Monthly Archives: October 2012

Earthing

There is a new phenomenon traveling in some circles known as earthing or grounding. The concept is based on the idea that the earth gives you a natural, eternal and gentle energy. In the recent Mary Janes Farm magazine, author Dr. Laura Koniver, M.D. explains, “We are constantly building up positively charged free radicals  all over our bodies, constantly working up inflammation and stress. These free radicals are an important component to aging, inflammation, pain and disease. And the most natural way to reduce the amount of free radicals and inflammation in our bodies is to ground ourselves to the earth. Negatively charged electrons from the surface of a negatively charged earth wash up and over our inflamed, positively charged bodies and neutralize us from the inside out.” That means direct contact with the Earth, bare feet in the dirt, sand or grass.  This contact is supposed to  aid in the reduction of insomnia, stress, menopausal symptoms and help with stronger bones, stronger immune systems and greater disease resistance. Two areas that are considered are shoes and beds. The idea is that they keep us from direct contact and there are aids available to help overcome the barriers. I have to say this is something we take for granted on the farm. Don’t get me wrong, we wear shoes and sleep on beds, not the ground. But when the weather permits, we are constantly in direct contact with the soil and the plants growing there. I have always appreciated that connection but have never thought of it from a beneficial electrical charge point of view. We do pay close attention to the charge on our electric fences (laughing at the poor unsuspecting soul who happens to come in contact with that). Something interesting to ponder. I would like to hear others’ thoughts on the matter.

“The earth heals,” Dr. Laura Koniver, MD

-Kelly

Lloydminster’s Harvest Feastival

The first annual Lloydminster Harvest Feastival, held in October of 2010, was successful in that over 100 consumers were connected with their local food producers.  Now, three years later Feastival has more than doubled in participant numbers with more consumers and more producers coming forward to take part in this annual event.  Despite the October blizzard which had blanketed the streets and highways in snow and ice, the Lloydminster Exhibition Association’s third annual ‘Harvest Feastival’ was a success.

Ready for the Lloydminster Exhibition Association’s annual Harvest Feastival.

Over 400 people braved the premature winter storm to experience a feast of locally grown food, and to meet the people who had produced it.

Ready for participants to arrive.

Feastival is hosted every October by the Lloydminster Exhibition Association, with sponsorship this year from The County of Vermilion River, ALUS, Lower Shannon Farms, Sask Canola, Lloydminster Community Futures, The Cheesiry, and the Root Community Emporium.

The menu is prepared by the Exhibition’s chef Rob, with the help of the kitchen staff who go out of their way to ensure that the food served is fresh and delicious.  There were 10 stations this year, featuring Cheese Appetizers, Roast Turkey with Mashed Potatoes and Strawberry Chutney, Pulled Pork with Coleslaw, Lamb Shishkali with Barley Pilaf, Drunken Chicken with Wild Rice, Curried Goat with Quinoa Salad, Beef Meatballs with home made Noodles or Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Sauce, a Vegetarian station featuring Corn Chowder, Lentil Borscht, Spinach Salad with Roasted Pumpkin and Peppers, and Roasted Beet Salad, as well as a dessert station featuring Crisps, Cobblers and Pastries combined with fruit sauces from Apple, Cherry, Haskap, Raspberry and Saskatoon.  The tenth station was a beverage station which featured locally produced Wine and Beer, and ‘not so locally’ produced coffee, tea and punch.  Nobody’s perfect you see!

Lots of action as people move to the various stations to try different menu items.

The menu is grown by farmers who are local to the Lloydminster area.  Some are within a 30 mile radius of the city, and others are further away, but still within a few hours of Lloydminster. The producers who participated in Feastival this year are:

Lower Shannon Farms grew the beef and the pork.

The Cheesiry milked the sheep and produced the cheese appetizers.

Hedge Haven Farms raised the chicken.

DJ Turkey Bird Ranch raised the turkey.

Chris and Ron Hooper grew the goat and the lamb.

Kathy’s Greenhouse grew the potatoes, carrots, beets, onions and peppers.

Fanthorpe Plantation grew the squash, honey, corn and raspberries.

Skyline Greenhouses produced tomatoes for our tomato sauce.

