Monthly Archives: April 2011

Royal Wedding

History has now been made. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are now wed. And what an event it was. Not that I got up at 3 a.m. to watch it, but at 6 they were making their balcony appearance, with not one, but two kisses. According to CTV, one million people were gathered in London, to try and get a glimpse of the couple. Hard to imagine, that many well wishers at your wedding.  And an entire industry has sprung up around the event. I wonder how much business is created over this. It will be significant. It is interesting how caught up in the Royals, we can get. Kate and William are off to a lovely beginning with their fairy tale wedding. Not that this is the first fairy tale wedding, but hopefully they will not have to go through what other Royals have.  Best wishes.

-Kelly

Saskatoon Jam

Saskatoon jam

Boiling the Saskatoons

One of the blogs I follow is A Canadian Foodie, acanadianfoodie.com. We met Valerie at a Culinary Tourism Workshop. Recently she had a Saskatoon berry jam recipe, which I was inspired to try. Her recipe was simple, always a draw for me.  Plus I had recently discovered a bag of frozen Saskatoons in the deep freeze that I wanted to use before next berry season. It didn’t take too long. I boiled it longer than the 15 minutes suggested as I did not think it was getting thick enough. However, after setting it is quite thick and really, really good.

Saskatoon Jam Recipe From A Canadian Foodie – acanadianfoodie.com

4 cups Saskatoons

3 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lemon = 3 TBSP

Crush Saskatoons in a Dutch oven. Heat gently until juice starts to flow.

Add sugar and water – bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Add lemon juice – bring to a boil, stir frequently until thick, about 15 minutes.

Pour into hot sterilized jars, leave 1/4 ” had space, wipe jar rims.

Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

-Kelly

Friendship

There is a group of women who meet every month.  Our meetings began so we could share our love of reading, but after a few hours together it was clear that we shared more than that.  However this group was formed, or whose idea it was is a bit unclear.  We are from many different backgrounds and we have many different occupations.  These different life experiences are what I think provides the best entertainment now that we are in our tenth year together.

Ours is more of a book sharing club, where we all bring whatever books we have enjoyed so that we can share them with the others in the group.  We pile all the books in whatever designated spot in the host’s home, then converge on each other with our stories from the past month.  The best of these stories don’t come from books, but they are chapters from our real life stories which are just as entertaining, or sometimes heart wrenching.

Bookclub has transformed a bit.  I now suspect that there are books being thrown on the table that no one has read.  I suspect this because I have done it.  Sometimes there are things thrown into a conversation that go like this “I never read”.  Funny thing to hear at a bookclub, but we don’t care.  Our best reason for getting together is to have a few cocktails and to share our own experiences, and most times to have a ‘cleansing belly laugh’ as Kelly put it.  I was immediately concerned because for me the word cleansing has some bowel movement connotations that made me wonder just what she had put in the crab dip.  I will pass on the cleansing belly laugh dip thankyou very much.  Some of us in bookclub have a hard enough time trying not to pee when we laugh.

We discuss very serious things.  Things like proper etiquette when visiting someone’s home.  What to do when your host’s dog is frantically ‘having his way’ with an object in the living room and you can’t be sure if she is unaware or just indifferent.  Do you point it out to her?  Do you look the other way to give him privacy?  And just why would a neutered dog still have these hormonal surges?  It’s disturbing when I reflect on how many of these conversations we have had.  There have been many dogs, two rabbits and a very unfortunate cat with no claws whose frustrations have been discussed at bookclub. 

We discuss options for business names, and proper professional email addresses.  It was determined that ‘suckingforair@hotmail.com’   and ‘bankerinthebush@hotmail.com’  were somewhat inappropriate but that turtleneckgirl and secondplacelin were probably fine.

We discuss some of our work experiences.  Things like whether the guy who was interviewed had made one too many trips to Tim Hortons that morning, or if he was overdue for his non-prescription meds.  Sometimes the farmers in the group discuss their work issues, which will either be met with awed interest or can create serious misunderstandings that need to be clarified….like when it was suggested that we could make gloves with our goats. 

Say it quickly and you will understand.

