Farmgal’s Photography April 25th

This is a old photo but so worth sharing.. My wonderful Dezzy girl turned 4 this week and this is her first baby photo.. listening to my heartbeat and stealing my heart at the time.

The first of the bees were out, so glad I forced some of the cherry branches into early bloom for Easter, the pussy willows are all out now in full yellow pollen, so the first of the bees do have food in the yard!

Last but not least I have been busy starting to make my soaps.. Sheep milk soap in one of my favorite fancy bar molds 🙂 Man its tricky to get a clean cream soap.. my best trick is almost freeze the milk to start, go slow and mix at a lower temp between the lye and the oils to try and keep it as creamy/off white as you can get.  If you get even a touch to high in your temps, you will end up with a soft brown color to your soap.. nothing wrong with the soap at all, it works just as well.

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Strawberry Raised Bed



Creating a Cinder Block Raised Strawberry Bed

Last spring we knew that we had to do some work on taking down and doing some major reno work, this meant that it was very good odds that we would lose our main strawberry in ground garden rows.

So in Spring of 2018, Dear Hubby picked out and potted up three plants per large 5 or 4 gallon pot of strawberry plants out of the garden and we grew them in pots all season long.. they produced a small crop of strawberries for us but they certainly made extra babies as well.

Come fall, we had hoped to have moved them to a planned higher ridge garden area in the food forest edge, but just as the big potato patch was crushed so was this area that we had been working on in the “Big yard Shake up of 2018)

Winter was coming and there sat my tubs of plants.. We have very cold winters and if you want plants in pots to come though it, you either did them holes in the ground to place them in or you must get them into the ground..

So late in the season, we had a nicer day and we grabbed the blocks that have become available from a different project and we put together a quick and fast raised bed.. I didn’t even try and pull them apart, as I didn’t want any root damage to happen in the late fall.. instead we interfiled between the plant clumps and covered it up and banked it for winter.

This was a slow area to melt out, with a ton of snow on it.. hubby put a sprinkle of sand on the snow to help it melt out faster and it did work compared to the area around it.. but how much was the sand and how much was the raised bed and the extra heating of the cement block? A little bit of this and a little bit of that..

You can see what I am talking about in the photo that I just pulled the plants from the pots and put them in as a solid mass.

Once we were done, the blocks were filled with a 50% compost/ 50% Local Soil with sheep wool balls in tucked in the corners to hold the water so they will not dry out as quickly.

The main bed had another full wheel barrel of compost/soil mixed into it.. there are 24 plants in the main bed, and they are tight on space, haven been only given 8 square inches plots instead of the proper 1 square foot they should get and when you add in the ring around.. a total of 52 strawberry plants.

Hopefully we will be able to get the proper strawberry bed done again in the food forest edge and we will be moving over the 30ish from the rings late season 2019 but this works just fine for this season 🙂

But we are not done here yet.. that area of the yard is currently very much sloped and we will be having a load of top soil, we will be planting out a curving bush row that will grow to be a private hedge for the front yard, the rest will be leveled down and turned into my new kitchen garden.

Once the soil arrives and is spread out, the blocks will be at least half or more covered in soil on the sides. This will go a long way to reducing the heat sink the bed will be, which means it will hold more water that way as well.

On a final note, in approx two or three weeks, the main bed plants will have grown up nice and high and we will then bed down the whole top with a thick cover of clean dry straw, not only for water and keeping the soil cooler but also so that the fruit will be resting on clean straw as well.

Photo updates as the work goes in progress..  I know that 52 plants will not meet our strawberry needs for the year but its a start and it will make us more babies for next years crop.  The rest will be gotten down the road at the local u-pick.

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A little bit of hurt will slow you down..

Morning Folks..

First Happy Belated EASTER to everyone.. From my little farm to you and yours!

It was truly a lovely Easter here on the farm.. Friday I got cleaned up and headed down the road some to where the local 4-H club was hosting Soil Club and I got to listen in while folks talked about living soil and what soil is etc.. Then I got to my little part helping the kids make seed balls.. nothing like clay, compost and wild flower seeds to get hands o so mucky!  It was a fun time, I enjoyed watching the kids figure things out and ask questions an so forth..

Lovely group of kids and moms 🙂 I look forward to working with them again in the near future.

Then Saturday came, which meant feed run, getting the tires switched from winter to summer but the main part of the day was the sump pump.. the bleep-bleep sump pump.. it decided very late Friday night to stop working properly.. which meant 4 inches of water all over my whole cellar (thankfully no water in my basement as the house is two different sections) so time was spent trying to fix it as we had parts.. the issue was figured out enough to run it to drain the basement but not being able to keep it going so it was a very late night indeed. With the last draining happening at 2 am in the morning..

