Frost is fickle

Hooo boy we had a good one last night. I was more worried about my chicks that the garden but it got touched.  

 I only covered the tomatoes, which I haven’t planted yet cause I knew we were going to get frost, and the peppers. I thought I would just reseed if anything else took a real hit. See how fickle the frost was…one dead cuke right beside one that wasn’t touched.  

 Same thing with the corn. One leaf touched and its neighbour is just fine. It froze hard last night. The water trough had half an inch of ice on it. But the carrots, peas, chard, are all fine. Most of the beans haven’t come up yet. There are only the star shaped cracks showing where they will emerge. But even those tender beans weren’t all killed. Just the odd one. I told Aidan its nature thinning the row for me. The spuds were pretty much burnt off at the surface but they’ll come back.  

 It’s supposed to freeze again tonight. I’ll just cover the same and hope for the best. This will be the end of the frost. 

Road trip

About six weeks ago I sold some Silkie hatching eggs. The lady who bought them came from north of Mayfair and had lots of experience hatching. She had an industrial sized incubator and as my hens weren’t looking very broody I asked if she would hatch some eggs for me. Sure, no problem. So I packed up three dozen assorted and another four dozen silkie eggs for her trouble. But the silkie eggs weren’t hatching. Out of six dozen she wound up with only three live chicks. The odds on my own chicks was slightly better. Out of three dozen we took home 21 live chicks and left her one still wet chick and a few pipping eggs. (And a bottle of wine for her time) My Silkie hens finally went broody and everyone is hatching at the same time. Of course the real chicken mommas have the best success. The first one was setting a silkie egg which hatched and five guinea eggs.  

 Guineas take 28 days and chicks take 21. The second silkie momma hatched all five of her eggs. Last night when we came home everyone went into to brooder box. I was pretty worried actually because it was cold yesterday and froze hard this morning. But when I checked at six everyone was still alive and looking bright eyed. Excellent. Another silkie momma will hatch her clutch today and the guineas tomorrow. Love the little pipping of chickies.  

   The red heat lamp plays havoc with the pictures but there are quite a variety of colours and sizes.  These chickies from a few years ago had a white light. 

 We passed the lovely church in Whitcow on the way and saw a beautiful sunset. It was a very scenic drive but the road was so bad I couldn’t take my eyes off the broken pavement to enjoy it.  

Happiness is…

The weather has been beautiful this long weekend.  I got the garden in and have been just sitting watching the guineas cruising thru.IMG_6420There should be thirteen guineas but they dissolve into different groupings, and cruise thru the yard and down the valley.  I have counted only eleven so hopefully what that means is that two are setting on eggs.  It could also mean the coyotes got two but we haven’t found any leavings so I’m hopeful they are just hunkered down in a quiet spot with a nest full of eggs.  The remaining eleven are sure busy combing thru the grass for tasty bugs–hopefully ticks, as the dog has come in a couple times with a tick on her and I’ve found one crawling out of my sleeve.  They wander thru the garden quite often–I’m not sure what they find there but they are always eating something.IMG_6427 IMG_6425It’s so peaceful just sitting, listening to them talk.  Every now and then something will alert the leader and they’ll be off screaming at the top of their lungs.  I used to find the noise quite annoying–but my mother loved them.   I understand now why she loved them–they are so full of life and are such characters.  I love them too!!IMG_6429I  like to have a “before” picture.  I’m always amazed at how the garden grows.  It will be green and lush before I know it!!


Apricots are the earliest of the stone fruit and one of my favorite spring things to make are marillenknödel, an apricot dumpling.  In Vienna, and on the Danube thru the Wachau valley, the apricots would have blossomed in March/April.  My sister, daughter and I travelled there mid-March several years ago and made a day trip out to the Wachau.  It was absolutely beautiful.  We stopped at a small village for a meal and I tried a special drink.Europe Trip 2010 Aidan - (680)A whole apricot in l’eau de vie.  I brought home a very large jar of this.

But marillenknödel are very typical of the area.  A whole apricot, stone removed and replaced with a sugar cube is wrapped in a tender potato dough, simmered till cooked then rolled in browned buttered bread crumbs and dusted with icing sugar.  Comfort food for those cool spring days.IMG_0744IMG_0742IMG_0746IMG_0748

Tilled, raked, and fertilized 

I just can’t seem to get motivated this spring. But just taking baby steps (and lots of afternoon naps) I’ve finally started to get the yard looking like something. My son came out the other day and tore my tiller apart and got it going. Hurray!!!  So then I tilled. And tilled. And tilled. And got thru both sides of the garden. I took out the pond and filled in the hole. That corner is low because over the years as I’ve added black gold from the pile in the back it never really got any. So I did my best to level it out. Next fall, as there is supposed to be an El Niño system in for the winter, I may just add some more manure and till it in. The cats were in seventh heaven. The worlds biggest litter box. They dug holes all over before it was just right.  

