Happy New Year!

The Potato Beetle does not approve of 2022, already!

Maybe because, as I write this, we’re at -33C/-27F with a wind chill of -42C/-44F, which is a couple of degrees warmer than when I was outside feeding the critters.

I made sure to top their kibble up yesterday evening, and there was still some left. Not a lot of the outside cats came out for non-frozen kibble. The warm water was of much more interest to them! At least it was sunny, and the yard is sheltered from the wind.

I hope you had a wonderful time bringing in the New Year, while keeping warm and cozy!

We had our prime rib dinner, which turned out very well, even though things didn’t turn out as planned. After going through a number of recipes, I settled on one that said to roast it at 500F for 20 minutes, then shut off the oven and leave it closed for 2 hours. The recipe even made clear that this worked on newer ovens with digital temperature displays that were more accurate than older ones, and since we did have to get a new oven…

Well, after 2 hours, the meat thermometer basically read “raw”. Oh, there was a fantastic crust on the outside – I coated it with a heavy layer of fresh crushed garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and enough truffle infused olive oil to make a paste – but the internal temperature barely moved the needle on my meat thermometer. I fell back on another set of instructions I’d read, which had been to sear at 400F, let sit for 3 hours in a closed oven, then roast at 350F until the internal temperature was right. So I turned the oven back on, and it took about 45 more minutes to reach medium rare, then it had to come out to make room for the stuffed squash. The squash took way longer to roast than expected, and we ended up increasing the temperature and cooking the appetizers at the same time. We ended up eating the squash as an appetizer, too. πŸ˜€ It just worked out better that way.

The stuffed squash was only thing I managed to get a picture of. I can’t remember the name of the squash I bought.

My daughter stuffed the halves with thin slices of Granny Smith apples, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. It was very good, though the squash itself was not as tasty as the Red Kuri squash we grew (which I’ve never seen in a grocery store), so we didn’t bother keeping the seeds.

All in all, it was a very good meal, and we all ate way too much, even though we spread the courses over several hours. My husband didn’t make it to midnight, and our daughters and I almost didn’t, either! πŸ˜€

Aren’t we just the party animals. πŸ˜‰

Today, we’re planning another special – much smaller! – dinner to continue celebrating the new year, which is also the 8th day of Christmas.

Until then, I think what I really want to do is take a nap.

I like my boring life.

The Re-Farmer

Waiting for the first star

It’s Christmas Eve today, which is when we have our non-traditional Wigilia dinner. The meal may not be very traditional (we don’t go meatless, for example, and we certainly don’t have 12 dishes!), but we do traditionally wait until the first star is seen before we begin.

Or best guess, considering it’s overcast today. It’s also only -2C/28F! Several degrees warmer than forecast. It’s supposed to drop right down again by tomorrow, but we’ll see. We were also supposed to get a storm last night, and that never happened, so who knows? πŸ˜€

Nosencrantz, enjoying yesterday’s sunshine.

Yesterday, we got together to take our annual family photo to make a digital Christmas card. After much fussing with the DSLR under horrible lighting conditions, we did get something useable. πŸ˜‰ Only one cat in the photo this time, though. πŸ˜€

One of the things I pushed to get done was a Christmas gift for my mother. She has been asking for a carved mushroom, sketching out mushrooms that she remembered from her childhood in Poland. I haven’t been able to do any carving lately, though.

So I crocheted some for her!

It’s actually pretty close to her doodles, too! It took a while for me to figure out that she was talking about porcini mushrooms (she knew them by another name, of course), so I spent some time looking them up to get an idea of what they looked like at different stages and angle, and even found some crochet patters on etsy for them. I didn’t use a pattern, though, and just winged it. The challenge was finding a way to have the stem going into the cap. When stuffing it, the whole thing wants to be a big ball, but I found a way. Then, when stitching the cap to the stem/underside pieces, I used the extra sewing yard to try and secure it into shape on this inside.

Which is not easy to do, from the outside!

I had to make do with the colours, though. I would have preferred a darker brown for the cap, and more of a cream colour for the stems, but brown is not a common or popular colour in the yarn department at the best of times. Still, it’s fairly close.

I made two circles for the base, with the top one ever so slightly larger than the bottom one. After sewing the mushrooms together, then sewing to the larger disc, I stitched the base pieces together, lining up the edges, which created a sort of dome shape. Using two strands of yarn and the double layer base, it’s now quite stable.

