Who likes kimchi?

I love kimchi. Of course I was raised on sauerkraut so it’s not much of a leap to spicy sauerkraut. I’d been looking for years in our local Asian markets (and when I say local, I mean in our closest biggest city, about an hour away). I could never find the right pepper. Finally last weekend I found a KOREAN grocery and a very helpful young girl. She wanted to know how many cabbages I would pickle and then sold me a lifetime supply of pepper 😂. So I picked up a Savoy cabbage, which wasn’t cheap, I tell you. But it was a lovely specimen. I also picked up daikon, green onions, and an Asian pear. I prepped by watching lots of utube tutorials. It looked remarkably easy. I started by chopping the cabbage and soaking it in salty water. Many of the videos, even the ones in Korean, showed the cabbage being chopped into bite sized pieces, which is what I did. A few showed a more labor intensive method of leaving the cabbage quartered and salting the layers of leaves all individually. Too much work!!I made a strong brine and left the cabbage to soak for several hours, tossing it a bit every time I walked by. The thickest part of the cabbage should bend when you fold it, not break.I made the spice paste, with garlic, ginger, pepper, spring onions, daikon radish, julienned garden carrots, and some julienned Asian pear. I’m not sure why, many of the recipes had apple and pear, and some even had honey or sugar!! Maybe food for the little microbes? Anyway I just used a bit of Asian pear. Once the cabbage was soft enough I triple rinsed and combined the spice mix with the cabbage. I was supposed to use gloves but just used my spatula. Now my spatula is orange and smells like kimchi. Sigh. I packed it all into a big jar. Amazingly it all fit!!I set it on a plate on the counter and barely tightened the lid. It off gasses as it ferments and I didn’t want an explosion. I kept tasting and it was hot!! but oh so good. Couldn’t stop tasting it. As I washed up the dishes I saw a deer bedded down in the front yard. She lay in the sun for quite awhile before the ponies began to annoy her and she took off.

And for breakfast today I had rice and kimchi. It’s burbling away and oozing a bit. I’ll leave it till tonight then wash up the outside and put it in the fridge. Scrummy!!

Momma goat is sick

I started this blog about two weeks ago. I just couldn’t finish because it’s been such a roller coaster of emotions thinking she wasn’t going to make it.

First she went off her grain. Honestly, in thirty years of stock raising, I should KNOW that means trouble. But I didn’t catch it. Oh I saw she wasn’t coming for her grain but I didn’t attach enough importance to it. Maybe she’s not hungry. Maybe she doesn’t like it. Maybe she’s had enough.

Noooo.

Animals are NEVER not hungry. They are NEVER not interested in their grain. They ALWAYS want more. This is the first sign that something is wrong. And I missed it.

By the time I figured out she was sick, she was struggling to breathe. My daughter and I initially thought she was having trouble bringing up her cud. Everything we read and observed seemed to support this. But she had no fever. She wasn’t coughing and didn’t have a snotty nose. It didn’t look like any kind of pneumonia I’d ever seen. But she couldn’t breath. We video’d her symptoms and showed the vet. He thought it was obstructed breathing. He gave me a couple courses of long acting antibiotics but they didn’t work.

A week later and she’s still not eating or drinking I went back for something else. The second vet gave me a different antibiotic and a course of steroids. She was just so miserable.

I stayed in the barn with her and she just stood beside me as I stroked her back. She just wanted company. I was so happy the one evening when she finally laid down as she had been on her feet struggling to breathe. I thought laying down was a good sign that she was comfortable enough to get some rest. Until I got back to the house and realized she may just be laying down to die so back out to the barn I went.

And I tried everything to make her eat. I was visiting her in the barn every few hours and took her some kind of treat. A sliced apple, carrot, cabbage. Saltine crackers to make her thirsty. We had pancakes on the weekend and I took her those. I made toasted rye bread and mashed a banana on top. I bought her kale and fed her sliced beets from the cold room. She ate these things and slowly slowly began to improve.

She stopped gasping and began to show interest in her hay and the other day really stuck her head into the hay and ate ravenously. And she started drinking. I was never so happy to see a barn full of poop.

So momma goat was sick but now is on the road to recovery and I can relax. I’m just so grateful the weather is mild and she can gain back some of the weight she lost.

She’s been part of the family for 12 years or so and has been such a great mother and a real character. I love my goat!!

Knitting weather

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a picture of a pair of thrummed mittens she saw at a craft sale. Alpaca yarn. $70 a pair. Yikes!! But of course they are worth every penny. That’s the thing with handmade items…you cannot really get proper compensation for all the hours you put into a project.

