Wild foraging

This autumn has been just about perfect. So many warm sunny days. The garden has been finished now for quite a while, just some rubble to tidy up.

I’ve been busy canning tomatoes. I had been down to my last couple jars and canned tomatoes are my all time favourite food to preserve from the garden. I had a bumper crop of tomatoes too, which I didn’t really realize until I began picking.

You can see the color difference between my red and orange tomatoes. Both are yummy!!

I also had a bumper crop of peppers even though my jalapeños were a failure. My sister gifted me most of her crop of poblanos, cayenne and jalapeños. I wanted to make a fermented hot sauce.

I washed and chopped a couple pounds of peppers then added the brine. I left them on the counter and by day four they were happily burbling away. I threaded a batch of the Hungarian hot peppers and hung them in the greenhouse to dry. I want to powder them. And the remainder is ripening in the pantry. I may try a different hot sauce.

The corn was late but really a surprisingly good harvest. I even managed to put away quite a few bags in the freezer.

The red peppers which did not ripen on the plant, began to ripen after I picked them. For the first time ever I decided that rather than try to keep them fresh for as long as possible, always feeding them to the chickens after they spoilt, I would chop and freeze for use in chili during the winter.

I also had lots of herbs in the garden that just never got used properly. I made up a batch of pesto to use up my basil. One batch made a few small containers which in the dead of winter will make a nice meal.

My sister also had a nice variety in her garden so I made a few batches of herb salt. I picked a variety of complimentary herbs, whizzed them up in the food processor with sea salt and then dried the result in the oven. The house smelled quite grassy for several days but the result was well worth it.

And in between feverishly trying to preserve my garden harvest, my sister and I went out wild foraging for berries. We’d spotted a hawthorn bush while out looking for high bush cranberries. I picked a bunch and dehydrated them for tea in the winter

Then we wanted to try buffalo berries. There are two varieties of buffalo berries, red and yellow, the red being much more common. They are saponins, soap berries, but have been eaten by the indigenous people for years. Not eaten by buffalo, but with buffalo meat as an accompaniment, hence their name. They are really a bugger to pick, the berries are close to the branch which is thorny. I said a few bad words while picking these.

My sister deep into a buffalo berry bush. They are thorny buggers. You can see the beautiful North Saskatchewan river and all the smoky haze from the California fires.

Both the red and yellow berries produced this milky/soapy looking liquid and the resulting jelly of both was a golden yellow. We only picked enough for a few jars, just enough to taste. The red jelly was superior to the yellow, with a very pleasant fruity tart flavour. I might make it again.

We also picked chokecherries. These purple berries hang in heavy clusters that are very easy picking. Like the buffalo berries they are best after a frost when they sweeten considerably.

I was trying to use up all the odd jars sitting on my counter hence the rather strange assortment of sizes and shapes. My favourite bits are the dregs from the canning kettle that I get to eat right away 😊. This chokecherry jelly is lovely in yogurt and my daughter has been using it as a sauce with her chicken!! I’m glad I made more than a few jars!!

And last but not least I went out before the RM mower came by to mow the ditches and picked a pail of wild rose hips. We’d just had a couple inches of rain and the picking was easy, the rose hips nice and clean. I dehydrated these too for winter tea!!

The colors are just so lovely this fall. Con trails are few and far between—it was such a shock to see one the other day I had to snap a pic.

And finally, just a cat in a box!! Because, why not 😊

And just like that summer’s over

I heard them early this morning, honking as they flew overhead. The geese are heading south. How does that happen so fast?!? It was just yesterday when I was complaining how summer was late coming and just like that, it’s over.

We had our hottest temperatures last week and just as I was about to water the garden for the first time!! this summer—poof. No water. That was a Saturday night. Sunday I hauled water and Monday I called the repair guys. They came out bright and early and on THE hottest day slogged up and down the hill to the well to fix whatever was the problem. End of day the boys were all wilty and exhausted but I still had no water. I hauled again cause everyone was thirsty. Tuesday morning they came back out and replaced the pump and voila, water again. I went and emptied all the water dishes, scrubbed them and refilled with lovely fresh cold water. I filled my bathtub on the lawn and for the next few days had cool refreshing evening soaks. And watered the garden.

The hummingbirds are still here, buzzing me in the garden. They’ll be leaving soon. They’ve been sucking down prodigious amounts of sugar water from the feeders, preparing for their long flight south.