“downstream communities like Clarence-Rockland, Ont., volunteers have been working hard to prepare homes and other properties for potential floods.
Other towns like Rigaud, Que., have reported minor flooding, with residents there already being urged to pack up and leave their homes.
Sarich is warning that water level records could be broken for some of the Ottawa River’s tributaries.”

Compared to other folks.. we were doing great.. the cellar is prepared and everything is lifted off the floor by 6 to 8 inches depending so its a matter of fans and drying it out and then giving everything a swipe down with bleach water to makes sure we don’t have a mold issue afterwards but overall its the best place to have a water issue if you are going to have one.

The yard has been draining so well and all heading down and holding in our “Front Pond” and the overflow into the rain garden. I am happy that this water is not all leaving the farm.. but even more happy to see if collecting the water in the yard..

We are also looking at doing some work to direct the sump pump so it can be used to water in certain area’s of the garden.. we will see how that works.. I want it set up so I can switch it from watering the garden to going to the swale depending on what I want.

Saturday the alarm went off early as we needed to be at the hardware for new pump first thing but things just didn’t go as easy as expected, leading to more parts required in the afternoon run to town for the tires and then far more time then should have been spent.. It was one of those.. get this part working but then issues to get the correct backflow stop valve in place correctly..  It was a long day and we were also trying to get things ready for the company on sunday.

Sunday came with two truly lovely families (Hubbies cousin’s) arriving on the farm for a nice ham meal, a egg hunt and some other fun things on the farm.. it was busy, filled with short visits as we all took turns giving a helping hand looking after little ones.  It was a true blessing!

Monday arrived and it was a garden day.. we worked on the strawberry bed in the morning and got it all done up.. then lunch break and the afternoon was spent working in the bigger raspberry patch.. more on the garden stuff tomorrow on Gal in the Garden series.

Really chores where needed to be done and then extra work in prepping the gardens for some coming planting this week.. I had a short hard nap and then it was Monday which means gaming night..

As you can see the weekend flew by!

However you are by now wondering how this is connected to the title.. and that is because I wanted to share that I am moving a touch slower then normal due to the fact that I hurt myself a touch.. I have a inflamed/slipped disk in my lower back along with a pulled tendon.. I have been working on it and its getting better but boy do I know when I push it.

I am under orders on what I can and can’t do.. so some low ground upward lifting is really limited at the moment but I can walk and I can do upright work and I can use tools.. it might be the only year you ever see me using more bare soil just around the plants, I plan to just cut and drop the weeds in the place as a green crop but I believe that it would be easier to cut and drop in place with the long reaching tools then having me try and kneel and pull etc.

It will be a slow but steady time here.. with more rests then normal..  but so be it!


Posted in At the kitchen table | 8 Comments

Easter “flowers” for the Table

Easter is here and so many will be in the stores buying Easter lily’s (keep them away from your cats please,) and others will be buying hot-house raised flowers. While they are lovely, they are also costly, often have traveled hundreds of miles and have a massive carbon foot print..

Might I offer a more frugal natural choice, head out into your garden with prune’s, red bush is stunning in spring, reach for your willows, flowering bushes, or in this case I kept back my cherry tree cuttings and they are now coming into bloom.

Grab a pretty Vase and the nice thing about that is you can use a canning jar if needed or a funky teapot, or all kinds of things if you do not have a vase.. This lovely will continue to bloom and open all weekend long.

Posted in frugal, Gal in the Garden Series | Tagged | 3 Comments

Farmgal Photography April 18th 2019


Posted in Life moves on daily | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Gal in the Garden Series- Slow start to spring..

What a strange time it has been in the yard and gardens, we have had some really nice days that almost got to second digits. They say that we are going to get into the low teens this coming week..  I hope they are right.

We have had snow, hail, sleet, freezing rain and a whole lot of rain! While the farm just got a nice amount of rain.. it was good but it was not crazy.. up the valley it was not the same at all.. they broke the local record for the most amount of rain fall in 24 hours.. It was a good amount of rain, it led to roads flooding out, and bridges going out and from the reports on facebook a lot of local folks had flooding in basements and so forth.

I was a touch worried but watch in great relief as our new collection systems went to work and while it did rain enough that the pond overflowed over into the rain garden system.. it never made it past there.. outstanding to see the water staying on the farm and at the same time to see it being collected and pulled away from the house and buildings!

We did get more pruning done.. we have finished all the fruit tree’s, plus the high bush cranberry bushes and I have 15 cuttings hopefully rooting out. We have nine babies that can be transplanted out into the other areas that are already well started and rooted out..

