Saturday 29 June 2019


Bought some new small jars, bought some Certo, bought a boatload of sugar...

Lots of strawberries to wash and hull.

This is what my world looked like.

Cooking up the jam (and the sugar, lemon juice, certo)

Jars of strawberry jam - so pretty on the windowsill.

Strawberry / Rhubarb jam. This might be the first time I've made this. I had to do something with all that rhubarb - but it barely made a dent in it.

I'll make one more batch of just plain strawberry jam then freeze the rest of the berries that don't get used up in some other way. I love this time of year.

Friday 28 June 2019

The Last Day

I am officially done another year of school (cue Alice Cooper). What will I do now? Garden and other yard work, read, visit family, try out some new recipes, organize some stuff, clean out some stuff, read some more...

It's been a good year for strawberries with lots of rain at the right time.

Tomorrow I want to start making jam. I do love homemade strawberry jam!

Here are some pictures of the new hens. The black and white ones are Barred Rocks and the white ones are Columbian Rocks. I have three of each.

This is a long weekend in Canada (Canada Day is July 1st). We currently don't have any plans, but that may change.

Monday 24 June 2019

And I Just Washed Those Pants!

So, there I was, still in my "work clothes", squatting down in my chicken coop. The next few moments didn't go well.

Let me back up. I have six new birds (yes, I know, I'm officially done acquiring chickens now). They are very pretty, but as I did with the other new birds, they are in cages getting used to seeing the other hens and vise versa. My large cage is not large enough for all six birds, so four of them are in there and two are in a large cat cage. Everyone has food and water, but my chicken anxiety was getting to me, as I worried that the cat cage wasn't quite big enough for the two hens. (Even though I realize that most chickens spend their lives in very tiny cages with barely enough room to turn around).

So daughter came with me. She was going to open up the big cage while I grabbed one of the hens out of the cat cage and put it in the bigger cage. I reached in and immediately got pecked. That was my fault, I wasn't ready to grab her quickly. So I repositioned myself, hunkered down, reached in, and wham! She really pecked me, surprised me, and I tipped back, fell back on my arse end, smacked against the feeder, and "exclaimed" a rich combination of words. I wasn't hurt, but honestly, I just washed those pants. Light tan colour, I was hoping to get a couple more wears out of them. But no, now I had spots of blood on them from where I was pecked on my hand and a little something else from where I made contact with a mixture of wood shavings and chicken manure!!

In the end, I concluded that the two hens in the large cat cage are doing just fine and I'll be letting them out tomorrow. I'm also not particularly worried about how they'll be able to take care of themselves with the other chickens.

My pants are currently in the washing machine.

Sunday 23 June 2019


When walking around this morning with husband, I spied this teeny tiny egg on the front walkway. It is intact but I have no idea from what kind of bird it came. It is definitely not a robin egg because is it much smaller than a robin egg and is not a solid blue colour. There are little darker speckles, but just at one end. The picture below shows the egg beside a regular teaspoon to give you an idea of its size.

The colour of the egg isn't quite so bright whitish blue as the picture makes it out to be.

Here it is, enlarged. You can see the speckles. Any southern Ontario bird oficionado out there who knows what kind of bird laid this?

I am taking a water and rest break from clearing out a completely overgrown, grass infested part of a perennial bed. It is up against the garage wall and currently contains "ground phlox", daylilies, hollyhocks, obedient plant (disobedient plant!!) and that very tall yellow flower that I never really know the name of. I want to dig every single living thing out of there. It also houses a huge ant hill. Then I will plant some nice flowering shrubs (maybe weigela or hydrangea, a bit of hosta??) and lay down landscape fabric and mulch, and then create a nice path in front of that to cut through the garden to our gravel driveway in front of the garage doors. I just happened to pick the hottest day we've had so far to do it. NOT complaining!! Bring on summer!

Tuesday 18 June 2019

"Life Changing" Gardening Tips

I'm being sarcastic with the title of the post of course. The news feed that comes up on my computer often has headings that profess life changing food choices or makeup tips or kitchen cleaning strategies. Not sure they are life changing. Sometimes they are remotely interesting. Most of the time I don't bother clicking on them.

