Independence Days Update: Winter, Interrupted

Sharon December 14th, 2009

We’re having an extremely welcome pause in the cold today and tomorrow, which gives us the time to do a bunch of things we really should have gotten to before, but didn’t.  I’ve still got containers out in the garden that weren’t brought in, and fencing to put away, and the last of the root crops to pull (at least the ones not staying in the ground until spring).  Much to do, all of it late - but that’s the story of our life.

The cold weather means moving over to winter management of the animals - we’re starting to dig into our reserves of home-grown feed supplements - sunflower seeds, pumpkins, corn and amaranth go to the chickens, the goats and the turkeys.  We’re not independent of the feed store, but we do what we can to reduce our dependency, and try and buy local and organic otherwise. 

Chanukah started earlier this week, and has been very pleasant.  We were supposed to celebrate Isaiah’s birthday and Chanukah yesterday, but bad weather and a minor (and now fixed) dental crisis involving Eli meants that we ended up rescheduling for next week, at least on the birthday end.  We had a quiet holiday celebration with two of the Grandmas and us and the kids, and it was lovely. 

It has been a busy week getting ready for the holiday and also making the shift over to winter - just over a week ago, it was 60, so many of the last minute winter things involving sealing and tightening really don’t get done until it gets properly cold.   With the start of the new blog and the end of Eric’s term with its flood of grading and exams, last week was rushed and we’re looking forward to a bit more quiet.  I feel like I didn’t get much done last week.

I’m starting to look at the seed catalogs and dream of the next garden.  I’m also plotting a low-budget, minimalist house rearrangement and some paint to pretty up two really ugly bits of my home.  We’ve got a room that has become a junk room, and I’m going to move some bookcases in there, get a couple of big chairs off of Craigslist, and paint it a decent color (I miss Eric’s grandmother, but not her taste in taupe and baby blue home decor ;-)), and make it a more pleasant place to be.  I’ve got bees on the brain and sheep as well, and am mulling over our farm plan. 

Of course I’m not really supposed to be doing these things - instead, I’m supposed to be single mindedly working on my book.  So far, this is not happening ;-)

Plant something: Nada

Harvest something: Some kale and turnip greens, and a few turnips.  Also rosemary, thyme and oregano from the windowsill plants.

Preserve something: Apple Quince Sauce, froze some fried cauliflower

Waste Not: Tried to make an eggshell menorah out of saved aracauna eggs.  Destroyed eggshells and failed miserably ;-) . Otherwise, the usual composting, feeding things to other things, using up scraps…

Want Not: Picked up a big order of wheat, oats and dried fruit. 

Eat the food: Latkes, latkes, latkes - yum!  They are best, IMHO, with applesauce mixed with some quinces for that incomparable fragrance.  We also made sofganiyot for the first time, filled with homemade jam - the raspberry is still the best, but the peach-almond was awesome. 

Build community food systems - still doing a lot of radio interviews for _Independence Days_ - also, working hard on pushing poultry on a lot of people - I’m your poultry pusherwoman!

How about you?

15 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Winter, Interrupted”

  1. Kylieon 14 Dec 2022 at 12:16 pm

    Hey Pusherwoman,
    I’m so enjoying your blog and have read through to December 2006. It helps with the mind and butt-numbing eternity that is paper writing in the last days of the semester. (Usually I like this part, but somehow got roped into writing a paper on the logic of capital as it pertains to the Erie Canal, and my bullshit reserves have been depleted.)
    I’ve been taking inspiration from your independence day posts, and have been baking bread, and cooking all of my meals lately. It really adds balance to life. Hope to find a place for composting soon.
    thanks for writing.

  2. greyon 14 Dec 2022 at 12:17 pm

    The break in the rain and cold here allowed me to split and stack a good bit of wood. We’ve had the stacks for a long time, but no splitter until recently. Our winters are mild compared to yours (we live near Chattanooga). Next time it stops raining I’ll be able to finish raking leaves and add them to the compost pile.

    Meanwhile, I have one compost bin to repair, a bit of chicken wire fencing that needs to go up, and some hay to toss down over the horribly wet and muddy walkways of our yard. Someday we’ll have stone paths in place, but the hubby has been (thankfully) very busy with his business and so the path to our side door and to the guest house is a miserable mess.

    I’m also about to do a little rearranging and painting. Much of the house needs touch-ups, but some rooms’ colors aren’t working for me, especially on gray winter days. I’m reclaiming our 3rd bedroom (the 2nd is our office, and we have a guest house, so why have a guest room in the main house?) and going to make it our project room. I’m moving all my sewing projects into there. I had been using part of the guest house for that, but in winter it takes too long to warm it up enough for me to want to work there, plus it is too far away from the woodstove and the kitchen.

