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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!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

School Is Now In Session :o)

Well, it's that time of year again, the start of a new school year. David is still in the field, trying to finish bringing in the hay crop, before he starts on the oats. Since I'm off this week (we were originally going camping this week....but plans change), I thought I'd start the homeschooling.

Today isn't the official kick-off to school, as Mitchell did a short report on the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That was Monday. He heard about the Tower a few days before that, and so he and Dave did some research. Mitchell wrote up a short report and even drew a picture of the Tower. Did you know it used to be a Bell Tower? I didn't!! And they removed the bells to reduce the weight-load of the tower, to hopefully slow down the leaning. See, even at age 39, I've learned something new!!

Today we started with some spelling words (I searched the internet for "grade three spelling"). I'm not really sure what words he can and can't spell. Some of the easy ones he has trouble spelling, yet some of the more difficult words he spells without mistakes. Today's words are: about, across, add, afraid, after, afternoon, again, age, ago, air, almost and also. We'll review them each day and then have a spelling test at the end of the week (which is my plan, we'll see what happens).

Our science curriculum is a combination of life learning (what goes on around us and how humans interact); Read & Understand Science; and Evan Moore Daily Science. We had a short review of the solar system before my cell phone chirped. Life has a way of interrupting us and we had to go retrieve Dave from the south hay field (he had moved the tractor and swather this morning, and needed a ride home to get his truck). On the way home, I quizzed Mitchell on his spelling words. (See? Learning never stops, even when life gets in the way!)

Towards the end of his grade 2 year, we started Mitchell on Cursive Handwriting. We didn't get very far, so I thought we should pick up on that again. Mitchell had a couple melt-downs but he took a short walk around the house to clear his mind and came back to continue his handwriting.

Here's a picture of his handwriting, practicing "add" and "dad" and "gad" and "gag". He did pretty good I think.

We're using "Handwriting Without Tears" that we purchased at the 2010 SHBE Convention. It starts with the "magic c" which can be transformed into an "a" or "g" or "d". We start with the book, learning how to form the letter, then we do extended practice in a notebook. I don't find the workbook has sufficient space to practice the letters, so we just supplement with the notebook.

It's nearly lunchtime so perhaps we'll leave Geography & Map Activities (Rand McNally) until the afternoon. He really does well in Geography and even asked to do some today.

I haven't started any homeschooling with Matthew and Micheal yet this year. As you can see in one photo above, I'm also sorting out our books and curriculum. I have a pile for them, and then sorted out completed curriculum from last year and then this year's books. Perhaps in the next day or two I'll have them start up again as well. We have Numbers, Alphabet, and two different Printing workbooks for them (as they're at different stages academically).

The great thing with Homeschooling is we can tailor the curriculum to suit their abilities. Even though the boys are twins, they differ in their skills, vocabulary, speech and comprehension. The public school system would keep them at the same skill levels, so Matthew would likely lag behind and Michael wouldn't be using his full potential, when being taught the same curriculum.

Well, lunch is eaten and the fixings are put back in the fridge. The boys are getting big enough they make their own sandwiches most days. Today was ham and cheese. Simple and yummy.

Mitchell loves geography and learning about maps. Today's lesson is on South America. We are learning about the countries and their respective capital cities. And did you know some people in Brazil like to put bananas and cinnamon on pizza!! (again, I'm learning something new even at my age!!) Llamas live in the mountains of South America. Watch out, they spit!! (eww, yuck) Jaguars are large spotted cats that live in the forest or grasslands where they can hide. And toucans are colorful birds that live in rain forests (a forest that receives at least 100" of rain each year).

Well, that's all for today's lesson. I hope you enjoyed learning with us!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2010 Harvest Kickoff!

Today is the first day of canning for this growing season!!

A local lady has connections to the fruit truck deliveries from British Columbia each summer and into the fall months. Every couple weeks or so now there will be a different fruit on their truck, and we preorder about a week prior to delivery. This week's delivery was BC Cherries. YUM!

