Friday, 14 November 2014

HOW TO GET 5 ‘gastro delights’ FROM ONE raw CHICKEN QUARTER – GREAT FOR THE Paleo Diet

1.       Meat – Harvest the meat from the bone to be used in any capacity. In our case we grind the meat in order to make chicken jerky.
2.       Skin – We skin the quarter of chicken and put it on a grate over a dish and place it in the oven at 350. I watch as the skins brown and crisp up (anywhere from 25 mins to 1 hr… just keep checking). I remove them when they are entirely hard and put them on a cloth to absorb any excess fat. These are super yummy on their own (certainly not in excess…. despite the amazingly addictive flavour)….I’ve been known to add Himalayan sea salt and ground rosemary & thyme prior to putting them in the oven….. oh yes I did! ….they were AWESOME! Use your imagination… curry powder or cumin… garlic…k. You Get It. I’ve also been known to crumble some over a fresh salad served with the chicken. Delish. Gotta love Crackling.     
3.       Rendered Chicken Fat – The cool thing about making the skin (aka crackling) is you also make rendered chicken fat at the same time. Make sure prior to cooking the skins that there is no meat or bone on the skin… this will prolong its shelf life tremendously. After the skins have transformed into little crunchy pieces of deliciousness, you'll notice that there is clear liquid in the dish. HARVEST THIS NECTER!!! It’s rendered chicken fat. GREAT FOR A PALEO DIET! Strain it through cheesecloth before putting it in a jar. Cap the jar and let it cool to room temperature. You will note it changes colour (as it solidifies). Once cool to the touch then place in the fridge for random use. Just scoop out what you need! It cooks at a high heat which makes it beautiful for roasting vegetables or simply as a dab of oil as required. I am also a fan of using it for making fresh popcorn as it gives it a yummy flavour. So ya….Keep this! It will last for a VERY LONG TIME in the fridge.  
4.       Bones – Without a doubt making broth is often my motivator for pulling a quarter chicken out of our freezer.... between you and me what to do with the meat is completely secondary. There is nothing better than homemade broth from yummy tasty organic grass-fed chicken! Grass-fed chicken is naturally more flavourful (try it yourself if you don’t believe me) ~ you see it’s all in the grass! So throwing the uncooked bones into a slow-cooker with some organic carrots, onions and celery greens is just like a gift from the earth (yes….I did just say that!). So take the time and make the broth. I recommend putting the bones and veg in a slow-cooker with water added only to the top of the bones (don’t over water as this weakens the flavour of the broth) set at low and walk away….. for like 10 hours. When you return strain the contents through a sieve and place the broth in a jar ~ cap the jar and let it cool on the counter…..um…..or just leave it in the slow-cooker and add your soup ingredients….WHY WAIT??? Happy soup making!
 
and finally.........................  
5.       Pet Food – After the broth has been separated you are left with a whole lot of yumminess ~ maybe not the most appealing to guests or family but in that mess is a dinner of champions for your furry little….or big…..friends. Separate ALL bones from the meat and veg ~ this is extremely important as chicken bones are not animal friendly! For our Bella I take out the celery greens and most of the onions as she’s not a fan…. I leave behind a healthy amount of chicken meat and some delicious soft carrots, a stray onion or two and a little broth. I tell you she’s one happy puppy!!!
 
So there you have it!
 
 
One chicken quarter can provide 5…. count em’… FIVE GASTRO DELIGHTS! Who knew? ….
 
 
WASTE NOT WANT NOT
 
 
 
 

it's not all recliners and rose hip tea ~ emerging from end-of-market season seclusion....

OK….it’s been a while. I admit it. And yes, we have been guilty of swimming in the sea of no farmers’ markets; in the ocean of less chores and the coziness of preparing for the winter slumber. In other words…… we’ve been engaging in active procrastination while sipping the sweet nectar of rest. So here we are…. the inevitable has approached and back at it we go.
 
 
STREEEEEEETCHyawn.  

