Thursday, September 03, 2009

Preparing for winter

Its an intense effort to prepare for our 5 months of winter at Joybilee Farm.

Robin is bringing home the hay this week. We need more than 1000 bales to make it through the winter. We don't make our own hay -- although we have enough land to do so. It would take too much time that we devote to the fiber arts, and add another learning curve to the mix. Our friend Al at PaVa Ranch grows hay for us. We buy second cut grass/alfalfa mix to feed our sheep, goats, rabbits, and llamas, as this is highly nutritious and the stems are finer than first cut, so there is less waste.

We are also slowing getting our firewood in the shed. It is taking longer this year, as we cleared some land of trees in our fenced orchard area. Each tree needs the branches cut off, then cut into stove wood lengths and then split to make drying faster. We need about 8 cords of wood to get through. So far there is less than 1 cord in the shed and about 2 months left before the first snowfall.

The garden continues to grow -- mostly chard, carrots, kale and bok choy, as well as dye plants. Peas are finished. Chinese radishes are abundant -- not sure what to do with them but when cooked they taste like turnips. I've been freezing most of the garden produce this year.

I've also been canning tomato sauce, salsa, and whole tomatoes, purchased in Oliver. We can't grow tomatoes and peppers nor most fruits so I buy it at local farms. I've been drying fruit and freezing some for fruit smoothies in the winter.

My rennet arrived in the mail yesterday so we are back to making cheese from our goats milk. The first mozzarella of the season was put by yesterday.

A few weeks ago a friend invited us to come and pick transparent apples at her farm. We brought home 60 lbs of apples. Some we dried as apple slices. The sweet/tart flavour intensifies when they are dried. The rest we cooked and put through the fruit mill to make apple sauce. Then we spread the apple sauce on the trays of the dehydrator (covered in plastic wrap)and dried it for fruit leather. The sheets of fruit leather are then rolled up and cut with scissors into 1 inch pieces and individually wrapped in waxed paper for winter snacks. Each sheet makes 10 pieces.

Fruit leather ingredients:
Applesauce sweetened to taste
Cover dehydrator trays with plastic wrap or other nonstick cover.
Dehydrate according to manufacturers directions, turning over once during drying process. This takes about 12 hours with my dehydrator.

You can also make fruit leather in the oven using a low heat.

Each farmer's market Robin brings home 6 heads of cauliflower and broccoli for me to freeze for the winter. As well as 2 doz ears of corn. These get blanched in boiling water, chilled quickly in cold water and frozen on baking sheets in the freezer overnight. Then I bag them into medium bags for winter use. We are so cold here that even if the power goes out in winter, our food will stay frozen.

One of the challenges that I faced in moving to this zone 3 growing area was the inability to grow so many of the vegetables and fruit that we like and have grown accustomed to. We are learning to eat what we can grow or what grows nearby -- rather than looking for exotic foods, out of season at the super market.

"Godliness with contentment is great gain."

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