    Sometime this winter I also want to make fitted couch and chair covers for our living room. The furniture and the fabric are in great shape after all these years, but those fabrics were chosen to go with a different house. It will be nice to not have to worry about getting the “good” fabric underneath dirty, and be able to feel like we can “live” in our living room. While I am at it, I have some free fabric that I can convert into a heavy curtain to go over our much-unused front door. With all the glass in it, there is a bit of a chilly draft near it that needs to be remedied.

  3. Michelle Pon 14 Dec 2022 at 12:44 pm

    No planting or harvesting here, but have collected a few eggs from the hens. They are laying less so I use ground flax as egg replacer in some of the baking.

    The college kids are all home for the winter break. There are 3 of them so I have to do more cooking of big pots of things.
    I made a big veggie soup that lasted 3 days. Every day I added a few different ingredients & every day it was even better.
    I made a double batch of oatmeal dinner rolls the first day & a spinach quiche the next.

    Community food: Our neighbor made a big pot of chili the same day that I made the soup so we have been swapping that with the veggie soup & rolls to give us all a variety of food.
    We were able to donate a nice size bag of food to the food bank. The kids from honors society came around to collect it. I did a better job of adding good things this year because of some of the suggestions I’ve read here.

    Trying to decide what to do with the Aruacana rooster who is crowing near the house every day at 4 am. He is a beauty & was hoping to keep him to fertilize eggs for hatching in the spring . If he could be traded for a bag of feed he will be leaving.

  4. Robinon 14 Dec 2022 at 12:51 pm

    I tend to feel less food independant in December than in any other month. I just haven’t converted my brain to appreciating all homegrown or local holiday treats, especially for the solstice feast. I want chocolate, citrus and sausage, none of which I can source locally. I have to hope I make up for it the rest of the year.

    Plant something: Nope

    Harvest something: Parsley, leeks, chard, turnips, beets, cabbage, cilantro, chicken

    Preserve something: salsa
    Waste Not: the usual composting, and we use a fallen oak branch for our solstice tree every year, decorated with pinecones, fallen bird nests and paper snowflakes.

    Want Not: Stocked up on carrots since I didn’t plant enough.

    Eat the food: potatoes every which way, vegetable soup every day for lunch

    Build community food systems This isn’t exactly food, but victory nonetheless- converted a pinesol, and comet user to using baking soda, vinegar and soap. I appealed to her on the basis of cost.

  5. Gabrielleon 14 Dec 2022 at 1:16 pm

    Plant—Nothing planted this week. It has been pretty cold and wet in our area. I doubt I’ll plant anything outside until late January or early February. I’ve been enjoying reading through the first of the seed catalogs that have arrived in the mail.

    Harvest—Kale and onions

    Preserve—Nothing preserved this week.

    Reduce Waste—We gleaned some toys and a few other items from the house and donated them to Goodwill. My husband cleaned out our storage room, and we found a few toys in good condition that were ours. We’ll pass them to our daughter as part of her Christmas gifts. I sorted through bags of hand-me-downs both my daughter and I had received. I had a few extra goodies that I passed on to friends as hand-me-downs.

    Prep/Storage—Murphy’s Law has hit us hard over the course of the last two weeks. My grandmother passed away, we have a major plumbing issue that we’ll have to address, and we have some chimney repairs that need to be made. The chimney issue led to another problem that resulted in a need to clean a rug. While it is in no way pleasing to have to make so many repairs and tend to so many problems in a short period of time, we are glad that we are supporting local businesses by doing so.

    I used scrap fabric and rice to make rice bags as gifts this week. My husband will be turning/lathing honey dippers and possibly a few other things. I mended a sweater that had a hole in the arm. I should have worked on a few more sewing projects this weekend, but I wasn’t that motivated.

    I stocked up on a few items this week: soups, organic chickens, peanut butter, soy sauce, mayonnaise, organic popcorn, and cabbage.

    Building Community Food Systems—Daughter dearest and I assisted in the distribution of the Angel Food Ministry at our church on Saturday. I think that our daughter offered more comic relief than actual assistance, but I think it is good for her to be there all the same. I checked the food pantry there to see if any boxes needed to be made, but we still have holiday boxes from last time I made them. This is a bit surprising to me, as we had all expected to have more people in need of assistance once the weather started to cool.

    I bought some eggs from a friend who has chickens. We have a local Frontier co-op group, and I helped to place the order this week.

