My Comrades

IMG_8525

I have joined a work group.  Trust me, it is not as horrible as it sounds.  It consists of 5 women of various ages, and various backgrounds yet all interesting and unique.  Our group consists of artists, teachers, entrepreneurs, heritage poultry farmers, and moms.  What we all share in common is that we are community minded, and we are an integral part of The Comrades.  One of our first tasks was to pick a name other than The Work Group.  We really killed that assignment, despite our lack of a Communist ideology.

Each Wednesday morning for three hours we meet at one of our houses and tackle a project.  The project can be anything, and nothing is too daunting for our gang of five.  It is really amazing how much you can accomplish when five people work toward one goal for three hours straight.  We do start off with coffee and a chat, then we get to work and finish with a light lunch.  We are usually done by 1pm, and continue the rest of our week accomplishing jobs as a single unit, until we meet again the next Wednesday to work as a team.

We have met three times, and our first task was yard work at Gerry’s.  She raises organic heritage chickens and turkeys, and is a fabulous painter.  We raked, wheelbarrowed, sawed limbs off of trees, weeded, and painted chairs and then sat down for tea and homemade rhubarb scones.

I was next on the docket.  We tried to save two old picnic tables that the school board left.  We scraped, sanded, then stained one apple green, and the other pumpkin orange.  We also painted other furnishings until all the paint was gone, and then assembled some Ikea furniture.

Today at Que’s house we got to work on a white picket fence.  That fence had been asking to be painted for a few years but it was simply too big of a job for a mother of three young kids.  But not to worry, The Comrades were there!  We swooped in and we scraped and sanded, and now that fence is all ready for some paint.

Every five weeks we each get 15 hours of labour toward a job that is too big for us to do alone.  But we really get more than that.  We are getting to know each other better every week and are already becoming fast friends.  I look forward to my work group, and to spending some quality time working with my comrades.

On the home front, my kids are also being put to work.  Reya just got her first job.  She is helping my friend and neighbour Bob at his bed and breakfast, The Miller House.  She gets up early on the weekend to help prepare and serve breakfast, and then clean up. Now that Reya has a paying job, Wini has taken over Reya’s mowing duties and Ruby is our proud mower in training.

IMG_8595

My girls have also been busy painting the bee hive tonight.  I was a little late ordering bees and none are available, so we will have to wait for honey.  We are all ready when the bees come in.

IMG_8612

There has also been a Pokemon craze happening around here.  I think this fad is all said and done in Toronto but it is in full swing here.  The dollar store in town is often sold out of Pokemon cards, and I am not going to make the journey to Belleville for cards.  So my kids have been creating new ones at home.

IMG_8599IMG_8614

They are sure to be collector’s items.

Happy Mother’s Day

IMG_8487

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and I apologize for ignoring you.  It’s not that you are not on my mind, it’s just that there is a lot to do this time of year.  I’ve wrote numerous posts in my head but never got around to getting them out into the blogosphere. So here I am.  Better late than never, I say.  But I only really say that when it suits my needs, and I am needing it right now.  I am going to break down all of our highlights into small spoonful to aid digestion.  This means you must read slowly so as not to choke.  There is no need to overeat here, as there will always be more to read in the future.  I’ll cushion the flow with some photos to help you pace yourself.

The Garden

IMG_8463

Jess and I have been busting out our best moves for the garden.  All of our focus to date has been on our building, and we have come to realize that our property also needs some tender loving care.  We have nine acres of lawn.  This works really well as a school yard but we’d like a little more variety in our future.  Last week, Jess planted over 600 native saplings.  It may take a few years for us to reap the benefits of these trees but we’ve got time.  We can’t possibly conquer it all in one season.

What I can do this season is start paying attention.  My whole adult life my mom did all my gardening.  Unless she plans on rising from the dead to help me plant this season, I’d better get my hands dirty and figure it out.  I’ve been out weeding, planting, and watering and I have enjoyed it.  We finally got around to planting Bob’s Trees.  Most of you know I have a fabulous neighbour Bob who owns The Miller’s House Bed and Breakfast.  Bob has a beautiful garden, and I often take friends over there for a tour because it is that gorgeous.  Bob is always helpful with gardening suggestions.  We have been so overwhelmed at times with our school project that Bob’s suggestions tend not to make the priority list.  But not this season Bob!  Last week Jess and I planted 40 cedars in honour of Bob.  It was one of his first gardening suggestions when we moved here, and it has been officially crossed off the list.  Please feel free to comment positively on our new Bob’s Trees next time you come by.  We hope you love them as much as we love Bob and Bob’s Trees.

Just for the record, if you’d like to lend me a knowledgeable gardening hand or advice in the near future I’d be happy for it.

Our vegetable garden is also doing splendidly.  We are in for a fruitful season.  The haskaps are flowering and they should be ready before the strawberries.  We are also looking forward to trying our Saskatoon berries.  Both were planted last year but were mostly cut back so as to be more plentiful this season.  Our vegetable garden has been expanded.  It is the largest garden Jess has ever maintained in his lifetime and he is expecting it to be the highlight of his gardening career.  Until next year, of course.

