Monday, June 21, 2010

Fallow days

We're enjoying a well-deserved few fallow days. Besides the bike rides, runs and swimming days, we're attending to a few lingering jobs at home.

We finally finished disassembling the play structure. This involved sawing timbers away from seized bolts and digging out the four concrete footings. Now it only remains to transport the sandbox sand to the garden and fill the hole in with dirt from the mound left over from when we built the deck. I began this job today and it turned into an exercise in paleontology. There were several dinosaurs (plus a bull and a much-cherished rooster) discovered deep in the sand.

When I took some of the sand over to the compost pile, where we mix up soil for raised garden beds, I noticed that the manure pile was full of red wigglers. So we donned rubber gloves and picked through the pile until we had half a pound of the lively little guys, enough to start back at vermicomposting. We had a worm bin for a couple of years, until our former dog overturned it in the baking sun and chawed down on the container.

So we started our worm bin again. The theory is that by keeping the food waste in the worm bin we'll avoid attracting bears to the large open bins in the corner of the property. Those will just be for garden waste. Hopefully we can secure the worm bin and keep it close enough to the house that bears will be deterred from getting into it. Right now it is stored inside the empty rabbit hutch. You can see a few lovely red worms in the photo at left. It's almost impossible to get a good photo of them outdoors because they dive away from the light as soon as you uncover them.

In the winter I think we might be able to keep the bin in the shop, which Chuck keeps slightly heated, and keep our little friends alive that way. We've kept it in the basement in the past, but inevitably despite our best efforts to the contrary we seem to get into problems with flies. For now, outside is perfect.

Yesterday I managed to take a hand-me-down double foam mattress apart, altering the cover on the sewing machine and cutting the foam down to size, re-assembling it as a twin-sized mattress that fits Sophie's bunk beautifully. She's been complaining of being uncomfortable in her bed for years; I don't know what her problem is: we spent a perfectly good $99 on that mattress 14 years ago. Anyway, she is a happy camper now and slept way past her 6:30 am alarm this morning.

Sophie has been baking today: chocolate coffee cake I believe. Fiona has been inventing recipes for savory dips and dressings. Creativity in the kitchen is always fun. The other day we made several dozen of these Hippie Bombs (renamed; formerly Energy Balls), which have become an instant hit.

Hippie Bombs

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups sesame seeds, toasted
2 cups sunflower seeds, toasted
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups goji berries
1 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt (omit if PB contains salt already)
4 cups peanut butter
1 cup honey
3 cups flaked coconut, toasted, for coating

Combine all ingredients except coconut. Mix with spoon, spatula or hands as required. Form into balls with your hands. (They can be anywhere from truffle-sized to 1/4 cup in size depending on your preference. Ours are about 25 ml in volume.) Roll in coconut. Store in airtight container between layers of waxed paper. You could easily substitute almond butter for the peanut butter, or other dried fruits like chopped dates or raisins for the ones we used. The kids are trying to convince me that to be real energy balls these need to have a chocolate-covered espresso bean at the centre, but I've not been convinced.


  1. I find the combination of photographs in this blog post slightly unsettling.

  2. There, I added a dinosaur photo to distract you from the unsettling combination of the other two ;-).

  3. the energy balls sound yummy!

  4. Anonymous2:12 p.m.

    I have experience with red wrigglers at an outdoor education center. We kept them inside and i don't remember having any problems with flies.
    We kept them in a rubbermaid with a lid and put holes in the bottom with mat underneath to catch anything and we would take the lid off periodically. The students who came to the center just loved it and some would even take up the dare we gave them to put a worm on their tongue. It was a great tool for composting their fruit and such from lunch. We started the worms in ripped up telephone books and i think some peat moss. I can ask my old boss from the center if you would like more info. We never had problems with flies and the bin was kept in the classroom all year around. This was in Ontario.

  5. I think keeping flies out of a bin in a classroom-like environment in Ontario would be less challenging than keeping the flies out in a rural house in the forest with no screen doors, food prep going on constantly, and pets and manure in the vicinity. We have regular fly outbreaks indoors even without a worm bin, but with a worm bin they can get much worse.

  6. For the Hippie Balls recipe, when you list cocoa I'm not sure what form you mean.

    The first thought I had was that crappy Cocoa Drink Mix but I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean.

  7. Dave, cocoa means cocoa powder: chocolate solids with neither cocoa butter nor sugar. I think it's also known as cocoa solids some places I think. Carob powder is a possible substitute.

  8. Miranda, thanks for the tip. I've been reading your blog for the past half hour. You definitely planted some ideas in my head that I'll hopefully try out sometime soon. And I'll be coming back for more


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