    Eat the Food—It was nice to have meals prepared at home this week. After a week of travel food, I really appreciate home cooked food. I enjoyed the completely local meal of venison tenderloin (from last year’s deer and stored in the freezer with rosemary and onions picked from the garden), roasted acorn squash (stored from the CSA this early fall), and kale (from the garden) the most. We thinly sliced the leftover venison and used it in quesadillas the next day, and it was delicious!

  6. Ginaon 14 Dec 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Like Robin, this is my time for splurging on non-local goodies, particularly chocolate and citrus.
    I purchase the citrus (kumquats, oranges and red grapefruit) in large quantites (25 lb boxes for the former
    and 50 lb boxes of the latter two items) and the chocolate I just pick up on sale and stock away for
    the rest of the year.

    Because planting is on hiatus until seed starting, I am concentrating on the “Eat the Food” category

    Planted: A couple of kumquat seeds just to see if they sprout.

    Harvested: Eggs

    Preserved: Elderberry jelly (from freezer clean-out). Very good! I must harvest more of these next year!

    Stored/Want Not: Popcorn, small red beans

    Community: I bought the citrus from the local FFA kids. We took a tag off the tree at church
    and bought a 8 YO girl some clothing and socks. Large food bank donation to son’s school drive.

    Eat the Food: I am currently inventorying all the storage and soon will create menu plans. However I am just too slow at this
    so I have been just concentrating on using the stuff. We have been eating chili, curry turkey potpie (very good)
    cookies from stored ingredients (instead of planning cookies and buying ingred, I am finding ingred and making cookies)

    I have a lot to do yet in the organization area, but hopefully I can get it done before planting season commences again.
    I forgot to mention I was promoted at work (yay!) which will mean travel for a month+ long training right during the spring rush to plant! Organization will definitely be needed!

  7. NMon 14 Dec 2022 at 1:53 pm

    Plant: nothing. Did go out and view the ruins of my winter garden, which appears to have weathered a week of night-time lows around 12 degrees, unprotected, surprisingly well. The chard leaves are melting but I think the crowns survived, the leeks, parsnips and parsley root are mashed to the ground, but look fine otherwise, and the sorrel lost a lot of leaves, but otherwise looks surprisingly good. Can’t tell about the celery yet.
    Harvest: Local eggs. The CSA is done til February, and freezing rain kept the market produce vendor away on Saturday, so no new vegetables for me this week. Fortunately, I have enough leftover prepared food and remaining vegetables to last the week.
    Preserve: nothing
    Waste not: Raked the leaves out of the driveway and divided them among the front yard, garden and compost. Took the thawing frozen Halloween pumpkins to the compost. Sewing a shirt for DH for Christmas, and doing baking for most other gifts.
    Want not: Gave away our no-longer-used artificial tree and a few strings of lights through Freecycle to a woman who is struggling a bit this year.
    Community food systems: writing newspaper article about local food pantry.
    Eat the food: Winter shepherd’s pie, sloppy joes made with homemade ketchup, sweet potato fries, butternut squash, apple and leek gratin, spinach-egg squares, roasted vegetables over noodles, Christmas cookies, local pears. Non-local grapefruit.

  8. Wendyon 14 Dec 2022 at 2:25 pm

    I like your idea of turning your “junk room” into a library. Shelves are my favorite pieces of furniture, because they are so versatile and really, I think make the best storage ;) .

    As for the IDC, nothing really has changed. We’re composting what can be composted, recycling what can be recycled, and anything we don’t eat or compost, we give to the chickens, ducks or rabbits. In fact, last week, we realized that we didn’t have any garbage to put on the curb :) .

    As for food, all of our meat, dairy and produce is locally sourced, and we’ve really developed a strong community support system through the Farmer’s Market and some other local farmers. It’s nice when they know my name ;) .

    I have realized that my crazy is contagious (or the times have just made people think more about the lifestyle my family has been cultivating). This Christmas my in-laws are doing a “recycled Christmas” for gift giving rather than buying anything new. I think it’s a fabulous idea, and I’m very excited to see how creative I can get ;) .

  9. TLEon 14 Dec 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Plant something: Potted multi-graft citrus and multi-graft stone fruit trees.

    Harvest something: Parsley, basil, mint, purslane, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, silverbeet, beer, ginger beer.

    Preserve something: Not this week - big plans for next week when I FINALLY have rec leave.
    Waste Not: Picked up pre-loved food buckets from the local co-op, usual composting & recycling, good attention to leftovers, found 2nd hand copy of Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd.

