I’ve had a pretty good week. Little things, of course, little things, and no drama.
Today it is hot outside, but not too humid. I opened the windows this morning, no regrets there, even though it is much warmer in the house than is comfortable. The birds sound amazing.
Attila has been working on Tank off and on for weeks. He has removed some substandard superfluous wiring that had been installed by a previous owner. He has researched, and identified a faulty part, which he dismantled and cleaned, and which fixed a small problem. And I’ve kept the process going by joining an online forum, submitting questions, and assisting Attila in discussing the issues in the forum. The very last suggestion given to us on the forum, after weeks and weeks of trying all sorts, was to add an octane booster, to see what would happen. While at Canadian Tire it was discovered that octane booster needs to be added when the gas tank is low, so although the product was purchased, using it had to be delayed. But Attila spotted another product that could be tried immediately, injector cleaner. After using that, there was improvement. When I drove Tank a few days later, it was as if there had never been any issues! The heady feeling that the issue is resolved may not last, but it sure was encouraging. Tank is a 2007 model vehicle, and in very good shape, except that she doesn’t run properly. Two reputable garages have utterly failed to diagnose and resolve her issues. If we get this issue resolved ourselves, it will feel like a miracle. Fingers crossed.
On the last day of July I found a retail outlet, about an hour drive from Mist Cottage, that had pitted sweet and sour cherries for sale, in decent size buckets. The drive turned out to be worthwhile, but we had to visit several retail outlets to get what we wanted. At the first grocery store, there was one 7 pound bucket of sweet pitted cherries left. The label said, “Freeze by August 1st”, and it was marked down from $29.00 to $5.00 to sell it before it expired. We purchased that bucket and put in on ice in the cooler we brought with us. But that store had no pitted sour cherries. The next store had the sour cherries we were looking for, 11 pound buckets for $29.99. One bucket was purchased, and into the cooler it went.
Yesterday I had my work cut out for me. The sweet cherries had to be either frozen or canned. The freezer is full, so canning it was. While all the equipment was setup, the sour cherries were also canned. All in all, 18 pounds of pitted cherries were canned yesterday. That felt pretty good, and they all sealed.
8 jars of sour cherries 3 jars of sweet cherries 5 jars of Chocolate Cherry Jam 4 jars of Sour Cherry Jam.
Our Zucchini plant has been thriving. The fresh zucchini is a bit more than I can comfortably eat fresh, so it was time to come up with a way to preserve the extra. This morning three 500 ml jars of Organic Sodium-Free Zucchini Relish came out of the steam canner, and the seals pinged right away.
3 jars Organic Sodium-Free Zucchini Relish
For the time being I have given up on using the Tattler reusable lids and rings. Almost every jar failed, either immediately, which was easy to deal with, or after weeks of sitting on the shelf, which was a serious issue. I’ll get back to playing with them, canning water, at some point. But for now all the work that goes into canning is worth the cost of the reliable one-use metal lids.
The spinach was beginning to bolt, so all but two plants were picked the day before yesterday, roots and all, and are sitting in the refrigerator waiting for me to do something with them. They will probably be frozen for winter enjoyment, they cannot be safely canned. Tonight, it is a job for tonight.
Attila has just let me know that the basil is ready to be picked again, so another batch of pesto is also on the roster for tonight’s activities. I don’t mind really, Attila helps out with the evening food preservation projects, so even though I am tired, it all goes rather smoothly.
As I was sitting in the living room yesterday, the sun was shining brightly on the front porch, I could see it through the edge of the front door. Wait a minute, the front door was closed “tight”! Oh dear, it might be getting to around that time when the front door just has to be replaced. It was in very bad condition when we bought Mist Cottage, just over ten years ago, and it has not improved with age. Every winter duct tape is used to try to seal around the edges of the door, to keep the winter wind out. The sun shining through is a new issue. Up until now replacing the door has not been a priority, but since there are no other renovation projects on the table for this summer, it just might be something that gets tackled before the cold weather sets in. I’d like that, it would be less drafty in the living room if the front door were replaced, and it would reduce heating bills as well.
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Friday 2 August 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Dew point: 16.4°C
Wind: S 17 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham 1894 – 1991
Wow, it has been a while since I last wrote an entry!
I’ve been busy, playing in the kitchen, or is it a lab, not much difference when you come right down to it.
