Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More than Organic

At Old Heritage Farms: One of the most meaningful experiences on our trip up north was a visit to a local farm that does everything above organic.  The word "organic" is more of advertisement pitch to convince you that what you are eating is from an ideal and most natural source.  Often this just means that the "organic" milk you drank comes from confined cows that are fed corn grown without fertilizer rather than with, but comes nowhere close to the image in your mind of cows grazing in pasture.  Since the word "organic" is truly tarnished by industrial systems at work, one has to seek further to find a name for food created the way nature intended.  We drove up on a hot day to an old house, nestled in by nature and two other buildings, one as a sort of crude processing room and a smaller green house growing dozens of tomato plants.  At first I wasn't sure anyone was home or whether we would be welcome so I walked up to the small building next to the green house and peeking through the door I saw a man carefully washing and drying eggs.  He introduced himself as Andre and we soon got into a conversation about the uniqueness of his farm.  Andre, of course uses no fertilizers and he doesn't feed his cows or chickens corn which they are not meant to eat, but has a system which involves a portable perimeter that he uses to keep his cows on select area of pasture in the interest of maintaining the lush variety of grasses in his pasture.  The chickens, as "the clean up crew" are then moved to areas the cows have grazed some days before and they eat up the bugs, grass and the fly larvae in the cow patties, and help to spread the manure around to fertilize the grass.  The moving perimeters are part of a ecological system that aims to support the balance of life to all parties involved.  There is so much more to talk about but in essence Andre's farm is self sustaining which is great for the environment and on production costs for him.  The benefit for us is healthier and better tasting food.  His chickens make real eggs, eggs better than I have ever tasted anywhere and a difference you can see with your eyes; the yolk has a slight orange hue due to the beta-carotene the chickens get from the grass by the sun's energy and the white of the egg has a significant body to it (unlike the watery egg whites that are so common) giving you a heartier egg altogether.  I didn't even know such an egg exist, being so used to the commercial eggs that are everywhere.  The chickens which get to be chickens and do what chickens do have a happier existance and produce healthier eggs and tastier chicken.  I ended up buying a whole chicken, plus two dozen eggs and a morrel mushroom that Andre found growing wild in areas of his property.  What Andre does is unique and beautiful despite all struggles he faces by industrial efforts (he is not allowed to sell his at the market and can't process the chickens or animals at his farm due to regulations). 

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Old Hastings Gallery in Ormsby

In the almost non-existent town of Ormsby (population between 12 and 20 people) there is a general store that has been around for ages filled with treasures galore that no one might expect from a little place so out of the way from anywhere.  Here is a tiny room under the staircase perfect for person of Jude's stature.  Jude loved this little spot so much he wanted very much to play in it and didn't much want to go.  Jude also found some handmade wooden vehicles to play with, one of which he will have on his birthday which takes place tomorrow.  Isabella bought a bag of neat candies of old fashion toffee and chocolates.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh Boy

Hey, the baby is a boy!  We are delighted to have a boy even though all our hunches told us that it might be a girl, so much for hunches.  This baby already likes to suck its thumb and we were told by the ultrasound technician that the baby was smiling as one can see in the first picture.  I think this will be a peaceful baby.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Farm Sitting

