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Monthly Archives: December 2014

To a New Year

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Winter Solstice

6am. The hens grumble and squawk as they begin to shift on their roosts, waking each other. Through the burlap-curtained window the sky pales, with a hint of coral above the hillside. A light breeze stirs the tree tops, and the coquís become silent as night fades away.

wpid-20141227_145002.jpgSoon the morning mosquitoes will emerge, and Edwin will awake; my cue to rise for an icy-cold shower. Then a hasty cup of coffee down in Mandy’s kitchen, whilst picking Zozo up for a walk down the avenue of vast mahogany trees that we call our road; potholes, broken-down vehicles, and all. So begins the day.

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Framing and patterning the kitchen counter.

wpid-20141230_114601.jpgLittle of note has been accomplished over the holidays; a time of much food, many social gatherings, and more planning than doing. However, I had time to build the framing for my kitchen counter, purchase wood for the front doors, and..ummm…film chickens?

We now find ourselves free of WWOOF volunteers for the time being, and have decided to take a few months off from hosting in order to evaluate our projects and goals on the property in the coming year. While it is wonderful to be able to offer the opportunity of living and learning with us to those who wish to volunteer, it does take a great deal of time, energy, patience, and commitment for us as hosts. With the Nid almost finished, the land well under control, and no other “major” projects imminent, it seems like a good point at which to take some time for ourselves; to appreciate what we have, and to figure out what is most important to each of us in moving forward as a farm, artisan studio, and community.

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A bumper crop of Soursop this year means that a 5gallon bucket of wine is in the making.

Having taken off the week of Christmas, Nidulari baking has commenced, with all three varieties of wood-fired artisan sourdough bread available. Keep an eye out for changes to the “menu” over the next month or so, as there may soon be a yeast-risen herb bread available! We still have a good supply of our renowned Banana Ketchup and our Slightly Spiced Bitter-Orange Marmalade – if you haven’t tried one or both yet you really must get some!

With that, I shall leave you til the New Year, with much cheer and many good wishes to all.

Solstice in St Croix

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Cocoa dusted marshmallows.

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Happy Solstice dogs going to the beach.

It’s come around again, the winter solstice, the mid-winter feasting, a time of reminiscing and also of looking forward, to the days to come. A time of assessment, celebration, yet also determination to continue with the same vigour in the coming weeks and months, despite all exhaustion, setbacks, and distractions. Overall, it’s been a great year. I found my way back to St Croix, mostly-built a house, started a business, and fell into a part-time job working for wonderful people who eagerly share their wealth of knowledge in all things growing.

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Delicious caraway rye loaf.

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Banana Ketchup! Come get some!

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Edwin has a great game of dropping things down stairs.

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For me, the “holidays” – which happen to include my birthday – are a time of great feasting and an excuse to cook things that might otherwise be deemed unacceptably unhelathy. Take home-made marshmallows. Coquito, a coconut milk-based Caribbean version of eggnog – equally fattening! Mince pies, a British necessity. Stollen, a sweet bread with candied peel and marzipan. So many things that we could not get through the “dark winter days” without! Last night it was a chilly 70º at our Solstice bonfire on the beach, quite unbearable without a mug of Coquito.

With that, I leave to to your merry mid-winter feasting. We will raise a glass to the near-completion of the Nid, and to all that everyone has accomplished this fine year.

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Making marshmallows. Just gelatin, water, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder!

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Coquito made from hand grated, freshly pressed coconut milk, condensed milk, spices, vanilla, and rum. Oh so good!

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Sir Edwin

wpid-20141213_135748.jpgMeet Edwin, our new four-legged family member! Edwin hails from the St Croix Animal Wellfare Center, our local Humane Society. He’d been there for 5 months, waiting for just the right home, and is a great pup. He’s about 9 months old, loves dogs, people, and anything else that will give him food or attention! This will be a learning curve for he and I both, as we navigate the stages of chewing, talking all night, car sickness, learning not to jump on people or steal food off the table…he has big pawprints to fill, for Zada was in most ways a very well-behaved dog.

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Trying to decide between bones and belly rubs.

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Decorations with new hangers.

Tomorrow will be the last bake day before Christmas, so don’t forget to order extra! Loaves of bread can be frozen whole or sliced and defrosted as needed; whole loaves can be warmed in a 350ºF oven for 15min to make them even more delectable. I just made a batch of Banana Ketchup, which is available in pints and half pints, so be sure to grab a jar of that or some marmalade along with your bread if you pick up your order at our house or at Cruzan Gardens.

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My spoon is the biggest! Making Banana Ketchup.

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Delicious Mesple fruit, trying to plant some!

Are you going to Art Thursday this week in Christiansted? Toni, of Queen CariBEE, and I will be at the Blue Mutt with samples of sourdough bread, marmalade, jams, jellies, and chutneys, along with select products for sale. The Blue Mutt is also holding their Cookie Exchange on the same night, so put your aprons on and participate in that!

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Chicken coop made from recycled tin, recycled wood, etc – total cost of about $80 for chicken wire and 4 posts.

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Happy hens.

It’s been a rainy week, and the chickens are safe and happy under their nice new roof! The Nid, well, that’s another matter entirely. Pending another attempt at waterproofing the cement roof, we’re back to the large sheet of builder’s plastic solution. I feel rather as though nothing will ever be dry again, having had most of my possessions – and myself – thoroughly soaked several nights ago. It will be made to work…just not this week.

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We’re accepting sourdough bread orders until 7pm! Cheers!

First Light

Posted on

wpid-20141207_181945.jpg Yesterday was the big day! On approximately the 1-year anniversary of the conception of the Nid and the Nidulari project in general, I spent my first night under the roof built with my own hands, had an ice-cold shower in a shower I plumbed myself, and even used the not-so-state-of-the-art composting toilet for the first time! Miracle of miracles, everything works as intended. The interior has a long way to go; currently I’m working on a kitchen counter and living-room seating, along with keeping an eye out for some nice (translation: cheap/free) doors. Then the floor needs to be water-proofed, shelving installed, the bathroom ceiling/loft floor painted…the list goes on. Still, it’s wonderful to be moved in!

wpid-20141207_115421.jpgwpid-20141207_115438.jpgwpid-20141207_115459.jpgwpid-20141207_115551.jpgAt the same time as all this moving-in silliness, I’m also building a permanent, stationary chicken shed. It’s an 8’x10′ structure made of mostly up-cycled materials – reused lumber, reused roofing tin, scrap plywood, leftover fastenings, etc. The coop will comfortably house about 20 hens, with a deep-bedding method which will also act as our kitchen and yard waste composting system. This will be simpler than moving chicken tractors daily over rocky and uneven terrain – leaving the chickens at risk to mongoose – and will simply require bringing the weeds to the chickens, rather than the chickens to the weeds.

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It’s freezing here tonight – some 68º or so – and I’m shivering as I type. Therefor, t’will be a brief post! I would like to remind you that the Good Samaritan of Haiti coffee morning is being held here at Little La Grange on Saturday, Dec 13th, and that Nidulari sourdough bread will be available for purchase that day also. Quantities will be limited, so please pre-order if possible.

I just finished boiling up another batch of sour-orange marmalade, slightly spiced for a perfect winter treat! Available in pints and half pints, from me directly or at Cruzan Gardens every week Tue-Sat! There are only two Wednesday bake days before the holidays, so get your orders in now: through my order form, through Cruzan Gardens, or through Prime Produce (for C’sted pick-up).

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Stay warm y’all!