New technology is always fun. Over the last year or so I’ve added a steam canner, a steam juicer, and Tattler reusable canning lids to my kitchen equipment.
I love the Victorio steam canner. Purchased last year, it is a game changer, no mistake about it. I gave my water bath canning equipment to my sister! The steam canner is lightweight aluminum, so I can easily grab it out of storage in the basement, and get it up and down the stairs without straining myself. It requires comparatively little water to operate, so I can easily carry it to the sink, add the water and carry it back to the stove. It is easy to lift the jars in and out of the canner, making it a breeze to use. And after making my usual first attempt boo boos, it works perfectly every time.
The newly acquired Victorio steam juicer has added a whole new dimension to my home food preservation activities. I have only tried Rhubarb Juice, as it is the only ripened produce coming out of our garden so far this spring, and it is a big hit here. The fruit pulp that remains in the juicer makes a lovely fruit leather, so nothing goes to waste. And of course, there are my learning curve bloopers, I always make them. I was using the oven to dry my fruit leather. I share the kitchen with Attila, I should have thought it through. I left the fruit leather in the oven after I turned off the oven early in the day when the price of hydro doubled, meaning to turn it on again when the hydro price dropped again, later in the day. Attila decided to roast potatoes, and I forgot to warn him about the fruit leather. It didn’t go well, the fruit leather is toasted rather than dried. I will be doing the fruit leather in the dehydrator from now on.
The Salton dehydrator was purchased at a discounted price, an entry level unit. Since we had not tried using such an appliance before, it didn’t make sense to purchase top of the line equipment. If we decide it is going to be a technique of food preservation that we come to rely on, a high quality unit will be purchased. So far the little unit we have, a birthday present for Attila years ago, is meeting our needs.
The Tattler lids are exciting, they are reusable. All of my canning career, which spans around five decades, I’ve used metal lids and rings. I’ve never had a seal fail on me, not even once. I was surprised to learn it could even happen. But throwing out all those lids just seemed so wasteful and expensive. So when I came across reusable Tattler lids I decided to buy a few and see how they work. Well, it seems my blooperness has gone into overdrive with these lids.
I am teaching myself to use the Tattler lids by canning water. The first time I tried them in the steam canner I had 50% failure to seal. The second time I had 100% success. But the story doesn’t end there. I then used them to preserve food. Two jars of Dandelion Jelly, to start with. They sealed, and after 24 hours I took them down to store in the basement. I checked on things yesterday, and the lids came right off! Oh dear, false seals! I reprocessed the jelly with metal lids, they sealed and are now stored away.
Tattler lids were also used for another seven jars of steam canned jelly, and juice, and three pressure canned jars of Taco Soup. I am watching these jars very carefully, checking the seals several times a day for failures. The sealed soup jars are in the refrigerator, so if the seals fail, the soup will be preserved and can be frozen instead. One of the jars of soup did not seal, I think I know what I did wrong with it, it is in the freezer.
So Tattler lids are putting me through my paces, for sure. Are they worth the trouble? Well, I haven’t decided on that yet, it is early days. Usually, after working with things, I get a feel for them, and get better and better at doing them successfully. I am hoping that will be the case with the Tattler lids. So far I haven’t lost any food items, so I am not discouraged.
On the homemade bread front progress has been made.
I am now milling all of our flour. We buy the wheat berries, which are extremely difficult to source at a reasonable price, to mill the flour. The grain mill, a Wondermill, is easy to use. Of course I have my bloopers with it too. I discovered that if you add too many wheat berries at once to the feeder, the flour container will clog, and it makes quite a mess, and requires quite a clean up. Whoops. I’ll only make that mistake once. It didn’t damage the machine because I always hit the off switch or pull the plug at the first sign that anything is amiss with an appliance.
I have a Black & Decker bread machine, purchased at a considerable markdown. I don’t like it, but so long as it does the job it won’t be replaced. I have made enough so-so bread in it, trying new things, until now the bread I make in it is lovely. But, that is one loaf at a time, not enough, with Attila taking lunches to work. He is using a lot more bread than he otherwise would, because it is homemade and delicious. I need four or five small loaves a week.
