Sunday, March 15, 2015


I am still pondering the garden... Still lots of planning to do, and how best to arrange everything.  The garden is really the heart of the homestead.  It's a big deal for us.  I feel the pressure.  :-)

It snowed a little more today, and the winds kicked up something fierce for awhile. However, I hear that tomorrow is going to be 45 degrees and sunny.   That will be a nice change!

Today's sap production was about 7 to 7 and 1/2 gallons. One tap in particular is producing almost zero. I don't know why, but I have decided that it is still early enough in the season to drill a new tap elsewhere, so I will pull that one and put it on another tree.  The ziplock bags are working well.... it keeps most of the gnats and random bits of bark from falling into the sap, requiring me to filter before I dump it in the storage barrel.  So far, the snow refrigeration is working great.

Not much to report. A few onions have started coming up.  A couple of tomatoes, and the broccoli and cauliflower.  None of the celery, which makes me think the seeds are no good. I am using the radiator by my growing shelves as a "heat mat" to help warm the soil for the new sprouts.  Our house rarely gets above about 58 degrees, so that extra bit of warmth is appreciated by the seeds.  I like to lean against the radiator too.

Steve made beer last night, and had a whole five gallon bucket full of "spent grains". These would be the malted barley that is steeped to make the mash for the brew.  Malted barley is simply barley grains, with hulls intact, that are sprouted, then dried. Sprouting changes some of the carbohydrates in the grain to a simpler sugar, which is then used by the fermenting yeast to make the alcohol in beer.  So these grains, even though they have some of the goodness steeped out of them, are still a good source of protein and carbohydrates and the chickens go wild for them.  I even gave a small amount to the chicks, and, surprise, they emptied the bowl in no time flat! ( they will probably all be poopy tomorrow and it will be my fault! ha!) All this tells me that animals, given a choice, will always opt for "real food" rather than processed pellets.  My big hens get organic pellets, because for this winter, that's my only option. But, every morning, I take them out some of the wheat grass and other spouted seeds I keep going in the house, plus any leftover lettuce or kale or other greens from the kitchen.  They run to eat the "real food" first.   Maybe there is a lesson in there for us human folks.

Today is Day 5 of the Chick Flicks. Steve says he thinks the chicks have doubled in size.  I am happy to report that the little rooster, Frank, seems better today, more lively, and eating better.  He is still smaller than his flock mates, which makes me wonder if he is a "he" at all.  In about a week, I will have a really good idea if the person who sexed our new chicks at the hatchery was accurate or not.  I will tell you my secret method of telling roosters from pullets then.   The "chicken sexer" at the hatchery has to be pretty good, as it is not always easy to tell with brand new chicks. You can expect about a 10% error rate, but even that is pretty darn accurate.   It's a good thing they don't hire me for that job!  But then, wouldn't it be great party conversation when somebody asks what you do for a living. "Oh, I'm a chicken sexer"......

So, here is Day 5, short and sweet.  those little buggers were only pretending to be asleep.

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