We’ve only just begun

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“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”  [Thoreau]

It’s that time of year when we look back on what 2014 was and what we hope 2015 will hold.

For Vanessa and I, we’re grateful for what last year held for us.  The house renovations have been coming along nicely but slowed since we’ve been working full-time now.  We’re still eating our own vegetables we grew last summer: potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, corn, pickles, onions and squash.  The six chickens have started giving us about four eggs daily – even with winter’s cold embrace taking over.  And we have each other.  What else do we need?

We have our health, home, food and warmth – and with that, all of our needs are met.  Then there’s the other stuff we take for granted that’s really a luxury for most of the global population: we have cars, hobbies, music, internet access and more clothes than we actually wear.  I sometimes think it’s even too much.

One of the things I’ve loved most about our move has been our embrace of the concept of living with less.  At one point it was a conscious decision to do without some of the luxuries we’ve always enjoyed.  Dining-out together was a big one.  So was buying things we wanted but really didn’t need – just because we could.

Now we just want to live a simpler, minimal life.  Not militant minimalism, mind you – I don’t want to “make do” with two plates, two forks, two cups and two choices of clothes to wear.  But we can do with less.  In fact, it’s one of the more rewarding things we’ve done in our move.  We sold or gave away a lot of items we didn’t need or want to move to PEI – and we’ve not needed to replace them as of yet, either.

We’ve found that very little is needed to make a happy life.

So for 2015, if we’re talking resolutions (and I’m not really), then it would be to stay-the-course.  Keep our needs few.  After all, things will never make one happy – it just creates a desire for more things or bigger things.  We will unburden our lives by owning less stuff and doing more of the things we love.

For the past year we’ve been dreaming of our “big picture” together.  What we want our house to be.  How we’d like to farm.  The wood lot we want to purchase and how we’d use that for our needs.  But we realize a dream is just a dream without a plan.  This year, we’ll be expanding our gardens and offering limited weekly eggs and vegetable boxes for sale.  The woodlot we hope to purchase will be both an investment and a source of income.

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As for you, we hope you have a wonderful new year filled with happiness.  Dream big dreams, but don’t stop there, make a plan to see those dreams fulfilled.

 

Weasel Wrangling: 101

I don’t know if it was divine intervention or lucky timing on our part, but we narrowly escaped disaster with our chickens last week.  After coming home from church, we discovered a set of small tracks throughout the chicken run  – and even up the ladder leading into the coop!

It turns out, a weasel had paid the chickens a visit, but I think we happened upon the scene before any carnage could start.  Needless to say, the chickens have since been confined in the safety of their coop for the last week as we try to rid ourselves of the varmint.

I know a lot of chicken-raisers say you can live-trap and relocate weasels, but considering their voracity and the damage they’ll do to the flock, I’m not fooling around.  We found a couple of big rat-traps in the barn when we first moved here – still in their packaging.  That was our starting point.  Rather than setting the traps and hoping for the best, I made a couple of modifications to (hopefully) increase our odds.

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With some of the scrap wood left around from the renovations, I made two boxes – as wide and slightly longer than the rat-traps.  I drilled a large hole in one end of the box and several small holes on the other.

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I also made a small change to the rat-trap itself.  I cut the lid off a tin can and pop-riveted it to the trigger of the trap.  This makes the trigger almost as big as the business-end of the trap itself.

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The idea is to direct the weasel directly onto the trigger of the trap via the large hole.  The other end is baited with a raw chicken liver.  If (and when) the weasel investigates the bait, there’s nowhere for him to step but on the modified trigger of the trap.

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Pop-goes-the-weasel.

We set the two traps around the coop where it’s tracks are concentrated.  After a light snow, we can see that it also visits our barn with some frequency.   For the chicken’s sake, I hope we get it soon.

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Speaking of which – the girls surprised us with an early Christmas gift yesterday: our first egg!

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Not sure who was responsible, but considering the cool temperatures and being cooped up for the last week, we didn’t expect this at all.  Now we just wait for Egg No. 2 so Vanessa and I don’t have to split the first one.

Winter Preparations

We’ve just passed our one-year anniversary since making the move to our old island home.  About this time last year, we had our new well dug, the moving truck unloaded and were getting settled in for what was going to be the worst winter PEI had seen in almost fifty years.

