Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Riding and Celebrations

12:18 AM
Last night it snowed again.  So this morning, we had an extra few inches of snow on top of the snowfall we already received. Husband and I planned on taking the horses for a ride.  We had been debating riding them, given the snow, but when he came home envious to see someone who lived on the flats riding their horse in the snow, we decided to see how our horses would fare if we rode them on snow.

We walked them on snow and noticed that their feet act a bit like suction cups (they aren't shod), so we walked them to the back trail and mounted up.

The blue sky contrasted with the white all around, making it look bluer than a sapphire. The air held a bite and steam rolled off the horses' flanks.  Rocket was bouncy the entire time, wanting to trot everywhere--if not outright gallop.  She balked several times, and just for good measure when I turned her to go back home, she decided to buck.  I think she probably would've taken off if I hadn't held her on a tight rein.

What this tells me is that a month off is too long for this horse.  She needs to be ridden at least weekly, if not several times a week.  She went back to old bad habits, which suggests she got away with them sometime before I got her. So, I insisted going at my pace, not the one she wanted.

Taking the road back down to the house, she started slipping, so we dismounted and walked our horses down.  No sense getting an injury over iffy footing.

We got home in time for me to pop the ham in the oven.  I decided to try to make the ham into a honey ham, and boy am I glad I did! You can spruce up any ham by heating 1 stick of butter, 2 tbsp of flour, and 2 cups of honey on the stove until thick.  Baste the ham with the honey-butter mixture while cooking until done.  Yum!

After making a  pretty serious Thanksgiving dinner, a dinner for my Mother-In-Law's birthday (mid-December), and a Christmas Eve dinner, I was looking for simplicity.  The fact that I had a mound of dishes to wash had something to do with that.

I served honey-glazed ham, wild-rice pilaf, cinnamon pears, cranberry chutney, and store-bought carrot cake for dessert. The cinnamon pears and cranberry chutney I canned this fall.  The rice pilaf was simple.  Make 1 cup white/brown rice mixed with 1/4 cup wild rice.  Add 1 tsp of garam marsala spice, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 4 tbsp butter, and 2 cups frozen peas.  The garam marsala makes it flavorful.

Maybe I cheated with the store-bought desserts and the canned fruit, but at some point, you've got to decide where you want to put your time. I remember my mom going through a huge production with tons of food.  Don't get me wrong, it was all amazing, but I recall her stressed out and exhausted. I vowed to not get that way.  So if I have to cheat a bit to have a good dinner, that's okay.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Midnight Turkey Wrangling and Interesting Life

12:00 AM
When old friends who haven't connected with me in eons find out what I've been doing, they always remark how interesting my life is.  Come to think about it, people who know me still make that remark, making me wonder if my life is a twist on the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Okay, yes, I have raced sled dogs and once chased a Pomeranian through his backyard.  Yes, I've lost a bout with a llama.  Yes, I own nine goats.  Doesn't everybody?

The other night around midnight I discovered my turkey pen in the barn was open.

Usually this is a cause for concern because, contrary to WKRP, my turkeys can fly, being from heritage breed stock and not the broad-breasted variety.

I spied a turkey hen in the rafters of my barn.

So, I did what any insane person would do at midnight.  I grabbed an ice chopper and tried to get her to carefully land so I could put her back in her pen.

Well, that didn't work.  Instead, she flew to a higher place.  Lovely.  So, I took out the feed and tossed some at the birds.  She watched with interest, but decided it was far better to hang out on her new perch.

So, I tried again.  This time, I got her to sort of crash land in the Tom turkey pen and grasped her.  The only thing I could grab while she was taking off was tail feathers--which promptly came off in my hands.  I managed to grab a wing, all the time sending up clouds of asphyxiating dust, no doubt filled with hantavirus-ladened  mouse poop.  Another grab, and I managed a talon.

