Archive for category farmlife

Jake 2005-2016

Truly was a friend.


Milva potato

We planted a short row of Milva potatoes this year. Hadn’t tried them before, we usually grow some Yukon Gold, Norland, various fingerling varieties, and a blue potato. The Milva was a success, pretty good yield in so-so ground. Some grew to a fair size and appear to be more scab resistant than the other varieties. But some of the tubers had growth splits. That might have been a result of not watering regularly.

That’s a 6″/15 cm rule.


Couple more things found in the garage

This is even more self indulgent and boring than usual, but I had to show you more unearthed treasure.

Lovely little light meter. Bakelite body, great dial. Has a perforated disk that you can place over the photocell to increase the range so to speak.


And half a dozen or so 16″ BBC transcription disks. Some music, some spoken word. The disks are aluminum covered in a black lacquer.


Old saw not saved

Found the other chainsaw I mentioned in the post about the Stihl. It’s a McCulloch 5-49. Not 100% sure on the model, but it’s a McCulloch. I actually have the original manual, somewhere. The handle for the end of the bar is missing. It, the bar, manual, and one old chain was in the barn when we moved in.

I’ll never restore it so I’ll try and unload on someone nearby. If that fails then I’ll post it up for grabs here.


Old saw saved

People who know me know that I tend to hang on to things and I’ve let the barn/garage become a pigsty of unfinished projects and bits and pieces of this and that.

I hate myself for this, inside there is a minimalist trying to get out.

So this long weekend I made a start in cleaning things up. During this labour I uncovered a chainsaw that I preferred to forget. It’s a Stihl 041av given to me a few years ago by my step father. He must have bought it in the early or mid seventies and it worked fine for firewood cutting. When he gave it to me, or I should say I asked for it when I saw it being thrown out, he told me that it just came back from the shop with the terminal sentence of not being fixable. Ha! I said.

I took it home and got the pull start mechanism mostly working and fired it up. Snarled like a beast and then stopped. Couldn’t pull start it, seemed to be seized. I looked in the gas tank and the liquid was clear. What the heck? What was in there? No oil mix for sure.

I was really disheartened. I felt like a pillock. I put the saw in the garage and tried to forget about it but it nagged at me. Today I uncovered it during my clean up and, in a perfect example of optimism over experience, I gave the cord a pull. It turned over. No way, could it be? Gassed it up with proper mix and it fired right up. What a noise, like a real chainsaw. And it has power, test cutting in maple it seemed to have more power than my old reliable Husqevarna 353. But boy is it heavy, yes much heavier than the husky and no chain brake. Sort of hell on wheels. A back up saw now, but for an old man like me it’s a tiring one.


More figs

It’s a big tree now, but started as one shoot in a half wine barrel 22 years ago. Pumping them out every day now. Some to be frozen till we have time to make preserves. It tickles me to have a fig tree in the garden, it’s like we’re living somewhere exotic.


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Earlier than normal harvest

You probably know that it has been a hotter and drier summer this year in the Pacific Northwest. We harvested the first of our garlic over a month ago, the rest a couple weeks later. The plague of zucchini is upon us. And now the tomatoes, hot peppers, and figs are pumping fruit out.



Pork jowl

I like buying a pork jowl now and again and curing it with some salt, a touch of sugar, and thyme. In the fridge like that for a week or so then tied up and left for maybe a month. Italian name is guanciale.

Some sexy kitchen bondage video, about as interesting as those wood fire videos or Norwegian slow tv.

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Sheesh, spring already?

I know most of Canada does not follow the same schedule as we do here on southern Vancouver Island, but for goodness sake, this is too soon.




Good friend Dave remembered me saying that I’d take an octopus if his commercial prawn fishing friend had any to spare (a by-catch that is frozen and used as halibut bait) and brought over 8 of them – frozen. I’ve never cooked a Pacific Giant Octopus before, and all the recipes I have, and that I could find on the net, were for cooking smaller octopus. I gave one method a try and I took pics along the way.

The octopus, not fully thawed, in the sink. The slime on the skin rinses off easily and after rinsing I cut the tentacles off. Forgive me, but for this first go I didn’t use the head.

In the stock pot.

Water, onions, pepper corns, bay leaf. Simmered for an hour or so, scum removed as best I could.

