Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Snowy Owl sightings

According to many reports, Ontario is seeing a record number of Snowy Owl's this winter.
 Snowy owls live in the Arctic tundra, north of the tree line. 
 According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y.  the irruption "likely has to do with a bounty of prey in the owl’s breeding areas. With lemmings (the snowies prey of choice) plentiful, more owlets survived and flourished. With a sharp upswing in population, many of these young birds were forced to vacate their frigid northern homes, expanding their hunting areas further south"
I have been lucky enough to see one of these majestic birds in my own yard on several occasions.
 
 
 This guy seems to like my antennae, and spent quite a bit of time perched there yesterday.
 

 It didn't seem disturbed by me at all. In fact,  it was almost posing for me.



I think this may explain the lack of rabbits in my yard this winter!
 
 

 


It is the heaviest owl in North America, with females weighing an average of 2.3 kg and males 1.8 kg. This might explain the condition of my tower!


As I got closer it finally had enough of me and perched on a tree on the other side of the paddock.




I feel very privileged this beautiful Owl has decided to call my neighborhood home this winter.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Home made laundy soap!

It always bothers me that laundry soap is so expensive.
Recently I found a recipe that I just HAD to try for homemade laundry soap.
It only has 3 ingredients
I found all three ingredients at our No Frills store for less than $12.
I started by grating the sunlight soap with a cheese grater - it was easy!
I put the grated soap in a pot with about 4 cups of water and carefully heated the mix until the soap was dissolved, stirring frequently.
I had a clean 4.5 gallon pail with a lid, and filled it 3/4 with HOT water.
To this I slowly added 3/4 cup of the washing soda and 3/4 cup borax and stirred until dissolved.


Then I added the soap mix and stirred well, then topped up the pail with more hot water.
Put on the lid and allowed the pail to sit overnight. When I opened the lid the next day the mix had gelled. No, that OK ... it was supposed to do that!

All this needed now was a good stirring. I decided to make it easier by using a paint mixer on a drill


And VOILA! Time to bottle it up. This was the whole batch ... not bad!
 
 

I thought I would test this out on Father's dirty work pants before I sang the praises of this stuff. If this can clean Father's work pants it will clean anything!  I put a load of his dirtiest,  greasy work clothes in and added only a cup of laundry soap. I had to remember this was soap and not detergent and so it would have less bubbles. I popped it in and couldn't believe my eyes!
 

It was the dirtiest water I have ever seen in my washing machine!
I was almost tempted to add more soap, but I wanted to see how well it worked.
I had just barely pulled it out of the dryer when Father came looking for clean pants, so no photo I'm afraid. But they were CLEAN! And so this recipe gets thumbs up from me.
The best part is that I only used 3/4 cup from each box so there is plenty left for the next few batches. And it was so EASY to make!
Now I need to find a recipe for dishwasher soap!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting acquainted with my new 'toys'!

Part of country life is preserving your harvest.
Last year was my first making jams and canning my garden produce.
I made strawberry jam, grape and pomegranate jelly, pickles, relish, salsa and canned tomatoes.
I got quite comfortable using my water bath canner and decided it was time to move ahead with other methods.  For Christmas I asked for, and received, a food dehydrator.
Here it is with my first attempt at dehydrating pineapple, apple and banana.
 

The banana's came out brown and not looking very appetizing. The apples turned out well, and the pineapple turned out amazing! Little Country Girl has requested dehydrated pineapple again and so I have since made another batch.  I think I'd also like to try making beef jerky and fruit roll ups in the future, and it will be great for drying herbs from the garden.
Another item I wanted to add to my arsenal was a pressure canner.
While I did not get one of those for Christmas, I did receive money that I used to purchase one.
Here is my new Presto 23 quart pressure canner!
I've got to admit I was more than a little intimidated by the whole idea, so I got it out of the box and read the booklet that was included. They suggested pouring 4 cups of water into the canner and following instructions to help understand it's operation. So that's exactly what I just did!
Now that I feel better about the whole process, I can't wait to can something!
 Who knew just boiling some water could inspire me so much?