Waiting For Spring

It has been a very cold and snowy winter here in New England.  Like so much of the country, our temperatures are way below normal and our snowbanks are very high.  It is very discouraging.  My gardens are buried under deep snow.  This should protect them some from the cold, but I miss them.  

The greenhouse is also partially buried.

IMG_4645I try to keep the snow off the roof, but as a result the snow is higher beside it.  It is lovely when the sun is shining but it has been cloudy and grey a lot and the greenhouse is pretty frosty then.  I have moved all the plants inside for now…..I was hoping to start seeds in there in a few weeks but I don’t know.

My girls are also wondering where the “nice” outside is.  They spend nights in the Coop Under the Stairs, but go back up to Cluckingham Palace for the warmest part of the day.  

IMG_3570But there is snow in their run.  The have tried going out but it is TOO cold.  Snacks help but they, like everyone else, are very ready for Spring!!

We have been spending time by the fire.

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And by the wood stove.

IMG_3598Merlin basks unashamedly in its warmth.  

  The primroses remain cheerful.

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And I got some hyacinth for Valentine’s Day.

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They smell heavenly!  

I have been weaving some.

IMG_3627These towels are for a friend.  They are  almost finished.

And I just got a new pattern and some yarn fromPeace Fleece.

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I think there is plenty of winter left to at least start the sweater.  So there is plenty to do.

But the seed catalogs are starting to arrive.

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And I am very ready for Spring!!!    🌷🌻🌹

 

Posted in Fiber Arts, Gardens, Hens, Nature, New England Weather, Winter | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Winter Goes On…

We have had one snow storm after another for the past few weeks.  This Winter has just been relentless.   Usually we get snow, it melts a little (or a lot) and we get some more.  But not this year.  The snow just keeps coming and is piling up everywhere.  There is no where to put it!!!  It feels as if I have been shoveling for days..because I have been.  The last storm was a three day event and left over a foot of snow.  That was on top of the foot we got last week, on top of the 6″ (we really lucked out with that one) that we got the week before.  It has been too cold for any of it to melt so the snow banks just get higher and higher.

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That little black dot is our mailbox.  You can see how high the snowbank is.  

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The greenhouse is encased in snow.  There is nothing growing in it now anyway….I brought the plants inside.  I don’t think I will be starting seeds in there any time soon.

The birds and the squirrels are hungry.

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This squirrel is heading up to the feeder for a snack.  I will have to refill it soon.

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There is a bit left for Mrs. Cardinal.

IMG_4627And more over here.  Between the snow cover and the cold, it has been a tough winter for them.

The girls have been spending too much time in the Coop Under the Stairs.  

IMG_4639I let them out from time to time so they can stretch a bit.  Here they are cleaning up  bird seed that spilled when I was filling the feeders.  Helpful girls.

IMG_3589And here they are coming upstairs to tell me that they are bored.  It has been a long winter!

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Fergus and Merlin are hanging out by the stove.  Merlin is fine..he loves the stove and enjoys watching the birds at the feeders, but Fergus has missed a few walks due to the weather..and that makes him sad.  He loves his walks!

So we are all trying to make the best of it.  Hopefully we will get a bit of a break and maybe even a few warm days soon.  I think we are all ready for Spring!

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Posted in Hens, New England Weather, Winter | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

A Snowy Day

Yesterday, after a cold and very grey month, the sun came out and finally melted all the snow from our solar panels.  We have not been generating much electricity this month because of the snow and ice on the panels.  So it was  good to see the meter going backwards again!  But, of course, today, it is snowing.  Our panel are again covered.  Sigh…if it stays snow (as opposed to ice) and is not too cold, it may melt quickly.  Let’s hope so!

It is quite lovely though.

IMG_3558 IMG_3566 IMG_3569It is wet enough to cling to the trees and create a lovely “winter wonderland” but so far at least, not heavy enough to cause any damage.