Fast-forward a year or so and we’re making preparations for what’s going to be a milder-than-average winter for PEI – that’s if you choose to believe the Farmer’s Almanac’s winter outlook.  (I choose to believe).  With Vanessa and I both working near full-time hours now, the work around our house has slowed considerably.  Our projects are broken down into manageable, bite-sized jobs that we can tackle in the couple of daylight hours remaining after work or what we can fit into a Saturday between grocery shopping and other errands to run.

Last week it was to finish insulating and sheathing the lower exterior walls left open from raising the house for the new foundation and sill replacement from the summer.   We had the open portions enclosed with an air barrier in the interim, but with the temperatures dropping, we needed to infill with insulation and enclose it with sheathing.

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I was able to find full-dimension 1″ x 12″ rough-sawn pine boards for the same price as 3/4″ plywood.   So, in keeping with the original construction, and not needing to build out the thickness of the studs to match the old remaining sheathing, it was a simple decision.  And it made for a simple (read: quick) job.  In the spring, we’ll be building a wrap-around deck and porch, so for now this will get us through the winter.  Shingle and siding repairs to follow the porch-build.  We also managed to get our first load of firewood into the house.  Vanessa passed it through the window…

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…and I stacked it in the basement.

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We’ll go through about five of these piles this winter

No more trudging through the snow to the barn to collect our daily firewood needs.  Nosiree!  Now it’s just down to the bottom of the basement stairs to gather up what we need.  And with the season’s first snowfall in the forecast, it’s one more job off the list – and not a moment too soon.

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Thankfully, that’s not going to last.  With temperatures on the plus-side for the better part of next week, we’ll be able to do a few more things outside before winter really arrives.  Somewhere out there, there’s almost sixty pounds of carrots, onions and cabbage to harvest.  The cold temperatures are just sweetening their flavors as the plants produce natural sugars to act as their antifreeze.  For now, until the thaw, we just stoke the fire.  And I have to admit – there’s nothing nicer than wood-heat on a chilly day.

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Our New Normal

For the past year, Vanessa and I have spent our days working on the house and gardens.  We managed to purchase our home last November and since then we’ve worked side-by-side renovating and restoring our home and tending our vegetables.

Now for the last couple of weeks, we’ve settled into our new jobs on the island.  As I last wrote, I started a new job as a mussel grader in the town of Borden, about twenty minutes from the house.  However my career as a mussel grader only lasted about two hours.  After our first shift, my career path took a slight right-turn into the packing/icing/shipping area.

As mussel grading is probably the most mundane job imaginable, I had no objection to this slight detour.  I’m quite serious.  Trying to be clever, I was going to compare it to other boring jobs, but frankly I couldn’t come up with anything.  Basically, when grading mussels, you stand in front of a conveyor belt as hundreds of the little blue-shelled molluscs pass by – and your objective is to remove any dead or broken ones, and of course, anything that’s not actually a mussel.  That’s it.  All day.  Every day.

Thankfully, the company recognized one of my strengths right away – my strength.  We produce, on average, 20-30 thousand pounds of mussels per day.  Once bagged, the mussels are boxed, iced, packed and shipped daily.  That’s my role.

So what about Vanessa?  Since I was moved from the position I was hired for – mussel grader – I suggested Vanessa send her resume in to fill the position left from my departure.  She was hired over the phone within the week.  Her career as a mussel grader lasted a full day and was a little more eventful.

Although mundane, the mussels whizzing by your face from left to right, hour after hour can be problematic to those who suffer from motion sickness.  Like Vanessa.

After a day of running to the washroom, the supervisor promoted her to one of the bagging machines – a complicated computer-controlled beast from Europe.  I think it intimidates most of the workers there.  Vanessa took to it in no time – so that’s her new role.

So our new-normal isn’t all that different.  After a year of working side-by-side on the house and gardens, we find ourselves literally shoulder-to-shoulder at our “paying” job – she’s bagging, I’m boxing.  Our non-paying job continues to be the house renovations – which are still progressing, but thankfully, the income now affords us to resume the renovations.  The weekend weather looks like it will confine us to inside work so insulation and vapour barrier is on the agenda.  Last week we got the chicken coop insulated – so the girls are ready for winter now, too.

Now, if we can just teach ourselves to actually like mussels….

