NPHS 2014 Garden Tour

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Yesterday was an inspiring and overwhelming day.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that NPHS stands for the Neil Patrick Harris Society, but alas, it does not. It stands for the North Peace Horticultural Society and they sponsored a garden tour of 7 rural properties and 1 town property in the surrounding area of BC where we live. What an absolute blessing it was to actually witness what hard working people like Clay and I can accomplish in 10-20-30-40-50 years. Many examples of a lifetime of work. Lots and lots of work. Some guy built his own island with a moat. Did I mention it was a little overwhelming?

The experience was grand though and I tried to take a lot of photos and gather as many ideas in my slightly- hung-over- head as possible.

There were great combinations of edibles, perennials, flowers, garden art and overall ideas, ideas, ideas. Many were not my specific taste, but each one held a few key thoughts and applications that I could really get behind.


Nice looking vegetable garden


Lush and green with lots of poppies hidden about


LOVE the idea of a re-purposed window green house


This was the set-up outside an outhouse for guests to use and wash their hands. LOVE LOVE LOVE.


This perennial garden was 30 years in the making


This property had a beautiful, very expansive English country style garden. Not totally my taste but when I saw the clematis climbing the side of the house, I realized that my dream of something similar really could come true. Even if I live in the north!


This little bench caught my eye, not only because it’s my style but because it just was. No flowers, no frill, just plopped in a quiet corner of overgrown grass… which I just so happen to have an abundant amount of

The two gardens that I enjoyed the most were a rural property owned by a couple who were closest to Clay and I’s ages and the town property that, gasp, actually incorporated some permaculture ideals and practices. It does exist around these parts!

The younger couple had only been on their property for 10 years, but it really spoke to my heart and sense of projects. They even had a small corral in the back where two young girls were riding their pony. Kind of seemed like something our property would have in 10 years.

She had a water feature in the front yard with many random perennial beds scattered throughout, a gorgeous shade garden in the front of the house, a charming greenhouse with a wood stove and a veggie garden to die for. I quickly made a note to myself to try and become friends with her… but covertly enough that she didn’t think I was psycho. More “oh look, we have similar interests” rather than “oh look, I was just driving by your house again”.


The owner told me that she never minded weeding and working around the water feature because it was such a zen place to spend time.


Love the wooden rain barrel paired with some lovely hops


Her charming greenhouse


The wood stove inside the greenhouse… Yes, I could spend some time in a place like this


Her veggie garden of delight

The second property was a regular house in an older part of town where this guy and his partner had created a permaculture-esque paradise in his back yard. I didn’t get a lot of photos here because I was busy talking and inquiring. All of his bushes and trees had an edible component, he had built plant guilds and a food forest that incorporated some showy flowers because he liked the added color and textures. His tiny greenhouse was loaded with an abundance of ripening tomatoes and he even had a fig tree…. a fig tree. The fire pit only had two chairs, but I figured that I could bring my own when we also became best friends. They seemed like the type of people who just loved to wear fabulous shoes and drink wine in the garden, yes please.


The adorable greenhouse surrounded by food


More veggies and a very lonely looking fire pit

Anyway, all in all a great day! I returned home hot and tired and immediately judged my non-existent gorgeous garden, but reveled in the fact that maybe, just maybe someday our house would be on the garden tour and young inspired gardeners would be plotting to become friends with me. Smiling, I sat down in the yard and quietly watched the littles and Beatrix free range in our overgrown grass.


What what, chicken butts


Our Chicken Coop

Let me tell you about our chicken coop.


If you will, remember back to the beginning of the summer where it all began… A sea can arrived at Canadian Acres.


Sea can arriving

It was hard to imagine what the end product would look like, but we were confident that it would be a fortress of a coop no matter what it looked like.

We started by clearing out the “shop” that had inhabited the sea can for an unknown amount of time. There were cables, breakers and a large amount of aluminum to be removed. So we did just that.


The interior being inspected by security

When it was cleared out, it was apparent that the floor needed to be sanded and repainted, that the whole interior needed a good scrub down and a fresh coat of paint.

The sea can measured 8 feet x 20 feet and we wanted to make sure we utilized the space in a smart and resourceful way.

The original plan:

1-Chicken Coop plans

We were lucky that the sea can was fully insulated, so that was one less cost for us. We made sure to spray foam insulation in all of the areas we cut into and/or covered up, including about 100 bolt holes that littered the outside of the sea can.

