Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring 2010

Every girl likes a new look for the new season, right?  Well, you may have seen a post about Teddy Bear, about a week ago.  She doesn't look like that anymore.........She's back to being quite the lady.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ten Thing That Make Me Happy!

A wonderful game of 'tag' is going on in the blogosphere!  I was tagged by Prairie Girl (Thank You!), who's list of ten things was heartwarming!  And then, her 'tag', she lists some great blogs to check out, introducing me to some fabulous sites!  So, Ten Things That Make Me Happy:

  • Farmer Man, who puts up with me in the nicest possible way!
  • Two great sisters, who are always there for me!
  • Blaze, Teddy Bear, Panda Bear, Grizzly Bear, Peanuts the Old Cat and Blondie.  I am so fortunate to be in the position to have soooo much love!
  • Good friends: even though many are far away, they always reach out to me over the years and the miles.
  • Keeping up with my nieces and nephew on Facebook.
  • Getting fresh, warm eggs from the coop; it's a miracle everyday.
  • Eating awesome food that Farmer Man and I raised!
  • Chocolate
  • Good coffee with lots of cream and honey, every morning!
  • Watching something that I planted grow!
Ten was actually kind of easy; I could easily think of more!  And this was a great exercise, I haven't been feeling fabulous lately: a little sick, a little busy, a little procrastinating which makes me feel guilty.........I feel so much better now!!

My 'tag' may not be responded to completely, but I want to share some blogs that make me happy, not all of which I have a relationship with, so they will not know they've been tagged.  Even if I don't 'tag' you 'cause you don't have a blog, try this anyway (I'm taking to you Cathy, Keltie, Organic Sherry, Calla and Linda!)
  • Susan, Farm Girl Fare for daily doses of cute that make me smile!
  • Laura, Urban Hennery for farm life and great cooking.
  • The Sartorialist, because I love fashion even though it has little to do with my life!
  • Jamie, Square Pearl, whose designs adorn me on a regular basis.
  • Clayton of Prairie Garden in Saskatchewan, who has gorgeous pictures of flowers in his greenhouse, even when we're really, really cold outside.
  • Garden Rant, for all things gardening all the time.
  • Bill, Word....from Willow Garden.  The Universe doesn't talk to just anybody.........
  • Aeleen, Prairie Girl Studio.  Even though she 'tagged' me, check her blog, it makes me happy!
  • I'm going to 'tag' all the bloggers of the Dark Days Challenge over at the Urban Hennery.  Check out that blog for links to all the fabulous food bloggers involved in the eating local challenge!
Do follow the links from Prairie Girl to the bloggers who have previously been tagged.  Reading the lists will make you happy!

Teeny Perfect Egg!

Out to the chicken coop first thing this morning (well, after my first cup of coffee!).  Not in the nest boxes, but in the corner under the roosts, I find this perfect little wee egg.  It's such a beautiful little thing!  Now, The Girls, the Leghorns, are a year old and have been laying since June '09.  Why one would lay such a tiny thing is a mystery to me!  For the photo, I've included a quarter, for perspective ( a shiny new Canadian Olympic quarter!) as well as some of the regular eggs.  I wonder how they actually make those awesome, handpainted Ukrainian Easter Egss........

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Old Cat

This is Peanuts; he came with the farm.  Between Farmer Man and his sisters, we've figured his age to be twenty or twenty one.  That's pretty old for a cat!  He doesn't do much anymore: a lot of sleeping, gets up now and then to yowl in the middle of the kitchen floor for no apparent reason (rather disturbing at four in the morning!), cries if the water bucket gets too low for him to reach in easily.  He doesn't like to be brushed anymore, so he looks a little ratty.  He can't hear a thing now, either.  This winter, his new favourite spot is in the bathroom, which we keep a little warmer than the rest of the house.  He likes to curl up right beside the base board, for hours on end.  He won't budge, even though we're stepping past him to get in and out of the shower.  Every now and then, we take a close look, just to make sure he is still breathing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Caution! Bear on Duty!

