Monday, October 20, 2014

Collecting wood from the mountains

We start thinking about cold weather this time of year. It’s nice right now but the niceties can change in the course of a few hours. That being said we take every opportunity to collect wood from various sources.

This past weekend Ringo and I went up with some friends to the mountains to gather wood. We all pitched in together and came home with several loads of lodge pole pine firewood.

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I have trailer envy. Look at that nice big trailer compared to Grey Beards ski-doo trailer.

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Ringo is a good worker. He turned ten years old on this day. I asked him if it could get any better than being in the mountains collecting wood with his dad and he kind of grunted. He reminded me he had a birthday party that afternoon and we needed to work fast to make it in time. rototilling 006

Here’s our load. rototilling 008truck with wood

Not quite as big as the big trailer. We had to take off to make it to Ringo’s shin dig but I was told they filled up this trailer another time along with another couple of small trailers.

It’s quite a bit of work to drag out these poles but the wood is great and it’s fun to work with a bunch of guys instead of doing it all by yourself. truck full of kids

We made it back to the birthday party (late of course as we didn’t stop working in time) and filled up the back of the truck with a different kind of lodge pole pines.rototilling 012

Ringo wanted to head down to the river and have a hot dog roast for his party. The sun came out and all the kids jumped in the water although they didn’t last that long as it is mid October here and the water is quite cold this time of year.rototilling 017

But the kids are tough as nails as you can see by this guy. It’s nice to have a bunch of kids around on days like this because if one goes in the water they all have to so they are not out done. rototilling 015

After about an hour a wind storm came through and all the kids huddled around the fire. We though we may be stuck down there the rest of the winter. But after fifteen minutes the weather turned decent again and we were able to haul everyone back home wrinkled, sandy, but unscathed.

I’m pretty sure Ringo like the river portion of the day better than collecting wood in the mountains but I enjoyed the whole day tremendously. I think we’ll head up for another load soon before the snow flies.

You can’t have too much wood in our part of the world. You never know when you’ll feel like heading down to swim in the river and need a nice big fire to warm everyone up.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Garden Tilling

Millie and I are quite impressed with our level of preparedness this year. We just finished an indoor cold storage room in our basement and have harvested all our potatoes, carrots, beets, and various other sundry garden wares. We also were on the ball this year and had our garden tilled after depositing all the manure pile into the garden.

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We had a local equipment operator come in and haul the manure pile into our garden. The pile has been sitting there for about 6 months but we started it about a year ago.rototilling 027

I was tempted to do it by hand but the $100 to haul and till the garden was well worth it. It would have taken me two days to shovel the six foot high by 12 x 6 foot pile.rototilling 028

If you look carefully in the background you can see the source of this magnificent manure mound. She may look skinny but she sure does recycle an amazing amount of fertilizer.rototilling 029

We loaded the whole pile onto our garden.rototilling 030

I sure like the sky in our area. The smell from this side of the garden was a little bit sour but because of the composting nature of the contents it wasn’t all that bad. rototilling 031

Could you imagine me doing that all by hand. Some things are worth paying for.rototilling 032

While the tractor was delivering the dung Millie watered trees and enjoyed the view. rototilling 033

Molly dressed up as little green riding hood and collected rosehips. rototilling 034

After tilling up the moo mounds you can see the surface is smooth and fluffy.rototilling 035

We only did one pass through the garden as we didn’t want to make the ground too fluffy or it might blow away with the high winter winds we are bound to experience this off season. I will probably put up a pallet fence half way through the garden to decrease the erosion and hopefully catch more snow for ground protection and water collection.

As I said at the beginning of this post, Millie and I are not usually this on top of things. We still have a ton of things to do this fall to prepare for winter but it’s sure a great feeling to have a full storage room and the garden ready for spring.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Harvest time

It’s that time of year when it can be snowing and cold one day and be 21 degrees Celsius the next. It’s quite discouraging to look out the window in the morning and see this on the porch.

