Monday, October 29, 2012

Lulu's Travel Tales

It is always great fun travelling with Lulu.  I get to meet many interesting and interested people.  Here are a few encounters we've had during our travels.

Here's Lulu taking part in a campfire last summer at Swan Hills, AB.  She is very unchickenlike in her behavior to stay up after dark.  As long as I am there, she wants to be up instead of going to bed.  She was content to sit on the table and monitor the conversations around her.  She also liked to perch and settle in onto the arm of my lawn chair.  One of Barry's co-workers really took a shine to Lulu and came back several times to see her during the time we were visiting.

This summer, we stopped at the rest stop near Little Fort, BC. Lulu was out eating grass and bugs and doing other chickeny things when a man walking by stopped to chat. He asked questions about Lulu and said that having a chicken as a pet was unusual but she was the second one he'd seen on his travels. The other woman had lost both her feet due to frostbite and she had a chicken that had also lost her feet. He said they were inseparable and went everywhere together. That would be quite the unusual sight!

This summer, we also stopped at Saskatchewan River Crossing, AB several times.  This is the crossroads in the Rockies - Jasper is to the north, Banff and Lake Louise are south, and Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer are to the east.  We do stop in the mountains but there isn't much grass and foliage for Lulu to nibble on.  I parked at the edge of the grass and was standing guard over Lulu so no one's dog would get her.  A truck pulled up and parked beside me and the driver got out looking surprised when he saw Lulu.  The passengers jumped out (four women and another man) and all the women started chattering and snapping pics of Lulu.  Usually people who stop there, take pics of the mountains but not this group.  One of the women came up to me and said, "My name is Haan."  The driver explained that they were from the Netherlands and that Haan was Dutch for a male chicken.  She seemed to be very excited that she and Lulu shared a name.  Lulu is becoming world famous.  ;)

Not to long ago, I had a number of errands in Kamloops and was able to fit in a visit with a friend I went to elementary school with in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Hallie and I had lost track of each other over the years as we each had moved several times.  Last year, Hallie contacted me through Facebook and we've kept in contact since.  While we were visiting in the backyard, we heard weird noises - not exactly cat, not quite bird, not likely human.  Lulu had been exploring the yard and was making a variety of sounds showing her interest and curiosity.  It turned out there is a resident crow that lives in a tree in the back yard and he was trying to imitate the sounds Lulu was making.  He made two or three different sounds and calls but Lulu ignored him until he started to sound like a crow and then stood up straight and was wary.  None of my chickens were fond of crows.  They would chase them out of the chicken yard when the crows flew down and tried to eat some of their fruit or veggies.

Oh the fun I have with my travelling chicken, Lulu!  ;)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making Raisins

The grapes were plentiful this year.  Our earliest grapes are seedless green grapes that are very sweet.  I'm not sure what variety they are but one neighbour said she thinks they are Himrod.

The grapes are a nice size and sweeter than any grape I've ever bought at a grocery store.

There were too many to eat and since they are seedless, I thought they'd be a perfect grape to use for making raisins.

I picked, washed and sorted the grapes.  I made sure they were well drained so as not to add to the drying time. 
The one complaint I have about this type of grape is the stem often comes off with the grape.  These all have to be removed or else you have little dry sticks on your grapes.    

I filled my dehydrator trays without piling the grapes on top of one another. 

Here are the raisins dry and ready to be bagged.  I find drying times vary from batch to batch depending on the outside temperature and humidity level. 

Now I'll have fresh homemade raisins for eating and baking all winter.  ;) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall in the Rocky Mountains

Here are some pictures I took travelling through the Rockies this fall.  They are lovely and magestic in all seasons.

Autumn in the Mountains

 Late summer’s shadows turn to fall,

Still wakes in me a beckoned call,

To trample through the crisp dry leaves,

Aft frost from season’s first chilled breeze.

Turning what was once a forest green,

To mountains dressed in fiery sheen,

Of maple red and golden oak

Flaunts their regal autumn cloak.

I watch a southbound vee of geese,

A romping squirrel through fallen leaves,

As sweet smoke rises from chimney spire,

Hangs like perfume in fall’s cool air.

It’s time like this my soul’s at ease,

A moment to ponder a bit of peace,

With one last chance to take a peek,

Ere winter turns this place to bleak.


Poem by Ktdid

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Watch for the Second Deer

On my last trip to Rocky Mountain House, AB, Barry told me about his foreman at a safety meeting talking about deer on the highway.  They have numerous deer in that area.  The foreman said, "If you see a deer on the road or in the ditch, slow down and watch for the second one."