My boys absolutely L-O-V-E canned cherries. They'll eat them fresh too, but if given a choice of any home canned fruit, they pick cherries every time. I bought a 20lb case of cherries last night, and today I canned 14 pints of cherries, 2 quarts of pie filling and even had a good bowlful leftover to munch on fresh. I'm thinking now I should have ordered 2 cases, as I know how fast these will fly off the shelves!

These aren't my own recipes but ones I've gotten out of published cookbooks, so I will post specifics regarding the books.

Cherry Pie Filling
(Company's Coming Preserves Revised Edition, pg 102, c1994)

2lbs fresh pitted cherries (about 6 cups)
1 tbsp water
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp minute tapioca
1/4 tsp almond flavoring

Place all 5 ingredients in large pot. Stir as you bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pack fruit into hot sterilized quart jar to within 1" of top. Fill with juice to within 1/2" of top. Secure lid.

Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Makes 1 quart, enough for one 9" pie. Repeat for as many jars as you like.

And for canning cherries in syrup, I use the Medium Syrup below:

Hot Pack Syrup
(Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving, pg 38, c1995)

Medium Syrup, approx 30% sugar:
7 Pint Jars requires approximately 4 cups water + 1 3/4 cups white sugar

I typically Hot Pack cherries so they have a longer shelf-life.
"In hot packing, the prepared fruit is added to the boiling syrup or liquid. The mixture is brought back to a boil and simmered for a few minutes." I go one step more and process the pints in a boiling water bath for about 5 minutes. It's not in the original recipe, but since I have the canner full of boiling water to sterilize the jars, it couldn't hurt to process for even 5 minutes. Usually within 20 minutes of removing the jars, I can hear the seals "popping". I love that sound!

I really should have taken pictures throughout the process but Dave was in the field (and don't forget the repair shop too!) today so my photographer was busy elsewhere. If my hands weren't dripping with cherry juice I would have taken them myself ;)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 Summer Vacation

Well we are finally off on our summer vacation We bought our holiday trailer at a recent farm auction. It ain't pretty, it's extremely heavy to pull and the fridge doesn't cool. But it's ours :)

As we roll down the highway the engine temp is a bit warmer than we'd like. So Dave is driving slow about 80 kph. The trailer was made in 1973 and I'm sure constructed with cast iron and oak! It's a heavy pull for our 1997 GMC Sierra 2500. I'm glad we don't have a smaller truck. Now I know why the new trailers are "lite".

The boys and Bella are in the back seat asking "when's lunch?". Oh I remember back in the 70's on my own summer vacation with the family. We had the lunch eaten and water drank before we got to Hart. (You need to know that Hart is only 6 miles from Coronach!)

Upon our arrival at the park we ran into some road construction. The park access road suffered a lot of broken pavement and it was past due for repairs.

It's official now! We are on vacation. We have our park pass and Maple Vale #26 is Home Sweet Home for the next few days.

It took Dave a couple tries to get the trailer into the site. Unaccustomed to backing up the trailer tho he did better than I would have done.

Our trailer is ready for living. It's warm inside so I hooked up a small fan to blow the cool park air into the interior. We even have our own patio lanterns up and ready to plug in tonight. I can't wait!!

The boys are relaxing after a snack of jelly beans and sunflower seeds. They are in their canvas lawn hairs playing their Nintenso DS games. Dave is texting with his sister on his Blackberry Storm. I'm enjoying the park sounds while I type this out on my iPod Touch using the Notebook app.

We don't have wifi coverage in the park but Dave can access the cellular network. Perhaps when I'm out of the site down by the lake I will be more successful until now I'm disconnected and loving it :o)

We've had a bit of rain tonight. And the requisite thunder and lightening too. Wouldn't be a proper camping experience without some rain! Thankfully we have a fairly rain-proof trailer. There is a bit of dampness at the table through the side window. But considering the age of the unit it's faring rather well.

We had a family game night in the trailer while listening to the rain outside. We played UNO for the first time as a family tonight. I taught the boys a few days ago and tonight we taught Dave. I rather enjoyed the family time.

We did manage a fire about 8:30 to cook up some hotdogs. We barely finished when the rains began again so we hustled back into the sanctity of the trailer.

