Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sweet Things

{Honey Cake, Little Gifts & Garden Pretties}

I know it has been a long while since I have done a post of much substance, I will eventually when I have more time to sit in front of the puter. I do hope that some eye candy and a yummy recipe will make up for it in the meantime! :)

{various wildflowers from around the property}

{mini roses}

{flowering giant red mustard}

{flowering peas for peace}

{flowering older-timer tomato}

{hobo turnip trying to live up to its nomadic reputation ;)}

Last week I noticed that we had tomatoes growing in the container on our doorstep. I am not sure how they got there {my better half and my roomie both swear that they didn't put them there}, they just kinda appeared out of no where. My guess is we had a visit by some nice folks with guerrilla gardening tendencies.

I have been putting off moving them as I am sure whoever planted them sneaks by to see how they are doing. The container is getting a little crowded though.

Someone else left a nice little gift a little while back. I was out having a morning coffee when I noticed a female robin {she is a local nester known around here as Mrs. Eyebrows} with a blue thing in her beak. It was an egg shell that she put on one of the garden beds and flew off.

I thought that it was a nice little gift that she left for all the worms and nesting materials, but it turns out that female robins often carry egg shells after they have been hatched. They drop them off somewhere away from the nest or eat them.

{egg shell upper right}

Since she didn't eat it, the egg shell is now with other wild pretties on Flidais' part of my deity altar. :)

Elder Flower Honey Cake

I had a huge craving for honey cake and used this recipe as a source of inspiration. My egg lady hadn't made her weekly round yet, so I had to wing it without any. This is the concoction that I came up with:

4 tbsp milk
6 tbsp honey
2/3 cup soft butter
2 2/3 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 pinches of sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp dried elder flowers

I put the mixture in a 9-inch pie dish and baked it at 350 for about 35 minutes.



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Monday, June 27, 2011

Standing Alone Trilogy

These are three interesting films that are about the Blood elder, Pete Standing Alone.



P.S. there is some footage of rodeos that I personally find very disturbing and cruel, otherwise I enjoyed the films.


Circle of the Sun
This short documentary by Colin Low is an invitation to a gathering of the Blood Indians of Alberta - as the Sun Dance is captured on film for the first time. The film shows how the theme of the circle reflects the bands' connection to wildlife and also addresses the predicament of the young generation, those who have relinquished their ties with their own culture but have not yet found a firm place in a changing world.

Standing Alone
Pete Standing Alone is a Blood Indian who, as a young man, was more at home in the White man's culture than his own. Confronted with the realization that his children knew very little about their origins, he became determined to pass down to them the customs and traditions of his ancestors. This film is the powerful biographical study of a 25-year span in Pete's life, from his early days as an oil-rig roughneck, rodeo rider and cowboy, to the present as an Indian concerned with preserving his tribe's spiritual heritage in the face of an energy-oriented industrial age.

Round Up
This short film traces Pete Standing Alone's personal journey from cultural alienation to pride and belonging. As a spiritual elder, teacher, and community leader of the Blood Indians of Southern Alberta, Pete works with the youth to repair the cultural and spiritual destruction wrought by residential schools. At age 81, has come full-circle in his dedication to preserving the traditional ways of his people.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Full Moon Herb Harvest

The day after the beautiful full moon we had last week I got busy harvesting herbs in the garden. A good part of the morning was spent getting offerings ready and conducting rituals, with Airmid being the focus.

{makeshift altar to Airmid behind the shade bed}

I like to harvest herbs for fertility, healing, blessings, and general protection around the full moon whenever possible. By the end of it all I had almost six baskets full of various herbs.

{spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, chives, lady's mantle, sweet woodruff}

After prepping herbs for later use {mostly hanging or in paper bags to dry}, I made a few different concoctions.

{herbal honeys & vinegars}

I made a few other pretties besides the pictured ones, but that will be another post. The pictured ones are dandelion vinegar, chive blossom vinegar {I got the recipe from a local dietitian Nancy Guppy of Chapman's Landing Cooking Studio}. Also pictured is a lemon balm/hawthorn/heather sedative honey {lemon balm from my garden, the hawthorn was wildcrafted last year, the heather from Richters, and the honey from Board's Honey Farm} and an elder flower & berry anti-viral honey {both the flowers & berries from Richter's and the honey again from Board's}.

If you have never made an herbal honey before and want to give it a try, check out this helpful video by Susun Weed.


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Luverly of the Week: Cedar Waxwing Courtship

There was quite a bit of this going on around our house a couple of weeks ago with a pair of Cedar Waxwings. I think that they are nesting in one of our large trees.




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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Midsummer in the Forest & by the Rapids

I got back a couple of days ago from the annual "crazy lady Midsummer weekend" at River Run {both Aymi & I went last year}. Even though I decided to stay off the rapids this year, I am still have a wee bit of recovering to do. Hehe.

It was a weekend of long nights around the fire with music and drink...

...and early mornings rising with the sun to get in as much time as possible to soak in the gorgeous scenery.

I am glad I decided not to raft this year as it gave me a chance to toddle off by myself and do a little ritual...

...and after leaving the appropriate offerings, I wildcrafted some much-needed pretties from the forest and river.

