Homestead Pantry

  (Orrtanna, Pennsylvania)
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Goundhog Dodges the BBQ!

We were very cross with Phil and all his relative groundhogs here at the homestead, and vowed to team up with our predator control partner, Gazelle, to wreak vengeance upon Puxatawny Phil and all his kin.  We just did not like the weather that hit us, that's all there was to it.  Luckily for the groundhogs, the bad weather, a couple of other issues, and the two college students' schedules kept us mostly too busy to take time from chores for vengeance-wreaking activities.  Now that spring seems to have sprung, we're all much more cheerful and need I say busy?  However, we do feel it was so beyond unnecessary for that nasty wind of last weekend that blew our brooder house end over end and over the perimeter fence!  Luckily we had not gotten the first chick order of the year in yet so there just wasn't the planned 200 cornish white rocks and 25 layer pullets that would have otherwise been in there and a month along. 

With that in mind, our first pastured poultry run was much smaller than planned so we will have to do another one in about a week to fill all the orders from homestead clients, family, friends and not to mention the egg orders that keep streaming in.  Our cartons of multicolored eggs are gaining a following that is going to require a few more hens to keep them all happy!

Without a brooder house, how do we manage, you might ask?  Well since it's Saturday now, the kids are all out there working to finish the brooder house that was started.  Meanwhile, the F250 seems to be filling in quite nicely.  There is actually plenty of room for a lot more chicks in there and when the brooder house is done we will add chicks but for now I want my wheels back!

The maple sap is running almost faster than two Terrible Teens can keep up, and the smaller wood burner is just not cutting it.  We need a larger wood stove and a larger more shallow pan for boiling maple sap! The yellow bellied sap sucker came along and made a few holes in the maple tree outside my bedroom window.  The hole he left behind allowed sap to run freely, which clued me into the timing for jugging the trees this year.  We've been boiling sap now for over a week.  The waffles are sure special with fresh boiled syrup!  We now cheer when we hear that the night temps are going to be freezing or lower, and the next day over freezing, because we know that the next day will bring a lovely huge surge of sap for our boiler!  Can you even have too much maple syrup?

 We also saw honeybees flying that first day that the temps shot over 50 degrees F so a trip to the orchards' beehives are in order to check on the welfare of the overwintering hives.  They have flown several days now, and with the yellow bellied sap suckers making holes in maples up where terrible teens fear to tap, likely the honeybees are enjoying the largess and will be just fine if they've made it this long. 

Thanks to terrible weather every day we had available to work outside this past fall and winter, our greenhouses are not yet up and running.  That's next on the agenda, along with perimeter fencing.  Anyone out there interested in joining in for a brooder raisin', fence raisin' or a greenhouse raisin' along the lines of an old fashioned barn raisin'?

Until next time, eat fresh, eat well!

 


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