Journal 2021

A periodic journal of homesteading occurrences here:  farm and land happenings, weather events.  Location, the Hilltowns of western Massachusetts.
Hardiness Zone 5B, rural.
Most recent dates and additions are to the top.

May 4:  Drizzly and overcast day.  Low this morning:  49 F. 

Planted:  Swiss chard (Rhubarb supreme variety) via Johnny’s seeds, three rows, lower Raised Bed 2a.  

Hybrid Turnips, Johnny’s Seeds, three rows behind the chard, Raised Bed 2a.  These are for small salad turnips, and could potentially be harvested in 30 days.  I will have a follow-up veggie here.  

The final potatoes, just purchased as individual seed spuds.  1 red, 3 gold (Kennebunk or something).  At least they aren’t russets, which I believe are only good as steak fries, here… 

May 3:   Too many baby quail have died off.  I have something like 21 left.  Three were very weak, and a few found some inventive ways to suicide.  No new deaths this morning.  

Yesterday, May 2 – low of 33 degrees F.  Out back, some water from rain was lightly frozen.  I forgot to record the high.  Rain started heavy here at 4 pm, although predicted not to arrive until six. This resulted in some unplanned online disruptions via Zoom.  But I found an alternate site to sit at. I cannot wait for something other than the satellite-dependent Hughsnet.  

Today:  Planted alternating rows of seed potatoes:  Yukons (three) and reds (two, I think a couple different varieties).  Some came from my potato storage of uneaten from last fall.  To finish up the planting, I need to get four more potatoes – one more red for that row, and three more golds for the other row.  I will do that tomorrow, the local farm and pet place sells seed potatoes by the individual tater.  (Planted in Raised Bed 4a.)

Also planted:  lettuce seeds.  I will use some as microgreens, spacing enough out so I can have some as full fledged lettuce heads, as I harvest the smaller or weaker plants.  These all came from Baker Creek, and I have enough seeds left over for a fall planting.  These are, in order, in Raised Bed 2c.  

    • Big Boston.  Definitely need some to get to maturity!
    • Henderson’s Black-Seeded Simpson – Leaf or head.
    • Merlot – A beautiful red lettuce that can form heads.  
    • Tom Thumb – Apparently can make small, 3 to 4 inch, lettuce heads.  

One row each.  I have enough seeds left over for a fall planting on all of these.  

Also planted:  Avalanche Snow peas (Raised Bed 2a).  

The rhubarb (Raised bed 3a) is not yet mature enough to be eaten.  Very tiny.  We will get them going and maybe next year?

I have mentioned it before, but the kale overwintered in its two rows of Raised Bed 4b.  

Temperature range today: 45 – 62 F.  Chickens are being prolific egg layers, and the adult quail are doing fine in that regard.  However the first batch no longer has a rooster so I won’t be breeding new ones from that stock. .  

April 28:  No new quail hatched.  And one baby died yesterday, two found dead this morning.  Unless one of the remaining does something stupid (I wouldn’t put it past them), hopefully that will be all.  32 surviving to date.  Next week I am considering starting up the dozen chicken eggs in the incubator.  Have to check timing, though.  Need to be here when they hatch, as I need to track which chicks come from which coop (for breeding purposes). We don’t want them to take after the historical monarchy of Europe, after all! 

Heavy thunder and lightening, with rain, in the wee hours of morning.  Low of 46 F.  

April 26:  By Friday bedtime (about 8:30 PM), 6 hatched quail.  By next morning, an uncountable more.  In the evening that Saturday, I’d brought 33 hatched and dried-off quail downstairs to their preliminary brooder.  Numbers 34 and 35 hatched during the day on Sunday, April 25th.  Both got a slight bit of help.  There are two babies that seemed yesterday to be a bit weak – there are again two – the same two?  in the same straights this morning.  They have figured out what food and water is (although I can’t guarantee the same for the weak ones).  

Tally to date:  63% of the eggs received from my quail nursery hatched (discounting the one I inadvertently cracked and it ooze white over another, also discarded).  

79% of the eggs that were candled at day 14, when they went into lockdown, had visible potential viable embryos inside, when so candled.  I discarded the rest, as they would take up too much lockdown space in the incubator.  

80% of these eggs hatched.  

April 21:  Candled the quail eggs and put them into lockdown last night just before going to bed.  12 eggs discarded.  The new candling unit is very definitive (unlike using the phone’s flashlight, which I don’t recommend).  So…. 44 eggs remain.  78.6% fertilized.  How many will actually hatch is still unknown.  There was one very tiny (relatively speaking) embryo.  I kept that egg, anyway.  I hope for pipping and hatching to start tomorrow and head to the weekend.  

