We’ve been lucky this year in that the weather has been warm. One of the things I very much slacked on was getting firewood cut and ready. I actually made two very good deals trading piglets for firewood but got screwed on both. We should have ended up with at least a full cord of wood (4x4x8) but we got about half a rick (2x4x2). I explained that the wood had to be 20 inches or less, half the wood is 22 to 26 inches. I gave up trying and just gave them the pigs.
We got a Saanen buck about a month ago and he’s the meanest goat I’ve ever known in person. He’s nice to the other animals but tries to butt us regularly. He almost broke both my hands the first day we had him and He butted Nik hard the other day while Nik was watering him and gored his leg. I considered shooting him, which goes against my normal self. I’ve got him for sale very cheap in hopes he’ll go where he can be used for a herd or wethered and turned into meat. If I kill him he’ll only go to dogfood.
We’ve had a lot of loss lately and hardest two were the loss of my beloved
Ajax and Nik’s cat Griffin.
The loss of Ajax put another hole
in my soul alongside the one left by Leader.
On the 20th we had some very high and hard winds and lost our solar shower and horse shelter to them. Some other minor damage to the rabbitville and the goat house. And the day after a small tree fell and knocked down part of one of the pallet fences. All the smaller things have been repaired but we still have the shower and horse shelter to rebuild. The horse shelter wasn’t finished anyway and was just tarps and pallet walls.
There has also been an incredible amount of human drama here the last few months. Quite beyond anything on any even remotely ok with me. It has calmed down now and I have hopes that things can begin anew.
The almost 200 dollar pipe work that the plumber did our first year here, which he cracked while installing, has now cracked in a new place and is leaking badly. Nik replaced the first broken piece and fixed a part that was installed incorrectly. But I think the plumber tightened it to much or it is inferior material or something because it just continues to crack. We have a heat lamp and the pipe hasn’t frozen but we discovered it leaking in a new place the other day and it’s leaking badly. A very bad time for such a thing.
For the bad, we are very lucky and it could be so much worse.
Life has continued on and we are blessed as always. Instead of wood heat I used today for part of the weeks baking and made 5 dozen cookies. Snicker Doodles and Lemon Sugar cookies. Some are for our weeks sweets but some are also for Pepper and Elf and gifts to a neighbor (The Old Farmer Guy) and for the guy we buy hay from. I’ll bake peanut butter cookies tomorrow and then No-Bakes later or the next day and fill plates of them.
Someone has offered us to come and tear down and haul off two small building that were blown over in the same winds. They were chicken houses but the person has no chickens so we can take the materials. That will help a lot.
I’ve started making hammock chairs along with the hammocks and the chair jig fits inside the house which helps tremendously. The hammock jig is in the workshop and it’s bloody cold out there. I worked on hammocks yesterday and today and felt like I had frostbite. I need to find some sort of reasonable heater to keep out there but it also needs some work to patch some holes. Much better than working outside tho :)
Anya is well and doing good. She mourned
but never got down, which I was very worried about. Now she often helps me with
chores and lends her warm breath to cold hands. I believe she may be lame and
was long before she came here. We’ll see, I hope she can still work because I
can’t afford otherwise. Everyone here must be able to work. She’s done a little
pulling but still has a long way to go. She’s larger and taller than Ajax
and will be a bit harder to maneuver in the garden etc. If she’s to lame she’ll
not be able to work at all.
We’ve gotten way down in animals and will are starting over with poultry. Most of our hens were getting on so I gave them away. We still have old Hen tho, who is probably around 10 years old now. I don’t count her when I count hens or poultry tho :) Hen-wise we’re down to 13 and not one egg in months. We have 8 Buff Orpingtons who are about 1.5 years and have never gone broody. And 5 RIRs about 8 months and hoping they’ll start laying soon. Buffs are usually such broody good mothers and great layers, I expected to have more than enough chicks by now.
I’ve had quite a bit of interest from stores to sell my salves and balms but the packaging is as acceptable so they’re on hold until I can buy some sort of suitable, affordable containers.
I’ve also had quite a few requests for soap. I’ve not made any to sell since last year. I broke down and bought us some ivory this year *-* It seems like there’s so much to do that some things just get lost. I want to open a store, physical and online, that offers only handmade goods for natural folk, homesteaders, off grid folk, pioneer people etc etc. Maybe when I win the big lottery (I never play) then I can finance … Ozark Mountain Goods … or some such
There’s always the catch of gas money but there’s some hope of getting on at the store in Ava that I’ve thought about since the move. We’ll see. Otherwise I’m working on goods for the summer markets, Bakers and hopefully some of the Pioneer, Mountainman and Rendezvous. I traded around 46.00 of my goods to Rachel at the Ava market for a period top last summer. I’m hoping she has it finished or will soon.
I have plenty of skirts to wear but no proper tops and am much to hard top fit to be able to buy one premade. I may also try to get a pattern and see if I can make one myself. I have no idea on the button holes but the machine does come with something to make them with and people were making them before machines so surely I can figure it out.
Our big meal this week were stuffed grape leaves. They were delicious but I realized how much more I wish I would have put up. I’ve been storing them in layers of salt which hinders how many I can store but I’ve found that they can easily be canned, which I plan to try next summer. I looove stuffed grape leaves :)
Stuffed Grape Leaves
I had about 16 grape leaves left, stored dry in layers of salt. Take them out, rinse well and put them in a heatproof bowl. Bring water to boil, remove and pour over the leaves. Let them sit in the hot water while you prepare the filling or at least a few minutes. This blanches and softens them so you can roll them up without tearing.
I chopped leftover Christmas ham pretty small, a smallish onion chopped small, rosemary leaves chopped fine, parmesan cheese, sea salt and pepper. Add all of it to a bowl plus a handful dry wild rice (maybe 1/3 cup) and 2 medium eggs (add one egg at a time). I'll try to remember to measure better the next time. Mix it well and make sure it kind of holds it's shape.
Fill each leaf leaving enough room to be able to fold the leaf up, kind of like a burrito but with both ends folded in.
In a deep pot I brown a small onion chopped and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Remove from heat when browned.
Cover the oil with empty grape leaves. I use torn ones first then add what's needed to cover. Carefully add each stuffed grape leaf to the pot. They can be crammed in a bit and layered but leave room for the liquid to get in between and around them a bit.
Make enough lemon water to cover all the stuffed leaves. The ratio is 1 to 2 T lemon juice to 1 cup water. I used about 4 cups of water and 6 T lemon juice.
Place something heavy and heatproof on top of the leaves to hold them down or they'll boil open. I use a metal bowl with the pot lid on top. the bowl gets very hot so take care with whatever you use. Bring the pot to boil then reduce heat and simmer for around 30 minutes. The liquid will reduce some as it cooks.
Serve hot with a little of the liquid drizzled over. I topped these with yogurt.
I ended up with 11 stuffed leaves. I fill them as full as I can and still be able to fold them in properly. They make a great meal piled on a plate with chunks of fresh homemade bread.
I have a new bread recipe to try at market this spring. Tuscan Herb Bread with sun dried tomatoes. It's what we had with our grape leaves, made with my own sun dried tomatoes I made late last summer. It’s a most excellent bread :)