Follow the life of Carla in the Country!

Monday, March 6, 2017

With A Paintbrush In One Hand... And A Beverage In The Other

Do you paint? 

I've started and I quite enjoy it! 

Paint Nite events have taken the country by storm this winter. You may be more familiar with Corks & Canvas in your location. But whatever your event is called, it's an evening of beverages and paintbrushes and good friends (or strangers!). 

The artist instructs the group step by step to recreate one of a kind personal masterpieces. At the end of the evening you take your artwork home with you.  

Some turn out quite well. Some not so well.

Here is a painting I recreated.  It was to have a couple turtles in the water.  I don't care for them, so I left them out.  And added my grade-school birds flying in the sky.  A stretched out "m".

See my palm trees?  Ya, neither do I.  I wasn't paying quite enough attention to the artist when she was describing how to paint palm trees.  My leaves should all be hanging down.  Oops....artistic liberties!

This is my favourite.....White Tiger Gaze.  He's watching you wherever you are in the room.  I am quite proud of how well this turned out...I took him to work and hung him in my office!  

If you have the opportunity to attend a Paint Nite or a Corks & Canvas event, do it!  You'll have a great time.  This was way out of my comfort zone, from the first painting to my last.  I'm far from artistic, I'll be the first to admit that.  But after just a couple events, I tried painting on my own at home one evening.  Laptop was on the counter with a Pinterest painting opened.  My canvas was propped up against the microwave.  The table was full of paint bottles.  And I painted.  Yep, I made mistakes.  So I waited for them to dry and painted over them.  It took me awhile.  But I finished :) I took the knowledge I was taught at the structured events and used it at home.  And I loved it!

You might too ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Well, it's been an awful week here on the farm. It's been snowing. And after that, it snows some more. The next day if we haven't had enough snow, we get more. And the wind!! "Would you like your snow drift supersized ma'am?"

See the drift in front of the van? I used to be able to drive right up through the snow towards the tractor. Good thing Dave finally got the tractor started! I'm not shoveling that much snow ;)

Where did Dave go? I just see snow flying in the wind!

I should go get some more pictures, to prove just how deep the drifts were, but I'm lazy. And it's cold outside. And I'm not dressed for the weather. All good excuses right?

But soon enough I'll be showered and dressed and heading out to work. I just wish the roads were as clean as my trail is now. :(

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


What a rude awakening I received this morning! -30C on the thermometer!!

There was nothing I wanted more than to cuddle back under the covers. But alas, Dave has been working off farm this past week, driving dump truck for the local salt harvest. His shift starts at 8am so he's up by 6:30am, often earlier to ensure he gets all his morning chores done. Today he informed me he was not going out to milk Daisy (our Dexter cow that's become our main milk supplier). He said it was -30C outside. WTF?! Just because it's January in Saskatchewan doesn't mean the weather needs to be that cold.

And...since Dave is off working 12hr shifts in a warm cozy (but uncomfortably rough) dump truck I'm stuck at home with the boys and the critters. I am the one feeding cows. I am the one retrieving eggs from the chicken coop. I am the one tromping through knee high snow drifts to take grain to Nanny, our annoying goat. I am the one trying to recover from a nasty cold and cough, while trying in vain to continue our homeschooling teachings.


I miss Dave and his handiness throughout my day. I never realized just how much I depended on him! It seems to take me forever (!) to do chores every day, whereas I'm sure he can get the jobs done in a couple hours.

No fair.

I want him back.

Anyhow, I'm quite sure that if the temps were a bit more reasonable and my health was near 100% the chores wouldn't have me so completely exhausted every day. Really, bundling up in my snow gear is a chore itself (extra socks, ski pants, hoodie, jacket, boots, neck band, toque, mitts). Then to climb into and out of the skid steer at least a dozen times is another chore. Cutting and manually removing the twine from at least 3 large 5'x6' bales in -30C with a windchill of -35C is tiring. I'm not really cut out for this job...I wanna quit!!

But...I will continue on my newest adventure of taking care of the farm while he's off working. It's the least I can do, considering I've been off working myself and leaving him to the farm and the boys far too often.

Thanks sweetums! ;o)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Got Milk?

Got milk?

We do and lots of it!

It must be a couple weeks ago now, that 4D15 cow had a late calf. She was one of those cows that we never expected to calve this year and was on the "gotta sell" list. She surprised Dave one day with a small calf at her side. She was tame enough for Dave to look over the heifer calf (Dot is her name) and that got us to thinking...would she be tame enough to milk?

