Tag Archives: cold

Pre Prep and Deliciousness

I tend to cook from scratch.  Rarely do we purchase “mixes.”  J loves pumpkin pie with holiday meals and it drives me crazy that so many pumpkins are sold in the fall, set on porches and left to spoil.  And when you look for a recipe for pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, it calls for canned pumpkin.  We grow pumpkins each year and the ones that were harvested in the fall of 2014 were such good keepers, that I cooked the last 4 small ones yesterday to use to make the two pumpkin pies that will be baked on Wednesday.


None of the remaining pumpkins from last year were very large, just slightly larger than a grapefruit each, and cut in half, they all fit on my huge baking sheet.  The chickens benefitted from the raw pumpkin seed and cooked skins with the small amount of remaining meat that I couldn’t scrape out.  The 4 pumpkins only made just under 6 cups of cooked puree.  This will be more than enough for two pies.


While the pumpkins were baking, I started a couple of loaves of bread.  I used to bake all of our bread, but A, the 8 year old grand that lives with us, prefers what I call balloon bread, the soft gummy square commercial loaves.  I keep trying to make a bread that is light enough to suit him.  The rest of us love a good hearty rustic loaf.


My wooden bread bowl was put to use, more unbleached bread flour than whole wheat used and the loaves came out almost lighter than I prefer.


Two beautifully risen,  golden loaves. . . and still not to his liking.  But the rest of us polished off a whole loaf with our dinner last night.  SIL will enjoy making his lunch sandwiches on the other one this week.

I need more flour, but with having 9 folks in the house for most of this week, I will do another baking when the oven is hot for pies on Wednesday.  We will need it for lunches and breakfasts later in the week.

Last night the bottom fell out of the fall thermometer. It isn’t as cold as we will see and it will moderate in a couple of days, but it was 26f when I got up and the chicken water is frozen for the first time this season. A has been dispatched to the bus, N has been fed and dressed, chickens have been fed, but I need to take some warm water over and see if I can thaw their water pail.

If it warms enough, I need to put urethane on the Beard and Apothecary gift boxes that I’m putting together for the December 12th Winter Holiday Market. If not, J and I still need to go to the bookstore to get N a book for her birthday tomorrow.


All closed up

Our entire region is shut down. No school, many businesses, and community services are closed today. The region doesn’t handle more than a couple of inches of snow, especially when they can’t pretreat the roads. Our 4 wheel drive SUV would probably be able to get up our gravel driveway and our gravel road but the paved road is likely an ice and snow covered downhill slick.
The sun is trying to come out, broken clouds still flurrying, the wind is howling and blowing the snow we got everywhere. The official count for our community was 9″ but going over to do chicken chores, the snow in the yard is over my barn boots and they are 11″ high.



Because the chickens have been cooped up for three days, I attempted to get them outside. Spoiled hay was spread in the run and food put outside in a pan so it wouldn’t disappear 11″ down.

Yesterday they fouled their water pan I used so I could knock the ice out of it each time I went to give them more, so today I hung a waterer inside and spread a new foot of straw in the coop. Between scratching for feed and kicking it out when the coop door is open, the foot thick layer from last week was only a couple inches deep of finely broken straw.
In spite of my efforts, they would go out the return immediately to the coop. They are still laying, we are getting 6 top 8 a day.
The grands want to go play in the snow, but with it in the teens and the wind blowing, it is a bit too cold for much time outside.
We have had our good snow, now I’m ready for spring. I can’t even imagine being in Boston this winter.

Winter’s Roar

Our winter has been unusual to say the least. Until a couple of weeks ago, I think the temperatures had been above normal with occasional snow flurries, a few barely covered the ground snow falls that didn’t last. Then things changed. We haven’t seen daytime temperatures rising above 20° (-6.7°c) and night time temperatures near zero (-17.8°c) in more than a week. On Saturday, we were expecting flurries and got several inches with sharp temperature drops. We had driven in to town to a nice restaurant to celebrate our 37th Valentine Day and Anniversary and the drive back home was a white knuckle ride.

Yesterday we took Son#1 and Grandson#1 to the bus to return home from bringing my car home and a weekend visit and it was brutally cold and windy, wind chills in the double digit negatives.
There were severe weather warnings posted for today and the school makeup day that had been scheduled for today was canceled.


We woke to the expected snow. So far about 5″ with the heaviest part of the system due this evening and overnight. We may be looking at a foot or more with extremely cold temperatures and expected to drop to -10°f (-23.3°c) Thursday night. We aren’t used to that type of temperature. Our firewood supply is running low and our heat pump is struggling.
My chooks won’t come out of the coop when there is snow on the ground and with the temperatures as they are, I didn’t even open the pop door today. I have gone out 3 times to change out the frozen water, twice to throw down a scoop of feed into the straw and collect the eggs before they freeze.
Our neighbor has two very pregnant cows and we saw her go down to check on them before the snow cover got too deep. Our steep gravel road will be difficult to traverse in a couple more inches of snow. I hope the cows don’t calve before we have a moderation in weather back to around freezing this weekend.
The grands are playing in the rec room, I am knitting, reading, and cooking stew and homemade bread. A good way to spend a frigid snowy day.

