A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Welcome Mildred...Millie for short

This is Millie, our Dexter cow and her little bull calf (unnamed as he is destined for the freezer). We have been thinking about getting a cow for a while now and have been researching what would be the best breed for our little homestead. I came across this article in Mother Earth News and it peeked my interest in the Dexter breed. Here are a couple of points from the article...

Pound for pound, no bovine can match the diversity of Dexter cattle, one of the smallest cattle breeds. Standing just 36 to 44 inches at the shoulder, Dexters are the perfect old-fashioned, family cow. Gentle, versatile and economical, Dexters efficiently turn pasture into rich milk and lean meat, if you're so inclined. In recent years, interest in Dexter cattle has surged worldwide. Here's why:

They're the perfect size for the family homestead.
One Dexter cow will give about 1 to 2 gallons of milk a day, a much more manageable amount for a single family than the 8 to 10 gallons a typical Holstein yields. If you raise a Dexter for beef, you'll need room in the freezer for about 400 pounds of meat, rather than 600 to 800 pounds you'd get from a typical full-size steer.

Looking after a Dexter can be fun for children
and can give them a sense of accomplishment. With proper attention and training, a Dexter can be easily handled by even the greenest homesteader. Don't expect that dazed-cow stare, though. "For their small size, they're pretty lively," Conroy says. Dexters can be trained like oxen to plow or pull wagons, and their strength belies their size. At the same time, that size makes them less intimidating to children and adults.

Dexter cows produce about 1 1/2 to 2 gallons a day
of about 4 percent butterfat milk - over a full 305-day lactation-when fed for production. (Some exceptional cows can put out up to 5 gallons per day at the height of their lactation.) The fat globules in Dexter milk are very small, which makes the milk more easily digested. The cream easily separates and makes outstanding butter and ice cream.

Dexters are a hardy breed that performs well in a variety of climates. In North America, Dexters are raised from Alaska to Florida. Many breeders note that all the Dexter needs is a place to get out of the wind and sun. Many animals even prefer to stay outside in the snow in the middle of winter instead of going into the barn.

Easy and economical to keep, a Dexter consumes about half of what an Angus or Hereford would under the same conditions. A half acre of good green grass per animal, or 12 to 15 pounds of hay and a little grain each day is enough in temperate climates. The cattle are ideal for grazing on older or overgrown pastures.

The cows usually give birth without assistance, and using a calf puller is virtually unknown with Dexters. Calves weigh about 45 pounds at birth, and by the time there weaned at 7 months, they may weigh between 350 and 500 pounds. Both sexes will continue to grow until 5 or 6 years old. Some Dexters have lived to more than 20, and many continue to calve for more than 15 years.

Sounded just right for us so I started to look around BC, to see who had some for sale. I also convinced my neighbour, Sara who was looking for a milk cow, that Dexters would work for her too. As it turns out, she located a pair of cows with calves for sale, just down the road from us and her hubby went and picked them up on the week-end. Sara also agreed to keep them at her place until we have a shelter for them and our fencing done (hopefully this summer). These pics were taken at her place...
This is Bessie, Sara's cow...
They are amazingly friendly...
but I still find the horns a little intimidating...
They are bred and due in June. We plan to milk them once we are all used to each other.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We had to do it...

We'd romanticized the peacefulness of washing dishes by hand, but after over a year of it, and with me recently traveling a lot more than before, we decided to install the dishwasher.

Here's the kitchen area we found we had to use - it's closest to the sink.

We decided to sacrifice some cupboards and move the stove over a few inches. We will deal with the uppers later.

The countertop was extended by cutting that right peice into two and gluing one to the left side.

The counter is supported by what was the right wall of the cupboard.

We left a 3 inch spacer to the right of the stove in case we ever want to get a full size one - our current stove is 24 inches wide and the oven barely holds our cookie trays.

There is a visible seam where the counter peices meet, but we have a ceramic cutting board over it.

