Wednesday 29 August 2012

When A Blog Becomes A Book

The first time I ever heard the word Blog was when my daughter started one to chronicle the day to day happenings after she bought her farm.  It was funny and sad and had days of pure joy and days of despair. She stumbled and fell and got right back up to try again.  I read it, the family read it and friends read it.Then, strangers started reading it and it grew to have a nice, little daily following.

The farm was never a money making operation and morphed into a sanctuary for abused and abandoned farm animals.  Some had been taken away from their owners, some were purchased to take them away from pure cruelty and some were surrendered by owners who had fallen on hard times.  All were ill or injured.

We followed the stories of piglets named Rusty  ~

and puppies found in dumpsters. ~

We met lame horses ~

and kittens that weren't wanted because they played too much. ~

This is the farm that rescued my Gert and Maude and hundreds of other chickens.  This is the farm that set up the pilot project that allows social workers to bring at risk boys, from group homes, in to work with rehabilitating the chickens.  That project is so successful that the boys have named my daughter "Mrs. Awesome".

Animal lovers and people who support the child programme have donated cat cages, blankets, pet food and, believe it or not, hand knit sweaters for the featherless chickens in winter.  Some have donated their time and others have donated money.  But, housing and feeding the ever growing menagerie is a very costly venture and most of the expense is shouldered by my daughter and her husband. 

They had two children and adopted four more.  Caring for all the animals and raising six kids left little time for blogging and Farm Girl gave it up.

Two years later, with the requests for more stories still coming in, she decided to edit the posts into a book.  Her literary agent had great faith in the book but she has decided to publish it as an e-book on Kindle.  

The pygmy goat on the cover is Tallulah and she was the very first rescue.  We all loved her dearly and she leaves a legacy of hope and sanctuary for all the rescues that pass through these barn doors.

Click here to read an Excerpt from The Flawed Farm.

It's only 99 cents to buy the whole book and every dollar helps the work go on.  If you don't have a Kindle, you can download Kindle as a free app to your computer, right from the Amazon order site. I learn something new every day!

I believe in Farm Girl's work and I'm sure you'll love to meet all the characters at the Flawed Farm.  I didn't even ask her to edit out the parts where she talks about growing up in a show biz family!  She'd only have rambled on at me about artistic integrity anyway and I'd know she heard all that from me when she was a kid.    

ps - When you get to the show biz part, I was monogamous and DID NOT do drugs.  I can't claim the same for all the artists in the 70's and 80's.  I did like to say, as I left for work each day, "Time for more sex, drugs and Rock & Roll".  It was the title of a book and seemed funny at the time.  How could I know I was raising a writer?  

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Does Your Home Have A Name?

Three decades ago, when I moved to this house in the country, it was much smaller than it is today.  It was spider infested and swathed in shellacked plywood inside.  It was ugly and cramped, run down and overgrown.  But I had great hopes for it!

I recently asked a friend to put my chickens to bed while I was out of town.  Her husband came with her and as they passed the side door, he asked about the tiny sign painted near the top step of the old porch. She said it must mean something to me, and it does.

My very first day in this house, I named it Kellswater after an old Irish ballad. ~

I'd brought my Newfoundland puppy with me and her name was Kelly. ~

She was a special baby, born by C-section and never with her mother or litter mates.  The breeder bottle fed her until she realized the pup would never be show quality and was glad I would take it off her hands. Kelly never had any idea she was a dog!  She never knew I wasn't her mom!  Maybe I didn't know it either, because I carried that old dog when she could no longer walk.

The chorus to the song is ~

Here's a health to you, bonny Kellswater
For it's there you'll find the pleasures of life
And it's there you'll find a fishing and a farming
And a bonny wee girl for your wife.

And it was everything I hoped it would be!

We've had fishing in the lazy, old Grand River. ~

When Farm Girl was little, she tied a rake to Kelly and pretended to plough the yard.  Today, her daughter helps Grandma with my chicken farming. ~

My son-in-laws found it a perfect place to find a bonny wee wife. ~

I hope all of you have or find your Kellswater, for it's there you'll find the true things in life!  

