Saturday, July 28, 2007

tobacco and horseradish

Cross posted to manitoba_garden@lj

I got the tobacco cut and hung in the well house today. This tobacco is for random acts of gratitude while collecting the earth's offerings. :D I've had some strong mentors. Then I noticed the horseradish is doing very well this year. It won't yield any root until later in the fall. I think I'll try my hand at doing it up like the locals do with beet pickle this year.

Tobacco in the well house to cure




Thursday, July 26, 2007

garlic jones

I'm a garlic hound. Growing this flora well, escaped me for a long time, but not now. Since I began gardening I've never had as nice garlic as I have this year. It's not cured yet because I just pulled it last night, but it's all so big and full and I'm so excited to have such a gorgeous quality to fondle. Yes, I get a bit excited about my garlic.

I knew I wasn't planting much last fall so kept the very best of the seed and suffered all winter with shitty soft neck commercial stock. When I brought this bulb in and broke it up, Pierrette was onto it early and asking if she could use the fresh produce for the sour dills. I doubt the timing could be any better. It's not cured by any stretch of the imagination, but I doubt that will be any impediment to the quality of the pickles.

This is shaping up to be one of the very best years we've had here for garden produce. I'm missing the raspberries, but not the blight that we battled for so long. Last year was a bumper year for tomatoes, but this year may see the sauce and salsa put away before PU has to begin attending to school preparations too, but we'll see.

The size of bulbs is very consistent this year. I'll cure it up before I take shots of the bounty. It looks like if I pay attention, I'll have nice clean white paper covers to show off too. Usually I'm late in pulling the bulbs and the covering binds to the dirt or the skins split, but maybe this year I can have a showcase for my attention to details in this area. I would like that very much.

I suppose I should get out there and string it up, but an eight mile run with Manon this morning combined with a 5:00 rising time has left me wanting a solid pasta dinner and not much else.


The 2007 garden season so far

Cross posted to Manitoba_garden@lj

Those of you that know me a bit will know that I can get excited about garlic. I broke the necks on all my garlic earlier this week and pulled it all and stowed it in the barn before the rain last night. I've never had as nice a garlic crop as I have this year. So much of it has big full bulbs. I must say that I managed to have it well tended to when the time was right. The ground had a good dose of nutrition in recent years and the drainage issues did not arise to threaten the spring start. The winter snow cover was all civil. The flower spikes got cut off in good time and hopefully the bulbs were pulled early enough to keep a healthy sheath of paper cover and cure up well enough to look pretty as well as taste sweet.

I don't have any images yet, but I will certainly be sure to post some later, especially if it cleans up to be more photogenic than it's leggings over the last few years. Split skins and ragged dirty covering isn't quite what I'm after. Pride is a sin right? :P

I'm not the main gardener here by any stretch, but I sure do take pleasure in the products of the effort there. It's the time of year when the maintenance of the plots takes a back seat to the harvest. The beans have come on strong this week. I've been spending mornings, every second day topping and tailing green and yellow beans. For some reason the yellow beans are having a banner year and the freezer will be filled well for the winter with string beans of both kinds.

The Saskatoon's, blue berries and strawberries are all now passed into other forms, including dietary fibre. :D What a feast it was this year. Again I fall short on the picking, but I do so love my strawberry jam. It's not quite to raspberry standards, but I have to admit that the last couple of years of strawberry quality has surpassed that of even my beloved raspberries although not quite enough to supplant the number one jam position in my heart.

We got 1.4cm or rain last night, which is just about perfect. I got all the grass cut before it rained and the garlic safely put away dry. What a year for gardens! I hope others are enjoying the excellent growing year. Even the chickens are doing well this year. We should have a couple dozen meat birds of excellent quality again.

We'll even have peas this year I think. Not enough to freeze, but enough for a good deal of welcome meals. Normally, or what passes for normal here, the deer ravage all the tasty bits. Bonnie and I made a feast last Saturday night that included many big broad perfectly delicate beet greens. I can't remember the last time when we've been able to sample them before the deer have them ruined.

