Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sourdough Fruit Bread

Round two of the potato starter was looking really good, bubbling up a storm every time I fed it. Then it fizzled.  I really don't know what happened.
I've been using it to bake fruit breads, cutting back on the baking soda and baking powder called for in the recipes.  The first three batches turned out really well.  I should have taken pictures.

Yesterday there was almost no bubbling to the start after feeding, so I gave it a tablespoon of sugar for a treat.  That got some bubbles going.  The bread turned out ok, but somewhat moister and flatter than it has been.
I saved the potato and bean water from supper last night to put back into the starter this morning.  Hopefully that'll give it a boost and get things moving a little better.

This start is still living on the table in a bowl too.  I'm finding it easier to manage (and remember to use) than the ones that were tucked into the cupboard.  Of course, the temperatures have risen outside, so keeping it warm isn't as much of a chore either.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feathered Friends

So this is the little rooster.
He's not so shy now. He's not acting like a parrot either though. Fine by me. The geese and the new chickens seem to have called a truce.
They're sharing the space ammicably now.
I am wondering about their previous perches though. I don't remember seeing any when we picked them up. There was an old bench in the middle of their room. Our perch is an old mattress frame leaning against the wall.  The new ladies don't seem interested in hopping up on the higher levels.
They're also sticking to the lower nest boxes.  Their old home had the nest boxes on the floor. 

I have seven eggs saved for the incubator so far.  From what I've read, I should start incubating within 2 weeks, so I will get to eat some soon!  Save for two weeks, eat for two weeks, save for two weeks...  I'm looking forward to my first hatch as much as my first breakfast!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hiring New Staff

After months of waiting, watching, calling, going to the auction, and eating store bought eggs (blech!) I finally brought home some new birds yesterday!

This rooster was a champion show bird, but since he got a little frost bite, he, along with four lovely barred rock ladies, now get to learn how to be real farm chickens.
These two, along with 8 of their friends, are just a little on the old side, so were being replaced as breeding stock.
They came with a little roo, who apparently thinks he's a parrot, as he's spent most of his previous owner's chore time on his shoulder.  He was hiding in the corner this morning- too dark for a picture.  They're all incredibly hand tamed- they've lived highly sheltered lives.  They'll be staying inside for the next while- I don't think they're familiar with snow- until they get more acquainted with the barn yard noises at least.

I had doubts about their ability to protect themselves, but the barred rock rooster surprised me by immediately attacking Goose when I set him free in the coop. Not the smartest move he could have made, since goose is there for the smaller birds' protection, but it gives me hope that he'll protect his flock.  The geese were in the rabbitry side of the coop this morning, all chickens banished, lol.  They attempted to banish me as well, but, ah, Goose, you don't scare me!

I also got my Christmas present yesterday!  Husband originally got me a PVR, but it has to be hooked up to a computer as well as the satellite receiver, which annoyed me, so I returned it.  I've been sitting on the cash ever since.  After picking up the chickens we went to the Hutterite store, and I got an incubator!

Complete with egg turner!
So let's go ladies!  Get to work!  I want to play with my new toy!
Of course, saving eggs to hatch means I still have to eat store bought eggs.  Blech!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Odds and Ends

Outside, a fresh layer of snow keeps the yard looking pretty.

The woodshed is getting pretty bare.  We should still have enough wood to get us through 'til spring.
The garden blanketed in snow and sleeping peacefully.
While inside the peppers and tomatoes are poking up through the dirt. I have a couple of trays of herbs and flowers planted as well, with the first few seedlings germinated. I hope to keep better records in my Garden Notes this year. Last year started out well, until the weather turned and then I guess I was just too busy to keep track of things properly.  As a result, I'm missing some critical data...
I've completed and organized my Seed Inventory, aided in part by ordering earlier this year.  Striking through the seed list makes it easier to see at a glance which seeds I've used up completely- the plants, with any luck, I'll be saving seed from this fall.

I've been making notes on seed saving as well- hoping to take the endeavour to the next level this year, and planning my garden accordingly.  I found it amusing to learn that my mixed mumbo jumbo of beans is unlikely cross pollinated at all, since they're self pollinating.  It makes me wonder what the heck the bumbles are doing on them all summer though.   Still, it's nice to know that I don't have to wait for the dry beans to finish flowering before I can let the green beans go to seed.

Another thing I found interesting- brussel sprouts and cabbage flower!  I don't think I'll ever be saving seed from them, unless maybe I grow them in pots and put them out in the garden at full size in the spring.  Our season definitely isn't long enough to let them do it on their own.

This is a good place to start if you're interested, though I did find googling for specific vegetables to give a better overview at times.

The garden has been planned, replanned and rearanged over and over again.  I think I'm definitely moving towards more companion planting in beds this spring.

The Seed Exchange from Garden Web came early this year as well.  I took my time, searching all of the different types of seeds available, choosing all edible and medicinal plants.  I started printing pages, putting together an herb reference for seeds that I have right now.  The next step will be making lists of their medicinal properties by common illness.
A new potato sourdough starter is under way.  Busy through Christmas, I neglected all of my starts, and while some say you can stir mold back in, it'll be fine, that was just too gross for me.  So, back to the beginning.  I'm just doing the potato water for now, as it seemed to be moving along the fastest last time, and one at a time will probably be more manageable.

Sewing is moving along, with lots of new patches on old blankets, ripped seems in clothing fixed up, and #2's barn coat repaired.
He had taken out both arm seams and a large chunk of the back/side.  Since it's a goose down coat with good zippers I figured it was worth the effort to patch it back together.  It came out quite well, I think, and the denim should be able to handle the wear and tear of barn chores.  If I find it laying on the lawn again though, I will seriously have to kick his arse.  That boy is notorious for dropping a layer wherever he happens to be when he gets too warm.

I ran out of old jeans before I finished my blanket.  I had planned to use an old quilt as the filling- too tattered to be patched.  Now I'm debating whether to buy more jeans from the thrift store to finish it, cutting it down to single size rather than queen, or just tucking it away until next winter.

We racked and bottled the peach wine. I capped a few bottles with the plastic tops, left a few with just plain corks, and covered the majority with cheese wax.  I want to see how much of a difference it makes in the long run. 
I canned up a batch of pea soup for Husband.  I don't think I care much for winter canning.  Everything was clean and stored away, getting it out for one batch of soup and then having to clean it up and put it all away again was a bit of a pain.  I think I'd rather just keep the canner going non stop in the fall, even though I'm already crazy busy then. 

So that's what I've been up to the past few weeks.  Nothing terribly blog worthy, just puttering away, keeping busy.