Carrot love

I love the surprises I find when I’m in the garden.  A Boa-carrot!!IMG_7606

Today was dilly carrot day.  This years crop of carrots is really amazing.  Keeping the seeds moist enough till they germinate is always the problem, but this year we had no rain AT ALL thru the germination period.  I’m a firm believer in watering rows, not the dirt in between.  I have enough room to have really wide alleys between my rows so the thought of watering all that empty space is contrary to my small “c” conservative nature.  Not that I’m so opposed to using water, or want to conserve water–of course, that is there,  but my well is good and the supply plentiful.  It’s more that I am lazy, and watering between the rows will just help those damn weed seeds to germinate and I don’t want to weed.  So all of June, twice a day, I hand watered the rows.  My kids gave me some large three gallon watering cans for Mother’s Day, and I have several water barrels for storage.  The seeds/small plants prefer warm water and the well water is about 3 degrees Celsius.  In the barrels the water warms to ambient temperature and is so much nicer to work with.  It was quite a work out to swing those heavy watering cans.  Its also very calming–the repetitive swinging of the watering cans, the sound of the water on the soil, the smell of the wet dirt.  Did you know there is a word for the smell of rain/water on dirt?  Petrichor.  Isn’t that a great word?  The smell is immediately recognizable but I had no idea there was an actual word for it.  I only learned this word from listening to a CBC radio interview with a man who read the entire dictionary, (not sure which one) and then wrote a book about it.  The interviewer asked him what his favorite words were and petrichor was one of them.  I remembered it because I was in the street sweeper at the time and had just turned on the brooms and the water and the smell floated into the cab.  Petrichor.  Cool word.

Anyway I harvested what I thought would be enough carrots.

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I couldn’t really be bothered using small jars for this project.

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Again, I just can’t justify expending so much effort to trim the carrots to fit those small jars–too Martha Stewart.  I’m more of a “find the biggest containers I can find, slice the carrots into reasonable sticks and stuff them in”  kind of person.  These are really refrigerator pickles, processing them in a water bath would just take all the “crisp” out of them.  And no, my fridge is not big enough for all those jars, but I have access to an empty fridge and there is enough storage space there.  Dill from the garden, garlic and some hot peppers also from the garden.

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One big jar was plain, one had one pepper, and the third has three.  A simple syrup of vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, salt,  with the dill heads in the jar, and that was that.  How easy is that?  I ran out of carrots and had to go back for more, but I have a fifty foot row, and all the uglies and smalls go to the rabbits, ponies and goats.  They love the carrot tops too.  The peels go to the chickens.  Everybody’s happy 🙂

I also made cherry jam the other day.

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My last day in Calgary we went to the Calgary Farmer’s Market.  I scored two large pails of Lapin cherries for $5 each.  I always thought that Bing was the only variety of sweet cherry BC grew.  But my daughter and I discovered the Lapin when we stopped at a U-pick in Vernon many moons ago.  Big, black, almost plum sized.  Meaty juicy black jewels.  I can’t be bothered to even eat a Bing any more, and we rarely get the Lapin’s here in Saskatchewan.  So I felt blessed to find them.  They were not perfect, but were much better than I expected for the price, and perfectly fine for jam.  I spent several hours pitting them, one for me, one for the pot, two for me, one for the pot…I ended up with slightly less in the pot than I had thought.  I wonder why??  The juice and zest from two juicy lemons, one scant cup of sugar for every cup of fruit, and two moist vanilla pods split up the middle with the seeds scraped out.  I just left the pods in for extra flavor.  Seven and a half pints of jam.  Lovely.

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I’m slowly slowly working down the list of produce to can or freeze.  Next up will be creamed corn as the corn is ready.  My mother always liked freezing the cobs and eating it that way but I always found that tough.  Creamed corn is so versatile.  I freeze it in zip lock bags–it takes up much less space that way, and then I have it for a side, to add to chili or for corn bread.

I love my garden!!

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ADDENDUM:   Aaaargh!!!  Not only did I drop my phone a few weeks ago and shatter the screen but I have been listening to the audio books, The Amazing Mrs Polifax, and The Unexpected Mrs Polifax, and have now been restricted by SaskTel to a slower data speed, consequently I am unable to load pictures.  So, this post will contain no pictures, and I will insert them when I get my data speed back.  I go months and months barely using any data, but this is not cumulative apparently, so I can’t save it for when I need it–SaskTel!!  No wonder they are a money making crown—

OMG I forgot to cover the peppers

So I’m wide awake at 4am, running over all the recipes in my mind that have to be done yet this fall with produce from the garden when I realize with horror that I’ve forgotten to cover my peppers. It’s now 4:30 and I jump out of bed, throw on a jacket and rubber boots over my pjs, grab three sheets from the cub board and dash outside. The three sheets are woefully inadequate for the row of peppers so I got the Mennonite sheers I had in the greenhouse. That accomplished I looked up. Northern lights!!  And such s beautiful show. I ran back in and grabbed the camera and as I stood under the stars I watched the most spectacular show. The coyotes were singing all around me, the big dog barking in the back, and these fantastic lights dancing overhead. Life is good!! 

