Activities | Country Parent – Part 3

The majority of our food crops benefit from pollinator bees, however the decline of these insects continues to be a huge concern.

There are many types of pollinator bees. Most common ones are honey bees, bumble bees and orchard mason bees.

Mason bees, named after their masonry skills for nesting in wood cracks and crevices, are active from early spring to late summer in our region. Although these solitary, non-stinging bees do not produce honey or beeswax, they are excellent pollinators.

You can encourage their pollinating habits by hanging mason bee boxes in your garden this spring. Mason bee homes or kits can be purchased from any garden store. However, you can turn this into a fun kids project and make your own mason bee hotel. All you need are some nesting tubes and a container.

Here are three easy DIY mason bee nest projects to get children involved with their environment and interested in helping the bees.

Birch bee hotel

Birch trees shed their outer bark at the end of winter. This is the perfect time to collect the excess bark and use it as nesting material.

Gently cut the excess bark off the tree without damaging it.

To make the nesting tubes, cut the bark into 7″ wide pieces…
…then cut off the curled ends to get a straight edge on either side.

In most cases the bark consists of two plies and can be separate into two pieces to double the amount originally collected.
Next, with a pencil (or thin dowel) roll the bark peel into a thin tube. A pencil is the perfect size for this step, as it provides the right size diameter for the nesting tunnel.
Secure the tube with clothes pins and set aside for 24 hours. This will allow for the birch peel to keep its tunnel shape.
Remove clothes pins the next day.
Time to assemble the bee hotel. The nest frame can be of any shape. You can use empty tin cans or purchase 5″ to 8″ deep wooden boxes from the dollar store. Side note: Make sure the back side of the chosen box is closed. If not, you can always add a piece of wood to close it yourself.

Add the nesting tubes into the wooden box. Push them all the way to the back while tightly stacking them on top of each other.

Decorate the nest box with colourful trinkets. We decided to decorate our mason bee hotel with fresh moss, stick-on flowers and rhinestones. Simple designs and, to a certain extent, colours help the bees locate their own nesting tunnels.

Bamboo bee hotel

A quicker way for making a mason bee nest, is to use 6′ long bamboo poles. They are inexpensive and can be purchased at the dollar store.bamboo-poles-1024x768-7975373Cut the bamboo poles with a saw (or electric saw) every 5″.
Side note: You can cut between the nodes to get hollow 5″ tubes or you can keep the node on one side and cut the pole right after it, in order to get a single hollow opening on the opposite side.

Place the tubes in a a wooden box, stacking them up tightly.

Decorate the nest to assist the bees in locating their individual tunnels.

Drilled mason bee hotel

This is the easiest way for making a mason bees’ nest, but it requires power tools.

Drill 5/16″ diameter holes into a 6″ deep untreated piece of lumber or log. The holes should be about 1″ apart and drilled about 5″ deep into the wood.

Hang the nests individually or stacked up as shown below.

Bee creative

For a more unique look, construct a bee hotel by mixing and matching materials, i.e. include drilled logs, bamboo tubes and birch peel tubes to form one mega-nest.

Add natural elements for decorations, like moss, lichen, pine needles, spruce branches, alder catkins, pine cones, leaves, rocks, sea shells, etc.

Setting the nest

Early spring is the ideal time to hang mason bee houses, as the bees emerge from hibernation eager to find a nesting place.

In order to see the bees come and go, hang the nests at eye level on a south facing wall with morning sunlight. In addition, make sure to place the nests in an area protected from the rain (on a deck, under eaves, etc.).

To increase your chances of attracting mason bees, consider planting pollinator flowers such as wildflowers, asters, lilies, poppies, marigold, lavender, sage, basil, lupines, and flowering fruit trees or shrubs.

So, encourage your kids to learn more about pollinators this season by making and hanging mason bee hotels in the back yard.

“Bee-ild it and they will come”

Happy pollinating season!


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From decorating eggs, eating chocolate bunnies and participating in an egg hunt, Easter is a special holiday for children.

This year, Kayla MacKinnon organized the ‘Easter Egg Hunt Antigonish!’

She decided to create the event on Facebook and see if other parents would be interested in the idea. As the numbers increased, the requirements and instructions were posted on the event’s page for the participants.

Twelve plastic eggs had to be filled with treats, stickers, etc. for each child attending. The eggs were collected a few days preceding the egg hunt in order to facilitate setup and distribution.

