Let it snow!

Well, the winter sport enthusiasts got their wish around here as the cold weather and snow have finally arrived. We now have about 6 inches covering the brown field grasses, making everything look fresh and clean. And while we have not yet gotten below -14F temperature-wise, it’s still early enough in January that we could get a surprise.

In the food storage department we used up all of the leeks we had stored upright in 22-gallon polyethylene tubs with perlite around their roots. They surely were great in soups and stews. But with a year-and-a-half backlog of stored shallots we certainly won’t run out of other allium options! The last of the red cabbages got used up as a raw shred in a huge salad a few days ago. The cabbage was a nice spicy addition to our every-other-day fresh meal of greenery. Now we’ll just be adding chopped carrots, beets, and the usual roasted pepitos (naked-seeded pumpkin seeds). In other food-related news, the potting soil mix that we make from our garden soil, our sheep compost, and perlite has been brought indoors to thaw. Our 2012 seed order from Fedco has arrived with new varieties to trial in our garden. They include Roy’s Calais Flint corn along with some other very early open-pollinated sweet corns. We’re still trying to find what works best to side-step the  pollination times of the locally-grown GMO field corns. And the only pruning left to do is on a few big, old, wild apple trees and a couple of the bigger pears.

We have ordered the five assorted-breed baby chicks we want from a hatchery in Iowa, drop-shipped to tag onto a bigger order that gets delivered to a feed supplier north of Mabel, MN (not very far to drive). We ordered one each of Barred Rock, Silver-laced Wyandotte, Black Sex-Link, Production Red, and Gold Star, all of which are prolific layers of brown eggs. We hope to sell eggs to cover our organic feed costs, mainly utilizing the bug eating services of these beautiful birds in our orchard. Their chicken coop is under construction with the insulated patio block floor finished and under cover while the snow accumulates. We found a large pile of recycled/surplus fiber-cement lap siding at our local Habitat for Humanity “Restore” (for less than half the price of new ones) which will build both the interior and exterior walls. Combining this with Reflectix bubble-foil aluminum insulation will make a nice, warm, critter-proof shelter. I just finished building the windows using some double-wall polycarbonate glazing and aluminum edge extrusions I had lying around in our shed, leftovers from making our house’s exterior winter insulating shutters. And the Restore even had a really nice, unused 6-panel, oak door in stock in a 24-inch width, perfect for a chicken coop. I guess 24-inch door widths just aren’t in high demand in homes!

And we now finally have all of the materials purchased to finish the natural gas generation set-up.  I’ve come to start calling the product “frac-free” gas, although “poopane” still has a nice ring to it. We had quite an extended ordeal in the plumbing department of a local building supply store, trying to figure out what size/type of valves were needed, how many, and where, what sort of tubing to use and what size, plus all of the adapters to get from glued joints to threads and vice versa. Hopefully this will be easier to build than it was to buy for!

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