Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Moments from a Good Day

Just thought I’d share moments from my good day with you.

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A pancake with a beauty mark.

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Cleaning up a home.

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Planting the potential, the hopeful, the tomatoes.

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Indulging in thick conversation with one of my favourites.

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Watching a thirst quenched.

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Crossing a natural boundary.

How was your day? Can you sum it up in a sentence or two?

All Things Autumn

Happy Hallowe’en!

It is a beautiful sunny day and after what seems like a month of rain (not that we can complain) it is so nice to see the sun!

The path from the car to my door is squishy and muddy and we’ve discovered that the door invites a puddle of water to collect right by our shoes.

The kittens have recovered from their spaying operation and they chase each other around the house, bat around anything they can get their quick little paws on. They are particularly puzzled when it comes to apple processing though.

As far as apple processing, we have made some dehydrated apple rings, and our biggest accomplishment to date is 12 litres of homemade apple juice.

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Last Sunday we ventured out of our warm cozy house with fluffy kittens, we climbed up a slippery metal ladder, and picked out apples the size of softballs and filled a laundry basket.

Then we peeled and cored them, blended, strained through an old pillow case (which is apple juice stained from last year) and put the big ol’ pot on the wood stove to pasturize. My complaint about processing apples is the damage oxalic acid from the apples does to your hands. Oxalic acid is used for tenderizing meat. My hands are so sore after doing this. My skin is dried out and feels like it is pulling away from under my nails. It is gross.

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The second pot you see on the stove in this photo are the tomatoes we picked and were processing into sauce for the freezer. We’ve noticed that the tomatoes we make into sauce are a lot sweeter than the tomato sauce from the store. We’ve tried adding lots of balsamic vinegar and red wine to compensate for this sweetness but I think this is caused by the type of tomatoes we used. Scarlet Heirloom and Roma tomatoes. They are two varieties we are definitely doing next year because they were such good producers.

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This is the produce that I gathered from the garden last Saturday. Green beans, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, celeriac, tarragon, and basil. I also harvested our lavendar flowers. They are hanging in the “annex” (our back room of the house that acts as our everything room, and cold storage.)

Another exciting thing happening around our place is that Marc is growing mushrooms. Don’t worry, these are the completely legal kind. We have the RCMP over at least once a week (he is a good friend of ours) so we dare not try anything else.

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These are oyster mushrooms. He has been working so hard at trying different methods to grow these. Many people grow oyster mushrooms in plastic garbage bags but he didn’t like that idea because it uses a nonrenewable resource. There is a lot of waste in growing mushrooms in plastic bags. These tubes are reusable so we were really hoping this method of growing would work. As you can see by the little clusters, it did!

Growing mushrooms is an exact science. I am so proud of Marc for figuring it out and then following through on it. It involves growing spores, isolating contamined fungus, using a microscope and taking fastidious notes. These are things that are not my forte! Give me stinging insects any day. But eating mushrooms, this is my strength. I’m very pleased with his accomplishment!

That is the farm update for October. I hope you’re enjoying the spookiness today and the surprise sunshine!

Misty Morning

It is a misty morning, this October 24th.

From my window I can see a blanket of fog resting on the far pasture. I can hear the sheep bleeting, the crows, and the kittens running up and down our wooden stairs.

The colours of Autumn are muted in my front garden. The lavendar which was such a brilliant purple when it first flowered, is now looking dusty or dirty. The mighty potato stalks are leaning away from each other like fallen dominoes. My tangle of tomato plants huddle together, as if to bury their last tomatoes still blushing on the vines.

A second round of spinach is sporting their broad green leaves as if defying the first frost. My basil tree is dramatic and has completely succumbed to the colder temperatures. The stalks are blackened but the leaves are harvested and lay in the freezer.

We still have peas and beans coming. We have collected radish seeds that I’m hoping to use for sprouting in the winter months to give me some much needed clorofil.

Tomatoes are something I’ve taken for granted this summer. They are drawing to an end and the thought of eating one of those anemic store tomatoes withers my little heart. They have been ripening since July. The first one was celebrated with such gusto and yesterday when I picked them, I did not find them lipstick red as I have in the past. They are pale and some are cracking. We have dehydrated quite a few bags and made sauce for freezing but it won’t be the same as plucking a fresh tomato for your sandwich.

Another thing about winter is that I miss my bees. Today I plan to take the syrup buckets out of the hives, remove any supers that are empty, sprinkle dry sugar in case their stores are not enough, and batten down the hatches. I close them up and do not see them again until March. All through the winter, I worry about if they are alive, if they are warm enough, if they will survive the winter. I put my ear to the boxes to try to hear a whisper of activity. But until Spring, I do not know if they’ve made it through. Any diseases they have in small doses now can severely affect them as they are put under more stress of colder temperatures. Mice often add to the problem as well. They are looking for a cozy place to hole up for the winter, they end up chewing their way into the hive and eating the honey. If a hive isn’t strong enough, or it is too cold for them to move, that mouse could be fatal.

