Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Multitasking at its finest

This wonderful video was shared in one of the forums I haunt visit ...

Multi-Tasking: 1885 Technology Meets 2013 Technology: 

Love love love it!

Love the juxtaposition of the modern technology of auto-steer GPS-guided with the manual low-tech vintage hand-crank sewing machine.

Love the grizzled old lady farm hands - I have those too!

Showed the video to DH - the tractor looks quite a lot like the big one we've been enjoying - also with auto-steer.  Although our fields were not nearly as big as these.

Made my day :)

PS ... and now I want one of those beautiful little hand-crank treasures!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Today's visitor at the birdfeeder

The delightful previous owners of our new home were bird-lovers, and they left us a collection of feeders and information.  Today's visitor - we think is a downy woodpecker.  Seems to like the suet feeder :)

Today was a wonderfully sunny day with a fresh breeze - whispers of fall in the air.  My favourite season!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Progress - 'Wings have found their new home

Unpacking, sorting, deciding, unpacking, deciding - so much to be done in the new house!

But this *is* progress! Yesterday, DH's Goldwing found its way here; today, mine did :)

I bravely doned the Frogg Toggs - it was raining here and there on the way back to the farm.  Luckily, I only got a few teensy spits - nothing serious at all.

DH had the truck parked and the garage door open so all I had to do was zoom in :) 

Ready to ride again!  In between unpacking more boxes.

On a completely different topic, I'm totally loving cooking with gas.  This is the first house we've been able to have natural gas at - furnace, dryer, oven/stove are all natural gas.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  I still startle and jump back when lighting the element on the stove, but man, is it wonderful to have instant heat, and instant off!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to spend your 32nd wedding anniversary

How to spend your 32nd anniversary ... 
- Spend the morning doing more purging madly while the packers are packing and the loaders are loading. 
- Panic upon hearing dishes clattering that are getting packed. Panic some more watching the boxes loaded. 
- Miss lunch (or snacks or anything) because you parked at the back to be out of the way of the trucks, only to have all egress blocked by said trucks. 
- Finally manage to escape to get to the appointment for the final inspection (still fabulous!). 
- Dine at 'The Little Beaver' (no candles but lots of characters!). 
- Return to now-empty house to find the bits and pieces the packers missed. Like one of the knobs from my long-arm machine. 
- TRASH the blasted washer that has been working in fits and spurts for years and refuses to drain, accompanied by a glorious sunset. 
The dastardly washer that never drains.
Takes 2 hours to do a cycle (when it doesn't get stuck).
Stops 2 minutes in just for fun - unlocks, waits for you to notice.
Takes 30 minutes to do the last 3 minutes.
HaHa.  Take that!! And that!!
And a glorious sunset for ambiance (it was a beautiful pinky purple sky).
Happy happy happy!
- Retire to MIL's for libations, setting up wireless and email. 
- Just about does it - all that matters is that you're doing this together :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quilting hiatus

It's official.  My sewing machine is back in its box, my odds and ends around the machine are packed. My frame and my first mid-arm have found a delightful new home.  My sewing and quilting are on hold until we are moved and unpacked at the new house.  There is a new frame ready to be picked up and assembled at the new house.

This is the week of the move.  We've decided to spoil ourselves and the movers are packing.  That doesn't mean we get away with much - still have to purge and sort and classify and donate and decide on what stays, what goes.

Dinner tonight was a concoction of random stuff from the pantry.  Turned out pretty tasty, lucky for us!

The LAST load of laundry is through my most horrid washing machine.  I am still deciding if I'm going to shoot it to bits or sledge hammer it.  Nasty thing stops half way through a cycle for no reason, takes 2 hours to run a 50 minute cycle, does not drain.  I will not miss it!

Not sure yet if the movers are starting Tuesday or Wednesday.

Have received more hate mail on our efforts to rehome our faithful dogs.  People are just bizarre. Shame on us for trying to find them a new home?   They are not house dogs, they are not town dogs. They've lived on the farm their whole lives.  We hoped the new owners would be able to adopt them but they just cannot - they have to focus on care for their new infant with significant health issues.   We're heartbroken but we are trying to do the best we can for them.

