Thursday, December 30, 2010


Here's Goldie enjoying a chicken treat block I got for the girls at the feed store.  It's this giant, super heavy solid block of chicken mash, seeds, molasses and other goodies - they peck away at it and seem to love it.  Maybe I'll get one to snack on too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Power friends Andreas and Jen paid me a Christmas visit - Jen is one of my favorite people in the world, she met Andreas while they were both working in India - they recently became engaged

Andreas brought me some Norwegian brunost cheese from his native Norway - it is a fresh cheese made by reducing goat milk to a slightly sweet, thick consistency.  Herlig!  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010


Moomers Ice Cream is a local dairy in Traverse City - they have their own herd of cows and make delicious and unique ice cream.  Today was their last business day for the season, and they had a buy one / get one free sale.  When you got in line, they gave you a "menu" of what they had available, so you could be ready when it was your turn at the counter.  I came home with:
  • vanilla malt
  • coffee
  • chocolate orange biscotti
  • black cherry
  • peppermint stick
  • raspberry white chocolate
  • black raspberry

Christmas dinner

stuffed cabbage + potato pancakes

German chocolate cake

Christmas cheese

10 pounds of Christmas eve feta cheese - draining the whey

salted chunks of curd

Greek salad for Christmas eve dinner

Saturday, December 25, 2010

all is calm, all is bright

The Christmas tree in downtown Traverse City

my Christmas tree in the downstairs window

the small barn with wreath

Friday, December 24, 2010

sweaty St. Nick

Santa was at Bikram yoga this morning!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dahlia's card

Dahlia's Christmas card from Egypt

Christmas goodies from Little Falls Farm

I received a box of treats from my friend John + Mary Belding at Little Falls Farm in Maine, where I farm-sit and apprentice.  The box included:

  • a half wheel of  "2010 Holiday tomme" cheese, made from raw Jersey cow milk from High View Farm
  • dried black beans
  • "Valencia" tomato seeds
  • "true red" cranberry pole bean seeds
  • "tigereye" bush bean seeds
  • "Jimmy Nardello's" sweet Italian frying pepper seeds
Mary attended some seed saving workshops this year, and I believe these are the result of her studies.  
I love John + Mary!

antique India

My close friend Jen has been living and working in India for the past two years.  Her parents also live in Traverse City, and I had an exquisite Christmas meal at their home yesterday.  Jen brought me these beautiful antique school posters from India - they smell like incense.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

so soba

seared ahi tuna with peanut soba noodles and asian cabbage

the chicken suite

I expanded the size of the chicken coop to the whole south side of the big barn, instead of the first two paddocks.  As they aren't going out these days because of the snow, I wanted to give them more room for the next few months that they will spend inside.  More room for their New Year's party.

Mr. + Mrs. Santa Claus

How cute are my Mom + Dad?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

diet for wintering your hens

I choose not to artificially heat or light my hens throughout the Winter months.  There are varied schools of thought on this matter:  temperatures in Northwest Michigan can fall well below freezing, and while chickens (like dogs or cats) are "made" to live outdoors and have suitable feathers to clothe them, they also live a domesticated lifestyle and have never spent a night out of doors.  Chickens are often artificially lit 24 hours a day to increase egg production, on both large and small scale farms.  I believe chickens need the rhythm of day and night just as other creatures do, and while their egg production wains a bit during the Winter, it doubles in the Spring if they have not been exposed to 24 hour "light" all Winter.  While I do not heat their coop, they are locked up at night in the 1' foot thick stone walled barn, completely protected from drafts and predators.  A few of the girls had a little frost bite on their combs, which you remedy by rubbing Vaseline on them.  I do this weekly, and have had no more problems.  Like ourselves, their best heat source is food, and as they can't free range like they do in the warmer months, I supplement their diet with a variety of nutritious extras:  fresh greens, grains, olive and hemp oil - highly caloric and fat producing, which keep the girls warm and their eggs rich.

Goldie enjoying an oatmeal + peanut butter glob

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Swiss love

Here is a 10 pound of wheel of Swiss cheese I made last month.  Swiss has an interesting aging cycle:  it stays in the cave for the few weeks, then comes out to spend a few more weeks in the kitchen or bathroom, somewhere warm and humid.  This encourages "rounding" - the bacteria develop because of the warmer temperature, creating the distinctive big holes that Swiss cheese is known for.  If you look closely, you can see the top has domed slightly - this is the rounding.  Now back to the cave for a 3 month nap.

Friday, December 17, 2010

the empress' new clothes

Pucci's first winter coat - it kind of looks like an elf costume

Thursday, December 16, 2010

new neighbors

Some folks moved in down the road and have horses.  I brought them some carrots so they would pose for me.

This is Mai Tai, an Andalusian.  She is wearing a nice coat.

and Roxy the pony (she's so small and cute)

some winter scenes from the farm

the west pasture

chickadees at the bird feeder

the woods

the snow covered hen yard

Pucci on the path down to the big barn

my heated bird bath

gigantic stalactite icicle - it's about 6' feet long

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The Cecropia, or Robin moth, is America's largest moth. It is a member of the family of giant silk moths.  With all the extreme weather lately, I closed the outer barn doors to the garage this week, and discovered a large silk moth cocoon behind the door, asleep for the winter.  He will turn into one of these beautiful creatures.  

Nature is so magical.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

cookiepalooza, part 2

dried cherry shortbread hearts

butterscotch blondies

sugarplums (grappa soaked chocolate dipped prunes)  Visions of these will dance in your head.

dried pear, ginger + pistachio blondies

double chocolate coconut walnut cookies

currant bourbon cookies

Saturday, December 11, 2010

the Crystal method

I went to opening day at Crystal "Mountain" Ski Resort in NW Michigan yesterday, and made some notes:
  • Trend:  everybody talking on cell phones / twittering / texting while on the chair lift.  People, put it down.
  • Majority of snowboarders are still teenage boys 
  • Gayest slope name:  Giggles
  • The "Buck" lift was dripping fresh black cable oil onto riders - like me
  • Most awesome slope fashion:  camo / hunting jumpsuits - I saw dozens of them
I didn't stay too long - only two lifts were running, so I visited the cafeteria and pro shop and came back home.  Hot dog!

Friday, December 10, 2010

ice ice baby

snow train

Despite the snow, the train rolled through yesterday.  I was sure it would have some kind of snow plow on its front as the tracks had not been cleared at all, but it was moving really fast, and therefore must have been self-plowing.  Locomotives are so powerful - when the train passes, it shakes the whole house, feels kind of like an earthquake and the pictures hanging on my walls go crooked.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas trees 2010

Ultra power friend Raquel was up this past weekend for a visit - even the crazy snowy weather could not hinder our Christmas tree hunt - the search was on!

I fulfilled one of my long time desires to put up *two* trees in my house - we even had our own lumberjack to help cut the perfect red pines.  Check out the weather!

Here is my downstairs tree

and here is my upstairs tree

and here is Raquel's tree in Detroit