So I decided to try making five loaves at once. This is where the Bosch Universal Mixer comes into play. Again, this has not been an instant success. My first attempts yielded acceptable but not lovely results. I continued to research and read what other people were doing, and tweaked and tweaked my technique. The last batch was lovely, and thankfully I took the time to write down the process I used, and the ingredients.
Just a note about the links to amazon that I have included for the equipment I use. I didn’t buy any of it at those prices. I didn’t buy all of it at once, or even recently. I have purchased my equipment over a period of many years, and expect it to last a lifetime. I often buy equipment directly from the manufacturer (e.g. Tattler), or when I find it on sale for an excellent price, sometimes watching prices for years.
My policy on spending money has changed little over the years. For instance, I have a Cuisinart food processor that I purchased for myself in the 70s, when I was a Home Economics teacher, and it has been in constant use since then, and I expect it to be in constant use until Attila and I no longer have the need or wherewithal to use it.
I am the same with clothes, my parka was purchased in the early 90s and is the only coat I’ve worn since, and it is still going strong. I have a pair of pants that I am considering throwing out, purchased about 30 years ago, they are badly worn now. Items that wear out after only a few years are regrettable failures .
Another example is my sewing machine. When I was studying Couturier clothing design and construction I purchased an inexpensive Singer sewing machine. It was a disaster, and was negatively impacting my studies. So I returned it, went into debt, and purchased an Elna sewing machine. I have used my little Elna since 1969, and it is still humming along the same as it always has. I think that was my first experience with the difference quality can make, it was a lesson well learned.
I guess all of this illustrates why the Tattler lids hold such appeal for me!
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 6 June 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Dew point: 13.2°C
Wind: N 11 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.””
The day dawned sunny, but still a bit chilly, just under 16C. Not lounging weather to be sure, but good working weather. As the day progressed the clouds became more numerous, and there is no rain expected for a few days. We have had a lot of rain this spring, and here at Mist Cottage the flora and fauna are burgeoning with life.
This morning I watched a Blue Jay flitting about the yard, from the Ash tree, to the lawn, and up again. Sitting on the fence, watching him closely, was a Cardinal. Sitting in the Ssh tree, watching him closely, were two Robins. Sitting on the fence at the far side of the yard, watching him closely, were two Chickadees. The Blue Jay has been an unwelcome marauder in our yard, the other birds are frequently going after it and chasing it away. I have seen some bird’s egg shells on the ground, so he must be after their nests.
This morning I explored possibilities for our felled Ash logs. I think I might have found some people who will use the wood, not burn it for fuel, but use it to make things. I am still waiting to hear back from them, fingers crossed.
Yesterday Attila picked some Rhubarb from our largest plant. It was ready for harvesting, now that it is well established. I cleaned it and weighted it, less than pound. So out I went to the garden and picked some more. I ended up with 1.77 pounds of fresh rhubarb, when washed and diced. So here is what I did:
Step One: Place 5 quarts of water and a marble (it will rattle if the water gets too low, time to add more!) in the Stock Pot of the Victorio Steam Juicer. Place the Juice Kettle on top of that, insert the hose into the spigot, and clamp the hose. Place the Colander with the 1.77 lbs. of diced rhubarb in it, on top of that. Finally place the lid on top of that.
Step Two: Turn the burner on under the steam juicer, as soon as it reaches a rolling boil turn it down until it maintains a slow boil.
Step Three: Wait. Enjoy the heavenly aroma that filled the house. I waited 1 1/2 hours. Then I turned off the heat and let the unit cool.
Step Four: If I had had enough juice in the Juice Kettle to reach the drain hose, I would have drained the juice that way. But there wasn’t much juice, relative to the size of the Juice Kettle, so I carefully removed the lid, then the Colander, and poured the juice into a measuring cup, from the opposite size of the Colander from the spigot.
Step Five: Be impressed. It made 1/8 cup less than 4 cups of juice.
Ah, now, what to do with the juice-less fruit, and the juice! Fruit leather with the fruit I think, and Rhubeena with the juice. Rhubeena is like Ribena, only it is made with Rhubarb. All the recipes I found for it cooked the Rhubarb with water and sugar, then strained it, to make the Rhubeena. I used the Steam Juicer to make the juice, without sugar, and will later add the sugar, 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of juice, and bring it to a boil, then steam can one 500 ml jar, and store what is left in another jar for the refrigerator and immediate consumption.