Emjay’s Prairie Berries grew the haskap berries, the pumpkins, the gourds and the strawberries.

Flying Rabbit Fruit Farm grew the cherries, the apples and the Saskatoon berries.

Northern Quinoa Corp provided us with quinoa for our salad.

Progressive Foods brought us barley for our pilaf.

Avena Foods grew oats for the fruit crisps.

Lakeland Wild Rice harvested the wild rice to serve with our drunken chicken.

And…..

Living Sky Winery produced the fruit wine.

The various food stations at Feastival are hosted by Celebrity ‘Chefs’.  These are people from the Lloydminster area who volunteer their time to help serve the food and answer questions about where it has come from.  The celebrity chefs this year included Lloydminster’s mayor, radio personalities, the Lloydminster Exhibition Association manager, local farmers, a Veterinarian, local entrepreneurs and students.

Local ‘Celebrity Chefs’.

The Feastival committee wanted to create an event that would connect people who eat to those who grow and produce food in their area.  It is in the hope that by developing this connection, consumers will come to know what foods are produced in our immediate area, and will feel a sense of security in purchasing from these producers that they have a relationship with.  By bridging the gap between rural and urban, it can help the producers to understand what the consumers are looking for, and help the consumers to understand how the farmer grows their food.

And, let’s face it; we all want to have a little fun.  It’s great to get a few hundred people into a room to mingle, have some laughs and enjoy a fabulous meal.  This year local entertainment was added to the event.  Two young musicians, Taylor Wilson and Greg Bitz (also locally grown), sang and played guitar on and off throughout the evening, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Local artists entertain at the Lloydminster Exhibition Association’s Harvest Feastival.

Despite the early evening worries over bad weather, and the last minute scramble of preparing and presenting what are essentially eight separate small banquets, Lloydminster’s Harvest Feastival is actually getting more streamlined and easier to prepare.  This means some new ideas are already coming forward for Feastival 2013!

I’m not going to give any secrets away, but it’s going to be even better next year!  I hope we’ll see you there to show support to our local producers and to enjoy a delicious locally grown meal at the Lloydminster Exhibition Convention Centre.

“If the rain spoils our picnic, but saves a farmer’s crop, who are we to say it shouldn’t rain?”   – Tom Barrett

<Terra>

Preparing for a Feast … ival!

The play on words here is Festival…with a feast.

Harvest Feastival is an annual event that we volunteer to help organize and create with the Lloydminster Exhibition Association.

Every year our committee of two Exhibition employees and three volunteers finds local producers who would like to be involved in this annual feast.  It has grown, and this year we are preparing to feed 400 people. 

Local celebrity chefs help to serve the food.

The event is fun, with a very relaxed atmosphere and lots of activity as participants move through the various food stations, (this year there are 10 stations), in an attempt to try and sample every small meal that has been prepared from locally grown food. 

Buckets of beets preparing to turn into borscht.

There are the usual things to try like beef, chicken, turkey, potatoes and carrots as well as the less usual things such as bison, goat, quinoa and haskap berries.  Listening to the various pronunciations of quinoa and haskap is just part of the fun.

Getting the phyllo pastry ready.

Tomorrow is the big day!  We have spent a few days gathering the food, and now we are helping the chef and his staff to prepare the amazing meals that will be featured this year.  It’s a great learning experience for us.  Last year we were taught to make crepes with berry sauces, and this year we have learned how to create phyllo pastry filled desserts.

Can’t wait for tomorrow.  I think I’ll start fasting now so that maybe this year I will have enough room to try everything! 

 “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home grown tomato.”   Lewis Grizzard

<Terra>

Another crisis?

As cattle producers, we are stunned that in less than 10 years, our industry is on the verge (perhaps already in the middle of) another devastating crisis. Trying to make sense of what is actually going on is almost impossible. There is not enough information from some parties and way too much sensationalism from others. Finally, we have come across an article that is attempting to answer some of the many questions. Check it out at http://sherimonk.com/who-lost-lakeside-xl-foods-or-the-cfia/. It is long but well worth the read.

-Kelly

Recipes for Cold and Flu Season

Home made chicken noodle soup.

