Monday, August 31, 2009

Monster veggies and a special visit

Before I started blogging about our adventures here at Mucky Boots, I was sending "Farm Updates" to family and friends via email. Here is one of them, from the end of August 2009.

Hello everyone!

Harvest time has arrived. We are wallowing in a bounty of tomatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, kale, chard and apples, and we grow 'em big and we grow 'em strange out here at Mucky Boots. Here are pictures of a really big potato we grew, and the oddest 4-legged carrot we have ever seen. And a picture of my bowl of apple cereal illustrating why the apple variety we are currently harvesting is called "Pink Lady."

The best part of the last few weeks, unquestionably, was Kimystree's visit. What a special thing, to have my beloved sister here for almost a week - thanks, Dave, for getting the ball rolling and for holding down the fort at home so she could come. Sister Kim came determined to help with the harvest, so we bought the Rolls Royce of apple pickers and picked the first bushel basket of Pink Ladies. Then we got to work - we made and canned apple butter and applesauce and filled the dehydrator twice to make dried apples, and were we ever grateful for whoever invented the peeling-coring-slicing machine we used and grateful to Dad who gave it to us! With the addition of 15 jars of crabapple jelly made after Kim went home, our cold storage shelves are filling up!

Kimystree is Frankie's new favourite person, and he is moping now that she is gone. He followed her everywhere, and, most tellingly, stopped barking at her every time she moved (which is his normal procedure for house guests).

The other news of note is that Sweetie Kim has added to her stringed family with the purchase of her first (and undoubtedly not last) banjo, on-line from a dealer in North Carolina. When it arrived she looked inside and found "J. Romero Banjos, Cobble Hill, BC." Imagine that! She had been on the maker's website, but didn't realize he was in Cobble Hill, just down the road. Needless to say, she has already been in touch with him, to tell him his banjo (a special one featured on his website) came home to BC to roost. Also needless to say, she learned 3 songs within a day...

Lots of love to you all!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wildlife adventures

Before I started blogging about our adventures here at Mucky Boots, I was sending "Farm Updates" to family and friends via email. Here is one of them, from August 2009.

Hello everyone!

We have had lots of excitement here at Mucky Boots this week: a cougar was killed on either our property or our neighbour's on Monday night. Both our properties back onto Vaux Road, which was where the conservation officers killed the cougar - but our fences don't go that far, so we don't know which property it was on. Regardless, it was CLOSE! I got a call from Nick around suppertime - he had heard a bunch of dogs barking and went out to investigate, and it turned out he was hearing the five specially trained beagles (yes, beagles) that are used to track cougars. The conservation officers told him to go back home and put his chickens in the barn, which is when he called me to let me know. So I called in the cats and shortly after there was a shot and the cougar had been killed. I don't know why it was killed rather than tranquilized and relocated.

Much less dramatic was the wasps nest I accidentally discovered the day before - it turns out it was a specific species of wasp that build nests under things: decks, floors, and in my case, one of the wooden covers to the septic tank. There I was, cleaning up the dead bamboo leaves in the little flagstone patio, and all of a sudden I got bit, twice. Ouch!

We have just come through a wicked hot spell - 37-39 degrees in the shade every day for a week. Frankie, the smart dog that he is, has fully made the transition to farm dog, and now sleeps under the truck on hot days. The weather has been great for our tomatoes, which are ripening faster than we can eat them. We're using the dehydrator to make sun-dried tomatoes, and are accumulating enough ripe tomatoes to make a big batch of tomato sauce for canning.

It's fun learning how to can - so far I have made pickled beets and pickled beans. The beets were fun: some were golden and some were Chioggia beets, which are striped red and white when raw, but cook to red or pink or even white. So when they were all mixed up, they looked like jewels!

Our perennial garden is a mess - things have been so dry, and we've been unsure how much we can water before we run our well dry. The only things blooming right now are the echinacea and my absolute favourite the globe thistle. Everything else looks brown and ragged. I am remembering the moist, dewy, flower-filled days of May with longing!

Kim and I were out shopping today. New binders: $3.99. Package of pencils: $0.99. New lunch kit: $8.99. Not having to buy any of it: priceless!

Lots of love to you all-

P.S. (Next day) I should have waited until today to send yesterday's farm update! Here is a photo of this morning's encounter with wildlife. Note that the tape measure is in INCHES, not CENTIMETRES!

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