I’m lucky. I’m a knitter. I’ve made dozens of pairs of mittens over the years and after I saw the picture, I knocked off a pair over a couple of evenings. Still, say four hours a mitt, times two, plus the cost of yarn. At minimum wage, that’s about a hundred bucks. Who’s going to buy hundred dollar mitts?!? So it’s a labour of love, and I prefer to gift them.

I have been in a bit of a rut lately though. Wanting to knit but very aware (and reminded frequently) of my daughters’ sweater I started almost five years ago. An Icelandic sweater, with a bunny themed yoke, I knit it in the round, with a steek up the front. This steek is a method of knitting designed to speed the process. A sweater knit in the round goes much faster than a sweater knit either in pieces or in a back and forth method. The steek is cut, the edges finished and buttons or a zipper attached…voila, cardigan. But I’ve never cut a steek before and am terrified of the UNRAVELING!! So I have left this sweater at the final stage for over four years. But I am determined to finish it this winter, one way or another. Pictures to follow 😊

Now this summer, while traveling in the maritimes, I indulged in my favourite pastime, wool shopping. I visited several mills and many wool shops, always picking up an interesting colour or two. So I decided to wind up the skeins into proper balls. I dug my kniddy-knoddy out of the shed and began to wind. This yarn is a single ply, 100% wool milled in New Brunswick at the Briggs and Little mill. I LOVE this yarn. I love the weight, and the gentle twist which enables me to seamlessly join yarn or switch colours. I have to use quite small needles, a 3 or 3.5mm, which is time consuming but makes patterns just pop. My favourite style of mitts are twinned knitting, which gives a double thickness and over many wearings, felts nicely making the mitts practically wind proof and very very warm. I like this particular pattern because I don’t have to carry the yarn more than three stitches (so no snagged fingers) and lots of opportunity for colour variations. It has to be interesting for the knitter too!!

Anyway, the red and grey yarns are being knit into some fingerless mitts for my sister. I saw a picture I liked and graphed out the design. Knitting without a real pattern (number of stitches, actual increases or decreases) is challenging. I usually have to knit three mitts. One to create the pattern. The second to perfect it, and the third to match the second. This is one start, which I’ve already ripped out and restarted. I hated the cuff and the needles were too small so the mitt was too tight. My sister wants these to wear over those skinny little dollar store gloves so she can use her fingers without freezing her hand off. I changed the cast on, making a picot edge, and they just feel better. I’m not sure the thumb gusset is deep enough but I will finish this one and get her to try it to see.

Thanks to my friend who started all this with her picture from the craft market. You know who you are. If you tell me your colour preferences, I’ll make you a thrummed pair for Christmas. 😊

Goodbye Piggy

piggyPigPig came to live at the farm after I retired.  That was twelve years ago.  When my previous pig died, I’d said no more.  But we were at an auction, and no body wanted her, so I took her home.  She was of course a house pig for a time and such fun she had chasing around the house after the cats and dog.  But soon it was time to move her out to the barn.

Finding a winter accommodation she liked became increasingly difficult as she got older.  One favorite of hers and mine was a hotbox, enclosed, with a heat lamp.

My camera doesn’t like the heat lamp but it was so cozy.  The cats loved it too, warm piggy underneath and toasty heat lamp from above.  I don’t think piggy minded her furry blankets either.  But the second winter she wouldn’t go in, and I was so scared of starting a fire, I had to come up with another solution.

I’d make her comfy private spaces filled with warm bedding, but very out of character for a pig, she really resisted burrowing and would gradually end up out the door of her house.  So, then I began to cover her with old blankets.

IMG_1869This worked fine too, but the goats were mean to her so for the winter they would have to be kept separate. She didn’t like to go out in the cold so after breakfast and supper she would just cuddle back under her blasnkets.  Not much of a life really.

In the summer she was out and about, but the last two summers became more and more lame (my daughter says pot belly’s are prone to arthritis).

IMG_0617I decided I couldn’t force her to endure another frigid winter, so with the help of a neighbor, and a handful of cookies, she went to a better place…maybe a garden where she could rumble through and eat lettuces to her hearts content.IMG_0838

 

Deer in the garden

I live out in the county. Not too far from the small city I was born in, about 15 minutes on a normal day with no road construction (they have been working on one bridge all summer and STILL aren’t finished). I have a small spring fed creek in the gully in front of my house and often see deer down there. On occasion I’ve seen deer right up at the bird feeders by the house and today, from the kitchen window I saw a doe and a fawn in the garden. I know they are there often as I see tracks but I’ve never been lucky enough to see them in the flesh. It’s not so unusual–my sister in the city lives on a big lot on the edge of town and often has deer in the yard. Everywhere in Saskatchewan is rural, and wildlife is rampant. They were here first. But I get a thrill every time I see them. Early last week I saw a cow moose and her twin calves cross the highway in front of the bus. They are everywhere. It’s hunting season now, and I’ve posted my land so I hope the wild things will find sanctuary here.

