Sunday, 28 April 2013

Not Sweating It

Hmm, there may be a need for a coat rack.

When we are out for morning chores it is around 4'c but two hours later, under a clear blue sky, we can quickly be around eight degrees (and they say its snowing in other parts of the country, pluh-eez).
Factor in all our layers for the chilly morning and physical activity and we are peeling off clothes faster than a hot yoga class. 
On this particular morning I squeezed my vest through the handle of the door, my sweater an hour later and by the end of chores it was a family affair. But, it was only eight degrees. What are we going to do when temperatures soar into the thirties?  
We may need to string up a clothesline during the summer months and maybe build a temporary change room...
Hope you got some sunshine this Sunday!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Five Step Star Fruit Salad

Not to worry, it may be called a 'salad' but this recipe is a dessert through and through (and I'd give it five stars!).
 If you have never tried star fruit this is a good sampler recipe (star fruit closely compares to an apple in taste and texture). If star fruit doesn't leave you star struck the sauce alone is full-on, five-star deliciousness. Simply add your own fruit of choice with a dollop of vanilla ice cream!
  • 1 Ripe Star Fruit
  • 1 Cup of orange juice
  • 1/4 Cup of brown sugar
Optional Additions: 1 Cup of good quality coconut milk, whipped or vanilla ice cream (topping), handful of pomegranate seeds or cherries (or, in my case, bananas).
Prep time: 1o minutes         Cook: 15 minutes
  1. Put sliced star fruit on the stove in a pot and add the orange juice.
  2. Turn up to high heat until juice boils. Turn down to medium heat.
  3. Simmer until star fruit is tender. Add sugar and mix until it dissolves. Remove from heat.
  4. Tweak the sweetness by either adding more sugar (to please your sweet tooth) or orange juice (to tone it down).
  5. Portion out star fruit into bowls, add own choice of additional fruit and coat in sauce. Drizzle with coconut milk or vanilla ice cream. Serve and enjoy! 

Still not seeing stars (but feeling for dessert?) Check out this Easy as (Apple) Pie recipe or bake some delicious Gouda Scones!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Feeling Insecure

 How many locks does it take for something to be secure?

Maybe more?
Last night my email, and I'm sure not mine alone, was hacked and I was pretty darn surprised. The statistics may have not been in my favour (I had the same password for a consistent three years, not a new one every three months as "they" advise). Also, Hacker was a lot better getting into my email than I was and Hacker doesn't even know me. Ouch.
I had a full page questionnaire to fill out to prove that it was me trying to log-in...not the Hacker who was already logged in creating havoc:
Security question: Favourite teacher?
Ummm wasn't I like three when I opened this account? I only knew my parents.
Birth date?
I definitely lied there because at the time I figured that was pretty personal and not for any Internet company to just know---which sort of screwed me in the long run because after submitting my half blank, half guessed questionnaire I was informed that they could not verify that is was me, but they could verify that it wasn't me clicking around my email so I am not allowed in until I can prove that me is me.
How are my odds looking?
All that could be done, as far as I could see, was open a new account with another carrier and send emails warning "old" contacts that any emails sent from my previous email were not being sent by me. My new password is the strongest of the strong, and this time around I was truthful about my birth date. Should someone ever break in I have a fighting chance. But in all honesty should a new Hacker come clicking by and crack or bypass all my safety barriers I am back to square one. I am beginning to think that if someone really wanted in, whether it be my email or our locked on-farm fuel tank, they can and there isn't much I can do about it.
I remember when we travelled to the beautiful Canadian East Coast and seeing cars unlocked in small towns. A friend of ours from a rural, prairie town was surprised at all the locking and securing that went on around the farm. Back home no one locks anything, not their cars, fuel tanks, shops, or house. What if someone takes their car? Their vehicle is usually returned within a few hours, they just needed a convenient lift to the store and if it isn't there is only a handful of locals to hold responsible.
Even our tractors have always, as long as I've been around, had door locks.
We claim to be living in a securer world so why this heightened level of protection? Because people are collectively divulging more information about themselves: birth dates, pictures, blogging about their (my) life. It is out there, it is open, and should someone take something without returning it I am not simply sleuthing around my neighbourhood to find the perpetrator. After all, it is called the world-wide-web for a reason. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Psstttt! Wanna hear some dirt?

