Saturday, March 10, 2012

March Sun, March pantry and cream separator

One morning the kids were upstairs playing. Avery started to fret. I hear her yell, "Mom!, Noah says there's an Alien spaceship landing!" Oddly enough I immediately suspected the sun and so I called up asking the kids if it was the sun shining in the south windows. I paused as I heard their surprised exclamations as they realized that it was indeed the sun coming through their windows for the first time in a very long while. Daylight is waking us up around seven a.m., which is early for us after a long winter of sleepy dark mornings. Each day when the sun first starts shining in the house, Avery exclaims again and again, "The sun is here! The sun is here! Mom, I'm sitting in the sun!"

Our February and March weather got reversed somehow. February was much warmer than usual and now we've gone backwards with a couple weeks of colder than they should be temperatures. So, while the sun beckons us out, the cold air sends us back in before long, content to enjoy the sun while sitting at the table doing lessons or reading at the couch. We got a bunch of snow this week, around six inches one night and then another four or five the next, which makes for so much work on top of all the snow we already had. D snow blowed the driveway two days in a row, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to make it out. The snow is high enough on the sides of our trails that I can no longer haul five gallon jugs of water without having to lift the jugs above the snowbanks - in other words I can no longer be lazy and let my shoulders and back do the work.

I combined two chest freezers into one this week - another sign it must be spring. We still have lots of frozen chickens, a huge turkey and a significant amount of goat and moose left, along with some salmon that needs to be smoked. We still have five gallons of frozen blueberries and several bags of rhubarb, cranberries. raspberries, broccoli, zucchini and kale. I pulled in the last two gallon bag of garden carrots this week. They aren't looking to pretty this time of year. I shredded several pounds last week and have been feeding them to the goats - mostly our purple carrots as they don't taste too good. We are also on our last bag of potatoes and I'm going to have to buy garlic by the end of the month. We still have lots of crunchy refrigerator dill pickles, sauerkraut and pickled veggies.

As far as the pantry goes, canned applesauce, berry syrups, salmon, blueberry jams and preserves are still in abundance. Much to the kids dismay we ran out of raspberry jam last week - but thanks to the freezer stash, we were able to make some more -catastrophe diverted. I had a productive week in the kitchen, in an attempt to start using up some of the frozen goods. I made zucchini bread, something I need to do weekly from here on out if I want to put a dent in the frozen shredded zucchini stash before summer. I dehydrated a batch of moose jerky following a new recipe and it turned out ok. I need to make another batch while I can remember what to do differently.

The most exciting kitchen event this week was Dustin getting my cream separator back up and working. We separated a few cups of cream yesterday and a couple more today. I am hoping to play around with making butter this spring. I have had a Novo cream separator for three/four years now and mostly it has given me nothing but grief. I have spent so much time and made so many messes trying to get the right setting and the right consistency of cream. There have been some successes, and then just when I think we've got it figured out it doesn't work as well. The main problem I've had is the cream is always too thick. Thick as in turns solid once refrigerated. And no matter what I do I can never seem to get it thin enough. I've called customer service several times and they've had me playing around with milk temperature and the cream regulation screw and the speed to not much avail. Needless to say I've been thinking of sending it back, buying a better one, or just buying a cow! :)  However, D spent a few hours pouring over the manual and running the separator. Turns out, we were sent more cones than we needed and I've always been so focused on making sure that they were in the right order that I've never counted them and was using too many. So hopefully, this was the problem and it continues to work for me. I have high hopes of not having to buy any cream products and very little butter.

In other farm news, we are only getting a couple eggs a day. Somehow we are down to a dozen layers, among those we have one four year old, a three year old and a couple two year olds - not holding their own. The Ameraucanas just aren't laying well either. We could have twice as many chickens in the coop as we have now. I'm not sure what happened, well we had a few extra roosters and then lost a hen here and there... I am looking forward to our first goose eggs! We have two very pregnant does and one doe due later one.

Our doe Rose miscarried but seems to be doing better. I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure out what. So the vet came out and ultra-sounded her and at some point her kids had stopped living. So Rose is getting all kinds of extra goodies right now, dried comfrey, dried raspberry leaves and shredded carrots. We have six adult does and four yearlings, and I really did not want to breed everyone and have that many kids this spring. So the plan was to keep two milkers in milk and not breed them, and breed the remaining four does along with two or three doelings. As it turns out the doelings didn't take in January when I bred them the first time. When they came back into heat it was thirty below and we were sick. So, we may not have any more milk than we had last year, which wouldn't be an emergency. I should have enough milk for our current goat shareholders, but I probably won't have enough milk for more than that.

It is almost time for the goat kid count down. Time to divide up the goat barn into four pens. Time to re-mount the security camera in the barn. Time to sort through kidding supplies. Past time to order any. Not quite time to separate goats at night. Time to read the section in my new herbal on goat kid care. Take care and best wishes wherever you are in your spring planning.


Ginger said...

Wonderful to hear about your planning and seasonal adjustments, not unlike our own with daylight saving. I read a recipe that included shredded zuke into pasta, you might sneak some in there for substance, if anything! I kissed my last bag of carrots not long ago too and look forward to doubling my grow space this year. Sending warm thoughts of your goats, if you should need goat help, and are patient with me :0), I am nearby!

Denise said...

Another way to use up that shredded zucchini is to add it to any stews, soups, ground meats, stir-fries, or crock pot meals. If we have any frozen shredded zucchini, it always ends up in our chili and taco meat. Shhh ... don't tell the kids! :)

Woodland Woolens said...

I completely and uttery love all the work you do on your farm. It amazes me to see scuh self-sufficientcy! I am so so so thankful you document this all for us readers to read and learn about.

We hoping to be pretty self sufficiant too soon, a little bit each year helps the overall goal ya know?!

I'm glad to read up on all your current posts about life in Alaska!

Samantha (Woodland Woolens)

dee said...

I enjoy reading your blog. I too have goats. I make our own butter. I have a cream separator, but prefer to simply put a gallon or two of milk in a sterilized container for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Then use a ladle to skim the cream off the top. I then make chevre out of the skimmed milk.