I’ve been busy busy trying to preserve the generous harvest this year. I’ve discovered a simpler method for peeling tomatoes. I simply core and freeze then dip in hot water and the skins slip right off. I had put a tub of tomatoes on the kitchen table while the water was warming in the sink. I turned and caught my daughter looking at me with the classic “deer in the headlights” look. She was up to something but I didn’t see what. Oh she makes me laugh!!

We’ve had our obligatory first snow–the one that Mother Nature tosses at us and says, ha–mortal, you are unprepared for winter–get ready or else!!It melted within a few days and stayed quite warm before dumping us in the deep freeze for a week. Every warm day now is a blessing and I’m sitting on the deck in the sun to write this. Soon enough I’ll be on the couch under a pile of blankets debating turning the heat up.

My kids’ dad gifted me some grapes that he harvested from his vine that grows alongside his garage. I had just purchased a new to me toy, a steam juicer. So I thought I would try my hand at making grape jelly. It turned out really good!!I like a little bread with my jelly 😝

Fall is also a time for all things pumpkin. I baked up a tray of sugar pies (type of pumpkin, very sweet) and froze the flesh. But also made pumpkin bread, cake and custard slices. And a big pot of curried pumpkin soup. Yum!!Last weekend sissy and I went out exploring. Driving the back roads, hoping to find some highbush cranberries. It has been such an awful fall for the harvest. Farmers are out working around the clock while the weather is warm and dry. Slowly the fields are being stripped of their crops. The stubble is still golden yellow but is quickly turning grey.

The cranberries are a pop of colour in the bush. My mother loved these berries, and her mother as well. They would cook the berries till they popped, add some sugar and use in tea all winter as a vitamin C supplement. They would leave the skins and seeds but I don’t like sieving my tea thru my teeth. I push the pulp thru a real sieve and then add sugar and can. Some people find the smell of the cooking berries similar to boiling old socks!! but I just love the smell–it smells like fall…This batch only made eight jars and I’ve gone thru two already, so I see more berry picking in my future. What do you harvest from the wild?

And now for something completely different…

Who used to say that?!? Excuse me while I google that catch phrase.

Damn. Of course. Monty python. Doh!! (Simpson’s 😊)

So after I posted my last blog I checked back to see what the previous one had been about. There was some repetition there which happens when a month passes between posts.

So odds and ends again today. Poor Fuzz-Butt aka Luther has had a bit of a traumatic fall. He’s really a lover not a fighter and gets into scraps with the resident spooky wild cat. He came home recently with his ear torn to shreds. He’s a big cat. Even in play he hurts us unintentionally. My daughter wrapped him in a towel to staunch the flow just in case he objected. But he doesn’t look too upset does he?? In fact he purred through the whole process. Then several days later an abscess popped up on his lip. See how the one side of his face is all swollen. Poor pussy cat. We just scruffed him to have a closer look–while he looks somewhat demonic and uncomfortable, he didn’t fight or fuss. It was a huge abscess but it hadn’t come to a head yet. Several days later though it burst and he came up to the door dripping pus. I cleaned him up and he healed quite nicely. His list of monikers grows, like a Tolkien character– Fuzz-Butt, Luther, Pus-head and Scarface. I have no idea where he came from. I suspect someone dumped him out in the country when he outgrew his kitten stage. I’m just grateful he showed up here and not at some of the cat hating neighbours.

Last weekend we made our annual pilgrimage down to the river. The colours are beautiful. The day was perfectly calm. It’s short trek from the parking lot down under the old bridge to the water. The river was really high this fall. Quite unusual but there’s been heavy rains upstream. It was a deepish crossing and the flow was faster than I liked. I stepped off a point and immediately sank to my knees in unstable sand (quicksand) and fell to my hands and knees to crawl back out. That scared me into staying put while my fearless daughter and her boyfriend carried on down the river. He’d never done a river walk and she wanted to show him the massive river clams and crayfish that abound in the river. It was such a beautiful day!!I amused myself by finding crayfish claws while the kids explored. The clams remained elusive, I think the water was too high but it wasn’t for lack of searching. The claws turn blue after death–seagulls make quick work of the rest of the crayfish. There are people who collect them to eat, just a tiny nugget of flesh in the tail but wild foraged food always tastes great.