It has taken me some time to find time to try out a Steam Juicer. I am not disappointed! This Juicer makes making juice a breeze.
Next in the Steam Juicer, vegetable broth from frozen vegetable scraps we have been saving in the freezer!
Wednesday May 22, 2019
Things have been busy!
After making the Dandelion Jelly, it was decided that more was needed. So I spent many hours Saturday, sitting in the sunshine, plucking petals. The result was enough Dandelion “tea” for two more batches of jelly, which were frozen for future jelly making. But that didn’t seem like enough, so Monday saw me on the back porch once more, plucking more petals, enough for one more batch of jelly. That should do it! We plan on using the jelly as a bit of a medicinal, a teaspoon a day each, a small and simple little treat that is good for us.
Attila was busy with the construction of the Hugelkultur bed, it is a lot of work to set up. He also set up the rain barrel that we purchased several years ago, at last.
His big project though, over the last four or five days, has been to get the garden turned and planted. Tomatoes! Thirty-six Roma Tomato plants were planted in rows, and four plants of Cherry Tomatoes. The hope is that the garden will provide enough canned tomatoes and Tomato Red Pepper Sauce to from this gardening season to the next. Only time will tell if this plan succeeds. I planted Green Bell Peppers and Red Shepherd Peppers in my raised bed, in among the strawberry runners, and if they grow and yield well, they will provide the peppers needed for the sauce.
The first little plants from the cold frame, Radishes, were transplanted into the garden. Oregano was moved to a new location in the garden. Two small Black Currant bushes were transplanted to the back of the garden. And I think Attila did a whole lot of other little rearrangements in his garden, that I didn’t really notice, being busy with my own little projects.
Attila was very busy in the flower garden as well. Gladiola were planted close to the house and along the fence, and the echinacea were moved to the same location to make room for the Cherry Tomatoes, which were planted near one of the compost bins. Along the fence, between two of the compost bins, the Scarlet Runner beans were put in.
At some point, during all this activity, we found time to head out the Camp for a few hours. I wanted to see if there were any Army Worms developing on our trees there. We were only there a few hours, and got a lot accomplished. Attila cut the grass, and I worked on getting Grace the Trailer up and functioning for the season. The propane range was used for the first time this year, heating up Taco Soup, which I served with cheese and crackers. We decided not to have a fire, as it was a whirlwind visit and we would be very busy while there. I mixed up a batch of detergent/water/bleach and sprayed the army worm nest I found in one of the trees. Their season has begun, and we are hoping to stay on top of it this year. The season for black flies has also begun, they aren’t swarming yet, but they are biting.
My raised beds are looking great so far. My Spinach, Beets, and Peas are all just coming up, and soon I will be able to discern which are weeds and which are my plants (straight rows), so that I can weed the bed. The chicken wire over the bed has been successful in keeping the squirrels from digging up my seeds, or burying things in the soil and disturbing the seedlings.
The strawberries, in the other raised bed, are growing vigorously, and in a few weeks the runners will be ready to transplant into another bed, whic will not be a raised bed. We are going to use some of the logs from the felled Ash tree as a Strawberry bed border. The transplants will not bear fruit this summer, but hopefully next summer we will have a crop!
Now I am waiting for the Lilacs to bloom, and if there are enough blooms on the property, I will be making Lilac Jelly. I am hoping that the Nasturtiums Attila planted will proliferate and bloom well, because I would love to try Nasturtium Jam, I think the peppery flavour would have a real kick! Oh, and yes, Strawberry season should be coming up in a few weeks, and I am really looking forward to that.
And I am happy to record that on Saturday the weather was so warm that the temperature on the back porch reached 30C. It was too warm for me, sitting in the full afternoon sun, so I had to retreat indoors. But it did inspire me to drag out the “cabana curtains” from winter storage, which are really white bed sheets, and hang them on the rods across the back porch. And of course, since I did that, Monday was cloudy and dull, and they were not needed. But now they sit at the ready!