IMG_8509

The Animals

IMG_8482

Okay let’s forget about those damn plants and move onto the animals.  On Thursday, we picked up 24 day old chicks.  They are very cute and set up in a large box with a heat lamp in our guest room.  Each time I enter the guest room I find chicks placed in bowls, shoes, or simply sitting on the chair.  We don’t want a return of the chicken circus now do we?  Stern words were spoken and now the chicks are back in the box or cuddling on a child’s lap.  We have reminded our kids that we will be eating these cute little birds in the future.  Our job is to give them the best darn chicken life that we are able to.  We have moved our other chickens into their old coop with a large fence around them.  They seem quite happy except Chocolate Caramel keeps escaping and we have been finding her in the old coop.  Stern words were spoken and now she is safely tucked in with the other hens.  Ole Whitey has been a bit of a problem since the move.  She has been eating the other hens eggs.  This is obviously putting a bit of a damper on my chicken empire.  We thought we might have to eat her but instead we tried isolating her for a few days.  She has gotten her chicken act together and seems to be behaving in a suitable chicken manner.  So she gets to live another day.  And thank goodness.  No one wanted to eat Ole Whitey for dinner.

Please note:  Ole Whitey is a white rural chicken (not the technical name I’m sure).  If she were a white city chicken her name most surely be Old Whitey, name Ole Whitey.  See how country we’ve become?

IMG_8469

We found this big guy next to the tennis courts.  I’m fairly sure he wasn’t waiting to play a game of tennis because he obviously didn’t bring his tennis racket.  Plus he was not wearing his tennis whites.  And he didn’t have the proper footwear.  I also saw him move and he would never be able to return a serve at that pace.  I would totally be able to kick his ass in a game of tennis and I am not even a very good tennis player.  And I am out of practice.

What might have been happening is that he was a she and was trying to get to the pond to lay eggs.  She ran into the fence road block, had forgot her cell phone in the swamp, and was unable to call for help.   Luckily we were not intimidated by her lack of tennis skills, or her 12″ wide turtle shell, or her unfriendly turtle snaps.  We called her a wheelbarrow taxi and she happily jumped into the pond and swam away.  Is this a snapping turtle?  I should know this but don’t.

IMG_8474

On another four legged note, I was driving to work the other day and ran into this lovely obstruction.

IMG_8433

I loved it.

The Weather

IMG_8486

As you Canadian’s know, it has been fabulous.  Friday after school, we packed a picnic dinner and headed straight for Sandbanks beach.  The girls and dogs went for their first swim of the season.  We had the entire beach to ourselves.

IMG_8484

The weather has been glorious.  All the lilacs have massive buds on them and when they bloom the whole County smells like heaven.  We are still working on our lilac perfume so will have to harvest more shortly and get some bottled up.

Me

IMG_8466

I did my first small batch of canning last week.  A very good friend sent me 5 lbs of ramps from his 100 acres property.  They are an effort to clean but well worth it.  I love my ramps pickled so that’s what I did.  I can’t wait to have them on a summer salad.

I also started running again.  I use to be an avid runner in Toronto, clocking around 30 km a week.  I had a great gang of ladies to keep me running through snow, rain, and long hills.  I had to stop running as old injuries kept returning.  My main motivation has been an extra tire I have formed over the winter which consists solely of wine, chocolate and snowflakes.  I have been running like an old lady to keep my injuries at bay.  But I have been running and it feels great.  If anyone would like to join me, I will try to work up to the level of an active retiree so as not to embarrass myself.  I’m not quite up to the challenge of middle aged woman running yet but I may be by the end of the summer.

Mother’s Day

IMG_8504

Just before eight, my girls crawled into bed with me for a cuddle thinking that I had slept in.   In the gym, there was a beautifully set table with a fresh bouquet of flowers, a cup of coffee, the paper, and a basket of gifts.  Jess made me an egg and cheese crepe, and then I had a luxurious uninterrupted hour to read the paper.   Later on, my girls and I went to buy some flowers, and I spent several hours gardening.  After lunch, my girls set up an outdoor spa for me.  I had a foot, hand and back massage, pedicure, and facial all while being served chocolate and iced tea.  Then when I came back inside Jess gave me my gift.

IMG_8519

I can’t wait to paddle around the Mill Pond tomorrow. The first thing I am going to do is catch that trespassing turtle and see if she wants to play a game of tennis with me.

Happy Mother’s day to all you moms out there.  I hope your day was fabulous.

In Other News

This week I did a catering job with my good friend Bree.  She is the mastermind behind County Yum Club, and she is the best damn canner this gal has ever seen.  We catered a lunch for 78 people on Friday and had a very long day in the kitchen on Thursday.  After peeling two bags of potatoes, I found this well defined friend of the Nightshade family that made me smile and was the source of many jokes.  I hope you are all as lucky with your own potatoes.

IMG_8481