July 26, 2018

Balls Falls

 We've passed by the Balls Falls conservation area a number of times but never stopped.  Finally, this week, we chose it as our destination, packed a picnic and headed out.    It's a bit of a drive to get there, especially when the driver decides to do the back roads instead of the highway, but it was a lovely drive.    It always amazes me how different the scenery is, a mere hour or two drive away.

Balls Falls is so named after the Ball family who ran a mill along the waterway.   There are a number of historic buildings but they were all locked up, although we were told we could arrange a private tour if we wanted.   

The Bruce Trail hooks winds through part of this conservation area, but not on the main trails.   If you're looking for a long and arduous trail, this is not the place to go.  The long trail is about 40 minutes round trip and the short is maybe 20 minutes there and back.   It's fully groomed and manicured, with only a bit of rocky areas and slopes to contend with.    However, for a hot and muggy day, lugging the loaded  big girl camera bag,  and a lunch bag, this was  perfect.  

 The upper falls is the longer trail and it was simply lovely under the green canopy.  We ambled along the trail, enjoying the views.   The stream was cut down into the rock, so  you looked down on the water.  The slope down was quite steep though people had cut a little trail right along the bank of the stream.   I didn't think I wanted to deal with that, so I took the high road and the easy trail.

This time of year, the water coming from the falls is groundwater.   The volume is quite amazing to see.   I think being able to see the run off, over the rocky ledge, in the spring time, would be quite awesome.

We took the alternate route back, but missed the switchback cut,  and ended up heading right back to the building at the gate.  We got to take the first part of the trail twice as we cut across a lawn to get to the little picnic area where the second trail begins.

It was a really nice couple of hours.   The trails are beautifully maintained.  The bathrooms are clean and bright.  This was a lovely place for our picnic.    Erm, also The Fibre Garden  is about 7 minutes away, so we had to stop there.  It is a great fibre supply store, with fabulous service.   It is way too difficult not to spend too much money in there.

July 10, 2018

More colour!

 It was a bit cooler on Saturday, so we revisited the same hiking trail that we'd hiked in June.   Oh so different now!   The swaths of Queen Anne's Lace were now just green and brown seed heads.There was hardly any colour other than shades of green and brown.  In two different places on the trail, a single stalk each of these lilies grew.  It was a shock of bright orange popping up in a sea of monotone.   It was both unexpected and simply stunning.

I've started spinning the last batch of low immersion experiments.    It is destined to become either shawl or sock yarn, so I'm spinning it finely.   It would be suitable to weave with as well.   The singles are lovely, with good colour definition but I think that might be lost when I ply them.   This is the first bobbin though, so it could be a while before I get to that point.   Until then, I'm enjoying how lovely this fibre spins and how pretty it is.
We've had some volunteer raspberry plants come up.  The raspberry bushes around the huge maple tree and heavily bearing, but also almost bare as the birds are eating them.  However the red raspberries by the garage seem to be out of sight of the birds.   There are black raspberries by the barn and in the middle of the gooseberry bush.  The latter one is a double prickle, since both the gooseberry and the black raspberry bushes have a goodly amount of thorns.   If I pick what I have every day or two, and pop them in the freezer, we'll have enough for something yummy.  The alternative is just eating them right away, which is also a good use for these.
The difference between black raspberries and blackberries is the core and the ripening time.  Blackberries have a core which stays with the berry, while black raspberries are hollow, like red raspberries.   Blackberries ripen later in the summer and black raspberries ripen now! 

July 07, 2018

Red Currants and Green Gooseberries.

The currants are ripening daily.   In just a few days I've got 800 g in the freezer.   It's been too hot to use the currants to make jam or bake anything with them for that matter.    This way, I just clean them up, pop them in the freezer and use them when the weather cools.    These are from a very old currant bush.  It's probably some common old fashioned variety, with smaller, tart berries.  I keep thinking I should dig it up and plant a modern cultivar but I never to, and it keeps on giving, with little pruning or care for that matter.

As well, the gooseberries are ripening.  It's hard to tell because these are one of the old hard green common gooseberry bushes.  I bet the bush is 30 years old.  The berries are small and really tart.  They only seem to turn red or ripen when they get eaten by the gooseberry fruit worms.  They take forever to be topped and tailed - you have to snip the blossom and stem ends off before you use them.  Despite this, they make the absolute best jam.   It is soooo good.  

I 've been thinking though that I'd like to take a cutting and plant it elsewhere, then replace this bush with a newer cultivar that has larger, sweeter fruit.     But then I wonder if I just pick half the berries off when it first starts fruiting, if I'd get larger fruit with less effort.    Still, it would be nice to have sweeter berries and maybe more edible with less sugar.  Does anyone know of good, reliable, hardy gooseberry cultivars?

We're still eating salads from the garden, although the spinach has gone to seed with the stinking hot weather we've had recently.    The pumpkins and cucumbers are doing well.  The powdery mildew seems to be held at bay with several sprinklings of sulfur and a change in weather.    I've been spot watering them directly at the roots every day.  They're growing and there are some tiny fruit on one of the pumpkin plants.   The cucumber plants are flowering, the zucchini plants are about to flower and the beans plants are huge and this morning, the little buds finally opened.    That means beans soon too.   If we get some rain here soon, the potatoes will be happy.  It rained on Friday, everywhere but here it seems.