Sunday, July 31, 2011

Buckets of blueberries

We are home again, from our last trip. We spent several days in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan where Kevin is from, visiting his brother and his wife, and also Kevin's son who came up. We stuffed ourselves with whitefish (five different times) and mostly just relaxed.

We went up to Raco, MI, where the boys (the human ones, usually when I say the boys I'm referring to the small dogs!) shot targets and I stumbled upon my first ripe blueberries... I like shooting a lot and I shot a handgun for the first time which was interesting, but the blueberries were completely distracting, so the boys carried on and I picked... and ate...

I picked a couple cups worth but ate most everything I picked.

We camped a few nights at the Elk's Lodge in the Soo which is a great place to watch ships. Kevin's brother also has a great view from his house as well, but we needed air conditioning for the dogs during the worst of the heat so we had to go to a campground to plug in.

One of the ships passing by...

the boys

 The best place around to get whitefish dinners, the Cozy Inn in Brimley Michigan

We left the Soo and headed over to Drummond Island for a couple of days. Kevin spent a lot of time there growing up, and his parents retired there. He talks about it a lot so we figured since we had the time we'd take the ferry over and spend a day looking around.

We found a nice campground to spend the night and sat down by the dock and had a drink. We had both the boys with us, on leashes. They were sitting on the swing with us most of the time, but also poking around when a Lab who was down on the dock with some other people came running up and snapped at poor Douglas! I think Douglas wished Max and Flavious were there to protect him. Norman tried but Norman thinks he's a lot bigger than his five pounds.

After Drummond we stopped at Raber Bay on the way back to the Soo. There is a great little spot there called the Raber Bay Bar, which serves awesome dinners. Kevin had some blackened Walleye and I stuffed myself with some blackened whitefish. We found a nice little campground and had a fire before calling it a night.

Then Thursday we came back into Canada. We took our time getting up near Temagami, Ontario to find some berries to pick. We found another great camping spot in Temagami, which we'll return to, and then headed out for berries. And we found them. Of course it's top secret information where we found them ;)

Find any area that has been logged and you'll find blueberries.

We set up camp and picked berries for about 2 hours as a storm started moving in. It was the first campsite we had away from people, noise, and the world. It was perfect and the way we like to camp. We saw a bear just up the road from where we camped, so we were also cautious since we are not the only ones who really like blueberries.

This was our first load. At the prices on the road there is about $35 worth of berries there. We stopped to buy from a few people but with the amount of berries I wanted/needed to do up my yearly jam, pies, and freeze enough for berries for muffins, cookies, hot cereal, pancakes, etc. over the winter, it would have cost a fortune and we knew we could pick our own. So we took the time to do it.

Out in the field we were all alone... there were other people in the cut but with thousands of acres there is room to spread out. We found a great patch. The berries are ready, but there is so many more to come, the bushes are just loaded this year.

Berry picking is like meditation for me. It's one of the few times my mind actually shuts down and doesn't think about anything except what I am doing, and what is happening around me. I am more alert, I hear trees swaying, branches snapping, birds clearer than usual. The only place I can meditate is in the forest, but even then it's difficult, but while picking berries, instantly everything shuts off and I just focus on what I'm doing at the time. That feeling is worth more than any amount of money.

Kevin and I separated while picking berries to cover a bigger area, although we were not really that far apart. While I was sitting down picking from a larger patch I heard a familiar sound... "meep...meep..." it was a Timberdoodle (woodcock) who came out to check on what I was doing.

Saturday morning we had pancakes. Blueberry ones of course, picked minutes before they went into the pancake.

It was warm out, but not intolerable. There were hardly any bugs compared to home which really surprised us. Friday I was smart and put sun tan lotion on, but Saturday I forgot about it. Of course my back, just the lower part that was exposed to the sun while I was bending over, burnt to a crisp. You can even see perfectly where the bow from my bathing suit top was. Thankfully Kevin had remembered to bring some aloe with us and it helped cool it down. He was smart and kept himself covered.

at our berry picking spot

the blueberries were not all that was ripe...

We started driving home yesterday and ended up driving later than we had planned because the campgrounds were full since it's a holiday weekend here in Canada. So we ended up at 9:30 PM in a Walmart, thank heavens for those because we couldn't have made it the four more hours home... we were way too tired after working in the sun all day and then driving for several hours.

We got home today around noon. After a quick break, I started working on the berries.

Here they are

in the sink they go for cleaning and sorting

the first four cups

Fourteen quarts of blueberries, washed, and ready to be made into jam, pie, and just eaten up.

Of course it's not just us who likes eating blueberries, the rabbits love them, the dogs eat as many as they can get, and Kiwi and Co.... also love blueberries.

The garden is growing well... along with the weeds. My zucchini decided to really grow while I was gone, so it looks like tomorrow I'll be making bread...

My jalapenos are also going nuts, so I'll pickle some tomorrow. For tonight it's time for bed, I'm exhausted. We had a great time, but it's always good to come home to your own bed and curl up.

Everything was fine here while we were gone, and everyone is fat and happy. We bought a giant fan for the barn which is one of the best investments we've ever made.

The only bad thing that has happened is, our house is full of chipmunks. Before we left, one ate another (the fifth) hole in the screen door and was in our bedroom sitting in the doorway. I went in after him and he ran behind my dressing table... while I was bent over trying to get him to come out, he climbed up on my chair, onto my back, then ran down my leg and straight out the bedroom door and down the hallway. We opened the door and he ran out. We fixed all the holes, but Jim says they've been in a lot while we were away. Today while we were sitting talking to him catching up, he said "look in the bird cage" and in my large flight cage there was chipmunk stuffing himself with seed! The birds didn't even care. Kevin got him out and he ran towards me and Douglas and Norman who couldn't care less, they think all animals live here and it's no big deal.

