Journal 2022

Life in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, Zone 5B.
Back to journaling after a halt at the end of last November.
Most recent entries are entered at the top.
Homesteading and Other Events Herein.

July 24:  Yes, ages since I updated my Journal.  Yes, I am still alive and kicking.  I seem to have been sucked into other endeavors – but here remains one of my first loves, this blog.  Oh, and this is predicted to be the hottest day so far this year – up to 90 F.  UGH.

I lost my Easter Egger hen on July 4th, when she went outdoors to celebrate the nation’s birthday with her coop-mates.  She simply didn’t come home.  She;d laid extra large lightly blue tinted eggs.  Fox or hawk.

Yesterday:  I saw my first monarch butterfly of the season, probably cocooned out on my land, as I have native milkweed growing here.

This morning – I saw two male wild turkeys go at each other, probably fifty feet or so from where I was standing by the chicken coops.  They fluttered up at each other, three or probably four times, crashing their bellies against each other, dropping down to do it again.  A splendid display!  I think it was over territory, or an internal flock civil war dispute.  Dunno which won – after all, both birds looked the same.

I’d say about six days ago I got a tremendous gargantuan egg from Athena.   That thing must have HURT.  Photos forthcoming.

February 23:  The new hen’s name is still uncertain.  Now I lean towards Azul, which is blue in some languages.  For the record, her coop mates’ names are Rustbucket (the rooster, so named because of how his coloration appeared – he was totally black but gradually got in feathers of a red rusty color.  He’s half Rhode Island Red.  Lyra, a hen, a buff broiler who is the friendliest of the hens.  (So named because the previous broiler hen I had, the friendliest ever, Celeste, was named from a celestial notion; Lyra is named for a constellation.)  Zahra is the previous second-hand hen.  She’s got Wyandotte in her and some sort of something called “pencil” coloration.  She’s mostly black with those Wyandotte-ish rust red bits.  Less orange-red than Rustbucket’s reds.

She (the new one) was let into the coop last night by her mates.  Which is good, as it was a really cold blustery rain last night.  At 8 am now, it is calm and 53 F out there, but temps will drop and get wintery this afternoon, with a new bolus of high winds.  (At midnight, or one minute post-midnight, my weather station recorded 51 F, and still rainy.)

Oh, there’s the ongoing Murine Demolition Project, the MDP.  Tally of seven this morning.  One trap had two mice.

February 22:  Weather has been playing a variety of instruments and musical (and a-musical) genres of late.  I am trying to tap my trees for maple syrup.  I think I have a gallon and a half, from three trees – mostly from one of them.  Was going to do birch this year, but the tree I navigated to in the woods was nearly dead and hence useless.

The earliest days I could have tapped trees – they were inaccessible to me.  Solid ice out there atop the frozen snow.

Low today of 28 F.  High seems to be 38 F, but it may go up somewhat from this before the day is over.  A heavy cold rain.

Yesterday a friend and I got some mature chickens from a woman in a town adjacent to where my friend lives.  Mine is a mixed breed Easter egger who apparently lays blue eggs.  She’s got blue/sliver coloration.  I’m debating names for her – so far, Luthien is in the running (Lord of the Rings).  Not sure I’ll do that – the most reasonable nik for her would be Luthi – which sounds too much like my mother’s name spoken with a lithp.  I could call her Luth for short – we’ll see.  Meanwhile, still thinking.  She’s a beautiful big fluffy bird, about a year and a half old.

My friend got three beautiful bantams!  I think next August or September I’ll consider a small new coop for bantams only!

February 14:  Happy Valentine’s Day.  If you care.  If you dare.

I ordered trees from Raintree Nursery today, scheduled shipping date is April 11:


    • 2 blue elderberry trees
    • 1 Greensleeves apple, mini dwarf.
    • 1 Boskoop apple, mini dwarf
    • 1 William’s Pride apple, mini dwarf
    • 1 Pristine apple, mini dwarf
    • 1 Queen Cox self-fertilizing apple, dwarf.
    • 1 Toyo Nishiki flowering quince
    • 1 Crimson and Gold flowering quince.

January 25:  A minor spritz of snow overnight.  It has melted off the coop area of the hen houses, but some remains over the run area of these.

A low of 12 F since midnight, and it is now 16 F.   (10 am)   Not going to get particularly warm today, but the sun is bright on the snow.

January 23:  Yesterday we had our year-to-date temp low of minus 8.  The highs did get in the 20s.

Today we started with a balmy 10 F, and we shall see where that goes.

Tried making Italian pasta carbonara yesterday.  If you like lotsa salt, that would be a recipe for you!  Had planned to post it this coming Tuesday, but no can post until I make this recipe right.  I am still feeling the tingling of all that excess salt on my tongue!  Bleh.  Guanciale is apparently WAY too oversalted for me to enjoy.  Will try again though.  Just not right now.

