Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One of many Miracles

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Today, one of my oldest rabbits and friends, Miracle passed on. She was such a gentle soul, and I'm grateful I was able to offer her my love and care. She came to us in early 2008 when I took in 23 rabbits from a large rescue of about 300 rabbits the SPCA did... someone running a breeding farm had abandoned all the rabbits and they were starving in their cages and a mess. Miracle had a bunch of babies she could not feed because she had no milk from not getting enough food of her own. I bottle fed the babies, and still have two of them here, Peter and Yukon. Miracle was a very sweet girl and even litter trained herself because she did not like being dirty - probably coming from living in such an icky situation. 

She was elderly and it was very peaceful crossing, but still, this was a hard one for me. I will miss her. Jim dug a grave for her today in our cemetery and I stood under an Aspen tree that stands over so many of my dear friends... it was quaking, the leaves blowing gently in the still warm autumn wind, like the many whispered prayers and goodbyes I have said there.

Looking back at pictures of her arrival distracted me for hours. I got completely caught up in the memories of so many animals, many passed, some here still but much older, that I felt both sad, and happy at the same time. Sadness for the many times I've had to say goodbye, but so much happiness for the love and joy that radiates through so many of our pictures, and memories. I can mostly look back with all love now. Time heals and reminds you to focus on the good, and the gifts you received from it that you will always have. But I still can't do that with Sammy. It's going on a year since he left me and my heart is still just as broken as before. Sometimes healing takes a lifetime, but it's important to not overlook the love, and the way it made you feel, and how it helped you grow. 

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I felt stronger today than I have this past week, and I was grateful for that. Yesterday we ran some errands in the city and Kevin had his annual heart tests done (which he passed with flying colors!) Our favorite grocer/friend gave us some pumpkins to bring back to the goats, and also some produce scraps which every one had a bit of, mostly the turkeys. Max was more interested in just getting a belly rub.

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Then we also had a nice walk, the dogs, Jack, and I.

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It's hard to believe but Rollie is now TWO years old! Douglas also turned 5 this week. Seems like yesterday both of them were just tiny babies.

We have been enjoying the strangely warm weather here and trying to keep up with our chores in preparation for winter. I have been slowed down the past few days so I was able to work on some knitting, which the dogs didn't mind...

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But I do need a bigger chair, although I'm not sure it would help.

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I've really been enjoying knitting boot toppers and lots of fingerless gloves... with my faithful assistant.

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We have only needed a fire a few times so far. The Chihuahuas cannot wait until the fire is going all the time, it's their favorite thing no matter how warm it is outside.

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We've also been enjoying the last of the color. This picture of Beatrice is one of my favorites from this year.

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Our deer are starting to come around but many of our friends, deer we know and have named, have not shown up. Last winter was very hard on them. We also have a cougar in the area which doesn't help, and although the population is suffering and it's well known, the Ministry is not adjusting the hunting season again this year, keeping a longer season.

For 10 years I have watched and got to know the patterns of the deer here, and especially the deer we know well and some even by name... and since last December everything has been thrown out the window and is still changed. Patterns are disrupted, many deer are gone. But I have great faith a balance will return. I have to.

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We have had some really amazing weather, sunsets, and colors this month.

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Now that the leaves are almost all gone we can start spotting our Porcupine friends easier too. Yesterday evening coming home from the city around 6:30, we saw two Owls on our road as well which was a real treat.

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Every season has it's wonders, but autumn is full of such bright colorful beauty, and then such quiet, reminding us that a time of rest is coming.

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The guys also managed to get another planting of garlic in a few weeks ago - and we just got some more seed garlic yesterday to put in as Insurance... the first planting sprouted because it has been so warm, so they had to bring over additional straw to cover it up to protect it from the frost and snow that will be coming, possibly starting this coming weekend.

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We've been getting lots of interesting things on our trail cameras lately, and this is one of them. He passes through regularly and we have consistent pictures of this bear, but this one he stopped to look at the camera. He's a really nice looking bear.

I doubt he'll cause any trouble. The real problem is the three juvenile raccoon's living under our porch. They have been here since August when they either lost their mom, or she kicked them out... but they seemed too young to be kicked out. They have been here ever since, and run around together in their little group. I lie in bed in the evening and listen to them outside the bedroom arguing. Several times now I have broken up fights outside the bedroom and on our back porch, they yell at each other, fight, and throw things at each other. It's like having unruly children.

