Monday, 29 October 2012

It's a Girl!

Sweet baby Penny made her peaceful entrance into the world yesterday at 4:45pm after a smooth, quick delivery.  We are OVERJOYED to have a new baby in the family!
Grandma and Grandpa love you, Penny XO

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Birth Day

On the first "official" snow day of the season, we wait in anticipation for news of the birth of our first Grandchild...  baby is making his/her entrance into the world today :)

Will update when we hear!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cold Weather Scenes

The chickens aren't minding the colder temperatures.  They do wait until closer to 9am to get busy in the garden, but once they are out, they stay busy outside all day.  Jacques is a fine and handsome fella, isn't he?  He's second in line to the throne, but he takes every opportunity to shoot for the moon, jockeying himself into the alpha position.

Our alpha rooster, Claude is the clear leader, and he certainly straightens Jacques out in a very firm but non-violent way.  He's a lover not a fighter :)  The 2 "boys" crow all day back and forth in competition until they are hoarse and their voices crack.  We all laugh so hard ~ cheap country entertainment...

As you can see below, we've got a nice deep litter layer on the garden for winter protection.  Spent greens, leaves, manured wheat straw and finally, flax straw.  All we need is a nice blanket of snow to tuck it all in under a protective cover for the winter.

The greenhouse freezes at night, but during the day hovers close to zero.  

In it, I've got lettuce, beets, celery, herbs, broccoli, onions and a few other things struggling to grow...  It's doubtful that I'll actually see much of it reach harvest size, but a girl can try, can't she?

 This is the second 900 lb bale of organic flax straw that I've had delivered recently. I'm using it as protective mulch for new plantings and also as grass killer.  Where the bale sits now will be a HUGE flower garden come fall of next year.   I'm lazy and don't want to dig out the turf so by spreading the straw thickly now, I'm hopeful the grass will die off within a year just in time for fall planting in 2013.  The Honeycrisp apple tree in the foreground is toward the north of the property, and the crescent shape strip of straw is planted with Saskatoon bushes, curving to capture the sun from the south.  They will grow to 10' tall and will (fingers crossed) provide some shelter for the new flower garden by way of a microclimate.  Time will tell - I'm probably being overly optimistic :)

Indoors, it's obvious that it's Fall - apples and pears grace the fruit bowl,

and the very last of the tomatoes are finally ripening.

 Woollens and fleece have come out and are put into daily service

 as are the cozy fleece sheets.

Lego and beading projects are spread out after a long summer of them being packed away.

Mommy's "toys" are coming out of storage, too - fabric and sewing await my calloused gardening hands.

I've got a baby quilt to sew - our first Grandchild is due in ONE week!  Hop to it, Grandma!  Stay tuned... :)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Shifting to Indoor Work

Yesterday found me working hard out of doors shovelling the chicken coop out, spreading manured straw all over the garden and then, mulching with 900 pounds of organic flax straw from Gold Forest Grains.  I dressed the greenhouse as well - a thick straw layer on the path that I had worn right down to mud.  My muscles are sore and stiff today (rightly so) but it feels SO good to get the last of those outside chores done before the snow comes.  Believe it or not, today, we have had light flurries dusting the ground and the thermometer says 1C.  I'm extra grateful that I got my "rear in gear" and finished those jobs yesterday while the weather was pleasant.

With all that hard physical work yesterday, I was more than ready for some quiet inside work today.  My basket of ironing has sat (and grown larger) for most of the summer and seemed so appealing to me today. The soothing heat, the smell of homemade lavender ironing mist, the repetitive process... all of it was most enjoyable with a hot cup of tea by my side.  

I am SO ready for the indoor work that has been waiting for my attention all summer.  Mending and sewing, knitting and stitching, soap making, baking, scrap booking, deep cleaning, painting and organizing.  There is much to do (always), but I'm looking forward to the seasonal shift and a change of pace...

...Kitty is, too  :)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Another project crossed off the list

As Paige's garden sign says, Fall has indeed arrived.  Our days are bright and sunny but cool ~ perfect for getting some heavy projects done outside.

The early evening light looks orange and fiery against the overcast sky.  This picture was taken over the weekend, just moments before the heavens let go and the (not forecasted) rain poured down.  The weather here changes rapidly and unexpectedly (both ways) and never ceased to surprise us.  

Today was sunny and warm (16C exactly, Rose :) ), so we gathered up the old pallets/pieces of pallet wood that we've been saving and we magically put them into useful service as a compost bin.  I use the term "we" very loosely...  truth be told, my brilliant husband is responsible for everything.  I merely helped fetch and pass things.  He's amazing like that :)

We've been meaning to set up a permanent composting system ever since we moved here, but somehow, that project always got bumped down the list... for three years!

She's not "pretty" but this project didn't cost us a dime, so that fact trumps beauty any day!  We chose a convenient spot - on the way to the hens and garden and not far from the clothesline - the 3 places we visit daily.  The bin has good exposure (SE) so it should see enough sun to help with decomposition.  

Ain't she grand?  

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Temperatures are dropping. 

Every cobweb that is invisible in the light of day, is highlighted by frost each morning.

As "gardening" season winds to a close, we hurry to put away all evidence of an intense, 5 month, epic food production project.  The potatoes and carrots are finally dug and stored and I never want to dig another one again, LOL.  The bursitis in my hip is telling me that we dug way more than last year.

Spent plants are either left standing for the birds (as is the case with the sunflowers)

or left on the garden for mulch.

