Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sun Rise, Sun Set

Have you ever noticed what a beautiful world we live in?  I have been noticing more since we left the crowded, noisy city behind and moved out to the peaceful country.  One thing I have really noticed is the beauty in the sunrise and the sunset.

Our back yard and field look out towards the setting sun and we have had some of the most incredible sunsets.  I usually just admire them and forget to run get my camera.  I was able to catch one magnificent one in the fall.
behind my house

The picture doesn't do the colors justice

Then this week I saw the most incredible sunrise.  I actually had to drive back home to get my camera.  This was the morning after the Lunar Eclipse. I don't know if that had anything to do with the sunrise or if it was just a coincidence but I was very thankful to Heavenly Father for allowing me to see this beautiful sight.

on the road in front of my house

Beautiful sunrise

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful? 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Newsletter

2010 was an interesting and exciting year for the Merrill Family.  To start it off in January I finally secured a permanent job at the University as the Graduate Secretary in the School of Fine Art and Music. This means I now qualify for paid vacation and sick pay.  We also doubled up our dental benefits to help cover the cost of Zach's upcoming braces.

In April we celebrated the arrival of our 3rd Granddaughter, Sydney Sierra Rose Haw.  She is such a wonderful little girl, full of smiles.  Unknown to Amber when she named her was that Sydney is a family name. 

In May we had family from Alberta join us in celebrating Brock's marriage to Jenna Howey. It was great to have Cody and Mimi,  Grandma Humphreys and Auntie Sheila Hatch, Ginamarie, Richard, Storm and Lincoln Sefcik, Grandma Merrill, Aunt Karen Gordon and Uncle Phil Merrill join us for this great day. Maybe they can join us again in July 2011 for the next Merrill wedding!

In June we packed up our belongings and moved to our new home.  We had lived in Guelph for 20 year, almost 17 in our home.  For years we have been talking about moving to the country and 2009 we almost did it but the timing wasn't right.  We spent most of that year renovating our home - hardwood throughout, painting etc.  In March we found a place we loved and put our newly renovated home up on the market.  7 days later it was sold and we started packing to move.  On June 4 we moved into our new country property. 20 acres of peace and quiet.

Country living has been wonderful.  We have a huge garden that produced more beans than I could pick.  We have a 100 ft row of raspberries and 20 feet of asparagus.  We grew tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash.  We also had our own pumpkins for Halloween. We also have 6 apple trees in the front yard and a mixture of apple, pear, plum, apricot and cherry trees in the back.  We are hoping to have our own little orchard back there.

We have over 2 acres of grass to mow weekly.  It keeps Zach and Talia busy, and even mom takes a turn sometimes.  We had 8 acres of barley this year which is now 8 acres of pasture grass.  We had hoped to get a fence put up this summer/fall but ran out of time and money.  The posts and boards are stacked in a neat pile waiting for spring.  There are stakes out in the field marking the fence line so we can imagine what next summer will bring.  Once the fence is up maybe we can add some animals to the place.

With the snow finally on the ground Rod has been out using our snow blower to keep the driveway clear.  It takes a while to clear 500 feet of driveway so we are looking forward to the delivery of our attachment for the tractor.  That will speed up the work considerably.

And now Christmas is almost upon us. The tree is trimmed, the presents are almost wrapped and the excitement is building.  We will have a crowd around the table but will miss those who are unable to join us this year.  Hopefully it won't be long before Cody and Mimi move back to Ontario and sit at the table with us. 

This has been a exciting and eventful year for us and we look forward to many more. 

May the Lord bless each of you with a wonderful 2011.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Who came up with this idea to change the clocks back and forth year after year.  Spring Forward, Fall Back.  I think those folks in Saskatchewan have the right idea - set the clock and leave it alone! 

Some people seem to think that we need the sun in the morning to blind us as we drive to work. This morning was a real killer sun shining through the front window of the car.  Then we can stay inside all day and only catch a glimpse of the sun if we happen to be standing close to a window.  Who cares if we have to drive home in the dark?    I CARE!!!    UGH!!!!!! 