 
So what’s been goin’ on you ask? …it can’t be all recliners and rose hip tea…

Well the most exciting accomplishment for the farm over the past couple of months has been the completion of the inside of the barn ~ Farmer Luke has been waiting since this time last year for the barn to be accessible to the animals….. I’m happy to say patience has paid off and now he has an amazing space, designed by him and brand spanking new! It’s a pretty huge milestone on this crazy journey that was thrown into our laps. This will be our first winter with the animals housed on our property ~ new routines will be harvested and preserved as we embark on the challenges ahead.

On my front….. in the world of the ever evolving Granola Girl….. I have to say the pace has certainly changed. I have only a few anticipated trips early next year and other than that my calendar remains manageable allowing me time to focus on MY contribution to this crazy adventure. I’m embracing the change, loving the consistency, and enjoying the moment. OK. Truth be told…. it’s all harvesting and preserving at this time of year. I’ve spent most of my ‘new found’ time picking, sorting, washing, cutting, blanching, drying, packing, canning or freezing….. anything I can get my hands on!! So ya, it’s a ‘different’ kinda pace now but I’m happily donning the role and enjoying the spoils of my effort.   

There are still challenges ahead…..but it isn’t that bad

Our immediate challenge is water. Clearly an extremely important factor to raising animals…..you just can’t compromise with water. So……although we had high hopes of installing the new well and solar water pump this season it simply did not happen. There are only so many kites you can fly in the summer without one or two falling to the wayside. So what does this mean? It means we…..um…. I mean….Farmer Luke will be shuttling water between our house and the barn all winter long. YUP…It’s just an endless moment of ‘looking forward to’ in our world!!! Sigh. So is life.

So yes, water is a challenge. Food and shelter we’ve got sussed so no worries on that front. Generally speaking we are in pretty good condition heading into winter. The laying hens just came home so we can control the light and egg production and keep them toasty and warm throughout the winter. Forrest Rea has become super protective of her eggs and insists on collecting them each day ~ besides the obvious ‘free labour’ (….did I say that out loud?....) it’s also a whole lotta adorable! The other animals (insert cows, sheep & llamas) will spend their first winter in the barn together... but have no fear… Farmer Luke has collected lots of good quality hay this summer and it’s stacked and waiting! Bring it.

Finally….the girls are rotating!

YES!! I have to say, I really had no concept of Farmer Luke’s vision when he began down the road of turning the land into a farm. I honestly just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I have watched as he carefully and methodically took every step in order to get to this point. He has met with and consulted with so many diverse people on so many different levels ~ from Municipal and Planning Officers to Conservation Authorities and MNR….from Engineers to Contractors and equipment operators….from other farmers to assessment officers ~ it’s really quite amazing how complex it has been. And if I may…..I need to take a moment to….

WHOOP WHOOP OH YA, WAY TO GO FARMER LUKE~~~HANDS IN THE AIR, HANDS IN THE AIR!!!
who remembers this creepy dancing baby?..... ~ WHOOP WHOOP!!
All this to say….yes, he has managed to bring his dream alive! The cows are home….happy…..and hanging out. Despite only having one permanent (i.e. completed) fenced in paddock….Farmer Luke has managed to use temporary solar electric fencing (produced by Gallagher…not surprisingly a New Zealand manufacturer) to rotationally graze three fields so far. It’s AH-MAZE-ING to see this unfold. This time last year…….NONE OF THIS WAS POSSIBLE!!! How craze-balls is that?
 
So Okay....WE'RE BACK in the world of the living....see you all at the Christmas Markets in Kemptville and Brockville next month....no rest for the wicked they say....or maybe just a little......
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

This update is brought to you by the letter “C”………

COWS..
If you haven’t officially herd (….yes, that was intended…) THE COWS HAVE COME HOME TO GRAZE!! …this is a monumental moment for us on so many levels….it indicates independence….it closes the circle….it completes the official beginning….it really is an accomplishment considering where we've come in just over a year of owning  the land. Farmer Luke pretty much sums it up below.....

that would be one happy farmer!! ....with WWOOFer Martin
OK….I do have to preface this point with the fact that we’ve yet to chorale the last three ladies…yes, Farmer Luke…the cow whisperer……is being tested. Three cows have alluded entrapment and therefore transfer to the farm. Apparently one had a bad experience before we knew her and she’s influencing the other two…they’ve formed a gang of sorts and at the moment it’s
 