There’s at least two of them, I think they’re babies. The adults supposedly left for the south a few weeks ago. These guys are bickering and fighting and chasing each other all over the yard —so much fun to watch.

I picked up some kale seeds several weeks ago to try to grow for a fall crop. I’ve never grown kale before. I knew it was part of the cabbage family but it wasn’t till I saw cabbage moths fluttering about them that I clued in and covered them up. Too late. I went out this morning and look what I found!!

Aaaarrrrhg!!!!!

I picked off everything I could find, waffling thru the plants to knock off all the worms. Then I had to decide the cruelest manner of disposing of the buggers—squishing them!! Drowning them!! Or feeding them to the chickens!! The chickens won out. But they weren’t too impressed. Maybe they don’t like kale?!? Anyway I hope the plants recover—I’ll have to go keep checking them now for worms.

I’ve picked my onions and put them out to dry. Not as big a harvest as I had hoped but not bad.

And the cherry tomatoes are just not quitting. I bought a second hand dehydrator and dehydrated several trays of tomatoes. I marinated them in olive oil, garlic and basil from the garden, with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yummy!!

Three big trays didn’t really amount to much but I’ve done three batches now and there’s more to come. I had some on pasta for lunch the other day—so good!!

I tried the corn again this morning. It’s been so slow maturing. The silk has been brown now for ten days or so but the cobs were very immature and very starchy. My usual variety, a hybrid, is not being produced anymore by the seed company so I had to choose another variety. I’d been growing my favourite for over twenty years. You can’t save the seed so I was very disappointed when they told me it was no longer available. This was the suggested replacement. Today I had hope it might amount to something. I stripped a cob and gave half to my daughter. I devoured my half—sweet and juicy, no starch. Not quite ready but in a couple days should be perfect. My daughter only took a bite, not having developed the taste for sweet raw corn right in the garden.

I tried cucamelons too this year. I’m not terribly impressed. Not sweet, very strong cucumber flavour but oh so pretty.

See the size difference between the full sized cuke in the background??

And my vanilla beans, which I ordered waaay back in March finally arrived. A covid purchase. Ugandan beans. I have lots of Mexican vanilla, having asked everyone I know who was going there on holiday to bring me back a bottle. These beans were destined to make different sort of extract. I wanted some in an orange liqueur and some in spiced rum.

The beans were only in the alcohol for a few minutes and already the alcohol was changing color. I put the bottles away in the back of the cupboard to steep till the new year when I hope they will have turned into extract. And not to waste all the oils from the beans inside the plastic bag, I put a cup of sugar in there, rubbed it around and set aside for a few weeks to make vanilla sugar.

The big dog joined me in the garden this morning. She’s getting old. Her official name is Queen but we usually just call her Big Dog. She lived in the back with the sheep and now lives with the goats. She starting to move slower and slower as she ages. She won’t come in the house and I’m just dreading the time when I won’t let her struggle thru another Saskatchewan winter. But for now, she’s living a good life!!

Heat wave

Well there is absolutely no doubt that it’s summer. After the rain the mozzies invaded. I bought a head net but haven’t actually needed it yet. There is no bug spray anywhere in town but I have my trusty stash and after a liberal application it’s possible to be outside for a short while. I can see why the caribou up north run and run until they drop or dive off a cliff to get away from the bugs. It is enough to drive a person insane. And then at night there’s the few that have hidden in folds of clothing and snuck into the house. Always always they bite the most sensitive spot, the tip of your nose or ear or ankle, so that you’re slapping and twitching deep into the night.

The temperatures have been very high, and combined with the humidity, it’s pretty tropical. The garden is just loving it!! I have been making good use of my “pool” on the front lawn. Filled from the well (water temperature about 2 degrees), it only takes a day in the sun to warm up enough that I can soak in it to cool off.

The view from my tub!!!

Under the water the mozzies weren’t too bad but they drove me inside yesterday. Maybe I was out at the wrong time but they were everywhere—extremely crazy making!!!

There’s been lots of new life in the farm as the broodies are finally earning their keep. Several clutches of polish and guinea chicks hatched. My daughter and I set up an old steel water trough in the barn. We lined it with a tarp, covered it with mesh and wire panels so the cats couldn’t get in and set up the heat lamp. Home sweet home 😊

Little polish chick with his marshmallow hat!!
They love their dirt and greens, playing tug of war with the clover.