I hope my mother likes it. I expect I’ll get comments about how she wanted it carved from wood, but who knows. She might be on one of her good days. I hope to be able to swing by and drop it off on Christmas Day.

Since I got the ink we needed and our printer works again, I wanted to print out our digital card for my mother, too. I picked up 4×6 photo paper, and will be able to print out a photo for my PAL application once I get that done (I’ve given up on trying to go somewhere that does passport photos). To print on the smaller size paper, we have to use a rear, manual feed tray in the back. We’ve never used it before.

I should have gotten standard sized paper and just cut it.

I ended up spending hours fighting with the printer! First, the paper loaded from the rear got jammed. The display screen said it was jammed in the front. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I had to stop to do something else, so my husband fiddled with it. He ended up tipping the printer on its side, just so he could see, finally found it tucked above a plastic flap and was able to pull it out.

Once back at it, I tried again, but the printer kept taking the regular paper instead of the paper loaded in the manual try. Or getting jammed again. I finally managed to get a test print right, and was able to print out the photo card for my mother – well past 2am! But that’s done, and I now know how the stars, planets and the moon need to be aligned to get the idiot thing to print on 4×6 paper loaded from the back.

Ugh.

In the middle of all this, the girls and I worked out a plan of action for today, which I started as soon as I was done with my morning rounds.

Laser beams!!!

The longest thing is the turkey, which is in the oven now. I’ve also got mulled wine happening in the slow cooker. Once the turkey is done, the girls will pretty much take over the kitchen. The layout makes it difficult for there to be more than one person working in there at the same time, but they’ve worked out how one of them can stay trapped on one side of the stove, doing the perogies, while the other does the stuff that needs more moving around as she works on garlic braised brussel sprouts. I’ll take on bringing stuff from the old kitchen for them. Not only is that where the freezer is, but this time of year, we can use it as a spare fridge. My younger daughter made coffee panna cotta for today’s desert, and that’s where they are chilling right now, along with the rum eggnog they made last night. Which was really, really good!

So while we’ve got a bit of a lull before the chaos starts, and we have our Wigilia dinner. I wanted to pause and take a moment to say thank you to all of you who take the tame to come visit our little corner of the interwebs, and share your lives with us, too. It’s really appreciated!

I wish you all a wonderful and joyous Christmas, filled with food, family and friends. May you all be blessed as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift of all. ❀

From the Re-Farmer family to yours!

Year End Review: top 10 posts!

Today we come to the close of what has got to be the most bizarre year we’ve had in my 5 decades! I think many of us will be very glad to see the hind end of 2020, even though there’s no sign that 2021 is going to be much different. :-/

[edited for formatting problems. WTH, WordPress??]

Thankfully, one of the side benefits of 1) living in the boonies and 2) living on my husband’s disability income, is that not a whole lot of the crazy affected our everyday life. We were already living on a tight budget, and disability payments are not affected. We were already doing things like stocking up in bulk purchases once a month, so that changed only because suddenly, everyone else was stocking up, too! My “job” is taking care of this place, and only one of my daughters had to stop working outside the home because of the crazy. The other was already working from home, so as long as we’ve got internet, she’s good to go. We got to focus on taking care of the property and each other, moving forward as much as possible on our long term goals, and basically be hermits. Which is kinda how we like it! The only real negative thing affecting us is my husband not getting the medical care he needs, but honestly, I don’t know how much of that can be blamed on the virus response. We’ve been here for 3 years now, and he still hasn’t been able to get the same level of care he had access to when we lived in the city. 😦

For me, one of the things I’ve tried to do is keep up with daily posts here on the blog, even if it’s just posting a photo. I’ve learned long ago that if I don’t get at least some writing in every day, it’s not very good for my mental health, but I also hope that the things talked about here will be enjoyed by, and useful to, others.

Though I am making no efforts at all to promote the blog, somehow, people are still finding it and following along. I don’t know how you all are finding us, but I really appreciate you stopping by and giving it a read, liking and commenting. Thank you so much!

In celebration of the end of the year, here are the top 10 most popular blog posts written in 2020. I skipped over any that were written in previous years, just because I want to focus on 2020. All links should open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place here. πŸ™‚

So here they are, starting with number 10.

Comparisons. As this was our first year gardening, it comes as no surprise that we are starting with a gardening post! This one is from early August.


