October 27, 2018: First snow.
Tammy the Wyandotte went back out to her flock yesterday morning. Before I could let her peers out of their coop and into the run (where I’d put her), she and the rooster were calling to each other. She was glad to be home.
On the 26th, I can also add a new animal sighting to my “life list” (which is what birders call theirs). Even with glasses, my astigmatism isn’t corrected enough that I’ll start a birding life list, but… instead I saw a fisher cat. It rapidly crossed the road mid-day as I was driving about 3 miles from home. No time to take a photograph or such. Certainly no fox, raccoon, coyote, badger, dog, bobcat, or regular cat… I guessed fisher cat and confirmed it online when I got home. Beautiful animal. (Fisher cats are related to weasels and pine martins, not at all to the feline family of beasts, and they can be quite nasty.)
October 18, 2018: Last night we had our killing frost. It was 28 F when I woke up.
Yesterday, I picked parsley, rosemary, tulsi/holy basil, and brought them indoors. Today I’ll freeze much of this. I brought in the last of the outdoor potted plants. (Fruit trees had come inside about a week ago.)
In the chicken department, Tamiko (Tammy) a silver-laced Wyandotte, exhibited signs of abuse from her harem peers, so I brought her indoors, she’s not so happily ensconced in the Poultry Nursery (aka my basement workshop) to recoup (or should that be, “re-coop”)? I advise chicken keepers to get a dog crate for such eventualities. I also have some goop to medicate her injury with.
October 6, 2018: A week ago Sunday we dispatched 7 of the 8 meat broiler hybrid birds. Six were roosters, one a hen. As far as texture goes, these (the roosters anyway) were about a month late, but then again these birds had an extra month of good foraging here. They do have more taste than your supermarket Cornish Cross, but I need to adjust cooking accordingly.
One good thing about learning how to do this, is that if any of the layers is severely injured beyond my or a vet’s capability to handle, I will be able to dispatch such a chicken as painlessly as possible.
And no, even though I did it personally with one of my meat birds, it will not be, and should not be, a task taken on lightly and without a care. I choose to eat meat (I can’t eat most tree nuts, for one, although I’ve just recently discovered almonds are okay), and any of these birds here have a better life than at a Tyson chicken factory. The saying is, One Bad Day… although I don’t think they were pleased the day they got moved from their basement box to the tractor in the great outdoors, either.
In the hen house/coop, Celeste is the lovely hybrid meat broiler with Australorpe background that, due to her friendliness, I’m now considering her a laying hen. She may not be prolific, but that’s okay. She tucked her way into my heart.
Tiny Dancer was the runt among the Wyandottes but turned out to be the rooster. He’s a sweet fellow to his harem – he lets them come down in the morning from the coop, first, and lets them chow down before he looks for his own food. He’s skittish around me, but I don’t care since he’s so nice to his ladies. He’s only recently learned to crow. Amusingly, roosters apparently sound like really LOUD cats coughing up hairballs before they get that CROW sound right!
June 17, 2018: I moved in to my homestead property in western Massachusetts on December 11th, with my three cats (a ragdoll and two American curls). The ragdoll (Serenity aka Miw) came into my life via a writing workshop also attended by the breeder, so no pricing issues with her. I promptly went into surgery on my knee for a benign but large tumor on the 14th of 2017 (necessitating a few days of hospital stay), and became a legal resident of Massachusetts on December 30th.
Winter was spent waiting for it to stop sn*wing, for me to start driving again, and doing physical therapy to regain range of motion and strength in my leg. And, making plans.
On May 3rd, we (the cats and I) were joined by eight day-old broiler chicks. They’re not Cornish Cross, but they will grow fast and furious. Just not as fast and furiously. GOOD.
Eleven laying chicks arrived on May 8th, although one of these is technically not a layer, as he’s the future rooster of the laying lot. I still don’t know which one he is, other than that he should be one of the silver-laced Wyandottes.
So, ATM, we are now 23 vertebrate critters living on my farmstead, at least inside the house. I see a variety of deer, wild turkeys, salamanders, and other critters outside on my property so far this year. Not to mention a luna moth and certain other moths. Last fall, Monarch Butterflies hatched here. Yea team! Yes, there’s an indigenous population of milkweed, which I try to encourage although it likes growing where it may get run over. (Oh, we won’t mention the mice I’ve found in the garage…)
The below are a list of my Homesteading Post links that I plan to add more and more to this blog as time goes on. Farming, gardening, DIY projects, and various other notions. At the top of this page I will add dated events/discussions as they occur, and I get around to writing about them.
Feedback encouraged!!! And I will update this page reasonably regularly. Check back ever so often if you are inclined.
