Sunday, January 30, 2011


I enjoy a good glass of wine. It really is a nice finish to a busy day.
With our desire to learn to become self-sufficient as best we can and with a source for free grapes (bushels in the fall), we thought, what better way to put them up than to try our hand at wine.
This fall we tried our hand at making wine. Tonight we bottled our 2nd batch of 10 gallons. The first batch we did right before Christmas and gave wine to a lot of people for Christmas; 1st Annual St. Brigid Farm Winter Wine. It was fairly good.
Tonight we bottled 10 gallons into 35 bottles of wine (standard size wine bottle- 750ml) and 11 smaller wine bottles (500ml). This is a sweet wine and very tasty. I love a good Reisling and this is very comparable. Maybe a little sweeter even.
I figure on the cheaper end of wine we have nearly $300 worth of wine here that I won't have to buy.
We recycled bottles and the grapes were free so there was very little cost in making and bottling this wine.
It feels good to learn how to support ourselves in this avenue. James also makes his own beer now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 2011

It's been way too long since I've posted any news here. I really don't know why. Seems like time gets away with me. Lots has happened on our little farm over the last many weeks and months.

This past Saturday we began the butchering of our old flock of chickens. There were 20 something is all I knew, but now that we've butchered 8 and I can count better it seems that there were more than I thought. I still have 22 to go. These are chickens ranging in age from 2 1/2-4 1/2 years old. They haven't been laying eggs in over a month or longer. I can no longer afford to feed them. We butchered 8 and then I cut my finger pretty good so we stopped. I hope to continue VERY soon. I wish we could continue each Saturday until they were gone but alas life is full of other things.
I have decided to get rid of the other flock as well. They aren't earning their keep as well. We put this huge flock in the old barn a year and a half ago and we now only have maybe 50 left, if that. The problem is, the barn is not rat/mouse proof. And now that winter is with us, they are everywhere. They eat the feed right out of the bins during the day and they are now stealing eggs from the nests. This is totally unacceptable!
I've decided the barn is just not a good place for chickens. We will eliminate this flock as well. Clean everything out and start new. Putting the new chicks in the smaller rat/mouse proof coop.
I read somewhere that mice detest the odor of peppermint. As soon as I'm done here I am going to go out and sprinkle peppermint leaf in the nests of the barn and around the feed and down in the holes. I read that if you get essential oil and put it on cotton balls and drop them in their holes and around their paths that they literally will vacate. Apparently professional rat control people actually do this. Until I get the essential oil I'm going to try the peppermint leaf. I have a huge bag of it and I opened it up to see if it was still potent and whew! It sure was!

I'm thinking ahead now about gardening. I would like to start seeds indoors some time next month. I'm very excited about it this year, as usual. I found a place online called Victory Seeds that I think I am going to order from. They are a small family owned seed company selling only heirloom and gmo-free seeds. I've come to appreciate the importance of trying to grow heirloom and gmo-free seeds and really want to try and stick with that this year. If you want to learn more about this check out their website, but also do a little research. Especially check out the evils of Monsanto and their gmo patented seeds. Terrible stuff. (The name Monsanto was actually in my spell check. ) Also, check out the documentary "The Future of Food". Very good!

My garden seems to change each year and seems to get better, depending on weather. One of the most difficult places to garden, in my opinion, is here in Western WA. It seems as if the season should be nice and long, but it just doesn't get hot enough for long enough. Yeah, we have a long span without freezing, but the temperatures and sunshine are essential and we just don't get that here. So I'm changing things to focus more on cooler weather crops or shorter season things.

Our wood supply is very short this year. Nobody's fault but our own, but we've been working hard on being ready for next winter already. To help us through this winter we are dressing warmer, using the electric heat periodically, collecting pallets to burn and buying Northland Firelogs to supplement. They burn really well and for a really long time! I can put a log in before bed and it's still there in the morning. But we will be ready for next winter. Pretty much nearly are already. But I want to keep bringing in the trees even if we think we are ready for another winter because I don't think you can have too many!

I hope you and yours are fairing well this hard LaNina winter. (Well, at least some places are having a hard winter.)

Here are 2 pictures of the girls helping pluck chickens. This is a first time for Kelsey's friend Emma and really a first for Kelsey. She's never really stuck it out for a whole chicken before.
Kelsey is on the right, Emma in the middle and Charissa on the right in red.