IMG_3561Merlin knew just where to go. “Ahhh….”

IMG_3543Fergus is wondering if he will get his walk….but not losing any sleep over it.

It is a lazy morning at Brookwood Shire.  The girls are out in Cluckingham Palace because it is not too cold…but they are boycotting their run.

IMG_3575A bit of yogurt will help pass the time.

There will be shoveling to do…paths to clear…but there will be time for that when the snow stops.  So how will I spend the day?

IMG_3553Perhaps this warp I wound yesterday will actually get on the loom.

Stay warm everyone! 

Posted in Fiber Arts, Green Energy, Nature, New England Weather | Tagged | 5 Comments

Almond Milk

Today I decided to make almond milk.  I have been drinking soy milk and it is fine, but I have been hearing so much about how good almond milk is I wanted to try it.  It is remarkably simple.

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You need a blender, almonds, filtered water and a “nut bag” (don’t laugh, that is what it is called) to strain the milk through.  I soaked the almonds last night.  Simply cover 1 cup of almonds with water and leave overnight.

IMG_3528Rinse the soaked almonds.

IMG_3529Put rinsed almonds in the blender.

IMG_3530Add 3 ½ cups of filtered water.  

IMG_3532The recipe called for a few dates and a vanilla bean.  That sounds delicious, but I wanted to try simple, unsweetened almond milk, so I just used almonds and filtered water.

IMG_3533I used a high setting and blended for a couple of minutes.  This depends somewhat on the kind of blender you have.  

IMG_3534Put the “nut bag” in a bowl.

IMG_3535Pour the almond milk in.

IMG_3536Squeeze all the liquid from the bag and you are left with a lovely lump of almond meal.

IMG_3538Pour your almond milk into a container.  I used a canning jar, because I had one, but I think an old fashioned glass milk bottle would be wonderful..  I will look for one of those.

IMG_3539And Voila!  Almond milk and almond meal!  How does it taste?  Well..it tastes like almonds.  A vanilla bean might be nice..but it is fine.  In coffee it is wonderful!  Just a hint of almond mixed with the coffee is pretty special.

And the almond meal?

IMG_3540I just happened to find a recipe for almond meal chocolate chip cookies.  Really,  what could be better than chocolate chip cookies and milk?

 

Posted in Eating Well, Plant based diet | 10 Comments

Winter Settles In

Winter has settled in.  It has been cold for days…weeks?  It feels like months.  It is a time for inside projects.  After taking down the holiday decorations, I went and got some primroses.IMG_9585I always fill the house with primroses in January.  They are bright and cheerful and add color to an otherwise very bleak landscape.

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As I have often said, I could never get through January without primroses.

Once that was done I started cleaning.  There is something about the New Year that makes one want to start fresh..so I decided to clean and reorganize the cabinets.  I started with the cabinets because I have been thinking about eating a plant based diet for awhile now and I am wondering how hard a transition it would be.

I have been a vegetarian since high school.  This was easy for me because I didn’t like meat anyway.  I continued to eat eggs and dairy because that felt humane.  But the egg industry is far from humane, and I would not want to support their cruel practices by buying eggs from poor hens who are so ill treated.  So I solved that by having my wonderful girls.  They are treated well and they give me eggs.  That feels ok.  But dairy?  I LOVE milk and all dairy products.  I love seeing cows grazing in fields along rural roads…I know about veal cows and try not to think about it.  But the more I learn about the dairy industry, the harder it is to justify supporting it.  Could I live without milk.. cheese.. butter?  

Certainly it would be better for the planet.  Our western diet is not sustainable.  It is not healthy….for us..for the animals that are so abused or for the planet.  If I am truly going to live a sustainable life, “with nature” then a plant based diet makes sense.

My first problem was how to replace milk.  I know there are lots of non dairy “milks” in the supermarket, but most of them are filled with additives and things I can’t pronounce.  I don’t see much point in drinking those.  But I did find a soy milk that is organic, GMO free and the ingredients list “organic soybeans, filtered water.”