The Easter egg hunt gathered close to 30 children of all ages!

At the beginning of the event, Kayla’s son collected donations for the local food bank.

Once the group picture was taken, the children took off with their Easter baskets in hand searching for hidden eggs on the playground.

Parents were present and monitoring the event, as the kids were running around collecting their 12 eggs.

Young Easter egg hunters were eggstremely happy that the event took place…

The smile says it all! (photos by

… and Kayla’s son was happy to collect food donations for the local food bank too.

Kayla hopes to organize another Easter egg hunt next year.

Great event Kayla!

Enjoy your Easter treats everyone!


So March break is right around the corner. If you are staying in the Antigonish area throughout the break and looking for things to do, here are a few ideas:

Programs your kids will love

 😀 At the Library

The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL) offers many free activities during the break! Make sure to register early as some programs are space limited.

 😀 Science fun

The StFX Chemistry dept. offers the X-chem Outreach Science Club.

For more children activities click on the following links (which can also found under the Antigonish Kids Corner tab in the main menu).

Outdoor activities

 😀 Hit the trails

Explore the numerous trails in our area. Enjoy the fresh air whether it’s hiking, coasting, skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing.

No equipment? No worries, the Town of Antigonish Recreation department loans recreational equipment throughout the winter months.

😀 Identify animal tracks

Animal tracks are easy to find in the snow, especially early in the morning. Snowshoe hare, squirrel, grouse, deer, raccoon and mice are some of the most common animal tracks you might encounter.

Hare tracks and grouse tracks

😀 Build a snowman

Although the Snowman Contest is over, you can still submit your snowman pictures to (subject: Snowman) to join the Antigonish Snowman Wall of Fame 2017!

Indoor activities

 😀 Swimming and skating

Take advantage of the free skates and free swims offered by the Town of Antigonish until March 19.

 😀 Bowling!

Enjoy a game of bowling, day or night, at Pins Bowling Center.

😀 PC Cooking school

Family cooking classes are offered at the Atlantic Superstore.

 😀 Spring cleaning?

Why not. Get an early start on your spring cleaning and get the kids to participate too! Now is the perfect time to go through last year’s summer clothes, which they have probably outgrown. You can drop off clothing and footwear in the designated Canadian Red Cross bins closest to your area.

Happy March Break!


by Meghan Delorey

Attending a hot yoga class for the first time can feel pretty intimidating. After all, the internet is full of stories of people’s hilarious yet embarrassing stories of their first experiences. Couple that with Instagram shots of yogi’s doing some scary looking poses and that is enough to make a person want to pass on the hot yoga classes.

As a person who started off their yoga journey hating most things about yoga (except how I felt after class) and add in the fact that I am not a fan of heat, I can understand why someone would be hesitant to go. I was skeptical of hot yoga for many reasons, including doubting its safety but I decided if I could grow to love yoga itself then I should give it a chance and now I love heated classes and teach heated classes as well as non heated classes. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Heat increases flexibility

I am starting with this one because it also can be a risky part of practice that can’t be left out. When heat is involved in a yoga class it makes the muscles softer and easier to move and stretch more, and with that being said this is where we can run into problems. If a student does not have a sense of their bodies limits heading into class there is an increased chance of injuring yourself but if you have an idea (even just from paying attention to your body in day to day life, sitting cross legged, bending over and how high you can lift your arms) you can have a better sense of what is safe for you in a pose. It isn’t just new yogi’s that are at risk, some seasoned yogi’s and teachers have injured themselves, we become so confident in our awesomeness that we push things we shouldn’t or perhaps don’t pay as much attention to our bodies in the pose and there is always the ego, that voice when you are one the more experienced yogis in the room and you want to show off a little and again we get more reckless leading to increased chance of injury. There are various different types of hot yoga classes Bikram and Mokshato to name a couple, and they are hotter than the classes that are taught in our studio, and yes there is a chance you can hurt yourself in class, but you can hurt yourself walking down the street, so take it with a grain of salt and pay attention to yourself and you will be fine.

2. Sweat, sweat, sweat

I know that this is more of a deterrent for some people than it is a reason to go but hear me out, sweating is a great way to help get rid of toxins and impurities from your body and in today’s world we need all the help we can get. And as an added bonus if you are not a fan of heat or sweating, you get to leave the heated room and there is no better feeling than a post hot yoga shower!

