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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The gypsy life


Some think I’m a little bit of a gypsy...others think I’m more of a witch but that’s ok; I’ll embrace either description. When I saw the sign go up on Lindsay Road for Blue Gypsy Wines, I was intrigued. And when I saw that they were open for business last weekend, I dropped in.
The ‘terroir’ in North Grenville is not exactly conducive to growing grapes, I am told. But grapes are not the only fruit from which one might produce delicious alcoholic beverages. Louis at Blue Gypsy makes wine from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apple, cherries and even cranberries. The latter, says Louis, is a perfectly appropriate substitution for your glass of wine with a turkey dinner. Doesn’t that just make your mouth water?? Louis has found a couple of other lovely things from which to make wine. Ginger offers a fresh bite on the palate while chilled maple conjures up childhood memories of taffy on the snow.
The wines at Blue Gypsy won’t give you a headache, because they are free of sulfites. They also strive to use fruit grown free of pesticides whenever possible. The natural flavours have not been enhanced with any chemicals. Louis and his partner Claire would like to operate Blue Gypsy Wines off the grid. With a combination of solar power, wind generator, pellet stove and back-up generator, the goal is to make their carbon footprint as tiny as possible. If you too have a passion to support things grown off the land locally and as naturally as possible, check out: www.bluegypsywines.com. Now I’m getting thirsty.
Do you have plans for Halloween? I don’t normally enjoy the festivities from an adult perspective; I like to see kids dressing up, having parties and going door-to-door but as someone who has never watched a horror movie in its entirety, I’m not one for thrills and chills and celebrating all things murderous and maniacal. I do, however, like to dress up. So I think this year, since I have amassed a few items from my work with the Crees, I will be an Indian. The Farmer can be my Cowboy. We barely have to change our current outfits. I have often been told I look like Wonder Woman, but I can neither afford nor do her costume justice this year. Maybe in 2012.
We plan to head over to Lock 17 for some Scary-oke (get it?) on Friday, October 28. Please join us if you can.
The coloured leaves of Fall didn’t last very long. The last windstorm blew all the leaves off our trees. The Farmer and his hunting party are down at the creek at sundown, shooting at Daffy Duck. We will have roast duck with a fruit demi-glace for Sunday dinner. Perfect fare to fend off the autumn chill.
I am heading in (against my will) to the bridal show in Ottawa tomorrow. The last thing I want to do is shuffle through hundreds of Bridezillas to kiosks selling things I truly cannot afford and do not need. But I am both sister of the bride and mother of the bride in 2012 (two different weddings – sorry for the confusion) so I am going for moral support and to present my opinion. Final details of both weddings have not yet been worked out but they are both proud North Grenville women so the venues, food and entertainment will no doubt be local. Maybe they would like to serve some Blue Gypsy Wine to their wedding guests. Sounds like a good idea to me.
I went in to the barn to feed Rambo who is locked up until further notice. We don’t want him to breed this year. Instead we will get a new Suffolk ram. Anyway, Rambo was exuding a musk like I have never smelled before. The Farmer said he does that to attract the females. Sure enough, next time I went out I noticed two ewes standing under the window to the lambing room. They were bawling and crying as if they had lost someone special. We had better get them a new ram soon, or they will be breaking in for conjugal visits with Rambo. Have a great week, everyone, and visit www.theaccidentalfarmwife.blogspot.com for the stories you may have missed.


