Saturday, January 25, 2014

Triple Creek Farm, The Vortex Returned, January 25, 2014

It is cold all across the Northeast and will continue for a few more days(?).  There was snow which was very dry, Mr. Bootsie used the small hand blower to blow the snow off the walks around the house.  We received a new electric meter Monday afternoon, digital and this one should be very easy to read.  I am going to check the meter to see just how much we have used.  Once again the inside heat has been reduced to 60 degrees.  The wood stove does a great job and this is not a problem.

With not being able to do things outside, I decided to visit some of the projects I had planned last summer.  I dehydrated squash to learn how I could use them during the winter.  I cut the tromboncino into small pieces like I was using to make the zucchini crisp and dried them.  My thoughts were to rehydrate them in apple juice.  I used 2 cups of dried tromboncino squash and 4 cups of apple juice.  I let this set over night.  I followed the directions for making the crisp with one change.  I cooked the squash with the remaining apple juice and lemon juice.  I was very pleased with the way this worked.  The taste is very close to what I remember when making them in the summer.  Now on my to do list for next summer will be making more dried squash and store for the winter.  This is such an easy way to use the excess squash, storage is easy and it surely tastes good.  You can check Week in Review July 6, 2013 for recipe link.

Time to make the ravioli.  Something about making pasta just upsets me.  I make all kinds of bread and never think about doing so, but pasta is different.  I finally took my fears by the horns and started doing it.  Mr. Bootsie was outside and I made the pasta and put in the fridge to chill.  The next time he went outside I decided to make the sheets of pasta for the ravioli.  I am still learning how to fold and rolled the dough.  How and when to add the bench flour.  He stayed outside and I had 2 sheets made by the time he came in.  I had learned quite a bit.  Just working with the dough and not having to explain to him what I was trying to do made a difference in my

understanding.  I filled the dough, sealed and cut.
Back into the fridge to chill one more time.  Our supper was ravioli stuffed with ricotta and applewood bacon covered with a light tomato sauce sprinkled with Parmeasan cheese, of course just a dash of olive oil.  We did not eat all of these so I stored them in the fridge and a couple of days later made toasted ravioli, Mr. Bootsie ate all of these with a little bit of sauce.  This has given me a better understanding of how to work with the pasta machine and the dough.  I have to brag, not a one of them bust open when I was cooking the pasta.

This has been a week of giving up things.  We took of the eggs from Momma Duck, she did good, there were 3 eggs which did not break, but all of them were frozen.  I will try this again in a few weeks.  I would love to have little ducks but now it is not the time.  The heat was turned off in the green house.  I am sure I will loose my plants but I had to make a decision and when I saw there was another week of this cold, I knew I must turn the heat off. I did bring a few things in the house and am trying to save them.

Water bowls are coming into the house,  being thawed and returned to the barn and coops.  I have never been in cold like this and really question how so many, further north, deal with this kind of weather daily.  I know they are more prepared for the cold weather than I am.  In the past there may have been a day here and there the waterers did not thaw, but we have been dealing with this for a number of days.

Saturday afternoon, the sun came out and the temperature went to about 32 degrees for a short while. We were able to filled grain barrels, gather more wood and let the girls out of the coop for a little while.

I heard on the news Friday night every state in the USA was below 32 degrees.  So, I must remember not to complain as everyone is experiencing and learning how to cope with the Arctic Vortex.  We are posting these notes to help us if or when this creature returns from the North.  I just hope I never have to refer to any of these posts in the future.

All of you be careful!!!  Spring will come!!!  When? I have no idea, but it will be followed by summer and please remind me, to look back and see just how cold this winter was!!!  Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week.    

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Triple Creek Farm, January 18, 2014

There was snow on Thursday Morning.  Wednesday night the snow started and ended sometime during the night.  This was a dusting and was gone by noon on Thursday!!!

