Soil. Gardening and Food Production

I hope the above link does work, I am not going to copy and paste parts of it here, its copyrighted but ideally go read it before reading mine.. however if you choose not to, here is the part I want to talk about.

Soil and Calorie crops.. Now I do want to admit that the first post that crossed over my feed was a much more negative write up in regards to his metal sea can’s and their growing systems in the cities and they were talking about the fact that given that they are growing micro-greens and so forth that they are quoted as selling at 2.5 oz at 7 dollars per bag with the cities putting in a million towards this..

I about choked.. if the cities put a million towards community gardens and school gardens at the same rate the amount of food that can and could be produced in across the board is crazy high..  then was the second choke point.. the clear split in the fact that only the upper class could afford to buy these little bags of greens at those prices. Yes it might help teach the how and why’s on the micro green growing and it might be good at teaching how to sell them..  and even give the younger adults in this some basic income..

Then I did more digging, I went digging into other stories on this, I went looking for the positive spin, I wanted to more info and I think the story I have chosen shows a more fair look then most that went all positive or all negative.. it gives the facts but is willing to show the split at the same time.

Then there was the third Choke point that sent me into rant mode at my hubby.. nothing being grown is a calorie dense crop.

I know that many calorie Dense Crops have bad names these days in so many diets But Potato’s, Carrots, turnips, Beets, Cabbage, Corn, Grains, sweet Potato’s, pumpkins and select squashes are point in fact what kept us alive for many generations.  Be it as the extra’s that were used as much as possible for extra food-winter calories or in some cases were what kept the small farm livestock alive that provided the meat, milk or eggs etc.

Its all well and good to grow sprouts, micro greens, herbs an flowers, its well and good to talk about scaling up and finding ways to provide a plate at 5 dollars from locally grown food. Now tell me how many calories are on that plate and where they are coming from.

Its really is good to have systems in school in regards to gardens and teaching food processing in kitchens.. but they are a bit out of touch in some cases, I had a 12 year old tell me that if you did not eat your veggies and fruit fresh, that if you had it dried, canned or in any way processed that it had no value. It was as startling to me to hear as it is when I hear about inner city kids that don’t know what different fresh food looks like as they only eat the processed foods.

BUT I want to see how you plan to grow calorie dense crops without soil.. (or some form of soil, be it compost, sand with extra’s added, peat moss or so forth)

What do you think? What are you seeing your community? Do you see it as a split between the haves and have not’s? Do you see it as a choice between those with land and those without?

I started writing this yesterday (and then the ice storm and power line down went up first today on the blog) and I mulled it over the night.. do I feel this way because I do have land.

Then I got thinking about the things we did in Iqaluit for years where I did not have land or soil per say.. Where we could not compost outside but had house worm compost bins, where I could not grow outside due to the climate and how we grew inside.. how soil was so limited and how we worked around it. How important those fresh greens were to us at that time, when the rest of the time we were eating dried or canned food most of the year when you could not get fresh country food from the local hunters store.

Its a multi layers subject to be sure but I always come back to the same thought.. bottom line.. you need this many Calories each day to live..

 

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Mini Icestorm, power out and flames?

They had closed the schools and warned us all that we were going to have a messy and icy afternoon yesterday so that at least was expected.. hubby came home from work to tell me that the roads were indeed even in 4 by 4 mode slip an slide.

He also came home to candle light, as we had lost power.. I called the power company to report it and they said.. fixed in by five hours.. ok.. so I heated water for hot tea’s and we had a cold supper out of pantry.. It was all standard at that point..

Then we started chores and hubby came back from the big barn and said.. there are flames in the field next door.. and we both went huh.. so slipping and sliding in our truck we drove up the road by about 300 yards to realize that the power line was down.

It had snapped on the other side the road just past the drive way of the only other farm on our road, we knocked on the house to try and tell them but they were not home but without care, it could have been very bad if they drove out of their lane. The line had also come down on the back half to the field beside ours, it was at the area that we call the running road as its a favorite to ride the horse’s on to the other bigger hay fields.