I took a good amount of off, I wanted to be able to open up the middle for air, removed anything cross branching and most important, give us walk around room for picking as they were closing in the middle to create a thicket..

That’s a great thing in certain places in the yard but not in the food production area. there we need to be able to walk around, bark was also peeled and dried for future use in the homestead herbal pantry by its herbal name Crampbark.

We had some rabbit damage on two of our Pixie gooseberry bushes. We cut them right down and I think they will push back up from the roots. The other six bigger bushes all took a good trimming and we have successfully rooted out four new babies to growing and transplanting into the food forest.  They really need a circle cut back on the plant undergrowth and a good compost feeding so they can produce to their best level this year.

Speaking of babies.. we got the first clean up round done around the teepee garden (above before) and that included trimming down all the “pop up” rose bush babies that need to be dug out and moved to different locations. Looks so much better now and once it dries out a bit more and I add a inch or two of compost to dig, I will get it early spring planted out and prepped for the full planting on it by may long weekend..

Ah rose’s once you are in a place, you are hard to get out!

We did very light pruning on a number of other fruiting bushes as required and I finally got a answer on one of Dear Hubbies.. It is flowering, it must produce fruit, I will dig it out of the ditch and bring it to the farm.. here honey I found you a present lol 🙂

Turns out its a Nannyberry and its growing quite well in its area so I am looking forward to adding a new more of them to the farm for better production on them. I am very interested in trying the fruit.. I have been told its a combo of grape/date.. which just sounds different but good!

We did a some smaller and bigger pruning in the hedge rows, some was trimmed upward on the lower branches so I can mow and or underplant depending.  I want to be able to do a single mow track between the rows and so we needed to clean out some under brush..

Some things were cut up to a higher point so that we could use the below area for seating and resting, I want the air movement but I want the shade as well. So I can’t take down certain tree’s until I get others better choices in place and grown big enough to replace some of what was lost.

I found one more use for binder twine and laid out in the roughest way the general outlines of paths and beds for in the kitchen garden..  This is just one little section of it in the photo but I spent a hour plus slowly digging out grass clumps.. I am going to try and put a hour into this garden on any day that the weather will let us.

Hubby also cleaned out the gate garden for the gate part but we still need more snow to melt before we can pull out the outer rows and it to dry out enough to work and finish cleaning up.

Seven of the rhubarb plants have started to pop their pretty heads upward into the sun.. the rest are still under snow.. it will come in due time.

Its a slow start to spring and we are still about 3 weeks behind compared to normal.. I expect that will just stay that way for the next month.. here is hoping we keep getting a spring! That last thing we want is a straight jump into summer heat.. stay slow, stay cool.. let us have a spring season here on the farm this year.



Posted in Gal in the Garden Series, Garden | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Round Tube Mason Bee Houses are up..

These readily available houses will cost around 20 dollars and can be found at local garden centers as well as online.. I picked up a number of them, some for ourselves on the farm and some for placement in some of our “guest gardens”

We put up three of them this past sunday and we learned a few things quickly..  that I would like to share today to save folks some trouble down the road

  • Forget about those nails that came in the package.. please just put them to the side and get out your screws and your powered drill. There is a couple reasons for this…
  • Lets talk about the biggest one, there is a slot of the nails, which is pre-done which is awesome but when you place your item on the angle with the wooden wide marking pencil that is recommended to get your required angle so that water can not come in the house.. your nail come out on a angle and are pretty much useless at trying to get them to nail in straight..
  • The next reason is that when you use your hammer on the nail, the filling in the tube starts moving and falling out of the tubes, this CAN NOT be a good thing!
  • The third reason is you are going to need a 3rd screw that will be used on the bottom of the base to create stability.
  • Angle and movement : The angle is required because unlike the bigger wooden houses, there is no cover, no real edge to this house, so they count on you putting it up with a angle being created, however as soon as you get that to happen on the top properly, the bottom becomes a swing feast.  Every single book or site says.. these MUST be stable.. that the bee’s hate when there is movement in the nest or house..
  • So take a third Screw and self-drill it though the plastic base and into your wooden base to that the house is in fact stable! (I expect that this is a cause of a number of the reports of they will not use this house)
  • Forget about putting these up rounded posts or tree’s!  I had picked out a tree that was highly trimmed up in one spot, turns out the truck was a slight angle and nothing we could do would fix the angle needed to keep the water out of the house.. nope.. can’t put that there!
  • I had a nice big old fence post in the one area of a garden that I wanted one on.. nope.. a standard fence post is not wide enough to hold those nails (yes we were still on nails at that point) .. We had to screw in a board, attach it, and then screw in the Bee house onto the flat board.. I will have to figure out how to make it look a bit better at some point.
  • If you can look for a totally flat surface to attach these to, great if you wanted to have more creative placement, be prepared that you might have to build and attach that flat surface before you can put up the bee house.

