Early Spring Sunrise Snow on the Silo

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night.....

We are expecting a snow and ice storm, so Whitney decided this would be a good night to kid. After I finished evening chores I put her in a stall with a bale of fresh, dry straw.

At 10pm I checked her and found a beautiful buck kid.

An hour later, while checking on him, she produced another buck without incident, affording me the opportunity to get these somewhat graphic photos of the process.

You don't get any more newborn then this, just seconds old.
The barn cat, who appears to have picked a fight with someone tougher then he is, watched over the proceedings from the safety of his perch on the stall wall.Well that was it, two bucklings.
Two more does left to kid this spring and one in summer so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some girls!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just another reason I love my wood stove

There is nothing warmer then wood heat, at least not in my opinion. It is very drying, so I keep a pot of water simmering thus giving me a handy bottle warmer for the goat kids.

Cooking on a wood heating stove can be a challenge, but given my frugal nature I want to make use of every opportunity I have to save money. Since I am already dealing with a big old ugly wood heater in my dining room then damn it, I am going to use that heat to cook! To start, I put a grate across the top to give me a flat surface to work with.
Obvious candidates are soups and stews which like a nice long simmer, but I've done roasts, prime rib and even a whole turkey using a large roasting pan I picked up at auction.
I own a number of the 'Turbo Cooker' pans and really like the way they work. Yup, the ones from the info-mercial, but I have found them on ebay, at garage sales and even had one sent to me for free after I mentioned how much I liked the on the Homesteading Today forum. They are really just a big, deep skillet with a dome lid and steaming rack and have a pretty good non stick coating. And yes, I actually do use them to 'bake' cakes and they come out great! I also like cast iron, though it does take longer to heat.

While it does take some time, my absolute favorite way to cook bacon is on the wood stove. The fat drains away and the bacon gets nice and crispy without burning or splatter.

I place a rack on a large baking sheet and lay out the bacon in a single layer, placing the cookie sheet on the hottest part of the stove top. I turn the pans as necessary and how long the whole process takes depends on stove temperature and thickness of the bacon.

I also use a camping box oven for some baking, however I am still looking forward to installing my vintage wood cook stove so I can do some real wood stove baking. I only have a small camp oven, which limits what baking I can do. I've been kicking myself all winter for passing on a large vintage wood cook box oven last summer because I didn't want to pay their asking price.

The next project that I am really looking forward to is building a solar oven.
If anyone has built or used a solar oven I would love any insight as far as design and tips and recipes for cooking.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Promise of Spring

Here I sit with warming temperatures and the huge drifts of snow melting and all I can think of is my garden. I've begun sorting through the seeds I have on hand (properly stored they can last for years) and deciding what varieties to plant this season. I also need to determine what seeds I need to purchase this year.
Lessons learned from last years garden is that I need to plant more beets and carrots. Rose is still my favorite general purpose tomato and the polish romas may have replaced oxheart as my favorite plum, all heirloom varieties of course. I'd like to start enough seedling to have extras to sell.

The lights are all set up, I just use standard 4 foot florescent lights that were removed from a building in town and destined for landfill. I really could use one more.
The first bits of green are flat leaf parsley seedlings I planted two weeks ago.

I've also planted broccoli and Cheddar cauliflower, Bright Lights Swiss Chard and cabbage.

I plan to set out seed potatoes in the raised beds as close to St. Patricks as possible.

I need to run to Dubuque tomorrow and pick up some 6 mil plastic to cover the hoop house. I'm hoping to get it filled up with seedlings for the garden and sale later this spring.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SNOWmaggedon! BLIZZaster! No, just winter in the Upper Midwest.

Well I can't say that things lived up to all the hype, though I must admit we were not in the middle of all the truly heavy precipitation. Now I'm not saying we didn't get a big storm because the wind was terrible and the drifts are very high, but I can't imagine anyone in this area not able to get out and about by Wednesday afternoon.
We started with some snow on Monday into Tuesday with the worst predicted for Wednesday. Boogie and I took advantage of the break to run a few errands and make sure we had plenty of animal feed. Play group was canceled, but we visited a friend who does daycare so the little guy got a bit of a play fix in anyway.
The bulk of snow and wind came on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, with it all ending up about 4 am. SO most of Wednesday consisted of running the snow blower, shoveling and getting the truck up the drive way. I also hauled up a bunch more fire wood in anticipation of frigid temperatures expected for Wednesday night. The drifts in the fenced yard behind the house are as high as the fence and the puppies can just scramble right out!
Yes, there IS a wood pile under there, some where....
We now have three doe kids and Boogie loves to help feed them.
All three girls waiting for breakfast

I hope you all survived the 'big one' with relative ease, upside is Phil says spring is just around the corner. You can always trust a ground hog, right?