This year, I did something new, with a series of “Recommended” posts. These ended up getting their own permanent page, with a tab at the top menu. Number 9 is one of these posts. Recommended: Justin Rhodes. There is a massive number of videos on their YouTube channel! If you have any interest in self-sufficient living, do check them out!

This year, I finally started to do some more creative things with all the trees we’ve been cutting down, other than sticking them in huge piles for future chipping, or burning them.

The Wonkiest comes in at Number 8, showing off my first ever carving of a fork… and it truly is the wonkiest!! πŸ˜€

This year, we continued our attempts to brew booze, including our first attempt at making hard crab apple cider. Making hard crab apple cider: racking day – what happened? (updated: I found out!) comes in at number 7.

Every now and then, a post becomes popular, and I have no idea why! Like this one, at number 6: Let’s give this a try. It’s just a mix of all sorts of things, but apparently, people found it interesting!

No surprise to see another gardening post on the list! Number 5 is an analysis, First year gardens: what worked, what didn’t


Another Recommended post on the list. Number 4 is Recommended: Kris Harbour Natural Building. This YouTube channel is filled with years of videos, following along as Kris Harbour builds off grid in Wales. Well worth checking out!

Our first post about making hard crab apple cider is on the list, too! Here it is at number 3. Making hard crab apple cider; will it work?

Our crab apples were very popular this year! This time, at number 2, it’s Making Crab apple cider vinegar: airlock or cheese cloth?


And now we reach our number 1, most popular post of 2020.

This one blew away all the other posts, with almost triple (!!) the hits that number 2 got! In fact, it still gets hits almost every day. It’s another from the Recommended series of posts. Recommended: XiaoXi’s Culinary Idyll It’s another YouTube channel, and there are some really awesome videos to check out. Yet, I have no idea what makes this post stand out more than any other, that it should get so many more hits!

If you have discovered this blog through this post, I’d love to hear what brought you here! Please feel free to let me know in the comments. πŸ™‚

Well, there you have it! The top 10 must popular blog posts written in 2020.

I look forward to joining you again in the New Year! May 2021 be a year filled with many blessings, growth, healing and above all, normalcy!

God knows, we could all use some plain, boring old “normal” right now!

πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

Frazzled

Oh, my goodness, what a day!

Also, I owe my daughter a new tent.

!!!

Today was the day we were planning on having an outdoor family gathering to celebrate 3 birthdays and an anniversary. I’d been keeping a close eye on the weather radar, and aside from one bit of rain that sidled past us early in the day, it looked like the main system was going to miss most of the province completely. An Alberta Clipper was making its way across the prairies, and we were getting all sorts of warnings for thunderstorms, frost, rain, and even possible snow. None of that was going to reach us, though.

The only thing for us to watch out for was the wind.

In the morning, things were looking well enough that I started putting the walls on my daughter’s market tent that we had set up near the fire pit, over the picnic table. It was windy enough that we thought the fire might be an issue, but the tent seemed fine.

I had ordered Chinese food, which my brother picked up on his way over. It was around the time we were expecting him to arrive that we decided to start the fire. We wanted to get some good coals built up in case anyone wanted to roast some wienies later, plus the wind made it a bit on the cool side, and a fire would help keep us warm.

I must say, it was a bit surreal to be at the fire pit and have a car suddenly pull up to us! πŸ˜€ I rather like having a yard big enough that not only could my brother drive right up to the fire pit, but when he moved his car later, he had room to turn around.

It was at about that time that the gusts started picking up.

Hard.

At that point, my brother started trying to tie the corners of the tent to nearby trees.

Then one side collapsed completely.

The tent has sides that close up like an accordion. That means there are a couple of hubs, with 4 pieces of metal affixed to them, on each side. One of those hubs gave out.

No, not the plastic piece in the middle. All 4 aluminum supports it held, snapped.

Once we realized there was no way it was going back up, it took 4 of us to take the sides off, shorten the legs and fold the tent into itself – with a picnic table in the way – while increasing gusts of winds tried to tear everything out of our hands.

And my daughters had just got the fire going, too! That promptly turned into a mini fire tornado. So that got put out right away.

Then we went to plan…

C.

Plan B was to use the sun room and old kitchen, but we figured my mom would rather be at the dining table. Once we got all the supplies in (the only thing we hadn’t taken out yet was the food!), we opened up the table to fit everyone and started setting up there.

My sister arrived with my mother just in time for that!

