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

Saturday, November 28, 2020

English muffins and Exotic plants....

Well, at least they are exotic to this neck of the woods!

Back at Christmas time of 2018, visitors brought a friend some fresh dates from California. She saved some of the pits and gave me one. By March, it had sprouted, and I grew it under lights until all danger of frost was past, then put it out to spend the summer gracing the picnic table by the back door.

It over-winters in a south-facing window now. I've had to up-size it's pot twice. I don't know how long I can keep it growing, as we don't have much room for plants indoors. (my one regret about our small log house) It's leaves are very stiff and the ends are sharp, quite the conversation piece for visitors.
October 2020

Back in October, I bought a ginger root, and it was showing a bit of a yellowish nodule, so I cut that off and planted it. Yesterday, this is what I found in it's pot!

I have grown ginger before. One needs a lot of patience as it is very slow-growing. Just brushing the grass-like foliage releases a lovely ginger aroma. I did harvest tubers from the one I grew before. 

It's been gloomy and grey, and drippy and yucky the last few days. The sun teased us this AM, but now its back to gloomy and grey. I spent a bit of time sorting through some recipe clippings I'd saved, and was struck by the whim to make English muffins. I did some looking on the internet, but followed a recipe I'd clipped. You make a sponge with all the ingredients plus 2 cups of the flour called for, stir it up and let it ferment for a couple of hours, then add the rest of the flour, knead it and let it rest another couple of hours before shaping the muffins and letting them rise again. I decided to let the second rise happen overnight in the fridge, then pinned out the dough and cut the muffins this morning. After letting them rise, I cooked them in cast iron skillets on the wood stove, and had to keep adjusting the height of the pans with trivets, as the stove was a little warm!

The muffins are very nice, all full of air pockets to hold melted butter and jam. I finished them with 6 minutes in a 350 degree oven to be sure they were cooked through.
Perhaps Eggs Benedict will be on the menu tomorrow!!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Whacky weather....

Monday morning we awoke to 11cm of fluffy snow, a nice temperature of about -8C, and a somewhat clear sky. There were just a few soft mauve-grey clouds interspersed over the blue. The tree limbs were all outlined with snow, nature's artistry accentuated. How silent it was...there is nothing like a blanket of snow to muffle any noise. A gremlin deleted my pics!!! Perhaps it was him.

2020...Year of the Grinch

The next couple of days have been cloudy and grey, and the temperature is rising, so that now we are enveloped in a blanket of fog, as the just above freezing air temperatures interact with the snow. We are still in a white world, but sadly, the snow is melting.

We have had Evening Grosbeaks at the feeder, and even one lone Pine Grosbeak. They are a beautiful pink colour, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera. 

Tuesday night, just after 9PM, the wolves were howling, quite close, seemingly just across the road, and were being answered by another, a long, drawn out howl from much further away to the south. 

The trail camera shows that neither weather nor wolves interfered with the deer's activities. They went from this a few days ago

to this

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Random bits.....

Our Weather Network is showing a red screen, forecasting snow, up to 15 cm., starting later today and continuing into Monday morning. The sky is overcast and grey, the air is still, and the temperature is just below freezing. There is a sense that nature is waiting.... 

I'm wondering if I am to blame, as I just hung my winter door wreaths!

I have a batch of bread rising in the warmth by the stove, and  while waiting, I am knitting. Just starting up the leg of these interminable socks for Hubby. He likes long legs. I'll switch to my double points, now that the gussets and heels are finished. They'll go quickly as they are just a simple rib pattern with a bit of shaping.

I hauled out the 'Christmas Box', a Rubbermaid bin that I have been tossing finished gift items into throughout the year. Its pretty meager, but I do have socks for one of the men on my list, and one pair for a friend, as well as random dish cloths to tuck in here and there.

One of my crafting friends is big into crocheting, but is always looking for her hooks, so I made her a simple 'quilt sandwich' case to help her get organized.

I made this one for myself quite a while ago, and it very conveniently keeps all my hooks together in one place.

Its time to start planning all the family's traditional Christmas baking, and  building a grocery list for the extras required. Now that the roads will become more 'iffy', who knows when our next shopping trip will be!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The 'winds of November'...and sprouting


tattered and torn

We had really strong winds blowing through Sunday night into Monday. There are a lot of medium and small sized branches littering our trails but only one big maple is down across one of them. More firewood!

Hydro crews are working all over, restoring power. A friend who lives two hours south of here had her power go out on Sunday evening, and it is not expected to be back on until today at 8PM. Thankfully it is cold enough now, that her back porch fills in as the refrigerator!

It appears that winter is here, as we have had blowing snow showers off and on the last couple of days. The ice forming on the pond, with a skiff of snow on it, has been blown to the south end by the north winds.

We go grocery shopping about every 3 to 4 weeks, and even then, I really hate to buy the imported greens, because of their carbon footprint, and who knows how they were grown?

So... a while ago, I bought a two tray sprouter, and have been supplementing our diet with sprouts. It works well. Several times a day I pour a cup of cold water over the top tray and the water filters down through the seeds to the reservoir underneath. (It gets emptied from the previous watering before I pour the fresh water in).

Broccoli seeds left, alfalfa seeds right.

I used to sprout in a quart jar with a screened lid, but it was always in the way as it had to sit, draining in the dish draining tray. This sprouter sits on the counter, or wherever it is handy to put it. A nice mat of sprouts takes just a couple of days. About a day before harvesting them, I set them in a sunny window for the seedlings to green up. They are a nice fresh, green treat.