Manon has become our resident expert in deer deterrent technology. This year her talent has been showcased in multiple levels of clear mono filament fishing line and large aluminium pizza pans tied with light line to their centre and attached to re bar stakes. This makes the pans move in the slightest night breath of a breeze and then they clang handsomely against the metal re bar stakes. I love kids.

We've had new potatoes that were as sweet and welcome as can be imagined and we've been the brunt of several jokes because we are consistently short of a zucchini supply. We have two plants and one produces yellow fruit and one the standard green phalis. We have learnt to pick it when it's quite small and dense. We enjoy it often with onions, chili powder, garlic and a bit of cheddar browned under the broiler. OMG, give it to me now! It sells well here.

The tomatoes are coming on strongly. The green ones on the plants farthest along are not so green anymore and it won't be long before we are up to our eyeballs in red fruit. How fast the summer goes by!

The cukes should be ready to pick soon. They have been slow, or it seems that way. There are a few pumpkins set and the corn is tall and proud. It's such a heavy feeder though! I was a little behind on that this year and I don't think the corn will produce like it might have if I would have gotten some of the chicken coup manure out and dressed the rows a month ago. The corn got some industrial nitrogen that saved it, but that's never quite the same in my mind, but it got the job done for the most part.

I'm looking forward to the northerly flow of air today and hoping it brings with it a lower relative humidity. It's been great for the plants, but I'm feeling like I might become a mushroom any day now.

I'm back running on a much more ambitious scale again. It's a great thing to have ones health. I'm enjoying my ability to take on this aerobic work while I'm able. I learnt a lot from my phsyiotherapy and now have a foot that's a long way along to being healed up very well. If I'd known to ice it early, I would probably not have had the issue to begin with. Hopefully I can be more sensitive to my body's messages in the future. Today will likely be my longest run since the trip across the ice in March. Manon and I are gunning for a slow eight miles this morning.
Life in the slow lane.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hundreds escape heat for cool show

Hundreds escape heat for cool show

I don't know how long this link will be up, but it's got a great shot to lead off the article. :D

We had a very successful show! The MHS mandate was to educate against the misconceptions, dispel myths and quiet fears about reptiles and amphibians.

They had a total of 700 paid people through the doors and at least another couple hundred kids came through on the twelve and under free ticket.

Giving people the opportunity to get beyond their expectations is a terrific way to spend the day.

Dave Gamble got some shots of the day.

Here was the hype:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tempted again by a pop quiz, animal spirit

I got this through sugarplumkitty@lj and was curious and then surprised.

Your Score: The Wolf

Here's your results! Your spirit animal has a Nobility ranking of 12 out of 18.

Your spirit animal is the wolf. It is a ferocious companion, and a loyal friend. It is both a respectable and noble creature; to have this spirit animal says good things about you, and that you are starting to figure things out. Wolves are pretty rare spirit animals.

Link: The What is Your Spirit Animal Test written by FindingEros on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Monday, July 9, 2007

Laura's Wild Edibles Workshop 2007

I assisted on this wild edible plant workshop again this weekend. I helped out last year too. It was fun and my body loved the food.

You can reach this wild woman of the wilderness directly at eatwildedibles at yahoo dot com. She's hosting a three day survival workshop in the fall that will have instructions on some a few very primary outdoor skills. She likes to make fire the hard way. :D

Breakfast - acorn muffins and wintergreen jelly with dandelion root coffee


Burdock quack grass


Cake - hand stealing - dandelion root cake with mint, just like chocolate


Cake - no chocolate, all dandelion root


Cars first stop - St. John's Wort


Chickweed, wood sorrel... - for the salad


Crazy Tangi with burdock root - Gorbo


Dinner Plate - Cat tail stuffing, milkweed fritters, 8 species wild salad, oyster mushrooms, wild rice


Dragon Fly - thistle



Dragon Fly - branch


Gail and Werner - skinning off the cat tails


Gardening - plantain, lambs quarters, shepherds purse...



Janet and Mile


Janet and Peggy


Kitchen work


Laura - sorting nettle from mint... oops


Laura - laughing









Stinging nettle soup


Peggy with onions from far away


St. John's Wort


Sunday, July 1, 2007

MHS meeting in Senkiw - June 2007

Another meeting and another good experience getting together with like minded fans of herpetiles. The company yesterday was filled with good natured humour and lots of energetic fun.

