Friday, July 25, 2008

We need two!

Recently we bought a comfy cat shelf for our enclosed front porch. The cats love it, but today I discovered that we apparently need to buy ANOTHER cat shelf:

I love the look on Julius' (L) face: "Would you just piss off and let me enjoy my shelf? And can you take Alex with you?!"

And I found this wildflower growing next to my composter. Any guesses as to what it is? It looks like or tiny orchid or lily!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back from Visitorland

The last of our visitors have hit the road, and the farm is quiet once again. And it occurred to me that it has been some time since I posted a pizza pic. So here you are:

This is last night's offering. The toppings: potatoes (pre-cooked) mixed with a bit of olive oil and garlic, plus scallions and fresh basil from my garden, red pepper, pine nuts, pesto sauce, and mozzarella. The veggie jungle has absolutely taken off. I need to get some photos!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My PRESENT! (Like it matters to Joe or Joella Public) and some other goodies.

Life is a little out of control at present. Various visitors, a bunch of work to do, a bunch of weeds to pull out of my jungle-esque vegetable garden, and so it goes. Last week, my husband gave me a major surprise by walking in the door with this:

Yes, a new iMac with monstrous 24" screen! I am so happy. I was in hurtin' need of a new computer (my old iMac will turn five later this year), and now I have one. I was too cheap to buy it for myself, so Gordon did it for me. He also got me the InDesign software I need to do my work, so I can stop using my ten-year-old versions of Photoshop and Quark (at least my version of Illustrator was marginally newer!)

Note my stupid-looking "farmer's tan." I do wear sunscreen, but obviously not enough!

Thank you, awesome husband! And maybe this fall I will be able to redecorate my office and get rid of the wallpaper that is driving me crazy. And yes, I am gonna take pics of the bedroom reno. Soon. I promise!

But first, my garden....

A honeybee enjoying a poppy.

The yucca. I had no idea we could grow yucca! This thing overwintered. The flowers are gorgeous. Who knew this was hiding under a gazillion feet of snow?

One of the many beautiful delphiniums I inherited when we bought this farm.

A grasshopper attempting to blend into a delphinium leaf.

Asiatic lilies!

And one of the highlights of my week. Two days ago I saw my first bluebird EVER. Yay! Check out this. It was singing sweetly on the power line, and I took several photos of it. We are going to put up bluebird nestboxes next year. Our across-the-street neighbour has them all along his fence line.

It has been a madhouse around here, so much so that I completely forgot a doctor's appointment I had today (until 30 minutes too late), which is very unlike me. Things will slow down soon.

Tristan (Lab-Vizsla dufus) has developed a taste for the giant radishes I am growing. This isn't a bad thing; there are only so many giant radishes one can eat! It's quite amusing to see him trotting around the yard with radish leaves hanging out of his mouth. Less amusing was seeing Sophie trot up to me last night with the back end of a deceased meadow vole hanging out of her mouth. She proudly dropped it at my feet. When I told her it was lovely, and could she please go away, she picked it up again and proceeded to follow me everywhere for several minutes, until finally she gulped down her snack.

Shortly thereafter I had to go rescue a poor garter snake that the dogs were harrassing as I weeded my vegetable garden/jungle. I told them very sternly, "No snakes!" I am quite fond of the slithery beasts.

What else is new? Well, today some guy from Monsanto came to do an audit on the soybean crop planted in our fields. Yes, the guy who rents our land has sewn genetically-modified soybeans destined for Japanese dinner plates. I am very much looking forward to the day we can take the land back and make it organic, one way or another. Our "tenant farmer" is a great guy and knows what he is doing and takes good care of our land, but "Round-up Ready" GM crops really are not in line with my or Gordon's views. Nonetheless, for the time being we need the field rental money and the reduction in property taxes it affords us. Plus Bill (the former owner) would throw a wobbly if we let the land go to pot, and I can't say I'd blame him.

Anyway, it was amusing to have this Monsanto dude show up, presumably to make sure our farmer guy wasn't doing anything illicit with the soybeans, the seeds of which come from Monsanto itself. "What do you do for a living?"... "Well, I audit soybeans."

My little vegetable jungle is an organic oasis in a sea of Monsanto. Well, I know full well it can't be THAT organic; I don't exactly have a fifty-foot buffer zone at present! But allow me to delude myself.