3. Easy to relax

It’s no secret that we are all a little more chill in the summer, it’s almost like heat helps melt away your worries leaving you happy and loving life. Consider a hot yoga class a little taste of summer in the harshness of the winter. Don’t get me wrong, the benefits of hot yoga translate through the seasons, but it is so nice to go into a heated room and relax your body from the tension brought on from being cold. This is an often overlooked issue in the winter, we spend so much time being bunched up to try to keep ourselves warm we start to hold a lot of tension in our shoulders, pelvis and jaw (among other areas but those are the main areas). Not only that but we are also more rigid in an effort to avoid the dreaded winter fall, no one wants to risk falling and seriously injuring ourselves. This makes it very hard to fully relax in the winter, going to a mini tropical retreat regularly in the winter will help immensely in your quest for relaxation!

4. Deeper relaxation in Savasana

Savasana is the final relaxation pose at the end of a yoga practice. I was told by one of my teachers during my training that one of the great yogis (possibly BKS Iyengar but I am not sure) said that we are unable to fully relax if our feet are cold and as someone who gets cold and miserable when her feet are cold I immediately identified with that theory. But, seeing as Mr. Iyengar lived in India and didn’t have to deal much with winter I am willing to extend his theory to be you cannot fully relax if any part of you is cold, which is pretty much a non issue at the end of a class, so it is a bit easier to get to a more relaxed state.

5. Improved sleep

Between the movements, breathing and sweating done in class and with the added effects of Savasana improvements in sleep, have been a common experience. Iyengar was a firm believer in yoga being able to help aid people who struggle with sleep, whether the struggle comes from falling asleep or staying asleep once you get there, the use of different muscles, the focusing on the breath rather than the thoughts and the movement of stagnant energy helps your body and mind ease into sleep easier, and he heat added to that increases the body and mind’s willingness to relax and move toward a sleep state.

All of the points I mentioned above are true of regular classes as well and I am by no means attempting to say hot yoga is better than regular yoga, because it is going to be different for everyone. If you have physical issues that are triggered from heat then hot yoga would not be for you such as blood pressure issues, concussions, heart problems and others. Talking to your doctor if you are unsure before you go is your best choice. Use your own discretion and don’t go in there with any expectations. Whether or not you choose hot yoga or any of the regular classes, I encourage you to give it a chance and remember to be easy on yourself and don’t get caught up in what you can’t do, in stead focus on what you Can Do!

Meghan Delorey

I grew up in Antigonish and live here with my six year old daughter. I also sling lattes at The Tall and Small Cafe in my spare time! I started my yoga journey (very reluctantly and painfully) about 12 years ago and have been teaching for three years Hot Yoga All Levels, Power Hot Yoga, as well as regular Yoga All Levels classes at Asana Yoga & Massage.

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 Staying Active With Persistent Pain, by Dr. Maureen Allen

Celebrate winter this year by making an awesome snowman, and while you’re at it, enter the contest below for a chance to win great prizes!

Contest Rules:

  1. MAKE a snowman. It could be a real snowman made out of snow, a craft, a drawing, snowman cookies, marshmallows, etc.
  2. SUBMIT your awesome snowman picture by email to by February 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.  Email must include “Snowman Contest” in the subject Line. You and your family or friends can be in the picture too!
  3. As always… please SHARE this post, LIKE the Country Parent Facebook page and SUBSCRIBE to Country Parent to receive a weekly blog post by email and automatically be added to future Facebook contests.
  4. This contest is open to Antigonish residents.

The winners will be announced on our Facebook page on March 1st and contacted directly by email.

Although the top 3 winners will have earned unlimited bragging rights, we thought it would nice to throw in a few cool prizes too!

Prizes include:

  • $50.00 gift certificate generously donated by the Justamere Cafe & Bistro
  • A cool sled generously donated by the Antigonish Canadian Tire
  • A large pepperoni pizza, generously donated by Snappy Tomato

Good Luck!

(animation by

The Snowman Wall of Fame!