On our side it was sparking and dancing and just now and again bursting into flames.. Ok then, so back to the house, back to the phone an call the power company to report a DOWN ACTIVE LINE and the response time on that.. mear minutes to pull first one and then two crews to it..

They had it fixed and power back on within a hour of me calling in the down line.. clearly that gets a higher call out then power out does.

Needless to say, it was a interesting evening.. just not in a way we were expecting!

 

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Maple Syrup and Tapping..

All week-long I have been watching my local friends on Facebook talking about.. Tapping Should I tap now. I got a small run but the flavour is off or I tapped and nothing is running.

Locally, to the farm the two biggest tapers are working quite differently the one that runs the blue plastic lines is having runs but the other that runs buckets has not even started yet..   I am not seeing buckets out on a number of other local’s either so they like me at waiting a bit yet.

If I am seeing the forecast right for next week, perhaps it would be a good idea to put some taps in this Sunday and see what comes. However nothing wrong with waiting that extra week and being ready to tap for march.

I have not decided if I am going to tap this year or not, you see I do not have a lot of tree’s on the farm.. and where I used to be able to just cross the road and tap, that land got sold a couple years ago and so now if I want to tap in a bigger way, I need to hike-sled in to my six acres of gifted lot down from the farm. Normally this is not that big of a deal, its a nice hike in and out to get to the edge that has the best tree’s that get the morning sun and give the best run.

However with my much more fragile health and with the flooding we are having, I do not have a nice snow pack to sled on, and I am a touch worried about pushing myself in this way.. sometimes it pays off to be honest.. Do I want to put the energy into the home farm or do I want to put that energy into making Maple syrup this year.

I am still mulling but I am leaning toward buying my maple syrup from up the road this year, its supporting a fellow small farmer, its super local, as in I can walk up the road to the farm to my left to get it if I wanted to do so.

On the other hand, I find myself craving maple water which means that I will most likely tap a couple tree’s in my own yard to get enough sap to boil it down half way and drink it as a spring tonic

If you tap, do you also drink the sap or half done sap as a spring health tonic? Do you crave it like I do each spring? Here is hoping to a good maple run this year..

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Spring in 30 days.. hmmm

What a odd thought that spring is to be here in 30 days..  I am taking my Elderberry and a few other things to help with how I am feeling but I have been hit with the “bug” and I have  been down and out sleeping a lot. I am grateful for both my mom and hubby for covering for me and letting me get that extra rest.

Its made a difference in how hard its effected me so far, I putter, do this and that chore.. rest and repeat.. works well with the extra help..  I also got in a really loved visit with a dear friend a few hours that was wonderful.

I have my breeding pens of birds all done up for the year.. I will look forward to collecting my pure breed eggs and setting them to increase my flock size this year.. Hopefully I will get a few more nice roosters out of the girls.

I looked at my spaces and boy the house is full with my mom moving in and given her lung issues I decided that I would “farm” out my tomato and pepper starts to a local person who has a massive commercial greenhouse and save my much smaller outside seed starting area for other things.. I have ordered a total of 72 plants in a mix of all old heritage tomato’s and peppers. I hope to get side green house built onto the east facing side of the croft this year.

One of the really good things about this year is that we have had lots of deep cold which will help reduce my garden bug population in ways that be a good thing in spring, but the weather has been effecting my worms as well.. they are breeding very slow indeed where as most of the time by end of Feb, they are much more active.

I have the urge to prune, the urge to start seeds and to dig out pots and so forth but its just a touch to early for my Zone 5 area.. the weird weather has me wanting to get started but I am holding myself back.. its winter and I know it yet.