FARMER 0 / COW GANG 4
 
….of course, the inevitable is inevitable and the farmer will win…..but what is amazing is watching Farmer Luke’s patience with the process. I mean these ladies have alluded him for over a week now!! Other farmers wouldn’t have the patience or take the time to wait it out in order to gain trust and respect. He keeps saying….they’ll come, don’t worry, it’s just a matter of time…..well that time came….um, ahem....and went…… so the story goes.... Apparently Farmer Luke and WWOOFer Martin were baiting them in with yummy food and one morning ~ say attempt #2… or maybe it was #3… ~ nonetheless... much to their astonishment they managed to get the cows in the barn! As Farmer Luke put it:

We were like OK AWESOME! WOW WE DID IT!!! ~ um… OK so I’m telling Martin to quickly run around one side and I ran around the other and by the time we got there the cows were like ‘hey, what’s up?’ they were just standing there smugly just outside the gate and of course the moment I moved they were off down the field! damn!! (LAUGHING) they know what they are doing I’ll give them that!

So begins….Farmer Luke has since tried denying them yummy good quality silage in hopes that when he baits them back they would come….ya…NOPE. Currently they have rigged up the barn with all the feeders and water containers then the idea is they would just shut the gate once the ladies go in for a feed….this theory is still pending…..

So ya….the fun continues but the learning curve is tremendous and for a farmer like Luke this is candy to the brain…..I marvel at the mind of a farmer….I really do….so ya the cow whisperer is having a little challenge but that hasn’t stopped him from whispering to the cows….it’s just taking a little longer…or perhaps they can't understand his accent......
 
QUIET PLEASE! in negotiations
CRITTERS...
So far we’ve been visited by Racoons, Rats and Squirrels…. otherwise known as ‘PREDATOR IDENTIFICATION 101’ ~ not sure when we signed up for this course but we seem to be passing with about a B+ average…..ANYWAY...it seems the racoons have been and gone (but not without making their mark of course and I have to say they are a lot less wasteful than chicken leg eating rats….which interestingly is a fact I couldn’t have told you a year ago) …. we also had a squirrel attacking the food bins in the field but we managed to deter it without any damage...it might have had a few heart palpitations but nothing serious.... SO now we sit... silently resisting the false sense of security creeping into the atmosphere as the apparent threat seems to have subsided for the past couple of weeks.…. in fact.... we’ve had a few chicken escapees that have survived two nights out of the tractors without any casualties... IMPRESSIVE IN MY BOOKS! ….the first time this happened I expressed my deep concern for the chicken's safety....I explained that it would just be a sitting duck and that wasn't fair.... I pleaded that we should be doing more to get the poor little chicken back into the tractor (insert dramatic flare)... WWOOFer Martin quickly agreed…. and there we stood united as advocates of the feathered and the winged.....  
 
Farmer Luke began to smirk…
 
....he just stared at us with a look of amusement that only a farmer can muster when others offer their opinion without any foundation earned by experience…..
 
his eyes sparkled with delight and pleasure as he finally said:

Firstly, if you wanna go catch a chicken that now has free run of a large pasture and more importantly a large treed area then go ahead be my guest and I sure would appreciate the help….but good luck with that!

Secondly, it’s not bothering this chicken....obviously it’s happy out there….it would clearly rather stay out there right now and who am I to deny it that?….or better yet waste the time and energy making it happen?

Thirdly, it’ll come when it’s hungry or thirsty. It’ll likely just come and sit down and wait then happily run into the cage….you watch.

So if you can’t live with that then by all means go chase the chicken!

Ahem… Point. Taken…. in lawyer speak, I conceded and we moved on…..and low and behold on the third day the chicken happily ran back into the cage…. Huh. Right?! … I kid you not! ….we’ve dealt with 2 or 3 escapees in the last two weeks and each time the same result…. so there you are; a farmer knows what they know so that's the way to go!

contrary to popular belief....a chicken or two has been caught over the season...YES Farmer Luke!.. they were little and the grass was long.....Point. Taken. .....