It's 9pm now and the boys are showing their weariness. Or perhaps it's my weariness coming out in them. In any case the rain is back and I think the fire is almost out so no s'mores tonight. I'm saddened as I really wanted them our first night. But there's always tomorrow.

We made it through the night rather well. We had a bit more rain but the ceiling didn't leak much if at all. I woke a few times as usual and by 6:30 had to pee. I took Bella out with me and left the menfolk behind. I crawled back into bed upon my return and Bella joined us. We snoozed for a short while until the boys woke up. Dave took them all for their morning pee and when they returned we put away the bedding. It was time for coffee!!

We fried bacon on the firepit and the eggs in the electric frying pan. The kids didn't care for the bacon but I really savored that woodsmoke taste it had. We cleaned up breakfast dishes and headed out to go exploring.

We started at the playground and then made our way to the lakeshore. There is a rule of no pets on the beach so Dave and I took turns wading through the water. It wasn't icy cold but it wasn't warm either. More like refreshing.

The kids were picking through shells on the beach and found a clamshell still intact so I checked and there was a clam inside! We took a few pictures of it and then returned it to the water to live another day.

We made our way back to the playground since that seemed to be the boys' favorite spot. I'm enjoying the sun's warm rays as I relax on a bench watching the boys on the playground equipment.

Our lunch today consisted of the finest frozen dairy products the Park had to offer...namely ice cream! It was a hit with the boys that's for sure. The boys each had a single scoop of chocolate on a cone. Dave had 2 scoops of hokey pokey, which was a toffee flavored ice cream with chunks of toffee. My cone was topped with mint chocolate chip. We shared with Bella and I'm not sure which flavor was her favorite, she wanted them all. Back at our site we are enjoying the sights and sounds. Dave is surfing the cellular Internet while the boys and I munch on some chips. We hope to head down to the trout pond to do a bit of fishing. Here's hoping we have fish to fry up at suppertime.

Well fishing was a bust. The trout pond wasn't stocked this year, probably due to the road construction adjacent to the access road. So we headed out on Hwy #2 and up to the causeway to do some fishing. Lost a couple hooks in the rocks and caught enough seaweed to feed us all. But no fish :( I hope we can get out more often now that we have our fishing licenses and the knowledge of what to do. Poor kids really wanted to be the one to haul in the fish with the net. LOL

We came back to the campsite to find there was a water break and no washroom facilities. Of course that was after I roasted our Jumbo marshmallows. Hard to wash sticky fingers without water. I took the boys to Elm View campground to wash up while Dave stayed behind with Bella.

We grilled some burgers for supper, starting them on a foil pan called Grill Buddies. It's a rectangular shaped foil pan with drip holes on the bottom side. Grease doesn't drip thru completely as the bottom has a ridged corrugated shape. Once the burgers firmed up a bit I grilled them directly on the park's BBQ to get that outdoorsy woodsmoke flavor. Mmmmm supper was yummy! I sliced some potatoes and grilled them with butter, seasoning salt and black pepper in foil dishes. They cooked up way better than using tin foil alone. I'll be sure to keep stocked up on cheap foil dishes from now on.

(In the picture are our Flat Friends, Alex & Evie from Ohio, enjoying some bbq burgers with us.)

The boys made some friends next door to our trailer. Hartley and his younger brother came over in the evening to watch Toy Story 2 and munch on some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I made us all some hot chocolate to drink while the movie was on.

It started to rain again too. More rain to make it a soggy evening and overnight. The rain continued into the wee morning hours and by morning I was chilled. I haven't had my hoodie off much this camping trip due to the cool damp weather. But like Dave said it hasn't been excessively hot and unbearable either. Good point Dave.

I cooked some breakfast sausage over the fire this morning. We purchased a cast iron frying pan this season and it worked perfectly! We boiled the sausage first then grilled them to give them that woodsmoke taste I've come to enjoy. Dave scrambled some eggs for the kids in the trailer with the electric frying pan while I fried some eggs (rather slowly tho) in the cast iron pan over the fire. They took longer than I expected to fry up but they were worth the wait.

