Thursday, March 29, 2007

On bread-baking

We eat fairly simply in this house: nothing commercially prepared; lots of scratch-made goodies from whole, easily-recognized foods. Since we now live in the boonies I have been doing a lot more breadbaking than I did as a city girl. (I got so sick of storebought nasty chemical-smelling plastic-wrapped bread that I had to find something we could reliably eat every day.) I got a request for the recipe for my bread the other day. I cannot claim it to be "my bread," except for the fact that I am the one kneading the dough. It certainly is not my recipe. It is well tested, and I have modified it often, but this basic recipe is one with which you can practice and make perfect. It's a fabulous toast bread, but it's also great fresh (and it lasts about 2-3 days).

The recipe below makes two loaves. (I consider 2 loaves to be a waste of energy and kitchen mess, so I usually make 6 at a time, or 12. Email me and I will give you the calculus for 6- or 8-loaf batches.) Start to finish the process is about 4 hours. Don't fret, though, as breadmaking can easily fit into the rhythm of a typical weekend day around your home. You don't need to be enslaved to the kitchen, watching the dough rise. I usually make mine over my lunch hour when I work from home.

Gather your materials:
First, go find the largest bowl in your house. Buy an empty spray bottle and fill it with distilled or clean spring water. A bowl scraper, a pasta fork and a bench scraper are also good things to have, but not absolutely necessary.

Two things are anathema to these loaves: 1. Oil. 2. Crappy flour.

Search out the best, freshest flour you can find, or grind your own (you know who you are). Hard red winter wheat berries yield the best gluten, in my humble opinion, letting the bread rise to its puffy best. This recipe calls for whole-wheat and white flour, but by white flour I don't mean that tasteless bleached bagged crap you can buy at the store. I actually don't use white flour in my loaves. I use sifted whole-wheat, which is whole wheat flour that has had some of its bran taken out in a process wholly mysterious to me.

Now make the sponge:
3 c warm (105-115*) pure nonchlorinated water
1 T bulk dry yeast, or cake yeast equivalent
2 T sweetener (honey, molasses, cane sugar: whatever. What you choose will affect the color of the loaves. It is used as a jump-start for the hungry yeast.)
2 c white unbleached flour
Mix all ingredients together. It will be wet and sloppy. Cover with a damp tea towel; let sit in a warm-ish comfy spot for 45 minutes. It will be bubbly and sloppy but wonderfully stinky at the end of this time.

Make the dough:
1 T salt
1 c rolled oats (regular or quick)
3 c whole-wheat flour
white unbleached flour as required: up to 2 more cups
Add salt and oats to the sponge. Add flour in small batches. I find using a pasta fork works really well in this blending phase: pull it toward you in its large bowl. When the fork no longer works for you, spread some flour on a nice clean counter and then scrape the contents out of the bowl and onto the counter. Add the flour slowly, kneading as you go. Kneading is something of a lost art. If you are unsure how to incorporate the rest of the flour, then please go to some resource to tell you how; like sex, it's not something that you can really describe and still get the best results, you know? All I can say here is you are trying to turn something sloppy into something satin-y and firm. It can take a while. Once I get the majority of the flour into the dough, it's usually fairly stiff and angry, so I usually invert the bowl over the top of the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes or so.

During this resting period, I take my floury hands and find two bread pans. I have SMALL bread pans, the same size made from the 1880s to the 1980s; only about 1985 did the damned things get supersized...mine are 4x8x4 or so. I spray them down with some organic non-CFC oil, getting flour all over everything I touch. Turn the bowl over, knead the dough a couple more times and NOTICE how nice and happy the dough feels, then reknead the dough into a ball and place it back inside the bowl. DO NOT OIL THE BOWL; spray the dough and the bowl's sides with fresh clean water, place the damp tea towel back on top, and put it back in its comfy spot. Let it rise another hour or so until doubled.

Punch the dough down by NOT punching it: just press your fist into it and it will hiss and recede away from you. Place back on the floured counter. Divide dough into two pieces; each should be about 1.75 lbs of dough (get a scale, especially if doing more than 2 loaves; it's hard to guess by looking at it). Form loaves. There are many methods to this; I press mine into an oblong shape and then fold into thirds, spraying the loaf where it can stick to itself, then roll slightly again, folding it back onto itself, pinching the ends down, and setting gently into the prepared pans.