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Thankful hearts

We’re approaching a year since our move to PEI. In fact, one year ago this weekend we hosted our last Thanksgiving dinner with our family in Ontario. By mid-November we were heading east with a loaded down U-Haul truck and hopeful hearts. Since then, and now in the spirit of the Thanksgiving weekend, I have a new appreciation of the life we now have.

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I’m thankful for the beautiful island on which we now live. I’m thankful for the home we’re making and the fertile soil on which it’s built. I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in Canada – including the freedom to express my faith in the Lord without fear of reprisal. I’m thankful for the family and friends – both near and far – who have shown their unconditional love and support of the crazy adventure we chose. And I’m thankful for all those who have discovered and have been following this little blog highlighting some of our more memorable moments and milestones.

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This week I begin a new chapter in our life on the east coast as I start a new job. With winter approaching we find ourselves in need of employment and a steady income. Our little nest egg left from the sale of our Ontario home has almost been exhausted with the large expenses we’ve incurred this year: new house, new foundation, new roof, new well, new (used) car and countless trips to the building supply center for our ongoing renovations. My job now affords us to pay what little bills we have (insurance, electricity, internet) and leave an amount of disposable income for the ongoing renovations and savings we’d like.

I find the contentment in my heart and the size of my bank account to have no correlation – now more than ever. In spite of what our bank balance may be, I feel richer today than I’ve ever felt. I own my house, property and vehicles – all with zero debt. In fact, I recently told a friend that if I were to win a million dollars, I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to cut my own firewood. I want to grow my own potatoes. I want an old house to restore myself. I don’t miss any of the “luxuries” we had before our move. In fact, I’m happier living with less.

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I know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone – or maybe even the majority of people. But it is for us. And we’re truly, truly thankful for everything we have.

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving.

An Early Thanksgiving Harvest

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Well, it’s clear that we won’t starve this fall.  in fact, we’ve been blown away at the bounty of our harvest from our gardens this year.  And it’s not over yet!

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Over the past couple of weeks, between working on a few projects around the house, we’ve been slowly harvesting our crops as they become ready.

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We picked our first variety of sweet corn last week and blanched and froze the majority of it.  Yes, we ate a lot of it fresh as well – and we shared a couple dozen among friends and neighbors, too.

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The later-maturing variety is almost ready now – perhaps by this time next week.  That will be another 90-100 ears to process as well.

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I think we can call our potatoes a success, too.  We grew four varieties: red, yellow, russet and purple.  The Purple Chieftain was the most plentiful – in sheer number of potatoes harvested – although they were probably the smallest ones on average.

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After that was the Russet.  These turned out a bit smaller than I expected but will be great baked and french fried.  The yellow and red were the largest of all.

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Each individual potato is a handful.  We’ll certainly be growing more of the red ones especially.

All in all, we dug up over 150 pounds of spuds from the ground last week,  That doesn’t include the who-knows-how-many pounds of new potatoes we took as we needed previously.

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I never weighed the cucumbers and zucchini we grew – but we have pickled almost 30 pints and/or quarts of them.

We’ve also enjoyed fresh green beans and yellow wax beans for the past few weeks but with the plants producing more than we can eat fresh, we picked, blanched and froze the remainder – over fifteen pounds!

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But sadly, not everything went so swimmingly.  I’ve already written about the issues we had with our tomatoes – then last week a cold snap claimed the sweet potatoes and winter squash plants.  Unfortunately, even though we covered the plants that evening, the cold was too much and these plants were beyond recovery.

But, like the second corn harvest, we still have cabbage, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, onions, pole beans, leeks, beets and swiss chard to pick as needed – and then to harvest for long-term storage as well.

Then we have some of the more unusual crops to enjoy.  Like these little guys:

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Ground Cherries (or Cape Gooseberries or Husk Berries depending on your preference).  A member of the tomato family, ground cherries grow in a little papery husk while on the plant and are ready for harvest when they fall to the ground.

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Sweet and juicy and pineappley – I love them over vanilla ice cream.

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The berries can be prepared in a tart or pie-shell as well – I’ll let Vanessa take care of that bit of research and let you know.

Other than some fruit, we haven’t bought any produce to speak of since the end of July.  And frankly, like most people know of home-grown tomatoes, there’s nothing like picking and preparing vegetables fresh from the garden.  And it’s good knowing that there’s no pesticides or chemical fertilizers to worry about.

