Monday, June 30, 2008

My Beautiful Bike

I love my bike.

Simple as that. After being told I'd never ride again to be able to hop an and run my errands on it is pure bliss. I forgot how much I loved it.

My last bike, like dh's, was stolen. It is the sad part about living in town. I was bike less until our second dd bought a new one back in May. I inherited her garage sale bike. It was never good enough for her, I don't think she gave it a chance.

Yes, it is only a 5 speed, and I live in 5th! And it is dull green,but it's a PUCH! A PUCH! WOW!

These folks bought it in England and rode it there lots, moved to Saskatchewan and continued to use it. When they moved here, with all of our hills and mountains, well not so much. We picked it up for $15, a real steal.

Now with the addition of a wire market basket bungee corded to the bike rack it goes everywhere I need to go in town. I can haul groceries, takeout and library books, I even hauled 2 bags of potting soil. (That was a mistake, it was too heavy!)

The first 2 weeks nearly killed me, I haven't been able to exercise for a while and it shows. Now I'm buzzing about happily. It has also cut down on the use of the van and that is a good thing!

I'm glad to be a part of the tipping point for bike use in town. Have you noticed more bikers where you're at? I sure have. Older riders putting-about are my favourite.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dirt Done!

It took me, with the occasional help from my two youngest, a week to spread the dirt delivery. At one point I was considering calling it "Little Red Hen's Garden", and it seemed to be another task that was to be done one bite at a time.

Doing chores like this is a bit of a Zen experience; doesn't take a lot of thought, is nicely repetitious, and your mind just relaxes. It's a bit like doing dishes by hand.

When we got the spreading done it needed to be tilled. This was very hard to get done, dh was resistant and the guy who usually does it was unavailable. Finally dh did go borrow Grandma's tiller and the first photo is post-tilling. I was on strike from cooking and housework till the planting was done!

We put in pole beans, green and yellow bush beans, and 15 tomato plants, 5 of them yellow. In the last week we also planted the front garden with zucchini, 2 green 2 yellow; 48 sweet bell peppers; eggplant, 2 long purple, 2 long pink; and 4 jalapeno peppers.

There is a bit of a story of the multitude of green peppers, we barter them for honey with a bee keeper who lives in a colder garden zone. He is just too up-the-mountain to get them to grow. Works for us!

I took the leftover landscape fabric and covered the beds for the transplants, it covered about half if the beds so we'll see if there is any change in production from plain dirt. Again this year I've put down grass clippings on the paths for weed control. We get these from friends who have a lawn-mowing service. They have to off-load somewhere, may as well be here. :o)

dh grows many of the other veg you'd expect to see in my garden in his market garden so I just get them from him. (Cucumbers, onions, carrots, potatoes, more tomatoes, pumpkin) I'm still trying to decide on corn, it's getting late to plant but they are so expensive to buy. Maybe that last little bit of the home garden for fresh eating and see if we can barter for more to can. (It takes 6 ears for each quart!)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Take-out on the Bike

The last couple times we got take-out I picked it up on the bike. Rather exciting I thought. This time I took it a step further, I phoned them up and asked if I could bring my own containers. After a bit of discussion it was decided that I could, if I brought them ASAP and waited while they cooked our Chinese food.

We've used the some containers for lunches all school year and they have dramatically reduced our garbage. Now we have another use for them!

Loaded them into cloth bags, loaded the bags into my bike basket, and off we went! Love living only 1km from our fave restuarant. I handed the bags off to the wait staff and settled in with good book on micro-farming for the duration. It was ready very quickly, loaded back up in the basket and off home we went.

The only thing we'd change is taking a smaller container for the sweet and sour dipping sauce as it ran into the spring rolls and made them soggy. They snuck those little packets in while my back was turned, NO LITTLE PACKETS PLEASE!

All in all a lovely supper on the for a day when I was parenting solo and trying to get a big project done while dh was away.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Canning of the Rhubarb

A couple of weeks ago the rhubarb was ripe and ready to go. I did the usual rhubarb whip, changed a plum cake recipe into rhubarb cake, and then ventured into the unknown with canning it.

Now I can a lot, 6 kids a lot, shelves a lot. But I've never tried rhubarb. So I dug out my handy-dandy canning book and found out how to do it. Of course I can't find my notes on what I did as to number of cups of this and that now that I'm ready to post about it.

I do remember it took 4 plants to get the 75 stalks I figured we needed for 12 quarts. Grandma's plant was good for 25 stalks, it is well established and well looked after. The 2 wild plants at dh's market garden were good for 20 each and the new rhubarb plant at the house was up for 10. We do need to plant a couple more rhubarb at the house though. Grandma is going to divide hers and give us the bigger part and we'll get another too. Three well tended plants should do us well and the extra can always go to the Farmer's Market to fill table space if needed.

I can tell you it was just rhubarb and sugar, cooked down, put in hot sterile jars and processed as per instructions in the book, the one I can 't find now. Typical. I'm even sitting beside the bookcase of cookbooks, the newly decluttered and cleaned one.

I'm not too sure even what to do with the final product. Free food is free food and these perennial fruits are there for the taking so I'm going to figure it out. I have a few months though as we have a firm rule that items canned, frozen or dried are for winter, not for eating while other things are growing.

Now is there another rhubarb plant that I can use for strawberry-rhubarb jam????

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We've got Dirt!

Finally, finally, finally we got the garden expansion to the point of getting a dumptruck load of topsoil brought in a few days ago. Weeks it took to dig up the sod in the 28x32 addition to our 16x32 front yard garden. I began to refer to it as eating my elephant one bite at a time. A daunting task.

When the sod was gone we discovered TREE ROOTS massive tree roots. Another week of digging and hacking with an axe. Finally that hurdle was over come and the dirt could be ordered.
As you can see from the photo the rest of the garden has been neglected shamefully during this project. We hadn't planted a thing at this point! The landscape fabric was down for the transpants, and a bunch of self seeded sunflowers had been placed in a horseshoe the the north east corner of the original garden. I'm thinking they will make a nice hidey hole for the littles later this summer.

Now how long did it take us to smooth it out for planting??? .... one shovel full .... one wheel barrow load full .... at a time....