So, I grabbed the other talon and she was upside-down.  It appears that turkeys don't struggle upside-down because they're trying to get their heads rightside-up. Each time I tried to get her turned upright, she beat me about the face with her wings.  I carried her back to her pen and got her rightside up by hugging her to my body and turning her up.  Surprisingly I manage to do this without getting turkey poop on me.  Amazing.

So, when people say I live an interesting life, I simply think about midnight turkey wrangling and wonder what in the hell is wrong with me.

This article is published on  If you can't see the photos or video, go there and check it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

End of Hunting Season, Upland Bird, and Quail

3:47 PM
Hunting season ended the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which brought no elk.  I suppose we should be thankful having deer in the freezer, but an elk would've been better.  But elk numbers are declining in the area largely because of the wolves, so not seeing elk was rather discouraging.

Although it is technically the end of general hunting season (elk and deer), we can still hunt for turkey, grouse, and wolf.  Other small game, such as rabbit and coyote, you don't need a license for if you're a resident, so we're looking to take those too.  So, the weekend won't be quite as frantic. 

The other day I got tired of keeping and feeding the male quail in a cage and butchered them.  Slaughtering them is quick and requires nothing more than a pair of sharp shears.  You whack their heads to stun them and then cut their heads off.  Much easier than chickens and turkeys.

Butchering quail is easy, compared to bigger birds.  Their skins are too thin to pluck and keep them on, so you just tear the skin off, chop the wings and the feet off, and gut them.  I can process four birds in less than a half hour.  (Turkeys take an hour and chickens can be just as long).  Small birds mean less mess too, but then, you don't get as much meat. 

I'm tired from hunting season too.  Six weeks is a fair amount of time.  But we'll be working toward getting grouse and other food, which is way cool.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Preparations, Cardinal Sins, and Thanksgiving

12:44 AM
I threatened Chinese takeout this year.

Not because I hate Thanksgiving, but because my house is a disaster from hunting, I had software issues yesterday, and just a bad day in general.  So my Chinese takeout rant was accepted, noted, and approved--if that's really what I wanted to do.

Actually, it wasn't.  I had a home-grown turkey thawed in my refrigerator (we butchered her in September), and enough stuffing to fill three birds.  The cranberry chutney I made in October and canned.  Garnet yams are on the kitchen table waiting to be cooked.  So, no.  I wasn't really serious.

My husband is good natured enough to go along with whatever I want.  But I remember while hiking, looking for nonexistent elk on a ranch him talking wistfully about turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry chutney. 

So tonight I made the mashed potatoes and brined the turkey.  Brining is an old way of making sure the meat is moist when you roast it.  Think of it like marinading.  The turkey companies brine their "self-basting" birds, but use a mixture of chemicals besides salt.  Brine is typically salt and whatever else you want to put in.

I have to brine my birds because I skin them.  I do this as self-defense against plucking.  However the downside is you risk a dry turkey because without the skin, turkey dries out.  Hence the brining. 

You can just use salt and water, or you can get creative and use fruit juices.  I use cranberry, spiced apple cider, and orange juice along with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaf.  The spices in the apple cider add cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.  The mix is unforgettably good. 

I've gone to simpler is better.  I commit cardinal sins and use organic turkey gravy, organic packaged stuffing, organic mixed vegetables, and my mother-in-law is bringing a store-bought pie.  Some things aren't worth the hassle.  Other things, like homemade mashed potatoes, are. 

Tomorrow, I'll make the yams and probably mix up the biscuits.  That will be plenty--and very yummy. 

Have a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Goats and the Insanity that is Hunting

2:02 AM
Looking back at this blog, I realize I've been bad and haven't updated it.  Largely because fall is the time for general insanity known as hunting.