As for the family gathering itself, it was … good, but very draining! My mother was in fine form, which we do expect, but my goodness, it just sucks the energy out from everyone. Once she was sitting at the table, and we were all doing various things to set up food and drink, she kept making demands and asking where this, that or the other thing was, and if she couldn’t see someone (never mind that her back was to the kitchen, which meant if she couldn’t see us, it was because we were there and busy), she kept asking where that person was, because only that person could do whatever it was she wanted. Including people who were already doing the things she wanted them to do!

Still, we did eventually get it all settled. Though we got a “dinner for 6” and there was 7 of us, there was more than enough for everyone – plus my brother got a bit extra, just in case, my sister brought some tomatoes, cucumbers and onions from her garden and made a salad, plus we’d made a fruit salad. My mother had brought a sausage, because she was afraid there wouldn’t be enough to eat. She also brought her own box of tissues; apparently, she thought we wouldn’t have any. My sister told me she once brought soap when visiting her place. Just ordinary hand soap. Because she didn’t think my sister would have soap?? Anyhow. We had so much food, we forgot about the sausage (which she insisted we keep), and settled in for coffee and tea. After getting her tea, my mother started asking for something to go with it. I’d already asked her if she wanted milk or sugar, and she’d said no. So what was she looking for?

Something to eat, with the tea. Like crackers or cookies or something. !!!

So I broke out the cake I’d picked up. I figured we would take some time to digest first, since we were all so full, but nope! My mother had to have something with her tea! πŸ˜€

It wasn’t until they were getting ready to leave that my mother remembered she’d brought a bottle of wine. My brother and sister, who were both going to drive soon, couldn’t have any. She started saying that “just a little” was okay, and when everyone politely declined, she suggested my husband have some (he’d already had to move away from the table, due to pain, but was still nearby). At that point, we were all, NO! He *can’t* have alcohol, because of the medications he’s on. Just a little will be okay? No. None. No alcohol for him. Since she was the only one who would be drinking any, she decided it wasn’t worth cracking open the bottle and took it home. πŸ˜€

Overall, it was a pretty good visit. There was only one incident where my mother lost it and started shouting (over the ceiling fan, of all things), but we were able to calm her down. She had some confusion when my brother said he would like to drive her home, and she couldn’t seem to understand that, as far as driving goes, it made no difference if he or my sister drove her. They both had to go through her town, first. As he took her stuff to his vehicle (she took some of the crab apples we picked. πŸ™‚ ), I followed out and discovered some branches had come down in the yard. My mother followed and asked for my dad’s walker, so my brother was kind enough to pick up the biggest one while I got the walker for her. The winds were still really high, and small branches were falling everywhere. As I came back from the sun room with the walker, I found my mother had taken the broom we keep by the main entry, and was sweeping the concrete in front of the door. She’d already made numerous passive aggressive digs at me for things like not clearing the table fast enough for her, or whatever other perceived failure in my housekeeping she found (like not dusting the ceiling fan before they arrived), but to start sweeping the front, in the middle of a wind storm, while branches were still falling down… that was a bit much, even for her!

Then she decided she wanted to walk around the yard and look at my garden – specifically, the area where the old wood pile used to be, that I now have beets, carrots and parsley growing. She’d missed that area, the last time she was here. When she saw the parsley, she asked for some to take home, which I was happy to do. We have much more than we need. πŸ™‚ She tried walking around more of the yard, but with the winds, she turned around rather quickly!

There was only one last confused round of shouting as everyone was getting ready to leave. It turned out my mother had cards for all of us, but none of us knew this, so when my sister started to leave while my mother was in the bathroom (going through the cupboards and drawers, with the water running to try and hide the noises), she almost started panicking! But it all got done, and they were all able to head out at the same time. After locking the gate, I picked up a few more larger branches that had come down. This evening, I’m going to have to be more thorough in doing my rounds, to see what else has come down.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am SO glad we got those trees cut away from the roof and the power lines!

Ah, as much as the winds have been an issue for us, at least we didn’t lose power. I just got off the phone with my brother, and the power there had been off for about 3 hours. Thankfully, he has an inverter and can hook his truck up to provide power to the house. The power came on while we were talking on the phone, so that’s a relief for them. They’re quite a bit further south than we are, so they tend to get the weather systems that miss us entirely!

Meanwhile, I’ve had some kitten therapy to recharge, and had better go do my rounds while it’s still light out!

The Re-Farmer