Last week the sun came up at a reasonable time.  It was still a bit dark when I got up but by the time I was leaving for work the sun was up over the horizon and lighting my day. It was still daylight when I came home too.  But this week the sun is up before I am and heading for bed by the time I was leaving the office.

I would love to be able to come home in the evenings in the long winter months and still have some sunlight to see by.  Then I could actually find my way to the door without tripping over the step and the key will go in to the lock so easily since I can actually see where I am putting it.  Think how much energy I could save if I didn't have to turn all the lights on in the house so that I can find my way around. 

The winters here are long enough without taking away all my productive daylight hours!!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Books, Books, Books

I LOVE to read!!!! I would say it is my favourite hobby.  I always have a book or two on the go.  I like to keep one at work to read during the lunch hour and then I need another one at home to read at night.  Sometimes reading can take over my life.

I remember years ago when the kids were small, Rod would take off on Boxing Day to play hockey with all his buddies.  That became my day to read.  I remember that first year - it was the year my Mom sent me the first Work and Glory book by Gerald Lund.  I started early in the morning and I hardly put it down until the day was done.  I would pause only as long as it took to feed the kids and make sure they were happy.  The following Christmas my mother sent volume two and the pattern repeated itself.  Each year a new volume would come. I also developed a new pattern.  Knowing that I was getting a new book I would start early in December or later in November with volume 1 and re-read the series so that I was ready for the next one.  It took 9 years to collect the entire series and I have read volume 1 nine times!

I also have collected the Kingdom and the Crown (Gerald Lund), Out of Jerusalem (H.B. Moore), Promised Land (David Woolley), Women of Genesis (Orson Scott Card) and of course the Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites (Chris Heimerdinger) and a few other series. I have the beginnings Children of the Promise (Dean Hughes), The Great & Terrible (Chris Stewart) and Millennial Glory (Wendy L. Edwards).  Again using my re-reading technique as the new volumes have come out.

And those are just my LDS novel series.  I also collect books by Anne McCaffrey and her son - especially the Dragonriders of Pern, and Terry Brooks Shannara books.

I also have just tons of novels on my shelves (mostly LDS authors).  I especially like have the LDS novels in my home because I know that the content will be clean and wholesome.  My children love to read as well and I want to be sure that what they are reading is good literature.

Don't worry, novels are not the only books I read.  I have shelves of Biographies and Autobiographies of the prophets and other prominent people in Church History.  We have Mormon Doctrine,  Gospel Doctrine, Jesus the Christ, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, and on and on and on.

That is just one wall in my library.  I also have another huge bookshelf unit with books that are not by LDS Authors.  These are great reads as well.  And then there is the unit that has repair manuals, do it yourself books, gardening books, etc. And then there are boxes with books in the basement that I haven't even unpacked yet.  Is it no wonder I needed a bigger house. Trouble is I have less bookshelves in this house, so I have to be more selective which books I keep out and which stay packed away.

And now my newest read - FINDING ROSE by Stephanie Humphreys.  I have just started to read this one (on Chapter 3 now) but have heard such good reviews about it that I can hardly wait  for some time to really get into it.  And yes, it is by my sister-in-law.  That doesn't make me prejudiced at all!!!  I have ready many different authors so I think I am able to judge a good book when I read it.  I know what I like and so far I like this one!  I just wish I had been able to get a signed copy.  Maybe I will have to ship it to Stephanie (when I'm done of course) and have her sign it and ship it back.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things I am thankful for

At the top of my thankful list is of course MY FAMILY.   I have a wonderful husband who works hard at his job as the greatest scientist on the planet, and then comes home and becomes my "Cinderfella".  He is a great table setter, dishwasher, tap fixer, mechanic, fence builder, and all around handy man.  Then I have 6  fabulous children.  They are some of the best people I know. Through them I have met 4 more wonderful people to add to my family.  These additions have add again to my family giving us 3 of the most beautiful granddaughters the world has ever seen.