Oh, almost forgot – got my first quail egg of 2021 from my own quail, yesterday!  

Made an appointment for Serenity to get a lion cut on Saturday.  

April 18:  We had what I would like to be our last snowstorm the night of Thursday the 15th into Friday the 16th.  About six or so inches, then while it still snowed, the ground was warm enough that most of it melted by Saturday morning.  With luck, I’ll have most of these hatch.  

April 11: beautiful weather the past two days plus today (although it will rain late… which is okay by me).  Yesterday I let the newest coop out to free range and when I went back down to put them back in, one of the roosters landed up on my upper arm (I am tall) and nestled there.  Wish it had been possible to take a photo!  One of the hens jumped up on my lower arm.  

Some of these hens now have names:  Spice is the buff rock.  Henny Penny is one of the three barred rock hens.  She actually followed me into my basement when I first let them out to roam.  

April 6:  The quail eggs I ordered a few weeks back have finally arrived.  Apparently according to USPS tracking, they arrived at my Post Office yesterday afternoon, after a week in transit.  Shipped out March 31st.  I have ordered Jumbo quail.  Will pick up the eggs this afternoon when the PO here is open.  (Nope, many rural post offices don’t have full-day hours.)  So… TODAY IS DAY 0 FOR THE EGGS:   I WILL SHUT OFF THE ROTATOR FEATURE ON THE INCUBATOR AT DAY 14 , IE, APRIL 20TH.  

Why Jumbo quail?

For One:  Any that become food will have more meat on their bones.  

For Two:  They shouldn’t be able to squeeze into adjacent condos when set up in their adult homes.  Want to keep separation without fighting.  Yeah, these tiny birds know how to fight.  

Got to get my hatching setup in place!  

As far as yesterday – I moved the one rooster (now named Romeo) to his new home and his new girls.  He doesn’t seem anxious to leave – after all, he has no competition for their attentions now!  SO I was able to go in and nab the egg one of the ladies there had laid, without him trying to get back out to more familiar territory.  (Eventually this crew will be allowed to free range for part of the day, but I want him to get used to where his new home is, first.)  

A couple things I REALLY have to attend to this morning that precludes me from putting the other rooster into the freezer today.  Things do seem more pleasant there (for now) without Romeo there.  But he WILL have to go to the freezer ASAP.  

April 5:  Hoping anyone who celebrates had a Happy Easter.  

Today should be entirely above freezing; we are having a fair amount of wind but not as much as recently.  

My ideal goal today is to move one of the barred rock roosters from the newest coop into a pen for dispatching to freezer camp tomorrow.  He’s getting overbearing on the hens.  As is the barred rock x buff Orpington rooster, whom I hope to move to the chicken tractor to become those hens new roo.  Thing is, too many roosters to too few hens will make for a bad situation – and the boys have just discovered they have too much testosterone to co-exist.  The remaining two roosters will let me know who gets to remain with them, too.  One is definitely a submissive with a smaller comb than the others, so he remains.  

In the main, first, coop – I thought my hens were either eating their eggs or laying them outdoors when they went out.  NOPE – they’d been accumulating them in a far different (and very dirty) corner of their coop.  Over three days.  13 eggs uncovered!  Their rooster (named Roo) remains a gentleman.  

On April 3rd, I found my most pretty quail hen dead.  She was speckled, dark-feathered, and a good bird.  No idea of cause.  I wish poultry didn’t do this!  

March 26:  Rain overnight, heavy at times.  Glad the roof vent is fixed!  Today’s temperature range:  54-67 F, with wind increasing in the afternoon.   (EDIT from the 27th:  Temps dropped overnight, so that by midnight it was 44 F.   Winds got really heavy-handed overnight.)

A total of 7 chicken eggs today, the late summer hens yielding up two of those.  So, biggest records for 2021 so far: egg numbers and temperature maximum.  The quail aren’t laying, stubborn buggers!  I have to have a talk with them, and show them some cooking supplies…

There’s a last bit of snow back in Blueberry Grove.  Otherwise, snow is done for.  (I mean, we could have a future snow shower or storm, but this winter’s contribution is gone.)  PS, I don’t count snowplow piles next to the driveway, but those are actually mostly gone, too!  

March 25:  Lots of life since my last update.  

