Saturday, February 28, 2015
With temperatures predicted to reach above freezing this week, it is time to drill the taps for the maple trees.
Only we have a slight problem.
And I have to go get a few more gallon spring water jugs which we are using as buckets. So it looks like tapping will wait till tomorrow. We did a 20 mile run today, and I think we are both wanting a little downtime instead of tromping through the snow and cold.
We have had many folks exclaim that we sure picked a bad winter to return to New Hampshire. Looking at all this beautiful snow, we see the abundance it will bring come spring... so, we dont mind.
And my mom asked, "Why no more scripture verses"?. no good answer for that, other than, sometimes I cant think of an appropriate one. But heres one for you, Mom.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad.
Let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.
Do you ever wonder how conscious the plant kingdom is? Studies have shown plants respond to music and even speech. So is it at all far fetched to think that the trees of the forest know their Creator?
I would love to witness this some day.... and hope they dont mind sharing a little sap with us meanwhile...😊
Thursday, February 26, 2015
|The onions are coming along!|
I am working tomorrow too, but not until after lunch, and I hope to go get some manure from a dairy farm in the morning. Just enough to add to the cold frames. I do get excited about manure.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
|Wild turkey breast.|
|Cute puppy Gibbs.|
Our neighbor's dog somehow managed to kill one of the wild turkeys. This is not "my"wild turkey, but a young hen from another flock that hangs out up the hill.
|She weighed 15 or so pounds.|
So, the carcass being too damaged to even attempt harvesting as I would a whole bird, with scalding, plucking disemboweling, etc., we simply pulled the feathers off the breast and removed only the meat.
|Jack had his good knife, which made this easier.|
|The breasts are removed.|
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Where the small chicken coop stands now used to be 40x80 foot grand barn. Sigh, I do wish it was still here. You can see the forms of the raised garden beds, which I have already dismantled (we are using that wood to burn for boiling the sap).
There is also a small building we call "the white house" which we havent decided on a use for as yet.
Mostly, this overview helps me to see sun and shade patterns. It also helps me to see zones of activity, so we can plan the best location for things like the greenhouse, and fencing and gates.
The photo was taken probably close to this time of year, (I am guessing early April) so the shade patterns help me to see where areas of sun should be in the later spring and summer, for garden planning. I ask the question, "once those large oaks in the bottom left leaf out, how much shade will they cast on the hillside there?" Will it be sunny enough to plant the new apple trees? It seems that there is going to be a great deal of shade.. maybe too much for the apples.
Maybe a better location for the garden would be behind the white house, where it should still get mostly full sun, and it wont be so likely to interfere with paddocks and driveway patterns when the new barn is built. To some extent, this is the time to make big changes, like moving the garden, since we plan to tear down the garage and barn and rebuild. On the other hand, our resources are limited, and we may need to work with whats here.
Lots of thinking to do!
Monday, February 23, 2015
At the tree itself, I dig around till I can at least get an idea where ground level is, because setting a tap now about 3 feet above snow level, might mean when melting starts to happen that my buckets end up over my head!
Weather: cold, windy, and mostly sunny. I bet windchills are in single digits, but the actual temp was 12 this morning. Ot is forecast to get much colder again....
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Steve splits, and I stack. It works for us!
Meanwhile, as Steve was working on firewood, I finished stacking it. Then, I
|Started some yogurt|
|Hung some laundry|
|There is still a large stack of it to cut.|
Weather:gorgeous day! Sunny and above freezing. Going to get down to single digitsagain tonight though. Just about time to drill the tap hole for the sap..... yay!
Saturday, February 21, 2015
In my continued readong of John Jeavons' book, I came across the following alarming statistics.
Current agricultural practices reportedly destroy 6 pounds of soil for each pound of food produced. United States croplands are losing topsoil about 18 times faster than the soil formation rate. This loss is not sustainable. In fact, worldwide, only about 33-49 years worth of farmable soil remains.
