Friday, 18 October 2019


I know I might be a little bit crazy but I can't help myself.  I love growing things.

I also hate paying $5 for a tub of salad.  So, I transplanted some of my beets from outside to inside under the grow lights.  I will wait for them to grow some new roots and then plant them in soil.  My hope is to harvest beet greens from them all winter long.

I also may have planted a whole tray of swiss chard seeds and foraged my breakfast for tomorrow.

Fresh eggs and Coprinus comatus (shaggy ink cap or shaggy mane) mushroom.

Before you say it, I know it costs money for electricity to run the grow lights all winter.  But since they are on anyway for Liam's transplanted cucamelon plant that is flourishing (I think it is planning on taking over the world), I figured that I might as well take advantage.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Timothy Saves Thanksgiving

Earlier this week Alistair and I were at the grocery store when we came across Timothy the Turkey.  Poor Timothy was one legged, neither weighed nor priced, and on the endangered species list.  He was the last of his kind, a rare species called "utility bird".

Since our traditional Thanksgiving meal at Uncle Tommy's was a wash, Alistair and I saw in Timothy a ray of hope - the possibility of a Thursday night Thanksgiving re-do.

In preparation for his big night, we treated Timothy the Twenty Dollar Turkey to a butter massage, followed by a savory salt rub and finally, a relaxing oven sauna at about 325 F for four hours.  He then made his grand debut surrounded by adoring fans: baked squash, homegrown mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple almond salad, gravy and rolls.

We were particularly careful to keep Alistair strapped into his high chair and away from the mashed potatoes this time.  As a result, we managed to make it through the meal unscathed.

As for the turkey, Timothy triumphed!  He was tender, juicy and delicious.  Moreover, he will continue to make curtain calls all week long as stock, pot pie, casserole, and soup are all on the dinner menu.

Three cheers for Timothy - utility turkey extraordinaire who saved Thanksgiving!  Hip hip hooray!

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

I Hope My Dog is Not Allergic to Peanut Butter

There is no escaping it; the rain is coming.  It looks like we are going to be in for some soggy weather for the next few days.  While I certainly do not mind a good downpour, it will likely expedite the rate at which the beautiful autumn leaves are falling. 

As such, I made an extra effort during our morning wait for the school bus, to snap a few fall photos before we have more bare branches than leafy ones.

Alistair: "Would you look at that leaf?  I want it really, really badly."
"Come on, come on, come on!  Almost got it...."
"Ha HA!  Victory is mine!  Finally.  Now to stuff it into my mouth."
I even got Ian (who is always moving unless he is asleep) to stand still for a second to catch a gorgeous shot of him and Ali.

After our impromptu photo shoot, it was time to get down to business.  One of my tasks for today was to get Ava to take her heart worm/tick medicine.  She did not like it and kept spitting it out at which point Mellie would try her hardest to snatch it up.  I tried wrapping it in baked pumpkin skin which Ava loves.  No deal.  She worked her tongue around it and managed to simultaneously swallow the pumpkin and spat out the medicine.  As Mellie got closer and closer to gobbling down Ava's pill each time she rejected it, I eventually had to resort to drastic measures.  I cut the large tablet into pieces and coated them with crunchy, delicious peanut butter.  Success!

Ava has also been on a chewing spree lately.  She is chewing through water pails like they are going out of style.  She has consequently been upgraded (downgraded?) to a very old pot that we used to use to melt beeswax in as her outdoor water dish.

Our big outing today was Alistair's and my trek out Pakenham way in search of a ram to breed our sheep for spring lambs.  We visited a nice hobby farm with three Icelandic rams for sale.  There was one huge fellow and two six month old ram lambs.  We had a lovely visit except for the fact that the farm was also home to four large and very, very stinky goat bucks.  Their stench brought back a flood of traumatic memories of Granby which apparently I have just buried deep in my subconscious and can resurface at the first whiff of the pungent odour of a billy goat in rut.  Here is to hoping Martha and Mellie's milk supply never dries up.  

We made an offer on one of the ram lambs but I am not convinced that the owner is really interested in selling.  We will have to see if anything comes of it.

By the time our farm visit was completed, the rain was in full swing and has not stopped since.  Now that we are all back safe and sound on our farm, it is time to batten down the hatches and weather the downpour that is upon us.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Weston the Animal Whisperer

Everyone was in tip top shape this morning as we resumed our usual daily farm routine.  We want to extend a huge "thank you" to our farm sitter, Weston, for taking such amazing care of our animals over the weekend. 