Lisa and Lulu
From the last week in October through the end of Thanksgiving weekend, we go chasing after animals.  This year, we got our two deer early and have been looking for elk.  Problem is, they're hard to find.  My husband managed to actually get some in his sights, but he couldn't identify whether the elk was a bull or a cow (we've only got Elk A tags which are brow-tined bull elk in our hunting unit.)  So, he passed on the shot, and we haven't seen elk since.  Typical. 

Lisa and Lulu
Lots of people have the idea that hunting is easy.  Those aren't hunters.  Hunting is lots of long hours and rather tiring.  My house is a disaster because everything except the basics gets put off for hunting. Sadly, Thanksgiving interrupts hunting.  But that's kind of important too.  We hunt for meat.  About one third of our meat comes from hunting, which is pretty important.  With the chickens, turkeys, ducks, and goats, we're hoping to provide about 70-80% of our own meat.  That would be good.

So we had the deer processed and sent two goat wethers to process.  In the meantime, I got three more does: one Alpine and two Saanens.  The alpine is a tiny little girl who didn't get a lot of food at her old home, and was adopted by another woman.  The alpine didn't get a lot of interaction because she was so small, so I got her from a Craigslist ad.  She really didn't have a name, so when I dropped by my husband's work, a woman who worked there suggested Delila.  It seemed to fit, so her name is Delila. 

Then, came Lisa and Lulu.  I bought meat at the Farmer's Market from two different ranchers.  One sells organic beef, but he also has goats.  So, he asked me if I wanted to buy two doelings.  Well, me and my big mouth, I said yes, so his wife brought his doelings here this month.  One actually won a ribbon at a fair.  Their names are Lisa and Lulu.  For a lack of better names, they have stuck. 

Well, hopefully more postings next week!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Salsa Verde and Tomatillos

1:22 AM
About a quart or so purple tomatillos ended up in my refrigerator.  So when I saw someone selling the fruit, I decided to ask how they water-bathed canned their fruits.  They were more than happy to share their recipe with me, which I'm sharing with you.  (I ended up buying peppers from them, so they made money on me.)

4 cups of finely chopped tomatillos (use food processor), husks removed
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small jalapenos, chopped.
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix all ingredients and set on stove.  Cook until boiling, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and pour into pint jars with 1 Tbsp of lemon juice per jar. Fit lids and process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes (add 10 minutes for altitudes above 4000 ft or follow your canner's altitude instructions.

Let sit on shelf for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavors to mix.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fear of Canning

2:25 AM
I finally got over my fear of canning.

I was talking to one woman at the farmer's market whom I buy meat from.  I was telling her I was going to can cherries because I had traded eggs for cherries.  She looked at me dubiously, just like she did when I told her goat meat was tasty, it was easy to skin chickens, or it was easy to milk a goat.

"You make it sound easy," she said.

"Well, I haven't done it yet."

An Idiot Learns to Can

It seems I learn a lot from reading.  I have no practical experience in matters that I jump into, but I have a lot of book knowledge.  It seems it has served me well again.  I canned cherries, apricots, peaches, tomatoes, apples, and even made jam and pickles.

One thing I learned was that waterbath canning is easy.  My mom never did that--she always used the paraffin method of sealing it.  But I read somewhere on the USDA site that they claim it isn't safe.  I've eaten tons of jam like that and never got sick.

But what the hey, I learned to do waterbath canning.

What You CAN Can

Waterbath canning only works on some foods, namely those that are highly acidic (fruits, jams, preserves, jellies, chutneys, and pickled foods).  Those that aren't acidic need to be pressure canned, which entails a lot more equipment.

How It Works

Basically, you have to have a waterbath canner to do this.  If you look around, you can probably buy one new for $20-$30.  It needs to have a rack so that you can lower the jars into the water.  You need to fill the clean jars with food, put new seals on them, and lower them into boiling water for a certain amount of time.  That's the time necessary to process the food and cause the tops to seal.  If you live at high altitude, like I do, you have to add more time according to various charts.