Last Winter I worried about my bees throughe every frost, every snowflake and they did just fine. They are going into this winter with more stores and more bees. My new hives are also going into winter better than the hive I over-wintered last year, so I’m feeling pretty positive about their chances.

And as for the kittens, they get spayed on Monday. I’ve been telling them all about it so it shouldn’t be any surprise.

Equilibrioception

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(This image is a logo off a South African wine bottle)

I write the first line. I pause. I remove my glasses. I adjust my seating and I begin to type.

Balance. The ying and yang. The desirable point between two opposing forces.

“Balance is the result of a number of body systems working together. Specifically, in order to achieve balance the eyes (visual system), ears (vestibular system) and the body’s sense of where it is in space (proprioception) ideally need to be intact. Also the brain, which compiles this information, needs to be functioning normally.”
-Wikipedia

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What does this mean to me? To you? To us?

Balance is one of the things I pursue. If I were to be balanced, I would consider myself successful. This is what I tend to do.

I go to one extreme, then the opposite extreme, then I settle in the middle, then I fight it all over again.

I say “Never” then I say “Always” then I say “Sometimes.”

I say “White” then “Black” then “Grey” and then grey becomes boring and I demand colour.

I noticed one day that I was craving emotional and mental balance when I placed my ripe tomatoes this way:

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This is my small example of creating balance.

I try to eat healthy. I try to eat fresh veggies, local produce, farm eggs. And then I eat Lindt chocolate from Costco to add balance to my life. Balancing my life takes practise. And I need a lot more.

I vascillate between being extreme. I decide that I need to floss my teeth every day, then three times a day, then not at all then once in a while. But always, I crave a balance.

And do you know what balances me the most? 3 things.

1. Time with Marc- as a way of self-reflecting, he is my mirror.

2. Time alone to take stock of what and why I do what I do.

3. Writing. This is my meditation. Whenever I am feeling frazzled or unstable, I write in a free flow and it’s like finding my centre of gravity again. It pulls me together.

Do you crave balance? What do you do to achieve the small slices of sanity that balance allows?

The Taste of Materialized Sunshine

(Sorry for the lack of photos. The internet has not been co-operating in the aspect lately.)

Blueberries, Blackberries, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Cabbage, Carrots. These are the tastes of materialized sunshine, rain drops and dirt. The miracle of it astounds me. When I pluck a blue blueberry from a bush, as I did this morning, and it is as big as a gumball, warmed by the sun, I can taste the sweat equity that went into it’s growing. I can also taste the uv-rays that ripened it, the dew that plumped it, and the soil that fed it’s roots.

I’ve been told by an illustrious gardener “Plants want to grow!” Yet it is still a miracle when I grab a plant by the hair, and pull up a vibrant orange carrot.

Last night, I picked up a wax frame, drawn out by the bees and examined the hexagon cells, shaking my head. The wonderment surrounding us every day! And people say they do not believe in magic. How can you peer at honey comb and not wonder at the magic?

I must admit, I do not spend much time coiffing my hair. I have spent not one minute on make-up this week. I have not folded one shred of laundry. My last sweet days of summer have not been spent preening. Instead, I have been preening her majesty, The Garden. I ripped up the bolting lettuce (after carefully saving seeds to appease my seed-strict husband) and planted spinach, hoping for a fall crop of greens. We have pole beans, bush beans and peas coming up in the garden. Ajax the gigantor pumpkin plant is producing plump pumpkins and the squash flowers cup 3 or 4 bees at a time.

And I am still picking tomatoes, ripening every day on the vine. I’ve been dehydrating hot peppers in preparation for winter pizza. And I’ve been pacing myself for the apple harvest that is yet to come.

I look forward to every season because of the different activities it brings. Don’t you find yourself starting to long for stews, soups, cozying up around the wood stove? I am starting to pick out thick books, woolley sweaters and pulling out toques with a sort-of longing. Autumn is Marc’s favourite season. He loves the acrid low smoke in the air from the leaf burnings, the crisp leaves crunching under-foot, the barrels of apples and the golden trees.

I wrote that paragraph, then looked outside at the sunshine, tourists in shorts, and a child eating soft ice cream and realized, as usual, I’m jumping the gun.

Let’s appreciate the last sweet days of Summer and taste the materialized sunshine on the last blueberries of the season.