The Curse of a Northern Gardener

This is a post written by my sister, Anna. Lovingly referred to as Gingersnap, she is a self professed seed addict who loves the outdoors. While dividing her time between working, cooking, canning, crafting, gardening, 3 (mostly) broke horses and anything outdoorsy, she resides in a cabin on 160 acres of wild forest in the Great White North of British Columbia, Canada. Some may roll their eyes at living in a place with no phone or internet connection, but Anna and her fiance, Drillerman, not only make up for it, but thrive, by enjoying fishing, hunting and horseback riding. Anna traded her stilletto’s in for cowboy boots to live this life, and she doesn’t regret it one bit. While recovering from lack of ethnic and international foods available in her town, she has made the most of her freezer full of moose, home canned goat meat on the shelf, a plethora of garden treats captured via canning, and treats herself to the odd chicken breast.

 

I have always been a huge fan of irony. That being said, I can highly appreciate the fact that I didn’t get bit by the gardening bug until AFTER I had made the trek from a Zone 8 to a Zone 2 climate!
I had always enjoyed grooming planters full of flowers, pulling (and munching) carrots, and puttering around in my grandmother’s immaculately landscaped gardens. But it wasn’t until I was faced with acres and acres of raw land that the desperate need to dig, build, and glean all the beauty I could possibly tame out of this wild cattle pasture we called our home. I set out to build a BIG vegetable garden, and Rock-Stacked beds OVERFLOWING with (carefully color coordinated) Annuals and Perennials, completely overlooking the fact that we lived under a blanket of snow for 6 months of the year.

 

This photo was taken March 15th. Weeks after my mom had sent pictures of her bulbs blooming. She is very cruel to me. -Kate says: We’ve had snowdrops blooming for weeks and crocus’ for a few days and its just the end of February!

Maybe it was the fact that my husband had been out in camp for 2 months straight, or maybe I was going stark crazy from seeing nothing but that damn WHITE stuff and I needed to see some DIRT, but in my first year of serious gardening, I ‘renovated’ our spare room into a ‘greenhouse’. We northerners need to get a head start on spring after all. A Few long planting sessions in February, Dozens and Dozens of peat filled trays and 4 sets of large growing lights later, I was satisfied in my need to crumble dirt between my fingers. Satisfaction quickly turned into Surprise as I ACTUALLY MANAGED TO GROW THINGS!

 

…and then as the end of march approached, Surprise and Self Congratulation turned into STRESS as I realized I hadn’t accounted for the fact that those teeny little seedlings would keep growing and growing until our last frost date. I was optimistic that I could plant out on May long weekend, but had no idea how I would contain the quickly growing jungle that was our spare bedroom. My husband wasn’t too thrilled with it either… whether it was the sneaking back and forth past him every morning while he slept-sloshing water and dirt everywhere, or the surprising Hydro Bill… somewhere along the line we realized that we had seriously overstepped out capabilities. I mean, how many people really need 150 tomato plants?! (especially considering we can only grow tomatoes in greenhouses in zone 2 and my small greenhouse only fit ~50 tomato plants….?!?!)

Nonetheless I made it to May, and after a couple weeks of lugging the flats of seedlings outside acclimatizing them, everything was settled into their permanent location. And I was disappointed… My ( 8 huge raised beds built by myself!) Vegetable garden looked promising, but as far as flower gardens went…the overall effect left something to be desired… I had chosen to start many perennials that would take another year to flower. But I was cheered by the fact that my husband promised me an endless perennial budget for the following spring as long as I never turned our house into a jungle again!

 

 

Still……. It’s February again…. It’s been months since I’ve seen fresh dirt…and Hubby’s in camp again…. Maybe I’ll start just a FEW plants… some rosemary… maybe a few hot peppers…. Last year’s snapdragons were gorgeous so I MUST do more of those…. Oh and what about my seed order that just arrived…? Le Sigh. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

 

 

And how could I resist a home-grown bouquet of gorgeous “Bridal White” Snapdragons

 

Or Lettuce Deliveries the leave my coworker’s begging for more of the “REAL” tasting lettuce

 

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go daydream of things greening up and purchase a bag of peat mix…

 

And count the days until I can relax in the GREEN and DIRT, instead of braving the endless WHITE!

 

 

 

Kate says- Leave some ‘comment love’ if you want to hear more from Anna. I love her writing style and hearing about living in the North, which is Cowboy’s homeland!

Our Trip!

Here is a post trip photo dump for you as I’m not quite up to writing anything else.

Have fun!

Mac and his cousin Tess waking up Uncle Ben. He’s Cowboy’s younger brother (My Brother in law is only 17. Charming bedroom eh?)

Smiling at Uncle Ben on the other side, trying to get ontop to play.

Cowboy’s Mom making crepes. He was so jealous when he heard we had them. Guess I need to learn how to make crepes!

Playing on the bowflex. They thought this was hilarious.

Riding the winnie the pooh bike. This was another constant activity with these two. Noticed I don’t have any photos of Tess’s Mom, my sister in law!