Weston has been helping us out on the farm in various capacities for many years now.  His calm aura and gentle manner make him a favourite with the barnyard critters.  Charlie adores him and she is most particular about who she classifies as a friend. 

Even better, Weston never bats an eye when I say "Everything is the same as last time, except that we have a new..."  This time it was "...pair of mama goats that need to be milked and a huge livestock guardian dog with a jumping problem and baby goats that sometimes (always) escape under the fence into the neighbouring paddock."  Weston was like, "No problem."  And it never is.

After completing our usual morning chores, Alistair and I finished storing our dried herbs.  So far this season we have dried and stored: apple mint, chocolate mint, sage, thyme, raspberry leaves, strawberry leaves, rose hips, elderberries, oregano and lavender.  Can you tell the difference between store bought and farm grown thyme?

Even though there are many chores that still require our attention, I am aware that this gorgeous fall weather will not last forever.  We got snow on October 18th last year!  So, Ali and I made sure to take some time today to play outside and enjoy the sunshine.  Before we know it we will be bundling up in snowsuits, toques and winter boots for our afternoon play time outside.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Leaving a Trail of Chaos in our Wake

Thanksgiving is a crazy weekend for us.  We visit with my extended family on Saturday, Ian's on Sunday and then drive like crazy to make it home on Monday to put the animals to bed and take the big boys to their first skating lesson of the season.  We know in advance that we are setting ourselves up for three days of chaos but somehow it always ends up being worse than we anticipate.

This year, Alistair decided to make Thanksgiving unforgettable to mark his first one with us.  He succeeded.

It all began with his refusal to sleep on Saturday night.  Of all the nights to do this, it had to be the one before I needed to drive us from the cottage to Burlington.  Ali cried, he vomited and I ended up sitting up with him all night while he slept restlessly in my arms.  The slightest twitch on my part resulted in him beginning the cry and puke sequence all over again.

Do not get me wrong, Alistair is a wonderful baby.  His one major downfall; however, is that he loathes riding in the car.  The general consensus is that he likely gets motion sickness.  Knowing this, he received a healthy (though safe) dose of Gravol before we got on the road Sunday morning.  He mercifully slept until the edge of Toronto when the traffic stopped because of the closure of the Gardiner Expressway.  I cannot begin to describe the horrific noise that emerged from that tiny body of his for the next hour and a half as we sat in bumper to bumper traffic on the crawl across the city to Grandma Cora's house.

I must admit that I was slightly worse for wear upon our arrival at Uncle Tommy's Thanksgiving Fiesta Sunday afternoon.

Shockingly, things went quite well at the party until we sat down for dinner.  Before I even took my first forkful of turkey, Alistair twisted in the baby carrier and grabbed a giant handful of pipping hot mashed potatoes off of my dinner plate.  He screamed in pain as two large burn blisters appeared on his hand and then proceeded to cry hysterically for a long, long time.  It was horrible.

And so, after the many hours it took to get there, it was all over and we hurried out of the party with a screaming baby before dessert was even served.

I am exhausted.  Ian is exhausted.  The big boys and the dogs are exhausted.

Even Alistair is finally exhausted.

All this to say that I am oh so glad to be back home on the farm.  I am by far the happiest when I am in a quiet barnyard surrounded by my animals.

I know I will eventually have to leave my barnyard oasis again but I choose not to think about that until absolutely necessary.  You never know, maybe in the meantime the Earth will get hit by a meteor and the only thing that will remain standing will be Gael Glen Farm.  We are pretty self-sufficient....

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Just a Thanksgiving Mushroom Hunt

Our Day
Narrated by Seamus

"Just eating some lunch."  (Grandma and Aunt Deborah prepared a delicious Thanksgiving feast at the cottage.  Alistair loves pumpkin pie (and his own toes!))

"Just blowing my whistle and playing outside."  (Once the rain stopped it was a gorgeous autumn day).

"Just taking a walk."  We took a magical stroll through the forest.  Such amazing colours.

"Just hunting some mushrooms." (We found some new and very strange ones!  Seamus is an excellent mushroom spotter and photographer.  He took all the photos!)

"Just going to bed."  (We have been up since 5 am.  It has been a very, very long (but also very good) day.)