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