Sunday Morning, Off to the pasture lot to let everyone out for the day.  Hershey, one of the goats skin was tight, when I petted her I could feel how hard her body was.  This is my first experience with a goat being sick, I knew it was bloat.  I thought about what we have been feeding and I really did not feel there had been a change in the menu, there was a new shipment of hay but from the same supplier, I do know it came from a different cutting than what we had been feeding and maybe this bothered her.  The rest of the crew appeared to be in usual form.  I came to the house and fixed her a small bowl of baking soda, when I arrived at the pasture lot I felt Hershey's eyes lock in on me.  She started coming to the fence, her momma stood back as to say to me it is your turn I can't do any more.  My girl came to the fence and started eating from the bowl, with the first little bit she belched and this was followed with snort.  I was hoping this would do some good.  She ate a small amount of the soda and I did not push it.  Momma came over to check the bowl, tasting she seemed to approve.  After they moved away along came the curious ones to see if they wanted whatever was in the bowl.  I did not see a lot of improvement on Sunday; however, by Monday afternoon there was a softness in her body and there was improvement.  Hershey is expecting and I was really concerned for her.  I will be feeding them all a little bit of baking soda on a regular basis.  My thoughts through this was I would be loosing two goats if I did not find a cure for her.  I learned baking soda will not hurt them, they seem to like a little bit.  A new tool in the box will be baking soda in the barn for my ladies.

Monday morning, there it was, a bluebird, brilliant blue setting in a dogwood tree.  Are the scouts here already?  We have residents who return each summer to have their young, it is always exciting to see them return and spend the summer in our butterfly and bee garden.

Mr. Bootsie came in from the coop with 2 pullet eggs, this is the first laying of the welsummers.  These chicks were born July 19th and 20th.  From hatching to laying was 25 weeks and 4 days.  I am so pleased I keep my journal!!!

I was out working in the garden as the ground had thawed, I dug 5 tomato holes and filled them with the manure from the goat barn and set the tomato cage on top.  I mulched the area between the cages.  By April 15th the manure will have broken down, being ready to feed to tomato plants.  The mulch will keep out unwanted vegetation and it will be easy to add more mulch as needed in the spring.  To my surprise the horseradish it showing new growth.  With snow possible on Wednesday, I covered the horseradish plants with pine needles.

With the bluebirds and the horseradish I am wondering could there be an early Spring in my future?

Wednesday, Momma Duck has always laid her egg and we find it in the coop in the morning.  This morning Mr. Bootsie told me there is no egg but there is a nest, Momma Duck had been working on the
nest and later in the day she laid an egg in her new structure.  Thursday afternoon there were 2 eggs, I am concerned about the drop in the temperature tonight I will be checking the eggs first thing on Friday morning.

 Momma duck has not let us down by Saturday there were 4 eggs, 3 in the nest and 1 on the floor, I will be watching to see if she moves this egg to the nest.

Friday there was some sadness around the goats barn.  The boys who have been over partying with our ladies were loaded up and taken home.  I was missing those little guys as they were leaving our driveway.  One of them had been here about 2 months and the other one 6 weeks.  They had become my guys.  I never went to the pasture that they did not come to see me.  The youngest would always come to the barn at nighttime just to spend some time with me.  This will be another adjustment for me getting used to them being back at their home.  While the farmer was here she checked my goats and is sure 3 of the ladies are with babies.  We shall be waiting and hoping all 4 have little ones.  And the farmer came with fresh ricotta cheese which just makes me want to be able to milk my girls even more.

Now,  I am thinking about fresh pasta made with the eggs from our girls, spinach from our garden and the farmer's ricotta!!!

A Bit of exciting News there are buds on the tomato plants in the greenhouse!!!  Maybe, just maybe SPRING is on its way!!!  

Thank you for reading our blog and following our Facebook page, may your week be great!!!  Good Day Friends!!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Triple Creek Farm, The Arctic Vortex of 2014, January 11, 2014

Cold is coming, an Arctic Vortex, I have watched the weather as this storm made its way across the country, I was hopeful it would start going North before it reached the East Coast but this did not  happen.  We prepared, added bedding to everyone's sleeping area.  Gathered the coolers because they work in reverse when you put warm water and oatmeal in them.  This gave us time to do our chores and refill the water bowls with more warm water before we left the barn lot to refill ourselves with something warm.   Tuesday morning,  I stood there are watched the water freeze in the duck waterer as Mr. Bootsie went to fill another waterer.  Being fearful of frost bite, no one was allowed out on Tuesday.  I had some unhappy animals.  I do believe the chickens were okay with my decision but this was the first time my goats were locked in the barn.