Now that I got your attention I can give you the juicy details: I am going to divulge all the exclusive behind-the-scenes activity on how a field of grass comes to be.
It may be shocking, it will be informing, and it won't happen without showing A LOT of dirt (for the faint of dust you may want to look away).
Now, why is this important to know? In order to get a hay bale, you need hay to bale and to get hay (which is simply cut, dried grass) you need grass, and that grass needs to be seeded, in the first place, to grow. And without any of the above our cows would be missing a huge part of their diet which would make them sour--and consequently our milk (well, that may be a stretch, but they wouldn't be happy about it).
Here is a photo journal documenting our week long fieldwork in order to reseed:

To get the dirt you see above we first needed plow, which means turning the old grass under and bringing the soil to the surface. Plowing leaves furrows (small ditches) in our field so we need to use the harrow in order to smooth it out. Looks pretty good to me!

 Here is one of our two grass seeders. Those boxes on top store the seed which we will be planting. Our dual seeders allowed for us to use two types of grass seed varieties in order to get more...variety! 
I have a handful of perennial rye grass (perennial means "long lasting") because as much as we may enjoy playing in the dirt its still a lot of work too--so grass that lasts a long time pays off. 
 However, this handful of oats, which we call a "nurse crop" grows twice as fast as the rye but are gone by third cut. Definitely not perennial. So what's the point? We use the oats to baby (or should I say nurse) the rye grass. They grow so quick they rival (and hopefully snuff out) any fast shooting weeds trying to take over the field which means the rye grass can simply focus on growing up tall and healthy.  
 This is how our grass seeder works: We fill the boxes (that you saw in the second photo) and as we drive forward with the tractor little gears turn at the base of the box drawing the seed out. It falls into a pipe which ends right behind those circular metal disks on the ground. The disks dig a small furrow in soil which gives the seed a place to go--and hopefully grow!

 A nearly finished seed bed--thankfully this wasn't a snoring seed variety...

 The final step: we culti-pack our seed once its been planted because, unlike corn, having definite rows is not necessary for harvesting. The culti-packer (which is hooked up to the tractor) helps with seed-to-soil contact which encourages the grass to sprout and gosh knows with spring weather the faster it can sprout the better chance of a successful crop--and future hay bales!

If you have any questions or comments about this post I encourage you to write below and I will answer to the best of my ability. Have a good Thursday! 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sisterhood of the Hand-me-down Pants

These are my absolute favourite pair of jeans. They use to be my second favourite, runners up to a brown pair but unfortunately they reached an untimely demise that involved confusing dish soap with dishwasher detergent in order to remove a stain. Ah youth and the curse of buttered movie theatre popcorn.
On the bright side (which said brown pair became very bright and white after some unintentional, spotty bleaching) these lovely greenies moved up a hanger. Ironically, they had been residing in my closet for a very long time as they were hand-me-downs but when I had come across/been given them I wasn't so crazy about the style (or my style wasn't so crazy, yet).
But as of the last three years they have been a denim dream. I love that they have a high waist, are slightly cropped and their forest green shade. Admittedly, they are a smidge on the large size but nothing a belt cannot cinch in and maybe some future tailoring. 
The Pick-a-Pocket Denim Backpack (as I've dubbed it) is a thrifted piece, or call it second hand. I scooped it during my time in Vancouver at Used House of Vintage . This has consequently become my favourite backpack although it had no competition or backroom bleaching to make it number one.
It has deep pouches and pockets, hidden zippers and is made from a recycled pair of jeans. It is so spacious that it rivals Mary Poppins' carpet bag. But instead of stowing lamps and coat racks it usually holds books, or an umbrella, or nearly all my shopping bags from the day--and that's quite a feat.
So there you are, a tribute post to my two most appreciated pair of pants, and remember, when wearing a hand-me-down, it never matters that its second hand, if its number one to you. 
Photography skills with thanks to Mom

Thursday, 11 April 2013

'Facile' French Onion Soup

Bonjour tout le monde!

Today I wanted to share with you a favourite recipe of mine for two reasons: it's easy (facile in French) and its delicious. And should you want something sweet after this soup du jour then check out my Easy as (apple) Pie recipe.

