Wild and Woolly Afternoon

Yesterday morning it rained lightly alternating with periods of sunshine. By early afternoon, you could see the storm coming. The photo below was taken right after our phones alarmed simultaneously of severe thunderstorm warning with ping pong ball sized hail.

Our house has a large 2 plus car garage, but like most garages, it has too much other stuff in it and normally only houses the motorcycle. There are two large built in work benches, a built in floor to ceiling shelving unit, many sets of scaffolding with it’s braces and walk boards, scrap wood, various 5 gallon buckets (well more than a dozen), my garden cart with tools, the gas mower and weed wacker. One wall has pegs with hanging tools another wall has two high shelves of camping and outdoor gear. Of course, all the wild bird food, chicken food, and a half bale of pine shavings for their coop. There are 3 ladders, and the two bicycles were also in there. When the alert came, we scrambled to try to get the two cars in there too. Items were shoved and shifted willy nilly, the bicycles moved to a large unused coop and my car was put in on the tighter size as it is the smaller of the two. Hubby with much back and forth moved the motorcycle to the middle and stayed on it while I drove his larger car in.

To get out of my car, I had to climb over to the passenger side to get out and very carefully slid out the driver’s side of his car. There was no room to move around in there at all. We had just accomplished this, closed the doors and come back in when the phones alarmed a tornado warning in our area. We have a basement, but our dogs know it is off limits, so they had to be lead around the house and in the back door one at a time. There is a TV down there so we turned it on to monitor the storm and waited out the all clear.

Because I had spent a good portion of the day making two batches of sandwich rolls, I had decided to make spicy sloppy joe for dinner and started it and some hash browns. The sloppy joe was barely done and I was right at the end of the frying for the potatoes when the power went out. It was early for dinner, but eat we did and as the wind howled, the rain started, then the hail. Fortunately it was pea sized, not ping pong ball sized and doesn’t seem to have done any damage.

This is not typical weather for us, tornado warnings are very rare and I don’t remember large hail ever since we have lived here.

The power stayed out for about 3 hours and the clouds thinned, the wind continued. In the early morning hours this morning, it again rained, thundered, and flashed and the wind was scary sounding. I kept waiting for the phone to alarm again, but it didn’t, I just couldn’t sleep well with the storms. Today is mostly clear, still very windy and cooler, but comfortable with a near freezing night tonight and tomorrow night.

After lunch, I moved the cars carefully back out into the driveway and committed to clean up and reorganize the garage in case we are faced again with having to quickly put the cars in. The scaffolding braces were tightened up, my craft show shelter finally put back in its bag, scrap wood organized and tightened up, cans better organized and out of the way but so that chicken feed can still be accessed even with cars in there. A large rolling plastic crate that was purchased several years ago to move new chicks to the warm basement during a late fall cold snap was moved back to the utility area of the basement where it can be stored until it is needed for that use again. The mower and garden cart arranged tightly against the scaffolding. The only vehicle in the garage now is the motorcycle and it is still in the middle as there are no plans for it to go out. Usually, the riding mower is parked on the side where my car was yesterday, but the repair folks had picked it up. It will go back in the garage when it is returned, but if another warning comes, I will drive it up to the bay of the barn that has the tractor parked in it, it will be okay there for short periods, but I don’t want mice in the engine compartment. I would like to organize shelves and workbenches better, but I needed a break. If we had to quickly put the cars in now, it would be much easier and still be able to get through the garage.

Now I need to go get the house plants protected, it is going down to 35 tonight.

Our daily bread

The self isolation has prompted a return to bread baking and consumption of homemade bread. When we knew that we would be staying at home and began our supply stocking, some sandwich type rolls and a loaf of sourdough bread were purchased and frozen. A month into the isolation, those supplies are long gone which prompted a resurrection of the sourdough. While the sourdough was being fed and restored, a couple of loaves of no knead artisan bread were made, then the starter was ready and several loaves have been baked, giving one to the neighbor that helped with the mower. This morning, I realized that there were no sandwich rolls left, so the starter discard was put to use to mix up a batch of dough for them. There are two recipes that I use for rolls, one with sourdough and one without. The sourdough ones take longer to make but use up the daily discard. The ones below are the yeast raised ones.

The yeast raised ones are done, the sourdough have 4 more hours plus baking time. Think I will stick to yeast raised for sandwich buns.