    
  
Now back in my warm bed with my little furry hot water bottle I hope I can get back to sleep.  

  

Lazy hazy days of summer

I have been so lazy and haven’t written a word for weeks. But nothing exciting was really happening. It was hot. I relaxed in my tub. I even went out to the lake one evening. Took some KFC and the kids and had a swim. Rediscovered why I prefer my tub although I really enjoyed the socializing.

I cut grass last Sunday and as I mowed along the lilacs I thought what a great place for a wasp nest it would be. Sure enough I looked down just as I brushed by a huge wasp nest.  

 I just kept calm and kept mowing but as soon as I got to the other side of the yard I quietly had a heart attack. 

I also went to pick cherries at the house in town who has a cherry tree they don’t use. The berries were not as nice as in previous years but I still put six quarts in the freezer and a quart in brandy in the fridge.  

    
   They were damaged from the hail and swollen and split from the rain  but nice enough. 
And now I’min Calgary for my Camino Ladies reunion. These are four of the ladies I walked the camino with last year. Tonight we had a paella and told stories over a few glasses of wine. So many memories. And hats off to the chef, Pam, who made us this lovely supper.  

    
 We’re heading to Canmore tomorrow for lunch and a hike and more visiting. It’s been a lovely visit and great to catch up on everybody’s news. 

Jars are Pinging

Home from holidays and there’s so much to do. I made beet pickles yesterday, about three gallons. The ladies at District Care really like beet pickles and I have so many beets. They will need to mellow for a few weeks but they tasted good yesterday.

Then I saw the roses blooming. I love roses and rose petal jelly is a special treat. I made some a couple years ago and it was so good on biscuits in the January cold. A little taste of summer.

I picked about two cups of petals and boiled them up in 3 cups of water. Then they must steep for ten minutes to leach all the flavour out. Of course in the boiling water the color changes from vibrant pink to a muddy brown.

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But add a few drops of lemon juice and voila!!  Magic happens.
Tomorrow is garlic dilly carrots. I love my garden 😍 and the sound of pinging jars.

Strange things a happening

So there’s some strange things happening in the garden. This morning I went out and had a look thru everything. It looks very wet for one thing. I’m not sure when the last rain was but everything is pretty lush. The peas are finished. No surprise there. I’ll pull the vines tomorrow and reseed. There should hopefully be enough time for a second crop. The lettuce has mostly bolted, again no real surprise. I fed a bunch this morning to the chicks who are not chicks any more, they are mini chickens. The beans are beaning but while the yellow beans are lovely (I had some for supper) the green beans are shit. I mean really really awful. I thought it was my usual variety but they are stringy and tough and quite nasty. I may pull them too and see if I can get a second crop of something better. I hope I have the good variety of seed left in the green house. The yellow gypsy peppers look good but the green peppers have been blooming but haven’t produced a thing. Most confusing is the cukes. When I left there were many small ones forming on the vines. Today all I  could find was one cuke. The vines are wild and covered in blossoms but no fruit. And the strawberries are bushy and lush but no berries. No raspberries either. What the heck is going on?!? And the star fire tomatoes look great. I wish I had planted about twenty more plants. I won’t have enough to can or to make tomato jam with. I may have to (heavy sigh) buy some tomatoes to can. Aaaargh!! The other tomatoes are really not producing as well as I had hoped. The heritage variety is just ugly and if I can get one slice per tomato I’ll be lucky. The cherry tomatoes are poor and the Chelsea may produce. The tumbler is still covered with fruit but again not enough to really do anything with. Ah well.  Next year. Lots of tomatillos. Maybe I’ll just make green salsa instead. 

I cut grass all afternoon. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’ll have to go over everything again in a few days just even things out. I may also treat my poor mower to some new blades. 

Aidan found a leopard frog in the back too.  This is a good thing as they are an indicator species and if they are around, things are not too bad in the eco system.  

   But the garden has me stymied. Just bizarre. Now the grass is cut, weeding tomorrow and maybe beet pickles. If anyone has tomatoes to spare let me know 😳

Home At Last

Well it’s been a long day but we’re home. Had a great start to the day, a soak in the hot springs then on the road. It was a glorious sunny day as we drive up the Icefield Parkway. All the glaciers were clinging onto their little cliffs–I don’t understand how they just hang there.  

  And the sun on the lakes made them glow turquoise blue. Beautiful.  

   We made pretty decent time and the reservoir after Saskatchewan landing actually had water in it. 

