Sunday, 4 December 2016

Week #49 - Hello & Goodbye..

This weekend we said goodbye to Ariane. After spending three months with us she returned home to Quebec and her family. She was here on an exchange program that focused on giving youth an opportunity to learn English (or French) and experience life in another province! Our daughter will head to Quebec in February to live with Ariane's family for three months. 

This exchange program is one in a series of experiences that we as a family have engaged in over the past 20 years. We have hosted well over thirty people (mostly youth) and our children have had several opportunities to travel and experience other cultures that they otherwise would not likely have experienced. 

As I've written about previously, we have hosted so many folks from around the world in the interest of learning, growing and expanding our world without necessarily leaving the farm. And while I agree wholeheartedly with this and will continue to host... the goodbyes that are inevitable with any exchange program are challenging.....

The packing up, the airport drive, the hugs and tears, do not get easier with repetition. The commitment to return, to visit, to write are always there. Some do, some don't.... but all become part of our families collective heart, our history, our memories. Each one has taught us something.... 

Yuka taught us our first Japanese words....
Carwyn showed us how to judge sheep...
Haruka reminded us not to take ourselves to seriously....
Ricardo taught us to listen to the purr of every car engine differently...
..... and Ariane showed us the joy of a competitive spirit and the importance of seizing every opportunity! When Ariane was around it was impossible to be grumpy... it was also impossible to keep any candy in the house that she didn't eventually find! You will be missed, dear heart!

So while I am certain that we are all richer for the open door and the welcome we hold for those from afar, today my heart is a wee bit tender and needs some rest... 

...until we say Hello again.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Week #48 - Raising supper

There is no end of debate both online and off about the ethics of raising animals for food. Our approach has been to listen to all sides and decide based on what seems right for our family and business with a view to a sustainable approach for our earth.

We are blessed with space and time to raise animals in a manner that provides them with a good life, an ethical death and a modest impact on the world.  I appreciate that not all will agree but it is a choice that we feel good about. As we choose to include meat in our diets, it feels right that we should take responsibility to nurture the animal kindly with affection, sunshine and natural food sources. In return, we are blessed with food that is free of chemicals and has a superior taste and nutrition.

If we were not able to raise our food in such a way and we had to rely on commercially raised animals produced in factory like settings, I may make different choices about how we eat. 

Of course we all have a choice to seek out and purchase food from local producers who take the same type of care and concern with their animals. I encourage everyone to get to know where and how your food is raised whether its animal or vegetable. Get to know your farmer, producer, baker, butcher and small business owner and ask questions and visit farms. What you put in your mouth is important! Be aware, informed and engaged! 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Week #46 - Tis the Season

In our family, Christmas is a big deal.... 

We plan and conspire all year round to create, search for and find just the right thing for each other. 

Most of our gifts must be made, upcycled or re-used but this year we are also 'allowed' to buy from local stores. 

It always amazes me what we come up. For us Christmas is not a religious ceremony but one built on family memories and traditions.

The season begins on November 12th and lasts to Jan. 2nd. (our poor tree usually has only about two needles left by New Years' Day! 

My No. #2 son showed us all up by making and wrapping the first gift before the tree was even up! 

This weekend saw most of us ramping up the list making and planning and holiday tunes were at full blast! 

Next weekend the tree goes up and the eggnog season begins! What are your holiday traditions? 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Week #46 - Recipe for a heavy heart

This week was long, dark and scary! 

The time change and approaching winter solstice set the stage for a week of doing chores in the dark and feeling like you weren't completely sure what time it was. I've never been able to explain why gaining an hour creates such havoc in our sleep patterns! 

Like many folks, I found myself swept up in the American trainwreck on Tuesday. I cycled through a series of emotions from horror, to anger to sadness. I do not yet feel like I've fully processed what has happened and what it means for so many. The symbolism of Trump's victory casts long shadows on the progressive lifestyle that I so often feel so grateful for in North America. While I hope that all our fears are misguided and unfounded, I do not hold out much hope on that front. 

Tuesday's events in the US, seemed to make Friday's somber ceremonies of remembrance for the fallen, whose shoulders we all stand on, seem fragile and bittersweet. Add the loss of a much loved and talented Canadian icon and the week seemed too much to bear.  

All that being said, I find myself on Sunday night feeling more optimistic and content and ready to continue to celebrate and honour the values that are important to me. Looking back, I find a simple recipe has soothed my heavy heart. 