The Return of Light

Today, the day after the winter solstice dawned late with gray skies, freezing drizzle and several weather related headaches among the 4 adults.
Homework help was provided by Mountaingmom, while Son#1 with the worst headache dozed on the couch trying to feel better for this afternoon. He, Mountaingdad, and Grandson#1 had planned an outing to see the newest Hobbit movie. DIL left early with a longtime friend of theirs for coffee and art time.
Fires were lit in both the fireplace and the wood stove and have been stoked throughout the day to ward off the dreary damp chill.
Once the guys left, I settled in with my book, a cup of tea and a quilt in front of a fire to read and enjoy a quiet afternoon.
I am glad that we are on the lengthening day cycle now, the dozen hens are providing only an egg or two each day, the dark short days are depressing. It is time for snow, steaming stews, fresh bread and longer days. It is too dreary today to even want to knit on the mittens. The big guy enjoying the fire at my feet.


We May Be In For It

… This winter that is. It is still November and we experienced the coldest night this season with an even colder one due tonight.


This was 2 hours ago. The wind howled all night, yesterday’s rain turned to snow flurries during the night and everything was frosted this morning. It is bright and sunny, but there is no warmth in it. I failed to bring the chooks waterer in last night and it was frozen solid, fortunately there is a spare since there are currently no culls or meat chicks.
It is supposed to warm back to normal by early next week, so Son#1 may not have to wear everything he brings plus Mountaingdad’s barn coat to hunt next week. He is hoping to put a deer in the freezer to supplement the chickens for their winter meat. Their three student budget is tight so meat is a luxury for them. I don’t eat venison and Mountaingdad isn’t a big fan either, but we have the freezer space.
I’m hoping for tolerable weather on Saturday as we will drive two counties over to pick up our freshly killed and cleaned, pasture raised turkey for Thanksgiving. As I was making the menu and grocery list, I was pleased at how few items we must purchase between our garden’s produce from summer, last week’s Farmers’ market and our local turkey. Olives don’t grow here and I don’t have a cow for cream, nor do we have a cranberry bog, but the rest will be local, homegrown, and homemade.
Lovin’life on our mountain farm, even if it is frigid.


It is cold and raining.  Not the biting cold of last week, that is due again tomorrow, but cold enough to make procrastination on outdoor chores inevitable.  I cuddled in bed with my book until the Shadow, the German Shepherd was dancing cross legged by my side of the bed, Ranger, the big guy still lazing on his pad on the floor by Mountaingdad.

It is wet enough that the pups didn’t want to stay outside very long, not long enough for me to finish prepping their eggs, so they hovered around and behind me while I cooked.  The recalcitrant hens producing barely enough eggs to have for home use and as I used one of yesterday’s 3 eggs to make cornbread last night for a meal we shared with our recently widowed neighbor after the Pipeline Opposition meeting, there were only two to cook this morning.  Once I carton a dozen and put them in the refrigerator for neighbors or friends, I leave them alone and only use from the bowl on the counter. This left me with no egg today, but I had leftover cornbread, a wedge lightly buttered and toasted in a cast iron skillet is a treat to be savored, with or without an egg.  The pan was heating to cook the pups eggs, so I got my cornbread first.

With the house critters (including me) fed, it was getting harder to stall about layering up in gumboots, coat and gloves and finally making the wet, chilly walk over to let the chooks out and to feed and water them.  Their sloped run, bare of a single blade of grass and with the hay scratched and washed off was as slick as ice.  It is too wet to uncover the big round bale of hay to throw more down at the gate, hopefully later it will quit raining long enough to accomplish that task.  Their coop hay tossed to loosen it up for insulation and turned to facilitate the deep litter composting that produces heat for them, their feed served in two metal dog bowls to keep it from being trampled into the mud and a quick check of nesting boxes for cleanliness and I found a surprise.


Three fresh, warm eggs to keep my hands warm as I slogged back to the house.  I haven’t seen morning eggs in weeks and am luck to find 3 or 4 cold eggs in the evenings.  It would be nice to get back to going out and finding more than I can carry in without a basket, but maybe not until springtime.

If it is going to be wet and cold, it should at least be white.  I’d settle for the mountain snow flurries that fall for days on end with no real accumulation, just the dusting on gardens, roofs and cars.  Cold, rainy winters remind me of winters on the coast, you are supposed to have snow in the mountains. I know, I should be careful of what I wish for, we may find ourselves snowed in without power later in the winter and we haven’t laid in wood for the stove and fireplace, having only a bit left over from last year.  I suppose we should set in an emergency supply at least.

Olio – November 13, 2014

Olio: a miscellanous collection of things.