    Want Not: Ordered simple ceramic water filter for bucket version water filter, added 5kg of black beans to storage, purchased deluxe ergonomic cherry pitter for holiday jam-fest.

    Eat the food: LOTS of salads, mushrooms with stuffing made from freezer breadcrumbs & leftover bits & pieces.

    Build community food systems: Shared favourite gardening books with some local friends, swapped jam-making info with another. Chatted with niece & nephew about garden fruit trees as we walked around their neighbourhood.

  10. Claireon 14 Dec 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Planted: seeds of several native plants that need to be stratified over the winter, in a flat that was covered with screening and then put in a cold frame. The screening is to keep rodents out.

    Harvested: nothing this week.

    Preserved: my DH started a batch of sauerkraut from 5 pounds of organic cabbage.

    Waste not: hauled a used laser printer from one friend who is giving it away to another friend who can use it.

    Want not: started grinding wheat berries into flour for homemade bread, using hand-operated grain grinder.

    Build community food systems: visited a grocery store that is now owned by a group of Missouri farmers, to see what they stock that is local. Answer: not much at this time of year, but did get eggs and cheese produced in-state. Also bought a ham and a couple dozen eggs from the rancher in the next county over from us.

    Eat the food: bread made from home-ground flour; it really does taste better. Stir-fries made using radish greens and other stored produce from the garden. Finally used the last of the refrigerated ancho peppers from the garden, now can get started on the supply in the freezer. Ate one of the stored butternut squash, excellent!

  11. sealanderon 14 Dec 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Well, down under where Santa gets a suntan (blasted carol is stuck in my head again) it’s really starting to look like summer.
    Lots of windstorms though, had to give up on half my pea crop after their overweighted climbing tower got blown over for the third time. Been frantically working on essays on top of my day job, due to semester 2 and 3 overlap, while the weeds grow high outside. Got one due in the first week of January so it will be back to the books as soon as visiting the relatives is done with.

    Planted: Summer savory, pole beans, bush beans, basil, mizuna, squash, pumpkin.

    Harvested: Salsify seed (for the Seed Exchange), mizuna seed, peppermint, lemon verbena, kohlrabi, brocoflour, cabbage, globe artichokes, fava beens, first bush beans, peas, chard, shallots, leeks, strawberries, eggs.

    Preserved: Made Crunchy’s Vanilla Amaretto Strawberry jam for Christmas presents. Yummy! My first go at water bath canning……most satisfying to hear all the lids go pop. If raspberries get to be cheap enough I might try the Raspberry White Chocolate jam too. The limoncello is also ready to be bottled for Christmas presents, I’m just a bit stuck for suitable bottles.

    Waste not/want not: Still making vegetable stock out of the gone to seed leeks and stray bits and pieces. Used some in a beef stew last night and it was good. Managed to get several Christmas presents secondhand, and a number are going to be homemade so that has helped the budget.
    Also managed to get my hands on a second hand preserving pan (canning kettle). New ones only come in the gourmet foody price range here and I can’t afford the $300+ they charge for them. Can’t find a jar rack anywhere though, they’re only being sold as package deals with the aforementioned $300 pans. Might have to get some wire and make my own.
    Donated some food to the foodbank Christmas appeal.
    Stocked up on sugar since it is on special and needed for the preserving season.

    Gave up on getting a room mate for the spare room and moved the ever expanding jar collection and preserving equipment in there. Also going to move the computer in there so I have somewhere to study where I can shut the door and not have to listen to the teenager’s thrash metal ;)

  12. risa stephanie bearon 14 Dec 2022 at 5:00 pm

    When I went back to school and had to study for finals or write a term paper I sometimes moved into a motel for a couple of days! :O

    We still have an iced up pump and are bringing water from the creek to the poultry.

    Plant something: Yer kiddin’, right?

    Harvest something: Bok choi, broccoli, kale

    Preserve something: Ummm, nope.

    Waste Not: Old maps make good gift wrapping. Paper grocery bags make good “brown paper parcels.”

    Want Not: Now moving things from the Cold Room into the crock pots almost daily.

    Eat the food: Rotation: bean day, potato day, squash day,stir-fry day. Though we did not grow the rice or wheat, we feel fairly well home-fed.

    Build community food systems – Gave as gifts four “naming opportunities” in the Grassroots Garden” — you get your name on a new raised bed, and a DVD with a slide show of all that goes on there. A project of the Master Gardeners and Food for Lane County on land belonging to the Episcopal church, it teaches gardening to hundreds of volunteers and many youth groups and raises thousands of pounds of produce for the community food bank. Oh, and gave away two copies of A Nation of Farmers and one of Independence Days!

