Spring Tidbits

So, many of you probably know I work on a blueberry farm. I do all sorts of different things and it changes according to time of the season. Right now we’re doing a lot of pruning before the leaves come out. I’ve done a few other things as well, but the main point is I work outside, and when you work outside, in nature, you sometimes come across some interesting things.

Like this cherry tree.

It forks part way up, the two parts come back together further up (and yes they have regrown together at that second joint) and then continue on their merry way up towards the sky. It would be a really difficult picture to take if the leaves were out, but right now, we’re still leafless. Though that will probably change before the end of this week.

Next we have a beech tree.

You’re probably asking, “which one is the beech tree?” It’s the one that still has its leaves on. Beech trees, for some reason, have their leaves turn colours like every other deciduous tree in the autumn, but they often don’t all let go of the tree. You can often walk through the forest and see beech trees during the winter with their dead leaves still stuck to the branches.

Unfortunately, many of the beech trees in the area are dying due to disease, so if you have one, enjoy it while its still around.

Moving on, how about something bright red?

Found several instances of these guys. After doing some searching they look most like Scarlet Elfcup mushrooms. Feel free to do an image search on that or Sarcoscypha austriaca.

This next one is really cute.

That’s a baby balsam fir tree. Its less than a hand span tall, still very soft. Balsam fir trees are very common around here and they have a very nice aroma, often used in fancy natural personal products.

Up next, some flowers.

These tiny little guys are narcissus flowers. They’re the first ones to come up in our flower garden.

But right next to them, we have the first daffodils as well.

Ahhh, spring life. It’s great right now because there are no biting insects yet so you can enjoy these thing without wearing armour. You can even venture into the forest for lunch and sit beside a lazy stream.

That is a great place to have lunch, if there aren’t any bugs. You’ll have to take my word for it from the pictures 😉

There are a lot of health benefits to going outside, everyday. You may have heard about being able to produce your own vitamin D when you go out in the sun. Well, that’s not all you get, even on cloudy days. Go outside, enjoy some fresh air and stay healthy!

Fried Hand Pies

Yes, I know, two posts in the same day. It must be a miracle or something. I just felt that this subject didn’t really fit in with the last post, so I decided to give it its own.

Now, this is not a recipe or cooking blog, in general, but I do on occasion prepare some interesting edible items. In this case, it was fried hand pies.

I made these for the first time a few years ago and I have been making them in the fall every year since. I only make them once a year because its a lengthy process, messy and fall is when pies are most welcome. Not to mention that fried hand pies are pretty hefty and they aren’t something you’ll be wanting all the time.

Let’s start with some apple pie filling.

The recipe I use for apple pie uses maple syrup instead of sugar or corn syrup or whatever else. I found this one a while back and after making it, we really enjoyed the results.

I also made some blueberry pie filling, so we would have two different kinds of pie, but I don’t have a picture of that.

I did have some tallow we had rendered and I used it, along with butter, for the fat in the pastry. I think it was 1/2c tallow, 1/2c butter. After making all of the pastry rounds, scooping in the filling, turning them over and sealing them, you end up with something that looks like this.

Then you take some more of that tallow, heat it up in a pot and drop in a pie for a few minutes. The fat should be at around 180C (360F) for good frying.

Tallow is an excellent fat to do frying in. It also makes the best french fries, but I do understand that not everyone is into animal fats. It’s also not something they generally carry at your average grocery store. If you have a butcher, you can request some, but you will need to render it similarly to rendering lard.

Once you’re finished with the frying, you have something that comes out looking like this.

Super golden deliciousness. Please wait until they have cooled a bit, otherwise you will burn your mouth on the filling. They also don’t keep very long, but you can reheat them in the oven to get that warm pie experience. Leave lots of room in your belly after dinner for one of these because they are quite filling.

Spring 2022

Yeah, it’s been quite a while. Not a whole lot going on, but I do feel I should post every so often just so people know we’re still alive.

It was a fairly unremarkable winter. Sure, we could talk about the weather and some small things, but for the most part, Kat and I just hibernated. We do have a few scenery pictures to share taken during particularly interesting moments.

These first two were taken on November 15th, 2021, so it technically wasn’t winter yet. Just one of those wet November snows that freezes and sticks to everything, making it all look rather frosty.

This one was actually taken at the blueberry farm where I work. Nice open field of frosty/snowy beauty.

Now we’ve move onto January and some fluffy snow.

Those pictures were taken on Jan 7th, and you may notice that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of snow. You would be correct. It wasn’t until mid January until we received a significant dump of snow and the temperatures finally dropped in to the serious cold part of the thermometer. For those who may not know where that is, it’s below -30C (-22F). I think the lowest temperature we had this winter was around -37.5C (-35.5F), but there were several weeks of well below -20C weather. Good time to stay inside.

Let’s move on to February.

Having previously installed the ladder up the back of the trailer roof, I now had easy access to get up and clean off the solar panels. That worked out quite well and it made the process much easier overall. It also meant I now had regular access to a high point I could use to take pictures.

In the next picture, you can see our really snowy bird feeder. If you click on the picture for the bigger size, you can also see to its left a tadpole looking dark blob pointing at the said feeder. That’s actually a chickadee flying in for some seed, but I managed to take the picture when his wings are in.

More winter forest.

Alas, winter is over now and the vast majority of the snow has all melted. Here is a picture of our pond. It was below freezing last night so there was a bit of ice on it this morning.

Our car tent (which we never use to park a vehicle in, by the way) suffered greatly this winter.

We had to put up several “patches” to get it through the snow. This is the second one we have had (you can see the skeleton of the first over the garden) and they never last very long. You can go to the company’s website and by new canvas for them, but for the basic replacement it costs just as much as buying the whole thing new (provided you wait for the sale at Canadian Tire 😉 ). We have some plans to fix it, but that will probably be a post further in the future.

Here is a picture of the bird feeder I took today.

That’s a chickadee sitting having a snack and a white-breasted nuthatch on the approach. Felt pretty lucky to get that picture as it was completely unplanned.

Finally, we have the Gurgi snorkel.

This is how our cat spends most of his time: sleeping in a box. He sticks his tail out to breath.

On that note, I will leave you to whatever interesting things you were doing before reading this. Enjoy!

Winter Blues

I wish this first post of 2022 would be about happier things, but alas that is not the case. In December of 2020 we lost Dare Devil, one of the two horse Kat brought with her when she moved up here to Canada. Today, we said goodbye to his brother, Laddie.

The above picture was taken some years back after we first moved into the trailer.

We have had very up-and-down temperatures this winter, but over the last few weeks the lows have been really low. We hit -37C (-35F) one night and we have had several that have dipped well passed the -30C mark. Similar to his brother, Laddie had issues in the recent past of keeping weight on, and that extra fat is really necessary during winter. He was wearing a pretty robust winter horse blanket (the only horse on the farm to need one), but in the end, if it wasn’t the cold that was his end, it certainly was a big factor.

Not being very experienced with horses before Kat arrived in my life, I was always impressed by how well behaved her two boys were. Even if you are normally nervous around big animals, once you get to know them, they would put you at ease. He will be missed.

I remember when we had just moved to Renfrew and moved the horses to a local place near us, they had this huge (something like 4 hectares, or 10 acres) pasture of just open grass and Dare and Laddie would be running around like crazy while the other horses were eating. I’m not sure if they ever had experienced a pasture that big and open, allowing them to run full out without turning all the time, like they would be inside an area. It was great to see them having so much fun.

Now Laddie has returned to the pasture where his brother resides.

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