We're still trying to find new homes for many pots and pans, but we've gained a lot of counter space that used to be used up with dirty and clean dishes. We've also gained about one person-hour of time per day - it does add up!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Brrrrr..winter has arrived!

Winter has definitely arrived, with temperatures dipping way below zero (-15C this morning) just lately. But it is hard to complain when you wake up to skies like these...
Winter is the most beautiful season around here. It is a shame that most of our visitors choose to come in the warmer months. So..I thought I would take some photos while doing my chores this morning...after I get wrapped up I head out to the beautiful new hayshed, which you will notice is keeping everything (wood, hay, snowblower, bikes) wonderfully snow-free!
Then over to the sheep/chicken barn...
Snowy, hungry sheep...
Yummmm....hay...that's better...
The chickens...deciding if they really want to get their feet cold...and this is Roosty, our new rooster...handsome isn't he?
And back to the house...
Oh yes and Knut must follow me wherever I go...
And more discretely, the kitties want to know what I am up to..."ah...she spotted me...hide!"
"But you are going to feed us? Right?"
"Seriously...where is the food?"
Sorry...my kids laugh their heads off when I talk for the kittens...Erich just gives me a look that lets me know it is really not that amusing :)

Have a wonderful day wherever you may be.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Budgetwise SheepkeepingTips

I was trying to find instructions on how to make a sheep feeder out of an old tire, and I found this great page:


Friday, November 6, 2009

Joel Salatin and Raw Milk

I have gushed about Joel Salatin before. He is certainly someone I greatly admire...keep reading and maybe you will see why...

I drink raw milk (sold illegally on the underground market)

From Joel Salatin’s foreword to The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights by David Gumpert.

The Raw Milk Revolution book coverI drink raw milk, sold illegally on the underground black market. I grew up on raw milk from our own Guernsey cows that our family hand-milked twice a day. We made yogurt, ice cream, butter, and cottage cheese. All through high school in the early 1970s, I sold our homemade yogurt, butter, buttermilk, and cottage cheese at the Curb Market on Saturday mornings. This was a precursor to today’s farmer’s markets.

In those days, the Virginia Department of Agriculture had a memorandum of agreement with the Curb Market that as long as vendors belonged to an Agricultural Extension organization such as Extension Homemaker’s Clubs or 4-H, producers could bring value-added products to market without inspection and visits from the food police. The government agents assumed that anyone participating in the extension programs would be getting the latest, greatest food science and therefore conform to the most modern procedural protocols, which created its own protection.

As the Virginia Slims commercial says, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” These conciliatory overtures to maintain healthy and vibrant local food economies exist no more. Today I can’t sell any of those things at a farmer’s market, and even if I take eggs some bureaucrat will come along with a pocket thermometer and, without warrant or warning, reach over and poke it through my display eggs to see if they are at the proper temperature. If they aren’t, no amount of pleading that those are for display only can dissuade the petulant public servant from demanding that I dump those display eggs in a trash can on the spot. I don’t sell at farmer’s markets anymore.

In 1975, when I graduated from high school and began plotting my farming career, I figured out that I could hand-milk ten cows, sell the milk to neighbors at regular retail prices, and be a full-time farmer. This was before most people had ever heard the word organic. But selling milk was illegal. In those days, we didn’t know about herd shares or Community Supported Agriculture or even limited liability corporations.

As a result, I went to work for a local newspaper and became the proverbial part-time farmer—working in town to support the farming passion. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over the fact that the government arbitrarily determined to make it very difficult for me to become a farmer. That seems un-American, doesn’t it?

Isn’t it curious that at this juncture in our culture’s evolution, we collectively believe Twinkies, Lucky Charms, and Coca-Cola are safe foods, but compost-grown tomatoes and raw milk are not? With legislation moving through Congress demanding that all agricultural practices be “science-based,” I believe our food system is at Wounded Knee. I do not believe that is an overstatement.

