I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Garden invader, and winged snowflakes.....

 On my regular garden foray yesterday, I discovered this.......

Someone has been nibbling on my kale and chard!

I'm wondering if those tracks belong to the Orphan Fawn, as  they are quite small, and are the only prints I see. Earlier this fall, I'd sunk a pot of cat nip into the end of the field garden to overwinter until I can figure out where to plant it permanently. (I grew the seeds in a pot for making cat nip toys for friend's cats and for tea.) Beside it was a similar pair of prints and the plant has been nibbled! I wonder how cat nip affects deer?? We know how it makes most cats behave!! Now that the bush is bare, the deer are looking for anything green to eat, to supplement bud browsing.

The snow that fell earlier is gone now, but while here, I had to clear the panels to get what light there was, absorbed. The panels do charge the batteries, even on overcast days.

We have new visitors from the north this morning....

Snow Buntings.

There is just one so far, but I expect more, as they travel in flocks. Last fall, we had a big flock of 20 to 50. They come wheeling in to land in unison, like a flurry of large, white snowflakes, and stay in unison, even while foraging, where they travel together across the ground, pecking bits of things as they go. They are pretty skittish, and take off simultaneously, circling around in a big circle, their wings flashing whitely. When they are on the ground, foraging, they blend in very well, and are hard to see. They drift through here in the spring and fall, going to and from the tundra. Their habit of sticking together is probably a mechanism to confuse aerial predators, which are what would be an issue up in that open space.

Monday, October 26, 2020

And so, it begins....

This morning I awoke to a lot of yipping and howling very close. It seemed to be right across the road. I opened the window wide and answered....Don't know what I said, but the coyotes shut up and no more was heard!!! 

This is the view of my gardens now. It has started to snow. Yeah!

Earlier last week, I pulled up my second planting of carrots. They are beautiful. Only one was a little weird.

I've been working on the winter's supply of kindling. I do a wagon load a day, and store it in the barn for retrieval as needed.

The parsnips have been leaf covered and weighted down with hardware cloth and rocks, so the gardens are all ready for Mother Nature's blanket.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Feather Friendly.....

Yesterday's weather was an absolute gift! It was clear and sunny and the temperature rose to the low 20's C. Last evening, a cold front came through with intense wind, thunder and lightning, and this morning the temperature is a more normal 2C for this time of year. This morning, we had our first flurry of snow, big white, fluffy flakes drifting down. 

Yesterday's weather was forecast, so I was ready. I'd cleaned all my downstairs windows, inside and out, on Thursday, (is there anything much nicer than clean windows?) and yesterday, as the day warmed, I was out with the stepladder installing Feather Friendly dots on the windows overlooking the bird feeders. 

We get a lot of enjoyment out of feeding the birds all winter and into spring, but we have heard the odd, heart-stopping 'thud' of a bird flying into the windows, especially on a day of low cloud and diffused daylight. I am determined to not have that happen ever again, so bought the Feather Friendly kit, and was waiting for the right day to install it. The temperature has to be above 10 C., and yesterday was the day. 

It is a tedious process, but once I'd placed the first couple of rows, and figured out how it worked, the job went faster.

The kit comes with paper measuring tapes that you temporarily tape on each side of the window you are covering, and then stretch the tape with the dots on it across to the corresponding measurement on the opposite side. The tape is then smoothed onto the window, affixing the dots by running the provided tool (a sturdy, rounded piece of plastic the size of a credit card) back and forth a couple of times across the dots to activate the pressure-sensitive adhesive on them, then the positioning tape is peeled off, leaving the dots in place every 2 inches. 

The dots are reflective on the outside, and barely noticeable from the inside. They are made by 3M and are supposed to withstand weather and cleaning for many years. 

I feel so much better about starting to fill the feeders now, as hopefully the bears are all heading off to bed for the winter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

From soup to horseradish to Chickadees....

Today is a miserable, wet, gusty day. A perfect day to make a big pot of soup! 

Last week, I roasted a couple of pumpkins, and froze the puree in packages of two cups each, but had an extra cup left over, so made a dozen plus, lovely moist pumpkin muffins with it

Today, for Curried Pumpkin Lentil soup, (recipe posted last Tuesday by Susan at e-i-e-i-omg) I sauteed the aromatics on the kitchen stove, then added the remaining ingredients and put the pot to simmer on some short trivets on the wood stove, so the bottom wouldn't scorch.

