Least We Forget – The Monument by Jason Sharp

11 November 1908: North of Manaus, Amazonas del Sur

“Passing through?”, the homesteader asked, his rifle resting in his arms.”Yes”, the traveller replied, his rifle dangling off his right shoulder on a strap. “I was told there was a veteran building a monument around these parts. I thought I’d go see it.”

“You’d be talking about Oscar”, the homesteader confirmed, his stance relaxing somewhat.
“I don’t know his name – just that he’s around here somewhere. I’d appreciate directions if you can provide them”, the traveller replied.

“I can do that”, the homesteader replied, kicking an uprooted sapling towards a brushpile. “You a vet?”
“Yes. You?”
“Yeah”, the homesteader confirmed. “Oscar’s about three miles that way. You can’t miss his dogs.”

“Everybody’s got dogs”, the traveller observed.
“Everybody’s dogs aren’t the same as Oscar’s dogs”, the homesteader replied. “Just keep in mind that Oscar’s still in the jungle.”

The traveller nodded. He’d heard the expression a fair bit in the past two weeks. Vets scarred or broken by the experience of fighting skilled fanatics amidst the humid heat of the towering, predatory rain forest were still in the jungle, even if the trees around them had been felled by settlers carving out fields for crops or grazing. “I appreciate the advice. Have yourself a good day.”The homesteader nodded back. “Safe travels.”

The traveller continued on his way, rifle dangling, revolver in unclipped holster, knife in unclipped sheath. The Anahuac had been vanquished, but not wholly exterminated, after their defeat three years earlier. Every few months, it seemed, a pack of them erupted out of the greenery to slaughter whomever they could find before the local militia tracked them down. Any traveller with a hint of common sense went armed, if only to assure himself the quick, painless death that the Anahuac would deny him.

The trail was two yards wide, nothing more than flattened grasses and saplings broken by the wheels of carts and the hooves of horses and oxen. The traveller assumed, correctly, that it was one of the old trails broken by the army in order to move supplies up to the frontlines. Nowadays, settlers and homesteaders used it as a highway of sorts. He’d already passed several fortified villages along the way, and knew of two or three more further on, and had indeed passed a few wary locals along the way.

Perhaps two hours passed before Oscar’s dogs revealed themselves. The traveller had assumed from the homesteader’s remarks that Oscar’s dogs were larger and more formidable than most. They were, in fact, six or seven tiny moppets that raised an irritating, high-pitched racket as soon as they heard his footfalls. “Okay, yes, I see him”, a man’s voice called out from a stand of brush. The yipping continued. “Yes, I see him. Thank you. That’s good.” The mongrels, perhaps half the size of a house cat, continued their assault on the ears. “God in Heaven, enough!“

In the ensuing silence, their owner appeared, wiping his forehead with a filthy rag. “Hello. Can I help you?”
“I hope so. I’m looking for Oscar”, the traveller replied.
“That’s me”, Oscar confirmed. “What can I do for you?” He was, like so many in these parts, polite and respectful, but wary – logical behaviour given that virtually everybody carried at least one gun on them at all times.
“I heard you’re building a monument. I was hoping I could visit it.”
“Well, it’s not really a monument”, Oscar replied, as the tiny dogs pranced around his feet. “But you’re welcome to have a look. Don’t mind these little buggers. They’ll jump all over your knees, but they’re all bark and no bite.”
“I believe it”, the traveller stated with a slight smile.

“Come on, it’s back there”, Oscar said, beckoning past a log shack and adjacent shed. “You must be a vet. Civvies don’t come out here to see me.”
“I was based in Manaus during the war”, the traveller replied, falling into stride beside his host. “Didn’t get out of it often.”
“I’ll try not to hold that against you”, Oscar replied humorlessly. “I marched through it once and never saw it again.”
“Never?”
“No interest.”
“How about San Sylvestre?”, the traveller asked.
“El Dorado, you mean. It’ll always be El Dorado. No way am I going back there again.”
“Fair enough”, the traveller replied. “Can’t say I really want to either.”

A cross came into sight: two rusty wagon axles, chained at right angles. “Didn’t have any trees around after we burned the bush”, Oscar commented. “We had to improvise.”Noting a small glass jar filled with metal tags at the base of the cross, the traveller asked, “How many are here?””Seventy-three of my mates. Out of a hundred and six that started out.” The traveller swore quietly. Oscar grunted in response. “Yeah, it was a rough week. Word came down from Brigade that the savages had established a strong point on a small rock ridge out here – which is funny, if you think about it, there’s not a lot of rock around here. Just red clay. Anyway, the Eye was using it to run raids on our supply train, and it was really cocking things up. So the old man told our captain to clear the place out.

“We tried to burn them out. Set fires when the wind was right. It worked, at first – they bugged out when things got too hot around the ridge. Soon as we had a route that weren’t burning, we went over and took the ridge. About two hours later, they started dropping arty on us. Guess they’d zeroed in the ridge as a precaution. There was no cover, and we couldn’t dig in at all, so we pulled out.”