IMG_3494It is fine.  I have been using it in coffee and it tastes very much like cow’s milk.  So that was easy. I also have learned that you can make almond milk or coconut milk or even oat milk at home.  You just blend the nuts, coconut or oats with water.  I will be trying that soon.

IMG_3495My nuts and oats are all organized and tidied now so it will be easy to do.

I have also learned that cashews can be blended with nutritional yeast to make a kind of cheese sauce.

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My nice, Vanessa, has been telling me about this for years, but I never quite got around to experimenting with it.  Perhaps this is the time.

I have been researching vegan recipes and am quite pleasantly surprised.  There are many vegans who eat a lot of processed soy products.  Tofu pups, soy cheese, soy bacon, soy meat.  Yuck. I have no intentions of eating a bunch of processed foods.  But there are other options.  I have been particularly impressed by a website called “Oh She Glows” It is filled with delicious looking vegan or plant based recipes.   I have been spending hours there and have chosen a few to try.  the address is:  www.ohsheglows.com  

So I think I have my winter project!  I am not going to go cold turkey and change everything…I know that works for many people, but I think a slow transition is easier.  I am not sure how it will turn out.  But I am very excited about experimenting with new recipes and finding new favorite dishes.  And if those dishes mean no animal has to suffer..well that is a BIG plus!

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Posted in Eating Well, Nature, Plant based diet, Sustainability, Winter | 1 Comment

The Darkest Day

We awoke to a light dusting of snow this morning.  Just enough to coat the grass and cling to branches.  It was quite lovely.

IMG_4600The winterberry bushes remain a brilliant red…I have used quite a few branches for my window boxes and shared some with a few neighbors, but they remain glorious.  

IMG_4592The window boxes also got a coating of snow…very festive.

We need a bit of festive at this time of year.  It has been very grey and cloudy this December.  I have been doing my usual decorating…bringing in greens to remind us that life will return.

IMG_4578The “porch”  is looking cheery..

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…as is the kitchen counter.

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Everywhere really.  I think of greens as the flowers of this season..so why not fill the house?

And the window boxes…

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Cluckingham Palace, of course, also got stockings.

And today I finished my holiday baking.  Cookies mostly.

IMG_4619Tomorrow I will start packing them up and delivering them to friends…

At this dark time of year, treats are always welcome!

But today is the Solstice…Midwinter..the shortest day.  Tomorrow the light will begin to return as the days grown longer.  There is a LOT of winter ahead of us, but we have turned the corner…and are on our way  to Spring!!!

Happy Solstice everyone!!

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Posted in Darkness and Light, holiday greens, Winter | 5 Comments

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

My girls continue to boycott their run, despite the fact that I have tried to make it more interesting.

IMG_3412I even added Indian Corn that was left from the window boxes.  At least the ones the squirrels hadn’t eaten.   But no.  They refuse to go out there.  I am starting to think it is just too different.  They don’t like different.

So they are hanging out in the coop…and they are bored…and feeling a little sorry for themselves (princesses that they are).  Poor girls!  I read an article that said hens like mirrors.  I thought that might prove interesting.

IMG_3416I had an old mirror in the cellar so I put it in the coop.   They immediately all hid in the corner. Are all hens so cautious?  In any case I waited.  

IMG_3417Beatrix was the first to approach. 

IMG_3418” Hey, there is a gorgeous hen in there..come and see.”

IMG_3419“Where?”

IMG_3420“She’s right! Amber come and see this.”  

IMG_3424“Where? Let me see.  Oh! You are right!  She is beautiful!”

IMG_3425“I can’t stop looking at her!”

IMG_3429“Hey! Wait a minute, there are THREE hens in there !”

So I left them with their new “friends.”  They are at least less bored…for now.

Tomorrow I will try to entice them into the run….

 

 

Posted in Hens | Tagged , , | 4 Comments