We've been hauling home bagged leaves from residential streets in the nearby city (on a recent trips in) to add further winter protection (and food) for the soil.   The hens are busily scratching through it all and are also gorging on a few frost damaged squash.

The greenhouse tomato plants bore HEAVILY for which we are thankful!  Top producers were Bonny Best and Jaunne Flamme.   It was so helpful to have a protected space to get a full harvest of tomatoes before hard frost came.  Now, after the addition of compost and mulch, the flats of greens that have been waiting will go into this soil and (hopefully) produce some fresh food for at least a month or more...  I'm LOVING having a greenhouse!

The strawberry runners were clipped and rooted in a new planting area a few weeks back, and we have begun to mulch this bed to protect it from winter's harsh temperatures.  Soon, snow will blanket it and seal it in cozily.

A recent shopping expedition at my favourite nursery netted a large selection of trees, shrubs and perennials all at 70% off (end of season sale), but of course that meant that a lot of planting was in order...

The Honeycrisp apple tree went in on the north side of the lawn (so as not to shade the yard) then a crescent shape of Saskatoon bushes went in on the south side of the tree.  They'll grow to 10 feet and provide a sheltered area in front of it for a new garden (to come).  Next up is heavy mulching...

This is just the start - we have a HUGE round bale of organic flax straw to pick up from down the road which will effectively mulch and rot the grass down to form a new planting area for next year.

My potting bench is clean and organized, ready for next season.  The tools are packed away after a long hard workout.

Aside from all the outdoor work around Little Home In The Country, I'm knee deep into my Organic Master Gardener Course.  I'm learning more about ecology and soil than I ever thought possible.  I'm humbled (as we all should be) at how incredibly diverse and complex the foundation of life on this planet truly is.

Once things settle down next week, I hope to be back here on a more regular basis.   Until then, we press on to finish preparations for winter!

Friday, 5 October 2012

2 week intensive

For the next 2 weeks, I'll be hopping!

1)  Carrots and potatoes are still coming out of the ground and I'm losing the race to finish before heavy frost sets in.  Must finish!

2)  Found yesterday for 70% off, a Honeycrisp apple tree and many companion perennial plants/vines (also 70% off) need to be planted *this weekend*.

3)  My course load is increasing - lots of fascinating ecology, detailed botany and even some chemistry is all combining to stretch my brain into unknown territory.

4)  Thanksgiving dinner (hosted here on Monday) needs to be prepared for.  The turkey is defrosting in the fridge while I make lists and dig out favourite recipes.

5)  Our first Grandchild is due is 4 weeks!  I MUST get cracking on the quilt, SOON.

6)  Ongoing planning continues for a Baby Shower to be hosted here in November.  Such a happy occasion that will be :)

7)  Seasonal Chores are piled up - washing outdoor windows, switching to winter tires, putting the garden to bed, marking the driveway, storing patio furniture, cleaning out the coop (to name just a few).

There's more, but I'll stop there because it's too overwhelming to even think about it all at once...

See you soon, dear readers XO

Monday, 1 October 2012

This isn't gardening any more...

I've come to the realize that what I'm slogging away at out in the garden isn't gardening any more.  It's officially Food Production.  While that may not sound much different, my aching back and my calloused hands assure me it is.

This is a scene that gets repeated each day, day in day out...  carrots are dug, pulled up,  greens are stripped, they're tossed in the box, hauled to the hose, dumped, washed and reloaded into baskets to carry inside.   There, they are scrubbed, bagged and finally, stored in the fridge downstairs.  Potatoes are a little easier - no washing or bagging - just box them and put them in the dark, cold corner of the garage.

Oh, the mental wresting I'm doing lately...  it's hard work digging potatoes and carrots from our heavy clay soil day after day.  I'm not whining or complaining...  I'm just saying, that this is serious WORK.  I had a few days of feeling sorry for myself, wondering why on earth I'm busting my chops to grow so much food when we *could * buy what we need.  Then I'd have more time for the million other tasks that need my attention right now.  But like a newborn baby that cries loudly to be fed, these veggies won't keep where they are.  Frost is on it's way and just like a new mother drops what she's doing to feed her baby, I too, am leaving my life behind while I tend to harvesting.

Growing healthy, non genetically modified, organic food to feed a family through the winter is not easy.  Anyone who says it is must know a secret that I don't :)  It's rewarding and satisfying, oh, absolutely, but there is NO denying it, the workload is heavy for one person.

I've come to realize that all this time spent growing food from seed to table is really what we all NEED a little more of.  The general population doesn't give food much thought short of driving to the store, buying it and hauling it home.  As a society, we spend far more time watching television each day than we do sourcing healthy food.  That, in my opinion, is a very grave mistake.

If you don't already know, genetically modified crops are in a very large selection of foods that people buy and consume every day in North America.  Educate yourself on the issue and fight it!  Buy organic food as locally as possible.  KNOW your producers and KNOW what is in your food!  Know how those GMOs affect your health in the short and long term.  Grow your own food, using NON GENETICALLY MODIFIED seed and secure yourself a supply of fresh, delicious, organic food.

It's hard work, YES, but one can't put a price on human and environmental health.  As an added bonus, homegrown food tastes SO MUCH BETTER than store bought.

These strawberries were gobbled down in mere minutes (to the sound of contented groans) when the kids got home from school today.  No store bought berry can even come close to the flavour and juicy sweetness of these homegrown beauties :)