Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Month: August 2012

Last week’s roadtrip to Ontario

Last week, I went to Ontario for a little family/business/pleasure roadtrip. I went to volunteer at Gami’ing Nature Centre.

So I took a little walk around Fenelon Falls. Here’s a pic of the cabin built by a store and put in the store’s backyard. I’m fascinated with tiny houses. I simply must buy myself some land and have one where I can get away any time I want! I like this design, though I’d have side and back windows and a loft window or skylight as that would be the sleeping area. I’d want less of a porch than this, so I’d pull it out into an L shape, leaving the windows just as they are. (I sense a topic for a winter blog post in the making!)

About 3 kilometers east of Fenelon Falls, I went to a farm where they had a table selling produce. Since I’m the special kind of stupid that forgets I’m a blogger, I forgot to take pictures of the farm stand, and the turkeys making a ruckus at the farm gate. Instead, I get to show you the giant zucchini, the dozen corn, some tomatoes, and the cabbage I bought, right here on my kitchen counter.

 The people I stayed with down the road had to spend about an hour a day out in their squash patch, vacuuming the squash bugs off the leaves. They let me harvest purple beans from their box garden full of them. And even though I’d found my good camera, I forgot to take pictures of that, too.  So the basket of beans is in this picture.


But since you know I’ve got a soft spot for animals, I did take pictures of the one lonesome Muscovy duck, Mamma. Mamma used to look over the chickens – and, at 9 years old, if she survives over the winter, she’ll do so again in the spring. She apparently likes to kick the hens off the eggs (though I wonder, with broody hens, if they’ll give up easily) so she can hatch and look after the chicks.


Meanwhile, over at Gamiing, a family of wild turkeys passes by the Discovery Shack and heads over into the farmer’s soybeans. The first pic is pretty good of the trailing adult, but you can also see the miniature young adult in the background by the fence.

This picture of the first adult with one of the youngsters gives you a better idea of their relative sizes.

On my drive back to Quebec, I passed a farmer’s field in Martintown with its straw all rolled up and ready to take back to the farm, to use for bedding. It’s wrapped in a nylon net rather than bagged in a wrapper that protects hay from the elements and converts it to haylage or silage – meaning it’s partly fermented.

That’s actually a majestic view of a well-kept field, with hedgerow fences in view and a forest to the left. Eastern Ontario has some gorgeous farm country.

A few garden photos – the harvest slowly begins

Dammit, Janet! I misplaced my good camera, the one I used to take the following photographs. Until I find it, I’m limited to grainy iPhone snaps, or the marginally better (or not) pictures I might take if I dig out my old Sony Ericsson CyberShot cell phone. That camera was good but became distorted through the kinds of mishaps that phones can get into.

And more bad news: the beautiful cucumbers that made up for the dismal start to my backyard garden? Most of them got cucumber wilt, a bacterial disease transmitted by cucumber beetles. I wrote a paper on them only a few months ago. The paper is dry, chunky, and a synthesis of a lot of information out there. It’s useful to the organic farmer planting a good couple of rows of cucurbits.

As the growing season soon will be over, I’m planning my garden changes so that next year is more productive – other gardens near me were lusher. This is what I want: a proper fence down the meridian of the front yard, and a rain barrel with a seeping hose so that I can better serve the water needs of my front garden. The back garden wants lots of compost enrichment this fall, soil testing in the spring, liming it, and getting things better prepared earlier in the season.

Here are photos of my garden two weeks ago, when the drought finally ended. You can see tiny watermelons (they didn’t make it – it’s a mystery what happened to them) and a new watermelon sprout with attendant tomatoes, basil, and a small pepper plant.

The chicken-wire barricade there is my rabbit fence – not like it stops them, it only slows them down. There’s tasty, tasty clover to be had…

And my first fruits of the garden – not counting a handful of curly yellow beans – are these delicious cherry tomatoes. The parent plant is very prolific. I am looking forward to having more of them this coming weekend, when I return to Montreal from my parents’ home in Ontario.

The cool weather has brought on more new growth. So at least there’s that.