Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Garden Today

Seems I do nothing each spring but grouse about how cool it's been and how far behind we are for the start of the gardening season.  But this year I feel totally justified because the weather has been really cool (38° this morning), and we are definitely behind this spring season.

For instance, here's a clump of our daffodils that are just now finally, almost, just about, ready to blossom.  I know, I know.  Everyone else's daffodils have been long gone for over a month.  Or two.

However, good ol' reliable asparagus has been doing its thing, and we've already had many servings from our patch.  It's going strong.  I shan't complain about that.

Also the chives, which are always the very first green to show, have been ready for preserving (my frozen stash for the winter) for a few days now.  So far, I've only worked up one of the four clumps but must do more soon as I noticed blossoms starting to form this morning when I took these pictures.  The horseradish in the center of the bed is coming on like gangbusters, too.

Our apples trees.  Oh, my.  Although we have our small wire enclosed orchard (foiled you, you pesky birds!) pruned, weeded and heavily mulched, compared to the below picture, you can see how far behind their growth is this season.

This shot is from this same day in a past year.  Oiy.

Garlic is looking good.  I grew w-a-a-a-y too much of it last year so cut down considerably for this year's crop.

Rows of spinach and a mixed variety of lettuces in a raised bed is finally poking through.  I'll have to thin the plants soon.  The carnations planted down the center of the bed are shivering.

This is the old (very old) strawberry patch ready for its last year.  No matter who (
Papa Pea) tries to convince me to leave it in for "just one more year," it's coming out this fall.  There is too much intensive work to keep two patches in good shape.

The new strawberries daughter and I planted last year consist of five double rows of plants instead of the three single rows I experimented with for the last several years.  Garden space is used more efficiently as the double row planting contains the same number of plants as the single row configuration.

Well, that's it for this first of the season garden report.  I planted a raised bed of slicing cucumbers and another of edible podded peas yesterday.  The cukes are under a cold frame (their own little greenhouse) as they will be for nearly the whole growing season.  They certainly would have caught chilblains and died last night with that ridiculous low temp we had if they hadn't been protected!

Friday, May 19, 2023


Finally trying to get a bit caught up on my blogging.  'Tis a struggle just now, and I know most of you can understand why there simply aren't enough hours in the day this time of year.
Here are some pictures from our trail camera.  The first of the deer was captured on April 26th when there was still plenty of snow 'round about.

We thought this looked a bit
like a twelve-legged deer.

And then, look at these pics taken on May 6th at 6:17 a.m.!  It's not often we see one of these big creatures on our property.

Is he/she looking to cross the driveway safely?

"Yup, all clear."

Off he/she goes.
This moose seemed small and wasn't looking the best after the long winter.  Perhaps a young'un from last year? 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Not Complaining, Just Explaining

No doubt about it, I've let myself become a bit of a grump for the past several weeks.  I have no real reason to succumb to such morosity (yes, I just made that word up) and sincerely apologize to any of you facing any real problems.  Which I am definitely not.
Although I do love our winter season with lots of snow, cozy down time spent inside in front of a crackling fire in the wood stove, when the month of April arrives and we're still receiving one heavy snowfall after another that requires hours spent clearing, shoveling, snowplowing . . . one does get a smidge bit frustrated wondering just when the ice and snow will recede and temperatures will rise up out of the 30s as a daytime high.
I'm trying to take it as a promising sign that in the last several days, snow has turned into rain so not much chance of our area facing the dreaded dry spring forest fire danger.  That's good.  However, the ground is currently so saturated that our wind storm of the last three days has brought a lot of damage to large trees and just about anything else that isn't anchored firmly in cement.
Grid power has been spotty with some surrounding areas out for longer periods than others.  The weather has been reminiscent of the "gales of November" . . . in April.
I had plans to do many outside tasks during the month of April.  Ones that I could accomplish before being able to concentrate on this year's garden.  Those plans have been blown away (literally) because of the continued snow, rain and uncomfortably low temperatures.
One would think I'd be happy to enjoy this unexpected time in my quilt room.  Or knitting on the couch.  Or reading.  Or blogging!  Or, hey, what about spring house cleaning?  (Scratch that last item.)
So that's my explanation . . . which probably does classify as complaining.  But, oh, what a few days of sunshine and air temperature that actually felt w-a-r-m would do to propel me out of my grouchy, lethargic mood and infuse my mind and body with energy.  As a wise lady (who a couple of months ago felt the same as I feel right now) told me yesterday . . . this will pass.  Not in the time line one would choose . . . but it will pass! 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Spring May Be A Little Late This Year . . .

Last week we had our first delightful taste of spring weather.  Lots of our winter's snow melted, my raised garden beds were free of their white covering and my daughter commented on the green weeds already poking up through the garden soil.
One afternoon when the temperature rose close to 60°, the sun was shining and we had no breeze.  Papa Pea and I stripped down to only the bare essentials and luxuriated on the deck soaking up some much needed rays of beautiful sunshine.