We stayed inside this morning due to the cool weather. I was feeling the chills settle into my bones and didn't want to catch a cold. Dave made lunch today: gourmet mac & cheese with hot dogs, cooked over the open fire. I opened a can of beans and heated them on the grill.

I'm sitting here on my lawn chair enjoying the warm sunshine do it's magic getting the chills out of my bones. Dave took the boys to the playground. I expect they'll be awhile as he took his novel and bb. Bella and I stayed behind for some girl rest & relaxation.

Time for my novel and a beverage. TTYL!

We took the boys down to the boat launch. I had hoped to do some fishing off the dock but a sign was posted prohibiting it. So we went to play a round of mini golf.

We started out keeping score and once we finished the first hole I knew scorekeeping was not necessary. The boys handled the golf club like a hockey stick and if we had been on the ice they would have done very well. But on the golf course not so much. (Notice Alex & Evie helping the boys aim their shots through the tunnels?)

Up until the afternoon the weather had been very moody. Lots of cool damp weather. But it improved dramatically as the day wore on.

Supper was burgers and hotdogs again. As soon as the boys were done they wanted to go play with Hartley and Kelmin. It looked like they weren't eating so I sent them over to ask. Well nobody returned so I assumed they were welcomed. Dave & I finished up supper as Doug popped over asking us over for a drink. We cleaned up supper and headed over. It was nice to finally talk with other adults! Doug & Tracey live near Pense and both work in Regina. David lives near Saskatoon (he's Doug's brother). Tracey's parents were also staying with them. David and the grandparents had tents while Doug and his family had the trailer. It's a classic like ours. Built in 1975 and Doug says the manual has it at 5400lbs. No wonder ours is so heavy too! The modern trailers are a lot lighter in weight and can be towed with just a SUV. We did admit tho that our trailers will survive a tornado or rollover and won't need to be reassembled. LOL

We brought over our Jumbo marshmallows and made some s'mores. They introduced us to "bush pies". You use a bbq sandwich maker (available in any camping department). Spread margarine on the outsides of two slices of bread and then fill them with whatever combination you desire. A few minutes on the fire and voilĂ ! Tracey made them with cherry pie filling between brown bread. Mmmmmm they were tasty! Forget the s'mores, I want bush pies from now on.

I didn't sleep well again mostly due to my sore lower back. Perhaps the mattress or pillow is to blame. But I was up at 3:30 and again at 7:00. Time to start the day as we're going home today. And just when we made some friends. Typical.

Took some effort to build the fire this morning. But its going good now to get breakfast on the go. Breakfast was bacon and eggs again and then cleanup. The boys helped by playing at the neighbors while Dave and I got the gear put away and the camper repacked.

I was sad to see the campsite in the rearview mirror for the last time as we pulled out of the park. But I really enjoyed the short holiday at Buffalo Pound. Our family really needed the time away from all responsibilities and just enjoy life again, without all the schedules and appointments.

Until next time....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Open Wide!

Well, it seems to be that time of year again....teeth cleaning time. A couple weeks ago we took the boys into our favorite dentist office to get their teeth checked and cleaned. The twins came out good, with just a new toothbrush, some floss (to add to our collection!) and some handheld floss thingies. Mitchell, however, had some cavities in his baby teeth and his 6yr molars were pitted, so they required a sealant. He was also losing some baby teeth on his front bottom jaw. His bottom teeth tend to come in behind his baby teeth, thereby delaying the natural tooth removal.

So on Wednesday, we took Mitchell in for the first of a few appointments to d
o the repair work. The dental technician and assistant are both so wonderful with kids. They make it a fun place to visit and every procedure is explained in a positive way (they're not bad cavities but rather they're sugar bugs that eat teeth, so we clean them off with special toothpaste).

First procedure was the molar sealant at the very back of his mouth. It was hard to keep that mouth open so wide. But the gals are sure quick with their work, the sealant was on and dried lightning fast.