I worry about my chickens, whom are locked up at night, but I still worry. But I haven't come up with a good solution yet. I cannot live trap and separate them from each other, when they have only each other and no mother. So I'm being patient for now and we'll see what happens. I'm really starting to wonder though if some evening the dogs are going to come in from an evening pee with three little raccoon's following behind them, acting like they are just part of the dog pack now and should be allowed to sleep in bed like everyone else.

Around here, I wouldn't be surprised.

This week hopefully we'll get some more wood cut. The ticks have been wild, and I mean wild. You cannot step outside the door without picking up a dozen. Hopefully a little cold weather will slow them down. I have a few craft projects I am hoping to work on as well. Today all the rabbits and all the dogs got their nails trimmed, so I think that's a pretty big accomplishment! I'm trying to adjust to doing only so much in a day so I can be productive but not set myself back. To me it feels ridiculous because before I really got sick and my last two operations I would have done 10 x what I am doing in a day right now, but for now I need to learn a different pace and it's hard. But I'm grateful I'm up, doing things, enjoying my animals, walking, and being productive even if it's just one step at a time.

A big lesson I've needed to learn for a long time is not to rush things or be in a hurry. I think nature is trying to beat it into me. Focus on one thing, enjoy that one thing, and drink it all in. It tastes better that way :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October colors & sniffles

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Well we have been sick! For what seems like forever too. It's been well over a week for me and longer for Kevin. We don't often get flu's and colds since we don't see a lot of people, but one got us this year. Mine went into my sinuses so I had quite a lot of sinus pain for a few days which was not fun. We are still pretty run down and still coughing a lot, but it's trying to break up. It slowed things down considerably around here though and has been beating us up.

Today it is very warm outside, but also very windy so it's raining leaves. But before the winds came and before I got sick, me and the boys were able to enjoy a lot of nice walks.

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They love going on walks no matter when, but this is by far their favorite time of year for it.

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Especially Rollie's.

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Norman likes walking but he's not for running around like Douglas and Rollie. At eight years old, he keeps up well on walks and has bursts of energy but he's not full of it like his younger brothers anymore. He doesn't mind that I need to rest a lot too, he likes the resting part.

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One day we walked all the way to our Porcupine creek, one of my favorite spots on the property, it always has been since I first came here. Several of my animals have been buried here and some of my moms ashes even went into this creek. Its a peaceful spot. It's also a far walk there and back - for me right now. I don't think I've walked there and back in the year since my surgery. I've been there in the ATV but not walked since my stamina is so limited. But I did pretty well this time.

We call it the porcupine creek because they have dens in the rock ledges and piles there. It's a shallow creek, and the dogs are used to it and can easily cross it because of all the rocks... They had been back and forth several times during our recent visit there but for some reason Douglas then blanked out and forgot it was water and he just jumped straight in!

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And when he landed in it, he just froze and stood there in surprise. I couldn't help but laugh at him.

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After a minute he finally figured out standing there wasn't a good idea so he turned around and ran out to shake off, and run around like a crazy dog.

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Rollie thought it was pretty funny as he safely watched from the opposite side of the creek.

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It was a beautiful afternoon and the dogs and I were so happy to be out together in our forest. Nothing makes me feel as centered, calm, and peaceful as a good walk in the forest, and being able to just sit and enjoy it and it's magic.

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I've also spent time with the goaties, who are all doing great and getting nice and wooly as it starts to cool off. My little bottle baby from this spring, Lavender is growing into a real beauty and she's still as sweet as pie.

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Aurora

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And there has been plenty of cuddle time, which Max enjoys.

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We've also had some beautiful sunsets...

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And the colors were great. Rollie and I did some extra walking together, some tougher walking off trail which I managed well. It's going to be a while before I can hike like I used to be able to and endure the heavier physical activity but my body is growing stronger and I'm just so grateful to be able to be up and get around again.

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And of course I've been cooking! We've had lots of soups, stews, and breads...

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And these pumpkin scalloped potatoes which are just about the best thing EVER...

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Yesterday was our Thanksgiving here in Canada and although I was sick, I wanted to make sure we had a proper meal. It's my mother in me, no matter what, we must have a proper meal on holidays. It's worth it to me to put the energy out. I made a maple syrup oatmeal pie and a pumpkin pie.

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And then the rest of the goods to go along with it. My popovers came out on the first try so I was happy with that! :) And of course the dogs offered constant emotional support and clean up assistance throughout the entire preparation of, and eating of, the meal.

