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Hello Sunshine

March 22nd, 2014

The days sure are brighter now that the sun in the the sky for a few more hours.  You can tell that it actually warms the house significantly, on sunny days we don’t even need a fire to warm up the house.
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I’m not the only one loving it, the chickens are as well.  They’ll be much happier when the grass starts to green up, until then they’ll be happily finding bugs and other goodies under the leaf litter.

Have you noticed more light in your days?

ENJOY

March 18th, 2014

“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

― Jim Elliot from The Journals of Jim Elliot

I was thinking about this quote as I bundled up on Sunday morning. It was 3 degrees when I went out to feed the chickens and ducks. I love a good brisk morning, the cold air invigorates me and gives me energy. This time of year I have to be careful not to start hoping for spring and wish away the last precious days of winter. I’m trying to soak up the last weeks of winter while they’re here. Tara is great at this, she LOVES winter and the snow. Every evening we take her on a walk through the woods, when we reach the back field she gets all crazy getting rid of the last of her energy. Such sheer joy playing in the snow, she’ll really miss it when it’s gone!
Tara in Snow 1
Tara in Snow 2
Tara in Snow 3
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Tara in Snow 5
Tara in Snow 6
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Tara in Snow 8
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Tara in Snow 10
We need to learn from Tara to embrace what we have for what it is! I’ll be enjoying the dripping maple sap, the slushy snow underfoot, the cold air in my lungs, the comfort of knee high wool socks and shearling lined boots and the joy the dogs have for the snow!

What are you enjoying about this particular moment?

Crazy Chicken

March 11th, 2014

Two nights ago when I went out the chicken coop to count the birds, our Buff Orpington chicken (aka Big Ginger) was nowhere to be found. It’s really strange for Big Ginger not to be in the coop, she’s always the first one to roost up in the evening, sometimes she’s in the coop roosting at three in the afternoon. We looked and looked everywhere and she couldn’t be found. There was no evidence of foul play and I had spent most of the day outside so I would have heard any commotion from a predator attack. Plus Tara would have barked or alerted.
big ginger chicken 1
The next morning, she was standing out in a wooded area behind the house. Then I came up with a theory about what had happened. She ventured over the hard snow in the morning but then didn’t want to walk on the soft snow in the afternoon. So she roosted in a pine tree on her little island of earth surrounded by snow. The following night she was in the coop at three.
big ginger chicken 2
It was just a theory until yesterday when the same thing happened again. She got stuck on the little island once again. I had to go out and chase her over the snow so she could head back to the coop for the night. I’m glad she wasn’t nabbed by a predator, but it would be nice if she was a little smarter!

Anything funny happening in your garden this week?

Drip, Drip, Drip….

March 8th, 2014

Yesterday was beautiful and it felt like maple sugaring season. When we got home from running errands I grabbed my spiles, drill and got to work setting a few maples taps.
maple sap 1
I set 10 taps yesterday and hope to head out and put in at least 10 or 15 more. The maples closest to the house and on my route to the coop and on dog walks got first priority. They’ll be the easiest to monitor and empty.
maple sap 2
Maple sugaring season is one of my favorites – I love heading outside to check all the collection jars, gathering sap and boiling it down into a tasty treat. There’s something so exciting about the process. For me it’s the official end of winter and the beginning of spring.
maple sap 3
As soon as I set the taps most of them started dripping, one tree is already proving to be a champ, giving a quart of sap in only a few hours. My goal is to get at least 3 gallons of finished syrup this year, that means I need 12-15 taps. As we have found out in the past, some trees produce a bounty of sap and others not quite as much. I’d rather have more syrup than I need than not enough, so I’ll shoot on setting 20 taps.

Is there a specific thing that signals the end of winter and beginning of spring for you?

Friday Favorite: Growing Onions from Seed

February 28th, 2014

I love onions, love love love them. I’m fairly certain not a day goes by that I don’t include onions in my diet. As a result I grow lots of onions. After being disappointed in the varieties of onions available in plant/set, I began starting my onions from seed.
starting onion seeds 1
This year I’m trying a few open pollinated varieties and would like to try producing some of my own seed for the future. That’s one reason I chose to grow ‘Clear Dawn’, which is a stabilized open pollinated version of ‘Copra’ a popular long-storing onion.
starting onion seeds 3
My ‘Redwing’ onions from last year are storing like champs, which is very rare for red onions. I’m growing them again along with ‘Red Bull’ which is supposed to be an open pollinated long storing red onion. I’ll compare how it stores alongside the ‘Redwing’ onions.
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‘Red Weathersfield’ is considered to be one of the healthiest onions, it contains high levels of antioxidants and other goodness. It’s also supposed to store well, we shall see how it stacks up to the other two red varieties above.
starting onion seeds 6
I’m also starting a few varieties of leeks, they are great when you don’t want too much oniony flavor and they are great for augmenting the onions in the winter since they’re so cold tolerant.
starting onion seeds 2
This is the first year I’ve been able to grow enough onions for my kitchen. My onion harvest is still storing well and I have a good number in the pantry. When the garden thaws I’ll have a few overwintered leeks as well to help make them last until the 2014 harvest comes in.

What’s your favorite vegetable to start from seed?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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