This next step is fairly important: proofing the dough in the pans. Find a comfy draft-free spot for your loaves to do their final rise. The oven works, except the oven needs to be preheated halfway through this last rise. So what I do is I spray the dough, then place them back onto the floured counter. I add the oats to the top at this point, and I simply want to keep the dough damp enough that it doesn't dry out, impeding its rise.

Preheat the oven to 395*. (Make sure the bread isn't in the oven!) Once the loaves are 1" above the top of the pans, they are ready to go into the oven. Adjust the racks so the loaf pans are in the middle of the height of the oven (in my oven, this means putting the rack at the second lowest slot). Quickly slide the bread into the oven and then SPRAY THE ENTIRE OVEN DOWN with the spraybottle of water. We want a steambath in there. Close the oven quickly and DO NOT OPEN IT until the bread is finished.

Cook for 15 minutes at 395* then reduce to 350*. Bake for up to another half hour or so. You can tell it is done when it looks beautifully golden brown and, if you remove it from the oven, it sounds hollow when you tap it underneath. If it sticks to the pan, it is not finished baking. My loaves in MY oven take 35 minutes after that initial 15.

De-pan the loaves onto a wire rack and let them cool before cutting, though it is so tempting to cut into one before then. Don't. It needs to finish its cooking process...which technically is a day after it's cooked. Who can wait that long? I usually wait an hour or two before sacrificing my first loaf...

This is a good sandwich and especially TOAST bread. It freezes very well (which is why I bother making 6 loaves at a time). You can amend it easily by adding cooked multigrain cereal during the salt-and-oats-and-flour blending period. Experiment with sweeteners, and with flour mixtures. Some kinds of flour are hard to work with (rye, spelt) but can make really rewarding, tasty loaves. Go on the internet and look up "wet kneading" for incorporating these different kinds of flour.

The best book I know for whole-grain breadmaking is this one. There are loads of other ones out there, too; some of my favorite authors are Beth Hensperger, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Peter Reinhart and Daniel Leader. They've all got their tics, certainly; breadbaking is certainly a passionate enterprise. But I will say breadbaking is a skill that is fun to master, and even better to share. Bon appetit!

Breadbaking photos

Blogger in all its _________ doesn't like to find my photos with ease and consistency. To this I say: whaddya want for nothing: it IS a free site. If you should like photos to accompany the above recipe, I will gladly email them to you (email at the right).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back to spring

The promise of bigger things: delphinium and parrot tulips

It's going to be a lot colder today. I'm kind of glad: instasummer was rather distracting. Also, cooler temperatures keep those spring blooms from fading.

I am actually a little relieved the weather has turned for the school's sheep's sake. (Try saying that fast.) Poor baa-baas, under their thick wool coats. I am not sure when they get sheared. Maybe when they go to their summer pasture? I'm going to have to find out. As it is, I was seriously looking at sheep-shearers for my horticultural trimmings...maybe they could serve double duty.

Factoid: did you know that sheep hoover up their water? I guess I thought they would be more like dogs and cats and lap up the wet stuff, but no. A much more dainty slurping is what they do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Aren't I handsome? One of 16 in the fish--er, frog pond this morning

Three days of high, summer-like temperatures and the world is verdant.

Our power was out this morning for a while (!!) so I spent a sweaty couple of hours turning compost, weeding and, in general, getting dirty. It beats working.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Overwintered parsnips in their mulched bed

As mentioned, I spent a fair amount of time in the gardens this weekend. I did not spend it solo: the kid was with me for most of the time. This isn't a new thing. She's spent significant time in the gardens before with me, but it hasn't been the most productive time spent as far as the garden is concerned. There've been a lot of "Honey, don't eat that rock" and "Sweetie, put that down" implorings flying around.

Well, things have changed. She's older, more task-oriented. She spent the last two days washing worms in the bird bath. "They need a soaking," she'd say, and she'd brush them with a paintbrush and a sponge. Then yesterday, she wandered from her task and started looking around the garden.

"What are you doing, honey?" I ask.

"Nothing. I'm looking around. I need a snack," she says. And she goes right over to the salad stuff and picks some leaves.

I think I have done something right in this parenting game.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

That happened fast

Morning coffee in the garden

All of a sudden, it's gardening season. Peas, favas and beets in the ground; tomatoes, brassicas, alliums, salad stuff and flowers started in the house and the garage.