We've found lots of things that bring back fun memories - files from when we were coaching Little Rockers, 'graduation' photos from Jack & Jill (preschool).  My trunk is full again with another load for Goodwill.

Keeping us going is knowing the exciting new chapter about to begin for us.  So here's another sneak peek of the new house!  This next week will be emotional and bittersweet and another lot of work, but also filled with hope and excitement!

Monday, August 12, 2013

9 more sleeps!

Until the moving company sends in the packers :)

Sneak peak of the new house ...

We are very excited!!  I know I will still have way too much stuff but we are purging, sorting, donating, sorting.  Being a bit of a hoarder since forever is not a good thing.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Today my quilting frame and my first quilting machine left my quilting studio for their new home.

I'm so very happy that my friend and quilting buddy wanted to take this sweet little package.  The impetus is of course our move - purging, organizing, donating, rehoming.  Found what I am hoping is a win-win for me and my quilting buddy - she's been making tops by the dozens.  I get to rehome my first machine and existing frame.

I'm replacing this frame with the newer model, which has a little sturdier rollers.  I had a LQS order in just the replacement rollers, have been waiting and waiting and the company has not shipped them.

This also gets around possible issues of the assembled frame not able to navigate the stairs in the new house - it will work fine to bring the box of parts in and assemble it in place.  New red snappers ordered and have arrived! http://www.quiltsonthecorner.com/ - love them!  The new frame has arrived and I can pick it up after we've moved.  Just the leaders yet to come in.

And the frame went into my quilting buddy's home without issue - hurrah!

Happy that my first machine has a new home, happy that it will be at a wonderful home and well loved. Sad that I'm without a frame likely for a month or more.  And I have no idea whether the wiring and other hookups for the QBot I'm keeping and the Quilters Cruise Control that I got with my first machine, all now have the right parts to keep working :/

On a different note, I had a very strange experience getting groceries this week - did you know that you can buy ONE box of kleenex??  Apparently this is true! Who knew!  I'm trying so hard not to buy stuff I'm just going to have to move in a couple weeks.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Massey Summer BBQ

Time for the Summer BBQ for the Massey crew!  We've been gathering summer and winter since Massey shut their doors in 1988.  I've been continually amazed by this group.  Often there are people we meet for the first time, who retired before my better half started working with Massey. Widows of fellas who were in the Test Track crew but have passed, continue to join us.

This year, there was a private unveiling of a special print that was created by a local watercolour artist has created a print, with a central feature of the Massey plant in Brantford, surrounded by a collection of the models manufactured at that plant.

Visiting again was Craig Sitter, who runs the private "Sitter Massey Memories Museum" in Hagersville (see highlights here: http://www.legacyquarterly.com/LQ/Outtakes-Sitter-Museum).

What a blessing to be able to gather with this amazing group!

And there was a terrific print available of this elusive combine - a Massey Ferguson 860, in black! How fun is that!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fun find - Jenny's poetry

Today I'm purging again - sorting through stuff we'll keep, stuff we'll donate, stuff that is way past its expiry date and needs to be trashed.

Today is the collection of books.  One of our cupboards is filled with children's books.  Found "Reflections & Expectations V" - Kent County Writing Anthology.  This was published by the local school board - submissions from teachers in local schools, gathered into this delightful anthology.  I think this is from 1993, but there is no actual date.  Am going by the grades/ages of kids I know ...

Page 49

My horse and I cut through the breeze,
We make dust dance behind us
You see the trail fall behind
while you hear the stones shirt
I command
The wind whips through my hair
As we jump ponds and soar like an eagle
twisting and turning around corners
The sun is going down, we won't stop
My horse comes to a complete stop
while I fly off into the gravel
I must put another quarter in the machine
People staring with wide eyes
Kids waiting in line
but that doesn't matter
we're in the mall and it's all going to happen 

Jennifer Woods
Grade 7
Orford Township Central School

Jenny went on to acquire a horse of her own, which she still enjoys today :)
What fun!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

55 - no limits

I was happy to turn 51 - no more was I 50!  55 is interesting too.  Yesterday, my last day being 54, I filled out a survey at the grocery store - they were promoting fresh fruit and vegetables, offering coupons, recipes, reusable bags.  One of the questions - the usual - what is your age group?  Yesterday,  I was *not* in the last category (55+). Not quite sure whether I should be happy or sad.

