Doing chores in freezing weather
I have been following your temperatures almost daily and I wonder how you do your chores with such very cold temps. Must be a challenge. And how do your chickens manage in the sub zero temps? With the short days and little sun, like many of your readers, my thoughts turn to gardening and seeds. I would love to hear more about the seeds you are planning on offering for sale so I don’t order them somewhere else. It will be another income source for you and Will and I want to make sure I give you most of my business. Any more pics of Hondo and Spencer? How much does Hondo weigh now? All the best Christmas wishes to you and Will and David.
Yep, we’ve got unusually cold temps right now. We don’t usually get this cold until after Christmas.
We do our chores in segments: water the goats up here, grain them, then give them hay. Go into the house and warm up. Water the chickens and feed if the feeder is getting low. Water goats down in the goat pasture. Go inside and warm up. Grain goats in goat pasture and give them hay inside so they use extra for bedding. Go inside and warm up. You get the idea. Not so bad when you do it that way, although it does take longer. Watering the animals down by the new barn is more of a chore, taking several hours. (Heat water lines by running generator to power heat tape inside lines for an hour. Meanwhile do something else.) Dig out hoses. Open hydrants in barn and by generator shed. Turn on well. Water animals as needed. And so on.
Our chickens and turkeys are in their small coop. It’s pretty well closed up in the winter although they get out on nicer days. Because it’s small and there are quite a few bodies inside, it doesn’t get awful cold. We keep it well bedded with wood shavings.
Yes, we’re thinking about seeds too as we’ve already gotten several seed catalogs. Thank goodness it gives us something to look forward to. (I buy a few all winter so it’s not so spendy later on!) We’re planning on offering the following seeds (and some more as we see how others germinate and hold out): Tigerella (large red and yellow striped cherry-type, early), Old German (big beefsteak, yellow with red striping throughout; very sweet and great taste), Italian Tree Tomato (that huge red beefsteak with wonderful flavor), Bill Bean (old Italian huge beefsteak that’s become one of our favorites), Cherokee Purple (big, sweet, fairly early slicer with great coloring), Hopi Pale Grey squash (ancient, very rare, excellent keeper — two years +) and Howden pumpkin (which is a C. maxima and shouldn’t be grown anywhere near Hopi Pale Greys if you want to save seed). Also Provider bush green beans and Dragon Tongue (flat bush bean with yellow with purple stripes that go away when you blanch, cook, or can — great flavor! Again, we may offer more but we’ll have to see. Thanks for thinking of us. Yes, any homestead-generated income is looked forward to around here; it makes more projects possible!
I will take more pictures of Hondo and Spencer. Hondo weighs about 25 pounds now and is very long-legged. He’s only four months old and looks to be a BIG boy!
And a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours, too! — Jackie
Using frozen strawberries
I have an abundance of frozen strawberries in my freezer. I would like to make something that I can give as gifts by canning, but I’m a little tired of jams. I’ve seen a couple of recipes for strawberry vinegars but they call for fresh strawberries, not frozen and I don’t know if they are good for canning. Do you have a recipe for something like that or some other suggestion for using frozen strawberries?
How about making strawberry preserves and spicing them up by adding 1 tsp. almond extract and chopped pecans just before ladling into your hot jars? This is pretty, different, and real easy too. For those who you’ll see or visit just before Christmas, how about making a simple cheesecake like Will’s Cheesecake on page 182 of my book Jackie Clay’s Pantry Cookbook. If you don’t have the book, here’s a brief run-through:
1 graham cracker crust, unbaked
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar (may add more to taste, up to 2 cups)
2 cups frozen strawberries, sugar added
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
Mix first six ingredients in medium bowl, whipping well. Put in graham cracker crust. Cover and set in freezer to stiffen up. Meanwhile, drain juice off thawed strawberries. In small saucepan, mix water and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring well until thickens. Add strawberry juice; mix well, then add strawberries. Heat and stir until it makes a thick glaze. Cool to room temperature. Ladle over frozen cheesecake (the cold helps it quickly stick in place). Put in freezer again, covered until you wish to gift it. It’s something everyone loves! — Jackie