Make no mistake, as the local, heritage, humane, ecological, sustainable—call it what you will (anything but organic since the government now owns that word)—food system takes flight, the industrial food system is fighting back. With a vengeance. By demonizing, criminalizing, and marginalizing the integrity food movement, the entrenched powers that be hope to derail this revolution.

This industrial food experiment, historically speaking, is completely abnormal. It’s not normal to eat things you can’t spell or pronounce. It’s not normal to eat things you can’t make in your kitchen. Indeed, if everything in today’s science-based supermarket that was unavailable before 1900 were removed, hardly anything would be left. And as more people realize that this grand experiment in ingesting material totally foreign to our three-trillion-member internal community of intestinal microflora and -fauna is really biologically aberrant behavior, they are opting out of industrial fare. Indeed, to call it a food revolution is accurate.

But revolutions are always met with prejudice and entrenched paradigms from the about-to-be-unseated lords of the status quo. The realignment of power, trust, money, and commerce that the local heritage-based food movement represents inherently gives birth to a backlash. By the time of Wounded Knee, Native Americans no longer jeopardized the American reality.

But to many Americans, these Natives had to be crushed, extinguished, put on reservations. Would America have been stronger if European leaders had listened to wisdom about herbal remedies and consensus building? The answer is yes. But to Americans, the red man was just a barbarian because he didn’t govern by parliamentary procedure or ride in horse-drawn stagecoaches along cobblestone streets. In fact, he was considered a threat to America. Just like giving slaves their freedom in 1850. Just like imbibing alcohol in 1925. Just like homeschooling in 1980.

The ultimate test of a tyrannical society or a free society is how it responds to its lunatic fringe. A strong, self-confident, free society tolerates and enjoys the fringe people who come up with zany notions. Indeed, most people later labeled geniuses were dubbed whacko by their contemporary mainstream society. So what does a culture do with weirdos who actually believe they have a right to choose what to feed their internal three-trillion-member community?

The only reason the right to food choice was not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is because the Founders of America could not have envisioned a day when selling a glass of raw milk or homemade pickles to a neighbor would be outlawed. At the time, such a thought was as strange as levitation.

Indeed, what good is the freedom to own guns, worship, or assemble if we don’t have the freedom to eat the proper fuel to energize us to shoot, pray, and preach? Is not freedom to choose our food at least as fundamental a right as the freedom to worship?

How would we feel if we had to get a license from bureaucrats to start a church? After all, beliefs can be pretty damaging things. And charlatans certainly do exist. Better protect people from those charlatans—bad preachers and raw milk advocates.

But what does a society do when the charlatans are in charge? In charge of the regulating government agencies. In charge of the research institutions. In charge of the food system.

That is a real conundrum, because if health depends on opting out of what the charlatans think is safe, we are forced into civil disobedience. When the public no longer trusts its public servants, people begin taking charge of their own health and welfare. And that is exactly what is driving the local heritage food movement.

Lots of folks realize they don’t want industrialists fooling around with something as basic as food. People like me don’t trust Monsanto. We don’t trust the Food and Drug Administration. We don’t trust the Department of Agriculture. We don’t trust Tyson. And we don’t think it’s safe to be dependent on food that sits for a month in the belly of a Chinese merchant marine vessel.

This clash of choice versus prohibition brings us to today’s Wounded Knee of food. The local heritage-based food movement represents everything that is good and noble about farming and food culture. It is about decentralized farms. Pastoral livestock systems. Symbiotic multi-speciation. Companion planting. Earthworms. It is about community-appropriate techniques and scale. Aesthetically and aromatically sensual romantic farming. Re-embedding the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker in the village. And ultimately about health-giving food grown more productively on less land than industrial models.

Certainly some of this clash represents the difference between nurturing and dominating. The local heritage food movement—the raw milk movement—is all about respecting and honoring indigenous wisdom. The industrial mind-set worships techno-glitzy gadgetry and views heritage food advocates as simpletons and Luddites. Or dangerous criminals.

