovely old wood, and Richard designed it so that it truly does look like one big thick beam, unless you look very very carefully! And traditionally, of course, dried herbs, pots and pans, and beeswax candles must hang from its graceful arc!

Here’s the 1970s before, and as it appears today:

kitchen beam, before and after

Finally, from two more Bards:  Ellis Peters (the Cadfael collection) ” Hugh sat down with him under the dangling bunches of drying herbs, stirring fragrantly along the old beams in the draught from the open door…”

and from D.H. Lawrence in Sons and Lovers :  “Then he got his breakfast, made the tea… piled a big fire, and sat down to an hour of joy. …… He had hanging there great bunches of dried herbs: wormwood, rue, horehound, elder flowers, parsley-purt, dandelion…”


Shacking Up with Brother-in-Law

Regular Readers may remember the story of the “Lucy” of Lucy’s Gulch, the admirable mid-wife who climbed a mountain path straight up into New Denmark every time a woman needed help with her birthing.  Nonetheless, as explained previously, Lucy was considered the ‘2nd wife’ of her sister’s husband.  Each of the two sisters had their own house within 20 ft of each other, and the husband/brother-in-law travelled back and forth between the two, having had children by both women.  Pictures and story here:


I got that out in the first paragraph, right away, because I don’t want anyone thinking I am now being ‘kept’ by my own sister’s husband.  Boyd did, however, invite me to tea in some of the many ‘shacks’ he’s built himself out of reclaimed materials, and as he is as adamantly eco-friendly as we are trying to be here (though Newfoundland is MUCH more ahead of the game in the recycling/reusing/ and making less of a carbon footprint than New Brunswick!) I thought it important to feature Boyd and his work/thoughts/ideas in this particular posting.

Mom/Joy and I spent the last week in St. John’s, Newfoundland. For those of you not familiar with our Maritime provinces, my sister has lived out there ‘on the Rock’, for about 25 years, while Richard’s BROTHER and mother live three hours away in Saint John (no ‘s’ on the end is the only difference when pronouncing).  They’ve been there for about 20 years, and are one of the reasons we moved to THIS province.  We went to St. John’s for a superlative concert put on by the Atlantic Boychoir, in which my nephew sings, and they were joined by the Grammy-and-Emmy-award-winning King’s Singers, from Cambridge, England.  On top of which my eleven-year-old nephew Sydney also played a ‘cello solo during this concert in the 2500-capacity, 160-year-old cathedral. So it was well worth burning up the air-miles and two days of travel time (even though they are so close geographically, it takes LONGER to get there from here, than from Toronto!) to hear the boy bring the house down at the end of his astonishingly professional instrumental debut with his choir. The calls of “Brava! Brava!” weren’t ALL from his relatives scattered higgledy-piggledy throughout the massive cathedral!

This entire blog, however, is primarily supposed to be about trying to live self-sufficiently off the land, and about other rural goings-on in a community still clinging to the traditions of old. So I’m not about to expound further upon the particular virtues of that most-amazing event, but will simply get on with how I ‘shacked up with my brother-in-law’.

First of all, my brother-in-law Harold Boyd, is not what you’d expect from an accountant of many years, nor a staunch supporter of environmental issues.  He IS possibly, what some might expect of a native Newfoundlander, with the exception that he and my sister were the first to own an electric car (Toyota Prius) on the island.  Here he is about to drive it silently into the night:


Boyd has previously been mentioned in this blog when he and Richard spent some time this summer here at Blue Belldon, fending off bees as they moved the compost containers closer to the garden.  Having a family farm on the other side of the island (8 hours drive) but being happily ensconced in suburbanville in St. John’s has not deterred dear brother-in-law from setting up his back-yard like a scene from BBC’s The Good Life (also previously mentioned – and worth watching for anyone dreaming of that ‘off-the-grid’ life, but having no land to speak of) :

First of all, Boyd and Jennifer have taken down the stereotypical suburban fencing that one finds surrounding most homes in ‘The Burbs’, and encourage all the neighbourhood children and pets to make a walking path, much like one would find in England and Europe.  Behind their house is a ‘green space’, which then leads to various community buildings (school, hall, churches, etc).  Boyd is adamant that Sydney walk to school most days even through deep snow, and tries by example to instigate others to do the same, thus taking a little journey through their farm-like back-yard and into the green space, which certainly cuts off at least 10 minutes of what it would be to walk via the roadways, not to mention opening up an entire ‘nature walk’ along the way.