RadarLove


I looked out the window this morning and saw the sheep following single file behind Misty the Belgian horse as she went out to the pasture field. At first I thought they were just sticking close because they saw a coyote yesterday. Then I realized they had their noses to the ground. They were nibbling at the fresh green shoots that sprung from where Misty’s huge hooves had melted the frost. Opportunists.
Sheila the barncat-turned-housecat got fixed yesterday. Today I found her resting in the dollhouse, in the room with the felt carpeting. I think she was hiding on her kittens, who are still nursing at 8 weeks of age. Enough already.
Our turkeys turned out to be a lot heavier than we thought they would be. The females were 18 to 22 pounds, while the males were 28 to 35 pounds. There are going to be a lot of leftover turkey sandwiches eaten in North Grenville this week.
I did some research and discovered that the tryptophan in turkeys doesn’t really put us to sleep. That’s a myth. It’s the deadly combination of fats (gravy, stuffing, cheesy mashed potatoes, butter, PIE), alcohol and overeating that causes drowsiness. If we ate turkey on its own, without the trimmings and in moderate amounts, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Apparently a chunk of cheddar cheese has more tryptophan than a single serving of turkey. Interesting. But maybe only to me. I have learned that I am attracted to and a retainer of trivia. Many days I can’t remember my debit card PIN but I can remember the most obscure items of trivia. My dear old Dad used to say, “Diana, you’re smart in ways that’ll get you nowhere in the world.” Hmm. Well it does make me a valuable team member in a trivia contest, if nothing else.
We do tend to overeat at Thanksgiving but with our huge family dinners each Sunday, it’s like Thanksgiving every single week. This is why I have gained 25 pounds since my wedding day four years ago. And yes, I realize it’s more important to be healthy than thin, so you can stop writing me that email. But come on. That’s more than 5 pounds a year. At this rate I’ll be 200 pounds by my 50th birthday.
I am thankful to be big and healthy. I’m happy to be able to work at home, and blessed to be fed so well by my loving husband the Farmer and Head Cook, even when the contracts are not flowing in.
I am grateful for children who, after having moved out of the house, now consider me their friend. I’m the one they call on their day off, when they want to ‘just hang out’.
Did you take time to consider your blessings this Thanksgiving? There’s a new trend, I noticed, where some people are doing away with the annual Thanksgiving dinner and all of its overabundance. They argue that we should be thankful every day of the year, and not just the second Monday in October. Well, I agree with that concept, but I think that most of us need a reminder to give thanks for all our blessings. The stat holiday helps us to do that, and to get together with family and friends for the occasion.
The cornucopia of food doesn’t have to be wasteful either. Not much goes to waste in this house. We have college students, hungry yuppies, barn kitties and farm dogs who will gladly take any leftovers (and usually in that order too).
We also live in the best country in the world, and arguably the best province in that country. Those of us who have lived elsewhere can testify to that truth. And for those who insist on raining our Thanksgiving parade, they can just stick a drumstick in it. I’m not listening.

For this we give thanks


I looked out the window this morning and saw the sheep following single file behind Misty the Belgian horse as she went out to the pasture field. At first I thought they were just sticking close because they saw a coyote yesterday. Then I realized they had their noses to the ground. They were nibbling at the fresh green shoots that sprung from where Misty’s huge hooves had melted the frost. Opportunists.
Sheila the barncat-turned-housecat got fixed yesterday. Today I found her resting in the dollhouse, in the room with the felt carpeting. I think she was hiding on her kittens, who are still nursing at 8 weeks of age. Enough already.
Our turkeys turned out to be a lot heavier than we thought they would be. The females were 18 to 22 pounds, while the males were 28 to 35 pounds. There are going to be a lot of leftover turkey sandwiches eaten in North Grenville this week.
I did some research and discovered that the tryptophan in turkeys doesn’t really put us to sleep. That’s a myth. It’s the deadly combination of fats (gravy, stuffing, cheesy mashed potatoes, butter, PIE), alcohol and overeating that causes drowsiness. If we ate turkey on its own, without the trimmings and in moderate amounts, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Apparently a chunk of cheddar cheese has more tryptophan than a single serving of turkey. Interesting. But maybe only to me. I have learned that I am attracted to and a retainer of trivia. Many days I can’t remember my debit card PIN but I can remember the most obscure items of trivia. My dear old Dad used to say, “Diana, you’re smart in ways that’ll get you nowhere in the world.” Hmm. Well it does make me a valuable team member in a trivia contest, if nothing else.
We do tend to overeat at Thanksgiving but with our huge family dinners each Sunday, it’s like Thanksgiving every single week. This is why I have gained 25 pounds since my wedding day four years ago. And yes, I realize it’s more important to be healthy than thin, so you can stop writing me that email. But come on. That’s more than 5 pounds a year. At this rate I’ll be 200 pounds by my 50th birthday.
I am thankful to be big and healthy. I’m happy to be able to work at home, and blessed to be fed so well by my loving husband the Farmer and Head Cook, even when the contracts are not flowing in.
I am grateful for children who, after having moved out of the house, now consider me their friend. I’m the one they call on their day off, when they want to ‘just hang out’.
Did you take time to consider your blessings this Thanksgiving? There’s a new trend, I noticed, where some people are doing away with the annual Thanksgiving dinner and all of its overabundance. They argue that we should be thankful every day of the year, and not just the second Monday in October. Well, I agree with that concept, but I think that most of us need a reminder to give thanks for all our blessings. The stat holiday helps us to do that, and to get together with family and friends for the occasion.
The cornucopia of food doesn’t have to be wasteful either. Not much goes to waste in this house. We have college students, hungry yuppies, barn kitties and farm dogs who will gladly take any leftovers (and usually in that order too).
We also live in the best country in the world, and arguably the best province in that country. Those of us who have lived elsewhere can testify to that truth. And for those who insist on raining our Thanksgiving parade, they can just stick a drumstick in it. I’m not listening.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Last week for the Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers Market!


