Blogging about music, family life, the outdoors, unschooling and everything else

for more than a quarter century

Category: Closer to the source

  • Artisanal day trip

    I had to go pick the van up. With our family shrinking, and the monthly trips to Calgary no longer happening, my desire for a more winter-worthy minivan is no longer a pressing need. We decided to put some work into the Sienna. I took it in to get the catalytic converter replaced to fix […]

  • Back-a-century weekend

    One hundred and fourteen years, to be exact. A homeschoolers field trip to the historically recreated Fort Steele was perfectly timed. Less than two weeks after Erin’s exciting departure to Montreal, and four days after Noah and Sophie headed out on a week-long all-high-school cross-curricular out-trip, Fiona was presented with the option of joining our […]

  • The Cheese Stands Alone

    Our cheese is now a month old. It has been coated in fetching red cheese wax and has been sitting in a dark cool crawl space adjacent to our basement foundation for a month now. Probably it should be somewhere cooler, but so far it’s free of mould. Perhaps we’ll move it to the fridge. […]

  • Outdoor shower

    Look what we have! I LOVE outdoor showers. There’s something about short bursts of warm water to lather or rinse in, accompanied by warm summer breezes, that leaves me ten times more refreshed than a shower in some sort of indoor stall. Most of the kids think that my penchant for outdoor showers is fueled […]

  • Huaraches

    Here’s another chapter in my minimalist footwear adventure story. I made these sandals in the traditional huarache style out of a bit of 4mm rubber outsole material purchased from a cobbler in the area. I traced my feet, cut the sole with scissors, punched three holes and added a leather boot lace. The materials cost […]

  • Earth oven

    I spent some time this weekend learning how to build an earth oven. When we wrecked our old deck and built a new one in a slightly different orientation, we ended up with a vacant sunny spot 4 metres from the kitchen door that was just crying out for an outdoor oven. When I heard […]

  • Building a gaming machine

    Noah has always been the heaviest computer user amongst or kids. He’s a self-made geek who has become a whiz at tinkering with software. Recently he’s been straying into the realm of hardware, trouble-shooting connections and adding secondary drives. But all the tweaking and upgrading of a five-year-old heavily-used computer hasn’t been quite enough. The […]

  • Carding jag

    Thanks to a borrowed drum carder, this phase is going reasonably efficiently. But it still takes ages. We’ve spent hours at it over the past couple of days.

  • Hanging over our heads

    The first colour, the first twenty per cent of our washed and carded fleece, hanging to dry above our heads at the apex of the living room ceiling. This is about 250 gm or half a pound. We have a spinning wheel we can borrow, provided we can self-teach (the owner has never used it). […]

  • Granola

    About 16 years ago I was busy at home when I got a surprise visit from an old medical school friend. She just dropped in and we had a brief though lovely visit. It was one of those moments, though, when I realized how much I’d changed in the small handful of years since medical […]

  • Pantry joy

    This is what keeps me going through two hundred pounds of pears, recurrent apple-picking sessions, the grinding of spelt and wheat, the hours of collating, sorting and hauling around bulk orders of nuts and grains. The pleasure of a pantry that looks like this. Glass jars, food sorted and ready and waiting, to last us […]

  • Pears done!

    We finished with the last of the pears today. We spent the afternoon picking an awful lot of tart apples. Then we combined them in a 3:1 ratio with the pears. We filled the cider press five times just today, and a few more times over the past week or so. Our freezer is now […]

  • Pear production

    We’re into day three of pear processing here. All six trays of the dehydrator have been loaded up yet again. We pulled out our copy of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” by Harold McGee to figure out how to handle the ripening. Ninety-five per cent of our pears are […]

  • Ap-pearant bounty

    Today we cleaned a pear tree for a seasonal resident. It took four of us an hour and a half to pick about 200 pounds of pears. For the homeowners we’re providing a service — ridding their tree of fruit they can’t use and which would attract bears and wasps. We get free fruit if […]

  • Whoot! Wheat!

    I thought I had missed out. I had tried to buy a share in the Kootenay Grain CSA but hadn’t heard back from them last spring. But today at the Garlic Festival I found out they still have a few shares available. I couldn’t get out my chequebook fast enough. I paid the better part […]