Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Assorted Bits

On Friday Husband took the day off to work on the septic pump. We had noticed water on the driveway which we had attributed to rain, but the last week has been very warm with no rain, so it definately wasn't that. Husband pulled lid off the septic tank only to find it was completely full with water and the pump (which pumps the water to the lagoon) had quit. Upon further investigation the pump was working fine, but the electrical box was completely corroded and needed replacing. The lagoon and tanks were already on the property when we bought it, and when we looked at our paperwork we found that it had all been installed in 2001. The tanks were full with water when we bought the land, so I guess the box had been sitting for 7 years under water - no wonder it was corroded!

In the evening we built a small fire in the firepit and roast weiners. My parents came over and we sat outside until about 10:30pm drinking mohitos and talking. After they left Husband and I sat out until midnight. It was such a lovely evening.

On Saturday we visited Art Knapps Plant Land for their big sale and purchased two rose bushes, a Ninebark, a Bleeding Heart, a Barbarry, a Dogwood and a Spirea for the back flowerbed that Husband prepared this year. Unfortunately you can't see much from the above photo, but it has also been planted with wildflowers (just beginning to grow) and an assortment of other plants.

Kaiser, our 'hot' dog.

Peppers in the green house which were started in the garage at the end of March. I think these are Hungarian Wax Peppers.

Manitoba Tomato also started in the garage and now in the large greenhouse.

Our garden in the forefront which is approximate 46'x40' and the two greenhouse in the back.

The peas are growing! Husband staked them on Sunday.

Lettuce (Heirloom Leaf Mix)

Forellenschluss Lettuce

Zucchini growing outside. We also have two plants in the large greenhouse with are triple the size of the outdoor plants.

Farm shoes

For Father's Day I had planned to make English Muffins and make a wonderful brunch. Unfortunately I came down with the stomach flu and was so ill I didn't manage to do anything at all. Husband took it easy and we did sit out in the sun together for a while.

Today is Summer Solsitice, the longest day of the year. Where we live we can expect daylight from 4:39 am to 9:47 pm for a total of 17h 07m 40s, but it is light for much longer. Last night it was still light out at 10:30pm. Oh, it's all downhill to the the dark winter days now ;(

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What are You Eating?

This morning I read something I thought was very disgusting and goes along with my post from the other day.

"The average American ingests approximately fourteen pounds of chemicals per year in the form of food additives (such as colorings, artificial flavorings, preservatives and emulsifies), pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones and heavy metals."
Living Green by Greg Horn

Yesterday I did my grocery shopping as we were seriously low in fresh produce (and the garden isn't at harvest stage yet). Daughter made a comment that for tomorrow's school lunch she wanted an assortment of fruit and vegetables to take as it tastes far better than junk food. Hallelujah, I did something right!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Listeria Outbreak

New reports of another Listeria Monocytogenes outbreak in Canada. This time it's by Smith's Quality Meats. Luckily no one has died from this current outbreak, and there has been a vountary recall of a wide variety of ready-to-eat cooked meats.

I have to say I'm amazed at the number of food recalls that the average person never hears about (I guess the media can only report so much). All recalls can be found listed at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency here and current recalls in the US can be found here. It doesn't hurt to check it out every once in a while. If nothing else, it will certainly make you reconsider all those convenience and preprocessed foods you may be eating.

We haven't purchased luncheon meats for a very long time, but I recently bought some that was made by our local butcher. The quality was very good, but I'm thinking about making my own again. I have salami 'curing' in the fridge right now! My salami recipe is really easy, very tasty and can be found here.

I find the state of our food supply (or lack there of) very frightening. With the number of colouring, preservatives, byproducts and cheap ingredients, do we really know what we are consuming? What are all these chemicals (because that what they are!) doing to our health? I also honestly think that the increase of allergies is caused by our consumption of crap. Most people just don't eat fresh and wholesome foods anymore and something (our bodies) has to give.

This is just WRONG!

Laser etched meat - rather gross

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday's Poker Ride

I worked the past eight weekends and I made an effort to keep my calendar clear this weekend. On Sunday Husband and I decided to take our ATV and go out to a Poker ride. Not really environmentally friendly I know, but sometimes we need to offset our environmental efforts with some fun.

Son couldn't come along as he was just given the okay on Friday to remove his arm sling after wearing it for six weeks following the fracture of his left humerus bone, and daughter had a friend over plus we need a part to fix her quad. So that just left the two of us to play in the sunshine.

Here is Husband who has just unloaded the quad.

