Monday, August 30, 2010

Acreage All Sorts

Weather: Last weekend the temperatures began to cool off and we finally received more than just a short drizzle of rain. I can't believe how quickly it has changed from a super hot summer to cool and fall like in just a couple of days. The leaves have begun changing colour and even the mice seem to know autumn is on its way. The great white hunter (aka Son) has been trapping the mice families that are trying to move into our garage and crawlspace. Daughter seems disgusted and wants us to just catch the mice and turn them loose in the 'wild'.

This morning we received our first frost.

With the rain the forest fires have be brought under control and the choking smoke that was plaguing our city (as well as others) has finally dissipated.

Garden: Most things are growing well and I have been picking beans, peas, tomatoes and peppers like crazy. We will have to assess our produce at the end of the harvest to see what seeds did well so we can re-order in the spring. Some things we did not have luck with this year namely radish, spinach and beets. I think it is perhaps because we ordered short season varieties and then the hot summer pushed them into seed right way.

Some of our produce picked one evening after work

Preserving: Needless to say with the garden producing like crazy I in turn have been preserving like crazy - pickling, freezing and canning. I have also made salsa and relish.
Pickled green tomatoes and peppers

Perfect pearls of pea perfection (just a little alliteration for you)


Who's that conehead?

Kaiser was once again at the veterinarian. He got into a fight with the neighbour's Bull Mastiff and he was on the losing end. Kaiser is not a vicious dog, he just wants to play with everyone but doesn't understand that not everyone wants to play with him. His front right leg was bitten quite severely and became infected after a few days. He now has a drain tube and is on heavy antibiotics. We are seriously investigating and researching electric dog fencing.


Moose: The moose have been out again at night. We noticed their tracks going on the path between the garden and berry garden. They stopped to have a look at our produce but continued on their way - I guess the fence around the garden helped after all. The next night one was back and walked over the berry garden fence and through the berry bushes and out again. Luckily it didn't squash any of our strawberry plants or berry bushes.

Grouse: We have been seeing quite a few grouse around lately. Usually they are in a flock of 4-7. This one was on the road - she stopped and stood still thinking I couldn't see her while her friends took off into the bush.

Bear: The bears are out in full force. Since April there have been over 700 reported sighting within the city. The expect that in fall there will be quite a problem because the hot dry summer has dried up their food source of berries. Now they will be coming into town to look for other goodies to eat - garbage, fruit, and whatever else takes their fancy.

I spoke with a lady that lives in our area and she said to watch out as there is a grizzley in the area. I hadn't heard about it, but now I wonder if that was the bear my neighbour across the road saw the other day. She telephoned us to say a HUGE bear was in her yard and was heading across the street to our property. We never did see it, but I waited for 30 minutes befdore heading out for my daily walk.

Pioneer Week Challenge: Well it wasn't a huge success this year, but I did okay. Obviously we cooked at home other than one day when we had Indian takeout. I didn't purchase anything other than a few groceries that I needed, and a pair of Birkenstock shoes to wear in the house as my feet were killing my from standing in the kitchen at length. I combined all my trips into town to cut on my fuel consumption.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pioneer Week

A new Pioneer Week Challenge hosted by Crunchy Chicken. I've been so busy I almost missed it!

Pioneer Living Rules (as reposted from Crunchy's blog)

1. Food: During Pioneer Week, you must make all your meals from scratch. This isn't really as hard as it sounds particularly if you start now. That's right, I'm letting you prepare meals ahead of time to freeze if you won't have time during the work week. But, anything prepared ahead of time must be made from scratch.

2. Energy usage: Keep your energy usage low by keeping the A/C (or heat if you live in the other hemisphere) low or off, use only one light in the house at a time (or at least turn off the lights when you are not using them) and line dry your clothes. Since you'll be doing a lot of cooking at home, try to coordinate when you are using the oven to take advantage of baking and/or roasting items at the same time. I don't expect you to unplug your fridge or freezer, so don't worry about that.