In this wonderful exposé The Raw Milk Revolution, David Gumpert employs the best journalistic investigative techniques to examine this clash from the raw milk battlefront. Be assured that the same mentality exists toward homemade pickles, home-cured meats, and cottage industry in general. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the food system, but it is harassed out of existence by capricious, malicious, and prejudiced government agents who really do believe they are doing society a favor by denying food choice to Americans.

The same curative properties espoused by raw milk advocates exist in a host of other food products, from homemade pound cake and potpies to pepperoni and pastured chicken. Real food is what developed our internal intestinal community. And it sure didn’t develop on food from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and genetically modified potatoes that are partly human and partly tomato. Long after human cleverness has run its course, compost piles will still grow the best tomatoes and grazing cows will still yield one of nature’s perfect foods: raw milk.

One of our former apprentices has just started a ten-cow herd-share arrangement with our customers. Here is a young, entrepreneurial, go-get-‘em farmer embarking on his dream, serving people who are enjoying their dream of acquiring unadulterated milk. Can any arrangement, any relationship-between farmer and cow, cow and pasture, customer and producer be more honorable, respectable, open, and trusting? Everything about this is righteous, including respecting the individual enough to let her decide what to eat and what to feed her children.

Let the revolution continue

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Enjoy a Free-Range Halloween

I love this woman! I have enjoyed many of her posts at her blog Free Range Kids. Check out this latest post from The Huffington Post.

As Goes Halloween As Goes Childhood

Forget all the guys in Bernie Madoff masks and tutus. If you want to see something really scary on Halloween, come to my apartment around 9 p.m.I'm letting my kids eat unwrapped candy.

They can eat any homemade goodies they get, too, and that unholy of unholies: candy where the wrapper is slightly torn. And on the very off chance they get an apple, they can gnaw it to the core, so long as there's not a razor-sized, dripping gash on the side.

Which always seemed like it would be a kind of give-away that something was amiss.

It's not that I'm cavalier about safety. I'm just a sucker -- so to speak -- for the facts. And the fact is: No child has been poisoned by a stranger's goodies on Halloween, ever, as far as we can determine. Joel Best, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, studied November newspapers from 1958 to the present, scouring them for any accounts of kids felled by felonious candy. And...he didn't find any. He did find one account of a boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix his father gave him. Dad did it for the insurance money and, Best says, he probably figured that so many kids are poisoned on Halloween, no one would notice one more.

Well, they did and dad was executed. That's Texas for you. Another boy died after he got into his uncle's heroin stash and relatives tried to make it look like he'd been killed by candy. And that's it.

Now look at how the fear that our nice, normal-seeming neighbors might actually be moppet-murdering psychopaths has turned the one kiddie independence day of the year into yet another excuse to micromanage childhood.

It's not just the fact that churches and community centers are throwing parties so that kids don't go out on their own. It's not just the fact that Bobtown, Pennsylvania has gone so far as to "cancel" Halloween altogether -- for the sake of "safety." (The authorities there were surprised to find this decision unpopular.) It's not even that those of us who'd like to hand out homemade cookies know they'll be instantly tossed in the trash.

No, the truly spooky thing is that Halloween has become a riot of warnings that are way scarier than the holiday itself. The website Halloween-Safety.com recommends that if your child is carrying a fake butcher knife, make sure the tip is "smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen upon."

Excuse me? Has anyone ever seen a knife land blade-side up? And then fallen on it? Meantime, schools around the country are sending this note home to parents: "Please, no scary costumes." In England last year a man was ordered by his landlord to take down his lawn decorations because the zombies were too "realistic."

In other words: They looked too much like...real zombies?

