This year was such a terrible growing year owing to the drought that gripped our area along with so many others. Now the frost warnings have now started in this region so the food that was growing had to be harvested and brought in. I have picked off all the peppers, squash, tomatoes and cut down the basil and swiss chard. I got bags of food even though the season was not great owing I believe to the late rains. Oddly, the melons did not produce a single fruit, but now… too late, the plants have loads of small round beginnings. I guess if the frost does not hit then perhaps I will get something of them in the Indian Summer. The food is now in Hamilton with me, all safely hand processed and tucked away in my root cellar and freezer. Tonight I am going to caramelize the immature squash and onion then throw in some green tomatoes and stir this into some buckwheat pasta for supper. Use up what did not mature. Should be sweet and sour and hopefully interesting.
Between the rounds of cooking that went on yesterday I caught up on a lot of reading and news. Among the items that I found interesting was a blog out of Tennessee called Dreaming Smaller in which a young man who has had a catastrophic injury shares his plans and concerns about downsizing their home (for he and his family). The land is where his family home, long ago burned out was situated. In the long grass there hides a copperhead snake nesting site, so you never know when one of them will wiggle out of the grass and bite… These bites hurt a lot, he assures, but are rarely fatal… (!!!) With this said, I know I am not the only Canadian who finds the idea of living near a poison snake pretty darn scary. On a chance cafe meeting a young Australian tourist told me “Canadians have a weird national obsessive fear of poison snakes, every single one of you asks about them.” With this in mind, I thought you might also like to check his site out.
Among the usual tragic news of accidents and shootings, the news out of Canada that I find most shocking and disgusting is the story of the “Peas Garden“. This small garden was started on May 1, 2012 in Queen’s Park and maintained in all summer by about a hundred volunteers. The food was intended for low income persons and the community was to have a harvesting party on September 29th, but on the eve of the harvest, the City Parks Director Richard Ubbens sent City Employees to rip it up and sod it over. This was done without warning the group. The food was all destroyed, the heirloom plants plucked. The opportunity for food bank users to have this healthy locally grown food was callously removed. This in a year which anyone connected to growing food will know was not ideal. This in a time when food banks cannot keep up, this story really sickens me! There is nothing, and I mean nothing that enrages me more than wastefulness and mean spiritedness toward the disadvantaged.
Food for thought… When did Canada get so turned upside down?
Last night I went to a poetry reading in Kingston. I was caught in the pouring rain which came to us at the tail end of the Issac storm. I knew I would get wet but I went through it anyway. To tell you the truth it was sort of fun! There was lots of water so it was a bit like a ride at a water park.
We have had so little rain this year that I was glad to see it come. It was nice to be soaked right to the skin. Thing is that when I arrived I ran right in and only at the half time break when I wanted to get a card from my purse (tucked safely in my trunk) did I run back out in the rain again.
Turns out, my truck did not lock properly and it was gaping open when I went out. The trunk was filled right to the top with water – about 6 inches deep. The terrible thing about this, is that my camera and my Mac laptop were both totally submerged. SUBMERGED.
Worse… My laptop had the only copy of the draft of my novel on it. Plus all other writing outside of this blog. Over a year of my writing disolved like sugar in tea.
I have brought it in to see if they can recover the data but I am not very hopeful. I am sitting now at the public library posting. I have huge tears rolling down my cheeks as I write and I feel like I have been kicked really hard in the stomach.
UPDATE: After writing this – I remembered that I printed a hard copy of my novel, two months ago, so even with the data lost I can type it again! Feeling like I can breathe again….
We got a little rain this morning so the stone dust got packed in a little bit better. This allowed us to add another layer of stone dust to it. The neighbour kids stopped by and wanted to help so I suggested that they stamp the stones in. They happily stomped away. Thanks kids!
The stone is at about the height that want it now, so I think I need to add a little more to it still because it will compress more over the winter. It is just about level so I am thinking that I have to add a small slope away from the building in order to keep the water away. I am not sure how to do this as entire property slopes toward the other side of the house so the natural way is for it to go toward this side of the house. I have to think about this, but I think that I will have to slope it to the East. Also, I am accepting any advice you might have on the subject.
