Big City Adventure

This country mama, in need of a vacation, paid a visit to her city-slicker sister with Raina and Robin in tow.  We took a Greyhound bus up to Toronto on Sunday morning, arriving just in time for Toronto’s Pride Parade.

Raina loved every moment of her Toronto Pride experience.  It was surreal for me to see my wee little girl surrounded by so many thousands of people – one tiny part of a gigantic whole. It was her first time in the big city!

On Monday we explored High Park.  After hours in the wading pool and hours of walking woodland trails, Raina was thoroughly exhausted and took a good long nap in the grass.

When Raina awoke, we took a stroll through the High Park Zoo.  The kids fed ducks & geese, marveled over the size of the emus, and squealed in delight when a reindeer came right up to the fence to sniff their outstretched hands.

It was a long three days in the city – parades, splash pads, street dancing, yummy restaurants, High Park adventures, swimming pools, subway rides, new friends and so much fun.  By the time we boarded our homebound train last night, I was more than ready to return to my quite country life.

To Market, To Market

Today was my first day selling at the market.  It was quite an adventure!  I’ll spare you the hilarious details, but suffice it to say that I was late getting there and had to rush madly to get set up. Once I was set up, however, my first market day was wonderful!  I had the pleasure of speaking to so many awesome people.  My Kombucha sold out pretty quickly.  My tea tree-lemon body butter sold out, and my ItchNoMore salve went fast, too.

Before today, I didn’t really know what to expect from the market.  My experience was beyond what I could have hoped for and by the time I packed up in the afternoon I was totally thrilled!  Despite arriving late and not having the setup that I had envisioned (or the quantity of goods that I had planned for), I made a decent number of sales and earned some good money.  Who could ask for more?

I can’t wait for next weekend!

PS. I am so grateful for my blog readers who came by and said hello.  There are more of you locals out there than I realised.  Thanks for your support!

We Have a Winner!

Thank you all for your lovely comments on the weekend giveaway post. I did draw a winner yesterday, but didn’t have the opportunity to get onto the computer to post the results. Life is busy!!

The winner of two handmade mesh produce bags is – LISA! Congratulations, Lisa, please email trinityfibrecraft at yahoo dot ca with your shipping information. I’ll finish up making the bags and have them in the mail to you by Friday! :)

Soggy Soil

I’m in a state of utter disbelief at the amount of rain we’ve had this Spring. I haven’t been able to get much into the ground, for even when it’s not raining out, the soil is just too saturated to work with. My seedlings are desperately wanting to be outdoors! The few cucumber starters I saved from the wrath of the rabbit are now starting to flower in their trays, and my sunflowers are much too large for their little starter pots.

Alas, today is another grey and rainy day, and it looks as though the rest of the week will be much the same. I’m trying not to stress about the super-wet soil and the fact that I’m now about a month behind in my planned planting schedule. I’m trying not to fret about having nothing ready for the market, which opens this coming weekend, and to save myself too much stress I’ve decided to hold off on the market stand until June.

Too much water, yes.

My mountain of laundry grows as I have had so few days that are decent enough to hang the washing on the line. I haven’t had a chance to set up an indoor drying area, and I don’t want to use the dryer, but I may have to cave and rely on the machine again after all.

The kids are stir-crazy, the chickens are slacking in the egg-laying department, the goats have retreated to the barn. Someone needs to have a talking-to with the skies. My pleas for sun have apparently gone unheard.

Wooden Wonderland

I love Etsy treasuries.  Some of them are almost works of art, so beautifully put together, laid out in such a pleasing and eye-catching way.  I also love creating Etsy treasuries, browsing through one amazing listing after another to choose just the right ones.  It’s hard to limit myself to 16 items, with all the beautiful things out there.

One of my favourite materials, ever, is wood.  Wood is gorgeous, feels so good between the fingers, has a sense of life to it.  Every piece of wood has its own unique story.  I spend so much time looking at wood items on Etsy, I figured I had better create a treasury.  Behold, “Wooden Wonderland”:

Go ahead, take a click.  Give your eyes a visual feast.  These items are truly gorgeous, and who knows, you might just decide to give one a new home.

http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4dbb68fa96206d91922c2849/wooden-wonderland?index=0

Waiting for the Sun

We’ve been without internet for a little while, but there’s not been much to write about anyway. The days have been dreadfully dreary, grey, rainy and cold, endlessly. I wish for sun and warmth as I do my farm chores each morning. The gardens need planting, but the ground is absolutely saturated and the rain keeps coming. I shiver my way through egg collection and animal feeding.

