Monday, 30 November 2015

Sex-Ed in The Barnyard

On the farm kids grow up witnessing animals going about their business in just about every conceivable way. So much so, in fact, that we usually didn't pay much attention to, say, a bull breeding a cow right before our eyes. But when we hired a ram to service our 4 ewes I knew that there would be questions. My kids have not been around the cattle as much and this summer when I started talking about having baby lambs my 5 year old (J) asked " but mommy how does the baby get in her tummy?". A question I sort of dreaded, to which I replied "well the daddy just kind of jumps on her" SIGH. Not my best work but as much as I'd rehearsed for that moment I still drew a blank. "That's horrifinding!" (My son's description of everything unfavourable). Not much more has been said on the subject, that is, until today. 

Enter Prince Charming. 

When our ram arrived (kindly delivered by my brother from the neighbour's), the 3 year old (O) had fallen asleep on my sewing room floor so J and I quickly hustled out to meet our new guest. It took only a minute to turn him in with the ewes and my brother left--by now I can hear that O is awake and wants to come out. I left for two minutes, three tops, only to return to a crying child and one quite thoroughly bred sheep. 

In hindsight, I might have known the courtship may go quickly, but it didn't occur to me that it would happen while I walked to the house. And I hadn't bargained on it upsetting my boy so much. My poor little soft-hearted goose worried that his ewe that he bottle fed with his gramma was being "bullied and stomped by that big mean ram". It was at once the most hilarious and tender moment with my child. Am I a beast for wanting to roll around laughing at the awkwardness of the situation? Likely, and I apologize for it I don't mean to be offensive. At the same time I felt a lump in my throat for his simple love for his animals. A farmer's love. He wants to see them cared for and never come to harm, and I was extremely proud. I tried to be matter of fact in stating that it doesn't hurt her or she would walk away from the ram, and it's the way that we get our baby lambs in spring. I had an eloquent speech up my sleeve about how all things are born from a seed....I'm sure I would have messed it up....but thank goodness he seemed content to know that it's not hurting her and that the ram will not be staying long. Seriously, I am hoping that these barnyard scenes become less traumatic for us both! Now that's country living :)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Mission Accomplished

Our annual craft sale has come and gone and I am left with a feeling of "where did the last month go?"

It was a much better turn out this year; in fact it got so busy that people couldn't get through to our booth. In the end I made about the exact same amount as I did last year but for some reason felt disappointed. So tonight I am reminding myself that although I had hoped to make more money, I did accomplish several things:

• I learned how to bind a quilt and managed to bind 3 by hand (1 throw size and 2 baby)
• a lady offered to buy the throw sized quilt, which I had on display (I had already given it to my friend whose mom had passed away)
• the first set of pallet board signs sold out (I made a second set of 5 at the last minute so have some inventory for next year)

I did not have a craft table thinking that it would make me rich :) a friend and I enjoy doing crafts and the busy work helps us get over the hump of the seasonal change. We had a great visit and I was overjoyed to see old friends come out to support a local event. My kids got their picture with Santa and I believe they will remember forever the suspenseful few moments while Santa searched for their names on the naughty/nice list!

The afternoon portion of the craft sale slowed down and I didn't make the profit that initially seemed possible. But all of my other goals were met. I learned how to do the binding on my quilts and was offered a fair price for one although I could not accept. I was commissioned by a friend (and paid in advance) to sew a baby quilt, and I've already got it started. 

I used some power tools while Husband is away working and reminded myself that I am more capable than I believe. I used to be so independent but having small kids and someone to ask has made me soft. All in all, I had a day out and some great social time and felt very supported by people that matter. That in itself is an accomplishment :)

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Busy Days

For anyone holding down a real job, it might seem crazy to put hours of time and energy into making crafts to sell for mere dollars at a sale. I like to create things and my kids are independent enough now that I can spend a bit of time sewing while they play or colour. Most of it, though, I do at night. I had a very productive few days and I hope to sell at least half of what I've made. The weather is supposed to be better this year (last year it was cold with a wicked wind). 

I'm feeling a bit tired of it all, really, but I have enjoyed the sense of urgency (briefly). Now I'd like to go back to sewing because I want to :) How is your weekend shaping up?

Monday, 2 November 2015


Isn't it funny how quiet and still a snowy morning can be?

