Friday, December 13, 2013

December Conservation Tip

Here we are again, searching for meaningful gifts for family and friends.
At the same time many of us are de-cluttering and favor the "less is more" movement, so another tie or book is just not going to do the trick...

How about a Gift Donation then? There are always the well known organizations, that come with nice certificates and even small plush toys, like:

World Wildlife Fund

Defenders of Wildlife

Polar Bear International


This year I also looked out for some smaller, more individual organizations, that need your support and are just a bit more specific:

Want to protect the oceans?

There is no better way than support the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society!!

How about this for the horse lover:

Support the American Mustang Movie!
Great gadgets with your pledge!!
More here:

Having a heart for elephants?

Foster an orphaned elephant with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , the perfect gift for any elephant friend and a great help for these gentle giants!

Want to stay closer to home and do something for the farm animals ?
An organization that I personally really admire since they are taking in the beaten and sick, no matter what, is the Gentle Barn. You can adopt a farm animal, bid to name one of the rescued ones or support them by getting one of their Christmas ornaments.

Another farm animal related group that needs support might be especially interesting for my German friends: Kuhrettung

Watch the movie, it will make you smile!

Not into animals? How about helping to fund some cancer research?
Zach Sobiech, a teenage boy with a rare form of cancer, a osteosarcoma, wrote the song, "clouds" last year about him dealing with his imminent death. He debuted it last December. He died in May 2013.
This December a choir of about 5000 people sang his song....

You can buy the song on iTunes and 100% of all net proceeds benefit Zach's Osteoscarcoma Research Fund. Or you can directly donate to the Childrens Cancer Research Fund.

You have already the perfect gift? All you have to do is to wrap it?
Consider wrapping it in reused paper. Regarding to "Give a shit about Nature":
If every American family wrapped just three presents this holiday season in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
Now, that's a lot of paper!

There are certainly many more good causes out there that need support and would make a nice gift. I will keep my eyes open and will post more ideas on my facebook site.

In this spirit


Monday, December 9, 2013


Well, the temperature was dropping fast over the last couple of days and every time I thought it can't possibly get any colder, it did exactly that....
This morning we woke up to a record so far of -32ºC/-24ºF, and that was at 9 am, I don't want to know how cold it was during the night....

Surprisingly the chickens are doing ok, they do not like the snow, but I put a lot of straw down for them to walk on and also insulated their coop and parts of the run with straw. They seem to be content and my one adult hen is still laying.

Lexie, the outdoor master, is doing great! I had her inside though for parts of the day, but then she got really bored and wanted to go out.

Fin and Mr. B have some frost mascara and enjoy the extra hay and grain I am feeding to keep them warm.

And as the saying goes, there is no bad weather just bad clothing, right?
That's how Ex-Californians dress up to withstand the Canadian winter...;-)

Some typical tools at the farm, like a wheelbarrow for example, are utterly useless in deep snow, so we just switched to the "winter" wheel barrow...

Feeding evolved to sledding down to the pasture while sitting on the hay, it's way faster and more fun than pushing the wheel barrow, I will miss that come spring.

Although even calls these temperatures "bitterly cold", it is sunny and just gorgeous

And since it's too cold for lots of outdoor chores there is more time to bake cookies,

or watch the colorful sunsets!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Overnight Transition

We had a brilliant, colorful fall. A bit foggy now and then but otherwise just splendid.
I couldn't get enough of the color display around me.

 View from the Lakit Lookout road


Fisher Peak

Lonesome leaf

Kimberley Ski Hill

Kootenay Valley View

Then, without so much as a warning, basically over night, fall turned to winter - colorful to monochromatic...

Our backyard

After the first snow melted, temperatures turned rather frosty again

The Rocky Mountains are hiding behind this fog bank

Another view of the Kootenay Valley, this time from the east side
 Canada Geese

Lots of new experiences this year....
I am looking forward to lots of great winter photo opportunities!

November Conservation Tip


Palm oil is derived by pulping the fruit of oil palms and meanwhile found in almost half of the packaged products found in grocery stores. Palm oil is mainly produced in Southeast Asia with Indonesia and Malaysia as the main contributors.
Most of us are unaware of buying and eating products containing palm oil, like ice-cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate, cereal, energy bars, detergent, shaving cream and...the list is endless.

And why should we be aware of??

Well, this palm oil is responsible for 

1. The imminent danger of extinction of the Orangutan, the Sumatra Tiger, the Pygmy Elephant and the Tree Kangaroo, to name a few

The Orangutan, a primate very close to humans, lost already 80% of it's habitat, regarding to Greenpeace about 180 square miles in two years. 95% of a Orangutan population in a given part of the rain forest will likely face death or displacement if that part of the rain forest will be converted to a plantation. Indonesia plans to double their palm oil production...the business is good....
The already critically endangered Sumatra Tiger, there are only an estimated 300-500 left, will also loose it's habitat. Further deforestation will increase the human-tiger conflict and will make tigers more susceptible to poaching
One of the least understood elephants and the smallest of Asia's elephants, the Pygmy Elephant and the Tree Kangaroo are also on the endangered list.