  13. Lynneon 14 Dec 2022 at 6:30 pm

    We’re starting to come out of a cold snap out here in BC and we’re very pleased at how the chickens seemed to take it all in stride. We’ve redoubled our efforts to eat from the pantry so to speak and it feels great - physically, financially, ethically, etc.

    Plant something: Just all types of sprouts - we have grown grains in the past in the garden for experiments in quantities really just enough for sprouting

    Harvest: Spouts; we’ve been appreciating them, but the chickens go crazy for them! Eggs - such nice thick shelled eggs, I wasn’t expecting the shells to be so sturdy as I’ve not had home grown eggs since I was a kid on the farm

    Preserve: Lots of dried apples from the apples going wrinkly - really tasty!

    Waste not: We’re pledging to continue to reduce food waste and so I can’t point to anything specific, but I’m just eating more leftovers and things (my hubby has always been great about this, I get “fatigue” too easily)

    Want not: Can’t think of anything specific - donation to Salvation Army…want not for other people??

    Eat! WW bread with home ground flour (recipe from Independence Days, worked great); tons of homemade homegrown (HH) grape jelly; acorn squash to die for; one last spinach salad; baked potatoes; frozen veggies; curry with our potatoes, favas, etc (recipe also from ID) the list goes on…this is the first year we’ve really noticed the reduction in grocery bills and trips to the store as a result of our new way of eating, took some time, but wow!

    Community Food systems: nothing really

  14. Robon 14 Dec 2022 at 10:41 pm

    1. Plant something: Just some sprouts- ground too frozen to plant anything
    2. Harvest something: Nope
    3. Preserve something: nope
    4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Made a CD tree from old CD’s I have obtained over the years; Made some “mini-wreaths” out of security rings of off plastic juice bottles to put on my tree
    5. Preparation and Storage: Finally got started on rearranging the pantry so it will fit canned goods and such better
    6. Build Community Food Systems:Was going to help with moving the community garden, but had a cold so stayed home- Got word we are getting a new community garden
    7. Eat the Food (cook or eat something new): Some veggies I froze in soup

  15. KCon 15 Dec 2022 at 1:44 am

    Here in VA - zone 7 : I was in the garden today. Everything under the mini hoop houses that cover the beds of fall veggies look fine. Even the fava beans (uncovered) survived the low temps (in the teens). The favas are 2 inches tall now. I spent more time mulching and would like to widen a pathway or two and move a couple of beds - but the soil is way too wet. ( It has not frozen solid , yet. ) The onions and garlics are a couple of inches tall. The hairy vetch is just an inch or two (hopefully will take off when weather warms. ) - I read that hairy vetch can sometimes inhibit the growth of other plants - has anyone experienced this?

    I also had latkes (at a friend’s house) - delicious. I really paid attention to how he made them so I can repeat it at home - (just grate potatoes, add matzoh meal and eggs.)

    Plant something: (sprouting lentils and mung beans in the kitchen)

    Harvest something: lots of greens, (michili, asian mustards, mizuna, kale, turnip greens, collard, parsley, arugula,), some turnips, daikon, beets, misoto rose radish (green outside and red inside), and burdock

    Preserve something: sauerkraut/kimchi . I’ve been making it in 1/2 gallon wide-mouth jar with a vapor lock. There is a little ceramic cup that holds it under the surface. Because of vapor lock , there is no need to skim so it is easy to make. I use mixed greens with daikon or other radish (misoto is beautiful red) and onion and spices. I layer it with 3 T salt and then pound it before packing into the jar.

    Waste Not: I helped with the food preparation for a Tibetan feast. We are enjoying the leftovers. There was leftover rice that I made into rice soup (congee) and also a breakfast rice porridge with egg - like a very rich golden yellow custard.

    Want Not: A big bag of oats is waiting for me at the local store. Oats and lentils are my main staples. I can eat oats for breakfast and lentils for dinner - supplemented with garden vegetables.

    Eat the food: My first year growing burdock - it is delicious! I’ve been grating it or thin slicing (in grater) and adding to miso soup. I like it much better than the burdock that I buy at the health food store. You can use it like carrots.
    Also, Daikon soup (Tibetan recipe). Lots of greens and roots. I am enjoying eating more roots (potatoes and sweet potatoes, turnips, etc) - instead of rice and grains at every meal.

    Build community food systems: I’ve been talking with friends about sauerkraut and the joys of fermenting vegetables. I am beginning to talk to others about combining seed orders. I want to start ordering the larger sizes of seed packets (it is more cost efficient).

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