Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keeping warm with good hay and chicken pot pie

(This was taken in the approximately 10 seconds of sunshine we had yesterday)
 Winter has come early to the Bluegrass. When we woke up Monday morning we had our first real snow and temperatures in the teens! It caught us by surprise because we rarely have those low temperatures until after the Christmas holidays.

(You might assume that the main cold weather activity here on the farm is eating and you'd be right!)
I've begun feeding the ewes hay and they've been very enthusiastic about it. They have cleaned up every bit I've put out, so I'm thinking we got an especially good load this year. Occasionally, we end up with some bales that are too stemmy and the sheep will pick through it and leave huge piles of stems in the feeders and on the ground. Not that I blame them. I wouldn't want to eat tough stems either. It's a difficult process to get really good hay cut, cured, baled and in the barn without it getting too mature or getting rained on before it gets put under shelter. That's the main reason we buy our hay now rather than try to grow it ourselves. Well, that and the fact that throwing 50 pound bales up on the wagon and the hay elevator is not something I can or want to do anymore.

This cold front began with rain, which turned to ice and then snow, so the girls all got to come into the barn that night. They tolerate the cold quite well because they are in full fleece, but I don't like them getting wet and then being out in the cold. I think we all sleep better if they are tucked up in the barn with bellies full of hay and deep straw to lie down in for the night. Of course, all it takes is bringing them into the barn one night and by feeding time the next afternoon, they are lined up at the gate waiting to come in again. Who said sheep were dumb animals?

Continuing with the theme of cold weather eating - it's been chicken pot pie for the humans. For years I made a recipe from a Lee Bailey cookbook that had a wonderful cornbread crust topping, but it was a lengthy process and when I found this one in the Real Simple Meals Made Easy cookbook, I gave it a try. (You can tell that it was a success just by looking at the stains on the pages of the cookbook! I've made it many times.) I don't always use a store bought rotisserie chicken and I usually substitute baby lima beans for the peas and we like it just fine. It's one of those recipes I can decide on at the last minute because I nearly always have the ingredients in the refrigerator or freezer.

So, what else have I been up to besides feeding sheep and cooking? Well, not so much, really. I did finish a super simple little shawl that I basically made up as I went along. I used some Briar Rose yarn from my stash and wanted something that was basically mindless knitting (which says a lot for my state of mind!). This is one of Chris' beautiful variegated colorways, that she dyes so well. It's squishy and cozy and has already become a favorite.

I have begun a Hitchhiker shawlette with a skein of Miss Babs yarn, also from my stash. (Actually, quite proud that I'm using stash yarns.) I'm at 26 points and counting. I'm thinking I might possibly be one of the last knitters on earth to knit one of these. It is a very popular pattern and also very simple (again, considering my frame of mind). It's an eight row pattern that's easily memorized. I met Martina, the designer of the pattern at Squam in June. One of my cabin-mates (hi Heather!), gave Martina a ride from the airport to Squam back in June and Martina came to our cabin one evening and sat around the fireplace with us. She's a lovely person and we were all very impressed that she flew in from Germany to attend Squam. 

Mike has a birthday this weekend and Thanksgiving is nearly here. It's a busy time of year for all of us. I'm hopeful that it won't be quite so long before I'm back with another post and maybe I'll have more to show for my time away from here.