The traveller noted that, by the standards of the Amazon, the trees were relatively small around here, not more than three or four years old.

“We went back the next day, but the bastards were back on the ridge already, with a machine gun. Waited until we were out in a skirmish line in the burn before they opened up. Those of us weren’t cut down by the rounds just dropped where we were – which didn’t help so much considering we’d burnt most of the cover the previous day. I spent the whole damn day curled up behind a stump, making sure my head and my ass weren’t sticking out.” Oscar pointed out a streak of white hair along his left temple. “Didn’t quite manage that. Still, I scampered back to our start line come nightfall, which was damned lucky, as they went out and caught two of our boys that had stayed put too long. Had ‘em screaming all night and into the next morning.”

The traveller winced knowingly. It had been established very early in the war that it was better to die fighting than to be captured, considering what would come afterward. The traveller had issued the order himself more than once.

11 November 1908: North of Manaus, Amazonas del Sur“Passing through?”, the homesteader asked, his rifle resting in his arms.”Yes”, the traveller replied, his rifle dangling off his right shoulder on a strap. “I was told there was a veteran building a monument around these parts. I thought I’d go see it.”
“You’d be talking about Oscar”, the homesteader confirmed, his stance relaxing somewhat.
“I don’t know his name – just that he’s around here somewhere. I’d appreciate directions if you can provide them”, the traveller replied.
“I can do that”, the homesteader replied, kicking an uprooted sapling towards a brushpile. “You a vet?”
“Yes. You?”
“Yeah”, the homesteader confirmed. “Oscar’s about three miles that way. You can’t miss his dogs.”
“Everybody’s got dogs”, the traveller observed.
“Everybody’s dogs aren’t the same as Oscar’s dogs”, the homesteader replied. “Just keep in mind that Oscar’s still in the jungle.”
The traveller nodded. He’d heard the expression a fair bit in the past two weeks. Vets scarred or broken by the experience of fighting skilled fanatics amidst the humid heat of the towering, predatory rain forest were still in the jungle, even if the trees around them had been felled by settlers carving out fields for crops or grazing. “I appreciate the advice. Have yourself a good day.”
The homesteader nodded back. “Safe travels.”
The traveller continued on his way, rifle dangling, revolver in unclipped holster, knife in unclipped sheath. The Anahuac had been vanquished, but not wholly exterminated, after their defeat three years earlier. Every few months, it seemed, a pack of them erupted out of the greenery to slaughter whomever they could find before the local militia tracked them down. Any traveller with a hint of common sense went armed, if only to assure himself the quick, painless death that the Anahuac would deny him.
The trail was two yards wide, nothing more than flattened grasses and saplings broken by the wheels of carts and the hooves of horses and oxen. The traveller assumed, correctly, that it was one of the old trails broken by the army in order to move supplies up to the frontlines. Nowadays, settlers and homesteaders used it as a highway of sorts. He’d already passed several fortified villages along the way, and knew of two or three more further on, and had indeed passed a few wary locals along the way.
Perhaps two hours passed before Oscar’s dogs revealed themselves. The traveller had assumed from the homesteader’s remarks that Oscar’s dogs were larger and more formidable than most. They were, in fact, six or seven tiny moppets that raised an irritating, high-pitched racket as soon as they heard his footfalls. “Okay, yes, I see him”, a man’s voice called out from a stand of brush. The yipping continued. “Yes, I see him. Thank you. That’s good.” The mongrels, perhaps half the size of a house cat, continued their assault on the ears. “God in Heaven, enough!“
In the ensuing silence, their owner appeared, wiping his forehead with a filthy rag. “Hello. Can I help you?”
“I hope so. I’m looking for Oscar”, the traveller replied.
“That’s me”, Oscar confirmed. “What can I do for you?” He was, like so many in these parts, polite and respectful, but wary – logical behaviour given that virtually everybody carried at least one gun on them at all times.
“I heard you’re building a monument. I was hoping I could visit it.”
“Well, it’s not really a monument”, Oscar replied, as the tiny dogs pranced around his feet. “But you’re welcome to have a look. Don’t mind these little buggers. They’ll jump all over your knees, but they’re all bark and no bite.”
“I believe it”, the traveller stated with a slight smile.
“Come on, it’s back there”, Oscar said, beckoning past a log shack and adjacent shed. “You must be a vet. Civvies don’t come out here to see me.”
“I was based in Manaus during the war”, the traveller replied, falling into stride beside his host. “Didn’t get out of it often.”
“I’ll try not to hold that against you”, Oscar replied humorlessly. “I marched through it once and never saw it again.”
“Never?”
“No interest.”
“How about San Sylvestre?”, the traveller asked.
“El Dorado, you mean. It’ll always be El Dorado. No way am I going back there again.”
“Fair enough”, the traveller replied. “Can’t say I really want to either.”
A cross came into sight: two rusty wagon axles, chained at right angles. “Didn’t have any trees around after we burned the bush”, Oscar commented. “We had to improvise.”Noting a small glass jar filled with metal tags at the base of the cross, the traveller asked, “How many are here?””Seventy-three of my mates. Out of a hundred and six that started out.” The traveller swore quietly. Oscar grunted in response. “Yeah, it was a rough week. Word came down from Brigade that the savages had established a strong point on a small rock ridge out here – which is funny, if you think about it, there’s not a lot of rock around here. Just red clay. Anyway, the Eye was using it to run raids on our supply train, and it was really cocking things up. So the old man told our captain to clear the place out.