After much painstaking research (thanks Wikipedia) I have discovered that French Onion Soup has "been popular at least as far back as Roman times. The modern version of this soup originates in France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelised onions."

My version is slightly tweaked but sometimes things need to be cut down in order to make it a fifteen minute meal. Now that is fantastique!

  • 1 Onion soup mix packet
  • 1/2 a raw onion, diced
  • 4 Cups water
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 Cup of grated cheese (your choice--I used a mozzarella and cheddar block)
Preparation time: 5 minutes   Cooking: 10 minutes   Serves: 4

  1. Buy a soup mix packet (or box) from your nearest supermarket. Make sure its onion flavoured!
  2. Dice half an onion and put it into the soup pot. Add butter and sautéed at medium heat until onions become clear.
  3. Add required cups of water according to the packet and the soup mix itself (I did six cups water with 1 packet and a half).
  4. Increase to high heat and bring to a boil. Stir.
  5. Take out individual bowls and layer with cut squares of bread. I had regular multi-grain brown bread on hand but who says you cannot be adventurous (or convenient) and use whatever is in your bread box. 
  6. Grate cheese so that each bowl has a minimum of half a cup of cheese sprinkled on top of the bread.
  7. Salt and pepper soup to taste and take off the element.
  8. Ladle generously into your bowls and allow the cheese to melt and bread to become saturated before serving your guests. Should anyone want seconds (s'il vous plait!) repeat steps five and six.
But don't forget, these onions won't make you cry, but tu pleures, being French and all.

Let me know how it goes and any adventurous twists you may have added!

Bon Appetite! 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

About being a sourpuss...

Photo courtesy of Bailey
...or at least Unger will be one if he doesn't wipe that milk off his face before it spoils!
Since today is Sunday, I decided to have a lighter post--especially after wrestling with one about the reseeding of our fields. I tried that idea three different times using different formats and choosing different photos but nothing really worked--which made me indifferent. 
But today wasn't an exclusive day all to its own. More often that I'd like to admit I have those days when I just can't seem to get anything right. My outfit. A job. Something written. This blog.  Whatever little nuance arises I sometimes give-in to it and consequently (but not without my allowance) my entire day goes through the wringer. So I brew and I stew and nothing improves until I do a miraculous thing: I let go.
A great solution is when I busy myself with some other activity (like Dad says, if you can't sleep there are always chores to do in the barn...) I pull myself away from the issue at hand and find a new solution. Or in the very least gain some perspective.
So today, after too many attempts I got plain frustrated and gave up. But I came back a few hours later and lo' and behold here is a post. The sky won't be falling. All I apparently needed (other than a few hours away) was a change of topic...but do keep your eyes on the ready for a future post about reseeding.
Therefore the moral of my story is don't cry over spilt milk, and should it spill, turn it into sour cream.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Meals on Wheels

During these Spring and Summer months farmers tend to visit the fields more than their friends (not particularly by choice) and eat-out more than in. Eating out rarely means French fries because a tractor (with some implement attached) tends to have a difficult time getting into the drive thru. Instead, it means making breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner packable and taking it out to the field.

Bailey stopping to take her boxed lunch!

We use the grass as our picnic blanket, sometimes a tractor wheel as a seat, any  flat surface on our equipment as a table. We need to be innovative to make things work and aren't too picky when it means taking a break from behind the wheel.

I think on our farm the person who needs to have the greatest flexibility and ingenuity is the Head Chef, Mom. She might be making a sit down meal only to find out someone is out in the field and suddenly a soup and sandwich needs to be wrapped up and transported without missing a beat or spilling a drop.
Lunches boxed, labeled and ready for transport.

It isn't always easy and rarely convenient.

This week we were  prepping some seed beds at one of the off farm properties and this marked the first, of many, meals-to-go. Mom had made a lovely lunch and with some texting to the respective tractor drivers tweaked each meal so every one got what they wanted.

I was on delivery that day and we loaded up the carefully boxed lunches. I drove to the property, trekked across the freshly seeded field and hand delivered lunch to the happy recipients. That's pretty fast food if you ask me and top-notch service.

Of course, I have yet to inform everyone that if this service is expected for the rest of the season some tipping is in order.

Safe travels and I hope all your meals make it safely!

These smiles testify good service (and great food!)