For two days we had a cold steady light rain.. nothing hard, no flooding in my area (but other parts of Ontario were not so lucky, we have had big flooding, we have had homes flooded and people being bused out and most sadly, we had a mom caught in a flood in a car that got her and her toddler out but then lost the toddler to the river.. they are searching for the wee body.. I hope for the parents and family sake that they find him)

We have had very slick roads by the farm, hubby left for work in the 4 by 4 and was not far from us when he found a person slide in the ditch and he stopped and picked him up and took him to his brother in laws to get help.. he said even our truck was slipping and sliding a bit..  he missed his first bus but caught the second.  I love that we live in a area that folks stop for each other and give a hand.

For the farm at least, the rain has melted the ice on the paths but has not been enough to melt the snow pack off the gardens and such. This means that its in fact safer to move around the farm at the moment..

It also uncovered lots of manure.. I swear spring on the farm is mud, more mud and so much poo! Still no new babies to report, just fat expecting momma sheep and goats..  We have had a few rabbit litters that have been used at a young age for raw feeding.

The manure will be dealt with in three ways, some of it will be raked and spread over the pasture, some will be picked up by hand and then put into No Man’s Land where it will compost down and slowly continue to build up that area in height..  and the rest will go into creating the 2018 compost piles for future garden and food forest use.

I think I will use all my rabbit poo from this winter in the food forest this year.. going to bed down around the lines of productive hedge rows.

Are you looking at your compost piles and planning your garden? are you looking at your manure pile growing behind the barn? what you got plans for it this year? If you have rabbit, where are you planning on putting it directly onto.. your flower beds (I did that last year with great results) your climber garden (that was mine two years ago) or ??

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Red Grape Pie

Red Grape Pie came about because its yummy and those grapes needed to be used up. You see somehow huge awesome seeded grapes came into the house.. and there they sat.. because opps seeded.

So they were not getting eaten and I happened to have “just” enough left over pie dough in the fridge that I wanted to use up.. so Red Grape Pie was calling..

Red Grape Pie

  • 1 bag of grapes (split in half and seeded out if required)
  • half a cup of sugar
  • a quarter cup of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. of butter into smaller pats

Rinse your grapes and cut in half if big or leave whole if small enough, if you like a wetter pie filling, you can reduce your flour to 2 Table Spoon’s The way its made, the pie holds together but eat grape half bursts with juice as you eat it, this keeps a crispy crust, the wonderful spicy flavour in the thicker filling and the bite of juice in the grape..

Mix your sugar, flour, salt and spices together in a bowl, then pour of the cut grapes and mix together and place in your bottom prepared with pie dough pie plate, add your pats of butter over the top of the pie, then top with crust or make a lattice pattern.

Enough pie dough for top and bottom

Bake at 350 in a pre-heated oven till golden and middle is bubbling.. about 45 min give or take. Can be served warm or cold, plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.

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Sunshine.. then rain and more rain they say!

First they said that it we were going to get a two day ice storm, then the temps went up and they say they will keep going up and now while this morning and part of the afternoon are warm (so warm for Feb at a plus 6 with bright sunshine) they say the rain is coming!

However Right now! Sunshine is calling us to the deck, ok so we are still wearing our jackets LOL The Hounds enjoyed the time on the deck with us. I did a bit of training with the girls.. The Bot is as smart as a whip.. and game for anything coming her way..

Miss Marie was willing to work for her cookies but then settled down for a nap at my feet, she is my more mature girl now.. funny to think of her that way.. when she was the baby of the house for so many years.

My momma’s little girl is slowly becoming one of the pack.. its taking some time but they are all getting along very well over the past months, it will be easier once spring arrives. The two bigger girls play quite different then the wee peanut does.. Who quite turned her nose up at my sweet potato baked treats that my girls adore.

Well, I will spend the better part of the afternoon prepping in case the rain they say is coming does arrive, as they are warning of flooding.. there is not a lot of extra’s to do in case of overland flooding, the ground is frozen so if it melts the snow pack and as much rain as they say comes, we will have a above ground flood of water, because really where is it going to go.. it can’t soak in and it takes time for it to drain away.