Sunday is a busy day for us. When my father was sick in 2007, we began a weekly family dinner ritual that we continue today. It is a great opportunity to reconnect with family after a busy week. Most weeks we have 15 to 20 guests at Sunday dinner. This is why I didn’t make it to the Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers’ Market until a couple of weeks ago. I was just too darned busy.
But let’s face it. The Farmer is the chef at our house. All I have to do is clean house, set the table, make a salad and some appetizers, and then clean up after the event. I don’t really have to be in the kitchen Sunday afternoon. In fact, he prefers that I am not there. An invisible line exists between the kitchen island and the stove. No one is allowed into the cook’s area on Sundays.
For some reason, we ended up with far too many chickens in our freezers this year. We were brainstorming, the Farmer and I, about marketing our meat. I suggested the Farmers’ Market. Finally, I got to go. As a vendor at the Farmers’ Market, I didn’t have much opportunity to shop. I did a quick run-through, however, and I can report that the KKFM is very impressive this year. Vendors offer fresh fruits and vegetables, farm-raised chicken, turkey, beef, pork and lamb, as well as maple syrup, fudge, fresh flowers, jewellery and handicrafts. Don’t eat lunch before you go to the market. You will want to save your appetite so you can sample the Thai spring rolls, samosas, jams and chutney, homemade pizzas, pies and cookies.
The first week I was in attendance, a great blues vibe was permeating the scene. I thought someone had a really good CD on the speaker. Then I saw the singer. He was sitting at the end of the lane in the sunshine, playing his guitar and singing into the microphone. Wonderful! The next week, Doug Hendry and friends were playing Irish music on the fiddle and mandolin. In 30 degrees of Indian summer. Bless them.
We have a really good thing going here, at the Farmers’ Market. Check it out. You have just one more week! After Thanksgiving, it’s all over until next year.
Many Farmwife readers have stepped up to introduce themselves over the past few weeks. Thanks for that! It’s great to meet the people who are reading the stories. We have sold out of our Thanksgiving turkeys, thank you. Next year we will raise more. Some farmers tell me that turkeys are dumb and difficult to raise. I find them lovely. Granted, if you let them go free, they will run amok into coyote territory. The wild turkeys aren’t much help. More than once I have caught them whispering to the domestic turkeys through the chicken wire, telling them of life in the forest. When the turkeys do manage to escape from their area of the barn, however, they tend to go straight for the neighbours’ house. There, they climb up onto the porch, peek into the kitchen window and terrorize the show dogs.
The other night our daughter Paulina, who works in an Asian restaurant in Ottawa, was sent to the supermarket to select and buy a live lobster. She called me on the long walk back to the restaurant, obviously upset. ‘I can feel it moving in the bag!’ she said. I told her to thank the lobster, and to try not to think about it. I assured her that its end would come quickly and without suffering. I will do the same with the turkeys. I love them, with their gentle ways and their melodic gobbling. On October 5th, I will gently tuck them in their cages, send them on holiday, and thank them for their contribution to our Thanksgiving Sunday dinner.