I hadn't known this before but it stuck in my head.  Thankfully.  This trip I slowed down for over half a dozen different pairs of deer.  If I had not heard that saying, I may have hit the second one crossing the road on several of the occasions.  They do seem to travel in pairs and have trouble deciding what they want to do.  One may cross and the other stands for a bit before deciding to join the first.  Or they stand on either side of the road until one decides to make the move to the other side.

Plus, keeping a lookout for deer, made me more alert and I was lucky to react quickly enough to miss a moose that had decided to cross.  Now that would have been messy because they are huge!  It stumbled up out of the ditch and stood on the road for a few seconds before lurching off to the other side.  Not enough time to snap a pic but long enough for me to have to come to a complete stop.  Whew!  Too close!

So a warning to travellers driving through the foothills or in areas where there is bush growing near the highway whether travelling at dusk or on cloudy days - Watch for the second deer! It may save its life and your vehicle! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lulu at Moose Lake

We stopped at Moose Lake, AB.  It is a lovely blue-green lake.

There was some vegetation so Lulu got to have a nibble.

"Hey, mom," Lulu cried, "keep an eye out for dogs so I can enjoy my snack." 

"Boy this is a nice view," exclaimed Lulu, "I can see for miles and miles.  Doesn't the water look peaceful?"

It was a nice view and we had a fair bit of company.  A mom and her two young girls came over to see Lulu.  She took pictures of them petting her.  I picked her up so they could feel her comb and get a better look at her.  They were excited to tell their teacher when they went back to school that they saw a chicken and got to pet her.

"Not many bugs here, mom," said Lulu.  "Not like yesterday!  Boy, oh boy!  We should go back there!"  Lulu was referring to the rest stop near McLure, BC.  It had been a cool morning so the grasshoppers were still slow enough for Lulu to catch them.  She chases them at home but isn't too successful, but at McLure she had her fill.  I think she ate nearly a dozen of them.  She was one happy chicken!

"Look, mom," warned Lulu.  "They have a dog over there!  I hate dogs!  They scare me!"

As I was taking Lulu back to the car, a vehicle stopped and a woman rolled down her window and asked, "What's the story with the chicken?"  I told her about Lulu and she asked to take her picture too.  Lulu, the star.  ;) 

So we left the peaceful lake and all Lulu's fans and continued on our journey.  ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Concord Grape Jam

We had lots of Concord-type grapes this year. 

They are highly scented when they are ripe and you can smell their wonderful scent whenever you walk by.
This year I have made grape juice and jelly and decided to try grape jam as well. My starting point was here  and then I made it my way.

16 c grapes
2 granny apples - peeled, cored and chopped
2 c homemade pectin
6 c sugar

Start by washing, sorting and removing grapes from their stems.  I found that 8 cups of grapes off the stem is about 3 1/2 pounds.

Squeeze the grapes out of their skins and set skins aside.  I didn't find that my hands got too discoloured. 

Here are the grapes without their skins.   Cook the grapes until soft.  Next time I would give them a quick buzz in the food processor to help break the grapes up.  I found I had to use a potato masher to help them along.

Pour cooked grapes into sieve to remove the seeds. 

Keep working the pulp until only seeds are left.  I have been adding chopped granny apples to most of my jams this year to help with the pectin.  I also add homemade pectin to all my jams.  Add grape pulp, skins, and rest into pot and cook until you reach the jam stage.

This recipe made 7 pints of lovely jam.  It was more work than jelly but now we can compare which we like better.  ;)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Parsley Seeds

Did you know parsley is a biennial?  That means it produces seeds the second year before dying off.  Here is my parsley earlier this year.  This is the first year I've had it regrow the second year.  When I lived in Saskatchewan, it was too cold for the plant to survive the winter.  Last year, I covered my herb beds with leaves and it seemed to protect the plants.

The plant did not take long to start sending out flowers. 

It looked quite pretty and lacy as the flowers were greenish-white. 

The bees and other insects really liked the parsley flowers and were always swarming around it. 

As the flowers turned into seed heads, I decided it was time to harvest before I had a huge parsley field covering my herb garden and walkway.

I cut off bunches of seeds and laid them on the lawn so I could tie them together to hang up to dry.  Of course, Lulu had to come over and check out what I was doing.  Parsley is not a favorite of hers.  In fact, none of the chickens were very interested in it.

After the bunches were tied up, I hung them up to dry.  Lulu stuck around hoping for something more edible.

Here the plants have dried sufficiently to harvest the seeds. 

After the seeds were removed from the stems, I laid them out to dry some more.  I always try to make sure the seeds are totally dry so they don't spoil during storage.

Now I'll have seed for the next few years plus some to give away.  ;)