For Boyd feeds the birds:

Above, Boyd putting out two different suet blocks in his yard, one being ‘high energy’ to attract the bigger birds.  He climbs a ladder to put one of these up, to detract cats (esp. his own naughty-clawed Dewey) from climbing.  And here he is filling all his bird-feeders with seed – he even puts perches out for the little beasts – ‘so they can queue up and wait their turn’!

Boyd has built all the sheds, greenhouses, and raised gardens thus far in their yard, and has plans to continue expanding the garden portion (as well as tending garden in the summer months out on the ‘west coast’ of the island near Cartyville, where his mother still resides).

Above, Boyd even has a burn pile, like we do here on the farm, although admittedly he can’t burn in the city limits.  See also, the fence he’s removed so that the green space behind it is open to everyone from the front.


Next, we go into Boyd’s favourite ‘shack’.  This is his self-made observatory (for the birds as well as the nature-enjoying neighbours).  Of course, ALL Boyd’s shacks are made from recycled/reclaimed materials.  The windows that make up most of this one were partly garnered from being found at the end of someone’s drive, and partly by patio doors for which his brother no longer had a use:


In this ‘observatory’, Boyd can enjoy the peace of his own mini-farm, watch the birds he is feeding and enjoy a cup of tea with the Kelly Kettle my sister bought for him, which he’s set up on an unused stainless steel garbage can. It doesn’t heat the room, but it DOES keep one busy and warms the hands whilst doing so.  And of course, Boyd does have plans for a larger stove in this shack’s future.

Boyd also enjoyed putting out these large “Christmas lights” so that he could stand in the house and enjoy looking at them all season, knowing they are being run  by the solar panel he has on top of his sheds.  (When solar panels are no longer quite so expensive, he and Jennifer hope to run their Prius completely from the sun’s rays – we should ALL be looking to doing this, and thus neither electric vehicles NOR solar panels should be so ridiculously inflated in price… but don’t get me started on that right now!)

Boyd then pulls out his ‘survival kit’ (a pouch of dryer lint, shredded paper and an assortment of wood bits for small kindling).  He also proudly shows me a Lee Valley Swedish Firesteel which is impervious to all weather conditions and offers long-lasting sparks to start any fire:

So, after crumpling in the bits of paper and lint into the bottom of the Kelly Kettle, and after having moved the ‘stovepipe’, he fills the kettle with water (which surrounds the inner heating section) and then keeps feeding the stove constantly, now with twigs from his burn pile in the back corner, a heap of which he is letting dry in a corner of the shed.


And after only about 7 minutes – voila!  He pours us each a cup of lovely hot tea!

Next, we wait to see what neighbourhood children and wildlife will begin to discover the joys of Boyd’s Ebullient Acres. To help the process along a little, Boyd pulls out his bird-caller:

and we are ready with a full chart of Maritime birds posted on the shack’s wall.

It’s not very moments before one tree is full of juncos and a large flicker is tapping away at the suet block (oh, yes, and two children went by on mountain bikes through the two feet of snow, and one was pulling a sled – I was too flabbergasted to get a photo!)

Without the snow on the roof, Boyd even can enjoy looking out through the ceiling, as he’s added a long window above for bird or moon/star-gazing:


Although he didn’t set it up this winter, Boyd has experimented with hydroponic growing systems, which Richard hopes to do soon as well (right now we just have some lettuce growing in earth in the seed tables in the basement – set up for this was detailed here: https://bluebellmountainblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/blue-belldon-basement-grow-op/  and had the 2nd-largest reading of any of my blog postings, so there must be an interest for inside growing techniques during long winter months!)

For more on Boyd’s type of hydroponics using PVC, see this:

Boyd has this sitting in his shed, so it made me curious to investigate more:

While I enjoyed watching the birds with Boyd, using camera, binoculars and my distance specs,  my vision was frequently impaired by the Coke-bottle eyeglasses my nephew caused me to wear several times – once when we were playing ‘spy’ and deciphering codes, and another time when I threatened to dress up as crazy “Eco-Aunt” and go to his aikido classes if he didn’t behave.   Eco-Aunt doesn’t waste water on hair-washing or bathing, applies makeup only using natural products, and wears only natural hair ornaments (feathers and wooden clothespins, etc). Once he saw me like this, Sydney decided to behave extraordinarily well, but I am thinking of offering Eco-Aunt as a main character to all marches for environmental issues. What do you think – is she memorable?


Ever Wonder?

This is just a quick mini-post to say I have another blog up and running as of today.

Ever wonder what we self-sufficient farmers do in the deep freeze of January?