“We tried to burn them out. Set fires when the wind was right. It worked, at first – they bugged out when things got too hot around the ridge. Soon as we had a route that weren’t burning, we went over and took the ridge. About two hours later, they started dropping arty on us. Guess they’d zeroed in the ridge as a precaution. There was no cover, and we couldn’t dig in at all, so we pulled out.”
The traveller noted that, by the standards of the Amazon, the trees were relatively small around here, not more than three or four years old.

“We went back the next day, but the bastards were back on the ridge already, with a machine gun. Waited until we were out in a skirmish line in the burn before they opened up. Those of us weren’t cut down by the rounds just dropped where we were – which didn’t help so much considering we’d burnt most of the cover the previous day. I spent the whole damn day curled up behind a stump, making sure my head and my ass weren’t sticking out.” Oscar pointed out a streak of white hair along his left temple. “Didn’t quite manage that. Still, I scampered back to our start line come nightfall, which was damned lucky, as they went out and caught two of our boys that had stayed put too long. Had ‘em screaming all night and into the next morning.”

The traveller winced knowingly. It had been established very early in the war that it was better to die fighting than to be captured, considering what would come afterward. The traveller had issued the order himself more than once.

“We worked through the brush to the north two days later; they had an ambush waiting for us. We fought through it, but it cost us the day and the captain.”

Oscar’s little pack of toy dogs scampered past them, heading down the trail at what was, for them, break-neck speed. “Not your typical Amazon dogs”, the traveller ventured.
“I found the bitch and the stud while we were going house-to-house in El Dorado. I reckon a French ex-pat must’ve brought them in. Can’t imagine how they managed not to get eaten”, Oscar replied. “They’ve had two litters since; four pups have made it.

“So, I was saying, we regrouped that day while senior platoon commander took over the the company, trading fire here and there with any Anahuac that would show themselves.

We’d lost a lot of guys, and the CO was concerned about the company routing. He collapsed us down to two platoons, since there was just one other lieutenant left, and we pushed on. It was like basic training all over again – advance a few feet, take cover, provide cover for your mate while he did the same.

“The Anahuac figured out that we were split in two, and raided the other platoon that night. We joined in on the melee soon as we could. Total pandemonium. Spearpoint to bayonet in total darkness – stabbing at smells, sounds, movements of air. I jabbed somebody, somebody else nicked me. Eventually, our CO just shouted for us all to stay still, shut the hell up, and kill anything that moved.”

They’d arrived at the ridge, Oscar and the traveller. About eighty feet long, twelve or so feet high, it was a pitted grey, covered in fungus. “Come dawn, we found that there were still thirty or so us left. We were over there, to the north, about one hundred feet away. We didn’t see anybody over here, and there were enough of them lying around to believe we’d gotten them all, but I think we were all too damned scared to confirm it. Wasn’t until mid-afternoon that Corporal Rodriguez got impatient and made his way over. He found one wounded Anahuac, shot him dead, poked around a while, and called the rest of us over.”

“So you took the ridge”, the traveller said.
“Yeah. And a few days later, the Anahuac pulled back to another line of defence anyway. We went back to the rear and got merged with another company that had been cut up. Kept fighting.”
“Afterward?”

“I took up the cantonment offer soon as I heard of it”, Oscar said. The army had come up with the initiative to encourage settlement – self-defending settlement – of the central Amazon post-war; several thousand veterans had accepted it. “Wandered a bit, and found myself back here. Cleaned around the grave, repaired the cross, and decided to built this.”
Before them, at the foot of the ridge, was a small pile of rocks, perhaps two feet high.”I’ve got a little book in a tin can in the foot of the pile. Any time a vet stops by, I invite him to sign it. Would you like to?”, Oscar asked.”I would”, the traveller replied. Oscar dropped to his knees, popped the lid off a rusty biscuit tin, and pulled out a small notepad and pencil. He reached up to hand them to the traveller, who flipped the notepad open. Sixteen names were listed on the first page. The traveller grunted, put pencil to paper, and wrote:

Geolog, Santos Soublette; Commanding Officer; Army of the Amazon

He closed the notepad and handed it and the pencil back to Oscar, who secured them in the tin. “Thanks.”
“Thank you”, Geolog, the traveller, responded.