Everyone in our house is sick.  And by everyone, I only mean the two girls….but it has hit them so hard and has made them so germy that I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before literally everyone in our house will be sick.

We refer to this as the ‘going back to school cold’.  You see, everyone is outside all summer enjoying the fresh air, with lots of space to cough and sneeze without spreading their filth and pestilence to anyone else.

Then comes September.  The air gets colder and the kids return to school.  The kids and their teachers get corralled into their overcrowded classrooms where they proceed to cough and sneeze all over each other.  Can I borrow your …cough cough…eraser?  Hurry up, I need a turn at the … ACHOO! … water fountain.  Here take a sip from my water bottle…cough cough.  Sniff sniff sniff…wipe…high five!!

It’s horrifying for a semi germ phobic person such as myself to think of the thousands of ways that our kids bring their friends’ germs into our house every fall.  Our own germs are bad enough, we really don’t need to have some kind of imported germs coming in and making ours stronger and more powerful.  Don’t even get me started on what happens when family come to visit from all over Canada for Christmas.  Not only do the cousins get together….so do their germs!  However, at Christmas time we can self medicate from the vodka bottle in an attempt to sterilize the viruses and bacteria coming our way.  Or at least we become much less concerned about it. 

So with the knowledge that it is now October, and we have had the requisite incubation period for all of these germs to grow and turn into a cold and flu epidemic in the Weaver household, I have developed a dietary plan that I hope will help us to fight back.

Those of us who are not yet sick, (just incubating and spreading illness to everyone we meet), would benefit from a good hit of Vitamin C right now.  With this in mind I have gone and bought a bulk bag of oranges and a big flat of strawberries….which are starting to rot in the refrigerator…but at least I bought them.  Kind of like a sacrifice to the cold and flu Gods.

Those who are already sick and suffering….well, it’s too late for them.  However, I decided to take pity and make them some nice chicken soup.  There’s nothing better than a good old wives tale to make them feel like they are getting better.

Roasted chicken bones in just enough water to cover, boil for 1.5 hours for home made chicken stock.

Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Noodle Soup

4 cups of chicken stock.          *You can make this by boiling bones left over from a roasted chicken in enough water to cover it for approximately 1 hour, or you can buy chicken soup powder like OXO and mix it with water.

2 oz of noodles.                        * This is one big handful.  You can use spaghetti or alphabets, whatever you like to have in your soup.

½ cup of cooked chicken.

½ tsp of parsley flakes.

1 tsp of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all of the above ingredients into a large saucepan and simmer until noodles are cooked.  Season as you like.  I only use salt and pepper. 

To go along with the chicken noodle soup, I made some cheese biscuits.  Here’s the recipe:

Cheese Biscuits

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar

¾ tsp salt

1 cup grated cheddar

1/3 cup canola oil

¾ cup milk

Mix first five ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add cooking oil and milk.  Stir to form a ball of soft dough.

Add more milk if you need to make it soft.  Knead the ball on a floured surface a few times.  Roll or pat the ball until it’s approximately 1 inch thick.  Cut into circles with a cookie cutter.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet close together so that they will be soft.  Bake in 425 F for 15 minutes until browned.  Makes 1 dozen.

Continuing on with the need for Vitamin C, I made some bread crumb topped roasted tomatoes.  This recipe is a great way to get rid of an excess of garden tomatoes.

Roasted tomatoes

4 large ripe tomatoes

3 tbsp butter

½ cup bread crumbs

½ tsp parsley flakes

¼ tsp salt

Sprinkle of pepper

1 tsp sugar

Cut tomatoes in half.  Squeeze out some of the juice and seeds.

Melt the butter and add remaining ingredients. Mix well and spoon onto tomato tops.  Bake on greased pan uncovered at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Crumb topped tomatoes ready for roasting.

It felt lovely to show the girls how much I cared about them, and how dearly I wanted them to feel better…as I placed my surgical mask on my face and delivered their hot meal to their room…not touching them and running away as quickly as I could so that their germs couldn’t catch me.  Happy cold and flu season everyone!  Stay away from me!

“Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food” – Hippocrates

 

Harvesting Honey

Did you ever wake up and ask yourself, “I wonder what I could do today that would seriously irritate a hive filled with 20,000 bees…”

Well, wonder no more – fellow bee inquisitors!  I have found the answer to this question!

It turns out that a colony of bees can be perfectly reasonable all summer, but with fall comes a decrease in temperature and an increase in bee hostility.  Yesterday we experienced a little display…..a ‘honey bee hissy fit’ if you will….. probably because we had come to dismantle their home and to steal some of the food that they had worked very hard all summer to preserve.

Honey comb with nearly 1/3 of the frame filled and capped.

When you put it that way, their reaction doesn’t seem unreasonable.  The good news here is that they seemed to blame my husband and focused on him while I continued to dismantle their home and steal their food. 

Trying to convince the bees to leave the honey comb and go into their hive.

There are a few different ideas out there on the best way to remove bees from their honey frames.  The books recommend knocking the bees off with one or two brisk shakes of the frame.  We tried this, and maybe I need more practice knocking things around, but shaking the frames only seemed to remove 3 or 4 of the approximately 200 bees that were on each frame.

The book also says that you can brush the bees away from their frames with a soft bristled ‘bee brush’.  The book warned us that brushing the bees can upset them a bit.  The book was correct.  However, on the bright side…..

The beginnings of a swarm on Ron’s shoulder. He was happy that I took the time to photograph instead of brushing them away quickly….

They definitely felt that Ron was to blame for all of this upheaval.  Every swipe of the brush would send 40 or 50 bees back to their hive, and 60 or 70 bees to my hubby’s right shoulder.  It reminded me of a parrot on a pirate’s shoulder…a really angry parrot that could sting.  The bees didn’t seem to be overly concerned with me brushing them away from the frames, but they were very unimpressed with the guy standing back there telling me what to do….and who can blame them? 

After a few minutes of coaxing and brushing, the bees agreed that Ron wasn’t such a bad guy and started to head back to their hive. 

 

Bees returning home.

 

Ron says that is about as uncomfortable as he has ever been around the bees.  This was partly because he was only wearing a half suit.  He was afraid to lean over and pick up any frames because if his half suit pulled up, it was going to expose his ummm….undercarriage….and that is not a place that you want bees to venture into.

 

Swarmy and upset bees.

 

Back at the house, we began to remove the wax cappings from the honey comb with a wax scratcher.  Once the cappings are removed, the honey is ready to be spun out of the frames.

Removing the wax caps.

We were excited to test our brand new Rubbermaid centrifuge.  You see, a brand new stainless steel two frame centrifuge costs $425.00.  However, a brand new Rubbermaid garbage can, some threaded rod and a little creative ingenuity (Ron’s, not mine), costs $40.00.  For this little hobby, we decided to go with the second option.  It worked like a charm!

The Rubbermaid Centrifuge.

With our Rubbermaid handy man’s special, we can extract 20 pounds of honey in less than 20 minutes.  As long as our drill motor keeps drilling we are in business!

Honey ready to be extracted from the frame.

(If you are interested in the specifics of how Ron built his own honey centrifuge, the details will be coming in a later post).

Empty honey comb after the honey has been extracted. The yellow dot is pollen.

After spinning the honey out of the frames, we filter it to remove the bits of wax capping that has fallen into the centrifuge.  A fine kitchen strainer or cheesecloth does the job, but we used a honey storage tank with filters that fit inside. 

Honey going through the filter and into the storage tank.

The honey tank also has a ‘honey gate’ on it, which is a valve that makes putting your honey into containers a really easy job.  If it wasn’t so sticky, I would say it was slick.

Clear filtered canola honey…yum!

We removed honey from the hive three times this year.  The first time we were just very curious to see what our honey tasted like, so we harvested an early batch on July 31 and got 20 pounds of crystal clear canola honey from only four frames.  We were shocked and delighted to find that it tasted just like honey!  Some would say that we should have expected this, and we did, but it’s still exciting to prove one’s hypothesis to be correct!

The second honey harvest was intended to be the final one.  September 12 seemed like a good time to assume that the nectar flow was over and it was time to harvest what the bees had produced.  We extracted another 20 pounds.  After this harvest we returned the frames to the bees so that they could clean up the bits of honey that were left behind as part of their fall feeding program.

