This Month On The Homestead: December 2021






Winter weather officially arrived for us in December.  We had some chilly days, many chilly nights, and snow!  Not a lot of snow, but snow nonetheless.  The change of light is what I appreciate the least.  I awake over an hour before we have light outside, my alarm clock chiming at 5:45.  I no longer use the alarm because of work.  Instead, I use it because Oliver must get out to do his business so he doesn't get a tummy ache or have an accident, and his first meds of the day are due at 6a.m.  

After we venture out for him to do his business I prep Jay's coffee, so it's ready to go when he gets up, and prep my own.  Then Oliver has breakfast and morning meds while I throw on my outdoor gear so I can trudge out to get the Coop Girls up.  I bring them all of the scraps we collected the day before, and sometimes freshly made oatmeal or rice with berries, just because.  The walk out is almost always completely silent in December, a stark difference from spring through fall when the various wild birds are up and chirping about and the chipmunks are yelling at me for walking through their property.  I say almost always because from time-to-time the squirrels are on the move jumping from tree limb to tree limb and scurrying about.  

The coop girls moan and groan as they come out.  They are unhappy about the lack of light, cold, any ice or snow on the ground, and can be quite vocal about whether or not they like or love the goodies I've brought.  (veggies = like, and all forms of carbs, fat, or animal protein = love)  For those of you who don't have chickens, you may be asking "how does she know they are moaning and groaning??"  I'm telling you, there is a distinct difference in their chirps and calls and the December morning ones are NOT usually very cheerful.  

Once I return to the house, I make my chicory coffee alternative and get Jack up (if I get him up before, he terrorizes Oliver when I'm outside) before Ollie and I sit together and watch the sun come up with a steaming hot cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other.  I love sitting in silence for a time in the mornings so I am happy to be up first.   Our December days, after the morning wake-up, can be a bit of a hectic pace so it's nice to start the day slowly.



At Cobble Hill Farm Soap
This December was a fairly busy one which is good news. It means our business continues to hum along at a consistent pace.  Each day there are products to make and/or package, orders to pull and ship, emails to respond to, and lots of cleaning up with each and every task.  We typically don't take any days off in December until the week of Christmas, and this year was no different.

Our farmers market remained pretty steady, and we were able to keep our booth outside 2 of the 3 Sundays this month.  Because our inside venue is pretty crowded, staying outside really helps us as a vendor as well as the customers.



In The Coop
The Coop Girls are laying eggs again!  My husband and our regular egg customers are ecstatic.  While they aren't in any way back in full production, for a group of elderly chickens, they are doing great.  They tend to stay inside the indoor coop throughout much of the winter although we were blessed with some warmer days in December, so they were happily outside on those days.

The feeder that my husband built this year continues to work out great for us.  It remains successful at zero waste and it's great to only have to fill it about once every month and a half or so in winter months.  Same goes for the waterer.  While we empty and store the outdoor waterers once we begin having frost at night, the indoor 5-gallon bucket works out very well.  It lasts longer than the previous waterers we've used and it's easier to fill.



**do you remember when I said that our house now looks like it threw up throw rugs??  Here's an example of exactly what I mean by that.  Poor Oliver continues to lose strength in his rear end so he can't walk on smooth or slippery surfaces anymore and so, enter the throw rugs.....**


Oliver
Poor Oliver.  His anxiety has been at an all-time high at bedtime for the last few months.  This has resulted in very little sleep for us or for him.  We've tried everything.  Everything!  We're hoping it cycles back to him being comfortable soon.  It's done that in the past so, fingers crossed, we are lucky again.  I'm not sure why bedtime has been triggering his anxiety for the past few years, but it has and it's no fun for him or us.  I feel absolutely awful for him.