Wednesday Morning conditions were improving and all were allowed to return to life as normal.  Some of the older girls must have liked being fed in the coop because they stayed in and were fed inside on Wednesday.  We prepared for this the best way we knew.  There were some good last minute decisions made.  The barn door was covered with a large plywood sheet as two of the ladies sleep right in front of the door and there would have been a breeze coming thru.  I am so pleased we had purchased hay a few weeks back and had a good supply.  We fed hay and they ate quite a lot as there was nothing to eat in the barn.  The girls in the coop was given additional grain as they pick outside all day.  My biggest problem was with the ducks,  if they did not eat all of the oatmeal it would freeze, I learned to empty their bowl and just put in grain while I was away from the coop.  We did feed warm oatmeal twice a day, morning and night.

I am very pleased for I see no signs of frostbite on Mr. Roo or the girls.  I was satisfied with the preparing we did and everyone seemed to do well even when the temperature was in the single numbers.  The last time our part of the country experienced a chill like this I lived in a more populated area and had no outside animals, this was a lesson learned for me.

The first half of the week was spent making sure we were taking care of the animals and ourselves.  There were a number of trips to the barn filling water bowls, Mr. Bootsie and I worry about their need for water, I really think if they have water they can make it through quite a lot.  There was the replacing of hay twice a day,  we do this daily but not in these temperatures. so we fed extra to help them make heat.  The girls were fed extra scratch earlier in the day to help them build up heat for the early evening cold.  I found myself very tired, I fell asleep every time I sit down.  Meals were made, animals were fed and watered, the stove was fed with firewood.  I learned not to plan to do anything when there is weather like this in the future.  Yes, my responsibility is our animals and ourselves.

The soup, which was canned and stored in the pantry, was heated on the wood stove.  The goats have raspberry tea made from water heated on the wood stove.  I find things stay warm longer when heated on the wood stove.  My preparing went back to the summer when I was making soups, I have learned to try and be prepared for what will come my way.  I must say for two old people and doing this for the first time, we did quite good.  Now I post these lessons I learned just in case I need to return to them another time.

Time has come for me to venture into the tunnel, record breaking low temperatures and I really do not have a lot of experience working the tunnel.  I was in for a surprise, everything in the tunnel was happy expect for the plants Mr. Vole has eaten.  All the plants I had repotted into pots he could not get into were happy and had no shock of being repotted.  I checked the row tunnel and we will be harvesting more of  the Holland greens next week when the temperature is in the 50's. I shall continue my working on discouraging the vole/moles after I have a little more knowledge about my experiment I will share with you.  The girls were so excited to see me appear at the coop with a basket full of chickweed which was grown in the tunnel.

Friday night, I was awaken by rain which has continued all day Saturday.  We have been cutting drainage ditches, trying to explain to the goats we did not ask for this rain but I still was given the evil eye as Saturday was another day in the barn for goats, 2 days this week.  There is water, muck and mud everywhere in the barn lot.  I will be busy moving in leaves to keep us from sliding in the muck.  There are 2 very happy ducks playing in the pond and running through the muck.  I was so pleased to see them get a good bath Saturday morning.

This has been a week!!!  Temperature swing form mid 50's to record breaking lows of 8 degrees F. and returning to high 40's by Saturday.  We have seen so much change in one week, you really do not know how to dress, or what to do for the animals.  The animals adjust much better than humans do.  They seem to go with the flow of whatever is put in front of them.  If my goats get their grain twice a day and the girls are fed they seem to be happy.  The ducks are ready to go inside their little coop at nighttime and have a good supper.  Each morning we are rewarded with an egg from Momma Duck.