Today was filled with joy.  Sunday brunch is a bit of a tradition with us - I love it - making a huge fruit salad, bacon, sausage, peameal bacon, overflowing stacks of buttermilk pancakes with specialty jams and real, local maple syrup.  With parents, mom-in-law, kids and kids significant others, a delightful visit.

Picked a few lovelies from my gardens for the table - lily, coral bells and hydrangea - gorgeous!

My pride and joy :)

Adding another charming fella - one significant other

With my hero, best friend and DH; also the cat Tweakers

The Fam

Also a wee bit of quiltiness - this is a wedding quilt for friends of my middlest.  I've called it "It's not easy being green".  Randomly sized green and cream blocks, surrounded by a film strip border.  Freehand quilting in the border, "Celtic Hearts" digital design border-to-border.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunshine vacation

I've had a glorious week enjoying sunshine and warmth - delightful!  We flew to Las Vegas, rented a sleek new Camaro and had a wonderful week of exploring.

We explore differently than many folk - it's mostly crop touring!  This year, we visited some of the areas that my DH worked at when he was with Massey - early 80's - he was with their R&D team.  They worked with some large operators in the Imperial Valley.  So we toured El Centro, Calexico, Brawley and area.  Wow - what they've done in the middle of the desert!  So amazing to see fields of irrigated vegetables and hay, and huge cattle feedlots.

It was also a bit of a 'dam' vacation - toured the new bridge at the Hoover Dam, the Davis Dam, and there was at least one other dam :)  Also saw the London Bridge - in its new home in Lake Havasu City AZ. 

Definitely life and industry revolves around water.

We found a really nice quilt store in Wickenburg AZ, M's Quilting Inspirations (http://www.msquilting.com/).  Just after a terrific lunch at the Tumbleweed Diner, I got to explore this lovely quilt store.  There was a workshop in progress, and they had no trouble with me peeking in to see what they were working on.  Lots of rooms to explore - lots of themes.  The staff were so helpful and friendly. 

Got a lovely kit in southwest colours/theme, and some nice FQ's.  The fabrics are from FabriQuilt's "Woodlot" series - like this ...
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Found a sample with a different cathedral window treatment that I just love!  This is Shelley Swanland's pattern - had to follow me home too :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spring Cleaning

We have been cleaning, junking, sorting, dumping.  Gathering 'stuff' into bags for Good Will donations.  Even filled a dumpster!  Washing walls, washing light fixtures.  Shredding personal papers.

Not much else getting done - have a couple of computers to configure and bills to catch up on, will get to those tomorrow night!

Feels good to get everything freshened up :)

Spring is still a ways away, but the sun is shining brighter and feels so good.  Cardinals and blue jays are chattering, lots of birdsong in the yard.  Weather is bouncing up and down, snow one day, rain the next.

Had a really nice dinner with our SIL on Saturday night - I love her laugh!  Sunday brunch, afternoon and dinner was a very interesting day with our youngest and her new beau.  What a nice fella! We get to keep our youngest for a few days - spring Reading Week at university, hurrah!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Update on bylaw

Well, I have to say, waking up to the news that the bylaw on FAILed made for a very happy start to my day! 

Doesn't mean the issue has gone away, the council is working on a bylaw and I'm sure it will come into being before the year is out.  Here's hoping there is considerable stakeholder consultation. 

Even in the few days between the announcement of the bylaw vote and the day of the vote, there was machinery sabotaged.  So much passion on all sides.

I did think of a few more good bylaws that should be enacted to balance what is likely coming ... for example - nationally, for every acre of farmland gobbled up by developers for urban development, for gravel pits, for utility servicing, must be replaced by the agency removing the farmland from production - by returning into productive agricultural use, current marginal land.  For example - the city wants to expand a suburb and takes over 100 acres of productive farmland.  The city must in return, purchase 100 acres of land that is currently in marginal agricultural production (within the region or province), rehabilitate that land to bring it up to a similar productivity to what they took out of production.  Further, they must maintain that property as a productive farm operation, in perpetuity, with the proceeds contributed to local foodbanks and social services. 

