December 10, 2011
Sonny and I should have been catching up on outside chores today, but instead we went to Sycamore Creek Farm to pick up five meat chickens for the freezer. Al and Julie Bolin raise and process their chickens then freeze and sell them. These are free range chickens that will have a bit different flavor than your grocery store roasters. They will be closer to what our grandparents and great grandparents would have tasted on the farm. Al said the dark meat will be darker the white meat whiter with much more flavor.
Al showed us around his farm. We walked on frozen mud as winter cold wind clawed at us. Chickens meandered around the grounds looking at us sideways as if to say “who are these people and what do they want?” The Bolins have a small orchard of fruit trees and two high tunnels. High tunnels are large green houses built from heavy plastic stretched across galvanized metal hoops.
Al took us into the high tunnels and showed us his raised beds of spinach, chard and leaf lettuce. Like us he and his wife Julie are striving to be more self sufficient as well as trying to make their farm bring in some income. The inside of the greenhouse was warm and it felt good to be out of the biting wind. The sides of his raised beds were built from two rows of staked concrete blocks that help to hold in the heat and keep the soil warm.
Al also showed us his homemade chicken plucker. Its a large blue plastic barrel with rubber nubs attached to a wheel. A small motor turns the wheel and plucks the chickens clean as a whistle. You can see how it works on their Facebook page. Sycamore Creek Farm.
They also sell eggs, and produce as the season provides.
Al has a wealth of information and experiences under his belt on gardening and farm life. Like most of us on this self sufficient lifestyle journey he has learned most things by trial and error. There are many books and articles out there with info too, but we still seem to learn more from like minded people and their experiences. Oddly enough they also know Lynne and Sandy from Two Lynne’s Farm.
We are beginning to become members of a network of people who want the same life as we do. Providing for ourselves and depending less on the outside world of the grid, grocery stores, and food that is packed and transported hundreds of miles. We are rookies and have little experience to share at this point, but we do have one thing that this network of self reliant homesteaders do not have. Living off the grid. That is the experience we can share and teach to those who are interested. In time we too will have the notches of farming experience carved into our hoes and will be able to pass that knowledge on to others. Thank goodness their are others out there, who are considered to be a crazy as us.
December 8, 2011
Every Christmas for as long as I can remember my mother, my sister and I have made mounds of cookies together. We’ve made cream cheese cookies, sugar cookies, and spritz cookies dressed in sparkling sugars of red and green, oatmeal cookies and almond balls dipped in powdered sugar. They have been enjoyed by family, friends, and co-workers. They have even been sent in boxes to our military men and women serving overseas, giving them a sweet bite of home and hopefully a smile.
They are more than just cookies made from a bit of sugar and flour. They are blended together with the cheerful spirit of Christmas music echoing through the house, laughter and the love of family.
This year Clarissa and my sister’s daughter-in-laws joined in on the cookie party. Its time to pass down the tradition to our son’s families. They will make their own Christmas traditions and bake their own favorite cookies, but I hope they will look back on this day and keep some portion of ours alive… even if it is just a bit of our family spirit. COOKIE ON GIRLS!
Rookie cookie makers.
Clarissa mixing batter.
The cookie inspectors.
Future cookie makers.
December 1, 2011
I was beginning to think the sun had abandoned us. After days of battleship grey skies dropping rain and forecasters who gave unkept promises of sunshine, my mood was turning as fowl the weather. Seeing the sun shine from a clear blue sky was the perfect tonic to cure my soggy attitude.
The solar panels sucked up the sunny rays as well and it was nice to be able to vacuum and run the washer without turning on the generator. Even the animals felt better. The chickens puttered around the yard stretching their wings and basking in the warm sunlight. A dust bath would have been the icing on the cake for them, but unfortunately the ground is still saturated and only good for a mud bath. I guess we can’t be too greedy and should be thankful for what we have.
Roo Roo has been festively dressed up for the holidays and stanchly stands at the driveway entrance ready to welcome all visitors who find their way to our door. We’ll soon have Christmas treats to offer while they warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate by the wood stove.
All decked out for Christmas.
Clarissa and I will be making a trip to Delaware this weekend to make Christmas cookies with the women of my family. Its a family tradition that has been going on since I was little girl and believe me that has been a long time. There have been a few years lately where the weather has interfered and we were unable to go. The guys plan to hold down the fort here at the farm and will anxiously await our return in a car leadened down with tins of homemade cookies. I fully expect to see them waiting on the porch with wide grins and coffee cups in hand as we come up the driveway.
Sunshine and the expectation of holiday cookies…. the very thing to raise the spirits of gloomy grump.