The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

News from Up North

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Posted in News from Up North, rural life


A little snow won’t keep sheep from the water trough. They make their own tracks.

Like most of the country, the story on the farm this week was the weather. We were luckier than some folks. We only got around six inches of new snow. We would have struggled with the foot or more that fell not far from here. But I woke up in the mornings expecting to find my livestock dead of exposure, especially when temperatures plummeted to -15 Fahrenheit (that’s -26 Celsius). Turns out I needn’t have worried. The animals survived alright in their shelters and greeted me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Even when she was coated in frost the Jersey heifer seemed to take the bitter cold in stride.

I’d moved the sheep off the upper pasture and back to the permanent paddock before the storm hit. Like the other animals, they get plenty of grain to eat during these frigid times. The caloric value in the additional carbs helps the animals ward off the cold. The boy goat, still in his new pen, got a bowl of high-protein grain mix with molasses morning and evening. So did the two girl goats in their enclosure. Momma and daughter goat seem oblivious to the fact that I’ve turned off the electricity to the fencing that surrounds their. It shorts out when the snow accumulates. Apparently they are quite content to stay where they are.

The extra snow and sub-zero temperatures do make chores more strenuous for me. It would be really hard without the four-wheel-drive pickup to help me deliver hay and water to the animals. Thankfully, the sheep and cow, as well as the chickens, have electric elements in their water to keep it free of eyes. Otherwise, I’d be spending a good part of my day trudging through the snow and breaking up ice so they could drink.

The chickens have stayed in their coop these past few days, but are still making plenty of eggs. Some day, we may a have a hoop house where we can park the coop so the chickens have a snow-free area to roam in winter.

The wood stove has been keeping our house comfy–more or less. We have to tend the fire constantly when skies are overcast. But when the sun comes out, we can go hours without any fire at all. Yesterday I checked around noon and the temperature in the kitchen–with no fire burning–was 76 degrees. That was strictly from the sun pouring in our south-facing windows. Otherwise, we try to maintain a temperature around 68.

During the coldest night we used the oil furnace for the first time. The furnace came with the house and there wasn’t much oil left in the 275-gallon tank. We intended to heat exclusively with wood (or install geo-thermal) when we bought the place. The previous owner only used the furnace as back-up–it’s not vented to the rest of house. After the furnace ran a few hours overnight, the basement was spa-like warm. But you had to leave to door to the basement open to get any of that heat to the upstairs. At least you don’t have to worry about any pipes freezing, and I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to stoke the wood stove.

Forecast now is for another thaw and rain, then a blast of cold again. We already know what that’s like. Get ready for more ice….

Meanwhile, Rensselaer County Dairy Princess Lindsey McMahon reminds readers that while eating too many holiday treats may seem unhealthy, there are plenty of health benefits from the dairy items in those goodies. “Dairy foods used in cooking, such as butter, milk and creams all contain nutrients,” the dairy princess says. So this week she suggests readers make “a creamy eggnog dessert pie with several dairy products for tons of nutrients.”

This pie contains 1 can Pirouette cookies, 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup butter, 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, 2 cups cold eggnog, 1 1/3 cup cold whole milk, 2 3.4-ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix, 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 cup whipping cream.


This edition of News from Up North was culled from actual news reports in the Washington County Area and is presented here for the enjoyment and edification of our readers. As always, stay alert and please drive carefully.

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