Monday, June 29, 2009

An Ode to Old Barns

We've probably all seen these relics from the past while driving down the highway. Seeing an old falling barn makes me sad, but I am hopeful that we will see more old ones revived and new ones built.

Tons upon tons the brown-green fragrant hay
O'erbrims the mows beyond the time-warped eaves,
Up to the rafters where the spider weaves,
Though few flies wander his secluded way.
Through a high chink one lonely golden ray,
Wherein the dust is dancing, slants unstirred.
In the dry hush some rustlings light are heard,
Of winter-hidden mice at furtive play.
Far down, the cattle in their shadowed stalls,
Nose-deep in clover fodder's meadowy scent,
Forget the snows that whelm their pasture streams,
The frost that bites the world beyond their walls.
Warm housed, they dream of summer, well content
In day-long contemplation of their dreams.

~In an Old Barn by Charles G. D. Roberts {1860-1943}

Photo from luckyrob

Photo from Mr J Doe

Photo from mrkholcomb

Photo from Joel Bedford

Photo from heydnseek

Photo from haydenseek

Photo from Bulldog23

Photo from mrcupofcoffee

Photo from tlindenbaum

Photo from MemaNH

Photo from MemaNH

Photo from Big Grey Mare

Photo from Stephan DesRoches

Photo from BugMan50

Photo from busymommy

Photo from richardefreeman

Photo from photofarmer

Photo from Michel Filion

Photo from Steve Newcomb

Photo from Jeff Moss

Photo from ellenm1



Saturday, June 27, 2009

Luverly of the Week: Come Out of the Closet!

One more thing we miss about living in Toronto is Pride Week. Happy Pride to all in the LGBTTIQQ2S community! :)


Aymi & Laurel

Friday, June 26, 2009

Do you ever....

Do you ever go to your crappy corporate job and feel like doing this?

Or perhaps you find yourself in the middle of a Wal-mart and feel the urge to do this?

I tend to be a pretty level person, but just in case I avoid corporate jobs and Wal-Mart like the plague! Although there are some who claim that letting off a little steam every once and a while is therapeutic. And perhaps even a little entertaining.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wildflowers & a Super Cool Greenhouse

I hope that everyone had a splendid Midsummer! I had a great day outdoors doing my rounds and I picked a bunch of wildflowers.

I wildcrafted some Vipers Bugloss, Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil (Tormentil), Wild Rose, Red Clover, Ox-Eye Daisy, Rough Cinquefoil (Strawberry Weed), Yellow Hawkweed (Field Hawkeed), Orange Hawkweed (Devil's Paintbrush). I held off getting the St. John's Wort until a little later because there wasn't much blooming yet.

Here are some photos of some of the pretties:

Also, check out this video produced by Peak Moment! It features a 'Geodesic' greenhouse that belongs to Buckhorn Gardens:



Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Midsummer!

St John's Wort, photo from biggertree

After the May time and after the June time
Rare with blossoms and perfume sweet,
Cometh the round world's royal noon time,
The red midsummer of blazing heat,
When the sun, like an eye that never closes,
Bends on the earth its fervid gaze,
And the winds are still, and the crimson roses
Droop and wither and die in its rays.

Unto my heart has come this season,
O, my lady, my worshiped one,
When, over the stars of Pride and Reason,
Sails Love's cloudless, noonday sun.
Like a great red ball in my bosom burning
With fires that nothing can quench or tame,
It glows till my heart itself seems turning
Into a liquid lake of flame.

The hopes half shy and the sighs all tender,
The dreams and fears of an earlier day,
Under the noontide's royal splendor,
Droop like roses, and wither away.
From the hills of Doubt no winds are blowing,
From the isles of Pain no breeze is sent, -
Only the sun in a white heat glowing
Over an ocean of great content.

Sink, O my soul, in this golden glory!
Die, O my heart, in thy rapture-swoon!
For the Autumn must come with its mournful story.
And Love's midsummer will fade too soon.

~Midsummer by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

May the sun shine brightly on this day! And we wish you a very Happy Midsummer! :)

We send you off with a pretty nice cover of Midsummer Day by The Tea Party.


Aymi & Laurel

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Two Documentaries to Look Out For

For folks who are interested in the politics of food and agri-business, as well as homesteading, you will definitely want to check out these two documentaries!

First up is Food, Inc. (if you are familiar with the title, then you may have already read the book). Here is a small blurb about the movie from the website:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

You can view the trailer below.