After working at this for a couple of hours I went with the kids over to a wonderful organic farm in Inverary, Ontario. We were reminded that the drought is not just something that effects farmers, it effects eaters. How true.
Her garden looks about a million times better than mine. She is producing all sorts of food for a CSA as well as baking bread and producing eggs for these baskets. Plus the animals… they all need care and attention at all times. Then the crops and the … it really never ends on a bio-diverse organic farm. The entire family seems only willing to stop for in order to have a short food break and then they are back to work.
I was up around Toronto yesterday morning and I am happy to report that the vegetation in that area is looking downright lush again. Here in the Kingston area, I think we must have had significantly less precipitation to carry us through. There has been rain, as a matter of fact, it is raining today. Even so, I think this is too late, we have lost a lot of forest here and I also think that it is way too late for most farmers because the root system is dead on so much. The balance of need was not met.
We have a few red tomatoes in the THO garden but sadly this is because they are dry rotted on the bottom. The Zero mile diet has been 99% flop. I know I will find that the balance here was also thrown off, it will have been an expensive year at THO when I finally do the books this fall.
I am lucky that I have more than one option still and am really pretty happy that I put in a back up garden in Hamilton and this is doing really well. I have had a number of meals from there already and also I have frozen one huge bag of tomatoes and my potatoes and herbs look really great. While I was there I put away some Niagara freestone peaches too. I think I will reap a lot of food from Hamilton considering particularly that I have only about 30 square feet of space to grow in at the house. Still, I feel terrible for my farming friends in this area whose books will be red with the loss.
Back here at THO, here is some rain on what is left of the ant tree. I would like to put a bird bath up on that post, one with a drain, so I am hoping I can find something which fits here easily. I am in town now to post this and also to get two 2×4 boards for a small project. I will write about what I am doing when it is accomplished.
It is not the aim of this blog to try and talk the world into becoming vegan, or even vegetarian but rather the goal is to discuss the object of living with less. Since I started this blog on November 30, 2011 I have discussed a plethora of topics around being a woman/writer/artist who lives part time in a project called Tiny House Ontario and how this huge, but Tiny project is going and is effecting me.
But there is something going on here in Canada and the United States that is too huge to ignore and has me really worried. Right now we in Ontario and a whole lot of the USA are living through an historic and dreadfully bad drought. The Canadian government has been nearly silent on the issue but recently I read an article out of the United States which explains briefly the reasoning behind the USDA’s sensible recommendation that citizens give up eating meat on Mondays. It carries some mind boggling statistics and information in it. Even so, the article does not go far enough (in my opinion). The most significant missed topic in the article is that it does not discuss what the USDA and farmers already know. Here it is! Livestock are being and will continue to be “dumped” because farmers cannot afford to feed them. This means (for those of you who did not come up on farms) that they sell mostly ALL of their animals as livestock for slaughter. This might seem like good news if you are a meat eater (initially) but here is where you are wrong, this means that there will be a lack of breeding stock next year. You will start to see huge price jumps at about Christmas for the cost of meat and the price will keep on raising. Truth is, it will take a few years for the animals and the farmers to catch up.
The hostile and arrogant reaction of the politicians quoted in this article is totally off the mark*. They flaunt their stupidity on the subject of meat. Not just on how it is produced but the time of production as well as the costs of production are not noted at all. These clowns absurdly suggest what they will do, which is to “eat more, put pounds of meat on display and call the USDA heretics”. What they are saying in essence is we are going to eat it all up until it is gone and leave nothing for you. It is greed and ignorance at best!
The sad fact is, I am commenting on this subject because a lot more people will go to bed hungry this winter in both the USA and Canada and for the next year or two as well, if there are not GREAT growing years coming our way. I wish it was not going to be this way, but it is. Quite simply, we have not had nearly enough rain. Below is an image from NASA Earth Observatory. There is more info from them here.
What I am asking, is to buy some food from your most local farmer and please eat less meat for the next couple of years. I know it sounds cliche, but if we all do a little bit there will be a little bit left over for the poorest among us.
I can’t tell you how much that I hope I am wrong.
*I want to qualify that I am not partisan or even particularly interested in who is who. These folks are way too far from me to make me even remotely interested in finding out anything about the particulars of the political affiliation.