I used chicken broth and red lentils, instead of the vegetable stock and brown lentils the recipe calls for, as that is what I had on hand. (I love my very versatile, enameled cast iron dutch oven.)
By lunch time the soup was thick and delicious, and we cleaned our bowls with pieces of naan bread. Its time to roast off a few more pumpkins!

This afternoon, we decided to dig up some horseradish root. It can be pretty 'fumy', so we did the peeling and grinding over on top of the freezer in the Battery House.

Because the roots were freshly dug, and cold, they didn't really start to off-gas until we started to grind them, and then the fumes made our eyes water.

Each time we go outside, our resident flock of Chickadees fly and flutter around us. Now that fall is truly upon us, they've suddenly remembered where seeds may be had!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Frost, and a new bird

This morning there was a heavy layer of white frost all over the roofs, the ground, and the vehicles. There was about a quarter of an inch of ice on the water in a pail I'd left by the well top. 

Frosty miniature rose

The sky was clear, and as the sun rose and warmed everything up to a high of 10C this afternoon, all remnants of the frost disappeared and all the plants that were frosty and wilted this morning have popped back as if nothing had happened. It was a hard frost, but not a 'killing' frost.

the carrot tops live on

Mid-morning, I happened to look out at the bird feeder and noticed a new bird going from the feeder to the gnarly old apple tree and back. 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

We have never seen a Red-bellied Woodpecker up here before. My bird book says it is supposed to frequent remnant stands of Carolinian forest which are way down along the Lake Erie shore! He was definitely the boss in the feeder, keeping the greedy Blue Jays at bay!

I had a bush wander this afternoon, just enjoying the sunshine and the cool, leaf-scented air. The only trees left with leaves on them now are trembling aspens, oaks, and the phalanx of young beech trees that will hold onto their coppery-bronze coloured leaves until spring.

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Our local craft group is up and running again, but we are limited to 6 of us regulars, and have to practice Covid protocols. We meet Thursday evenings and have knitters, crocheters and spinners attending.

It's about a 22 km drive for me one way, including a detour to pick up a crafting buddy who can't drive at night. I'm not fond of driving at night either, especially now that darkness descends relatively early, and we live in an area that has a fairly high deer population. Thankfully there isn't much traffic.

Early in the spring, before we were shut down because of Covid, two people in our group who were spinners, persuaded a couple more of us to give it a go. It didn't take much persuading, as I've always wanted to learn how to spin. We borrowed a couple of spinning wheels, and got started.

I have to stabilize the wheel against furniture to keep it from sliding away!

I didn't do much crafting of any kind over the summer, but now that the garden is pretty much put to bed for the winter, I'm at it again. My first bit of spinning is kind of lumpy and uneven. As I keep practicing, it is easier to get a finer strand, but there is still a lot of inconsistency in my results.

I just plied my latest attempt, and have another lot of wool top to spin. When it is finished, I'll dye it some funky colours and perhaps knit a shawl.
On the Niddy-Noddy

My skein


Monday, October 12, 2020


We were off exploring a nature trail that climbs a steep escarpment yesterday. It was sunny, but cool enough to be comfortable with the exertion of climbing a rock strewn path. The view was far-reaching, the autumn colours more muted now, just the yellow of aspens and rusted burgandy of oaks.

We've had two gloriously sunny, autumn days, and today has dawned with a crisp white frost all over. The milkweed pods are exploding into silken puffs.


This morning's hike around to check the trail cameras has yielded some nice pictures. 


Cow moose wandering by

Young doe

And finally, this strange animal. 

The Wood Gatherer

There are still flashes of bright colours here and there, but the peak of colour is over for this year.


Friday, October 9, 2020

The Canada Potato

This morning is cool with a slight rime of frost visible on the black earth of my garden beds, but it appears to be the start of a sunny, blue-sky day. Yeah! 

Yesterday afternoon, Hubby took the mulcher-bagger and collected a whole garden shed full of lovely big bags of leaves for mulching. I think I have enough now! 

