Monthly Archives: March 2011

What am I missing?

I need a little help here.  Go to fullsize image

Why would I not want my milk in a bag?  Every time I go to the grocery store I am asked if I would like my milk in a bag.  I bring recyclable bags, so it’s not to save on plastic.

I don’t understand it.  They don’t ask if I want my cans of soup in a bag, no one is concerned over whether I want my macaroni in a bag, so what is up with the milk? 

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t complaining.  I just know that there’s some obvious reason that I wouldn’t want my milk in a bag and I feel like I might be committing some major social faux pas by saying yes every time.  The grocery clerks even act surprised when I say yes.  Sometimes they forget, or maybe over- rule my decision and just set the milk jugs in the cart unbagged.  Then they throw my extra, empty bags on top.

Sometimes when I’m asked ‘would you like your milk in a bag?’  I will say no.  But that’s only when I’m feeling particularly self-conscious because there are people in the line behind me and I don’t want them to judge the fact that I want my milk in a bag….because I know I’m missing something and I don’t want to look uninformed.

Sometimes, I’ll pause as though I’m thinking it over ‘…um…no, no thanks I’ll just carry them’.  Why would I want to do that?  You can fit two big four litre milk jugs into my average sized grocery bags, so why would I want to carry them separately?  Maybe my big farm girl hands are unusually large, but the thought of cramming my fists into the little plastic handles to carry milk to the car also makes me feel a bit claustrophobic.   Help me out here, I worry that grocery clerks all over town are talking about me being the crazy lady who wants her milk in a bag.  

I was pretty sure that this ban on milk bagging was particular to our town, but I went grocery shopping recently in California…..and they asked if I wanted my milk in a bag!  WHAT?!?  There is obviously some new social code that I am unaware of, and I don’t want to be caught doing the equivalent of picking my nose or cursing in the grocery store by asking for my milk to be in bags.

If there’s no obvious rule that I’m breaking, maybe I should approach the clerk with ‘hello, I am fine, I found everything I needed, and I want my milk in a bag please.’  Just to save time I think I’ll do that.  For kicks, maybe I’ll ask them to bag my softener salt too.

I’m looking forward to your input on this very important and pressing issue.



Being Mindful

While driving . . .


On a long drive, as I was reflecting on possible blog topics, I started thinking about being mindful. I really quite like the sound of it. But what does it truly mean? When I googled the definition these are some of what I came up with: attentive; heedful; bearing in mind. Not quite what I was looking for in terms of a definitive answer.  But, then it was coming clearer when I discovered, paying attention in a particular way.  Then, coming closer, on purpose in the present moment and finally, here it is, completely in touch with and aware of the present. Perfect! That is what I was looking for. I do need to concentrate on being mindful and experiencing and enjoying the present moment and all it brings with it. Instead of switching off into, oh yes and later today one has a dentist appointment; I need to put a tree order in; what is our fencing going to look like; did anyone take anything out for supper; who is going to be home for supper? You get the idea.  So I am going to concentrate on being mindful and truly paying attention to what is going on. Perhaps that means truly listening. Maybe it means really looking for signs of spring. Focussing on what is going on at that point in time and blocking out distractions. Have a more mindful day.


Stop Being A Princess

The brown eyed middle one at our house had great opportunity to attend a basketball showcase this weekend. The first evening we heard a motivational talk from Shawnee Harle, coach of the womens U of C Dinos. She spoke to the girls about talking their game to the next level. There was great wisdom in her talk that would apply to all our kids and even us as adults. Stop Being A Princess, was the main theme. She said if the kids want to excel they have to be doing things for themselves, not relying on someone else. When they get to college no one is going to fill their water bottles, wake them up or make their lunch. She stressed to stop wasting time on Facebook, You Tube and cell phones.  
Start leading your life and how you do anything is how you do everything, were two more of the points she told the group. “If you can’t lead yourself in the little things, how will you ever lead yourself in the big things?” she asked. “Being great demands sacrifice.”
She concluded
“Be willing to
Do what it takes to
Have what you want”

Great advice for high school basketball players and everybody else!

– Kelly

Sunday Family Meal

I have said this before – I am not a big fan of lamb.  However, in order to be taken seriously in my desire to keep ewes on our farm, I feel the need to develop a consumable end product.  Otherwise it would look like I just enjoy walking in the pasture with my sheep, cuddling their lambs and watching them frolic, building them little teeter-totters and other playthings….and that would just be weird….right?

