Author Archives: tumbleweedstumbling

About tumbleweedstumbling

I have three blogs, embryogenesis explained, tumbleweed tumbling AND fulltimetumbleweed. I am a retired scientist, and my husband and I have written a book which was published by World Scientific Publishing in Nov 2016 called Embryogensis Explained. Full time tumbleweed was my first blog which I worked on during five years of living full time in a travel trailer. I have now retired that blog in favour of Tumbleweeds Tumbling since we bought a stick house in April 2015 and are no longer full-time. I have a blended family of five sons and one daughter, all grown up now. I am (step)grandmother to nine boys and one girl. My husband and I have a dog and two cats. We live in Manitoba, Canada, in a 480 square foot house on a half acre of land in the tiny town of Alonsa on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever.

Container Garden Experiment – My Results

This cheerful bit of optimistic propaganda compliments of the Chinese Communists is an interesting video about Venezuelans becoming urban gardeners to solve the food crisis they face. When I first heard of this business of encouraging people to grow their own food on their balconies I was horrified. Having been a gardener for many many years I know it is impossible to grow enough food in containers on a balcony to do more than get some fresh treats.

Since I was building myself a greenhouse I thought it would be fun to try some mixed container gardening. My long term goal was more food from my garden in spring and fall. The plan is to move the containers into the greenhouse. I made five such containers. One I put in a single seed potato and a bunch of onions sets and some dill. One container I filled with a mix of green and yellow beans. One container I planted in snow peas and another regular peas. And in the final container I tried some mixed seeding. It was a row lengthwise of mixed radish and carrot seeds. I then had a row of spinach, lettuce, peas and beet seeds.

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The containers required more watering than my regular garden. They also needed a lot less weeding and fussing. They did produce. The mixed container gave me about a dozen nice radishes first. I have not yet harvested the carrots and beets. There are five lovely looking beets and about a dozen carrots of decent size.

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The same container previously yielded two dinners worth of cooked spinach, lettuce that produced enough for about six big bowls of salad and lots of leaves for sandwiches.

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The peas in the mixed container unfortunately only gave me 10 nice pods. The other full container of peas gave us enough for one dinner but we ended up eating them raw as a snack instead. The snow peas have just begun and, so far, we have enough to add a splash of taste and color to a couple of stir fries.

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The bean container have given us six bowls of beans. They produced very well and though they are nearly at an end. I consider them as worth the trouble.

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The biggest producer was the single seed potato. I also had put in a bunch of dill seed and there dozen onion sets. I pulled the onions to eat as green shallots. The potato plant grew to a huge height, choked out the dill, and then died off. The container was full of medium sized potatoes. For us that is enough potatoes for several dinners.

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The conclusion of my little experiment is the following. Only potatoes and beans produce enough to justify their own container. as a prepper style container, with potatoes being far out in front. The mixed container gives the best over all results with it providing us with a small amount of yummy veggies over a number of weeks. Salads and greens were certainly a welcome addition to our diet.

However it is very clear to me that one simply cannot grow enough produce on your balcony to feed yourself and your family in the summer to last you over winter. Okay, so maybe Venezuela doesn’t have the same harsh winter we do in Manitoba. Even without counting winter, such containers cannot produce enough food. Prepper and everyone else who think you can somehow survive on a garden balcony need to re evaluate this plan. And if I ever do find myself in a position to try to grow food to survive using containers, I’m planting mostly potatoes, maybe some beans and maybe a mixed container or two.

Manipogo Provincial Park

Our second summer camping trip was to Manipogo Provincial Park. The park is a mere 130km from our home and it’s pavement all the way to the entrance of the park. The park itself is a rather standard provincial park with big lots and plenty of room between campsites. Campsites range from very private all treed to open lakeside. There is electric and nonelectric sites. None of water. There is a dump site near the ranger station. There is also a simple little concession with ridiculously high prices because there is no competition. An ice cream cone and milkshake was $11. We didn’t buy anything else.

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We really enjoyed the stay except for the mosquitoes. The wind was blowing straight west on the first day and it felt like it was carrying every mosquito in the province to our campsite. We did not have a campfire or take the canoe out the first day because the bugs were so horrible. Even with repellant, they were crawling in our hair, up our noses and under our clothing making us absolutely miserable. We almost packed up and went home. I’m glad we didn’t. The wind shifted from the north west the next day which given our location was over water before coming to us and the number of mosquitos, though still bad was at least bearable. With a heavy dose of repellant and a hat we could go walking. There was a brief downpour and nonsevere thunderstorm the first night which further encouraged us to stay inside the travel trailer. All around us across the lake severe thunderstorm formed and boomed but always far away. Who needs mountains for scenery when you can have thunderheads?

