What I’ve Been Doing the Past Month.

I guess we’re going to have to start with this photo aren’t we?

The chickens have mites. This is my treat the chicken coop for mites outfit. This kind of event is the sort of thing nightmares are scared of. One of the many interesting things about chickens is their ability to be scarier than a pandemic.

Mites are tiny little bugs, just large enough to be visible if you’re actually looking for them. If you aren’t looking for them, they announce their presence by breeding until they’ve reached a population of about 100 million zillion. This takes approximately 4 hours.

Treating mites is like treating any pests. You can go the natural route and hope for the best (sometimes the natural route actually works) and sometimes you just say, yeah, I’ve always thought a fountain would look nice where the coop is, and then you burn it down to the ground.

Of course the other option is to use a pesticide that’s strong enough to eradicate the entire human population of a small town, then double the dose to kill the microscopic bugs.

I went the natural route to start. Neem oil. Using Neem oil as an insecticide is an “off label” and unauthorized use in Canada. But people swear that it’s an effective killer of rampant orgying mites.

I’ve treated the coop twice this week and I still have mites. I definitely don’t have as many but they’re still there. If, in one week, after round 3 of the treatment I still have mites, I will be digging out the container of death dust I bought at the feed store years ago and use that.

The Flowers are Blooming!

It took WAY longer than it normally does but the dahlias have finally started blooming. The first one was the Colleen Mooney dahlia you can see up there to the left. Interesting fact: this dahlia won an American Dahlia Society award a couple of years ago but was bred about 10 minutes from my house by a member of my local dahlia society. It’s named after his daughter, Colleen.

If you follow Floret on Instagram or read Erin’s books you might recognize my recreation of her truck in miniature form. Filling it up with small vases of small flowers has become an obsession of mine.

But not as big an obsession as these dahlias.

From left to right: Weird girl with blue dress, Totally Tangerine, Cornel Bronze, Alfred C, Dandy boy reading a book about how to apply rouge and get optimal hair puff.

The garden flowers are going insane as well. Zinnias, Cosmos, Amaranth and tucked into the right side of the basket in the second photo you can see the Lisianthus which took an astonishing 6 months to grow.

This is a lemon yellow/green celosia that randomly popped up in the garden and I’m currently deciding whether to cut it to dry or preserve OR let it grow on so I can save the seeds. For drying and preserving flowers it’s best to cut them before they start to set seed.

All of this Celosia popped up too. ALL of it is self seeded from last year. Ditto for almost all the amaranth in my garden. These things will seed themselves until they take over … well let’s just say they’re the mites of the flower world.

The Garden

It’s hard to even get the words out, but harvesting is coming to an end. I’ve harvested all the potatoes, corn (except for 2 cobs of Glass Gem corn), onions, carrots, cabbage and most of the tomatoes.

The Dakota Black (popcorn) you see here is still drying and should probably be ready to blast into popcorn in the next month. I’m also in the middle of an experiment that should make judging whether your home grown popcorn is ready to pop much easier. So stay tuned for that.

This doesn’t mean my love affair with the garden is over for the year, I still have sweet potatoes, luffa sponges, beets, more tomatoes, flowers, squash and peppers to harvest. Plus, all the beds need to be neatened up. If I finish everything and the weather is still not blizzarding I’ll probably just go sit in the garden to contemplate life and avoid cleaning my range hood.

I Found This While Going Through Photo Albums.

I’m just going to leave that one with you.

The Rye Experiment Update!

Remember when my local historic Dundurn Castle called me in the middle of the summer to see if I’d be interested in coming to their historic garden to harvest some rye??

Well I brought the rye home, threshed the grain out, winnowed it to remove the chaff and a few weeks ago ground the rye into flour and made a caraway rye bread that was INSANEly good.

This is going to be my go-to bread this winter. Speaking of bread and wheat and all things good, I sowed my winter wheat a week ago and it’s already sprouted and looking great.

I was a guest on Niki Jabbour’s gardening radio show The Weekend Gardener a couple of Sunday’s ago and we talked a lot about growing wheat on a small scale. If you’re anywhere around a zone 6, NOW is the time to plant your winter wheat so get on that. You don’t need a huge area of land to grow enough wheat to make bread out of. Plus it’s just fun to grow wheat.

A new Indigenous aquisition.

I’ve been a collector of Indigenous jewellery and wearables since I was about … I think I was 16 when I got my first piece in Oshweken, a reserve near my house.

Last year I finally bought something I’ve wanted for a long time – a vintage Hopi squash blossom necklace.

Last Sunday I bought the longer necklace from the same vendor that I bought the squash blossom necklace from. This style of necklace with the animal charms (fetishes) around it is known as a Fetish necklace and were made by the Zuni and Navaho tribes traditionally. Each animal has a specific meaning and protection. Each one is hand carved and the Heishi beads in between are as well.

It’s apparently from around 1910 and I can vouch that even though it looks brand new at first glance, under a jewellers loupe there’s dirt in all the crevices and in the silver clasp. I’ve ordered a book about Fetish necklaces and am going to do my best to confirm it’s origin and authenticity.

That’s the thing about Indigenous jewellery. Everyone copies it. This does two things. It devalues the original pieces and it takes money out of the hands of the people who made it.

Also it makes it hard to know if what you have your around your neck is real.

I don’t live in New Mexico or the surrounding area so I can’t buy this jewellery directly from the people who made or are taking care of it. But I really try hard to make sure what I’m buying is authentic.

My scruples aren’t nearly as strict when it comes to potato chips. I will eat any and every brand, I don’t care who it was that originally invented them.


Have a good weekend, eat some food, see some family or friends (if it’s safe), and get ready to hunker down because the numbers are going up.