In addition to my natural children I am thankful for a wonderful foster daughter.  She is a daughter and a friend. She has been a blessing to my family.  She and her husband have given us 4 handsome grandsons and a beautiful granddaughter.

I am thankful for the GOSPEL.  We are so lucky to have been raised as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We have a knowledge of who we are, why we are here and where we are going. I am thankful for TEMPLES that seal families together forever.    

Pumpkins from my compost heap
I am thankful for a beautiful HOME.  We have been so lucky to find this wonderful place in the country.  With a large GARDEN spot I am able to grow food to help feed me family (all of them).  We had a bounty of beans, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, potatoes, raspberries and others.  We also have the beginnings of an orchard to provide us with fruit.  We also enjoy the beautiful trees that adorn the front yard and the two wooded areas front and back.  And the night sky! What can I say about a night sky without street lights.  There are so many stars up there!  I love to stand outside at night and gaze into the sky.  This past week the big dipper was SO large. I felt like I could reach out and touch it.

I am thankful for FRIENDS.  There are friends and then there are FRIENDS.  I have some of both and am thankful for all of them.

I am thankful for THANKSGIVING, where we can stop and reflect on what we are thankful for.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

apple pie anyone?

When we bought the farm it came with the beginnings of an orchard.  The front yard has 5 apple trees and a cherry tree.  The birds got the cherries before we even had a chance.  Four of the 5 apple trees have apples on them.  Fruit trees are supposed to be sprayed every month to keep down the insects and fungus.  We didn't do a very good job of that this year but we still got loads of apples.  I can't really tell the difference between the apples, I just know that Freeman told me the two closest to the road are Northern Spy.   They aren't very pretty on the outside but the inside is OK. 

Tonight after supper I went down and picked a bag of apples.  Then I got busy and made 4 apple pies.  The smell in my house is yummy.  I can't wait for Rod, Zach and Talia to get home so we can sample the pies from the Merrill Orchard.   There are plenty of apples in my bag and still on the tree so I guess tomorrow night I will try my hand at apple crisp.  Then there is apple sauce, apple pancakes, apple jelly, apple  .....  Any suggestions what else I should make with my apples.

I am looking forward to next year when hopefully we will have even more fruit growing in the orchard - pears, plums, apricots, cherries (if I can keep the birds out).  We have also discovered a crab apple tree but it was pretty wormy so we will probably try to spray it next year. What I would really like to find is a choke cherry tree.  I have used up my last jar of choke cherry syrup and NEED to get more. 

I can't believe how much work and fun it can be living out here.  If it wasn't for the fact that I have to work to pay for this place I would just stay home and bake and can my produce.  It is a wonderful feeling when you can go out to the garden and pick your food for the table.  And then to send fresh and canned produce home with your kids. 

I am so thankful for my wonderful home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poppa has a tractor

What is a farmer without a tractor? 

That is the same question Rod was asking himself since we bought our new place.  So last month Rod went down the road to visit the tractor guy.  We have this neighbour who has what looks to be a huge junk yard but is really a tractor sales and service.  There are all kinds of left over pieces of farm equipment all over his yard looking for a home.  Piles of this and that all over and some where in the midst of all that there it was - the Merrill's new (old) tractor.  An older model (1968-1970?) Massey Ferguson with a front end loader.

So the tractor is purchased but where is it?  Everyday for 2 weeks Rod would hurry home from work hoping his tractor would be sitting on the driveway, and every day he would be disappointed.   Then last Sunday as we were just getting ready to put dinner on the table we hear the driveway sensor buzz and the dog starts barking a the door.  I open it up to see a flatbed truck in the driveway and a tractor sitting on top.  WAHOO, the tractor has arrived.

