Sunday, December 4, 2016

Something Fishy

Today was the annual 'Fishermen Helping Kids With Cancer' herring sale.  Like last year I volunteered to help.  Last year I spent most of my time opening the plastic bags that the herring were put into.  This time when I got there I found out I was down for pushing wheelbarrows.  Okay, I do lots of that at home, and could probably do it for a little while.....Anyway, another fellow came along and got a group of us organized, and in the end I was the next stop after people had paid and were wanting to collect their bags of fish. I took their tickets (one per bag) and got them connected with someone else that helped them get their herring. There was a whole bunch of people with wheel barrows and big cart things that would push your load of herring to your car.  Some of those cars were parked a long way off.  

I heard there were 65 tons of herring.  That is a LOT of fish.  People were lining up from 4:30 am.  This is just some of the people lined up inside.  There are actually pathways that snake back and forth across the building.  It took at least a couple of hours (or more) to get from the start of the line to the end.

And the line went outside as well.

The bags were supposed to hold 20 lbs, and cost $15.  One fellow bought 35 bags!  Surely he wasn't using all those himself.    
There were more volunteers than were needed.  I was there at 8:30, and about 10:30 someone came along and asked if I needed a break.  I didn't really, but decided to take one and go buy my own herring.  The advantage of being a volunteer is that I could just skip the whole lineup.  So a young woman wheeled the four bags to my car (three for me for dog food, and one for a friend who said she wants to make pickled herring).  I weighed those bags when I got home, because I could tell some had more in that others.  The lightest one was 16.5 lbs and the heaviest was 25 lbs.  Oh well, all the money goes to a good cause!  My friend is not getting the heaviest one, but I didn't give her the lightest one either ;-)

So now I was out of a job, so I wandered around to see if I could help anywhere else, but no one wanted a break.  There were seagulls everywhere.

Look at the roof!

More seagulls!

I wandered over to the bagging shed, but the girl doing my job (haha!) didn't want a break either. 

I spoke to my fisherman neighbour Bob, there on the right, tying up a bag.  He said we should have carpooled (the drive was 50 minutes), but then he admitted that he had just got there, so that wouldn't have worked.

The herring are dumped on a conveyor, and then come down to the end and fill up a box. A door is opened and they fall in the bag underneath.  A pretty good method but it does allow for some variation in how much goes into each bag.  There is no way that they could weigh each bag, it would just take too long.
That background noise is the seagulls.  We used to call them shit hawks when I was a kid living in White Rock.

I am feeling very pleased with myself that all my 60 pounds or so of herring got rebagged at home and into the freezer. ( I am very good at acquiring large quantities of things, and then procrastinating on processing them). These big square bags from Dollarama worked perfectly.  A layer of herring, zip the bag mostly shut, put another bag on top, fill it with a layer of herring, and repeat.  The top bag forced most of the air out of the bag underneath, which was then zipped closed.  They were carried on the cookie sheet to the freezer, and it was easy to slide the whole lot off onto the top of the previous bags.  This way it is easy to break them apart when I want to feed one to each dog.  I just put them in a bit of warm water for a few minutes, and chomp chomp down they go.

So when that lady comes to the market tomorrow, oops, which is now today, and she's upset because I didn't get the Mango Chutney made, I 'll tell her what I did instead. 
Lousy excuse, oh well, I am so ready to be done with the jam making for a while.
I'd better get to bed, the alarm is going off in 5 and a half hours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Weather for Ducks

On Sunday at the farmer's market, one of my customers commented on the lack of blog updates.  I told her she probably gave me the kick in the backside I needed.  So this is for you Bev!

 We have had an incredibly wet October and November.  Depressingly wet.  Only 5 days in those two months without some sort of rain. We've had nearly 12 inches of rain this month, and 9+ inches last month.  And blue sky, well that has been in very short supply too.  Oh we'd see bits of blue now and again, but I don't remember the last time we had a whole day of blue sky and sunshine here in Abbotsford.  So even though these photos are a month old, I'm going to share them with you.
  This was our last trip to Oliver at the beginning of the month.  The first day we were there was a bit rainy.  Actually, it makes me laugh to say that.  Most of the time rain there is fleeting, and light, and generally does not seem anywhere near as bad as it is here.  On average, Oliver gets 1/5 of the rain of Abbotsford.  That day, by the time we got down the dyke for a walk, the rain had stopped.  The next day was lovely.  Blue skies and white puffy clouds all day.

