Oh. My. Goodness. We had such mild winters the last two years that I forgot what a snow storm was like. It was literally blue skies on Friday and then Saturday morning we awoke to over a foot of snow and no power. Our elevation is about 2,800 feet so this is fairly normal for us in the winter. I knew for a few days that it was supposed to snow, but every once in awhile, I forget what that means.
Snow, snow, snow. I don’t mind snow so much as I loathe ice. And inevitably, snow brings ice. Snowy days usually mean that I have to haul a bucket of hot water from the tub out to the Rabbitry and chicken coop to thaw the animal water. Thankfully, I have gotten a bit smarter in my old age and have thought of emptying out the chicken water just before nightfall. The chickens are already in for the night and that way it is just a matter of filling it up instead of thawing a block of frozen metal and water, thus saving me 20 minutes in the mornings. I still have to haul out hot water, but it does make it better. Even with the heat lamp on inside the rabbit shed, I still have frozen water bottles in the morning. But, I can’t very well empty their waters at dusk. Rabbits are much more finicky than chickens. I had to dig out the rabbit shed for the first time ever, by the way.
Last year I had some really crappy snow boots. They were perfectly waterproof and all that, but they hurt my arches and heals so badly! I even tried two different sizes, but it made no difference. I should have known better than to buy shoes of any sort at WalMart. Eww. Needless to say, I threw them right in the trash. I couldn’t see even donating them they were so horrible.
So now that we are already experiencing snow, I need some snow boot/all weather boot recommendations. It would be particularly helpful if you like a particular brand that stands up to mud, snow, “manure”, and rain. We have quite a bit of that third element around here.
On to the snow pictures!
Today was our very first chicken processing day. Neither Trevor or I had ever so much looked as at a chicken the wrong way not to mention preparing one for the table. Trevor actually offered to process the chickens today pointing out the fact that I am the one to process all the meat rabbits. He was right too… why should I have to be the Grim Reaper around here all the time? A girl needs a break from death once in awhile. I much rather focus on my little baby fluffy butts instead and today I got to do just that.
Cami and I spent some time indoors tending the fire (and doing dishes) while Trevor was outside assuming his role as The Angel of Death. Since the very first day we brought a chicken on this property, I knew we would be butchering a few eventually. I also knew that this would eventually lead to questions from my daughter as to where the chickens go or why we do what we do. What I was not expecting was total acceptance and understanding from a three-year old.
Somehow, Cami had a firm and reasonable grasp on the events of the day. She knew that ‘Daddy was outside turning the old chickens into meat’ so that the ‘new chickens could move into their big house’. There were no tears, she was not upset, and she was surprisingly interested in the process. Of course, I was very hesitant to let her watch. She is still so young after all. She asked me repeatedly to see how ‘chickens were turned into meat’. After a few minutes, I reluctantly took her outside. The two of us stood back as I told her that what she was going to see was very special and to just let me know when she was done and we would go back inside. We talked for a second about how there would be blood and we would see the inside of the chicken. We waited until Trevor had bled out the chicken and it had stopped twitching to go over to look. She was interested in which chicken he was working on and since Trevor had been skinning them all, she took note that one could no longer tell what color the chicken was to begin with. The blood and guts didn’t seem to gross her out and she even wanted to see the other fully-processed chickens in the cooler. After a couple of minutes investigating the scene, Cami decided that all was well and that Trevor was doing a good job. She should be our official health inspector!
This afternoon was filled with some new experiences for all of us. Trevor surprised me with butchering chivalry and Cami absolutely floored me with her curiosity and acceptance of a less than desirable farm job. The best part? I now have beautiful pullets in the big chicken coop and 21 pounds of fresh, home-raised chicken in the fridge.
I am sitting at the table this evening thinking about all of the wonderful things we are doing this weekend. Today was spent chopping firewood and attempting a second batch of cold process soap. I took your advice and didn’t start mixing the lye and oils until they cooled to 110*F this time. Then I waited until I reached light trace to add in my honey. We’ll see in a day or so how that turned out. My first batch of honey soap is curing well and quickly being in the living room with our dry woodstove. Wood choppin’ was also successful, but a whole less fun.
I received my very first card from our holiday postcard swap today! Thank you Lotte! I love it! I mailed out postcards today to all of you who have joined the swap so far, so keep an eye out. I have already sent out over 20 postcards!!! Wow guys and gals, you are constantly surprising me. If you would like to join in on the holiday cheer, look at this post for the details. I am sending postcards to anyone and everyone who wants to participate just for fun. We will keep this going until the end of the year, so keep ‘em coming folks.
The three of us also ventured out into town to peruse the bookstore and found a book with a billion bread recipes. Score! There are so many recipes that two are for soft pretzels. I’m a sucker for cookbooks with soft pretzel recipes. Just flipping through it made me so hungry for bread that we had to have grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I would have much rather snacked on the caramel rolls I saw somewhere in the middle of the book, but I guess that will have to wait until tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, it will be a sort of doomsday for the laying hens. Tomorrow the hens are getting the axe. Literally. The little pullets (Speckled Sussex, Australorps, and Black Sexlink) have just about outgrown their doghouse-coop and the older hens have just about stopped laying for the year. Two signs that the time has come for the new to take the place of the old. No one looks forward to butchering day, but we humans do look forward to have six fine roasters grace our freezer for the upcoming winter. These will be the very first chickens we have ever butchered so wish us luck! I can’t eat chicken skin so we are planning to just skin them instead of plucking them. Hopefully that saves a little time and effort on our part.
With our fire going this evening, all the animals fed, and a prosperous day of meat and soap tomorrow, I think we have a fine weekend goin’. What are you up to this weekend?
Bam! The most popular breeds and how much to feed them. You asked and I delivered.
I have about 20 billion pictures from around our teeny-tiny farm to show you… Let’s just jump right in.
Last weekend we harvested 14.4 pounds of incredibly tart green apples. I have no idea what they are… maybe Pippins? Is that an apple type?
We also harvested a whole patch of Danver’s Half Long carrots which came out to 11.2 pounds.
The pruned apple branches and carrot greens were given (in moderation) to some very happy rabbits…
Our pumpkins from the garden are so cute lined up on the porch steps (although they have slowly been disappearing to be turned into soup).
Leeks, cabbage, peas, and one last pumpkin sit in the garden. This pumpkin came up all by itself so who knows what it will taste like. We grow pie pumpkins, but our neighbor (Hi Marjorie!) grows crazy-massive-eat-your-dog sized pumpkins. Maybe she will chime in on what they’re called.
Say hello to our California Sister butterflies! Pretty right?
And last, but not least, the new chicks on the block. They aren’t very chick-y anymore and look more like full fledged pullets now. See the Black Sexlink sticking her head and creepy green eyeball in the third picture? They just reek of dinosaur sometimes. While the Speckled Sussex were ready for their close ups, I couldn’t get any pictures of the Australorps. They must be photo shy since they have black soulless eyes.