Dinner is delayed as Rod goes out to watch his tractor being unloaded.  I had to MAKE him come in for dinner before he could play with it.  As soon as dinner was over everyone got up from the table (Brock and Jenna, Amber, Josh and girls visiting) and headed out to check out the new toy.  Talia even had her first lesson in driving the tractor. 

So many smiling faces, you would have thought it was Christmas. 

Since then Rod has used the tractor to dump the dirt out of the trailer and spread it around in the field and to pull the trailer up to the house.  We will be using it to clean out an old pasture that has scraps of fencing and other metal junk.  We hope to find a mower for it to help clear the trail from the house to old trail behind the property.  Maybe even to cut the grass in the field and make our own hay bales.  Who knows?  Now that Rod has his tractor he is thinking of all kinds of uses for it.

This place is slowly starting to look like a farm.  What should we buy next? hmmm?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beautiful Skies

Evening Sky
One evening last week I stepped out outside and saw the most beautiful sunset.  The sky was a brilliant orange. Our back porch faces the west so we can see the sun go down every night if we want to sit out.  The best views are actually from the garden or out in the field.  

The past few nights the skies have been clear and the moon has been shining brightly.  We have a large bay window in the master bedroom that faces out into the back yard.  The moon has done a great job of lighting up the room at night.  I love the night sky in here in the country.  We can see thousands of stars and we always get a good look at the "sky moon" as Gracie used to call it.

Gracie helping Poppa fly a kite
I also love the wide open sky we have during the day.  We had beautiful weather and an awesome breeze a few weeks back.  It was perfect for flying a kite.  When we lived in Guelph we would have to hike to the school yard to fly kites and airplanes. Now we just have to step outside and away we go. 

Rod has been enjoying fixing up the yard for the family to play in.  A few of our recent additions have been a play centre for the grandkids and a tetherball.  Almost everyone taken a turn playing tetherball.  Even Gracie has gotten in on the fun.

We are truly enjoying living here in the country.  Stop by sometime and come play with us.  We have tons of grass to mow and apples to pick.  Maybe you could help us pound fence posts or build a barn. There are woods to explore and trails to bush wack.  At night we can sit on the back porch and watch the sun go down and then count all the stars in the sky. 


Friday, September 3, 2010

the fruit of our labours

We went out earlier this week shopping for fruit trees.  We came home with 1 plum, 1 cherry and 2 apricot trees.  We also bought 2 concord grapes and 2 niagara green. 

Our grapes at the old house had worked themselves half way around the garden.  We had a bumper crop in 2008 and I made so much grape jelly that I thought I would go crazy.  The concord is delicious but the niagara green is exquisite. We have been giving away the concord but we hoard the niagara.   Our vines at the old house were over 15 years old. These new ones are only 2 years old but the girl at the nursery thinks they will produce next year.  There won't be enough to do anything with but we will be happy to get the "vineyard" started again.

We attempted to plant our trees on Wednesday night but the ground was so hard we could hardly dig through the sod.  It has now been raining on and off for about 18 hours so as soon as it clears up a bit we can get out there and dig some holes. 

We have 4 apple trees in the front yard that are getting quite old.  They are producing nicely for now but I don't know how many years they have left in them.  We also have a huge tree between our house and the neighbour that has lots of apples on it.  the problem with that one is that it over 30 feet tall and the lowest branches are higher than my tallest ladder.  We also discovered a crab apple tree in the windbreak beside the back yard.  We didn't know they were there so they didn't get sprayed this year so they don't look edible.  We will be sure to spray next spring.

In the back yard, behind the garden, there are 10 apple trees and 2 pear trees.  We will add our new trees to the orchard.  One of my apple trees in the back had 10 apples on it this year.  I was watching them, waiting for them to ripen when I discovered that 10 was now only 6.  I think the deer also like my apples.  I went and picked the apples before they got them all.  They were delicious.  I'm not sure what kind they were but I think they were McIntosh.  I know we have Northern Spy, McIntosh and Honey Crisp.   Maybe next year they will produce and we will be able to identify which are which. 

