May long Weekend

Today is officially a holiday in Canada, but its also our typical last frost date for the gardening zone we live in, so its a great mix of gardening, friends and good times. Lots more gardening to go today..

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That closest box is filled with skirrit plants, and there is Giant Turkish plantain and seas kale and 3rd generation cabbage crosses that overwinter in out area and a zone breed cabbage-kale cross and so much more

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We boated up the river for some fishin, time with friends,  a hot dog roast and don’t forget the marshmellows

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The calf is learning come out of his pen and nibble the fresh pasture

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Faith is so very pretty and Patrick is huge and such a purring boy..

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marble is not just younger and short hair but he is so much smaller in build-bone an so forth, but he is so cuddly

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While the two big fluffy fat belly kittens ran and played and leaped around the yard under our watchful eye, marble went and asked.. up please and then watched everything from high up

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Te wee buckling are not so wee anymore and they are a month old and we will be moving into full time milk sharing at this point, they are also nibble grazing, crème above looking at you  They follow their mother who is lead out daily to be tied out to graze the main yardP1060930

Rhubarb is ready for the first big picking..

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played around with making a rhubarb- black current fruit butter.. its quite good

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Fitzroy park- Terraces Trail

https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/fitzroy/activities

So yesterday was my first moderate in difficult level hike and it was clear that my easier flat hiking was helpful in getting me ready but It was also one heck of a workout.. narrow trail, some very good steep up and down trails.. some was easy and some was stop and go huh, how to get down and back up..

at no point did you just stroll along, watching where and how you placed your feet was needed.

So Worth it.. Enjoy coming along with us:)

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the red and green limestone in the huge boulder like cliffs were just awesome

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Dandelion Flower Jelly

P1060922Until you try Dandelion Flower Jelly, you just do not know what you are missing, these plants are so wonderful and thought of so badly, when point in fact, they are so edible.. from greens, to root to flowers..

dand flower cutting

Pick a bowlful of clean and ideally dry flowers, by clean I mean know where your flowers come from and that they were not sprayed. Take a paring knife and cut-pull the flowers from the head itself..

dand green

the reason for all this fuss, is that you want as little green bits as reasonable possible removed from the flowers themselves, because they are what causes that bitter undertone and aftertaste..

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Leaving you with a mass of lovely flowers bits.. Fill a glass jar, be it either pint or quart, boil your kettle and pour boiling water over the flowers, push the top ones down with a spoon and allow to sit overnight (you can do it for a min of four hours and go but I prefer to do it, cool and then store it in the fridge overnight)  I strain the flowers out the next morning..

Measure your liquid, then get out your Powdered Certo box, find your basic Jelly Recipe  and follow the amounts given.

The second way to make it is to make a simple syrup, which is one cup of sugar to each cup of flower water, bring to a boil, simmer at the boil a min of 3 min, Follow all regular canning rules, clean your jars, heat your jars, fill with just boiling syrup, clean the lip, put the lid and ring on, just to finger tight and then water bath can for 10 min before cooling and storing them.

The syrup works in many way, can be used to make a lovely flower tea, can be used in bases for salad dressings or used for meat glazes.

 

 

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Working in the gardens.. busy.. so

Enjoy the kitten photos and I will be back tomorrow:)

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Magic Marble is the wee handle full of short hair tabby snuggles.. So tiny.. going to be a small cat but so sweet!

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Above is Patrick, one of the two fluffy and fat belly kittens.. HUGE kitten, laid back and easy going.. playful and active.. everything a kitten should be.. and below is his just as fluffy sister Faith.. she is even more active, a climber and she loves her cuddles but four paws on something solid, please..

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Rhubarb Project- Spring Update

Hello Folks,

I know that I have a lot of new readers since last year and given how many post I have, I know that I can not assume that folks read back onto other longer term projects..

The “Farmgal” Rhubarb project started last year..  for the first time ever, I allowed my rhubarb to go to seed, and just like Grandma told me. Yes, it does impact the amount of rhubarb harvested in the end for sure.. I would never do as many plants as I did that year but as I wanted the best of the best.. I let 28 plants go to seed and then I culled till I have the very best left, I wanted as much crossing of the genes as possible to go into the seeds themselves.

Here is the full post that covered it in photos..

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When they first came out with their first two leaves, not that much difference was noticed yet..

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But then things started to change.. I had to go for 50 to 60 of the wee ones with their first set of true leaves into potting them up, I ended up with a selection of 20 and then they needed to start to grow, I was still trying to find and pot up clear differences in stem color, and or thickness and so forth..

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Below is a great selection of the three main things I am looking at at the moment.. on the far left, green with big stalks.. in the middle.. smaller, but thick but many stalks, and on the right.. red stalks right into red veining in to the leaves themselves..

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For sure my reddest plant of all them that made it to this stage in the culling..

I am looking at ideally culling to the point that I have a new row of 12 that I will be growing out to the two or three year mark for full testing and then culling down to my top five  at that point..

I have a ton of rhubarb seeds left over so If I want to do so, I am easily start many more plants and repeat the process until I get what I am looking for..