Monday 20 August 2012

It's Never What I Planned!

I had major blog plans this weekend.  I'd do a couple of cute projects and whip up some tomatoes into  preserves.  Then, I'd photograph it all and amaze you!

My plans didn't work out.  I know you are thinking, "Wow, big surprise! Her plans NEVER work out.".

Ah, but it wound up being so much better.  I got to find stuff for the artistic director for a film!  You see, my son-in-law is the artistic director and he lives in Toronto.  On short notice, he had to stage three full sets. My daughter was at work and Baby had a reaction to a drug and couldn't go to daycare.  Daddy has to mind her. The film is being shot about a mile from my home and my daughter called and asked if I could help SIL find a few things in my area.  He needed crappy stuff for a young guy's apartment.  I'M THE QUEEN OF FINDING CRAPPY STUFF!

Within an hour, I'm sending SIL pics like this. ~

Then, he calls and needs ten stools for a bar scene and a lacrosse stick. ~

Child's play for me!  I haven't even broken a sweat and I have it all.  I've raided a neighbour's man pit in his garage, my brother and SIL's thrift store and two of my neighbour's kitchen islands for stools.  Get this, I haven't even left this tiny village!   

I have the greatest neighbours in the world!  They'd never bat an eye if you asked them to loan you their car, their lawn mower or their first born male.  Well, a least they were fine with loaning the first born male's lacrosse stick.

I have this job done in two hours but I can't get into painting or canning while text messages are coming in for things like dartboards and braided sweet grass.  Seemed like I could take it easy this weekend.  That is, until my sister pulled out her hosta bed and showed up with a wheel barrow load for me!

Blackberry in hand, I started digging and made a cute, little garden where it was too shady for anything but a few shrubs to grow. ~

Of course, I need to outline this garden with rocks!

The rock in the next pic is one I brought home in my car several years ago.  Two guys had to load it in but I managed to get it out and move it about thirty feet.  A couple of years ago, I moved it about twenty feet. This weekend, I moved it a couple of feet and pulled all the muscles in my back!  Is that rock gaining weight or am I getting old?

This is the offending brute! ~

The sets are done, the garden is planted and baby is back to dancing! ~

As soon as I can stand up straight, I'll amaze you with something I paint and can.  Unless my plans don't work out!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Summer's Bounty!

I really feel lucky to be living in Ontario at this time of year!  Gardens and markets are fairly bursting with fresh, local produce and I have officially made it through twelve months of eating pure and natural foods.  I admit to the odd slip.  Lays potato chips and Helluva Good Dip are demons from hell!  But, I only fell off the wagon a few times.  Packaged stuff went out of my diet first and canned stuff followed.

So, be prepared for me to be obsessed with canning and freezing for the next while.  Right now, my kitchen looks like this. ~

There's no need for facials when you stand over these pots for a day! ~

Oddly, I don't eat dill pickles but my kids, grandkids and son-in-laws do and they say these dills can't be beat!

Here's the secret family recipe.  Oh, I guess that means it's not a secret any more! ~

Garlic Dill Pickles

3 Quarts water
1 Quart all natural vinegar (I use President's Choice All Natural)
1/2 Cup rock salt
1 Bunch dill
6 Quart basket of #2 size cucumbers (organic if possible)

Sterilize 6-9 quart sealer jars in a large preserving kettle.  You can do this a bit ahead of time and place them on a cookie sheet in an oven warmed to 200F. 
In a large preserving kettle, bring to a full boil, water, vinegar and salt.
Fill jars with washed cucumbers, a couple of heads of dill and 2 peeled garlic cloves.
Fill jars to top with boiling brine.Cap and let sit for 5 mins.
(Now here's the secret)
Dump the brine off the pickles and back into the preserving kettle.  Put the caps on the jars to keep the them sterile.  Bring the brine back to a full boil.  Refill the jars to the top with the brine. 
Hand tighten the rings and leave the jars to cool before moving them.  You will hear the lids snap shut. 
Leave for six weeks to "cure" before eating.

All measurements are in Imperial, so Google the conversions for US equivalents.

