Last Week On The Homestead: Snow, A Birthday Boy, And Winter Cleaning


January 16-22, 2023

Hello friends!

As I type this it's the perfect morning for a cup of hot (dandy blend) coffee with steamed oat milk and just a swirl of date syrup.  Oliver is tucked into his bed beside me, one of his blankets covering just about every inch of his body.  Jackson is waiting by a living room window for the first peek of one of the stray cats that we provide food, water, and shelter to (there's now 3....).  And it's been snowing all night!  Our winter weather has been mild - highs in the 30's and lows in the upper teens to 20's.  We received a few inches of wet and heavy snow last week.  It coated the trees nicely for a few hours like thick sparkling frosting.  It's absolutely beautiful.  Eventually the snow fell off in plops, sending the tree limbs bouncing up and down from the release of its weight.  Today's snow is slightly heavy (not nearly as heavy as the last snowfall) and will hopefully stick to the trees a bit longer.

Our work life has slowed, and we settle into the winter rhythm for a couple of months.  A lot of bookkeeping currently - planning, record updating, and paperwork is a good amount of my work.  Making and packaging products as well as packing and shipping orders is an every-other-day task that allows the monotony of bookkeeping to be broken up.  For these couple of months, most of our workdays start a little later and end a little earlier.  It's the perfect time for getting lost in projects and reading.

Jack waiting for the trio of stray cats

Our stray cat friend Felix is walking much better.  He had previously been limping on one of his front paws and is now putting almost full weight on it.  Imposter Felix (also a stray) continues to visit us around our dinner time.  He (she?) eats quickly and runs away.  Last Tuesday afternoon I was working on the computer and Jay was working in his woodshop.  Jackson came running into the living room and began his crazy dance, which is an alert that either Felix or Imposter Felix is here.  My phone whistled and it was Jay texting, telling me to look on the front porch at the cat food dish.  

I looked out the window and there was stray cat #3.  Oh brother!  This poor little thing is skinny and very scared.  He/she is also all black and has the most adorable white paws.  At first, the cat didn't notice Jack and all of his antics in the window because it was eating so quickly.  It started to walk away and then caught a glimpse of Jack and did a double take.  Then it sat there staring at him with all of his dancing.  I can't even imagine what it thought of him.  After a few seconds of watching the Jackson show, it was off and running.  It's been a regular at the cat station ever since.  The word is out about the stray cat hostel!

Oliver turned 13 on Friday.  I really can't even believe it.  With all of his issues, he's still a happy little guy who cracks us up every single day.  He LOVES sweet potatoes and that's what I use to give him his extensive list of meds every day.  He also gets a few daily blueberries, a quarter of an apple (this is a new obsession), and, of course, his dog food and treats.  He actually eats 4 meals every day - 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners, in addition to his snacks.  For breakfast he receives his dog food plus sweet potatoes with meds.  His morning snack is a few blueberries.  For lunch he eats a handful of sweet potato bites (both with meds and without) and a 1/4 of the apple I eat.  For his first dinner he eats his dog food.  For his second dinner, when we eat dinner, he receives a very small portion of something like rice, potatoes, veggies, or a combo.  He looks forward to these meals and gets SO excited (and thankfully maintains his healthy weight). 

There was a slight increase in egg production last week.  It appears that one or two of the older girls may have laid a couple of eggs!  We did lose one girl 2 weeks ago, but we are still amazed that we don't lose more with the age of the ladies we've got.  Every morning when I open the coop, I brace myself for what I might find.  It's never easy to see one of those sweet girls has passed on.

I've been engaged in winter cleaning - a version of spring cleaning that doesn't include cleaning outside (windows, porches, etc.) as it's too cold, even though we've had mild temperatures.  I have decided to tackle one room per week to go through from top to bottom and everywhere in between.  Nothing major, of course, but it's nice to go through things and re-organize where needed, deep clean, and purge any bits that can be purged.  Some weeks I won't be able to clean as the schedule will be full of making and packaging products, but I feel like I can get through the entire house by the end of March.

In the kitchen, I think I'll be making our favorite Oatmeal Sandwich Bread this week.  It's been a while since I've made it and I was thinking about it the other day.  Oh, I made homemade pizza in the air fryer last week.  Who knew!  It was delicious and took 7 minutes.  I'm planning to try a new way to cook homemade air fryer french fries this week.  I found a recipe in one of my cookbooks that promises these are the perfect fries.  We shall see!

And now a food preservation fail.  In 2021 a friend was raving about the green beans she put up in the freezer.  She had packed them raw in bags, not blanched, and she and her husband said they were officially their favorite way of preserving them.  I'd heard that they are fine packed raw for short-term use, but they degrade quickly if stored long-term (although I don't know what defines long-term).  So, I waited for them to eat their green beans into Spring, and they still said they were the best.  Last June I put the first of the green beans into the freezer, raw, and we tested them in August to see if we liked them (knowing this was short-term but wanted to try it).  We did!  I decided to preserve ALL of the green beans this way.  So far, I've been through 12 bags, and they are awful.  AWFUL!  It's not the texture, it's the flavor.  The best way I can describe it is a very strong green flavor.  I'm so disappointed that I froze them all this way.  The only hope I have is the 12 bags are beans I purchased from a fellow vendor at the farmers market and I'm hoping it's the variety of beans.  I'm going to dig into the stack and look for the beans from our garden (thankfully I labeled the bags) to see if the two varieties we grow might taste better.  Regardless, I'll be blanching going forward.

