Friday, September 23, 2011

Farmers Work Hard!

This time of the year farmers work very hard, very long hours, with very large, quite dangerous equipment.  You can say a prayer for the safety of all those farmer taking in the harvest.

Do you remember the field with the swaths of canola?  It was time to harvest it on Wednesday evening.  About 9 p.m. three combines started making the rounds.  It was already dark, but dark doesn't stop farmers this time of the year. They worked until about 11:45 and then called it a day. Work started again about noon on Thursday, and by 3:30 p.m. the field was finished.

When one field is harvested, they move the machinery to the next field that's ready to harvest and keep right on going.  Their only break is a half hour for a hot meal around 6 p.m., a meal that is brought out to the field by the women.  I hope to show that whole process sometime this fall, but if not this fall, then maybe next year.

The next morning the sun rose shining on the underside of some fairly solid clouds.  They probably had a lot of dust in them from the field work going on.  It gave an unusually beautiful, rosy light to the early morning.

I have a video, but it never finished uploading, so I'll give this still shot instead.  It doesn't quite capture the extent of the rosy light which bathed the entire landscape, but it gives you a little idea.  What a beautiful world!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I won't bore you with the details, but it's been a hectic twelve days since my last post.  But I will show you some of the "fruits" of my efforts.  Here are a four of the five art displays that I arranged for and helped set up in that time:
A quilt display.  This is just one of four parts of the display.  This quilt artist did her own set up, saving me valuable time! This quilt is on display in a local furniture store.

This display and the one that follow are part of our local celebration of "Alberta Arts Days" which, in turn, is part of the Canada-wide "Canada Culture Days."
The idea behind these displays is to acquaint the population of our County with the many talented artists living with the County.

This beautiful pottery is on display in our local Sears Store.

Another benefit of this celebration of the arts is to get people into the local businesses where the art is displayed.  Both the artist and the business benefit.

It was very interesting to me to go around to various businesses asking if they would be willing to host an art display for Alberta Arts Days.  These beautiful paintings are on display in an Alberta Treasury Branch.

Some business owners immediately see how hosting a display will benefit them.  Others decline--for their own reasons, which I can only guess at.  But mostly, the response is an immediate and enthusiastic "Yes!"

This jewelry is on display at a local Credit Union.  These artists are invited by the volunteer board of "Arts Alive" to have a display of their work.  They are welcome to add business cards.  If anyone is interested in purchasing one of their pieces, the transaction is between the artist and the customer.  We take no commission, nor does the business.

I did one more set up of an abstract painting in a restaurant, but don't have a photo of that particular display.  I'll try to post a picture sometime later, because it is a terrific piece of art, done by a local high school girl.

During this same time frame I started teaching Suzuki violin again, after having just one student for the last three or four years.  In the 80's I taught as many as 40 students, ranging in age from as young as 2 years (whose big brother was taking lessons) to high school age kids who had always wanted to play violin.  I love teaching, and I enjoy children (most of them! most of the time!).  So when the local music school needed to replace a violin teacher for a two year time frame I was willing to take that on.

It was a stretch!  I hadn't started a beginner for years, so had to do lots of studying to get back in the groove.  I'm also instructing a small student string ensemble (small ensemble, not small students) for which I had to dig up some appropriate music.

When I reached Friday afternoon, and all that (plus some other stuff I won't bore you with) had been accomplished, I felt it was time to reward myself.  So you know what that means!  It means a new quilting project!!!  But this time I knew it had to be small, not like the one I did in July.  I had some Halloween materials, so I got them out and started cutting and sewing.  Here's the project in progress:

I cut everything except the orange piece down to the size of the smallest fabric, which trimmed to 7 1/2" x 15".  Then I cut strips the long way and started sewing them together.  When I had five identical strip sets I cut them into four sets each of 4 1/4" x 11 1/4".  These formed the striped area around the centre orange fabric, set off by a 1" strip of black on either side.

Now, after about 5 hours of cutting and sewing, I have a simple table topper to celebrate Halloween.  Everything is finished except sewing the binding down by hand on the back of the table topper.
In the centre of the panel (which says, Happy Halloween), I stitched a big pumpkin for the quilted motif.  The other quilting is just simple "stitch in the ditch" around the black borders.  This was lots of fun and a rewarding little project after not touching a sewing machine for two months!