We thought Zach would be excited about our apricot trees.  Then each spring he could sing that primary song "Popcorn Popping" and really mean it.  He wasn't impressed.  His response was "Great, more work for me to do on the farm".  It isn't going to be easy turning this city boy into a farmer but we are working on it.  He may not be totally willing but he always does the chores we ask him to do. 

I think Rod is having more fun fixing up this place than he ever imagined he would. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

mmmm, garden fresh

Last night I did my first batch of canned tomatoes.  There weren't enough to fill the whole canner but I did get 5 quarts of tomatoes.  There are lots more tomatoes on the vine but they are not ready to pick.  The plants are actually starting to die so the tomatoes should start ripening soon.  I hope they will ripen in a group so that I can get them all canned at the same time. 

While I was out in the garden picking tomatoes I discovered a new crop we had never tried before was ready to picking - cantaloupe. The poor vines are dying away and so I suspect that means the fruit is ready to pick.  I plucked one off last night and Rod and I enjoyed it for our breakfast and lunch today.  They are small melons but they sure taste good.  I think I will have to try them again next year.

Another crop we have this year is pumpkins.  We have pumpkins growing in the compost pile and more in the garden.  We planted a giant pumpkin and jack-o-lanterns. They are growing nicely and turning nice and orange.  The grand kids will be able to get their pumpkins this year from our garden.   Maybe we will watch for the Great Pumpkin this year.

Jack-o-lantern pumpkin
Giant Pumpkin

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

good fences, good neighbours

Since moving to the farm we have been discussing fencing. What kind? Where to put it? When to start? etc.  Rod has been hesitant thinking maybe we don't want animals on the farm so who needs fencing. Whats a farm without animals????  He and Zach would like an iron horse but Talia and I want one that is flesh and blood.

Once the barley came off the field and we saw 8 acres of grass discussions turned to maybe we should get a goat or two to help keep the grass down.  Well, with coyotes running through the area at night it isn't safe to have animals that aren't fenced or have a barn to live in.  Can't put animals in the original barn - thats for equipment. So the question is, if we have goats where will they live.  The plan became to tie them up in the field during the day and then move them in to a pen at night.  We were able to track down a large dog run that should keep them safe but also give them room to move around.  OK, shelter taken care of now all we need is goats.

Now to convince the husband that we need to work on a fence.  The first thing is to research cost of materials.  While searching on KIJIJI (I love kijiji) I found a farmer who had fence boards he was taking down.  He would sell them to me for $2/board.  That is a real steal of a deal considering they are solid oak 1x6x8.  So off we went to view the boards and the next thing I know we are the owners of 127 oak boards.  No fence posts to hang them on but this is a start.

trailer load of fence posts
 Next, run into Paula at the grocery store and start talking about the new place.  Paula and her husband also live in the country.  They have been boarding horses on their property for years but now that the horses have both died the fencing has been taken down so the farmer can plant more crop.  What are their plans for the fencing?  To get rid of it.  Perfect.  Negotiations are made and we head for their place to pick up posts and wire to make more fencing.  Well, those posts are huge.  They came from old telephone poles. Not the regular posts you would put in for fences but great for corner posts.  The posts take up all the room in the trailer so another trip will need to be made for wire and a few extra posts.

Paula and her husband take us for a walk around the property and happen to stop at their old play centre that they recently dismantled.  Do we want it?  Of course!  It will save us building a new one for the grandkids to play on at the farm.  How about the chain link fence?  Sure, we will find some where to use it.  Maybe around a chicken coop? (hint hint)

All in all a very productive week for construction materials.  Now, when are we going to start building that fence?  Anyone want to come help?   Maybe by next spring I can actually have some animals on my farm.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I scream, you scream we all scream for ICE CREAM

Mmmm, ice cream. 

