Saturday, December 25, 2010

When a picture says it all!

He has always been so positive that Santa was bringing the kitten that it was NO SURPRISE for him that there was a kitten in the house this morning.
Apparently it was in bed with him, but then we put it in our bathroom with food, water and litter....or Santa did that....the story changed....
The kitten is a cuddly, playful and purry.....
I know I know not a word.
We had a fab day.....
Ending with a wonderful turkey dinner...
Now that he has his kitten he agreed to the photo....
38 lbs of turkey there dwarfing my 5 year old!!!
We know how to grow em!
Sweet dreams everyone!
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Kitty....

I am so darn excited.
I think this might be the best Christmas ever...WHY??
Holden is getting a kitten from Santa.
An alive one.
That Santa will put in his arms while he's sleeping.
He has been adamant for about 3 months that Santa is bringing him a Kitten.
At thanksgiving (ours is early october) I said, "Will you get on the counter so I can take a picture of you next to our Christmas Turkey?" **Why you ask? Because the turkey at 38 lbs is bigger than him!!!!!**** He said, "No, but you can take a picture of me next to my kitten" and so most of our conversations go.....
Hubby was not gung ho to start and we talked to Holden about Santa not bringing live animals.
And then a friend wrote asking us to take her cat.....(long story - vegetarians that found it disturbing that their kitten brought home birds and mice....DOH!)
I convinced hubby taking their 6 month old already fixed cat was a good idea....and then we didn't get that cat....
So when another friend was fostering kittens....well, it was an easy step for hubby to take.....that slippery slope thing!
So today I picked her up!
She's at a neighbors house!
Holdy is still adamant he's getting a kitten.
He "does not want any made in china crap plastic toys from santa daddy, I only want a kitten!"
***after the lecture about crappy commercialized christmas plastic toys***
His letter to santa said he wants a kitten, alive. (After his brothers pointed out santa will bring a kitten doll)
I read him "Santa's snow cat" - WHAT was I thinking?? Now he thinks he's getting a white cat!!!
I can't bear it.
I told neighbor guy (crusty old prairie farmer) that I'd be by when the kids go to sleep, around 8:30. He looked at me like I was nuts and said, "It's christmas eve, you won't be here until 1:30 am!!"
He wasn't supposed to be looking after the kitty - his partner was...and she was at work still. He looked like he wanted to boot it out to the barn.....but well, I think the kitten melted his heart.
I forgot food.
When I got back to him with food, he had carved some meat off a roast for the kitty!
Oh, I can hardly wait!
Stay tuned.....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Greenhouse Gardening

I had great plans to plant a winter garden in my greenhouse this winter....In fact, I did plant some lettuce and brocolli.....but, well, my gardening has taken off in a different direction....
Remember my tomatoes post? Well this is the same greenhouse....

My girls (and boy) were FREEZING their little butts off outside, miserable in the cold, hanging under their trailer....their water frozen....So we made it happen...
The live in the greenhouse now.
I'd already cut and cleared out old tomato plants and they took down the greenery that was left in a hurry (weeds). We put fence wire up around the work bench and chicken wire around the base of the greenhouse to prevent escape.
Now my ladies dust bath in the pouring rain. Because unbelievable rain is the weather we are having right now and the patch of ground they were frozen to is now under 3 inches of water. In the greenhouse they are dry, warmer and pretty happy.....there is electricity so a heat lamp is available if it gets cold again and we can take fresh water out to them easily.
They have compost, squash (SIGH - we winterized everything before the big freeze but forgot to bring the squash stored in the greenhouse we have a pile of mushy once frozen squash to feed the chickens....) and I pick a bucket of grass/chickweed for them every day. They love their greens....Today we got 14 eggs from 14 chickens!
I AM winter gardening. Soil prep. Yep, NEXT year I'm going to have the BEST GD tomatoes ever!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chicken Supreme

We raised our own meat birds this summer.
They had a pretty happy life with a grassy area to roam and a wheelbarrow of greens thrown in the munch on every day.
We took them in at 10.5 weeks and had an over 8 lb average on those babies. (Should have been processed the week before thanksgiving, not great plannning on our behalf!!!)
What to do with an 8 lb chicken let alone the 11.65 lb ones.......????

