We have a little bit of a warm-up and most of our snow is gone which is been nice. Gray today, windy, then thunder and lighting! We're prepping for Thanksgiving which should be fine hopefully! And now for the BIG news! And then there were two...
When I went out today I found Sunny, our flying chicken, sitting in the nesting box area with an egg between her legs! Since she is a Brown Leghorn she has white eggs which I've actually never had before. All of my previous hens had brown eggs. She also has one BIG comb on top! It's redder in real life, just the lighting. I found out that's a genetic thing with this breed. I suspect that the other chicken who's been laying last week is my red Sex Link Debbie, far right-
I happened to find her in the coop near a fairly warm eggs, so I suspect it was her but hard to tell. Since I have three new hens I should start seeing three eggs a day soon, depending on how sensitive they are of the short days. Shorter days in the winter change hens hormones so that they lay less to conserve energy. My tow older hens may start laying again, but I'm not expecting that. This is one of the really great exciting things about doing Urban Homesteading!!! You put the time and energy into buying some little chicks, growing them to be healthy young hens and then they start laying fresh eggs for you. It all pays off. Hopefully this flock of five will continue to do well. So far they have really been a good combination and they all hang out together nap together and groom together. I think they have figured out the pecking order! Happy times!
We sure did hit our record low! It warmed back up, with 67 Friday, then the wind kicked in yesterday, Saturday. Rain started late afternoon, then snow I noticed around 10 p.m. At 5:50 am today I saw about 2 " of SNOW was on the ground, with more coming!
It's 32, still snowing and melting on the ground. Forecast is more snow this week off and on, cold, 22 degrees tonite. Lots of snow in the mountains, it's a big storm!
Independence Days Challenge-
We've been busy, and yet the days are shorter, with garden put to bed for the winter. Friday, with the storm coming in, I covered my garden bench with plastic and took down the last of the garden decor to move inside. The patio table and chairs are now stored as well. We're doing a BIG project right now, that will be a separate post! So here's what we've been up to!
1. Plant Something-
Not this time of year, garden has been put to bed. 2. Harvest Something-
We got an egg yesterday, our first in about 5 months! Either one of our young hens has started laying or one of the older ones started again. Time will tell, but very excited! Looking forward to having our own fresh eggs again, that was always one of my goals. With 3 new hens we should have a good supply of eggs this winter, although it varies with the shorter days-
I harvested the last of my Thyme, Oregano and Collard greens-
3. Preserve/Store Something-
I bought a new Nutrichef freezer bag vacuum machine. I did quite a bit of research before I bought one. Ironically the $55 version I bought at Amazon was a better deal than the same price at Costco. The Costco brand was only 8" wide on the bags, which isn't very large. This machine goes up to 11"". So far I've mostly done fresh produce but we'll start doing meats, etc. when I get a good deals. I hope this will prevent a lot of freezer burn I've had in the past and the reviews were great! Link on left sidebar. For some reason Blogger won't let me put an Amazon link here, just a photo with link, go figure. It's noisy and does take a little getting use to. Took me a couple of tries, but Youtube helped, and it worked great after that. The only thing I had trouble with was trying to bag quartered, dead ripe tomatoes. So much juice came out of the bag it wouldn't seal! Next time, I'd do them whole, that worked fine. It's been working great for storing garden produce! I did a lot of fresh garden tomatoes mixed with sweet peppers and Italian frying peppers-
Italian peppers to stuff
I made a big batch of pasta sauce with our own organic tomatoes, added sausage and froze half. Good for more dinners.
4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Went to the farmstead again, loaded up on local produce, with great prices and supports local farmers. Will freeze some of it. Froze some other french breads from a local store for later. I always make more soups in the winter and love a chunk of hot fresh bread with it!
I bought some seed-saving envelopes, to start saving my own seeds. I've been lazy about that! We save some of my left over veggie and herb seeds. I got a set of 100 (link on left sidebar) for $8.00 and have started with some flowers I had and a gorgeous purple, tall ornamental grass down the street-
Bought new flatware, ours was really pretty beat up. I've been working quite a bit of overtime, with more coming, so I decided to replace it. I looked a lot online and did research. I got a great deal on Overstock.com for a 12 service setting set instead of an 8 service setting for the same price elsewhere. I also had a 15% off coupon, so it was about $110.00. Nice weight, should last the next 20 years, simple and pretty. I kept coming back to this pattern and loved it when I opened the box. It's Mikasa French Countryside flatware-
Also came with a nice hostess/serving set , basically 2 large spoons, large fork and butter knife, great for the holidays coming up!
I wanted to sort and reorganize the silverware drawer, when I bought the flatware, what a mess!
