04 September 2016

A severe summer

This was a screenshot from the Weather Network site last month:

It caught my attention, as 'severe' is not usually a word I'd associate with summer weather. But it has turned out to be an apt one for this season.

We are used to dealing with very dry summers, but this has been the worst one since we've been in Canada. At the height of the drought, on August 13th, I forced myself to take photographs of the vegetable garden. With barely enough water for the household, I had not been able to water the garden at all, and the plants were really suffering. In the whole of July we had 23mm of rain and the previous three months were also very dry (April 23mm, May 19mm, June 48mm).

The cabbage patch:

The squash plants:

The row of sunflowers next to the squash:

We got an inch of rain that day, followed by half an inch three days later and that was enough to start the plants growing again. It's still very dry, but the 48mm we received in August has made a huge difference to the garden.

This how the cabbage patch looks now:

And the sunflowers, with the squash behind them, are looking a bit healthier. Two of the squash plants died in the drought, but the others have recovered and I'm now picking patty pan squash. This week I will pick the first of the zucchini/courgettes. The only problem now is that the weeds are also enjoying the rain!

In less happy news, I have to report that my entire flock of chickens (33 birds) were killed by a mink during July and August. I don't know if the dry weather was a contributory factor, but I suspect it might have been. Over the course of three weeks I fought a losing battle with this night-time killer. Every time I thought I'd managed to mink-proof the coop, it found a way through (they only need an inch) and killed one or more chickens. One night it killed eight. On the morning of August 8th I found the last seven chickens dead on the floor.

After eight years of keeping chickens I think I'm going to stop, for a while at least. I am really going to miss them, and their eggs (my birds had produced 15,000 eggs in the time I had them), but right now one less responsibility is probably a good thing. But yes, this summer has been severe indeed.

03 July 2016

Last post [?]

Ten years ago today I published First Post, the very first entry on Cooking in Someone Else's Kitchen. As I explained in my most recent post, life has rather got in the way of my blogging of late, but this anniversary seems a good time to sit down and reflect about the way this emigration journey has gone.

Ten years ago our small family was about to make a leap into the unknown. We had no jobs to come to in Canada and we knew very little about the country. A lot has changed in those years, both here and in the United Kingdom. Mike and I both have permanent full-time jobs in our respective careers, and our kids have grown up into thoughtful young Canadians.

These last weeks I have been watching the news coming out of the UK with rapt interest, as the country dealt with the EU referendum vote and then its aftermath. One of the best things I've seen about the impact of the Brexit vote was by Michael Dougan, an EU law professor from the University of Liverpool, who presented an analysis of the Leave arguments before the vote and then again after the vote's results were known.

I did have a vote in the referendum, and I voted Remain. My motivation was primarily one  of keeping options open for my kids: having an EU passport gave them the opportunity of living and working anywhere in Europe if they wanted to. If the withdrawal from the EU goes ahead, they will only have the option of living and working in Canada and the countries of the UK (and that's assuming that the UK holds together as one nation). Which is still better than only being able to live and work in the UK, of course, but I feel bad for the British youngsters whose futures have been trammelled by those who believed the empty promises of the Leave campaign.

One of the consequences of the result of the vote has been an increase in British people investigating how to move to Canada. It will be interesting to see if this will cause a spike in applications. This is a country that welcomes immigrants, but doesn't actually make it all that easy to become one, so good luck if you are in the UK and thinking of applying!

And speaking of new immigrants, my mother-in-law (and her dog) will soon be joining us from the UK. She arrives at the end of the month and we are busy making space for her and her things (it's amazing how much junk we have accumulated after being in the same house for nine years!). We sponsored her back in 2010, so this moment has been a long time coming. I'm hoping she'll arrive before civil war breaks out in Britain. Just joking! (I think...)

02 May 2016

Still here...

I thought I'd better post an update in case anyone is wondering why I haven't been posting much recently. The main reason is that I'm back working full-time again, for the first time since moving to Canada. Carving out time for gardening is one issue, but finding time for blogging about it is quite another!

I'm working as the archivist for the County of Hastings and the City of Belleville. I took over the job on a temporary contract last July, and was appointed on a permanent basis in March. In the first nine months I had to move the entire archive to a new location, which was quite a challenge but we are now safely in the new building and settling in. I am loving it.

In other news, Mike's mother has finally received permission to move to Canada as a permanent resident. (We got this news the same day I heard about getting the permanent job - a red-letter day!) We first applied for her to come over in April 2010, so it has been a long process, but now we can move ahead at last. The to-do list has grown again, but at least we can now make definite plans for bringing her here and making changes to the house to accommodate her. Exciting times!

25 March 2016

Winter's last blast

 After a mild few weeks, the weather took a turn for the colder this week. Yesterday an ice storm came through and left a fairly thick coating of ice over everything. This morning it warmed up quickly, so the ice began to melt: we could hear it almost exploding off the roof as we woke up.

The chickens' run resembled an ice rink. And it turns out chickens don't like skating, even if they are Canadian.

31 January 2016

Chickens out

Last day of January and a rare sight: the chickens being able to venture outside. For the last two winters they were cooped up for three months in a row. This winter has been much kinder. There are still a few inches of snow on the ground, but today's temperature is due to climb to 6°C/43°F, so I'm thinking by this evening there won't be too much left.

We have yet to have a day this winter where the temperature has gone below -20°C/-4°F, which is fairly unusual, and the average temperature for the month of January is running at -5°C/23°F, where normally it is -7°C/19°F.

The week ahead looks mild, but then there is a return to more normal winter temperature after that. As this week and last week are usually the cold point of the year, I'm certainly not complaining...

16 January 2016

Library trip

I don't let the weather stop me returning my library books...

It turned quite snowy here this week, with about a foot of snow falling on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Luckily the book drop box has been designed with Canadian weather in mind!

03 January 2016

First and last

...harvest, that is. The first of 2016 and the last of last year's crops, I think.

With winter finally putting in an appearance, and the temperature due to drop drastically tonight, I dug up my remaining swedes/rutabagas and harvested the cabbages, sprouts, purple cauliflower and kale which were still bravely clinging on in my two brassica beds. There were over ten pounds of swedes!

The cabbages were still very small, so I decided to use them up by making kimchi out of them. They're not napa cabbages, which is the usual kimchi one, but I will experiment with what I have, approximately following this recipe, and if it works out, I'll buy the proper cabbage next time I go shopping. I found some baby leeks, carrots and one lone Chioggia beet in the greenhouse, so I've sliced those up and added them to the kimchi mix.

Now I just need to find a way of using up all those swedes...