slow living update – August

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Today is the ultimate slow living day. It’s a humid late summer day at the farm. The flies are driving the horses crazy, the cicadas and crickets are competing for air time and even the hummingbird is sitting down to drink at the feeder.

We gave ourselves a bit of a break this month and did whatever we pleased; occasionally that was nothing at all, which is a lot of the reason for the lack of posts here lately. As usual, I will probably find out that we did more than we thought we had by the end of writing this post.

{Nourish}:

I could just say toasted tomato sandwiches and leave it at that. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I did. I have a mouthful of cankers to show for it.

Our grocery bills remain low while we continue to shop at home in our own garden. We’ve also been able to enjoy some of the neighbour’s corn, with the disappointing exception of the night that he left some on the picnic table and the dog ate it, husks and all, before we made it home from work.

I wrote about our chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the small squeaky kid and I are getting ramped up to start baking for school lunches. The girls like to take baked goods to school and tell people that they made it themselves. They’ve already put in a request for some donut muffins to keep in the freezer for their lunches.

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{Prepare}:

We’ve been working away at our garden, trying to get some of the tomatoes dealt with. As usual, we overplanted, but it always works out in the end. We have plenty for ourselves and enough to share with coworkers, family and friends. We’ve been making roasted vegetable and tomato sauce, marinara sauce, I’ve shredded some zucchini that got too big before we could get to them (I’ll use them in sauces or with ground meat later in the year) and we’ve made some easy refridgerator pickles.

The pickles took two tries – on our first try I misread the amount of garlic to be used and then tripled it for a large batch of pickles, which made something that resembled pickled garlic with a few cucumbers thrown in. We’ll call that a lesson in reading your way all the way through a recipe before you start. When we tried a few pickles after the two day waiting period, we were a little overwhelmed with the garlic. Several go-rounds with the toothbrush and some mouthwash didn’t help. The pickles didn’t go to waste, however – a friend who has a passion for garlic (and consequently doesn’t get bit much by mosquitos) has relieved us of the very large jar.

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{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

We’ve kept things in running order around here which means we keep the local repair guys hopping. The old vacuum has been into the shop for repairs and should keep going for another lifetime, the dishwasher is about to receive a home visit from The Repair Guy and the push mower from the island cottage has been sent off to be overhauled. Nothing around here is new, but it all keeps doing the job it was meant to. The Repair Guy told the dad that if he ever tries to get rid of the 30 year old dishwasher, he would like to have first dibs. It was built back when they were meant to work for a lifetime and with occasional repairs, might outlast all of our other appliances.

The one repurposing example that I could think of is the piece of the old public pool that the dad brought home for the kids to use as a hockey practice surface. Our town pool was dismantled recently, and the dad saw a piece of board that would be perfect. It has taken up residence in the barn and is being used regularly. I just need to find a goalie net now.

{Green – cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies}:

Nothing new here, although the cornstarch that I use as a body powder was commandeered by the tall hormonal kid. She has taken it to the barn to sprinkle on the pool board – to make a more slippery surface for hockey practice.

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{Grow}:

Our garden is still going strong, but it will be winding down very soon. We have rows of tomatoes, have nearly finished off the cucumbers and we are still working on the swiss chard, peppers, zucchini, onions, melons, carrots and potatoes. This weekend we have plans to dig up potatoes and onions, but we’ll see how motivated we get with that. We planted far too much lettuce and watched most of it go to seed before I could carry it all into work to give away, but I am already missing it and think I might be able to sneak one last planting in for some autumn lettuce, if I can find some seed. By far my favourites this year have been the zucchini and the swiss chard. They’ve been making their way into everything we’ve been eating, from pastas to curries and stirfry. I had never grown swiss chard before, but it will be a staple from now on.

We also have trees so heavy with apples that the limbs are breaking. The small squeaky kid and the horses have been the main beneficiaries of the apples so far and I’m sure soon the neighbours will come and take away some for their hunting camps.

{Create}:

I haven’t got any further on the socks that I started to knit, but my intentions are great, as always. Maybe once school starts and we are back in some kind of a routine again. Maybe.