On March 22, 23, 24, boiled down collected sap from four trees.  Not much boiling needed on the 24th, and indeed I went over on it.  I salvaged by mixing some less-boiled down syrup with the newest overcooked stuff.  It’s fine.  A little crystallization in the bottoms of the three containers, but not an issue.  

On the past four days (March 21, 22, 23, 24) the barred rock hens (or at least one of them) have started laying a daily egg.  It is only mid-way through today so perhaps I will see another egg later today.  

Temps:  March 21:  28 F – 50 F.
March 22:  28 F – 54 F. 
March 23:  28 F – 57 F.
March 24:  33 F – 48 F.  Rained late.
March 25:  44 F – 66 F.  Rained this morning.  Overnight some of this was heavy.  This matters, see below. 

Into any home ownership, a little rain (ahem) must fall:  

It rained last Friday  the 19th, too.  The snow had finally melted off of rooftops and in a lot of other areas of the yard (and has continued as this current week progresses).  This past Friday’s rain is important, even though it wasn’t heavy.  Snow was well off the roof at that point.  I discovered a roof leak!!!  Yes, when I went to curl into bed the night of the 19th, there was a steady mega drip drip drip in the master bathroom… went into the bathroom, and noticed water draining out through the ceiling air vent and onto the floor.  First thought:  a pipe broke? NO, this is a one level home, no water intentionally running up in the ceilings! – ah, the vent system broke down!  (This is the thing that draws the methane from bathroom usage up,  out and into the great beyond….)  Someone got here Tuesday the 23nd, and did a temporary fix, and a regular pro roofer whom the first guy called in, came here on Wednesday and fixed it good.  Turns out the building constructor putting this vent in had done it totally wrong – simply nailed the pipe up there without dealing with roofing underlayment.  Both men were surprised I had had no problems before this!  

Yes, I did guess it was a problem with the roof vent, but I just simply thought it was wear and tear and heavy sun / UV damage on the cap boot, since it gets intense south sun exposure.  I can’t climb up to look for myself aka Bad Knees and a bit of height phobia.  I thank the great locals who can help out here if and when needed!  

No new water un-intentionally arriving in, overnight!  Thank you!  

homesteading, maple syrup

Maple syrup is distilled down.  I don’t use much each year and even though this looks like way too little for one person in a year, I am only keeping one of the larger jars for myself.  More into flavor than sugar!  Next year, ten or fifteen trees, a sugar shack, and perhaps some birch tree sapping, too.  The actual collection post is here

March 16:  A mushy day.  Still a yard full of snow.  Temp range:  32 – 56 F.  I checked one syrup tap bucket – somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 full.  Had only tapped two by this date.

March 10:  Low of 25 F, High predicted to be mid 40s.  Bright and sunny, so more sun-sublimation due today.  My back deck table is now finally devoid of snow.  Went out and fed/watered chickens before the sun rose above the trees – not fond of snow-blindness, even though I have the ski goggles just in case. Serenity (the cat) is moving slower but still has an appetite for food.  PS, High of 45 F. 

March 9:  Low of 26 F this morning.  We still have a grand level of snow out there, mostly from that major snowstorm earlier this winter.  

I’ve been in a blah mood these days.  I only now want to start to get things done.  

The newer quail have yet to lay eggs; the older ones have not yet returned to laying.  I am looking forward to when I CAN order more eggs.  

Tapped a couple sugar maples.  Our high today was 42 F.  

February 28:  The howling and yipping of coyotes in the distance, about 3:30 am.  

February 23:  I’m doing fine.  I am just not posting here often.  Regards snow, we get more and more of it, along with a good ice storm somewhere in there – which actually wasn’t entirely a bad thing.  My crampons could purchase in that stuff!  And I had sufficient holes in the ground for my hiking poles to give me additional balance.  

Alas, on February 17th, shortly after the ice storm, I found Celeste – my favorite chicken – dead in her run.  She had such a good personality, but I did notice before all this winter happened that she was moving slower and not jumping as high as usual – it would now usually take two tries to hop into the bin instead of just one.  (If I had the chance, I helped her.)  

Celeste the Hen:  Late April 2018 – February 17, 2021

celeste

She’d died in the run, not in the coop, and a whole bunch of snow and ice had slid off the roof and had blocked he entryway to the run.  Not being chicken-sized, I was unable to get through the chicken door from the coop to the run, so she had to spend the night out there in the run.  (Each trip down to the chickens takes a LOT out of me.)  The next day I got down there with an ice chipper, and was able to get myself into the run.  

Normally, I would have buried her.  (In soil, not snow.)  But that’s not possible here at this time of year.  So I left her out to continue the cycle of life, as close to the woods as I could get her.  