I asked the dog, Poppy, to sit, so Mac and Tess sat too.

My Dad, or Granddad giving Mac a haircut. He wanted it so bad, then he really didn’t once they were half way through.

Shoveling snow at Granddads. Notice his, uh-hum, lack of clothing? He thought it was great.

Reading with Granddad

Playing in the snow at Granddads house

Having a bath in Granddads sink!

Feeding horses with Auntie Gingersnap.

Feeding horses the next day.

On the snowmobile with Uncle Drillerman (Mac calls their excavator a ‘heh-copter’. Kind of like helicopter. Not sure why…) It was funny to see him trying to drive it, because its geared to go really fast really quick and he was going soooo slow with Mac.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoyed the photos of our trip.

xoxo

Kate

Uncle Bear

When Drillerman was gone last, I wrote a little post about him, it made Gingersnap happy.

 

Wait, was it last time he was gone? Or the time before? The time before maybe? I don’t know, but right now he’s gone again. If you’re reading this Drillerman? Gingersnap says you can come home now, she’ll even shave her legs!

 

Back to the original topic of course, that being one of my other brother-in-laws. (I have 5 all together!) Uncle Bear and my Sister #2 moved away with my precious Amy Jane a gazillion years ago.

 

Oh it was only the middle of April? It felt like forever. I really miss Amy. I mean all of them. So Uncle Bear (That’s what Mac calls him), went drilling, just like Drillerman, of course, and Amy Jane really misses him. I mean, I’m sure Sister #2 does, I know she does.

 

But it hurts a lot more when this gal does.

How sweet is she?!

 

So in lieu of whining more about Uncle Bear being gone, and Amy Jane missing him so much. I’m going to share a couple pictures of Uncle Bear, along with what is so neat about him! Just like I did with Drillerman.

(Can you TELL I’m aiming for brownie points that will get my babysitting with Sister #2 come to visit next week!?)

 

A year ago, Cowboy, with the help of Stepdad and Uncle Bear, set up and poured concrete in my Mom’s carport and down below in her porch. Looks 10000X better now of course! These are the only photos I could find of him on my computer!

 

 

It’s safe to say he was the Wheelbarrow B*tch here!

Uncle Bear is really hard working.

 

He likes to eat, and that’s an understatement.

 

Protein is his friiiiend.

 

He makes wicked cottage cheese pancakes!

 

But I’ve never seen him make anything else.

 

Beside Roobis Tea of course. He drinks that like it’s going out of style baby!

 

He likes to chill with Amy Jane and watch a movie.

 

Or doing crazy things like go for runs or push ups or pull ups or WHATEVER.

 

Oh, and I lied. I found another picture of him on my computer. He was berry picking.

 

 

YES!

 

The (un)fair state of my bathroom.

I hate dirty bathrooms. They sceeve me out. (How the heck is that word spelt?) My bathroom is clean, but very very messy right now.

 

Because we have chickens growing in there!

We bought an incubator a few weeks ago and shortly afterwards a broody hen at my Mom’s couldn’t decide whether to stay on her eggs or not, so we took them out from under her and put them in the incubator. I told myself that if ONE chick hatched and survived I would be excited! After 8 days in the incubator we candled the eggs.

 

This is the box we used to candle the eggs. The egg sits on the hole lengthwise and we put Cowboy’s big powerful work flashlight in the bottom. This is done at night in a dark room.

From what we saw, we figured the chicks were 12 days along, and that they would hatch the following Wednesday, meaning we would raise the humidity (helps the chicks break out) on Sunday/Monday. Well, Sunday morning I was going to the washroom and I heard “peep Peep PEEP”. If it weren’t for the fact I was already peeing, I may have peed myself with excitement! I ran and told Cowboy, who said they started last night.

 

“WHAT?! YOU DIDN’T WAKE ME UP!?”

“No”, he said “Then you would have been up all night for nothing.”.

 

Right. That’s why he’s the logical one here. We had two hatch that night, but we lost one. Tuesday night two more hatched and survived. Friday morning two hatched and one died. Saturday morning (Today!) this baby hatched.

(Ignore the dirt under my nails? Thankyaverymuch) This has been a higelty pigelty hatch. They should all hatch within a couple days of each other, but instead it’s been days apart. There is still 6 more eggs to go! Our relief milkers took the first three chicks, and they’ll take these two as well. The black one at the top hatched yesterday morning. Considering the wierd start to this incubation, I’m very glad with how it’s turned out.

 

My bathroom though?

Incubator…box for chicks that won’t stop bugging other chicks…netti pot!

Candling box…cute clip…Rockin’ Green…Chick food….basket of toiletries

 

Wait wait back up there…

Yes you, the cute gold leather clip I got at Twang and Pearl. I love how you look in my hair.

 

 

On a very bright note, along with the egg below, there is still 6 eggs to see what happens!

I’ll keep you updated!!

 

p.s. Gingersnap is going to be very jealous. And maybe if we ask really nicely, she’ll do a guest post on her Whisky Onion Mushroom hotdog/hamburger topping. She made it for the wedding and everyone had it on top of local pork sausages in fresh baked from our local bakery buns. Ah’mazin’.

