Settling into the long quiet part of Winter.

We are about to settle into what I call “the long quiet part of winter”. This is truly one of my favorite times of year, and is more so now that we have adapted to a “homesteading” style of living. Now it is even more meaningful because of the work that goes in Spring, Summer and Fall to prepare for it. It is a satisfaction that is hard to explain!

We are now on the other side of Christmas but still this side of the New Year. The last few days have been a roller coaster with 3 out of 4 of our parents either ill or walking wounded. Once again we’ve dodged a would be bullet and all parents are in various states of back on their feet. It is a time of constant change and reassessment for all of us. I see how our folks are processing it, how my sister and I are processing it as their children and how my children are processing it as grand children. I’ve even caught a glimpse of my own daughters looking to the future when Hubby and I are up there in years. It is a time of reckoning but also a time of gratefulness and overwhelming blessings.

The holiday was such a nice simple one, with daughter and boyfriend here, and calls to many who are far, we all connected and shared a special day. Our turkey I ordered from a local farm was delicious, and I think I made the best gravy I have ever made! We enjoyed our neighbors potatoes, and his carrots in the stuffing as well. The local cranberries were sweetened with Elder Syrup collected last Spring. It was nice to relax and share a holiday meal. We each opened one gift and then played some games, the evening was just right. The following morning we enjoyed 3 potfuls of coffee, omelets, bacon, toast and cherry jam. Apart from the coffee it was all raised, grown or gathered here. Presents were wonderful, useful items this year. Warm socks, warm clothes for layering, good books, tools, and for me a brand new great big stainless stockpot from all the kids! It was a great holiday.

Many of my gifts this year were homemade. I gifted pickled items, and jams, and bbq sauce, as well as of course granola from my granola business, really granola, and I knitted some gifts this year which was a first for me. My projects changed all the time. Hubby, “what are you making?”, I replied, “a blanket”. Fast forward to a month later and it getting close to Christmas… Hubby, “how is the blanket going?”, I replied, “the blanket is a scarf”. Well, it continued to morph, and somehow my scarf seemed too wide so I got the idea to purchase a pillow form and wrap it in the knitted material I had made. I made one each for the grandchildren. One of the scarves was too long so I overlapped it and it became part of the design.

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They aren’t blankets, or scarves, but the important part is the kids seemed to really like them, and I actually made something! I also am midway through knitting a whole bunch of scarves that may just be January presents for people.

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Additionally I made other fun and easy gifts for the kids in the family, in the form of a Fudge Brownie Mix and Hot Cocoa.

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Uh oh, time out… just got a call from our farmer friend and neighbor who is in need of back up for kitty bandaging. Back soon…

Kitty was a good patient and endured the bandaging with just little fuss, while at the same table my tiniest neighbor worked to complete a tiny 54 piece puzzle I had given them the day before that looks exactly like their new puppy. It’s a busy house with two kids a very senior dog, 2 cats (one wounded) and 1 new puppy. I went home and read my book afterward in my quiet house.

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Stopped to check out the stream on the way home.

Completely odd to not have snow in practically January!

Wood, wood, wood.

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Wood has been bumped up on the priority list for sure! The wood burner, which only a couple of weeks ago was running a bit in the morning and a bit at night, is now burning wood all day, and into the night. We are promised a week of milder weather, and it will really help us out because it means Hubby can get in the necessary posts needed to build a load out facility for the cattle in the Spring. We didn’t think it would warm up enough to allow a post to be put in, at this point, but once again we got lucky. Seems silly but this post is actually a pivotal thing. See, if we load live we can sell the meat, and if we do on farm kill with a local guy from south of here it will all be “not for sale” and with a pig that isn’t so bad but with a steer this would be way too much meat for us to eat. So this is one pivotal fence post, a lot hinges on it, all jokes aside.

I have been the soup whisperer lately. It seems I can make most any meal into a another meal the next night by souping it some how. The soups tend to evolve and what was one soup the night before gets combined with something else to make a new twist on it for a freezer meal for later or lunch the next day.

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This was a Shiitake Mushroom soup with bits of our collards, our neighbors onions and carrots, homemade beef stock, and seasonings. The next night I added some sauteed beef to it that was leftover from another meal. The other soup I made was…

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..Chicken Garlic Mushroom and Veggie. It was so delicious, I couldn’t be happier with the flavor of our Delaware Chickens!