I'm not a big ice cream eater.  Its not that I don't like it, I just don't crave it like my husband does.  He would love a bowl of ice cream every night.  I usually save it for special occasions.  For his birthday I splurged and bought Kawartha Dairy ice cream, where the first ingredient is CREAM.  They had some wonderful flavours - white chocolate/raspberry, chocolate/peanut butter, royal gold, etc.  I thought it was a wonderful treat until last night.

Last night I had a heavenly ice cream experience.  We have a new ice cream shop in town and my visiting teachers decided it was time for a treat so to the ice cream shop we went.  If you have ever been to a Marble Slab Creamery you know what a pleasure trip it was.  The line up in the store was 30 people deep. They were still lining up behind us too.  Good thing the place is open until midnight!

For those who have never experienced a Marble Slab Creamery WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?!?!?!?

There are so many flavours to choose from and so many toppings you could go every day in the summer and probably still not try all the combinations.   My first experiment was BIRTHDAY CAKE and SKOR bar in a waffle cone.  Mmmmm.  My VT's tried Key Lime with Graham Cracker and Swiss Chocolate and  raspberries. 

So when you place your order the server scoops your ice cream and places it on a scale.  Don't want to over or under serve your customer.  From there the ice cream is placed on a SLAB and your toppings added on top.  The ice cream and toppings are then blended together with a spoon and paddle until well mixed. Creating a smooth ice cream, just like you get when you stir your ice cream at home.  You then choose the kind of cone - plain waffle, dipped, etc. Or if you are on a diet (ha!) you can have it in a cup.  After that you eat and enjoy. 

So the next time you want to go out for ice cream, check and see if there is a Marble Slab near you. I know where I am going the next time my husband get the urge for some fancy ice cream.

Monday, August 16, 2010

to sleep, perchance to dream

Are you a dreamer?  I dream nightly, usually more than one dream.

Night time is when we are supposed to sleep and rejuvenate our bodies and minds.  How can that happen if you spend the whole night dreaming?  I often wake up more tired than when I went to bed.  I used to think it was because of the crazy hours I kept with getting up for papers at the 'crack of stupid', and then taking a big nap in the afternoons.  But it has been 2 years since I gave up papers and I am still having crazy sleep.

Falling asleep has never been the problem, it is staying asleep.  I will wake up at least once maybe 2 -3 times most nights. Sometimes it involves just rolling over and falling back asleep. Other times I need to actually get out of bed, wander the house and maybe even find a new place to sleep.  In the old house that place was the family room.  I would lay on the couch and listen to the loud ticking of the clock.  It would finally lull me back to sleep.   Since moving to the new place we don't have a couch to sleep on so that option is out. 

Well, I hope I have found a solution to my problem.  After talking to a friend who is studying to become a doctor with an interest in naturopathy, I have started taking a natural hormone -- MELATONIN.  What a wonderful non-drug.  I still find I will wake up at night (usually to go to the bathroom) but falling back asleep is almost instantaneous and my sleep feels deeper and more relaxing.  And the dreams have slowed down!!! Usually only one dream at night and it is just before I wake up for the day.  What a joy!

They say you shouldn't take melatonin continuously. You should take a break every 3-4 weeks.  Well, I took a break this past weekend and the dreams were back in full force.  So, I guess I will continue to take my little white pills for sleeping and plan my "dreams" for the weekend when I don't have to get up early for work. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Smells I love

There are so many smells out there in the world.  Some make you gag - like skunk, rotten vegetables, dirty diapers, stinky shoes, wet dog, etc.  Others make you feel happy and bring comfort. I much prefer the happy smells.