As we get older, and some of us develop hearing issues, there can be some misunderstandings.  A few of us were excited to hear that one of our members was considering running for Mayor…….until it was made clear that she was only volunteering to host bookclub in May OR June.  As a result, I will propose that we should refer to her as ‘Jeff’ from now on.  (Our mayor’s name is Jeff).

Overall, bookclub is about much more than books.  It’s about a group of women who get together because they enjoy each other’s company.  We can discuss things and know that what’s said at bookclub stays at bookclub….unless Terra or Kelly blog about it.  For the most part, we don’t spend time talking about other people’s business, or try to make ourselves feel superior by pointing out the shortcomings of others.  We like to focus on ourselves. 

If you have one or two friends and you can reach out to a few more, you too can form a club that may just be lucky enough to grow into something more.  It doesn’t matter what you say your reason for meeting is, you can call it rubber boot club if you like.  The main thing is that you can tell your family that you have a meeting, which raises fewer eyebrows than if you say ‘I’m going out for a drink and a cleanse’.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts.  And we are never, ever the same.”   – Anonymous

<Terra>

Eggs – Better than their rep

 

I am thrilled to finally see an article on the positive benefits of eggs. They have gotten a bad rap lately, for years now. This puzzled me, as I thought they were an excellent source of protein that was whole and still in its natural state. In other words, no processing. How could that be bad? In the Chatelaine blog it states they do have cholesterol but it is in fact some of the other bad things we eat that cause our cholesterol levels to rise. And they may actually benefit those with high cholesterol due to omega fats, protein and antioxidants. Eggs are low in fat, less than 1 gram and they have only 70 calories each. They also have vitamin D, keep your appetite in check and reduce inflammation, according the Chatelaine.  All good.

– Kelly

“Food is an important  part of a balanced diet.” Fran Lebowitz

More (Very Cute) Signs of Spring

I wanted to share a new picture of spring on the farm.

Cute little bits of fluff!

These are our first lambs of the year.  One boy and one girl. 

It's my turn to lay in the bowl

 

When we first found them, they were about 1/2 hour old.  They had already had their first bit of colostrum and were up and about following their mom around the barnyard.  Lambs are very quick to get up and running as long as they are born someplace warm and out of the wind and snow.

Chickens checking out the lambs

As it always does, the issue of names came up almost immediately.  In the past, I have not encouraged naming our food for fear that we all get too attached and end up with a barnyard full of hundreds of ‘pets’.  I’m not sure of what it says about us, but so far we have been able to name the lambs and still eat them in the fall.  Creepy isn’t it? 

When I suggested the names ‘lambchop’ and ‘minty’ I was greeted with a level stare from my daughter, followed by “Mom, I don’t like to think about that right now”.  I love her attitude.  It’s one of total enthusiasm and acceptance of our purpose for keeping these animals, combined with a true sense of concern for their wellbeing.  She is going to be out there cuddling them for a few months until they get too big to tolerate that, and in the fall she will help us to load them onto the trailer.

We settled on the names “Leonard and Penny”.  Looks like we’re going with a Big Bang Theory theme this year for lamb names.  My one concern is this…we already have a Penny in the barnyard….I hope there won’t be too much confusion!

Little Henny Penny

Lenny and Penny are settling in and getting used to all the noises and the other animals who live around them.  After only 24 hours, they are both exploring the snow drifts and bouncing along behind their mom.  In the next few days and weeks there will be other new lambs arriving, so we will keep a close eye on everyone and will let you know when “Sheldon, Raj, Howard and Amy Farifowler” get here.  Hope you’re familiar with the show or you won’t have any idea of what I’m talking about.

 
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything” – William Shakespeare
 
<Terra>
 

Ape House

Sara Gruen’s latest book, Ape House, is now out in paperback and I just finished it. As with her other books, there is a strong animal theme. She captures the human like characteristics of the bonobos, particularly their communication skills.  Ape House, is more of a mystery novel than her previous works.  In addition to the central characters, John Thigpen and Isabel Duncan, there are a myriad of others, both animal and human.  It was a good read, but I did not enjoy it as much as her other books. Now, I am looking forward to her previous book, Water for Elephants, being released as a movie next weekend.