It is tempting to feel helpless in the face of such dire warnings. Better, perhaps, is a commitment to personally be part of the solution, part of the earth healing, even if it is a miniscule part.
As Jeavons goes on to say, we need to switch our mindset-we need to stop growing crops and start growing soil. Growing soil doesnt have to require a degree in soil science. It does require looking at the natural order of things, and using practices that mimic those as much as possible. Fortunately, there are so many books and resources that give us the information. I am learning as I go.
Weather: was about 4 degrees this morning, and snowing heavily again now. I believe the forecast is for 4-6 inches.
Friday, February 20, 2015
The grandkids and I were out for some fun today. I left the dogs in the house, instead of out in their pen because it was minus 4 .
They are house broken of course, but somebody had an "accident" while we were gone.
Who do you think is feeling more guilty?
|The inside of the chicken run|
its not too diffocult right now with only 6 layers, but eventually we will have several dozen and feed costs can skyrocket.
For our homestead, the goal is to become self sufficient in providing food for the chickens and elimimate store bought commercial feeds as much as possible.
If chickens were left to themselves, I believe their choice of diet would look like this : about 75-80% live protein (bugs, worms, etc.), 10-15% greens, and only maybe 10% seeds or grains. I chuckle at the egg cartons at the market that tout "vegetarian fed", as if that's a good thing. Chickens are not vegetarians.
For a small scale homesteader, there are several possibilities, and I am particularly interested in implementing the following.
Rotating compost piles as main source of food during spring, summer, and fall. More about this method in another post.
Growing and storing silage for winter feed. (Silage is basically green plant material that is enclosed in an airtight container (think silo) and allowed to naturally ferment. It has advantages over hay both nutritionally and in processing that I can talk about later. This of course is also an option for feeding ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats. It is scalable for a small homestead such as ours.
Raising worms. super easy, low cost, low maintenance, and a great source of protein for chickens.
Sprouted fodder. I am doing this now by sprouting seeds for them. The problem is that it involves store bought seeds, and I am trying to implement as much home grown feed options as possible. Could I grow a small crop of barley or oats for this purpose? Maybe.
These are some ideas. The long winter months really require creativity if self sufficiency is the goal.
Weather: sunny, after some snow flurries yesterday. Minus 5 this morning.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
One of my family members has been sick with the flu, and I was wishing I could give him some of my favorite immune boosting tonic. But, he is in another state, so that isnt possible, at least not in time for his current illness.
So, that got me thinking I should share this, as it is sure a handy thing to have around, and I swear by it. In the fall, I make up a big batch before cold and flu season starts. Though I rarely get sick, I picked up some bug during our travels, and could just tell that it wasnt going to be a simple cold. I was achey, tired, stiff neck, sore throat...it was going to be bad. I started dosing with two tablespoons of fire cider that night, and three times the next day.
When I woke up the next morning, I was completely symptom free, not even a runny nose. This really works for me.
Fire cider, also called Mother Tonic, has a long history of healing as a folk remedy. And no wonder. Every ingredient has research-proven immune boosting anti-viral, antibiotic, anti fungal properties, and it is infused in raw apple cider vinegar, which contains powerful gut healing probiotics. My feeling is, it cant hurt, and just might really help!
So, lets get to making some! There are some variations of recipes,. This is the one I use.
1 medium onion
10 cloves garlic
1/2cup ginger root
1/2 cup fresh horseradish root ( this stuff is powerful!) Note:I didnt have fresh horseradish root, so I used wasabi powder, which is ground horseradish)
Zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one orange
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded
1 Tbsp. Tumeric
1/4 tbsp. Cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Peppercorns
1/2 tsp cloves, or a few whole cloves.
Now, here is the hard part. put the lid on, place in a cupboard out of direct sunlight, and...
yeah, it takes that long for all that goodness to extract.
After a month, strain the concoction, squeezing the pulp to get as much liquid out as possible.
Now, add 1/2 cup of raw honey. it must be raw, unprocessed honey.