My blogging goes through spits and spurts, sometimes my creativity is just not there, or focused on other issues.  As the winter sets in, I am more content to sit and read or knit, sometimes both at the same time, if my book is on my tablet and my knitting is mindless.  I have been going through books at a record rate lately, some of them not worthy of mention, but several quite noteworthy.  The Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline fascinated me.  The period of time related to my Dad’s young life and I recommended it to him and my stepmom.  They both loved it too and set out on some research to see if her grandfather was one of the orphans.  He was an immigrant orphan, adopted in that part of the US.  They are still trying to prize out information for her, and her mother’s maiden name happens to be Baker.  The Glassblowers, Petra Durst-Benning, a translation from German totally enthralled me. A loose historical fiction of the glassblowing village of Lauscha in Germany and three young women as they struggle to survive and break the gender barrier to create some of the earliest blown glass Christmas ornaments.  Another good one was The Light Between Ocean’s, M. L. Stedman, a tale of love, loss, and deception, set at a lighthouse off Western Australia.


This is Yellow Cat, a sickly intact male barn kitty that rarely goes to the barn, spending much of his day on our front porch.  He is a rescue that was born with Feline Aids and can’t be neutered because every time we try to take him to the vet, he has a rhinovirus attack.  He is pitiful, wheezes like Darth Vader, but is loving, friendly with the dogs, and keeps most of the mice out of the house by his presence.  He was enjoying the 5 minutes of morning sunshine we had on this brisk cloudy day.  We certainly aren’t suffering the cold and snow of parts of the country, but the temperature is 20 degrees below normal for this time of the year and we are having snow flurries and very cold in the teens nights.
On my way to my spinning group today, riding shotgun for hubby, I finished knitting granddaughter #1’s sweater. The ends are woven in, it has been washed and is blocking on the downstairs bed. I can’t decide whether to use plain buttons the color of the sweater or go looking for something cute and three year old appropriate. I guess I’ll decide that tomorrow. I still have two kid sweaters to get done by Christmas, then I will get back to my own sweater.

I did get some spinning done today. My arthritic right thumb has been noncooperative lately and so I have only played a bit with the Turkish drop spindle, but today I spun on my wheel. Though I’m not a fan of pink and am not sure why I bought fiber that color, the darker purples and grays are making an interesting single.

Loving life on our mountain farm.


Another beautiful day, a ride for Jim, some free range time for the flock, a trip to town for me to deliver a few items I sold on Craigslist and to purchase a 50 gal plastic (Christmas Tree) storage tub for the 4 day old chicks.  When we brought them home on Sunday, I took the bottom half of a large plastic dog crate and cable tied the door in place.  That was set inside a large dog wire kennel cage set up in the garage and the heat lamp hung over it.  I realized that was too drafty and we are expecting another temperature plunge tomorrow night, down into the teens and the garage will be too cold even with the heat lamp.

The new set up can be brought into the house if necessary without getting pine shavings and chick poop on everything.  I don’t like them in the house, but if it is below freezing while they are this young, they will come inside.  The large storage tub having sides keeps the pine shaving contained and helps retain the heat.  An old clothes drying rack with the lower bars removed gives me a structure with metal bars that sits astride the tub and the heat lamp can be dangled over one end of the brooder, giving the chicks a warm spot to go when they are cold and enough space to get away from the heat if they are too warm.

They will stay in the garage tonight and during the day tomorrow, but they will then be brought in for two nights and a day until we have another bout of milder weather.  I will be glad when my hens can start raising their own chicks without my help.



Once Jim was home from his ride, we turned the pups out to roam and romp our farm for a while and they disappeared.  It is rare for them to leave the property, but since there has been very little leash time this winter, both are more stubborn about coming when called, especially if they are well away from the house in one of the fields.  After they had been outside for at least an hour and had disappeared from view I started calling, walked the long uphill driveway to check mail, still calling, walked over to look down into the sinkhole area still calling.  No response.  After getting in the car and driving up to the nearest main road, back down and around the perimeter of the two large fields calling and not seeing them, I walked back to the sinkhole.  Both creeks are flowing strongly into the sinkhole and it is wet and muddy.  The dogs finally wandered up, wet and muddy and quite content with themselves.  No way I was letting either of them back in the house I had been cleaning all afternoon, so both got hosed off at the yard hydrant and that water was cold.  Then both tied to heavy furniture on the front porch until they partially dried.



At least it was 73ºf outside.  I finally dried them off with beach towels and let them back inside.  So far we haven’t figured out how to keep them out of that part of the farm and as soon as it is consistently warm, we need to get back on leash work to remind them who is in charge.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Winter morn

A light dusting of snow settled between the blades of brown grass.
Gray sky, cold and bleak.
A flock of Robins, harbingers of spring, feeding along side of snow juncos, a winter resident.
The chickens showing little enthusiasm for their morning release from the night’s captivity.
A head cold, compliments of grandson last week.
If we aren’t going to get real snow, I wish winter would go on and exit.