Oscar shrugged, got back to his feet. “I know it’s not much yet”, he explained, “But I’m adding to it everytime I find another rock on the property. I’ve got lots of time, and I’m not going anywhere. Join me for some eggs?”
“I’d be honored”, Geolog said.

Two hours later, Geolog spied the homesteader, leaning on a shovel while the brushpile smouldered and streamed white smoke into the thick jungle air. He waved; the homesteader nodded back. “Back so soon?”, he called out.

“Yes. You were right about the dogs.”
“Like I said, no missing them”, the homesteader remarked. “How was the monument?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Really? It was just a little pile of rocks when I was there.”

In his mind, Geolog could see Oscar tending to his friends’ grave and cross, could hear him telling a perfect stranger about the most horrifying week of his life.

After a moment, he replied, “My friend, if you just saw the rock pile, you didn’t see the monument.”

“We worked through the brush to the north two days later; they had an ambush waiting for us. We fought through it, but it cost us the day and the captain.”
Oscar’s little pack of toy dogs scampered past them, heading down the trail at what was, for them, break-neck speed. “Not your typical Amazon dogs”, the traveller ventured.
“I found the bitch and the stud while we were going house-to-house in El Dorado. I reckon a French ex-pat must’ve brought them in. Can’t imagine how they managed not to get eaten”, Oscar replied. “They’ve had two litters since; four pups have made it.
“So, I was saying, we regrouped that day while senior platoon commander took over the the company, trading fire here and there with any Anahuac that would show themselves. We’d lost a lot of guys, and the CO was concerned about the company routing. He collapsed us down to two platoons, since there was just one other lieutenant left, and we pushed on. It was like basic training all over again – advance a few feet, take cover, provide cover for your mate while he did the same.
“The Anahuac figured out that we were split in two, and raided the other platoon that night. We joined in on the melee soon as we could. Total pandemonium. Spearpoint to bayonet in total darkness – stabbing at smells, sounds, movements of air. I jabbed somebody, somebody else nicked me. Eventually, our CO just shouted for us all to stay still, shut the hell up, and kill anything that moved.”
They’d arrived at the ridge, Oscar and the traveller. About eighty feet long, twelve or so feet high, it was a pitted grey, covered in fungus. “Come dawn, we found that there were still thirty or so us left. We were over there, to the north, about one hundred feet away. We didn’t see anybody over here, and there were enough of them lying around to believe we’d gotten them all, but I think we were all too damned scared to confirm it. Wasn’t until mid-afternoon that Corporal Rodriguez got impatient and made his way over. He found one wounded Anahuac, shot him dead, poked around a while, and called the rest of us over.”
“So you took the ridge”, the traveller said.
“Yeah. And a few days later, the Anahuac pulled back to another line of defence anyway. We went back to the rear and got merged with another company that had been cut up. Kept fighting.”
“Afterward?”
“I took up the cantonment offer soon as I heard of it”, Oscar said. The army had come up with the initiative to encourage settlement – self-defending settlement – of the central Amazon post-war; several thousand veterans had accepted it. “Wandered a bit, and found myself back here. Cleaned around the grave, repaired the cross, and decided to built this.”
Before them, at the foot of the ridge, was a small pile of rocks, perhaps two feet high.”I’ve got a little book in a tin can in the foot of the pile. Any time a vet stops by, I invite him to sign it. Would you like to?”, Oscar asked.”I would”, the traveller replied. Oscar dropped to his knees, popped the lid off a rusty biscuit tin, and pulled out a small notepad and pencil. He reached up to hand them to the traveller, who flipped the notepad open. Sixteen names were listed on the first page. The traveller grunted, put pencil to paper, and wrote:

Geolog, Santos Soublette; Commanding Officer; Army of the Amazon
He closed the notepad and handed it and the pencil back to Oscar, who secured them in the tin. “Thanks.”
“Thank you”, Geolog, the traveller, responded.
Oscar shrugged, got back to his feet. “I know it’s not much yet”, he explained, “But I’m adding to it everytime I find another rock on the property. I’ve got lots of time, and I’m not going anywhere. Join me for some eggs?”
“I’d be honored”, Geolog said.
Two hours later, Geolog spied the homesteader, leaning on a shovel while the brushpile smouldered and streamed white smoke into the thick jungle air. He waved; the homesteader nodded back. “Back so soon?”, he called out.
“Yes. You were right about the dogs.”
“Like I said, no missing them”, the homesteader remarked. “How was the monument?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Really? It was just a little pile of rocks when I was there.”
In his mind, Geolog could see Oscar tending to his friends’ grave and cross, could hear him telling a perfect stranger about the most horrifying week of his life. After a moment, he replied, “My friend, if you just saw the rock pile, you didn’t see the monument.”

