Road trip

We’ve been looking for a pony cart for my daughter’s pony all summer. We’re using one borrowed from a friend but it’s  a little heavy, meant for a team really, and able to seat several people. 

I found a cart on Kijiji and have been watching it for weeks. No one seemed interested and it looked perfect. We went out after work on Monday, ostensibly to have a look, but I knew we would get it. It was a longer drive than I thought, and the sun was already low when we got there. 

The buggy was tarped in a shed, obviously well looked after. It was old, rebuilt and refinished with care. A very comfortable seat on good springs, independent suspension and nice large solid wheels. No more flat tires!!

The fellow who had it used four minis to pull it, it was actually his wife’s project, but she’s been ill and unable to use it. We pulled it around the yard a bit–no draft at  all. Zeta could pull that all day and not feel it. 

He loaded it into the back of my truck with his front end loader and we tied it in for the ride home. I brought rope but I should have had the ratcheting type straps to secure it best. As it was I stopped once to tighten the rope and worried all the way home that a rope would break and the cart would roll out the back and onto the highway. But all was good. 

We drove home into the most fantastic light show. No rain till we drove into the yard at 11:00. We tarped it and hit the hay. It rained cats and dogs again the next day. I had hoped my son would help me unload it when he came for supper Tuesday night but no one wanted to go out in the rain. Wednesday morning it had to come off as a friend needed help hauling some lumber home. So I unloaded it myself. Not too difficult. I just did it slowly. 

Supper Tuesday was completely home grown. Fried rabbit, garden dilly potatoes, fresh veggies in a cream sauce and a sliced garden tomato. It was soooo good. With home made chutney. See that!!! More than three quarters of that plate is veg!!!  I could have just eaten the creamed veg and been happy. 

I can remember as a little girl visiting my Auntie Dora. They lived on a farm and had milk cows and a big garden. We had supper there and she put a big bowlful of creamed veggies on the table– carrots, peas, beans and cauliflower. With real cream. (I just made a white sauce–not so rich). I wouldn’t  eat it at first–picky like my father. Mom made me taste a bit and I don’t think I left the table till the bowl was empty. I think this is my new favourite way to eat veggies. 

And I just can’t get enough of that early morning golden sun. So pretty!!

And just like that, it’s fall…

When I woke up the other morning I could see by the light outside that summer was over. It’s just the color of the light in the trees. The air was colder and smelled of autumn.

 The cranes are already flying south, crops are turning golden, and it was cold enough in the house to close the windows. How did that happen so fast?  Where did summer go?  Inspite of the fact that fall is here, the sun has been shining and the days are are warm–but not that scorching heat of July. 

I’ve begun tearing out the garden. The peas are the first to go. They are not all quite finished yet–I could still get one more picking but they’re mostly done. I picked onions and hung them to dry on the pea fence. 

A mole got into the garden and chewed off the roots to one of my parsley plants. Then it got into the beets. My daughter dug out the tunnels and set a couple traps. The beets look beautiful so they may be supper tomorrow. I also picked zucchini before they turn into monsters. I think a big batch of spaghetti sauce is in the works this week. 

I ran out of hay this morning. I haven’t started my tractor since this time last spring and quite frankly I was afraid. Afraid it wouldn’t start. Afraid it wouldn’t work. Afraid I’d need to call tractor man out to fix it. I got my gas can and funnel, and began to brush the cobwebs off with a handful of the tall grass that was growing underneath. I was looking for wasp nests. A friend had brought his grandchild out a short while ago and I didn’t want to let him climb on the tractor just because of all the attractive places for wasps to build their nests. As I was working at the rear of the tractor a hornet flew out at me.  Where did he come from?  I looked and sure enough, there was a huge nest between the tire and the fender. Aaaarrggh!!!  I quietly walked away and had a heart attack. I had been THIS close to climbing on and firing it up. 

Can you see it?

How about now?

I had some wasp killer in the house but it was a big nest–I used what I had then had to run to town to get another can. I think the first shot did kill them but I gave it another shot just to make sure then broke the nest off with a LONG stick. 

And you know what??  That tractor fired up first try, and I went and moved a bale. No problem. One of the tires is a little spongy but that’s to be expected after sitting for a year. I was very happy. I had been stressing about that tractor for months. Now maybe tomorrow I can scrape some of the corral. 