On the morning of the 22nd, I found something had found and taken her.  Paw prints were too collapsed, but by spacing and overall size, I think a fox.  R.I.P., my lovely feathered lady!

Rest in peace, dear Celeste!  

Today:  Bought two kitten-sized litter pans to give my chickens more liquid water, as their current pans are now full and frozen.  They will also eat snow, which does blow in and land in the runs.  

Snowed overnight, about 4 inches, but today’s temps:  29 – 37 F.  Right now we are having flurries (late afternoon).  

February 12:  Happy Asian Lunar New Year!  Remaining to be posted this month (and in most cases, still to be made):  Filipino Tripe (Kare Kare), Taiwanese Pork Rice Bowl, Korean Fried Vegetarian Tofu).  May get one more recipe in here by the end of February.  Hopefully a Vietnamese dish I tried to make in the past, but failed at.  

Temps:  5 to (less than 20) F.  

February 9:  I  don’t want to talk about yesterday evening, but I have to.  But first let’s do the other stuff.  Today temps 12 F to 23 F. It is snowing today, maybe up to five or so inches.  

Yesterday evening I went down to the chickens, about 400 feet from the house (or so).  Fed and watered.  On the way back up, about one fifth of the way from the closest coop, I fell into the snow.  Because of my bad knees PLUS the depth of the snow not giving me a purchase to stand up upon – despite the walking sticks – I could not get myself to stand.  Eventually, I had to “backstroke” back to that coop, pull myself up on the door handle, to stand.  And then walk home.  I’d ditched the backpack early on, as it was hindering me in that position. I think this took around 20 minutes but no real idea.  I knew I had to get upright to walk home somehow, and the skies were darker and darker.  The house itself was lit, but there was no light to guide me in actual footprints should darkness truly fall.  

Fortunately still light enough to get home.  I got in, leaving the backpack to wait, and took off all the snow-soaked garments.  Went to bed, and shivered for at least two hours after arrival back here. My cat mostly ignored the dilemma.  Okay, she’s not Titania, who would have cared…  I will note that the one egg I retrieved didn’t get crushed in my endeavors!

I need to find a neighbor who can keep in touch with me on a daily or  a semi-daily basis.  I have a couple of ideas for this. I will note WiFi and cell reception is terrible around here.  

February 1:   I finally ran out of bandwidth on my internet service through Hughesnet, last week.  I never had that happen before.   At any rate, couldn’t understand why the service was down so I called them on the land line.  They told me (mentioning if it had been a satellite problem, my phone would have been down as well).  They did extend a bit more coverage, but I decided to wait until today when the new month’s plan rolled in, to post to my blog area.  Considering we had a nasty cold snap in the interim, I figure I’ll post the temp ranges for the last few days.  Temps in Fahrenheit.  

Friday, Jan. 29:  Low to high:  minus 3 to plus 9, with severe wind, wind chill down to about minus 20.  I’d buckled in the quail outdoors with another tarp layer, and they were fine.  
Saturday, Jan 30:  Low to high:  Zero to plus 14.  The chicken egg I found was frozen/cracked.  I was able to use it anyway once it thawed.  
Sunday, Jan 31:  Low to high:  -7 to plus 23.  The minus 7 is the low end record for this winter to date.  Two eggs found, chilled but not yet frozen.  

And today?  Low to high:  plus 14 to ____.   And a blizzard oncoming.  It wasn’t to start snowing until this afternoon, but we now expect snow by about 10 AM today.  

Quail egg news:  None hatched.  To say I am disappointed is an understatement.  When they got delivered, I think they got left outside the PO structure overnight.  I will have to open them all up (outdoors) to see what if anything can be determined as to any embryos.  Then I can be more definitive.  I know I am guaranteed a 50% hatching rate, but if this was not the hatchery’s fault, I’m not going to cash in on that.  

7:20 am – a first band of light snow is now falling. 

January 23:  Day 17 for the quail eggs, no sign of activity.  

Temperature range:  5 F to 19 F.  High winds over the past night.  

January 21:  9 degrees F at 7 am – a drop of a degree since I got up to candle the quail eggs at 6:30.  Candled 60 eggs, rejected 8, but have no idea if the 52 I saved really are all containing embryos.  I will be checking the 8 to make sure they didn’t have embryos, which if any of them do, the process will be fatal (crack them open, outside, in other words).  This is my first time candling quail eggs, although I checked the first chicken eggs I tried hatching (or letting my broody hen hatch for me).  The dark shell spots that quail eggs have make this a bit challenging, so I saved any uncertain eggs.   The eggs are no longer being rotated, so the hopefully living embryos can orient themselves for hatching, rather than getting seasick or something (joking).  I am seriously looking forward to JUMBO quail – and some of their mamas had to be jumbo, considering the size of a few of these eggs – otherwise that had got to HURT during laying!