Posted in Life moves on daily | Leave a comment

November 11th – A son arrives home to Mother

A SON ARRIVES HOME TO MOTHER

A day like any other
A son arrives home to mother
Folded flag on his lead-lined urn
Back from the Gulf, where the oilfields burn

A patriot lost to Red machinations
A hero lost in the great clash of nations
The chaplain’s words are generic and brief
It does not allay his mother’s deep grief

Amidst Democracy’s great panic
He signed up as a mechanic
And went to war in the gunnery room
Of an air cruiser bearing nuclear doom

High overhead, his air cruiser shook
While jetpack troopers assaulted Kirkuk
Dodging air to air rockets and Soviet flak
He kept the guns firing to support the attack
Boarded by the enemy over dusty Helmand
He wielded hammer and wrench in grim hand to hand
Fought them till they could stomach no more
Piling up their broke bodies at the gunnery room door

The captain learned of his valor and what he had done
Arranged for promotion, gave him control of a gun

So in the clear blue skies over gutted Tabriz
He swatted Red fighters as if they were fleas
But south of Tehran, the atomics started to fly
And caught in a shockwave did his air cruiser die

Months later, ground troops secured its skeletal wreck
And collected his ashes from the gunnery deck

Gone from the living, gone from the fight

He among thousands came home on one flight

So the Air Corps could return him back to his mother

To put on a shelf, next to his brother

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Turkey Soup Stock – Waste Not Want Not!

Today we butchered out another 4 of the big turkeys. The breast’s were saved for different dishes and were carefully packaged and frozen.. the big legs/thigh (the largest amount of brown meat) will be used for Make Turkey Sausage’s or Turkey Pot Pie or  Turkey Stew.

The rest will go into the BIG pot and will at a low slow heat be simmered with black pepper corns, bay leaf and a splash of vinegar till the meat is fall off the bone tender..  At that point it will be cooled, and the meat pulled off and chopped up for Canning up Turkey Soups for the pantry.

The bones and veggie scrapes/herbs will go back in the stock pot and be simmers for more hours till reduced by about half.. This amazing stock will be canned up for the start of future soups and stews.

There is so much meat beyond what is the main parts when its done this way!

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Are you planning on doing some landrace seed growing?

What is a landrace you ask?

A landrace is a domesticated, locally adapted, traditional variety of a species of animal or plant that has developed over time, through adaptation to its natural and cultural environment of agriculture

hmmm.. I think I like this way of explaining it better

A “landrace” is not a standardized variety, but rather a diverse population with similar characteristics. The term is generally used to describe localized populations developed through traditional farming, which means through on-farm selection by farmers.

Why is landrace seed so important?

Many old landraces are under threat of extinction or have already disappeared. The loss of landraces is a huge threat to the food supply, because not only do landraces provide critical genetic diversity for future crop improvement, but also their diversity makes them incredibly resilient in the face of the extreme weather and explosion of pests brought about by climate change. Per Landrace org

So I have been working on a number of landrace style breeding plans on a few different things over the years.. Mainly Butternut squash, sweet potato’s and beans and failing regular on melon’s and some forms of winter squash..

I have had great growing years but also failure to produce seed.. time enough for the eating part to mature but not enough time on the vines to give me seed for the next year..  This is a real problem.. and with my loss of days on a few of the past garden years.. its got my eye on it big time.

We are all going to start having our seed catalogs coming in the next two months, the seed house’s are starting their new 2019 stock in November and that is when the biggest selection will be available..

So I ask you.. what will you be landrace growing out this coming garden year for 2019?

I have a little challenge for all of you, it can be broken down into two parts depending on what you have for garden space?

Part One

Support the work that has been done before you!

Consider buying land race seed for your garden, even if its just one thing.

Landraces and Breeding Stock

  • I do NOT get anything back for recommending them..

It does not matter how small, every single packet sold matter to these folks in a way that it does not to the local Canadian tire store.

Do you know of a seed house that offers landrace seeds? if so, please put their contact info in the comment section and I will add them here in the post for others to find them..

Part Two

Start working on your own local adapt calorie heavy landrace

Hey, you can pick whatever you want in regards grow.. the only request I am going to make is that ideally is calorie heavy crop.. Something that get put up, something that helps feed your family in the dead of winter..

While I do want YOU to have a crazy amount of calorie heavy winter carry over crops for your own family and loved ones.

The truth is I am also looking at the wider view.. the more we can all right now collect seeds from different sources while we have the internet connecting us, while most of us can afford to spend that 1 to 4 dollar a seed package.. we need to do it!

We all need to help keep the widest possible genes that we can.. we need to work towards breeding stock that thrives in our own neck of the woods and if we all do it, then if something bad happens, we will be able to reach out and collect seed that grows “food” under different conditions.

You want to know how to prepare for the current and coming climate issues in regards to producing food..  We need to save every gene from the plants that can and do produce under harsh conditions.