First Canning Attempt

Since I had traded eggs for cherries, I was bound and determined to not let the cherries spoil.  Hence canning.  It went very smoothly, even though the temperatures outside hit well over 90F, and the inside temperatures reached triple digits, or so it felt.  I made a light syrup and canned the cherries.  It was very successful.

Why Bother Canning At All?

I always thought of canning as antiquated.  After all, you can pick up foods at the store pre-canned.  Yep, you're right there.  The upfront cost is a bit pricey too: price of jars and food, not to mention the canner.  But, the cost goes down considerably because you can reuse your jars and just get new tops.  Instead of throwing away more junk in the landfill, you simply reuse your jars and rings. 

Canning allows you control over your food.  You can choose to not use corn syrup and use cane sugar (like I do).  You don't have to add various preservatives.  You know where your food comes from.

And the taste?  My husband was amazed at the canned peaches.  Yes, they were really good. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Potatoes, Root Cellaring and Other Oddities

1:34 AM
I've been taking steps backwards in time.  Not because I particularly want to, but because I've learned too much about our foods and where things come from.  Here in Montana, you get to see first hand how it is done right--and unfortunately, you learn about factory farming and producing.

I understand that to feed a lot of people cheaply, you have to use methods and crops that yield the largest amounts.  I get that.  But it doesn't mean I should eat that way.  When food recalls affect 20 states or more, you have to wonder about single points of failure.  Yes, small farms can and do have problems, but the problems are localized and are small in comparison to the mass recalls we've seen lately.

Vexing Spuds

One thing that has vexed me has been how to store certain vegetables and fruits.  Inevitably, I buy lots of yummy blue potatoes, Yukon golds, red potatoes, and Yukon gold fingerlings, only to bemoan the lack of refrigerator space.  Or I would put them in the utility room only to find them sprouting like some bad B-grade horror movie.

Looking up freezing and other storage options netted me nothing.  The reason was clear: potatoes didn't store in the freezer well and most books said that since potatoes were available year round, there wasn't any need for storage.

Gee, thanks.

Dummies to the Rescue

So, when I got the book, Canning and Preserving All-in-One For Dummies, for review, it gave me an out.  You see, one of the parts is rootcellaring, which, oddly enough, doesn't need a root cellar to accomplish.  The whole idea is to put away vegetables in relatively cold storage so that you can use them through the winter.  Our grandparents and great-grandparents knew how to do this.  But because we live in the modern world, a lot of things have been, well, if not lost, then seriously misplaced.

Rooting the Potatoes

One thing that I discovered is that you can get free buckets from Wal-mart's bakery department.  (They have tons of tubs that they get icing and other foodstuffs in).  These tubs make great buckets for storing animal feed, hauling water, and also, not surprisingly, rootcellaring.

Rootcellaring potatoes is relatively easy.  Potatoes go dormant when they are in total darkness.  So, to make potatoes go to sleep, you need a completely dark place to put them.  I took one 5 gallon tub and lined it with a thick towel.  I then carefully placed the potatoes in the towel until the tub was full and wrapped them up.  Then, I wet a paper towel and set it on top of the towel.  I covered the tub with the lid and put in the utility room that has a wall dug into the ground.  (It's the coldest spot in out house).

The second tub, I wrapped the potatoes, and then took my too many carrots, removed the tops, and laid them gently on top of the towel-wrapped potatoes.  Then, I laid a kitchen towel on top of the carrots, wet a paper towel and laid it on top of that.  Then I put the lid on and put it next to the other tub.

The book said to keep them at 32-40F -- really?  Also a humidity level of 80-90%.  It can get pretty chilly in the room there, but not likely to hit 40F at the moment, and certainly not 32F.  In the winter, it'll get to 40-45F.  Humidity is difficult.  Our current humidity levels are in the teens at the moment, hence the wet towels.