Tuesday I added a strand of 50 battery operated outdoor-rated Christmas lights to the outdoor quails’ housing.  Tired of them getting the proverbial “free ride”!  I am still not good at sex-venting them – which is the reason I ordered the Egyptian Jumbos this time – you can feather sex them once the feathers grow in.  

Wednesday, Archie the Speckled Sussex rooster was found dead. No loss, he was mean.  I tossed him in the woods.  I hope something gets dinner out of him, but he was frozen like a rock.  Cause of death unknown.  The Rhode Island White is now the main rooster in that group.  

Also, more dehydrating on deck  today.  Yellow squash and green (zucchini) squash.  The squashes are becoming chips (both with salt, and the former with nutmeg, and the latter with chipotle powder).  Tomatoes.   Jalapeños, done whole.   Bell pepper chunks.  Started the dehydrator at 9:30 AM, just about when it started snowing out there.  

I’ve been getting a chicken egg every other day, with two of them on Tuesday, for the last ten days.  Yes, they’re responding (somewhat) to increasing light.  

January 14: Temp range 26 – 36 F.  On and off snow showers.  

January 13:  Temp range 24 – 34 F.  Lightly overcast. 

Dehydrated potatoes and bell pepper yesterday (the potatoes were done this morning). The potatoes are my own Yukon golds (with a smattering of my reds in there as well.)  Quail eggs continue to incubate.  

Chickens and quail are doing fine.  

January 8:  Temp range 19-30 F.  Bright sun.

Dehydrating zucchini and grape tomatoes today.  First time I’ve ever run the unit indoors.  Feels weird.  Didn’t have the space at the old home, and onions really need to be outdoors due to a bit too much aroma.  

January 7:   Temperatures today:  21 F this morning to a high of 28F.  

60 quail eggs have started incubating.  Today is Day 0, they go to Day 14, when I stop them from being rotated.  About Day 18 I hope they hatch.  Eggs arrived yesterday, you let them sit overnight to adjust after all the transit jostling.  I was sent ten extra eggs.  Jumbo Egyptians.  

January 6:  It is 6 pm now, and dinner is in the oven. I spent a couple hours or so in the morning at the auto place getting front and rear brake pads and rotors replaced, along with a couple of filters for A/C and something else.  No, I don’t speak Auto.  Watched Flipper 101 with Tarek somebody on HGTV in the waiting room.  WHY OH WHY do these flipping imbeciles find a need to paint perfectly GOOD brick white??? (I gasped, as did the other woman waiting in the room.)  And in that 2 million dollar home, why oh why did they not put in some good under-counter drawers instead of cabinets?  AND why does HGTV run back to back episodes of the same show on the same day?  Vary it up, guys!!!  I ended up watching four of these things. (How many do they run in a day?)  

I will admit, the one home that was obviously in late foreclosure, anything, ANYTHING they did to it would be an improvement.  You know popcorn ceilings?  That one had stalactite ceilings!  I’ve never seen that before.  But the 2 million dollar house – when they removed the walls to open up the space – they had to make a sunken living room.  Sorry, the inner klutz in me would have walked right back out that door and into an escape car.  But at least they made that kitchen look good and not monochrome, though I suspect (they focus on the kitchen for about five seconds in each of these things) the layout would not be user-convenient.  And yeah, no drawers.  

At least Tarek brought the homeowner flippers into a tile outlet to pick out tiles and such.  No one was stuck with the Joanna Gaines taste in having verbiage splattered across all the walls.  

I think there’s a reason I don’t watch TV much.  

January 5:  The day starts overcast, at 30 F.  High of 34 F, 

It is official, now.  I have 4 pullets and 4 cockerels in the new coop.  At least two of the latter will need to end up in the freezer, soon.  (Or I could give them away to someone else’s freezer, which I’d rather not.)  One last barred rock had taken his time to develop, and the coloration was slightly iffy, too.  

Now, it is a matter of deciding when to cull.  (And, which two?)   Eventually it may have to be three.  4 hens is a bit low for two roosters.  

Beautiful hawk circling around the back acreage here just now (3:15 pm) when I went out to discard kitchen trash into compost.  Too far away to discover if it was “my” hawk but it was of similar size.  

