Friday, 24 November 2017

7 Days of Black and White

A friend of mine challenged me on Facebook to the 7 days of black and white photos....no people, no explanations!

Other people go thru all their most amazing photos that they have ever taken and post them but I decided to just randomly take a photo on that day....with my phone....and make it black and white.

I'm allowed to provide explanations with the photos on this blog because I said.  I didn't on Facebook and that was a challenge.  I also posted these on Instagram and I put hashtags with them which was sort of cheating because it sort of explained.  Oh well.  I didn't get in trouble or get reported.  Because really...no one cared....and it didn't matter.

Let's get this started....

Photo #1


I drew these buck heads...along with a bunch of different designs....to make tracings for royal icing transfers for a cookie class that I was going to start teaching.  I thought the students could make all these tracings with royal icing and then we would flood cookies and place the transfer on top.  It all backfired when I realized that the tracings wouldn't be dried in two hours....they take a long time to dry....and my students would probably have to stay the night.  So I scrapped that idea and went with something else.  And I made some chocolate buck heads for a birthday cake for a guy that is visiting Canada and it's his birthday.  I put maple leafs on the cake too.  And decorated it like it was a birch tree.

Photo #2


These are some of my girls.  My friends.  My hens.  They give me eggs.

Photo #3


Pies!  Double crust lemon and pumpkin.  I made some for the bake sale at the church.

Photo #4


Cows.  In the field.  I was on my way home from volunteering at the school and I remembered that I had to take a photo for the day.  So I stopped and went to take a photo of the cows and then I saw this old pepsi bottle stuck upside down on the post.  I was like....what?  How did that get there?  I just took the photo and posted it.

Photo #5


Making soup this day.  I had roasted a meatbird the night before.  It was creamy noodle chicken carrot potato butternut squash soup....basically empty the fridge of all leftovers soup.

Photo #6


We were digging the last of the potatoes on this day.  Pails and then bags of them.....all put away for the winter.

Photo #7


Grandma's piano.  I bought this piano when we were first married.  It was offered to me from a friend who no longer wanted it....she told me that she had bought it from my Grandma years ago.  I jumped at the chance to have Grandma's piano.  It sat in our house and the kids occasionally banged on it but I was too busy to play....or even have it tuned!  We moved to another house last December and the piano remained in the old house....and I kept hinting about bringing it over....but everyone was just too busy.  Then the boys started asking about having a Christmas party....we had one a couple of years ago....a house full of friends and music.  I told them that there would be no Christmas party without a piano.  I went away one Saturday and came home to magically find the piano sitting in our house....and the next day a date was set for the Christmas party!  I've had a local piano tuner in to get it up to speed.  He told me it's a 1919....and in excellent shape....YAASSSS!  So then I got thinking...was it Grandma's piano or Great Grandma's piano?  I asked my aunt and yes...as a matter of fact it's my Great Grandmother's.  It was in the house when my Grandma moved in....after marrying my Grandfather.  I remember Grandma saying....I can't believe you have that old thing in here....when I first bought it.  And now I realize....she wasn't attached to it!  It was her mother-in-law's piano.  My Grandma probably never played the piano....she played the steel guitar and sang on the radio.  She was even a singer in a band called 'The Happy Homesteaders' in Ottawa before she was married.  I just recently learned this at her wake last month!

Also....the boys were unsure whether I would really allow a Christmas house party.  They said that a friend of theirs had an episode where their mother....Irene....told them that if they got the old oil tank out of the basement that she would make them six pies.  They quickly got that oil tank out....the very same day and the pies never happened.  Terry asked me if I was going to pull an Irene?  I just said....wait and see....but get that piano over here!  And they did.

Brenda

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Chocolate Smash Cake, Ricebags and Baked Meringues.

We celebrated my birthday last week.  I had been wanting to make a chocolate piƱata smash cake for a few months now and I thought....yes!....it's my birthday....I'll make myself one!