I just want to mention for any quilters out there these terrific little "True Grips" sold by the Grace Company.  You see on the back of the ruler the little whitish circles? They are the grips.  There are more on the rectangle and they come in this package.  Ask your quilt store to stock them because they really, truly keep your quilting ruler from slipping out of place when you are cutting your strips and squares.  Just a great product!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Canola, Part 2

On July 18 I did a post about canola blooming, showing my friend M. up to her chin in blooming canola.  Within a week or two of that post, the yellow blossoms were gone and the canola fields turned green.  Sometime last week the outer edge of this canola field just across the road from our place was swathed.  It's usual to swath the edge of a field sometime ahead of processing the whole field.  When the farmer thinks the field is about ripe, he will swath the outer edge.  That gives the equipment room to move around the field, and also tells him if, indeed, the crop is ready.

Canola is one crop that is usually swathed completely some time ahead of combining. It remains on the field in swathed rows and finishes the ripening process.

Here is a close up of the canola in the swath.  Those long skinny pods contain the canola seeds.

Two fellows started swathing this field sometime shortly after noon today.  I grabbed my camera and ran out to get a video of the swather in motion to give you a notion of how this works.  Unfortunately the swather was heading away from me, and the far edge of this field is a half mile away, so I gave up for the time being.

Just a half hour ago I heard the swathers approaching this end of the field, so again I grabbed my camera and ran out to video a swather in motion.  I was able to get a great video of the two swathers meeting and shutting down for the supper hour.  Unfortunately, the video won't upload to the blog.  I get a window saying, sorry, there was an error in uploading your video.  No dice!

So instead you get a still of one swather approaching.  This front end is called a "reel."  It has fingers that pull the stalks of grain toward the knives.  It cuts the canola off the stem about a foot or so off the ground, and lays it down in the neat swath in the first picture.  In this photo you can see the canola stalks sticking up in the foreground.  These are very stiff and if you walk through them, they will give you many, painful scratches.

This canola was seeded at 5 pounds to the acre and is coming in at an estimated 2500 pounds to the acre.  Isn't that amazing!  This particular field is about 100 acres.

Sometime later the combine will go through the field and separate the canola  grains from the pods and stalks.  Here's a picture of the grains, with a few bits of pods left in.  They are tiny black grains.

You'd never guess when you buy a bottle of yellow canola oil that it came from this, would you?

We're hoping this hot, sunny weather holds for the harvest time.  It's perfect for getting the crops ripened and off the fields.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Apple Du

When our dear grandson #1 was a little child he LOVED apple juice and drank gallons of it.  He would stand up in his crib in the middle of the night and call out, "Apple du! Apple du!" and dear daughter would get up out of bed and refresh him with apple juice.  She bought it by the case!--literally.

Well this past week Jim and I have been making apple du.  One of our apple trees split and the half that was overloaded with apples fell to the ground.  I picked one of the apples from the fallen limb and found it was very tasty. A few days later I went out a picked a bucket of apples from that limb.

Here's my set up: I wash the apples and slice out the stem and blossom ends and any bad spots.  The sliced apples go into the tube at the top of the Omega Juicer, the apple juice comes out the spout and the peel and pits get spit out of the back side of the machine into a container, ready to go onto the compost pile.

At first the apple du looks pretty gross.  That's a thick foam on top that's almost like apple sauce.  I get rid of the foam and pour the juice into a pitcher, straining it through some layers of sheer curtain material.  That gets rid of a lot of the particles in the juice.  Then it goes into the fridge overnight, and the next morning most of the particles have separated from the juice.

Here are the three batches we've made
so far. The one on the left has been
strained a few times. The middle pitcher
needs to be siphoned off, leaving the
solid matter at the bottom to be rinsed
away.  The right hand pitcher is the
newest batch, just through the juicer.  In
two days it will be as clear as the first

This is wonderful juice, as tasty as can be, without any sugar added.

Yesterday morning we woke to see our first frost of the season.  It was exactly 0º on the thermometer and the roof of the sales building was white.  As soon as the sun hit it the frost melted.  It's unusual to get all the way to September before an overnight frost.  And, as so often happens after a frost, the day warmed up beautifully, and we've had just wonderful summery weather yesterday and today.  The forecast for this week is great: all highs of 25º and 26º and no lows below 5º.

Farmers have started swathing canola, and some barley has been harvested.  Now we hold our breath and hope for good sunny weather without frost as frost can damage the quality of the crops.