Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 So Far

How can it already be the end of January?I  haven’t even written my end-of-the-year retrospective post or my resolution post yet. Oh well, I will just try to catch up a bit.  It has been an old-fashioned, darn cold winter and here are some of the things we have been up to at Squash Blossom Farm the past few weeks:
In December I started working part-time at a rather fancy restaurant, baking bread, pizza crusts and desserts. It is nice to earn a bit of income during the winter, but even better, I am learning some good tricks for more efficient baking on a large scale that will come in handy when our farm kitchen opens. One perk of working there is that I get to take home a big bag of kitchen goodies for the cows and chickens every week- ends of carrots, celery and cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts trimmings, apple cores, crusty ends of baguettes. I  empty the sack onto the snow and all the  animals eagerly forage through the fresh delicacies -  the dogs try to  gobble up the bread crusts before the cows get them.
With all the bitter cold spells we don’t spend much time outside just for fun and the winter already seems interminable. It is also kind of nerve-wracking, worrying about the animals when it is -20 or colder windchill.
The animals are eating a lot to keep warm. I give the  chickens extra scratch grain and make them warm oatmeal with a bit of coconut oil stirred in on really cold days. The cows are getting a bit of grain and beet pulp with their hay rations. Of course the hay piles have to go down as the winter advances, but I miss the reassuring feeling of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall hay bales in the barn. I counted about 110 bales left;  that will only get us to the beginning of May, so I was relieved to find a farmer who can spare 30  bales, which I will pick up this Friday.
Our cow fountain froze up this winter so the cows are drinking from a small stock tank with a heater to prevent it from icing over. It takes about 10 buckets of water to fill it, which I do twice a day. I got tired of unlatching and re-latching the gate to pour in each bucket of water, so now I just pour it through the gate, resulting in icicles hanging on the bars.
The cow fountain repairman never showed up, but that is the least of our repair concerns. Since Christmas we have had so many repairs! Septic system issues, furnace not working, chimney sweeping,  a stove repair and a washing machine repair.... I hope that everything else keeps functioning for rest of the winter.
I got new glasses, which really enhance my chore attire! You can't  quite see, but the  earpieces are actually red, very trendy. Underneath my down jacket I have a fleecey sweatsuit and Carhartt overalls. My sweet sister sent us two pair of  Carhartt lined bib overalls that her family did not use-- we so greatly appreciate them this winter.
We have begun preparations for the commercial kitchen project. Rog ordered a dumpster for kitchen demolition debris
and spent a couple weekends cleaning out the scary middle part of the barn ( full of old hay and construction materials and junk when we bought the farm, we have been working on it a bit every year but hadn’t gotten down to the floor yet.) It is no longer scary! It is now a place of lovely potential. But first it will be the swing space for  storing appliances while the kitchen is being constructed.
Every week for the past  month I have been making many, many batches of chocolate truffles and sumac-elderberry jelly for Kickstarter rewards.
The truffles were packaged in origami boxes. [What was I thinking when I  promised the truffles would  be in pretty, handmade origami boxes? I didn't  know how to do origami but I figured “how hard can it be?” Ha! I learned that I do not have an innate talent for origami. (Thank you for spending much of your holiday folding boxes, darling daughters!)]
Then the Kickstarter rewards were packed for hand delivery to local addresses, postal delivery to distant supporters. We are not done getting them all out yet yet, but the end is finally in sight!
While I bottled honey and made jelly, Rog made  elderberry-raspberry melomel (fruit-flavored mead, or honey wine.)  It smelled so delicious - I cannot wait to taste this next summer!

The weather finally warmed up enough last weekend that we got outside for some fun. We did a bit of snowshoeing through our little prairie, trying out some snowshoes gifted to us by friends who moved to Florida. I bet they feel pretty smug about leaving Minnesota this winter!

Keep warm, everybody!

1 comment:

Marcia said...

You have had amazingly cold temperatures for so long up there in MN. We are just having our 2nd taste of it this week here in MD but nothing near as cold as you.

Looking forward to my kickstarter reward coming in the spring.