A very big turnout. They sold about 500 poker cards.

Most of the trail was nice and fairly easy. Along the way, I noticed a lot of flowers in bloom on the trailside- Indian Paintbrush, Anica, Ox-eye Daisy, wild Roses, Bunchberry, Buttercups, wild Strawberry, and Orange Hawkweed. There were also a large number of various butterflys about.

As we got closer to the end of the ride, the trail took a few turns for the worse. Huge mud holes made a lot of fun for some people, but not for us. We usually went around the holes, but here are a couple of photos of people who love the challange.

Two ATV's stuck in the mud (one if the foreground and a fellow standing in the back trying to pull his)

Two ATV's stuck in the front of the mud pit which eventually had to be winched out. There is always someone who will stop to help out.

We were rescuers at one point in the trails when we came around a corner to hear someone calling for help. An older lady (about 70) had driven her ATV though what looked like a shallow puddle, but in fact was a very deep hole. Her quad was tipping over and she was physically unable to get off, while her daughter was holding the quad from tipping into the hole. Husband jumped into the 'puddle' which was hip deep to the keep the quad from rolling, while myself and a teenage boy who happened along held on in the shallow side. The daughter managed to get the winch onto her ATV and pulled the lady out. Up until that point we had keep pretty dry ;)


Husband and I

It was a really fun day even if we had lousy poker hands!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Day in the Life...

A snapshot of my day for Friday, June 11, 2010. Every day here is different and due to my work I have no set schedule, so I never know what the day will bring.

6:30 am Alarm goes off. It is a beautiful sunny day, but I'm really tired as I didn't get to bed until late the night before.

7:15 Finally and reluctantly drag myself out of bed

7:15 - 7:45 Make coffee for Husband and myself and read the local newspaper

7:45- 8:00 Husband goes off to work and kids go to catch the school bus

8:00 - 8:30 Check emails and blogs while eating my breakfast at the computer.

8:30 - 9:00 Feed and water animals, collect eggs, take out compost, open greenhouse doors, and check over the garden and pull a couple of weeds. I'm not happy to find that chickweed is growing throughout the gardens. When we moved here there was no chickweed and we were very careful to wash all our garden tools so that we wouldn't contaminate the place. Our last yard was over run with chickweed and I tried everything to get rid of it but to no avail. Mother Nature seems to love the stuff, but not me! I am positive that it came in with the garden soil that we hauled in last year.

9:00 -9:30 Put in a load of laundry and make some calls to clients

9:30 - 10:45 Cleaned the kitchen because I worked yesterday afternoon and evening ,and I was not here for dinner and didn't get home until 9:30pm. I was not going to clean up that late! I cleaned some older veg out of the fridge and fed it to the chicken and ducks. I filled the hummingbird feeder and they appeared out of nowhere - go figure ;) Watered plants. I then had to look for the dog as he decided to go to the neighbours house and play with their bull mastiff. I gathered up all the recycling bins and put them into the car.

10:45 - 12:00 Brought the recyling away, picked up Son from school due to early dismissal. Ran into an old high school and college friend so we chatted and caught up for half an hour.

12:00 - 12:15 pm Lunch outside on the deck in the sunshine

12:15 - 12:50 Hung up laundry on my new laundy line. I have wanted a laundry line since we moved here, but Husband doesn't think it looks 'pretty' enough. He is very into esthetics when it comes to our property. We finally bought a line and he has put it up in a temporary place off the side sundeck. Nothing smells as good as line dried sheets! I made some laundry soap as I ran out, and put in another load. In between I had some phone calls.

12:50 - 4:00 Worked on client files and work duties. Daughter arrived home just before 4pm from school.

4:00 Husband arrived home early today. Usually he's home around 5-5:30pm, but he was one the road today and decided not to go back to the office. He came home with a lottery ticket.

4:00 - 5:00 Sat on the deck in the sunshine and dreamed of what we would do if ours was the winning ticket for 50 million dollars. We seldom buy tickets, but Husband decided that it was worth the chance today. I think it's worth the cost of the ticket just to dream!

5:00 - 6:30 We have been invited out to dinner so we begin to get ready to go out. Take several phone calls from clients which delays me a bit, and then a half hour drive into town.

6:30- 9:30 Lovey dinner and company! Stopped by the video store on the way home to rent a DVD.
9:30 - 9:45 Feed and water animals, and put them away for the night to protect them from the foxes

9:45-11:30 Watch DVD
11:30 Off to bed

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Pressure and the Definition of Homesteading

I would like to say thank you to the website Construction Management Degree for including us in their list of the 50 best homesteading blogs. You can see the list here.