Well, we produce films, write the outline scripts for them, and fund-raise for them.  I’ve mentioned the extraordinary woman about whom this documentary is being made several times in my bluebellmountainblog.  As well as her work with Hollywood/Melissa Gilbert (Laura/Half-pint on Little House, if you want a pioneering connection to make you happy!) and Richard Farnsworth of Anne of Green Gables fame (there’s another one!).  But until you go have a look at my shiny new blog about this idol of mine, and inspiration to thousands, you won’t truly understand what she’s managed to pull off in her lifetime… so, good readers and friends of Bluebellmountainblog – PLEASE GO HAVE A QUICK LOOK NOW:


And then go to the Kickstarter link that’s there and contribute if you can – whatever you can!  And if you’d be so kind, share that link with your own social media or email addresses.

Because women like this don’t just come through our lives every day.  And her story needs to be told.

Thank you.


The Pedantic in the Pantry

From the first time I laid eyes on the video Richard took of our soon-to-be log cabin-cum-farmhouse, in March of 2016, when he flew out to video-tape every inch for us, I knew that one of the VERY first things I’d be getting rid of was the 1970s kitchen, especially the ‘peninsula’ counter that stuck out into the room, and the ugly pantry closet.


When I was alone here for the June and July of 2016, I immediately sledge-hammered the peninsula out, and at least took the folding door right off the shelf area.  (Those renovations to the kitchen can be seen here, with the before and afters that everyone seems to love:    https://bluebellmountainblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/recent-reno-country-kitchen/ )

I then  painted the inside of the shelves, put up some gingham on the ugly paneling on the back wall, put a low-energy light in there that stays on all the time (adds light to the beginning of the dark hallway and is a good night light at night as we fumble our way down to the bathroom – at least 3 times each!) .  Finally, I stuck as many canisters in there on the newly brightened shelves as I could fit, and hid the cans and store-boughts behind them so it looked semi-attractive to the eye:


But we always planned to do something more permanent, and as the daily baking and cooking has progressed, the shelves got more and more disorganized, and as we have only the one phone (in the spirit of keeping life so-much-more-simple!), this little nook was becoming problematic to the point where I couldn’t stand it any longer! I needed a better place to hide/store the store-bought cans and packages, and I needed big bins to take ALL the bulk baking goods we buy.  So, after not TOO much nagging (for once!) Richard got to work with his perfectionist measuring, designing, discussing, re-measuring, cutting and re-cutting.   Sadly, we have yet to find a good source in this province for reclaiming lumber.  I have a sad inkling that many N.B. farmers and home-owners just burn everything they don’t want.  Thus, though we wanted an old mercantile look, Richard had to start out with fresh new pine boards.  The good thing about this is that no kind of liners would be needed for inside the bins!  Which is just as I like it because neither do I wish any form of plastic for the environment, nor would I want to be messing with tin…

So…. first Richard built me some little shelves in a space that was essentially wasted.  These would hide all the cans and packages in and behind some baskets.


Next came the big bin for baking ingredients that are too small to go in canisters, that I don’t use that often, or things like cracker boxes (btw, in the interests of living simply and more self-sufficiently, I only allow SODA crackers in the house anymore – not the realms of assorted boxes of crackers, and NO cereals! Soda biscuits are still good for days when the bread I make has run out, OR for upset tummies, OR as I’m now doing – making quick pie crusts for things like our many frozen apple slices!)

Here’s the bin.  Richard put it on 4 big casters so it just rolls in and out:


Next we have the kaffuffling with the actual bins. Though I’d given two examples to Richard, there is inevitably this time period in any of his projects where we have to go back and forth, back and forth over advantages/disadvantages of cuts/sizes.  This one was originally cut square, but we finally agreed that while it would hold a bit more that way, it would never tip outwards in the desired (by me) fashion!


So I asked him to round off the sharp corners and we got this:

Then Richard went on to make me four lovely, smoothly sanded, rounded edged (this is the pedantic bit from the title!) fold-out bins.

It was also necessary for him to extend the shelves by some inches, so that the tops of the bins would be covered, and they’d have more room to ‘tip out’ toward me, free of the back of the doorframe:


Now, here’s the thing about Richard and his woodworking.  He is so persistent and particular, that everything actually ends up way TOO perfect (and generally late for deadlines as well!)  I don’t like perfect.  And I hate anything to look like it came out of an Ikea flat-pack.  We BOTH love our old pine hutch (rescued for only $250. at an auction) and as it’s right beside the pantry cupboards, it HAD to match!  The hutch is pretty old and  beaten up. That’s what gives it such lovely character:

So, how do you make new pine wood with rounded edges and perfectly pedantically sanded faces look like its 150 years old?  Well, this isn’t the first time I’VE done this, but Richard had to be convinced.  You use what he calls ‘Medieval Torture Tools’ and you have at it!