Care and Feeding of Root Crops

Evidently, you can't just put your root stash there and forget about it for months at a time.  You have to check on it, rearrange the vegetables, and probably talk to it.  One of the more amusing recommendations is to create a straw root cellar, or bury the vegetables in plastic containers in the ground.

Obviously the authors don't live in Montana.  I'd ask them if they thought with two types of bears (black and grizzly), too many rodents to name, and several other critters, that they would still think that was a good idea.  My thought is probably not.  I'll take my chance in my utility room.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Raw Milk versus Pasteurized

1:30 AM
You can't own milk goats without the inevitable discussion of raw (unpasteurized) milk versus pasteurized milk.  Lots of goat owners own goats for the reason that they want raw milk, and the only way for them to have it is to own the animal.  In some states it's illegal to sell raw milk with some amazingly stiff penalties; other states require herd shares or purchasing it directly from the farm. 

But what's all the hubbub about raw versus pasteurized milk?  Is raw better?  Maybe; maybe not.

What is Pasteurization?

Before discussing raw versus pasteurized, it's a good idea to understand what pasteurization is exactly.  Pasteurization is cooking milk at the temperature of 165F for 15 seconds to eliminate pathogens.  (You can also heat milk for 30 minutes at 140F to achieve the same result).  Louis Pasteur was looking for a way to eliminate harmful pathogens such as tuberculosis from milk.  He came across the relatively simple process that bears his name.

Good Bugs and Bad Bugs

Pasteurization doesn't discriminate when it comes to bugs.  Heat kills most of them and reduces some temperature sensitive nutrients.  That means that pasteurized milk is free of harmful pathogens when it comes out of the pasteurizer (it doesn't make the milk safe if pathogens are introduced afterward).  Proponents of raw milk claim that pasteurization also kills milk's natural antibiotics, thus making the milk unsafe, dead, and not healthy for you.  On the other side of the argument for pasteurization, people have gotten sick from raw milk, notably from E.coli, listeria, and campylobacter. 

Raw proponents claim that raw milk will help with digestive problems, asthma, allergies, and a plethora of other ailments.  The pasteurization camp claims that it just isn't so.

So, which is it?

Dogs in the Fight

Interestingly enough, I've noticed that those who have squared off seem to have dogs in the fight.  It's sort of like watching a tennis match between two archrivals.  Both have reasons for why they support the position that they do, so when looking at websites, one has to read both sides.


The CDC states that between 1998 to Present there were 118 outbreaks of food poisoning with raw milk as opposed to 26 outbreaks with pasteurized milk.  But if you look at the number of those sickened, raw milk caused 2,128 total illnesses, 2 deaths, and pasteurized milk 2,786 total illnesses, 4 deaths.  So, there were more outbreaks with raw milk but fewer people sickened as opposed to more people sickened with fewer outbreaks or contaminated products.  

So, fewer products could make more people sick, no doubt due to our reliance on eating foods obtained from single sources and larger food companies.

My Thoughts and Opinions

In principle, I think everyone should be able to choose whether or not they want to drink raw milk.  Let people do their own research and decide for themselves.  Maybe they won't make the right choice; maybe they will.  Maybe there isn't a right choice.

I'm no fan of factory farms.  I think a lot of food recalls are due to limited sources and distributors.  Lots of food can get contaminated in a very short time if it is single-sourced. 

I raise my own goats for milk.  I also pasteurize my own milk.  I do it because I feel it is right for me.  If you want to drink raw milk, do your homework and decide for yourself. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home Canning Is Season's Hottest Food Trend; Consumers Preserve The Fresh Flavors Of Summer In Growing Numbers

1:17 AM

Home Canning Is Season's Hottest Food Trend; Consumers Preserve The Fresh Flavors Of Summer In Growing Numbers (via PR Newswire)

DALEVILLE, Ind., Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Home canning is this summer's hottest food trend with Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® brand fresh preserving products, reporting a 31 percent year over year* sales revenue increase in Ball® Brand glass canning jars, year to date. "With a growing…

Weird Foods I Never Knew I'd Like

12:48 AM
At some point in my life, I've discovered that I liked a plethora of foods that I hadn't been exposed to as a child.  A goodly portion of these I've discovered since living in Montana.  Since I've been designated the one with the weird tastes by my sisters, I figured I'd share with you some of the odd, and really not so odd, foods I've discovered in Montana.

