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.

New life

Spring is a time of new life on the farm. Birds’ nests, spring flowers, tree buds.

The grapevine I pruned sharply and got on a proper arbor has tiny buds; the peonies have flower buds, one has only 2, the other many; lilacs blooming; asparagus tips. The peas almost need trellising, there are a few tiny spinach plants. New fresh food, YAY.

The sour dough is strong and thriving. Made a loaf for the neighbor that helped with the mower and another for us. Baking every couple of days, a pleasure I had forgotten. We are excited to see spring coming, even though there is a low mid 30s night coming up. The seedlings are getting some day time hardening off to stimulate better growth. The radishes, lettuce, and cabbages are growing. I love this time of year.

We had our semi weekly date, taking the garbage down to the “convenience center” since I have caught a couple of mice in the past couple of days. That is the only place we go, no contact, no pickup at the house.

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.