Manipogo has a very long peninsula and a sandy beach. That area is off limits to dogs, presumably due to nesting shore birds although the number of people walking the beach would have the same negative effect. They did have a specific area where dogs could swim and Misty really enjoyed that. I almost accidentally joined her, she was having so much fun. We had several long walks around the campsite which is Misty’s very favourite thing to do. We decided to spare her the canoe ride given her lack of enthusiasm for canoes compared to walks. She remained with the cat in the trailer with the air conditioning on.IMG_8798

Canoeing was different from our previous. The launch site leads into channels in the reeds and is very shallow. The water is murky and full of baby fish. It’s also full of lots of pond scum and all kinds of water plants so my husband spent most of the ride cooing with delight over example after example of his favourite water vegetation. Not my idea of fun, but fun vicariously to be watching him.

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There is absolutely nothing near this park so except for actual camping stuff there is absolutely nothing to do. We slept a lot. I kind of astonished myself by sleeping 12 hours the first night, ten hours the second night and taking several long daytime naps. We read a lot. There was no internet, no cell service, so there was very little to do but sleep and relax and we certainly did a lot of that. I guess we needed it.

We also noticed another considerable improvement in my husband’s mobility. Last trip getting in and out of the trailer was awkward for him. This trip he had no issues navigating the stairs. We also found getting him in and out of the canoe much easier this time, almost back to normal. That was the best part of the trip for me, seeing yet more improvements since the stroke.

The big adventure my husband had was he went picking Saskatoon berries which were in high gear. While he was picking, he was approached by a boy about five who enquired about the berries. My husband gave him the run down about how nutritious and delicious the berries are. The boy tasted them and ran off squealing with delight. It turned out the family was a full time, three generation RVing family stuck in Manitoba by the vagaries of COVID19. None of them knew about the joys of Saskatoons.  We later saw the entire family out picking by the bucketful and the children with their fingers and mouths stained purple. We ate fresh berries and once we got home I made a pie for him.

And of course there was the big beautiful endless Manitoba sky.

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Zucchini!

It is a fairly common reaction to say something about zucchini and get back a groan. You plant a single plant and end up with enough zucchini to overwhelm you. How much zucchini bread can one family eat?

To me, zucchini are a wondrous bounty to be embraced. I have a developed a good system for growing zucchini in pots and I start six plants for myself each year. We love eating fresh zucchini. We eat it almost every morning fried as part of our breakfast. I also use it spiralized and sliced into a vegetarian lasagna. The beauty of zucchini is it blends into whatever dish it is part of taking on the flavour around it. If you fry it with turkey bacon it takes on the turkey bacon flavour without adding calories or salt. And so I am always delighted to get more. IMG_2028

I also like to set the bounty of summer aside to enjoy over the winter. The easiest way to do this is a simply loose pack freeze. What could be easier? Slice the Zucchini and freeze it on a cookie sheet and then once it is frozen, put it loose into freezer bags. Later, when the ground is frozen, I take handfuls and throw zucchini into soups and stews. They cook down almost to mush and readily blend into broths enriching them. If you leave the peels on, that will add a bright dash of color to any dish. Personally, I peel the green zucchini but not the tender skinned yellow variety. To make it invisible in your soup peeled and grated works perfectly.

Zucchini can also replace cucumber in any relish or pickle recipe. I have already made zucchini relish with great success. This year I tried one jar of pickled zucchini to which I added some hot peppers from the garden. Hubby dearest loves a hot pickle so it this works out I’ll be making many more jars next year. It sure holds that lovely yellow color better than a cucumber.

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Finally, this year I also tried drying zucchini. Stocking up for the pandemic meant freezer space was at a premium. I have been trying drying a lot of things and so far it has worked very well for green peppers, mushrooms, and turnips. Zucchini seems to dry very well. It has held its shape and I suspect will be nearly as good in a soup or stew as the frozen product without taking up freezer space. Never let it be said that zucchini produces too much. The limits are only your own imagination. There is so much more than just Zucchini bread you can do with it.