Next on the task list was the cavity repair. Mitchell's teeth tend
to come in very tightly spaced. It's difficult to floss between his back teeth, to the point the floss shreds rather quickly. No wonder he has cavities where the teeth touch! If they have trouble flossing his teeth (and they're the "experts" LOL) how can we be expected to do the same at home.

Unfortunately, my memories of the raincoat aren't pleasant. But these two ladies made it an enjoyable occasion for him. They let him feel the tooth clips and the raincoat and the plastic frame used to keep it tight. It's really a hands-on type of practice, especially in the kid corner.

It seemed to take longer to set up
the two teeth for the repair than it did for the actual work. They cleaned up the cavity holes then prepped them for the goop (so technical aren't I?!). A few seconds with the drying light and he was good as new. (btw, they don't expect these teeth to fall out soon, so they chose to repair the cavity and allow Mitchell pain-free chewing)

In this photo, you get a really good view of the teeth they'll be working on. It looks awkward for Mitchell, but they cut a hole in the raincoat for him to breathe easier and it wasn't on for very long. The metal clips on his teeth provide a secure surrounding for the filling goop, so it doesn't ooze all over the place.

Look at Mitchell! He's relaxed! He's comfortable! Legs crossed, he's obviously not feeling any tension whatsoever during the office visit. Every child gets to hold a mirror to watch what's going on inside his mouth. And the kids are even able to hold the tools to become familiar with them, so they're not so scary-looking.

The last task on today's list was to "pluck out" a baby tooth, to allow the permanent tooth to slide right into place. Mitchell's permanent teeth have a tendancy to come in behind his baby teeth, creating a second row of teeth. Once the baby tooth falls out, the adult tooth needs to jockey into it's permanent position. By extracting this baby tooth now, it saves the trouble of having that second row of teeth and reduces the possibility of teeth alignment issues in the future.

Kari (the dental technician) used a special dental tool to scrape below the gumline. She scraped all around the tooth, separating the tooth root "feelers" from the gum. When she finished the scraping, she easily plucked the baby tooth out of the gums using her alligator tool (aptly names since the handles looked like an alligator tail). Since Mitchell was well anesthetized from the cavity repair, he didn't feel a thing during this procedure. And once the tooth was out, Kari confirmed the adult tooth would have been in place LONG before the baby tooth even started getting loose. It could have been Christmas before that tooth would be loose enough to pull by hand.

WOW! That's a huge tooth!! The root even has an indentation from where the adult tooth was pushing up alongside the root. Typically the adult tooth pushes up from the bottom, causing the baby tooth to loosen and fall out. Mitchell was given a treasure box to keep his tooth. And since I wanted to keep the tooth, I bought it from Mitchell for $2 (rather than having the tooth fairy buy it for a measly $1!).

After each office visit, regardless of reason, the kids get to choose a small toy from their treasure chest. This is Mitchell as he's looking for a toy, while waiting for his jaw to stop bleeding. He was even sent home with a stash of gauze "bandaids"!

Play Ball!!

David & I started seeing each other June 22, 2000, and with this being our 10 year anniversary, I wanted to do something fun as a family. The weather was too unpredictable to take the kids to the lake (and the water too cold!). And since the boys just finished up their T-Ball for the season, they were still talking baseball.

The Swift Current Indians played a home game on Tuesday, so we took the kids in for that. Us big kids had a great time watching some adult baseball. The kids just wanted the food. Oh my the burgers smelled wonderful! But we had just enjoyed a chinese smorg supper and were all full to enjoy any of it.

The boys did manage to score some roasted sunflower seeds from a fan sitting behind us. And we bought them some pop to wash down the shells (they don't know how to crack them open yet). So that kept them entertained while the game played on.

The Regina Red Sox were in town that night, and unfortunately the home team did not score any runs. Regina won the game 4-0.

Oh! I forgot! I won a prize!! That evening's game sponsor was Swift Current's Living Skies Casino. As game sponsor, the Casino donated various prize packages to be won by fans throughout the game. It was the last draw of the evening when our program number was called. I won a red fabric carry-all bag, a dark navy blue sweatshirt, a tan ball cap and a red stainless steel water bottle with it's own carrying pouch, all from the Casino. The sweatshirt was so very cozy too, since the evening air was quite cool from the humidity. And the ball cap even fit my big fat head (I blame the hair....LOL).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

First Garden Harvest

Well, guess it's garden harvest time here! Well, just the beginning actually, most of the garden produce is still in it's seedling stage.