It's a dome of chocolate covered in chocolate and filled with candy and chocolate.  There is actually no 'cake' involved...which is sort of a nice change when you live in a house of cake!

When I was making it I wasn't thinking and I put it on a glass platter.  It's supposed to be smashed......with force!  I was so afraid of breaking the glass platter that it completely ruined the effect of it all.


But it was so yummy it didn't matter anyway!

And the next one I make will NOT be on a glass platter!

The girls have been crafting.  They go on Pinterest and make all this stuff....they can even use the hot glue gun without my help!  They made these snowmen out of socks filled with rice on Saturday...but they soon became just beanbag things to throw around the house.

Then on Sunday morning, one of them is sitting on a chair....arms outstretched like a basketball hoop....and the other one is on the other side of the room throwing this ricebag trying to get it through the 'hoop'.  I stopped and watched....really girls?  Who came up with that game?  Did Jack teach you to do that?....I knew it would be Jack....You are going to hit each other in the face!

Lydia responded with....Ya, Jack showed us...and I don't care if I get hit in the face...it's FUN.

Whatever.

I tried my first attempt at making baked meringues on the weekend.  It was easier than I thought....and I made a way more than I needed.


I put them on a drip cake....chocolate ganache inside and out!...with chocolate cake too.



I had some ganache leftover and I put it in a container in the fridge and I actually forgot about it....until I saw Jack take it out and just take a big scoop of it with a spoon....and walk away....at about 9am.

It snowed on the weekend.  Lots.  The girls were quite excited about it Sunday morning.  They were out before Mass playing in the snow....they got soaked.  Then Lydia complained that it felt like she had peed her pants on the way to church because she was all wet.

It's just all the usual random stuff here.  I would try to post more but our internet is extremely slow. Do you miss me?

Brenda


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Trying to Catch up...and missing Grandma

I'm so behind with this blog....I'm not even sure where to start or how to catch up.

We had summer in September and there were lots of really hot days.  We finally spent some time at the river....lots of times it was after school!

There was an extreme abundance of tomatoes in my garden, I roasted the minis in the oven and stewed the big ones.  We just kept eating them as well....I just bought tomatoes for the first time in a long time last week.

We went to the Renfrew Fair and the Carp Fair.  The girls performed for the first time at Oktoberfest in Ladysmith.

I've been baking and the farmhouse has been booked every weekend.

We've been fencing and moving cattle....shipping lambs and year olds....it's that time of year!

But the biggest news is that my Grandma passed.  She was 95.  And she was my favourite.

I have so many wonderful memories of her....really good childhood memories.  She always made me feel special...even if there was a whole house full.....and she never picked favourites.  She made us all feel special.

I loved having sleepovers and getting her all to myself.  She would take me to the barn, or to the river, or to the garden or to the restaurant for lunch....or we would just sit on the verandah and listen to the birds.

She lived such a simple life.  She was a farmer.  She loved her family and her cows.

And we all loved her so very much.

Her obituary is here.

Brenda






Thursday, 14 September 2017

Renfrew Fair Sheep Show

The Renfrew Fair happened on the weekend and we were there!

First up was the sheep show...

Lydia entered the peewee class...


Lovely children showing sheep....


Calm, beautiful sheep...


It can get a little monotonous....

Until this happened...

.
I need to get a closer look at this....


The look on Johanna's face....the look on Jack's face.....this is priceless.


That is the look of determination.  Her lamb decided to do some dancing and she wasn't going to allow any of that.  Johanna is the boss in that ring.  There is no way she would let go and then run around trying to catch that lamb.

I'm not sure what's going on here....


But the lamb finally settled down.


She was placed 2nd in the senior division for showmanship.

There is always a tie up display with the 4-H Sheep Show.  We've had fun other years with 'Sheep Dynasty' and 'Ewe are Beautiful' themes.  This year the kids had suggested "A Rainy Day" theme when they started thinking of ideas back in the spring....and then it turned out that it rained all summer!  



