Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bees Fed Spring 2014

Cartoon Bee Vector Free Free Vector

We VERY quickly popped open the beehives to feed the bees yesterday.  We had a brief bout of 40-degree and above weather and after this cold, cold winter weather we knew they would need food!  I put a fondant on the hives as its going to be too cold for a sugar water mixture. 

My Fondant recipe:

 8 lbs. cane sugar
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 lbs. water

1. Bring to boil, stirring frequently
2. Boil to 238 - 242 degrees.  Boil at this temperature for 15 minutes (it takes a long time for the sugar mixture to reach this temperature and I can't stress enough to BE CAREFUL.  This will burn you very badly if it splashes on you!)
3. Remove from heat.  Let cool to 180 - 195 degrees. 
4. Using mixer, blend until cloudy white.  You can add HoneyBHealthy, pollen, etc. at this step.
5. Pour into container.  ( I pour mine out onto parchment paper in circles to create patties. 
6. Cool until hard. 

Sadly, we found that we did lose some hives.  This winter has been so terribly cold and harsh that we weren't surprised.  We hope with careful tending to pull the rest through!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Think (I Hope!) The Egg Drought Is Over!

Almost every year I go through a period in the winter when my chickens don't lay eggs.  The days get short and they don't get the necessary light stimulation.  I don't put artificial lights on my chickens to stimulate egg production because my coop is a long way from the house and I don't have electricity to it and because I kind of like giving the girls a break.  It has always just seemed to be a bit more in the natural order of things.  

Last year, I froze whipped up eggs in ice cube trays to get me through the egg drought.  Surprise, surprise!  The chickens kept laying all winter.  So this year I didn't even think of it and the surprise was on me - the girls stopped laying for about two months!

I'm feeding 30 chickens and I REFUSE to buy the nasty, tasteless eggs from the grocery store.  (I know, I should have a least a few layers.  I have a number of old hens that need to be culled - in the spring) 

So, my family and I eat seasonally.  There are great recipes that don't use eggs.  Homemade bread for one.  How wonderful is a fresh loaf of bread baking on a cold winter day - the oven warms up the kitchen and, oh, that heavenly smell!?!  It's better for you with only a few ingredients (flour, water, honey, yeast, and salt) and costs less than 50-cents to bake.  My husband bought a loaf of whole wheat bread at the store the other day and it cost over four dollars!    

My other go to favorite (and my family's) is homemade biscuits.  Easy, quick, and oh, so good!  But what about desserts?  We do love our desserts?  I had a harder time finding desserts that don't use eggs, but we started making no-bake cookies fairly often.  The family didn't complain!  

In the past week or so the eggs have started to trickle in.  I've hoarded them and finally, today, my kids had eggs and toast for breakfast.  I think (I HOPE) the drought is over!

This is my favorite biscuit recipe: 

Never Fail Biscuits
from allrecipes.com


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. white sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
3/4 c. milk

1.  Preheat oven to 450-degrees 
2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.  Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the milk.  Stir until the dough begins to pull together then turn out onto a slightly floured surface (I put mine on floured wax paper)
3.  Press dough together and the roll out 3/4 inch thick.  Cut into two inch round biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  
4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. 

These turn out wonderfully layered just like the commercial version (except you can pronounce what's in these biscuits!).  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Take Care Of Our Feathered Friends

As I grew up, I learned that this it the time of year that is hardest for our feathered friends   - the little birds.  They've eaten most of the seeds and goodies on the ground and most everything has been covered with snow.  

In this part of the country we have a lot of black bears.  Black bears and bird feeders don't mix.  But the bears have been hibernating so we hope not to find our bird feeders broken and strewn about the yard.  The birds can have something to sustain them.  

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
Lou Holtz

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Barley Makes Beer

I know many of my friends will get a kick out of this because as everyone knows I do love my wine.  

I have to apologize to my readers for not posting as much as I should or would, but with my Mom's passing on January 1st I've been very busy getting her affairs in order.  After we have the Estate Sale next weekend I hope to get back to posting more regularly. 

Besides, how many pictures of really crappy, snowy, frigidly cold weather can I post?

This was beautiful in December.  In February... not so much!

All the critters are doing fine and we're all just dreaming of days when I don't have to haul hot buckets of water and trudge through knee deep snow.  

I'll begin starting transplants for very early planting in the high tunnel soon and you'll be reading all about it. 

In the meantime, please bear with me.   

Think Spring.