Elderberries, Honey, Planning

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Good Day, Everyone!

Freezing cold has hit the homestead!  We had a stretch of a few days that were sub-zero temps here recently.  Now, the apple trees actually need some stretches of those temperatures in order to flower and produce apples correctly.  It’s a period of deep dormancy that’s required.  But, honestly, outside of these wonderful trees…no one else wants anything close to those temperatures!  We did manage to keep the washing machine line from freezing by employing a heater in the crawl space and banking snow up around the foundation of the house from a recent snow fall.  We finally got a little bit of snow, about 4 inches or so, which for us is a drop in the proverbial bucket.  I do know we will be seeing much more of that in the near future.  I am sure of it.

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The chickens did well and managed the cold.  I always wonder how it is for them, feathers puffed up trapping their warm air, sitting on the freezing roost, hunkered down well  onto their feet to avoid frost bite.  I am sure it is bitter cold just the same.  Since having the birds in the Fort Knox-like coop built by my friend, Chad, the birds have not suffered any frost bite on their combs or waddles, so we know they are toasty and draft free in there.  Back when we lived in a home where we had a nice big barn and coop for them, it was a drafty affair.  They routinely had frost bite on their combs, especially the rooster as his comb and waddles were large.  I resorted to lining the walls of that coop, which was really a small room in the barn, with empty grain bags in an attempt to stop the draft from blowing right through.  It did help stop the breeze and also was amusing to see all the different chickens pinned up to the walls.  It made me think of a teenage boy’s walls lined with pin-up girls…but for the chicken ilk!

After the third cold of the season for my youngest, I decided to invest in some dried elderberries to make some syrup so that we can all give our ever important immune system a good boost.  I pretty much never leave a recipe as I find it, and so added some oranges, lemons, cinnamon stick, cloves and honey to the basic recipe I found online.  Now, that’s some good medicine we can all be behind drinking every day!  It’s good stuff and I love that it is helping my crew stay healthy.  I made the batch in the pressure cooker my in-laws gave me for Christmas (that thing is the BOMB!), so it was pretty much done in about 1/2 hour.  I am going to do a separate post on the recipe for that for anyone that may be interested in making your own winter health tonic.  I just need to get the time together with my camera to take some step by step pictures.  I often find myself with the intention of posting something, and then go ahead and make it and end up completely forgetting to take the time to photograph everything along the way.  But I made the last batch and split it with my sister-friend, Diane, so I am already quite ready to make another batch.  With my youngest being sick, we’ve been going through it quicker than normal because he needs 2 tablespoons of it twice a day.

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I have yet to sit down with the seed catalogs and get my order in.  It is on my plan for this afternoon, or tomorrow if that falls through. We are doing our traditional Super Bowl party at our friend’s house tonight.  Patriots fans abound here, as you can imagine being in New Hampshire and all.  So, I will need to create some yummy treats to contribute my touch to the pot luck style dinner.  I am going to be bringing a veggie tray as well as some cookies and brownies.  You need quick finger food style offerings since we plan on doing a lot of cheering, hooting and hollering in the wake of what we are sure will be yet ANOTHER Super Bowl win for our beloved Pats.  Now, confessing something to you all…I don’t care at all about the game, I go for the friends, fun and good food…and I’m not the only one in this crowd that does the same thing!  But, we all have a great time together and it really helps break up a long winter season to have these little traditions to look forward to, doesn’t it?  When you are dealing with a winter as long as we have up here in New England, it helps to have things to look forward to beyond yet another day of cold, snow and the daggone heat bill!

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We finally managed to get the fence up around the rest of the back yard so that we don’t have to keep an eagle eye on the farm dog.  Since we basically live in suburbia, we can’t have him taking off.  Not just because he’s a member of our family, really, but also because of our very close proximity to a road (about 20 feet from our front door), where people speed around the curve we live on not understanding just how lucky they are to make it around that corner.  We have fished three cars and their surprised drivers out of the woods on snowy, slick nights so far this winter season.  The dog has no fear of cars, nor common sense about moving away or avoiding them, so he would be dead very quickly if he got out onto the road.  And he’s a hound dog mutt, so the nose rules his universe and he doesn’t listen when he’s called, so the fence, though annoying, is necessary.  And I figure at best, it is helping to add one more challenge to the deer that snipped off the tops of a bunch of my carrots last year on their way through the back area!  Wildlife is no joke here, so it’s okay that we have the fence to slow them up a little bit.  One day a few weeks ago, I went to take the dog out for his walk and there was a huge beautiful fox nosing around the back of the compost pile.  Not sure what he was after, maybe the egg shells that are in there as there isn’t any meat of any kind in there, but he was stunning.  As soon as the dog got a whiff of him, he was off like a bullet chasing towards that fox…who was wholly unimpressed with the ferocity of said farm dog.  He stood at the fence until the dog got a bit closer, then turned and sauntered off into the woods.  Had he not been in such a healthy state, with good body weight and a gorgeous, shiny coat I may have worried about him being rabid.  We’ve had that happen in our area after all, but this boy was obviously in very good health, he just was unconcerned with the likes of our dog.  He did pick up the pace a bit when he saw the dog was not alone and had his human with him.  My husband has tried to capture him on the trail camera, but he’s been elusive to date.  Hopefully, we will have the chance to get him on there, as I’d love to show him to you.

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  • Okay, time to get after the chores here.  Hope you are all in the final stages of your garden planning with lots dreams of summer and warmer temperatures.  Always in February, I am so ready for winter to be over.  What have you been doing to pass your long winter hours?   Have you had dreams of hands in the soil, too?  Let’s get each other through this long cold season, y’all!  Until next time, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all!

 

 

3 thoughts on “Elderberries, Honey, Planning

  1. Oh, I thought this would include elderberries from your garden. We lack black elderberries here, and they can not be imported. However, the blue elderberry is native and quite common. I could not find any recipes for blue elderberries, or any information about them, so eventually used them like black elderberries. The jelly has won second place at the Jam an Jelly Competition of the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival for the past several years, except for last year when the competition was cancelled. (It is a long story about how it does not win first place.) I really do not know how they compare to black elderberries, and at this point, I really do not care. I would only want to know if they they are as useful medicinally.

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    1. The jelly sounds awesome! I love elderberry’s flavor and I’m sure it would make wonderful jelly. I don’t have Elderberries growing here, but it is on my list to plant this year. The ones I used dried for the syrup were indeed European black Elderberries. I would think, being so closely related blue type would still do well medically, but I want to know as well. If air find out, I’ll let you know, and ease let me know if you do as well. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate you continuing to read my posts!

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      1. Yes, but I think that if there was any information about them out there, I would have found it already. I will just continue to use it like I have been doing. I also intend to try the red elderberry that lives up near the Summit. The information I can find about it explains that it is toxic, but technically, they all are in excess and uncooked. Other species or red eldeberries are sometimes used like black elderberries, but only because they are so readily available. It seems that the only reason they are less popular is that the flavor is inferior.

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