Other than that, he's doing pretty good.  He was retested again for kidney disease and his numbers are now normal!  I'm so happy.  His eye drops for his diabetes insipidus continue to work and we are told there is a worldwide shortage on them so I'm just hoping that when his prescription is ready to be filled there are some available.


pumpkin Mexican Wedding Cookies

Jay's eggs benedict

In The Kitchen
Soups!  Breads!  Stews!  Casseroles!  All of the cold winter favorites were being cooked and served in our kitchen in December.  I also tried this recipe for a pumpkin version of Mexican Wedding Cookies and they were delicious!  My husband loved them, and he usually doesn't like pumpkin things.  They are made with coconut oil for the fat, and I cut that in half by subbing with applesauce.  The recipe does use refined sugar, and would not be able to be substituted, but if you are ok with some refined sugar and like all things pumpkin, give them a try!

With all that's going on in the world we had a nice and quiet stay-at-home Christmas this year.  I made my husband's favorite breakfast for him, Eggs Benedict.  We had snack-type items for a light lunch and then for Christmas dinner I had pre-made lasagna (meat version for Jay and a veggie version for me).  It's always one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day so I prepared it two days in advance, and we only had to reheat it.  Served with side salads it was the perfect Christmas meal.  **Side note: this is the vegan lasagna I make and I LOVE it!  Even my I-must-have-meat-in-everything-husband thinks it's really good. Although he eats it with meat on the side, of course....  I use either homemade or Rao's marinara and Jovial Brown Rice lasagna noodles (I'm not gluten-free but they are delicious).  I also add cooked red lentils to my marinara for even more nutrition.** 

I was going to make a coconut milk pumpkin pie but decided to make thumbprint cookies instead for dessert.  We had some strawberry jam to use up so it worked out well.  I drizzled a bit of dark chocolate over some of them.  Delicious!  

Speaking of jam, do any of you make Christmas jam?  I think I'm going to try making that next year.  The only one I've tasted was a bit too sweet, so I'll probably sweeten it with maple syrup and cut the amount down a bit.  I think I'd like to try making it without pectin as well.  We'll see what I come up with!  If you have a favorite recipe or any tips, I'd love it if you shared.



Jack
He's obsessed with catching a glimpse of our feral cat friend Felix.  He hangs out on the radiators for two reasons it seems.  1. to watch out front for Felix and 2. because they are warm.  We've also learned that he really enjoys if we move one of his many beds around the house.  Apparently once it's in a new spot it's much more enjoyable.  It appears that new spots are only "new" for about 2 1/2 weeks then a bed must be moved again to keep him interested.  

He's a funny guy.



Time Off
We were able to take 2 weeks off at Christmas which was very much enjoyed.  I still wrapped soap as it cured, responded to questions, updated the online store, and shipped packages, but we didn't attend the market and we shut production down.  Jay was able to work on his boat and get a few things done that he really wanted to do before the next fishing season.  I was able to start some crafting projects I really wanted to get started.


I don't have any books to share because I didn't finish any in the month of December.  If you have any to recommend, I'd love to hear about them.

That's December around here - hoping you had a wonderful end to the year as well!

4 comments

Kathy said...

Sounds like you have had an enjoyable little Christmas Break. Over here we are having hot summer days but due to Covid I'm not going anywhere and I would have like to go to the beach but that can wait. Your morning with your coffee and book after the pet chores are down sounds wonderful. Stay safe and have a good week. Kathy

Staci said...

Kathy - thank you for visiting! Yes, it was enjoyable indeed. Hoping you and your family are doing well.

Windy Meadows Farm said...

So nice to hear what you've been up to...it's good to have a little R&R from the hectic days leading up to Christmas. I can't help but think it shouldn't be that way...I want to make it different next year and begin thinking over plans early.

Don't even worry about the throw rugs...they're the hallmark of a country home and such a help to Oliver. Lucky you, fresh eggs! Our girls are older, but we did get one egg yesterday, ha ha, ours is a retirement home for the girls, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

The idea of a bit of quiet morning time is spot on...I do the same thing. While it's quiet, a little time to settle in and prepare for the day...these days it's in front of the fireplace keeping warm (still no furnace part!) I'll post on that soon...while not hauling water or cooking over the fire, it has been a Little House feel these past 27 days! Take care, Mary

Staci said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Mary. Yes, R&R after the holidays is absolute perfection. :) I can't believe you are still without a furnace! Thank goodness for the fireplace but I bet you can't wait for its return.
Have a wonderful week!
Staci