-Kelly

The most Amazing thing

Valdy

The most amazing thing happened yesterday. I went walking with Valdy. Yes, that’s right the legendary Canadian folk singer, Valdy.  A friend and I have been walking together on and off, for quite some time now. It is never as much as we would like but we keep working at it and are back on track again. We have a great two mile backroad that winds up and down through the coulee. This friend also hosts home folksinger concerts as part of the Home Routes tour, homeroutes.ca . This is a non-profit group dedicated to the love of music and making it more accessible.  And can you guess who is performing at her house tonight. Valdy. It was a delightful walk, despite freezing temperatures and a cold wind.  The three of us covered many topics, often to do with nature we were observing along the way; magpie nests,  birds, water running over roads, different types of trees,  and no trespassing signs being ripped off the post. Commenting on the latter, Valdi said “It is hard to make an ally from an enemy.” He is warm and friendly and was a welcome addition to our walk. Never thought I would be doing that yesterday!

Sparks in the Bedroom…and kitchen…and the tractor!

I had a birthday.  It wasn’t a momentous birthday like last year, but it was a birthday and because of that my husband got me, among other things, some new jammies.

I know what you’re thinking, and they aren’t THOSE kinds of jammies.  These are the kind that you can wear downstairs in the morning to wake the kids up, and make their lunches while they watch you and complain about having to go to school.  These are the kind of jammies that you probably could answer the door in, even if it’s the principal of the kids’ school….and that has happened….or your husband’s suddenly very uncomfortable hunting buddy…..and that has happened too.

However, on this my first night wearing my nice new p.j.’s let me tell you, I had a brand new very exciting sensation as I slipped between the sheets.  Yes dear reader, the sparks really flew that night.  And once again not THOSE kind of sparks.  Actual sparks.  The new pajamas are made of a silk like fabric that when combined with the dry air that comes with our prairie winters and the cotton sheets on our bed, sends actual sparks flying that are reminiscent of the Christmases of my youth when my older boy cousins used to shuffle across grandma’s carpet to chase poor little screaming me with their finger pointing out all around the house until one of my uncles swore at us all to shut the hell up…you little darlings or Santa won’t come at all.  Ahh, the memories.

I managed to subdue the sparks by lying perfectly still, pretending to be asleep and not moving at all…barely breathing in fact.  (As a side note – I find this works well to subdue all kinds of bedroom sparks, if you catch my drift…. if you’re ‘picking up what I’m laying down’ as the kids say). 

This worked really well until my wonderful husband decided to reach over and very gently rub my arm.  The gig was up then, I had to tell him that he must not move or touch me when I am wearing my new jammies for fear of starting a fire in our bedroom.  Not THAT kind of fire. 

You can imagine how funny this was to him. 

The next morning, after trying to appear busy while drinking coffee in my p.j.s, I realized I was late to pick Ron up, he was waiting for me out in the field.  I hurriedly pulled my Carhardt coveralls on overtop of my pajamas, and there were those sparks again!  Every step I took was a nice little reminder of how I never fully got that electricity chapter in grade 12 physics. 

I contemplated the repercussions of going nude in my Carhardts.  What if I had an accident?  No big deal, people would be too hurried in my rescue to notice or care that I was nude.  BUT the real worry is that my husband will want to go to a neighbor’s house for coffee, and I won’t be able to take off my coveralls, and everyone will think that I’m weird.  No, they won’t think it’s weird if I’m in my silky pajamas, but nude will make them wonder.  They probably would ask him not to bring me for coffee any more, and then I won’t get any first hand gossip.  I would have to rely on Ron to tell me everything that was said, and he won’t remember the good stuff.  He will have a very good recollection of current cattle, grain, and fuel prices though which is probably more important….I guess.

So, for now my beautiful light blue p.j.’s are washed and carefully balled up into my drawer – patiently waiting for the humid evenings of summer when I will try them again.  Hopefully the next time will be less electrifying!

<Terra>   I so badly wanted to sign Kelly’s name to this.  That would be funny!