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Nature on the Prairie – Rapid City EF2 Tornado and Minnedosa flooding.

Life on the prairie can be tough some days. Nature can turn from benign and lovely to vicious in a few moments. Two years ago our community in Alonsa Manitoba was devastated by an EF4 Tornado. Many people turned out to help us with clean up and rebuilding. This year the towns of Rapid City and Minnedosa have been hit hard. My husband and I stayed in Rapid City twice. We intend to go back and so it felt like the charming little town that we think of as a special place to go, has been flattened by the same forces that pummelled the RM of Alonsa two years ago. (Storm buffs and weather geeks take note. This storm broke the record for the tallest storm reaching higher up into the atmosphere than any other recorded storm.)

The same system brought flooding to the small charming prairie town of Minnedosa. About a week before this storm my husband and I drove into Minnedosa to the Co-op because the Tuftex we needed for my greenhouse was on sale there and out of stock at our local Co-op.

We were really enchanted by the lovely town. It had some gorgeous structures, and this pretty river running through it. We spent an hour driving around including the campground. (Tuftex strapped on our roof.) What an exceptionally pretty spot, we thought. We’ll have to come camp here this summer since we can’t travel with this COVID thing. It is heart breaking to see what happened. I am so very sorry, Minnedosa.

If you have an account on youtube please consider subscribing. Brittany & Anna are hoping to get one thousand subscribers on youtube to be able to enter another phase of youtube and raise money for local recovery. If you can please share.

 

 

Building a Greenhouse – Part 3

I am beyond excited to be able to say I have a working greenhouse now.

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Today I got the last bit of double wall polycarbonate cut to fit and in place. I installed the temperature control vent hinge thingies for the top vents. I then proceeded to repot my long root bound aloe vera plant in my new greenhouse. Installing the polycarbonate stuff turned out to a lot easier than I expected. Many thanks to this guy for the know how. His tips worked like magic and I probably couldn’t have succeeded without his timely video. The multi tooth saw blade he recommended cut through the Tuftex like a hot knife through butter.

I was able to neatly and easily use ten panels of Tuftex to cover by 7×8 greenhouse. The primer job was compliments of hubby dearest who took it upon himself to paint for me.

There were a few tricky spots. The door didn’t want to fit right. That was my fault as I didn’t count on the extra space the hinges I picked required. Some work with my saw and an old fashioned hand planer fixed that. I added two vent hinge thingies that should open and close the vents on top depending on temperature. They need adjusting yet. For now they are set at the widest possible because it is really hot outside and even hotter in the greenhouse.

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As I have said before, a greenhouse has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I am so excited and so happy to finally finally at long last have my very own greenhouse. I do have some small things left. I need to add clear calking to a few spots. I need to fix the bottom which currently has grass in it. I need to install a nice big black rain barrel full of water to help regulate the temperature. These are details. In the meantime I can just take pride in my 99% finished product. Final cost was just under $1100. I have two full sized panels of Tuftex leftover but I have other plans for those.

Next project? A third deck on the southside of the house and a patio door from Dick’s office area so it can double as a sunroom. We are waiting for a permit from the town before we can start that.IMG_2023

Happy Canada Day!

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Canada is currently going through many of the same ugly nonsense about the evils of our nation going on in the USA. Our founders were not perfect but they had a great goal and they started a nation with the hope of great things. Just because some Canadians were left behind for a while does not negate with the greatness of the founders’ lofty and high ideals.

I do not accept that Canada is flawed, systematically racist, patriarchal and beyond redemption. I do not accept the title of white colonizer and oppressor nor am I filled with guilt for the color of my skin or for sins committed by others mostly from long before my birth. I am a fourth generation Canadian citizen. I don’t feel I have to explain myself to anyone or apologize to anyone for that fact. I embrace a paraphrased dream of Martin Luther King Jr when he said: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin (or the languages they speak or do not speak or their birth place or their treaty status or their ethnic/ancestral homelands) but by the content of their character.

I am proud of the ideals Canada stands for and I am proud to celebrate Canada Day and to thank the founders for this great nation. And if you don’t like it, tough.

1867 competes with 1812, 1608 and 1982 as ‘founding’ dates ...