Locally, the number one kind of rhubarb plant you can find is Canada Ruby Red.. so many kinds of rhubarb available in the world, and in the stores, we can find one kind.. I personally have three at the farm, plus the Chinese medical that is grown for its root mainly..

I am looking forward to working towards creating more plants from a different gene base here on the farm.. I saw in the newspaper this week that Ontario local rhubarb is available in the stores  for 5 dollars a pound. that’s about five or six ten inch stalks give or take..

Which means that one large well treated rhubarb plant can easily produce 75 dollars worth of store bought rhubarb and I have currently 38 plants scatter around the farm gardens.

While I understand that rhubarb must be grown as a annual in the warmer states for anyone that has enough of cold in the winter for rhubarb to rest in winter, then it becomes a easy plant to grow and care for.

rhubarb and dumpings

Do you grow rhubarb? What is your favorite way to use it?

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Spruce Tip Vinager

O yes, it’s that time of year again.. Spruce Tip season.. so many things to do, such a small window of time to make it happen with the lovely fresh soft tips.. This is to my eye pretty much a perfect tip, it’s on the bigger side, but it’s still soft, light green and still tightly together..

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Picked but need to be cleaned.. those paper caps need to come off..

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Gave them a rub and then used the bowl and the wind outside allow with my breath to winnow most of it off.. and then hand-picked off the rest..

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Now that is a stunning butch of tips.. I had lost the light and used the flash on this photo but the color in real life is outstanding..

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Into the pint jar they went and covered in pickling vinegar, some years I use apple Cider, one year I tried it with white wine (that was interesting) and I have tried small batches with red wine and rice wine -play around with it..  place your jar into a cool, dark place and let it sit for at least six weeks, shaking it at least once a week ideally.. then start testing it to see where it sits with your taste buds.

The flavoured vinegar can be used in many ways.. but think of it as a northern Balstmic and you are ahead of the game in melding of flavours but if you tried some of the different wine or rice.. the basic under tones typically are citrus like..

I will do a few recipes with it later in the year.. now is the putting it up time:)

for more ideas.. check out my overview page on how to use Spruce tips:)

 

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Farm Sale..

Well, my best buy was this full bedroom set.. the full sized dresser, matching mirror, two end tables and full bed set.. also picked up a sweet little white five drawers dresser as well as a awesome Food Warming box for over a cast iron stove, went pretty light to the sale and came home with jingle in my pocket.. O and I thought I bought a box of really great hats, caps and warm winter hats and it turned out to have a working oversized bread maker in it to boot LOL

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This picture does not do it justice but it what I got.. it needs deeper in color in real life.. but its really well made..

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All of them are solid wood..  Miss Magic Marble is showing off the mirror for you..

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But now lets get to the sale itself, a 5 generation sale, and so much stuff for sale, these photos just show a smidge of what was there.. 11 loaded wagons an so many others.. its just a selection, this was a solid 8 hours of move it, move it sale..

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Lots of amazing things for doing your own wool to yarn.. and so many sewing machines.. of all sizes, makes and models from over a 150 plus years of family life..

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So MUCH STUFF.. there was so many collector things that was crazy.. some of it was in excellent shape, other was in ok and some was just poor at this point but all was interesting.. the prices where all over the place.. some things that I thought would go for a few dollars, went for hundreds and other things that I felt should go for 50 to 100 to 200 dollars went for two or five dollars..

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This one of those pieces that should have gone for hundreds, it was stunning, no water damage, no rot, all turned and in stunning condition for its age, it was a amazing sideboard and it went for 55 dollars.. If I and a girlfriend had not already filled the truck we had come in and then called hubby to come and filled the second truck.. this beauty would have come home with me..

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Now for some just old odds and ends photos.. I am pretty sure this was a iron wheelchair.. wonder what year that was the norm and wondered of course.. why did a family member up in it?  I so often wish that the history of items came with them..

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this one amused me, the tree had grown though the piece, they cut it and hauled in for the sale, stump and all LOL

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Just loved this big old truck.. so many memories from my childhood in this one.. It was a sale that the weather put those that came for the day though it all, from warm and sun to cold winds, light rains, good rain and back to sunshine..

Do you farm sale?  I am hoping to get to a few more for sure this year.. We really emptied out the house in a major cleaning and repair and painting when we redid all the main floors last year, and I need to fill it back up.. ah, such a hard task.. but I will be grateful to have more storage space..

 

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The Lambs are Growing!

this is my second year with my new ram and I could not be more pleased with how he is producing with my girls.. strong easy birthing lambs, outstanding growth rates.. and I don’t think I have ever had such a pretty colorful flock

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While I could stand to see a tiny bit more weight on a few ewes, given that they are nursing twins, and that the pasture is just starting flush now, I am quite pleased. The lambs on the other hand are huge! The boy mob in the last photo will be weaned by the end of the month.

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I love seeing my shaggy hair sheep shedding out their wool, I like it even more when they shed and they have good body condition under that wool.. over the next two or three weeks, she will shed out all her winter coat and a sleek summer hair coat will be her summer dress:)

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Some River Fun.