 Sam looking gorgeous as her pregnant self in a wonderful self portraits. This one taken up at Maple Leaf while we were on vacation shows Sam at about 5 months pregnant.  Tomorrow we will find out if the baby is a boy or a girl,, I am wondering if our hunches are correct..
 Jude is something of a musician as we have noticed, and finds peace whenever one is singing or if he gets a chance to drum on things or strum on the guitar.  Jude also sings in his baby language into anything resembling a microphone.
During our stay in Maple Leaf we took care of the farm pets, Tamarack and Cherry (named after trees) who were strictly outside dogs but would not leave the house area until you took them for a walk and then they might end up chasing things in the woods for a good long while until they decided to come back home.  I myself took adventurous expeditions into the thick woods mired in wet areas and mosquitoes and often made my way along trails that ended abruptly or became more grown in until one could no longer distinguish a trail. On my second night I got lost, the woods going out endlessly with no house to come by, the dogs having left me long before and it began getting dark very quickly, the forest with its canopy of leaves made it ever more dark.  I came upon a large pond and some clearings that still gave me no indication about where I was and I do admit after a good couple of hours I was getting a bit nervous.  By my great fortune I heard a trampling of leaves and sticks and rustle of brush before me, which suddenly appeared the puppy Tamarack followed by his sister Cherry.  They bounded up to me and then sat down with a look that said 'now where are we going.'  I said to Tamarack hoping in some way that he might understand,, 'go home, where's home?'  Tamarack began leading me through the woods but was much too savvy in his navigation through the brambles me to make my way through due to my size and so I had to call him back a couple of times.  Eventually they lead me to the road that took me back up towards the house and I felt an extreme thankfulness for having such knowledgeable and loyal companions.  Needless to say I gave them a good helping of treats when we got back to the house, which was just about when it began raining.  The house had lost electricity for hours and Sam and I sat up by candle light for the night. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time Away

 For two weeks we stayed up north in a little town most people have never heard of called Maple Leaf which lies just beyond Bancroft and closer to Maynooth.  Despite the hoards of human devouring bugs being mainly mosquitoes between successions of black flies and horse flies and deer flies and any other fly that can bite bits out of  your flesh, we had an incredible time.  Here is a picturesque shot of the barn which has a floor below outlined by the stone wall where cows were kept in winter I imagine and above a place for hay lofts and equipment though all the hay was taken and the equipment left out in the grass being just an old tractor that is a working miracle.  Let me introduce you to the Maple Leaf farm, a B&B which was formally known as the Old Davis Farm which is still written in large lettering on the face of the barn.  The picture below shows an antique lock on the side of the barn that leads to the bottom floor, inside names and dates inscribed in the boards dating back to 50's.  The grass quickly rose in the span of our two weeks to a chest height that made it impossible to determine the slope or depth of the ground.  A local farmer named Roy brought the outside tractor to life and cut down much of this grass which he would follow up with a baler to collect the grass into convenient cubes for transporting to his hungry horses.  Roy was an ageless sort of fellow stooped and sun worn, looking late in life but sprightly when jumping down from the tractor, was a man of few words but a friendly demeanor and could show one how to grab a dog by his jaw so that they can't bite you.   When entering into the landscape it was necessary that one wear their "armor" being a mosquito net around the head, layers of long sleeved shirts, waterproof boots, bug repellent (3 layers) and courage.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jude is Almost 2

Sam, Grandma Jude and Little Jude went out yesterday to visit Jadin who is still a newborn.  It is hard to believe that Jude was once so little though it was not so long ago.  It is very strange how close Jude resembles me in this photograph when I was his age.
 Without any prompting or suggestion Jude instinctively began shooting at us with the hose.  He was born a saucy one.  The only thing missing from this image is Jude's maniacal laughter at having us run away from his bold attempt to douse us with hose water. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bev painting

Here is a snapshot of a painting that I am currently working on at present.  It has been a very slow painting as I am working in specific areas at one time rather than my former paintings where I tend to jump all over at one time.  I still establish my palette before getting started and I plan to work back into several areas again to create layers of color.  I find it spooky when one of the eyes are missing but I tend to work towards those major facial features by establishing everything else first. 

Scugog Counsel for the Arts Awards Night

Two nights ago I was presented by the Scugog Counsel of the Arts with New Resident Artist Award which is given to a newcomer who has made a significant impact in the arts for the local community.  It was hectic getting there (Jude wouldn't let us get him dressed and we got lost) but luckily we were just in time to listens to writers from Whitby who read segments from their short stories and poets their verses.  I received my award during the final stage of the ceremony and was given a beautiful handmade plate along with a year membership to the Scugog Counsel of the Arts and a certificate.  Though my favorite part of the evening was having the opportunity to talk with members of the board, local artists and art enthusiasts.