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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Chores

I was thinking that homesteading had slowed down for us with winter settling in but it has not,we are just doing different things these days. The chickens still need our care,there's wood to stack and split,spring planting to plan and as always food to plan for.
We have had a nasty cold spell here the past few days.I really should not complain about it, farther east of us it is well below zero and snow is falling in great amounts.The cold has added new chores to my list. When the weather is so cold I have to make sure the chickens are well cared for.Chickens are always thirsty beasts, with the temperature below freezing I have had to go out a couple times a day to give the ladies some hot water.They seem grateful for it, just like us a warm drink on a cold day is a good thing.Also birds burn an amazing amount of calories with the added cold they are working harder to burn those calories to stay warm. I am mindful of this in the kitchen and I am making sure they get every scrap I can come up with to add to their feed.I have also resigned to having no eggs until spring.First molting and now it's freezing cold there's not much hope of eggs. On a side note regarding eggs and this group of hens, Chance and I will be selling the younger hens closer to spring.We want to go back to the Aracunas that have been more dependable layers for us.We talked about eating the young hens but thought if we could sell them we could use the money to buy new chicks.
The wood stove....that's a story of love and hate for me.I love the warmth it gives us but there's some issues. When you come into our front door BANG! right in front of you is the wood stove all of 4 feet from the door,smack in the middle of one side of the room.Why it was put there is beyond me. Not very stylish but we live with it.And then there is the dust the stove creates.This time of year I could dust twice a day making me a half of a step ahead of it.
Then there is the wood pile which really is Chance's domain.Chance loves to cut wood.I love watching him do it,he has a gracefulness to him as he swings the axe over and over. Sol hates the wood pile and would chose any other chore to do if he can help it.Issac is mellow about it and just gets to work. Once the wood we have is cut and stacked we have to be sure to keep a tarp over it ,living in the soggy NW your wood can quickly become soaking wet and useless.And once you have cut and stacked a winters worth of wood you will be sure to safe guard your hard work.
Once we start to use the stove full time we keep a wood hoop filled on the front porch for ease.Tromping out to the wood pile out back when it is wet and cold or like this week freezing is not fun.We tuck the wood hoop under the eves to help keep the wood dry and cover it when it's wet out.
Ideally we would have 4 chords of wood for the winter months,this year we started with almost 3. In the past we had more connections for getting wood for free but I think more people are holding on to their wood or selling it.If the winter stays so cold we will have to buy some towards spring.
Our spring planting plans are rolling along.We now have a stack of seed catalogs sitting on our nightstands.Do other homesteaders read them selves to sleep over seed catalogs,cook books and the like? We are getting a good idea for what we want to plant.We need to start mapping it all out on paper.Some time soon we will spend some time in the garden areas working out the map. One thing for certain is the back yard garden area will be set aside for winter crops that will need covers.We were thinking this would look a bit tidier,our neighbors don't mind what we are doing here but for ourselves we want the gardens to have form and function.
Food, food, food but not foodies just cooks. I am keeping my eye on the price of oranges,it is coming down.As soon as I think they are the cheapest they will get it will be time to try our hands at making Marmalade. For the past too many years we have said to ourselves."This is the year,lets make Marmalade." So far we have not.The past 2 winters we have spent at the hospital with Issac leaving us not focused on anything but the moment.This year is the year. I'll have plenty of time the week in between Christmas and New Years. I could even get a boy or two to help me. I can't wait I LOVE marmalade on toast or vanilla ice cream.
Once we listened to a radio program about why space aliens would look more like blobs than people.It had to do with environmental reasons more than anything.But they also talked about what other living things here on Earth share genes,we share genes with Oak Trees,who knew? Today I feel like a tree whose sap has slowed with the cold so I am really feeling the connection to the oak trees. (Since we sometimes burn oak in the wood stove is that a bit morbid?Like burning a distant relative?) I do need to get to work though so I think I'll do some Christmas baking,that should do the trick to get me going.Warm oven, spices in the air and lets not forget the sugar I swear I absorb through my finger tips as I frost a million and one cookies.



  1. What a lovely blog and how good to have found you. We have a wood stove, chickens and land to plant on a hill in North Wales in the UK and so much of what you write about resonates. I am christmas cooking too!

  2. Welcome Elizabthm ! I am glad you found me too.What are you cooking for the holidays?

  3. Great post girlie! I loved it. I hear you about the wood, and you know, I could hear the love you have for Chance when you described him working. I know that sounds chesey, but it's true. You have a fine pack of hard working men folk.
    I am in awe of your getting things done, let me know about marmalade making.
    Hope things are warm over there, woke up to ice on the inside of the windows today! BRRRR!

  4. Frau,we have had ice here in the mornings too,time for some new windows! Esp if the winters keep coming like this one and last years.