28 November 2008

Winter delights

Penelope and Juniper are looking quite pregnant. The books say that most of the development happens in the last two months of prengancy, and they are due anytime between 6-8 weeks from now. The previous owner did not write down the breeding dates, so we have to watch them closely. One tip I read is that the careful goatherder will be able to observe when the first kid moves into the birth canal, by a slight slimming on the right side. This gives about a 12 hour notice before labor. The kids are carried on the right, the rumen on the left. Overall I am happy with their condition, we have been feeding them our homegrown grains to bring their condition up to snuff before they kid, and they are doing a great job picking off the heads and digesting the whole grain. The chickens do a great job at it too.

Winter has certainly arrived, we got about a foot of snow on Saturday. This is our winter road. Mr. Fritillary did some maintenance on the bikes, pumped up the tires and greased everything well, to resist rusting from salty winter roads. In the summer our 15 mile round trip commute down to the internet access center takes about 15 minutes each way, but slick winter roads can slow us down a bit. Although cold usually doesn't deter us from making our way down here about twice a week, wind and snow can. I wear quilted overalls, a down coat, and my treasured handknit long underwear, and wool bra, along with copious scarves, hats, gloves and a few pairs of socks. I barely feel the cold, even when it gets down to -20C. Haha, I look like a marshmallow, but I can still pedal!

But I have quite a number of blogs that I want to write, and two a week hasn't been covering it, so I am going to post a couple of blogs when I am down here, to make up for not having daily internet access.

Our driveway does not get cleared until spring, we pack a trail over the snow with snowshoes, and our occasional visitors park up on the road, and walk in. The dogs have to leap to get through the snow on our morning walk, as we head out to road for a good stretch.

Winter has beauties that rival summer blooms and breezes. Icicles hang off our rough-cut porch roof. The light reflecting off the snow on a clear day is dazzling. The solar panel collects nearly as much energy from a short winter day, as a long summer day, with the added boost of reflection.

The south-facing kitchen window always forms these fan shaped intricate ice crystals.

And the north-facing windows form sharp angular ice crystals, quite beautiful really.

Brussels Sprouts are practically designed to withstand frost and snow. The leaves protect the little cabbages along the stalk. They have finished growing, but I am still harvesting bits of green. The winterbore kale is doing very well, I am still harvesting a pound a week, but will probably get one last harvest or two. As long as we still have some greens from the garden, I can put off opening my canned green beans and peas, our only greens except sprouts and sauerkraut, until spring.

The last of my green tomatoes are ripening well, they have stored, and slowly ripened over six weeks in the cold room. Again, the longer I can use these, the longer I can put off using up the canned tomato sauce in the pantry. Afterall, it has to last until next August!


Michelle said...

We also live off the grid and have found (and have read) that PV panels actually work MORE efficiently in cold weather! In the heat of the summer, despite the bright sun and longer days, they don't work as well!

The reflected sun off the snow doesn't hurt either!

Susy said...

Your goats are so cute!

We're also still using up our tomatoes. I just made a big pot of sauce with a bunch of the ripe ones earlier this week. We still have enough for one more batch!

el said...

I'm so glad you guys got some snow! Sure it might slow you down on the bikes but it's so much more nice than the cold sleeping brownish-gray world without it. I'm likewise glad to hear your girls are both pregnant :) as it will mean some milk for you again. Have you ever considered canning milk? I am just thinking about your lack of pumpkin pie now...you could open a jar and caramelize the milk in a pan with some sugar, yum.

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

michelle, yes the PV panel seems to work more efficiently in the winter. We are often dissapointed with the power output on long summer days, when we expect it to be at the maximum. But it is a bonus for winter power needs, since we run lights and are in the house more in the winter.

Susy, having our own fresh tomatoes right into December is great. They may not taste much better than the force-ripened ones at the supermarket, but they certainly are no worse, and they are our own. With some garlic and spices they make a delicious meal.

El, I do love the snow, too much mud makes me grumpy. And yes, I have canned milk before. The last time that our cow was dry we stored some canned milk until she freshened. But we lost our cow unexpectedly, and were not prepared, and I just can't bring myself to buy what is offered at the grocery store, so we are making do until the goats have their kids!