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Spring is Not So Far Away

 During our walk today, we noticed the Osoberry trees (also known as Indian Plum) are budding, and those closer to the sea are actually in full bloom. Spring is not so far away. The daffodils have come up, although their flowers are not open yet. Crocuses are blooming, as is the heather. On the bluebells, the flower buds are forming down inside the plant and getting ready to rise up and bloom. Some of our irises have bloomed. The delicate crocus is the first flower to appear in the new year, braving frigid winter temperatures to bring us cheer. We planted heather for our honeybees so they would have something to forage in the winter and early spring. The plants are still quite small, though - it will be a few years more before the bees can gather much from them.   Our honeybees survived the 9-degree low we had in mid-January. I credit the extra ventilation we put into the hives. In the photo below, notice the round hole toward the top of the hive as well as the square opening near the
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Single Digit Temperatures During Winter Storm

We had a new low temperature record here on our farm a couple nights ago, when we noticed it got down to 9 degrees F. Likely it went even lower, but we ended up going to bed. During the daytime highs, it's only gotten up to about 15 degrees the past two days.  While we didn't get a lot of snow during this first winter storm of the season (only about four inches), it has been a lot colder than we are used to. Of course, we left the water dripping in all our sinks to avoid any frozen pipes (we don't want a repeat of an earlier year when the  pipes burst under the house ). We've had the pellet stove and wood stove going continuously along with space heaters in several rooms. Even so, it's only about 55 degrees in most of the house, so we're bundled up in warm clothes. The chickens and ducks don't enjoy the cold. The ducks dislike the snow way more than the chickens. I ran a long extension cord from the garage and plugged in a hard plastic heating pad for the du

A Winter Harvest

Here it is late December, and I just came back in from the garden with a small harvest. It's been rainy the past few days. Despite the drizzle, I threw on my raincoat and ventured outside to pick fresh greens and see what else I could find.  When I came back inside with the basket full of vegetables and herbs, everything was covered with mud. The beets and horseradish had clumps of dirt on them that got onto the rest. So, I washed it all really well and then soaked it in a bin of water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar to help clear away any impurities. One last rinse and a spin dry in the vegetable spinner, and there they are. My lovely garden veggies. What did I find? Kale, swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, beets, horseradish, and parsley. All except the beets and horseradish were plants that reseeded themselves over the summer. Actually, greens and herbs have been reseeding themselves for the past few years. I have literally not planted any seeds of these plants for a long t

Meet the Flock: Part 3

Hello! Welcome to our little farm where we raise chickens and ducks, watch over an apiary full of honeybees, tend to a garden, and wait for the field of blueberry bushes to mature. If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series where we introduce you to the birds in our flock! We are proud to introduce... Beaker #2 A few years ago, we had a hen named Beaker who was all gray. She was hatched from an egg that one of our other hens laid (we weren’t sure who) and her father was Captain Rooster . So, her breed was a mystery. The first Beaker has since passed away, and then this second all-gray hen came along last spring when we purchased her from Coastal Farm and Ranch. She was supposed to be a Rhode Island Red. But, as can happen, the chicks got mixed up in the bin and we ended up with Beaker #2. We adore her anyhow. She is very shy and runs away if approached. Chandler & Janice These two golden hens are super friendly and easy-going. They are also good

Meet the Flock: Part 2

Welcome to the second in a three-part series featuring the members of our flock! If you missed Part 1, you can read it by clicking here . Little Red A good egg layer, Little Red is a Rhode Island Red hen who produces healthy brown eggs nearly every day of the year. She has an inquisitive nature and loves to forage. When she is cuddled up on the roost at night, you can pat her on the back and she will make cooing noises in rhythm with each pat you give her. Foghorn Leghorn Foghorn Leghorn hatched from an egg one of our other hens laid back when we had a rooster. The hen who laid on the nest for her is Cheech, a kind mother hen who gets broody every year. Foghorn’s father was Captain, the meanest rooster on this side of the Rockies. Captain lost a battle with a bald eagle that swooped into the chicken run a few years back, which has since saved us from being kicked with his wicked spurs every day. Simon & Garfunkel These two black-and-white speckled hens were purchased from Airpor

Meet the Flock: Part 1

In this first of a three-part series, we introduce several hens in our flock. Our entire flock includes nine mature chickens, six young chickens, and four ducks.  Miss Prissy Fuzzy Bottom May I introduce to you Miss Prissy Fuzzy Bottom, a very special Wyandotte hen with a deformed crop and crooked toe. But don't you worry about Miss Prissy, as these issues don’t slow her down! She is the first to arrive when there are treats. Her crop swings like a pendulum when she runs, almost knocking her over. We find her enthusiasm for life absolutely delightful. She no longer lays eggs, but that's okay. Tony Soprano This beautiful Maran hen’s feathers are super silky, and she even has feathers on her feet. She’s rather timid, so is hard to catch if you want to pet her. She lays dark brown eggs that have a pattern on them. As she is one of the newer members of our flock, we are still getting to know her. Amy A Rhode Island Red, Amy is a good egg layer of brown eggs nearly all year long. Sh

Homemade Ginger Ale From a Ginger Bug

 I've been experimenting with fermenting again, this time making a ginger bug so that I can make various kinds of ginger ale. In addition to making basic ginger ale (ginger beer) with it, I plan to make cranberry ginger ale during the holidays, as well as strawberry-rhubarb ginger ale and turmeric ginger ale. There are so many possibilities! It took about 10 days to get the ginger bug going. Once that step was done, I was on to making ginger ale. The ginger ale recipe I'm using only makes a small batch each time. To make the ginger ale, you scoop out a bit of the ginger bug (the "mother") from the jar and put it into a bigger container. Then, and to it some water, sugar, grated ginger root, and lemon juice. Cover it with a cloth and rubberband, and let it ferment for a while. Last, you strain it into bottles with swing-top, gasketed lids. The bottles sit a couple of days until they are delightfully fizzy. Once a day, though, you have to open the lid so the air can esc