Today’s plans:  Parsnips, bacon and pasta.  Tomorrow:  Sous vide pork tenderloin.  The first of these recipes should appear on Tuesday.  The tenderloin?  Probably Friday.

These week I want to make a celeriac and chestnut soup, to be posted in February (which will be my vegetarian month).  Also want to make a Chinese Buddha’s Delight, for February First, the onset of the Asian Year of the Tiger.  I like tigers…

January 16:  Brrrrrr.  Yesterday’s temps ranged from -6 F to +5 F.

Chickens are doing fine.  It appears Cassie is doing fine (that apparently-female broiler) is doing fine.  Indeed, the two roos there accepted her – the hens do let her know she’s at the bottom of the pecking order.  While it is usually best to introduce two new hens at once (they have someone to have commonality with during the acceptance process), this was not an option – had she failed to be okay, I’d have had no choice but to add her to the freezer with the other broilers.  (Cassie is short for Cassiopeia, that W or M shaped constellation in the far northern skies.   This follows in the tradition of the first broiler to remain a part of the chicken family, Celeste, followed by Lyra (another constellation name) who currently abides in the Tractor Supply coop/run).

I’ll be down later today to tarp up a section of that new coop/run.  Its latches keep freezing up on me, plus reducing the amount of draft in this smaller space is a good idea.  We are predicted to get 9-14 inches of snow overnight – and if it is the lesser amount, this will mean some of it will be more of that nasty freezing rain, instead of snow.  So – I actually hope essentially that it is is all snow.

January 14:  Good weather yesterday, with a few flurries in the morning.  Temps from the 20s to 30s.  Cassiopia (the last of the female broilers) went to the Raptor Coop.  The final broiler, which I’m near certain is a boy (based on his feather shapes) is slated to go into the fridge later this morning.

Cooking and blog posting goals:  1) an old Roman recipe for cabbage, obtained from the YouTube channel, “Tasting History”.  2)  a Filipino tongue recipe, already eaten and nearly written up.  3) a review of Cook Unity, essentially put together but I want to review the review first…. 4) Planning on making Pasta Carbonara for the 22nd – for our Culinary Cooking group – which alas appears to be going to be held on Zoom this time.  (Recipe itself won’t be posted immediately.)  This has the disadvantage of us not being able to taste other people’s creations, but does provide the advantage of, say, allowing people to make foods that other members can’t actually eat.  So, if one of them wants to create a dish with pistachios, I won’t be there begging off!

February I’m planning on going vegetarian for the month, and recipes will reflect that.  Asian New Year is February 1st this month, and I have 5) the goal of making a Chinese Buddha’s Delight recipe I found, probably the day before (so I can edit prior to posting).

January 12:  Yesterday, the day started at 4 degrees, dropped to 0 by late morning, rose to a balmy 5 by 2 or 3 pm, and settled back down to a crispy 1 degree by midnight.  This is Fahrenheit, where 32 degrees F is the freezing temperature of water.  At 8 am this morning it has thankfully risen to 14 F, and I hope the driveway area by the garage melts enough that I can run a couple of errands.  The chickens are fine it seems, crowing commenced at 4:50 this morning (I was awake anyway, reading, before dropping back to sleep until a bit after 7 am).

A purchase I want to make is a wind-gauge, electronic and local-wi-fi, of course.  The basic weather station is set up here in the dining area, with the temperature/humidity/pressure reader on the porch outside the front door.  It tries to guess at the weather for me, too, but with all the accuracy of weather forecasting about the year I was born.  That’s okay, I prefer the websites Weather Underground for forecasting, and Dark Sky for their precipitation radar.  And my eyeballs, and learning to read clouds and other signs, for other times.  For the wind gauge, I figure I’ll have the readout in the master bedroom, with the gauge out on the far side of the deck.  Most accurate readings of course would be if it were on the roof, but I’m most interested in tracking not the Ultimate Wind, but the wind that will affect me and any livestock/chickens.  The chickens are down a ways – not protected per se by geography, but certainly better than on top of the roof of this house.  (Plus, I can install that myself.  I don’t do roofs, even before my knees went bad.)

The latches on the Tractor Supply chicken coop are making it difficult to deal with its doors in winter.  Tomorrow it will be toasty warm (mid-high thirties) so I shall deal with this, then.  I will also be putting the last broiler chicken into its own deep-freeze….  Farewell!

NOTE:  The last time I drove feed around back was either this past Friday or Saturday.  I doubt the weather will permit this again this winter. Still need a tractor, and a place up top here to house it.

Temps did go up to the mid-upper 20’s.

January 11:  Lowest temps so far this year.  It dropped to 0 degrees, Fahrenheit, late morning today.  We have a good coating of ICE out there from Sunday (the 9th).  A little bit of snow over that, up to an inch and a half.  I’ve finally gotten back to the Journal again.