Bagels

Ready for boiling

Working with yeast dough is not one of my strong suits. I have tried to make bread a couple of times, as the kids say, fail. But last week on Pioneer Woman’s website there was a bagel recipe that inspired me. And I do like bagels. So I wanted to give it a try. First attempt, fail again – a gob of dried out dough that wouldn’t really stick together. And I used my food processor which I love to find a reason to use. Second attempt, oh no, another fail. Basically had followed the same steps. By now the girls have started to get somewhat involved.  The blonde curly haired one is a good baker. And enjoys doing it. The brown haired one is a bit more like her mother. After two attempts we had to call it a day and wait until the next day.  But in the midst of this, the baker daughter asks how old the yeast is? Well, I hadn’t really paid attention but discovered it expired in June 2008.  Some things stay in my fridge for quite some time. Some of you may also notice that we had moved since then. I must have been sure to bring the yeast with me. Maybe for good luck in our new home? So the next morning, with some updated yeast we try again. This time I am not going to use the food processor but the mix master with what I think are the dough hooks. Remember, I don’t bake.  So I combine all the ingredients, as the two recipes I am referring to tell me to do, knead it a bit, and end up with another fairly dried out hunk of dough. It is not really very elastic. But lets use the proof function on the oven and see if it will rise. By this time we are pretty suspicious this maybe another fail. But the brown haired one and I are determined to follow the project through. Now the baker is checking the process out and decides she may try a batch of her own.  We knead the dough some more, separate in into pieces, roll those out like a fat snake and then form them into a circle.

Not the greatest.

The bagels are then par boiled for a few minutes and baked for about 20. Meanwhile the baker has almost finished her dough and comments on how nice it is. She is right. It is soft, light and elastic.  The first bagels coming out of the oven, looking not too bad, but then the second batch comes out. See for yourself, there is no comparison. The first ones were pretty hard and crunchy but the second ones tasted just like a bagel should with a harder crust but a soft and warm center. It is not hard to tell who is the baker in this family.

Can you guess which are the best?

 

– Kelly

Lucky Guy

 

I didn’t always spend my days this way.  I used to be called on for the tough jobs.  If there was a bull that needed to be roped, they called me because I am big, very strong, and bulls don’t scare me…..llamas do, but who isn’t afraid of Llamas?   If there was a cow who was having trouble calving, I brought her in.  If there was a long cattle drive ahead of us, I went in the back to keep things moving along.  I have pushed in between angry cows chasing farmers, I have tolerated excited young pups who liked to snap at my nose, and I have even pulled a truck out of deep mud!

Ready to rope some calves.

All of that changed one day when a 3-year-old girl was plopped onto my back.  She sat up there feeling my mane, and after a few minutes she proudly exclaimed, “I’m fableeous up here mommy, just fableeous.”  She was hooked.

Over the years, our relationship has developed from me ignoring her while she sat on my back to where we are today.  In the beginning, her feet didn’t come past the saddle pad, so I could pretend I didn’t know she was there and just continue eating grass while she practiced steering and clucking and kissing me into motion.  I would never run no matter how many times she asked.  I don’t like running unless there’s a good reason.  As her legs have grown, and she has gotten stronger, I have found that it’s more important to pay attention to what she suggests, or her polite suggestion will turn into a drill sergeant’s command…….always followed by ‘good boy’ and lots of hugs.

Getting some apples from the garden.

My skill set has changed also.  In the past, there wasn’t much criticism when I ran after a calf, but now I am expected to change leads, and be on the correct diagonal….whatever that means.  I am sometimes subjected to being shown on the halter, which really makes me uncomfortable.  I’ve never liked being the center of attention, and there’s something about those people looking at me so closely that makes me fidget.  This really upsets my little boss, so I try to do my best.

Keyda trying to stand for a halter class.

I know the other geldings think it’s weird when I come home from a trip to town smelling like strawberries, with my mane and tail all in braids.  Sometimes the elastics on my braids are pink, to match my ‘pajamas’ that she dresses me in to stay warm on the ride home.  But here’s the thing – I am comfortable.  I get more treats than they do.  I hear the knickering and commotion when I am brought back into the pen, but don’t forget who I am guys! 

Tough enough to wear pink!

I am still big, I am still strong, and I’m still the boss! 

Keyda moving the others out of 'his spot'.

 All horses should have the good fortune to be loved by a kid at least once in their life.

<Terra>