The environment here is very clearly dominated by the natural world. There are hatches of various insects that come in waves through the spring and summer that can sometimes make it uncomfortable to be outside. I'm sure the folks that attended yesterday's get together thought that it was an intense day for picking ticks yesterday and they would be right! Everyone was a good sport about whatever difficulties they might have been experiencing.

The ticks were out in full force, but on the bright side, they are slow moving and relatively easy to deal with. In the weeks leading up to this I was scared the mozzies would be so thick we wouldn't be able to breath. There was a good breeze all day and although they were present and accounted for, they weren't nearly bad enough to discourage our bush whacking.

The weather looked iffy all week, but it turned out to be a beautiful day for what we had planned.

Rich, Ashley and Owen arrived in good time and they were polite in waiting for me to get to the chore I'd left to do too late! Thanks guys. We had a look around at what I've managed to put together in the short time I've been interested in these animals and then headed outside to enjoy the weather. Earlier in the morning Manon had found a fresh garter snake shed tucked into the joint between the front step and the foundation and sure enough we soon spotted what looked like a gravid Western Plains Garter Snake enjoying the heat.

We got the BBQ going and set to work polishing off a lot of hot dogs while sitting out in the yard. The conversation was light and fun as usual.

Carlos and Isabelle came along and we got some pictures taken of some of the critters. It's great to have people around that like this sort of animal.

We spent quite a bit of time touring the surrounding bush. The soil type here is all sand and gravel which makes for good spawning beds for a lot of water loving animals. Even the small ditch streams heading down to the river are often filled with various eggs and yesterday's discoveries showed that off. Early in our walk to the river we found some small black eggs in a very small stream of water that some thought were leaches. I'd never seen them before so that was interesting.

There has been quite a bit of rain here in the past several weeks and by the time we were half way through the first walk many people had wet feet and by the end only Rich had escaped with dry feet.

We made about a mile and a half loop back to the house, had a drink and headed back out. Part of the Trans Canada Trail comes right up to our property and then the river crossing at the swinging bridge across the Roseau River is just a mile east of us. We headed up there and trekked down to the bridge. Normally at this time of year the river can be low enough that you can see big snapping turtles going about their business, but the river was flooding and filled to the brim so nothing but lots of fast water was visible there.

Once back to the house our biologist friend Laura, that had joined us for the day, went off to pick the abundant saskatoon berries and we all went off to St. Malo beach for a swim. I love having this little jewel so close to home. I can get there an into the water in ten minutes from home so it's pretty easy to go for a swim at the end of almost any summer day. Yesterday was the first time I'd been into the water this year and it was in prime condition. It's an old gravel pit that there is no sign of now, just a big sandy beach is left. The Rat River flows through to keep the lake flushed well. There is almost no population density upstream and the river flows through extensive wild bush land before arriving in St. Malo so the water is rich in tannin. It's a very nice bit of prairie water to swim in.

We were in and out of the water a few times and played soccer in between swims. By that time we were all showing signs of having been out on a UV index of 8 type of day so we had had enough sun. Swimming worked up some appetite for me and I knew there were some slabs of meat lined up at home which helped get the stomach grumbling.

While we were off on tour, Pierrette had spent a good portion of the day cleaning and preparing the trimmings that make a good meal better. The table was set and the fresh garden salad was green like at no other time of the year. PU had made a lentil stew for those that were lovers of the complex carbs over the protein and Carlos and Isabelle teased us with mussels steamed in white wine and dressed with some butter, onion and garlic. OMG these people have to come back!

We drank beer and wine and talked and laughed our way into the evening. The kids lit a fire in the fire pit and headed out there to enjoy the evening and then it was time to wind it down.

MHS meeting at Timshel's in Senkiw

Owen's post at the MHS forum about the day he had.

Darker Red belly snake

Lighter shot facing the other direction

Two in the bottom of a deli cup

Owen on the grass with the Jungle Carpet Python

The group holding the Jungle Carpet Python

The group crossing the Senkiw swinging bridge on the trans Canada trail

Columbine on the tail to the swinging bridge