Friday, 8 January 2010

Chilly Kitchen, Ice Crystals, Frozen Eggs


Well, having complained that yesterday was the first day I had felt really cold here in the house, this morning the Farmer got up to discover that all our water pipes had frozen and the Rayburn had gone out as the oil pipe had frozen. So, it is seriously cold now.

Fortunately, I do have a gas cooker so the lack of a Rayburn does not mean an end to cooking or boiling kettles and the wood-burner in the dining-room has a hot-plate. We have retreated out of the kitchen for meals and only go in there to wash-up dishes. The immersion heater, which is rarely used, has proved its usefulness fully now. To have no hot water would be the ultimate misery.

Of course everything outside is frozen too and so much time is being spent thawing the pipes & taps again. The biggest worry now though for the Farmer & Son is that we are running out of cattle cake and cannot see how a delivery will be made...it comes from the West Country. Without the addition of cake to the cows diet of silage, our milk production will fall dramatically and with it our income.
I know we are not the only milk producers in the country with these problems but we can only deal with what is on our doorstep while sympathising with everyone else.

All is not misery...we are still enjoying the snowscape. This morning I was examining the extraordinary formation of miniature ferns of ice on grasses and twigs. Each stem had an exquisite collection of these tiny ferns and triangular or diamond shapes up its length...quite beautiful, like the shirt frill of some Regency dandy.

Eldest Son came in this morning with a problem. He and his wonderful girlfriend KT., have flock of about 100 happy, free-range laying hens and the eggs are all sold locally. However, due to the weather the eggs have not been able to be delivered to their usual customers and so there is a a considerable backlog with approximately 60 eggs a day being laid ...what to do? So showing great initiative they took the 4x4 and ventured out down to the village and called on all the people they knew to try to sell the eggs. Everyone bought. There are still quite a lot of eggs to deal with but something will turn up.

Another problem with the eggs is that as it was so cold last night they are freezing in the nest-boxes before they are collected!

I have suggested that we preserve some eggs in water-glass (silicate of soda) which is something I did years ago very successfully. They will keep up to about 18 months in the solution and can be used for baking. I even have the big earthenware jars that my great-grandmother used on the farm in Scotland for that same purpose.

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