Thursday, October 29, 2009

Timeline: The secret history of swine flu

A brief over view of the evolution of influenza through the years.

I once heard an in depth account of the 1918 pandemic from a client in St. Pierre. It was a brilliant little peek into that part of our history. I guess I'm dancing naked through this one. Here's hoping we see you all on the other side.

I noticed the mention of the Guillain-Barré syndrome trouble in 1976 in the provided link. Then there was the Thalidomide trouble while my Mum was busy with me. She's a smart woman, but I digress.

16 August 1957: a nurse at Montefiore Hospital gets the first Asian flu vaccine shot in New York (Image: Associated Press)

Flu: Respitory assist

The mechanic in me likes this. It's simple, it makes sense and it requires no special tools other than a table. I do so love to fix things. I'm not crazy about the style of this web site, but some of the content is prime distraction territory.

When the flu passes, how about building a spooky Tesla radio?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Men's work - knitting

This is some sock yarn I bought when I was on the coast. I'm really pleased with it. It's wonderful to work with natural fibre.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Feed, dust, manure, mold and a dead pressure system

OK, that's it for the heavy lifting for the week. I hauled 13 half ton loads of wood out of the bush and today I unloaded 620kg's of chicken feed into the barn by hand. That's enough already.

I'm so congested that the neti pot was hopeless at getting anything through my sinuses tonight. Nasty. I hope I don't get sick before I can get cleared up.

We've rented out the East field to a young local farmer. He spent ten hours in the past two days dragging a large gang disk through the old over grown land. After so many years of watching it grow in it's wholly bizarre to see it all tilled up into dirt. We'll be enjoying about three thousand gallons per acre of liquid hog manure on it in the spring. The farmer seems intent on not wasting any ammonia to evaporation so hopefully it will be all worked under promptly. More will be revealed.

Snoot went for a long ride in the big tractor (375hp) yesterday and remains a kid. Thrilled she was.

I suppose the freshly tilled earth would release a plethora of spores, so maybe it's not just the ground grain that has me so plugged up. A little rain would help things I think. My left ear is wonky. Sleep is needed and one more time for good luck. No more heavy lifting for this week!

Climbed out of the shower after two hours of total immersion in grain dust and the pressure system gave out. Water being as popular as it is, I'm sure to be looking into getting that back running tomorrow. I really just want to goof... really.

On the upside, the sock wool I bought on the coast is looking fabulous in a scarf. Snoot is making noises about it already. I win!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wood is home. Hearth be warm.

The fall has been graceful and I have been grateful. I'm very happy the wood is all finally in the yard. Tomorrow I'll have to shift a thousand kilos of grain into the barn to carry the chickens through the winter. I'm slowly making my way through the fall work and I'm sleeping deeply.

This represents thirteen half ton loads. I'll be curious to have it stacked up so I can calculate the cubic feet and thus how many cords this is. I cut and split more than I thought.

Here's a link to a similar image of Snoot sitting on top.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Knitting patterns

Along with all the other demands on my time this fall, I'm still knitting. Karen's generous gift of a large box of yarn has given me a lot of room to play. So far I'm still learning things by repeating the scarf pattern I was first playing with. I've changed up my needle size and yarn type, but other than that I've been pounding the same road. I've also learnt how to put a fringe on these projects.


I'm now well into another one done in a deep burgundy yarn. The yarn dye is staining my needles. This doesn't bode well for my motivation. I may well bail out and head into some wool at long last.

I'm still looking for ideas and trying to learn to read patterns. I found a decent archive of free patterns here:

I've been monitoring this help forum:

I still can't read a pattern with any hope of getting through even the simplest ones without coming across terms I'm not familiar with.

My current dream project:
Knitting Pure and Simple pattern #991

Yesterday I noticed that small breaks during the day, taken to clobber out another half dozen rows, was becoming less interesting. It's taken 6 meters of knitting to slack my thirst a bit. I smell a new project on the horizon. The last big hurdle was the casting on. My most recent try really came away very well. There is a lot of similarity between tying knots and knitting. I finally had the light go on with that a bit more and was able to tie up the casting on in a very regular fashion.

When I began, my mentors repeated the importance of "seeing the knitting," so one knows how it works and thus how to trouble shoot the inevitable errors that show up. Heaven only knows how many rows I've ripped out in the past month. Some days it has been challenging to make par.

I hear a wood pile calling my name. To the bush I go. The forest is rich in the smells of fall, but soon that will be gone so I'll take it while I can.

H1N1 Virus information

I've been interested in how the media has been spinning the information regarding the flu pandemic. In particular, I was missing the southern hemisphere trends that should be a harbinger of what's to come for us. I had time on the weekend to delve into the topic a bit and came up with a couple of links that seem agreeable to me.

If you have places on the web that you're enthusiastic about, that cover a different aspect of influenza, please share them with me.

These are the global trends. Of note was the difference between Canada and the U.S.. The rates of infection in the states seem to be much higher per capita.

I'll be taking my chances with my immune system at the helm and not getting the flu shot. Be the club. Neti pot!