The bread making helps pass the time and since we aren’t going anywhere, there is plenty of that. Because flour is a rare commodity, I can’t go out to get it, I’m using so much of it, I ordered fresh stone milled organic flour. It comes from a mill where a blogger friend works and it arrived today. I just sprayed the outer box with 1% bleach spray and will open it with gloves on once it is dry and bring my 4 three pound bags in. Can’t wait to try it, but with one each of the roll recipes rising on the counter that will make 12 buns, and about a half a loaf of sourdough remaining from yesterday’s baking, it will have to wait a day or two and will probably be a loaf of sandwich bread.

This morning, the mower repair people came and picked up the riding mower to take in to fix and when I stepped out to yell up to the guy to see if we paid for the pick up now or when it was returned, I saw our neighborly mower had again jumped her fence and come to visit.

If she is going to come mow, I wish she would at least come down to an area that I have to mow, not an area that is saved for hay. Of course it had just started raining when I called her owner to let her know where “Bad” Penny was. She is due to calf in May so maybe she will stay home and not leave her little one then.

The time at home has my garden in a better place than it has ever been this early in the spring, but we have two days of rain followed by a chilly day and near freezing night ahead, so it will sit idle. The asparagus look like they will provide enough for a meal soon, then they will overwhelm and I only like them fresh, so freezing or otherwise preserving is not going to happen. I know daughter and granddaughter love them and I’m sure she will be glad to come out to pick up a bag full and a dozen eggs. I need to get out between rain showers and string some trellis for the peas.

Sunday on the farm

My birdwatching friend identified the nest as a Carolina Wren. I’m not sure if she returned to the nest last night. When I went over to let the hens out this morning, feed them, and clean their coop, I didn’t see her, but her nest is at the other end of the garden from the coop area.

When I returned from that job, I grabbed my clippers and thick leather gloves to prune back an overgrown barberry bush before it leafs out. As I approached, I was scolded loudly by a bird I couldn’t see, and found this.

Ok, so not a stellar photo as I stuck one hand into the Barberry thorns to see if there were any eggs. It appears to be another Carolina Wren. Glad she chose a bush and not the ground or a shelf in the garage.

One of my first tasks each morning is feeding the sourdough starter. Today is day 5 of getting this one going and I could use it today, but there is still some bread in the freezer to use up first. Maybe I will start loaves tomorrow as it takes about 24 hours to go through the entire process. I quit making sourdough a while back because I was disturbed by the waste of discarding starter before feeding it and because I could buy sourdough bread locally at the Farmers’ Market and Natural food stores. Recently, I found an article that said the starter can be fed to chickens, which is a plus. When you make and feed the starter, you use equal amounts of flour and water. Every recipe I had ever found said to use 4 ounces or 125 grams of flour depending on whether they were measuring with cups or a scale. To do that you are tossing out about 1/2 cup of starter every time you feed it and it makes about 4 cups of starter which seemed too wasteful. You only use about 1 tablespoon of starter to get the leaven going. I found an article the other day that said to use only 25 grams of flour and water and feeding the chickens about 2 tablespoons of starter seems much less wasteful and it fits in a pint widemouth jar with lots of room to spare. Since two loaves of sourdough bread is plenty for a week for two of us, and since flour is hard to come by right now, this seemed ideal. I got the starter going with this plan.

This was before I fed it this morning and you can see there will be very little waste and the starter is strong and healthy. Tomorrow I will bake for the week. I still want to play with other uses for the sourdough such as pizza dough and focaccia bread. I need to get back in the routine of making the bread since going out to the Farmers’ Market to buy from the two bakers there is not in the cards right now.

Found this little butterfly stretching it’s wings in the sun on the deck. I couldn’t decide if it was damaged or still unfurling, but after a while, it flew away, so must have been unfurling.

The butterfly was followed by a Tufted titmouse sitting on my breakfast chair trying to crack open a sunflower seed.

So bear in the field yesterday, deer this morning, 2 Carolina Wren nests with eggs, and lots of colorful little songbirds enjoying the feeders. Love watching the wildlife on the farm.

These frothy white trees are blooming everywhere on our walk today. I thought they were wild cherries, but the bark doesn’t look right.

Her relative was mowing our grass again this morning. She stayed on her own farm. After the walk, some digging in the dirt was in order to weed the bed of iris, day lilies, and where the calendula was last year. Though I started calendula seed indoors, there are lots of volunteers in that spot already. And purple echinacea was started indoors too, there is room for them in the same bed.