red sky warning

Marchsunrise

Sitting this morning enjoying a cup of coffee, I looked up and saw the reflection of the sunrise in the window.  Standing out on the front porch to take the photo I heard our rooster doing his early morning crowing, it was the most pleasant sound to hear while looking at the sunrise. Have you ever heard the saying, red sky in the morning, sailors warning? Well we got snow that started after the noon hour, and when it started the winds came as well. My trips to the chicken coop were pretty cold fighting the wind...brrr.

Sugaring season has been different this year.  The one thing Jim noticed was that the ground didn’t seem to be as frozen as it usually is at this time of year.  We did have quite a bit of snow on the ground in the sugar bush during our below zero cold streak which lasted about 12 days. We are thinking that the snow may have insulated the ground from freezing.  We have been making maple syrup for 11 seasons now and we can never predict how the season will go. Hopefully the snow we got is what we call sugar snow which should reset the sap run. I’m definitely crossing my fingers for that to happen. 


homesteading

Basketofeggs
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I seem to average one blog post a month these days, or even less than that at times. Maybe I did two last month, anyway, has life changed for you at all in the past year?  Well it has for us in many ways.  We are not retired yet, we are still growing and preserving as much of our own food as we can and I’m looking forward to getting my seeds started. I have big ideas and plans for the garden and I can’t wait to get started, tho it’s still a long way off yet.  The hens are laying great and did pretty good this winter even during our very cold snap we had. I think if I’m remembering right we had at least 12 days of below zero temps. I was away at a quilt retreat last month and we woke up to -21 degrees.  That was cold. 

Our electric bill last month was outrageous, even though we heat with wood and our furnace never turned on during the harsh cold, something smells fishy to me about that. So, I decided I’m going to hang clothes out on the line even if there is snow on the ground, plus I’m putting our oil lamps to good use instead of just collecting dust for me to dust later.  It’s actually quite quaint to read by the oil lamp and enjoy a cup of coffee. 

Sugaring has started up.  I’m thinking it’s a bit early this year so we’ll see how long the season will be.  The seasons seem to be just flying by so fast to me and I’m not sure I like that. 
The snow is slowly melting with the warmer temps we have been having, and now you could say it’s officially mud season, our 5th season. 


the home fire is burning

Homefires

This morning the temperature was -21 here on the ridge. We are definitely in a winter freeze right now and it’s probably going to last until the end of the week going into the weekend.

We are doing good embracing these cold temps. The animals are doing great and the coop we made is working out wonderfully.  

So far I’m not totally over winter, I embraced winter this year and so far that has worked.  Sugaring will be starting up in no time and life will again get busy.  Seems like we have a lull right now and I’m enjoying it. Our seeds are all bought and soon I’ll be planning out which to start first in the house and which ones can wait to be put in the ground. I’m anxious to see how the garlic is doing, since this was our first year ever planting it. Fingers are crossed. 

We have a rhubarb plant that hasn’t done very well. It was here when we moved here 10 years ago (wow did I just say 10 years) and I keep thinking I should move it to a different spot.  Anyway, I did order rhubarb seeds this year to plant, so we’ll see how those do as well.

There is so much we want to do here on our homestead, I get excited thinking about it. 


we got snow

Then we got more snow.  I started this post 5 days ago...huh!  I'm finally getting back to it now and a few things have changed a bit. We haven't had much snow up to the end of January, it snowed a little and it did drift some so Jim had to plow the drive so that we could get out of the garage and driveway.  Now the temps are falling and we probably have about 4 inches added to what we just got during our last snowfall.

Girlandwagon

Plowing2

Our wood pile is starting to go down some, we are heating our home solely with wood this year, our furnace has not kicked on at all and we are contributing it to our new stove.  We are actually burning less wood with the new stove so that is a huge bonus for us.

Woodpile21
In December 2020 just before Christmas we didn't have any snow, what snow we did have was pretty scarce. We try to burn our huge burn pile that grows over the year on Winter Solstice, sometimes we are here and sometimes we are gone to Texas, this year we are here.  So burn we did.

Bonfire

Since the temps are dipping down to well below zero here and the birds are going to have to be a bit more confined to the coop.  They don't like going out in the cold, and they don't like the snow, just to name a few things they don't like about winter.  So to keep them warmer and to keep them busy and not going stir crazy pecking each other to death (not literally).  They get bored, just like we do.  So I've been making flock blocks to help with that.

I found a few homemade recipes and this is the one I used from Lisa Steele over at Fresh Eggs Daily.

Flockblocks

Heading out to the chicken coop this morning to do our morning routine with the chickens, I was kicking myself for not having my camera with me.  It look like a frozen tundra, the way the frozen snow looked with the sun just coming up through the clouds.  It's a moment that I'll just have to savor in my mind.


hello

Thedonald

How are you all?  We are well into the month of January and it's been a few months since I've posted.  We stayed home this winter instead of going to Texas, Jim was hit very hard with pneumonia this past October and it actually had taken a few months to finally get his strength back and is finally almost 100%.

We got 15 chicks this past September and they are doing awesome and are 17 weeks.  When we got the 15 chicks Jim was hoping that one of them would be a rooster.  Well sure enough, I informed him after feeding them one morning that I think he got his wish, one was indeed a rooster, one of the Delaware's was a roo and he seems like a very nice fellow and should work out just fine.

Donald

We have gotten down to 0° during the night a few times and they did just fine.  I actually think raising chicks in the fall/winter months is much nicer.  We do not heat our chicken coop and don't believe in doing so, it's just how we feel about it.  If you do that's fine you have to do what works for you and your chickens. 

Feedingtime

We plan to integrate both the "bigs" and "littles" as we call them.  Right now they are separate, but they have been able to see each other on a daily basis looking at each other through the fence.

Feeding2

Last spring when we got our batch of chickens we got 6 roosters but one of the hens ended up being a rooster.  Our plan was to pick a rooster to keep so that we can hatch our own chicks and the others we would butcher and put in our freezer.  After seeing how the roosters did one-on-one with the hens we ended up with the rooster we have now and we named him Rudy.  Long story short, we cut up two of the roosters (they weren't that big) and I made chicken stock with what was left of the carcass.  There is nothing more tasty or nutritious than stock you make yourself.

Canning1

Chickenstock

Let's see what else has been happening since I've posted last.  Our cook stove isn't looking so new anymore and I will say it makes an awesome woodfired pizza.

Cook stove

I wanted to grow pumpkins so that I could either can or freeze the pumpkin to use later in the year.  I ended up with only 2 pumpkins and probably got 6-7 cups of puree, but I was able to make a couple of pies with it over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and still have some in the freezer to make something else with it.

Pumpkinpie

Back in August we drove to Iowa to pick up this beauty.  The top of the cabinet needed some work on it, and Jim with a little bit of help from me got it looking pretty nice.  We cleaned and oiled it and she runs like a top.  I couldn't believe how nice she sews and I can't wait to start sewing on her.

Treadlemachine2
Life is treating us pretty good here.  We have totally embraced winter and even read a Little House on the Prairie book called The Long Winter, out loud to each other.  That was quite nice and I couldn't imagine going through a winter like they went through.  I recently bought a t-shirt from The Prairie Homestead which is a place I love to visit, but the shirt reads Old Fashioned on Purpose, and that is how I live my life now, I'm Old Fashioned on Purpose.

You all have a wonderful day.