CONSERVATION...
This is just kinda cool….when we officially bought the land on May 24, 2013 we agreed that we would not clear the full 100 acres but would leave 60 acres to conservation and 40 acres to the farm and pastures….to our delight we discovered that the land runs parallel with 3300 feet of the Kemptville Creek….in fact at one point we own from shore to shore….
 
 
it was this relationship with the water that birthed our friendship with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority…. Farmer Luke knew that farming along a creek the size of this one came with environmental constraints and considerations... undeterred he went to the bylaw office and happily volunteered our stewardship of the land….. and from one impassioned conversation with RVCA our world opened up like we had never anticipated! RVCA embraced our vision and gave us their backing 100%....what does this mean? It means grants. As we have land adjacent to (and encompassing) the Municipal waterway we are required to keep the animals away from the water…. which of course means fencing. To most this would be an obstacle involving a sub-contractor…..but no…..to Farmer Luke this was a dream come true! He loved the idea of getting to fence his own land….what better way of making your mark and learning your land at the same time ~ it didn’t hurt that he had always had a vision about the layout he would have and the type of fencing he would install...so in the end, Farmer Luke was able to negotiate a grant which would off-set the cost of his fencing, the solar water pump and the well.
 
CRAZY RIGHT!
....serendipity likely…..
opportunity undeniable!
 
…..it’s been a bit of a challenge but we’re getting there….. also, just the other day we heard that Ducks Unlimited have contacted us through RVCA concerning the possibility of installing duck boxes…. I have to say, this Granola Girl is absolutely in love with the conservation aspect of this farm.....swoon!!
 
love me some treehugging!!! ~ New Zealand circa 2012
  
So there you have it ~ cows….critters…..conservation....OH and we’re almost complete! Stay-tuned….

 
 
    

Monday, 18 August 2014

You Know You Have Farm Kids When…….



Here are a few examples of how to pick one out of a crowd.......



1. white eggs are a mystery found only on flashcards….

In telling this story I’m admitting that it’s not all farm fresh eggs in our house but we’re only human and well….. we simply needed eggs that moment…..currently we’re transitioning out of old hens into new hens that haven’t started laying yet…. so SHUDDER there is an egg shortage in the house and unfortunately commitments to customers take priority over the farmer…. this is something we've tried to reverse but we have yet to entirely succeed. ......Anyway.... I’m putting away the groceries and Forrest is sitting on the counter helping me. She grabs the eggs, opens the carton to count them (as she does everyday for dad) and all I hear is….



YES!!! WHITE EGGS! ……I KNEW IT!!!



after literally laughing out loud.... I suddenly realized she had NEVER seen a real white egg before! In her world she had finally found the truth about the elusive white egg she’d seen and heard so much about in all those toddler books. It was some sort of 'holy grail' moment. HAHA!! I couldn’t stop laughing!!!! What a poor sheltered farm life this girl leads….. next I suppose she’ll want a subway ride. Too much!! And of course this inherently evolved into an experiment with one of our eggs and a white egg to note the differences…….only a farm kid.   


farm fresh eggs 101

2. the need to tell the farmer what to do…..

As I said.... Forrest has grown up on the farm and because of that her 3.5 year old mind has developed a certain skill set…. accompanied with confidence….. to farm with the best of them! She has no worries about getting into the chicken tractors and feeding the chickens or collecting the eggs... there is no fear in her running with the sheep in their pen or herding escapees from the tractors. The innocence and connection that little person has with this adventure is completely and utterly endearing to me. It’s what makes her the epitome of a farm kid. In all her 3-year-old tenacity she has been known to literally scold and correct the farmer if he has not done something to her expectations…. it’s kinda adorable in a "I can't believe that kid just said that to me" kinda way. At a recent birthday party she came running over to me... put on her shoes.... paused long enough to say “I’m going to see the chickens”..... and off she ran. About 10 minutes later I watched her run across the lawn right up to the owner of the house, tap her on her arm and hand her an egg. She then promptly turned around and ran off to play with the kids completely unfazed. Yup. Farm kids.     


