Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Snow, New Year.


The first significant snow has finally fallen just in time for the year to close up and the outdoor projects to come to an end for the most part. 


We are quickly closing in on our one year anniversary at the homestead and the blanket of snow made us remember back to our first weekend here at the end of last January when we were blanketed with just under 3 feet of snow ! This 5 or so inches was much more manageable but it also made me realize I had to get a little better prepared for what could be just around the corner.


 I marked all of our new raised beds so the plow doesn't make a mess of them and the garlic is finally nestling in for a long winters sleep... the new to me snowblower did a great job creating a nice path to the shed and around the house so we can stay on top of a few things that even a few feet of snow can't put on the backburner but overall the outdoor projects are done with the exception of some wood to chop and some chainsaw work in preparation for next winter. 


Our pile of wood from our back deck has been depleted but it did get us through December and I thought it would only last through November, the mildest December on record was a big reason for this but we still have a couple cords in reserve that have not been touched and it was time to fill the basement.


Moving the woodpile down from the driveway location, now where the garlic is located, proved to be a good decision and made for easy stocking. If I get real lazy I know I could ramp the small step into the house and bring the wheelbarrow right in but it was a pleasant day mid 30's and sunny so leaving the door open and parking it in front worked just fine.


We have four rows of wood and worst case scenario each should last us a month taking us up through May... Im assuming I will have a row or more left at the end of winter and will supplement the purchased wood from this year with some of our own wood from our land and will see how this system works in sustaining a wooded lot and not having to buy wood every year.


Everytime I move, chop or stack wood I remember the writings of the Nearings book called the Good Life. Scott Nearing talks about how wood heats you twice. Once when you process and move it and once when you burn it.


With the arrival of the snow and the change of calendars over to 2016, I figured Id take a house shot with the lights twinkling and the snow blanket over the landscape before the holiday trimmings are taken down and we move on to plan for another successful and fruitful year ahead.


With the new year comes new projects. Im starting with a list of indoor to do's for the winter months and was just eyeing up a table saw to help with some of those. First step is building a work bench in the basement, organizing the studio and getting going on a few commissioned pieces that I have promised to get done in the January/February. My dream is to build a bench/bookshelf in our living room to hold the massive library of books and records we have accumulated through the years turning our living room into more of a library. Along with some woodworking projects we would also like to put some fresh paint on a few of our rooms and touch up some other areas.  I will continue with more and more blog posts in the new year and you will notice I have added a few new tabs to bring all of my passions together on one page. You can now check out some of my artwork, design work and a link to another blog I have about bottle foraging for delicious beverages.  I also will be adding a music tab in the weeks to come and hope to add a localrootz podcast to the mix that will be a combination of homesteading stories, interviews with local farmers/producers and just some showcasing of our vast record collection and the tunes that get me through all the projects on a daily basis. Many of you may not be aware of all my other passions as a deejay and artist, and my plan is to bring these all together somehow someway !

Along with these projects and lofty goals we are excited to think ahead to next years garden. We have been thumbing through seed catalogs and adding some reading material to our library to become more informed about some exciting new projects this spring/summer including building a chicken coup and raising chickens, raising a few hogs, planting fruit trees, starting a couple bee hives, building a greenhouse out of old windows from the dump, a screened in gazebo in the woods, horseshoe pit and more rustic firepit in the woods... so many dreams so many projects but if this past year was any indication of how much we can get done in a year I think we will make some more successful headway toward turning our little homestead into a fulfilling rewarding utopia that I have always dreamed of !

Stay tuned for more posts from the localrootz homestead in 2016 !

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Herbal Preservation.

After a couple months of swaying in the window, bound in twine and filling the house with sweet herbaceous aromas I finally decided it was time to process the dried herbs we harvested as the winter frost approached. Ive been trimming bits and pieces for cooking almost everyday leaving a mess on the windowsill and after searching high and low for a gently used shaker without any luck. I turned to a big box store during the holiday shopping season and picked some up as a gift to ourselves.


I gently unbound the bunches of thyme, oregano, sage, savory and marjoram.


I used a big strainer with a bowl underneath to help sift out the stems as I carefully ran my fingers along the stems and crushed and flaked the pungent flavors from their dormant dried state.



The final consistency turned out to be a bit of powder, flakes and specs. I mixed them all together as I felt like 99% of the time I used bits of all varieties in the dishes.
Consider it an all purpose seasoning blend.


Some of the leftover stems were bound and tossed into the fire to sweeten the chimney and then after chewing on one I had an idea and luckily just enough maine pressed sunflower oil to make it happen.


I stuffed an empty jar with the remaining stems and filled it to the brim with the sunflower oil to let it infuse the oil for future cooking applications.


Im sure this would be delicious as a dipping oil with some fresh bread... Ill keep you posted how it turns out.


Not a bad final spread considering how much use we already got out of the hanging herbs as well as all the tremendous trimmings I got from the garden this past summer. I plan on expanding our herb selection quite a bit over the next few years and hope that all the current ones make a return come spring. We still have a good amount of lemon balm and cat nip hanging for another winter project as well.

Till next project.
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