Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Pear Explosion

We have a semi-dwarf Bartlett pear tree in the middle of our back lawn.  Last year it had about 5 pears on it, and this year it has about five thousand.  I kid you not.
The pears are falling off by the box full.  We've picked up or picked off the tree about 10 boxes.  Easily 200 lbs I'd say.  That's not counting the many pounds the dogs have eaten, and the many more pounds of pears still on the tree.

We finally had to put a fence around the tree because when you have a dog (Calli)
with no bowel control and limited bladder control, and what goes in must come out....well it wasn't always a pretty picture down in the basement in the morning.

This year I just wanted a small fence around it.  A couple of years ago we had a heavy duty fence that was awkward for us to get into.  The pears didn't get picked up in time, and we had hundreds of rotting ones under the tree.

This year we've been pretty good at collecting them.  I bagged some up and took them to the farmers market, but they weren't really a roaring success.

There are still more pears on the tree, and they are still dropping off.  Did you know that you don't leave pears on the tree to ripen?  If they ripen on the tree they get brown in the middle and  are not very nice.
Of course the fruit didn't get thinned.
  Therefore we have a lot of smaller pears.  And because they haven't been sprayed, the skins aren't the prettiest things.
Who cares.  
Slice one up at the perfect ripeness, and they are cool and sweet and juicy.
The dogs love them.  So do the sheep and the chickens.
No pears are being wasted.  What we don't get peeled and bagged and into the freezer get thrown over the fence into the chicken fields.  They get the peels and cores too.
Larry peels, and I core and slice the pears.
It takes an awful lot of pears to make up eight cups worth.

I add some lemon juice and squish it around in the bag so all the bits get coated, and that way it stays mostly white.
There will be a whole lot of Ginger Pear jam being made in the future.
Today I added another fruit that we have loads of, and made Blackberry Pear jam.  Sweeter and only half the seeds of regular Blackberry jam.

And while we are working away at the kitchen sink, we have sights like this just outside the window to entertain us.

Where there's a Luna there's a way!
And notice she took what looked like the biggest pear out there.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Bread Box

A few months ago I was poking around one of my favourite thrift stores.  I think by now you know that poking around in thrift stores ranks really high on the list of things I like to do.

I found this old bread box and a couple of matching canisters, they were half price

I also found three straw chickens, the rooster and small hen were $1 each, and there was a bigger hen the same that was $2.  I debated long and hard, and then spent $15 and bought the canisters and bread box, as well as the chickens.  They made nice additions to our table at the farmers market.
Some times you just need a bit of something to fill in an empty spot.

The sugar cannister seems especially appropriate, sat there next to the jam.

When I first put the breadbox out, is seemed that every other person asked if it was for sale.  If they didn't ask if it was for sale, they tried to open the door.  At first I had tape on the inside, trying to hold it shut.  Finally I had to break down and hot glue the door shut.
When one young girl last Saturday tried to open it, and I told her it was glued shut, she said 'now you can't put any bread in it'. 

 I use it to store a different kind of bread. 
 I managed to work the back piece out of the bread box, without destroying anything, and placed the cash box inside .  It's out of sight of the customers, and handy for us.  The flour cannister is used to slip the big bills into.
Now you can see why I don't want people able to pull the door open!

And the weirdest thing that happened, related to that bread box....
It was a Sunday, near the end of the market.  There were no customers in our booth.  A woman came walking in, talking on her cell phone.  She didn't speak to us, just continued on with her phone call, and walked up and tried to open the bread box and then turned around and walked out.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's Just Perfect

We are having the perfect Fall weather right now.
Sunday night we got a bit of rain.  Luna's dog dish/unofficial rain gauge showed about half an inch. 
You know that old saying about not killing a spider, because it will make it rain. 
See the dead spider in her dish?  It's that round blob in the bottom left quadrant.
Which do you think came first...the rain, or the dead spider?

We got enough rain to give everything a bit of a water.  Enough to top up the deep watering I did the week before.
Just enough water to keep the arugula growing.  Boy that stuff grows fast, I'll be taking the first cuts off it to the market in a week.
The weeds grow even faster though.

The kind of weather were the ground fog/meadow mist is the thickest before the sun comes up.

And then the sun comes up and it all burns off quickly.  
Huh, I didn't even notice that the clothesline was in the picture, I was in too much of a rush, going from window to window to try and get the rising sun and sun beams and Pride all in the same shot.

And then a couple of hours later we are out picking blackberries, AGAIN.  
I think we just about have enough buckets for the year, but it's hard to pass them up when they are big and plump. 
Needless to say, these ones didn't get picked.  It's hard to see, but there's a big fat spider in the middle of that web, and there was a crane fly, all parceled up and still struggling on the lower left.  
The spiders don't bother me, I just try to avoid destroying their webs when I can.  There are so many of them this time of the year.  It fascinates me that a spider can build a web across the middle of a wide trail.  Okay, I finally Googled it, and the here's a pretty good explanation on how it all comes about.

And while we are blackberry picking, we can find a bit of time to toss a toy.  Although usually Luna and Calli are busy picking their own berries.

And this great weather is going to continue for another week at least.
Gotta love it!
I think Mother Nature's making it up to us for what we didn't get earlier.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wellies, Brollies and Border Collies

I'm glad the weekend is over.  Our dog club put on it's annual agility trial this weekend.  It is one of the major fundraisers for the year, and helps to pay for the rental of our building, equipment purchases and maintenance, etc.  It's a lot of work.
We didn't attend the Saturday farmers market, but Larry did go to today's, with Meredith along to help.
So after getting home from being at the trial eight hours yesterday, I spent 3-4 hours getting things picked and ready for the market this morning.  Then up early this morning to do some last minute things, and off to the trial for me and Jake and Luna, and off to the market for Larry and Calli.