I am so flabbergasted that we are being included since I haven't been very diligent in blogging lately. I mentioned the 'press' to Husband and he harrumphed with a "We aren't homesteaders why are they mentioning us?"

I guess we envision 'homesteaders' as people who have carved out a little niche in the big woods, built a log cabin and are living off the land (self sufficient) with no outside influence. But, as I mull over the definition of homesteaders in the era of 2010, I have come to realize that perhaps we are 'modern homesteaders'. This is what we have done:
  • Bought acreage
  • Cleared the land
  • Built our house to be as energy efficient and green as we could afford (and Husband did most of the construction himself)
  • Landscaped and put in flower beds
  • Built gardens - we have three; for vegetables, berries, and crazy growing things (such as mint, rhubarb, horseradish, lovage etc)
  • Built 2 greenhouses
  • We eat very healthy (compared to most of the population) and don't purchase preprocessed foods or eat fast food
  • We can, pickle and preserve food from the garden
  • We have chickens and ducks for eggs (roosters for meat) with extra eggs being sold
  • We try to recycle what we can and compost
  • I like to try doing different things and learning new skills as I am always afraid of what could happen in the future and want to be able to self sufficient if ever needed
  • There are no free rides in our household and the kids pitch in with chores and also learn to do things on their own
  • Husband (and now son) hunt

So does that make us homesteaders? I think we still live an affluent lifestyle, but I know our friends and work colleagues don't quite understand our lifestyle as they have no focus on food/gardening, butchering, animals etc. To me, I can't understand that how a person can have no idea about where food comes from, or anything about the natural world. In fact the other day I had a lady ask me what a dandelion was! "Is that the yellow flower that grows on my lawn?" Now that I find frightening!

So what do you think? What is your definition of homesteading?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Pressure is On!

Wow, I'm totally shocked to find an increase of traffic to my blog from I have never heard of this website before so I thought I'd check it out.

To my total surprise they have mention our blog in an article! It is about living off grid, which unfortunately we don't do, but should anything happen I'm confident that we could continue to live fairly comfortably. I do have a stack of survival and homesteading type books that we can look up how to do/make basically everything, plus we are a pretty resourceful family.

I have not been very active in blogging lately due to work and home activities, but now I feel the pressure is on to write and experiment a bit more.

Thank you Joel Wilans for mentioning us in your story!

Mountain Lady Slipper

Son picked and brought home a Mountain Lady Slipper this afternoon because he thought it looked so cool. He had never seen a flower like that before.

I know that they are endangered and rare in this area, so I freaked out a little. I can't blame him for picking it though as he didn't know.

He showed me where it was in the ditch in front of our home and there are lots growing!

Here is a complete description of the flower from

Mountain Lady's-slipper/Mountain Ladyslipper
Cypripedium montanum
Season: June/July
Habitat: Western Slope Montane
Height: Up to 50 cm

Description: The mountain lady's-slipper is a real treat to discover. It is near extinction in many areas and rare in others. It is instantly recognizable, as are all of our ladyslippers and always adds a bit of excitement to a wildflower walk.

Flower: Unlike our other lady's-slippers, mountain lady's-slipper often has up to three flowers near the top of the plant. They are made up of a white pouch-like flower covered with four reddish-brown sepals. The sepals may twist, and spread widely to expose the entire flower. The white flower has a yellow tongue originating at the base of the pouch, and dropping inside. The tongue may have purple spots on it.

Leaf: The alternate, lily-like leaves are smooth margined, hairy, and loosely clasp the stem. There are usually only four to six egg-shaped to elliptical leaves, with each between 5-16 cm long and 2-8 cm wide. The veins run parallel to the leaf margin.

Fruit/Seed: Like other ladyslippers, thousands of seeds are contained within an erect, elliptical, hairy capsule.

Similar Species: The sparrow's egg orchid (C. passerinum) is the only other lady's-slipper with a white pouch. The brown sepals distinguish it from the green sepals of the sparrows-egg orchid. The yellow lady's-slipper (C. parviflorum) is easily distinguished by its bright yellow pouch and green sepals.

Range: While the Mountain lady's-slipper is widely distributed geographically, it is extremely rare throughout most of Alberta and British Columbia. In many areas it has been nearly wiped out. Look for it in the southern Rockies, in particular Waterton Lakes National Park on the eastern slopes. It is more widely ranging on the western slopes, but still considered uncommon.