Moments and happenings

Barn cat on a stump

Going into this past weekend, I was a bit anxious about what I was going to be posting on the blog this week. I had nothing written, and unusually I didn’t have any ideas either.

The thing about the farm though is that something always happens. We do something or see something and that becomes something to remember and share. Some moments are simple, some are bigger.

But together, they make up life here at the farm and are part of what makes living here so special.

Saturday morning started with Matt and Bax heading out for their walk, and Ralph sitting on her stump waiting for them to come back. She does this often. Last weekend she meowed after them the whole time they were gone.

But when I came out to snap her picture, she hopped off the stump and came to get attention from me instead. This weekend, I was more stealthy and managed to get a few shots of her. Queen of the farm on her throne.

Barn cat on a stump

After the photo session, I took my  book and went out and sat with her.

The quiet of a Saturday morning. The summer sunlight. Our amazing cat. This beautiful land. A simple moment that was a special start to the weekend.

Raspberry report

Raspberries

Raspberries equal summer for me. I grew up picking them in my parents’ garden and making jam with my Mom. In fact, at Matt’s and my wedding all of our guests received a small jar of homemade raspberry jam made with my parents’ berries.

Now we have them in our garden.

It’s been two years since I transplanted canes from my parents’ garden. They have spread and sprouted new plants and this year they are bearing fruit. Lots and lots of fruit.

We have one row that’s about 16 feet long, and now at the peak of raspberry season we’re picking about 3-4 pints a day.

Although I’m mostly picking partial quarts because I ruined a couple of pints when I accidentally fermented some berries by leaving them on the counter too long.

Soggy pints

Quarts of raspberries

Our plants are super dense with lots of canes. In fact, the row could likely benefit from some thinning. I think a few less canes might encourage more fruit or at least let more light or air get to the fruit. This bird’s nest was buried deep in the plants. I had no idea it was there.

Bird's nest in the raspberries

The wire trellis that we built has done a good job of keeping the canes upright and contained, so the row has been easy to manage. We added some woodchips between the raspberries and blackberries, trying to keep weeds down.

We’ve had a good amount of rain during this growing season, but I think the berries could have benefited from a bit more watering. They’re a wee bit small. With a bit more water, they might grow bigger. Something to keep in mind for next year.

Small or not, we already have plenty of berries. In fact, it’s been hard to keep up. I’ve made jam, a galette, muffins, stirred lots into my yogurt and pints are still stacked in the fridge.

Raspberry galette and jam

We could have even more, but I’ve not been super enthused about picking after I get home from work. I’m expecting to find some very ripe berries this weekend. They should be good candidates for more jam.

We may not need wedding favours this year, but I’m sure our family will still enjoy jam in their Christmas packages.

Are you enjoying raspberries at your house? Any raspberry recipes to recommend? Or growing tips to share?

Reclaiming the jungle

Landscaping is a multi-phased project here on the farm. I’m not entirely sure what phase we’re in now, but I looked back through the archives and the first time I posted about this area of the property was four years ago. Holy moly.

The back of the house has been a wee bit overgrown. As in we just let it go. Not the prettiest view out the kitchen window.

Overgrown weeds at the back of the house

There were so many rocks and weeds it was unmowable. But I wasn’t prepared to put in the work to make it a flower garden either.

We left it alone. Surprisingly, it didn’t improve.

Then two years ago we covered most of the mess with a tarp. Which wasn’t really much of an improvement either.

Tarp covering the backyard

We left it alone again. For two more years.

But at the start of this July, I finally lifted the tarp.

Hello rocks. Fancy finding you here. But the weeds had mostly died, so that was a bonus.

Picking up rocks

With some raking, digging, leveling, a wee bit of sawing and mowing for some of the more stubborn brush, and finally seeding and watering, we ended the day with something that we thought could someday be a lawn.

Seeding the backyard

The local wildlife came by to check out the transformation. The snakes particularly seemed to enjoy the cleared dirt.

Milk snake

Our usual inspector came by too. Hello Ralph. And hello sprouts!

Ralph inspecting the newly sown grass

Three week later, hello electric green lawn.

New lawn

We still have some blending to do and a few thin spots to fill in (plus I’d love to break up that concrete beside the steps).

And of course that black tarp is still hanging around. Hopefully the weeds closest to the house die over the next few weeks and I can seed that area this fall. Who knows what phase we’ll be at by that point.

Do you have an overgrown area that you’re reclaiming? Have you ever used the tarp technique to deal with weeds? Are you a seed or sod person? Is anyone else’s property overrun with rocks? Who else has snakes slithering by?

Summer farmhouse mantel

Blue-green glass jugs on the mantel

I typically don’t do a lot of seasonal decorating. But given that the mantel still had snowshoes on it at Easter, I thought it was time for a little refresh in the living room.

These blue-green glass jars are definitely more summery than snowshoes. They go perfectly with the new throw pillows I added to the couch.

Blue-green glass jugs on the mantel

How to mix and match throw pillows

I bought the two bigger bottles last year and even though they looked large in the store, when I put them on the mantel I felt like they were a wee bit small. The fireplace is huge and with the vaulted ceiling in the living room, there’s a lot of space above the mantel to fill.

I made this wood framed mirror to add some height and give the illusion of doubling the bottles. (More on this mirror coming up later this week).

