Here's the basic Melon Basket, also known as a ribbed basket. I tried to make it flat on one side to sit against the pole.... it sorta works!
Here's a Round Basket with a 3 by 3 base. In the end I got tired of the simple alternating weave (can't remember the name of that one) so I did a French Rand for the upper part. I love that one... so even and beautiful. Finished with a 5 by 2 rod border. We'll be making a version of this with the homeschoolers this Friday. Maybe a little shorter, as this one took me 3 hours to make and they may take longer, it being their first.
With the help of Dakota and his most excellent patient skills we managed to get the little bull of our eastern neighbour loaded, despite the snowy access, icy gate and straight fence line with no corners. Its all in the grain I guess... I suppose that could be the only reason to have animals addicted to the stuff... they come like babies to candy. He (bull, not Dakota) is settled in nicely and even comes right up to the gate when I let the girls in for milking. The sad thing is that we will now be milking Xixi every evening (as well as morning) throughout the summer. I sure hope we get a better barn set up before she calves... but if all goes well, she should at least have her calf before it gets too cold. I'll miss the summer calf sharing, but maybe that means less milking next winter.... hmmm that might be OK after all! ah ha "on a good note" we will be milking only one cow at night next winter!!!! LOL
We had a wonderful weekend of basketry here, cutting on Saturday and weaving on Sunday. I'm so happy to be learning from Rae Hunter. I would love to go to the weaving retreat she is going to ... must plan ahead for that and go next year for sure. In the meantime I'm joining facebook groups (disregard my last blog... I'm hopeless...) that she has recommended and finishing off great new basket ideas. I think I'm finally ready to teach a few more basketry classes here. I'm starting with our Homeschooling group (with their parents!) Its going to be great! This summer I will definitly be planting bullrushes.
Drying up Vicky this coming weekend and goats should start to show soon.... I'm slowly getting spring fever!
I heard on CBC tonight how we humans are losing our connectedness to others with our increasing dependance on technology and how we have been slowly conditioned to accept this. Well, I can say that I thought I was connecting using Facebook, but now I'm not so sure. What I am thinking now is that I will perhaps change my focus, stop all the time-wasting I do checking Facebook every night, perhaps update this blog more often, with pictures, and keep a list in my email account to send out announcements regarding farmy things in the future. That way no one has to have an account with Google, yahoo or Facebook, etc.
I might miss out on activities, but if I'm meant to go I'm sure I'll hear about it. In the meantime, maybe the dishes will get done, or more cheese will be made, or books read or research and development!
Call me, come for tea, lets cook together....
We had a wiener roast and a ski tonight at Islet Lake in the Blackfoot. Beautiful night with great people. Thanks Anna, Treva, Devon, Christine and of course my little ski buddy, Rigel. There was the almost full moon with her companion, Jupiter, ringed with a double rainbow of colour and wispy clouds passing by.
Well, there seems to be the normal farm flow happening these days. Helpers coming weekly and new ones learning the 'ropes'. This year's hay is a bit disappointing, with more than half of it either moldy or too old to have any nutrition left in it, which means that we are getting quite the spent hay pile for anyone that wants good mulch for next year.
Two things I would really like to see... OK maybe more...
1. pigs eating all the quack grass
2. a freshly weeded and quack grass free asparagus patch
3. a clay oven
4. a thatched shade/wind break around the fire pit
5. Rigel's hut finished
6. More people coming out here to visit and learn and work.
Here are the two fuzzy winter beauties: Zara and Zoe
Above we have Zoe, Vicky's calf, onion seed that may or may not have had enough time to become viable, Momma hen and her 8 surprise chicks from the edge of the pond (thanks to Jesse and Mike for finding her!), Onions under the stairs, one of 19 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) boxes of tomatoes, Terese and Isabel's goat feeder, and some yogurt Cheese. No wonder I haven't updated this blog in three months!
What an amazing year, no frost until early Oct! We had to wait to harvest the potatoes a week after Rigel's Birthday, when that is usually the day we set aside and the vines have been dead for weeks! We wanted the skins to get good and hard to make them last better in the cold storage. We got 4 varieties also! even the All blues made big beautiful potatoes. A first for this farm! For the last five years I have planted them and only had enought o save for seed for next year.
This Thanksgiving we had 7 dishes and all but the Turkey were grown and raised here. I am so thankful for my life, my family and the amazing farmers that come here to grow food.
(oh: and my previous post about Xixi being AIed... well, we did it again the next month and this time to an Ayershire bull... I guess it was too soon after calving for her. We bought some Pregnancy test strips and YES she is, in fact, pregnant this time!!)