  

  I don’t know the name of this reservoir. What is its purpose?  Man made or natural formation?  Maybe someone who knows will tell me. Past Nordegg and into Rocky Mountain House. Gas was $1.03 here. I paid $1.31 in Golden. Then Aidan navigated us home with her phone gps. I saw country and roads I’ve never seen before and some really interesting farm yards. Wish I’d had more time to snoop. Home down the big hill at Prongua the huge full moon was floating there on the horizon, all red from smoke?  Tried but couldn’t manage a decent picture. Past the farm and into town to pick up my son’s dog–he’s off bonding with the family in Yorkton. Now still too wound up to sleep, I have to go get my book and read a bit. It’s hard to tell what condition anything is in now in the dark but I’ll have a good look around in the morning. Queeny was happy to see me–she’s been alone for two weeks. But now back to normal. Night. 

Best laid plans

OMG what a day!!!  I got up at six and puttered around hoping to wake Aidan. She was up and had the tent gutted by the time I walked the dog.  We were on the road just after seven and made the eight o’clock ferry. What a massive beast that was, four car decks, three passenger decks.  A brand newy one.  

 Our ferry could have eaten this little one, which is the size we came across from Horseshoe Bay on. 

 A cup of ferry coffee (Starbucks) and the pastry from yesterday made a pretty fine breakfast. I went up on deck and was lucky enough to see some seals. But no whales. Last time Aidan and I saw orcas playing in the Vancouver harbour. Off the ferry and on the road. I always dreaded the trip from Tsawassen to the #1. It’s about two hours of my life I never get back and it makes me angry. This time I thought we should try a different way. I picked up a small map on the ferry and it showed hwy #17 as a bolder line than the #10 I usually take. It went west before it came south and hit the #1 but how bad could it be, really. Actually it was fine. Better than fine. Apart from being bumper to bumper traffic and the speed was about half the posted limit, it was steady and nary a traffic signal in site. We slowed down in a couple of places but there is simply too many vehicles for the highways to handle. We stopped under this bridge long enough for me to get a picture.  

 Then we were onto the #1 and away we crawled. It was about Chiliwack before traffic thinned and we could begin to get close to the posted speed of 100kph. We stopped in Hope for lunch and then hopped on the Coquihalla. 

I remember the first time I drove it. I drove out to BC for Expo in ’86. In my Volkswagen Rabbit. A diesel. It cost me $25 from North Battleford to White Rock where I stayed with my aunt. The highway was only one section then, I think from Merrit to Hope, then later the next section was finished, from Merrit to Kamloops. It cost a whole ten dollars as a toll hwy and only the last couple times Aidan and I went west was the toll booth dismantled. What a remarkable piece of engineering. So much traffic and it flows so smoothly. Every year though we would see some poor bugger in a pullout walking around his car, while it and everything he had with him burned to a crisp, his poor family huddled off to the side. Sometimes we’d we two or three cars on fire. I guess most of the junkers have burned. Today we only saw about three or four with their hoods lifted, steam coming from the radiators.  No worries for us, the speed limit has been increased from 110 to 120 but my truck doesn’t seem to like to go over 110 and runs best at 100. No problem. It made 120-130 on the downhill runs. 

After Kamloops we figured we were making pretty good time. I told Aidan we’d be into Canyon Hot Springs early where we usually stay our last night and we could veg in the pool. We went thru a section of construction, with a reduced speed limit of 80. People were blowing by me like I was standing still. Finally I was standing still and so was everyone else. I thought it was just a traffic delay. Someone came by and said it was an accident. Would be 7-8 hours before the road would be clear. Well I didn’t believe that for a minute. Maybe an hour but not that long. Then people up ahead began turning around and heading back. We were 30-40k out of Kamloops and there is no other way to get where we were going. A couple know-it-alls came by and pointed cross the river/lake and said that’s the road to take.  The highway was blocked and they were building a road around the accident ?!? I asked them if they lived locally and, no they didn’t but they just knew these things. Thanks buddy. So we just waited. Pretty soon other stories came floating back. A bus full of kids. A greyhound bus. A head on collision with a car and a bus. Then the first responders started arriving and a helicopter. Pretty serious. The ambulances all left with lights only and then one came back for more. We gave it till six and then decided to turn around. We thought we would stop at the first gas station to see if the road across the river had a second bridge farther up to keep us in the right side. There were miles of backed up cars. I don’t understand why there wasn’t a detour or barricades put out. But anyway I got  out  the old technology, my paper map, and we decided to use #97. It put us an hour behind plus the hour we lost waiting. Aidan used her GPS on her phone and we figured we were never getting back to civilization but in the end it worked out. We pulled into Canyon Hot Springs about 9:30, got a site and set up in the dark. I think we could set up with our eyes closed. A walk down to the bathrooms and then into bed. What a day!!  But those poor people in the accident. I have no idea what happened but it was bad. Home tomorrow.