The other fun around here has been discovering bazillions of blackberries growing along the old stone fence down the middle of the fields. Marvellous! And Sophie cracks me up. When I first found the berries, I offered her a couple. She snatched them out of my hand, then proceeded to pull mouthfuls right off the canes. She does this every day now; who knew a dog could love blackberries so much? The radish-lovin' Vizsla, the blackberry-addicted Lab... amazing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shad flies

I took photos of the North Bay shad fly invasion mentioned in the previous post. These don't do it justice, as the hotel manager had washed down the windows prior to me taking these. The night before, everything was blanketed more thickly!

Yes, the ground is coated with dead ones.

"No sucking mouth parts"... aren't you glad?

Click to enlarge. Or not.

Poor neglected blog

Summer ate my brain. Or something! It has been rather busy around here and I have been neglectful of my dear blog. Time to rectify the situation.

Let's see, what has been going on? My friend was visiting from Maryland for three days with her 11-yo daughter. We drove her up to canoe camp near Temagami. I really love northern Ontario and want to spend more time there, as I always seem to be just passing on drives across the country as we move from coast to coast!

The drive from here is about six hours without stops, but we had to stop on the way up because Continental Airlines managed to lose my friend's daughter's luggage, which was full of things they had spent months shopping for to prepare for canoe camp. While we were shopping for the last item in the Sears in Ottawa on Sunday morning, my cell phone rang (I learned how to answer it this weekend. No, I don't use it much!) The luggage had been found, and would be delivered to camp Monday morning. Yaaaay! Now the daughter has two of everything, which is better than none of anything.

My friend and I stayed overnight at the Super 8 Motel and Hotel in North Bay. We were in North Bay during the annual two-week shad fly invasion. They were coating the windows of the motel, and a few overnighted on my car. Very bizarre!

Before leaving Monday morning, we stopped at the Dionne Quintuplet Museum. For those not in the know, in 1934, a set of naturally-conceived quintuplets was born near North Bay, in Corbeil, Ontario. Their story is fascinating, but sad.

We got home safe and sound, despite some lunatic drivers near Temagami, who I figured out had to be rich Torontonians racing back home from their expensive cottages in their expensive vehicles. The Greyhound and other bus drivers were equally insane. Near Temagami, I saw a Greyhound bus pass three vehicles going UPHILL towards a blind crest. I could not believe it. Remind me not to travel via Greyhound, ever!!

Last Saturday, the night my friend arrived, we went out to look at the stars and Jupiter. The dogs came out and dashed behind the barn. Tristan came back stinking of skunk... he got sprayed in the face and was looking mighty pleased with himself. He decided he would feel even better if he rolled in my new herb garden! I managed to get most of the stink out except between his eyes, so he is still quite odiferous and oh, we have more company coming Sunday! Aren't they lucky? Peeeyuw!

In addition, things keep dying in our ductwork. The other week, we turned on the central A/C and the house filled with the unmistakable smell of rotting corpse. Gordon investigated and found a decaying mouse just inside the furnace blower. Great! But then last week, just before my guests arrived, we smelled more dead thing. Despite looking everywhere, we could not find it. Fortunately it stopped stinking before my friend and her daughter arrived. We have arranged to have the ducts cleaned next week, in the hopes that any corpses will be removed. BLECH!!!!

And while Gordon was in the basement investigating the latest stench, he heard noises coming from the wood/oil furnace. He opened the door to the firebox and a juvenile starling flew out! I shut all the lights off, closed the basement doors to keep the cats and dogs away, and caught the poor thing when it flew to a basement window. I took it outside and it zoomed away, unharmed. Time to get a cap for the chimney. I don't want birds falling down the chimney in winter when there is a fire going!

And I am overdue with photos of our bedroom redecoration. Gordon has painted all the walls and trim, and only the floor is left to do. I will take pics soon.

My vegetable "patch" has gone insane and I have to take pics. I have been pulling out Lamb's Quarter left right and centre! Technically it's edible, but no thanks. To me it's pure weed. My poor tomatoes aren't even staked yet, and I have to finish mulching everything with straw so that I don't spend the rest of my summer pulling weeds. I did harvest some giant radish ("Plum purple") the other day. We've been eating spinach for quite a while. The potato plants are the biggest I have ever seen, and all the squash plants are finally outgrowing the nefarious striped cucumber beetles, which I squash on a daily basis.

Chenopoidum album MUST DIE!!!