Apple blossoms are absolutely everywhere on our property at the moment, making massive amends for the intensely dull brownness that pervaded our landscape just a few weeks ago. May is one of the very prettiest moments where we live, and we are doing our best to simply enjoy it. An early ‘summer’ (still more than a month away officially) catapulted us outdoors with a frenzy, providing a partial excuse for my absence here recently. Mastering the art of gluten free baking and family meals being perhaps the best excuse that I have. More on our favourite gluten-free finds very soon, but in the meantime, some shots from a walk through our old (as in much neglected) orchard and woods today.
Category Archives: Farm life
In the past week, my older boy turned 15. I can’t even begin to contemplate what the next birthday will be like, 16 being a number that seems a little larger than life at this point.
Gluten free pancakes and noisy balloons were served up for breakfast before school.
Walks in the wood revealed moss-covered stones and the last tiny patch of snow.
Reggie started retrieving from the pond again, in earnest.
And looking just as sweet as can be afterwards (yes, I’ve fallen hard for this young dog since he joined our family last summer).
We have even started moving a few precious young plants out into the garden; youngest son is seen here planting some of his kale plants in the small bed outside our front door.
So many jobs to do now that the warmer weather is here. One at time, that’s all we can do.
A busy winter has turned into an equally busy spring. We’re navigating the waters of going gluten free for one family member (which means we all will, more or less), and experimenting with old favourites like chocolate chip cookies. Verdict: these were very nice, but just not the same as what we’re used to. Now there’s a shocking finding.
Not one to be left out, Reggie has food allergies of his own. No rice, if you can believe it. Or turkey. He’s taken to walking around with his food bowl when he wants to be fed (which, as he’s a Lab, is pretty much all the time).
Now that it’s getting warmer out there, the chicken coop has had a big clean-out and a fresh load of straw.
My husband also added chicken wire to the windows, which really need to be open now.
The first day out after winter for our Americaunas was quite funny. At first they all piled into the tiny open air enclosure that housed Esme when she had eight tiny chicks; at one point, all three roosters and six hens were stuffed in there like a phone booth challenge. The ground was still largely covered in icy snow, so it’s hard to blame them. As the sun warmed the ground, they got a bit more adventurous.
We’ve started some outdoor projects, including a partial rebuild of an old picnic table that still has life in it and picking up where we left off at the tree house last year. Oldest son loves getting to bring out the Dremel, which he’s using here to trim off old nails sticking out of planks from the picnic table.
My wonderful new desk/shelving unit in the kitchen is nearing completion. Still up: painting of the doors and the beadboard behind the counter top, finishing of the counter/desk surface (maple boards), blackboard paint for the magnetic notice board. Nearly there…
In the meantime, getting out for walks and even on our bikes as the weather gradually becomes more consistently spring-like is awfully nice after a long winter. I don’t have a companion picture to support this, but husband and youngest son had their last ski of the year and first bike ride of the year all on the same day.
A lone cardinal appeared at our window every morning for what seemed like weeks in late winter, insistently tapping, and then one morning he didn’t return. But spring is finally here.
The trees on the horizon bronze with sunlight in the early morning, the light much warmer than it’s been for months.
Birds lingering at the tops of trees, calling out, this one a red-winged blackbird.
Our youngest is suddenly drawn to the outdoors for extended periods on his own without warning, unwilling to come in for meals or other routine activities. It’s hard to mind, really.
We’re suddenly knee-deep in seed packets and plans for planting, instead of snow and ice. The evenings are still cool though, so the woodstove will remain busy just in the evenings for a little while yet.
And this boy is one year old, today! Happy birthday Reggie!
It’s time for another post by my youngest, PetKid, who we homeschool. We had an amazing offer from the breeder of our dog, Reggie, for a weekly visit and lesson on the newest litter of puppies. Our dog’s breeder, the wonderful Culandubh Kennels run by Laurel Cook and Ross McLaughlin in Clayton, Ontario, raises purebred Labradors, and the latest litter are entirely chocolate labs. This post covers week four.
Look at this puppy war! It’s so cute and fluffy. This week you can see the puppies are much more hyperactive.
When I went to visit the puppies had moved downstairs to an area with a heat lamp and a separate area filled with shavings for toileting. They had three stuffies to play with, as well as me! I sat in a corner with them crawling all over me, chewing on my clothes and snuffling.
I tired them out so much two fell asleep on my lap. The rest fell asleep in other spots.
One of the puppies crashed out on a stuffed animal and another one couldn’t get to sleep and kept bothering the others. He finally went to sleep on top of one of his sisters.
They are so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s time for another posting by my youngest, PetKid, who we homeschool. We had an amazing offer from the breeder of our dog, Regimbald (also known as Reggie!), for a weekly visit and lesson on the newest litter of puppies. Our dog’s breeder, the wonderful Culandubh Kennels run by Laurel Cook and Ross McLaughlin in Clayton, Ontario, raises purebred Labradors, and the latest litter are entirely chocolate labs. This post covers weeks two and three.