Our fears are so overblown they'd be laughable if they didn't sound so much like the fears that are haunting us the rest of the year. Fears that have lead to parents to wait with their kids at the school bus stop, and keep them inside on sunny afternoons. Fears that make parents forbid their kids from skipping down the street to invite a friend out to play. That's the everyday version of Halloween fear: The fear that we cannot trust our children amongst our neighbors for one single second because, who knows, they might be pedophiles just waiting to pounce.

If you want to see what childhood is becoming, look how at what Halloween has already become: A parent-planned, climate-controlled, child-coddled, corporate-sponsored "event," where kids are considered too delicate to even survive the sight of a scary costume.

If you want to see what childhood is becoming, look how at what Halloween has already become: A parent-planned, climate-controlled, child-coddled, corporate-sponsored "event," You know. Like if someone came dressed as a slightly torn Snickers.

Skenazy is founder of freerangekids.com and author of "Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Difference a Day Makes

This is what it looked like out my window yesterday...
and this is what it looks like now...
It has been snowing continuously all day and doesn't show signs of stopping any time soon. This is the second snow of the season...the first was last Sunday but it had came and went in one day. Sure wish I had got my snow tires on!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

There is a reason it is called "Froot" Loops

Don't Let Kellogg's Buy Scientists: Froot Loops Aren't a Healthy Breakfast

The nation's largest food manufacturers, including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra and PepsiCo, want you to believe that Froot Loops and other unhealthy foods are "Smart Choices." And they have somehow convinced representatives from the Baylor College of Medicine to back them up.

The new "Smart Choices" program--an industry-backed marketing ploy--puts a green check mark on products that are determined to be "smarter food and beverage choices." But the choices selected are anything but healthy.

Dr. Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said in a New York Times article that she supported giving Froot Loops the green check mark because compared to feeding your children doughnuts for breakfast "Froot Loops is a better choice."

Kellogg's Froot Loops Cereal is 41% sugar. There is nothing "smart" about Froot Loops or other foods packed with sugar.

The reality is that the food industry is using the Smart Choices program to deceive parents and other shoppers into buying the very food that has led to a costly epidemic of diabetes and obesity -- and researchers like Dr. Kennedy are abetting this deception by associating themselves and their respective institutions with the program.

This is outrageous.

Click here to send a letter today and tell all four doctors supporting the Smart Choices program to stop shilling for Kellogg's. They, and the leaders of their respective institutions, need to hear that you think it is wrong for them to support any program that gives sugary cereals and other unhealthy foods a stamp of approval as healthy choices.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Garlic...it's a beautiful thing

The other day a friend stopped by and gave me this little bundle of homegrown goodness...
just look at the size of these cloves...
Wow...the taste is just extraordinary. So much better than the imported stuff we've been getting lately from the grocery store. My hands actually still smelled like garlic hours later, even after having them in a sink full of soapy dish water!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Herd share

Photo courtesy of Sally Anne Thompson/Animal Photography

Exciting news today...we found out about someone starting a herd share program with weekly deliveries to Williams Lake!!

We have been thinking about getting some sort of milk animal (goat or cow?) for some time but everyone we know who has had a cow, is really discouraging us. Mainly, because it is a lot of work and you must, must, must milk a cow at least once a day, if you keep the calf with her during the day, and it must, must, must be at the same time each day. So that would really tie a person down! We also need to spend some time and money on fencing and clearing more of our property and at this point we don't have much of either. So for now...the herd share is a wonderful compromise. Here is how it works...

Because it is illegal to sell raw (unpasteurized) milk to the public
, but perfectly legal to use as much raw milk as you wish from your own herd/cow, small scale dairy farmers and willing consumers have come up with the herd share concept. Consumers pay a farmer a fee for boarding, caring for and milking the herd. The herd share owner then obtains (but does not purchase) his/her share of milk from the herd. This arrangement is similar to arrangements of owning a share in a crop, racehorse or a bull. During the past two years or so, several cowshare/herdshare programs have been implemented in this province, and have been functioning well with no problems.