A little more than half of our gaggle decided to raft, and at around lunch time the rest of us were bussed out to meet up with them for lunch.

I forget what this particular set of rapids has been dubbed, but I know that they are mellower than many of them on the route.

After going on them last year, I much prefer to admire their beauty from the shore! ;)



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Merry Midsummer

Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare,
And left the flush'd print in a poppy there;
Like a yawn of fire from the grass it came,
And the fanning wind puff'd it to flapping flame.

~ from The Poppy by Francis Thompson

We hope that our readers have a chance to get out and enjoy the first day of Summer! May it be a sunny, merry one for you all. :)


Aymi & Laurel

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Irish Folks Battle w/ Shell

Seren over at the Tairis blog posted about this earlier, and I thought that some of our readers would be interested {and pissed off!!!} about this as well.

There is a documentary called The Pipe that came out last fall about the struggle that the residents in Co. Mayo Ireland are having with Shell.

The documentary can be seen over here, but I think that I am on the wrong side of the Atlantic, as isn't viewable in my area. Here is a trailer:

And to find out more information about the struggle check out Shell to Sea website.



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Salad Fixins and Other News & Views

Yum! :D

{salad fixins: bloomsdale spinach, giant red mustard, dancing with lettuce, red oak leaf lettuce, chives, crop circle radish, sun arugula.}

We finally finished digging up the rest of the beds. In one of them we transplanted some of our tatters that were in containers, as they were getting a tad crowded:

{crowded norland tatters}

{new tatter row: w/ burbank russets & norlands}

Other warm weather crops are starting to spring to life:

{blue hubbard squash}

{purple mustache pole bean}

And everyone else is doing fine and dandy. Here are just a few more random shots:

{mullein in the perfectly wild mess in the front}

{columbine in the front}

{peas for peace}

{devon peas}

{cupani sweet peas}

{flowering lady's mantle}

{more columbine, but this time in the back}


I am doing a large herb harvest today which I will post about later some time after the weekend. I am heading off tomorrow to our annual crazy lady Midsummer weekend, at River Run.



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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hey Bully!

This is another great song with Lake of Stew {the band that will be at the Piebird Picnic on August 7th}. The video kicks ass too! :D



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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dealing With Wild Critters {in the Garden & on the Farm}

I was listening to a CBC program talking about a Toronto man who allegedly tried to kill a family of baby raccoons with a shovel last week. Hearing some of the comments from folks who called in condoning this type of cruelty got me into a frothing rage.

I lived in downtown Toronto for over a decade, so I have a pretty good understanding of just how many raccoons live there and what type of mischief they can cause. There are measures in place and actions that can be taken to deal with them and to try and make one's property not so tempting.

It seems that many people fail to realize that the urbanized raccoons are partly our own creation. Raccoons have been adaptive enough {just like crows!} to thrive in our urban settings. But they are not the problem; if anyone is, it is us humans. We spread like roaches and then complain when wildlife "infringes" on our territory.

Raccoons are a part of the GTA landscape, and if folks don't like it, perhaps they should GTFO. And as far as the cruel assholes are concerned, they can go drown in the filthy waters of Lake Ontario {the raccoons sure as hell are not responsible for that now, huh?}.

********* rant done *********

Having a stead in a smaller Northern Ontario city has its own challenges. We do get raccoons, but also have visits from skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, and we have and deer in our immediate area. If we lived in a more remote part of town we would also have wolves, bears, foxes {and apparently cougars as well!} to potentially deal with.

When it comes to our garden, the most challenging critters {besides earwigs} have been squirrels and chipmunks. We like to put seeds and nuts out for them every day to keep them out, but if we happen to forget, we will pay for it with them digging up our seeds, nomming our peas and beans, or wreaking havoc on our tomatoes and sunflowers. As long as we put out yum yums for them I find that they are very agreeable neighbours.

Fellow Northerner Medusae had a recent battle with raccoons in her garden and she put vinegar around it and apparently it is working quite well at keeping them away. Here is a short article with pretty good tips on how to keep raccoons out of the garden and here is an interesting Nature of Things show called Raccoon Nation.

I have seen folks use many different methods to keep deer out of their gardens. One of my friends urinates every day around his veggie patch, and a farmer friend hangs Irish Spring in pantyhose around her lettuce. Others will grow deer resistant varieties of plants {Soggy Creek has an heirloom cabbage that is supposed to do the trick!}, or have REALLY high fencing.

My Aunt has lots of deer that come by her property, yet she can even have tulips and roses while all of her neighbours' gardens are mowed down to the roots. She will be cheeky and say that her success is because she "has an agreement" with the deer, but it is probably because she feeds them all Winter, and the big patches of pansies and lettuce she plants for them to eat.

My other Aunt has a healthy population of black bears around her. Having a big dog helps, but she still cannot keep a bird feeder in the summer and her garbage has to be locked in the garage until it is taken to the dump. With some common sense bears should pass on through.

Having livestock can create a whole new list of challenges. Obviously having guard critters can help {one friend keeps a donkey for her goats!}, locking cluckers and other poultry safely into their coop/shelter, electric fencing, and keeping areas well lit are all supposed to help. These are great articles to check out: here, here, and here.

Please do feel free to share what you do or methods that you have heard about. :)



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