16°C Date: 12:00 PM EDT Friday 17 May 2019 Condition: Mostly Cloudy Pressure: 100.6 kPa Tendency: Rising Temperature: 16.4°C Dew point: 11.9°C Humidity: 74% Wind: W 16 km/h Visibility: 24 km
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 22 May 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Dew point: 5.9°C
Wind: N 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“I like manual labor. Whenever I’ve got waterlogged with study, I’ve taken a spell of it and found it spiritually invigorating.” W. Somerset Maugham 1874 – 1965
I found a balance, when I worked as a manual labourer on a farm, picking fruit. I would read a book at night, and think about what I had read all through the next day, whiles my hands reached, plucked, and placed the sweet aromatic fruits, as I stood high on a rickety ladder held up against a swaying branch. Aerial literature.
Well, my last post took on a life of its own! I sat down to write about the little things, and the meaning of the little things overwhelmed me. So I am writing this post about the little things.
Last Friday last was one of Attila and my Anniversaries. It was the 25th Anniversary of the day he and I became a we. He surprised me when he decided he wanted to take the day as a vacation, to celebrate the occasion. Things have changed considerably over the last year and a half, between Attila and I, and thankfully life seems to be balancing out. We both thought about what we might like to do. There were no events or entertainment types of things in the area that interest either of us, so we thought about spending time at a park. But it was cold and raining, not a good day to spend out of doors. Soooo…. we went to Costco.
Costco is a store we do not frequent. Attila calls it the $500 dollar store, as we have spent that much there on the odd occasion, and we always spend far more there than we do at any other retail outlet, except for home renovation projects.
It was extremely crowded at Costco. We managed to find unpopular aisles to walk slowly and quietly through, to rest after navigating the hustle and bustle through the busier aisles. We did not purchase much, mostly fresh produce, and bulk items that are less expensive there than at other places we shop. We had fun. We bought a huge strawberry plant in a hanging basket that was on sale. We were glad to get home!
Our evening was enjoyable, watching a Netflix program and enjoying homemade pizza. We love our homemade pizza, and Attila feels it is the best pizza he has ever had in his life. Thank goodness I finally conquered 100% whole wheat bread dough, it makes an excellent pizza crust. We use my home canned Red Pepper Sauce, and lactose free cheese, lower sodium pepperoni, and a variety of vegetables, such as onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
Cold Frame, Raised Beds, and Dandelions
Saturday was bright and sunny, in the morning. Attila was very, very happy to finally have time to start building his cold frame. All of the wood was salvaged from the original shed that we demolished, and the wood Attila purchased at significant discount when he worked in the lumber industry. The lid was made from one pane of the dining room window that was in place when we bought the house.
I had several projects on the go. One was to plant my raised beds. Attila built them out of reclaimed boards from the original shed on the property, and pine boards he purchased during his years in the lumber industry. They are mine, I was going to use two large totes with holes drilled into the bottom, but Attila wanted to build them, so there they are. I insisted that a sheet of hardware cloth be attached to the bottom of each, to keep out voles and moles and other animals. He will build a third for himself, and he is the gardener in residence for the larger garden outside the fenced area, which he is increasing in size this year.
My raised beds are a sort of Hugelkultur setup, as we filled the bottom half with logs, pruned branches, leaves, and twigs. This was stomped down thoroughly, then watered thoroughly. Then our own compost formed a deep layer over the brush layer, and finally some topsoil was placed on top of the compost. I find it easy on my knees to care for such a garden bed, and easy on my back as well. After a quick trip Canadian Tire, to pick up a meat thermometer to measure the temperature of the soil, it was determined that the soil in the raised beds was warm enough for planting seeds.
The strawberry plant that we purchased had a dozen or more runners hanging down from the plant. After hanging it up under the porch, it was quickly observed that the runners would be destroyed by the wind. What to do. Attila suggested setting the hanging basket in the raised garden bed. This gave me an “aha moment”, when I remembered all those hours in the fields on our farm, setting strawberry runners. So the basket went into the centre of the raised bed, and I set the runners all around the basket in the soil of the raised bed. When the runners root, they will be cut from the plant, and then the hanging basket will be hung once more under the porch.
That was one of my raised beds planted. On to the other raised bed. I planted three different plants, one row of each: snap peas, beets, and spinach. I love snap peas and spinach, and will eat beets. But really, what I want from the beets is the beet greens, we love beet greens! We have squirrel varmints here, and they dig up our gardens. I didn’t want them digging up my newly planted seeds, so off I went, back to the building centre, to pick up some chicken wire. Attila cut it for me and placed a sheet over the raised bed containing my peas, beets, and spinach. The strawberries are not as prone to squirrel damage, so that bed was not covered. It will be eventually be covered by a chicken wire hoop, when the strawberries are close to ripening, to protect the fruit from squirrels and birds.
