Tuesday, January 12, 2016

First Snow Accumulation of the Winter


straw bales with fiberglass panel on top - a fave hangout

winter hoop

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Early January Pictures

a batch of 8 quarts chicken stock
Warm day - girls are out flying

Seed organization is fun for cold days
Seeds.  Organized.  Check!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2016.  Now, let's have some real winter weather so my apple trees don't bloom in January. Our elderberries have broken dormancy and are leafing out because they heard it was spring.  Yikes!

It was actually cold today, so that felt more normal.  I brought in the new year by making herbal infused oils to use in a batch of skin balm.  When a friend and I made balm recently, we used the basic recipe found here.  The sunny yellow of the dried calendula was so darn cheerful, I couldn't help but be in a good mood.  

Resina calendula
Herbs l to r: comfrey, lemon balm, calendula, chickweed, lavender

To make the oil is fairly simple:

1) Dry fresh herbs (or buy dried herbs)

2)  Wash mason jars with hot, soapy water and dry well.

3) Put dried herb in the jar (you can mix but I like to do a single type of herb in a jar) and cover with oil of your choice.  I have only used extra virgin olive oils, but there are many other options.

4) If it is summer and warm, place in your window sill and infuse for a few months, shaking jars daily (or when you think of it).  If you want a quicker oil, very gently heat the oils (I use my dehydrator set to 115 degrees for 4 hours and then 100 degrees overnight).  I have read of using a slow cooker with a water bath set to warm can work as well.  

5) Your oil is ready when it has taken on the color and aroma of the herb you infused.  Strain out herbs (I use a nylon mesh paint strainer) and store in jars or bottles until ready to use away from heat and direct sunlight.  

Chickweed and Provence lavender
Olive oil added and ready for lids and labels

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cover Crop for Chickens

Cover crop planted near chickens: Austrian Field Peas, Winter Rye, Oilseed Radish
Chickens eating cover crop that was cut and tossed over fence
Cut cover crop and fermented wet feed

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chicken Winter Hoop

Added items to the chickens' winter outdoor hoop.  In went the hanging feeder from their coop, the metal winter waterer with base that keeps water above freezing when temps drop, and straw bedding.

Winter waterer
Straw Bedding

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Gimmie Chiles!"

Our chickens love chile seeds.  Chickens co-evolved with chile plants to help spread their seeds, so they have no heat receptors that would make eating chiles painful.  They like all kinds and pick open the chiles to eat the seeds first.  There is anecdotal evidence that cayenne powder in chicken feed can prevent worms...not sure if all the chiles I grow could have the same positive affect but it can't hurt and they really relish them.  I pulled the plants out before the first frost and since we have all the hot sauce and powders we need, the extra chiles went to the girls.

New Hampshire, Dominique, and Partridge Rock munch hot peppers
Dominque with hot peppers
In the garden I have several beds seeded with cover crops (pictures are from a week ago, they are taller now).  We had our first hard frost of 27 degrees 2 nights ago, which knocked out the tomatoes, zucchini, nasturtiums, and hurt the peppers but didn't kill them.  Everything else was wilty with cold but promptly bounced back when warmed by the sun (parsnips, napa cabbage, cover crops, lettuce, arugula).  The kale laughed and just kept growing.  

Cover crop mix: forage radish, Austrian field pea, winter rye
cover crop
Aji Cristal

Veg from the garden

salad from the garden
Harvested my first cultivated mushrooms ever.  Wine caps from some spore I put on woodchips under our Sweet Bay Magnolia tree in early summer.  Score.  I tried them because I read they were fairly easy to grow - a good beginner mushroom.  Seems to be the case.  

first mushroom harvest ever: wine caps