I made one more  batch of chutney with frozen fruit from the freezer. And a few jars of apple jelly. 

Next up will be grape jelly and canned tomatoes. Summer is done and now my favorite season is starting. I love fall. I hope it’s long and mild. 

Lazy hazy crazy days of summer…

Oh the weather has been weird. Ten days + of torrential rain flowed by steamy heat. 

Piggy was loving the mud!!

We figured Piggy’s feet weren’t going to get any softer so Sunday morning we screwed up our courage and got organized for the ordeal. Because she didn’t like her beer the last time, this time I gave her an over proof cider. Made in Sweden, it’s quite yummy. I like it too!!!

Piggy liked it too, and slurped it right down. It was relatively easy to get her in the barn where we left her to stew a bit while the cider worked its magic. The hardest part was flipping her–there really are no handles on a pig!! 

We kept the pail on her head, not because she’s vicious but as insurance. Pigs’ teeth are sharp and their jaws are strong. I didn’t want her to bite my daughter in any panic that might ensue. As it turned out she was very very calm. Such a good pig. Her feet really needed the trim. 

 Her feet were nice and soft and we were done in record time. We flipped her over, opened the door, and gave her some dog biscuits as a treat. 
We’ve been driving Zeta too. But the rain and heat have created clouds of little mini vampires. It’s hard to find the ideal time to drive. It’s either 100 degrees or the mosquitos eat us alive. 

And the garden is loving the weather. Look at these beautiful tomatoes!!! (A side for my scrambled ham and egg omelet).  Delish!!

I just picked a bathtub full of beans this morning and got a kettle full of crabs boiling for apple jelly. 

I just love this time of year!!  

Turn off the taps already…

It’s been a rainy week. Maybe ten days. I’ve lost count. Everything is soggy, the grass is going crazy, the garden is a jungle. I was just out picking beans between showers in the most glorious sunshine, watching the hummingbirds fight and squabble–there are about six of them. I’m not sure if it is three pairs or mom, dad, and babies. They are angry little things but oh so pretty when the sun catches the ruby red throat and emerald wings. 
I’ve been busy busy, picking beans and peas, trying to make room in the freezer for all the new produce. I went through it a while ago and sorted out all the old and freezer burnt meat for the big dog, and old bread and produce for the chickens. I was very popular for a few days 😜😜. 
The yellow beans are delicious fresh but I really don’t like them frozen (or canned for that matter). Freezing is the least offensive but they need to be frenched, that is sliced lengthwise to make them better able to be palatable after a stint in the freezer. I almost never eat them as a vegetable but add them to soups or curry them. I have a “frencher”, that is a tool that slices the beans lengthwise. 

The only way to do it is one bean at a time. It also slices off the tough seam up the back of the bean, although on these bean it’s really unnecessary. I just sit and listen to the radio and before I know it a potful is done, ready to be blanched. The green beans are so thin and tender they don’t need to be frenched but can be frozen whole. 

I also made a few jars of dilly pickled beans–these are refrigerator pickles so don’t need to be canned. I have lots of dill in the garden, it self seeds and I love how it just pops up here and there. Once I’m sure there’s enough, I pick the plants that are where they shouldn’t be for the goats, they like the dill too. My daughter would like me to pick all the dill as it gets crazy and deep rooted–but I love the smell and the plants are just so pretty. 

So far I’ve been keeping up to the green beans by eating them. My son came over the other day and ate a whole potful. They’re his favourite too. He couldn’t decide if he wanted them with browned butter and almonds or with hollandaise. So I made both. 

I also roasted some rabbit carcasses that I’d been storing in the freezer. I’ve been boneing out the whole rabbits as I hate fighting with the multitude of tiny bones. I roast the carcasses till golden brown, then make broth. I now have a beautiful big pot of broth for borscht, and after I picked out every single bone from the leavings, the big dog got three good feeds. I hate waste. 

The peas are not as productive as they should be but I’ve been picking frequently. I got a big basin full the other day and sat down in front of the tv to shell them. It took me two episodes of House to shell, blanch, and bag them. Another two bags– yay!!!