  • Surround yourself with those you love
  • Add in some cuddles and laughter with young souls (babies and puppies work best)
  • Work until you hurt at something worthwhile
  • Blend in plenty of fresh local food
  • Marinate heavily in sunshine and gentle breezes
  • Repeat...

Next week is going to be better! Be good to each other!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Week #45 - Got your Goat!

Many people ask us why we raise goats? 

So this week, I decided to run through the top five reasons we enjoy raising dairy goats:  
  1. Goats can clear brush and grass from an area very efficiently and effectively. We rotate them around our farm using electric mesh fence and they clear weeds and long grass from any area we put them in. Goats are browser as oppose to grazers so they will eat woody growth such as bushes and small trees as well. Because they are effective browsers their input costs (what it costs to feed them) tends to be lower than other animals who eat only grass or require formulated feed. 
  2. Goats produce a creamy milk that tends to be easier to digest particular to those that find they have sensitivities to milk or lactose. Goat's milk is higher in calcium, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C than cow's milk. 
  3. Goat's milk is easy to convert to other yummy things! We use our goat's milk to make yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and caramels along with less yummy but no less useful items such as soap!  
  4. Goats are smaller and need less equipment and fencing than cows (when they stay inside the fence!) Given their smaller size, they tend to be easier to handle and milk as well as moving from one area to another.
  5. Goats are entertaining! I think I could spend (have spent) hours watching a herd of goats interact with each other. They all have such unique personalities and are expressive animals. We enjoy their antics (except their escapes) and they really become part of the family. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Week #44 - Tasty Experimentation

As the harvest eases, I'm in that sweet spot of having lots of extra food and a bit more time to create some new things! So this week, I experimented with a few new treats in the kitchen! 

A over abundance of red peppers (whoever thought I would write that phrase!) means we are searching for more ways to preserve or process them. We decided to try to dehydrate some peppers as a chewy snack as well as to keep for later in the winter. They can be re-hydrated in stews, sauces and soups. 

We also tried roasting spiced chickpeas! These were tasty and an interesting snack. You can make them as spicy or savory as you want depending on the spices you add. They didn't get as crunchy as I was hoping so I popped the leftovers into the dehydrator to see if they will crisp up. 

Next up was a new recipe designed to use up our butternut squash! The night before I roasted the butternut in the oven with a little bit of olive oil and garlic, mashed with cumin and chili powder. Next I marinated some black beans in some lime juice overnight. When I got home from work, I was toasted pita bread in the oven, spread the squash mixture over the warm pita, followed by the beans, avocado and drizzled with yogurt mixed with some lime juice. For bit of heat, you could sprinkle some cayenne over the top. Turned out pretty good! I think a little bit of cilantro on top would really add some flavour! Definitely one I would do again!  

I've included a picture of our new lunch option section in our fridge! I found that while six people should take a healthy lunch, if there wasn't something relatively easy to grab and go, often people were either not taking a lunch or taking less healthy options! So we resorted to a lunch drawer in the fridge in which we try to keep healthy options ready such as cut vegetables, cream cheese swirls, hummus and mixed nuts and dried fruit. Definitely makes lunches easier and more accessible. Means that less people are 'hangry' (angry from hunger) when they come home from school and work! 

 And finally.... tonight's supper was salmon cakes with fresh leeks from the garden! Salmon (canned or fresh), mayo, eggs, panko breadcrumbs and old bay seasoning are mixed well with your choice of veggies such as green pepper, onions or in our case leeks! Then I pan fried the patties in canola oil. We served them with a curry and mayo mixture that added some zip! They disappeared so they couldn't be that bad! 

Tonight I have a Farmer's Sausage and Potato feast in the crockpot that is smelling wonderful! (for tomorrow's supper). The weekly menu includes a few other new recipes such as Smothered Chicken and an Apple Cider glazed Roast Turkey! 

Wishing you a yummy week! What are you making?  

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Week #43 - The wise ones...

We all have them in our lives... old souls that speak wisdom in the chaos of our lives. At times they are babes in arms whose eyes speak volumes, if you only pause to listen. Or indeed many are grandmothers or grandfathers whose hands are wiser than most of us. 

For me, my wise ones are often animals. Similar to young children, their eyes are so expressive and they always seem to know when you need something. While we humans pride ourselves on being sensitive and loving, I find animals something more intuitive and understanding at times. 

Who are your wise ones?