Some of the smells that make me happy are:
fresh mowed hay or grass
new born babies
roast cooking in the oven
the air after a rain storm
laundry hanging on the line

We have always had a clothesline.  Up until we moved we have used the umbrella style.  Out on the farm we have the long line for hanging out the laundry.  I love this style the best.  The clothes are able to wave in the wind and they dry faster. There have been days when the first load is dry before the second load is on the line.  OH, the smell of clean laundry.  It smells like fresh air and sunshine.  Sometimes I will hang up blankets even if they haven't been washed just so they can get that fresh air and sunshine smell.  I have even pulled blankets out the the closet months later and can still get a wiff of that wonderful smell.  It is especially great if it happens when the weather is cold and you can still smell summer. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

oats and beans and barley grow

OK not oats but beans and barley. 

combining barley
This spring we had 8 acres of barley planted by the farmer down the road. The previous owners had rented out the land and they had corn and beans.  We don't plan on growing crops and didn't like the idea of 8 acres of dirt so we had the farmer up the road plant 8 acres of pasture grass with barley over top as a nurse crop.  We have been watching the barley grow and wondered how the grass was doing underneath.  Tuesday night our farmer came down and determined that the barley was ready to be harvested.  He said he would be back early next week to take care of it.  What a surprise we had when we came home last night to find the combine sitting in the field and half the barley already mowed.  Before I could even get supper on the table our field of barley was finished.  Thanks Al and Phil for harvesting our barley.  Hope you are back soon to bale the straw.

Merrill Barley

And yes, the beans continue to grow.  I only picked one row last night. I guess I will be picking the rest tonight unless I can find someone who wants to help.  I also picked and shelled peas. I got about 2 cups off my few scraggly plants.  Rod doesn't want to grow peas anymore but I think I will try convincing him  next spring to put in a few more rows. The weeds kind of choked them out this year. 

Talia has been busy cleaning the old chicken manure and straw out of the barn. That girl is pretty handy with a pitchfork after all these years working in horse barns.  We have a nice pile that we will be able to spread on the garden this fall which should add great nutrients to the soil.   We should have a great garden next year - more beans to pick!!!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A day at the beach

With yesterday being a holiday it was time to PLAY not work on the farm!  We convinced Poppa that we needed to make a trip to the beach (our first one this summer).  We rounded up family members and a few friends and off we went to Long Point, down on Lake Erie.  Sauble Beach is our usual beach but we decided to be adventurous and try somewhere new.

sliding on the sand pile
We all had fun playing in the waves and the sand.  My greatest joy was watching Gracie play in the sand castle that "Uncle" Robert had built.  It was really just a huge pile of sand with a moat and wall around it.  She watched Robert step over the wall but since she is so much shorter she decided to slide over the wall.  That was the beginning of her sliding in the sand.  She would climb on top of the sand pile and slide down the other side.  This must have gone on for over 1/2 hour of her climbing and sliding.  She was giggling the whole time.  She didn't even care that her face was covered with sand. 

sandy girl
The boys took turns pouring water into the moat.  The expression on her face when the water would "disappear" was priceless.  She would then turn to the lake and say "lots more water".  At which time the boys would start filling the moat again.

Sisters and Friends, the best combination
Amber and Talia are always taking picture of themselves and usually making funny faces.  This time they were serious and actually captured a great picture of the two of them.  Can you tell they are sisters?

Zach was a great sport and let the boys bury him in the sand.  Robert then used his artistic talents and turned my son and the pile of sand into a muscular MERMAN.
Zach in the sand

I am so glad we took the time to play together as a family.  We will have memories of a fun day together.  When we got home there was grass to mow, trees to trim and storage shelves to build. The chores didn't seem so bad after a day of play.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ode to vegetables

gateway to my garden

bean patch
I love my vegetable garden.  We always plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes, carrots and beans.  I have 5 rows of beans this years and right now they are producing beautifully.  Every other day I go out and pick all the beans that are mature.  This amounts to about 2 ice cream buckets of beans.  The next hour is spent sitting on my back deck snapping beans.  From there it is into the kitchen for washing, blanching and freezing. So far I have 12 bags of beans in the freezer waiting for winter.  One year I tried pressure canning my beans.  It is a lot more work and I haven't decided if it is worth it except for the fact that they can sit on a shelf and not worry if the power goes off.