So, if you clicked on this, these are just some handy dandy tips, showing you a couple of things I've been doing over the years when planting large pots / planters / urns. You likely are already doing them, but just in case you aren't, here you go:

The first tip will help keep the soil in your pot, and keep your porch or deck or patio from being a bit messy. Your pot likely has a drainage hole in the bottom. It's necessary so your plants don't get waterlogged. But sometimes the water carries a lot of soil out the bottom, too. I keep a package of coffee filters with my gardening supplies.

Before putting the potting soil in the container, just place a coffee filter in the bottom. It still allows water drainage, but keeps your soil in your pot, not on your patio.

Handy Dandy tip number two:
If you are planting a large planter, you really don't need to fill the whole thing with potting soil. Most annuals have roots that don't need much more than several inches of room below them for their roots. Why use a huge bag of premium potting soil when the depth isn't necessary? Instead, fill some of that space at the bottom of the pot with something else.

I save large plastic containers for a variety of reasons. Husband uses them in the shop for storage, or for paint. I use the lids in my classroom for little paint trays. In this case, just use empty plastic containers with the proper fitting lids.

I was able to fit three containers in the bottom of each planter. I likely could have fit in more! They fill up a decent amount of space, don't add any weight, and can be reused again after you empty the planter out at the end of the season. Just put your potting soil in over top (and in the spaces in between), plant your flowers, and watch them grow. This year I've used mostly sweet potato vine (I like the light green kind), geraniums and coleus.

One last hint - I stole this one from a local greenhouse owner and heck of a funny guy. He fertilizes his pots and hanging plants at home once a week on Fridays. He calls it fertilizer Friday. I use the blue powdered fertilizer that you just mix with water. It makes a big difference with how big and lush your flowers are. Fertilizer Friday - an easy way to remember to take care of your planters.

Today was lovely and warm and felt like summer. Oh happy day!

Saturday 15 June 2019

Quick Soggy Saturday Post

It's early. It's raining. There are nine teaching days left, but again, who's counting? I took these pictures when I went out to let out the chickens.

Can you make out the fuzzy (ha ha) image? It's a wee rabbit! We have many. That is why husband built me boxes with chicken wire to go over my seedlings in my garden. I likely don't have to worry about that this year, as my seeds are either rotting in the ground before germinating, or freezing to death at night. Sorry, just let the weather get to me.

Father's Day on Sunday which calls for steak and fried mushrooms and blue cheese and Greek salad and good bread.
It is now time for coffee. Happy Saturday, all.

Thursday 13 June 2019

Rain Rain Go Away...

Come again another day, Went to bed and he bumped his head, And couldn't get up in the morning...
What a head injury has to do with the weather is beyond me, but I am well and truly tired of our rainy days.

Last night we stacked quite a lot of the wood pile, with still more to do. When you can only do things after work, and after supper, it doesn't give you a lot of time (and before you are eaten alive by the bugs).

On Sunday, daughter and I got the vegetable garden in. I thought I was late (again), but honestly the ground has been cool and the nights have been cooler, so I think not putting it in until now hasn't been the worst thing.  It has received two steady rains since being put in, so no worries about watering it. I am sitting here at 7:06 a.m. drinking my morning coffee, reading blogs which is my routine before work and I have the door open, with the cats on the other side of the screen door, laying on chairs on the porch, the rain falling steadily. Today was supposed to be the next level of track and field meet (after the regionals). It has now been cancelled due to the rain. Our own school level meet was delayed a day due to the rain.

I just heard a mourning dove call. My silly chickens are out in the rain.

My hair will be huge today.

It would be a perfect day to curl up under a light blanket, sheltered on the porch, and finish reading my book. I don't think I can use that as an excuse for not going in to work.
Scintillating post today.

Saturday 8 June 2019

How Much Wood...

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I don't have an answer for that burning age old question, but I have chucked a lot of wood today.

A while ago, we needed to have some tree issues dealt with, as did our neighbour. Our big spruce had a couple of really big branches snap over, but not come down completely. The ash tree which belongs to our neighbour, but is right next to the property line, was slowly dying and dropping branches onto our yard. As well, neighbour had another dying tree (I think a Manitoba maple, but not sure). The neighbour owns the property, but does not live there. He comes around every once in a while to check on it and maintain the grounds. The house is currently empty. I believe he will move in when he retires. Husband and he formed an agreement where husband found someone to come and do all the taking down of trees and branches. He would supervise and tell the arborist what needed doing. They split the cost. Neighbour agreed that we could have the wood.

