Sunday, May 22, 2011

North Bay Farmer's Market

The North Bay Farmer's Market opened on Saturday under a beautiful, sunny sky.  I was there bright and early as a customer.

I made a haul. 

I bought some handwoven teatowels from Joe-Ann Ribout of Mountainview Weaving.  Joe-Ann was apologetic that the price had gone up to reflect the price of cotton this year.  As a weaver myself, I know the amount of time and skill that goes into these teatowels.  I've bought Joe-Ann's before, and they seem to be indestructible.  The cotton washes up nice, time and time again.  These ones are for a gift.

I really went to the market in search of fresh asparagus and rhubarb.  There was a number of vendors that had asparagus, but I bought mine from Ron Warman of Powassan.

I was pleased to find a local meat farmer at the market, selling meat that was raised the traditional way, without hormones or antibiotics.  I bought some frozen T-bones from the Holden family from Eau Claire. (I found out that they farm on the same road that my grandparent's farm was on.)

There were a lot of vegetable plants for sale.  I saw Schlosser Farms had some of those mushroom-growing logs for sale.

I chatted with a couple vendors that I knew and then took my loot home. (Okay, Heather, if you are reading this and wondering why I didn't stop at your booth, you were very busy with customers!)

Some of the asparagus got eaten for supper, the rest frozen for a couple other meals.
The rhubarb is chopped up and waiting to be made into crisp for tonights supper (if the house cools down enough to bear having the oven on.)

I wouldn't have been prepared to have a booth on Saturday.  But I hope that I get a spot soon.  Despite the lugging of wares, tent and tables in the early morning frenzy and the unpredictability of the weather on an outdoor market, the market is a good day out.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I'm reading an awesome book, called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.  In brief, the author, her husband and two daughters move from Arizona to a farm in Virginia with a commitment to eat only food that they grow or that they can source locally. 

I can hear you now..."Really?  An awesome book about growing and eating food?  Was it more exciting than the washing machine manual?"

Trust me.  Ms. Kingsolver writes so descriptively about good food, that I could taste tomatoes and asparagus right from the page.  She has a great sense of humour.   The book also contains a lot of facts about the impact of mass-produced, widely transported food on our society and our environment.  It's an informative book that is a pleasure to read.  

She's made me think about food in a whole new light.  I have never been so excited about the prospect of finding locally grown asparagus at the opening of the local Farmer's Market on Saturday. 

In the morning, I made pancakes using my own farm eggs, and topped them with locally-produced maple syrup.  I vowed to do more of this.

I've been avoiding lots of paperwork for the past few months.  Alpaca registry business, yarn sales business, and farm business.  The one that is making me lose sleep at night is my farm income tax return.  Every year, I vow to do better.   But I've been really, really busy.

So...I had the whole morning to myself and a todo list that included...registry paperwork and income taxes.

I did start.
But...then I remembered that sandal wearing season was upon us!

Avoidance never looked so pretty!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back from My Break!

I was at a workshop for my library work a couple weeks back on maintaining your web presence.  Apparently, a blog should be updated regularly.  I'll try harder! 

May has proven to be a busy and stressful month around here.  And that was BEFORE the blackflies started!  If you are reading from afar and aren't familiar with the Northern Ontario blackfly...a word of advice...don't plan to visit between mid-May and July 1.  Here in Corbeil, two weeks after the snow has gone, we are praying for a freakish drop in temperature that might kill the blackfly population and mosquito larvae.

But I am looking forward to harvesting the fibre from our alpacas.  Since I only own a small herd, I also buy fibre from other alpaca farmers as well to make my yarn. 

At this time of year, I like to figure out whose fibre will go into what batch of yarn.  Vivaldi's will likely go into a batch of lofty sport weight knitting yarn, blended with 30% merino.  Would you like a Vivaldi hat and scarf set?
I've been spending a lot of time walking in the fields around twilight time, just when the temperature cools off and the blackflies have settled down.  The alpacas are grazing on our side of the fenceline and the deer are grazing on the other side of the fenceline.  A peaceful end to my day.

 I made a recipe from the Foodand Ontario recipe flyer that I picked up last week.  It's a Maple Ham and Asparagus Strata.  It uses 6 eggs (the chickens are popping eggs out like crazy)!  I had wanted to get Ontario grown asparagus, but had to settle for US imported asparagus.   Even though asparagus is supposed to be in season in Ontario, my grocery store didn't have it.  Time to switch grocery stores?  Maybe the Ontario crop isn't ready yet?

Today, I took a machine knitting workshop with Carloyn Barnett .  I was so excited.  Four years ago, I had bought some used equipment from a friend of a friend, who was clearing out her late mother's stuff from her garage.  I had taken a chance and had no idea what I had bought.  The boxes have sat under my bed, while waiting on my 'Some Day' list.

I thought that the price of a one day local workshop was worth the price of just finding out what I had in the boxes and see what was missing.
Wow!  Within the first 45 minutes of the workshop, the participants had put their pieces together and found out what parts needed to be regularly maintained.  Then we actually started on a toddler's pullover.
It was a great day.  Even though I got pretty messed up on the shoulder and neckline shaping, I finished the back of the sweater with Carolyn's help.  I also gained the confidence that I could start making some rectangular scarves and shawls at home.
I have wanted to take a week-long machine knitting course at Haliburton School of Arts during the summer, but didn't want to make the commitment without knowing that I had a working machine.  Now I can sign up for courses when I please, because I know this equipment works.

Besides being a great learning experience, the workshop provided a nice mental break.   And some days those are needed more than others.