Yes, its nice when we have a good year..  and we want them as well

But what we really need.. seeds from plants that made it .. Despite…

To wet of spring

To wet of season

to dry of season

to hot.. way.. way to hot..

wet fall

held up to a light frost and kept on going

Pushed hard to set seed when fall pushed in faster then normal (some plants will do better then others at stopping producing flowers, or smaller fruit and focus on getting that one or two to across the finish line)

And then there is the big NEXT.. it still has to taste good and hold well..

I will be talking about my own landrace grow outs over the winter and then update on them in the garden season of 2020..

Will you join me? Will you be the one to set a spot in the garden for landrace based seeds? I hope so.. I really do.. we need to widen our gene pools, not narrow them!

 

 

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No Buy November -Week 1

Week one of No Buy November Overview

We had a good week, I did not look at amazon once, this is a good thing.. I will own that I have one pre-ordered and pre-paid book that will be published next week that will show up in my reader.

I have not left the house in weeks to be honest (thankfully hubby has done a bit of town things for me)

I ran out of feed store sunflower seeds but its fine as we have lots of big sunflower heads in the croft hanging to dry, its just a matter of pulling the seeds out and putting them out into the bird feeders.

The only cash spent this week was paying for the hay bill but that is allowed and it was a nice thing to take that bill off our to do list.

I did have a craving for hot chocolate but that was easy enough to deal with.. I made a homemade deluxe version.. So Good.. Here is the homemade Hot Chocolate recipe if you would like to make it yourself?

I have started re-reading a favorite book series, it has 14 books in it so it will take a while to work my way thought them.

I did decide to do a little putter clean up and looked at a box filled with little tiny gifts, all cute little things I have picked up over the last year or even two in some cases..  I looked at the box’s of cards and gifts I had found from my second hand shopping and decided that I wanted to so a little gift giving!

This is how I came up with Secret Santa idea!

Hopefully some of  them will be finding their way though the mail to interested readers as a little surprise in their mail boxes. maybe some will arrive in my mail box as well!

Now I will have to pay for stamps but I am going to count that as a “blog” expense which is not in the same budget area as my own household stuff.. plus while I will get things ready I am not planning my big mail out till the first week of Dec..

Because everything being used has been gotten either from the second hand shops or is a homemade or a homegrown gift.. I feel it fits in well with the challenge but also proves that you can still be active in regards to the holiday season.

Its just been a very quiet week here on the farm, I made bread, I made a lovely mince meat cake with a buttercream icing on it. I did get my first canning load done in weeks so that took out 22 pounds of white breast chicken breast out of the freezer and into the canning pantry.

For those that are joining me in the No Buy November Challenge, I hope you had a great first week as well! Here is to week 2!

 

 

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Who wants to play a little Secret Santa?

I am both excited and a little ekk on this one lol.. I think it will be so much fun but at the same time I am little worried that it could get bigger then I think it will..  only time will tell but I am still looking forward to it!

So here is my idea..  Would you like to do Christmas cards with a tiny gift (the gift can be small enough to fit in the card ( I expect this will be the average?) or a small gift could come with the card.

I want a cut off date by end of Nov for my own mail outs to at least TRY and get them to those who want to play on time.. but I will state right now..

Its possible they will NOT arrive till after xmas.. the mail can be fast and great or it can be so slow.. I have had my mom mail something from western Canada and get here in a week or 4 to 6 weeks and I NEVER know..

I have sent things to the states and had it go fast and had it go so slow I thought they would NEVER get it lol

Most of my little wee gifts will fit in a card.. but I do have a few bigger homemade ones.. I have given them a number and I will do this random.. if you are that number in the list that says yes! lets play you get the extra bonus wee gift or gifts.

I will do a round up post of cards and wee gifts sent back to me unless you tell me in your letter not to do so?

So if you want to play!  send me a comment on this post and if you are game, I need a name and mailing address.. I will NOT publish your comment.. I will change it and post it with a got it, looking forward to it note. so you know it was gotten.

If you want to send me a Secret Santa back, then I will also need a email address so I can send you my mailing address.

I am excited to see who is going to want to do a exchange..

FG Tips  Idea’s of things that would work well

Just a card with a little hand written note is just lovely

Want to go more and put a little gift in?

Seeds (ideally home saved)

A photo the sky is the limit on that one

A recipe card with a family favorite you want to share

A hand drawing or small painting

A homemade bookmark

Pressed flower or flowers

a knitted Christmas tree hanger

A post card with a hand written story of something interesting or special from your neck of the woods

So many ways to be creative, it will be such a delight and surprise to see what you all can come up with!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Life moves on daily | 14 Comments

Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 a cup of sugar
  •  1/2 cup of Powdered Coco
  •  1 tsp of Vanilla
  •  1/2 a tsp of cinnamon
  •  pinch of salt

Extra..  Whip cream and sugar/cinnamon blend for sprinkling.

In a heavy bottomed pot at low heat, add your milk, sugar, Coco, Vanilla, Cinnamon and your tiny pinch of salt..  The Coco powder will float on top and at first whisk will form the most adorable little floating coco balls.. Don’t worry, its normal.. it take time for everything to blend together..  AS the milk warms as you gently but regularly whisk it will all come together.. once its fully turned together, you can turn your heat up a tiny bit if you want.