Value for money that's what.

I cooked one 8 lb chicken for the 5 of us. A $36 bird.

One gorge on roast chicken, stuffing, carrots, patooties, gravy etc.
Next night I made butter chicken curry (don't tell anyone but the sauce was from a jar and "tarted" up) and lucky me had leftovers for lunch the next day.....
Next night we had chicken quesadillas....
Then I made two deep dish pot pies with more than 2 cups of meat in each one. (Maybe even more than 3!)
Also 2 cups of homemade chicken stock in each one.

One we ate (and had leftovers for lunch the next day) and one I froze.

FIVE MEALS!!! (and 3 lunches!)

Now why would anyone pay $25/3 birds at the local grocery? 3 carcasses, not as much meat and who knows what kind of life they led??

Louisa's Deep Dish Chicken Pie (ideas from a bunch of different recipes on the net.....)

2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
2+ cups chopped chicken
1 med onion chopped
garlic cloves (I put about 4 or 5 in)
salt and pepper to taste
one pie I put cumin the other nutmeg/thyme
1+ cups chopped carrots
1+ cups chopped grean beans (I have an I chopped them the size of peas....)
chopped leftover potatoes
1 cup chopped chanterelle mushrooms

I cooked it all up on the stove while I made the crust and thickened with flour (about 1/3 cup)

2.5 cups white flour
1 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup icy water + 1-4 Tablespoons

I made it in my kitchenaid with the flat beater.
until pea sized lumps....

Makes top and bottom crust.

I put them in deeper dishes that the crust fit......

Put in the oven at 425 for 30+ minutes. Crust looks ready and contents are bubbling
The one I froze I half cooked.

Shoulda taken a photo!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Education Paradigm

After taking last year off of homeschool swimming lessons (30 minute lesson and 1.5 hours in the pool....) we started again this fall. My youngest at just 5 was in his first lesson ever by himself and was put in quite a low group....a combination of baby looks, shyness and first timer I guess....
I had to accompany him to each lesson and sit with or near the lesson in the water each time. No biggie. But after the first two lessons I asked for him to be moved up....the kids were definitely not at his level of water happiness and even age. So he was moved up a group to a teacher we know is pretty great with the kids. (My middle son's favourite teacher) But Holdy was not happy. He told me "I don't want to do the seahorse back and forth mummy" (jumping with a foam snake between his legs across the pool, running forwards across then backwards, and other such pointless tasks) and "It's boring" - the activities were way below his water skills.....Tasks that helped kids to put their faces in water, float and be comfortable in the water. My guy swims under water and gets things from the bottom. I'm not saying he's anything special, just he wasn't put in the right group. The next group up that I can see is having tonnes of fun and are his age....But now he hates lessons, is bored, refuses to let me leave, refuses to do any of the activities, and is basically hating it. When he does do something (usually above and beyond the required task) the instructor can't really pay attention because he has other kids to deal with who *can't* do the different tasks. So now my kid, who won't do it and refuses to do it will get a report that says he can't and then won't be put up a group for the next cycle of lessons and the cycle will continue.
Today he was the only kid to show up. His instructor was off and there was a sub. OMG. First of all he got in the pool without me (I still had to change) I came along quickly and she had him diving to the bottom, swimming across the pool, all activities that he was challenged at and he was working SO HARD. And had such a BIG SMILE on his face. And I didn't really need to be there, although he did interact with me a bit and probably still needed me there. After the lesson he said "She was a better teacher than J** Mummy"
I hope J** gets to see that joy.
Sound familiar anyone?
Sound like school anyone?
Sound like bored belligerent boys anyone?
I know why I'm homeschooling even though I am constantly second guessing myself.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Code of Silence

The Mushroom code of silence that is. It is THAT time of year, the time when the chantrelles and other edibles are poking their way thru the debris on the forest floor, pushing up through moss and leaves, sticks and rotting logs....and trying to avoid the humans who want them to eat.....Here in the valley and on the island (Vancouver Island) we are gifted with a large bounty in the woods. Everyone's getting them, talking about them but noone asks and noone tells WHERE. We all have our secret spots...and we're all trying to figure out where everyone else is getting them. It's a funny code...a friend was here and she was talking about drying her chanterelles.....and we were talking about canning ours....and neither of us asked each other WHERE. And when she was gone I was like "so, she lives on powerhouse, where would she be getting them around there....." (MAYBE I'm the only one with the CODE........)