2. Massive violation of human rights

The fast proceeding deforestation is driving indigenous people and forest dependent communities off their land without consideration for their needs.
Due to the isolated geographic location the plantations rely on an outside work force which is supplied by so called labor brokers. These lure in workers with the promise of high wages and once the workers are on location they will be deprived of most of their rights. Sound like modern slavery to me.
In 2012 the US Department of labor listed palm oil as one of the industries most notorious for forced labor and child labor. In Malaysia alone, it is estimated that between 72,000 and 200,00 stateless children work on palm oil plantations!!!

3. Climate change by destroying the planets "lungs"

As we all know a tree "breathes" in carbon dioxide and "exhales" oxygen. About 30 % of all the carbon we produce by burning fossil fuels is "cleaned" this way by the world's intact forests.
Rain forests are especially important in this process as they are able to convert as much carbon each year as all the temperate and boreal forests combined.
Right now we are losing about one acre of rain forest per second.....
Not only are we losing these "oxygen-producers", due to the burning down of the trees this deforestation produces as many emissions as those from transportation all over the world...meaning it pollutes as much as all the cars, trucks, airplanes, ships and trains together worldwide. Indonesia is the third biggest contributor to greenhouse gases "just" from burning down it's rain forest.
To make matters worse, the rain forest grows on organically rich peat land. This peat land needs to be drained in order for the palm trees to grow, which causes the loss of this rich organic matter AND significant carbon emissions.

Were you aware of this last time you ate a Hershey bar 
or munched on a Ritz Cracker?

This is tough stuff, what can we do?

- supporting organizations like RAN (Rainforest Action Network) and Greenpeace
- get informed about the topic (see links below for further info)
- raise awareness, inform you family, relatives, friends and coworkers about it
- vote with our wallet. Now that you know, just look at the ingredients list of whatever you are    intending to buy...if it lists palm oil, put it back on the shelf. If we stand together we can make a difference.

Think about it!!!

Resources for this blog and more information can be found here:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lexie Update

Many of you have asked about Lexie, how is she doing, how much did she grow...?
Here are some answers.....

How much did she grow? This is an image taken shortly after we got her,

and this one is from today. And I think she still has some growing to do....

She definitively is just that, a good dog!

She loves to go on walks and

enjoys long hikes.

She is a patient photographers companion, a hard to find trait...;-)

When we go for a trail ride, no pace is to fast...

I love to watch her exploring new things, here she looked at her first snow and you could really "see" her thinking "what happened here???"

Her usual watering hole, frozen...she just couldn't believe it, scratched the ice, bit the ice and finally looked quizzically at me...hard not to laugh.

What is under this cold, white stuff??

In short, she is a wonderful dog, all day outside, guarding the chickens and the horses. Never leaves the property, fearless and brave; and absolutely cold hardy, lying  on the frozen ground right know, happily chewing on some trophy find.
She is very independent and since I have started her basic training we had quite a few battles of wits. But once she understands she is a quick learner.
I am so happy I found her!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Exploring the Kootenays

Part 3
Grey Creek Pass and the Kootenay Lake Ferry

Grey Creek Pass is one of the tours that was on my bucket list for quite some time. The pass is part of the Trans Canada Trail, the world's largest network of trails and once finished will stretch 23000 km through Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. One needs a 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle to travel this pass which is only open from May to October. Now with the truck at hand we thought we give it a try.....
If you click on the image below to enlarge it, you can see our start point, Kimberley's St. Mary Lake and the Trans Canada Trail going west towards the Kootenay Lake.

Fall was in the air and warnings about a few inches of snow on top of the pass had reached us, but it was a beautiful day and a few inches of snow would not deter us.

St. Mary Lake marks the Kimberley access road to the pass and the road was gravel but very well maintained at that point.

The higher we climbed the more spectacular got the views.

After a few kilometers it got a bit more serious,

and the road started to show some wear and tear.

And soon we saw the first signs of snow,

and more snow,

and even more snow. I guess it was about 6 inches, and we were sure glad to have our truck!

Back down from the wintry outing we headed towards the Kootenay Lake Ferry. During the summer tourists wait in loooong lines to get on the longest free ferry ride in the world, but at this time of the year it was no problem. We just had arrived when we saw the ferry already approaching.

The ferry runs between Kootenay Bay, were these photos are taken to Balfour, on the west side of Kootenay Lake, about 30 minutes north of Nelson. The ride takes give or take 35 minutes.

We traveled on the Osprey 2000, a seemingly normal ferry, but when one looks closer, it shows a lot of love for details. Just look at the railing in the above image and the seats in the inside of the ferry. Simply amazing!

What a great way to travel with views in all directions...

Balfour greeted us with eclectic, Nelson style street vendors and

severe warning signs...;-)

Once on the west side we headed to Nelson for a late lunch and then took the ferry back to Kootenay Bay. Instead of challenging the pass again we decided to enjoy the sunset while driving along the Kootenay Lake, taking the longer but safer route home.