Friday, July 18, 2014

hay hauling with the grand daughter

This is my oldest grand daughter, she is twelve. Full of spunk.

 For the past two nights, after Frank gets home from work, she wants to bring in a load of hay. You can't argue with her, and Frank always gives in to her. hahaha 

I think it is funny that she can bend her pa's arm to get him to do things that he really doesn't want to.

She is so quick to learn, and boy does she learn quick. She doesn't much care for skirt work, but get her outside doing farm related activities, she is in there like a dirty shirt. 

She is fully loaded with nine round bales, four Pomeranians (little dogs), one Husky cross dog, and one kitten named Freak. Yep, that is what she named the male barn kitten that she has laid claim to.

I am getting loaded.

Fully loaded, and the alfalfa field is cleared of the hay that we made. Hopefully if we get some rain and warm weather we will have a decent second crop.

There is so much smoke in the air this afternoon and evening, and it will be just as bad tomorrow. I can't get over how cold it has been today. I know, first I have complained how hot it was, and now complaining about the cold. Typical farmer! The temperature only got to 12°--feels more like Autumn than July.

We have a family of Common Goldeneye Ducks on our dugout. 

Forest Fires and Babies!

For the past couple of weeks, the weather has been a bit weird. 

We had gorgeous weather to get all the hay put up. Took us only about a week and a half to cut, rake and bale it all. We are in the process of hauling the hay home off of the alfalfa field. Last year, with the wet weather it took a bit longer to get it off, and some of the alfalfa died. So we don't wish to make that same mistake twice. The last few days of haying, the temperature was extremely hot!!

We have had a heat wave. We are not use to temperatures above 24°C--we had five days of above 30°C, a few of those were 34°. Hey, c'mon we are Canadians! Living in Northern  Alberta. We have winter for almost seven months of the year. I melt if it gets hotter than 22° C!

We have been also exceptionally dry. No rain for weeks. I have only cut the grass once this month--and that is only around the house and up around the vegetable garden. We had to start watering the garden, which I don't like doing. Our only water supply is a dugout which only gets replenished with a blanket of snow, (spring run-off) and rain. The dugout supplies the house with water, and we also use it to water the livestock. 

With the dry conditions that we have been experiencing, the province of British Columbia is even drier. A few years back they had an infestation of pine beetle. The province didn't do much with the pines that were killed from the beetle. All that dead dry standing timber. Well that province is having a hell of a time now with forest fires. Last I heard they had between 60-80 forest fires burning. 

On top of that, one fire in particular, is encroaching to the Alberta/BC border--which we are getting smoke from. Also to the north, the Northwest Territories have forest fires burning--one for sure is threatening the city of Yellowknife. In Alberta we also have several fires burning-some out of control, some being held.

This morning, we woke to fog, which burnt off and lead to a brief but cool sunny morning, which gave away to a rain shower and now this.....

The sky looks yellow. And boy can you smell the smoke. There is even some ash that has settled on to the quad seat.

Miss Dolly had her calf this morning. Super excited about this birth for several reasons!
First--Madeline AI her--and it worked! We both are happy about this success. 
Second--Miss Dolly gave me a heifer. I am going to call the heifer Betsy, after Miss Dolly's mother.

However, Miss Dolly didn't like Donkey coming to close to the babe!

Soon, Misty will be calving. I hope also, that she gives me a heifer. However, we did not AI her, and unfortunately, the Simmental had a bit of fun. The bugger has done that now to two of my Jersey girls.

I have had four of my six grand kids here since the 2 nd of July. Two will be leaving on the 24th, and the other two a couple of days after that. I hate to say this, but I miss the peace and quiet. And I know once they are all gone, and everybody else is at work, I will wish for the children's noise once more. The 12 yr old, the 8 yr old, and the 5 yr old are currently playing Lego--- the 2 yr is napping. 

Yep right now--life is good. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Random 5

I finally got my honey processed--strained and into jars. I need to find a better way of cleaning the wax. I am getting frustrated with the few different ways that I have tried. Out of the three frames that I `stole`I managed to get 8.1 pounds of liquid gold. This fall, I will harvest a couple of more frames.

The bees swarmed once again on me the other day--but I managed to capture it. I currently now have five hives. I need to purchase more supers!

Frank  knocked down about 100 acres of hay last weekend. We managed to get it all but three rounds raked and baled on Wednesday. Than we were blasted with a rain shower and a bit of hail. Thankfully the hail didn't do any damage to the garden. He was out cutting another field yesterday-which is about another 70 acres.

We are upgrading our John Deere tractor that we purchased last year. We found it to small for the baler--it is only a 45 hp and the the new one is 75 hp. It should be arriving later today. Which will make Frank happy.

We really haven't had much  moisture, we decided to put the garden hose on the garden. With high temperatures and the lack of moisture, everything is just growing extremely slow.

The last two days, we have had a smokey haze. There is a forest fire burning near Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia which is approximately 285 km from me. There is also fires burning in the Northwest Territories. This morning at 6 am is was 5 ° C. Brrr.