So my mother calls yesterday, the wonderful funny wonky hunter-gatherer mother of mine who knows where A LOT of shrooms are, and announces IT'S TIME. The kids love mushroom hunting. First thing this morning out we go....for a short walk in a 'small patch'.
Yes that's my 70 year old mother with two false hips heading off thru the underbrush.....

And soon we spot some "Lobster" mushrooms. They are quite spectacularly reddy orange, dense and large. She knows where a couple of patches are....

Of course the boys found a Salamander which was running for it's life at this point....

We found so many types of mushrooms.....
The day was so beautiful, it felt like we were walking in fairyland....

And my mum was scaring me a bit....."I think these are edible, I'll check when we get home...."
The colors, the shapes, the sizes! We sure went on the right day!
I have to admit - I didn't read the chapter on "gathering" in Michael Polan's book....been there, done whole life....
Camping =Mushroom hunting for my mum and the boys.....

A tiny fairy ring....they were sooo small and soooo delicate....

August carefully cutting a lobster out of the ground....
The small ecosystem on top of the stump of a log...Notice the leafy plant in the bottom left corner, it was sooo beautiful!
Bingo! A Chantrelle! We have to carefully cut the mushrooms and leave the base - they regrow and the life cycle goes on. If the whole mushroom is pulled up the patch is dead. Which is the main reason everyone keeps their lips sealed - they don't want an mushroom hunter who doesn't know destroying the patch......

These big babies are "hosts" to the parasite "lobster" mushroom, so my mum had the boys carrying a rotten lobster around to "infect" them for next year. How does she know these things?

A big guy, lots of these out in the woods....
Woo hoo everyone found a few!

But I messed up. Our "short" walk was a little long and too close to lunchtime. The youngest two had had enough.....
The boys chanted all the way home "we're hungry we're hungry!" Silly me, how could I head out with no food and no water???? I have to admit I got a little grumpy with them as I saw so many more spots I wanted to check out.....Ah well, next week....
We had fried mushrooms for dinner! Yum!
Tomorrow, NO FAIL STEW loaded with shrooms.....and my boys fight over them....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Duck Duck Goose

Through Handbook of Nature Study blog we were given a project idea to look at the differences between ducks and geese. Since we have both, we brainstormed and went out and are by August. Text by the boys!

The beaks of ducks are brownish grey. The beaks of geese are orange. The chinese geese have a humungo bump on top of their heads.

The feet the ducks are brown. The geese feet are orange.

Our female ducks are brown. Our male ducks have a green head. The chinese geese males have big bumps on their heads and they are white. Our other geese have brown spots all over them.

Geese only lay in the spring and early summer. And the ducks lay all year round. Ducks eggs are smaller than geese. Geese eggs are humungous.

Our biggest geese are scared, our ducks are scared too and our chinese geese bite a lot. None of them are friendly.

Ducks eat slugs and geese don't. Geese eat grass. Ducks do too.

Geese are bigger than ducks.

Strawberry Mama writing now:
One chinese female goose and the ducks have started laying. I didn't expect goose eggs until the spring.....Yesterday the boys found two shellless we boiled them up and they ate the easiest to peel hard boiled eggs ever!

Our chinese geese are pretty aggressive. We have all the geese fenced in right now as we have cover crops planted. The last cover crop we planted was munched. As soon as they are established we will let them all go....hopefully to take down weeds and grass all over the farm. The one strawberry patch(1/2 acre) they all have access too looks pretty good!

We have one female wild mallard that hangs with our gang. She stays her distance but doesn't seem to be going anywhere.....could be interesting in the spring. August id'd her in his bird book.