I've taken on the school's garden, too, as a project (in case I suppose I thought I wouldn't have enough to do in my own).

It is now just so amazing how little time I have during the day. I'd rather the cooking not suffer, and I have grown used to a clean house. What is going to give? Probably sleep, I am thinking...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chickies out of the house (yay)

Awful pic of the chicks in their new digs

I've been sick the last couple of days; I got whatever the kid had. So sick that I finally went outside (other than morning chores) around 4 yesterday and--shocking--realized it was about 70*. (We were of course huddling in the house with the heat on.) And it was scheduled to be warm again today so I thought: hey. The littlest chick, the Rhode Island Red we call Verloe, just got her first feathers over the weekend, so it is time to move the chicks out to the interim coop.

These chicks are nowhere near as friendly as the last bunch. They definitely display herd (flock?) mentality. If one bird gets the hooky spooks, it catches on. The last batch of birds (3 Ameraucanas, 3 Isa Browns) did not display this characteristic, mainly because the Isa Browns are just such calm things. They ate out of our hands the second day we had them. This crew? Haven't had any luck with that.

Of the five new chicks, the Barred Rock (Letha) and little Verloe seem the friendliest, and the most willing to explore new things. Pauline, the Leghorn, is definitely the chief Chicken chicken. I didn't want her but the kid thought she looked like Maudie, our favorite bird (an Ameraucana), so of course I caved.

When I was making up the temporary coop for the chicks, the big chickens met them for a bit when I put the little things in their outdoor pen. There was a bit of noise, with the two Isa Browns protesting (at a safe distance), but they all seem to recognize each other as Not Foe. It will be another month or two before we'll have all eight together all the time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Back to business

Lemon balm, alive.

I had my first beer in the garden yesterday.

This isn't a monumental announcement. I am not that big of a beer drinker, but I do like a bit of barley bev after construction projects or hot and sweaty garden projects. Yesterday didn't qualify as either, frankly. I merely weeded the herb garden and then sat and listened to the outdoor world.

Having spent entirely too much time indoors of late, it is redeeming to get outside and breathe the fresh air. I noticed the golden eagle again. S/he swirled around our property for a while, then the red-tailed chicken-killing hawk came around and yelled at it for a bit. I think the red-tailed hawk has taken up residence in the woods across the street. You can walk outside and hear its maniacal call: kind of like a pissed-off chimpanzee or something.

During my weeding (and oh, how that skill has gone unused; it's like riding a bike, though) I noticed that my lemon balm and rosemary have apparently made it through the winter. I mulched them. I had had the best intentions of pulling up the rosemary (as I had done with it the past 3 years or so) but somehow never got around to it. Hmm. Sometimes, things surprise you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Small signs

Chervil perking back up

We haven't been able to go over to the burned-out farmhouse yet; our kid has been sick so we felt it wouldn't be fun for her, even if she were in the backpack. I will be very curious to see what remains, as that fire was huge and took about 5 hours to put out. The largest trees in the area had shaded that house. It would be another kind of loss if those white pines and sycamore and oaks died, too.

But back to life, and the living. I am beginning to notice that some things are beginning to grow. Many of the hundreds of bulbs I had planted had spookily started poking up in December, barely a month after they'd been in the ground. They seemed to reach some kind of plant limbo until this week. The crocus are blooming, but I won't bore you with pics of them. We're easing into spring, day by day.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Getting on like a house afire

As seen from our front lawn
Saturday night as we were driving up the country road to our house I saw what I thought was steam coming off the nuclear power plant's processors (it's another 7-8 miles up the lake from us) and I thought: how would we know if something went wrong at that plant? Such is my life: the battery in the car had been recharged and the electronic code to restart the radio was in the glovebox, which was locked and jammed shut. A detail.

Driving closer I realized it was a fire. It was the fire of an abandoned farmhouse: a HUGE abandoned farmhouse of a defunct asparagus farm. We have (of course) explored the house in detail. We found mail, postmarked 1979, so it's been vacant since then. There was still furniture in the house; many windows were missing, and raccoons were the only residents that we knew. I've been the diligent gardener and retrieved iris, sedum and columbine that had naturalized away from its old gardens. The barn had been burned to the ground a long time ago, but the well house and the outhouse and the tractor shed (complete with tractor) were still there.