My daughter captured these two pictures of our resident deer. She’s so pretty out in the canola.

This was such a great shot as she’s leaping so high with her legs tucked up!! Looks like she’s flying!! There are just so many times I wish I had a better camera.

She’s down in the valley now with her fawn but the mosquitos are bothering her too!! I hear her snorting and puffing and shaking her head.

The tomatoes are starting to ripen in the garden. This was my last store bought tomato. What do you suppose they do to them that makes them sprout before they rot?!? I don’t even know why I try, hope springs eternal I suppose. I can never eat them from the store, they are completely tasteless.

This is just so creepy!!

We had a big boomer of a storm. Lost power for most of the night and again thru the next morning. What a light show!! Caught one flash through the bedroom window!!

We got some hail. Not terrible but enough to shred leaves and pock-mark the tomatoes. I think things will recover. The ditch flowers are also loving the heat and humidity.

Aren’t they just such happy colors!!
Not quite a “dead skunk in the middle of the road”, but a baby. He and a sibling were after something in the middle of the road for several days, till the inevitable happened, and one got squished. Just as long as the mommy doesn’t bring them to visit my chickens.

Now, out to do some weeding (actually just an excuse to putter around the garden). Hard to believe it’s August already!!

Things that go bump in the night…

A noise woke me up last night… not that I was sleeping very soundly what with the cat hunting my toes and the dog snoring.. but I heard it. A huffing noise. Right outside the window on the front lawn. Again and again. I recognized it immediately. It was a deer. I tried to quietly sneak over to the window but the dog heard it too and barked. The winter laser light I use as a night light (it’s out on the deck and I shine it on my ceiling—it looks like green stars or lightening bugs and I like it) blinded me, so I went to the living room window. Too late…as I knew it would be. But we saw her across the valley early this morning with her baby 💕💕.

My daughter took this photo from my bedroom window one evening, about 10:30ish when I was snoring. You can see the green bits of light from my laser. This is where the deer would have been.

I heard that huffing noise from my sheep quite often. It’s an alarm call often accompanied by stomping feet. It can be quite loud. Not so long ago my daughter and I watched a doe stomping and huffing at a fox!! Very loud and she was very angry.

Summer is moving on so much faster than I’d like. It seemed to take forever to get to June and now here it is, halfway thru July. How does that happen?!?

My little ride-on mower has had a slow leak in the rear tire since last year. Not a big deal. I’d inflate it with the air compressor and it would be good till the next time I mowed. But the compressor takes so long to fill, and it’s noisy and I really just wanted to mow!!! Not fart around getting ready. So after the last mow I jacked it up and tried to remove the tire. The small bolt and washer came right out…now just to pull the rim off the axel. Hah!!! Best laid plans.

Well, I pulled and I tugged..I sprayed it with WD40… I resorted to bashing it from the inside, rotating the tire every few smacks. No movement at all. I asked at various tire shops, my fix-everything neighbor, and no one had any ideas. So then I looked it up on YouTube. Of course there were handy men with solutions!! One trick was to heat the rim with a torch. All these fellas had the big acetylene tiger torches. I just had a little propane torch. But I tried it. Success!!

I had to bash it a few more times…look how the end of my pipe deformed with the bashing—I’ll have to smooth that out, it’s quite sharp!! And then I wire brushed the rust off the axel. Putting the repaired tire back on was a piece of cake. I’m happy to report that now, several mowings later, the tire is holding up very well 😊

I took advantage of the kids being home for the weekend. I got them to go around the yard with the whippersnipper to tidy the edges.

Now it looks like humans may actually live here 😊

And then I decided it was time to wash the smut off the back of the house. North facing, the sun never shines of this side and some weird type of mossy lichen mold thing was growing there. I borrowed a pressure washer and look at the difference.

We then got interrupted by 36 hours of steady rain.

7 1/2 inches in 36 hours!!
Look how the rain made ripples in the yard!!

But the garden and flowers are just loving it!!

These little brown lilies came from my mother’s house. First time they’ve bloomed since I moved them.
Love these bright colors—I think I’m going to knit something with these colors—so happy !!
Brown eyed Susan’s in the ditch.
I found this little wood frog in my strawberries. I’m thinking he was loving the rain!!

It’s been showering off and on the past few days. I have to finish washing the back of the house then get on the mower. Summer is just too darn short.