This is the scene that greeted me early this morning as I looked out our living room windows.  It was snowing and the wind was blowing with gusts up to 50 mph.

As I attempted to shovel the deck, it crossed my mind that perhaps we should not have hauled out the deck furniture this past weekend.
(Photo by our daughter)
We've never before had one single Junco at our peanut butter log feeder.  Today I filled it twice (unheard of in previous winters) and the Juncos never left it all day long.  (It's empty again.)
(Photo by our daughter)
Our (bewildered?) spring Robins spent their day in the dried asparagus ferns foraging what they could find.

Our daughter, standing in our living room looking out, took this picture of me trying to shovel the wooden walk by the well pump.
The snow has continued all day.  I have no idea how many inches we've accumulated because of the wind rearranging it as it falls.
Surely doesn't look like an early spring for us this year.  Nope.  Nuh-uh.  Sigh. 

Friday, April 7, 2023

Our Daughter Is A Ho

A Roe Ho, that is.  ;)

Our daughter was given some roe by a friend who had saved it for her from his annual netting of whitefish in one of our inland lakes.

Roe is another name for eggs harvested from a female fish.  And from roe, caviar is made.  She's done this several times in the past. Today we were the recipients of her efforts.  The following pictures are those she took of the process along with descriptions.

When the eggs come out of the female fish, they are enclosed in a casing holding them together (much like a hairnet).  From which they must be (carefully) extracted.  Oops, no pics of that.  Because, as DD said, it wasn't very photogenic.

After separating the eggs from the casing they are in, you manually pick out all the casing pieces and any stray fish scales (of which there are always a few). 

Above, L-R:  the discard pile, awaiting the delighted chickens; relatively clean roe, eggs in their casing soaking in brine.


 "Clean" roe awaiting the final cleaning.

After many repeated rinses of clean, ice cold water, you VERY gently spread the roe in a very thin layer to remove any further impurities.  The most crucial things is to not put any pressure on the eggs which would result in an oily, cream-colored smear rather than nice, clear, plump caviar.


Interesting aside here:  several years ago, our daughter worked in a local fishery for 2 or 3 seasons and, along with a really neat young woman from Russia, was assigned the task of salting the caviar (following the final cleaning).  (They called themselves Roe Hos.)  The final cleaning, before the salting and packing, is the time-consuming portion of making caviar and what makes it so expensive.  Because each fish egg is so very, very tender, they have to be "picked" by hand.  Meaning that, after washing and the removal of the "big stuff" (fish scales that slipped through and the membranes holding the eggs), the roe has to be thinly spread out (being careful not to burst a single eggy pillow) and inspected.  Any imperfections are then removed.  By hand.  (Imagine bending over tables doing that for 8 hours a day in a refrigerated room!)

Clockwise from bottom left:  final cleaning of roe, discards for chickens, fairly clean roe, caviar on ice.

Salt is what preserves the fish eggs and makes them into caviar.  Some people prefer to soak the roe in a specifically ratio-ed salt-to-water brine.  Others simply salt (with another closely guarded ratio) the fish eggs once they're completely clean.

Once that's all been done, you are left with . . . caviar! 

Whitefish caviar, being one of the least expensive caviars, is currently selling for $8.00/oz.  That makes this beautiful bowl full of locally-sourced omega-3s worth $168.56! 

Hmmm, now what kind of wine would be suitable for serving with caviar and crackers tonight?  (DD advises a dry white.)  You're all invited.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Working In A Freckle Cream Factory And How I Got There

When I was 16-17 years old, I worked in a three-story department store in the town where I grew up.  I worked there full-time during one summer and after school and all day Saturday during the following school year.  My pay was sixty cents an hours.  (Boy howdy, does that date me.)  In my department, we also got a discount on all clothes purchased which was a real incentive to me as a teenage girl.
Before the end of my first year there, a family friend of ours mentioned to my mom that the small factory in which she worked was looking for help and wondered if I might be interested in the job.
I went in for an interview with the owner of the company and was offered the job.  I told him I was eager to accept but would need to give a two-week notice to the department store.  I would then be ready to start in the factory when school let out for the summer.
On my next work shift, I went into Mr. Larkin's office, who was the manager of the department store, and gave him my notice of quitting.  He asked why I was leaving, so I told him of the job I had been offered and of the pay increase going up from sixty cents an hour to $1.00 an hour.  He told me that if I didn't mention it to other employees, he would offer me the dollar an hour to stay.  I thanked him but said I felt it was time to make the move.
So, dear reader, where is all this preamble leading?

To this magazine from 1925 that my daughter shared with me a few days ago.
What a blast looking through it, reading the articles and looking at the many ads the magazine contained.

Imagine my surprise when I came across this ad for Stillman's Freckle Cream.  The very same small company I started working for when I left the department store in 1960!
Stay tuned.  Next blog post . . . my job and adventures working at the freckle cream factory.