I think the key to the pickles greatness is the natural vinegar and the reboil of the brine.

I've done a half bushel of these babies and that's all they're getting this year!  The tomatoes are calling my name!

I'm sharing this with:  Inspiration Cafe

Tuesday 14 August 2012

The Simple Things

The year was 1967, Canada's Centennial year.  I was fourteen and I didn't give a hoot about the celebrations. My dad had been promoted from principal of a two room school to a full fledged eight room.  We'd moved to a small house on a lake, just outside of Sudbury, and we had a new boat with a 60 hp motor.  We kids were WILD about water skiing!  We skied all day every day.  We ran the boat around to break up the skim ice in the fall and skied in our clothes!

Although we were lucky to have parents who gave us unlimited use of a boat, they would not pay for the gas.  With no such thing as an allowance and no jobs to be had, this presented a huge problem until I came up with the bright idea of picking blueberries and trying to sell them to tourists.  Off we went with a six quart basket, into the forest, and started picking.

Wild blueberries will grow in the teeniest bit of poor soil and are are found everywhere in northern Ontario.  To be sure, you have to keep an eye out for these guys!  Those same berries supply the biggest part of their diet. ~

This black bear is standing in unripe blueberry bushes

Then, we walked a mile or so to the highway and stood there waiting for customers.  I don't think we even had a sign.  What idiots!  Almost immediately a car pulled over and a nicely dressed southern couple got out.  Now, we had no idea what blueberries cost.  Why would we ever buy them?  So, we took a shot and asked for $2.  Gas was 33 cents a gallon and it took five gallons to fill the tank.  They handed that money over lickety split and practically burned rubber getting out of there.

We laughed all the way home about stupid tourists who would pay $2 for something they could find on a rock cliff along the highway!  I'm sure they laughed, almost all the way to Toronto, about the stupid, hillbilly kids that would pick a six quart basket and sell it for $2!  We spent the rest of the season picking and skiing, picking and skiing.

There's no comparison between wild blueberries and farmed ones and the real thing sells for about $8 a pint these days.  Even the cultivated ones are pricey, so I've taken a stab at growing my own.

Four years I waited for my first little crop! ~

I was just about wild with excitement!  Although I shared my raspberries fairly with the chickens, I kept most of these babies for myself.  There was really only enough for one person to have a bit of a treat but I've have great hopes for the other four bushes next year!

I'd like to tell you these are mine, but I had to go to a blueberry farm to buy enough for the freezer.  I just liked the simplicity of the berries and the drying rose petals. ~

Four quarts cost me $24.  Where are the hillbilly kids when you need them!

I guess this girl hasn't changed all that much.  I'm a little long in the tooth for skiing but I still like me a good, fast boat and I still like picking blueberries.  I'm even still comfortable around bears!

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” 
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm sharing the simplicity with:  Wordless Wednesday

Thursday 9 August 2012

Country Girl Lampshade

I bought a floor lamp at auction for $2.  Then, I found out a new lampshade would cost me $30.  I also overbought burlap garland at Christmas time.  Putting these two issues together made me come up with this. ~

Here's the original shade.  Warning: Not a pretty sight! ~

I grabbed a roll of burlap and started pinning it to the old shade. ~

I liked the look of the nubby weave when the light was turned on. ~

Now, I guess they don't expect you to do this with it and they make no effort to make the burlap an even width.  There were gaps in the middle and I hauled out a strip of drop cloth, frayed the edges and pinned it on. ~

I had some hand carved, wooden buttons and added them to the middle strip.  Glueing it all on seemed like way too much work so I grabbed a needle and thread and tacked it all right onto the old silk shade.  I'm thinking I can change the centre seasonally by snipping a couple of threads and re trimming the band.

The sleeves on the candle bulbs were yellow and split but I remembered seeing this on Timeless Treasures. ~

Audrey comes up with the most ingenious ways to re purpose things and, since she has a good twenty years on me, puts me to shame with the projects she tackles.  Check her site out, but I warn you, you'll fall in love with her!

Out comes my stash of old sheet music and the problem is fixed! ~

Given all the years I spent in the music biz, I think it's very apropos.