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Today, we did a big cleanup on the harvested beds and planted a cover-crop of buckwheat to replenish some of the nutrients and organic matter in the beds.  Left in the bed to die as the cold approaches, it will also help protect the soil from wind-erosion through the winter.

And already, we’re planning what and how to plant the beds next year.  Until then we continue to enjoy this bounty.

Thank you, Lord.

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Moving Day!

News flash: Chickens grow fast.

With that realization, we stepped up our game last week and built the coop for our six “Golden Girls”.  We’ve been holding out on building it in hopes we would be able to have our new garden shed built at the same time.  The plan was to have the coop attached to and shared with the shed – making the care for the chickens and egg collecting easy and efficient.

Unfortunately with fall approaching, we find ourselves short on funds to build the luxury shed.  While we will be using the majority of the salvaged material for the shed, it will still cost more than we have to get it the way we want it – so for now, a quick and easy coop is the way to go.  And because it’s “temporary”, inexpensive as well.

Before we go further, we’ll take a little walk back in time.  Remember the original addition attached to the back of our house that we removed in the spring?

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We carefully dismantled everything and stored the material in the barn and yard for future use.

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That’s where we began.

A quick look through the pile and I found a couple of pressure treated 4″x4″ posts and some 2″x8″ joists taken from the back porch and deck.  I had a sheet of plywood left over from building our garbage chute that we used when we were gutting the second floor of the house – we’ll use that for the floor.  The concrete blocks were left behind from a previous owner and taken out of the old crawlspace prior to our foundation getting done.

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So far no cost to us.

Once the deck and floor was built, we scavenged some 2″x4″s and framed the walls and roof.  Rather then sheathing the coop with plywood and applying some sort of siding, we elected to use the pine boards taken from the old addition ceiling and made board and batten siding applied directly to the frame – no plywood.

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We debated the exterior finish for the coop.  Would we leave it natural? stain the wood? paint?  Given our location and climate, leaving it unfinished wouldn’t be an option.  It wouldn’t take long for the exposed pine and spruce to deteriorate and although it’s a temporary home for the girls, I want it to last.  We’ve been trying to decide what colors to paint our house next year and thought we’d test our choices on the coop.  But then again, paint’s not cheap either.  That’s when I remembered that somewhere in the house is a box with some of the paint we brought with us from Ontario.  The taupe was from our garage door and trim, the red from our front door.

The window was one of several we found in the barn from who-knows-where, but it was perfect for our needs.  I just had to build the frame for it.  We also built the door for the coop with the pine boards. From there, we finished the framing and and sheathed the roof with a sheet of OSB sheathing we used inside for the baffle vents in our attic.  When we cleaned out the barn shortly after moving to PEI, we found part of a bundle of shingles the previous owner used for some roof repairs.

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We bought three lengths of shingle/fascia flashing, a quart of white paint and the door and window hardware.

With the coop done, we built the run with a few more pieces of salvaged lumber and the chicken wire we bought at the local farm co-op.  The mesh extends below the bottom of the run and laid into a trench just outside the frame.  It was buried with whatever stone we could find handy and then backfilled with soil.  The idea is to keep anything outside the coop that wants in, out.  (That sentence makes sense, right?)

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Vanessa then dug up a few patches of grass and replanted it into the run.  They’ll eat some of the grass and want to dig and scratch as well.

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And there you go.  The only thing left was to introduce the girls into their new home.

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Then we realized they didn’t have a ramp to get from the coop into the run and back.

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So with the last of the scraps I had around, we quickly assembled the ramp and left the birds to explore.

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So far, they seem to love the new environment.  The chicks may have been cute but to be honest, I’m happy to get them out of our house and frankly, I think they’re just as happy to get out of their cramped brooder.

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So I think we met our objective: for just over a hundred bucks we’ve built a great reclaimed-wood chicken coop.  Even the two enamel pots we use to bring the kitchen scraps to the girls were found underneath the old rear-yard deck we demolished.

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The one thing we’ll have to do before winter sets in is to insulate the coop.  I framed it to allow for a quick installation of 1-1/2″ styrofoam insulation to the walls, ceiling and floor which we’ll do when we can afford it.  But we’ve learned that chickens are tough birds and will handle our cold winters with relative ease.

Next year, when we build Chicken Coop 2.0, we’ll likely move this one to the back and use it for the meat chickens we plan on having – or perhaps a small coop we use when introducing new birds to our flock.  Either way, it turned out better than we hoped for and we’ll find a good use for it!