This stretch along the river is one of our favourite summer walks.  On a hot day it is mostly shaded, and there is a great dog swimming spot along there.  You've see the pictures of that!  This day it was very pretty.  Enough yellow leaves left on the tree to glow in the sunshine.

Some really cool beaver art!

The Thorp Rd. bridge and weir.  Or Vertical Descent Systems as there are called there.

Two photographers at work here.

Late afternoon we took the dogs for walk along another stretch of the river, north of town.

The Okanagan river has been channeled, but there is work being done to restore the ecosystems around some of the oxbows of the original path of the river.  This bridge is over a little offshoot that runs through one of the oxbows and returns back to the river channel a bit further downstream.

A bit if a wind making Jake's ears stand up.  He turned 12 this past summer.  He has lots of grey on his face now.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


They have gone home now, but for 4 1/2 weeks we had these five staying at our place.  Two cow and calf pairs, and that sort of lonely black and white heifer in the middle.  She didn't know the other four when she first arrived, and the cows weren't too friendly to her, but things got better as time passed.

Cows laying down and chewing their cud....kind of relaxing looking don't you think?

After they had been in the front hayfield for a bit, and it was mostly eaten down, we let them out and they headed to the back field.

We had a bit of fun.  David's landrover needed some exercise, since he is in England.  The fence in the back field had a spot that needed a bit of fixing.  And because we are the way we are, we didn't fix the fence before the cows went back there. I mean, why be prepared ahead of time, haha!? So we threw a roll of fencing in the tiny box on the back of the landrover, as well as some metal t-posts, a sledge hammer, and a little step ladder to stand on while applying the hammer to the t-posts.  There was no room for the dogs, so they had to ride shotgun with Larry.

Jake said he'd work the stick shift.  


I rode in the back, I had to stand up and peered over the roof of the cab and pretended I was on safari and those were wild wildebeast gambolling along in front of me.  I took some video of the cows cavorting in the new field, and it was quite funny to see those two big cows bouncing around.  It was on my phone, as was the cud chewing video, but for some reason the computer didn't like the longer video of cavorting cows, so you'll just have to imagine those cows kicking up their heels.  On the way back the dogs rode in the box with me.  I don't think either of them were thrilled, and I felt like I needed to hang on to them in case they decided they needed to bail over the side.  They aren't used to doing that sort of thing.

Luna got a bit of enjoyment from the cows, and would always run ahead in the morning when we headed out on our walk, and find them for us.

Jake had no interest in the cows at all.  But don't let them too close.....  A calf  tried to get too up close and personal as Jake walked by.  He stopped, turned, showed his teeth and gave a couple of snaps at the calf's nose.  Mind your manners he said.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Break Between Rain Storms

We seem to have had an awful lot of rain lately.  It makes me think of November, but I guess the temperature is still relatively mild, so I suppose we have that going for us.  Trying to look on the bright side here!  And speaking of bright side, the rain stopped, the sky cleared off overhead, and the sun came out in the late afternoon on Thursday.  There is something about that 'late in the day Fall light'.  
We took the dogs down to the dyke.  The earlier wet weather must have scared everyone off, because we had it to ourselves, except for meeting a couple and their dog just before we got back to the car.

Looking to the east.  The clouds were still hanging over the mountains, but it was so pretty!

And to the north.

We walked south on the dyke, which was a bit of mistake because that way we lost the sun behind the hill. 

The ground fog was starting to form in the hollows over the saturated fields.

We had taken toys because we thought the dogs might want a swim.  The water was running pretty fast though, even in the wide spot.  Jake and Luna 'thought' they wanted to swim, but the water must have been quite cold.  I threw a toy in, a bit too far, and they bounced along the edge, just wading.  Jake barked at it, or us, and the toy got stuck in the reeds where the water rushed into a narrower channel as it left the pool.  No way was I encouraging them to try and rescue it from there.  Fortunately I threw the cheap dollar store toy, and not the more expensive Chuckit one.  We have found lots of dog toys down there, so it was about time we donated one back I guess!

