Monday, February 23, 2009

27 Babies

We have added 27 new little creatures to our growing farm family! Our chicks arrived a day earlier than we expected, and involved a drive to pick them up at a post office that has people working there on Sundays, but now we're settling into a nice little routine of thermometer checking and water refilling- not to mention lots of cuddling adorable little fluffballs!

Here they are getting warmed up in their new home (they are under a red heat lamp, and that is the thermometer they're huddled around):

We ordered the "Brown Egg Layer Special" from Murray McMurray Hatchery, so we're not exactly sure what we have yet... They also threw in a free exotic/rare breed as a bonus; it's the only one we can tell apart from any others. It's head has a totally different shape and it is a bit smaller. Based on the pictures in the catalog, our best guess is that it is a Crevecoeur, a very rare, crested breed that originated in France. There are some cute chipmunk-striped ones that we hope might be Speckled Sussex, but we'll see as we go. We do know we have at least 5 or 6 differetn breeds out of the 27 chicks. We'll keep you posted! Still fine tuning our brooder setup, so off to check the thermometer again...
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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Last of the Potatoes

As you may have guessed from my last post, tomatoes are my favorite thing to eat that I grow in my garden. Well, they are pretty much my favorite thing to eat period. But last year, my favorite thing to grow was potatoes. Sure, I knew how they grew underground. I also knew how you went about harvesting them. But I had never done it myself, never seen it close up. The first time I went out and fingered a few new potoatoes out from the mound to have for a summer dinner, I was giddy with the excitement of pulling my own potatoes from the soil. I felt the kind of excitement I associate with my childhood, when all was new and fresh and amazing.

Around here, the old adage is that you should plant potatoes on St Patrick's Day. Well, we didn't even get moved in until May and didn't get the garden going until June, but my grandmother's friend gave me his leftover seed potatoes... So, I stuck them in the ground and figured I had nothing to lose. Within a couple months, I was wheedling a few potatoes out here and there. And a couple months after that, I was lifting a whole variety of sizes of beautiful red potaotes from a little corner of the garden with a big grin on my face. Maybe you saw one of the baskets full in this post on my photo blog. We got about two of those size baskets full. We stored them first in the basement, and then, when we started using the woodstove down there, moved them under one of the beds. I just used the last of them this week.


Here's one of my favorite recipes to commemorate the occasion:

Potato Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 to 3 carrots, chopped fine
3 Tbsp butter
8 medium potatoes, cubed
8 C. chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 C. milk
1 Tbsp. dried thyme (or a larger amount of fresh)
1 Tbsp. dried parsley (or a larger amount of fresh)
1 tsp. salt (or to taste- depends on the saltiness of the broth)
Pepper, to taste
Grated cheese

Saute onions, celery and carrots in butter until beginning to soften. Add potatoes and broth and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Stir in milk, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer for a few more minutes.

Now, depending on your preference for consistency, you can eat as is, use a potato masher to mash some potatoes in the pot, blend it with an immersion blender, or remove some to a blender or food processor and puree. You can mash/blend/puree it until smooth, or leave it- like I do- with some chunks of potato.

Serve with grated cheese on top. Perfect for a chilly evening with warm bread and a salad.


And, yes, I will be growing potatoes again this year.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yes, it is an obsession.


Tomatoes, how do I love thee? Oh, let me count the ways.

14 new ways this year, apparently. I still have a few more basic varieties left from previous years' seeds, but I couldn't resist these luscious offerings from the Seed Savers Exchange catalog.

No, I'm not quite sure how I am going to fit all the seedlings in my sunny window until May. But I'll find a way.

Because I know this is true.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Snow Day

After a long, cold wait we finally got some snow on Tuesday. It was only a couple of inches, but it was enough for a bit a sledding and a lot of fun. I love the way everything looks covered in a blanket of snow.

Mr. M has been working hard to keep the wood stove supplied. He also started stacking the split wood on the porch- oh so nice for me on days like today when it is 8 degrees outside.

Wood splitting in action- he actually really likes this task. In the background is our chicken coop in progress. We have 25 chicks coming at the end of the month!

The boys had great fun scraping and hauling the snow around. Miss Headstrong had fun dumping snow on them...

And the girls were smart enough to stay nestled all snug in their coop...
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And now back to our regularly scheduled programming of frigid weather and no snow. Sigh.