So, here’s Richard contemplating if he could ‘allow’ it to be done to his finely sanded drawer fronts and cupboard:


Yes, he decided.  It made quite a neat effect.  And when I explained how the stain would darken in the grooves and really age/distress it, he was sold!  So we started hitting the faces (not yet attached to the drawers) with chains, tapping with the horse hoof rasp, plucking and prodding with other heavy objects. Smitty thought we were right nuts.



We experimented on cut-offs for several effects, like these:

Richard especially liked the effect of the rasp, but I didn’t want to use it too much, or it would have looked contrived (which of course it was!) Here’s what those 2 effects looked like:


Finally, it was important to chisel a bit off the rounded edges, to make them appear well-worn over the years, esp. at the tops of the drawers, where hands might have pulled them:

Here’s what the front faces looked like after we’d beaten on them (and by the way, ole Mr. Perfect Pedantic decided it was rather fun to do this!)

Next,  we had to match the staining to our pine hutch as closely as possible.  Oh, it’s just a pine stain, I hear you say?  But no!  There are 4 different types of stain called ‘Something Pine” now, AND an antique like the hutch changes colours through the decades, darker some places, lighter others and,most difficult to replicate – a sort of soft orange.  I ended up experimenting and testing like mad and finally ended up using layers and a total of 6 different stains (all already in our basement – we do NOT buy things just for the sake of spending more money!) to get the right colour and effect that best matched being beside the old hutch.  In addition, in some ‘strips’ (always with the grain) I’d put on up to 3 coats, and in others, only 1 coat which I’d even wipe off immediately so only a faint trace was left…

Fully stained, now, Richard began attaching the faces to the bins – See how the stain is darker in the grooves and scars?  Love that!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now it was time to experiment with some stencilling – but wait!  Richard burned my stencil set last year after I’d used it on some Rustic Revivals’ project and he thought that since they had paint on them they were ‘finished’… grrrrrrr…. so though he’d replaced them for me, they were too large – I had to use partly-stenciled on the ends of the letters, and then mostly free-hand but to LOOK like they’d been stenciled.  Also, I know from experience it’s better to put a base coat first, which I did in ivory, then painted over in the black.

Now, here’s the thing about old.  It’s ALWAYS faded and distressed – so while these letters were originally in dark black, that would never have looked antique/mercantile-ish.  So…

sanding with a fine grade was necessary to take off some of the newly-painted letters.  Make sure the letters are dry first – you don’t want smearing!

Here’s a number I tried first, and another example of Richard’s favourite – bashing with the horse hoof rasp:


And THEN, some artistic touch-ups on letters that just didn’t quite stand out enough was necessary. There’s a fine line between taking off too much, or not enough.  Now who’s being pedantic?



Richard got some antiqued bronze handles from Kent Lumber (but I don’t recommend them, as they are made in China, and the two he got for the bottom sliding drawer had stripped holes for the screws, so we’re still without on that section!)  I also added a few random numbers to simulate the old crate/mercantile storage effect further…And thus, the brilliant results, if we do say so ourselves:


And here’s what everyone loves – some before and afters, the 1970s kitchen before we bought it, and now. We HATE all those ’70s louvered doors, but they have worked beautifully for making them look like old shutters (painted and distressed, of course) for some of Rustic Revivals’ displays at shows – because of COURSE we don’t throw anything out! And don’t forget those doors down at the end of the hallway have been replaced by our prize ‘barn door’  (you can see that here-  https://bluebellmountainblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/that-time-has-tried/ )


kitchen3 (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)


And here’s  just the pantry area before and after:



Yes, that IS one of Mom’s hand-woven rugs in front of the hutch (helps cover up the ripped up bit of floor where I had to sledge hammer out that peninsula cupboard/counter that jutted so alarmingly into our hall/kitchen area!) As you see, I still liked the low-energy light in the one cupboard so much, I decided to leave it with some jars and canisters.  And see how our organic raw honey jars catch the light and make a mellow gold? Also a little pine mirror on the back of the wall adds some texture, makes the pantry area seem lighter and roomier as well:


Yes,sir, we love our new/old pantry area and telephone nook area now, and it’s such a pleasure to cook and bake with easy-to-scoop bulk dry goods, and easy-to-find organized cupboards and baskets and shelves….


Anyone want to come over for some oatmeal cookies?  I’m just whipping some up!


Power Preps.