This weeks menu:
(as a reminder, I generally make 2 different meals as we eat differently)

J - Oven "Fried" Chicken Breast, Air Fryer Fries, Steamed Broccoli
S - Homemade Won Ton Soup with Spinach, Steamed Broccoli

J - Pork Chop with Fig Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower
S - Chickpea Veggie Loaf (trying this recipe by Vegan Richa, offers gf variation), Steamed Veggies 

J - Swedish Meatballs (Pinch Of Yum), Rice, Honey Glazed Carrots
S - Homemade Won Ton Soup with Spinach, Steamed Broccoli

J - Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce
S - Leftover Chickpea Veggie Loaf, Steamed Veggies

J - Rigatoni with Marinara & Meatballs, Spinach
S - Homemade Won Ton Soup with Spinach, Steamed Broccoli

J - Three Cheese Chicken Penne, Spinach
S - Leftover Chickpea Veggie Loaf, Steamed Veggies

J - Homemade Pizza & Wings
S - Homemade Pizza & Salad

That's our week on the homestead.  Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!!


  1. The chickpea loaf sounds good … anxious to hear how you liked it !
    I tried freezing cut up butternut squash without blanching once and it looked great but tasted awful and bitter!! I guess that blanching step is important.

    1. Well that's a bummer about the squash! Yes indeed, the blanching is there for a reason....😉

  2. It sounds like we're in the same groove right now... paperwork, packing products and orders, and cleaning the house. That's a shame about your green beans, but if we don't try new things, we'll never know if there's a better or easier way, right? I can hear your love for Oscar, reading about his meals and snacks. These pups don't eat very different, though not as often. They get sweet potatoes almost every day, and I've been chopping up apple peels and bits from canning for their supper. Lucky pups, and lucky us!

    1. Laurie - I agree about the bean experiment. Just wish I'd only preserved half that way. Ollie eats more I think because of his meds. Or maybe because he's trained me to believe it's because of his Lucky pups (and us) indeed!

  3. So thoughtful & caring of you to feed the strays?

    1. Thanks Anonymous. I love animals so we help them as much as we can. 😊

  4. That first photo is stunning! I love the photos that you and Bev, from Bee Haven Acres share of your snowy scenes.
    Glad your girls are laying more. I think ours are too. I'm so sorry about your loss. Having recently lost one of our chooks, I know how you feel.
    Happy Birthday Ollie! Bless you in your 13th year! You are so dedicated to him. Sweet boy.

    Sounds like you are doing a great job of using your time productively. It feels so good to purge things that are no longer useful to us, especially if they can be passed on to someone who can make use of them.
    It's always great to have more time to read. Especially when it's raining or bitterly cold outside. Enjoy!

    The meatloaf sounds amazing, although I can't have bbq sauce, as I can no longer eat tomatoes. I'm not sure how it would taste without it. I'm afraid it might be too dry. Maybe I can tweak it. I guess you're happy with your plant-based diet? You've been keeping with it for a long time. Glad it suits you.

    So good to see a post from you. It's always a treat.

    1. Thanks so much Daisy. Purging does indeed feel great! Even though I don't feel like we have much excess, it seems there's always a few things to get rid of. With the meatloaf, actually, I'm planning to make a vegan gravy to top it because I was going to have half of a baked potato with gravy as well. We'll see! I plan to make it tonight! Yes, I feel MUCH better eating WFPB. I don't see ever changing it. Have a great week!

  5. Snow is so foreign to me as it's boiling hot here in Brisbane is 33 degrees here today [91F]. It's Australia Day today however I'm having a quiet day after my trip away. Have a good week.

    1. I know what you mean. I didn't grow up with snow so moving to the East Coast of the U. S. was a HUGE change. Happy you had a wonderful time on your trip! Wishing you a good week as well!

  6. Such pretty snow pictures...I love the rest this time of year can bring. There's still plenty to do, but it's not the hot & humid work that does me in so easily in summer. I admit, I like the shorter the evening I can sit down with a book or favorite old movie and not feel guilty - no yardwork to be done!

    Happy Birthday wishes to Oliver - yay, what a sweetie! Can I ask what type of dog food you feet him? Bailey seems to have allergies, some foods make itching worse, but nothing seems to help. Maybe I should look into making something homemade. And so nice of you to welcome another kitty...this time of year they'll definitely be grateful for the food you're sharing with them. And good to know about the green beans...I'm always looking for a way to speed up food storage, blanching takes time, but sounds like it's worth it.

    And your goal of a room a week is perfect - it does feel so good to sort, organize, and clean out and you'll be done in no time! Sending wishes for a good (relaxing!) weekend, Mary

    1. Mary - I agree. Much better than working in the hot and humid summer.

      Oliver has always refused dry dog food. For a while it was acceptable to him if I mixed in some pureed pumpkin or squash or canned dog food but then he decided one day that was no longer acceptable and stopped eating until I took away the dry food. He knows what he wants and holds out until he gets it. So, I have been feeding him Wellness Sweet Potato and Chicken canned dog food for a long time. He has pancreatitis so I have to be careful of the fat content and it has stayed consistently low. For a while we had great success with Honest Kitchen's dehydrated food but we had a hard time finding it consistently (we weren't ordering from Chewy yet). He and Emerson both loved it.

      That's too bad about Bailey's allergies - that's one thing we thankfully didn't have to deal with! Wishing you a good weekend and week ahead!


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