Wednesday, April 11

steam room

oh. hi.

i knew this would happen. i knew i would stop updating this thing.

well, winter has passed. we're into spring again and it's been unseasonably warm since late february.

very quickly - chives are up about 6", garlic is up 8", chamomile is growing, so is oregano, sage, mint, anise hyssop, and lemon balm. the strawberries have spread and have started to flower? weird.

back to the lemon balm.
my face totally broke out this week. brutal. high school brutal. so this is what i'm doing.

lemon balm steam
cut it fresh, wash it, muddle it.
boil water and pour it all in a big bowl.
grab a towel and steam yo face.
smells so good guys. and lemon balm can be used to fight headaches, ease stress and panic, and REPEL MOSQUITOS!

Monday, October 10

i can't eat anymore...

it's canadian thanksgiving and i've just spent the last 24 hours eating.

i'm giving my stomach a rest for the next hour before i head to terroni's on queen street for a big italian gorge fest with jen's family.

before i headed down there i thought take a spin around the vegetable beds and see how things were doing. we've had a warm spell in toronto and it's practically summer weather out there.

here are a few photos.

Saturday, October 8

easy peasy fall farm breakfast.

heat a skillet.
drizzle in some olive oil.
add a diced onion.
cook it down.
add in some minced garlic and chopped tomatoes (the fresher the better)
cook it a bit more.
drop in some chopped kale and swiss chard.
cook it even more. not too long.
season with s&p.

in another hot skillet.
add some butter.
be generous.
crack two eggs.

slice some bread.
into the toaster it goes.

assemble pile of cooked greens, eggs on top, bread to the side.

pour big coffee.

enjoy thanksgiving weekend in the sunny sunshine with your friends and family.

Monday, October 3

delicious sundays and stephano

What a weekend!

Saturday was beautiful here in Toronto. Keri (our lead farm hand) came by to finish taking out the old chicken run and turned all the soil. She did an awesome job and I’m so grateful to have her around. It looked like a million bucks when she was finished with it.

On Sunday I woke up to rain. Lots of it.
Rainy days are perfect for watching movies and baking bread. So, I dug out A Home at the End of the World (starring the delicious Colin Farrel) and my bread book and got started.

I opted for a Chocolate Chip & Walnut Banana bread and a Classic White loaf.

While I waited for the dough to rise I went for a quick trip to get a coffee and ran into my new neighbour Stephano. He complimented me on the work we had done in the yard and mentioned that the landlord had told him we had chickens. I asked him if that would be an issue (ready to launch into my ‘Backyard Hens’ speech). He laughed and said, “I’m Italian. Where I’m from everyone has chickens in their backyard.”

Phew. Bullet dodged.

Also, I love Italian people.

Wednesday, September 28

taking a life

Until this summer I had never killed another living thing (creepy crawlers exempt).
But after two raccoons got into my chicken coop and really beat up on my last hen… I had to.

I’ll recount step by step how we killed our chicken, Benedict. If you are squeamish I’d stop reading now.

First, let me say that we did not just up and decide to kill her. After she was attacked we brought her in to our mudroom where she stayed for four days. Her wounds were very deep on her back, she had a severe limp and her breathing was quite laboured. After much deliberation we decided that it would be best to end her suffering.

You will need:
2 people (we used three)
1 empty water jug (with handle if possible)
1 sharpened knife (I used a boning knife)
1 bucket (to catch blood)

We took an empty water jug and cut the bottom off. We also cut the top of the jug to make it wide enough for the chicken’s head. After we let Benny snack on some blueberries we covered her head with a sock (this is optional – it tends to calm the bird). We lifted her up and put her in through the bottom of the jug, head first.

Jen held the jug, my brother Keenan held the bird’s feet.
I took her head and pulled back the feathers on her neck to expose the skin. Feathers act like an armour for a chicken so it’s important to move them out of the way.
I felt around for the jugular but could not find a pulse. After 2 minutes or so of searching I found it. Jen and Keenan moved the jug so that it was hovering over the bucket.

I said ‘thank you’ to Benny for being a good chicken and for giving us the most delicious, wonderful eggs – and then in one smooth motion I slit her throat.

The knife felt no resistance and she didn’t make any noise. At first I turned my head away but then I looked back. The blood came out in a steady stream and lasted for only a few minutes. She twitched a few times and while I couldn’t feel it, Jen said it was very intense – like she could feel all of her muscles working. Overall, it was clean and quick. My Chef/Butcher brother called it ‘text book’.

Once the blood stopped we removed her from the jug, took off her hood and placed her in a garbage bag. We ended up putting the bag in our freezer until the weekend when we drove to the country and buried her. People asked why we didn’t eat her. With the wounds she sustained, I was a little creeped out to be eating something a raccoon had also chomped on.

There were a few tears shed that night. Me, Jen, even Keenan. It was sad to kill a bird that only 5 days prior had been healthy and happy. It was sad too, to see the consequences of my ignorance (I didn’t secure the coop the night she was attacked). But in the sadness you learn things. I learned that the next time I build a chicken coop it will be secure. We’re talking Fort Knox chicken coop. I also learned that I am capable of killing something. Perhaps that sounds weird but up until that night I didn’t really know if I could ever take the life of one of my birds. Finally, I learned that meat is a precious thing and it deserves respect. Lots of respect.

A month has passed now and I feel better having killed her. I know that we did the right thing and that we did it the right way.

I am proud of that.

Wednesday, September 21

Monday, May 2


i had been growing vegetables for a couple of years before i started seriously looking into keeping chickens. it was around the same time that i was also started looking into backyard beekeeping. it seemed like a natural progression. well, to me it did. but to others... let's just say i got some looks.

"you can't have chickens in a downtown backyard", co-workers would tell me.
"well, good luck with that", my father said.

and then one day while stumbling around the bookstore, i came across Novella Carpenter's Farm City: the education of an urban farmer.

Novella reassured me that i wasn't as crazy as people were making me out to be. her book has become my unofficial bible to all things farm related.

enjoy this video. she's so rad.

PS - the bees are on hold for now.

Monday, April 18

rainy day

i like my job.
actually, most of the time i really love my job.   but let's get one thing straight.

i am always looking forward to the weekend.

this is the time when we can really accomplish things in the yard.  clean out the chicken coop, turn the soil, plant some seeds, build stuff.   so, when it rains on the only two days i have off it really sucks. 

saturday was a complete bust.   it poured almost all day.  jen's mom was in town so we zipped down to the St. Lawrence market for some breakfast and delicious purchases.  i fell victim again to the wonderful macaroons from Lemon Tree Patisserie.   they get me every time.  
the rest of the afternoon was spent curled up watching movies and reading hobby farm magazine. 
sunday brought snow!   can you believe it?   snow on april 17th.   i figured that the poor chicken must be frozen since she's all alone and has no one to snuggle with so i padded the walls of the coop with plenty of hay.  even in the crummiest weather she always seems happy. 

here's hoping that easter weekend will be warm and dry.

Sunday, April 10

guess who's back, back again...

we're chicken keepers again!

it was benedict who managed to survive the winter, foxes, and a barn full of rooster thugs.  she's looking a little rough.  it would seem that when it came to pecking order on the farm, benny was the bitch.  

it's really nice to have the sounds of chickens in the yard again and we got a half dozen eggs this week.  they have all been eaten and now we are playing the waiting game.  once we have a couple more birds the egg drought should end.

i'm still waiting on the seeds that we ordered.  the company says they're stuck in customs.  whatever.
i'm using sunday night to plant tomatoes that i have leftover from last year.  fun times.