Hoping to pick up the quail eggs for hatching tomorrow.  I do have some questions but we shall see.  

January 3: Mixed precipitation in the morning of the Second, which led me to postpone my 8:30 am appointment for front and rear brake pads and rotors, which my last visit to the car service shop about a week ago told me was screamingly essential.  I don’t want to roll down icy hills to an appointment on marginal brakes!  Rescheduled for the 6th.  Also early in the day.  Will bring lots of reading material.  They no longer have magazines for folks waiting for service to complete, to read.  Not that anything other than the one or two cooking magazines had ever drawn my interest there, anyway.  (There’s a Television, but I’d only be interested in cooking shows on it, anyway.  Not like a good movie would be on in the mornings.  Or that television ever broadcasts useful DIY home improvement shows any more, either.)  

Working on improving my WordPress viewer “experience” this month.  I finally see some way to use the new “block editing” in my favor, but there are some lumps on the road.  I set up the Blogroll/Links page you will find on the upper tab using it – but having issues getting graphics there to do what I want them to do.  Come on, this shouldn’t be so difficult!!!!   And I still can’t access the outdated blog-roll on the right side of the blog pages to edit (and now, mostly, remove that).  I can remove the ENTIRE right column where I want, but the rest of that I still find useful.  

Yesterday’s temps never got above 37 F.  Today, we start at 26 F.  Will wear the cleats to the chicken houses – it is not quite 7:30 am here as I type.  Overcast and shady.  

The ordered quail eggs will arrive this week.  I get to follow the USPS tracking system – last word they were in Ohio (which is where they are being shipped from).  I will guess Tuesday or Wednesday.  

homesteading, 2021, chicken

Cockerel to the left, pullet to the right. Plymouth barred rocks on New Year’s Day. If you look at chickens from this breed together, you can sex them via their feathers. The pullets/hens have darker featheration than their brothers.

January 1:  Another year gone, another year wiser?

Unless a date is involved, items listed for my goals are not in any order.

Cooking Goals (for the Blog)

    • January – No theme.  Dates are largely tentative.
      • Artichokes, done simply.  (Recipe is completed)   (Tues Jan 5)
      • Leg of Lamb.  (Recipe is completed)  (Fri Jan 8)
      • Chirachi (Tues Jan 12)
      • Compare ground beef with Impossible and Beyond Beef ground “meats”  – both as burgers and as mini-loafs.  (Fri Jan 15)
      • Coffee liqueur – (Recipe made, but needs to be re-made for photos).  (Tues Jan 19)
      • (Fri Jan 23)
      • (Tues Jan 26)
      • (Fri Jan 29)
    • February – East Asian cuisine.
      • Vietnamese tapioca dumplings (…)
      • Japanese Takoyaki Octopus Balls
      • Filipino Tripe Stew
      • Something Asian and Vegan
    • March – No theme.
      • Maple Syrup Homesteading post.
    • April – Vegetarian and vegan.  (Other than the April 1st dish… You will see…)
      • Nut Free Granola.  Nut and dried up fruit-free, to be more specific.)
    • May – By this point, tie off the Greek dishes I really want to make:  Spanikopita, beef moussaka, and a couple others – hopefully in the earlier months.  Also, something Mexican for Cinco de Mayo.
    • June – Hopefully by then I will be able to do some restaurant reviews combined with a potential trip – see below.
    • The rest of the year… as it happens. Not planning further than that, just yet.  Other than making the Greek Almond and Chocolate Christmas Cookies, to post Dec 17th.  

Homesteading Goals, Maple Syrup

    • Get everything together and tap them trees in March.  (They are already marked.)
    • Possibly, simply for giggles, tap a large birch tree.  If only a taste, good enough this time.
    • Boil down everything, and make both maple syrup and a thinner maple drink.
    • Evaluate how it all went.

Homesteading Goals, Veggies and Fruits

    • iiai

Homesteading Goals, Feathered Critters

    • Chickens
      • Carry on with Main Coop.
      • Cull a rooster or two in Second Coop.  Go by behavior.  Encourage egg-laying.  Build “toys” for their run.
      • Set up tractor for eventual meat birds.
      • Electronetting, finally.
      • Order new day old chicks to arrive July – mostly broilers with supplemental barred rocks (this time the latter should be all female).  
        Note, they’re ordered to arrive week of July 26th.
      • September – October – harvest the broilers.
    • Quail:
      • January – order from Myshirefarm.com – two batches of Jumbo Coturnix eggs, to arrive Jan or early Feb.  This is 50 eggs.  Set up incubator and have at it!   ORDERED.  
      • March – Quail go outdoors, or if too many to house out there, extras into freezer.  (FINALLY I will be able to eat one of my quail!)  Another possibility is to find neighbors who want quail of their own.
      • Cook up some meat quail.  
    • Other Poultry
      • Evaluate the potential of having either guinea fowl (tick control!) or turkeys (just two or three, for end of season dinner) here.  Hens are fine for the turkeys.  Both species will also lay eggs.  I will probably not establish them here in 2021.

