Too Cold to Work Outside…

Things have ground to a halt here at the Light Homestead — as the temperature has dipped into the below freezing realm, the ground became the consistency of finished concrete, and our will to work outside in yard has waned considerably.

The lager is bubbling away happily out in the garage, it’s about halfway through the primary fermentation at this point despite the fact that the beer is sitting at 42 degrees — well below the optimal range of the yeast — they’re chugging away quite nicely. A tasting of the wort last night when I took a specific gravity was good – the beer has good taste, good bittering, good mouthfeel, just needs to finish doing its thing, and this should turn out really good.

Other than that, the work on the chicken coop has come to a stop until the weather gets a bit more hospitable. Retaining Wall and Patio Projects are not going to progress until Spring or if/when we get an unseasonably warm period… so as my wife and I looked around for something to do that is semi-progressive – move the chains a bit so to speak —¬†we looked more towards the planning and preparation realm.

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The other day I put together this file in Excel that maps out and divides our back garden into one foot squares in order to Square Foot Garden the back beds. A planning template. We haven’t fully utilized this method in the past, but have experimented with a combination of what we knew of Bartholomew’s methods, and John Jeavon’s biointensive methods. Since reading Mel’s book, we realized we didn’t know half of what we thought we did. This year we’re going to spend more time focusing on the square foot gardening principles, for the sheer fact that it enables you to divide a very large space up into more manageable chunks. For us – as busy as we are, it will be easier to go out and weed/cultivate/prepare/harvest a few smaller chunks here and there, than to feel like we have to do the entire bed in a sitting. Realistically – it all still has to get done, but it’s like the old adage about eating an elephant… one bite at a time.

So we are spending some time planning out the garden using the new template. Shannon spent a good part of the day making her absolutely awesome homemade hamburger buns. We used some tonight for our dinner of smoked tuna boats. (A good friend gave us the tuna, and we canned up a BUNCH of it this past May.) My favorite is the smoked jalapeno and garlic.

We also went through our old grocery receipts today and figured out how many pounds of dry beans, rice, flour and other staples we used in 2012 – which will help us figure out from a preparation standpoint how much to have on hand to help fill the larder, as we’ve set a goal to work towards having 6 months to a year of our staples on hand.

Today was one of those days where it was hard to see progress, despite having made some. Most of it was on paper, and not where it counts. Hopefully the weather thaws a bit in the near future, enabling us to get back to our normal 40-50 degree winter weather. Seriously… the kids need to go play outside…

…Bad.