This used to be unusual, happily it is more common now.

As I drove down into this valley for a goat milk barter, I was able to spot this Eagle and capture it in a photo. It’s nice that when I drive in the country, it’s easy to stop in the middle of the road to take a picture because there usually is no one else on the road! Notice the Eagle is carrying his lunch! It is so nice to see these beautiful birds, I’d say we don’t go a whole week without seeing one. We used only see them during migratory changes, so this has been a treat!

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It’s been so ridiculously cold that soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner is fine with me, and this was some of the best Tortilla Soup I have made. A wonderful combination of chicken stock from our chickens, tomato sauce from last year’s tomatoes, and all kinds of summer veggies from the freezer. The tortillas are locally made and the cheese is made about 45 minutes away from here and is about the best Cheddar in our book! I don’t do a lot of purchasing of food these days but when I do, I love buying locally made products!

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I’ve started doubling up on my bread making, seems we are going through it more quickly, as mostly it’s soup and sandwich or soup and bread for at least one meal a day. Temperature today was a high of 3, but mostly it was below zero all day and who really wants to discuss the wind chill numbers, right?

We had some great news! Last summer when we came upon all the extra fire wood, due to the tornado by Hubby’s folks house, we thought it wouldn’t be dry till next year, and right about now, the wood chore is getting a bit old, so when hubby tried out a bit of it from one of the full wood cribs, we found out it was dry enough. It has really lessened chore time for hubby! It will be nice for him to coast for a bit!

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This is what a mirage must look like to chickens in the dead of Winter.

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Some of our neighbor’s lovely micro green flats that he delivers to restaurants are not always restaurant quality. Once his chickens have their fill of the extra trays our chickens get lucky! After they got over their initial fear of this new green object, the boldest one checked it out and then alerted the others with her “I found something great” clucks!! So nice to see them eating something green. I do throw them some sprouts I’ve been growing in the kitchen but these micro green flats are far superior.

Today the wind is howling. It’s a sunny 4 degree day, with wind chills right now at almost -20. Today will no doubt be an indoor day for me, the colder it gets the more I want to cook. Tonight, being Valentine’s Day and all, I used it as an excuse to pick up some local beef (for a change from Chicken and Pork), and so I will cook up some steaks, mashed potatoes, Italian flat beans, and some summer strawberries for dessert. Also, I think I will make a batch of Tortilla Soup. This day needs soup!

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Going out to feed the chickens today will require these! I got them at St. Vinnie’s for $2.00 and they are real sheepskin and they were NEW! When I wear them outside my hands don’t know they have left the house!!

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In the midst of this…Mom and Dad sent beautiful sunny Oranges for us from Florida. Honestly it was like the choir struck a chord when I opened the box, I swear sun rays came out of it!! It was so nice to eat these juicy delicious oranges, that I wanted them to last longer. I decided it might be fun to make orange marmalade, but apparently I would have had to use up all my delicious oranges on that, so I decided to try and make it out of a simple syrup and tiny diced orange peels with the white part trimmed off. Well, it didn’t thicken as much as I would have liked BUT when life gives you thin marmalade, make french toast syrup:) I tried it the other day and it is awesome!!

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I’d be happy eating it with a spoon…

What’s been keeping me busy lately is the Granola biz! It is going through growing pains but in a really good way. I will update when things are finalized, but it has consumed my time and brain, and although that is all good news, today I will need a change. I will be ordering seeds, planning the garden and looking at Chicken breeds, well and of course cooking. Wednesday we are going to tour someone’s chicken operation near here. We have driven by and his set up is great. He has about 15 chicken tractors lined up and moving along daily. I am looking forward to this, in hopes it will help us figure out our Chicken plan for this year.

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This is our bull Scotty, and he is the man. He feels the only good hay is the hay that can barely be reached. I guess it’s the bull version of the grass is always greener on the other side?

The kitchen is my laboratory…

I noticed today that my kitchen counter is beginning to look like a series of experiments. Currently lined up on my counter are two jars of fermenting carrots, 2 jars of fermenting kimchi and a 4 tiered stack of sprouts growing. Next to that is dough rising in a covered bowl. Additionally my pantry fridge has a large bowl with a wooden spoon laying across it and hanging from it is goat cheese draining off the last of the whey. It is my kind of laboratory and I love my lab. Here are pictures of the latest experiments…

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Spicy Fermented Carrots

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Cabbage, carrots, radish, celeriac root, in a brine, soon to be kimchi.

While this one wasn’t a cooking experiment, it is a prototype for a little soap draining dish to have my new wonderful goat milk soap in, so it will drain nicely and last a long time.

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I have to yet figure out how to keep the wood pieces together at the bottom… when finished, then I will oil them to resist water, but it’s doing what I hoped and I was pleased with it.

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Winter time redefines salad. Here is a winter salad…beauty heart radishes (purchased from a local farm, sprouts (grown in the kitchen), hard boiled eggs from our lovely ladies, and goat cheese, from a recent goat milk trade and a bit of fresh (frozen) salsa (from last summer) on top.

And about salsa… Last year I canned plenty and made freezer salsa. We liked the freezer salsa much better. It is not fresh but not cooked like canned. When it comes out of the freezer the texture is not the same as summer, but the taste is like summer. It’s nice to eat the fresh tasting salsa first before moving over to the canned later in the year.

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Another spin on the radishes and goat cheese and sprouts. A perfect snack while prepping dinner:)

Chicken dilemma…

I have been trying to figure out my chicken order for this Spring and I am doing mental gymnastics trying to figure it out. Our tiny high tunnel was a chicken tractor last year and I will be using it as a green house this Spring. After Spring when it warms up it will be lifted off the garden and become a tractor again. (After the meat birds are in the freezer it will become a tiny high tunnel again to plant cold crops in for Fall and a bit into Winter.) I would like to have more meat birds this year but am struggling with the housing aspect. Decisions need to get made though and so I will try and iron the plan out this weekend. Chicks need to be ordered, and seeds need to be started. I have always had my bartering Organic Farmer neighbor start my plants and we trade back later, but I would like to not run up the barter sheet as fast this year. I’ve not started my plants before, so time for more learning, and figuring out a growing space indoors for them.

Now, I am off for really granola deliveries and to pick up more goat milk. I’ve started saving the whey in the freezer for the Pigs this Spring:)