Anyway, the great Jamie Oliver is quickly turning me into a lover of lamb chops and roasts.  In the past, I have marinated, lemon juiced and spiced in an attempt to hide the lamb flavor.  Reading Jamie’s cookbook I realize that he generally just rubs his lamb down with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  This is really good!  In my past days of marination I would take a tiny piece of lamb, cover it in mashed potatoes so I couldn’t see it, and gag it down followed by a quick swig of something to mask any flavor that could be lamb.  Now, I go back for seconds…sometimes thirds.   I really am becoming a convert, and it will no doubt be easier for me to produce and sell lamb if I enjoy it myself. 

Tonight I made roasted leg of lamb with roasted veggies.   It’s very easy….

Mix together a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper.  I used sea salt and freshly ground pepper, but use what you have available.  To this I added the leaves off a sprig of rosemary along with three leaves of sage.  I rubbed them all together with a pestle and mortar until I could smell the oil coming out of the herbs.  (Probably about 10 turns of the pestle).  You could also just mix these together in a bowl.  Rub this all onto the lamb.  Roast at 350 F for about 2 hours, depending on the size of your lamb roast.

lamb roast raw and spiced

Go sit for a while with a book and some wine while your lamb roasts for about an hour and a half.  Don’t drink too much wine or you will stop caring about supper and you’ll curl up for a nice nap on the sofa for the rest of the night while your dinner burns…or is that just me? 

Next, chop about 4 carrots, 3 celery ribs and one broccoli bunch into bite sized pieces.  Toss with a bit of olive oil, some vegetable spice and a dash of dill.  Roast in a separate pan along with the lamb for about 20 minutes.

Tossed veggies

When the lamb and veggies are done cooking, add a little sliced bread and you have a great Sunday family meal which is quick and easy to make.

Roasted lamb and veggie supper

This was super easy and really great.  I finished it off with this super easy and really great dessert…..

dilly bar….which I ate at my computer while posting this blog.  Shhhh….I hope no one in my family is reading this right now or they will want one too.  And it’s the last one.  And I ate it all by myself.  And they don’t even know that I had a stash of dilly bars in the freezer in the garage….     Kind of reminds me of the time I fooled my kids into thinking that the green jolly ranchers were my favorite so that they would eat all the yucky green ones and leave the delicious red and orange ones for me.  But, that’s a story for another day.

Go make some lamb.  It’s very delicious and healthy for you, especially if it’s young and grass fed.   See if you can find a lamb producer local to your area and you are likely to get some very good quality food for your table. 


Snow day on the farm

Here it is the end of March, the beginning of spring in fact, and we are enjoying another snow day at our house.  Snow days happen more frequently in our yard because our north-south road has some beautiful trees on each side, and these trees do a magnificent job of funnelling any snow that is falling within a 5 mile radius right onto our road.  This creates snow drifts that grow to be 5 to 7 feet deep, creating a problem for anyone who wants to visit us or leave in anything other than a snowmobile or dog sled.  Our snowmobile is once again using it’s status as a senior citizen as an excuse not to start, and our dogs aren’t into pulling sleds as much as they are into chewing them up, or running in front of them as you speed out of control down the hill beside our house.  So we are trapped.  Blissfully, wonderfully trapped.

The really good news is that our oldest son came home from college last night before the snow came, so he is trapped with us.  So is his brother.  This means that I have two able-bodied strong young people who can’t escape the jobs I have saved for them.

The best job was this – get that ram into a separate pen away from the ewes.  This shouldn’t be difficult, but the ram likes to chase people and hit them with his horns.  It really hurts and is kind of dangerous, so naturally I sent my children in to take care of the situation.  I did go to watch and laugh though, which I’m sure the boys appreciated and found very helpful.  After much coaxing and gentle persuasion the sheep weren’t co-operating, and so it was decided that there was only one way to get this job done.   One kid would have to whack the Ram in the face with his mitt to make him angry….who doesn’t get angry when whacked in the face with a mitt….and get chased through the gate, while the other guy slammed the gate shut.  This essentially locks one kid in a pen with an angry ram, so a decision had to be made over who would be chased into the pen.  They both wanted to be the guy who gets to whack the ram and be chased, so a lot of wrestling and snowball fights ensued until the decision was made and the Ram was safely in a pen by himself….where he threw a temper tantrum and repeatedly beat his head into the fence as we left.  I expect he will be back in with the ewes by morning.  We’ll cross that bridge tomorrow.