You want your hot chocolate steaming but NEVER boil it! and if you walked away and didn’t whisk, you will get a “milk” film on your blend.. use a spoon and let it cling to it and remove it before serving.. do not blend it back in, it will not blend smooth!

This makes 4 one cup servings or 2 big 2 cup servings. Pour into your mug of choice.

If you want a foam on the hot chocolate, whisk it well and it will foam up for nice little lift or do as I did in the photo.. some whip cream on top with a little sprinkle of a cinnamon sugar blend..

*Not I should say that this hot chocolate is rich and very chocolate, if you prefer a softer chocolate flavour, you can make it with a bit less Coco.. I like mine dark and rich! or make as above but add a touch more milk for the little ones that might like it a little softer in flavour

 

Posted in Food Storage, Pantry Challange | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Gardening in Clay -Sub-soil

Its been a interesting challenge in regards to Kitchen Garden Plot 15..  It’s a full on sub-soil clay.  Its the first time in many years that I have had to start a raw plot of land from full clay and turn it into a fully productive working garden.

The farm is on river loam and has some of the best garden soil I have ever seen or had the pleasure of working with normally, I have spots where I can dig down a solid 18 to 24 inches before I will hit the clay subsoil.

I have worked and gardened in clay based soils before in alberta so while its been a long time, its not like I have not worked in clay before.

Plot 15 was the last garden to be sorted of worked this year in the KG build..  it was basicly roughly knocked level, weeds pulls, a 2 inch or so layer of compost added in and planted into potato’s..  As the they grew, we did a small hilling and then covered the whole area with 2 year old straw and let it do its thing..

Its thing was to do poorly.. worst garden and worst potato crop, it might have yielded 60ish pound of small to med spuds.

The potato dig meant that we had already turned some of the things into the soil and I covered it with clover as soon as it was dug out.. over top the green cover crop has gone muck

This heavy wet muck..  now what is muck you ask.. well.. its crazy active blend of soil/hay bits and horse manure with a bit of duck/sheep thrown in it..  its the wet fall area that builds up around the big horse feeder.

Its not compost.  but its been well hoof blended in a big way and its very much ALIVE!

This had two great things about it.. One being that we are scaping down the wet thick muck away from where my boys hang out to eat their hay in this wetter then normal oct.. I mean come on.. in two days in oct we got more rain then we did the last three months before.. and it has just kept coming. (now we need the rain and water)

The second being that it is being dumped into the clay garden, and I am spreading it out at about a 4 inch thickness..  the rains are pushing the finer down into the ground below leaving a thicker layer of materials.. but that is fine as the worms will bring it down.

On top of this will go a thin 1 inch well rotted fowl/rabbit proper compost and over that will go 2 to 4 inches of top soil.  That will use up the last of the top soil we got in this year.

I will go out and spring sow it with a green cover crop when there is a just a touch of snow left and I will mix the seed with sand and put a light 1/2 inch or so of sand over the whole top..

All four layers will be mix in together to create small planting hills.. leaving the rest as is for the coming season and this will be squash garden. I am a tiny bit up in the air on the cover crop, not sure if I want to do it yet in clover or if it will go into radish..

Do you garden in clay? What do you think of the layering I have created.. how much soil do you think I will in fact have by the end of year two in KG plot 15..  Do you agree with me that squash is going to be the best choice for this bed given what and how its been made this fall? if not.. what would you plant there instead?  If you could add something else or if you would have done it different, what would you do?

Rebecca’s comment from the Just another day on the farm facebook page is outstanding and so I am adding it directly to this post so that the knowledge and helpful hints are not lost to my readers..

Only ’cause you asked in the post… Some crunched up leaves and bedding, or even mown grass between layers — anything to add fiber to the mix (a lot of manures are very fine-grained and even though there’s some bits in the manures, from a texture point they function much like clay itself. I might even just try to go UP from the clay rather than mitigate it even for 4-6″ deep. I just find it easier where the clay suctions minerals and is so dense, and it takes so much material and nutrients to mitigate it the first couple of years. – – – For planting: point tap roots – daikon or tillage radish and beets and turnips, even dandelion. – – If you have access to a quickie $5-$8 DIY nutrient test in your stores or Amazon, test it and the pH ahead of your summer planting. That’ll tell you if you want to re-dump and how much fertility you’re going to need to top dress for squash come summer. – – If it doesn’t want to be squash because it’s sucking in nutrients faster than you want to feed them or just hasn’t conditioned into soil that they’ll be able to root down for, give a bush bean or buckwheat or even a millet or pigeon pea or rice pea or butterfly pea some consideration – the last 5 give you a sprouting grain or direct-feed grain for birds, millet can handle some serious clays (especially white teff) even though it’ll reduce your yields, millet and buckwheat are both fine for a graze down or select cut fodder (no foxtail for horses – need to check for pregnant ewes) and they make great adds for biomass, especially if you do some combo of the super soft and the slightly denser greens (especially if you want to mow or weed eater them down). – – – If you do some of your sunflowers before you get icelocked, and you don’t use the hulls for soggy spots for the birds, consider working sections where a tulip planter size hole or even a bit smaller gets a little chute of them OR sprinkle them kind of far and wide like if you’re hand casting grain. It’s not enough to counteract all that muck, but it’s another way to start developing the different organic matter for staged breakdown (before your spring compost dressing, even if not this year, if there’s less than 1-2″ of shells for a solid layer). They’re also slow-feed with all the good stuff greedy sunflowers suck up, and great at giving a little root space for oxy, holding some water when it’s dry brick but helping it flow in drainage. (Coffee grounds are, too.) 🙂 …… Aren’t you glad you asked? (I’ll try to take a picture of what’s directly under my grass.)