The strawberries are loving this weather. They are producing big sweet berries. Only enough to eat fresh but next year–look out!! Strawberry jam all the way!!

I also had time to make a Victoria sponge. I’ve always thought that this cake is dry–I mean it just looks dry. But it wasn’t bad I guess, washed down with many cups of tea. I think if I make it again I will put a second layer of jam on the top of the cake–and of course, another layer of cream…

So that’s what I’ve been doing. How’s your summer going?

Can you keep a secret?

Not everything I make is a success. I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. I can’t really follow a pattern with out making some improvements. I call this my “creative gene”…truth be told, I think it is a form of ADD. I simply am unable to believe I cannot improve my particular project by meddling with it. 

Take supper last night. I wanted something yummy. I wanted rice with it. I wanted it fast cause I was hungry NOW. What could I make? I was paging thru a community cookbook when I spotted a recipe for sweet and sour shrimp. 

Shrimp is fast. Rice is fast. I got up and made a pot of rice, then thawed the shrimp I found lurking at the bottom of the freezer in the morning. I scrounged a can of pineapple and made up the sauce to thicken while I cooked the shrimp. 

Yes, I know the shrimp were to be added to the sauce raw but I wanted crunch so I made up a coating mix and fried the shrimp so they were all crispy and crunchy. 

Meanwhile, NOT having measured any of the sauce ingredients accurately it quickly turned rather gloppy. No problem, I’ll just add a bit of water and the rest of the juice clinging to the pineapple. Right. The shrimp were crunchy. The rice was sticky and fragrant (jasmine rice, it’s supposed to be sticky). But the sauce. Blech!!!! 

See, it kinda sorta looks edible. 

I had visited my neighbour the other day and promised to bring her some raspberries, rhubarb, Saskatoons for a recipe she wanted to make, and I thought I would take her a small bowlful of rice and shrimp. Keep in mind, this is before I had really tasted it, so confident I was that it would be edible. I quickly whipped up a bowlful and popped over. Back home I sat down with my bowlful and OMG–blech!!!

I have a wonky gall bladder. As I write this, at 4:05 am, having been awake since 12:30am, with my gall bladder torturing me, I can only hope my neighbours’ gall bladder is healthier than mine. 

Several years ago I had two back to back gall bladder attacks. The first one I was convinced I was having a heart attack. I texted my son to come out, something was wrong. I guess I didn’t communicate my panic well enough. He took his time, stopping to pick up a Timmies before leisurely meandering out to see what I wanted. I laid down on the bed, preparing to die. I really thought it was the end and was glad I’d told the kids where my will was. By the time he arrived, I was miraculously still alive and the pain was ebbing. He took me to emerg anyway and I got checked out. Not a heart attack but no one knew what it was. 

Then just five days later, another one. This time I was doing chores. The pain was so bad I sort of collapsed in the middle of the corral and lay there, semi conscious, groaning in agony. All the sheep came and stood around me, looking at me. Get up human and feed us…why aren’t you feeding us?!? I have a vague memory of swatting their noses out of my face. Fully 90 minutes later I recovered enough to stagger back to the house and pass out inside. Again a trip to emerge. Still no idea what was wrong but the next day, after the blood tests were read, they confirmed gall bladder. Long story short, I had determined to have this offensive organ removed (but didn’t as I think it was put there for a reason)– I made some real changes to my diet and haven’t had a full blown attack again. Just these little whispers, where said organ nudges me and says, I am still here… I have the power to destroy you!!! 

I calm the beast with Jagermeister, a herbal digestif. It works 95% of the time. 

Just a shot or two. This is not just a drink for sorority boys to brag about–but a recipe with 56 different herbs–it is medicinal. Herbal digestives are well known in Europe, and are especially beneficial to gluttons (like me) and to inept cooks (also like me!!). The Germans actually have a name for it–liver glue, meaning it keeps your liver (and gall bladder) together. My surgeon laughed when I told her that it relieved the pangs of my evil gall bladder–she said it was more likely to turn my liver into cement, rather than keep it together. I beg to differ. However, it has saved my life over the years, and the fact that I like the taste is a bonus 😊. 
So now I will have to visit my neighbour again tomorrow and apologize for the seriously poor meal I brought her and the rest is going to the chickens. Maybe I’ll take her some Jagermeister.