And sure enough the sun went in and it rained...it poured!  And they had to move the show inside....


Oh yes...and I made cupcakes....sheep cupcakes!  One of the members from the other club was celebrating her birthday!


Brenda

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

R2D2, Lilypads, Buskerfest and the Farmhouse story is online!

It was back to school yesterday!  Hard to believe that there were only 3 getting on the bus here....


Johanna moved out on the weekend.  She is starting her 2nd year of nursing.  The move out was way more emotional than I was expecting.  It dawned on me that she grew up....and I still remember the day we brought her home from the hospital like it was yesterday.  Lots of tears!

Grady is working full time at a dairy barn....not far away.  He has early mornings and some late nights.  Last week was gruelling as they just put robotic milkers in the barn and they were moving the cattle over to try them out for the first time.  Anytime I mention this to people they just look at me like...WHAT?  Of course I can see them picturing R2D2 buzzing around the barn with a milking stool and pail....milking all the cows!  Bahahahaha....one person even asked me if that's the way it works.  That would be so much more entertaining than the reality of robotic milkers.

Here is a very good video by Andrew Campbell the Fresh Air Farmer....click here.  It shows and explains all about robotic milkers.  I showed the girls and then they said....but where are the robots??  They were hoping for R2D2....we all were!

I decorated this cake the other night....


It was a joke for a girl that really is not fond of frogs. 


When I finished it....it was getting late....and I was tired....and then I realized that lilypads are actually GREEN and not white.  DUH.

Terry was asleep on the couch and I woke him up to say....Did you lock the hens in over at the farmhouse?  He came alive said....ah frig.  no.


And then I said "Lilypads are green....not white....right?"

He looked at me stunned.  WHY?  Why does it matter if they are green....or white?

She's lost her mind.

I showed him the cake.

Feeling sorry for me he said that they could probably be white.

I googled it.....they are green....always.

cake decorating fail.

The girls are planning a Busker Fest.  On our road.  next summer.  They are going to shut down our dirt road and have a Buskerfest.

They have been planning and making posters. 


They don't even know what day of the week July 20th is next summer....and the official start time keeps changing. But it doesn't matter.

They love hula hoops and they do all these tricks with them.  A couple of weeks ago I took them into town just to buy hula hoops and it was our lucky day....they were all on clearance!  They bought several...all different sizes....spending their own money!  And they were the good ones with the water in them.  

I overheard them one day during their planning....Sophie told Lydia that they couldn't do that because one of them would get hurt.  And then Lydia said....We'll get someone from the audience to do it then!

I'm NOT volunteering.....

Remember we were featured in Edible Ottawa magazine for their July/August issue?  They have just put the article online and I can share it with you now!  It's here.  Happy reading!

Brenda


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Sheep and Rabbits at the Cobden Fair

It hasn't been raining everyday!  It's starting to feel like summer....only the sun sets way too early and it's cold at night and the leaves are starting to change.

But we are finally getting the hay done....1st cut.

And it's fair time.

Haying and fairs usually don't happen at the same time.  Actually they never happen at the same time.

But whatever.

Sophie had her first experience showing sheep on the weekend....and she loved it!

We invited some of her friends and their families to join the 4-H Sheep Club and show our sheep this year.  That's the fun part of 4-H....you don't need to own the animal to show the animal.  We had 6 kids coming on a regular basis to work and train their lambs for the fair....plus the 4 lambs that our kids were showing too.

The night before the show they all came over to scrub their lambs and blow dry them off....a total spa treatment for the next day.






And then it was off to the Cobden Fair the next day....






Johanna had a very busy weekend as she also showed in the 4-H beef and dairy shows.


Grady had a pretty good day....


Lydia was thrilled when we found out that there was a peewee category....



She even got to speak with the judge....


Sophie also joined the 4-H Rabbit Club this year.  It was on the condition that we would not have to have a rabbit.  I don't want a rabbit. 

