Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sourdough starter

My sourdough starter is almost a week old now. This picture was from day 1. I cannot wait for sourdough biscuits, pancakes, cakes, bread. I make all my own bread, and being able to make sourdough will be so exciting, and I'm looking forward to trying out some new recipes as well. Sourdough is certainly an art.
It sounds like starting a sourdough starter from scratch isn't that easy (according to most articles), but it's really not that difficult if you are careful. I read the best piece of advice I've ever read in Countryside magazine, about wiping off anything about the fluid line. Flour, etc. Always keep the sides clean. Works like a charm.
Sourdough makes me think of Alaska. And it makes me think of Dick Proenneke waking up in his wondeful secluded wilderness and making his morning biscuits before starting the days work. Waking up to Sourdough biscuits reminds me what it's like to wake up after a night sleeping next to a glacier, and opening my eyes mountains all around me.

End of the day

I wanted something to put hay in for Chance (the llama) and Wrambler (our Haflinger horse.) and we haven't had time to build something yet - so this worked out just fine for now! Chance and Wrambler both liked it.

Black creek tonight.

Tree fungus I picked tonight... they are good to paint on when dry.

Getting the fire started tonight.
Well, I am exhausted. But we got a lot of work done today. It's after 9pm now and we just had supper. Now I'm enjoying the warm fire and my hot cup of raspberry honey tea. It's heavenly. Soon, I'll be asleep. My legs ache, I hurt my food today by dropping something on it, I can't remember what, I dropped things on it more than once. And I'm so tired. But it feels great. It's one of the best parts of living on a farm or living in the bush. It's a good feeling in my heart and soul, even if my body isn't overly pleased.
Yesterday we finally found two goats to add to our family. We have two goats now. Hilda the pygmy goat who is retired. She's an oldie and has been through a lot. And Bucket of course, who is a mix breed goat. We call her the "Bucket breed." We have however been looking for a good doe to eventually use for milking. I love goats, they are the greatest critters. Even though they can be a pain in the rear, our girls are great. These new girls will be too. There is a goat that looks exactly like Bucket, but a different color... and the other girl is definately a Nubian mix. You can see it in the ears. They are super friendly. The Bucket type breed goat, licked my face, ate my hair. Exactly what I would expect. They will be coming home on the weekend, and I couldn't be more excited. They are the same age as Bucket, just over a year. They don't have names yet, the young man whom has them now never named them. I cannot imagine, but I'm actually glad they don't have silly names that they know well or something. I keep calling them "Kibble" and "Cookie." But we'll see :)
So today we worked on a temporary house for them until we get all the stalls done in the barn for winter. We need to finish their yard up, but that will be easy. Mostly we moved manure... cleaned up from last spring and summer, and got our lumber piled up and organized to begin work inside the barn on stalls. I got all our rabbits cleaned up and chores done, and Kevin got more siding on the sunporch. We worked until about 7pm, then we went out in the forest, visited with the deer, looked for dead trees that needed to be marked for winter wood, and enjoyed the changing colors of the forests. It's such a beautiful time of year. It's cool in the evenings now, we may even get frost tonight. It's delightful. Heaven on earth this time of year in the forest.
I made some new feeders for the sheep which I am pleased with. Wrambler had so much fun while Kevin was cleaning up the paddocks... he was running, rolling, and having a ball. I sat with the goats when I couldn't be useful, and Bucket watched Kevin while chewing on my hair in between licking my ear. She is such a goofball. Max, our Great Pyrnees is doing marvelous. He is really starting to fill out now.
It feels good to have the animals cared for, a hard days work under your belt, and a good nights sleep to look forward to. Norman the chihuahua is lying in his bed playing with his sqeaker toys. The Prairie dogs build a huge nest out of their hay, and from the stuffing out of their stuffed pig and are sound asleep. All is right with the world tonight.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Apples, Deer, and the arrival of fall

Amazingly a few days ago we picked our first apples. Our favorite apple tree is not ready to be picked yet, it will be shortly however. But one of the trees we rarely pick located in what we call the "ears" field because of the log marker we have in it was ready a week ago and loaded with apples. We got a bushel basket full of nice apples which I used to make jelly and apple sauce, and of course share with the animals. They all love apples, the horses, rabbits, goats... Kevin has identified over 100 apple trees on this land. It's amazing. We get more apples than we can possibly use usually off of one tree alone, so there are plenty of apples for us, our animals, and the wild ones who live here, and travel through.

So far we have 7 does and 2 young bucks hanging around close by. 2 fawns. Pokey and Deer Norman are doing well. Kevin saw a big buck just before dark the other night coming home on his tractor from working on a new road we put in, but it was too dark to tell who it was. He said it was a big though. Hopefully it's our friend Torn Ear. But it's too soon to tell. A few weeks ago the deer looked pretty bad but they look much improved now, and the only reason I can give is that most of them have finished changing into their fall clothes. I know how bad the rabbits look when they are shedding, so it's the same thing I think. They are still thin, but not nearly as bad as when we first started seeing them again late this summer.

Fall is coming. The trees are starting to change, the air is cooler at night, the deer are changing color, and the the chipmunks are gathering everything they can find. Our animals are enjoying the cooler evenings, as are we. We are finally getting some work done around the house although there is so much left to do this fall before winter sets in. We are getting closer to getting the new sunporch closed in - we are really excited about all the extra space. I think we are really going to enjoy that room once it is finished. It's just one of many projects, but it's a major accomplishment. Most of my canning is done, but there is still some left to do. I still need to can tomatoes, salsa, and chilli sauce... and the venison that's in the freezer. I've been avoiding those tasks! I want to enjoy fall but I sure am looking forward to getting all our projects done, so this winter I'll have time to make soap, and cheese, and crafts. I look forward to having the woodstove going again too, and harvesting wood. I know in January I will be cold and complaining, but I'll have little to complain about this winter now that I have a barn. I will still have water to carry- but it's going to be so great having the barn and most of the animals in one central place - and a central, dry, place to keep hay! No more hay wagon and tarp for us!


We were able to get a bucket full of freshly dropped Butternuts. Picking them was sure fun, despite all the sticky residue on your hands... Working with them was not as easy! But it was an adventure in the end, and they sure are yummy. However I did not wear gloves through the entire process and now have black thumbs... and will have black thumbs until the tanin wears off.

We still have several healthy Butternuts on our property that have yet to be infected by the Butternut canker, which has become a serious threat to the survival of Butternut trees across North America. We do have infected trees as well as healthy ones in our woodlot. Butternuts are a lot like Walnuts - in fact they are called the white walnut and taste like them.
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