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Now we just wait for eggs.

 

Disaster

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

We’ve had our first letdown on our old island farm.  And it came in the form of a disease called “late blight”.

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Sadly, once infected, the affected plants (in our case, tomatoes) are essentially doomed and destroying these plants is the only hope of preventing it from spreading to other plants.

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This disease is famous as the cause of the Irish potato famine in the 1800’s. Phytophthora infestans is not a fungus or a bacterium or a virus. It belongs to a group of organisms called “protists”, although they are still commonly referred to as “fungi”.

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On tomato, the first symptom on plants is often a brown/black lesion on the stem. Leaves develop large brown/black blotches, often starting at leaf margins. In humid weather and in early mornings, a fuzzy mould can often be seen on the underside of the brown/black blotches or on the stem lesions.

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On tomato fruit, infection causes a brown/black, leathery rot.  It may also become soft and mushy if invaded by secondary organisms.

In cool, wet or humid weather the pathogen produces structures called “sporangia”. These sporangia can travel up to 20 kilometers in wind or wind-blown rain. Rain-spread sporangia can cause infection even in a garden where tomatoes or potatoes have not been grown before.

Potatoes are also very susceptible to late blight – hence the cause for concern when it is detected here in Prince Edward Island.  Fortunately, our potatoes seem to have come away unscathed.  We’ve been enjoying new potatoes daily for a couple of weeks and we’re ready for our big harvest for cold-storage this weekend.

We first heard of a blight-outbreak in our area on the local news.  It was just a few days later when we started seeing the signs of infection on our own tomatoes.  And once it started, everything went downhill quickly.

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With the onset of the disease, we moved to remove the plants and bag them for disposal.  It’s strongly recommended that you NOT compost the affected plants as the organisms may not die in the composting process.  Burying, burning or sending the plants to the landfill is the best way to rid your garden of the active problem.

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Although the plants were dying, we could still use the green tomatoes if we acted quickly.  Often with late blight, even green tomatoes brought in the house to ripen may still rot anyway.  In wet weather, green fruit may have been infected already, or be carrying spores on the surface. As the fruit ripens, rot develops.

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Some gardeners report that washing green fruit in soap and water after picking, or dipping green fruit in a 10% bleach solution (1 part household bleach to 9 parts water) followed by a soap and water wash, reduces fruit rot during ripening.  We didn’t take any special measures to allow the tomatoes to ripen – so we did lose quite a lot to rot, but we still enjoyed a few fresh tomato sandwiches in the meantime.

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So with the glut of green tomatoes, we spent a couple of days making a few different preserves – Salsa Verde, Green Tomato and Pineapple Chutney and Piccalilli.  I’ll be sharing some of these ideas in future posts, but today, it’s all about Green Tomato Chow.

On Prince Edward Island, these firm, under-ripe green tomatoes are transformed into a tangy-sweet condiment that is often served alongside salt cod cakes.  I’ve had Green Tomato Chow (or Chow Chow, or Yum Yum, depending on your upbringing) on a couple of occasions since moving to the island.  Most recently with crab cakes from the Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico.   Think of it as a relish, to be served alongside seafood, pork, sausages or even hamburgers.

At any rate, it’s a great way to use up some of your end-of-season green tomatoes – whether by choice or by….blight.

 

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GREEN TOMATO CHOW

  • Green tomatoes, sliced – 5-1/2 lbs.
  • Onions, halved and sliced – 1-1/2 lbs.
  • Pickling salt – 1/3 cup

Layer tomatoes and onion with salt in large pot.  Cover and let stand on counter overnight.  Drain.  Add the following ingredients to the tomato mixture in pot.

  • Granulated sugar – 3-1/3 cups
  • Mixed pickling spice (tied in cheesecloth) – 4-1/2 tbsp
  • Turmeric – 2 tsp
  • White vinegar – 2 cups

Heat and stir until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.  More turmeric can be added for color and more sugar can be added for taste.

For canning, pour into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Seal and process for 10 minutes in hot water bath.  Makes about 4 pints.

 

So not all was lost.  Although our first season growing a variety of tomatoes was a bit of a bust, we have learned a lot.  We lost about 90% of the tomatoes we planted.  One variety we chose is labelled as blight-resistant, and these “Mountain Merit” tomatoes are chugging along nicely in their beds.  So it seems we’ll still be enjoying some red tomatoes after all.