At times I talk about the fact that we have the big river and then the creek that run behind and beside to the one area near our place..

well, here are some photos on the river itself.. Hope you enjoy the ride and the sneak peek some early spring flowers and those ferns are massive, they are already waist high on a 5’10 man and that bridge is one I ride my horse over:)

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Spring brings Babies..

and that means that their mothers are hunting more and more..

Bet you thought I was going to talk about cute spring babies, and here you go.. my wee buns are growing like weeds while they are eating what folks consider weeds:)

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but I wanted to talk about the other spring mother that can be quite the issues on the farm. I am grateful that most of these are examples are in fact my friends this spring but they are points to consider..

About 40 min from me, a Facebook fellow women farmer and sheep raiser, stood in her field and with her waving sticks and barking farm dogs at the side, watched in horror while a pack of coy-wolves killed lambs and ewe’s in front of her..  (now, if there was ever a reason to say that you need at least a min of one rifle on the farm, that was a good case, she finally moved them off with her truck, however many new generation farmers do not have their paperwork in order or own a firearm)

In her case, she called in help in regards to hunters to deal with the issue.. This pack had moved well into the “danger” zone that’s for sure.

Down the road and over the river I have a different girlfriend who is battling coons, they are stealing her eggs, killing chickens and rabbits and there are missing cats and kittens to boot.. O my..

Clever they are, but they can leave a wave of death behind them in the search for spring food..

Which leads to me.. I tend to have a fox issue at least once a year.. the geese really help on keeping things under control, as much as I would like to not have to battle my guard geese, the truth is they get the job done and well 98 percent of the time,,

Something pulled off the wire on a corner of my big rabbit hutch and used the opening to get my big male buck rabbit..  it took off with it heading out of the yard and into the pasture..  it eat and or took the head only, before the geese I am assuming arrived and it left the rest of the body.. what a waste in so many ways..

I adored that buck.. he was everything a good buck should be.. and he was easy to handle and pick up and he was an excellent example of his breed, a gentle boy and a great breeder.. sigh..   a loss within my rabbit breeding program for sure..

The only good thing I can say is that I have two litters from him currently on the ground and he had just breed a doe last week..

now given that this happening between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, I must assume that it was a coon as well.. that wire is nailed down tight and it has a thick stripe of wood that it needs to be pulled out of and that’s strength and nibble fingers indeed.

There is a part of me that in my head knows that this “wild” moms are feeding babies and that they need to hunt and provide..  but I live next to the woods, and I have creaks and wildness very close to the farm..  and while I respect them, I also know that I ideally want that coon mom that teaches its babies how to live in the woods, not living on my farm eggs, chickens or rabbits..

I want the pack of coy-wolvies does not hunt sheep but instead works within its natural hunting.. and in their case, they are able to cut themselves  a wide area between the ability to solo-hunt or pack hunt like the wolf..

I have skunk that is moving though, and so far, she is not doing anything that will get her moved.. but she is being watched carefully, I do not want her to settle but I have no issues with her grub hunting, and I have been careful to remove the cat food feeder in that area so she can not “free” feed..

I like skunks, and in all the year on the farm, I have always been able to shoo them along.. such happy, smart, and if handled right, gentle creatures..  O what the heck, I will own it.. if I lived in a place that would legally let me own an altered and de-scented skunk, I so would…

But I don’t.. and so I admire the wild ones that wonder though the farm and we look at each other, watch each other and then I gently, softly a carefully move them on..

I wish that was the case with all of the wild mom’s but alas that is not always the case.. I as a farmer and livestock owner has created a relationship with my livestock..

I provide clean drinking water, pasture or dried hay and feed, I provide shelter and I provide a clean space for them to birth, and raise their babies, as a added bonus in todays modern world, I can also provide routine medical care.. and when needed expert care be it Ferrier or vet or the company that tests the hay and tells you what you need to provide etc

But I forgot one.. didn’t I..   I have in that same relationship given my word to my livestock that I will build, and or provide them within reason safety.. something that can be a challenge at times..

It’s a never-ending battle, made all the more challenging with you small farm and when you believe and raise your animal as natural as possible..

It’s a fine line..  I love the idea of free range and I do let my birds out but I have learned the hard way.. only while I am out with them.. otherwise they will end up dinner at a rate I am not comfortable with..

So  we walk the line.. they get a indoor-outdoor pen, they get fresh air, sunshine and dirt bath area’s, they get greens and fodder and goodies taken to them..  is it full out free range no.. is it the best choice.. I stand by that it is..

I need to balance providing them with everything they need to live a “content and allowed to express their natures” with keeping them healthy, well feed and safe..

And it’s just not as simple as doing it one time and working.. it’s a daily, heck at times a hourly balance at times..  So if you are a new farmer, be aware that worked last year or last week or yesterday, does not mean that it will work today..

Each day is a new challenge..  I hope you will all rise up to it, because if you have livestock, they are counting on you to figure it out:)

 

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