Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tracks, scat, and wildlife visitors.

It is lovely to be keenly aware of just how much more daylight we're getting as I'm out and about in -8 degree weather feeding and caring for the animals. Just being out and about at the same time every day gives a lot of connection to understanding time as the light changes. There are times I think that having flood lights around the house to get more done in the dark hours would be good. Then I remember that doing night time construction in below freezing weather isn't fun or terribly productive anyhow. One of the things that light showed me this morning though, was tracks from some of our visiting wildlife in the wake of the storm.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quiet snowy day, and Sourdough Mk. I and Mk. II

As most of you probably know, snow was the call for today in New England, and we were prepared for a serious storm. So far, we only have about 12" of snow which is very pleasant compared to 2'+ of snow. The wind has been fairly significant, but I'm not going to complain at the difference between an exhausting sort of storm, and simply one where staying home and being safe is a wise choice rather than an absolute necessity. Before I discuss the snow further though, I have some bread to discuss! Sourdough to be precise.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A wonderful gift of sourdough starter

Last night I came home to a box in the snow off the side of the driveway, and was somewhat confused because I wasn't expecting it. When I opened it I was delighted to see sourdough starter as a gift from the lovely Caity who writes domestiCaited. I promptly and without thinking out timing properly, got started. I also in my glee didn't do the first step photos that I really need to get myself to start doing if I'm going to blog about things. Anyhow, below the cut, more about sourdough starter and ice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Northampton Farmers Market winter fair, chicken watering thoughts on an icy Saturday.

As those of you in this area know, the amount of ice on the ground this weekend and holiday was a bit excessive.  The driveway was about as bad as it had ever been, but fortunately we'd just purchased YakTrax which are amazingly useful on getting up a sheet ice driveway. Note the photo Above isn't the current state of the driveway, right now it's just a sheet of glass basically. We've also gotten much better at sanding and dealing with the driveway, we only had to walk up and down once, which is a much better record than the past. The reason we ended up having to ice walk up the driveway was that we went to the Northampton Winter Farmers Market and their winter fair which has some really interesting educational classes. We only made it to one of them, but it led to some interesting thoughts for the future.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Recipe: Rabbit in milk

I got adventurous last night and tried modifying a recipe to use with rabbit. Jamie Oliver has a Chicken in milk recipe that looked interesting to me, so I figured I'd give it a shot with rabbit. Of course I had to modify it a bit because of a few things. One, I forgot to thaw the rabbit meaning it had to be cooked from a frozen rabbit, and two, I'm unable to do a recipe as written for cooking from what I can tell.

1 large or 2 small rabbits
Olive oil
1 stick butter
1 stick cinnamon
A hand-full of dried sage
2 lemons
1 full bulb of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 quart milk

Due to not having thawed rabbits I couldn't brown the chicken in the oil before mixing everything else together. With a thawed rabbit, brown the outside of the rabbit in oil while pre-heating the the oven to 375F (190C).

Mix all of the ingredients together in the pot so it fits fairly closely together, and cook with the lid closed for ~1.5 hours basting with the juices in the pan when you remember to. I did it a couple times and actually turned the rabbits when I did so. Remove from the oven, and serve on or off the bone with mixed greens. I think this would be good specifically with rice and broccoli, but we had it with some lightly spiced Brussels sprouts.

This is the recipe that has tasted the most like roast chicken of any recipe I've managed with rabbit. The milk leads to the flesh being very tender, and the lemon with cinnamon gives it an interesting core flavor in addition to the taste of the meat itself. Served with some of the curds from the milk separating due to the lemon it is really delicious. I under salted and peppered it which is easy enough to fix post cooking, and I'd probably do it that way again.

I am incredibly frustrated with myself right now though, because after eating last night I was so tired I remembered to bring in the water bottles from the rabbits, and an extra load of wood for the wood stove, but I forgot to put the rabbit away. We got 2 servings out of a probably 16 serving dish of really delicious rabbit. The rest of it is now feeding the chickens because I was careless.

I'm looking forward to trying this recipe again, and I'd probably add some ground cloves to it for a really New England fall flavor.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A case of winter wildlife

We've got a lot going on around the homestead, but the thing that I feel like talking about right now is our wildlife visitors. First things first, deer. None of the photos in this blog today are from the wildlife cam, they're taken by the Lady of the House with a camera because they were close enough to do so.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

All is well as the cold passes through

Well, as of this morning just at the absolute worst of the temperature and wind had passed, I went out for farm chores. Everyone was alive as of that time, and seemed relatively healthy if not happy. You can tell that rabbits aren't doing optimally when they are eating less than their normal daily consumption rate. That means they aren't getting enough water usually, and are probably huddling together. My design for the hutches has again been confirmed to me as all of the rabbits, even the ones that usually avoid the private areas were using them when checked on. Talking to them when I go out brought them out to their water bottles where they get as much as they can before they ice over.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Arctic chill after wintery mix

 We're back in the new year, and we got a reminder that the bad part of winter comes after the solstice from nature. This was in the form of probably the worst form of winter precipitation for our location other than simple sheets of ice falling from the sky. It's something that is very familiar to locals, and I've heard is unusual outside of this area. Wintery Mix, aka snow/slush/rain/sleet all in one. So, in short, all of that white in the photo isn't just snow, it's basically solid(ish) ice.