My chives and rhubarb have been ready to pick for a couple weeks now. In fact, both had gone to seed already, I hope they make a come-back, especially the rhubarb.

I cut a handful of chives and chopped them up to dry in my dehydrator. I might go pick some more and make it a worth the energy used to run the dryer. Once they're dried I use them in scrambled eggs mostly, but also in homemade biscuits.

My next harvest today was the rhubarb. It had 3 seed stalks already so I pulled them out and picked about a third of the ripe rhubarb. I haven't made canned rhubarb in a few years so I didn't want to waste all of the rhubarb in case I messed up the syrup. Well, it turned out good, even if the rhubarb cooked a bit too long. I clean & sterilize my jars in the dishwasher and the cycle took longer than I realized it would.

Now I have a canned rhubarb topping. :o) It will taste yummy on cake or over ice cream.

I cooked up 4 cups of water with 1 3/4 cups white sugar to make a medium syrup (according to my Bernardin canning recipe book). I added my bundle of chopped and rinsed rhubarb (maybe 6-8 cups chopped) and then cooked it for a few minutes.

I ended up with these 6 pint jars and about a cup of leftover rhubarb/syrup that we'll use tonight for dessert.

Now that I know what syrup to make, I'll pick the rest of the rhubarb another day. My sister-in-law wants me to split an older plant so I'll do that too. Her rhubarb doesn't produce well anymore, so it's time to share since I can't keep up to the production from the 3 large plants I have.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 Champions - Chaplin 6 & Under

Our boys were on the 6 & Under mixed t-ball team this spring. Due to the dwindling child population in the area, there were only 3 teams (Chaplin, Hodgeville and Morse). All three of our boys were on this team (age requirements are 6 or under, with 7yr olds as "overage"). Most of the team had played last year, so it was just a refresher year for them. Some were brand new to the sport. All had fun, which is most important!

The kids had 4 games this year, one home and one away, against each competing town. With the weather playing a factor it was hard to get the games completed, and even tougher to get in a practice or two. But the kids all enjoyed it and had fun.

Playoffs were originally scheduled for Saturday, June 12/10. But again weather got in the way, and so they were moved to Sunday, June 13/10 in Vanguard, SK.

The 6&U started their first game at 9am, versus Morse. They did good and won that game (not sure of the score). On to our second game at 11am, versus Hodgeville. Hodgeville is a very tough team to beat, but we did it! We won both games, and had a break until playoffs at 3:30. Hodgeville played Morse at 11am, and Hodgeville won that game.

Our niece and nephew and a classmate of theirs played on the Morse 8 & Under team as there wasn't enough players to form a Chaplin team. They played at 1pm, so we sat and watched them while our team ran around to burn some energy. It's hard being 6yrs old and having to pay full attention to a ball game, when all they want to do is play in the sand and chase gophers. LOL

By 3:30pm, the kids were getting tired and didn't want to play yet another game. Us parents were getting hot and sunburnt and had to convince the kids to play. We won both games in the morning, so we were the "home" team and had last bat against Hodgeville. The kids did quite well, beating them 8-7. The kids were happy the game was over. The parents were happy the kids were happy!

Congratulations Chaplin 6 & Under, you had an awesome season!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

OMG, is that the SUN?!

Anyone who's been in our part of the country this spring knows it's been a wet one so far. I've lost track how many inches of rain we've received, but I bet it's getting close to 10inches since beginning of May.

We had a LOT of fog in February, and my grandmother always said, 90 days after will be rain (or snow). Well, she's been proven right this year.