While packing them into the shed, I noticed that the Jerusalem Artichokes were finished blooming and the leaves were yellowing. Back in 2017, I got a tuber from a friend and planted it in the pile of sod we'd stripped off of the very first raised bed we made. I knew they had a propensity for taking over, so put them where it wouldn't matter if they did. The 'chokes have been growing and spreading merrily since then. 

We got a spade and dug up a few. We will be trying them later. The tubers aren't too big, as they have had to compete with sumac and raspberry canes, and don't get a full day's worth of sun. They are in the shade each morning, especially as the summer wanes, as they are near the eastern edge of our mown clearing in the bush. 

I did a little research on line. They are a species native from Central to North America and were cultivated by native Americans as a food source. Early colonists sent tubers back to Europe, where it naturalized. Its name has nothing to do with Jerusalem. It somehow got bastardized through translation through different European languages. 

My favourite name is the Canada Potato

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Planting garlic and Thanksgiving preparations.....

The last few days have been unsettled, fall weather. Its either cloudy and rainy and clears later, or starts clear, like today, but by noon is overcast and raining again. Some days have just been miserable and wet all day!

I've taken advantage of the better weather days, and got the garlic bed covered with composted manure, turned over, and planted. Job done.

garden string, graduated stick and planting dibbler

101 hefty cloves!

Leaf mulch, hardware cloth and rocks

Today was a kitchen morning, making dressing for the Thanksgiving turkey, using my own dried savory and sage, and making a batch of pastry for the TG pies.

I made a full batch of Madame Benoit's pastry, which never fails me. (My husband bought me her Encyclopedia of Cooking, Deluxe Edition, for my birthday, the first one after we got married. Its a beast, 8 1/2 X 11 inches and 3 1/2 inches thick, and weighs just under 6 1/2 pounds, and has been used for many things, as well as for its contents!)

I keep everything cold and handle the dough as little as possible. Out of that, I got enough pastry for a fluted crust for the pumpkin pie, three 9 inch shells and lids, and a small pie and lid. I have a lattice topper, that I just lay the pinned out pastry over, roll the pin over it, then pop out the little squares and trim the outside. It is easy, peazy, and it uses less pastry than making a proper lattice top.

 The shells and lids are frozen for future use; the fluted shell handy in the kitchen freezer, as I'll be making the pumpkin filling, and baking it later this week.

I still have to make the cranberry sauce, then most of what I can make ahead will be done. There will be lots of leftovers...the best part!

Saturday, October 3, 2020



"Well, Hello there." (Look at those eyelashes!)

"What're you lookin' at Mom?"

"Just a sec...got an itch."

"Ok, Ok, I'm coming!"


Friday, October 2, 2020

Kitchen time....

The last few days have been cooler, the temperature in the lower teens C., more typical autumn weather. We've awakened to rain and grey skies for the last few days, but by noon, the clouds gradually parted and the sun blazed out, leaves sparkling from the earlier showers. The afternoons progressed, with random showers, intermittent gusty winds and sunshine. Leaves are starting to fall.

Kitchen window view

I spend my mornings in the kitchen and the afternoons working away at preparing the gardens for winter. The asparagus bed is now manured and re-mulched, the gladiola corms lifted and set out to dry, and a section is staked out in the field garden for the 100 cloves of garlic I want to plant later this month.

After a long summer of eating store bought bread, I finally made a small batch of bread, just plain white, but oh so good. With the larder full of garden goodness, its time to use it. I peeled and cubed a butternut squash, diced some onion, minced some garlic and with a few other ingredients, got a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

While it was cooking, I shredded a cabbage my neighbour had given me and packed it into my new 'fermentation jar' for sauerkraut. Leigh, over at 5 Acres and a Dream, posted about the Ball Fermentation Kit on Aug. 5, 2020. (I have to learn how to do links.) Hubby picked a kit up at TSC, so I tried it out. (I am kicking myself for selling my crocks when we moved. What was I thinking?)

The cabbage was about a pound and a half, and yes, it fits easily into a quart jar.
I use the smallest slice size on the mandolin, as I like a fine shredded kraut. I sometimes put caraway seeds in, but not this time. I prefer Sandor Katz's way of doing it, putting the shreds and salt into a non-reactive bowl and massaging it with scrupulously clean hands. Then it is packed into the jar, with a whole cabbage leaf on top. That way, you have liquid to cover the cabbage right away. I am planning space in the garden for a few cabbages next year.