Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tutorial: Home yogurt making walk-through

The Lady of the House and I haven't made yogurt recently but we decided to go ahead and make a tutorial of it this time since it went well.  Above is the starting point, and below the cut I'll do a pictorial walk through.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Warm and cold, inside and out.

Today I'm thinking warm thoughts because after one delightful day of 30 degree temperatures which felt positively tropical, we're back to double digit temperatures on the other end of the zero.  I'll get to outside the house by the end of the post to talk about chickens, but I'm starting with bread, and heat. Obviously, starting with bread. I'm making sourdough regularly now, and over all I'm very happy with how it's coming out, especially when baking in the dutch oven. The catch is that I'm having problems with the bottom crust peeling off and not coming up easily even when using plenty of cornmeal below the dough. I think I'm going to just have to use parchment. That said, that should work fine, and for now I'm not feeling creative, I just want the crust to stay on.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's hard to imagine that in 3 months the world will be so different

In 3 months there will be growing plants, growing edible plants in this front slope garden. It'll probably be Kale and Radishes, but still. With the greater than dog depth snow (dog for scale) it's good to remind ourselves of that from time to time given the seemingly interminable winter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Down a chicken due to our previous visitor.

Remember our not so benign visitor that we were concerned about, well, an overly adventurous chicken experienced why we were worried about it the hard way from what we can tell. On the up side we only lost one of the chickens which is a lot better than our previous predator experience where all chickens died at once. That said, this is most certainly not the end of the season of predators being a major threat. In fact, as breeding or birthing season comes up for the various predators in the area the concerns about depredation are going to increase not decrease. After all, foxes, owls, and weasels do have babies to feed. To that end we're going to just need to try to keep the chickens out of the woods. In this case a couple chickens decided to fly out of their run and explore in the snow. I wonder if they were startled out of the run given that there's nothing out there that's really worth going out to get at. Especially not where I found the one live, and one dead chicken.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

An oops, and starting to look ahead to what we should seed start.

As usual, it is expected to be snowing today. At least today it's expected to be a light snow with only a couple inches. While that is certainly it's own variety of frustrating due to the difficulty of clearing it when I can clear it at all, this time I am glad for a break from the heavy snow that we've been seeing lately. While this isn't an excessive amount of snow for a winter, getting it all at once isn't my favorite method. It's going to be very cold again for the next couple weeks which is to be expected for this time of year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Snow at greater than dog depth, and success in sourdough

It just keeps snowing here, and while we are certainly able to handle it, snow has reached greater than dog depth in non drift areas which is officially too much snow on the ground, we need a break. Mind you, we aren't as bad off as Worcester for instance. That said, looks like we Might have another good solid snow fall Thursday into Friday. There are good parts about this of course, especially when it comes to having a drought free spring.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Quick Hit: It just keeps snowing, and thoughts on "real" homesteading.

I really liked this photo from last post, so I decided to re use it for today. I'm running late on everything today because it's snowing more every day, which means I have to be clearing snow constantly. It's just part of life, but when you're at work during the day and are helping with baby care, and animal care isn't able to be compromised, you lose time somewhere. For me, it's lately been either the blog or sleep. In this case, it's the blog And sleep! The topic for today though is prompted by Cold Antler Farm's blog. Read more below the cut.

Yesterday there was a post on the Cold Antler Farm blog about someone who was upset with her for not being a "real" homesteader because she accepted help. Take it a read through, and if you enjoy this blog you'll probably enjoy hers.

My thoughts:
Homesteading is not, and can not be a solitary endeavor. By the very nature it is a community activity. I'm sure there are people who do nothing else, have no debts, and can manage to consistently survive without outside assistance, but that's their whole life. For most of us though, we can't produce the tools, all of the feed, every thing we need. We're going to rely on the people and community around us to shore up where we're short. She covers this well in her blog post, so I'll leave her words to do so.

Failure does not negate:
One of the particular things that stuck out to me was that the person who is stopping reading her blog said that she's no longer a real "homesteader" because of her lack of preparation for winter and reliance on that assistance from others. I think that's particularly silly. Not everyone succeeds all the time, and a failure or inability doesn't negate being something. If we suddenly needed to eat without outside assistance for over about 3 weeks we'd be in trouble. Before that our animals would be in trouble because we'd be out of feed within a week between chickens and rabbits. I've discussed what Homesteading is to me before so I don't think I need to discuss that again.

I guess this comes down to, I feel that what you aim for is more important than whether you always succeed at it. We may not always manage to do what we aim to do, but that's ok. I think that much like ethical eating, small steps are better than none at all. And is it really failure to be prepared if you manage to cope through help from others?

Tuesday I'll be back with more significant content and a more coherent brain!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

More snow, a less benign visitor, and maybe mites.

I figured I could get away with a little shameless use of one of the best photos we yet have of the Critter and I because it's a snowstorm photo. As those of you in the area know, we got a lot of snow yesterday. We seem to have made a tradition of getting the photos of the Critter in the snow. We can call this one his 3 month picture. As a side note, as I grew up in the far South of the USA in Texas, I never expected to find myself comfortable outside in near zero degree Fahrenheit weather without a jacket, heavy gloves, and a face covering. Now I'm out there consistently in what you see with waterproof work gloves and actually shortly after this photo went out and cleared the driveway. Very different than I was 5, or 10 years ago.

But, that said there's a lot that's been going on around the homestead over the past weekend so let's talk about some not so benign visitors, chickens, snow, and bread. The bread is simple, I baked 10 loafs of sourdough bread in one day. I recommend not doing double batches of dough, it's Much harder to knead a double batch than two single batches. I don't have pictures of this mass of bread, but next time I make bread I'm planning to make a walk through on how I've started doing sourdough.