On October 9 we visited the hive with the intention of removing the honey super to get the bees ready to be wrapped for winter.  Removing the super we discovered…you guessed it…another 20 pounds of honey had been collected by the bees.  It had been a warm September and early October, so there had still been thistle and clover flowers available for the bees to visit.  Apparently enough for them to collect a lot of nectar in such a short period of time!  Because this thistle honey hadn’t been in the hive for very long, it has high moisture content and is very liquid.  We will use it for cooking and baking as a replacement for sugar and in dressings and glazes.

One of three honey harvests.

In our first year as beekeepers, we were able to harvest over 60 pounds of honey from our bees!  This does not include the frames of honey that the bees have in their brood box, stored as their winter feed source.

Who wants to lick out the garbage can?

It has been an exciting first honey season.  We are doing a lot of research and reading everything we can find on how to successfully winter our bees.  Live bees in spring, healthy and ready to go foraging for nectar as soon as the first dandelions poke their heads out of the grass will mean even more honey for us next fall. However, with the early arrival of ‘the great white equalizer’ in the form of an October blizzard, it looks like we might be in for a tumultuous winter.  We hope that Mother Nature will take it easy on our little colony. 

To prepare the bees for the cold days ahead, we have wrapped the hive in insulation to serve as a type of ‘bee snowsuit’ and keep them warm as the temperature drops.  I will post pictures of this just as soon as I finish wiping up the sticky spots on our kitchen floor…and chairs…and table…and countertops…and walls.  Spinning honey in the kitchen is a sticky situation!

“”Well,” said Pooh “what I like best–” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” – Winnie the Pooh quotes.

<Terra>

 

Kitchen organization – strength or weakness?

It has been said, that among my many virtues, organization of kitchen cupboards is definitely not one of them. I won’t exactly say if it is that big guy I share the house with who makes this accusation. Maybe. Maybe not. So when I was recently watching Rachael Ray and one of her guests was organizational guru, Peter Walsh, I thought it would be a good idea to take note. The first point Walsh made was, “You just have to get started.” He suggested you have to assess what is working and what is not. He spent 60 minutes reorganizing a disastrous kitchen. They were even using the adjacent half bath as a pantry. Yuck.

1. Group like items together, such as baking tools. Use containers or baskets for storage.

2. Don’t buy it if only because it is a bargain.

3. Keep frequently used items on a lazy susan.

4. Use what time you have.

For re-organizing junk drawers, Walsh recommended to change the definition to a treasure drawer. So if it is junk, throw it out. If it belongs in the garage, then put it in the garage. You can use boxes on  hand to help divide items. The one he used was a pasta boxes, ice cube trays, muffin tins and zip lock bags to sort and store. He said to throw out all the manuals as everything is on line now.  So with all these great ideas, now we need some for motivation. Any suggestions?

-Kelly

“You just have to get started,” organizational guru, Peter Walsh.Image

Who would have thought?

Image

Can’t explain it.  Not sure how it works but it definitely does and I am learning, as a writer, to go with it. Sometimes, at the most unusual times, the words just pop into your head. This may take place after days, weeks and even months of thinking to oneself, “ I need to write a blog. I should write a blog. It is time to write a story. . “ But as in the old should of , would of, could of, nothing. Until, there it is. The important thing I am learning about this is when it happens and the words are there, if at all possible, get writing. It is not always at the most opportune time but if you can make it happen do. I am imagining that seasoned writers already know all this but it is somewhat of an aha for me.

So as I was perusing the internet post Thanksgiving it popped into my mind, a post about the birth and growth of KT & Company. Many already know this story but for those who don’t.

My good friend Terra and I are in quite similar circumstances. We are in the same industry (ranching), both married, three kids with the oldest two being the same age and interested in the same things such as local food, learning etc. Oh yes, there is that one major difference, in that she is slightly younger. I for one consider seven years to be slight.