If there truly is a concern for being able to feed the world, there would not be a single acre removed from production. 

No way this would ever come to fruition.  But it's kind of fun to be rebellious :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

More ranting on municipal bylaws

Still so angry that I'm just getting silly.  Warning to readers - rant ahead - living the 'rebel' as outlined in the profile :)

There was a long article in the local small-town weekly paper by one of the people looking to pass a bylaw banning landowners from cutting their woodlots - so full of ranting and untruths and just factual errors that I am just disgusted and angry.  I may be obsessing just a titch.  Just makes me boil that urbanites believe they should be dictating how farms should operate - when they have no idea about any of the facts.  They are so far away from their food production they can't tell you what animal provides their milk or their eggs.

There is a motion before our municipal council coming up next week that will enforce a moratorium on clearing any woodlots or woodlands, for six months, while the administration studies the issue and conducts stakeholder consultations.  This temporary moratorium carries a $100,000 fine for any activity that could be interpreted as clearing wood.  There is no compensation or any other consideration for the loss of being able to manage our own property.  One of my favourite quotes on the issue:  "expropriation without compensation is theft".

The proponents of the bylaw claim environmental concerns are driving this.  But behind that are some pretty typical urban concerns about farming in general.  

Such as lamenting the loss of the family farm to 'industrial' operations and 'foreign investors'.  Hellooooo - the 'family farm' disappeared more than a generation ago.  The majority of small farms operating are supported by the primary operators working full-time off-farm.  Farm operations had to expand to become profitable and sustainable.  To feed and fuel the world.  They use big equipment and cultivation processes to maximize the yield and minimize input costs, while preserving and protecting the integrity and productivity of the raw resource - the land - for the long term.  Just like it was a 'business'- in business to operate over the long term. 

Such as farm operations today contributing to pollution, run-off, not respecting the land like the previous generations did.  What??? Obviously good stewardship is one of the primary drivers of a well-run farm operation.  Just like maintenance at a factory is recognized as good practice to keep the lines running.  Successful farm operators understand the whole picture of how the cropping and livestock management works, and are the last ones to run amok - because they have invested not only their money but are fully immersed in the operation - they are in it for the long run and will not jeopardize their entire operation and family.  They live where they work, the whole family works. It's a totally invested immersion into the operation. Do you know how many family dinners we have had where there was no discussion of farming?  ZERO.

Such as not understanding that crop canopy such as corn, actually sequesters carbon as efficiently as woodlots.  The greenery of the crops scrub the air just as trees do.

And then there is the prospect of handing control of my property over to municipal management.  The same people who have bylaws in neighbourhoods in town banning tree planting - only shrubs are allowed.  The same people who can't grade our gravel road properly and at least quarterly let it get so washboard-y that you can't drive it safely more than 50 km/hr.  The same people who expropriate productive farmland to build shopping malls and new subdivisions.  The same people who build 'business parks' from productive farmland that sit empty for 10 years now.  Yah, I really want these people managing and controlling anything I own.  

Just to throw in another aspect, we live beside a farm that was donated to the Nature Conservancy a few years ago.  This farm is 100 acres, and 50 years ago when my dad did the job of clearing the front 50 acres was not a 'wetland'.  The Conservancy has now decided to return the land to nature and set it up as a 'wetland'.  The first thing they did was build a berm (of sand!) and cut off the tile drains.    They brought in a bunch of dozers and created little hillocks, and planted grasses and trees.  Yes, this definitely has brought lots of wildlife back.  And really, I don't really object to their process - they bought the land, they can operate it how they want.  That drainage thing just meant we had to invest about $100,000 to retile our adjoining property. 

I also hear from the people promoting the bylaw, that they somehow are owed the right to drive throughout the countryside and enjoy the forests and glades and brooks.  