When we first looked into the house, I had asked my husband what he thought were unusual about the walls and ceilings. It took him a couple of minutes, but he saw there were no outlets, switches or lights. There was wainscoting over most of the downstairs rooms. It was a 6x6 (six rooms up and down) and there was a larger kitchen attached to the back. The house was probably built around 1890.

I feel very sad about this loss. Yes, I would feel a lot sadder if the house had been inhabited. But I liked looking at its stately self up on its hill. I liked exploring its 100 acres, retrieving its asparagus, exploring its old rooms. Arson (for that is only what it could have been) is such a stupid crime.

I woke up our daughter to see it. "Honey, I hope you never see another one in your lifetime."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pease-porridge hot

Pease porridge has nothing to do with peas. Here're peas in inoculant porridge.

St. Patrick's Day was pea-planting day around here. Super-early peas require plantings 4-6 weeks before the last frost. I am impatient with peas. They are planted SO early, then they seem to take forever to get going, and forever (again) to produce something to eat. I think what happens, frankly, is I get really distracted when heavy pea-harvest time comes around: so many other things need doing, and I am forever eying the spot where the peas reside and think: wow. Give up that real estate already.

Then I pick off a pod and taste it.

My garden for a pea, I think.

But today it was really cold, so I thought of the nursery rhyme, went back inside the house post-planting, and made up some rice cereal. Yum. Lots of butter and honey! Not cold, not nine days old...

Oh, and the ground was frozen. I hewed what I could with the maul and then covered the babies with compost. Hope it works.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Garden plans

Leeks: they're still "what's for dinner"

We're in a bit of transition here around the house. Our kid says "I am not a napper anymore," and she isn't, except when she's really run down from a day at school. So this means that she SHOULD be able to be in bed and sleeping by 8-8:30 or so. Which also means I SHOULD be able to have a few hours to myself before I need to hit the hay.

So last night, kid in bed, I thought: I could get more seed-starting accomplished. SIGH. I really need to be in the MOOD to do things like this, and last night I certainly was not. So I transferred some things (cardoon, artichoke, sea kale and angelica) to bigger pots and put off the seeding for later (like, this weekend, maybe) for the fennel and tomatoes and brassicas.

My one and only hope for this year is that I am able to really push the crops for lots of late-season storage. Meals like last night's really drive this home. I mean, I ADORE potato/leek soup, but we're low (very low) on potatoes and the leeks in the garden are also numbered. I am a fairly compuslive succession planter, and if I practice anything, it's the French Intensive method, with its abhorrence of unused ground and tight spacing of plants. So this morning I looked over my garden plan. If numbers really mattered, I will here claim that last fall I increased (i.e., made new) the beds by 32% in the garden proper, and if I throw in the greenhouse beds, it's another 14%. Management is the key, though, not rough square footages. It's still a small garden considering how much space we truly have around here.

So I will still be doing my doodlings and machinations and plans and counter-plans. Nothing is set until the first seed is planted, and then not really as that seed will be rotated out when its time is nigh. I do plan on getting the peas and the favas in the ground on Saturday (St. Patty's Day), though: the race will have begun, and all the planning in the world won't mean a thing! That's what's so humbling about paper versus real gardening.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Vineyard maintenance

Yesterday was too nice a spring day to sit in front of this computer, I thought. I put on sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt, my muck boots, gloves, found the Felcos and then tromped outside.

Normally, I trim the vines during a January thaw. There was none this year, nor one in February, either; with this warm weather, I knew I had little time to get out there and get trimming before the leaves arrived. We have 44 vines. They're old. REALLY old, at least as far as American grapes go: they're almost as old as the house (80+ years). They're slipskins, meaning the skins slip right off the pulp when they're ripe. They're sweet, too: concords, whites.

Trimming is something of an art. I am no vineyard artist, though. I pull, I attack, I cite a mantra ("No mercy no mercy no mercy"); I stand back, appraise, start again. It's not tough work. It's confusing at first, but like most things, you get a good groove going.

I listen to the migrating cranes trilling overhead. I step around my scratching, pecking chickens (whom I have released and whom, I assume, enjoy my company) as they follow me from row to row. I scan the skies, looking for the golden eagle I saw earlier (from inside the house: I ran to the back yard to verify if the chickens were safely in their coop, and they were). I can hear the first of the peepers, and also hear other frogs looking for love. I think, this is so much better than working.

