Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today, no politics!

(Even if our local races are reaching critical mass, lol)

Instead, a summary of the home front:

First, the firewood chore is basically done. All that is left is burning off the raked up branches, leaves, and bark bits left from all the splitting. Yay! Everything is neatly stacked under the woodshed, and it's a weight off the mind knowing it's there and ready. I fired up the wood stove in the house a couple weeks ago when we had morning temps into the lower 20s. Naturally, it has since warmed up into second "Indian Summer", ha! We've had at least a week of temperatures into the 40s during the day, and above freezing at night. I'm loving it :)

Second, my silly chickens. The replacement layers have really kicked into gear the past two weeks, it's great. The past three days have provided us with 5 eggs a day-not bad for just 8 laying hens! (Having typed that, I do have to comment that I am not positive I actually own a total of eight replacement layers-it's possible I could have a roo in there, I don't know! Buff Orpingtons are supposed to be very quiet birds and indeed they are-but does that include the roos too? Who knows!) My older hens have stopped laying and one is molting. Luckily I have someone waiting to take them....their culture highly prizes free ranging type chickens. So here in a few weeks they'll be caught up and *poof*, off they'll go. My Yokohama pair I am keeping. They are pretty small birds and don't eat much and if the rooster drives me crazy due to his crowing, I can forgive him since he's blind on one side. Poor thing. The Yokohama hen is a delight, easily picked up and cuddled and a big hit with all the children that visit us.

We've pulled a bunch of panels out of the arena, to make a small round pen for winter use. This allows us to plow all the way around the perimeter over the winter, and aids greatly at breakup in the spring. I've pulled the chicken wire fence from around the garden and next year, I will use some of the extra panels I have stashed out back-that should keep errant moose from snacking on my vegetables.

A few weeks back, a good friend lost their home to a house fire. So, we ended up with some extra vehicles parked down below that could not be accommodated anywhere else. By chance, they have since moved in to the area, and it will be nice to do some visiting back and forth over the winter. It prompted me to check my own insurance coverage and thank heavens, we're okay on that.

So right now, we are in a holding pattern, waiting for the first real snow fall of the season. If we can squeak out another week, I'll be pleased-I still don't have my studded tires on yet, lol

Monday, October 4, 2010

Summer was not quite over

The weather goddess smiled upon us here in Alaska.....we were gifted with nearly two full weeks of sunny skies-once the fog burned off, that is.

Some hay was put up, but most was wrapped for cattle, meaning another year of tight supply for horse owners. I have had to switch to round bales-something I have not done in many years, but we have mostly figured out how to cope with those. Luckily, there are several farms that managed to put up very nice rounds....nearly everyone that had the equipment, used proprionic acid (not sure this is the correct spelling) this year due to the weather.

On the home front, the greenhouse is mucked out and those items stacked and stowed. The seemingly never ending chore of firewood is of these days it will all be done too, I hope! Moved the stock tank under the barn roof and plugged in the stock tank heater-yes, we've had some upper 20s mornings already, brrr! Today I need to pick up some OTC asthma/allergy meds for the old fart, because he has developed a nasty cough.

The chicken coop got its light onto a timer, and the insulated water bowl is in and working. They are still free to roam but when it's windy and cold, they tend to stay in the coop itself. Consequently, I am figuring out how to manage that many birds in a small space, even though two are ready for someone's stew pot. I think I need another three or four laying boxes and things should settle out okay in there.

We had a big wind storm a week or so ago, lots of people lost power. Ours was only off for a few hours over one night, but we lost at least 15 trees. Some, which were healthy, middle aged birch, literally snapped off about 15 feet up :( When the winds died down, my hub went around with the chain saw and took down the leaners and the broken ones. So that is yet more "wood chores" to deal with, hopefully before the first serious snowfall. Naturally, it's laying all over in pick up stick piles, complete with branches, ugh.

Over this past weekend, I spent my time processing. First, my in-laws had this season's salmon to smoke and can. They did the brining at their place, and then it came to us for drying and smoking. Once that was done it was a simple matter of stuffing jars and processing for the required time. 53 pints for them, and they are very pleased with the results. The last batch in the canners I just supervised and let my SIL do the work-she has been helping for years, and is now about ready to go it alone, I think.

After that, I canned up a bunch of moose stew. The moose came from a family members' big bull, that we helped cut and wrap last week. They were going to toss out the neck bones, etc, and we snagged onto them and put them in the freezer instead ;) My hub took a bunch of bones out and tended to roasting them for hours. This rends out a lot of the fat, and imparts a nice, rich flavor. After that, the bones went into our two largest stock pots and they simmered for at least six hours. Then a quick chill and the next day I was able to skim off the remaining fats easily. We added the stew basics-spuds, carrots and onions and very little else. It tasted very very good before it even went into the quart jars :)

Following that, I processed some of the local spuds I had picked up to use with the stew-and still have more to get done. I think I am down to about two canner loads of spuds, plus the box of local apples I got given yesterday. Oh and let's not forget all the high bush cranberries that I need to make up into cranberry ketchup this coming weekend.....

Eventually, I will be done.