How does your garden grow…

I was so pessimistic earlier this year that we were going to have the worst growing season ever. That wind!!! 90 k/hr one day, 85 the next… first one direction, then the other. But things have turned out quite well considering. The tomatoes are all bursting out of their protective coverings and are loaded with blossoms.

I love the way the guineas cruise thru the garden I’m not sure what nasty bugs they are eating but they are devouring something with great gusto.

They were starting to pluck at the Swiss chard so I fenced it off. Not much of a barrier if they really wanted in but so far so good.

I spotted this absolutely gorgeous creature in my yellow rose. Apparently it is a cuckoo wasp, known for laying its eggs in other wasps homes. That color 💕💕💕

I don’t have many flowers in the garden. But they are all showing off at being happy!!

Beautiful volunteer Johnny jump-ups. They self seed and pop up all over the garden.
Bleeding hearts…can’t imagine where that name came from 😜
Love the dewy droplets on this strawberry leaf!!
The columbine is almost finished. I loved picking the petals as a child to get the drop of nectar at the tip. I just leave it for the hummingbirds now.
The peony’s are just starting—they smell soooo good.
The yellow day lilies are just opening up.
The Maltese cross is just starting too—the hummingbirds just love it!!
I’m making a flavoured vinegar from the chive blossoms for summer salads.

So I got ambitious a couple weeks ago and decided to wash the porch mats. But something went wrong and I got an error code on the washer. It wouldn’t drain. The repair man was going to be a week so my daughter and I watched a couple of YouTube videos on repairing washing machines and decided to do it ourselves. First we had to shut the water off in the pump house then drain the pressure system. We pulled the machine out and opened it up. My daughter did her best Cullogen man impersonation and we found that the non slip backing on the rug had peeled off and totally plugged the boot at the drain.

Blah!!!

But we cleaned everything out and put it all back together. Success!! Except the taps were dripping. So we had to then change those!!

Once you close them off they just never seem to work properly.
So we replaced them with brand newy ones 😊

Such a great feeling to be somewhat self sufficient. A few hundred dollars stayed in our pockets and we know a little bit more about the guts of the washing machine!!

Finally, today my daughter took her dad for a pony ride as a belated Father’s Day gift. It was a perfect day, calm, cool and just slightly drizzly.

Louis the wonder pony!!

They spotted our provincial flowers blooming in the ditch!!

Beautiful tiger lilies!!

As I was out in the garden I noticed it could do with some weeding—so I’d best get to it!! 😊

The wind…the wind…

Way back when I was a child, about a hundred years ago, my folks bought a cottage at the lake. It was truly a magical place. My sister and I swam like fish from very early on, thanks to my dad, and we spent hours in the water. Evenings were spent down on the landing in front of a crackling fire, roasting marshmallows and listening to my dad tell us stories about Greek gods, old legends and fairytales. A very few stories of his own childhood. At bed time, after teeth brushing, we listened to the CBC radio drama. Only one has stuck with me after all these years, a story about a group of people trapped in an isolated house listening to the wind howling thru the wires. Way back then most of the power lines were above ground (now they are buried) and the sound of wind thru the wires is something that once heard cannot be unheard. Like the sound of boots crunching through snow at -30. A uniquely prairie sound. Anyway, in the radio drama, the sound of the wind howling slowly drove the people mad.

This spring we have had wind like I cannot remember. Sure, early spring we get a few days of wind, just before the leaves pop out. I always thought the wind was helping to bring the leaves out. But this year has been unbelievable. I belong to quite a few gardening sites and people’s gardens had been taking a real beating. Tomatoes, peppers and cukes broken off, replanted and then lost again in the next wind. First blowing one way then the next day blowing back the other way. My yard is fairly sheltered yet my poor little peppers are taking such a beating.

The tomatoes I’ve planted in plastic pails which I’ve cut the bottoms out of so they are doing all right and cukes I start from seed so they are just at the two leaf stage. But being outside in wind gusting to 70-90 k is not pleasant. Just the sound of it from inside the house is slowly driving me mad. This year of 2020 must truly be the worst ever, pandemic, riots and wind!!

So we’ve had some babies born?!? Hatched!! Every spring my hens, which are all heritage breeds, go broody. Not just ordinary broody but crazy broody. We’ve been slipping eggs under them but in the fight to get into the “favourite” box, eggs have been crushed, flung out of the nest and chicks that have hatched don’t have a chance.

