Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Let's Plough!

Remember Duckie in the film Pretty in Pink? He would say 'let's plough' - that is a movie from my early twenties - I've been trying to find a used copy to view once again for Nostalgia's sake. Molly Ringwald was in all the movies then. But I digress...

Let's Plough the field

I suspect I'm going to lose most of you with this post - it's all about dirt and turning over said dirt. Truth is though, I had no idea how these huge farm implements worked and it's been quite the education.

Below is the used plough we purchase last week. The farmer who sold it to us suggested we wait until there has been rain so the ground is softer and this is what we did.  Hubbie has been researching about all this stuff online on a tractor owner's forum and at Everything Attachments.

This past Saturday he came into the house (he spends all his days working outdoors) and announced "Lynney I'm going to go plough the field now!"  So I dropped my sewing and grabbed the camera and off we went...

This attachment (plough) can be moved up and down and tilted to the left or right)

the pasture is in the back property just past the bee hives

The first go is a shallow scraping - the blades are lowered just so they dig into the ground and as you will see, they curl the cut and dug clumps of grass right-over so the grass is facing down.

Here we go, this is a series of photos as the plough does it's work.

One Row complete! You can surely imagine the grin on Hubbie's face. It was fun and easy!

we do not have agricultural tires on the tractor so it gets packed with mud and sometimes the tractor spins - to buy the tires would be very very expensive. 

To do the next row, the tractor tire must sit inside the 'furrow' of the first row that was ploughed. This means that Hubbie had to then adjust the tilt of the plough to make it level with the ground now that the tractor itself is on a tilt. There's a handle that he turns to the left or right and this tilts the plough to the left or right...

The second row...

Now that the plough has been adjusted to be level with the ground, the second row is ploughed

 Hubbie then headed for the other side of the field and began a new row at that end but...

He paused mid-row to look at his work and then said " *bleep!* I am going in the wrong direction! "
You see, the plough curls the soil  so it flips over and each row must be 'flipped-over' in the same direction. 
Giggle...I left him to it after that, I had dogs to feed and a First Egg to find not long after...It was a good day.

Soon, we'll get a used part (the farmer said we get $50.00 off on our next attachment purchase) to disc the field. To disc is to break-up the globs of soil. This must be done several times - twice in the fall and once in the spring. We need to rent a trailer to get this newest used attachment - it's too big for our little pickup truck. Stay tuned for some exciting disc'ing' ! 

So what are we going to plant in all that soil? 
We are still figuring it all out. We will be doing a lot of reading this winter.

And we are definitely going to need a root cellar.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

It's a Blustery Winne the Pooh kind of Day.

Oh lovely, cold, windy, day filled with birds and leaves frolicking in the winds going here then there, how I love days like you!

“Tut, Tut, looks like rain” 
― A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh)

Nuthatch with peanut in his beak

“What day is it?" 
It's today," squeaked Piglet. 
My favorite day," said Pooh.” 
― A.A. Milne 

Chickadee about to go to the feeder

I adore days just like today. It's cold, windy and wet and the leaves are blowing off the trees in a dance of pirouettes and triple somersaults in the air. The birds are everywhere on our feeders; filling their bellies to keep warm for the day and I have once again begun my ritual of having my tea outside while bundled-up from the chill. 

My cold weather routine fills-me-up; it's the best good morning I know. I am not a morning person but this meditative blast of cold and nature makes me so full of hope and gratitude. I can't explain it but I hope you too have your special moment which helps recharge the batteries and slows you down enough so that you truly see what you have, become a silent observer of what is going on around you - even for just that 10 to 20 minutes - I believe it's the closest I come to the proverbial 'living in the moment'.

“Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.” 
A.A. Milne

This week I've indulged a little bit in doing something that is really nothing...Hubbie has been on vacation and so he has had to make trips to get: a 600lb straw bale, an even heavier used plough and an even heavier than the other two things - giant wood chipper. I have happily accompanied him on these trips - always with Peanut and my bag of knitting and twice with the 2 boys who love car rides. We have been literally squashed inside our small pickup truck with the 2 big boys in the back peering out the side windows and breathing down our necks as they peeked at the front views too. Peanut has been tucked-away on the floor in front of my feet under 3 layers of towels and my old jacket. She happily accompanies her mama everywhere I go and she generally sits in her cocoon and is contented to have an up-close and personal view of me sitting and knitting. We went to a house where a fellow sells used farm equipment - first we stopped for tea and a doughnut (oh happy indulgences!) which I slowly sipped while I knit in the parked truck - meanwhile hubbie browsed through the man's version of  a thrift store. We must have been there 40 minutes and it was bliss. I am an avid people-watcher and farmers are food for the curious observer. I knit, sipped tea, watched Peanut in her cocoon and smooched the boys as they stuck their heads through the space between the 2 front seats. They finally loaded that old plough into the back of the truck - we felt the truck sink down and shake sideways and then it settled...Hubbied conversed with the fellows in his broken French and they, in their broken English - payment was made and we were off again through some beautiful farm country watching the busy Combines collect the seasons' soybeans, corn and other crops. 

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” 
― A.A. Milne

Now I'm thinking you have either stopped reading already or yawned a few too many times but this is a Blog - a web log or online journal, right? I felt I just had to write this down for myself and so I shared it with you, dear readers. Maybe it will resonate with one person ...that we all need to slow down and make room for these moments of absolutely nothing. I am grateful...so very very grateful for these moments of nothing which are in truth everything. Elizabeth Zimmerman wrote about her escapes to the Canadian woods with 'The Old Man' where he fished while she knit - this resonates with me to my core. Her books are so much more than books about Knitting.

I wish you one of these moments of nothing...very soon...may it fill you up and recharge you as mine did today...


