Arts & Life, Food & Drink

Spill the Beans: The big show

When I moved to the farm after 13 years of living in the city, my grandmother suggested I start small. You know, small garden, only a few chickens, don’t bite off more than you can chew…I didn’t really listen. Maybe I should have. But now, almost three years into my prairie farm life, I think it might be too late to heed her wise advice…

Spill the beans is a weekly column chronicling my attempts at a self-sufficient life on this small prairie farm.


The work is never done. At least not my work, and probably not yours, either. But it is especially true on a farm at this time of the year.

Here’s what’s happening right now:

The wheat is ready to harvest.


And the apples are all ripe and need to be cut up, frozen, made into jelly or cooked down into sauce.

Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

The tomatoes are practically falling off of the vines, begging to be eaten, canned, dehydrated and roasted.

Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

The cucumbers need to be made into the pickles or relish.

Relish prep
Photo credit: Jamie Dyck


Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

The pea plants need to be pulled up because they are DONE.

The beans are still producing like crazy because the deer just can’t eat those plants fast enough and the plants are determined to produce.

Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

The melons need to be checked to see are they or are they not ripe and how the heck can you tell if they are ripe anyway? (Insert google search which yields nothing exceptionally helpful.)

Photo credit: Jamie Dyck


Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

The flower garden looks sad, faded and weed-filled, but nobody’s got time for that now, not even time to take pictures.

And the chickens begin to lay eggs!!

First egg
Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

So you need to find some straw NOW to fill those nesting boxes that need to be uncovered so the chickens can figure out what to do. And you need to find something (golf balls did the trick) to put in the nest to encourage the chickens to ONLY use the nests to lay eggs.

Gathering straw
Gathering straw from a recently harvested wheat field to place in nesting boxes. Photo credit: Jamie Dyck

And of course, the house still needs to be kept up, animals and people need to eat and trips to Vancouver with my sister are still planned and taken.

[related_content slugs=”spill-the-beans-canned,spill-the-beans-a-walk-in-the-woods,spill-the-beans-so-now-what-with-recipes” description=”More Spill the Beans” position=”right”]But it’s the fun time, too. I mean, it’s not that fun to heat up your kitchen day after day, cooking veggies and sterilizing jars. And the chopping of vegetables, even with a food processor always takes WAY more time than you think. I mean, I was going to make ketchup this evening, but realized at 7:30 pm that maybe this would be tomato juice instead. I just didn’t have the four-plus hours making ketchup would take.

But when you open up that salsa or tomato sauce or ketchup, or unseal that jar of relish or pickles or jam in the middle of winter, you will be so glad you took the time in the heat of summer to make that food.

And that’s why I continue to madly can and preserve all of the fruits and vegetables available to me. I hate to see anything go to waste, and I also really love to open those jars, to take those packages out of the freezer, knowing that this is food grown and preserved by my own hands. It’s a feeling like no other.

Trust me.


Jamie Dyck is happy to be your “someone to call.” Find her on twitter @jndyck.