Proceed at your own risk!! Vicious Bear on duty! Yes, that's Teddy Bear, the Diva Dog of Aagaard Farms! She was our first dog; we had her before we moved to Brandon, and yes, she's a little spoiled. But, she does take her duties very seriously, and spends much time, especially at night, sitting on the driveway barking a warning to the world! She's actually a little better at it than the farm dog, Blaze (don't tell Blaze I said that....), who would rather be lying at Farmer Man's feet. Although she's slowing down a bit, and on medication for arthritis, she's still the one in charge here! Squirrels, magpies - watch out!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Can You Believe These Apples?

Just before Christmas, I scored some apples from Ed and Marilyn Clayton of Clayton Organic Orchard in Elkhorn, Manitoba. Now, Ed is 'plugged-in' to the Prairie fruit world, and has a chance at new varieties before they are released to the public. He brought 'Prairie Rose', a new variety related, I believe, to 'Prairie Sun' and 'Prairie Sensation'. 'Prairie Rose' we were able to try in the fall, when we scored some apples for CSA. It was tart and crisp and juicy and lovely, bright red! The box of apples he brought before Christmas were from his new root cellar, and they were in great shape! Well, I made use of some of them and then, for interests' sake and lack of time, put some in our root cellar. Well, here we are almost at the end of February, and these apples are great! Yes, there are only a few I would like to eat raw: they are a little soft and wrinkled. There were a few with really soft spots (which The Hens enjoyed immensely, tossed with some yogurt). But, it's February!! These will cook up beautifully. Hmmm, stuff a winter squash? Apple muffins? This is a great variety to keep an eye out for at the garden centre - although it may be a year or two before they are available to us regular folk! In the meantime, try it's great cousin 'Prairie Sun'.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Maybe...Just For a Minute!

With yesterday's warm weather, I tried again to get The Hens outside. Did not, as advised, shovel away the snow. Got their door open, tossed some scratch down the ramp.....and got a lukewarm response. Rocky the Rooster and a couple of hens came down the ramp long enough to get the 'treats' and pretty quickly retreated back inside. When I get a minute, maybe I'll shovel some snow and try again; the weather forecast is pretty decent for the next few days. Plus, it's really time to change their bedding, and it would be soooo much easier if they would go outside during that process!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hey, Where Is Everything?

It's going to be a very nice day here in Brandon: a predicted high of -3 C (about 26F) which is really very balmy for February. What it has brought us so far is fog; heavy, dense fog. Usually from the end of the drive way we have a nice view across the river to the city, down below us are fields including our neighbours Brian and Lianne's horses. Today, it feels like we're all alone in the world.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seedy Sunday Was Great Fun!

Found a few things at Seedy Sunday! I guess for Valentine's I bought Farmer Man some seeds! It's kind of like buying him work, but we would have bought them someplace so better if we spent our dollars close to home! Heritage Harvest Seeds of Carman, Manitoba was there; nice selection of veg, flowers and seeds. Prairie Garden Seeds from Humboldt, Saskatchewan was there also. They'd brought some of their favourite reference books, including a Vilmorin book I've been looking for! Bought a few (ok, more than a few) great selections and enjoyed talking to everyone. Picked up some info from Seeds of Diversity, a group saving heritage seeds, which we really should join. Many thanks to Blake Hamilton for organizing this event - hope tons of money was raised for the East End Community Gardens!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dark Days Challenge: Stocking the Pantry