Fieldstone fireplace in the summer

On the rest of the mantel, I used our usual decor that stays no matter the season. The pair of antlers that my FIL found are a beautiful organic accent that complements the wood and the stone. The large lantern and the trio of sphere tealight holders are very welcome hits of black.

Decorating our mantel with a lantern and antler

We are not using the fireplace these days–Easter was the cut off for that as well as the snowshoes. However, the beauty of the fieldstone and barn beam has not diminished. I love how it is the centrepiece of our home.

How do you decorate for summer? What colours do you associate with summer?

Summer to-dos done

Is anyone else mourning the passing of summer like I am? While it seems like summer ends with Labour Day, I’ve been holding on to my favourite season. However, as of yesterday, I can no longer pretend. Fall is officially here.

Three months ago, I posted four projects that I was hoping to accomplish over the summer. You know how I like to hold myself accountable. So let’s see how I did.

Project #1: Build a closet in the basement

Done. This one felt so easy it surprised me. Doing the drywall in the basement the first time around was a massive job. I was not looking forward to doing any drywall at any time ever again. However, this time around I was doing such small areas that it seemed like it took next to no time to put on a coat of paste.

This area has given Matt a tonne of extra storage, and the basement is (almost) tidy and organized. I’m only sharing a progress shot because the closet holds Matt’s stuff and I like to give him his privacy. But trust that it is done.

Drywalling the laundry room

Project #2: Sand scrabble tiles

Done. I can’t wait to share these with all of you. Sanding 16 wood tiles was the definition of not fun DIY. However, the end product is (spoiler alert) awesome.

Weekend craft project underway

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Project #3: Strip paint off the guest room bed

Done. Okay I’m calling this one done, but it’s more like I gave up halfway through. The metal underneath the drippy, chippy spraypaint is not in good shape. So after stripping the headboard and side rails I decided to skip the footboard and just repaint everything. I’ve just been waiting for the weather to cool down enough to be able to paint (not a project for the summer to-do list).

Stripping paint off a vintage metal bedframe

Maybe project #4: Makeover office cabinet

Not done. This was a maybe project from the beginning, so I don’t feel bad about not finishing it. Although I do really, really, really want to put my office together.

Perhaps a project for the fall to-do list…

However, I’m still in denial about it being fall, so I’m not prepared to write a list quite yet.

How are you feeling about the changing seasons? What did you accomplish this summer? Are you thinking about fall to-dos yet?

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September garden update

Look! We grew a puppy again!

Baxter in the garden

We grew a lot of other things too. Yet again, this garden is crazy productive.

Sicilian Saucer tomatoes

Purple peppers

Butternut squash

First year grape vines

Watermelon

Watermelon

Asparagus

Acorn squash

Red potatoes

The puppy didn’t fit in the basket.

Not pictured are the zucchinis that just won’t stop and hundreds of cherry tomatoes (I roasted a bunch last night for all kinds of goodness).

What’s growing in your garden?

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The benefit of neglect

I haven’t shared much about the flower gardens this year. Mostly because I’ve done nothing in the flower gardens.

In life we have to make choices. And my choice this year has been to focus on the vegetable garden. That means I haven’t done anything in the flower gardens… at all.

Most of the gardens have filled in enough that they still look somewhat presentable, but here and there are weeds that are taller than me.

I try not to pay too much attention and remind myself that there are only so many hours in a day and I’ve made my choice about where to spend my energy.

However, this week I received another reminder: sometimes leaving things alone isn’t such a bad plan.

Look at this mini sunflower. There are two of these volunteers courtesy of the birdfeeder.

Mini sunflower

Had I been weeding this year, I would have pulled these out long ago. I never would have seen their sunny blooms.

Sometimes neglect isn’t such a bad thing.

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Dry fields hoping for rain

Oats harvest

Last week our farmer harvested our fields. It’s been an incredibly dry season. As the tractor rolled across the fields dust plumed behind the wheels.

The fields had been planted with oats. Our farmer was not happy with them, but it looked like he got a good quantity of bales.

Baler behind the hay wagon

He was hoping desperately for rain in the next couple of days. Underneath the oats, he had also planted hay. We needed rain or else we were going to lose all of his seeds.

On Wednesday night, just a few hours after the harvest, the skies opened up. We had rain off and on for two days.

Hopefully that means good things for his seeds.

Tractor harvesting blaes of oats

It would be nice to have another harvest yet this year.

What’s the weather been like in your area?

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Last hurrah

We’re officially in the last days of summer.

However, summer isn’t letting go easily here at the farm.

The lilies, which finished blooming at the beginning of August, have pushed a few buds out in the last week.

Yellow lily blooming in September

One random shasta daisy, the one I somehow missed when I trimmed the dead flower stalks, popped out in bloom too.

Shasta daisy blooming in September

Notice the sedum blooming like crazy? Sedum and lilies and daisies don’t usually bloom together.

Sedum blooming in September

When I was taking these photos, a particularly resilient mosquito even appeared. They just won’t go away!

Mosquito biting my hand

Summer is my favourite season, so I’m not ready to let it go any more than my lilies and daisies are. However, I’d be happy to lose the mosquitoes.

What signs of the season are you seeing your house? Do you have any late bloomers in your gardens? Anyone else have mosquitoes still hanging around?