Saturday, 22 September 2012

Skunked

Was it really only yesterday that I was saying there was a glut of tomatoes and I wasn't sure what to do with them?  The universe will always seek balance and it seems it's found a way to take care of my excess.

I put my dog out this morning and he went charging off the porch, the same way he has every morning for the past year.  Today however was different.  Today he flushed out a skunk.

I'm sure you know how this is going to end.  The skunk wasn't a little one either - this was a big adult that's been around for a while that I'm sure is used to big dogs and knows exactly how to shut them down.   I got there in time to see M. Le Pew up on his front legs and knew we were done for.  Jake couldn't have been more than 3 feet from this thing when he got sprayed.  A direct hit on his chest and neck.

Now the thing with a skunk is the faster you can get the musk off, the easier the whole thing will be.  I don't have tomato juice in the house - I can't stand the stuff, but I have 18 dying tomato plants with the remains of the harvest.  So carefully dodging the dog, I ran to the garden, picked about 20 tomatoes (didn't matter at all what shape they were it, or how rotten they might have appeared) brought them back to the house, dropped them in the blender my son had left out (small mercies - normally he'd get hollered at for this) added a splash of water and made a tomato slurry.  I don't think Jake was too impressed with it, but it did cut the smell remarkably well.  This bought me enough time to go online and do a search for how to deal with skunk on dogs.  I found that most people recommend peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.  Some recommend using vinegar if bleaching the coat is an issue for the owner.  Frankly, at this point in time, I don't care if this gives him polka dots, but I have no peroxide and lots of vinegar so that's what I did.


The dog smells much better now.  Don't mistake me - this isn't a miracle cure and I don't know where I'm going to put him tonight as he isn't coming in the house but it's better than it was.  My porch however, may never recover.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Already?!

Tomorrow is Mabon, the Autumn Equinox.  I'm utterly speechless - where does the time go?

So not only have I lost track of time, but there are chores to be done in the garden that need to be completed sooner rather than later.  I'd rather not spend the day out in the rain, but I might have to.  The spent stalks need to be removed and composted, onions and the rest of the carrots need to come out of the ground, and the asparagus should probably be cut down, I've got an enormous quantity of herbs that need to be cut and dried and I'm still drowning in tomatoes.  Don't misunderstand me - this isn't me complaining, I'm just a little overwhelmed by just how much food the garden produced this year.  In addition to this, my cabbages looks fantastic and I have seven sugar pumpkins - enough to make a few pies and keep me in soup for the fall.

On a totally unrelated topic, one of the things I most enjoy about living out of town (that I wasn't expecting) is watching the mist rising off the fields when the weather is right.   Tonight was particularly good - about 20 minutes after I took these pictures, you couldn't see the white house in the top photo, or the boat in the bottom one.



I realize this is a little thin - I've been a little under the weather this past week so haven't been doing much of anything other than watching TV and knitting.  I hope to be able to show what I've been working on soon.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Not Such a Small Collection

Like most crafters, I have a selection of materials for practicing my craft.  I have lots of yarn to knit with and an increasing amount of roving for spinning.  I view these things as tools of my craft and feel it's necessary to have a broad selection to inspire and to allow me to create something on a whim.

My darling husband however, takes a different view of this.  Today after breakfast, he said he was going into town and would it be OK if he picked up a few plastic tubs for my yarn and roving.  Apparently spreading yarn through the house isn't considered interior design and he wanted to rein it in.  Sure I said - meant I didn't have to go into town.

He came back with  5 x 60L tubs.  That's 300L of storage space.  For those of you using Imperial measures, that's about 1 shit-ton.  I scoffed at this, said I wasn't going to need that much but extra room was always good and thanked him for running errands for me.

So I started the final unpack of my boxes of yarn from the move which happened just about a year ago.  I"m well aware that storing this much wool in cardboard boxes in a house prone to mice and moths is more than just flirting with disaster.  It's me giving disaster my very best "come hither" look.  Believe it or not - there was no moth damage, and no mice holes in the boxes.  I guess the cat is earning her keep after all.

During the unpack I found all sorts of lovely things - some of which I even remember buying.  There was sock yarn I'd wound into cakes (it's lovely, but honestly, I have no recollection of buying it), lots of lovely silk and wool blends (a soft spot for me) and piles of stuff I got in Asia.  I found lots of needles too (I should be good for sock needles for the rest of my life).

So imagine my surprise when I filled the six boxes.  All of them. I officially have 1 shit-ton of stuff.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Back in the Saddle

I'm not sure when the last time I did any serious spinning was...suffice it to say that it's been a long while.  The big issue lately is that it is summer and my hands tend to sweat.  Yeah - I know - more than you needed to know but in this case it has an impact.  I received a few suggestions for how to combat this (only spin in the early morning, drink more beer) but it didn't seem to work for me. 'Cause lets face it, if the roving is felting in your hands before it even gets to the wheel, it ain't gonna spin worth a darn.

But it's September now and cooling off.  Last week I bought some merino roving and today I was at Fibrefest in Almonte.  If that wasn't going to kick me into gear, nothing would.  So when I got home, I had a look at my wheel and decided that it was time to start again.  I dusted the poor girl off, and dug out some old roving that I had bought last year, shoved the cat off the chair and settled down to spin.

Now you have to understand, I'm not at all an experienced spinner.  I have a wheel and I know how to do it - and that's about it.  So after so long away, I wasn't too surprised to find that I had issues with my tension, the results were slubby and kept breaking.  I fooled around like this for about an hour when I decided to try one more time.  I got a glass of wine (at this stage, it certainly couldn't hurt) and tried again.

And it worked.




Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Salsa

I planted 18 tomato plants in the spring and now I have a glut of tomatoes.  Due to the drought, a sudden burst of rain and then another dry spell, none of them are pretty - not the kind of thing you could give to your neighbours - almost all of them are either split or quite misshapen.  But they still taste good and are perfect for cooking where it doesn`t matter what they look like.

So Chuck and I decided to make salsa.  I needed 7 cups seeded and peeled so I figured my big colander would be enough.  I don`t know what the volume of this colander is, but it was heavy when I bought it back to the house.  As it turns out, I didn't need quite this many.


I cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, tossed them a few at a time in boiling water (not a dirty pot, just really hard water)


and then into cold water.  The skins are already loose and come off with very little effort.  In fact, it took longer to write this than to get the skins off.


I then chopped a large white onion, a green pepper, 5 jalapenos, a fistful of cilantro, a touch of cumin, a can of tomato paste and 3/4 cup of vinegar.  Tossed it all together and boiled it for half an hour until it thickened up to the right consistency.


Then into jars and into the canner for 20 minutes.  I got four 500 ml jars of it.  We had a few spoonfuls left over to sample ....if you like salsa, you gotta try making your own.  This is amazing stuff!