Thank goodness for the warmth of the barn and my milking goat, Caprice (from the Latin for goat, “capra”). She keeps me toasty while I milk her, even when the wind is whipping outside and the puddles are growing. It is cozy, sitting next to the milking stand, talking to Caprice as I fill my bucket. It makes this soul-sucking weather bearable, and I look forward to milking time each morning.

I’m hopelessly impatient for lovely spring weather, and so anxious to get some plants in the ground! Come on, sunny sun, we’re waiting for you!!

Eating Sustainably: Week Two

I have to laugh when I read over my list of sustainable food items for this week – can you see why?

Sunday: Breakfast was an omelette made with eggs from our friend Lesley’s farm, and pancakes drizzled in our homemade maple syrup.

Monday: The kids devoured some of Lesley’s eggs along with some eggs from our own coop for dinner, and had the peaches I canned last fall from an orchard down the road for dessert.

Tuesday: We enjoyed piping hot tea that my brother brought home from the Saugeen River CSA, an organic farm where he interned last season.

Wednesday: We shared several refreshing glasses of maple water fresh from the tree with friends.

Thursday: A delicious breakfast of pancakes made with eggs from the coop and sweetened with our homemade maple syrup. Duck eggs from our ducks for dinner.

Friday: Our morning oatmeal was sweetened with homemade maple syrup.

You see why I laugh when I read this over?! The sustainable food items in our diets this week has consisted nearly entirely of eggs and and maple syrup! Of course we’ve eaten much more diverse meals than this, but sadly these meals haven’t been sustainable and so not worth mentioning. At this time of year it is hard to find sustainable foods, especially when we didn’t preserve nearly enough of our own produce last season.

There is hope, though! This morning the farm kids helped me plant salad greens in one of our raised beds – buttercrunch lettuce, romain, curly kale, red Russian kale, spinach – and so we will soon be enjoying fresh greens!

I keep an eye open for recipes that I may be able to make entirely from homegrown ingredients some day, when we are producing more of our own food. Here’s a family favourite that I modified to fit the bill:

Portabella Broccoli Quiche

1 chopped Onion
1 1/2 cups chopped Portabella mushrooms
1 cup Broccoli
1/2 tsp Basil
2 Tbsp Soy sauce
Pinch of salt
Ground pepper
4 eggs
1/2 cup Yogurt
1/2 cup Milk (we use raw goat’s milk or almond milk)
1/2 cup grated Cheese
1 pie shell

Marinate the mushrooms in soy sauce and set aside while preparing remaining ingredients. Saute onion, mushrooms and broccoli in olive oil with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, whip together eggs, yogurt and milk. Add sauteed veggies, mix well, and pour into pie shell. Top with grated cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.

Monday Creature Feature: Molly

Meet Molly, our Border Collie pup. Isn’t she sweet? Molly is 12 weeks old now and has been with us for about a month. She is a smart little thing; she picked up “sit” within her first couple of days with us, followed quickly by “down” and now “off”, “leave it”, “stay” and “come”. She’s getting to be pretty darned good at loose-leash walking, too!

Molly came to us from a cattle farm out of working parents. My hope is that I’ll have a flock of woolly sheep some day, however small that flock may be, and that when that day comes Molly will be a fine sheep herding dog. But for now, she’s a sweet little family pet who is just so easy to love, who is wonderful with the kids, who lives for snuggles and pats on the head.

The children work at “training” Molly, making up all sorts of silly commands and finding silly ways to teach her how to do them. We borrowed a video from the library about kids training dogs, and now my own kids have all sorts of funny and wacky ideas about how their dog should be trained. They make “dog soup” for her by mixing water into her dog food, and dole out plenty of love to Molly throughout the day.

We do so adore our little Molly and are pretty happy to have her in our family!

Eating Sustainably – Week One

(I meant to update on the Sustainable Diet Once-a-Day Challenge yesterday, but the opportunity to sit down at the computer just didn’t present itself. Ah, such is life!)

I am really enjoying this Sustainable Diet Once-a-Day Challenge. It has caused me to stop and consider the ingredients of every meal I have prepared and eaten. Where did my produce come from? How far has it travelled? How long has it been off the plant? How much oil was burned to get it to my table? We eat mostly organic food, but that doesn’t equate sustainable, and although I’ve been highly aware of food issues for a good number of years, I’m now really examining the food on my plate in a way I haven’t before.