And I also think about how what I am doing ties me to all who have gone before me. The vines were cared for by someone else before me. The vines came from other vines, a long time ago. Viniculture IS culture, one of the oldest ones we practice. And it feels good. Snip, SNIP.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Morris Heading Collards

I did a walk-through (in boots) in the veg garden this morning. Lots to look at, some to eat.

It will be very warm today; we could break records for March 13th. About a half-hour drive away from the lake it is supposed to be 75* or so; here, thanks to the insulating power of that body of water, it might reach the upper 60s. The windows are open and the heat is off. The frogs are out, the snow is melting, the ground stinks of death and life. Ah, veg stink. I missed it!

Pak choy and radicchio

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Local color

Yesterday I headed over to our fruit exchange (seed and feed) after making a trip to the lumber yard. (I do feel like I am cramming for a test, trying to get all this interior construction completed before it's Gardening Time.) I had just loaded the wagon up with trim for some final upstairs projects (trimming out two closets) and I figured, what the hey, let's see what's doing at my favorite local store.

Seems their fruit is winding down: they have a huge cooler where they store orchards' stock for the winter, doling things out to supermarkets and cider mills as the season goes on. I got a peck of Red Romes for $2. Yum! But the reason for my journey was really to see if they carried alfalfa meal. I could use it for a compost boost to get the last two piles up and heated before planting season.

So I was trading how-you-doings with the two old guys who run the warehouse. They don't stock alfalfa meal, as it is usually a feed supplement, and in Fruit Land, there aren't many animals who need it, "Though we do get some organic kooks like you who use the stuff."

I looked into their seeds. As a rule, I prefer to get stuff that's heirloom, and open-pollinated, and most of what they carry is kind of boring. BUT they did have castor beans, cheap.

"So you better be paying cash," the bigger of the two guys says.

"Why's that?"

"Well, because you don't want the FiBbIes after you. You know they make ricin from them. And you know them spooks have everyone's data, so that purchase will show up for SURE."

Considering I bought 6 seeds, well...

But trading conspiracy theories wasn't even the best reason for going. I got an orchardist tip. This guy lives about a mile from me! And he carries a LOT of different kinds of apples.

Saturday, March 10, 2007



Ah, what promise the first big warmup of spring.

1. Unplug the de-icer on the pond
2. Plug in the pond pump
3. Unplug the heated dogbowl in the chicken coop
4. Pull up all the throw rugs in the basement in case there's a flood (I don't like walking on cold concrete so I put cotton rugs down)
5. Make sure the gutters are clear

6. Watch the chicks. This is a great way to spend your time. Better than meditation: you just sit and watch them doing their chick-y business, scratching, pecking, flapping their wings, sleeping...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Peep peep peep!

New at the farm:

Letha, a Plymouth Barred Rock
Pauline, a White Leghorn
Maddie, a Black Australorps
Phyllis II, an Araucana
Verloe, a Rhode Island Red

I am glad I did my recent dip into genealogy. We name the chickens after our grandmothers, and the more creative names shown above are from Tom's side. The first batch last year were Helen/Lester (s/he, left us for greener pastures), Phyllis, Margie, Bonnie, Beatrice, and Maude. We still have the last three. These newbies are named after our kid's great-great grandmothers, and then a few further up the tree.Pauline, Phyllis and Maddie

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Every day more snow

Looking up the drive this a.m.

So we are not alone in giving up on plowing this year. Our average highs at this time in March are supposed to be in the 40s; let's just say we're shooting for average highs around 30. With sun, and the white stuff usually melts a bit. Maybe we're all just tired, but on my way out this morning I noticed that the only people who'd bothered to plow were the road and highway crews: I made a stop at our big-box farm shoppe and noticed that they'd not plowed AGAIN.

Why the quick trip to the farm shoppe? Well. Lest anyone think "Hey, El is a woman, she must like to shop," I will have you know that if shopping is somehow related to a gene expression on the X chromosome, well, it certainly skipped me. I HATE shopping. (And it's why I married a shopper.) I do make an exception for shopping at the big-box farm shoppe and our feed and seed two towns over! I love the smell, I love the sights, I love the...tack. The possibilities inherent in crates of dirty seed potatoes. The shiny farm implements and hardware. The peeping of the chicks and the ducks and the turkeys.