In Prince George, the Hunny-Do Ranch has been operating a herd share program for a few years now, but as it is a three-hour drive to PG, it is not feasible for us to be part of it. Check out their site if you want to know more, they have some good info on herd shares and how it all works.

And why go to all of this trouble you may be asking?? There are many, many health benefits to raw milk. Check out this link for a really complete listing of the benefits of raw milk. But in a nutshell, milk in it's unpasteurized form has nourished people for thousands of years and switching to a raw milk has been documented over and over again as helping relatively modern conditions such as lactose intolerance, Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and arthritis. I first learned about raw milk when my neighbour Gigi lent me the book Nourishing Traditions put out by the Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price Foundation. You can check out this youtube video for an overview of where they are coming from. It is interesting and thought provoking stuff.

This video is Sally Fallon discussing raw milk...

Monday, September 14, 2009

101 Uses for the Power Auger

Last week-end we rented a power auger...that big yellow machine in the picture. We need to build a hay/woodshed with as many found/scrap materials as possible as we have no budget for this project! So the upright posts are beetle-kill timber that the hydro people have been cutting down to clear the hydro right of ways, and average about 18 feet long. Grandmaman did the 'skinning' of the bottoms of the posts.
Erich dug the holes in no time, using the handy power auger, and it took all three of us to get the posts into position in the holes. Next week-end we are hoping to get going on the roof. And since we had the auger, we added some poles to the treehouse and made room for some swings.

And this is my darling daughter, who loves to help, especially if it means she can wear Daddy's hard hat, it's all about the accessories :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quesnel Lake

This week-end we packed up the tent trailer and headed over to Quesnel Lake, to camp out with some friends at their cabin. It is about a 45 minute drive, down some very windy gravel roads but man is it ever worth the drive!

Such a beautiful spot and almost completely untouched. Quesnel Lake is the deepest fjord formed lake on earth and the largest lake in the Cariboo. According to the Horsefly Realty site:

At junction of the North and East Arms Quesnel Lake is approximately 4 miles across. The North Arm is 25 miles long, the East Arm is 34 miles long and the Main Lake is approximately 50 miles to the outflow of Quesnel River located at Likely, B.C.

The end of the North and East Arms are right in the Cariboo Mountains with peaks in excess of 7000 feet that are snow capped a good part of the year, and in the summer have beautiful alpine meadows. There are many interesting names that all have stories attached to them: Mount Watt, Mount Brew, Niagara Peak, Mount Wotzke, Roaring Peaks, Mount Mitchell, Mount Mathew, Mount Youngren, Mount Spranger, Miller Peaks, Roberts Peak, Three Ladies Mountain, Welcome Mountain, Mount Stevenson, and Spanish Mountain – just to name a few!

There are fabulous sandy beaches at numerous locations around Quesnel Lake, many accessible by boat only.

Our friend's cabin is part of a strata which means they get the benefit of a few amenities like this boat launch and dock...or what used to be a boat launch and dock. The water is incredibly low...
Not that it mattered to the kids who had a blast collecting 'seaweed' to make a tanning bed on shore.
The rest of us were a little less industrious and just enjoyed the beach...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Building a treehouse

We've been talking about building a treehouse with the kids since we moved here. A few week-ends ago we decided to get going on it. We found a spot where we had two nice big spruce trees and an aspen in front...to make a triangle. It has a pretty nice view too!
G.'s friend from next door came over to help out. They hauled lots of lumber, cut off branches and hammered in lots of nails. Knut was happy to be able to climb up there on the pile of logs.
This gives you an idea of where it is, in relation to our house. Our front deck is in the bottom left corner of this pic. Notice Knut, positioned so he can keep an eye on everyone, he's such a good dog!
And this is the almost finished product. We would like to put a roof on, and a swing off to the right and perhaps some side walls, but it's good enough to play on for now until we get around to that.
And notice the very tidy piled logs? Well, that has been Grandmaman's project, while here on vacation. She has been sorting the pine from the aspen, piling everything neatly and moving probably more than a hundred wheelbarrows full of logs to the side and front porches...getting us ready for winter. We do let her have a rest occasionally...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Meet Hvitkarr