My daughter and I headed out on a road recently. We took the back road and this beautiful hawk was putting on a show just in front of us, flying from post to road and back just in front of the truck. It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of September without a killing frost. This time last year I was digging my tomatoes out from under a foot of snow!! I’m sitting on the deck, in the sun, with my coffee as the geese are flying overhead. The ladybugs are feasting on the aphids infesting my dill, but they’ve got to eat too right?

The Virginia Creeper has turned scarlet. There are all kinds of dire prophecies of snow in the near future–of course there are, it’s September in Canada. But for now, it’s calm, the sun is hot, and it’s a beautiful day. It’s time to go uncover the garden (frost warning the past couple nights). The tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are still going strong. This is the view from the deck!! Life is good 😊

Like a squirrel

I love fall. My favourite season. New box of crayons. New pencils. A fresh page.

I’m energized by fall. The harvesting of the garden. Filling the pantry. My happy place.

I’ve been home now for a month and have not been too ambitious. My daughter did such a fantastic job of the yard and garden, (I’m so proud of her!!) combined with a dry spell meant I hadn’t had to break out the mower. The weeds were under control in the garden and I could get on with fun things. My sister had tomatoes to use so we made up a couple batches of salsa. My cucumbers are crazy this year so I’ve made spicy bread and butter pickles (a couple batches) and some million dollar pickles. The Rescue Crabapple tree I planted, same variety as my mother’s, produced a respectable amount of lovely apples so I made apple jelly. Not happy with just these few jars, my sister and I went to my nephew’s house and picked a few more pails. So much fruit is wasted. People like the idea of fruit trees but either lack the know-how, the time or ambition to actually use the fruit. I filled up quite a few pails, not all for me. The animals love the apples so we picked all the windfalls and everything on the trees we could reach without a ladder. The ponies, goats, pig and chickens will have appley treats for the next few weeks. And I canned a few jars of whole apples in syrup. My mother used to do this and it was my father’s favourite dessert. We found time to celebrate my sisters birthday at a Chinese restaurant in a small town about an hour away from us. It was a lovely drive thru the country and a fabulous meal. My sis is too shy for a photo here (even though I did get a very nice one of her) but I’ll just show you the particularly apt tea cup she got (the diner is filled with mismatched tables and chairs and garage sale mugs, which only add to the charm, and the food is superb!!)The garden is bursting with lovely produce. Cucumbers, beans, carrots, tomatoes and pumpkins. My onions are drying, not a great harvest this year as the dill was so thick, it took over the onion rows. There’s a few volunteer nicotina, flowering tobacco, hidden in the dill. I try to make a large meal on Sundays for my son and whichever other family members want to come. Last Sunday was chicken, creamed garden veggies, and oven roasted potatoes. All produced right here on the farm. And, finally, the corn is ready. It’s been such a strange year. Thankfully, now the middle of September, we haven’t had frost yet but it could happen anytime. I only had three rows of corn, and not the variety I like. For some reason the one I prefer was unavailable. Another reason to learn how to save seed. But what I did plant has produced large sweet ears and it’s all going into the freezer as creamed corn. I’m back driving bus and had occasion to drive thru my favourite valley. The light was just right so I had to stop for a photo. Well, I’d best make a move. I have two more rows of corn to get thru.

Final tally

So I’ve been home now just over a week. I have emptied out the back of the truck and have ever so slowly been chipping away at emptying out Floyd. I’m extremely lazy and really have done little more than rumble through the garden and sit on the deck watching the hummingbirds at the feeder. The first day I was home the poor little thing was licking the dust out of the bottom of the feeder. I quickly mixed up a batch of syrup and scrubbed all the dead ants out and I swear the hummers haven’t stopped slurping it down. I had to refill yesterday.

But I haven’t been completely idle. My sister had a few gallons of ripe tomatoes so we made up a small batch of salsa. I’ve picked a pailful of raspberries and strawberries to put in the freezer for jam. I’ve dug a few hills of potatoes for our fall feast of poutine–very scrummy and fried some zucchini for my son, with a juicy bowl of tabbouleh on the side. I picked all my crabapples off my own tree and made ten lovely jars of jelly.

My daughter has done such a fantastic job of weeding the garden and yard maintenance that she’s left me with very little to do but recover from my journey.

