21 November 2015
It was an unusually warm and dry autumn, fortunately for us. (And our woofers, that they did not have to endure another freezing wet muddy hell of an autumn. (Viera, Bart, Sigurd, Janek- eternally grateful.) The frost came late this year, and suddenly there was snow. So now we inhabit this winter wonderland once again. These cold, sparkling months, that carry us slowly towards spring, are comforting in their consistency. The animals have moved to their winter quarters, the comfort of the barn, where they slowly munch their way through a mountain of hay. This is how one horse, two cows and six sheep wile away their time.
Ramson (the ram) has been reunited with his ladies, after some time in solitary confinement. When we released him he made deep belching noises and ran over to the ewes, practically tripping over his own feet. They all gathered round him- it was a beautiful reunion until he started chasing them around with his tounge hanging out- that rather spoiled the romantic atmosphere. Hornfagr is still giving us milk- around 5 liters a day which is more than enough for us, and im starting to experiment with cheese again. Now I have perfected pultost and I have the luxury of excess cream, so I’m trying out a few different cream cheeses.
Im really looking forward to when Audhumbla calves so that we will have enough milk to make hard cheese and brunost. Even with the tiny amounts of milk we are getting from Hornfagr, we manage to make far too much cheese and butter and it’s started piling up! We have even started using whole milk in the porridge. We get about 1.5 kilos of butter a week. Sometimes I also make ghee, which is excellent for cooking. But I can make enough in one week to last several months- so basically I just throw some butter in everything i cook. Hey, it’s winter.
We found out that in Iceland they used to preserve large blocks of butter in sour whey, which naturally contains lactic acid, a well known preservative. You can also preserve cooked meat and vegetables in this way, and we have already done it- we cooked the lambs heads and preserved them for the cats. They loved it! We could also preserve it in salt, as was done in Norway in the past, but I am not too keen on using masses of salt, mainly because of the question of what we do with it afterwards! (With the salted lamb for example we end up with about 30 litres of brine!)
On the egg front, the chickens have beat their previous personal best (which i believe was 18 in a day) with 24 eggs! My god thats about two eggs per hour! Yes, we have an over-abundance of eggs now. There’s only so much scrambled egg you can eat in one day.
We’ve already done a bit of threshing, but we’ve been held back by injuries. (Dont worry, we still have all our limbs. But Dan impaled himself on a branch, and I rammed a nail into my hand!) We have threshed all the trysil barley, which we will use for sowing next year. We are hoping to thresh some wheat too, so we will have some REALLY homemade bread soon!
Im afraid I have to revoke my previous comment about the winter being “comforting in it’s consistency”. So far the winter has been nothing but uncomfortably inconsistent! It’s been far too warm, melting and dripping and slushing, then cold and dangerously icy. It’s very strange to see any sign of bare ground at christmas, but this year I keep seeing weeds poking out of the snow, and across the valley, the top half of the hill is practically bare, and there are even green fields! Normally we would be knee deep in snow by now, instead we find ourselves hoping that it will come soon. The good thing is that it will be easier to do forestry work, and we don’t have to worry about the roofs! (At least for a while.) I’ve been told that we won’t necessarily get less snow, it will probably just all come at once…
The darkest day of the year has passed, and a now new cycle begins. So we find ourselves looking to the coming year and what needs to be done. Dan will carry on with his big forestry project- clearing land and making fence posts for a new pasture, Next year we will really be pressed for grazing with Audhumbla milking too.
I still hope to fix a few more windows before spring, help with the firewood, and hopefully do some spinning and sewing!