As I said, about an hour or so or until paring knife could poke into a tentacle. Pot dumped into colander and at this point I was disappointed to see not only the skin but the suckers falling off.

And this was the result. Lots of shrinkage and with no skin or suckers, it really didn’t look at all like what I wanted.

I made a provencal style tomato sauce (onion, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, capers, olives, etc) and popped the cut up tentacles in at the end, just to heat them up.


It wasn’t bad, but not great. I’m going to try again, different approach.

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Garlic and shallots

The larger ones hung individually are the main crop (hard and soft necked). The bundled small bulbed ones are volunteers from another part of garden. The volunteers are nice tasting purple hard necks we planted years ago. Next season we will give some of them a better chance.

Some shallots hanging up there too.


Pat Bay at its best

Mike and Stu setting of in the old CL-11.


Foals and chicks

We have a few hens who have escaped their confines and have been hatching chicks here and there. This is the last brood, October 9. Plus a couple of pics of foals and mare.

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Giant Burdock

Last fall I threw some Giant Burdock burrs down on the front garden. It may seem crazy, but I like the plants but I won’t let them spread. The flower stalks haven’t appeared yet but the leaves are huge. Edit – I didn’t know this, “Burdock has the little known yet precise designation monocarpic herb. This means a seedling grows for a varying period of years, usually two to four, until its root has stored enough energy to produce a flower stem. The plant dies only after flowering. In a shady, dry location Burdock must wait a long time. Rich soil, well-bathed in sunshine, lets Burdock send up its huge flower stem in its second year of growth. Other monocarpic herbs are Angelica and Giant Hogweed.” More info here.

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Biggish BBQ

Concrete blocks and scrap stainless.

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Finally feels like summer

Pat Bay, late evening July 3.



A use for that handle

Handle in previous post used as part of this prop. Crude but works.


Interesting handle

I was making a prop for one of my son’s plays today and I needed a short handle. I rummaged around the file drawer for an old leather covered handle that almost worked as a file handle. It had some sort of “nut” pushed deep inside that never really gripped the tang of the file.

I used a screw to pull the “nut” out, but what’s this?

An old .303 cartridge.

I wonder what the story is behind the handle.


The obligatory hummingbird pics

Everyone does it, so I will to.




Robotic lambs

The LED eyes give them away.

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She’s due to, what’s the word, farrow in the next few days.

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Animal farm

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Milking a Jersey

Boy, the milk is good, and lots of cream. Next time the stainless bucket will have a cleaner outside.

After 16 hours, pretty well all the cream has risen. Jersey’s are known to produce this nice cream-coloured cream, and a fair whack of it. Wikipedia says 6 % butterfat (compare with Holsteins at 2.5 – 3.6 %).


Red leafed Oregon Grape

Every so often you come upon a red leafed Oregon Grape.
Why is it red? Random mutation? Virus? Phytoplasmas?

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A bunch O’ fungi

Took some snaps while walking the dogs.

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About 2 weeks old.

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Boar et al

You know that expression? “it sticks out like dog’s balls”…


How we get pork

Last Sunday we slaughtered a pig. In the past we have taken pigs to a local abattoir/butcher, but changes to regulations have forced many small “artisan” butchers out of business. And this time we didn’t want to ship the pigs to a strange place, its a stressful thing for them. They are for our own consumption so we can do it on site, and we started with one yesterday.
A couple of friends came by to help, they had done same thing on their farm.
It went well, 410 shotgun with slug, in head, pig dropped immediately, no drama. It was bled via a cut at base of neck and down into aorta. Then we moved it to where we had a scalding bath set up (to loosen hair so it can be scrapped off).

The pictures are pretty self explanatory, but not for the faint of heart. After I post this I am off to make guanciale with the cheeks ( I didn’t take pics of the severed head, that’s a bit much).


67 BSA Thunderbolt

Posted here just because it looks good, and pic was taken summer (2004) reminding me that the driveway does dry out.

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Headcheese (brawn)

Looking at the pigs today reminded me of the time back in 2004 when I made headcheese from one of the pigs raised on the property. They weren’t “old breed” pigs, just the regular old commercial variety. Anyway, I had the butcher set aside one head for me. It came, de-brained and split, in a vacuum pack. Funny thing was one half seemed a little roughed up. I consulted a few old books and I set about making brawn. The pictures tell the story. I don’t like headcheese, but it wasn’t that bad, good sliced on a sandwich.

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