Forrest explaining how we get eggs



Click below to see a video prepared by Mr. Fab Finn about our cows without any preparation or prompting.... just a simple "Hey Mom video this!".... LOVE IT!!

3. dining in the backyard is preferred....

We have a large raised bed garden at home where I grow all my herbs for the farm and a healthy supply of fruit and veggies for the family. It really is a grocery store in our backyard. There is a point in the summer where I’ll just blankly enter the garden and come out with three dishes for dinner.... including seasoning! It’s pretty cool and those meals ALWAYS taste the best. There is also a point in summer where that lovingly prepared entrĂ©e becomes an appetizer to the garden grazing dinner buffet. I honestly don’t know why I bother cooking sometimes…. I should just send them out to graze… less dishes! The routine thus far has been to head outside after they have picked away at the dinner I prepared.... once outside they head straight for the garden..... the kids begin grazing on everything from ground cherries to peas; beans to strawberries; raspberries to tomatoes. In between bites and foraging Finn mutters things like, “this is the best food anywhere; it’s so crunchy and tasty! I love our food garden” [I kid you not ~ this kid says some crazy cool things sometimes] .....and Forrest doesn’t stop and talk as she’s too busy chomping down as many ground cherries as she can find. Our kids can identify everything from a tomatillo to an apple cucumber, they can pick arugula, kale and lettuce without being shown, their world of veggies includes yellow cucumbers, striped egg plants, purple….. beans, tomatoes, peas and potatoes, they’ve seen and tasted over 12 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and almost as many varieties of potatoes… and..... they think nothing of trying everything! ....of course they don't always like it.... Farm Kids.


Finn chomping on beans circa 2011


We never set out to have farm kids and we certainly haven’t forced it on them either. They come with Farmer Luke when they want and participate if they are interested. You’d be amazed at how often one or both are tagging along. To us the farm is just an extension of our home and lives and if you want to hang out with mom or dad then come along for the ride…. I love the fact I can’t enter the garden gate without them following close behind and chewing instantly. 

so yup... these little people are 100%....
FARM RAISED ~ FARM FED ~ FARM KIDS 
.......and we couldn't be more proud! 
Summer 2014






 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

This update has been brought to you by the letter “L”..... hmmmmm, I sense a theme...



Well, I honestly didn’t expect this to come so close on the heels of my last update but to be honest I find writing these blogs therapeutic and in a lot of ways relaxing and cathartic as I venture into the forbidden arena of procrastination…. that moment when your list of ‘to does’ is so long that it just grinds you to a halt…. where the thought of prioritizing churns your stomach and pains your head…. Well I’m there… again apparently… and I honestly think Farmer Luke is there too… that awkward tone hangs in the air…. he chops wood and I blog.


so lets begin……


LLAMAS!!!!! Yup ~ crazy super fun as I never thought I would ever say we have llamas!! Funnily or not, I can’t help but say each time I see them “hey there Llama Llama Red Pajama” *NB children’s book…. a series actually… it’s like my farm animal earworm. They are really cool to look at and luckily we got them from a small farmer who had handled them often so they are really friendly too! Farmer Luke got heaps of information about them when he picked them up like; how to handle them (apparently they are easily herded with a rope), their reproduction (the only time a Mrs. drops an egg is after Mr. has paid a visit... he gets the motor runnin'.... who knew!), the explanation for their crazy teeth (their teeth don’t stop growing much like a beaver’s), their temperament (after a 20 minute struggle to get them on the trailer… which they had never been on before and Farmer Luke was pretty much new to.... well…. to it all! ......only one spat and it was at the last minute when he tripped... they are patient and sweet llamas.... as llamas go..... so they say). It really is a crazy new adventure…… cuz, of course we’re totally lacking in crazy new adventures….. right?... ahem….. sarcasm should not be wasted..... stay-tuned as our adventure continues


meet Mrs. BABACAKE.... named by Ms. Forrest Rea
meet Mr. Mashed Potatoes.... named by Mr. Fab Finn
Finally, meet Mrs. Amikwa..... named by Granola Girl and means Beaver People of the Algonquin Nation  
So that brings me to…..LIVE TRAP…. ya..... well..... that continues although we’ve had no deaths since the traps were reinstalled and set nightly (like we need another chore, ahhhh the life of a farmer!). This is a good thing for sure…. but along with the good thing is the lingering thought of when, if ever, that good thing will end. It’s not such an elephant in the room as much as a tiger waiting to strike. Good times! As the air hangs heavy with thoughts of what ifs and whens Farmer Luke has taken to chopping an inordinate amount of wood….. and I blog…. I guess productive procrastination isn’t too bad!


a place of productive therapy.... why stew when you can chop things in half?