A great day today as we welcomed two new wwoofers, Jesse and Mike, and the "old wwoofers" Therese and Isabel did most of the training! I got to sit back and watch and be very proud of these girls whose tentative grasps of a teat have turned into confident squirts! While looking around I also was lucky enough to witness Xixi trying to mount Vicky. If I had had my back turned I would have missed it entirely! Then Xixi tried to chase down Dodie, our wonder volunteer from Edmonton (formerly Ottawa) who was just trying to pass her to get at the new gate she was building! That's when I clued in to what was happening, called my AI friend with Canadienne and Jersey semen in his tank and set up an evening date with the "tickler". Robert was great at explaining exactly what he was doing and why and the parts of each implement. Each of the cows had "proud" sides to their uteruses (how do you pluralize that word??) .... meaning that they would be ovulating imminently and a "bulling string".... the mucus that hangs down. So, if they take, they should both have their calves together again, around May 5th, 2013.
We also managed to finalize where the Pich/Clay/Pizza Oven will live and shoveled some gravel and leveled it with the help of Rigel, Jackson and Samuel Corry. Its been a big decision and now that its started it should move along more quickly. I'm looking forward to having it as part of an outdoor shade area and community summer kitchen. Our current visitors have only the shady side of the house to lounge on and that's where we remove our muddy (putting it mildly) boots. Any who would like to help with this project, just email me or call, K?
I sold two goats: Zippity-Day (now known as Fonzi) and Zither (now known as Fuji). Still have nine to go. We will be keeping only one this year: Zelda. Its kinda sad to see them go but these two left on a young girl's lap, while her mom drove them all home to Entwhistle. My kinda people!
I'm making cheese a lot these days: Cheddar, Mozza and Chevre. We even had thirty local day campers come for a Milk to Mozza workshop. They love pulling the cheese and thir leaders did a great job of keeping them entertained whiel they all took turns at a goat or cow. I love watching how all the different personalities approach touching a teat! Humans are so amazing! Great quotes from that day " what's manure?" and "Is this garlic?" (after I gave her the scape.) This teaching people about where their food comes from thing is kinda really really rewarding!!!!
We will start small this year with a 2 night overnight stay. This will be a family camp with parents and grandparents welcome. There will be a mix of historical homesteading and modern homesteading over the three days and two nights. Food would be included, with all meals prepared by the campers over an open fire or in an oven (if we build it). The final night would culminate with a 100 meter meal harvested and prepared by the campers and a campfire with music and singing.
Campers will stay in tents, that they provide, however if there are any who would like to build a lean-to and sleep in the woods, they are welcome to do that also.
Some of the activities we may try are:
Wool prep. from fleece to spinning to knitting or felting
Harvesting "wild Food"
Preserving the harvest, canning, drying, fermenting
Cheese making and other dairy products
Basketry with cattails
The weather will have a huge impact on the success of this camp. And so, it will remain an option to cancel if the skies are going to open on us. Therefore, I won't ask for any advance payment and only ask that if you are interested I will "register" you and get a list of interested campers, with a maximum of 15, by the 15th of August. A registration form follows.
Cancellation: If you have registered and the weather gods are good and something comes up that you will not be able to attend, I will ask for a $50 fee for having held your spot. When you email me your registration, please indicate which three of the above activities, or perhaps others, you would like to participate in. Animal chores will take about 2 to 3 hours a day.
The cost this year would be $150/camper for the three days. Meals and some shelter are provided, as well as a composting sawdust toilet, and potable water. Family Rates are available for groups of three or more, which will be discounted by 25%. Also, if there are any interested adults who have a skill they would like to share, they will get a 25% discount as well, if they would like to teach a 2-3 hour workshop. These discounts would be cumulative, but I will need help with that math!! hmmm let me try:
eg 1.one student over 10: $150.00
2. family of two adults and two children with one parent leading a workshop: 150.00 x 4 = 600.00 - 25% = 450.00 less 37.50 (25% of 150) = $412.50
3. family of one parent and three kids: 4 x 150 = $600.00 - 25% = $450.00
Age limits are negotiable but I'm thinking those 7 and up will get the most out of it. Nine and under will need a willing, paying, participating mentor to accompany them for the duration. Ten and up may come unaccompanied, assuming there are at least three willing adults to be extra eyes and ears. There will be free time each day.
The dates will be the last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of August: 27, 28, and 29. Camp will start at 9 am Monday morning and end on Wednesday night at 10 pm. If this goes well I will offer more dates and longer dates next year, so keep it in mind, please.
Everyone will go home knowing more about self-sufficiency and pioneer life.