We are a farming family, like many others in Saskatchewan. Rain is needed for the fields to grow, but the farmers also need dry fields to get in to seed. I know, another whiny farmer here, we're never happy with the weather. LOL

Unfortunately we can't order weather-on-demand like you can some pay-per-view movies. You live with what you're given, and if that's a month of rain (or more) with few warm sunny days thrown in, then you deal with it. You adjust. You diversify (rice anyone?). No sense wasting your time whining about it.

Dave's almost done seeding. He just needs a couple good days of drying weather (sun, wind) and he can get back into the tractor to finish up. We're just putting in Oats this year, for cattle feed. It doesn't have a long growing season, so we should be safe at harvest time.

I have two oak barrel planters in the front of the house. The poor plants are swimming in about 2 inches of water! I should have emptied the soil from the planter and replaced the drainage material this spring prior to planting. But I didn't. And now they're suffering. Time to put it on my "spring 2011 to-do list".

As for my garden, it's not under water yet, but it sure is muddy. I had some old carpeting from my mother's house when she put in laminate flooring. I cut some strips and used them in my garden as my main walking path. It sure is great to walk on when the garden is muddy. It also helps control some of the weeds. My kids love walking on the carpet too!

I can't wait until the garden is ready to start harvesting some yummy vegetables. With the help from Dave and the boys, we planted sunflowers (the birds LOVE these), corn, potatoes, tomatoes (beefsteak, cherry and roma), peas, green peppers, onion, carrots, celery, cauliflower (my first attempt), cabbage (another first), lettuce (romaine, leaf, head) and radishes.

We make our own spaghetti sauce and freeze the peas and corn. With my food dehydrator I dry the green peppers and onions. I might try making french fries with all the potatoes this fall, and then freeze them for later enjoyment. We don't eat a lot of mashed or baked potatoes as a family, and usually by springtime, the potato supply has gone soft. (hmmm, perhaps I need to try making perogies from scratch?)

Friday, June 11, 2010


In my first post I thought I'd welcome you all to my blog. This won't be just about gardening or homeschooling or even photography, but rather a collection of ramblings with no set topic and no set agenda.

I'm sitting on the couch with my latest purchase, a Powerbook G4 15" (1.67gHz, 2GB ram). It's far from new and has a few scratches, but it's mine. :o) For the days I sit at my very cluttered desk, I use my iMac, powered with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6gHz processor and 2GB of ram under the hood. More than sufficient for my facebook addiction! But tonight I just want to relax with my feet up, and so it's time to get comfy with the PB.

You've probably figured out I'm a bit tech-savvy. I grew up a Microsoft Windows gal, but since hooking up with Dave, he's introduced me to the Linux and Mac operating systems. I will say, in my opinion, they're much superior to windoz, but they do have their limitations. There isn't the vast selection of game software available. But there is a wide selection of office-productivity software that can do as good a job as any windoz product.

Since I'm on the subject of technology, let's chat about my gadgets that make my life complete. First is my Blackberry Curve 8330. It's a very handy smartphone that lets me surf the internet, send emails and text messages, keep organized with my calendar, take pictures and videos and play games. I can even use it to phone a friend! To me, the best application on it is Blackberry Messenger (bbm). It's an instant messaging system between blackberry owners. Each bb has it's own PIN number which you can add to your contact list. BBM is completely FREE and such an addicting form of communication.

My other fave is my iPod Touch. The only two things it CAN'T do is phone a friend or take a picture (or video). There's an application for everything you can think of, and then some! I play cards and keep up with sports standings (PGA, NASCAR, TSN, etc...). If I need a recipe for supper, I can look it up. If I want to try a new drink, I have an app for drink recipes. I can surf the 'net, send & receive email, and if I'm connected to wi-fi, I can even use Skype to text chat with friends and family all over the globe.

This summer, our wireless provider will be adding the iPhone 4 to it's smartphone lineup. Will I stay with my Blackberry (and BBM)? Or will I make the leap and switch to the iPhone? I have until December 2010 when my blackberry contract is up for renewal. I bbm a LOT with Dave and his sister. If I switch to the iPhone, I won't be able to instant message with either of them (if they're away from a computer). Many iPhone users chat through Skype so the function is still there, but you can't Skype on a Blackberry. Oh, the decisions...