Finally, I come to the delicious LEMON CUCUMBER ready for picking in our garden…… they really are delicious…. not necessarily lemony as the name connotes, as you see the ‘lemon’ is associated with it’s appearance:


this is an organic heritage variety and just as delicious as the APPLE CUCUMBER


This year we chose to take a backseat to our market garden in order to make room and inevitably time, for the fencing, barn completion, cows, llamas, sheep, turkeys, chickens, eggs…. honestly it’s a wonder why we would even bother drawing the line, why not add one more to the mix? Well, we kinda did. We went crazy on potatoes… our herb garden is completely overflowing… we have more beans than we can pickle….. and apparently we’re going to be having organic salsa verde for the next year and a half. So what does this mean; besides failing in our attempt at ‘avoiding’ a market garden? It means I’m in overdrive trying to figure out new and creative ways in which to use these amazing ingredients. We don’t have enough to sell individually but we have just enough to highlight something in a new value-added product each week. Besides the amount of time this takes in terms of planning and the eventual execution, I truly LOVE this aspect of the farm. Nothing feels better than producing something from the bounty of your own harvest…. yup super cheese I know.... but I'm serious.... NOTHING! I mean it’s why we do it…. right?! …. oh wait…. there is one other thing that feels better than making these gastro delights and that’s getting feedback from the people that buy our stuff and come back time after time. THAT. FEELS. AWESOME. It affirms where we are going and my specific contribution to it. I idyllically want to be a farmer but honestly, my skills are in marketing and in the kitchen…. I’m not about to swim-up-hill at this stage… but I won’t rule out venturing into the field in the future….


creating with the bounty of our harvest #luckyme


So back to the garden….. one last piece of advice and lesson learned… SUNFLOWERS. I LUUUUUUUURVE ME some sunflowers!!!! They put a smile on my face and they put colour in the garden. The second year we planted our raised beds at home Farmer Luke decided to plant a few sunflowers as a surprise for me. It was a sweet thought and one that didn’t go unnoticed… there were maybe 4 that first year… the next year we thought it was pretty cool that they had multiplied to around 10... YAY! "more happy flower time!" I thought.... well…… this year there are upwards of 35! Oh, and these aren’t the little cute sunflowers you can cut and put on your dinner table….. OH NO….. these are the bee loving bird buffet giant variety…. the kind you say HOLY CRAP look at the size of that flower!!! COOL RIGHT? um…. ya, if you weren’t trying to grow herbs, peas, strawberries, asparagus, lettuce, celery, etc… UNDER THE SHADE OF A GIANT SUNFLOWER!!! Kinda counter productive if you ask me. Something tells me we would have had more ‘fruits’ of our labour had we more direct sunlight…. just sayin’….. mental note for next year eh!? OH... on the other hand we did discover the fertilizing benefits of “steeped chicken poo tea”…. amazing stuff and so far it seems intuitive Farmer Luke got the formula just right the first time.... live and learn I guess!!!


perhaps harvesting sunflower oil is in our future?
So there you go and look at that... I feel better already! I think I’ll go and research new chicken jerky flavours……. or maybe I’ll draft that letter I promised I would send today…. either way, I feel clearer for some reason and ready to prioritize….. well kinda.



