Thursday, July 30, 2015

Around the Garden

Gosh, I am not sure where to start with my update this week. Things are abundant in the garden right now, and each day brings something new. The first beets were harvested, the first of the white raspberries are ripe, the beans and snow peas keep rolling in, the tomatoes are slowly changing colour, kale and Swiss chard are picked daily for meals, and to freeze, the cucumbers are starting to show up, and in the next few days we should be eating the first of many zucchinis. Herbs are being harvested for drying, and infusing, and flowers are being collected as often as possible. My days in the garden are full, and honestly, there isn't any other place I would like to be at the moment.

I told you about my battle with the cabbage worms last week, I thought I might be winning, but I would have to say it's a tie at the moment. I was out there this morning, picking off worms and two moths were flying around laying eggs. It would have been funny if they weren't eating my kale! I have been getting ahead of them by harvesting as much kale as I can, freezing some, and making kale pesto with the rest and adding it to the freezer stash. I might not win this battle, but I will have kale in my freezer.

My flower beds are bursting with flowers at the moment. The beautiful fragrant lilies are blooming, a few opening each day. At dawn and dusk they fill the air with the most intoxicating scent, and I linger out there breathing it in.

Our biggest issue at the moment is the heat, and lack of rain. It has been close to three weeks since we had a good rainfall. We had a little shower last weekend, but it didn't really do much. What we need is a good soaking rain, and unfortunately there really isn't one in the forecast. I have been watering daily, in the early morning. One day I do the back beds, the next day I do the front beds, and then repeat. A few times over the last week I have even had to water the flower beds, which I never do, but they are literally falling to the ground as the heat rises. All we can do is hope it rains soon.

The fall/winter beds are ready for planting. They had some manure and compost added to them, and in the next few weeks I will start to seed them with all the cool weather crops that will hopefully take us through the fall, and into the winter.

These days in the garden are the ones I dream about in January, when it is cold and dark outside, and the snow is falling. I remember the heat of these summer days, the feel of fresh, sun warmed food in my hard as I harvest, and the taste of food from the backyard right off the vine. They are full days, busy days in some ways, but goodness I love them, and they make me so very happy.

So tell me, how are things around your garden?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Cottage...At Night

We left the lights on in the cottage the other night, and as the sun set, it stood glowing in our backyard, exuding beauty and peace. It was calling out to me to come inside, sit, drink tea, and knit...and that is exactly what I did.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Nature Camp Week Four

I wasn't sure it was possible, but each week of summer nature camp just gets better. We spent most of the morning in the woods, with a few goals in mind. The first, to find and identify as many flowers as we could. The second, to find a good walking stick to decorate. The third, to gather nature treasures to adorn our walking sticks. And the fourth, to build a few fairy homes for the forest and flower fairies.

We found a long list of flowers, including St. John's wort, Queen Anne's Lace, tiger lilies, red clover, orange hawkweed, goldenrod, yellow hawkweed, yarrow, and bee balm. We were also lucky enough, as we wandered the woods, to see a monarch. I wish that wasn't so exciting, but sadly, it is. Walking sticks were found, and nature treasures collected. The fairy home building was a great success. The two older ones spent about 30 minutes creating the perfect homes, and the littlest one decided that collecting flowers to make fairy juice was a better idea. Who was I to argue.

Returning home with tired legs, they sat around the table outside drawing in their nature journals and enjoying smoothies. After lunch we gathered under the shade of the birch trees to create. First up, our walking sticks, which Justin so kindly ran the power sander over. Don't they look wonderful? They were so pleased with them. We then made some pine cone bird feeders for our feathered friends. Earlier in the day, before our walk in the woods, we had the honour of watching four eastern phoebes leave their next for the first time. It was magical, and left us all a little giddy. Although I had preplanned the feeders, the kids were excited to make them for our new feathered friends.

After an afternoon snack of popcorn, shared with the dogs, and the chickens, all went quiet. I peeked around the corner and found them all quietly drawing on the walkway. I tiptoed into the house, made a cup of tea, grabbed my knitting basket, and sat on the steps of the front porch, in awe at the focus and attention being given to their art. It was the perfect way to end our day.

Only one more summer nature camp day to go!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Cottage

Let's go back fifteen years. Our friends had just gotten married, and had moved into a new home. In their yard was an old shed...four walls, a door, and a flat roof. It was run down, and not very pretty. One of their first projects was taking it down, and burning all the wood. We saw potential, and before they started asked if we might help take it down, and rebuild it on our property. They said yes, and Justin headed over one day to carefully dismantle it and bring it home.

It was put back together, a pitched roof was added, a few windows and French doors. The only items purchased to this point were the French doors, everything else was reused...old windows, an old door, hinges collected from auctions, and so on. The inside was left as is, and we used it as a potting/storage shed for a few years.

Then one morning as I ran down our country roads on my morning run, sitting at the end of a driveway was a wood stove. When I got home, I told Justin about it, and he immediately drove to the house to ask about it. Turns out they were throwing it out, and were happy that Justin was willing to take it off their hands.

And here is where the dreaming began.

I pictured the wood stove in the potting shed, a few chairs and a coffee table. I imagined the snow falling on a chilly winter day, and I saw myself walking out to the potting shed (now referred to as "the cottage" in my dream) with a cup of tea, a snack, and a book. I snuggle up under a quilt, in front of the fire, and spend a wintery afternoon soaking up the peace and quiet, sometimes alone, other times with Justin, reading beside me. It was a good dream, good enough to make it a reality.

We finished the walls with basic plywood, added wainscoting created from reclaimed wood, and painted; the ceiling and wainscoting white, the plywood walls green. We bought pine for the flooring, installed the wood stove, and brought in chairs picked up at an auction. It was wonderful, and for a few winter seasons before Reece was born, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We had thoughts of eventually turning it into a little guest cottage, but never really took it to the next step.

When Reece was born, I remember Justin heading out there on many occasions for an afternoon nap. By this time, the cottage had a sofa, and he would light a fire and catch up on sleep in those early new born days. The dogs, at the time we had three, also spent a bit of time out there after Reece's arrival. Three big dogs in our little house was just too much for me in those early days, so they spent their nights in the cottage, laying by the fire, keeping warm.

As we decluttered our home over the last few years, things we weren't sure we could part with ended up in the cottage. It hasn't been used for much of anything, except storage, and as a sugar shack in the spring, when we boil down sap for maple syrup.

All of that changed earlier this year when we invited friends to come for a visit this summer. With very little room in our one room schoolhouse, we set ourselves a goal to finally bring the dream of a true cottage in the backyard to fruition. This weekend we put the final touches on it.

We knew we wanted to be able to use it for more than just guests, so we opted for the versatility of a futon, we used one of Reece's play stands, minus the canopy, as a shelving unit, and we added a few lamps, some curtains, an indoor/outdoor rug, and flowers....because you know me and flowers.

To say we are pleased with it is an understatement. When I walk into the cottage it feels calm and inviting, exactly how I hope our guests will feel when they walk into this space. Our first guests arrive next week, my dear friend Renee and her family from the UK. They are in Canada visiting family, and will be visiting with us for a few days. I can't tell you how excited I am to spend a few good quality days with Renee, her husband and her little miss. Then, a few weeks later, a dear blog friend and her family will be visiting for a weekend. Yanic and I have never met in person, but I feel like we are kindred spirits, and I have no doubt that the few days we spend together will be like visiting with an old friend.

Finally creating this space we have dreamed of over the years feels so good, and I hope our guests will enjoy their stay in our little cottage in the backyard.