We will See..  its family day in Ontario.. which means not much is open today, poor hubby works across the river on the Quebec side so he still had to go into work but many of his co-workers took the day off and so its very quiet. The roads were super quiet as well and they are not running the regular working bus’s so he had to drive a bit further then normal to get to where the bus’s did run from.

I am loving listening to my roosters crowing today and my hens all singing in this fine mock spring weather 🙂

Have a great day.. what is the weather doing in your neck of the woods?

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Ice Car Race Day and Elderberry Syrup

Now you might not think those two go together.. but they do..

First, it was Ice Car Race Day, so up this morning to Shake a leg and get the morning chores done before we bundled up to drive over to the local Ice car races!

We were there to Cheer some dear friends of ours on, I raced last year but not this year.. In total we had three folks we knew racing.. two had some pretty bad car trouble and one just rocked it.. first place in his heat, placed Second in the semi-final (only top three go to finals) and even though he drew last place on the pegs for the final, with a full run of eight cars, he still made second place!! WHOOOOOOTTTT! My voice is a bit sore from cheering!

While Nobody flips their cars this year or caught on fire (well a little one in the pit after a race) strangely this year.. so many folks lost tires.. and more then a few folks had did not make it out of the races under their own steam LOL

What was to be a mild day with light wind and sun, turned out to be 90 percent cloudy day, some light snow, a kicking wind.. A cold wind.. a bite you though four layers, pants, hot socks in winter boots, wrapped in a sleeping back kind of wind..  we even had a tarp that one of our group brought that was tied to the metal stands, I do not even want to think how bitter it would have been without it help cut the wind on our back but not our legs as that can under the seats. It was cold enough that we saw our breaths.. Hubby was warm, he was wearing his Canadian Goose Down Jacket (he took the hood down for the photo above) and he wore his skidoo overalls under it and hot socks in his minus 30 boots..  I clearly should have cracked out the Canadian Goose coat as well instead of thinking my four layers of shirt, sweater, flannel fall coat and then regular winter jacket was going to cut it.. but you see I foolishly believe the weather man and wanted to be able to remove layers.. brrrr.. I needed more layers..

And given that one of those we came to cheer went all the way to final’s.. we were there from start to the very end 🙂 and I am glad we did so.. but folks were sick around us, it was cold and no one can spend that many hours without getting a bit of a chill.. it just is..

So that bring me to the Elderberry part.. I am hitting my Elderberry Syrup at preventive rates for the next 24 to 48 hours just to be on the careful side..  I also happen to have a number of trays of sprouts at perfect readiness that I had rinsed this morning and moved into fridge keeping, I will eat 4 to 6 oz of fresh sprouts for the next three days as well.

And I hope it will mean that I do not get sick and if I do get sick, I know it will go a long way towards making it be shorter then it could have been.. we will see.. the biggest bonus, Elderberry Syrup tastes amazing! Its flavour is outstandingly yummy.

 

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Some Days go as planned.. others.. not so much..

So I had a plan for the day and then it changed..  It happens..

Just starting to soak up the water and open up

I was to have a quiet relaxed day with a big old Chinese meal for supper.. It sounded nice when it was planned..

We did sleep in, that was lovely to be honest. You forget just how many times the older critters get you up in the night when they don’t feel good, they need outside more often, they wake you up needing comfort or you hear them moan a touch when they shift on their bed.  Last night was the first night in months that I slept a solid six hours and it meant that I woke up with more energy then I expected.

I started puttering and puttering turned into a full day of work and chore’s. Suddenly we were cleaning house, loads of laundry, making doggy cookies (Sweet potato treats) shoveling decks, sweeping, baking a cake (Butter Pecan) roasting off lamb chops to have cold meat in the fridge. Hour by Hour slipped by with both of us in work mode. Stopping for drinks, a snack or lunch but then back at it..