Next is Homegrown Revolution, which is a documentary made by the folks at Path to Freedom. And here is a small blurb about the movie and an introductory disclaimer from the website:

In the midst of densely urban downtown Pasadena, radical change is taking root. For over twenty years, the Dervaes family has been transforming their home into an urban homestead. They harvest three tons of organic food annually from their 1/10 acre garden, while incorporating back-to-basics practices, solar energy and biodiesel.

The original version of Homegrown Revolution was made in three days for a lecture Jules Dervaes gave at the University of California Los Angeles in October 2007 on the topic of Slow Food. It received a wildly enthusiastic response from the students and, subsequently, attracted an avid following on YouTube, with over 135,000 views to date.
This is a simple film short that introduces the Dervaes Family Urban Homestead. Please note this is NOT feature-length. This short film might be best grouped with other films or part of a community event / gardening club / meetings, etc. RUNTIME: 15:44.

Below is the trailer:

Homegrown Revolution (Trailer) from Path to Freedom on Vimeo.



Friday, June 19, 2009

Books by the Bay & Art by the Bay

Books by the Bay and Art on Main have teamed up this year to have two combined festivals.

Books by the Bay runs from July 17th to 19th in beautiful Callander Ontario. Various Canadian authors will be featured including George Walters, Lillian Williams, Bruce and Carol Hodgins, Francoise Noel, and Mel Bradshaw.

On July 18th Art by the Bay will be held within the Books by the Bay festival, where it will exhibit 25 different local artists and crafters. There will be jewellery, pottery, mixed media, paintings, textiles, and other mediums on display.

If you are in the area, come on by and check it out!



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Midsummer/Summer Solstice

Photo from Midsummer Eve 2006.

Now summer is in flower and natures hum
Is never silent round her sultry bloom
Insects as small as dust are never done
Wi' glittering dance and reeling in the sun
And green wood fly and blossom haunting bee
Are never weary of their melody
Round field hedge now flowers in full glory twine
Large bindweed bells wild hop and streakd woodbine
That lift athirst their slender throated flowers
Agape for dew falls and for honey showers
These round each bush in sweet disorder run
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun

~June by John Clare {read the rest here}.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be the Summer Solstice (or Midsummer as it is often called) on June 21st, which of course is the longest day of the year.

By now even for those of us more North than most, there is green and blossom everywhere, the birds are singing their tunes at all hours, and gardening season is well underway.

After the Winter we had (snow at the end of May!), I definitely feel like celebrating the coming of Summer!

I hope to spend the day wildcrafting some plants for my dwindling supply...the Tansy, Devil's Paintbrush, and St. John's Wort is ready! I will also do my rounds of leaving offerings in a couple of my secret spots, and one for our somewhat newly appointed garden project space (more about that in another post).

There are various celebrations and observences around this time such as St. John's Day, Litha, Ivan Kupala, and Golowan. And one need only look to Carrowkeel in Ireland or Stonehenge and England to see that the importance of Midsummer goes back a long way in history.

For Wiccans and other neo-Pagans this days is known as Litha, which was the Anglo-Saxon name given to the months of June/July is Bede's De temporum ratione.

The Summer Solstice has been celebrated for eons, harking back to pre-Christian times in Northern Europe, and many later were adopted by those of the Christian faith and placed in their festival calendar.

Folks waiting for a Midsummer sunrise at Stonehenge, photo from Andrew Dunn

In places like Isle of Man, the celebration and customs of the Summer Solstice was most likely imported by the Northern Europeans. This is certainly the theory A.W. Moore had in The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man, and goes on to claim that the origins of the festival was in honour of the sun God Baldur.

As with other festivals, fire seems to play an important role in the rites of Midsummer. A reason for this is illustrated in The Worship of the Generative Powers by Thomas Wright:

The eve of St. John was in popular superstition one of the most important days of the mediæval year. The need-fire--or the St. John's fire, as it was called--was kindled just at midnight, the moment when the solstice was supposed to take place, and the young people of both sexes danced round it, and, above all things, leaped over it, or rushed through it, which was looked upon not only as a purification, but as a protection against evil influences.

In The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer credits the Solstice fires to the pre-Christian ancients. He suggested that when humans learnt about the seasonal cycles, they knew that once the Midsummer sun hit noontide the sunlight would be on course to recede again, so the fires were lit to "help the sun in his seeming decline".

There is also quite a bit of mention of offerings and individuals being thrown onto the pyre as well. Apparently there were sometimes sacrifices for fertility, such as a horses to the God Freyr (The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J. A. MacCulloch).