After some difficult years in the cattle industry (anyone also in that business will know exactly what I am talking about) we had started pondering how we could start another enterprise that fit in with our current lifestyle, challenged us, focused on our interests, was part-time and would generate some cash. It happened in the summer when our middle kids were on a 4H exchange program and when we were the hosts there were many trips in the vehicle with conversations that started with “Wouldn’t it be cool if. . .” As I have learned in visioning exercises we truly brainstormed with no limits or judgements. One of the activities that kept coming up was starting a blog. Hahaha.  We knew nothing about it, were not computer savvy and other than my writing of 20 years ago had not done much of that. But after the kids had heard this over and over, they finally challenged us to just do it. And as you can see, we just did it.  There was the birth of cowtrailsandponytales. We checked on the internet and found the wordpress blogging template and as they had said it was really pretty simple. Not always, we still have our technical glitches but this post is actually our 179 post.

Harvest Feastival before the crowds arrived….

The next idea was to have a local food event. We had been exploring such events in our cities  and kept asking ourselves “Why not have that here?”. So in order to play it safe, we partnered with the Lloydminster Exhibition Association and developed the Harvest Feastival event. (Terra deserves credit for coming up with the name by the way) That was in 2010 and October 23 we will be hosting the third Harvest Feastival.

We had been pondering and questioning what we should be doing besides writing for quite some time and Feastival was the perfect event to give us focus. We wanted to be putting on unique, locally inspired events where people could learn and have some fun. Of course it took us quite a few sessions to come up with this statement and even longer to come up with the name KT & Company. We had a long list of ideas but none were quite right. Some only referred to food, some were too long, some were not catchy enough, some were total copycats and some were just too goofy. The challenge was that we were not totally sure what our venture was going to be doing.  We had a clear idea on some things. We did not want to limit ourselves but keep open to the myriad of possibilities that may come our way. We wanted it to be just right. So finally, when in a position to have a name for the bank account, we chose KT & Company, incorporating our first initials. Not exactly creative but we liked how KT is a name in itself. The & Company could be inclusive of all those that we would partner with. And KT is growing, experiencing and coming into its own, just as we are with it.

Cowgirl Yoga 2012

Following the “Why not have that here?” was our first Cowgirl Yoga event. The concept truly appealed to us as something we wanted to participate in. But any we could find were too far away, too long and too expensive. So we picked Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan to hold the first one in 2011, and recently completed the second. Check our blog history if you want to read more.

And on the same theme, last year in February we held the 1st Annual Inspiring Women Conference in Lloydminster, with the 2nd planned for February 19, 2013.

They have all been fabulous experiences. We have learned lots, been challenged and empowered, met and worked with some fantastic people and are even growing the business aspect. So when I think back to our “Wouldn’t it be cool if. . “ list I am amazed and thankful that we have achieved so much from it.

“Who would have thought?”

-Kelly

New B.C. Lieutenant-Governor

Judy Guichon and son MIchael on the ranch.

The new Lieutenant-Governor of B.C. is a rancher, and a lady rancher at that. Judy Guichon from Merritt, B.C. was bestowed the honor earlier this week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Judy was born in Montreal and grew up with her family as weekend farmers. Then in the early ’70s in Whitehorse she met Laurie Guichon, a bush pilot. The two soon were married and went back to the historic Gerard Guichon Ranch, near Quilchena, B.C. , operated at the time by Laurie’s father. Judy and Laurie took over the ranch in 1972 and raised four children. But tragedy struck in 1999 when Laurie was killed in a motorcycle accident. Judy says she was able to carry on with the ranch and the kids because of all the groundwork and planning she and Laurie had done through Holistic Management. Holistic Management is a decision-making process that focusses on developing a vision and goals and the supporting plans to help achieve that vision. Judy was involved for many years with the local hospital board and more recently as chair of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association. She has dedicated a great deal of time to improving her ranch, community and industry and ensuring their growth into the future. Judy is now married to Bruno Mailloux. In her spare time she plays in a community band and says this appointment will give her the opportunity to “retire” from the ranch. Judy has been a strong , committed leader to her community, province and industry. Her experience makes her an excellent 29th Lieutenant-Governor  of B.C.

-Kelly

“Judy Guichon has more integrity in her little finger than most people have in their entire body,” Kevin Boon, General Manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’ s Association