We have a dear friend who has lots of wonderful equipment, much of it part of his business. He has a wood splitter, so we were able to borrow it. Some wood had already been done by husband, but today, husband, daughter, and I really made headway. He ran the splitter, we loaded up the "gorilla cart", and chucked the pieces of wood into a pile in the car park.

The one dead tree had the most bizarre wood I have ever seen. We joked that it looked like pulled pork!

Yes, you are seeing red. There were lots of big ants as well. Hopefully they will scatter with all of the 'chucking' and later stacking.

This is the pile so far. It looks smaller than it actually is. There is more of the huge ash tree to be added. Then the stacking begins! Oh goody!

We were very happy to be able to get all of this "free" wood. Just our time, gasoline for the splitter, and sweat equity, and we have enough wood for two or three years. (We don't primarily heat our home with wood, but we do have a woodstove in the den which we use intermittently through the winter).

So, this woodchuck will be tired and stiff after all the bending and  lifting and chucking. I'm making supper in a moment, grilled vegetables, smokey sausages, and sweet potato. Have a great weekend!

Saturday 1 June 2019

June 1, Wishing for Summer

Hello anyone who might still be reading this. I've been on a self-imposed isolation for the last week or more. As always, this time of year is a busy one for those in my profession. I have been doing last minute marking and writing of second term report cards. Twenty four students x sixteen different subject areas = three hundred and eighty-four comments. Our elementary report cards require written comments, not the old fashioned "Good work!" type, but tied directly into the curriculum expectations. I've been staring at a computer screen a lot. However, I've been at this now for twenty-nine years, so it's nothing new and I have many banked comments that I can alter and manipulate to suit to what I've done, and how each student is doing, so I'm ahead of my new colleagues, for whom this is an arduous task. Our school year wraps up right at the end of June. Sigh. One and a half years to go.

Life continues on around me. Here are some images from the past several days, including this Saturday morning where the sun (what is that??) is shining and the birds are singing and life is pretty good.

I spotted this little fellow when I was weeding the front walk way. It's a leopard frog.

I might have squealed with joy when I saw this about a week ago. One of my new pullets laid her first egg. Look at how cute and tiny it is compared to the others! I can't bear to eat it, it's so adorable. The other three should be laying soon as well.

This is the one time of year that I love this old apple tree. It is practically vibrating with bees right now. I've also been catching a rare glimpse of an oriole every once in a while, feeding from the blossoms. My new header photo is this tree.

Simple perfection.

It has been a full two weeks since I brought the four new pullets home and it is only now that they are somewhat accepted in 'general population'. The three older ones will occasionally give chase and grab a feather if they are fast enough, but the fact that the new ones will come out of the coop (or are allowed to come out of the coop) is a very good sign. I've set up wooden barriers for them that they can go behind without being trapped or cornered and it helps them to be a bit "out of sight, out of mind".

They have a little chicken playground, with many things to perch on and scratch around. Note the burn barrel in the background that is slowly disintegrating and collapsing. Time for a new one.

The rhubarb has loved all the rain. It is giant this year. I haven't done anything with it apart from cutting some to take in to work to share with those who don't have a giant rhubarb plant of their own. Maybe this weekend. Pie? crisp? Pudding cake?

It's a bit too early for most of my flowers, but the phlox is doing well. This is one nice little patch that doesn't have a ton of grass growing up through it!

I have one patch of these tulips. They always look so delicate and pretty.

Today will be a weeding day. At least with all of the rain we've been having, the weeding is quite pleasurable. All it takes is a trowel to lift some soil from underneath, and you can follow the giant white roots of the twitch grass along for quite some distance! Very satisfying!
Son was at a two day C.W.O.S.S.A. soccer tournament out of town (well, everything is out of town!) which stands for Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association. His team did so well they headed to the O.F.S.A.A. tournament (Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association) later this week, where they'll stay in a hotel in another city and play over a series of three or more days, depending on how well they do. Of course, I can't be there to watch, but he'll text and let me know how they are doing. I'm so pleased for him, and others on his team, who had their own little highschool close on them (thank you, board of education and the province), and are now in their final year of highschool. It's such a wonderfully positive note on which to end their highschool careers!