Home made Yogurt and Ricotta from Powdered Milk and Frozen Starter

The whole COVID-19 thing has really made me reevaluate my dependence on stores for the fresh foods I love. I already make just about everything from scratch. I started doing this because it was so hard to find low salt anything in processed food when my husband first got diagnosed with hypertension. After I developed a wheat allergy, it became even more important. During this pandemic, the stores ran out of things like toilet paper and then many items were severely limited or missing altogether. Here I am trying to avoid going into stores more than once every two weeks and milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt were limited to one brand and one small container each trip!

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Today’s batch of yogurt from powered milk. Hubby dearest likes to add a little jam and some grated unsweetened coconut. As you can see it is nice and thick like Greek style.

Hubby dearest and I are big yogurt eaters and for many years we bought the largest pail of plain yogurt whenever we went to town. The problem was we often ate all the yogurt before our next trip. Plus the cost of good yogurt by the bucket was just plain prohibitive even before the pandemic. I decided to learn to make yogurt by the pot at home. Turns out, it’s really easy! You need milk and a good pot and a most critical, a good thermometer. I am also lucky because my old oven oven can actually be set for 38C (100F) for incubating. I start with 4 litres (about 1 US gallon) of milk plus 1 cup of skim milk powder (homogenized fresh milk is what I personally get the best results from.) I heat it to 77C (170F). This is the hard part because you have to “mind” the pot. The heat has to be low and the milk needs to be stirred as the temperature rises to avoid scorching on the bottom. I generally do this while I wash up the supper dishes so I am in the kitchen anyway. I then let the milk cool down to 39C (~100F) and stir in about one quarter cup of high quality starter yogurt from a brand I like. Generally this is done before bed. I leave the pot overnight and by morning I have a large pot of fresh yogurt.

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Yogurt is a bit tricky. Sometimes it takes a little longer, sometimes it comes out watery. I started adding the extra skim milk powder to reduce the watery low yield end product. Even good yogurt that comes out right will always have a little whey. However I am prepared for that. I ordered this lovely strainer and if I leave even thin watery yogurt in it for a couple of hours I get really nice Greek style thickness. If I want really thick yogurt, say Balkan style, I leave it even longer. I can even get to a cream cheese consistency if I keep pouring off the whey and leave the yogurt sit in the strainer for about twenty four hours.

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My yogurt strainer for converting thin yogurt to Greek or Balkin style. The fine mesh also works well for straining the ricotta from the whey.

Watery yogurt with lots of whey is not such a bad thing. The whey can be used to make smoothies or added to bread instead of milk. Hubby dearest likes whey smoothies. I’m not such a big fan of them. To me they have a bitter sour taste. I don’t put whey in my bread because we often eat meat with bread and we don’t mix those in one meal. However, if I take the whey, bring it to a boil and then let it cool and strain it, I get ricotta cheese. I really like home made ricotta.

Yesterday, I decided to try making yogurt from ingredients that can be stored long term. For starter I used a small single serving package of plain yogurt in a cup which I froze months ago in the lead up to the COVID-19 lock down. I used all powered skim milk for the yogurt. And it worked! No powder milk taste. The disadvantage is it was only about half yogurt and the rest was whey. No fear. After straining, it was nice and thick and the whey made a lovely ricotta. (Four litres of milk from skim milk powder made according to directions with one additional cup of powder made 2 litres of Greek style yogurt and just over a cup of ricotta cheese.)

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Fresh spinach from my garden that will become part of my ricotta lasagna after another washing.

I have lots of fresh spinach and basil from the garden and some lovely rice based gluten free lasagna noodles (since I allergic to wheat). We are going to have a vegetarian lasagna for supper. Next time I will add more skim milk powder. Now I know I can successfully keep the ingredients for yogurt in storage for months ahead and make it whenever I want to. Pandemic shortages will not prevent us from having fresh yogurt when we want it.

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Ricotta curds after straining.

What have I learned from this? I can freeze yogurt starter and I can make yogurt from powered skim milk. I will add extra skim milk powder to reduce getting a watery product next time. I might try adding some butter too, to put back some fat. Yogurt starter can be reused over and over again but I personally prefer to only reuse my own starter a few times as I find the flavour drifts. To be really “preppie” I suppose I should have dry powdered starter on hand. That is readily available ordered on line. I’ll consider it.

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One of several herb plants awaiting dishes including the large leaved fresh basil.