Here he is...Hvitkarr...our little ram lamb ding-dong :)
He is fitting in quite nicely. The girls gave him a bit of a run for his money, butting him about a bit but he seems to be standing his ground and even eating with them...sort of.
This week-end Grandmaman, who is visiting from Montreal, filled in for Erich and I and we drove to Creston in the Kootenays...an 11-hour drive each way. It was lovely to meet Colleen over at Flannelberry Farm, as we have been conversing online for sometime...she is a wealth of information on all things related to Icelandic sheep (and chickens too :). Little Hvitkarr was born in April, he is one of three (triplets) and comes from good milky and fleece lines.

We had originally intended to get a ram lamb from my friend in the Okanagan who also has Icelandic sheep, but very sadly, the little lamb she had for us died from eating a neighbour's poisoned pasture...damn those pesticides!

So fingers crossed, the little guy will be able to perform sometime in November and we will have lambs this Spring!

Friday, August 7, 2009


This is my second season of gardening and I have to say I am hooked. Last year, I started a little late in the season so had to use seedlings from the nursery. This year I had a lot of fun, thumbing through the seed catalogues. I ordered from West Coast Seeds and Salt Spring Seeds. I talked about what I ordered in this post. So I've been harvesting salad, arugula and spinach for some time but things are really exploding just lately. This was my harvest today...
How awesome is that??? My sugar snap peas are going crazy...so tasty too! I don't really have enough beets to can, so I am just enjoying them fresh in juice or cooked, like in this yummy salad.
So great! Hard to believe they started as those teeny, tiny seeds.

Two Festivals and a Wedding

What a glorious summer it has been! We kicked off our summer holidays around here with Arts on the Fly at the beginning of July.
What a blast and in our very own town! The Horsefly school grounds were transformed, with a beautiful outdoor stage, an artisan market, the Inspiration Station for children and over at the Community Hall, a wonderful fibre arts show. I think the highlight of my family's weekend, was a last-minute request to host some artists for the week-end. Linda McRae and her hubby James (Sr.) and Steven Nikleva and James Lillico all bunked down with us Friday and Saturday night. They were good sports, especially since Steven and James had to sleep in my daughters tiny twin beds! They enjoyed the trampoline with my girls and even went with Erich to feed the chickens and move the chicken tractors. Then, they put on an amazing show on Saturday evening!
What an awesome group of musicians, between them they played the stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin and banjo. What a treat for us! Especially since we are huge Spirit of the West fans, and have seen Linda (one of the original band members) play with them several times.
It was a great week-end but also very tiring...as you can see Mimi passed out in the middle of the show...
**All photos taken by Florian Krumsiek

Check out this youtube video of them performing one of my favourites...

Last week-end we had the pleasure of seeing Linda play again at Arts Wells, another music festival in the North Cariboo town of Wells (close to Barkerville). Another great time, we camped out in Wells for two nights with some friends and family. Arts Wells is a huge festival, with over 70 musical acts of folk, jazz, country, funk, hip hop, electronic, world, pop, roots & more. Click on the poster for more info...
Phew...and in between all of that we squeezed in a fabulous family wedding out at the ranch in beautiful Beaver Valley. Remember those pictures of the hayfield well that was the backdrop for the reception and barn dance that went on til about 4am (apparently...I only stayed standing til just after midnight :) It was a beautiful wedding, with girls arriving in horse-drawn covered wagon...groomsmen on horseback (really something to behold) and seating for the crowd provided by some comfy square bales. It was a really hot day, but the breeze off of the lake felt good, and we were able to cool off with a quick dip after the ceremony.

This week-end looks like another road trip to pick up our little ram lamb...his name is Hvítkárr. More about that later...