No, it's not a village in Senegal. Gougoune is the Quebecois word for flip-flops, and it's my riff on the popular Montreal expression of Balconville. If you're like us and stay home during summer vacation, well, you're staying in Balconville. I washed Cooper this past weekend, and decided it would be appropriate to own a pair of shoes that could get wet, other than my ubiquitous rubber boots. With a visit to the grocery store and 4 loonies later, here are my new gougounes:
Summer can officially start now. I own a pair of flip-flops, a first for me, believe it or not. While my feet look like they belong to a lady of leisure, my hands look like a diesel mechanic's at this time of year. They should be OK by the time October rolls around and the dirt wears off and my nails grow back. Right now, they're so unpresentable as to be terrifying.
The weather in June has been fabulous! It's been bright, sunny, breezy, and with our early spring, it feels like it's been summer for-ev-ah. This coming week we'll have temps in the mid 30C's, which translates to low 90's on the Fahrenheit scale, and if that weren't enough, this coming Monday is a statutory holiday. So is the following Monday, it's our little way of kicking off summer with a double-whammy. St-Jean-Baptiste day marks the beginning of school vacation in Quebec, and the unofficial start of summer. Canada Day on July 1 is celebrated by the entire country, but we Quebeckers enjoy the double-header. It's how we make up for our long and often miserable winter. So let the games begin!
On the "projects" front, I have asked, begged and pleaded for a clothes line for the past ten years. This year, I took matters into my own hands because my patience was wearing thin. (I'm tolerant like that LOL!) I was sure a regular clothes line spanned between two trees or posts wasn't going to happen when Eric started to talk about putting in posts with 4000 psi air-entrained concrete complete with rebar, (Eric over-engineers, dontchaknow?). I broke down and bought a Brabantia rotary clothes dryer at our local Crappy Tire. It was 30% off, it's not made in China (it's made in Latvia), and it can be easily stored during winter months. Since I took this bull by the horns, apparently I am in charge of installing the ground spike that holds the dryer into place. With our hard clay soil, I'll need a sledge hammer or a backhoe (a thought I did entertain momentarily) to drive it into place. I was hoping for a nice downpour to saturate the ground, but I think I'll be waiting for a while with the hot spell we have forecast for the next week. I've decided to just water down the spot where I want the spike, and hope that I can drive the anchor in straight. Clean laundry flapping in the breeze, here we come!
I did some planters with coleus and dusty miller, and others with gazania. I threw some lobelia in with a flat-leafed parsley plant and it's turning into a nice combo. I have a few herb planters I do every year with the standard list of characters: sweet basil and "regular" basil (because I wanted to know, once and for all, what the difference is!), Thai basil, Greek oregano, sage, rosemary, cilantro and thyme. I planted one "El Jefe" jalapeño pepper in a huge pot supplemented with lots of chicken manure and shrimp compost, plus I'm still on the look-out for a yellow cherry tomato plant. I bought one at Quinn's Farm last year, and the little tomatoes were sweet like candy. I'm not a big tomato fan (hello heartburn!) so this is a huge admission coming from me. This year - the clothes line - next year - raised garden beds! I've got to fight my battles one year at a time.
Eric is conducting phase II of a potato experiment in our sole garden bed that's not planted with our wind-break trees. His father sent us true potato seeds from France (yes, seeds from the potato flowers he pollinated himself) which we planted last year. I found an interesting article on growing potatoes from seed "seed" here, as opposed to growing potatoes conventionally from tubers.
A more in-depth read on potato breeding can be found here, courtesy of Raoul A. Robinson. From the plants we grew last year, we harvested lots of teeny tiny baby potatoes, the largest of which was the size of an egg. This year, we're growing plants from those tiny potatoes which we kept in the crawl space this winter. When I took them out this spring, they were already sprouting, and we finally got them into the ground about a month ago. Eric took the old rototiller he inherited from his father when his parents moved back to France years ago, and went to town preparing the bed for planting. Our soil is very clayey and needs lots of amending. We've brought in tons of manure with our tractor's front loader from our neighbour's farm, and put in tons of leaf mulch. Eventually, we'll get there. What we really need is a 48" rototiller for the big John Deere, and believe me, we're working on it.
The field right beside the house was left fallow, which is the second year running if my memory serves me well. The hay fields are full of bobolinks, whose crazy songs fill the air. In past years, the hay was cut before the baby birds could fledge, but I think they're safe this year. Today I noticed a proliferation of birds which I'm going to attribute to our early spring and the head-start the birds got nesting. In past years, the hay was cut before the baby birds could fly, and crows could be seen for days on end, feasting on the remains. It made me sad to see, but this year I'm convinced the babies are safe.
Another one who surprises us:
That pretty much summarizes the month of June so far, but it's not over yet. We still need to get a few more trees planted, the ground spike for my rotary clothes dryer driven into the ground (the laundry's piling up and I'll be damned to turn on the dryer once more this season...), plus all those other summer rituals like mowing, mowing and more mowing. Summer is the busiest time of the year on so many fronts, hence this long and disjointed post.
Until next time, greetings from Gougouneville.