Duck Mountain Provincial Park

Even just preparing this post has left me close to tears. It’s hard to contemplate how life might have gone and what a blessing it is that it didn’t. We decided in May that we would try camping as part of Dick’s recovery from the March stroke, one, three night trip, per summer month. Due to COVID-19 our options were limited. We were allowed to stay in a provincial campground but it had to be one close to our home. There were also a bunch of rules and regulations about reserving on line in advance, not going into the ranger station/campground office and very minimal services where people might end up getting too close. We were advised we had to bring all our own toiletries and have proper footwear if we wanted to use the showers. We were also not allowed to shop in any nonlocal stores along the way. We were supposed to bring everything we needed. Since we own a travel trailer, we were prepared to be entirely self sustained and we knew we would not need to use any of the park washrooms.

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We picked Wellman Lake in Duck Mountain Provincial Park for our June trip. One of the rules is you are not supposed to go so far that if you need a hospital, you are not going to one you would not normally attend. Since Dick was in the Dauphin Hospital after his stroke, Duck Mountain Provincial Park seemed like a good bet. Wellman Lake is one of three campgrounds in Duck Mountain. We had been there once years ago at Child’s Lake. We picked Wellman because we had never been there before and the campground is on two lakes Wellman and Glad Lake. Glad Lake is a small no power boat lake and looked especially promising for our first canoe ride in over a year and two major illnesses ago. Screen Shot 2020-06-25 at 8.50.43 PM

One thing I did not take into account is that from just north of Grandview to the campground is all gravel road. Most of it was well maintained but there were a few rough spots and it was gravel. This mean our maximum speed with the trailer was only about 70 km/hr (45m/hr). It was slow going and Duck Mountain is mostly heavy woods with lots of little lakes. This meant very little to see. Plus it is logged in certain parts in a controlled fashion and there is also a lot of gravel harvesting. This meant there was a lot of big truck traffic on those gravel roads. Fortunately the trip was uneventful. The first thing I noted on arrival on our huge campsite, was glorious boreal forest bluebells. I’ve seen a lot of bluebells but this particular variety was brand new to me. Wild onion and wood roses were also in bloom everywhere around our campsite.

The second thing I noticed was one of our underside access pipes for winterizing our fresh water system had been hit by gravel and cracked. This mean the water we added began pouring out on the ground as soon as we started the pump and no chance for it to pressurize. Fortunately, we’ve dealt with this one before so it took me only ten minutes to pull off the offending part and fix it with a spare cap. We are kind of fanatical about spares of everything. Whenever we have to fix something we always get spares. I now have ‘only’ four spare caps left for the water system. Dick did the rest of the trailer set up while I did the repairs. This included cleaning cat vomit. Klinger apparently got motion sick, as he sometimes does, I suspect due to the gravel. I figured I had the better deal of those jobs.

We were tired from the long drive so we decided to have dinner at the little lodge. We ate on the patio. It was a plain but very well prepared huge burger and real homemade fries. They even had a gluten free bun for me. We took a long hike along Glad Lake in the evening. Misty was beyond thrilled. Walks are her favourite thing to enjoy. That involved some steep up and down and a lot of rough terrain over roots and rocks. Dick managed it very well. He went slowly and carefully, picking his footing, and we all enjoyed the walk. He only began to fall backwards once at a very steep part but he caught himself and got upright again even as I put my hand on his back. In some ways it made me feel little sad because in familiar territory I can hardly tell he had a stroke. On this walk I was reminded that while he has recovered to a remarkable, near miraculous degree, he isn’t all the way back yet. I look forward to seeing how much he has improved again on our next trips.

The main impression of nature I got on the hike was stunning green, green ferns of all sorts many I had never seen before. The wildflowers were everywhere. There were surprisingly few birds. Boreal forest is not the habitat most birds like. Birds generally prefer open parkland with some gentler woods. We did hear the incessant screaming monkey cry of the pileated wood pecker. We saw grebes, ducks and ravens and as a special treat, the sight and long call of the common loon. We sat around a campfire and we talked and talked. We talked about how the stroke had felt from both our perspectives and we shared some more intimate feelings about it than we had to date. It was a good talk for both of us.

