October Snow

The light dusting of snow turned into a storm. It rained for a few hours, and then temperatures dropped and the snow began to fall. And fall. All of Saturday night it came down. Parts west and south and north of us saw major accumulation, but we got only a few inches. Still, it was heavy and wet and I was surprised that the power didn’t go out. But then it did, right around 6:30 am on Sunday when I got out of bed and saw this:

What made this storm so damaging was that the leaves are still on the trees. Weighted down with snow, branches broke and downed power lines and blocked roads. It’s so unusual to see snow on trees still blazing with autumn color.

This five-trunk maple is in my front yard. It went unscathed.

Two big branches did come down near, but not on, the house. The road looked like this:

The goats are not fond of getting their feet wet.

Caper was the first to step out. After all, there were freshly downed leaves to eat.

The Gems, new to snow, took a look out, and then went back in, where I had supplied them with a pumpkin to keep them distracted.

As always, Scooter knew what to do.

NStar, our power company, worked through the night and I was surprised to wake up to restored electric service. They did an impressive job! I’m about to go out and try to clear out those huge downed branches. I think part of one will make a nice outside roost for the Gems.

First Snow

The first snowfall around here usually occurs right around my birthday mid-November. This year it came last night. Rain changed to snow, which turned into a crunchy crust this morning. We don’t often see snow when the trees are still clothed in their orange attire.

The steps were pretty but dangerously icy. The freezing temperatures will soften up these pumpkins. It’s time to put them in with the hens before they rot on the deck.

We knew that bad weather was on its way, so Steve went out in the dark last night and attached the winter siding onto Candy’s hutch. It keeps the snow from blowing into her house.

I put the waterer on the heating pad.

The snow didn’t last long. By mid-morning it sparkled in bright sunshine. Chickens can’t resist shiny things. They’ve been pecking at the icy clusters as if they’re delicious treats. It’ll probably give them the runs.

The only one who isn’t up and enjoying this early taste of winter is Scooter. He says that he’s not budging off of his bed until summer returns.



Apple Bread Pudding

What’s for dinner? There’s not much in the house. The refrigerator is almost empty. There are basic ingredients in the freezer, but well, there’re all frozen.

I have two-thirds of a loaf of homemade bread a day past its prime.

Thanks to the Gems, there are eggs.

There are a few apples left from our visit to an orchard three weeks ago.

I’ll make a bread pudding, which is a fall-back recipe that everyone should have in their repertoire. This is what to do:

Cut the bread into cubes. If I toast them until dry the bread will hold it’s shape while baking. But, I like a soft custardy-custard, so I’m not going to bother with that step.

I put the batter ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together. The basic proportions are: 3 cups of milk, 1/2 cup sweetener, 6 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

I use 1% milk. I actually like bread pudding made with lowfat dairy – cream is too heavy for my taste. For sweetener I combined honey and brown sugar, but this is flexible depending on the fruits used. Other times I might use sugar and maple syrup, or all white sugar. For Apple Bread Pudding, I’ll stir in a half-teaspoon of vanilla, too.

I get out 4 apples. I use my nifty hand-cranked gadget that, in a few turns of the handle, peels, cores and slices. I toss the apples in with the bread and add a handful of plump organic raisins. It all goes into a ceramic casserole. I pour the custard on top and press down so that the bread cubes are immersed in the batter. Let this sit so that the bread absorbs the egg mixture. Preheat the oven to 350ºF while the pudding rests.

While waiting for the oven to warm up, I take the apple peels out to the goats. My gadget makes long strands, which the goats like to slurp like spaghetti. This might be the best part of making Apple Bread Pudding. Notice Caper’s tail wagging with happiness.

Dust the pudding with cinnamon. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top begins to brown a bit and the custard is set. Lowfat milk batters are a tad watery and will take longer than if you use whole milk or cream. When you press on the surface you shouldn’t see any liquid ooze out. It should feel bouncy.

I’ve been reading diaries kept by a New York state farm family back at the turn of the last century. Supper was often what we’d consider dessert. They sometimes ate cream and berries for their evening meal, or had shortcake, or pancakes. This recipe, filled with eggs, which were precious back then, would have been an extravagance. But, they did love their ice cream, so I’ll have some, too.

Leave out the sugar, add cheese, and you’ll have a savory dinner, sometimes called a “strata.” No doubt I’ll be scrounging around the in the kitchen soon, thinking there’s nothing in the house to make for supper, when I spy the eggs and the bread and know that something easy to make and delicious is right there in front of me.

I’m Profiled In Chickens!

Just look at this adorable cover.

I’m not one to dress up my animals, not even my very cute little dog, Scooter. At Halloween I tolerate costumes on pets – sometimes. I am appalled at silkies dyed pink and wearing pearl necklaces. But there’s something about that red hen with that little hat made out of finger from a girls’ glove, and those leg warmers from the same re-purposed gloves, that has me smiling.

Hobby Farms puts out a whole series of good, well-written, useful magazines. The new kid on the block is their Chickens magazine. It’s not yet available by subscription, but you should be able to find it at feed stores and other venues. Or you can buy it from the publisher.

I’m profiled in the January/February 2012 issue!

Agatha is relieved that she didn’t have to get dressed up for the photo shoot.

Goldilocks Hen

I should rename Opal Goldilocks.

It’s time to lay an egg. Goldilocks tried out the bears’ beds; Opal checks out each nesting box and loudly proclaims her opinion about each.

“This one,” she says, “is too sunny.”

“I can’t lay an egg here, this nest is too big.”

“This box has a hen already in it!”

“Ah, this one is just right.”