Raising Up Poultry
This year, it’s chickens, both broilers and layers. Next year, I would like to add in guinea fowl, for their tick-eating fixation. Post links are in ascending date order of occurrence.
Won’t begin to happen until 2020. Thinking alpaca, Shetland and/or Soay sheep, goats. Not everything at once, of course! No dairy. I am soooo NOT milking day in and day out. No posts in this category for a while! You have to walk before you can fly.
Growing the Vegetable Kingdom
Tips and tricks for getting the MOST out of your veggie patch. Or your fruit trees/bushes. Fruits will be first, true vegetables second in the lineup. I’m especially no expert on fruit trees yet — last year was my first to have them aboard, but perhaps this year will provide a difference. I am HOPING. For some reason, I’ve not really posted about growing my own veggies yet.
Gardening 2015 – May Report – Just what was out there. And those Brussels sprouts didn’t make it, but the rest did.
Container Citrus Trees – They’ve just arrived when I made that post, so no info on longevity in this post. (Note, as of June 15th 2018, they are still alive, but not prolific by any means.)
Of Apple and Olive Trees – They’ve just arrived when I made that post, so no info on longevity in this post. (Note, as of June 15th 2018, the apples are still alive, but not prolific by any means. The olive bit the dust.)
The Australian Finger Lime (Paired with Scallops) – A sampling of a finger lime I grew here.
Citrus Tree Update (summer 2018) – this post will appear August 7.
Growing & Using Herbs
For whatever reason, they’ll get their own category. Alphabetical.
Foraging for Meals
I plan to do more and more foraging, and will search through my past blog posts for other appropriate links, too. To be listed alphabetically by primary forage material.
Putting Food By
Canning, dehydrating, long term storage. Perhaps even references to quality products I’ve bought for long term storage. Some years ago, but not that many, much of this town was out of power for 2-3 weeks. I’ve lived through power outages back in my old suburban town in Connecticut as well. While I’ll have backups, it will be nice to not have to worry much about going anywhere… Plus, with farming and being relatively self-sufficient in New England, winter months don’t give you much in the way of good produce, unless you take action. Organization will be by preservation method. Gadgets at the end.
Outbuildings and Farm Equipment
On the horizon… Potentially blocking my view??
Simple DIY Projects
Simple indoor or outdoor projects that can be useful whether or not you are homesteading, farming, or anything else. I haven’t decided how these links will be arranged just yet.
Protecting the wood deck (and the house!) from grilling ash, hot or cold – this will appear as the second half of the citrus tree update post, August 7th.
Critters Stopping By for Photography
Just Because. These won’t always get linked back to a post, because it is the visual record of them running around here that more or less matters. At least to me. (I will try to remember to date these photos.)
Books and Movies of Interest
For now, most of the entries here focus on food, since this started as a food blog and that’s still a major focus, but I plan to get more general (but USEFUL) homesteading books discussed on this site. PS, I don’t have time to waste reviewing books I don’t want to continue in my life! They’ll all be 4 to 5 (out of 5) starred books. Movies may vary in how I report after them; after all one sits through those for around 2 hours… Two hours you may never get back!
Too Many Cookbooks? – What I had back in November, 2013. Just for the amusement and storage factor. I sent many off to the Litchfield Farmer’s Market cookbook swap table, but I also purchased others since then. Sorry, an addiction.
Madhur Jaffrey: An Invitation to Indian Cooking, and Edgar Tharp & Robert E. Jaycoxe: The Starving Artist’s Cookbook, Reviews – Back in March 2011, I decided I’d do a monthly cookbook review. This concept lasted… one month. Those and The Joy of Cooking (Mom’s gift to me) were probably my very first cookbooks.
The Science of Good Cooking and The Meat Book – Both by Cook’s Illustrated, and part of a series I posted late 2017, early 2018. Part I. (I finally got the hang of doing series… lol…)
Vegetables, and Perfect Vegetables – By James Peterson and by Cook’s Illustrated, respectively. Part II of above.
Fish and Shellfish, and Sauces – both by James Peterson. Part III of above.
The Flavor Bible – by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg. Part IV of above.
Recipes from My Own Crops and Livestock
I’m not counting just going out to get a few herbs for seasonings, (or an egg or two, especially if laid) but something where what’s obtained is a major component of a dish.
Tabbouleh, from my parsley and lime.
Chicken Soup, with Unlaid Chicken Yolks, from my broiler hen, and stock from a roo.
Don’t know how this category will be used or not, but. At any rate, I am thinking energy use discussions might go here, at least briefly until and when I decide to break them out. And, so forth.