I know so many of you have experienced weather conditions of your own which have been overwhelming.  I hope all is well in your corner of the world.  Spring will come at some point, I have not started counting the days but I am thinking about how nice it will be outside planting the garden.    

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Triple Creek Farm,January 4, 2014

I am working hard on trying to solve a problem in the garden.  There are moles/voles working on removing my plants as quickly as I work on installing new plants.  I am trying to find an easy fix for this problem.  I have removed all of the chard, celery and spinach plants as these are the ones they seem to be working on.  I put all of these plants in flower pots with holes in them too small for a mole to come through, I think, and installed the pots in the tunnel garden.

Dec 31, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Roo (who has not been named) was visiting with Blanche.  She has gone through 2 series of molting this year and I was hoping/ thinking she may start laying again.  I was pleased to see the two of them together because he seems not to have any interest in the girls who are not laying.  Today, Mr. Bootsie came from the coop with a green egg in his hand, Blanche is laying.

The temperature is going down this week, cold for us here.  Mr Bootsie spent this afternoon inside the coop stapling the feed bags on the walls.  I am hoping this will help with frost bite on the chicken combs.

I crashed on the sofa before midnight and awoke to smell of wine, here comes Mr. Bootsie with the mop and paper towels.  I start sniffing and he shakes his head yes,  He explains, "I was going to open the wine you made so we could toast the new year, it spewed out of the bottle and went everywhere but I am cleaning it up."  I had to laugh because I had told him to cover the bottle when you open, I have  cleaned the ceiling a couple of times many years ago when I was making wine.  He has got to learn my wine is a little different to Boone's Farm.  About 12:15 a.m. and a new day, he had finished his cleaning and there were 2 glasses of wine poured and really it tasted quite good, may be time for another batch to be started.

January 3, 2014

Cold, Cold, Cold is coming, I was hoping there would a change in the weather forecast and there was a daily change in how low the temperature would go.  Because of the bitter cold I decided to put window blankets over the windows in the rooms we cannot close off.  I needed to make a couple of blankets and we were able to cut blankets to fit some windows.  Most of the day was spent adding extra cover in the tunnel, picking all of the greens which were ready, because I may as well pick the small ones as leave the plants for Mr. Mole/Vole to have and he is eating kale. I found a few more fed bags in the house I had cleaned to make things but they are now on the sides on the coop.

This is some of the kale growing in the tunnel, I added some beet greens to the mix.  This is the first time I have picked beet greens from a growing plant, I wonder if more will grow or if I will loose the root.

This is the coop decoration Mr. Bootsie did to keep the wind off the girls and Mr. Roo.  He placed this at the level of the roosting poles.  We have no electric power at the barn lot, we must get creative when there are issues with the temperature. We buy most of our sugar in 25# bags and now I shall continue to do this as we can use the sugar bags as well as the feed bags.

The heat inside the house was reduced to 63 degrees, the wood stove was pushing plenty of heat and raised the temperature in the house to 65 degrees.  This reduced the load on the heat pump and we were warm.

January 4, 2014

Morning Temperature was 8 or 9 degrees.  This a picture of the inside of the greenhouse.  I covered most of the tender plants and the temperature was lowered to 34 degrees.  It appears everything did rather well.  I will not open the tunnel, Monday will be a warmer day and I will check the tunnel.  We fed warm oatmeal with eggs to the chickens and ducks,  filled the water bowls with warm water and the goats had a treat of raspberry tea with a bowl of warm water.  Back to the coop around noon to replenish warm water for everyone and the temperature is rising.

If this is a practice round for what is coming on Tuesday, I think we are ready.

We did prepare for the cold and I think we learned a little more about what to do in the future.  It has been a rough week in the U.S. so many are dealing with extreme weather conditions. I do think about others and how they are dealing with the weather, share with us how you prepare, I love learning different ways of taking care of the greenhouses, tunnels and the animals.

Be Safe,  Be Careful for this winter has only begun, personally I am hoping for a very early spring.

Until next time!!!