So, how have we fared this week? On Thursday morning, we ate delicious free-range organic eggs from our friend Lesley’s farm (our hens are not laying right now). Dinner that night was a delectable quiche made with more of Lesley’s eggs, and local organic mushrooms. On Friday morning, we sweetened our oatmeal with our own homemade maple syrup, fresh from the trees just days before. I found one lone egg in the coop, which went into this morning’s pancakes (which were also smothered with our homemade maple syrup).

While I’m pleased to be including these wonderful, sustainable items in our meals, this challenge has caused me to realise that my diet is not nearly as sustainable as I’d like it to be. The veggie seedlings growing by the window give me some comfort, but our family still has a long way to go.

I’m anxious to get the salad greens sown in the garden soon!

I’d love to hear how you’ve met the challenge so far! Leave a comment here on the blog and then hop over to Twitter where you can search #sustainablediet to see how folks are eating sustainably!

Sustainable Diet Once-A-Day Challenge

Sustainability is important to our family, which is one reason we moved from the city to this wee little farm. We value being able to provide for ourselves as much as we can and continue to push forward toward our goals. Eggs taste so much richer when they’re fresh from the coop; tomatoes are so much tastier and jucier when they’re fresh from the garden; peaches are so much more exciting when you’ve canned them yourself and you’re cracking into a jar on a cold winter’s day.

In an effort to be further aware of my diet and my impact on the planet, I’ve taken up the “Sustainable Diet Once-a-Day Challenge” put forth by Windsor Guerrilla Gardening Collective. Basically, each day participants are challenged to eat one single thing that is local and sustainable – a much easier challenge to meet than making every dish as such.

I’m hoping that participating in this challenge will further raise my awareness about the food I’m eating and push me toward cooking up sustainable dishes for every meal. It is a lofty goal and one that I know I can’t reach tomorrow – but taking on this Once-a-Day challenge will get me heading in the right direction to be sure!

I welcome you, my dear readers, to participate in this challenge with me. Below I have included the details from the Windsor Guerrilla Gardening Collective, and each Friday I will post about the week’s meals. I’d love to hear from anyone who takes up the challenge, and hope that the Friday food posts become a discussion point & inspiration!

Happy eating!

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Windsor Guerrilla Gardening Collective is challenging every environmentalist to adopt the “Sustainable Diet Once-A-Day Challenge”. The Once-A-Day challenge is eating food that was foraged, garden grown or directly purchased from a local farmer, but eating that sustainable food at least once a day, 365 days a year. This doesn’t mean 100% of your diet will come from sustainable sources, but at least one item you eat everyday will! This effort will amount to a HUGE difference in how your diet impacts the earth. Here are some ideas that may inspire you to meet the challenge:

- Harvest your own herbal teas, keep a big store in the freezer to have on hand throughout the year
– Grow dried beans. Dried beans have a long shelf life and are easy to grow, this noble plant will help you meet the challenge.
– Do more of your grocery shopping at farmers markets and road side stands
– Keep chickens. Bylaws be damned, these friendly birds will save you a lot of money and provide you with excellent food while eating a lot of insects and food scraps
– Learn how to can and preserve food. This will allow you to enjoy your harvest all year round, saving you from having to buy lots of out-of-season fruits and veggies from other hemispheres.
– Learn about wild edibles. Asparagus, raspberries, salad greens and nuts are waiting for you to gather for free.
– Learn to brew your own beer and alcohol. Homebrewing can be cheap and easy, and nothing impresses guests more than home-made beverages.
– Start a herb garden. Dry and store your homegrown herbs.
– Talk about your effort with friends and family! They can offer support as well as adopting your cause.

Its all too easy to fall into the rhythms of work and shopping, where we find ourselves symbolically supporting sustainability while materially supporting corporations and their culture of consumerism. The Once-A-Day challenge gives you a quantifiable goal that’s also realistic. Meet the challenge and know that you’ve done your part as Nature’s ally.

Here’s an example of how a person might meet the challenge for a week:

Monday: Tonight’s supper was made with beans and onions from last summer’s garden
Tuesday: Enjoying a beverage made from foraged dandelion roots
Wednesday: Breakfast is made with free range eggs purchased from a farmer’s roadside stand
Thursday: A light snack from the delicious canned peaches made by your Mother-in-Law from fruit purchased locally
Friday: Who knew that Turkish Filbert nut trees grow right downtown? The foraged nuts provide a good snack on the walk to work.
Saturday: Morning toast with a thick spread of honey made at a local farm
Sunday: That tomato sauce you jarred last year from the abundance of garden tomatoes sure made tonight’s pasta special!

We’d love to hear about your efforts in meeting the challenge! Keep us up to date at http://wggc.resist.ca