Sandra Peake

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since Apr 21, 2017
Princeton, Canada
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Recent posts by Sandra Peake


 I love pies - all kinds, even the sickly sweet ones like pecan pies. So does my hubby. Years ago he was complaining that an ordinary 9-10 in pie didn't last long enough. After the umpteenth complaint, I got peeved enough to make him a large-enough pie. I dug out an old-fashioned enameled dish pan, and spent the next 2 hours peeling and slicing tart apples to fill it 2/3rd's or more full. I added enough sugar and cinnamon  to satisfy his sweet tooth and mixed up an oatmeal crumble top with milk, spices, salt, and more sugar and then baked it at 350F till top was browning nicely and the apple filling was soft. I should've called it The Harried Cook's Revenge! It took him 3 days to eat it. He didn't complain again about small pies for several decades. He rarely eats any pies these days due to type 2 diabetes.
Cherry pie is my hands down favourite - with a caveat. The filling must be made with tart cherries, sufficient sweetness w/o being cloying, and the crust must be a good lard pastry. The commercial offerings have disappointed me for years, and I rarely/never eat them.
1 year ago
This thread brings back memories. In 1988, the first real drought I could remember in Ontario, we installed electric wiring around 5 acres, using the sheep model. It was expensive making a 5 wire high fence, but I'd run into problems with goats (and Barbados sheep) clearing the Premier 4 foot fencing. <sigh> But when we dug the reinforced corner posts down, we found no moisture even at 4 feet in our sandy soil. Whoa! It didn't derail our plans but threw a monkey wrench into them. However, we had to train our livestock before we ever turned them loose. Our goatyard was a well-fenced (corn crib heavy duty wire 54 inches high) and we ran an electric wire all along the top, as well as wove the hot wire back and forth by the gate. Enough urine and discarded water kept the yard relatively damp. It took 2 days for even the most determined goat to learn that the fence meant business with our high-powered charger. Nevertheless, those rascals always listened to the almost inaudible click on the lines that meant the power was on. At the end of a week, we turned them loose on the pasture with the new setup. We also watered the ground rods, and tied one to our dug well.  Our neighbour's dog learned the hard way that our chickens were also protected. At one point we had seriously considered burying an old junker car to serve as the ground tie, but the well worked ok. We had lightning foil coils out from the under shelter box and battery , as well as a couple places on the line. No critters ever escaped unless the battery ran down, but even then, it could still deliver a jolt. Ask me how I know. We did not electrify the 2nd strand from the soil -it was the ground. Most of our predators had to make contact at that point with both hot bottom and ground. ZAP! Any smaller ones didn't bother us. Coyotes, marauding dogs, and wolves were our main predators, but the occasional bear was sighted nearby. I don't know if the fence still stands - we moved far away years later, and we heard they used the pasture (and fence) for cows and horses. However, it was worth its weight in gold for the peace of mind it brought us during the decade we used it.
1 year ago
 I have a few words about raising rabbits, quail, ducks and chickens for meat. BTDT. Each of those endeavors require certain basics, and the best place to start is with good books. When the critters are concentrated into small areas for maximum production, good feed and care is essential. Rabbits don't breed like rabbits if they don't have consistent quality feeds - and if they are raised in dark areas such as common in northern states in winter. I got the needed litters by using assisted daylight to keep them at 14-16 hours of light per day, especially in mornings. However, I lost many winter litters due to the cold or inexperienced does not making proper nests in nest boxes. I learned to skip February kindlings for the sake of my mental health! None survived. Dog got the tiny pupsicles.
Quail were a fun endeavor. I incubated the tiny eggs in an aquarium with overhead heat. Like all "production" methods, I marked eggs as they went in; so could keep track of the anticipated hatchings every 17 days. Then I transfered the baby bumblebees to a heated brooder box and kept the lights low. Babies raised in dim light grew faster and meatier. But I hated ringing 6-week old maturing quail almost as much as I hated debeaking them. Why? Intensively managed quail turn cannibalistic. The dark meat is, however, delicious for the few bites per carcass. I wanted quail meat more than the dog.
Chickens needed a high protein diet (not as high as quail) and winter lights for off season laying. Dogs got frozen eggs that were split.