Most of you know that I love thrift stores and garage sales, and any sort of bargain or freebie.  Well a few weeks ago I was on my way to pick up some more frozen raspberries from my raspberry lady. We do have lots of our own raspberries, but not enough for all the raspberry jam I make.  Raspberry is definitely the most popular flavour.  The raspberry lady just happens to live next door to my dahlia lady, so I was able to pay her and return her buckets on the same trip.  
As I left her driveway, just down the road I could see some sort of bush or something laying on the shoulder.  As I pass by I see that it is a blueberry bush.  So I hit the brakes and back up and leap out and shove the bush and it's dry root ball into the back seat. 
 The back seat has the foot wells filled in with little wood bench things that make a big platform bed for the dogs.  It comes in really handy for transporting stuff, set up like that.  I just moved the padded cover out of the way and laid the bush on the waterproof cover underneath.
When I got it home I put it in a tub with some water and fertilizer for a bit, to rehydrate.  It got planted right away and looks happy where it is.

And on my way out I had noticed a free apple sign at a house on Bradner Rd.  I stopped there on the way back and used one the laundry baskets that I had taken for the raspberry bags, and filled it up with apples.  Of course I got a little carried away and could barely lift the basket and it's 70 lbs or so into the car.

They all made a trip to the dehydrator and are now only a tenth or so in size and weight.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blowing and Snacking

There was much fuss made last week over a series of three storms that were supposed to hit our area.  Storm number one wasn't much more than a rain storm.  Storm number two came with rain and high winds, and we did loose power for a couple of hours.  Such a relief when it came back on.  I had even made an effort to bring a few more battery powered lights in from the trailer before it happened, but the power was off and back on in daylight hours.  Storm number three had great potential to be the worst.  It was the remnants of Typhoon Songha.  The weather people could talk about nothing else.  It was supposed to hit Saturday evening.  We were worried because it didn't bode well for Sunday morning's Farmer's Market. In fact some markets had cancelled on Saturday, and others on Sunday.  I kept waiting for the wind to pick up, but it never did, and in the end the storm missed us completely and crossed the coastline farther north.  Even there I don't think it made the impact that had been predicted.

We had very little damage here.  On our morning walk through the bush we only had to pick a few small branches off the trail from storm number two.  No volunteers for winter firewood came down.  One very sad story though.  About half an hour from here, that same storm brought down a tree that killed a 16 year old boy just after he left school for the day.  How incredibly sad is that.

The main row of dahlias took a beating though, and most of the plants got blown over to some degree.

It's not a big deal though, as dahlia season will be over in a week or two, and then it will be time to get all the tubers dug up.

 This is what it looked like in our garage last week. Garlic, apples, pears, green tomatoes.  What you can't see is a large laundry hamper full of apples, another flat of apples, and three more of those beige bins of pears.  We are over flowing with fruit. There are still more russet apples on the tree.

I really am the crazy dehydrating lady.  I rope Larry in to help when I can.  I core and slice the fruit and he lays it on the trays.  I've bought 8 more trays for the dehydrator, it is at it's maximum capacity of 12 trays. I've been looking at bigger, more powerful dehydrators.  So far I have resisted.

Last Sunday I took dried fruit to the market.  I think it was a success.  I sold 13 of these bags.  I guess if those customers come back for more.....

We sold quite a few bags of the fresh fruit too.  I put out samples last week, that certainly helps!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Dahlias

I was late getting my dahlias planted this year.  I got one row done in decent time, but they were some small tubers that I bought this spring. Small tubers make for small plants, and small plants don't have many flowers.  The main crop actually didn't get planted until July :(  Much of the main crop is now flowering, just in time for the season to be over, although I have been picking these lovely big pink, red and orange blooms for a number of weeks now.  Some of the other plants have just started to bloom in the last week or two.  Oh well, at least they were able to grow and the tubers will now survive until next year.
Next year I am going to be much more organized!
 Easy to say now, that remains to be seen of course.