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This Chow recipe was inspired by “Company’s Coming – Preserves” by Jean Pare.

 

 

 

I know it’s been a while. A lot has happened.

It’s said: “great things are believed of those who are absent.”  If that’s indeed true, I hope I don’t let you down.

It has been a great few weeks since my last post.   A lot of things have happened to us and through us.  We’ve had a great time visiting with family and enjoying the bounty that’s come from our garden.

My last post spoke of the busy couple of weeks getting the house ready leading up to our vacation.  I won’t revisit that, but suffice to say, we enjoyed our little trip to Ontario.  Not that is was solely for our amusement – my brother Scott and his fiance Dawn were married.  That in itself was reason enough for us to drop everything and head back, but the honor was mine when I was asked to perform their wedding ceremony – to the surprise of everyone in attendance.

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It was a beautiful day spent with family and friends.

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While in Ontario though, we had a little scare.  I ended up in the hospital with a blood clot in my leg.  As the doctor said however, I got lucky.  The clot was in an arterial vein and I wasn’t at risk of it moving to my heart or lungs – so I was sent on my way with blood thinners to enjoy the rest of the vacation.

Once the newlyweds were married, we all convoyed back to PEI for a “familymoon”.

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Scott and Dawn, Scott’s kids Carrie and Ryan, one of Dawn’s daughters, Jordan and her husband Christian, and my Mom spent the week with us to see the life we’ve been making for ourselves.

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We did some of the usual touristy stuff – went to the beach (several times), ate some lobster and visited the sights and scenes.

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It was hard to see the family leave after only a week here, but we had a tremendous time together.

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Vanessa and I weren’t done with the vacation just yet, though.  We’ve been mackerel fishing now a couple of times.

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I want to take advantage of this as much as we can while the summer is here.  There is no catch-limit or license required to catch mackerel here – so while we’re able, we’ll be stocking our freezer with these freebies.

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And speaking of freebies, our garden just keeps giving and giving.  While our guests were here, we enjoyed produce picked daily from the garden – including broccoli, lettuce, beets, new potatoes and zucchini.

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Since our visitors left, the tomatoes are turning, the beans are almost ready and the corn is almost there.  We haven’t bought any produce – other than some fruit – in about a month.

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What we haven’t been able to eat fresh, we’ve been canning or freezing.  We’ve pickled fourteen pounds of beets and have a second crop planted for an early fall harvest.

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We’ve also processed fifteen pints of pickles – dill and bread & butter

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and have about ten pounds of cabbage fermenting for sauerkraut.

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So while we’re not entertaining guests, or fishing, or tending to the vegetable garden we also have our chickens.

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We now added six laying hens to our family so we quickly built a brooder for the chicks and Vanessa and I are currently building on a small coop from some of the reclaimed wood from the renovations on the house.

So needless to say our month-long absence is not the result of not having anything to write about, but rather the opposite – we’ve just been too busy to keep up with everything.   Hopefully we haven’t lost anyone along the way.

We’ll get back on track, but for now, some pictures from our garden:

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Under pressure

Have no fear – although we’ve not posted anything in the past couple of weeks, we’re still alive and kicking.  Renovations have been running at a feverish pace now that the foundation and roof repairs are complete.  All spring we’ve been waiting for the floors to be leveled before continuing with the repair scope.

In the past two-and-a-half weeks, we’ve patched the hole in the second floor where the old chimney extended through the house.  We’ve restructured the attic floor for an eventual bonus room.  Added roof ventilation on the sloped ceilings.  Framed the partitions for the bedrooms and bathroom.  Re-wired the second floor electrical circuits.  Insulated the second floor roof and walls.  Framed the floor of the kitchen addition.   Opened up the floor and built the stairs to the basement and hung the drywall in the bedrooms.

That, with an extensive cleanup outside and maintaining the vegetable garden made for an exhausting couple of weeks.  But the rush is not without reason.  My family is visiting next week and we need more than a single room to house seven visitors.  But it’s good – the deadline has advanced the renovations further than we would have done otherwise.

And that’s where it sits right now.  We’re enjoying a much needed break this week with family as my brother is getting married this weekend.  From there, we all convoy back to Pleasant Valley to spend some time together and we get to share a part of our adventure with them.

And perhaps some of the chores, too.

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