Monday, 28 July 2014

This update is brought to you by the letter “R”


Rats... 
Yup, we’re still there. FUN. not. For a bit there a false sense of security fell over the house like a warm comfy blanket…… we were convinced the cutting of the hay was the magic cure-all and for a week Farmer Luke didn’t put out the traps. They sat dormant housed on top of the chicken tractors. Then it happened.... out of the blue...... three chickens..... GONE. WHAT THE? SERIOUSLY? We’re not back here again are we?!! I had been happily basking in the calm of consistent, uneventful ‘everyday routine’ when BAM! In an instant I am sent back to….. well…. to WAR… involuntarily of course because I inherently want everyone to live PEACEFULLY together ~ total cheesy Granola Girl mindset which is completely impossible in light of the recent events but… it’s true. call it the Disney in me. I hate all things involving intentional death.... I became a vegetarian at 11. Don’t worry..... the irony that we 'harvest' chicken and turkey on a number of set dates throughout the summer is not lost on me… and that soon we will be harvesting larger animals that have lived with us longer...... gulp! NOTE: I will ALWAYS call it 'harvesting'…. I’m in total denial…. BUT I’m ok with it cuz somebody has to do it and we farm from the perspective of the best interest of the animal…. OK... WOW, that was quite the tangent.... anyhoo, RATS. Ya, they're back.... WAR is on... yippee!
RATS 7 – FARMER 0

....on the positive, the amount of traps and snares being set off while they are attempting entry to the chicken tractor sufficiently deters them from succeeding in their chicken leg mission… doesn’t necessarily succeed in calming Farmer Luke though… stay-tuned.....       




Relatives...
We are in the middle of two and half weeks without WWOOFers. Don’t get us wrong we honestly love everything about hosting wwoofers….. don’t forget Farmer Luke and I met while traveling and living abroad….. it’s who we are and instilling a sense of the ‘World’ to our kids is priceless…. but two weeks without ‘hosting’ is like a mini vacation in a summer of commitments. Interestingly, the commitments don’t change so we are required to stay home….. so we…. er…. host…. our friends and family in our time off…. funny how it doesn’t entirely feel like hosting but in reality we are still hosting..... Huh. Anyhoo, my folks were here for 3 nights over Mr. Fab Finn’s 8th (I’m still in shock.) birthday and it was fantastic! My folks are foodies so you can imagine the fun we got up to in the kitchen with all the bounty from the farm!!! ~ they also LOVE to putter ~ so they helped us with 4 jobs on a list we started months ago….. YAY!!!!! The theme was ‘doors’…..

the FIRST DOOR: our sliding screen door had been instantly changed into a ‘doggy door’ after Greywacke opened it (and didn’t close it of course!) and Bella chased him into the house ~ after pausing in a moment of “where am I? OH this is what is in here!” Bella promptly ran back out the screen door.... but not the cat sized portion that was open..... of course. AWESOME. So Farmer Luke and Poppi fixed it…. after about two weeks of ignoring it. 

the SECOND DOOR: the apparatus on the front glass door had broken (for the umpteenth time) three weeks ago and to the best of our knowledge there were no more quick fixes…. so it sat broken….. until Poppi came and put a bolt in it and now it’s fixed forever! LOVE! YAY! 

the THIRD DOOR: the door that hides our washer and dryer has haunted me since we moved into the house. It was a bi-fold door that would constantly come off the track every time you opened it….. every time! Now contemplate how often you do laundry…. that is a lot of annoyances.... Yup. Drove me nuts. It would either remain open (Farmer Luke’s solution) or it would be closed despite being off the tracks and left to hang and flap throughout the day…. or I would struggle, curse, and close the damaged door dreaming of the day the annoyance would be resolved…. this frustration escalated to Farmer Luke finally just taking the door completely off about 6 months ago……. but my dream came true this week….. after 4 years of angst….. my dad turned the bi-fold into French doors!!!! BOOYAH!!! small pleasures my friends... small pleasures =)


one door two door three door ~ NO MORE!!
THREE CHEERS FOR HANDY RELATIVES!!!!! GrannyP created a ball game for Finn’s birthday party, weeded my garden and helped cook, clean and look after the little people. SO GRATEFUL!!! These WWOOFers are welcome back any day!     