There are lots of little self serve roadside stands selling flower bouquets within a few miles of us.  About the middle of August I approached the owner of one and asked her if I could buy a few buckets of dahlias from her each week to supplement mine.
It has worked out well.  She has earned a bit of extra money from her flowers, and it has given me a bigger selection of dahlias to make into bouquets.
Last Saturday was a particularly vile day.  Heavy downpours.  Since the forecast wasn't really showing much improvement for the day, I thought I might as well just get the heavy duty rain gear on and start picking the dahlias in the morning, thinking that at least I would get them before they were totally overloaded with water.  As it was, some of the pink ones had already got too heavy for their stems and had flopped over.  Most of them had bent the stem at a suitable enough spot for them still to be useful for me. 

So I cut them and instead of holding them upright like usual until I got a good handful, I held them upside down so some of the water would run out.

Before I put them in buckets in the wagon under the umbrella, I gave them a shake or two to help with more water removal.  It was a miserable job and very slow going.

Later in the day I picked stuff for filler.  I have been lucky this year.  The Feverfew or Matricaria seeded itself in one of the chicken fields.  I have been cutting it hard each time, and amazingly it kept sending up enough new branches to keep me well supplied with newly opened flowers each week.  Other things I like to use are the curly ends of the new growth from the grapes, as well as teasel, garlic or leek seed heads, ferns, small cedar branches, and anything else I can find to add some variety and texture to the bouquets.

Usually it was after dark that I would drive to pick up the other dahlias, because I had been picking vegetables while there was still daylight.  On my way back I would make a slight detour through an industrial area were there were some good patches of Common Tansy. Another plant that I like to use for colour and contrast.  It always felt a bit creepy out there in the dark cutting the stems, and I wondered what the truckers thought as they were driving by.  At least the area is well lit.

At home I line the buckets up on the front porch where they are undercover. So this my bouquet making station starting at 5am on Sunday morning.   Often I haven't got to bed until after 1 am, so you can imagine I am not feeling terribly chipper.
The buckets of filler are on the left.

The first few are done.  Some go together well, and some don't.  Sometimes I waste too much time trying to make a flower with a weird stem work in a bouquet.

They all look good in the daylight though.

I didn't take any pictures of the pinky/purpley bouquets, but there are some of those too.  The Fall coloured ones are the most popular though.

The summer market season is over now, and this next Sunday is the start of  9 markets in a different, smaller location.  I'm just going to make some little posies up out of what is left of my dahlias for the next few weeks, and by the end of October, that will be it for dahlias until next year.

If anyone is a Facebook user, I also have a Wyndson Farm page there

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kind of Random

I cannot believe that I had that dehydrator tucked away for umpteen years and didn't try drying any fruit!  I ordered four more trays just before the long weekend, and was thrilled to be able to pick them up at the post office on Tuesday after.  That blessed dehydrator has been running almost every day, and many nights, since then.  I have dried most of the apples we had, and then moved onto pears.  Oh boy, are the pears good!  So now there are 8 trays of fruit drying.  The pears take about 11 hours, so if I am on the ball, one lot gets dried during the day, and then I load another lot in just before I go to bed.  Sometimes I just don't feel like it though, that late at night.  Anyway, I've just about done all the Bartlett pears.  We have another tree, Comice pears, that we will start to pick before Sunday. 

The last picking of the pears early in the month.  At a rough guess, this is about 1/3 of the total amount of pears off that semi dwarf tree.  Not pretty, but delicious!
One tray loaded

A melon baller is the perfect tool for coring the pears.  I cut them in half and scoop out the core.  I do the apples exactly the same.  Then I slice them into roughly 3/16 inch slices.

Dried and sweet! A few bananas too.

Today though I discovered that as good as the Bartletts are, the asian pears are even better.  Meredith brought me a box full from a friend at work.  They are such watery things, but oh boy, when they are dry, they are almost like candy.  They shrink up much more than any of the other fruit I have dried, so you don't end up with much, but they are so good!

Last Friday's harvest.  The Fall raspberries have been great too, and are still producing.  My favourite thing about gardening....nibbling a bit of this and that while I am working out there.  The garden, the mess that it is, brings me such pleasure.  I love producing good food!  

Meanwhile Farmer Larry has been doing some landscaping.

Behind the barn (last week).  There should have been a before picture.  This was a mess of blackberries and trees that had seeded themselves, all grown in and through old machinery and junk.  David started to clear it before he went to England, and Larry is finishing it off. 

 This week he finished cleaning it up and got it harrowed and smoothed out.  I'm eyeing it up as a place to plant the dahlias next year.