So ... my mind just gets away from me.  If these people are serious about wanting to improve the environment footprint in the municipality, here are a few bylaws that I should propose:
- all persons living within 2 km of a business or school shall be banned from driving or riding in a motorized vehicle between their home and business/school.  This would also be very beneficial in improving the health of the citizenry.  
- all shutters and other outer window/door treatments shall be lime-green.  I love lime-green - it's the 'new neutral'.  I love how lime-green looks on everything, it just refreshes me and makes me feel good.  And think of the tourism twist that this could be used for - 'Visit the greenest town in Ontario!'
- all home-owners must allow open access to their main bathroom, at any time, to everyone.  This will ensure that anyone needing to freshen up is freely able to do so at their convenience.  These rooms will be painted lime-green (see above bylaw) and all consumables will be kept well-stocked, at the home-owners expense.  These rooms will be maintained in pristine cleanliness, at the home-owner's expense, to ensure a positive experience by the visitors stopping by to use the facilities.  (You really would not believe what some people believe they have the right to do in someone else's woodlot!)
- ban on individual-serving everything and 'instant' everything.  The packaging and chemicals added to our food is a disgrace.  People don't know how to cook a carrot.  People have no idea that milk comes from a cow - some of my kids' schoolmates refused to drink milk after a field trip where they saw cows being milked!  All food products will be sold in bulk only, or packaged for a minimum of 10 servings.  All products sold as food-grade products, will be required to provide at least 10% of the recommended daily allowance for a minimum of 4 vitamins or minerals.

I have to stop now, I'm about to pop my cork.  I'm going to go have a nice glass of milk :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Opposing Clear Cutting Bylaw Proposal

his is a long one, folks. There is currently a proposal being considered by our local municipal council, to introduce bylaws that would immediately and permanently prevent landowners from cutting trees. The following is the what I've submitted to our council members ...

Please consider the following "fairy tale" when making your decision on approving OR NOT, the moratorium on woodlot clear cutting. These are my own words, and is likely too wordy but brings into focus many of the issues around the misunderstandings the farming vs non-farming communities.

I am a farmer, grew up north of XXXX, educated in the big cities, worked in the big cities, moved back home and invested in and worked at our own family farm (still in the former township of XXXX) since the early 80's. I also work off-farm full time in XXXX - it's a busy life! Here is my story ....

"Long ago (or last week), and not far away, there was a little girl who lived in a little city, surrounded by lots of productive farmland.

This little girl loves playing in the park, wandering the lovely treed pathways. She saw the city growing and saw that as a good thing - lots of new places to shop in big box stores, and big new houses. She didn't notice that the growing city was gobbling up the farmland and the trees she loved so much.

Her family loved the big box stores so much they never thought a moment to shop at the local Farmer's Market for fruit, vegetables, home baking and flowers; or to their local butcher shop for local meat; or from their local carpenter who lovingly creates furniture and cabinetry from carefully selected trees from well-managed woodlots.

The little girl was confused - she didn't know about all the good things that grow right here where she lives. She's been hearing rumours of things like beef and pork for her fork, chicken and turkey for Sunday family dinners, eggs for her breakfast sandwiches, milk for her cereal, corn for ethanol for their car, soybeans and wheat, fruit, vegetables, wine, even flowers, all grown within a stone's throw. Her cousins, still on the family farm, wonder why the girl's family is so far removed from their food that they think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

When the cousins talked to her about all they do on the farm, she wondered, 'If the farmers can manage all this local bounty, why can't they manage their trees?' Surely they can't know how to manage their trees because some really important people have decided that these successful entrepreneurs called farmers, need to have new laws written to tell them how to protect their woodlots.

The little girl was sad because she was hearing that she might not be able to breathe if this law doesn't get written. And she wouldn't be able to enjoy gazing upon these lovely trees as she drives by, if this law doesn't happen.

Sadly, the little girl's parents were diagnosed with a wicked variation of the dreaded 'NIMBY' syndrome. This was a cruel, twisted version where victims come to believe that only they know what is good for everyone, that they were entitled to trample over other's rights. The grown-ups infected with this syndrome are so healthy and wealthy and wise, they had way too much time to find 'problems' where none existed.

Luckily, the wise leaders were able to understand the underlying festering, see past the hyperbole and recommended a progressive treatment - to reward local farmers, stewards of their land, who were actually doing a great job ensuring that their farms, including their woodlots, were empowered to thrive and benefit the entire community.