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Last night we had bacon cheeseburgers with our bacon, on homemade buns, with the kimchi I made, and every beautiful color you see in the above picture from last summer’s harvest. It was a nice dinner with friends and family around the table. After said meal, the men folk went out to watch the football game in the barn, I loaded up the wood burner and my daughter and I had fun with the Genealogy project she is working on, which includes all sides of the family. It is so much fun to learn the connections and how they happened!

The three (not so little) pigs.

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Thank you to the pigs. We gave them the best of care and food we could offer and we are grateful for the food they are providing us with this year. The pork was picked up the other day and everyone is happy with the pork we raised. This felt great to hear.

 

In which I demystify Kimchi…

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My first attempt at Kimchi came out of the arrival of the largest Kohlrabi I’d ever seen. Grandma got it at the Farmer’s Market, and when she carried it in I assumed it was a cabbage it was so big! It made me start thinking about my stored cabbages in the neighbor’s walk in cooler, and all the wonderful carrots I picked up from my storage share a couple days before. Put all that together and Kimchi was the decision, I have wanted to try it for a long time. The more I read about diets of the past, the more it makes sense! We used to eat fermented food year around, because of the lack of refrigeration. These ferments were filled with good bacteria, something many of us, myself included don’t get enough of at all. Don’t know if I can jump on the Kombucha train yet, it still mystifies me a bit, but I’m starting with Kimchi and also making up a new batch of yogurt. Next time it is spicy fermented carrots, even hubby may like those if they don’t have the intensity of ginger and garlic that the kimchi does. I think I kinda scared him with this batch!

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I like it very much, even with it’s intense garlic and ginger, I love salty and pickled foods and so the whole thing definitely won me over. I’ve been told by someone who is more familiar with making this than I am, that it will store in the fridge for up to a year!! I expect it to be gone well before than, but it’s amazing it can last that long.

Harvesting the mini high tunnel…

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I planted 4 weeks too late and winter came 6 weeks too early. All this amounts too…a Spinach Omelet for two and some radish niblets. I am already planning for next year though. The tunnel will work great for starting plants and when it is warm enough it will be time to move the chickens out of the brooder and repurpose it as a  “hoop coop” combo for moving the roosters about till butchering time. Then it will be a cold frame again in the Fall. I’m excited to start plants in it early this Spring and have salad greens early!

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Last week we went over the river and through the woods to… well you get it. It was a wonderful holiday with family, and we even were able to sneak in a early birthday party for my Dad’s 90th, since they will be in a warmer climate on his real birthday. It was simple stuff, adorable wonderful grand kids, a big family Thanksgiving, and a Pizza Birthday party with cake for Dad the next night. There were lots of laughs, and a few tears (happy, loving, grateful tears), and now we are all home (to our 7 different states!) with new memories, renewed connections and full hearts. I love and treasure this family very much!

PS It was also very good to be back on the farm.

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Hubby and Grandson are doing a cattle check.

 

Last night we tried out our first pork of the season. It was time for a celebratory meal, couple this with the fact that we had excellent Thanksgiving leftovers it was a perfect dinner.

Menu:

First Pork Chops, of the year, seared in Cast Iron and oven cooked at a high temperature, served with Thanksgiving Cranberries, (made by my Mom and my Grandson) as well as we taste tested it with the HB Cranberry Jelly I made in the Fall. We served this with broccoli from last summer, oven baked locally bartered for potatoes, leftover stuffing (made by my Mom and my daughter) and my pumpkin bread (made with box elder syrup and fresh pumpkin). Dessert was a delicious slice of pumpkin pie, for each of us, made for Thanksgiving by my sister in her condo in the heart of the city. It was a collaboration celebration!

I really feel good about the job we did with the hogs and the butcher said they were in great shape, and fed out well. Additionally we are learning to establish a small meat business and this year was a great first year. Profit will go into a new freezer which we will need when we load live and sell by the piece next year. We will have the new freezer licensed next year but for now, with a whole hog in the freezer that we have all of our veggies, fruits, chickens and two turkeys in we could definitely use the added space!

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Hubby brought in these frozen mushrooms tonight. This was unexpected for sure, they were sauteed up tonight with Asparagus pieces from last Spring and some of our garlic diced small. Wow, there is just something about sauteed mushrooms…especially when they are a surprise!