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But otherwise we've been doing a lot of this. We are exhausted from this bug. I'm sure mine is taking an extra toll since I'm so recently out of surgery. But we are getting it beat, just slowly.

I hope all my Canadian friends had a Happy Thanksgiving and everyone else a great weekend! Even though we are sick we have been busy getting chores done for winter as much as we can so we don't fall too far behind, there is much to be done in a short amount of time so it's really set us back, but we are working on it. And the weather has been holding well thankfully, but the change is coming quickly.

For this evening it's just leftovers and rest on the menu here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Easy Pad Thai

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Faye asked me to share my favorite Pad Thai recipe, so here it is!! I use chicken and shrimp in mine, you could easily use pork if you'd like as well. I've made a lot of different Pad Thai recipes and this is by far the easiest while still accomplishing good flavor! 

Ingredients

2 Tbs Tamari sauce (you can use soy but I prefer the taste of Tamari which is aged soy sauce, without preservatives which is why I use it, but also I like the flavor better.)
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
3 tsp sweet chili sauce because I love it, but you can also use chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
3 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger (you can also use about 1/2 tsp of ground ginger if you don't have fresh or prefer)
1/2 cup of thinly sliced vegetables (I use carrot, zucchini, green onion)
2 diced jalapenos with seeds for heat, without for no heat & just flavor
3 chicken breasts trimmed of fat and sliced into thin strips
12 medium peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into chunks
1/4 pound rice noodles soaked in water as per package directions and drained
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 Tbs cider vinegar

Also: Chopped cilantro, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges for garnish.

**I use honey roasted peanuts in this dish because I love sweet, and hot, and they are awesome in this. But you can use regular peanuts if you prefer. I also use fresh chopped parsley instead of cilantro because I don't like the overpowering taste of the cilantro in this, but if you are a fan of it, go for it!!

Also most of these ingredients you already have on hand so I like this recipe for that reason too!

How to make it:

In a small bowl, whisk together the Tamari (soy) sauce, water, peanut butter & chili sauce until mixed well. If the peanut butter doesn't mix in smoothly don't worry about it, just mix it up well.

Then in a large Wok or large non stick frying pan, over medium heat, add the olive oil. Then add your garlic and ginger and let cook 1 minute, until nice and fragrant. Add the vegetables, jalapenos, chicken, and shrimp and stir fry until chicken and shrimp are cooked through. Then add your prepared rice noodles and toss to coat.

Add peanut/spice mixture, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar and toss to distribute. Cook until heated through, 2 or 3 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and top with garnishes, peanuts, parsley or cilantro, bean sprouts, or let people garnish their own.

and then, enjoy!! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oh Autumn, how I love thee...

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This is of course, the best time of year on the farm. Not only is Autumn beautiful, she brings along with her colorful delights, crisp air, less bugs, the harvest, and of course, fallen leaves to play in!

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And who doesn't love playing in fallen leaves I ask you? It's one of Rollie's most favorite things! And mine too.

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I have been beyond joyful, beyond grateful, that I have been able to get outside with my dogs, play in the leaves, and just laugh, and focus on something else other than my physical pain for a while. Something I had often thought I'd never be able to do again.

I have much healing to do and not all of my pain is gone but it is much improved. It is improved to the point where I can breathe again and where I feel like myself again, my creativity, my dreams, humor, it's coming back and coming out again... and I feel myself waking up inside as if from a long and terrible dream caught between two worlds.

I am so very grateful to these amazing Doctors, Dr. Sinervo and Dr. Dulemba for helping me, for offering me a chance at a much higher quality of life when no other Doctors would, and for dedicating their lives to women living in terrible suffering because of a disease that so little is truly still known and accepted about. If I had not been able to get to them because of Kevin and a lot of perseverance and probably a little magic, I would not have all this hope once again in my heart. The other day I wrote that I had felt a loneliness in this past year like none I had ever felt before. I have lived in isolation for much of my life and I have known loneliness... when you miss human contact, or a loved one you can no longer see, but this was much different than anything I'd ever felt before. It was a loneliness I was not familiar with, and that I did not understand.

I realize now what it was that I was missing. It was not human company, friends, or loved ones passed... It was myself. I was missing Donna, because I felt her absence more than I ever had before. But she has come back to me, and I can feel it. That spark is there again, that girl who wants to drink life in, good and bad.

Just getting on the ground to sit with my dogs and then getting back up, is amazing. I couldn't have done that before without swelling up so that I looked 6 months pregnant and crying as I did it.