“When things go awry, TRUST powers the generators until the problem is fixed ” 

                                                                                                      Max De Pree (1997). “Leading Without Power”

Usually, writers look for something deeper, more provocative, behind a statement or allusion.  In this case, I am taking the above quotation as MORE literal than it is even meant.

Everyone knows about the big ‘bomb cyclone’ (whatever that silly new term is meant to connote) that hit the Eastern Seaboard the last two days and carried us maniacally (like Chevy upturning Richard in the pony-sleigh when a snow plow rumbled past) into 2018.

However, we at Blue Belldon Farm felt we were prepared.  We are NOT even close to being off-grid as yet, but we have come to learn some valuable lessons.   Although we often lose electric power for a day or two after a distant summer thunderstorm, or a cluster of heavy autumn winds, for some reason, we rarely lose power in the depths of winter.  And thank goodness for that, as of course it can be deadly for both man and beast!  Thus, when we hear of an approaching storm, we fill up all the saved plastic milk and juice jugs with water, put water in the bathtub, get the fire burning hot,  put the animals and vehicles in the garage/barn, make sure the candles and matches are on hand, and the oil lamps filled, and put Richard’s long johns out with his jeans and battery-operated socks.

tip: if you don’t have a lot of candlesticks with handles, stick a short bottle into a mug like the one I’ve done far left, and wax the candle sturdily into the bottle. Then you’re free to walk about the house with it as needed!

But this year, the reason we truly felt prepared for a big blow-out storm, was that Richard and his brother from Saint John, Jean-Marc, spent a long weekend in early November purchasing and hooking up a massive generator to our most necessary electric appliances (ie: water pump, some of Mom’s upstairs heat, her toaster oven and hot plate,  the electronic large garage doors – also needed to get the animals out front – and our back-up oil furnace that is meant to come on if our wood furnace goes cold.)

This meant a great deal of time was spent with both brothers in the basement installing an additional panel and rearranging some of the old farmhouse’s fuses, wiring, etc.

2nd panel

It also meant a great deal of time was spent with one in the basement and one elsewhere in the house or barn, shouting back and forth on the two-way (the Reich boys never speak quietly together ; whether they are in the same room, speaking on the phone, or in this case, on walkie-talkies, shouting is imperative to add the needed drama. I suspect this habit began in early childhood).

j-m and rich

It was so kind of Jean-Marc to drive all the way up here WITH the massive generator in his wee car, and to spend all his time on this big project which theoretically, could save lives – or at least an awful lot of discomfort!  Making some good wholesome meals for the two of them was the least I could do.j-m at table

Cammie, on the other hand, felt that the least SHE could do was some ‘photo-bombing’, to use yet another new ‘bomb’ term.


With the exclusion of Mom and the cat, however, it seems that all the rest of the Blue Belldon residents were outside at this time!

Anyway, the generator is a complicated affair.  I was given some lessons on how to ‘fire it up’ in case it was ever my responsibility.  And of course, I no longer remember a single phrase… I believe I was promised some hand-written user-friendly instructions to follow but these have yet to materialise…


After Jean-Marc left that long weekend, Richard built a platform (old pallets) and a wooden box for the generator to rest near the side of the house.  This was then hooked up to a small solar panel that will keep its battery charged so it is ready and willing when we need it! When the snow first started near the end of Nov., he then put a tarp over it.


The box Richard built is about 3 ft. 3″ square.  This is the box today:

The little solar panel and the big outlet for the generator’s plug into the basement is above our basement window, which of course has completely disappeared after this latest storm.  If we did lose power now, some more of this is in order:



That’s poor icicle-stached Richard in his brother’s old ‘stand-out-in-any-crowd’ snowmobile duds just a few minutes ago. It’s good to wear fluorescents in case you get lost in a large drift and need to be heli-vac’d out!  Actually, he already had a lot of this shovelling to do this morning, because he felt the 7ft. high windowed ‘man’ door beside where the animals go in and out to the corral should be shovelled out for them to allow more light into the barn.  With the drifting, it was almost completely covering the top of the door (window). This was kind of him – personally, I think because they can take themselves in and out to the corral when they please, they can get their ‘light’ that way, but now they can be inside and still have natural light (they do always have an energy efficient light bulb on back in there as well, so it’s never completely dark).

I took these during the storm – you’d never know there were big Appalachian mountains just the other side of those yard trees, would you? And you can’t even SEE the road out front. For 27 hours, not one single car went by on our road. Just the good old plow, about every 4 hours, all night and all day… bless those plow drivers!

And Mom/Joy took this one yesterday.  While both her car and our truck were in the garage (front of barn), the wind was so powerful it blew (just under the one tiny  .5cm crack between the big overhead door and the ground) all the standing-upright snow you see here, as Richard raises the big door.  So that was INSIDE the closed-up barn!


