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Wednesday is Chore Day

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day!  The temperature reached 15 degrees Celsius and the sun shone intensely in a vivid blue sky.  It was really glorious and I very gratefully had the day “off.”

I started my day with a hike with the dogs.  We went to the conservation area and spent almost two hours exploring the trails or just sitting in the various meadows and enjoying the sun.  Well actually I sat, the dogs didn’t stop moving the entire time.  I don’t remember the last time I saw them this full of beans!  Even after 2 hours they were still running hard, chasing each other, hunting mice, swimming in the pond.  They’ve been pretty quiet ever since, mind you!

After our hike I had to run errands.  I needed to stop at the library to drop off and pick up some books, drop off my stereo to see if it can be repaired ($45 paid up front just to have them look at it!!), pop into the second hand store to drop of a donation…and of course browse around for any little finds (I bought a small glass mixing bowl, but that was it).  Finally I had to get a few groceries.  As I decided earlier in the winter to ease up on my food restrictions in order to eat more than root veggie soup for four months, I have been exploring a few new recipes requiring non-local ingredients.  I make a careful list and only pick up what a I need, and I’m doing my best to buy organic (and ideally fair trade) and succeeding fairly well.  Amazingly, the Great Canadian Superstore is the one place I can get organic items within an hour of where I live, so that’s where I shop.  I always feel very hypocritical when I go in there, but I’ve run into some of the organic farmers I know doing the same, so I guess there are limits to everyone’s ability to avoid multinationals.

For any produce, however, I still go to a small, independent grocery called Briwood Farm Market (in St. Thomas) just across from the Superstore.  There I was able to buy local apples (not organic), local cheese and local meat that they wrapped in butcher paper for me so I don’t have to bring home styrofoam (they had the same products pre-wrapped, but made up a special order for me upon request).  That alone makes it worth my while to make two stops, but I also appreciate their constant and quite extensive effort to support local producers.  Everything in the store is labeled for place of origin, and during the growing season they have a plethora of local products.  This place makes it much easier to be a locavore all year round and my hat’s off to them for making it work.

Once home, I was faced with a multitude of chores.  With this warm weather I needed to get the mulch out of the dog yard to let the grass start to come up.  I put three bales of straw down last fall when the yard turned into mud soup, in order to keep things at least marginally clean.  That actually worked quite well, but the mulch + packed snow killed most of the grass underneath.  It was a bigger job than I expected to rake up all that straw, but it’s done.

I also started to reseed the yard to speed along the return of green.  I think I may have overseeded as I ran out about half way through.  Because the dogs are tough on grass, I decided to see with pasture mix.  I was advised to plant it along with a “nurse” crop – a fast growing crop that will help the grass along and protect it while it takes root.  Isn’t it great to have real farmers around to give advice like this? I would have never known about using a nurse crop, but my yard is now seeded with oats along with pasture.  I can’t wait to see what comes up.  Of course I now have the delightful task of keeping the dogs off the grass for several weeks.  Oh joy!

Tonight I was to do a bunch of cooking (hence the grocery shopping earlier in the day) but it’s already 8:30 and I’m just finished my chores.  I had to vacuum and do some other cleaning because the dogs and I brought in a lot of mud earlier today.  I also needed to vacuum up all the dog hair as they are starting to blow their coats.  So far just Hannah is molting, but that’s enough to make dog hair pile up really quickly.  I’m never sure if I’d rather have them all molt at once (in which case we’d be up to our ears in dog hair, but it would only last a couple of weeks) or if I prefer this one dog at a time business.

Now I’m taking a short break to try and catch my breath before tackling the kitchen.  I hope I will have enough energy to at least make the celeriac & apple coleslaw I thought I’d try with the last of my celeriac.  I bought local Mutsu’s to make it with, which they are quite lovely even on their own.  I expect the dish to be tasty.  If it works out, I’ll post the recipe.

Yesterday I gave a guest lecture on food and globalization to a first year class at UWO.  It was fun to be teaching a full class again, and the students seemed relatively interested in the subject.  Food is a good way to get people’s attention because everyone has to eat.  Start showing them a few things they didn’t know, and you quickly get their notice.  I showed this clip from Polyface Farm and asked how many people hoped their food came from a place like that.  Most put up their hands.  I told them unfortunately that wasn’t the case, and showed the Meatrix to depict where most food really comes from.  Judging by the gasps and giggles, they were watching with interest.

What really caught their attention, judging by the written comments handed in at the end of the class, was the following video clip from the movie Our Daily Bread.  This is the film that I have found most powerful of any of the food movies I’ve seen, and this short clip had a very strong impact on my audience, as it does on myself, each and every time I watch it:

Tomorrow I work all day again.  Wednesdays are my chore days because I work very long days on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I find I can’t switch gears that easily to write the day in between.  Better to spend Wednesdays running errands, cooking and cleaning.  Then I can devote Friday through Monday to writing.  At least in theory.  The last couple of weekends have been spent grading and going to a conference, so I’m quite behind on my research.  After work tomorrow I am going to Waterloo in order to farm sit.  I’m excited about that, but need to get packed and organized tonight as I won’t get home from work until 7pm and then have 1.5 hours of driving to get there.  I need to be ready to just put the animals and my suitcase in the car and go.

After farm sitting for the weekend, I’m driving to Niagara to have my back worked on, then back to London on Monday. Work all day on Tuesday, so the next day at home will be next Wednesday.  Where does the time go?  Life has just been so crazy lately.  I really needed to make yogurt today but I didn’t and now it’s probably too late.  I find that if I don’t babysit it, it often doesn’t work out.  At least not in winter when the house is as cold as it is.  So I can’t just get it started and leave it sit overnight.  Hopefully the milk I bought today will last until next Wednesday.  I had best check.

I feel a bit more energized after sitting for a few minutes, so I had best get back to cleaning, cooking and packing.  And then to bed.  There simply are never enough hours in the day, and losing one hour this weekend seems to have made the entire week shorter!  That’s all for now.  I still have several posts I hope to put up shortly, but am not sure if I will have internet access at the farm.  If I don’t, I’ll write again next week.  Until later!

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