I'm not cured of course, but I feel better, I feel stronger, and I have much faith I will continue to feel both, and I'm just so grateful for some relief, relief I thought may never come, that I could scream.

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Now back to Autumn, every one's favorite time of year...

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Even Norman loves the cool breeze in his hair, the fluffy leaves at his feet...

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And the nicest part is, we've actually been able to get out and enjoy it together!

I've been over doing it a bit because I've been so excited to be able to do anything at all, that I can hardly stand myself. Today I have taken it off to completely rest. But it's been a very happy time at the farm. Yesterday and today Kevin and Jim planted 10 pounds of garlic, so it can start to set roots before the frost comes. It's been REALLY warm this week, we are talking in the 70's F and 80 degrees F one day! Today it's actually cooled off enough to start a small fire in the wood stove. I have been busy harvesting what I could, which was quite a lot considering our growing year.

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This was just one days harvest of peppers, tomatillos, some herbs, carrots, and cucumbers...

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Yesterday I spent all afternoon getting a few dozen bundles of herbs hung up to dry, along with some flowers, peppers, and this falls harvest of garlic (which is so delicious by the way!)

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My ghost chili (once the hottest pepper in the world) did grow!

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And I properly labeled it and put it away for safe keeping, just in case.

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I managed to get some of my banana peppers pickled, candied some jalapenos, and pickled my pimento peppers. I also made a few jars of spiced pickled crab apples which are so darned tasty!

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And Kevin found another giant Puffball mushroom, a fall staple round here, but this one was twice the size of my head this time! Enough to feed a small Country I think. If you haven't eaten a giant puffball, they are spongy and really delicious. Inside they have the texture of tofu or cheese, which is really strange, but also great for using in a variety of dishes. It's also one of the easiest wild mushrooms to identify because it's pretty hard to mistake a mushroom the size of your head for something else. Also they are solid all the way through and perfectly white... if they are any other color inside like brown, they are past their prime.

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 I have also been doing a WHOLE lot of cooking again! It feels so good to be back working in my kitchen. I've been cooking every day. These banana scones with a brown sugar cinnamon glace were pretty tasty...

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One of the first things I made after we got home was Pad Thai... I had a craving!

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And sweet potato biscuits which are one of my absolute favorite things.

It's been nice to cook again, but not just cook, to be creative, and enjoy it. I've got all sorts of new recipes I cannot wait to try now.

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Our last Prairie dog, Olive is doing well but slowing down considerably since the summer and since her friend Nelly passed on. She is the last of our 7 Prairie dogs and is 15 now.

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The goats are very happy, they love this time of year and of course they are very hormonal, frisky, and playful.

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I never knew Brie could fly but apparently she can!

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It makes me smile to see them all running around, playing, be happy...

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The bucks of course are nice and smelly but have no access to the girls. Poor Buckwheat won't be getting any action this year, and I haven't decided yet if the Pygmy buck, Barnaby, will or not either. I'm thinking about it, and won't breed until October anyway if I decide to.

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Braveheart, our blind ram, is very excited and hormonal. He doesn't get mean but he has been running into everyone because when he gets excited he forgets where he is. When he's calm he can get around everyone and everything just fine- but not when he's hyper. It's hard to believe he will be 8 years old this December.

And my little Ruby the ewe lamb is growing up! She has the sweetest face of all time too.

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And of course, so does Puffin... cutest and littlest goat on the farm. When someone was here the other day and I told them she was a year and a half old he choked, he thought she was just a few months old because she is so tiny!

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Braveheart (Lambie) does love a good snuggle with his mom. He responds to our voices so he runs toward us when he hears us and away from any strange voices he hears. Nothing freaks him out more than a strangers voice.

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The dogs are very happy to be active with me again, but Douglas also makes sure to keep reminding me it is very important to rest... and in his opinion, as much as possible.

I'm so happy to say although I am exhausted, wear out quickly, and need to be careful... I'm so excited about everything again. About living. As crazy as that might sound, but I know it won't to anyone who has dealt with ongoing physical pain. Or emotional for that matter. To anyone in the midst of a struggle, struggling with a painful disease, or a painful heart, just remember that although it might not happen today, or tomorrow, there is always hope, always a way forward even when we cannot see it in our sight.

I'm looking forward to being much more active in blogging again too! And sharing with you guys,  and trying new things...

But for now, I'm most looking forward to pulling the apple crisp that is almost done out of the oven and eating it with some ice cream! 
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