  1. Cara in S. FL says:

    I would think diatomaceous earth would work really well!

  2. Courtney Tunnicliffe says:

    Haha! I remember watching TV in the late 90’s on weeknights and you and an Italian lady would have segments in the commercial breaks on channel 14 introducing Jerry Springer, back-to-back(-to-back) reruns of the Simpsons, and maybe Married with Children if I’m remembering right.

  3. Brian Smith says:

    -1 point for spelling and -1 point for a factual inaccuracy…

    1. Karen, you like so many others used the spelling “Oshweken”
    Actually it’s spelled “Ohsweken”!
    2. Ohsweken is not a reserve as you posted but rather it’s a town within the Six Nations of the Iroquois Reserve.
    Please don’t lose too much sleep over these slip-ups as they’re very common mistakes.

  4. Carswell says:

    I saw that picture of your caraway rye bread and had an epiphany. I have been making bread since the beginning of this pandemic thing and have long lamented my inability to get decent caraway rye bread anywhere for years now. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I could make my own – but rye flour will be on my shopping list this week.

    Would you share your recipe?

  5. Grammy says:

    The sight of your lovely flowers (especially the dahlias) is the bright spot in my week. We’ve been quite literally choking daily on smoke from the many huge and terrible wildfires here in California. Everything is dark gray every day and ash covers this part of the planet. We can’t go outside to the garden, we can’t go anywhere else because of the pandemic, and I can’t even see my grandson without a mask and distance between us which is really shitty for both of us.

    Add to that the brutal heat wave we had this summer (almost every day over 100 and way too many of them over 105 and even 110) made my garden produce about a third the number of tomatoes and such that is typical. First time ever that I haven’t had lots to can and freeze and still plenty to eat fresh. So, all around crummy. The sight of you decked out for mite-stalking made me laugh, then all the nice sights of your lovely things, and interesting things, are a perfect end to the week and I can go to bed now with something pleasant to think about.

    Thank you.

  6. Kimberly Wiebe says:

    Hey pretty please can you do post about your house?

    A before, after, after again, and after some more?

    I would love to see it in all its different incarnations in one easy to scroll through post.

    I beseech you.



  7. Georgia Girl says:

    …. is that Jerry Springer ? 👀
    It looks calm in the photo. I guess there were no violent rednecks traveling with him.

    Your flowers are gorgeous, darlin’

    Is the virus flaring up again in Canada? Oh no!
    2020 sucks. I feel like I’m living in a bad sci-fi novel

  8. Vikki says:

    Your flowers and vegetables look amazing. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we’ve had a crazy “summer”. My hydrangeas have yet to bloom! Maybe because we’ve had no sun for a long time due to the wildfires. I grew up in Arizona not too far from the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. Your squash blossom necklace is beautiful. I know the knock-offs abound. Maybe you need a trip to the Southwest when it gets cold there.

  9. Leslie Russell says:

    CODE RED!! and I haven’t even read the whole article. Chicken mites are a nightmare, you’re right. I know I’m the reader from hell but this is an emergency! So I’ll write this quick and then read it. There’s a product called Pyranha Zero-Bite natural insect repellent that’s used for horse stalls. I use a pump sprayer on the entire coop, let it dry, then I use a flour sifter and cover everything with diatomaceous earth. Every time I clean out the coop I repeat that process. I also sprinkle DE in the girls usual dust bath spots.
    When I found that they had dust mites I wrapped duct tape inside out around the ankle of my rubber boots because they were CLIMBING UP ON MY BOOTS. I was horrified. But I haven’t had a “Return Of The Mites” and that was about 3 years ago. Thank God. Good luck soldier.

  10. Mary W says:

    What’s not to like about this post? It made me laugh out loud (so much it deserved not to be initialized) and educated me, it inspired me to get back to canning and I was wondering what would make a great cover crop in my tiny garden – so there is that. Also – it was full of lovely links to even more information to kill the time it takes to drink several more cups before I get up to begin canning. LOL I’m so sorry for your mite problems – that has to be even rougher on the hens but your picture is priceless.

  11. Rebecca Holt says:

    If I haven’t thanked you a million times before, thank you for your weekly updates. As I impatiently await November 3rd for the insanity to end, I always have my Sunday morning feel good moment to look forward to.
    Roasted tomatoes it is today! Thanks for the cherry tomato tip.

  12. Jenny W says:

    Ummm Karen, you can not just randomly dangle a picture of you & Jerry Springer getting cozy, and not give us a back story!

  13. Alex says:

    Oh, Karen, you didn’t??
    Jerry Springer…

    • Martina says:

      Just when I thought the world couldn’t get any weirder…

    • Karen says:

      God no, lol. No, when I was a television host I had an association with Jerry Springer and this is an event I was at with him.:) ~ karen!

      • Grammy says:

        Still looks creepy. It looks like you were about 14 and the sight of him sitting all cozy there (and it looks like a syringe in his hand!) so close to you is the stuff of nightmares. Thanks for clearing that up.

  14. margaret delgatty says:

    It would be really cool to see if your yellow-green Celosia breeds true…

    Also, good luck with the chicken mites!

  15. Tanya says:

    Thank you so much for this Karen…Just didn’t know how much I needed this belly laugh!!
    Thank you-thank you- thank you.

  16. Cindy Marlow says:

    I think your celosia autocorrected to coleus

    • Karen says:

      Ack, lol! Thanks. ~ karen!

      • Jeanne Marston says:

        Coleus is a different plant. They can be chartreuse, purple or a tomato-ish red. Square stemmed, and when cut they will root in water to replant.

        On another note, I have a Hopi Squash Blossom necklace too and a few of the Zuni fetish necklaces. Love them and you made me think to dig them out and wear again! Thanks for all your welcomed knowledge, Karen.

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