The other project I started on Saturday was a batch of Dandelion Jelly. I’d read about it quite a bit online, but had not ever tried it myself. Since our yard has had no chemical treatments of any kind since 2010, I felt quite confident that our crop of Dandelions were organic, and quite safe for consumption. I spent part of my day in the sun, picking big yellow Dandelion blossoms. Then I spent another part of my day, and this was time consuming, removed the petals from the Dandelions I had picked. It is important not to allow any of the green parts of the plant into the petal bowl, greens are bitter. It was laborious work, rolling the receptacle of each blossom between thumb and forefinger, to loosen the petals, then remove them carefully to place them in a bowl. In that way I plucked three cups of petals.
I used the recipe from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and a few other recipes consulted for ideas. I placed the three cups of blossoms in four cups of boiling water and simmered them for 10 minutes. Then I strained the liquid through a coffee filter and refrigerated it to be dealt with on the morrow. The liquid was a dark brown, with a mild “greeny” taste to it. I wasn’t optimistic, but I was determined to see it through.
Attila worked all day Saturday on his cold frame, finishing it just before dark. He had been stressing about getting to this project, and his relief at having it ready was evident.
Tank, Peat Pots, and Jelly
Had Sunday dawned sunny and warm, we would have headed out to the Camp. But it was just the opposite, chilly and clouded over. So we decided to stay home and work on projects here at Mist Cottage.
The first project of the day was a joint one. We had purchased a code reader to read the OBD codes for Tank. It was a BAXF wifi unit, and after I purchased the necessary software to use it, we watched a video on how to get it working. It took some time and experimentation, but we finally got it going with the iPad, and discovered that two cylinders in the engine are still misfiring, after $5000 worth of work… those garages won’t be getting my business again any time soon. So we are researching to try and figure out just what is going on with Tank. There were no other issues detected!
Attila spent a very happy day, planting peat pots and trays of seeds, and arranging them in his newly built cold frame. He didn’t even stop to eat lunch, he was having such a great time.
I spent the rest of my day in the kitchen. It was time to make Dandelion Jelly. Jams and jellies are easy things to make and can. I brought up my jars, lids, rings, canning accessories, and steam canner from the basement, then set to work. After adding the sugar, the dark liquid was transformed, and it smelled amazing, quite a bit like honey, but not exactly the same. The batch made three 500 ml jars, and they all sealed.
The jelly was not clear, as it should have been. I think the problem was with the pectin which I purchased in powder form. I hadn’t used commercial pectin in, well, decades, and assumed it was the same product I had always used. It is not. This pectin includes citric acid, and upon inspecting the recipes that came with it, none of them called for lemon juice. I had added lemon juice to my recipe, as was traditionally done, but apparently that step is now removed with this commercial pectin, as the citric acid serves the same purpose. So, my recipe had far too much acid in it, and it jelled more quickly and intensely than I would have expected. I think that the cloudiness is actually small globules of very thick jelly. Unless they crystallize, it won’t be a problem. So, I learned something new yesterday, about modern commercial pectin.
Dandelion Jelly is delicious! It does have a taste reminiscent of honey. I think it is worth the time and effort, and will make it again when this supply runs out.
I think we have reached a point where all jams and jellies at our house will be made from plants that grow on our own property: crab apple and dandelion.
I cooked a pork roast in the Instant Pot, and Attila roasted potato wedges in the oven, which made for a wonderful evening meal, along with mixed vegetables.
Monday was a day of catching up with domestic things, cleaning, laundry, those little things that make home feel more comfortable.
A New Project On Our Plat
Tuesday brought some excitement! It all began as I was minding my own business, seated in the bathroom. Suddenly there was a very loud noise, very close to the bathroom window. At first I was alarmed. Then I figured out what it was. The sound was a chain saw, and the utility company must be out there taking down the large dead ash tree in the front yard. It only took them about an hour to limb the tree, bring down the trunk, and section it into short logs.