Slowly as the day ran down it became clear that while we were getting lots done, we were not in the “mode” for a big dinner.. So be it.

We will have a Modified version of it, with lots of egg rolls, meat and veggies with dipping sauces..  It will be yummy I am sure.

We had our first pullet egg from last years late fall hatch of chicks, we got seven young hens out of the clutch and this is the first one to start laying. Hopefully the other six will start laying very soon as well and we will have lots of pullet eggs coming in to make some outstanding homemade pasta.

The weather today was fine with sunshine and just minus 3 with a cold wind. I am getting the garden urge something bad.. seeds are calling me..

I hope that you had a great day, be it the one you planned or be the one you had 🙂

 

 

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Moose team- Canadian History Bits and Bites

This moose team belonged to W.R. (Billy/Buffalo Bill) Day. They were found by a Metis near Baptiste Lake in 1910 and were reared by bottle and broken to drive by Mr. Day at Athabasca Landing during the winter of 1910. Mr. Day and the moose team hauled mail and supplies to Wabasca, Edmonton, Pelican Mountains, Calling Lake, Athabasca, Colinton, Rochester, Tawatinaw, Clyde, Legal, Carbondale and St. Albert. Buffalo Bill and his wife also ran a store at Calling Lake.

Photograph J.H. Gano; Mrs. L. Lyons fonds.

When this fun tidbit of info came out to me on my facebook feed, I did some digging an fact checking.. so cool.. some 100 year old Canadian triva for you 🙂

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Happy Chinese New Year

As I sit here with my red table with my truly beautiful flowers gracing it,  with flowering Violets in the window and we are starting a dino plant that was a gift for Valentines day and works perfectly for the Chinese New Year as it is a symbol for new life.

I have a lovely big cuppa of canned milk and honey tea in memory of my grandmother D on my mothers side. I can’t wait for it to be sheep’s rich milk instead of canned but we are waiting on lambs yet.

We are doing a few things for the first time in regards to Chinese New Year, we are keeping the red flowing in the main part of the house, we having our flowers, we are going to do a small area in memory of our passed loved ones and I will share later on a few other things.

The big one for today that I found interesting in my reading on things that you can do that is that of cleaning or sweeping away the past year, clearing your house of the past year and any negative that was there and opening your home, hearts and the new year in with the idea of it being cleaned, open and inviting good luck and happiness in.

Now that is a such a nice though regardless of culture or time of the year..

It struck a cord for me

As I got up today and my feet hit the side of the bed, a wave of sadness and grief flooded me because my old boy Zander was not sleeping on his bed at the side of my bed, he was a awesome cuddle boy on the bed but when you went to sleep, he would jump off and it didn’t matter where you moved his bed to in the room.. he slept beside the bed so that is where I would put his always and I would have to be so careful as my feet went down to not step on him and then he would jump up and push his head into my lap for his morning hello and pat.

Today.. just bare floor.. no greeting.. no happy smiling face

So yes indeed.. the idea of opening my home, my mind and my heart and giving it a airing out sounds wonderful..  Both my mom and hubby are willing to do so as well. So much loss (of dear friends, I have not posted about it, but there has been three deaths in the past six weeks within my friends circle) At some point I will talk about and show what I am going to plant in my gardens their memory.

The weather is working with me and its plus 4 today so we have windows open, letting in that sweet farm air, as well as the songs of the wild birds and the sounds of my critters who are enjoying this fine weather in their outside pens.

I have all the fixing’s gotten for a lovely feast of a meal that we will take part in, it was very interesting to come up with 8 dishes for the table.

More to follow..  may you stop today for a moment to remember and honor those you love or loved whether they leave you far to soon, pass in old age or in sickness.. you never know from day to day how long you will have with them.. each smile, each memory, each touch into others lives is a blessing..  a moment to give thanks for such blessing to be in your life.

 

 

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