Great challenge for the kids! Thanx!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Dance with your Dinner....Joel Salatin....again!

"I have to go pick up dinner. I just love Qua111y Foods! I can pop in and I don't have to cook!"
Says a friend to Hubby and I as we were grabbing a Java at the local supermarket in between sessions of, you got it, Joel Salatin, LIVE in Courtenay!
The man himself spoke to a bunch of us here yesterday. What a personality, aura, intelligence, mind and speaker.
Our first session with Joel was pretty cool - about 45 people sitting around some tables for an open discussion with Joel. We all introduced ourselves talked a bit about our interests. Many said food security. When he asked about food security Blackwater came up. Scary stuff. What about the new bill (510) going thru in the states where the FDA can go on any farm and shut it down if they are not farming using science based methods. Many say this is an anti organic farming law. Joel said any law that Monsanto is for he is automatically against. He saves a lot of time reading legislation this way.
Can we feed the world without corn? And yes, we can. Processed food actually costs more than organic food if you look at the weights involved. For example, tonight, again on our break we saw a family of 4 (one toddler, one baby) spend $19 for dinner at QF, buying crap at the cafe. They could buy one of our chickens for that, and it would last 2+ meals, and have money left over for some yummy veggies. But they would only see that they were paying $4lb for our chicken.
I'm such a Joel Junkie that I had nothing big to add but appreciated the man's intelligence and ability to answer even the most vague question in an interesting manner.
Ironic that my friend was buying her take out dinner as we were on our way to the second part of Joel Day in Courtenay. Dance with Dinner. Connect with your food. Know how it's raised. Know what it ate. Know how it is prepared. Prepare it! Know your farmer.

During Dance with your Dinner Joel spoke of our disconnect with food - kids who don't know that carrots grow in the ground. How at 4 pm 75% of people still don't know what's for supper (me some of the time - that's why I made yummy tomato sauce...) How 25% of meals are eaten in the car. (Only if I buy ham and cheese croissants from Comox Valley Bakehouse on the way to swimming from piano.....) How we spend an average of 20 minutes in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up after meals. (Ok, I feel like I spend my life in the I have no idea where this stat comes from!) How our average food item travels 1500 miles. In 1900 the number was 100 miles. How some kids don't even know what a pot is....they just open boxes and microwave their dinner. Or like my friend, pick up take out at the supermarket. And let me tell you, not much at that store looked appetizing to me - Overcooked, overfried, overfoodcolored, sitting for overlong. YUCK.
Here in the Comox Valley there is a real grassroots movement of parents and people to meet the farmer, buy at the farmers' market and buy local. It is the buzz. Hopefully a long lasting one and not a fad. Gardening is huge here and in Cumberland, the small village near my home there are community gardens run by kids with moms supervising. Our farmers' market is full twice a week at the a field with live music, baking and of course coffee. I love going for the atmosphere. I love seeing all the farmers.
All in all an interesting evening but perhaps the wrong talk for the group of people who were there....We are already converted, we know all the shocking data - What is the next step?? How can we change the world and the attitudes of our fast food nation?

More on Joel to come. So much buzzing around in my head.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Every minute counts.....

My youngest woke up wonky today. Screaming instead of asking, screaming instead of anything really, screaming when he fell and bonked his head - that cry wolf syndrome thing. Really really frustrating start to a day.

But here I am, and as far as I know here I am for awhile. Thank you soooooo much for that whoever or whatever is in charge.

The worst I feel is tired or hungry. Thank you soooooo much for that whoever or whatever is in charge.

The most I have to worry about is if my kids are ok, my garden chores are done, my house is tidy enough, or if the animals are fed. Thank you soooooo much for that whoever or whatever is in charge.

I look out my window at the farm I love everyday while doing piles and piles of dishes or folding piles and piles of laundry (ok that's only every couple of weeks.....) Thank you soooooo much for that whoever or whatever is in charge.

I have a great husband and partner. We have great kids and a great life. Thank you soooooo much for that whoever or whatever is in charge.