You can add more honey to taste.
This stuff is surprisingly GOOD!
It does not need to be refrigerated,( though you can) and should keep quite awhile in your cupboard.
And now you have some Fire Cider!
How to use it?
1. straight, by the tablespoon full.
2. If that is too strong, put two tablespoons in a cup of hot water and sip as a tea.
3. made into a salad dressing. This, by itself with a bit of olive oil, makes a delicious salad dressing.
I personally dont use this as a daily tonic, but keep it for when I feel the need for an immune boost. I usually do a couple tablespoons three times a day.
|Here is some finished cider next to the batch I just made.|
Weather today is cold 8 degrees)and mostly sunny after some light snow last night.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Wow! That means it is just about time to tap trees. Usually, the daytime temps need to be above freezing and nightime below freezing. We havent had that yet, till today. It is still early, but I noticed the big sugaring operation down the road already has their taps in place.
As to my vinegar project. I will call it a failure, and take the blame. My impatience to start the vinegar made me strain the juice before it had fermented enough. So tjere was still alot of live yeast, and once I transferred the juice to the vinegar bottle, that yeast continued to proliferate and produced a film on top. It is possible that this batch could be saved, but I tossed it and made a note how to do it better next time.
I still need vinegar, so I started a batch the regular way, with fresh cider, and better sterilization.
|Here is the small fermenting bucket with airlock, sitting near the radiator, the only place in the house that might stay warm enough.|
Most of the day was spent getting ready for grandkids visit tomorrow. Somehow in the move all the sheets disappeared for the spare twin beds, so I picked some more up, plus some "kid food" at the grocery store. Since we subsist mostly on beans and greens, I thought that might be too much of a shock to their system. I have to admit, I had real trouble buying packaged, processed food. In the end, I made an extra trip to the natural market for organic, grass fed meat and cheese. I simply couldnt buy the supermarket stuff. But I will let them pick a favorite snack food when they get here, and try to have lots of fresh fruits and veggies out. We are going to learn to make bread, starting with simple pizza dough. They wont know it, but it will be sprouted spelt flour for something a step above white refined flour.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Onions are classified as long day, short day, or neutral. What that means is that certain varìeties need longer hours of sunlight in order to form a bulb. the varieties that need the shortest amount of sunlight (11-13 hours) are termed short day onions. These like a warmer climate and are suitable for zones 7 or warmer, amd typically are good choices for the south, southwest, and southeast areas of the country where summer day length doesnt differ too much from winter day length. Good short day onions might be yellow burmudas, or California red.
Long day onions like 14 or more hours of daylight, do well in zones 6 and colder, and are suited for northern areas where summer daý length is much longer. A good long day onion is Sweet Spanish, and is what I planted.
Neutral onions are in the middle, and adaptable to many conditions. Early yellow globe is an easy to find variety in garden shops.
|The clear plastic dome holds humidity while seeds germinate.|
|I also planted a few basil plants. Notice the fancy container. Anything can work. These basil plants will just be a small windowsill garden. Herbs are so easy to grow this way if you just need a few sprigs for cooking.|
|On an unrelated note, mama canary is sitting on six eggs. Arent they cute? They are about the size of jelly beans. Maybe it isnt unrelated. Perhaps she is hoping for early spring too!|
Monday, February 16, 2015
Steve had the day off today for Presidents' Day. it was a good opportunity to get some things done around here. It is bright and sunny today, which almost always means cold. Was minus 12 first thing, and has warmed up to 16 degrees. Actually, if you are working, and are dressed right, it isnt too bad. New Englanders have a saying, "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing".
|Shallow pitched roofs are especially vulnerable to heavy snow loads.|
steve did the whole back side too, but I did not want to slog through thigh deep snow to get a picture.
|HE also snowblowed the path down to the two pens. the snow is past waist high on me now.|
|I also dug out the duck pen, which is our temporary dog quarters. There is still quite a bit of snow, but at least they have an area where it is packed down.|