The puppies were cute, big and fluffy when we went to visit them in week two. They had doubled their weight in a week. They were starting to crawl and some of them were starting to open their eyes. Week two was also their last week of tactile stimulation exercises, so we did them again for the last time.
Laurel puts coloured dots on the puppies’ heads, bums and backs so that she knows who is who. For example, our dog Reggie was ‘Blue Butt’. In the chocolate lab litter, ‘Pink Head’ eats a ton, but she was very small at the start.
Here is a picture of me and Apa, the mama of the puppies.
Apa is eating 14 or 16 cups of food every day and drinking a ton of water so she can produce enough milk for eleven puppies. It’s a big job!
In week three, the puppies weren’t getting enough milk, so Laurel had to bottle-feed some of them. She was also starting to give all of them mush. Here’s a picture of Laurel bottle-feeding one of the pups.
The puppies are getting more agile. Their mama, Apa, sleeps beside their pen and at night some of them were climbing out to get to their mum. Laurel had to put up a cardboard wall to stop them from doing this.
This week the puppies will have moved downstairs to a bigger pen and playspace.
Our first eggs are here! My youngest helped me to take out the food and water the other morning, and as he’s prone to snooping around, he was rewarded with the first eggs laid by our Americaunas since taking on Esme and her eight (then) tiny chicks last September. We were warned that Americaunas are unreliable layers compared to other breeds, and in the deep freeze that we’ve experienced this season we knew not to expect anything.
I guess the warm spell that we just had gave Esme and the other girls the right signals. This picture does not do these pretty blue-green eggs justice, but it’s all I could get as everyone here was very enthusiastic. I’m hoping to have more egg news to share soon.
It is late on a Sunday evening and the weekend is coming to a close in a way that I like. I have just deposited in the oven the red chard pasta dish with cream and Parmesan pictured here, next to the cinnamon breakfast loaf that my older son whipped up for the week ahead. Both are due to come out of the oven in about ten minutes.
This weekend I fell on the ice, we fixed up our hoop house after a bout of apparent mild vandalism, my husband and I fit in a long work meeting and I plodded through our finances for our little company’s year end, but we also fit in many chapters of our family book, made a crazy outing for doughnuts, and enjoyed some good moments together, with lots of laughter.
My kitchen is in chaos as we’re having some work done, and I’m staring down another busy week, but I’ve got comfort food. Here’s hoping you do too, whatever you’re doing.
After a balmy break from the cold yesterday, the landscape was scoured by wind all day today. At times there was driving snow outside the window, but this wasn’t from the clouds above; the wind was so strong it was whipping the snow from the ground and driving it across the fields.
I was happy to potter around the kitchen in the morning, roasting cauliflower with leeks and potatoes to add to a squash-based soup (the squash, from my garden, was pre-roasted yesterday), and baking a large batch of banana bread with the many overripe bananas in the fruit bowl. (Speaking of cauliflower, I’m keen to try the mashed potatoes with hidden roasted cauliflower from My Sister’s Pantry.)
One of the mini loaves was sprinkled with chocolate chips (for the teenager here) and one was chock-full of dates and walnuts (for the grown-ups). Youngest son favours the plain variety.
It was the kind of day where I was glad to be inside, looking out, especially after a bracing walk with the dog (no, I didn’t take my camera this time!). And now that we’re plunging back down into deep cold again, I think we’ll be happy to burrow inside for a few more days.
With the thermometer reading minus 22 this morning, I knew it was going to be a cold walk with Reggie. First up was water and feed for the chickens, whose coop is visible here through a frosty pane of glass in our garage.
It’s pretty cold in that coop, but the chickens don’t seem to mind.
Walking around to the house to place more wild bird seed in the little feeder in the little wood at the back, I came across some animal tracks. We were positively buried in snow for a while here, and after a recent thaw when we lost a lot of the snow, we’re now surrounded by hard packed, crystalline stuff that doesn’t give. Our modern snow shoes, with spiky teeth, are now needed for their grip more than the buoyancy they can give us in deep snow.
Waiting patiently for me outside the chicken coop, Reggie was ready to go and get moving.
He was ready to explore when we got down to the pond.
Everything in the world here seems to be furred in ice crystals, including any plant life hovering on or around the stream leading out of the pond. The water, amazingly, was still running in the stream this morning.
We paused for a few moments to take in the sun as it came higher over the woods and the pond.
It was just as we turned to head home that I noticed our shadows cast so perfectly on the opposite bank of the stream, the angle of the sun just right.
Feeling the cold biting my hands after taking them out of my warm mitts so many times to take pictures, it was time to high tail it back across the field and up the hill to the house, pausing for just one more picture when we crossed the other stream on our way back.
We’ve been wrapped up inside for the rest of the day.