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We’ve had a couple of snow storms already, one of which included six inches of snow.Harvest 001I took the above picture in the attempt to make snow seem romantic and nice but in reality it’s just cold and ruined all my garden plants.Harvest 158

The potato harvest was pretty good this year. We planted Russets, Yukon gold and Pontiac reds. Some of the potatoes were fairly large. We were worried they might have hollow heart but not one so far has had that so we are pretty blessed.Harvest 153The kids have been great helpers this year in the harvest. Ringo turns ten years old soon and works like he’s sixteen. Harvest 152I think my kids are the only ones that would wear a coat but still be in shorts and no shoes. We get frequent visitors to our place and I often wonder if we are thought of as hillbillies as we are often barefoot running around the farm. Hopefully we are just thought of as trendy hippies who like to partake in Earthing. Harvest 149We ended up with nine apple boxes of potatoes which is about six hundred pounds of food. We also stored four boxes of carrots which is around 150 lbs of product. We usually store the carrots in sand but are trying sawdust this year. Sand works great but is awfully heavy. I’m getting old and can’t lift things like I used to so we are trying sawdust as it’s lighter. We’ll have to check on the carrots often this winter to make sure the sawdust is working.Harvest 148There is a picture of my dad when I was a kid kneeling down picking potatoes that is almost an exact replica of this photo. I always thought my dad was old and uncool. Thirty years later I realize that he is pretty awesome and hip. He’s still old though.Harvest 147Ringo thinks I’m old now but I keep telling him he better think I’m handsome as he’s going to look just like me in thirty years. Harvest 143Hopefully Molly will look like Millie in thirty year and not like me.Harvest 106Here’s our own Mrs. Potato head. Isn’t she beautiful?Harvest 107

We gave one of these potatoes to Dancing Queen. She wouldn’t take more as she said one potato would feed her and grey beard for two meals.Harvest 142Molly is a great helper as well. It’s fun to work with the kids. I think it’s probably more fun to harvest than it is to weed but that’s to be expected. Harvest 102We even grew cantaloupe this year. Look at these beauties. Juicy and wonderfully tasting.Harvest 105

It gives you an idea of how big the potatoes are. Harvest 103

Well, I should tell the truth here. The cantaloupes were wonderful just really small. We’ll have to start them inside next spring so they get a little bigger.

We are almost ready for snow to come full time. We are going to the mountains to get wood this morning and hopefully be back in time to play down at the river this afternoon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Calf status

Our wee little calf is growing up nicely. I guess that’s what all the grass you can eat and all the fresh air will do for a bovine.

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Too bad this Jersey/Guernsey cross is still skin and bones. Looks like it will be another year before we have Ranger burgers. By then the horns will be fairly big. Good thing this big fella is just a pet and lets us scratch his ears when we go say hello.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Farm Fashion

Not much to say on this other than I look more and more like a farmer and my kids look more and more like they should be embarrassed of my boots.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Reminder to myself to keep things simple

After a full summer of work and a couple years of all encompassing homesteading lifestyle we’ve committed ourselves to take on less projects to decrease the amount of time necessary to run our Simple Farm. I have to keep telling myself no to things such as getting more calves or buying a horse. There is currently a never ending supply of things that need to be done. It’s hard really is hard to keep things simple. Especially when there’s so many things we’d like to do.

For example, our kids take riding lessons with a nearby friend. After each lesson Ringo and Molly always say “we need to get a horse dad”.

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It sure looks fun.

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And would probably be good to teach the kids more responsibility. phone09242014 025

And they like it a lot.

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And it’s nice to see them working with animals.phone09242014 021

But I’m not sure I could handle more things to take care of at this point.

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At least I got another piece of propaganda to remind the kids they really do like each other occasionally.

I’m thinking we’ll just stay to lessons and use the opportunity to keep things simple, letting someone else handle the horsing around business.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Snow

It’s hard being a Canadian gardener. Here it is the beginning of September and we already have this to wake up to.