Routine...
This is the part of the summer when the farmer’s market routine sets in. Monday is my mental day off. I don’t think about the farm or the impending farmer’s markets. I still have to 'lawyer' but I don’t have to prioritize my thoughts which is like a day off. Then by Tuesday my mind is beginning to be infiltrated with farmer’s market thoughts….. what am I going to prepare this week? What’s in the garden and needs to be harvested? What should I make with it? I’ve been smoking chicken and making pesto for four weeks now and I honestly LOVE IT but it’s also extremely hard to BALANCE. I’ve got to plan, pick and produce these things which mentally begins Tuesday… the rest of the week is a blur. But it’s also a routine now so it's more of a well choreographed blur…. that said, Friday’s are crazy….. *complete understatement*….. one Friday I had two 9-tray dehydrators going with two kinds of chicken jerky and another 5-tray with two flavours of kale chips… er… that’s 23 trays of dehydrated delights…. the smoker was smoking to fill pre-orders…. and I was making three flavours of pesto….. oh ya, and I still had to make all the signs for the Saturday Brockville market and pack everything up for the farmer to take…. Farmer Luke has to be packed up and on the road by no later than 7:15 on Saturday morning…. so ya, Friday and Saturday early morning are a blur…. but they are now a clearly anticipated and well-executed blur…. for the most part...... ahhhhhhh routine....

this is August last year ~ down to a science baby!!!

So there you go, the latest update….. brought to you by the letter “R”…… stay-tuned for the next installment which will likely be brought to you by the letter “L” in light of the LLAMA delivery on Friday…. the new LIVE TRAP loaned to us….. and the ripening of the ever popular and superbly delicious LEMON CUCUMBER…….  

....um...and yes, I did post this on Monday ~ so much for my day off!! .....

 




Thursday, 10 July 2014

Midnight Mystery Murders SOLVED! ….now it’s just war.



I laid in bed this morning listening to the farmer get up and get ready to start the day and as he left the room I heard a whisper of “wish me luck…” ~ sadly it lacked the vigour and enthusiasm that comes with challenge and hope and read more as someone close to defeat…. we have all been rooting for him but each day it gets harder to keep him up. As he went about his morning routine we at home slept… restlessly….. wondering…. hoping…. wishing……. practically begging Mother Earth to ease up…… and that hour and a half seemed like eternity…. snoring child beside me…. incessant mosquitoes looking for an all you can eat buffet….. birds chirping….. then I heard the familiar alarm clock of the front door opening and the farmer was home ~ gulp. For the past two weeks I’ve felt the same horrible anticipation… the kind that hits you in the pit of your gut…. but this morning was different!…. the door flew open and Farmer Luke yelled out “hey hon, guess what! WE GOT A RAT! WE GOT ONE!!!” 
they were the best grass-fed organic chicken and turkey legs I've ever had! SLUUUUURP
~ it was like a veil was lifted off our house and the windows blew open to fresh clean air…. I responded with “YA! That’s awesome!”…. Forrest popped her head up and said, “WE GOT A RAT?” then jumped off the bed and did a dance and song in true Forrest Fashion…. then all you could hear was Finn’s sleepy voice coming from his room, “Congratulations Dad that’s awesome! Now what kind of animal is a rat? It’s a rodent right?” and off he went back to bed.

I have to say this has been a crazy ride and it certainly isn’t over but at least we have identified our enemy…. this makes it more bearable despite the continued battle. We can now plan our strategy, place our troops... er... I mean traps..... and set the stage for our counter-attack.  Of course the other part of the equation that I certainly never thought of, is the fact the hay hadn’t been cut and was long enough to instill just enough confidence in our rat population for them to wander the fields which normally are off bounds and healthily protected by various birds of prey ~ um, ya…. needless to say the hay was cut today. Live and learn I guess.

Now the question is….. HOW MANY ARE THERE? …… or better yet, how many more dare to take on the farmer? Will they retreat? 

the tides have turned and Farmer Luke has now begun strategizing.....

the current score is:

RATS / 18  -  FARMER LUKE / 1

Stay-tuned…..

Now don’t get me started on my “Mystery Kale Chomper”….. live-trap has been set for days and the raised bed is covered…. but somehow each time I go in more has been eaten….  I fear it’s coming up from the soil… what then? ARGH... 

I don't necessarily blame the Mystery Kale Chomper but I'd like to share......