3. Conserve water: Since we don't all lug our water from the stream for home use, we'll have to do a few things to help conserve water. Besides taking shorter showers (5 minutes or less or take a military style shower) and flushing less often, you can create a great reminder about water usage by turning the water off on most of your sinks so when you go to use them nothing comes out.

4. Transportation: Walk or bike as much as possible. This will force you to support more local stores if you can't drive across town. If this isn't feasible, then drive or take public transportation. Most importantly, try to combine trips and if you really don't need to go out, stay home!

5. Rethink your entertainment: Instead of spending the week passively watching television or movies, try to engage more with the people you live with or neighbors within walking distance. Get the family back into playing games, music or just sitting around talking and telling stories. If you aren't in the mood for socializing try picking up that long lost craft hobby or start a new one.

6. Watch your wallet: Think of this as a Buy Nothing Week. Since you'll be pretty much eating at home all week, you don't really need to buy anything, now do you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It RAINED for about 10 minutes this afternoon!!!!!!

I was in the grocery store and that is all everyone could talk about.

Who knew one could be so happy over just a little rain?

Vintage Blog and Historical Cookbooks

I have decided to discontinue my vintage blog as I just don't have time to work on it along with everything else I do. I do want to save this one particular post so I have copied it over onto this blog.


For my birthday in May my sister at Reduce, Reuse and Rummage bought me the wonderful book "Eat My Words: Reading Women's Lives Through the Cookbooks they Wrote" It's a wonderful book which reaches far beyond recipes (or receipts as they were called long ago) and into the social lives of women, the struggle for equality in regard learning how to read and write, and the struggle of women to become published authors.

This brings me to a topic I have been wanting to write about since January when I purchased a vintage metal recipe box as a gift for my sister. When the box arrived it came with some freebees and you can't imagine how excited I was! In it were several cookbooks with handwritten recipes, newspaper and magazine recipes, newspaper articles and most things were also dated! I have been pouring over the books and have come to learn a lot about the previous owner.

The brown spiral notebook begins in 1940 when I presume Mrs. Sheldon was a young bride. I know her name is Mrs. Sheldon because the red "Sugar An' Spice And All Things Nice" children's cookbook was copyrighted 1950 and contains the name Melissa Linda Sheldon (I assume this was her daughter as the dates fit) and most articles in the books are from Cleveland. The strange thing that I found in the red children's cookbook was a stash of alcoholic drink recipes.

I'm not sure if you can see the daughter's signature in this photo

More photos of the brown notebook with newspaper clippings and handwritten recipes and Mrs. Sheldon's notes about the recipes and changes she made. Again the first dates on the recipes are 1940, but the stamps on the lower corner are from 1935 and 1936 - I wonder if she just had them lying around and then added them to the book. This notebook appears to end after WWII as on the back cover there is a newspaper clipping about two brothers stationed in the South Pacific.

Close up of stamps

The blue binder is predominately composed of recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines and covers the 1950's and into the mid 1960's.

I love her notes! Obviously the books came from an estate sale and I am sorry that Mrs. Sheldon's family let them go and didn't see the books for the insight/history that they provide about this woman's life.

The back of the binder held several newspaper articles about people.

This clipping is from an entire page of The Cleveland Press dated Wednesday, June 24, 1964
Entitled "40 Years Ago in Lorain Tornado Struck Like Giant Claw of Death"
Mrs Sheldon has written in green ink "I remember this storm"

So, what I have learned about Mrs. Sheldon (from my detective work)? That she was a young bride in around 1940 and had at least one daughter. She grew up and lived in or around the Cleveland, Ohio area and was most like born around 1920. I don't think she had much of an education, perhaps just some high school based on the simple spelling mistakes that I find throughout the books. I believe she was of Danish origin as there are several Danish recipes in the books and one note "Recipes from a danish church out west". She must have had friends who lived in or she visited Michigan and Toronto as some recipes say "Sandusky, Michigan" and there are two sheets of letterhead from the Royal York hotel in Toronto with recipes on them (but the handwriting is different than Mrs. Sheldon's)

I can say that I feel blessed to have received these books. I feel that I am now the keeper of Mrs. Sheldon's life in a way. It would have been such a shame should these books have been thrown away or destroyed.