Farmer Man is still away and I must admit that not much cooking has gone on here. Nothing that's even slightly interesting or amusing in light of the quality food blogging and cooking at the Dark Days Challenge. The ham I cooked up last week has been used in many predictable ways, often involving fresh eggs from The Hens or bread. However, it's time to re-stock the pantry and for the first time, I took the shopping list specifically looking for Dark Days appropriate food. First stop was the winter Farmers Market at the Town Centre. Said hi to some market buddies and grabbed unpasteurized honey and a loaf of flax bread from Mann Apiaries. Admittedly, didn't think to ask the Manns if they were buying their flour from a local producer. The market has lots of canning and baking now, just not stuff on my shopping list. Next, at my local chain supermarket I found, surprisingly, goat milk from Oak Island Goat Dairy in Ile des Chenes, Manitoba. Checked the cheeses quickly, but nothing local although some good Canadian product. Did also see some sausage from Winkler Meats, but it wasn't on the list, so I didn't buy any. I didn't look that hard for local stuff, just checked out what I needed. Then, off to Two Farm Kids, a local natural foods store. Score! Organic whole wheat flour from De Ruyck's Organic Farm in Swan Lake - check that off the list! Rice, well, how about Cavena Nuda from Arborg, a species of huskless oat that cooks like rice. A non-dairy hemp milk from Farm Genesis in Waskada, which I'm very interested in trying. Also grabbed some EcoMagic, an awesome canola based cleaner/solvent from Minto, Manitoba. This stuff is incredible - you've got to try it. Two Farm Kids had lots of selections: heart-healthy flax oil from Shape Foods right here in Brandon (currently closed to due financing problems but rumours abound that it will re-open). There was a great selection of local grains, a wild rice from La Pas (a little out of a 100 mile radius) a good selection of frozen meat including the rather exotic elk and bison, butter and more! Even beauty cream with royal jelly from Raven Creek Farm in Oakburn and some great eco-friendly cleaning products. So, it's really pretty easy to shop local in the winter in Brandon! I'm hoping more people here give it a try!

Awesome Neighbours!

It's especially awesome to have good neighbours with snow plows on their trucks who just show up unannounced to clean your road. If you check the previous post, I had started to shovel out last night's snow fall. I managed to dig out about two ten foot strips from the driveway and then decided to go have my second cup of coffee. I'd get back to it a little later (really, I would have!).

The dogs start kicking up a bit of a ruckus a short time later, and when I peek outside Neil has the driveway and the road almost finished. Unbelievably awesome!! He wouldn't take any money, of course, so I laid some fresh eggs and a little of our homegrown Berkshire Pork on him - but I think I got the better part of the deal!

Snow Day!

Woke up this morning to a fresh covering of snow - everything looks beautiful, clean and fresh! Officially we've had 6.2 cm (almost 3 inches) of new snow. Now, it's February and really, snow is not unexpected, but I could live without more. However, I realize that all the snow that sits out here now becomes the water in the irrigation dugout in the spring, so I really should be happy! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....First problem: it was also windy, so in some places the snow has blown in over a foot deep. Second problem: Farmer Man is still away, so shovelling is my duty. Blaze and The Three Bears are enjoying it! My kitchen floor: a wet, muddy mess!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ummmm, Still Nope!

It is reasonably warm here today: minus 7 C (about 18 F) so I prepared to let The Hens out. After the complete refusal last time, I took some suggestions made to heart and shovelled out an area around the little ramp from the chicken door. I also spread a little bit of straw around, to further entice them. I then sat there for fifteen minutes calling, clucking and cooing. A couple of the Browns stuck their heads out, but that's all I got. Feeling a little chilly, I decided to go with the Chicken Pinata for today's entertainment and had brought along some sliced Kabocha squash and apple. That received a much better response!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Cooking for a Good Cause!

Over at Blurb (A great website where you can print and publish your own book. No, really!!!) food bloggers have gotten together and produced a cook book with proceeds of sales going to relief efforts in Haiti. The speed at which things can get done on the Net is incredible! So, you can help Haiti and you can get an awesome cookbook with an introduction to great food blogs where new ideas and recipes are posted every day! I've ordered mine! I can hardly wait to get it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Let the Seeding Begin! Seedy Sunday is Coming!

The first seeds are here! I love this time of year. This is the first (and probably smallest) of many packages to arrive. It's the time of the year when we check the mailbox with almost fanatical fervour because we don't want anything to freeze! First thing to be seeded, probably this weekend, will be a flat of lettuce for us to eat, and maybe share with The Hens. Then the priority is peppers, tomatoes, herbs and some of the squash and melons that require a long season.

For those of you in the Brandon area this Sunday, February 14th is Seedy Sunday! Starting at noon at the West End Community Centre at 249 23rd Street a variety of seeds, including some from great local farms, will be available. Seeds of Diversity, Heritage Harvest Seeds, Prairie Garden Seeds and Room to Grow will all be there. Then, at 6:00 PM, a dinner of organic bison chili and bread is available for $6. A social follows with live music from dinner until 1:00 AM. All proceeds go to support the East End Community Garden Project - a most worthwhile cause! A great chance to get some great seed that you know will grow here, get some great advice from the seed saver, have some awesome organic chili and support a really great community project. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ummmm, Nope!

