Doing Our Bit For The Bees

Sometimes sacrifice is, well, it is hooey unless there is some disadvantage to the person doing the sacrificing.

So to say I am sacrificing a neat and tidy lawn for the bees wouldn’t really be right.

There are many species of bees happily bobbing up and down all over the yard here at Mist Cottage, enjoying the organically grown bounty. What do we have on offer? Wild Strawberry blossoms, very popular with the smaller species of bees; Wild Violets, again very popular with the small set; Dandelions, a universal favourite, which is great because there a lot of dandelions in the yard; Blackcurrant blooms, the bush is humming with activity; Primrose, and Lungwort, the first choice of discerning big bumbling bumble bees. A few of the neighbours are horrified, and helpless to prevent our bountiful blooming yard.

We also have a lot of up and coming treats for the bees. In the lawn there will be White Clover, Chickweed, Plantain, Yellow Hawkweed, and the aggressive Bindweed.

In the garden there will be Bleeding Heart, Wild Geranium, Lavender, Echinacea, Wild Rose (fingers crossed, this is a transplant from my Granny’s garden), Day Lilies, Columbine, Ajuga, Lily of the Valley, Peonies, Hosta Lillies, Irises, Lilacs, Scarlet Runner Beans, and Sedum. And the blossoms on the crabapple tree will soon be filling the air with their delicious scent.

The vegetable garden will also sport a few blooms, squash, tomato and peppers. And the rest is yet to be determined.

I can’t figure out if it is a case of great minds think alike at the same time, or exposure to Joan Brennan’s post of Facebook, which was 45 minutes ago, which I don’t remember looking at until just a few minutes ago, after I’d been sitting out on the back porch, looking at all the yellow and violet and white blooms, and writing about them. Scrolling through Facebook posts might just be leaving more information in my brain than I am aware of! She posted a photo of her yard which looks to have Wild Violets, Dandelions, and I think a few Wild Strawberries.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Monday 14 May 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 13.0°C
Dew point: 10.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: S 25 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive… then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman

Yard Waste Pickup

The morning brought the sunshine, and it was a welcome sight. It was 5C this morning, when I opened the kitchen curtains to peer out at the thermometer. The day slowly warmed, and by mid afternoon it was quite pleasant.

The municipality where we live conducts a spring yard waste pickup. It will take place this week. During the winter a large branch of the Crabapple Tree in the front yard snapped off and lay suspended in the remaining tree branches. Today Attila took his tree saw and removed branches from it, until it fell to the ground. Then the cleanup began, which took all morning. Finally all the branches were bundled, the twigs gathered up and bagged in paper yard waste bags, and it was all piled at the end of the driveway, ready for yard waste pickup.

Looking out into the sunny back yard this morning, hundreds and hundreds of bright yellow dandelion blooms smiled right back at me. We have neighbours on three sides of us, and they don’t have dandelions in their lawns, which means they are using chemicals of some kind. I don’t want to use chemicals on our lawn. We have had the place for almost six years now, and not a drop of chemical fertilizer, insecticide, or herbicide, has come anywhere near our yard. That means that whatever grows in our yard is for practical purposes organically grown. Why destroy that for the sake of getting rid of a few dandelions. I do spray Wild Parsnip with the vinegar/epsom salt/dawn detergent mixture, so there have been three or four small spots that have been sprayed. But we don’t consider that mixture to be toxic to the environment, or to us.

This is the branch of the Crabapple tree that broke off last winter. Until this morning it hung suspended about 15 feet off the ground. Attila removed smaller branches from it until it came crashing down. It took hours to clean it up, and a chain saw was needed to cut the thick wood into logs. It is all by the curb now, ready for yard waste pickup.
Crabapple branch down
Not all pictures portray the best of me. I have my doubts that this particular selfie will attract a wide range of admirers. Giant Maggie in May, it is interesting how shadows can show us a completely different side to ourselves.
Giant maggie in may
The needles on the Tamarack in the back yard are bursting out, but still dwarfed by the seed cones. I love Tamaracks. We didn’t have any Tamaracks on our tender fruit farm, so I was late in becoming familiar with them. They shed their needles in the fall, the same as deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall.
The first time I had seen them was around 1970, spotted during a drive to visit my Granny and Grandpa. I remember commenting to my Grandpa that there were a lot of dead coniferous trees along the road. He thought that was hilarious! Of course, they were Tamaracks. He teased me about dead coniferous trees for years, and I’ve never forgotten that Tamaracks shed their needles.
Tamarack

Worldly Distractions

Weather

12°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 3 May 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 12.4°C
Dewpoint: 3.7°C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: ESE 18 km/h

Quote

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”
Milan Kundera
1929 –
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1975)

Celebration of Gifts

Poplar Two. I’ve been playing around with my camera, enjoying patterns and perceptions. Life is all about relativity! This image is part of my Altered States Gallery, which has just been updated.
005 poplar

I don’t think frugal quite covers what Attila and I do with our scant resources. It is not desperation. It is not dire need. It is more like a celebration of gifts. Our take on waste not, want not, seems extreme to some people. But we feel better about being alive when we use resources respectfully, and return what we cannot use to the ecosystem. We are not entirely successful in this; we use the public sewage system and water system at our little house in the city. We had to dispose of the material from our gutted basement, the whole mouldy, mildewed lot, to a landfill. These are, to us, spectacular failures to recycle, that seemed unavoidable. Our choice of materials for renovation are as recyclable as we can afford, and manage. We are ever mindful.

