February 28, 2014

Jason the woodcutter



During this long month of February, we were blessed with a handful of warmer-than-usual winter days. Valentines day happened to be one of them. Jason was quick to grab his chainsaw and head out into the forest to cut more firewood. This winter has been immensely cold, and we have used much more wood than the past few winters here. We were worried that we might run out by the end of February, and that would be very bad indeed. We heat with wood only, and this house of ours is very old and very cold (aka badly insulated) so we need to make sure we have enough. Jason is awesome. He cut down enough in just a couple days to last us the rest of the winter plus a bunch extra. He worked from morning to dusk and never stopped, except to drink the tea I brought out for him.
There are a ton of girls out there who want flowers and jewelry from their men, but not me! I want a good man who will work all day in the woods, knee-deep in the snow with frozen fingers and cold, wet boots, cutting and splitting firewood to keep me and my little ones warm. I think that this act of devotion and love speaks volumes above the flowers and jewelry. This is the real deal. 

Sam + Jason

February 27, 2014

love and beards


Jason and Ollie in the snow. Ollie happened to have a beard that day (:

February 23, 2014

first egg!


I went out to the barn in the evening as I always do, but found this little lady slumped awkwardly in the middle of the walkway. She didn't seem to be able to walk and her mouth was wide open, so I brought her inside and Jason gave her a once over.

In the meantime, I amply filled a large plastic bin with fresh straw, anticipating that she would be staying the night (or nights) in the downstairs bathroom, as all our healing chickens do, and placed in on the kitchen rug.

As soon as we put her in the bin, she gripped her head over the side and got into a hardcore egg-laying position. I know what it looks like; I have watched many of my hens as they lay their morning eggs. She strained for a few minutes and then out popped a soft, shell-less egg. No wonder she was having such a hard time; that would be much harder to lay than a hard-shelled egg!

By this time, both Ollie and Jude had come over to sit quietly with Jason and I, curious, and so they got to witness what I think was the birth of this Easter Eggers' very first egg (: In our kitchen, no less! It was pretty special. Afterwards, they ran off to play and I petted her. She closed her eyes, the poor little lady. I took her out of the bin to make sure she was alright to stand and walk, and she was. She drank a ton of water and ate a bit of grain and then I took her back out to snuggle up with her friends in the coop.

When you are raising animals, you never know when a sudden event will make time stop, or at the very least, slow down. They add an element of wonderful, earthy realness to your days that is just the best. I can't remember what I did all the time before I had these lovely chickens, sheep (and Talulah the goat) to care for!


February 22, 2014

Roasted Squash Soup Recipe



This soup is a regular in our home thanks to an immense squash harvest last summer. It's nearly March and we still have a couple left sitting on the counter if you can believe it! 

Ingredients:

2 medium cooking onions, chopped into small pieces
2 medium to large squashes (in this photo I used one acorn squash and one butternut, but I often just use 2 acorn squash as we grow so much in the garden. Butternut makes the soup more yellow and creamier but any kind of squash is yummy)
1 tablespoon of melted butter for brushing onto squash
6 potatoes, chopped into small pieces
1 apple (optional - makes the soup just a tad bit sweet), chopped into medium-sized chunks
1 carrot (optional - I throw one in my soup when I have some), chopped into small pieces
2 shots of gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons of butter
8 cups of chicken broth (or two 900 ml cartons of chicken broth) - Vegetable broth is fine too!
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and melt 1 tbsp of butter in a small pot.
Cut the squashes in half and remove the seeds. Place them on a baking sheet (you can line the sheet with parchment paper if you like) and brush the four halves with a bit of melted butter and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Place the squash on the middle rack in the oven and roast for 45 to 75 minutes. It really depends on how large and/or meaty your squash is. I just peek in every often to check on them.

Meanwhile, Melt 4 tablespoons of butter into a medium to large stockpot over medium heat. (To give you an idea of size, this soup is basically a double batch)
Throw in the two onions, chopped well, and saute until they soften.
Add the potatoes, carrot and apple (if using) to the onions and saute, stirring often, until they too begin to soften. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Pour in all the chicken stock, the red wine vinegar and soy sauce and bring to a slow boil, stirring often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
By now your squash should be done. When it has cooled a bit and is easy to handle, scoop the squash out of the shells and add to the soup.
Simmer until everything is cooked well, about 15 minutes or so.
When soup is done, add more salt and pepper if it needs it, and then blend. I use an immersion blender but a regular blender is fine too; you'll just have to do it in batches.
Garnish with a few gluten-free croutons (if you like) - My kids love that (:

February 18, 2014

winter food

Potato/squash/carrot/apple soup


Potato/squash/goat cheese and thyme gratin and kale salad


Creamy squash soup with croutons and spinach/kale/cheese/cucumber/cranberry/tomato/sprout salad


More squash soup! I usually make a lot. This time it accompanied cheese and crackers, half a grapefruit, and some quinoa/kale/spinach/carrot/chickpea/tomato salad with balsamic dijon dressing


Frittata with bacon and kale


Beautiful, freshly washed eggs (:




February 12, 2014

Playing


Here are Ollie and Jude playing on the kitchen rug.
Bedhead and pajamas.
They are so cute.

February 9, 2014

Jason's homemade rocket stove, so far!






Jason built this rocket stove yesterday. He still needs to add some inner insulation and do some finishing touches, but I think it's pretty awesome already.
We are planning to use it for maple syrup time, so that we can boil down the sap using this stove instead of a big outdoor fire, as rocket stoves are immensely efficient when it comes to fuel usage, using just a fractional amount of wood in comparison to any other traditional wood-burning method or device. It's amazing, really. One day I hope we can expand on this idea and build a rocket mass heater directly into our home. That would be just so wonderful. I do love to be warm (:

February 7, 2014

keeping healthy



This has probably been the coldest winter.

Mostly, we are all coping well, and peaceful. We have developed a nice daily winter rhythm which helps everyone to feel at ease. The boys play happily for hours, fully engaged in their imaginative games and we never seem to run out of fun activities even though we are inside all day long, but when it comes to health, we do need some extra help during this long, and very cold, Canadian winter. So far - (knock on wood) - no one has been sick, not really, and it is already February. We all got a little cold, but as I felt it coming on, I started pumping our homemade echinacea tincture into all of us and the next day we were all clear. Maybe it was a very mild cold, or maybe our echinacea is amazing stuff. Either way, I'm very glad we have it on hand! Aside from being a powerful little bottle of immune system goodness, it is also a lovely reminder of both summertime and self-sufficiency, so it makes me happy (:

The other fun thing we have been cultivating is sprouts. Jason was eager to grow them to supplement the chickens' diet but he is growing enough now that we too can partake. We have some green lentil sprouts, alfalfa sprouts and also a lovely sprout mixture. We eat them with our eggs in the morning, on our salad at lunch, and with whatever we are having for dinner. In the past I haven't put as much care into our winter-time nutrition, feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the other tasks that always need to be accomplished, but this year, things are happening. Jason has been very diligent with rinsing his sprouts and now that Ollie is two, I have more of an opportunity to work in the kitchen without so many hindrances and interruptions, and so I have been making new and exciting meals for us. It definitely is a good thing!

February 5, 2014

Giveaway (:

It just so happens that Katie at Life With The Crew is giving away one of my handpainted pendants. This one, actually!


If you would like to enter for a chance to win, pop over to her blog (:
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