French River Chicken Haddie Memories

This week, I had a mixture of French River Chicken Haddie memories.

My daughter, Kate, and her husband, Bob, are selling their delightful farm that is nestled into the woods near the French River.

And I have to tell you, my heart is breaking a little bit.

In the years since they have been there, I think it is around seven years, I have enjoyed a couple of vacations each year.

Because of our seven-day-a-week schedule when the Crazy 8 Barn & Garden was running full tilt, I usually visited around Christmastime and early March. Not prime time for visiting the Near North that boasts the clear summer waters of cottage country, but I often enjoyed the crisp cool winters.

Sometimes there was rain or ice, but on those days, the wood stove and a book were the attractions.

It’s amazing what has changed in the short time they have owned the farm.

Bob is a super carpenter and Kate is a super horsewoman so her ideas and his talents have led to the creation of an incredible farm.

More than half a century ago, it was a little dairy farm, with pastures sculpted between rocks, trees and stream. If you look at their MLS listing you’ll see a vintage find from those days in the bathroom.

Each year on my visit I discovered major improvements to the house and barns. New structures would appear and others would find a new life.

We snowshoed; we hiked; we visited the trading post and the French River Interpretive Centre; we rode horses; we met the neighbours; we made sausages; we played board games; and we had lots of fun.

At their farm, there is always a menagerie of horses, cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, turkeys, cats, and dogs.

There are moose and other wildlife in the forest.
It's Susanne with her French River Chicken Haddie memories.
An image of the wildlife they discovered on their trail cam this winter.

In 2019, we all gathered there to see Kate and Bob get married on the back porch. It was a frigid, soggy spring, but the sun came out and we enjoyed the day.

Another cherished memory at Bigwood Farm.

So as with any chapter that ends, I will pine for the past, but I will eagerly read the first few paragraphs of the next page, looking forward to what happens next.


P.S. If you know someone who would like to live on a magical acreage near the French River, check out this MLS listing.

Featured Barn Quilt Pattern

River Pond

This was a barn quilt that I painted for the French River Pony Club’s Valentine’s Silent Auction last year. The brilliant combination of dark blues and bright greens in a strong diamond and mini-fish shapes is so reminiscent of this river that cuts through central Ontario. It hangs at a private home in the French River region.

The design is a 4 row grid pattern.

The French River Pony Club, is a non-profit organization that promotes good horsemanship for adults and children. Click here if you want to join the auction page and keep up to date with their upcoming event. (If you make a successful bid, I’m sure I can arrange delivery to southwestern Ontario.)

What I enjoyed Reading …

This is a wonderful guide through many traditional and original design barn quilt designs.  Talara includes the row grids to help you recreate these patterns as well as includes many colour variations of each pattern to allow you to make interesting colour choices.

I keep this book beside my favourite spot on the kitchen counter, so I can work on new designs and alterations with a coffee nearby.

As always, please try to purchase this book from an independent book shop but you may only be able to find it on Amazon.  

Crazy 8 Barn & Garden Recipe of the Week

Chicken Haddie

This is not a dish that we served at the Crazy 8 Barn & Garden. This was one of my Grandma Spence’s favourite recipes. I have never eaten it at any table other than at her 1950’s arborite set.

For every meal, other than Christmas or Thanksgiving, we sat at the kitchen table. It was steps from the stove and in later years was wedged between the dryer and the refrigerator on one end and the apartment sized washer and garbage can on the other.

The kitchen’s main feature was a large window with over-lap glass panes that looked out to the grapevine and the fruit trees – apple, plum and pear.

The sun set in that window and the north wind fused the windows together with frost in the winter.

I was reminded of Chicken Haddie over the Christmas holidays when I discovered an Old Scottish Kitchen recipe book on my daughter’s bookshelf. The book belonged to my son-in-law’s family who received it as a gift when they left Scotland to emigrate to Canada in the 1960’s.

In that book, the recipe was called Finnan Haddie, but the ingredients were unmistakable.

As a child, we knew it wasn’t chicken – it was fish. I thought maybe it was a name changed from Gaelic to English but yesterday, I discovered there really is a Chicken Haddie. If you want to know too, find out here.

Recipe for Creamy Chicken Haddie