One of the leaders was happy to let Sophie borrow her rabbit "Cutie Pie" and we had been going to her place to train it to go thru the agility course all summer.  "Cutie Pie" was a pretty lazy bunny at the start...it had only ever been in rabbit showmanship at the fair...but Sophie was persistent with her and Cutie Pie was soon running thru all the tunnels and jumping over the bars. 








She even entered her in the high jump event on the last day of the fair and Cutie Pie cleared 4 bars!  Sophie was thrilled and is already talking about next year...

Brenda

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Raw Milk?.....it's not here.

I've got some news.....

WE DON'T MILK OUR COWS!

Actually that's not news...we have NEVER milked our cows.

There have been a number of guests arrive at the farmhouse this summer and the first thing they want is a glass of cold raw milk....

I don't drink raw milk.  I don't know where you can get raw milk.....as far as I know it's illegal.

Then I have to deal with all these disappointed faces....because there is no raw milk and no cows to milk.

I honestly don't think a dairy farmer could run a farm vacation where complete strangers are milking their cows all the time.  Cow milking is complex.  It's machines.....they don't sit on a wooden 3 legged stool and milk the cows by hand anymore.  That ended years ago.

But I did milk a cow once at Upper Canada Village.  The milking experience from the 1800s is still alive and well there.

Grady works for a dairy farmer.  He milks cows.  I wash his clothes.  I don't want to milk cows.  I don't think you would want to either.

So....after much disappointment about the no raw milk or milking of cows....the guests want to know why we have cows....and really...are we REALLY farmers?  Because....isn't farming about milking cows?

We are BEEF farmers.  Our cows supply you with meat...hamburger, steak, roasts....BEEF.

We have a cow-calf operation.  This means that we have 120 mom cows that give birth every year.  We have calves that 'start' in February....that means they are born in February....thru to April.  And then more 'start' in July thru September.  There were a few new calves born at the farmhouse property this year.

These calves stay with their mom's until they are ready to be weaned and then they are sold....by that time they are a little over a year old.  They are not sweet, small calves at that point.  They have grown to become large animals....nearly as big as their mom's.

And we have sheep.  But unfortunately there is no milk with those either.....I've been asked.  Apparently sheep milk is amazing....and I'm sure it is.  But I don't have any.  Our sheep are bred for their meat too.  Lamb chops...leg of lamb....all that yummy goodness is from our sheep.

We have 25 ewes that dropped 45 lambs this spring....that means that they gave birth to them.  They do have milk....but it's for their babies.

So we don't farm everyday then right?  Because there's really no milk.  Uuuummm....yes.  With that many animals under your care it's hard to just walk away and say 'sorry gals and guys I'm just not going to bother with ya'll today'.....

We do manage to get the odd day away...but it does take some planning.  There have been no vacations where we disappear overnight for days and days.  I remember spending an entire summer day at a cottage once....visiting with relatives....and we came home with the lawn covered in cows.  All just chillin'....relaxing.....laughing at us.....because we had a day away and they had had their own vacation day as well.

Honestly the vacations that I grew up with were so horrendous that I'm not the vacationing type.  You can read about that here.  It's much safer to just stay at home.  The planning and organizing involved to try and take a vacation and leave all these animals here is a little overwhelming for me.

Some guests are shocked to learn that this whole farming gig goes on year round.  There is no possible way that these animals survive here all winter....??

Yes.  Yes they do.  We feed them all the hay that we cut and rake and bale all summer....during the winter.  And we make sure that the water bowls are not frozen....they need a good supply of clean drinking water all winter too.  We keep them in sheltered areas where there is a windbreak or at the edge of the bush or in the barn.  They are all very hearty animals and they manage the winters quite well.

So enough of this farming stuff....I made some cakes on the weekend.....



There were TWO 50th Wedding Anniversary cakes in one weekend....



And a family reunion cake....


And a puppy birthday cake....


I just got this new ruffle tip and it was my first attempt using it....


Brenda