Alfalfa seedlings left, broccoli right

Of the broccoli and alfalfa seeds, which are what I have tried so far, the alfalfa seeds are quicker at growing to a usable size.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Stone Fences

During the recent week of unseasonably warm weather, the willows around the pond started to sport pussy willows on their branches, young beeches dropped a lot of leaves that they usually hold onto until spring, and the bush appears more open now. You can see way off through the trees and the 'bones' of the country have become more visible.

Pussy Willows

This area we live in, up in the hills along the far western edge of the Ottawa Valley, is hilly, rough and rocky. The productive bottom lands were settled first, after the loggers had been through, felling the large red and white pine forests. Up here, it wasn't until the 1870's that settlers invaded to clear and try to make a living from the land. 

Our 'farm' was one of those places, and older folk around here say this was a working family farm until the mid 1950's. The family had horses, cows, pigs, and chickens, and scratched a meager existence from the soil. A friend in his 70's remembers when one could look across the cleared fields to the next concession. There were other farm buildings here, some burned down, some were dismantled and moved, one of which was the 'grainery' and is now a neighbour's beautiful little cabin. Ours is not the only farm here, each 100 or 200 acre section around sports the remnants of farming, some log buildings still quite intact.

All the back roads are bordered by stone fences, some easily seen, a lot that are more obscure. Each acreage is encircled by stone fences, and within the perimeters are many more stone fences, outlining what were once fields. This spring, Hubby took his GPS, turned on the tracker, and walked all the fence lines on our property, that he could discern, to make a map of the fences and try and figure out what was where. Some of the fences that were built across the wetter areas of the property have sunk down until they are just moss covered ridges of rock piles.

Other stone fences on the higher, dryer side, are still fairly high and distinct.

These rock fences fascinate me. They are beautiful, but oh, the aching hours of back-breaking work they entail! There are literally tons of rocks that have been moved off of the land and piled together.

The fences are built making two sides, a little distance apart, dry stone upon dry stone, interlocked for stable edges, and then other rocks and stones were thrown into the middle. Some rocks are very large and would have had to have been moved using horsepower. Some fences are wide and stable enough to drive on.

The exposed rocks are grey and weathered, lichen and moss covered, but upon moving a surface rock, one exposes dusty, soil covered rocks, looking as if they'd just been picked out of the sandy soil.

In places where bedrock protrudes up through the meager soil, rocks were piled on it, in the process of trying to clear the land for crops and grazing, so there are also random piles of rocks here and there.

There is one of them in our back yard, a 'design element'!  

Some large trees are encircled by rocks, obviously left as shady sentinels in a once cleared pasture.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Kitchen time...

We are currently experiencing a run of unseasonably warm weather for this time of year. The night time lows are what the daytime highs should be. It isn't terribly unusual to have a couple of 'tee shirt' days early in November, but this run of close to a week of them, is unusual. Yesterday the mercury hit 21.5C by early afternoon, rising from the overnight low of 10C. We have been experiencing gusty winds with this heat, although today the air is still, so guess the high pressure area is centered over us.

We haven't needed to light the fire for these last few days. This morning the temperature was a little cooler, sweater time inside, but still no need of a fire. I thought a little baking might be in order. 

I had roasted off a couple of my Sugar Baby pumpkins a day or so ago. I de-seeded, quartered and piled the pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet with foil wrapped over the top. They took about an hour and an half to be fork tender. Once cooled, I scooped out the flesh and composted the skins. 

This morning I measured two cups of the pumpkin mush with the eggs, oil and applesauce, then pureed it with my immersion blender for a batch of pumpkin muffins. (I replace part of the oil in the recipe with applesauce.) I have never grown 'pie pumpkins' before, and am amazed at how orange and dense the flesh is.

look at the colour of that!

ready for the oven

ready for butter, and a cup of tea!

I set a batch of bread to rise in the kitchen warmth as the muffins were baking, then made up a batch of meatballs to put in on the bottom oven rack while the bread is baking. They'll be for the freezer.

several meal's worth

bread 'n balls

Intrigued by the gorgeous colour of the pumpkin mush, I've immersion blended the filling for a pumpkin pie, and it is waiting in the fridge to be baked off with supper. This is the first pumpkin I've used from this year's harvest and I think I'm liking them!! 

The sunset last night was an eye-catching display of colours, changing gradually from pale, to deep orange; then to deep pink, with the brilliant blue of the sky over-arching it all.

Thursday, November 5, 2020


The deer rut is starting around here. We have a group of does and fawns that frequent our neck of the woods. We call them 'Our Herd'.  We see them on the trail cameras, and sometimes in person on our walks around the property, big white butts glimpsed briefly, as they bound off. 

Earlier this fall, a doe and fawn were grazing beyond the gardens in the early dusk.

There has only been one young buck seen on camera, a small guy with one prominent spike antler, whom we call 'Spike'. 

Earlier this week on a walk around, we found this. 

Its a buck scrape, made by a male deer to advertise his presence. There is a typical overhanging branch above the spot he has scraped, where he leaves scent from glands on his face. Dirt and leaves are flung back onto the snow from his hooves. Its a good sized scrape, made by a big deer, certainly not Spike. The following day, we found this on the trail camera. 

Well...HELLO! You are a big boy! 

We are wondering how this oncoming stretch of very mild weather, unprecedented for this time of year here, is going to effect the rut.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Is it here to stay, this time....???


Awaiting the sunrise...

Awaiting spring....


Evening Grosbeaks

Blue Jays

Clearing the windshield

Down the hill.....