{Discover}:

My brother and sister gave me an e-reader for my birthday and I’ve been using it regularly ever since. I’ve finished three books so far – I’ve recently started re-reading the Russ Van Alstyne/Clare Fergusson mystery series by Julia Spenser-Fleming. I love mysteries and these are perfect for summer reading. We are also still working our way through the Breaking Bad series – we just finished the third season and need to go in search of more to feed the addiction.

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{Enhance – community}:

The dad has been approved for the local Rotary club, which feels a little strange. Aren’t Rotarians old? Apparently there are a few other people that we went to high school with involved, so I guess that puts us up into the older crowd these days.

We’ve had plenty of involvement in the local community this month – we’ve hosted a wedding in the backyard, kept the local repair people working and had a friend install some bathroom safety equipment to help me out with some continuing balance issues. The tall hormonal kid has been trying out babysitting as a part-time summer job and is enjoying the extra pocket money and feeling of maturity and independence it gives her.

We’ve also had some bees added to our place. They’ve actually been here for a couple of months, but I forget about them. The dad’s business partner has a bee keeping business with his family and have moved some supers onto the farm for a while. It’s win, win for us – we’ve got lots of fruit on our trees and they’ll keep us supplied with honey as well. So far there has only been one incidence of a call from a neighbouring farm about a swarm, and it was quickly and easily dealt with. I wish I had photos of the dad with the bees flying all around him.

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{Enjoy}:

I caught up to the dad this month in age (though he is still older) and celebrated Papa’s 75 birthday as well. We had visits with Grandma Upstairs (that’s what our girls always called my grandma – she used to live with us – upstairs), visits from out of town friends that we had not seen in many years, but who brought along two lovely teenage daughters that give me hope for mine in the future, and various and assorted visits with other friends and neighbours. It’s been alternately quiet and busy, with hockey try-outs for the tall kid (as yet undetermined), riding camp for the small squeaky kid, and some summer holidays from work. All in all, it’s been a good summer, but we are all still looking forward to the start of school again next week.

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34 thoughts on “slow living update – August

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful summer! I envy you your lifestyle–I couldn’t do it. I’m not ready to give up my conveniences.

  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    LOVE your Anemone (we have the same one here; )
    Good to hear your extra vampire-proof pickles found a good home: )
    Ah horsey love: ) looking at that picture, I can still get a nosefull all these years later… *sigh*
    You have a dozen hives in “your” yard? No wonder you’ve got such a great crop of apples and lots of other things too, I’ll bet! (Which are gorgeous btw, what variety are they? Or are they like some trees at the farm that have been there so long that no one alive knows what they are any more?; )
    With all the doom and gloom stories about die-off that I’ve been hearing from Beekeepers around here, it’s totally thrilling that these hives are strong enough to be swarming. But you shouldn’t have any more of that (until Spring, anyway; ) Be on the lookout for signs of swarming as soon as the Dandelion start to bloom.

    • The apples pictured are Macs, plus there are crabapples and some unknown yellow-green early apple that the dad’s grandma planted many years ago to make pies during haying season. Nobody remembers what variety they are – and unfortunately that is one of the trees that had a severe break and may have to come down in the spring.

      There have almost always been bees here – in the past they belonged to another apiary, who decided to move them this year. They are well hidden and protected back in the field.

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Wouldn’t it would be great if you knew someone who could take a shoot from that ailing heritage apple and start a new tree for you before she’s too far gone?): and, speaking of heritage apples, judging by the stripes and tiny white “freckles”, the one in your photo may be just a little more interesting than a plain old Mac; )
        Although it’s from Britain, these guys have a massive list of apple trees divided by use (dessert or cooking) and season (early, mid or late); then a good description and photo of each variety.

        • It would be nice, but probably won’t happen before it gets cut down this fall. And I’ve been told that it is a variety called early transparent or something. They aren’t bad, but are a cooking apple.

          The others taste like Macs, but who knows.. this year there are lots of them and they are pretty much bug free, which is rare (we don’t spray), but they are pretty small.