Further, the leaders decided that they could invest in planting and maintain green areas within the cities, with lots of trees, flowers, shrubbery and greenery for all of the children and grownups to cherish, nurture and enjoy. They had planting parties with schools, girl & boy scouts, 4H groups, hockey teams and ringette teams, seniors' groups and JK's. Everyone got their hands dirty and loved it! They had so much fun they decided to commit to keeping the green areas green by volunteering to weed and trim all year long. Everyone was getting more fresh air, moving more, and feeling healthier!

The farmers were happy that their properties retained their value, ensuring they could continue to successfully grow the grain, fruit, vegetables, flowers and grapes to feed and fuel the community.

And they all lived happily ever after!"

The morals of the story:
- the hypocrisy of city growth eating up valuable and productive farmland being AOK while insisting that farmers should not be able to clear land to feed the city folk
- the absolute audacity of people who believe they somehow have the right to dictate how privately owned woodlots are managed - if they want to manage them, why don't they step up, bring their money to the table and invest themselves
- any proposal that bans landowners from benefiting from their property should include a clause to compensate the landowners for the loss of the use of the land - at fair market value for cleared land or competitive land rental rates for crop production?
- the fastest route to clear cutting is to threaten the landowners
- corn canopy is more efficient at scrubbing the air than trees - this article talks about the ability of the corn to sequester carbon: http://www.ncga.com/news-and-resources/news-stories/article/2013/01/study-provides-important-insight-into-true-environmental-benefits-of-ethanol or the original study: http://www.ncga.com/upload/files/documents/pdf/Carbon%20Sequestration%20over%2010%20years.pdf

- expropriation without compensation is THEFT (quote from a local prominent farmer)
- if the do-gooders insist that the woodlots cannot be touched, rather than stealing the land from the landowners, they can step up, slap their money down and buy the land themselves.  Seriously, they think that they somehow deserve to be able to drive by the woodlots to gaze lovingly at the greenery.  
- the same municipality that wants to enact this bylaw, has parts of the city where they BAN planting trees - only shrubs are allowed
- line fences are included in the definition of 'woodlot' - who in their right mind would even consider planting a nice new windbreak knowing that they can never cut those trees when they are over-mature and the roots have overwhelmed the tile drains.

Today's local weekly newspaper has a few articles on the issue - including the entire bylaw - excellent idea - let's deal with the facts!  And a long, rambling diatribe full of inaccuracies and untruths about foreign investors and farm practices.  What a waste of 4 minutes (reading the article) that I'll never get back.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Batch of Comfort Quilts

One of the main projects of our guild is to provide 'Comfort Quilts'.  They go wherever needed - with EMT's for children experiencing trauma, when a family has lost everything to fire or flood, children diagnosed with life-threatening illness, some have gone to far northern birthing centres for first nations residents, you get the idea.

There are work groups every other Monday.  I do still work full time - and also farm - so I just can't do the work groups. But I can take the tops and quilt them up :)  Someone else does the binding.  It's wonderful - many hands involved - one who donates the fabrics, one who selects the fabrics for this quilt, one to cut, one to piece, one to quilt, one to bind.  Can't you just feel the love pouring out from them??

And my BFF who also quilts, loves making tops but doesn't like quilting them, so she rolls them on a tube and sends me batches to quilt - these also go to the comfort quilts.

Here are the ones ready to go  ...
This one is by my BFF - black & white & red with decks of cards.  White background.  Connecting Threads Essential Pro thread, warm & white batting.  CC's and swirls with piano key border.

"FarmAll" theme!  U-turn in the dark, crescents in the FarmAll fabric, CC's in the small squares.  Brick-colour fleece backing.  Metro thread, unknown batting! (batting provided by the guild - often pieced to fit - works great!)

Sweet squares - meandering spiky feathers.  Metro thread, unknown batting.  Backing is too busy to see any quilting (same as the border.

Strippy quilt - Wavy line in the pieced strips, swirls and braids and leaves alternate in the solid fabric strips.  Feathered border.  Metro thread, unknown batting, screaming fleece background that matches nothing but is soft & happy!

Secret Garden BOM 2016

Secret Garden Flimsy I participated in quite a few of Pat Sloan's challenges and quilt-alongs in 2016! This one, " Secret Garde...