Warmly, Maryann Borch
Registration form: please copy and paste this into an email with the subject:
Homesteading Camp Registration
Name of Camper: ____________________________________________________
Age: __________ Phone Numbers: ______________(home)______________(cell)
Email address: _______________________
Alberta Health Care number (just in case of an Emergency):___________________
Activities of Interest: 1.__________________________
Justine, the Disco wwoofer from France, lol, has now moved on too. I will miss her smiling face and positive attitude and just everything about her! I will definitely be visiting her in France someday on her fishing boat! She completely removed the grass in the home garden beds and then sheet mulched all the pathways. It is a joy to weed in there now, as you can actually see what you are doing and feel like you have made a difference.
We are waiting patiently for Xixi to calve and she is slowly filling up her udder, so it shouldn't be much longer. We have our three biggest Chicken tractors full of chicks out in the pasture and it is amazing to watch them scramble for the new grass and fresh source of bugs every tie they are moved each morning. The only dark spot on that is the Ravens have also found them out there, and where ever there is a solid wall and the chicks can't see beyond it, they investigate any little crack by sticking their heads through ... then the Ravens are right there to decapitate ... not sure how I could have worded that better, but such is life on a farm. We are now blocking every scrap of light between the bottom board and the ground and replacing them each time the pens are moved.
Here's one more picture that shows the "educational" aspect of what we do here:
Well Anni must have been in heat the day before the buck arrived and then had to wait while the others all cycled together right after her.... that meant they all had their kids and then she waited two and a bit weeks to have hers. So in total we have twelve kids from 5 nannies. (7 bucklings and 5 doelings). I bought a dehorning iron yesterday and used it all by myself tonight. Sad, but they are amazingly resilient and now they won't "hook" people, or get caught in the fences. They all have beautiful collars thanks to Violetta.
This is Murree's girl: Zelda
This is one of Murree's boys: Zanzibar
This Murree's other boy: Zoltar
This is one of First time momma, Xindy's, boy: Zippity-Doodah
This is Xindy's other boy: Zippity-Day
This is Ukelele's boy: Zues
This is Ukelele's one girl: Zither
This is Ukelele's other girl: Zuesa
This is First time momma, Xanadu's boy: Zale
This is Anni's girl: Zsa zsa
This is Anni's other girl: Zinnia
This is Anni's Boy: Zaney
We are having some wet days, so great time to update here!
We said good bye to Lucie and Mickael yesterday. Its always sad to see great woofers go! They are on their way to Vancouver Island, so lucky B.C.! They helped us contain the Hugel bed which was over flowing into the pathways with a border of used 2 by 6s, stacked a huge pile of firewood, cleaned out the goat feeding area (3 feet high in places!) and fixed gates, shelves, and feeders. But the most exciting thing is that once more, woofers are bringing beauty and not just function to our world! They helped us cut and trim a truck load of sapling poplars that were choking each other out on my Mom and Dad's pipeline right of way. Now we will have an effective barrier for the chickens but also a beautiful basket fence. I just need to put them onto the metal T posts. I'll try to remember to post pictures here when its done.
There are some lovely spinach seedlings sprouting which I had forgotten I had planted last fall. What a great surprise! So far there is no evidence of garlic, even though I mulched them and covered with screening to keep the chickens out. Well I guess its early yet.
I forgot entirely about starting onions this year from seed. I guess at that point we were busy looking forward to the Belize/Guatemala trip. So I have bought some sets and will be making seed from the stored seed for next year. I read up on what I had purchased and the storage onion I bought was a hybrid, so maybe that means they won't make viable seed? or at least the genes won't be the same combination once our wind and bees are done. So I guess I am experimenting again. I have also misplaced 15 years worth of my tomato saved seed....ugh I cleaned up too well?? Thanks to Janette, I have some growing in the window sills though.
I also met Mr. Evans of "Evans" Cherry fame. He showed me how to graft with a bud graft at the Devonian Gardens last weekend. There was a Scion Exchange, where anyone who had a great apple, plum, pear, apricot etc tree could bring twigs and exchange with others. Those folks were amazing! Extremely knowledgeable...but only about 15 of them! Mr. Evans gave me some of his tomatoes and has called them Evans Early Tomatoes. Two of them are already blooming. I was also given a Gogi Berry bush, whose parent is growing vigorously somewhere two hours north of here, so should tolerate our cold weather. AND some Swiss Stone Pine seeds, which are soaking as we speak and will be planted in the garden until they can make it on their own in the shelter belt.
(Speaking of Shelter belt: Acckk! stupid government cut backs have killed the PFRA shelter belt program which made thousands of trees available to farmers for planting hedgerows and shelter belts and regenerating riparian habitats. It was over 100 year old program)
Goats should be due any day now. Its five months since I let in the buck today exactly. Yaaay 5 mommas this year. And then there's Vicky and Xixi too.... two more mommas. We are still trying to sell Yodel. He needs to be a daddy!
Soap workshop in a few weeks and maybe cheese after that!