In my opinion one of the most nifty celebrations is the Cornish Golowan Festival. A more modern spin of it comes out of Penzance, where the colourful Penglaz the 'Obby 'Oss comes out to play. Check out the video below to see some of the festivities:

Not surprisingly, there are many plants that are associated with this time of year, but maybe none more so than St. John's Wort.

According to Vivian Rich in Cursing the Basil and other Folklore of the Garden (this book is turning out to be a gem!) on St John's Day morning English girls would pick St John's Wort and place it under their pillows, and if it was not wilted they would be married within the next year. She also mentions that it was considered a sacred plant in Germany because it was thought that the strong smell would keep any malignant spirits at bay.

In Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt, there is a quoted practice of women sewing hemp seeds to divine a future husband:

At eve last midsummer no sleep I sought,
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought;
I scatter'd round the seed on every side,
And three times in a trembling accent cried,--
'This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow,
Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow.'
I straight look'd back, and, if my eyes speak truth,
With his keen scythe behind me came the youth

Other plants I have heard of that helps to divine a future spouse around Midsummer are Roses, Daisies, Dandelions, and Pansies.

If one is looking for a fitting love charm, pick St. John's Wort, Ox-Eye Daisies, Forget-Me-Nots, and Ivy on Midsummer morning and bind the stems with red ribbon. I heard if you hang it over your bed for a whole moon, your bed would be shared soon after.

A rhyme that my Grandmother used to say to me when I was a child was:

If a Faery it is you wish to see, in new summer stand 'neath the Elder tree.

I am not sure of the origins of the rhyme, nor have I yet taken her advice, but perhaps I will one day! What I can say is that the Faeries are definitely out and about this time of year, and that was the sentiment of William Butler Yeats in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, where he stated that on Midsummer Eve the Faeries are "at their gayest".

I think Shakespeare would have agreed. ;)

The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania {a scene from a Midsummer Night's Dream} by Sir Joseph Noel Paton, 1849.

For a Summer altar perhaps the most sensible adornments are leaves and blooms. I like making little bouquets or if one was more ambitious, you could try a wreath. Some other plants that are associated with this time of year are ferns, strawberries, peonies, vervain, lavender, honeysuckle, larkspur, chamomile, foxgloves, and mistletoe.

If you are looking for inspiration, here are some photos of other people's Summer altars:

Photo from meaduva

Photo from malpagaia

Photo from pipiwildhead

Photo from roniweb

Photo from Cosmic Void

Photo from sbpoet

Midsummer is an excellent time to sample local and fresh food. Here are a few recipes that you might want to try:

Strawberry Wine

Fruit Kebobs in Honey

Baby Spinach and Raspberry Salad


Solstice Herb Bread

Spinach and Feta Pizza

Stuffed Nasturtium Blossoms

Rustic Strawberry Tart



Friday, June 12, 2009

Some Updates

This is just a bit of an update post about a myriad of things.

First, I am sad to say that the Crooked Path podcast and webby are no longer. It was one of my favourite podcasts, and was a great source of information for folks who are interested in Traditional Witchcraft. Thanks to both Peter and Raven for taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with us, you will be missed!

Peter is behind Pendraig Publishing, which has really great selection of books. I recommend checking it out if you haven't already!

On a happier note, the Near North Locavores are *finally* incorporated. It's been a little bureacratic adventure, so thankfully that is over and done with.

And speaking of local food (or in this case, beer!), I recently found out that we have a local microbrewery in my area called Highlander Brew Company. I can't wait to check out their beer.

Right now I am reading a book called Cursing the Basil and Other Folklore of the Garden by Vivian A. Rich. I'm not finished reading it, but so far I am pretty impressed. She's packed in a lot of info for a 200 page book.

Lastly, progress is being made on the garden front, and I caught a glimpse of the cute fox kits!



Sunday, June 7, 2009

Please Stay Tuned!

We have both been very busy, and obviously haven't been blogging as much lately. We will be back to our 'regular programming' once Aymi is finished her unpacking and Laurel has the garden up to snuff.


Aymi & Laurel

Luverly of the Week: Red Fox

In one of the places I do some workings and wildcrafting there is a Red Fox den. I have not seen the kits yet, but I have heard their little yelps and barks. So cute!

Hopefully I can get some photos eventually! Until then, here are a few other great photos:

Photo from gingiber

Photo from Pawel Ryszawa

Photo from Cameron

Photo from Malene Thyssen

Photo from Stephen Ausmus

Photo from Agostino64