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It’s only a light skiff of snow but it reeks havoc on the zucchinis and tomato’s as the temperature naturally drops as well.

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And the above snow fall warning isn’t too pleasant as either. I like skiing and we pray for snow…in December.

I’ve covered as many plants as I can with plastic and transplanted some tomato plants into pots and moved them next to the house. I’m hoping to get a little more growth this year out of the garden but the season is changing fast.

I find this blog post quite ironic as only a few days ago I was bragging about how great my garden was looking and now it’s dead and dying.

Yup, it’s hard being a gardener in Canada.

Friday, September 5, 2014

If you got it, flaunt it

We’ve had a pretty productive summer so far and this is the first time I’ve actually not been embarrassed to show off our garden a bit. Usually I feel unsatisfied and timid to share how puny my plants are and I’d skip pictures of the place as the weeds are most definitely bigger than the vegetables. I’m not sure what we did this year to be different I’ll attribute any and all success as a mere abnormality in statistical probability.

But for once I thought I’d share a few plunders from our harvest.

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As you can see zucchini was plentiful this year. We got about the same amount every week of the summer. I’m not sure anyone else around hear likes zucchini as most people we tried to pawn this stuff off on either rejected the offering or had the same problem on their hands.

Dancing queen likes to tell a story about when she first started growing zucchini. She planted four hills and had an over abundance of product come harvest time. When she tried to pass on the plentiful offerings to other people she resorted to writing out zucchini recipes and asking unsuspecting targets at church if they’d like to try out a new delicious prescription for pleasure. Maybe her marketing skills weren’t targeted at the right audience as her pedaling often resulted in coming back with more zucchini than she started out with. 

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We have a 50’ by 60’ garden as we about tripled the size of the plot. Millie was quite worried that we just cultivated a bigger area for morning glory or any other number of noxious weeds that we are really good at growing. But as you can see the weeds are kept in track fairly reasonably.

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I’d like to take some of the credit for the weedless garden but Millie made me buy a wheel hoe this year and it’s made all the difference. I can’t imagine going back to what we did before. It’s so easy and wonderful. Now everyone things we must have spent hours and hours on our garden where in reality a few minutes a day and our weeding chores have been drastically reduced.

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We haven’t really been to the grocery store all month as we’ve been living off of our spoils. I noticed this picture that included a jar of milk left out on the cupboard. Pretty good eating. I could eat some combination of the above ingredients every day of the year.

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Having found no unsuspecting zucchini takers we ended up dehydrating everything.

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We could usually fit in around three big zucchini’s and a few summer squashes at a time.

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The slices are around a quarter to half inch in thickness. In the past we’ve had an automatic chopper upper thing that cuts the slices into quarter inch cubes but that was broken and we were to lazy to find another one.

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The above is the result on one drying sequence. We love dehydrating as it saves so much space and is by far the easiest of all preserving efforts. We dehydrate everything. Beets are great to dehydrate.

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More zucchini but you can see in the background comfrey and marshmallow plants drying on the floor. Millie saves plants such as this to use in healing poultices in the winter. Comfrey is great for sprains, torn muscles, inflammation, etc.

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That smiley faced zucchini made it’s way around our place. Everyone wanted to show how happy they are.

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Kids are about as plentiful around here as zucchini are. Only half the kids in this picture are ours but in looking at this I realized this is how many kids my mom and dad had by the time I was eight years old. This could have been my family photo thirty years ago. Ringo is nine and the youngest in this picture is just over one years old. No wonder my parents grew a garden and didn’t buy a wheel hoe. They needed something for us to do to keep us busy.

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Well, unfortunately the time of plenty is coming to an end but we are not quite ready to harvest everything in the garden yet. We are hoping to extend the growing season a bit even though we are constantly receiving frost warnings and see snow in the mountains. So in an effort to stay busy we are onto such things as deck building.

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And playing with the kids who are growing like weeds.