Cameron, Owen and Jack Bell with their snowman

Jaelynn, Laken and Ava Rogers with their snowman

Katie MacNeil’s snowman

Cohen MacLean made Olaf, Frosty, and their little friend Snowflake

Pinevale snowman

Pinevale snowman

Lauren Doiron’s snowman

Bria Doiron’s snowman

Connor’s ‘Bulldog’ Snowman

Snowman ‘Big Jim’ and his friends

The Sampson family and Frosty the III who is 13.5’ tall! Janko, Alison, Heni and Anika built Frosty the III over the weekend. Her hat is a garbage can with a plywood brim. Her eyes, mouth and buttons are painted plywood, her nose is a pylon and her scarf was custom made by Anja Sampson. Frosty III lives on Fernwood Drive in Antigonish.

Abby Griffiths built her family out of snow

Lindy Fraser and her snow dog Medo (Pictou County 4-H member)

Byron Fraser and his snow turtle (Pictou County future 4-H member)


Did you know that January 18 is World Day of the Snowman?
The number ‘8’ represents the snowman and the ‘1’ represents the stick or broom he holds (source:

We decided to make our snowman colourful this year. It’s easy. All you need is some food colouring and a spray bottle.

  • Dilute the colours in cold water
  • Spray the water colours on your snowman

We gave ours a striped snowsuit and rosy cheeks!

Celebrate World Day of the Snowman this year by making your own awesome snowman, and while you’re at it, enter the contest below for a chance to win great prizes!

Contest Rules:

  1. BUILD a snowman (Jan. 15 to Feb. 28, 2017)
  2. SUBMIT your awesome snowman photo by email to by February 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.  Email must include “Snowman Contest” in the subject Line. You and your family or friends can be in the picture too!
  3. As always… please SHARE this post, LIKE the Country Parent Facebook page and SUBSCRIBE to Country Parent to receive a weekly blog post by email and automatically be added to future Facebook contests.
  4. This contest is open to Antigonish county residents only.

The winners will be announced on our Facebook page on March 1st and contacted directly by email.

Although the top 3 winners will have earned unlimited bragging rights, we thought it would nice to throw in a few cool prizes too!

Prizes include:

  • $50.00 gift certificate generously donated by the Justamere Cafe & Bistro
  • A cool sled generously donated by the Antigonish Canadian Tire
  • A large pepperoni pizza, generously donated by Snappy Tomato

Good Luck!



by Maureen Allen, MD

Pain is a universal experience that can feel scary and worrisome at times. As much as we dislike the experience of pain it has an essential role to play in our body, which is to protect and warn us of potential harm. Without our ability to respond and pay attention to pain our life would be in danger.

Think of your pain system like the security system we use in our house. When the alarm is triggered it calls us to action to pay attention and seek out the problem until the “all clear” has been signaled or the problem that triggered the alarm system has been addressed. It seems clear and straight forward most of the time but occasionally there will be a glitch within the system that fails to feed-back accurate information despite the volume of the alarm or the intensity of that experience. If the glitch occurs in our home security system, we call the repair man to come and “fix” the problem but for 1 in 5 Canadians repairing the glitch in our pain system can be difficult but not impossible. This is called persistent pain.

Persistent pain or chronic pain is a complex illness which can feel similar to acute pain, but the two conditions are very different. Acute pain or short term pain occurs when you have damage or possible damage to your tissue like a broken wrist, whereas persistent pain occurs long after tissue has healed and is less about damage and more about your central nervous system.  It is often described as a volume control issue where the intensity or volume of pain you experience is left on moderate to high and never returns to the “off” position.

Persistent pain can take over your life.

sad-505857_1280-1024x577-1012603We are not sure why some people get persistent pain while others do not but health professionals with the help of science are beginning to understand the nervous system changes that cause persistent pain and find more effective ways to help patients manage this life changing illness.

Learning to live with persistent pain can be challenging especially when told everything is healed and you need to get on with your life. It is similar to being told you have a condition like insulin dependent diabetes. Without help, support and new knowledge of the illness you would feel overwhelmed and frightened.

Don’t wait for your pain to get better before you start to make changes. Reach out to your local Pain self management clinic to get more information and how you can be referred.

My next blog post will touch on some important principles, such as how to get active with your persistent pain and whether medications can play a role in your recovery.

Maureen Allen, MD Director of Emergency Services St. Martha’s Regional Hospital

Antigonish, N.S.

Recent Posts

link to snow


Grab some hot chocolate and browse through the wonderful creations submitted to the 2nd Annual Snowman Contest. Click on the images below to get the full pictures and the details on the snowmen. ...