“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


“sometimes i sits and thinks, and sometimes i just sits..” 
― A.A. Milne

Nuthatch on feeder and Chickadee in flight

“What I like doing best is Nothing." 

"How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time. 

"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it. 

It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." 

"Oh!" said Pooh.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Downy Woodpecker

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
― A.A. Milne

Nuthatch in flight with peanut in beak!

“TTFN Ta Ta For Now!” 
― A.A. Milne

I will be off Sunday and back on Monday - have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Let's take a Fall walk & Twice Baked Kale Potatoes

Scarlet Runner Beans
 I had no idea the beans were so beautiful...

We grow Scarlet Runners every year, on a teepee of metal stakes. These beans are like the proverbial Jack and the Beanstalk  - they are simple to grow and create a beautiful tower of green with red flowers which the hummingbirds love and we grow them for these lovely little birds.

I tore down the tower this fall to plant my Tulip and Narcissus bulbs but Hubbie had the forethought to pick off the beans so we can plant them next year. What he discovered inside these huge pods are the most beautiful beans I have ever seen. We don't eat them but apparently others do (but they need to be cooked properly to avoid toxins from what I'm reading on Wiki...). These are sitting on the dining table, I can't get enough of gazing at their beautiful opalescence and nuances in purples.

Twice baked Kale Potatoes

The Green Door Restaurant in Ottawa has a dish called Potato Kale and it is always offered at this cafeteria style restaurant so it must be popular. It is essentially a casserole of potatoes, kale, cheese and milk.  I decided to use some of my last bits of garden kale to make a stuffed version of this potato and kale combination but I must say that my version is much tastier! 

This is an 'unrecipe' - just eyeball it and it always turns out delicious...

1. bake as many potatoes as you want to make - I poke them then wrap in foil and bake in 400 degree oven for about an hour. If it's soft when you squeeze it (gently, now!) then it's ready. Take out of the oven, cool a bit then I get Hubbie o to cut them in half and scoop them out with an ice cream scoop.

2. Meanwhile I make the bowl of other ingredients into which Hubbie plops the potato filling:
  •  I grate about 1/2 to 2/3rds of a small block of extra-old cheddar and it goes into the bowl. You could use parmesan cheese, nuritional yeast or even no cheese at all. 
  • saute minced kale in olive oil with garlic then into the bowl
  • add chopped fresh parsley and  green onion and a good glug of milk (dairy or non-dairy) to make this a creamy blend.
  • season with salt and pepper
3. Mash it all together - I find it is nicer creamy so I tend to be more generous with the milk than I used to be and yes you will be making more filling than you took out of the potatoes so they will overflow - that's why the one in the photo toppled onto it's side! 

4. Place the empty potato halves in a baking dish/tray and refill them. If you are having these for guests then refill gently and don't overfill and keep any extra filling aside - it can be baked like a casserole in a small baking dish. If you are making this as we do - just for ourselves then just overfill them and accept they might topple over. You could top with more grated cheese or a sprinkling of Paprika but I don't bother

5. Bake in 350 (or hotter oven if you are starving and want to eat them NOW!) degree F oven for about 20 or 30 minutes to make them all melty and golden on top.

We serve these with a nice crunchy salad. There are always plenty of delicious leftovers -yum.

A Beautiful Fall Walk

This weekend was incredibly warm and beautiful, we took many walks and Hubbie attached the cutter to the tractor and made some trails as well as began a clearing to be ploughed for planting next Spring. We plan to cut and bale Hay for the donkeys (fingers crossed on getting them next year) and grow our own 'we don't know what' yet (many choices and we haven't decided).

So here we go...

There are as many leaves on the ground as there are on the trees

We have an abundance of sugar maples and one year when Hubbie is home for the entire spring, we will be collecting Maple sap and boiling it down to make our own Maple Syrup. this is a very involved process and I can't do it alone so it must wait until he can be home full time, sigh...

Bitter nut Hickory seed. The squirrels love these.

This one is getting older and...

this is what they look like on the inside. When cracked open they look like a walnut. I found a pile of these hidden away in our vegetable garden beneath some leaves. Squirrels hide food everywhere and then forget their hiding places! 

The area around the beehives. It's ok to cut it now as there are no more bee plants - I wanted to keep this area wild for the bees to forage but not it's all dry brush

Trail cut to the pasture

entry to the pasture - there used to be cows grazing here..

Hubbie has been busy. This will be mostly Hay field. Unfortunately (we hate this!) he scared-off 2 Deer sleeping in the long grass. This happened twice in two separate areas. He has kept a good swath of long grass all along the tree line as that is where the Deer are sleeping. We do everything to make our land a safe haven for them.

Now that there is no nectar and very little pollen, the honeybees are using the feeder.

Wild grapes (very sour!). I make wreaths from these vines

The two back hives. I have a lot to say about the bees soon in another post.
 It's been too warm to winterize them yet.

With so few leaves on the trees, we can see the house as we approach from the back


Time for some fresh apple cider...that was a long and warm walk!

Today the rain they've been announcing all week has finally arrived and the wetness makes the colours so much more vibrant. The wet leaves are bent-over and I see the hints of red which the Maple leaves develop. It's a beautiful sight of Burnt Umber glow out there and we are warm and dry indoors.

The Pullets just love this wet cold weather - so funny! They have been spoiled with carrot tops, beets and beet tops (Hubbie says their beaks were pink!) and then the insides of Butternut Squash - I can tell you that when they see The Mama they come running - I even gave them 3 boiled eggs mashed with their shells (I read it's good for them) so they have been very happy too.

This little feeder is so very popular with the Chickadees and Nuthatches, so happy to see them pop in and out all day long.

Around here, it's all about Fall, we love it rain or shine, warm or cold and it just gets better with Halloween creeping around the corner...

Happy Fall to you all!