So that’s as far as we got.. three up..  at least four different placements that didn’t work but were a learning curve at least..  I can see myself fading these out and replacing them with the bigger cedar houses (which I have gotten as well for trailing this year)..

I know that the one house by the deck is within six feet of hatching Mason bees and I am making myself not harvest anything that might be feeding them in what will be my kitchen garden to be until most feeding sources come up and get moving in the yard.

Its a cool slow start to the spring.. we will keep a close eye on these houses and see how they do though the season and so forth, I will report back on the other two types of houses that will be put up by Easter weekend.

So far, they are a 3 out of 5.. losing two full points for the reason’s given above! Maybe they will earn some of that back over the coming season.. we will see..

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Homemade Creamy Spiced Custard Recipe

Homemade Spiced Custard Recipe

  • 1 pint of whole Sheep Milk (if using Goat or Cow Milk, use whole milk 1 1/2 cups and heavy cream 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (can cut it down to 1/4th cup if you want to try it less sweet)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of all-spice
  • 3 egg yolks beaten before adding.
  • 1/4th cup of corn starch (for a thick pudding) or 1/8th of a cup for a thinner pudding.

In a good heavy steel pot with a whisk, add your milk, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks at a med heat, bring up to a slow simmer stirring all the time.. it should create a foam on the top of the milk from all the stirring as it heats up.. do not boil it!

Once its steaming hot, then add in your corn starch that has been mixed with a bit of water until its well blended and slowly drizzle it in the heated mixture,  turn down your heat to just 2 or 3 stirring the whole time..  then heat till cooked though. It will thicken up in the pot but it will thicken even more as it cools down.

Can be served Warm or Cold, your choice.. Can be eaten as is or can be used with fruit or served with cake or cookies.  That wonderful color comes from fresh spring egg yolks.

Serves 4

Posted in raw milk, Sheep Milk | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Sunchoke Stems for the Insect hotel “Frugal”

On Saturday, the temps were above 0 and the sun was shining, this meant that we started clearing some very small garden area’s. We needed to prune down the rose bushes and all the baby roses that will be dug out and moved into different area’s of the yard.

One of the area’s I wanted to check was the bigger rooted Sunchoke growing area. I was hoping that I might be able to dig some for a meal (yes, the first forged food this year from the food forest garden area)

and we took off the canes that had been left for the winter, just rolling them into a big pile next to the area for the next week.

Once the temps warm up for a couple of days above plus 10, I will move it but not yet..  I want to leave them there to give anything in them a chance to come out and move on before I compost them. This will go a long way to melting out the still frozen main part of this patch and get them to start growing.

However, I looked at the stems and went hmm. hard outer shell and soft pithy inside that would be very easy to chew out to make a nice little bed..  Grabbed the snipers and hubby and I selected and then cut up different sizes canes until we had our biggest 10 gallon plant pot filled up with them..

they are all cut to very close to the same length.. but in smaller, med and larger sizes for the entry holes. I would not just leave them out in the weather at this point, and I only expect them to be a single year in regards to use.

However I am very interested in bundling these up and using them in a few spots in regards to different bug hotels. I see it all the time that folks recommend raspberry canes and such, I am not saying I will not add a few of them as well but these are certainly easier to work with as they lack the prickles

Bamboo canes are not cheap these days that’s for sure.. it’s very hard to find them cut to the right size locally, and if you start buying the bundles off amazon or other one line sites and the prices go up.

You see them often talked about being added to the bee houses or the insect hotels, however it’s rarely talked about the fact that these are really only one year in use as there is no real good way to clean them out year to year..

So I am hopeful and will share and report back what “if anything” uses these, because it a cheap frugal renewable yearly cast off on a plant grown for its roots.  While the leaves can be taken off and used for fodder for livestock. The same could be said for the stems if you wanted to cut them down late fall and given to the pig for chewing on..

However I prefer to leave them as a winter habitat for the natives bugs and so I have not really had a spring use for them until this year..

So what do you think?  Will it work? Who do you think will use it? Have you ever used these canes in this way? What was your results?

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Dogwood 52- Anonymous

This my stand in photo for this week.. I will come back to this weeks challenge at a later point..  sometimes you can look and look and still not find what it is you want for a certain word or idea in that time frame.

Posted in photography | Tagged | 4 Comments