Many people’s houses were also affronted by the blown-in snow.  A friend of mine north-east of us had her entire closed-in porch full of snow:


But, there’s always gotta be irony – for all the extra N.B. Power employees that were put on call for this storm, we in the northern part of the province never lost power at all!  Instead,  poor Jean-Marc and those in Saint John and points south – they had ALL the snow and winds, then freezing rain and flooding – torrential flooding! Loss of power, loss of homes, businesses, etc… In the case of THIS storm, this was absolutely true:



By mid-week we should be experiencing warmer temps, so Richard hopes to get Chevy (perhaps having to ride him bareback with his harness on to get through the snow drifts?) out to the woods to drag in some more logs.  And he and I have been hard at work the last 2 weeks finally redoing the kitchen pantry to be better organized, cleaner, more accessible and to blend in better with our old pine hutch that stands beside it.  So next week’s blog has many popular ‘before and after’ shots (from right back when we first took over the house), plus tips and how-tos for you diy’ers and fans of Vintage Farmhouse renos.  Here’s a tease:



Happy Christmas from Blue Belldon!

All of us, both 2 and 4-legged, wish you and yours a very special Country Christmas wish, with the following seasonal photos. 

The snowglobe, below, is actually Richard driving Chevy yesterday for the first time with our new (much-too-small) sleigh.  It’s a great way to exercise him before taking him out to haul logs! (And thanks to Mom for taking super shots of the adventure FROM HER UPSTAIRS WINDOWS! when I was too busy outside helping! )

snowglobe, Chevy

13567910121316joy82last11joy12022OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chevy charging up through the fresh snow, just yesterday, as Richard hangs on – tight!

Below, apron from Haworth, England, where the Brontes lived and wrote, and the recipe book on the table was my great-grandmother’s, who was apparently a big fan of the Brontes!

christmas apron, stove, cookies23

High on a Hill was a lonely Goat-herd, yo-di-diddle, yodel-do all day!

24Last year there was too much snow; it looks like this year’s forecast is for less snow, but colder temperatures here around Blue Bell Mountain, N.B.

richard, snow (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)










Cast of Thousands, Post One Hundred!

In this blog's 100th post
In a year of celebrations
We've marked 2 churches, a village, the birth of Christ -
And our entire nation!

"What's the best of country life?"
Many ask us daily
"Is it the scenery, quiet, nature, veg?"
Nope    - it's celebrating gaily

With our small communities,
Like Perth or New Den-Mark
It's singing, acting, being part
Last week - we're angels! HARK!

You've heard about the mass choir
To mark 150 years
You've read about the nursing home,
And Pastor Ralph's 'old dears'

You know about the pageant
And the summer's Founder's Days
You've heard bits about Still Standing...
(But in spring, to coin a phrase

You'll hear lots more, for 'teasing'
Is how telly's publicized-
And as we're in the 'teaser'
I'll be keeping you apprised.)

teaser screen shot for Season 4 of Still Standing, Julie, Leanne (visiting from Scotland) and Mom/Joy, beside the CBC logo. Ironically, Richard, who insisted we take these reserved seats for ‘Founders Day Organizers’, is out of shot to my right!   To see the full trailer/teaser, look at the Still Standing FB page, 2nd video, or try this link https://www.facebook.com/stillstandingtv/videos/692295784304421
I'd like to speak in detail
About our church's 100th year
And the celebration for it
That many came to hear.

And then I'll show you fun
From the last two weeks of song
With the Perth-Andover choir
And the concerts we've put on!

Back in the mid-summer, 
I was asked to c'ordinate
The entertainment portion
Of St. Peter's-at-the-Gate,

Our little church up on the hill
That I've shown you before
(But will remind you once again
With these photos I've in store:)
The Danish herring-bone wood designs covering every inch of the interior of St. Peter’s Lutheran on top of the hill just next to us
tiff's churches at night
You’ve met her before in several blog postings. This is an amazing shot taken just after St. Peter’s 100th celebrations this fall, by our local professional photographer, Tiffany Christensen. St. Peter’s is on the right, just across the road from the slightly-older Anglican church called St. Ansgar’s.
To make up the fun night
After a catered Danish meal
We all put in our off'rings
Of creative zest and zeal!