I have done the final tally of kilometres driven. I’m embarrassed at the number and have repeatedly done the math. It’s always the same!! A grand total of 16,808 kilometres!! Is that even possible?!? I haven’t had anyone look at the numbers. I’m sure I’ve made some sort of an error but there’s a start number and a stop number and basic subtraction I learned in grade two. It must be right.

So for now I’m slowly getting back into the routine of chores and filling the pantry. I’m loving my deck and have sat out there thru half a dozen books already, stopping every few chapters to watch the hummers’. They’ll be heading off soon where ever they go for the winter, but at least they’ll have a full belly.

Time for me to go do chores. It’s nice to be home. 😊

Home again

I rolled in this morning around 2am. Showered and flipped thru the mail, then passed out till 6am. An afternoon nap is looking pretty good.

So after all my fussing yesterday about gas, when I left the campground (early!!) the station was buried under semi’s and that poor Korean family was still there. Didn’t look like they had moved. I just drove by and took my chance getting into Ignace. Fuel at Uppsala was $1.499?!? So I thought it must be cheaper in Ignace. It was. $1.389. Not much difference. And then I drove. And drove. And drove some more.

Before I knew it I was in Manitoba. Fuel in Winnipeg was $1.069. Almost $.50 a litre difference. Wow.

At Yorkton I contemplated stopping for the night but that just seemed silly. Traffic was really light. The bugs splatting the windshield were the worst hazard. I again thought about stopping just out of Saskatoon but the pull of home was strong. The construction by the Borden bridge was nasty but anyway, made it safe and sound.

Everything looks great at home. I’m always amazed at how BIG everything is when I come home. The yard is big, the porch is big, all the rooms in the house are bigger than I remember. I have to unpack Floyd and do laundry but I have all week. I may just have that snooze 😊

Last night camping (hopefully)

So here I am in Uppsala. I came thru here last month. I remember thinking how far I’d come. Ha!! I’m hoping to make it home tomorrow. 1546 k. Sixteen hours driving but I know I won’t have to look for a place to camp. I’d actually hoped to be a couple hours further down the road but there’s a few points where gas service is practically none existent. Like about two hours either side of Uppsala. I had filled at the station going thru. It’s where I had lunch and that wonderful butter tart. But tonight it was closed. There was a Korean family there looking for gas too. I’m not sure what they did. I had passed a nice little campground before the gas station and I thought, I should stay there. But then I thought how long the drive will be tomorrow, so I should fuel and keep going another hour or two. In the end I had to turn around and come back to it.

Now this morning I left Pancake Bay. I knew I needed gas but there just wasn’t any stations. So I kept driving and driving. OMG then I got into this damn National Park. And no gas stations. Then my gas light come on. Piss damn fart. What to do?!? I just kept driving slow and steady. I passed a sign that said Wawa 60k. I’ll never make it I thought. Up steep hills. Coast down the other side. Ad infinitum. I’ll never make it.

I must seriously have been on fumes. There was Wawa. Look, a gas station. I’m just about to pull off–shit, it’s all boarded up. Come on Betsy you can do it.!! Then a bit farther. YES!! A gas station. OMG will that damn truck never move?!? But at least if I ran out a few of us could push the truck to the pump. How much a litre?!? $1.369?? So I took 30l thinking there must be another station in town that doesn’t gouge idiots like me who come out of the National Park on empty. Yes there was. One cent less 😳

I stopped for lunch at the tourist info place. They had lots of grass and picnic tables but there was some kind of event happening across the highway with screaming engines. So we didn’t stay long. I did try one of the butter tarts I got yesterday at the French bakery. It wasn’t so much a butter tart as it was a tart au sucre with raisins. Chock full of raisins, just the way I like, but the crust was too short and the filling too sweet. There was no vinegar or lemon juice to act as a foil for the sweetness. I am actually surprised at how few butter tarts I ran into in the maritimes. I thought they’d be everywhere but maybe it’s just an Ontario thing. And a prairie thing.

So anyway, lots of driving today. And still less kilometres than my first day. It would have been nice to get a couple hundred more over with this evening but it just wasn’t going to happen. I could have tried my luck but running out a fuel at 10 in the morning on a fairly well traveled highway isn’t the same as running out at 10 pm, in the dark with one tail light missing.

My little campground is quite nice. On a little lake. There’s a group of guys watching sports with a tv in the back of a van and all their chairs pulled up around the back of it. I walked the dog around and they all shouted hello and made small talk. A father and son duo were out walking their dogs too, a husky and a little pug cross and we all stood around visiting for a bit. But the mozzies were coming out and I want to get an early start. They all seem to think the gas station will be open in the morning. I sure hope so. Good night.