Last year we purchased two Dexter cows, with the intent to milk them for our personal consumption. They're a small breed of cows, perhaps the size of a yearling calf. They are marketed as a tri-breed, for beef, milk and as a work animal (to pull a small plow, etc.). Well they never did appreciate being milked by hand, so after just a couple weeks we gave up on that adventure.

So when 4D15 calved this fall, we thought maybe we'll try it again. Dave was raised on raw milk from the farm so I'm not too worried about any health concerns. (heck, you can buy tainted produce right from the grocery stores!!)

The biggest difference between Dexter milk and this new cow momma is the cream content. The Dexter milk was very rich, with a cream content of nearly 30% it seemed. However, our current milk cow is a hereford/angus cross (best for beef) and the milk is closer to a store-bought whole milk. Very little cream separates from the milk. Which makes it difficult to skim off the cream and make butter or ice cream.

It took me over a week of milking daily, to accumulate a sufficient quantity of cream to make a batch of butter. I collected just under 4 cups of cream from nearly 4 gallons of raw milk (see I told you it had very low cream content!!).

I googled for the how-to using a KitchenAid mixer, the easiest method that I know of. The hardest part of the process is milking the cow, then skimming off the cream, then keeping your kitchen clean while the mixer does all the work.

First you pour the cream into the mixing bowl and turn it on to whip, as though you were making whipped cream. Be prepared to drape towels over the machine, unless you feel like washing walls and floors afterwards ;)

We've been whipping the cream for a few minutes now, and it's starting to change appearance. You can see the small globs of butter forming.

You can really see the butter starting to form together. The liquid is actually the buttermilk separating from the butter. You can use the buttermilk to make pancakes or muffins. Some people even drink it straight from the glass.

In the bowl is the unwashed butter, and the buttermilk is in the measuring cup. You can see that from the 4 cups of cream that I started with, I ended up with 2 cups of buttermilk.

The butter needs to be washed, to get as much buttermilk out as possible. If left unwashed, the buttermilk will sour the butter and spoil the taste. You can press the water out with a spoon, or knead it in a bowl. When the water gets cloudy, drain the water and start again with cold water. Keep kneading until the water runs clear.

After washing the buttermilk out and prior to drying you can add a bit of salt or spices. Mix in the salt while kneading.

I didn't get a photo of the next step, but you need to dry the butter before storing. I used a clean tea towel to dry the butter, kneading it for a couple minutes. Once the butter starts to stick to the towel you're done.

Out of 4 cups of cream, I ended up with this much butter. Not a lot. But so very yummy! Now we need some fresh-outta-the-oven bread!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What An Experience

Well, yesterday was a day I'd really rather not repeat ever again. I was at work, nothing new about that. I've been covering for Michele, our M-F daytime gal. She had her first grandchild just last week (congrats!!) and had taken some time off.

It was about 2:30pm when I first noticed my wallet was missing out of my purse. I keep it on the counter in the office. Out of general sight, but still accessible. Cindy had just arrived, for her afternoon shift. She & I spent quite a bit of energy looking high and low, inside and out, for that darn wallet. It was a leopard print clutch style wallet. I thought at first, well it's just misplaced. It was probably sitting somewhere in plain sight, made invisible by our frantic searchings.

But soon I came to think maybe it was stolen! I called my local financial institution to ask them to stop my debit & credit cards. Oh, the phone calls I would be making, it's a painful process to remember which items were in the wallet, and then to find all the appropriate contact information.

In all, 7 different pieces along with some cash was taken. I've made most of the calls, but it was getting late in the business day yesterday to complete them all. Guess what I get to do this morning!

Both credit cards were used yesterday too, confirming my suspicions that it was indeed stolen and not just misplaced. I filed my report with the RCMP as well, so maybe they'll find the person(s) responsible. Who knows.

I spent most of the evening unable to focus or concentrate on much of anything. I was replaying the day's events in my mind, trying to determine which customer it might have been. When was I most vulnerable at work? Was I with a customer at the till? Was I on the phone with a supplier?

I feel angry, mad, frustrated, irritated. I want to cry, scream, hit or break something. I want to find the person(s) involved and get my revenge, some way some how. I feel violated, even though I didn't realize it was gone, until hours after it happened.

I know I'll never get the cash back, even if some Good Samaritan finds the wallet. The cards and ID will be replaced, it just takes time. And I'll never have the trust back again either. I will forever be leary of strangers (although it's remotely possible it was someone I know).