We knew we would have this project on our plate sooner or later. It is a big job, and will take most of the long weekend coming up to get it sorted properly. It is our intention to keep all of the material on our property, building hugelkultur beds, and the logs, well, we haven quite figured out what to do with the logs yet. Ash is a beautiful wood, and the logs are in great condition. I looked into having the logs milled, but the expense of that was beyond our means. It would have been nice though.
We worked until dark last night, using loppers to break down the small mountain of branches. Attila toted a pile of the small bits of branches to the back yard, and placed them beside the location of the third, and yet to be built, raised bed. They will make a wonderful hugelkultur base for that garden bed.
After some discussion, we decided to use a lot of the branches to create a long hugelkultur bed outside the fenced area of the yard, beside the bigger garden. Attila dug a concave hole and began filling it with sectioned branches. We only managed to deal with about a third of the branches.
This morning I took the loppers out and tackled breaking down more of the branches. I kept at it until I had worked up quite a sweat, then broke for lunch. After lunch I relaxed for about an hour, then headed back out with my loppers. After a few hours I was soaking wet from all my hard work, and had managed to break down all the branches in one of the larger piles. Then I decided that it was enough for one day. This old body will rebel if I overdo things. So far I have been feeling fine, no stiffness this morning, or this afternoon. I did take Ibuprofen last night though, a while before bedtime, just to make sure that no inflammation took hold of me.
If we had paid a company to take down the tree, they would have removed all the branches and logs and left the lawn neat and tidy. But they also would have removed around $1000 from our savings account. It was such good fortune that the tree was taken down by the utility company, what we saved in money we are paying for with sweat. Sweat we have! Money we don’t. It worked out very well.
The weather has been chilly, and wet. We stop working outside when it rains, and work hard when it stops. Chilly is good, when you are doing hard labour. I even found myself wanting to take off my shirt, I had worked up quite a sweat, but of course, I did no such thing.
So that’s us, busy with the little stuff, happy as clams really.
Date: 7:13 PM EDT Wednesday 15 May 2019
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Dew point: 7.6°C
Wind: NE 3 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt 1858 – 1919
This morning I tallied up the numbers for the canning projects undertaken since the first of September 2018, my loot. I’ve canned 141 jars of produce, 70 of which were 500 ml jars, the rest were 1 litre jars. I had to keep buying more jars!
Here is my breakdown:
green tomato mincemeat 6 500 ml
crabapple jelly 10 500 ml
apple scrap jelly 1 500 ml
apples diced 11 500 ml
tomato pepper sauce 44 500 ml
applesauce spy 12 1 litre
applesauce paula red 12 1 litre
tomatoes roma vinegar 12 1 litre
tomatoes roma lemon juice 12 1 litre
tomatoes garden citric 12 1 litre
strawberry rhubarb 2 1 litre
beef broth 7 1 litre
I don’t think anything has been forgotten, but even if it has, the shelves will slowly empty over the course of the winter, all the jars will be found, and all the contents will be eaten.
Of all the things I’ve canned this fall, my favourite is the Crabapple Jelly, it fills my mouth with the taste of summers past, industry, and the people in my life sharing things they love. It is just a bonus that these little apples were gathered from our own back yard here at Mist Cottage.
Our yard is in the process of being torn up, once again. First it was the broken water main, they dug up quite a bit of the front lawn to fix that and the soil they returned to the lawn was hard clay and pebbles, they did not do well by us. The next disruption was installing a ditch across the front of the property, right down the street, reducing our driveway by half, cutting off access to our property along the road, and draining the water from the street down into our driveway, geniuses of engineering. Now they are installing fibre optics for the new subdivision, so the neighbours are saying. So far they have only dug a deep hole in front of our Juniper tree. I am hopeful that it will survive, and that this is the only disruption to our yard. The noise is intense, but that is temporary.
The rural feel we have enjoyed at Mist Cottage is gone. Everywhere we look there are subdivisions and houses, roads and service poles. I guess that is to be expected if you buy property near environmentally protected wetland owned by a developer. It is conceivable that at some point a tall fence will surround our back yard, protecting it from the visual chaos of development. On the other hand, we might just grown accustomed to it, or newly planted trees and shrubs might effectively break the harshness of this manmade jungle.
Date: 10:00 AM EST Friday 16 November 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Dew point: -4.2°C
Wind: NE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 10 km
“A book burrows into your life in a very profound way because the experience of reading is not passive.”