It started with the Danish band
That played some peppy tunes
Then the "Minstrels" (or a handful of...)
Sang a hymn with their soft croons,

Then added another song
I'd written for the night
As a tribute to St. Peter's
And its builders' strength and might.
minstrels, 100th
Then Richard, in his debut
Stepped up alone to sing
Another piece I'd written
Called "Where the Bells do Ring"
richard's solo
Thanks to Mom/Joy for taking most of these photos. To hear “Where the Bells Ring”, Richard’s first full solo (I add some background harmonies as well as the piano accompaniment), go to this link, which we recorded at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KStOMmr8WYs
After this bit of song,
The pastor had a word
About the history of the church
-Then, something quite unheard!

We came out to do a sketch
As if from 100 years from now!
(So, the 200th anniversary-
It gave the crowd a WOW!

Not because I'd written
Such a finely-honed & gifted script,
But rather, 'cause our costumes
Were wild, and long - Zeb tripped!)

As 'teased' before, back in Sept.,
We all wore togas white
With sashes of sparkly colour
And dyed sheep wigs delight!

Richard, Zeb and myself at the meeting of the 200th Anniversary committee (sketch)
200 yrs skit
Curtain call for the 200th anniversary of St. Peter’s sketch, Pastor announcing. L to R Richard, Zeb Godbout (playing my son, Ned Kram, which is Den Mark backward) Peter Jensen, and seated, myself and Barb Christensen.
We’d had many rehearsals in our living room/meeting room at the farm and while we didn’t actually have all our lines memorized, the oddness of the skit got quite a few laughs, and the pretended ‘frustration and violence’ between us as our sketch showed that meetings don’t change much from century to century, really hit home for those in the community who sit on several boards and committees!
While we changed back out of costume
The band once more would play
The fiddler, 93, was sick
-  Had been in ER all that day!
But like the true-blue Danes
He would not back down, be weak
There he was at suppertime
To fiddle in an up-beat streak!

And then some poetry I'd gathered
About the early N.D. times
Were read by Miss New Denmark
With good old-fashioned rhymes:

But for the big finale
Of this 100th year divine
I asked some pastors, two from past
And our current Ralph, to SHINE.

Miss N.D. Megan spun the wheel
That Richard made that day
And the crowd laughed hard as at
"Pastors' Trivia" we would play

I'd written 70 questions
From categories galore
Like Church History, Pete the Saint,
 "1917", and more...

The pastors, how they struggled
To come up with answers right
But in the meantime, they were FUNNY
And the crowd enjoyed their fright
Pastor Ralph appears to ‘give up’ on the question, as the others have a giggle…
They rang in on their buzzers
(One was Smitty's squeaky toy!)
But often they'd not get it,
And that was JUST my ploy!

pastors triviapastors trivia full
The crowd would hoot and holler,
And eventually THEY won
By answering the questions
That the pastors hadn't done.

One of the questions I best liked
"1917" was the 'try'...
This painting of a church was done
So like our own, up high:
This painting by Georgia O’Keefe was done the same year our church was built, in 1917, and is very representative of how St. Peter’s towers over rivers and valley and nestled Appalachian homes.



So, it's my belief that all had fun,
That sweet September night
When St. Peter's turned 100
With audience delight:
At this table, Megan Bach, Miss New Denmark, her grandparents,  as well as Richard sitting beside Leanne (in gold top), and across from them, Mom/Joy. Being too busy and too nervous of everything to come, I am standing in the background having some punch. Behind me is the old piano, on top of which I had made a 1917 lady’s church-going display.
The 1917 Lady's Church-Going Display:
hat display
a variety of hats from my drama trunk, along with gloves, a fan, a lace hankie, a turn-of-the-century scarf and matching hand-bag, and a special contribution from Pastor Ralph – a hymnal actually FROM 1918!
There I sit, 200 years in the future, wearing a toga and some of Mom’s sheep’s wool on my head, with the full program for the Entertainment Portion of the night written out on the wall behind me.

summary of 100th

And so, that last event was done
And while the harvest kept us crazed
We still went to Perth each week
To practice for our concert days.

The first series, in fall, was with
The Youth Orch-EST-ra grand!
A full 80-piece symphony
Where we were "150 Expand"

(The same voices with which we sang
For July 1st's big event. 
They come from towns all o'er the vale
And it's Glorious, Heaven-Sent!)
Richard’s bald head 4 in at back, and I’m far left, hiding behind the curtain. We sang the Howard Shore piece Sea to Sea, which was WRITTEN for this New Brunswick Youth Orchestra for the 150th, as well as our old favourite We Rise Again (also sung July 1st for the big celebrations). We sang for school groups with a chamber orchestra, on the day before, then had this enormous concert over the weekend. You can hear a small part of We Rise Again at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEezCOAVgXE     An interesting bit of trivia, and to prove how small the Atlantic provinces are, when the conductor moves aside at 0:44, you’ll see a dark, curly-haired lad playing in the first row of the 2nd violin section. My sister started him in violin in St. John’s, Nfld 15 years ago! A neat connector!
The choir in quaint Perth-Andover
Is directed by the mayor
A lovely lass from Leamington;
There's many here from there!
Our Perth-Andover choir director (and mayor, and Book Club Organizer, and…) Marianne Tiessen Bell, from Ontario, warms us up before a performance.
Our Christmas series started 
Just at November's end.
The hospital in Perth
Has become our new best friend