We’ve tried putting the growlers, ( yes hens do growl—they’re the crazy broody ones) into a safe isolated place but they immediately lose the will to brood. But finally we’ve had a bit of luck, and one silkie hen hatched out a couple of guinea chicks and one of the big orpingtons hatched out a few polish chicks.

We generally don’t call any hatched chick alive until it’s at least partially feathered out and the guineas definitely are not alive until they are fully fledged. Their predilection for dying is legendary. As it is we have already lost one guinea chick, simply vanished and two of the other chicks. Unbelievable. They are in a safe contained stall in the barn—where’d they go?? Beamed up by aliens?!? Blown away by the wind?!?

I have a feeder set up on the deck as I like to see the birds come to eat. Love the bright pop of yellow of this little American goldfinch, and the wood peckers are my favourites.

And with the wind, I’m staying indoors more than I like. But I’ve been knitting—just finished a fisherman’s kep, in a knit-along from a site in Fair Isle. I’m disappointed in the colors, looks muddy to me but it fits and will be a bright pop of color next winter doing chores.

Luther has been keeping me company while I knit.

And finally my spring treat—marillenknoedle. Apricot dumplings. Nothing says spring is here quite like the first apricots.

What’s your favourite spring treat?

Psst…you awake?!?

Yes…3:25 am I bolted awake—piss damn fart I left the tomatoes out. Middle of May. -3 degrees Celsius. Aaaasrgh. I ran outside in housecoat and slippers… too late. They were crunchy. Sigh…

I trimmed off all the frozen bits. The portulaca was so dense I think it survived but I’ll give the tomatoes a few more days. The stalks look green (ish) but that could be my imagination.

I had my friendly neighborhood tillerman out to do the garden. It’s been such a cold spring but our growing season is so limited that the garden must be planted and fingers and toes crossed. I must say it looked darn good after he was done.

I had wanted to haul some manure from the back but my poor little tractor got a flat over the winter—I only noticed once the snow melted. The valve stem sprung a leak and was dripping fluid. Luckily it was at the top of the tire so I didn’t lose too much. The service guy came out and changed it but a week later I noticed it was looking pretty sad again. Back out with the repair truck..what with seeding about to start I’m very grateful they were able to fit me in. Look how big the service truck is compared to my little tractor.

Poor tractor hasn’t been started since this time last year but I filled it with gas and away she went. The solar charger keeping the battery alive had died last February during THE coldest week of winter and I was afraid the battery was toast. But it fired right up.

I dug out the potatoes from the shed as they are the first thing into the ground. They always look like space aliens.

I’m not sure why I insist on growing so many. I like eating potatoes but we really don’t go thru very many. This year I found an Austrian Crescent potato and bought not one but two bags—what was I thinking?!? Anyway I also want to try some container potatoes. I saw something on a gardening site that looked interesting and thought I’d give it a whirl. The gardener was using old garbage cans, cut the bottom out and planted his spuds in there filling the can up with dirt as the plant grew. The yield was unbelievable. Something to try. As I was sorting potatoes I came across this one!! Gnawed by a pocket gopher/mole.

They are evil beasts and coincidentally my daughter just trapped one in the back corral and my cat brought one home!! Good cat!!

One year they got into the garden and ate a whole row of carrots from underneath. I had no idea till I started to pull some and all I got was a little knob of carrot under the green tops. They get into the spuds all the time eating a few bites out of each potato. Now I would share—as I said I grow too many and moles need to eat too. But they spoil the whole crop instead of just eating one at a time.

And speaking of creatures not sharing—let me just say a few words about our national animal…#*##^+*~**##. BEAVERS. Now I like beavers. Hard working. Industrious. Actually really good for the environment. But they are clear cutting my valley!!! I would share my trees with the beaver. But they have no brakes. It’s always more more more with them and now they’ve climbed halfway up the valley and have started dropping the big white poplars (having already decimated the black poplars on the valley floor). My son is beaver control. He set out a bit of tannerite to blow a hole in the dam and then came back in the evenings to pick off the work crew repairing the damage.

I really hate to do it but I’ll be living in a desert if they aren’t stopped. Look how green the valley is!!

But now I’ve dilly dallied long enough. Time to go do chores and get into the garden. It’s still dropping into the minus degrees this week but hopefully it will end soon. Victoria Day long weekend is the traditional garden planting weekend and who am I to break with tradition?? Who else is planting their garden?

How many are in there anyway?!?