I bought a Erden Bamboo Expandable Drawer Organizer for Utensils, $25.00 on Amazon, fits perfect! I also moved some things to the china cabinet and donated some. Holds everything and the width is expandable. I measured carefully the inside edges of drawer. Fits great, with about 3" extra in the back. Dave cut a piece of scrap wood in back so it's doesn't slide back. I put little-used items back there. Perfect, may buy another for my "junk drawer. I liked the bamboo divider a lot!
5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
I made the new beef roast recipe in my last post which was great! A good use of some of the leftovers was to make a Philly Style French dip. I split two pieces of French bread, put thin slices of beef topped with Swiss cheese, sautéed bell peppers, a little pepperoncini then broiled. I made Au Jus to go with it and it was great on a work night. Sorry no photos! I found some new baking recipes I may try. This is on my list for the holidays, Rosie is an amazing baker!
We went to The Lakeview Fruit farmstead this weekend, they're closing soon. We bought some local apples (amazing), pears, huge bells peppers (.50 cents each!), local bread and 2 organic roasting chickens, will roast the chicken tonight-
I bought enough apples to fill up our crisper in the fridge. Other than home-grown these are the best apples I've ever eaten!
I made some donations to the local thrift store after cleaning more things out of the kitchen. Flatware and storage containers mostly. I found some really great deals on eBay for some used children's books for our grandson for Christmas. I know some people wouldn't do that, but if it's like new as an ex-Librarian, I know they will be fine. We're all thrifty in my family! I also scored a plush but I won't say which one in case one of my kiddos is reading this. 8. Skill Up-
I learned all about stainless steel flatware when I started doing some research about buying a new set. It's mostly the weights of the steel which affects the durability, there's 18/10 (best) and 18/0 (less durable) as a rough guide. Then there's the styles, basically American (smaller) and European larger. I went with the larger, similar to the bistro type sizes I've used and liked. Interesting info here- NY Times Guides To Buying Flatware
I'm also learning about hot water heaters, more later!
9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Our TV signal died Friday. We had Roku so the internet worked, but lost all the other channels. We have an antenna on the roof, which has done a great job. We ditched cable quite a few years ago, talk about saving $$$! We have about 45+ free channels, the Roku channel (ton there) and Netflix. Dave checked the coax cable on the roof and it was toast. Luckily we had spare cable! For no cost Dave was able to re-install new cable, and fit it all back together. Only thing to do is paint it in the spring when it warms up.
I got my new oil lamp burner from Lehman's, took about 3 weeks. Works great, looks nice and shiny! $5.00 fix-
We hit 17 degrees last week, now it's in the upper 60's! Down again in a few days with "wintry mix" and rain forecast. Much colder next week, so time to cozy up the house more! Anyway, when I first started working from home in late March I wasn't sure how long it would last. I started tweaking things over time after I realized this might be while. Now it's "permanent", but time will tell. Anyway this used to be a home office of sorts with a spare computer. Now it's a dedicated "work space", except for all my other stuff! Here's what I've done, for little money! For the colder weather I recently I added a $10.00 Ikea fake sheepskin throw on my office chair, nice and toasty! I used a giant safety pin on the top back so it stays put. We already had the chair-
Nice view out the front window, I can adjust the blinds as needed-
My messy area, avert your eyes! We had this desk before but wasn't big enough for two monitors. I asked Dave to take the keyboard tray and attach to the desk. He added a leg and it works great!
South wall to my right when I'm sitting, radio/CD player, printer, kitty bed, heater and canning rack-
I spent $10.00 and bought Anya a new kitty bed, she loves it! Keeps me company-
I bought this radiant heater this summer knowing I'd need it. Trying to keep the house heating bill down. I turn it on in the morning and pre-heat the room a bit, then turn down the thermostat in the rest of the house. Anya lays next to it most of the morning-
Top of my desk-
Farm sign to my left, moved in from another room-
wall color way off, it's a whiter sage green, weird lighting that morning
Cabinet behind me, I brought more white accents in from other rooms to lighten it up-
I bought the faux barn door and then decided to add a clear command hook. Now I can add something seasonal, like my Happy Fall Y'all sign-
Wall calendar on the right on the wall, nice floor lamp we already had there, nice even lighting!
Top shelf on my left-
That's it, and I really like it! The only things I actually bought were the faux throw, farm Fall sign and heater.
Cross Rib Roast Beef -
This summer I got a nice beef roast for $8.00 and stashed it in the freezer. I thawed it and roasted it this weekend. It came out super juicy and very tender. Plenty for leftovers! It's about a 4 lb. roast and here's a recipe I used Cross Rib Roast w/ Garlic and Herbs Really simple, and I made it rare so we could re-heat some without over cooking-
Coming out of the oven
I roasted multi colored small potatoes and onions with olive oil, salt, thyme and pepper. Wonderful!