As the days start to get noticeably shorter and the golden rod starts to bloom on the farm, we know what’s coming. Winter. Six long months of darkness, snow, and frigid temps. At StoneDog Ridge, there’s a lot of work that goes into winding down summer projects and buttoning up the farm until the snow melts in the spring.
Many people imagine fall as a time to run through corn fields, sip fresh apple cider, and go on haunted hay rides. We at StoneDog Ridge think it’s a good time to scoop poop… a lot of poop. It’s a necessary part of having a farm because if we don’t do it in the fall, there will be twice as much to shovel when it thaws in the spring. The barn, chicken coop, and meat bird shed all need to be cleared out.
Along with mucking out barns and laying fresh bedding, we also have to run electrical wires throughout the barns. When the snow flies and the temps get below freezing, we can access electrical outlets to plug in heated bowls that keep the animal’s water from freezing. Another way we prepare for winter is by putting up a snow fence at the edge of our field. That way, the snow can’t drift as much into our driveway. It’s easier to plow when there’s only a couple inches instead of three foot drifts!
Fall is also a time where we butcher the old egg laying chickens and make soup. Chicken noodle soup, butternut squash soup, chicken wild rice soup, you get the idea. After the old birds are in the freezer, we take the new pullets we got in the spring and introduce them to the chicken coop. For the first few hours, it’s madness as the new chickens stretch their legs in their large home and explore their new surroundings. Roo, the 6-year-old rooster, is alarmed with all of these young chickens running around his house. However, at the end of the day, they’re all snuggled on the perch together and everything is fine.
While there’s much work to be done in the fall around the farm, we also make time to have fun and enjoy the cooler weather. Every year we pick apples in Bayfield, WI, and make applesauce, chutney, jam, and apple butter to stock our pantry. The fresh aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg fill the kitchen as we test new apple and pumpkin recipes.
As the seasons change, the goat’s milk also changes. In the fall, their milk tends to have a higher fat content and this tends to produce more cheese. For example, in the summer, one gallon of milk might produce half a pound of cheese, whereas in the winter, one gallon might produce a pound. This is due to the higher fat content present in the later stages of lactation. We enjoy the higher cheese yield, incorporating it into foods like lasagna, bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, and cheesecake!
Even though there is still much to do around the farm, we are grateful for the cooler weather as we transition into winter, a time for rest and reflection.
This poor girl came to us this spring battling pneumonia. It’s taken a long time, but we *think* Barbara has chosen to live, no doubt helped by her fast friendship with Pearl. While she still has some issues, she’s developed into a scrappy little goat that loves to eat and play.
This Pear Cardamom Jam is a wonderful combination of sweet and spice, perfect on a warm, crunchy piece of toast.
This fragrance is a fresh blend of cypress, ozone, lime, sea salt, leather and frankincense.