   Tilled and raked. Then fertilized!!      The plum trees are blooming and smell wonderful. Too bad they couldn’t bottle that scent.  My daughter and I put in 80 hills of potatos tonight. They look like aliens this time of year.   

   This is the end of them. I really wish I had a better system of keeping them. My neighbour pulls them out of his cold storage and they look like they were freshly dug. But I think my son took a pail full last year and my nephew also so I guess I have no waste. I’m not a big potato eater. I like new potato fries (and poutine) but I think I’d rather have rice. Anyway, the mice ate all my seeds I had stored in the greenhouse, so I’ve purchased fresh.  This weekend is planting time and then the garden will be in. I do love my garden. 

Youth is wasted on the young

I’ve been sick the last couple weeks. I never get sick. It started with a sore throat. Sore doesn’t describe it. Raw, maybe. Inflamed, perhaps. Ground  by a wire brush, torched by a flame thrower, sand blasted by arid desert winds…if I had gargled razor blades it would have been less painful. 

Oh, you are mortal, my daughter said early last week, as I sat at the kitchen table struggling to breathe. All week I got up to do my bus run, came home and slept till the afternoon run, then back to bed. By Friday I couldn’t take it anymore and went to see the doctor. He laughed at me. You’re never sick he said. Thank you captain obvious. I got a script for antibiotics and am slowly improving–although now I’ve lost my voice. But today I picked up a book (one of my many special books I’m saving for just the right moment). It’s called “The Root of the Wild Madder” about “chasing the history, mystery, and lore of the Persian carpet”.

It took me back to my post university backpacking trip through Europe. I had desperately wanted to travel to Israel. I wanted to work on a kibbutz, harvesting grapefruit or feeding chickens or something old fashioned and agrarian. My father just as desperately did NOT want me to go to Israel. Being young and defiant I was bound to go anyway. As luck would have it I ran into some disillusioned young people who had just returned from a sojourn on a kibbutz. They had spent an idyllic few months painting shell casings. WHAT!!!  I heard the flush of that dream disappearing down a gurgling drain. No way was I going to admit defeat though. I would simply travel somewhere else I found fascinating and my father disapproved of.


I was always a fan of history and Hannibal crossing the Alps on his elephants drew me in. Tunisia it would be, more specifically the small village of Hammamet on the Mediterranean. This was the early 80’s. It was a popular destination for German/Austrian tourists. I felt completely safe. Culture shock hit immediately on arrival at the airport. Arabic men in robes sitting on carpets in the arrivals hall. I think there were even camels inside. The driver who met me in Tunis to take me to my hotel spoke no English. Thank goodness I spoke French as North Africa was a French colony. My favourite history teacher in uni was Tunisian, another reason I wanted to go.

We headed out, just he and I. I had no idea where he was taking me. I spoke French. I had no idea what he was speaking but I wasn’t a bit alarmed. He could have been taking me to sell in a white slavery ring but I didn’t care. My mind never ever went there. As it turned out I think he took me to a “cousin’s” juice stand. He bought me a large delicious glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and on we went. He dropped me off an hour or two later, at my hotel. I scored a front room, with a balcony, and listened to the call to prayer in the mornings. It was awesome!!  

But what I really remember is a visit to a carpet weaving workshop just around the block from the hotel. I really don’t remember who organized this, just someone from the hotel I think, and it was just a visit to a work room. There were several looms, I can’t remember how many and about ten or twelve young girls/women weaving there. They sat on curious round bottomed seats, rockers almost, to rock their way across the loom. Their fingers flew with the knots, wrapping, tying, cutting. All following an incomprehensible (to me anyway) pattern on a piece of paper. They were all shy and giggling, telling me how much their brothers would like a blond blue eyed wife (ha, I bet they would!!)  They showed me how to tie knots and let me have a go. This is the part where if I knew then what I know now I would have stayed the whole afternoon. I would have spent all my time with these girls learning, and watching. Not so I could make carpets. But so I could see into their world.

Reading this book took me right back to the looms again. I think for the most part, people don’t really want to be young again. At least I don’t. Young knees maybe. But if I could go back knowing then what I know now how different things would be. Youth is wasted on the young. Priorities are skewed. Action takes the place of contemplation. We need to contemplate more, act less.

And I really should read all these books I’m saving before it’s too late.