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We went to bed early. It was still light because it was the longest day of the year but we were both really tired. I checked my telephone and I was horrified to find there was no cell service out here. This gave me a sense of panic. If he had another stroke how would I call for help? I talked myself out of the panic by reminding myself he’s stable and there’s no reason for him to have another stroke. There is a nearby ranger station with a land line if I need it. I felt angry that had risked this but then reminded myself what the doctor in hospital said. He’s 76 and he’s had two strokes so we need to think about quality not quantity of life. There is not much quality to wrapping him in cotton and refusing to go anywhere out of fear of lack of cell phone service. The sense of panic faded and I was able to fall asleep. I think we were both far more tired than we realized because we both slept a solid ten hours. That is extremely unusual for us. It was a healing sleep.

We got up and took Misty for another walk and then we left her in the trailer with Klinger (the air conditioner set even though the trailer was sitting in shade) and we went to Glad lake. This was our first canoe ride in a very long time and first since the carotid artery dissection and the March stroke. I was a little nervous but Dick managed just fine. The boat launch had a nice shallow beach and a dock and he was able to get in and out with little effort. The darn left leg had to be lifted out with his two hands because it was a little too high but he did it. He sat down and stood up without help. We paddled about the lake for in a big circle for over an hour enjoying every precious of minute of the experience. We finished with ice cream at the lodge.IMG_8757

That evening we had another campfire and another long deep sleep. Dick got up once to look for northern lights but the sun is very quiet now going into its minimum so there weren’t any. The weather forecast was for hot (well by Manitoba standards hot at 26C (81F)) with no breeze. We decided to take the canoe out again early and this time take Misty along. We went to Wellman Lake which allows motor boats and sea-dos and things we generally try not to canoe around. It was midweek and early so we had the lake to ourselves except for some fishermen trolling far away. The view wasn’t as nice because Wellman Lake has lots of cottages but we enjoyed being out canoeing again so much. It felt like a miracle to be able to be doing this.

Misty was mostly well behaved but she kept giving us these looks of total disgust like she could not figure out why we would bother to do this crazy boring thing when there were walks and stuff to sniff instead. She started getting hot in the canoe and complaining so we turned around and headed back spending only about forty-five minutes on the water paddling. We returned to our camp site and spent a couple of hours planning our second book together. During the heat of the afternoon we napped. Even Klinger seemed to enjoy himself watching dragon flies outside the window. After that we went for a drive and sat on the shore watching the sea-doers race about and people on the beach. Misty had a swim at the dock which was nice for her in the heat. We had a quiet dinner in our trailer, with two more short hikes, before and after. This was much more to Misty’s satisfaction and we had another early bedtime. I can’t get over how much sleeping we did.

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The forecast on our return day was for thunderstorms and rain by noon. We were on the gravel road heading home by 8:00am. We made a brief stop on Dauphin for brunch, groceries and some odds and ends for the greenhouse and pool. Since we normally shop in Dauphin anyway it did not break the “no shopping in nonlocal stores on your trip” rule. We got home well ahead of the rain. At suppertime, a thunderstorm rolled in and dumped a perfectly lovely 18mm (7/10 inch) of warm summer rain in a long easy shower. That was a perfect end to a perfect summer break.

Building a Greenhouse – Part 2

My greenhouse project is coming along. The progress is slow because I will not let myself work on it until I am caught up on my other yard chores. This is a very busy time of year for the garden and lawn. It has been dry so I have had a lot of watering to do. We’ve just had two days of lovely light rain allowing me to devote a good block of time and get two of my three planned shelves in.IMG_1992

What have I accomplished since my first post on this? I have finished all the interior and cross bracing. I have put in strips to attach the polycarbonate waiting in my garage. I have two shelves. One shelf is low and my plan is it will be a place to plant lettuce and radishes at the beginning and end of the season when the sun is very low. The space between the first shelf and second is the height of my tallest tomato plant before they went into the garden this summer. I have as much shelf space there are all the space I had in my little pop up greenhouse. The second shelf is just right for seedlings. I can hang some plants in the middle if I want to. The opposite side will be a kitchen counter height shelf. I am going to use some leftover smooth lumber from my pantry project and this will be my work area. I can use the area under my work bench for taller plants like peppers or beans. Somewhere in there I will put some storage space too.

I have two vents built on and I have special temperature sensitive hinge latch affairs that will open and close with the temperature to provide ventilation and prevent overheating. I intend to add that brown half rain barrel by the garage at the end opposite door to help regulate the temperature inside on cool nights. I think I will be adding some gutters and eaves troughs to catch rain. We shall see. The cost of this greenhouse has crept up to about $1000. I suspect it will be $1200 or so by the time I am finished. That’s still far less than the $4000 for the dream greenhouse and this one is designed exactly how I want it.