It was nice to get home late afternoon, and step into the shower and rinse the dust from my legs.  The trial was held indoors, on a packed dirt floor.  The floor has been watered, and held up well in the rings, but the walkways got dried out and everything had a light coating of dust.  The hot water from the shower felt great, and it felt wonderful to sit in a comfortable chair and relax.  The two collies were tired out, more mentally than physically, but we figured we could get away with just a leisurely stroll this evening. And shockers!...it was raining.  It's been weeks since we've had a real good soaking rain.  So we put on our rubber boots (wellies) with our umbrellas (brollies) and took the three dogs around the back hay field.  It was nice to walk in the rain.  I'm just hoping that it's another month or three before the rain really kicks in.  After all, summer didn't arrive here until nearly August, so we are not ready to give it up yet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Twist Part

A week after our one night camping trip in Oliver, we were back there again, just for the day.  Four hours driving each way. We shared the driving and it went better than I thought.  We even went for another swim in Tuc-el-Nuit Lake.  We bought more fruit on the way home, and took a side trip in Manning Park.  There is a 15 km road that winds up, way up, to some alpine meadows.  It was evening by this time, and we were loosing the light, and finally decided that it was really too late to go that far.  We settled for going halfway and stopped at the viewpoint.
Here's the view from left to right

Larry was standing too close to the edge for my liking.  It was a long way down.  The wind was gusting.  The only consolation was that it would probably blow him into the sign.

That's the highway and the lodge down there

A week later Larry went back to Oliver on his own, then to Kelowna to visit relatives and stay overnight, and he also brought more fruit back with him.  Nectarines and peaches this time.  Ripe nectarines smell divine. 

All these trips to Oliver were not just about buying fruit. 
They were about buying this.
Meet Wyndson Cottage.

Okay, this really isn't what it looks like, but it could be, with a paint and reroofing job, and that addition out the front.
Yes, we've bought a tiny old 600+ sq. ft. house, on an approximately 60 x 100' lot in the old part of town.

When we first visited Oliver, we really liked what we found there.  We had fun just hopping on our bikes at the campsite and riding over to the store.  We liked the weather.  It gets pretty hot there in the summer, but gets about a fifth of the rain that we get.  These last couple of years I've lost my tolerance for all the rain and the cold, late non-Springs that we have been having.  The physical work required here to keep things looking half decent, combined with physical ailments is becoming a bit much. All that rain means things, particularly weeds and grass, grow at an alarming rate.  Since we don't have many animals now, it's hard to keep up with the beating back of the jungle.  We enjoy our ten acres, but are sort of ready to give something else a try.  So the plan is to use this house to test out how much we really do like Oliver.  To go there and stay for a week or two at a time and see if Oliver is a place that we'd be happy to retire to.  
A friend told me she thought we were smart to do it that way.  She knows of some that have sold up and moved to their retirement town, and then regretted the decision.
It would take us ages to sort out everything here and actually sell the place.  My mum is in a care home 40 minutes away.  We haven't finished sorting everything out to sell her place. 
We aren't ready to cut the mooring lines and sail away for good, but can hopefully enjoy time in both places before making a final decision.  

And if we find that in the end we really don't like Oliver, no harm done, we still have the farm.

It's not all bought and paid for yet, but by the middle of October it will be ours and the bank's.
It's all VERY exciting!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Oliver, Part Two

At the beginning of August, we headed back to Oliver.  This time we were only staying one night, so we just took the truck and a tent, and our trusty bikes of course.  No dogs.  We had things to do that didn't involve dogs, and it was hot and there was no where to leave them safely.
We had an appointment in the afternoon the day we arrived.  After that we went to the campsite and set up our tent.  We took a chance and didn't bother putting up the fly, so we could maximize on the hot air rising out of the tent through the mesh in the roof.

We rode our bikes through the residential area that evening, and got back to the campsite about dusk.  I was happy that there were no mosquitoes. Ha! Probably five minutes after I commented on that, they all came out for their evening feed, so on with the long pants and tops.  The cigarette smoke from the annoying smoker in the campsite next to us kept drifting our way, but didn't scare the mozzies off.  In a bit though the wind picked up and they were gone.  The wind stayed pretty strong overnight, and we got a few big gusts, and one time one corner of the tent threatened to collapse. (I've bought a lot of things off Craigslist, but that tent was not one of my better buys).

The next morning we got on our bikes early and took a leisurely ten minute ride to Tuc-el-Nuit lake.  It was just before 9am, and there was no one on the beach.  I was determined to go in.  Larry and I couldn't remember the last time we had gone swimming in a lake.  Sad, I know.  Before we left home, Meredith said we'd better take photographic evidence, otherwise she wouldn't believe it.  The lake water was a perfect temperature, which means kind of almost lukewarm.  Just how I like it.

That's our bikes sitting on the edge of the sand.  

I set the camera on the bike seat to take the next shot.  
It took a lot of sweet talking, but I managed to convince Larry to come in too.

As we were leaving, another couple did show up for a quick dip.
After riding back to the campsite, we packed up and did visit a winery, and then stopped at an orchard and picked 70 lbs of cherries.  They were only 50 cents a pound and it only took the two of us about an hour.  Larry kept saying 'I think we've got enough', and I kept saying, 'oh, we'll just pick another bucket'.
Later,  after we got home, and had to pit them all and get them in the freezer, I was wishing I'd listened to Larry.
Of course I ate too many of them too.

We stopped in Cawston on the way home and lucked out on some 'seconds' of apricots and peaches. They were certified organic and were only 50 cents a pound.

Stay tuned for part three.