I have been gathering rose petals, German chamomile, and herbs out of the gardens and yards. As some of you know, I make soap. But a few months back I started selling my soaps. I have now gotten into making lotions, and salves. It keeps me busy. I have my product in a local store in Grimshaw. Which I am just tickled pink about!  I will share more about my salves, soaps, and site in the near future.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Seen these two Tiger Swallowtail butterflies fluttering around each other...

and doing a type of a 'dance'

It makes me wonder if they were in some sort of 'courtship'

I just can't figure out which Tiger Swallowtail it is--Canadian, Eastern or Western

Either way, I sure like watching them

Haying has begun

Due to lack of rain, the hay crop in the U-Field, isn't as tall or as thick compared to last year. 

The bolt in the skid plate for the sickle mower, broke. It took all about five minutes to fix. It took longer finding a bolt to replace the broken one!

The U-Field is about 50 acres.

Our tractor--which we will be trading in later this week for a bigger one! Frank is happy about the upgrade.

Getting Ready for Haying Season

The 844 International tractor, which we affectionately call the Schloper, is all serviced and

with the new draw bar, is ready for haying season.

Frank has greased the hay rake and replaced all the broken rake teeth. There was about twenty of them, and it probably took him about two hours to do them all. 

The John Deere is serviced and ready for cutting and the baling.

The sickle mower is greased and so is the baler. 

Now we patiently wait until the hay is ready to be knocked down.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I love this time of year, when all sorts of fresh berries are available.
My favourite summer pie is Strawberry Rhubarb. 

Slice about one cup of strawberries
Chopped about 3 cups of rhubarb in short pieces
Mix together

In another bowl, mix together 
one egg
3 tbsp flour
1 cup of granulated sugar

Add the rhubarb and strawberries. Gently keeping mixing together until the fruit is well coated.

Using your favourite  two crust pie recipe, line a 9 inch pie plate. Turn fruit mixture into the pie shell. Moisten pastry rim. Place crust over top. Trim and crimp to seal. Cut slits in top.

I usually lightly dampen the top shell, and sprinkle with a hint of sugar. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for roughly 45 minutes until the browned and fruit is cooked. 

Serve warm with whipped cream, cool whip, vanilla ice cream or as is. Personally I love it as is.

My crust didn't want to roll today, I think it was because it was bit humid outside. It make not look pretty, but it sure did taste good!

Fabricating a Draw Bar--in pictures

When this 1978-- 844 International Tractor was first manufactured it did not come with a 3 point hitch. Frank  purchased an after market 3 point hitch kit for it. It worked well, but after several years of 'abuse' it fell apart. When Frank initially installed the after market 3 point hitch, the original draw bar had to come off of the tractor. The 3 point hitch has been off the tractor for so long, that the original draw bar has been misplace, or used for another purpose.

So the time has come, that a draw bar needs to be on our tractor. Frank spent the morning searching for steel, and welding a new draw bar.

We bought our electric welder about twenty years ago. The breaker panel needs to be upgraded, Frank keeps blowing a breaker, so he has to weld a lower setting than he likes.

The draw bar is now ready for work!

* Frank wasn't really a willing participant in this blog---he was getting frustrated with me. bahahahaha

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Gather Ye Rose Buds While Ye May!

Rose water has a long history. 
It is said that over 3000 years ago, Cleopatra bathed in milk with rose petals. The Babylonians used rose oil and rose water in their medicines, while in India it was used in the royal cuisines. Ancient Rome used rose water to wash their hands and to bath in. They also used rose water for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. In the middle ages, rose water was used to deal with stress and depression.

Rose water provides a wide range of benefits to the skin. It is good in purifying the skin and helps protect it from bacterial infections. It is brilliant skin toner! It helps to tone the skin and helps in removing dirt, make-up and oil from the skin. It is also a bonus in helping to heal sunburn. Using rose water after a warm shower or steaming, tightens the capillaries, reduces redness and blotchiness.
The aroma of the rose helps with feelings of anxiety and helps promotes emotional well being, making you look more relaxed and younger looking.

My rose bush is finally blooming. For the past two summers I have done some serious pruning to that poor bush. This year it has paid off!! 

Gather your roses preferably in the morning after all the dew is gone. Make sure the roses that you gathering have not been sprayed with a herbicide or a pesticide. After all this rose water will be going on your skin!

Gently pick the petals apart. You don't want to have any greenery on them. Gently wash the petals to get rid of debris and little critters.

Gently, in layers light crush the petals in a mortar and pestle. To help bruise them and to release their oils.

Bring a pot of distilled water to a boil, and add your bruised rose petals.

Put a lid on, and remove from the heat source and let them steep for about thirty minutes.

You will notice that the colour has left your petals. Depending on the colour of your roses, will determine the colour of your rose water.

You will strain your rose water through either a sieve or a double layer of cheese cloth.

Notice the petals in the pot are a pale colour. Yep. All their colouring is now in the water.

Make sure you pour your rose water into a sterilsed jar. It will last between seven to ten days in the fridge. You do not want to store your rose water in the bathroom. The bacteria in the air will make it go 'bad'. 
If you want you can add Vitamin E to help preserve it for up to a month.

Pour either into a spray bottle and spirtz your face or use on a cotton ball.