Here's the hard data on what's happening globally:

Here's some information on the various vaccines:

Monday, October 19, 2009


I broke up three kilograms of garlic tonight in preparation for planting. I'm really happy with how it's cured up. The bulbs are incredibly tight and the cloves have good heavy skins on them. I'm quite certain this round will keep a full year if treated to dry storage. After all that my hands don't even smell. I'm pumped. Next year I'll have to jump on the onions the same way and get them tucked up tightly for keeping too.

The bed is tilled for next years garlic crop. I'll get some chicken manure out of the coup and till that into the bed and then plant densely like I did last year.

The carrots are put by and the potatoes dug. The carrots look more like turnips. Brutes. Five loads of fire wood have been hauled. Who needs to run?


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mustard and Pepper Sauce

I've been thinking about the hot chili pepper sauce I canned the other day and although I intimated that it would rest a couple of weeks before tasting began, I don't think I made 24 hours, I love it.

I learned a new trick from a friend today too. If you mix that hot sauce in a 3:1 ratio with a good quality dry mustard the sandwiches for lunch will be really hot. I'm on a tear. I'm using the pepper sauce straight as a dipping sauce like one might use salsa. Lovely.

How long do you think it will take to give away and consume the stuff? I'm betting that three liters are not going to be enough. There is one more bag of peppers in the outside fridge. If someone wants to speak for them they should speak soon or I'm going to brew them up into more of the same.

We have a glut of tomatoes looking for a new sauce to put away. Why are there almost no variety in Katcup? Yuk. It could be so much better Maybe I should "wing" one and then just document what I did to I can find my way back it if works.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Carnivoire Chicken Festival of Gore

Please join us in celebration of lives lived well. Commercial lives not lived, and care and attention to the "free range".

Anyone prepared to explore more about being a carnivore by helping put our birds in the freezer is welcome to join us this Saturday. Come early (8:30) and be prepared to work your tails off, and please, please dress for winter. Last year it was a party in the sun, but this year it looks like it's going to be a challenge to keep from freezing.

We need all the help we can get. There's a good crew all ready committed to all tasks, but many hands make for light work and there will be no shortage of work. There will be the usually bounty of fine food available to sustain the hardy workers. I suspect that many pounds of hot ribs are in the works.

There are a full range of work positions available on kill day. Everything from clean up and food preparation in the kitchen, to how ever close to the action you want to be.

It's going to be cold. Please layer your clothes well with at least three layers. If you're not accustomed to spending a day outside at 8C, please feel free to tag me for instructions on how to dress for happiness.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Impatiens seed pods

Our youngest introduced me to some fun I'd been missing out on. The impatiens that PU planted around the oak between the summer kitchen and the house have gone to seed. The seed pods explode when pressure is applied. It reminds me of some kind of silly jumping bean show. We could drop them on the walk way and have them spring into action too. Who can't use more fun?

Simple pleasures.

Hot sauce

One of the main reasons I began to play with a home recipe for hot sauce is that too many of the commercial varieties are so salty that they ruin much of the pepper flavour. I like pepper flavour and so far this recipe has proven to keep well, when canned, and taste good to me and a few others. I'd be interested in how anyone else makes out with this if any of you play with it.

15ml pickling salt

2.5ml dry mustard to help emulsify the mixture

300ml vinegar per liter

I washed carefully and then sterilized 200ml jars in oven at 200F for ten minutes

Put lids in boiling water for ten minutes to sterilize them

Filled the jars to 1cm from their tops

Canned the filled jars for 20 minutes in boiling water

I washed and sliced the peppers, membrane, seeds and all. I discarded the tops.

I put the salt, vinegar, mustard and a couple cups of sliced peppers into the blender. Then I added and ground up the sliced peppers until I had a liter of finely mixed contents in the blender.

This year the sauce will no doubt have a different character than the sauce I made last year. This year the variety of peppers included in the sauce is mixed between the scotch bonnet, bird type and the ever popular jalapeño peppers.

Last year I was able to develop this recipe with bright red scotch bonnet peppers only, and the results had a very good pepper character.

Due to the vagaries of gardening in our part of the world the peppers didn't show as much red colour as they did last year so the resulting sauce is quite green in comparison. I have to be grateful for even having peppers this year. September allowed for many of them to mature so at least we got some quantity. Whether the quality is there I don't know, but we'll have a taste test in a couple of weeks. They all had good moisture and the plusher kinds had wonderfully thick walls.

After putting by three liters of hot sauce I have done a load of dishes without gloves, washed my hands with soap carefully, used industrial hand cleaner as per the instructions and now I'll have a shower and use my brush cut head as a scrub pad in another attempt to rid my hands of the hot oils. Hopefully sensitive membrane on my body will be safe from these hands again soon.


Saturday, October 3, 2009


I can't believe that we've had such a gentle autumn when the summer was so miserable. The leaves are still on the oaks for crying out loud. I had to light the first fire of the season yesterday to dry out and warm up the house a bit before PU got home. She's been away a lot and besides the smell of baking bread, a fire says almost as warm a welcome.

The two stick slow fire.

I really love the transition from summer to winter. The smells, the violence, it's all good. We've been battered with wind and then after days of that beating, last night it was quiet. I mean roaring ears quiet. Lovely.

Chickens will be butchered next weekend. It would be very nice if Mother Nature could see her way into pitching in too and providing some weather that won't freeze our hands off.