I have learned a hard hard lesson yesterday. And being a victim sucks.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

And so harvest begins again...

Well Harvest 2010 has begun for the farm. Finally. I honestly didn't think we'd ever see this day. It's been a cold & wet year, the last time we had normal temperatures was back in April. And just today the weatherman is predicting a week of sun and normal (?) temperatures. Maybe, just maybe, the farmers can get back into the fields to finish up haying and get started on the crop harvest.

The past few days have seen us hauling bales, for ourselves and for the neighbor. It never fails, this time of year has the cattle wanting to come home. Never mind they have PLENTY of green grass in their pasture. Never mind it's not snowing and blowing. Never mind they don't NEED to come home just yet. They just want to. Simple as that. And fences be damned, they're persistent. Just tonight as I was headed out to attempt some moon photography Dave had to hop in the truck and chase 'em back to their side of the fence. Ugh. (btw, the moon photos did not turn out....much to my disappointment, and the long distance call to my brother Rod for camera tech advice)

Here is a great shot, of Dave in his tractor, and a CP Rail train headed east towards town. It was your typical freight train. We live just a short distance from the CPR mainline, so trains are a very common sight here.

I love these shots, focusing on the foreground with the background blurry. Besides, they're easy to do on the camera ;). It's the more difficult night shots (see moon photography, above) that get me stumped. Perhaps I should dig out the manual. Perhaps I should enroll in a digital camera course. Perhaps I should spend more time on Google, searching for practical camera tips instead of recipes. LOL

These are oat swaths, btw. They'll be combined in a couple days, if Dave can repair the swather knife and get the rest of the field cut. With the weather forecasting sun & warm temperatures (well, 18-25C IS warm for this year!) we can just pray the combine holds together long enough to get this year's crop into the bin. And if the cattle stay on their side of the fence long enough to get the bales moved home.

Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Morning Chores

It's been a few days since I last posted, life has gotten busy around these parts. I had a week off and it zoomed right by. We spent an afternoon at Douglas Park, on Diefenbaker Lake and visited with some relatives at Mistusinne (a small resort community on the Lake). I booked the week off to go camp somewhere, but time ran out on us. Maybe we'll get away for a couple nights in September, the parks should be a lot less crowded now.

A couple from the Main Center Hutterite Colony was in Chaplin on Friday, selling frozen chickens and garden produce (corn, beets, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes). I purchased 3 dozen peaches & cream corn, 2 dozen super sweet corn and a small bag of beets. I cooked the beets yesterday and today I sliced them and got them into the canner. It's my first attempt pickling beets and so far so good. I have corn in my garden but it's not ripening very quickly. So with the corn I bought I cut the kernels off the cob and then bagged them for the freezer. The corn husks went to Nanny, our goat. She loved them!! I don't blanch the corn as some recipe books suggest, I just straight freeze them (I do the same for garden peas).

Speaking of peas, my garden peas are done for the season. We didn't get too many pickings this year, way down from last year. I blame their dismal production on the wet spring and the sporadic heat and moisture during the summer. But that's the chance you take when you farm!

Our egg production is down too this past week. We had picked up 18 Leghorn Hens from a farmer near Rosetown a couple weeks ago. They did well the first week here, I didn't think they were stressed from their relocation. However, this past week our egg numbers are hovering around 15 (we had 13 laying hens before the newbies arrived). So the new gals have slowed way down in their production. I have plenty of customers wanting fresh farm eggs, so they better get used to us soon!! We're feeding them plenty of layer diet (from our local feed supply store) and mixed grains. Dave thinks it's their time to molt....gee great timing!

Dave is finally done cutting the hay crop, he just has a day of baling to finish up, then it's onto the grain harvest. However, weather has a way of putting a kink in the harvest schedule. We had a bit of rain last night, so no baling to be done today. And our weather forecast has 10-20mm coming tonight with an additional 25-30mm for Monday. The rest of the week's forecast has showers on a daily basis. Guess Dave will be around home for the week. Time to get started on his honey-do list ;o)

While Dave has been in the field, I've been homeschooling the boys every morning. My work schedule has me gone in the afternoon/evening hours, so I've taken on the responsibility this fall to do what we can in the mornings. The boys are doing well so far, but it's only been 2 weeks since we started.
The Moose Jaw Homeschool group has organized swimming lessons again, and have booked lessons for 5 weeks starting in October. And gymnastics should be starting up again soon, through the Morse Gymnastics Club.

My beets should be just about done in the canner. I'll let you know how they taste!