But I developed feather allergies even from my foraging chickens; so I decided to raise ducks. Not Indian Runners and other duck-type ducks - too noisy. I settled on Muscovies. They were prolific, large, good brooders and could wander the property w/o needing any special fencing or setup. Nor were they as greasy as regular ducks and geese. Every late summer and fall, we butchered some for the table (did I mention you need pliers for wing feathers?) and got a good penny for the ones we sold. Our dog was raised on goat milk, entrails and waste products from our animal endeavors, as well as table scraps. Our current dogs, many years and miles away from then, get raw chicken drumsticks pork neck bones and a good dry dog food. It's expensive, being 100% store bought. We shan't mention the road killed deer we hauled home a few years ago for one dog - harvesting road kill is illegal here.

I'd like to emphasize that decent livestock/poultry books helped me identify and head off potential problems right from the start. Experience filled in the gaps in my knowledge. But I never attempted to raise any livestock for my animals to eat - my growing family were always the primary beneficiaries of my work, the carnivorous critters way down the list.
1 year ago
Although hubby and I have and use a/c on occasion (health problems) we have used a technique similar to one posted above using fans. First thing in the morning (or even during the night if we get up), hubby fastens a large box fan into the screen door . As a self-storing storm door, it has a bar horizontally about half way up the screen part, which is ideal.  The fan is positioned to blow outwards, which creates a slight vacuum throughout the house. So then we open windows to allow the cooler outside air to flow in. The trick is - the outside air has to be at least 5*F cooler than the internal house temps. As soon as the sun comes over the mountain, outside temps warm rapidly and we close everything up, pull shades and keep the cool air in. Obviously you can't keep the house cool with people running in and out; so limit your exiting to doors on the shady side.  In another situation, we installed the same fan face down into the attic opening, and exhausted the hot air upwards as the cooler air was drawn through open windows. Mostly the fans are limited to nighttime and early morning use, but they do make a difference for a good morning. I forgot to mention that the room in which the fan is found is the last to cool, which might be a consideration as to the fan's placement.
Sorry, not electricity-free, but still good to know. Oldtimers used evaporative cooling to keep their watermelons and other produce fresher by covering them with wet blankets and wetting them down periodically in the shade.
1 year ago
 FWIW, I've tried most of the aforementioned fly tricks with the exception of the blue traps. I might yet resort to them if my flighty daughter's manure handling in the chicken coop goes south. Baby muscovies make agile little fly traps in an eco-friendly way, but tend to grow up, losing that particular function. The tiny parasitic wasps need to get a headstart on the season in order to exert the best possible control. And they need renewing throughout the season.
As for the Golden Maldrin, it IS toxic even to mammals. When I was forced to use it in my milking area, I placed it on opened paper feed bags, then placed an empty rabbit cage on top. In spite of that precaution, a young goat managed to leap into the milking area and knock the cage aside. I caught her licking up the bait as fast as she could. Within hours, she was lethargic and unable to walk. I called the vet. Apparently the nerve agent in the G. Maldrin synergized  the recent worrmer that I had treated my herd with, and he had to block their interaction with an antidote. That was my last time using a poison fly bait. I've used stinky traps baited with meat (they work, but not near the living areas, please!). I've used electronic bug zappers, but they're most effective at night when the flies mostly sleep.
I've also rubbed cucumber leaves on the various animals with some success, but it requires a large supply of leaves on a near-daily basis, and is impractical for a large herd. However, I also noticed the absence of any kind of insects on a porch overgrown by the wild cucumber vine (the exploding spiky fruits which hubby loved to stomp in his youth), and wonder if they would work even better.
I never had too much problem with horseflies, but knew we had them by the bright yellow eggs laid on the ponies' legs. We had more problems with mosquitos. Local horse breeders used fly masks to keep the flies from landing on their critters' faces. Some resorted to blankets, but that was too hot for mine.