Snow days on the farm are also great for baking and cooking.  Breakfast was pancakes and bacon with apple slices.  For lunch I made a really yummy hamburger soup using whatever veggies we had in the fridge, (beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes and some peas) along with a sliced avocado that I thought would go well.  It didn’t.  The soup was great, who can go wrong with hamburger soup – but the avocado was not a hit.  It went a little too slimy to be a hit.  I was met with a few raised eyebrows, and many slimy slices of avocado left in the bowl.  In the afternoon, I baked two banana loaves and 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies.  By 3:00 there were 8 cookies left and nothing else!  Wow!

As the wonderful snow day passed, my husband took pity and plowed a trail for the boys to escape.  It was fantastic to spend time with them and have those conversations that parents love and children don’t.  We learned about the different epidemics that have infected the college dorms, what their favorite classes are, how to differentiate a cut throat trout from a rainbow trout, how many chocolate chip cookies can be eaten by a teenager in one day, and many other interesting little tidbits that our kids don’t share unless they are trapped and unable to get away from our relentless questioning.  I know that they enjoyed it too. 

Looking forward to the next time!


Private Property

This blog was not meant to be a forum for political commentary. What it was meant for is not completely clear yet but we think it is coming into focus. However, certain events that have taken place many times over the winter, can no longer be left alone. I must comment on this, as we are not the only ones that are experiencing this.

I know, with certainty, that when country people go to town, they do not walk into other’s yards, or even houses. It is obvious where the public property ends and the private begins. Boulevard and sidewalk, public. Driveways and lawns, private. So I desperately need someone to explain to me that when we are out in the country many have no problem travelling exactly where they wish to go. Sometimes, that means going through gates and thoughtfully closing them, or not. Sometimes, that means going right through fences and wrecking them. Sometimes, that means driving over grain storage bags and wrecking them. These events are not limited to any season as they can occur just about any time of year. For those of us with livestock there are a number of issues that can arise when people who shouldn’t be there are in amongst our cattle.  If animals get out and cause accidents who do you think is responsible. We use a lot of single electric wires in our pasture management and it is not good to hit these at high speeds on a motorized vehicle of some kind if you like all your body parts intact.  It does not help our animals’ performance if there are dogs packing up and chasing them through fences or kids shooting at them with a bb gun. This is after all what we make our living at.  The concept of not going on someone else’s property is completely lost on some.  In the past we have not posted our property as anyone who was going on it was respectful and asked permission. Then we could explain that the fences were electrified or that there were six bulls in the herd.  However, that is no longer the case and we will have to put up signs that read Private Property – No Trespassing. In case they don’t get it private property means no trespassing.

– Kelly

Small Town Living

There is something really special about living in a small town.   Ours isn’t small as in the village my mom grew up in small, but the city we live near has a population of around 26,000 people.  We have easy access to most important life lines such as Starbucks and Walmart….oh yes, and current, nearly state of the art health care services. 

We are lucky to have the population that enjoys some of the larger city privileges coupled with great personal service from the people who you meet when you are enjoying, say, your annual complete physical exam.  From your physician, a man whose child perhaps is on your kid’s hockey team.  Someone whose wife is your friend, so you find yourself sitting with them at tournaments, occasionally going for lunch….you know, the type of familiarity that makes your annual exam so comfortable and relaxing.

The nurse who accompanies the doctor for said exam is also someone I know.  She lives across the field from me.  I have babysat her kids.  I have also taken care of her cat, which she delivered to my yard complete with cat house and four baby kittens.  She hasn’t come back for them yet, and that was nine years ago.  I’m glad she didn’t do that with her kids.

What follows is a completely true story.  I was in the doctor’s office for my exam that is supposed to be annual, but it never is, mostly because it usually takes me a good three years to talk myself into making the appointment.  I had been measured and weighed and looked at and was now willingly subjecting myself to the very flattering flood light which I’m sure would do a lot for my complexion if it were aimed at my face – which it’s not.  As the procedure begins the doctor reminds me to relax…oh right, I forgot to do that…and we begin.  The nurse who lives across the field from me is telling me all about the Halloween candy she bought and how I should bring my kids over between this hour and that so that we can have a visit.  I can hardly process any of the information she’s giving me because I am cold, vulnerable and trying to hold my beautiful paper dress together.  I was just about to ask her to write down anything that I needed to actually remember when the fire alarm went off in the clinic.  The fire alarm.  I never considered what I would do if caught in a fire during this particular procedure.  I bet there’s never been a fire drill to practice how swiftly a doctor can remove their paraphernalia while the patient leaps off the table and runs down the stairs to safety on the street below the clinic.  

