Our computer is on it's last leg. We spent the last week without it, (both going through withdrawels). Dustin managed to get it working yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up on my favorite blogs. It is about five degrees below zero this morning. Over the last week our temperatures in the hills have ranged from zero to twenty below. I've come in from chores on numerous occasions with "its warmed up out there." To which Dustin sarcastically comments about five below being considered warm. When heading out for an hour of chores half of the work is getting dressed. I tend to brace for the cold and think it is going to be just bitter, and once I'm walking up the hill I am often surprised at how nice and refreshing the cold air feels.
As long as I'm moving I don't get overly cold. I like to start chores with a hike up the hill. I save sitting and milking for last, as my toes usually get cold no matter how much I wiggle them. How certain temperatures feel is all relative of course. After twenty below, five below does feel like ten above. Our cold is a dry cold with hardly any wind, so it sounds bad but could be much worse if we had high winds or humidity. This week when it got up to zero I was doing chores without a face mask. Once it gets to ten below I really enjoy the comfort of a face covering with just my eyes exposed. At twenty below this is even more important as my nose hairs start frosting up and it is chilly on my teeth to breath through my mouth. The face mask helps with my air intake in addition to keeping the cold air off my neck, chin and cheeks.
The animals are all doing well. We've been turning on the bucks heat lamp at about ten below. Their stall is not as well insulated as the does. They spend a lot more time outside than the does do. I have a feeling that it is because there is less of a difference between their indoor and outdoor temperatures. We still haven't used a heatlamp with the does stall. It is already close to thirty degrees warmer at most times than the outside temp. If we turned on a heatlamp I'd fear that they'd start to lose their warm coats and never go outside. We've been using a heatlamp in the main chicken coop. Otherwise most the eggs would probably freeze before we got to them.
Indoors, we are staying warm. Towels and blankets line the bottoms of our doors and we have one set of french doors covered with a clear plastic that helps keep the draft down. In kitchen news I've had a couple successes this week. I have been making Kombucha tea since last spring and I've been meaning to write an entire post on this endeavor. For now I'm just going to say that I made my tastiest batch by mixing the finished tea product with a half a cup of homemade raspberry syrup and then letting it sit out for a few days to carbonate. The result tastes like homemade raspberry soda and I can barely tell that it is Kombucha tea. Yesterday I made fruit leather with some green grapes that needed used up. I added homemade applesauce (apples from a friend's crab apple tree), and a few wild blueberries for added flavor and color. I've only made fruit leather on two other occasions and I over dried it both times. This time it turned out soft, leathery and tasty and the kids love it.
So far this week I made a big pot of beef stew with some local beef. I made a batch of pumpkin cranberry muffins with one of the sweet mama squash that I bought at the market last fall (one left). Last night we had copper river red Salmon that my brother gave us. I bought our first bag of carrots and potatoes since last winter. We have finally run out of most of our stored vegetables. My garlic is beginning to grow so I need to blend the rest of it up with some olive oil and stick it in the freezer. I have a few remaining golden beets in the fridge and some frozen and canned veggies, herbs and fruit. This is the only time of year where instead of feeling guilty that I'm buying out of state veggies, I am proud that most of my cart is whole foods instead of processed boxed foods.
Today I am going to continue my deep cleaning mission and tackle a couple cupboards that Avery has figured out how to open. We are going to make a fresh batch of playdough, another batch of fruit leather and possibly some cheddar or graham crackers. I pulled out some meat to thaw. I am gearing up to make some jerkey. I've been taking the easy route lately and feeding the kids a lot of white flour lately in the form of tortillas, noodles and sandwiches. I'm hoping to devote my creative urges into making some non- flour based snacks and meals. Heres to creative January urges. What are you making or baking on these short winter days?