Clay built a partition wall to make going in and out a little easier. Dodging chickens and blocking dogs didn’t sound like a daily event I wanted to deal with. The partitioned area measured 5′ x 8′ and left the actual chicken run 120 square feet of room. Most chicken keeping resources call for at least 4 square feet per bird, so we had plenty of room for happy hens.


Scrubbed, sanded and three coats of paint later…

We cut and installed a window we got off of an online classified for $40, allowing plenty of light and ventilation on the south facing wall.


It took a few tries and a couple of different tools, but we got the window cut


Inside, a waterer and feeder were hung from the ceiling and removable roosts were added too. All easy to clean and maintain, right up my alley! There are 3 levels of roosts measuring 4 feet each, allowing for at least 10 inches per bird if we have 14-15 birds (which is kind of what I’m going for).


View of the interior with both exterior doors opened


Interior chicken run

Outside, we built a run that is roughly 25 feet x 25 feet. I dug a trench (ugh) roughly 6-12 inches deep between posts to allow us to bury a length of chicken wire to help deter predators. After enclosing the run with 1 inch chicken wire, I added string to the top of the run to prevent overhead predators, namely our resident hawk that hunts in the fields daily. My friend in Alaska swears by this method as it allows a winged predator to enter easily but will not allow for an easy escape. Most predators will not enter an area that does not have an easy escape route. So with that theory in mind, I strung away!


The trench that took a very long time to dig… damn you tree roots, damn you


Completed outdoor run. We used fence posts and peeled log rails


Predator “stringing”


Looks legit

Clay cut a chicken door to allow entrance into the run and also made this predator proof when we close it at night. 


Security checking out the handiwork


Pretty little chicken door


Predator proof latch

Turns out  it can also easily accommodate the size of a very helpful 7 year old.


I’m pretty sure I’m in the running for Babysitter of the Year

When all was finished I painted the exterior and we added an herb garden. The only things to add are electricity for the winter months, a roof over part of the outdoor run, and the nesting boxes to gather our future eggs. The older chickens are closing in on 18 weeks (average laying start date) so it will be very exciting to see what color eggs we end up with.

All in all I’d say we spent a total of $150 on our coop, pretty thrifty if you ask me!

We’re thrilled with the outcome and the chickens seem very happy in their new home. MUCH better than my craft room I’m sure. It’s proven to be quite predator proof and even eludes the two security guards who work the perimeter diligently.


Security proof, top middle


What do you think?


Too many Dicks on the Dance Floor

Well, it’s official. We have a major cock problem here at Canadian Acres.


My hopeful wishing that our rooster Dick was the only of his kind in our starter flock of 14 has proved unrealistic. The count is now at 6 cocks, 8 hens. And let’s be honest, I’m a rookie so a new one could pop up any day now.

First, it started with more and more crows joining the chorus. At all times of the day. Then, it followed with a plethora of cock fights and over zealous shows of strength and all things that are man. Now, the school yard bullying has topped the charts, and the hens are none too impressed. Poor Beatrix won’t even come out of the coop anymore.


Does Beatrix look impressed to you?

To quote one of my favorite Flight of the Conchords songs “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor”:

“Too many misters, not enough sisters,

too much time on too many hands,

not enough ladies, too many mans.”


My handsome Dick, the friendliest of the bad boys bunch


Mabelo, once dubbed “Mabel”


Milton, who was falsely identified as Millie for too long


Mr. Cleon


Ruben, the artist formerly known as Ruby


Doyle… I guess I can’t sing “Hello Dolly” to him anymore

Which brings us to the sad conclusion that butchering day will be here soon and although I fear, with a heavy heart, that I will cry through the entire process, I know deep down that my ladies need to be safe from the clutches of too much testosterone and oh how  I do love the taste of chicken. At least I know that they had a great life and were treated with the utmost respect.

For now, I do so enjoy hearing the attempted crows and the beautiful plumage of my fellas. Still not sure if we’re going to keep a rooster around, but I think Dick is definitely in the running for that position need it be filled.

Here’s to hoping that your days are not as filled with the over abundance of testosterone and crowing that mine are, and that you aren’t consumed with overwhelming idea of having to kill something, pluck it and eat it.