1 year ago
Hahahah. Been there, got bit. It's no laughing matter when a tiny thing you can hardly notice can leave you with blood running down your face and exposed areas in early spring. Wardens didn't have to worry about prisoners walking away from a northern penitentiary - those that did often came crawling back in agony for treatment. An old tyme native treatment involved rolling in sticky mud to form a barrier to the biters.
1 year ago

Everyone comes to admire bonsai, sooner or later. So the first thing I did was buy a book, years ago. After reading the immense amount of care required to handle bonsai from beginning to end, I still don't raise any. But one thing that really made me sit up and take notice was that one can start with a normal size seedling, or perhaps a stunted already twisted tree growing out of a crag, and then, by a series of root and branch pruning, and repotting in progressively smaller containers, the bonsai is born. It's not just getting them bigger faster, it's making them smaller slowly. I guess I do a form of bonsai with some of my houseplants by restricting their pot size and cutting them back, lest they grow too exhuberantly for my windowsills. I do admire an abutilon that is the size of a small shrub, and filled with flowers, but I'm just happy my scraggly abutilon stays where I can see it, flowering a few times a year. It's probably 16 years old since its purchase, and I hope it lives for years still.
1 year ago
 All this talk on filtering household drinking water makes me want to chime in with my personal favourite - the Lifesaver Jerrycan 20000 L. Expensive? Yes and no. It's a lot cheaper than bottled water in any size bottle - I have never replaced the filter, which can filter down to 2 microns of contaminants. This includes viruses. Expensive? Wait till the filters need replacement. Since I am basically the only person using this device, and I am filtering sometimes questionable well water, I expect it to last several years. Just to be on the safe side, I also ordered a replacement filter and carbon filters, which can also be shipped with a foil covering for storage. I decided to filter my water after a bout of diverticulitis almost landed me in hospital several years ago. So far, so good. There is a 40,000 litre jerrycan available as well, but I'd think that was a very large family size.

Certainly the filtration devices mentioned above will strain out the visible contaminants, but you can't see bacterial/viral/chemical pollutants. The Lifesaver (registered trademark) knocks out 2 of those 3 items for sure. And as my tap water gets tested regularly,, I take it up a notch. I often think it is a far better choice than importing water at a horrendous price in plastic pollution or in human labour to produce wells of uncertain drinking value. Of course, water has to be available to be filtered.
1 year ago


 I've just been exposed to the interesting theory of an all meat (with fat) diet. Among its' adherents are the raw meat foodies. Basically, almost w/o exception, they prefer beef. After puzzling over that one, a lightbulb clicked on. Beef cattle are herbivores, full stop. Mad cow disease was their response to being forced to eat animal waste that contained prions. Cows eating varied pastures for their entire lifespan never acquired mad cow.
Pork and chicken are defined as omnivores, which means animal protein can comprise significant parts of their diet. Although certain ads tout 100% grain fed and vegetarian meats, it's a fact those species are not normally vegetarian. And those are two meats I much prefer to be fully cooked. As an inlander, I never ate much ocean fish, and precious little freshwater fish, but seeing the beautiful art produced by a master sushi chef makes me regret not trying raw fish. However, there's a reason for  sushi to be made from fish frozen for a specified period of time.
Certainly any animal that eats a 100% organic diet is edible, but in our area, deer and bear hunters have to freeze their meats for 30 days minimum for safety's sake. I 'm not sure if it is mandated by law, but it's a general practice. No one eats marmot AFAIK, nor groundhogs (woodchucks) back in Ontario, Canada. Nor have I encountered Crocodile Dundee types who snack on venomous snakes, though rattlers are found locally.
On my foray into a predominantly meat diet, seared raw beef is on my to-try list. If you never hear from me again...!
2 years ago
The biggest problem with geese is that they eat grass, but little other vegetation. For the biggest bang for your weeding buck, get goats. The next nearest goat-like sheep is Barbados Blackbelly sheep, which are great under specific circumstances. They are a hair breed; so no wool to speak of, and any that develops can be pulled off in spring. No shearing. They are a light framed animal with long legs (I've heard "positively goats"  from visitors about 90% of the time, but their tails tell the tale. Sheep' down, goats' up.) Being of tropical descent, they can handle heat that decimates the meat/wool breeds, and are resistant to parasites. Their meat, though meagre compared to a wool breed, is wonderful, lots of flavour w/o the heavy fat taste that turns so many off lamb. They are skittish and can leap tall buildings (fences) when startled, but the new babies are very trusting, and usually come in multiples. Twins and triplets are common; quadruplets and quintuplets are not terribly rare in well-fed flocks..
When I had them, they'd eat brush and shrubs along with my goats. though mixed grasses were available as well.
I'd rather have these beautiful sheep, with or without the majestic horns some rams grow, than any wool breed sheep.