You may remember how sick momma goat was last fall. The last round of antibiotics she got came with a warning from the vet, that if she was pregnant she might lose the baby. I didn’t really hold out much hope that she was bred. The buck was only with her for a few days and then she got sick and lived in the barn for the next six weeks.

Sissy goat on the other hand was definitely bred. From the size of her I’ve been expecting babies since mid February (which was when the buck got loose for a day and probably had his wicked way with her). But no babies in February. And none in March. And she kept getting bigger and bigger.

When she laid down she covered a lot of ground. And she was sooo uncomfortable. Poor girl.

So imagine my surprise when I got this sudden feeling I should put my book down and go into the back and just check the girls. I had a feeling something was up.

Momma goat!!! A bonus baby!! Pure black except for a dribble of white on his chin. He seemed pretty weak so I brought him into the house and laid him in the sun with a hot water bottle at his back and one more nestled into his tummy. He warmed up and took a few slurps of momma’s milk from a bottle.

Then back out to the barn where he thrived as the only baby at the enormous milk bar.

It couldn’t be much longer for Sissy goat to pop. I was actually getting quite worried as she was prolapsing a bit when she laid down. The vet gave me something to speed her delivery—supposed to act in 36-48 hours but she started to labour almost immediately. Perhaps it was just her natural time. She had three babies over several hours and my daughter and I stayed with her in the barn, helping to pull the babies as needed.

It was very slow going and finally, after the third was up and nursing and I was sure she was all done I went back to the house.

But I was wrong. She had a fourth which I found dead the next morning. I think Sissy simply ran out of steam to clean it up.

She herself was down and very weak. Milk fever. I had nothing in my vet box for her so I rummaged thru my own supplies. An ancient box of maalox—1000 mg of calcium per tablet. I spread some soft white bread thickly with peanut butter and fed it to Sissy with a tablet of calcium stuck in each bite. She took about ten before she caught on and began spitting it out. I also mixed up some electrolytes for her water pail. She eagerly ate the carrots and apples I brought out but didn’t seem interested in grain or hay. With my daughters help we got her to stand long enough to let the babies nurse.

Sissy has made a full recovery and yesterday I opened the barn door so they could begin to go outside. I’m so glad it’s over—kidding is just so stressful. All the babies are boys which is really unfortunate but they are all healthy which is the main thing.

With the warmer weather—I think it finally decided winter was over (although as I write this there are snow showers mixed in with the rain 😩) I have been out in the yard pruning my fruit trees.

I’ve finished the second baby blanket which turned out quite pretty. I love how the cut squares stacked so nice 😊. I had promised to make a blanket for the girl I drive bus with but as stores closed with the lock down I used what I had in my stash. I think there will be enough for a second blanket. Thankfully I’m a bit of a squirrel. Who knows what all I have in my stash. I certainly don’t 🙄

I managed to finish a book too. I’d heard it reviewed on the radio before lockdown and was lucky enough to have picked it up on my last trip to the library. It’s a fascinating study of the lives of the five women killed by Jack the Ripper.

I cannot believe that amount of research the author has done and how much detail is known about these women. Contrary to popular belief they were not all prostitutes (maybe one) and many came from very stable and prosperous families. But almost all succumbed to alcoholism and lost everything as a result. Fascinating book!!

And now it is raining. So I will stay inside and make a chocolate cake—because I am not fat enough yet…and perhaps work on another pair of mittens. What do you do on a rainy day?

Still winter…

This winter is just not letting go of us. It’s -16C this morning!! We had about ten inches of snow a few days ago and snow showers off and on all day yesterday along with a nasty wind. So is this picture January or April 6?? It’s not January…

Icicles on the awning!! So pretty!!

The deer have been gathering up—there were fourteen of them on the lawn the other day—masters of disguise, you can hardly see them except when they move.

But now I’ve decided I can’t let them get too comfortable in the back yard—they’ll be coming for my garden. Much as I don’t want to, I’ve started scaring them away. My neighbour constructs a six foot high electric fence around his garden to keep the deer away—I’m not that ambitious. If I keep them out now before the yummy things start growing maybe they’ll stay away. They have all the rest of the farm to themselves.

Because the weather is just so nasty I’ve been inside working on projects. There’s a new baby in my daughters’ circle and I’ve been working on a blanket gift. The mom has an irrational fear of dinosaurs (not really but it’s a family gag these days) so I wanted to make a dinosaur themed blanket. The images I pulled off of Pinterest left much to be desired. Or so I thought.