Homesteading Goals, Other Critters

  • I am definitely getting and using a fishing license this year.  On the western end of this state, I seriously MISS fish or seafood of any kind!
  • Rabbits?  Dunno.  I’d like to raise them for food, but between 1) too much like white meat of chicken – but perhaps if semi-free-ranged they won’t be like that and 2) probably too many neighbors hating on me for wanting to eat those gentle fluffy things?  Dunno. (Personally, I rather eat squirrel.  I wish I had this blog in place back when I last had squirrel…!  – Um, I also feel that way about the overnight-braised bear roast we had back in the day…)
  • Sheep.  For some reason I prefer the smaller but wilder breeds of sheep, at least to have roaming around here.  I’d like Shetland, Icelandic, or to go WAY back evolutionarily, the Soay sheep.  Seriously winter-hardy.  These would primarily be for fiber, but cull out extras.  I am going to research housing and put in fencing in 2021.  I will not be able to bring any on this year, see Personal Goals below.
  • Goats.  Still researching, but for meat, I am leaning Kiko goats.  Will look into other goats, preferably not too large as I have some bad body parts.  I have absolutely NO interest in milking any animal here.
  • Alpaca.  This one is also a real possibility, for their fiber.  I could sell it to others, and perhaps learn to use it myself.
  • Main need for all this over 2021 is to find the best FENCINGS, get a small tractor (and a way to cover it when terribly inclement out), and plan out essential housing that allows room for growth.  2021 will be a year of research with some early infrastructure.

Personal Goals

  • The idiotic “benign tumor” in my knee is growing back.  I need to deal with this, get another MRI, and get it excised once the nasty and icy part of spring is over.  I looked last spring at the potential of hitting it with radiation (it hadn’t grown back a lot then) and that doctor and I concluded that since little was known about this type of tumor, it would not be practical with unknown benefits.  This is why I will have new quail come early – since I already have quail, the newbies can be outside with the others when the time comes – and new chickens will come late. I will have to have someone in town maintaining my poultry and my one remaining cat while I am out/not able to do things, and I want them NOT to have to slip down on snow or ice to get to the chickens, either.  I have also delayed due to  the coronavirus of note, since New Haven is a state away, and I really didn’t want to avoid having enjoyment here the balance of 2020 – and the growth only started to take back off this past month.  But this HAS to be done this spring.  I can still start seeds indoors for the garden.  I will be able to be weight bearing, but other factors mean I can’t slip AT ALL during the healing process outdoors.  On the plus side, it is not growing back at the juncture of the knee itself. So far less physical therapy will be involved than last time.
  • Serenity my cat.  (She got introduced to the world of the Internet back in 2002 as Miw, an Egyptian persona/avatar on a couple of creative and interactive websites.  She’s still on the site that is still available,)  She is 19 years old, and she beats Grumpy Cat out in spades (without looking or being grumpy), but I never knew I should have tried to monetize her!  Born 11/11/01 – she’s a Ragdoll.  She and my two American Curls got along well with each other, but the last had to be put to sleep last October.  Since she no longer has Obi-Wan, she sleeps with me at night.  She has early kidney failure problems, and a bit of hind end osteoporosis issues – but I WORK with her. I am hoping she can make it to age 20, and to that end I will do whatever I can – as long as she’s happy being alive.  (If it becomes miserable for her, I do know how to let go, despite the tears.)
  • There will always be cats in my life.  I cannot bring any new ones in here while Serenity lives – she’s mellow and will pretend to deal, but at age 19, that is rude to her beyond belief.  I am considering if/when that time come, adult cats, no specific breed.  From a shelter or some such.  While I LOVE both the ragdoll and American curl breeds, there are so many cats already out there waiting for love and a home.
  • A dog or more?  I am finicky about dogs, just like people. Some people are worthwhile and more than worthwhile. Same is true of dogs.  Never wanted one in my working days – yeah, there are puppy day care facilities, but eh..  II might be gone for 11 hours a day, including commute time.  And I might need to go somewhere afterwards.  For an emergency, yes, but otherwise?  I am retired, and considering a bundle of factors.  However, I am looking at guardian dogs (yes, that type would stay outdoors to watch the flocks), sheepherding breeds possibly, and maybe a couple other types.  Yes, with dog breeds, breed personality can get involved, but I have known some mixed that turned out wonderful.  Depends on what is needed when the time comes… 2022?   With other needs for 2021,  a dog is premature. Much more needy creatures than cats (or, for that matter, most poultry).
  • Getting the Solar connected.
  • Getting the Generator installed and connected.
  • Dealing with homeowners insurance and then getting a wood burning fireplace in and on line.
  • Finish all the exterior staining and preserving, and re-doing some of the sun-intensive parts on the house (some of this may need me to hire out – as I can’t do ladders these days).
  • Take a VACATION.  While I could go down to Florida to see family sometime in April, I think surgery will supersede this.  I think the probable vacation will be in June, with family, to Maine, to lay to rest Dad’s ashes with Mom’s.  That’s fine.  (I can find locals to take care of poultry and the cat – especially with the snow GONE.  I have NO intention of visiting Florida in the summer.  I am not a masochist.)
  • Short trip travels:  Vermont weekend in August, Hudson Valley weekend in October for Columbus Day weekend, NOFA summer conference in Amherst MA.  This all depends on what is cancelled due to COVID.  
  • Hosting the annual (except 2020) Maypole.  
  • Garage clean-out and organization.
  • Basement re-organization.