It has made me come to realize that I also need to clean up the mess I have of my own recipes. For years I have just thrown things into a binder (not even clipped in!). I am now slowly taking everything and either writing or pasting the recipes into a proper book. Hopefully my children will keep the book and pass it on.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Heat Wave and Fires

The heat wave continues and the past two days has seen temperatures of 32c (90f) which for us is extremely hot.

I took this photo yesterday morning as the sky seemed very strange when I woke up. It had a yellowish cast, there was a haze hanging around, and the sun was a bright orange (the photo doesn't quite do the colour justice).

The haze is actually smoke from all of the forest fires burning in British Columbia. There are a few in our area, but not close enough to be of any concern. The smoke just blows everywhere and is causing air quality advisories for people with respiratory difficulties.

According to the news this morning 70% of the British Columbia is under extreme fire danger. I never thought I would actually say this, but... "I wish it would rain!"

I don't think we have had any rain to speak of since about mid-June. Usually it rains in the evening during the summer, but we haven't even had that.

We have been watering the gardens, greenhouses and new sod like crazy. I'm scared we may run the well dry! So far so good....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chicken Coop Re-Do

We have been needing to rebuild the chicken/duck coop for a while. Since Cockzilla's disappearing/reappearing trick we couldn't wait any longer. We have a lot of fox in the area and can't risk them getting into the pen for a tasty meal.

The pen as it was

Husband having taken off the the plywood temporary roof and wire

Building the outside walls up higher
Husband being supervised by the chickens
Daughter painting the hen house
Proper roof being put on complete with an asphalt shingling material to keep off the rain and snow
The finished product

My job is to now clean out the old manure and replenish with clean hay. Unfortunately I have run out of hay and only have a half bale left. Friends of our have hay put aside for us and were going to deliver it, but it appears we will have to pick it up as we can't wait any longer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garden Photos

Small decorative windmill sitting in the 'crazy garden'

Wildflowers planted in the drainage area

Close up of the wildflowers

Inside of the large greenhouse (it's like a wild jungle)

Early Girl tomatoes in the small greenhouse

Wonderful cabbage this year because they have been covered all summer

Vegetable garden - LOOK! CORN! (it's very difficult to grow here)

Vegetable garden with greenhouses in the background

Vegetable garden (the white fabric is what is used to cover the cabbage)

Our squash garden

Close up of Pumpkins

Close up of Winter Squash

Front our our home

Front flowerbed with mostly perennials

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Case of the Disappearing Rooster

It was a beautiful sunny morning as I wandered outside to feed and water the chickens. I had the hen house door slightly open as I was running some cold water into the waterer. I happened to glance sideways and noticed Cockzilla heading towards the open door. I tried to head him off, but I was too late. He squeezed out the door and stood outside taunting me.

Cockzilla was crafty as he dodged my attempts to guide him back into the house. I decided to leave him outside because if I left the door open the hens would all run out to be with their 'man', and I had too many things to do to keep an eye out on the hens for the day. So I left Cockzilla outside on his own. I checked on him a few times during the day, and as I suspected he kept close to the pen and didn't wander off.

At about 6pm I asked Son to go out and try to get Cockzilla in the hen house. He came back and reported that the rooster was gone. Can't be! He had stayed close to the hens all day! I went out and searched for him to no avail. Then Husband went out and searched the woods around our home - he also could find no sign of Cockzilla. It was a mystery as to where he could have gone. I saw no sign of feathers suggesting that he was gotten by a fox or a hawk, but I resigned myself to the fact that this is what must have happened.

At 9pm I went out to give the hens their nightly food and water. As I was stooped over the feeder I heard a familiar "brrrp" at my back, and as I turned I spied Cockzilla roosting inside the house! I had no idea how he managed to get inside.

The next morning I checked the outside pens and found that the chicken wire had given way close to the ground. I can only deduce that Cockzilla, desperate to be with the girls, had pushed and pushed until the wire broke free and he could squeeze through the hole back into the pen.