 This quiet, the expectant silence waiting for the sleep that winter will bring...this I seek in my heart and mind. For the first time in perhaps ever, at least since I was a child, I look forward to the methodical pace of winter. Wood hauled in, ashes hauled out. Plow snow, shovel snow. Play in snow. Sleigh ride. Hunker down. Rest. Sew. Read. Snuggle my boys and savour savour this precious window in their childhood. For if there is one age I remember, and one season, it is the excitement of snow and decorating cookies and making cinnamon buns and waiting for the bus to drop off my brothers so we could eat our homemade treats that we had made for them. And I do remember the quiet. I played with my not-a-barbie doll in a cardboard box that I had made into a doll house and the dramas of her glamorous life were acted out in my mind where only I could hear. That Christmas Santa delivered a doll house, a real house, for my not-a-barbie and I don't believe there's been a gift so special since. The wall paper in her bathroom matched the wall paper in ours, her bedroom carpet the white plush shag of our discarded bathroom mat. She was like a movie star.

There are no more jobs calling me outside. Every year my interest in the garden wanes before I have completed all my jobs and now there is snow on the ground and I can give myself permission to focus my attention indoors. Rooms that need cleaned top to bottom and things that need sorted and tidied and oh so many things to sew. 

Quiet. The quiet pace of our lives slows still more for this season. But my boys will continue to grow. I will tire of the repetition of my daily routine by February and I will drag myself to spring with gritted teeth and big plans for the yard. This I know. This year I enter winter without dreading the length and severity of it. I know that we will make it through. We will be productive, in our way, and we will greet spring with the joy that we now welcome winter. I am ready. Bring it.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

2015 Tally of Preserves

It has long been my goal to keep better records of what I grow (always too busy planting to keep track of what gets planted) and what I harvest (weighing what I bring in from the garden sounds simple until I am rushing out to pick greens and supper is late, blah, blah, blah). Maybe next year I will be more organized and keep a better record, but for this year I have concentrated on an overall tally of what I was able to preserve through canning and freezing.

I thought that I would include this spring's maple syrup, our first ever. Because it was a novelty to most of our friends we gave away several tiny taste-test size jars and had a couple of half-pints for the kids to have on pancakes and for me to use in bread. I saved 2 quarts in hopes that the weather will cooperate and we can do maple taffy in the snow at each of our son's birthday parties (January and March). Last year we had tobogganing and horse-drawn sleigh rides for both and the weather was nice. I hope we are as lucky this year :)

I was lucky to be invited to pick fruit with a friend in a lovely yard this summer. There we picked enough plums for good eating plus a bit of plum sauce (seriously, removing the pits was so time-consuming!).

My boys enjoyed pitting cherries, though, and were a great help. The wild saskatoons were wonderful this year and we discovered just how many grow right here in our yard.

My garden was a dismal failure by some standards. We had a drought until July and the scorching heat and my inconsistent watering did not enable much that I planted to germinate. Some things came later and I was surprised how much lettuce I ended up with. Pumpkins continued to bloom until frost without ever producing fruit larger than a golf ball--terribly disappointing because I successfully started the plants from seed! If anyone has pointers on growing pumpkins I would appreciate some advice!

Like most years, though, what my garden lacked was supplemented by the generosity of my mom and neighbours. A friend's mom gave me half a box of apples which I split with my mom and made apple pie filling with. I was given cucumbers and still managed to make enough pickles for our winter eating. My aunt gave us carrots and I saved enough to make a treat jar of pickled carrots for Husband to enjoy over the Christmas holidays. In many ways the scarcity of the pickles makes us savour them more and it is always a shame to throw out uneaten ones when you have gone to so much work.
Every year I plan to grow more tomatoes and more peppers for even more salsa, but like the pickles it is a shame to see it go to waste. So this year I have concentrated more on slow roasting and freezing for sauce and know that the salsa I have made for ourselves and as gifts will be all the more special because there is less of it.

So here it is, a tally of what I have "put up" from my garden, yard, and generous gifts from others:

2015 Preserves

2 qt saskatoon pie filling
2 x ziploc freezer bag of berries
2 qt rhubarb/saskatoon "fruit" for our elderly neighbour
3 qt cherries "fruit"
3 qt cherry pie filling
2 qt apple pie filling

2 pints pickled beets
1 quart dilly beans
5 pints hot chili chutney
3 1/2 pints raspberry jam
3 pints million dollar relish
5 1/2 quarts bread and butter pickles
2 qt + 1 pint sweet heat salsa plus 7 half pints of sweet heat salsa for gifts
4 qt hot salsa
6 qt canned whole tomatoes
1 qt dilled carrots
2 qt dill pickles
5 ziploc freezer bags of roasted tomatoes (so far). Tomatoes still ripening in the basement

1 laundry basket of potatoes minus what we ate fresh from the garden. Red potatoes were scabby but large, white potatoes were excellent.

Perhaps most exciting in this year's food production were the two apples that our 2 year old honeycrisp apple tree produced. The fruit was huge, crisp and juicy, and although there were only two apples we watched them grow and shared them as a family. We are very hopeful that the tree will provide us with plenty of beautiful apples in years to come.