Personal Goals, Creative and Related

  • Return to stained glass.  Did some in the past.
  • Learn a language.  I started Duolingo for Welsh last year, but I do want to go beyond Tourist Lingo.  I want to read the literature.  Yes, the former is first in the way of learning, but I don’t see there is much available to learn that language deeper (should I actually have the time).  Portuguese would also be interesting. NOTE:  I don’t have a NEED to learn a language, I just figure it would be an interesting way to keep that part of my brain active.  I’d thought about Korean or such (as a foodie), but I do NOT want to learn that alphabet.  Sticking with language, not writing!
  • Painting:  Watercolor, acrylic, oils – as they occur to me.  Not planning on hitting them ALL.
  • Vastly improve my photography, and set up a studio in the basement for adding to that.  At least for the indoor portions.  Deal with the fact that Lightroom software is now inaccessible to people who don’t have good internet connections and get something as good or better than that.
  • Consider making videos.
  • I plan to read 60 books in 2021 – this will be tracked on Goodreads.  Cookbooks, how-to books, and reference books won’t count – since those tend to be skimmed or opened up for specific needs.  I read 60 this year, so I don’t think this will be a stretch.
  • Exercise a LOT more.  This is by being active around the property, and by walking/hiking.  If you homestead, you probably really do NOT need to join a gym or fitness center.  Fifty years ago, no one was doing that, and they were overall a lot more fit than people are now.
  • Improve my state of mind.  Meditation and other techniques.  Things to improve my sleep hours.  I’d love to get back into tai chi, but need to re-develop body flexibility.  Connect with people early and often.  (Even if just by picking up the phone, these days.)
  • Sleep.  I understand 7-9 hours a night is ideal.  I read somewhere that Benjamin Franklin ended up waking mid-night, got work done under an oil lamp, then went back to bed… to rise early and wise or whatever.  That’s possible, too.  I do wake in the early hours of the new day (um, restroom reasons…) but I do get back to sleep.  I want to experience better sleep patterns, even if I do get up for the nocturnal voyage to the john.  I need to improve on this.
  • Just damn well accept that some people think political viewpoints are more important than friendship, and just go ahead and get along with life.  DEAL with it.  I learn to refuse to fall into that shallow trap-hole.  Not my problem if they decide to do so. Friends are friends because they are FRIENDS, not because they have to agree with me on every count, or that I have to agree with them on any.  Cut the fake ones loose.  I admit I am having some vestigial problems with this.  But I have a history of a couple (2) earlier problems with fake friends.  At least this all happens for different reasons… (Mebbe I am learning something, but at a case at a time?)
  • Listen to MORE music.  I need (finally!) to get my iPOD converted over to the current i-World out there.  The stuff on that implement is my musical soul.
  • Find something volunteer to do.  I had planned to host the local monthly night Potlucks at the Community Center starting last March after the slippery ice went away, but… COVID closed everything down.  I would like to volunteer at a pet shelter.  Those are still necessary.
  • WRITE!  Oh, Please!  And not just for this blog!
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