A friend, not a close one, but someone I know has just been given the news that her breast cancer that she thought was cured has spread to her ovaries and lymph system.

Someone who never came close to deserving this, like anyone does.

Someone who has a wonderful husband, small son and a life.

Someone who is inspiring and kind.

Someone who is strong and good.

She didn't ask to but she has given me the gift of each and every minute of my day.

Life can be so short, don't waste it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Journey to the end....

Today was the day, the turkeys go in. Lucky for hubby he is away elk hunting. Which left me and 20 fat fat turkeys to get in a trailer that I can't back up to the abbatoir. Lucky for me, the woofs we have right now are quite capable!

Yesterday we penned them - no food......
And this morning when I got up at 6:15 am I could see out my bedroom window that my interior lights were on in my car....yep dead battery and no jumper cables to be found. Neighbor lady and sometimes farm helper (free labour) was over helping (she can back trailers up) so the two of us set off on a hunt. The tractor's battery was also dead (kids playing with hazard lights) and she went back to her house to get our farm truck (and look for cables) that her hubby sometimes uses.....
The battery was really dead and Cedric, woof from Belgium, industrial engineer, was figuring out alternatives when NL showed up with truck and cables.....Truck started and the loading finally began. Easy peesy just herd them in....right? Wrong!!!

Turkeys have a sense of doom I guess. They also don't like plywood ramps and dark spaces....So we figured out we had to carpet their ramp!
See the cool double layered pony trailer? Cedric announced to me earlier in the week there was no way 20 fat turkeys were going to fit in our small pony trailer. Um, right. "I'll build a removable second layer" Thank you Cedric. The boys went in below.....

But we had to push them by muddy poopy one.....
That finished.....

We had to catch and carry the ladies to the top bunk. Yup, heavy, poopy, heavy, upset, heavy, muddy, heavy, strong, heavy turkeys hand placed on the top bunk.....

Even a net to prevent turkeys flying er plopping out the back as we drove off to the abbatoir.....NICE job Cedric!
Wonder what people thought as they passed me on the highway.....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do I have the balls....

Do I have the balls? (Be sure to read the article in this link!)

I've read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food,
I've seen King Korn, The world according to monsanto, Patent for a pig, fed up, food, inc.,....etc...etc.....
I can and garden...
Hubby hunts...
We grow our own meat birds and have layers...
We have pigs....


We drink coffee.
I love chocolate.
I love cheese.
I shop at Costco and Superstore....

I have some changes to make. Do you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What one finds in the camera.......

Mummy, can we play in the pig food?
Mummy can you take a picture? **You take the camera August....**
So there I am on the phone in the background....NO IDEA they are still taking photos....
The series is pretty funny....lots of death and dying.....

There are a lot of photos along this vein......I got a good laugh!
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Local Potato Field

I watch the potatoes growing on a farm that is right next to a main road in our town. The farm has a history in the valley and was home of one of the valley's first farm markets. Through family problems, divorce and etc the farmer went bankrupt and the farm was sold to a charity that maintains the land for waterfowl and leases out the farmland to local farmers to use.

Today I drove by and I could SWEAR it had been sprayed with a herbicide. The potato vines were totally dead dead dead and brown. Weeds around the field were dead too.

Google is a great thing.

Potato Vine Herbicides

Herbicide Application and Remarks

Potato Vine Kill

Des-I-Cate Rate: 0.75 to 1 lb ai/A (1.5 to 2 gal/A)
Time: Apply 10 to 14 days before harvest.

Remarks: Use higher rate during cool or cloudy weather or when vine growth is heavy. For ground applications, the addition of 3 to 5 gal/A of diesel fuel or 1 pint paraffin- base herbicidal oil for each 20 gal total spray may increase speed and overall vine kill. No wetting agent or emulsifier is required; endothall will emulsify diesel fuel or herbicide oil. Add diesel oil last to avoid possibility of forming an invert emulsion.

Caution: A restricted-use herbicide in Oregon. Do not use high rate, diesel fuel, or other oils if soil moisture is low or temperatures are high, or stem ends may discolor.


