Hope carried in rays of sun…

I’m writing early this week because I am hopeful and motivated.  The sun is shining, after 3+ feet of snowfall in the month of February, we were beginning to wonder if we’d EVER see spring.  I’m not so naive as to think that spring is right around the corner, I haven’t yet packed away the hats and mittens….but I am hopeful that brighter warmer things are coming!

I’ve been up for about 4 hours. In that time, I tended to the dogs and the cat, made a batch of pancakes and a cup of coffee, but the rest of the time I have spent on my garden and preserving plan and homesteading blogs.  Because I am a nerd, I have put that plan into an Excel spreadsheet, don’t judge me too harshly.  It appears that I’m going to need a truckload of tomatoes. No joke.  Spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato paste, tomato soup, and just plain canned tomatoes?  I’m wondering if I should just can all of the tomatoes as they are and construct the other things (minus the salsa) as I need them…..Lest I overwhelm myself and do NOTHING.

So before I get on with my day (I’m going on a paranormal investigation tonight!) I want to record my Homesteading Wishlist of both things to get and things to do.

TO GET

  • Pressure canner
  • Dehydrator
  • New freezer
  • more canning jars and lids

TO DO

  • get our chickens settled on our new land with a better enclosure system underneath the actual chicken house (new land is heavy with fox!)
  • look into rabbits for fiber and design appropriate housing
  • look into ducks for meat and design appropriate housing
  • start pricing purchases of local, organic, no hocus pocus meats
  • research making our own flour for our own baked goods
  • add twenty more hours to each day to do my own baking, canning, freezing and critter tending.
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Let it snow, let it snow….oh gosh please stop the snow!!!

When you live in New England, you expect a certain amount of crappy winter weather. So far this year we have had two storms resulting in very slick roads, but very little accumulation. Mother nature has made up for her shortcomings however. Last night we were gifted with about 18″ of white fluffy snow. It’s actually still snowing.Image

It’s pretty, it’s fluffy, it’s cold. My smallest dog likes to bury her head in it and burrow like a pig with the appropriate snorting noises to accompany her work. The chickens are not impressed…..they will considerably shrink their wandering territory to exclude the snowy portions of their yard. So funny, our last flock didn’t mind one bit.

 

The one thing that i do worry about with this much snow, is the roof. Not just my roof actually, roofs all around me. It’s a light “dry” snow (It’s been bitterly cold lately) but if it starts to warm up, if we get some rain, then some homes will be in danger of roof caves ins, ice dams, and leaks.

Our new property is probably really pretty this morning, in fact I can’t wait to see it and take some photos. Unfortunately, this means Mr. Gray will have to use snowshoes to hike up into the woods to cut down his firewood for next winter. There’s little chance of either of our vehicles making it up that hill from this day forward.
Thank goodness we are taking the family to Florida in one week for Christmas, it will be a little easier to come back and endure the rest of winter. I’ve heard we are in for a LOT of snow.

Pitbulls and baby roosters.

Alrighty readers, I’m about to give you (I hope) a bit of a giggle, so polish up your imagination skills, and read on.

It’s 4:45 am.  I hear the unmistakable sounds of a 7 week old Barred Rock Rooster trying to crow.  Now if I had to try to explain this sound…well…I guess I can’t, it’s pitiful, it sounds maybe like what would happen if you squeezed your cat too hard.  He must be embarrassed by it also because he only “crows” from indoors.  Poor thing.

So, it’s 4:45, it’s already hot outside, and this day isn’t getting off to a very good start in my mind.  I roll over disgusted, and what do I see out the window, but a happy little reddish tail wagging through a forest of creeping myrtle in the woods beyond the babies chicken coop.  Great.  There is a pitbull that lives a couple of doors down, I knew it was her.  I JUMP out of bed and throw on my bathrobe and my flip flops and head out back.  I try to shoo this dog away, but she is in fact, just a pup, and now she wants to play, with the babies, or me, she can’t decide.

The babies are trying to fly away, they fly straight up, into the chicken wire, screeching and squawking like crazy, feathers are flying everywhere.  The older birds, across the yard are looking on and probably thinking… “Hmmph…amateurs”

So here I am, bleary eyed, trying to shoo this cute pup away from the chickens.  She assumes the play position…and I realize that this is going nowhere.  Enter….the owner.  In his underwear. Yeah. I couldn’t make this up.

He launches into some stammering about “now I know why she always wants to come over here” and I’m just nodding and yawning and trying not to make eye contact….

This is my life.

Lots of chirping going on….

We have added 13 new birds to our flock.  We purchased 14, one little barred rock didn’t make it.  My youngest named her Sandra, made a coffin for her out of a cream cheese box and we buried her in the back yard.

We have 6 Silver Laced Wyandotte girls, 5 mixed Barred Rocks and 2 Auracana girls.  Outdoors in the big hen house we have 4 Amber Links and one old Rhode Island Red, who is the loudest chicken EVER.

ImageWe had a frost last night, though a light one….it’s been pretty chilly here in Southeastern Vermont for the past 48 hours.  We moved the babies inside…so far the peas seem unscathed, and we didnt’ have anything else tender and exposed, so I think we’re in good shape.  It’s nearly planting time, and when I saw the mountain of potatoes and onions taht we ordered, I got a little nervous!!!  Also, we have found  ZERO scalloped squash seeds anywhere in the area, which Mr. gray needs for his “three sisters” garden.  I think this weekend a ride wil be in order to widen the search area a little bit.  Pictures to come! It should look pretty neat.

 

There are rats in the chicken coop…

Two weeks ago we had over a foot of snow.  In northern New England, we are used to this. Snow is beautiful, calming and peaceful. (That is until you venture out onto the roads)  Snow is also useful.  It keeps the kids busy, it covers up the dog poop you never scooped, it covers all of the gray and grunge from salt and sand over previously iced roads, and it highlights the winter movement of critters of all kinds.

It was because of the latter mentioned feature that we realized that we indeed had rats eating our chicken grain.Image

Mr. Gray reported that he had seen a small dark form scurrying a week or so before the big storm, but he dismissed it.  Now there is a box of rat poison positioned carefully at the entrance to their lair.  (Err, at least ONE entrance).  Tonight as I was plating up a beautiful Saturday night supper of pan fried scallops and roasted sweet potatoes, I asked Mr. Gray to dish up two bowls of salad.  He couldn’t help me you see, because he stood, transfixed, at the window, with a look of awe on his face and exclaimed “There is a rat in the chicken coop! No, there are TWO rats in the chicken coop!”  Eeeeeeeeeeek! (I said that, not Mr. Gray)  Of course I had to come and take a look, and indeed, they look just like the above photo.  It was comical to watch as the chickens chased them around and at one point I was tickled and horrified at the same time, to see one of them hop straight up into the air and back down again.

I pray that there are some morsels removed from the coop in the morning.  Puhleez. I seriously honestly truly, detest rats.