It’s that time of year! I got my Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog in the mail this week and almost every night I’ve been paging through it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is dangerous indeed. To give a poultry lover a book with pictures of goslings and ducklings and tell her they are only a few dollars each…Come February baby chicks arrive from all over the nation into farmhouses across America from hatcheries like this. I don’t plan on making any big orders, but I might get a trio of a heritage breed and sell them at the county fair like I did with the silkies. I have ordered from these guys in the past, it’s where Mindy, one of my Red Star Hens comes from and she came in the mail in a little carrying case healthy, gorgeous, and laid an egg a day all summer long! If you’d like to consider a small backyard flock McMurray has everything you need from chicks to coops to laying nests. If you just want to browse, get this catalog and look at the crazy array of chickens available to the public, check out the site below.
Just in from my week long Christmas vacation in Palmerton, Pennsylvania. While I’d like to think that people wanted to see me while I was home, the real star of the week was my apple pie. I made four of them while staying at my folks house. All of them were eaten plate clean. One that I baked at 2 Am for the boys was finished in six minutes by Johnny, Marcus and Ajay. That’s a personal record. Here’s my recipe. You can cheat and buy the Pillsbury crusts in your grocers refrigerated section. I find they are the easiest for slicing into lattice for braiding the top. (that's a homemade crust though in the picture, and it's not candied like you should, just a heads up)
Idaho Apple Pie
To make the filling, son!
3 braeburn apples, pealed and diced 1 stick of sweet cream salted butter (melted) 2 teaspoons of cinnamon 2 tablespoons flour 1-2 cups of powdered sugar
mix these all together. Place in piecrust. Cover with another crust or braided section if you’re feeling fancy. If you do use a solid pie crust, make sure to cut five slits from the center to the edges so that baby can breathe. Before shoving in the oven, melt some more butter in a mug. Add some cinnamon and granulated sugar and make a paste. Brush the candy butter topping over the crust. This is crucial to the pies awesomeness. Bake at 360 for 40 minutes or until crust looks browned and crispy. Enjoy enjoy.
After a long day in the office (Christmas in retail advertising is horrible) I headed for the parking lot, which was covered in ice slush. I grumbled to the car, knowing soon as I got into the driveway I would have to start shoveling. Slush traps cars in ways ice, snow and powder never could dream too. Tired and cranky, and wanting to be in the company of paws and feathers and not in the rain, I pulled off 95 and to my surprise the entire drive was plowed! Ron to the rescue! My neighbor had kindly plowed me out while I was at work. I called them right away to say thanks and not only did they say it was no sweat, Mrs. Crawford had a jar of huckleberry jalapeño jam for me to take home to PA! I love country people so much.
After the usual feeding and dog meals were dished out I was reading on the couch when the phone started ringing. I always get nervous when the phone rings after midnight EST. But it was Taylor in Nashville. She was hanging out at a friends house with the bluegrass band the “Jones Street Boys. I’m not exactly sure how she managed to hang out casually with a band on a Tuesday night but she let me request a song and played it live for me across the country. The Jones Street Boys sounded amazing. Top Shelf all the way. I picked up Annie’s front paws and we danced around the kitchen. Jazz came over to see what the fuss was about and I scooped him up too. I thanked her a hundred times, thanked a lad named Jonny, and said goodnight. It feels damn special to get a call like that out of the blue. Thanks darling!
Last night around 9 PM I went outside to close up the chicken pen like I do every night, but soon as I walked out into the moonlight, I noticed a completely different visual. The circular lights of a snowplow flickered off the barn. There was one beeping and backing up just past the farm on the highway, and it’s flashing was almost police car like. Except it didn’t’ give you that feeling of anxiety the blue and red lights do. Nah, it was more like Christmas lights actually.
Instead of walking behind the house on the well worn path to the coops, I waded in the opposite direction through the snow till I was about 100 feet away from the front door. The sky broke open from the past 3 nights and there were stars coming through the clouds behind the house's steep gable. The big dipper soared up into the heavens pointing forever north. The porch light and the civil plow’s flashes were the only other sources of light besides those stars. In the dark the farmhouse glowed like a storybook cottage, perfect and warm and tucked away from the whole world. Inside I knew there was warm food and snuggling dogs and I had a cup of hot mint tea and a documentary on Thomas Jefferson to get back too under the wool blanets on the couch. But I think I stood there in the cold watching the house for at least five minutes in the stillness. I was waiting for it to get picked up and shook like a snow globe. I waited but it never did. I fed the birds some leftover cherry pie and went back inside.
Due to the collapse of their home, the two remaining Silkies have moved inside. They spend most of their time in the garage but I let them hang around the kitchen for about an hour every night. They drink out of the dog bowl, roost themselves on the small metal basic planter of dirt that used to hold lettuce heads but now just has a coating of chicken feed on it. Which means they have soft earth to scratch in even though it’s 15 degrees outside. Last night the quiet, calm pair sat on the top of the couch to watch TV with me. Every so often they would coo or cock their head, but the pretty much just fell asleep. It’s kind of nice having them inside. I never had a parrot, but birds make pretty good company. They’ll sit on your lap and eat out of your hand. They like to be petted and chase each other like cats or dogs would. They have never had an “accident” indoors. I don’t know why some people are convinced all animals want to do when they get indoors is defecate on a carpet, as if they themselves have to run to the bathroom every time they visit someone’s home. Anyway, the chickens aren’t house pets. They’ll be back outside for good when the thaw hits and they have a new home. But right now it’s kinda fun to walk into the kitchen and have a tiny black kitchen perched on the microwave pruning its feathers. Drives Annie crazy.
The blog of author Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm. Where pop culture meets agriculture! Here she writes about her adventures following her crazy dream life as a self-employed writer, homesteader, archer, falconer, equestrian, martial artist, hunter, spinner, brewer, geek, and real-life Game of Thrones Extra. She loves movies, music, running far, and eating animals.
On twitter @coldantlerfarm
And when the children are safe in bed, at one of the great holidays like the Fourth of July, New Years, or Halloween, we can bring out some spirits and turn on the music, and the men and the women who are still among the living can get loose and really wild. So that's the final meaning of "wild"- the esoteric meaning, the deepest and most scary. Those who are ready for it will come to it. Please do not repeat this to the uninitiated. -gs