Saturday, 15 February 2014

End Of The Night Shift

At dawn this morning I saw my little screech owl ending his night shift and spending longer than usual on his box's branch perch. He seemed reluctant to go inside for his daily hideaway.

Are you still hungry little one? Or are you just reluctant to call it a night?

Nightshift from Out To Pasture on Vimeo.

Daily Bread

These cold winter days are perfect for firing up the wood stove to make the kitchen nice and warm for rising bread dough.

Even days after the bake, the house has the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. And toasted homemade bread spread with creamed honey is unbeatable!

I make four loaves at a time and freeze the ones not immediately needed. Also, I like to time my baking for off-peak electricity hours. Here is my favourite recipe:

Whole Wheat Potato Bread
(makes 4 large loaves)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure mixture keeps warm

Add 1 pkg (8 grams or 1 tablespoon) yeast to:
• 1/2 cup warm potato water
• 1 teaspoon sugar

Combine in a blender and puree:
• 1 1/2 cups hot potato water
• 1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed potatoes
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 2 cups buttermilk

Add yeast mixture and stir in:
• 1 cup wheat germ
• 3 cups whole wheat flour
• 1/2 cup wheat bran
• 6 cups white flour

- Knead for 5 minutes.
- Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch down and let rise for another hour.
- Divide and form dough into four equal loaves.
- Put in greased and lightly floured pans.
- Let rise (about an hour).
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

No Rest For The Wicked

Another cold but sunny day here in Eastern Ontario. My eastern screech owl neighbour would love to bask in the sun, but little birds can take exception.

Ah, for a peaceful bask in the sun.

Hey! Get back in your box!
I mean now!!!
And stay in there!!!

A heating element allows a winter's morning drink.
You are welcome little ones!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Sweet Dreams

Last night I dreamed that my mother and I were in our barn and happily petting our family's two Clydesdale mares, Mable and Bess. Such a sweet and vivid dream.

I awoke and realized that my dream was inspired by creatures, both equine and human, that shared my life more than 50 years ago. They have long since passed away but I am privileged to live on and to now enjoy the pleasures of retirement while surrounded by the wonderful native flora and fauna here.

Perhaps the aforementioned sweet dream was inspired only hours before I went to sleep, when I perused through photos of my garden flowers, summer birds and honey bees. At any rate, so refreshing to have such a pleasant dream. A welcome change from the usual pesky fare of failed car brakes, misplaced important articles and impossible tasks --- the more usual stuff brought by 'Nightmare Alice'.

Anyway, light of day and Eastern Ontario is still in the grip of a Polar Vortex that makes us all shiver and dream of the summer sun.

My Eastern Screech Owl neighbour is peering, through squinted eyes, out of his winter roosting box. He has been using this box for daytime concealment for over a week now -- and for a decade of winters.

Will 2014 be the first Spring this box is used for screech owl brood? After a decade of watching these boxes made specifically for them, I certainly do hope so.