Uh oh. Yep. Looks like we'll be getting more chicks in a day or so. Ostensibly, I walked in the store looking for something for the sheep, but instead, I came home and told Tom we need to get the chicks tout suite. (The guinea keets won't be out until the end of April.) They've got barred rocks, black australorps, isa browns, white leghorns, ameraucanas, rhode island reds...peep...peep...peep...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On recycling

One way to cool your cuppa while you do your outside chores

I mentioned in my post yesterday that our farm, being an old one, had some archaeological treasures. I should clarify: Speed things up about a couple thousand years, and this might be so. Otherwise, let's say it had "garbage dumps."

Yes, it is relatively well known that those big garbage trucks that rumble down 98% of this country's roads today are a recent invention. In cities, yes, municipalities realized early that they need to offer garbage services to its citizens, or a high price would be paid in terms of disease and vermin and the like. But in the country? Pshaw. That's for RICH folks. The Old Fart farmer we bought this place from burned everything he could, and that which was not burned was chucked to a high point on the land. I mean, you could LOOK at the garbage from a long way off. What kind of sense is that? Cheap Farmer Sense, is whut.

My romantic notion of farmers as Good Stewards of the Earth was rather dashed. It's kind of like soiling the nest. Why would you DO that?

But notice that upon which my coffee cup is set. It is the gate, the old wooden gate, from an old farm truck. I retrieved it from The Pile and put it to new use as a table on the back deck. I confess I adore old crap like this. I really shouldn't, too, as I am an architect and am supposed to worship the New, and the Newly Built (especially if it comes from my office).

Oh, the pile? I got a 20-yard dumpster and schlepped all the stuff into it, along with all the other crap we pulled out of the house (flooring, curtains, canned cauliflower from 1983...). And now I have an arbor on top of its cleared ground. But I still find "treasures."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cold seeds in the garage. That's a thermal blanket (mylar) in there bouncing the light around behind them. And the junk on the sill are various trinkets I have pulled out of the flower garden below it. Gotta love old farmers and their expansive notion of "garbage heap."

So for the most part, I have judiciously restrained myself from seed-starting. Thusfar I have not quite given in to the call of the dirt, having only planted those seeds notoriously long in germination, and even then, I have done so grudgingly. February 12th is a long way off from planting things around here, but February 12th is what parsley and onions require.

Things changed on Sunday, somehow. I was feeling quite the same about the whole process on Saturday, the day I actually started some flower and pepper seeds (for indoors) and cold salad stuff (mache, claytonia, spinach) that typically takes its sweet time in the unheated garage. Yesterday, though? I was ANTSY. I wanted to dig, I wanted to kneel, I wanted to give in to the agricultural process.

But I didn't. I only mucked out the coop and started another (the 4th) compost pile. The kid helped, kind of: she shepherded the chickens to the one snow-free spot on the lawn so they could eat their grass. It was a nice day in the upper 20s and we spent lots of time outside. It felt quite lovely. We even got a little sunburned.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On the logic of three-year-olds

Rumble: we hear the snowplow coming. "Here comes the big yellow plow," we say.

"No it isn't."

"Yes it is; there it goes by!"

"No it wasn't."

"Well what was it then?"

"It was the mower."

(Dad, you see, rides the mowing tractor to plow.)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

So much for spring

Three shots out the back door (I had my slippers on and was going no further)

Wow; I thought we'd turned a corner. Looks like we're in for a lot more of the white stuff for a while.

The chickens are mad. And the pond refroze. And any grass I saw the other day? Ah, it's but a memory.

(I must admit, though: it's pretty.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spring plans

Every year we take baby steps to be more of a farm and less of, well, whatever you are called if you live on a farm without really being farmers. The above pic are guineas. We'll be getting maybe 3 baby keets this spring along with maybe 3-4 more baby chicks. Aren't they weird looking? They're loud as hell, too, and somewhat wild (befitting the fact that they haven't been domesticated for long). They, unlike the chickens, will free-range, though they'll live in the coop with the birds. How will this happen? Well, they can still fly! Well enough to hopefully evade the hawk, that is...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

In like a lion

We had the most glorious thunderstorms early this morning. It seemed as if the booming and flashing was going on forever, and without rain, too, until SPLASH! it all came down.

So much rain atop all this snow atop frozen ground? Yes, it's quite a mess. But the pond has opened up and now I can see all our fish. I am also seeing some wee blades of grass around the pond, too. After one full month of snowcover, you would swear my attitude was that of someone living on Hudson Bay or Fairbanks against their will. I LOVE snow. It's the season of mud that I am not particularly anticipating, you know?