 

Posted in gardens, Life moves on daily | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Wood Shaving Shortage

if you have not already put up a order of wood shaving for bedding, might want to get that order in sooner then later.. there is up and coming wood shaving shortage coming across Canada this winter..

The slowed production or even closure at lumber mills across Canada, especially in BC and Quebec, is responsible, and those in the bedding industry are warning that it is going to get worse.

the cost locally of shaving has been going up the past few years as well.. but at least they are in stock..

Bidding wars for raw materials among shavings and pellet suppliers are not uncommon, also driving prices up. “We’ve already seen prices climb pretty much since May of this year,” says Harbom, adding that farm managers can expect delays of up to eight weeks to receive a shipment of shavings these days. Currently, prices in Ontario are in the $5/bag range, but a check on hayexchange.com shows a wildly fluctuating array of prices across Canada and the US from about $3.50 to $8 a bag.

my current supplier has them for 5.75 per bag at pickup which give me a 10 percent discount..

depending on where you live, straw prices are also up because of a poor harvest due to weather. This in turns drives up the shavings demand and costs. A report in the Goderich Signal-Star indicated that while in most years the price per pound has been in the 3.5-4 cent range, this year wheat straw has been selling from six to 10 cents a pound, with some pre-harvest prices going as high as 20 cents a pound at auction, making straw worth more than the grain itself.

I prefer straw for certain things but trying to find that this year is hard..  straw is VERY hard to come by due to the weather and what crop got grown locally this year and the straw I can get is higher priced per pound delivered then hay at the moment..

How are things in your neck of the woods? What are prices and supply like?

Posted in Critters | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy 9th Birthday Just another day on the farm

Just Another Day on the Farm Blog turns 9 years old today!

3 Thousand, 3 Hundred and 42 Posts

13 Thousand and 994 Comments

Nine years ago, I started this blog with a recipe.. I will share the recipe and the photo that goes with it towards the end of this post.

However first I need to say.. THANK YOU!

Without readers, without commenters, without people sharing the blog.. it would not be near as much fun as its been and will continue to be!

Things have changed so much since I started the blog and it continues to change.. there are times I feel like I am a old timer in this, sometimes I just like doing things the way I learned, others I am more open to new things. Sometimes I try new and go back to older ways..  It has a flow to it that’s for sure..

So here is your Flashback to my very first post ever!

 

Creamy Rice Salad in a Pumpkin Bowl Recipe

1 cup of uncooked Red Rice (which if you have never had is as close as I have found to wild rice in taste without the very heavy cost to go with, its a good chewy and nutty Rice) Cooked per instructions. Then put in the fridge to get cold

1/4 green pepper diced
10 mushrooms diced
1/8 Large Purple Onion Diced
1 Stock Celery Diced
1 Large Leaf of Purple Cabbage Diced
1 clove of Garlic-Diced

The veggies were fried up till just starting to soften, then spread out and cooled in the fridge till cold.

Dressing
2 Heaping TBS of my homemade mayo
1 Heaping TBS of my homemade Greek Style Yogurt
1 TBS White Wine Vinergar
1 Tsp Raw Honey
1 Tsp of my Dried Basil (the spice one)
1/2 tsp of Dried Ginger, Black Pepper, Salt

Mix together the Rice, Veggies and Dressing, Add 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds and 8 half whole raw walnuts chopped.

I took a pie pumpkin, Cut it so that the bottom will be 3/4, with top 1/3, cleaned out the insides (don’t forget to keep the pumpkin seeds for later use) and wrapped it up in foil and baked it till just done.

Split apart, drain any extra water inside it and allow to become cold.. Take Salad and fill the inside bowl, then top to be able to serve, just lift the lid and vola..

This salad can be eaten as side for sure but as it was to be a starter, I brought a fresh baked loaf of my sweet, soft and tany buttermilk bread that I made yesterday. So I will cut up the fresh bread to be served with the topping of the Salad..

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging | Tagged | 16 Comments