My doctor paused for a moment, then said “I think we’ll just finish up here, I’m sure everything’s fine”.   Apparently he was right, because another nurse – one I don’t know – gave a quick micro knock and threw open the door to announce that all was well, no need to panick.  Thanks for that.  This was the door to the hallway.  It would make for a better story if someone was walking by in the hallway but obviously this was my lucky day because no one else was behind her. 

It is great to live in a place where people are caring enough to let you know that you can just relax when there’s a fire alarm.  No need to panick when you are in a vulnerable position wearing a paper dress and the building may be on fire.  Everyone will look out for you because they know you.  Everyone from the doctor to the nurse, to the news broadcasters who will have no doubt gathered outside the burning clinic to video your sorry self running away from the building in a paper dress which is on fire.  Ok, that last part didn’t happen.  Because it was my lucky day.

I truly do love the fact that we live in such a familiar community.  I have enjoyed visiting with my sister-in-law while she assisted on my ultrasound, which was being done by a man whose daughters I have taught in Sunday school.  A mom whose son plays football with mine is a lab tech and she teases me that I can’t look when they take my blood.  It’s great to have people involved in your health care who are so comfortable with you that they will come to visit and discuss scrapbooking during your mammogram. 

I am thankful that I live in such a friendly and social community.  It’s nice to know that you are surrounded by familiar faces who care about your comfort and well-being when you find yourself feeling vulnerable.


First Day of Spring

Can you see it? The sun is shining, the snow is melting, the water is running, the birds are chirping and the green grass is peaking through. Okay, maybe the wind is howling, the snow is falling, the roads are slippery and brown dirt that had melted through last week is showing. It does not quite feel like it but today is the first day of spring. The sun is not actually supposed to shine until the end of next week. And it is not supposed to be above freezing. However, spring is truly not far away. I know winters can be long and hard, but the coming of spring always makes me feel glad that we live in a country that has four seasons.  Spring is a time of renewal, growth and birth.  And I can’t wait until it actually gets here.


Has spring sprung?

Food Rules

I have had this book for awhile, but just came across it recently and it is full of great tidbits. The author, Michael Pollan, has written a few other books on the subject of food. Food Rules, is a quick read of some  conclusions Pollan has come to over the years. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize
  • Don’t eat cereal that turns your milk a different color
  • Don’t eat it if it has more than five ingredients
  • Dont’ eat it if it is made in a factory
  • Don’t get fuel for yourself at the same place you get fuel for your car
  • Don’t eat it if it has ingredients a third grader would not recognize
  • Only eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  • Only eat things that will eventually rot
  • Eat all the junk food you want as long as you make it yourself

There are many more tips and lots of food for thought.

And Happy St. Patrick’s Day


Counting My Blessings

Have you heard anything about Japan lately? 

I find myself feeling so thankful for very small things today.  I am thankful for my family, my cereal, my house, even just the ground beneath my feet.  I am thankful for my friends, my community and the road that I can drive to town on with almost no trouble at all.  I am thankful for my vehicle.  Even though I have been known to curse at it for not starting occasionally, it is not sitting in my kitchen right now, and I am sure that with a little coaxing I could encourage it to fire up and take me somewhere this afternoon.

I am thankful that, for now anyway, I am blessed to be able to watch this disaster unfold with horror and empathy for the people whose lives have been so devastated.  I am blessed because it has renewed my appreciation for all those small things that I can forget are so important.  I am lucky because I can sit and consider what my options are to help these people who have been so badly hurt through no fault of their own.

My sons have planned a trip to Japan for three weeks this summer.  I am so thankful that they are not there right now.  I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to consider their safety for another few weeks before deciding whether or not they will be allowed to go.

Sometimes I complain when the weather falls below, say -35 for a good three weeks or so.  Sometimes I complain even after one day of -25.   I never like it when it’s windy.  I want summer to be hot in the day and rainy at night.  I want spring to have less mud.  Don’t get me wrong, I will still be frustrated when the weather doesn’t fit my agenda.  However,  maybe I will remember to be thankful that the ground is stable, and that my family is safe.

What are you thankful for today?