I think with us it is where our natural aggressions and hostilities are worked out, brought into the world. We fight not against others, but against imbalance. It is similar to a sport, pitting ourselves against the great waste, the insane consumerism, that surrounds us. Sometimes we win, hooray!; and sometimes we lose, hiss! But we always try. That is our game, one that we have played for more than five decades; that is over fifty years.

Increasingly we see others playing similar games, adding glamour, glitz and pomp to it, the new “homesteaders”. There is a danger with glamour, glitz and pomp, in evolving into consumerism; the ads and gambits for profit abound. The new homesteaders aren’t inventing anything new, they are just trying to relearn a little bit of what has been lost, in a much diminished context; a very challenging project. Most of them don’t even realize that this has all been done before, and that there are still people around who have been living this way all their lives. I wish these new adventurers luck, and I am glad to see them out there making the effort.

We purchased another fresh food basket this month. I picked it up yesterday. It is a little bit sadder than the last, as the season for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables is just beginning. Still, Attila calculates it is worthwhile. My only concern about it is that the produce is from the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto, and we might be getting GMO products. That cannot be helped at this point, and someday we hope to live somewhere where we can have a viable garden. For now, the fresh food basket is the best we can do.

Both baskets have had pleasant surprises from local producers and food manufacturers. Last month we got a little bag of dried cranberries from Muskoka, which have been very nice, no allergens, so I’ve been eating them for snacks with roasted almonds. This month the surprise is a tiny bag of granola, locally made. I do not trust it to be allergen free. The label doesn’t list my allergen. However, it would only take a little bit of cross contamination to prove fatal. Small producers are unknown quantities, with shallow pockets and therefore less fear of potential entrepreneurial law suites. Their foods are seldom tested for allergens. I know that some have limited awareness of the insidiousness of allergens, sneaking into ingredients, undetected. So, Attila alone will enjoy this month’s offering of granola.

One thing that appeals to me about the fresh food basket it that there is no knowing what will be in it! This time around we received a bundle of fresh parsley. Attila immediately used half the bundle to make a batch of tabbouleh. What to do with the other half? This morning I rinsed it thoroughly, on the stem, and dried it in a salad spinner. Then I plucked the leaves and placed them on the dehydrator trays, which I now have sitting all over the living room. They will air dry all day, and then when hydro is less expensive tonight, the trays will be placed on the dehydrator and it will finish the job of drying.

The leftover stems were sitting on the counter and staring at me. What to do?

I have a “broth bag” in the freezer where I stash most vegetable trimmings when we prepare fresh vegetables. Worried that the parsley flavour would be too strong for the broth, another use needed to be found. So I looked online and found multiple recipes for “parsley simple syrup.” I didn’t like any of them, and the short shelf life of the syrup did not enhance their appeal.

So I made up a recipe of my own. It is a Parsley Syrup that I will use in cooked dishes, where I would use dried parley; dishes such as baked beans, soups and stews.

Parsley Syrup

Recipe By: Maggie Turner

Ingredients:

stems from 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

Directions:

Place chopped parsley stems in water, bring to boil, simmer for 10 minutes with lid.
Add sugar and salt. Bring to low boil, boil for 5 minutes.
Pour into sterile jar. Refrigerate.
Use 1 tsp in soups, stews, baked beans etc. where you might use parsley.

I am quite pleased with the results. I need to make more salad dressing for myself today, perhaps I will add a little bit of my parsley syrup to it!

We also received two oranges. Tonight, when the hydro is less expensive, I will bake two Fresh Orange Loaves, and freeze them for Attila’s lunches during June and July.

I’ve been reading about dandelion greens as food. We tried them raw and they are far too bitter to eat that way, in my opinion. I’ve been looking at different ways to mediate the bitterness, and will give some of those a try. If I succeed then we will be well sorted for greens. Since many pesticides have been banned in Ontario, the dandelions are taking over the known world. So if one could eat them, the food supply would seem endless.

Our yard here at the country house has been left in its natural state, since we bought the place It has been nine years without fertilizer or weed killers or any kind of human interference, except occasional cutting. It will yield organic dandelion greens and flowers. The front yard at the little house in the city was seeded last year, and chemicals may have been used by the contractor, although that seems unlikely given that Terra describes it as a “sea of dandelions”. The backyard has been chemical free for three previous summers, so the dandelions from the back yard might be better for consumption. That is, of course, if I can find a way to prepare them as delicious food.

Are there GMO dandelions? I don’t think so.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

6°C
Feels like 6
Cloudy
SW 1 km/h Wind
83% Humidity
102.3kPa Pressure

Quote

“Sin bravely…We will never have all the facts to make a perfect judgement, but with the aid of basic experience we must leap bravely into the future.”
Russell R. McIntyre

I couldn’t find a single written word about who Russell R. McIntyre. I found an image connected to this quote, but no information about just who Russell R. McIntyre is or was. If anyone knows, please enlighten me!