Thursday, 30 October 2008

Men at work!

Today the place was alive with the sound of saws, hammers and a backhoe and swarming with busy guys! I am totally impressed with how fast things can get done with the right combination of skills and tools. I used to be more into leisurely messing about with hand tools, but we are learning that it pays to just hire the man and machine power. We are having some badly needed work done on the homestead.

The most important project is a snow roof to preserve our ageing mobile home. I used to joke that while they are not made to last centuries, neither are we. But we do intend to keep going for another twenty years or so, and the place has been showing serious signs of strain. Husband Chris has been doing a heroic job shoveling the snow off the roof in winter, but it is time for more drastic measures.

I used to resist the idea of a snow roof because I didn't like the looks of them. Well, that can change. I never liked the looks of fenced-in gardens either, but now all I see is the joy of a deer-proofed vegetable patch! So this roof will mean sturdy shelter, and the ugly vertical poles can be a trellis for something flowering.

The other project is the revival of the chicken facilities. I would like to start a laying flock again. Alas, the fence around the outside run had fallen apart. Untreated poles made from local trees will eventually just rot. I also want to bury chickenwire a foot down all the way around to discourage digging critters.

The project included taking down some trees that used to be handy as fenceposts, but they got too big and were shading the veggie garden. That is the ultimate sin a tree can commit. Sorry trees, but the garden was there first.

We ended up with one guy on the roof, and three clearing away the trees. You have no idea of the mess that one fallen tree leaves behind. In other years we had some selective logging done with a team of horses. It took days to clear away the slash after the main trunks were hauled away.

This time our friend Neil with his intrepid little blue bobcat dragged all the trunks to one place close to the old house and neatly piled all the slash, ready for burning one of these days. Then he dug a trench complete with post holes for the future chicken run. Less than 4 hours of men and machine time for work that would have cost WEEKS of backbreaking human labour.
Son Alex is temporarily living in the old house, which is still heated with wood. He is getting handy with a chainsaw.

Here's a toast to men with machines!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Sailing to Self Sufficiency

We are starting a loose network of cooperative neighbours with the aim of being more self sufficient in the coming hard times.

For example, I used to keep chickens, and wouldn't mind doing it again if I could count on "chicken-sitters " when we want to go away on a trip. I have a date this Tuesday to pick the brains of a lady who used to run a barter bank. It may well be an idea whose time has come.
Printing money, why let the government have all the fun? But that is a whole other topic.

This item was on the local news. We are a region of deep valleys mainly filled with lakes.
Places to grow grain are far and few between, but Creston at the South end of Kootenay lake
is such a place. Locally grown food is making a come-back, yeah!

Read this story and rejoice.

October 20, 2008Press Release

Friday, 3 October 2008

Living with the Wheel, Giving Thanks, and a kitchen brag

The children are long grown and doing well, my Old Dutch and I settled in a peaceful routine. No drama, no soap opera, no clawing our way up any career ladder. Just daily life with some part time money earning endeavors.

The heart of my life is really just deeply experiencing Nature's Wheel. As mentioned before, ask me how I am, and you get a weather report. For some people it would be the most abhorrent boredom, but I find it totally satisfying at soul level. The picture was taken on Friday October 10, on a walk in the neighborhood. After more than 30 years I still walk around full of wonder and amazement that I have been allowed to live my life here.

A report of the season just past. Spring was icy, the worst we have ever seen. But once it started in mid-June the summer was quite pleasant. The weather was a bit more changeable than we are used to here.

In these deep valleys weather has a tendency to get stuck. Whatever it's doing, it doesn't know when to quit. You welcome the ending of a drought, but then it pours for three cold weeks. Or you enjoy the coming of beach weather, but the next thing you know the woods are burning.

This year we saw an alternation between sun and rain that made the gardens grow and saved the woods from burning. The end of August was disgusting, but we got some nice weeks in September to make up for it. All in all a good season. I had a bumper crop of raspberries and took the trouble to freeze the best ones on a tray, so they stay separate. The blueberries are store bought.

Just layering the berries in a tall glass with Olympic's Organic French Vanilla Yogurt makes the most delicious desert. We had it for Thanksgiving yesterday. .

Thanksgiving is my favorite event of the year. Christmas is too much, and at that time of year I feel like hibernating anyway. TG is hype-free, and because I try to grow much of our food it means a lot. If the garden yields only one serving of a vegetable it gets served at this dinner. It is a way to honor the devas.

So here is my kitchen brag, served to an appreciative small party of neighbors.

Appetizer: zucchini and carrot sticks with dip, raw sliced Jerusalem Artichokes in vinaigrette.

Dinner: small bought turkey, I took a break from raising chickens this year. Stuffed with 4 whole bulbs of home-grown porcelain garlic, the garlic got mashed into the gravy.

Stuffing made with bread crumbs from the crusts I can never throw away and keep in a bag in the freezer, sage and onion from the land, lovage from the land, small tomatoes from the market.

Parsnips from the farmers market roasted together with the bird. YUM.

Green and wax string beans, the only baggies from the garden. It was not a good year for beans.

Salad of finely chopped young kale leaves with grated carrots and finely chopped multiplier bulbs, the rest will be planted for next spring. For some reason I grow great multipliers and garlic, but ordinary onions and leeks don't like me. Kale and I have a love affair going.

Desiree potatoes. Nice variety with red skin and yellow flesh. We got about 100 pounds of spuds, excellent year for them. Plenty of parsley to sprinkle wherever.

Apple sauce from one of the volunteer trees.

Desert: I cheated and bought the pie crusts. Pumpkin pie with pumpkin from my market buddy Colette, yogurt and homegrown raspberries.

All in all a nice little feast, and today is the best: leftovers!

A special quote for this day:

You ought to be Thankful,

a whole heaping lot

For the places and people

You're lucky you're not

Dr. Seuss