Diqual Rate: 0.25 lb ai/A (1 pint/A) or up to 0.5 lb ai/A (2 pints/A) in a single application.
Sequential applications may be made, but do not exceed a total of 0.75 lb ai/A (3 pints/A) per season before harvest. Idaho, Oregon, and Washington special local needs labels (ID-960014, OR-960034, WA-960028).

Time: Make last application at least 7 days before harvest.

Remarks: Do not apply more than 0.5 lb ai/A (2 pints/A) in a single application. Apply with a nonionic surfactant at 8 to 16 oz/100 gal spray mix. Allow at least 5 days between applications. Do not apply through any type of irrigation system.

Caution: A moderately toxic herbicide that requires protective gear for handling and
Follow all use restrictions and precautions given on label. Do not apply to drought-stressed potatoes. Make last application at least 7 days before harvest. Do not feed forage from treated potatoes to livestock. AND HUMANS CAN EAT THESE POTATOES????


Gramoxone Extra Rate: 0.25 to 0.47 lb ai/A (0.8 to 1.5 pints/A) + nonionic surfactant at 16 to 32 fl oz per 100 gal spray mix

Time: Make last application at least 3 days before harvest.

Remarks: Apply in 50 gal/A water with thorough coverage.

Caution: A restricted-use herbicide. Follow all restrictions and precautions on label. Do not apply more than twice with a minimum of 5 days between applications. Do not apply to potatoes within 3 days before harvest. Do not use paraquat if potatoes are to be stored or used for seed.ARE YOU KIDDING ME.....AREN'T ALL POTATOES FOR EATING, STORING OR SEED???? Do not pasture livestock in treated fields. WHAT ABOUT THE WATERFOWL THAT WILL SPEND THEIR WINTER THERE???--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

sulfuric acid (93%) Rate: 17 to 28 gal/A

Time: At least 5 days before harvest.

Remarks: This material is not as dependent on temperature or other environmental conditions as most other desiccants.

Caution: A restricted-use herbicide. Sulfuric acid is very caustic. Protective clothing including dust/mist filtering respirator, chemical-resistant headgear, protective eyewear, chemical-resistant boots, and waterproof gloves must be worn. SPRAYED RIGHT BESIDE A MAIN ROAD AND RIGHT BESIDE THE PLANNED FUTURE FARMER'S MARKET!


Enquik Rate: 20 gal/A diluted 1:1 with water for 40 gal/A
Time: No specified time; allow adequate time for skin set.
Remarks: Must be applied diluted. Surfactant must be added. This material is much safer to user (less caustic to skin), but is as corrosive to cotton, nylon, and some other materials as sulfuric acid. Consult label for full directions.

Caution: Do not mix sulfuric acid and urea to make this solution. Use the premixed solution.

CAPITALS are my words and bolded only were on the website.

I am horrified. I understand potatoes are sprayed after harvest as well to stop "sprouting". I will be buying organically locally grown potatoes from now on. And making more of an effort to increase my harvest. I have no idea how many I will have but my fingers are crossed......

And since most of the lables say don't let livestock in what does this mean for the waterfowl (swans, canada geese and ducks) that spend their winters on these fields???

I will take and add photos to this post tomorrow.

Canadian geese foraging in the field next door. You can see one herbicided potato field in the background....BROWN. This photo was taken from the main road in town at a stop light. Pretty cool main road with a farmer's field next to it eh?


See the burned weeds and the ones that were missed at the edge of the field. I pulled over beside the road and took the picture out my passenger window.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Too quiet on a rainy Sunday afternoon....

Last week the boys found a pipe in the ground that came from just started....(I don't want to ask how they found it....)

So after Daddy dug around a bit trying to find out WHY it was there he left sat there for a couple of days, (Daddy has now gone elk hunting.....)
Until today...when two cousins and one neighbor boy came over on a rainy Sunday afternoon....
Hmmmmm What should 6 busy boys find to do??? Rivers, canyons, dams.....
"MUMMY! We dug out the WHOLE pipe!!!!!"
Yep the whole thing.....

And then set it up where they could get a hose into it.
I got SOOOOOOOO much done in the house.