Saturday, January 30, 2016

chicken greens

Oh my its deep out there. We relocated the chicken pens in advance of last weeks 2'+ snow fall. In these conditions the mobile pens get stuck. The snow is just too deep.

And inside the hoophouse there is no snow, and both spinach and weeds keep growing.

Time is spent pulling weeds, clearing beds so we can harvest spinach in the morning.

All these buckets of weeds (4 buckets today) go into the hen pens. It's not the same as access to grass. But next week weather should melt most of the snow and the girls can get moving again.

And eggs? They are not really making them. They hate snow as much as I do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

pastured hens

Most early mornings the hens are moving about, scratching in the earth, clucking and squawking.

Mornings like this, when the sun is shining and the temperature reads in the teens, there is a dramatic reduction in activity.

There was a light dusting of snow on the farm last night.

The hoophouses have a light dusting of snow on top. As the sun climbs higher this will melt right off.

The girls are still on the roost. At dusk they all jump up there, spending the night protected from any precipitation. This morning they will wait a little later than normal to jump down and start scratching the ground.

It's not just the farmer who hates subzero temperatures.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


We spend money on shoes. On our feet all day in many conditions, most involving being outdoors neccesitates a closetful just for work.

Last year at the time we needed our full on insulated boots that reach the kness. Coupled with wind and water proof layers over pants. The snow was deep, the wind was fierce and the temperatures low both day and night.

What a difference a year makes. The super insulated boots are gathering dust. What is needed are waterproof boots. We have many boots that claim to be waterproof, and turnout very quickly not to be so.

What the fashionable, warmish winter farmer is wearing? Waterproof boots with plastic bags inside. So that farmer feet stay dry until all the chores are  completed.

Switched out daily to wear a different kinda waterproof boots. So that each pair almost dries between uses.

Everybody is doing it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

when it is below freezing night and day

I'm remembering, not fondly, last winter. Snow fell and did not melt. Snow fell over and over, and then froze and thawed, leaving sheets of ice in the mix.

This fall and so far winter have been totally different. We have had rain but no snow. Overcast but not too cold. One 24 hour period where freezing temperatures were in place the entire time. And plenty of sunny days to pull weeds and water in the hoophouse.

And still, in that 24 hours, we lost eggs. While the are at body temperature when the hen lays them, when the outdoor temperature is in the teens the eggs go right down to that. The eggs actually freeze, and when that happens the egg expands and breaks the shell. When we collect them they are cold. But so is everything else!

The eggs, when thawed, are full of cracks, some of them have cracks so large that it breaks the inner lining. That causes leaks.

In the winter we have a new sorting of eggs. The farmer gets the weird shaped, the weird shell texture, the too small and the cracked from freezing eggs.

The eggs that crack so deep that the egg leaks? Those become dog or pig food. Even the farmer passes on those!

Happy pups.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

flower starts

Right now, when the temperatures are in the teens, you might think we have nothing to do all day.

Our tax returns need to be filed, so there is the gathering of information for that.

And everyday the sun comes out the hoophouses heat up and the greens need watered. We harvest several times weekly and then make deliveries.

Every day when the ground is not frozen we move the pens that hold the laying hens. They need water a couple times daily, because the water freezes. We need to make certain they have liquid water and not just ice blocks.

Even in the cold winter there is grass for the hens to eat. And waste to leave behind.

In 2016 we will grow more cut flowers than we have in the past. Many more varieties, and broader seasons. We have a lot planted, and many seeds started and growing.

We have an unheated sun room, and the flowers are growing beautifully in there.

The last beef cow went to the butcher today, soon we will have beef available by the piece. It will be on our website when we have it.

And the pigs are here. They move around, water and fed daily too.

The real difference? The cold keeps bugs away from us. When we weed, the weeds regrow slowly. The ground in the hoophouse is cool while the air is warm, which makes working in there a true pleasure.

Seed sowing, weeding, harvesting, livestock moving, feeding, watering, egg collection and packing, deliveries. 

Not really too different than summer!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

technical challenge

We watch the British baking show. A competition that includes a segment in each show the "technical challenge".

A recipe is provided that is vague, and the outcome may or may not be known by the bakers. They scramble about guessing at next steps and wondering aloud what they should do next.

This morning we are having an Argentinian technical challenge. My stepmother has a taste treat she is longing for, and an untested recipe, translated from Spanish to guide our preparation.

Claire and I read it, wonder what it's supposed to look like, or how it's supposed to taste.

There is a bowl of egg whites, egg yolks and orange peel.

And a pot of simple syrup, waiting to reach softball stage.

Then they will go together and become a dish called ambrosia.

We think of ambrosia as flavored gelatin with marshmallows, some fruit and sometimes walnuts in it. Let that preconceived notion go. 

Taste test later today that will let us know how close we made it.

With our eggs it can't be too bad!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...