For February, it's quite nice here. Saturday's temperature got up to a balmy minus 4 C (about 22 F). Today is suppose to get up to about minus 10. Thought The Hens might be getting a little cabin fever so opened up their door on Saturday. Threw a little scratch down the ramp and onto the snow at the bottom. After doing other chores for a couple of hours, I returned to the coop to find nobody had ventured out! Some chicken prints at the top of the ramp, going after the scratch, but nothing further. At least the coop got a good airing out!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where'd That Darn Squirrel Go?

He was here all summer! Blaze has a thing for a squirrel. All summer, any time either of us was working in the barn or around the chicken coop, Blaze would be off to find the squirrel. The squirrel lives in the bit of shelter belt by the coop, and for hours Blaze will follow him as he leaps from tree to tree, going about his business. So, daily, when we go to collect eggs, Blaze searches for his 'friend' but I'm afraid he's got at least six weeks before he finds him again!

Dark Days Challenge: A Swing and a Bit of a Miss...

Farmer Man is away on a bit of a sabbatical and I'm finding it hard to cook for one. I'm eating local - porridge from local oats, spelt and flax almost every morning. Eggs for lunch frequently, but dinner has mostly been less than nutritious 'grazing'. So, I decided to roast one of our Berkshire hams, a little one, and then have leftovers for sandwiches, pastas and the quiche I've kind of been craving. I'll admit to you right here and now that Farmer Man is the cook of the family. So, I go on the Web and look up roasted ham, find some easy instructions and proceed. I decided on a one pot meat and veggie thing, because clean-up is not my favourite. So, a bottom layer of our homegrown potatoes, onions and carrots, some turkey stock and the ham. Well, the veggies turned out almost too salty to eat, tasty but salty. I also roasted the last Delicata squash which was scrumptious - can't say enough about how well they matured in storage. Lots of leftover ham for the rest of the week!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Great to be at a Farmers' Market

It was great to be at a Farmers' Market. Not just that the market was in San Jose del Cabo, in Baja Mexico. It was just great to be outside at a market! The Organic Market of San Jose was really fun! Only about seven veggie suppliers but a beautiful selection of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and other goodies. Lots of crafts, clothes, soap, honey, herb mixes. One lady had even brought along her baby goat! Some super food being cooked as well, something the Health Inspectors here might not approve of. Farmer Man has a great, thick, open-faced tortilla topped with salsa and chicken, made fresh on the spot. The cook had the tortilla batter on hand, poured it out onto a griddle on order and finished them on the grill. It was called a heurechada or something.....should have written it down. It was a great day at the Market!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dark Days: Locale Makes Such A Difference to Eating Local!

We've been away, in the Mexican Baja. What a difference location makes! There is an orange tree in the backyard of the little house we were staying in! Fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast! We've been eating local: Farmer Man loves the back alley taco stands, the working man's breakfast joints, the little street corner grills. We've only cooked a couple of times, but we did manage to cook local! Our Baja friend sent us to a wonderful rental place on the West Coast, just south of Todos Santos (if you're even considering the Baja check out this place) This is surfer country - just like every Beach Boys song you've ever heard! You have to go either with a vehicle or with enough groceries to last you. Our Baja friend sent us to the Organic Market in San Jose on Saturday morning, then took us to her fav market in Cabo on the way to the West Coast. Dinner was fresh scallops pan-seared and finished with the little, tiny, adorable local limes. A fresh salad with all the veg from the organic market: lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, green onion, mushrooms. And a veggie roast in tin foil with local potatoes, onions, garlic and a great winter squash that looks like Tondo. We were having such a nice time that I forgot to take a picture! The next day, a friend of our host's brought by a piece of freshly caught wahoo fish and what a revelation that was! New to us, it's has a clean, light flavour with great texture and flake! Would love to be able to find wahoo up in Canada! I guess we'll just have to return to the Baja......