A Hankering for Summer

*This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts by my sister*

Anna, lovingly referred to as Gingersnap, is a self professed seed addict who loves the outdoors. While dividing her time between working, cooking, canning, crafting, gardening, 3 (mostly) broke horses and anything outdoorsy, she resides in a cabin on 160 acres of wild forest in the Great White North of British Columbia, Canada. Some may roll their eyes at living in a place with no phone or internet connection, but Anna and her fiance, Drillerman, not only make up for it, but thrive, by enjoying fishing, hunting and horseback riding. Anna traded her stilletto’s in for cowboy boots to live this life, and she doesn’t regret it one bit. While recovering from lack of ethnic and international foods available in her town, she has made the most of her freezer full of moose, home canned goat meat on the shelf, a plethora of garden treats captured via canning, and treats herself to the odd chicken breast.

I spent the weekend sorting through fishing tackle, packhorse gear, and summer clothes-turning our craft room/hunting room into a suitable spare bedroom for Sister visits. Sisters have babies, and although I don’t have kids, I’m relatively certain that a room filled with fishhooks and gunpowder isn’t a great room for an active baby to stay in.

But, to the point, spending all this time staring at all of our summer gear meant that I started to have a major hankering for ‘picnic food’. I reeeeeaaaalllly wanted potato salad. But it was snowing outside, and I just wasn’t ready to ‘go there’. Henceforth I created a warm potato salad that perfectly suited my desires.

Be warned: I didn’t write down any measurements. This salad is largely interpretive and should be altered to suit your own tastes.

Grilled Chicken & Truffled Potato Salad.

1) Quarter ~2 cups small nugget potatoes (don’t you dare peel!)

Boil in salted water until ‘fork tender’ but not mushy. Drain, set pot back on hot burner and briefly stir, to evaporate excess moisture from potatoes. Set aside.

2) In a small sauté pan, sear one boneless skinless chicken breast-cut into medium dice. I sautéed my chicken with just a hint of olive oil and enough dried sage and parsley to ‘soak up’ the moisture as it cooked. I did not want the chicken to be oily at the end, wanted it to be nicely seared and tender, but that the pan is ‘dry’ with little brown bits at the end. Throw in a spoonful of caramelized onions that you just happened to have on hand in the fridge last weekend’s canning. Remove from heat.

3) In a small mixing bowl, combine the cooked potatoes with ¼ C low-fat plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard w/horseradish, a squeeze of lemon, ½ an Avocado cut up into medium dice, a dash of Smoked Spanish Paprika and a scant tablespoon of White Truffle Butter. Toss Chicken and Caramilized onions in with potato mixture, season with White pepper & good Sea Salt. Serve warm, immediately!

4) Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. I failed miserably.

I LOVED this because the avocado mimics that texture of eggs, but without the work, AND a favorable taste in my opinion. Don’t worry if you don’t have white truffle butter, it’s completely optional. But if you haven’t tried white truffle butter (truffles can be intimidating) you owe it to yourself to try. YES, it is expensive, but just the smallest dab can turn a grilled steak, some roasted potatoes, etc, into a taste that is absolutely unique and addictive. The truffle butter in this recipe just gives that ‘note’ that sings throughout the whole meal.

So I ate this, staring out the windows at all the big fat snowflakes falling around me, and dreamt of fishing. Fishing with a special someone…..

The Thing About Gingersnap

Is that her hair is red. Didja guess that?

She’s also my oldest sister. There is three of us in total. By the way.

And we have the most amazing Mommy in the world.

But back to Gingersnap, right?

She loved that I wrote about her fiance, shall we call him, Drillerman?

Absolutely Tickled Pink.

The thing about Drillerman, is that he works in camp diamond drilling, and goes away for long periods of time.

Like weeks and weeks and weeks.

It makes Gingersnap a saaad saaad girl 😦

But she keeps her self busy working, taking care of their horses, dogs and cats.

You do have cats, don’t you Gingersnap?

The thing about Gingersnap, is that if I don’t e-mail or text her for a couple days, she sends me something like:

“Aren’t you going to ever reply to me?”

or

“Heelllooo? Anybody there?”

You could say we’re in constant conversation. Except we never actually talk on the phone,

Because,

Get this,

She doesn’t even have a home phone AND her cell phone only has enough service for texting at their house.

Unless she puts her ear against the icy cold window or braves the cold,

She lives in the North, you know,

To go sit in the truck and talk on the phone.

The thing about Gingersnap,

Is that she really does look good in green!

They say all redheads do.

The thing about Gingersnap,

Is that she used to wear stilletto shoes and fancy boots on a regular basis.

Then she forayed into the Great White North,

Fell in love, and promptly stayed there.

In a wee old cabin with an oven that only half the burners work on!

How does she survive?! I do not know.

But she makes it work.

The thing about Gingersnap,

Is that she’s going to be guest posting for me soon!

So stayed tuned…