Looking at it now, it does look like a dinosaur, or at least a lizardy kind of creature. But I wanted something different, something cuter. I mean, how hard could it be?? First I had to find an image, something boxy, without too much detail. I found this!!

It was quite small so my daughter enlarged it for me and I folded it so I could transfer it to yet a larger piece of paper to make my pattern.

Then I cut out the pieces and chose the fabric. I had purchased fabric way back when the stores were all open but I didn’t have this project in mind. Nothing was working, it was all blues with larger designs. Thankfully I’m a bit of a hoarder and had a bigger selection of greens.

I had to swap out the arms because I had cut the pattern pieces so the design was upside down. Generally in these fabrics the design runs in all directions but just my luck it didn’t on this one. Then I moved the tail to the other side. Sewing the head with the frill went easy enough, as did the body—but putting the head on the body!!!! Well I think I sat and just studied it for a whole afternoon. In the end I just did it. I had to rip a few seams and take up some slack but over all it went together pretty well. After the seams were snipped and it went thru the wash to fluff it up it looked pretty good. Then I put on the horns, toes and eyes and voila—green puppy dog!! If I squint I think I can see a dinosaur. But it’s done and it is what it is!!

In between I baked bread, cinnamon buns and yesterday some hot cross buns. I ripped the end off the baguette to taste it. It was pretty good!!

My days are all running together. I’ve been a day behind all week. Saturday morning I proudly gave my daughter her Easter present—a giant Kinder egg. She rolled her eyes and said, you know it’s only Saturday?!? Then the next day she gave me this!!

Happy Easter everyone 😊

Snow…again….

Well April is here and it’s snowing. Again…

What happened to April showers bring May flowers and all that?? Sigh…

I decided yesterday I would make some masks. Yes I know they say homemade masks are ineffective but I think they are a great idea, not so much for protecting the person wearing the mask but for other people. If we all wore them we would keep our cooties to ourselves!!

I got out moms’old reliable but it was giving me grief winding the bobbin—it just wouldn’t wind. Right at the point where I thought I would have to hand wind it, zip, away it went. Must have been holding my tongue wrong. 😜

I recently found a rotary cutter and cutting matt I had purchased years ago when the kids were small. I’d never used it, sticking to the tried and true scissors. My poor mother, I remember her getting so upset when she discovered her prized sewing scissors had been used to cut paper. Again. I feel her pain. My sewing scissors are always in need of a good sharpen. But this rotary cutter. Wow!! It’s just about the best thing I’ve ever used. Perfectly straight crisp cuts, and thru multiple layers. Anyway, I cut my fabric and then had a think about what kind of ties to use. I really want elastic as fabric ties just seemed like too much trouble. Wearing the mask is really the object here and if you have to struggle to tie it, it won’t get worn. I have a huge stash of bits and bobs—that’s where the fabric came from, but no thin elastic. I sure wasn’t going out just to buy elastic—not exactly a necessity no matter what it was used for. So I had a coffee and a think—my daughter has a big jar of elastic hair ties—they were soft and stretchy and colourful. Perfect. I clipped out the knots and ironed them flat. Then stitched up a dozen masks. I thought they came out quite cute 😊

I found a few more bits of fabric so I’ll buzz those up this morning before I start my bigger project of a baby quilt for a friends’ daughter.

A few days ago I was working on yet another pair of mittens. It wasn’t till I was halfway thru the second thumb that a niggling sense of déjà but stopped me cold.

See what I did?!? Unbelievable. Maybe time to move onto something else so I just put those away for a bit and picked up a book.

The Moon of the Crusted Snow is written by a Mohawk author from Ontario. It takes place in a remote reservation in the north. The reserve, only recently connected to the grid, looses all of its southern services and slowly word trickles north that some huge catastrophe has happened in the south. A handful of white people make their way to the reserve thinking its their best chance of surviving Armageddon. A rather timely read considering our current situation.

Then I went back and picked up my mitten again, frogged down to the decreases, gave it a quarter turn and refinished it. With a little help from Luther.

Success!!

And my final project last week was a headband knit-a-long for one of my knitting pages. I needed a break from mittens. But I chose poorly on my colour scheme and had to frog the whole thing twice. Even so, I ran out of pink and the light green but you know, it looks intentional. My daughter likes it!!

So now to finish my coffee and do a few more masks. I’m quite liking this whole social distancing thing…