Dick is repainting our wooden Adirondack chairs from two years ago. He paints while I work on the greenhouse. Those chairs were getting pretty worn looking. Rather than throw out the little bit of primer he had left, he started priming my greenhouse. If it has all white wood, more light will defuse for the plants. All the wood at ground level is treated but he’s concerned if the greenhouse is high humidity the bare wood might start rotting so a coat of paint will add protection. He’s promised to finish the priming as soon as I get the interior completed. It’s such blessing that he can be painting a mere three months after his stroke.

My container garden is doing very well this year. I am imagining having the greenhouse built by the fall and I can move my containers in there to extend the season. We are eating zucchini, radishes and greens now. My cucumbers are blooming and the raspberries are full of bees. I am having so much fun with my little greenhouse project.

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Storm Season – One Eye on the Sky

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This is today’s Environment Canada thunderstorm outlook. This whole thunderstorm prediction page is new for Canadians. Until recently, there was little to no monitoring of  severe storms and even less warning. I did a post about that back in 2014. Back then I pointed this out:

“The Canadian system of forecasting tornados is so primitive that professional storm trackers from the USA consider finding and tracking a tornado in Canada to be the ultimate test of their ability because they get so little help.”

Canada’s one and only confirmed F5 tornado in Elie touched down without anyone at Environment Canada noticing until someone called them to tell them it was happening. Even if Environment Canada noticed, they had no way to warn the public in those days because well….it was Friday evening and everyone had gone out to the lake.

Much of this has changed. There are still issues with storm warnings. In 2014, a storm crossed over from Detroit into Windsor with no warning. I was actually awake watching this particular storm system on radar and I could see it was dangerous. The folks at NOAA were going crazy with red patches all over the map. A local private weather forecasting and warning system known as Ontario Tornado sent out warning tweets to those lucky enough to have their ap. There was silence out of Environment Canada, not even a watch, as tornados pummelled life. There was a lot of justifiable outrage from the Canadian public over that one. When bad things happen in Ontario the government will fix a problem the west of Canada has been complaining about for decades and we finally got our national AlertReady system.

During the Alonsa tornado of 2018 which actually crossed our property, hit with EF4 strength and killed Jack Furrie, 77. The tornado arrived with no local AlertReady warning because MTS-Bell had recently done “upgrades”. In spite of three months of complaints from residents, including official ones from local government officials like our Reeve, Stan Asham, they were apparently totally unaware their “upgrades” had ended all local cell service. Mr Furrie had a landline and he knew people would not be getting the cell phone warning. He also had no basement so fleeing was his only option. He died fleeing to his truck after spending too much telephoning warnings to his neighbours. (If there is a special place in heaven for those who give their lives savings others, Mr Furrie is there.) Meanwhile, the rest of Manitoba all knew Alonsa was being hit by the tornado. Environment Canada was spot on the job that day and they started issuing warnings almost half an hour before the tornado touched down. On the bright side (yes, I say this with heavy sarcasm) Bell-MTS did finally get our local cell phone service working.

And so June has arrived and tornado season is on us. Today we have to keep one eye on the sky and be situationally aware. The sky is already covering with floating popcorn balls that typically indicate severe storms might happen later in the day. My first chore for this morning is to double check the stuff in our tornado shelter/storage closet and make sure we’re ready, just in case.

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In March, we developed indoor drips on the south side of the house. Our neighbour is a retired roofer and he came over even though it was nearing 10:00pm. He and I together got up on the roof and we cleared off some ice dams. He told us we needed a new roof. This May he installed it. Once it was all done he posed for us with his fiddle. We were expecting something like a rousing round from Fiddler on the Roof. Our cultural differences became immediately apparent as they sometimes do around here. He’s Metis and he played Devil Went Down to Georgia. We enjoyed it anyway.

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He told us yesterday our new roof, made with all the best possible, highest quality of ice and water underlay and finest shingles Canada makes, combined with his skillful application, can take any hailstorm nature cares to throw at us. I find that comforting as I watch the sky although you must excuse me if I hope we never get to test his boast.

“A fiddler on the roof? Sounds crazy, no? But every one of us is a fiddler on the roof!”

And that is especially true during severe storm season.