We managed to get him out the door too but couldn't find his hole so we are not sure if he just got in here or if he's been in here. Sigh.... we'll have to start dealing with that in the morning... for now, we just need to catch up on sleep.

Oh... I've been looking for homes for three of my kids from this spring, and I got an email that was sent to me several days ago while I was away. It was an offer for trade (which I wish more people did because hardly anyone does anymore) but it was an offer to trade two goats for 20 racing pigeons.

It was a good offer, but I can't imagine what I would do with one racing pigeon, let alone 20.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is there a feather on my tongue?

 Norman is famous for his nose... "crumbing" is what we call his constant search for a good treat. Often he ends up with things stuck on his nose or his tongue in this case from searching the floor.

Yesterday it was so humid outside it was miserable and it drained all your energy instantly. I was in the barn at 7 PM working on putting new locks on Sammy and Beans pen since they keep breaking out like hardened criminals,  when the clouds and wind started moving in. I managed to get my gates fixed, and move some of the straw from the load of hay and straw I got yesterday morning since it was in my way.

Once the animals were all inside the wind picked up considerably. I ran home to put the chickens away before the storm hit. The winds were blowing really hard and the black sky was right on top of us when I ran inside to get some feed for the chickens. I flicked on the light and it didn't come on, so I went back and flicked it again. No light. No power.

I ran out and got the chickens settled for the night and ran back inside. By then I could see blue sky behind the black clouds above me. Not a drop of rain fell. The heavy wind did offer a nice breeze, but no rain. No thunder. Nothing.

Then the blue sky came and we had no power for three hours. That wasn't very helpful since I was planning on doing a lot of laundry and cooking in preparation for us leaving Tuesday morning for Michigan. Thankfully our camper has propane so I cooked some pasta in there for us to eat.

Today I've been running around like crazy trying to catch up with laundry, cleaning the camper, packing, cleaning the house, etc...

I got the chicken coop cleaned out, the camper cleaned, laundry done. I had to use up some of the food we had here so it doesn't go to waste, so I made banana bread, finished the jerky, made chipotle salsa and salsa verde to use up my tomatillos...

It couldn't be any easier, just roast your tomatillos, add some jalapeno's, an onion, some sugar and lime juice, and blend it up! The chiptole salsa is good and I'll remember to share to recipe when I get home.

I made braised short ribs for dinner to use those up and pretty much everything else I froze or have packed in the camper. We have fresh cukes from the garden and zucchini to eat, and lots of jalapenos and limes.

The boys and I managed a quick walk in the heat to a nearby raspberry patch to pick a few... they are out but still not terribly plentiful... you'd have to work hard to pick an entire basketful still...

Douglas is ready to go!

Jackson was out munching grass along the way...

Hopefully I'll be able to share some pictures along the way on this trip. We'll visit with family in Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and then head to Northern Ontario to visit friends and pick some wild blueberries (hopefully A LOT of them!) I can taste the pie now!

We've been running so crazy the past two weeks it will be nice to get a break and not have to drive so much this trip. It's 10 hours to the Soo, and then we can just relax there for a while. I'm planning on stuffing myself with as much whitefish as possible. It's about a 500 more miles to our spot up North, so we'll be about 1,100 miles from home (again, as far as Nova Scotia really) but we'll break up the driving this time, we are both too tired and need some rest.

Hopefully when we come back: less deer flies. I know bug season will be long from over but the deer flies will dying down and that, I am so looking forward to! And it will also be the start of serious canning time.

Douglas and Norman have packed their toys and are ready to go. They are as usual doing their paranoid "don't leave me behind" act today, pretty much walking between my legs every second so I'm tripping on them and they figure it makes it impossible for me tp forget that they exist and need to go camping with us.

For now we are all off to bed, it's an early morning tomorrow finishing packing. Goodnight, all.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Around the farm

 It's been very busy here lately, not just with work on the farm, but with appointments off the farm which have taken us away from the farm every day for a week and half... it's exhausting having to leave everyday, and drive several hours to our destination and back again. 

The deer flies are at their peak, it's pretty miserable to be outside when the bugs are at their peak, I look forward to early August when they start to decline and then eventually just leave us alone so I can get out hiking more and hopefully we'll be able to do more enjoyable work outside. Our pond in front of the house has been lower this year, which is attracting more wildlife. Deer come to drink in the morning and evening, and although the Heron comes in summers when the pond is high too, she enjoys fishing a lot better when the water is lower.

The garden is growing well.... 



Bell peppers




The horseradish is growing like crazy!

My strawberries are doing great, and they are sooo good.... I made three 500ml jars of  strawberry jam and seven 250 ml jars last week. 

The critters have been staying cool and laying back relaxing most of the time.

Norman doesn't care how big the bone is, he'll get it!

Sammy relaxing 


  Horace and Izzie in the barnyard

  Bandit has been growing!

I had some leftover watermelon from the other day when I made up some watermelon margaritas, so I decided to share it with the biggest watermelon fans there are, the goaties. 

pink lip Beatrice

 Hilda pigging out


Bucket loves watermelon more than anyone

ohhh this is a big chunk!

Bucket and Hilda fighting over the same piece


Buckwheat and Basswood... Buckwheat has really filled out this summer. 

 Today no one is really feeling good in the house, so we are taking it easy. In between breaks I'm trying to get some chores taken care of. I'm hoping to try making beef jerky later today, it has to marinate for 24 hours to a few days so hopefully I'll get it started in the fridge so we can see how it turns out.

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