I like to think of this shade as what Audrey Hepburn's country cousin would wear to Breakfast At Tiffany's. So, I decided to take her to the country for a photoshoot, back at the river.  I'm sure the neighbours don't find it odd that I'm carrying a floor lamp around outside with me!

Let's see how she looks beside my old bait shack door. ~

Shabby perfection! ~

Monday 6 August 2012

Lightning Strikes And Chippy Paint

As diverse as a lightning strike and old paint my seem, you know I believe All Things Are Connected! Sorry, I just couldn't resist that.  te he he

Here's the connection.  Farm Girl is at the point in the summer holidays, when she'd like a little help with amusing the kids.  ~

She didn't have to go to the extreme of being hit by lightning!  She was standing, under cover on her front porch, watching a storm roll in.  Lightning hit the neighbours driveway, travelled across her paddock and into her aluminum siding.  Farm Girl was leaning against the siding.  Now, that's making a connection!  

She said it felt like a red, hot knife travelled up through her body and was excruciatingly painful.  She's fine, but had some mighty sore muscles the next day. What are the odds of your teenage son standing in the back porch filming the same lightning bolt that hits his mom on the front porch?  Uh huh.  That's what happened.  She has a very interesting souvenir of a pretty rare experience!

Okay, I'm coming to help with the kids!

While I was there, I took tons of photos of chippy paint, rusty metal and cracking plaster.  You know, the stuff we love in Blogland.

They are all trapped inside my camera and refuse to be downloaded by any means!

Surely, Farm Girl wouldn't go to the extreme of tampering with my camera to get me to go back.  Or, would she?  Hmmm - six kids and a month into vacation.

I do have a couple of great shots to show you.  They are everything that is wonderful about farm resourcefulness, thrift and honest wear! ~

This is Canada and one thing we have a lot of is hockey sticks!  I love the tape on the sticks, the worn wood, peeling paint on the tin, cement patches and stone.

Next time honey, just call and ask for some help.  Seriously, just call.  It's way easier on your mom's nerves!

Friday 3 August 2012

Vintage Egg Carton Find!

It was worth sweltering at a flea market today to find this wonderful, vintage egg carton! ~

Anyone else remember these?  I sure do! ~

I'm not sure if this is the first commercial egg carton, but the Canadian patent date is 1937 - 1939.  They were still using them in the 50's. ~

They were ingeniously designed so that you could split the carton in half if you only wanted 1/2 dozen!  The instructions say to lay the carton face down, against the side of a table, and press. ~

What could possibly beat the twin egg safety carton?  

Buying this little bit of childhood nostalgia is the best thing I've done with $3 in a long while?

I can't wait to show it to Gert and Maude tomorrow!

PS:  I just did a little research and found the egg carton was invented in Canada by a British Columbian newspaper editor, Joseph Coyle, in response to a dispute between a farmer and hotel owner over responsibility for broken eggs.  They were handmade until 1919, when he invented a machine to make them. This design was in use until the 1950's, when H. G. Bennett, of the UK, invented the package we are familiar with today.  The things I learn from blogging!

Wednesday 1 August 2012

What The Heck Is This!

I sauntered over to my garden to look for the first ripe tomato and I find this! ~

Me:  Why I hardly know sir.  I've changed so much since this morning, you see...
Caterpillar:  No, I do not C.  Explain yourself!

Okay, maybe it wasn't blue, puffing on a hookah and talking to me, but it was freaky!

This, was merrily munching away on my tomato plant. ~

It was 4" long!  Like any good blogger, I grabbed my camera and started snapping, even though my shuddering made it hard to hold still.

I wasn't touching that thing, so I snapped the hole branch off. ~

The minute it lifted it's head and looked at me, I knew it would ask me all kinds of crazy questions and start yelling, so I threw the whole thing away!

A little Google effort and I find out this is a Tomato Hornworm and it will devastate your tomato crop in no time.  It will also blow smoke in your face and act verrrry mean!

I found a blog with some great info on dealing with this thing, Tammy's Recipes.  You might want to pay her a visit if you spot any in your garden.

Have a day where nothing creeps you out!