Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter's Grip

As we move into mid-winter at the farm, routine can become a bit dull, so we find it important to  get outside and have some fun, making the best of what cold temperatures and snow have to offer.

With twin six year old boys, finding fun is quite easy, as a winter wonderland can be a paradise.  From snowball fights, to sledding,  snow angels, snowman making, skating and ice fishing, a farm in the country has a lot to offer.

Our old road bed that leads to the newly developing upper pasture provided for some fast sledding action, and a nearby farm pond offered an opportunity to skate, set up some ice fishing "tip ups" and have a big snowball fight on a warm day when the snow was packing well.

Indoors also has it's moments, especially when Farmer Dave livened things ups with some solo electric guitar that had the boys and their cousins going pretty crazy dancing to.

Planning is also important this time of the year, and we are currently designing a large cold frame for the SE side of the barn as well as a seedling growing area with special grow lights in the basement.

The Kalamazoo 23 wood stove in the basement is proving to be a real workhorse for heating the entire house, and the locust logs provided to us by our neighbors Pat & Jim Sanders have really been keeping the house nice and toasty.  We also cooked a complete meal on our "New Wyoming" wood burning kitchen cook stove - it was excellent - the fish and veggies were cooked on top and we lowered our potatoes in foil right into the coals in the burn box.

 Since we are still in the market for a used antique tractor for the spring and our pick up truck does not have a plow, our always helpful neighbor Ben Masucci has been plowing us out and keeping our driveway clear - thanks Ben!

We just ordered 1,000 feet of tubing and related connectors and spouts so that come March we can tap about 20 sugar maples that are growing on the hillside above our barn.  The sap will drip by gravity to a large catchment drum and then be heated slowly over a wood fire to evaporate. It is a 40:1 sap to syrup ratio, so we need a lot of sap to have enough syrup for the coming year!

We are also obtaining additional firewood from several maple and ash trees that came down in 2012 during the Irene hurricane.  With the snow on the ground we are able to roll and/or skid the logs to get them down the hillside - using gravity to make our job easier.

Repairs continue around the house and Dave put a permanent metal roof on our 2nd sheep shelter.

The sheep and birds are all doing extremely well.  The chickens are enjoying whole beets and are also still foraging outside beneath evergreens that are protecting the ground from snow cover.  The sheep are butting heads over spent kale and brussel sprout plants and also enjoy an occasional beet.

All in all things are going well at Old School Farm.  The seeds that we were unable to save from last year have been ordered, and our stock of potatoes, beets, and carrots in the spring house continue to hold out very well.  The small pond below the spring house still refuses to freeze and even steams a bit.  We plan on establishing watercress in there come springtime.

Wild food update:   Acorn Muffins !    These are an incredibly delicious, nutty and nutritious treat - we use 50/50 ground white oak acorn meal and whole spelt flour.  Collect some acorns next fall and find out for yourself how delectable these really are.

Until next time, enjoy the photos below from the farm, and stay WARM :)

Your Friends at Old School Farm