Last night Tucker was with me in the garden. He usually follows me everywhere I go.  Anyway, he was slinking between rows and I wondered what he was up to.  I discovered he had a branch from one of the bean plants in his mouth and a few beans hanging from it.  It turns out he likes to eat raw beans.  Now there is a dog with good taste!

We have also enjoyed fresh peas from the garden this year.  They were planted by the previous owners and ready when we moved in.  I have tried growing peas every year but for some reason I never have enough plants to provide more than a taste.

The zucchinis are starting to produce and hopefully the cucumbers and squash are not far behind.  There are lots of flowers on the plants but on closer examination I find more males than females.  Where have all the females gone?!?  The best squash plant growing is one I didn't plant.  It is in the compost pile and I think it is time to harvest a few squash.

yellow tomato
My tomato plants are quite short this year.  They have tomatoes on them and lots of blossoms but the actual plant is not more than 2 feet high.  I remember a few years in Indiana where the plants were almost as tall as I was.  I am looking forward to eating my first tomatoes of the season.  I have 2 yellow tomatoes sitting in the windowsill waiting to ripen just a bit more.  If you have never had the yellow tomatoes you should try them.  The flavor is almost the same but the acidity is less.  I like to serve both red and yellow together.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Take time to laugh

I think sometimes life gets so busy and serious that we forget to laugh.

So the other night I got together with two of my girlfriends and watched (again) Momma Mia. We had the sing along version on blue ray so no more wondering what the words to the songs were. We sang and we laughed and had a wonderful time.

It has been a long time since I have laughed so hard. Thanks for a wonderful evening girls.

I love you berry much

Our garden has blessed us with a great crop of berries. A one hundred foot row of raspberries can produce a lot of berries. Every other evening can find me out in the garden picking raspberries for freezing. The black currants are also loaded and in need of picking and now the gooseberries are on. I need more hours in the evening in which to take care of my garden.

The other night I was out in the berry patch picking away. It was just me and the dog and not another sole around. Rod and Zach were in town using the internet. Talia is off to Alberta visiting family.

I started feeling like the Ant in the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper. Everyone I knew was off having fun and here I was working away getting ready for the winter. My friends and family all talk about the vacations they have had or are planning for the summer. What am I doing? Picking berries and freezing them. But I love berries and it will be great to have raspberries and strawberries to eat in the winter.

I guess since we don't have internet at the house I could pretend I am at the cottage. They say a change is as good as a holiday and this is a change from the work at the office. I guess I will just have to learn to love my "stay-cation" until next year when I have actually earned enough vacation time to run away like everyone else.

Life on the farm is kind of laid back ....

This is my first attempt at joining the blogging world. There have been some changes in our life and I thought this might help my friends keep up with what is happening.

So after 27 years of marriage and living in the city my husband and I purchased a "farm". It is 20 acres of "life in the country". The previous owners were elderly and moving to the city. They had been renting out about 8 acres of the land to a church for farming. Rod isn't sure he wants to be a real farmer so we hired a neighbour to put the 8 acres into pasture grass. Talia is counting down the months (yes months) until there is a home for a few horses.

We love our new place. It is very quiet and peaceful. We have close neighbours on one side but the others are about 1/2 mile away. I wake up every morning to the sound of birds singing and not just noisy crows. When I look up in the sky at night I can actually see stars. Zach was excited to finally be able to identify the big dipper. Living in the city all these years he has never had a good view of the night sky.

Rod has had the month of July off so he has been busy bringing the property into the new millenium. The cover over the walk-up is now properly framed and has a real roof on in. The storage barn has a concrete floor and as soon as Talia gets home from Alberta she can start cleaning up the chicken pens.

The garden is in and growing. I swear the garden is almost as big as the house. It has worked out well because there is plenty of space between rows to run the rototiller. Can't wait to enjoy meals from the garden.

So those are the highlights of our new life. Here's to country life!!!