As both Mom and Richard twice a month
Have teleconference talks
And oncological care, so -
We sang for Womens Aux.!

Then just last week-end,
'Angels' sang 6 hours in the snow
To raise some funds for Food Bank.
"Bethlehem"'s winds did blow

For this interactive nativity
That's now a big crowd-thrill
We entertained the masses
Lined up for miles on the hill

While I’ve been in all kinds of performances in my life, I’ve never actually been able to witness my audience approaching from this far away! Police, firemen, traffic controllers and a radio station were all involved in keeping an orderly pathway to Bethlehem!

To get a really great feel for what this whole night was about, see:
LIVE DRIVE-THRU – just tap the arrow on the pic below and it should work! turn up the sound in the bottom right corner of the screen! It’ll likely be ‘off’, so click on it!

or, slightly less exciting – the slide show:  https://www.facebook.com/perthandoverbaptist/videos/1682963368441021/

These productions were both done by the hard-working and energetic Rev. Michael Fredericks of the Perth-Andover Baptist Church.  WHAT A SHOW IT WAS !

We sang as angels in the heavens
Pointing to the stable, close
While Richard posed beside the inn
And I got my daily livestock dose:


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApony, nativity, julie, angel

I'm not sure even Bethlehem
Had as many farm-yard critters
Some were small, like geese and hens
And some were really heavy hitters!



tony and kim


That's right, a choir of angels sang
Beside Alpaca's Paddock
And beside THAT were market stalls
Of bread, and tools, and haddock!
choir, alpacas
Marianne Bell front row, far, I’m right behind her. We are both ‘gettin’ down’ kinds of angels. Richard and Marianne’s husband are a little more unbendy in near back row. Notice all the alpacas are staring up at the star over the stable. Just as they should do.
We know not where she finds the time
But Mayor M.B. also made that bread!
And still remains relaxed and calm
As she chats with King Herrod!


snowy angel choir
On the Sunday night’s performance at the nativity, the snow was falling beautifully and romantically and it wasn’t even that cold! I’m crouching because we’re dancing about, not freezing – plus we had a lovely barrel of fire beside us both nights!
On Tuesday night, in Johnville,
We hooked up with a choir
That came from just 'downriver'
In a church that did aspire

To give us but a chance to sing
From choir lofts above
As we sang in echo'd refrain
To Vivaldi's Gloria of love
more amazing totally-wood-panelled church work (like St. Peter’s) in the Johnville St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic church, where we sang opposite Peter McLaughlin’s Tuesday Night Singers from the lovely choir loft. (Vivaldi’s Antiphonal Gloria)
Finally, our last big gig
Was filmed upon a Woodstock pew-
(How strange that in Ontario
I lived near Perth & Woodstock too!)

My camera propped on hymnals
On the first of many pews
'Neath Saint Gertrude's glor'ous arches
Marianne led our cues:
         (the following video/pic should be in place, 
             just tap on it and turn up the sound!)

Youtube wasn't working
But we hope you'll link up-- though
It's hard for some not on FB-
Still, we think it's 'quite a show'!

st. gertrudes
Saint Gertrudes is the lovely big church in which we sang last night, in Woodstock, along the Saint John river.



me with hat, far left, Richard with men, far right


stunning choir loft arches of St. Gertrude’s
the sanctuary of St. Gerts
Like our concert Tuesday night in Johnville, we sang again with/opposite The Tuesday Night Singers, Peter McLaughlin’s choir. You may remember from reading back in July that it was he who directed us all in the mass choir (150 voices)  on July 1st in Perth-Andover.
part of our choir warming up last night. We had a strong men’s section (4 is STRONG for small town N.B.!) and 3 of the 4 are all spending a lot of their spare time with horses out in the bush! What is the connection, you ask, between men singing and horsemen? Have you an answer?
And so, this Christmas season,
But actually all year long
We owe a debt of gratitude
To those who led in song.

For what a year it's been
Full of music, drama, prayer
To get us off the farm,
And join pastor, teacher, mayor!