  3. The apples look perfect. Do you have any problems with yellow jackets there? Around here, if the apples aren’t picked immediately, the yellow jackets eat them and make it dangerous to be around the tree.

  4. shoes says:

    It sounds like you have been having a wonderful summer. All that delicious homegrown food made my mouth water. I wish you could pack my school/work lunches! 🙂

  5. I always love reading about your garden. This year I am living vicariously.

    Funny about the pickles…. glad they found a home. 🙂

    • I am told that they aren’t as bad as I originally thought – I have a cold and apparently my taste is off.. Oh well, that first couple of bites turned me off enough that I probably would never have eaten them myself. Im happy they found a home too.

  6. Heidi.. your life is busy and yet you seem to just ‘roll’ with everything… I am honestly in awe of what you accomplish… Diane

    • It just sounds impressive when you write it down. It’s just normal life..

      • ‘normal for you lol Although I had a somewhat busy and hectic life years ago.. I guess when we attain that ‘senior’ status the everyday busyness just isn’t there anymore… which is okay!! BTW I hope you are feeling well .. you stated your balance is off a bit so maybe it’s a small flare-up. My legs are a lot more wobbly at present and of course feel like lead weights…..so I think I have a small flare up also…This too shall pass… take care Heidi.. Diane

        • I hope yours passes soon. Im off work again for a bit – hopefully not long, I feel bad about taking time off. The flare has already been treated with steroids, and I’m improving with the balance and walking issues, just waiting to get more feeling back in my feet so I can drive safely again.

  7. Evi says:

    Oh my, after reading about your wonderful summer and abundance of summer veg, all I can say is “bring it on down here”!!!!! Today was our first warm spring day and now I can hardly wait for more! Thanks for sharing so beautifully.
    Stopping by from Slow Living month by month.

  8. emma says:

    Is’nt it lovely to shop in your own back garden. Your roasted vegetables in tomato sauce look delicious, I think I may make some of dinner (but I will have to buy tomatoes as mine are still green). I love swiss chard and always plant some but this year it hasn’t done very well, I also planted kale which isn’t looking to healthy either.

  9. Like Julie, I am inspired by you — love your round up of August and looking forward to the fall–Heidi just keep on doing what you are doing–this blog is a delightful mix of info and slice of life (with humour)

  10. You’ve had a lovely month! It’s great how you can keep your appliances and other stuff going, and especially nice if you don’t have to call a 1-800 number to dispatch someone! What actions do you take when the bees swarm?

    • Normally we just call the owner of the bees – they know how to deal with them. Once they just held a large plastic bin under the swarm and shook the branch until they fell in, then let them settle for a bit and took them away. I guess as long as you get the queen, the others will follow – and then they just start a new super with that new swarm.

  11. thehookery says:

    You’ve had a pretty full month! Those apples look super – a winter of apple pie/cake/crumble/sauce ahead?

  12. I thought that picture held bees, I would love to have bees, but not sure I would be able to get past my fear of a swarm being allergic to them. You have had a good summer, not counting your ongoing issues with balance. I never looked forward to school, I hated to see our summers end and the school schedule taking over the family time.

    • It always seems like by the time summer is winding down here, the girls are more than ready to go back to school. They start to miss their friends and the stimulus of school after a few weeks of hanging around with us.

      The couple swarms that we’ve had here over the past few years didn’t have any problems with stinging. The bees seemed to be more concerned with sticking to the queen than with the people around them. I still kept my distance, after having a look.

      • I forgot you are a way from the center of town, my boys had plenty of other kids to play with where we lived and we spent time with extended family that they didn’t get to see during the school year.

        I’m with you, I’d keep my distance, but I’d love my own honey.

  13. Geraldine says:

    that veggie dish sounds great! I love roast veggies, all kinds. you are a lucky woman to have such a happy, full life. :<)

  14. Susan says:

    Sounds like a good summer. I’m sure you will still busy maintaining the garden. Nobody keeps honey bees in our area. We are going to purchase some mason bees and see how it works out.

  15. Your post gave such a strong image of those warm, lazy late summer days that I felt warmer just reading it! What a lovely time of the year, and you’re obviously taking full advantage of it.

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