1.  Kohlrabi.  Kohlrabi looks remarkably like Sputnik, but tastes much better.  A member of the cabbage family, this plant has a bulb that you peel and saute with garlic.  Milder flavor than cabbage, but can be tough if grown too big.

2.  Morel mushrooms.  These mushrooms are yummy and have a honeycomb-like texture.  You have to cook them -- you can't eat them raw.

3.  Kale.  Not a weird vegetable, per se, but I never had this as a child.  If you don't cook it properly, it can taste bitter.  Best to blanch it first and then saute in a favorite dish.

4.  Box Elder Maple Syrup.  Woody and oh so good.  Use like regular maple syrup.

5.  Turkey eggs.  My first taste of a turkey egg was from my own bird.  I tried it because she was laying.  What a treat!  Now I know why turkey eggs are gourmet.

6.  Quail eggs.  In particular, pickled quail eggs.  Yep, this one is odd.  I really didn't know I would like pickled quail eggs, but I had a bunch and needed to do something with them.  I had an egg pickling recipe.  Normally this would sound awful, but I tried it and lo and behold, pickled quail eggs are the bomb. 

7.  Antelope.  I got hold of some ground antelope and discovered how good it was.  Like beef in lots of ways. 

8.  Goat meat (Chevon).  This was a natural progression from antelope.  Chevon is a lot like beef but is a bit like lamb without the lamb aftertaste. 

9.  Goat milk.  Lots of goat owners claim that goat's milk tastes nothing like the abomination that is sold in stores.  I took the risk and discovered that goat's milk is incredibly sweet and creamy without an aftertaste.  Most things I've read state that the goaty flavor happens when the milk is no longer fresh.

10.  African and Indian Spices.  I tried some spices that a restaurant was selling and was amazed at how good the flavors were. I've used them in cooking game and goat with remarkable results.

11.  Duck and goose eggs.  Not as good as chicken eggs, but great for baking.

12.  Arugula.  I had no idea this little spicy leaf was so darn good in salads.

13.  Dragon's Tongue beans.  These beans are green or whitish with purple stripes throughout.  Best beans in the world.

14.  Maple hot chocolate.  I can thank the local coffee shops for this decadent treat.

15.  Water Buffalo Cheese.  Yep, a local organic store suckered me into eating water buffalo cheese.  Darn good and mild.

I'm sure there are more foods that I've tried here that I love, but those are some of them.  I already ate venison and elk, so that was a no brainer.

Monday, August 13, 2012

12:59 AM

Steppe Wisent, Bison priscus (via redOrbit)
The steppe wisent (Bison priscus) or steppe bison was common to North America, Central Asia, Europe, and Beringia during the Quaternary period. It is thought that the steppe bison appeared around the same time as the aurochs , an extinct type of cattle, in Asia. Descendants of the steppe bison are…

Friday, August 10, 2012

And What the Heck is "Elevenses?" A Book Review

1:10 AM

I had no idea what an Elevenses was, or if this was something I would consider buying had it not been an Orangeberry promotion.  But I saw it was a cookbook, and I love cookbooks, so I decided to take a look at it.

The description went as follows:

"Elevenses from Around the World Farmer's Ham from Germany, French Toast from the Bahamas, Beef Kebab from Vietnam, Potato Salad from Brazil, Purple Corn from Bolivia and more. This book offers an insight to much loved breakfasts, brunches and snacks from around the world."
Oh, okay, we're talking breakfast/brunch foods.  So I went ahead and checked out the recipes.

First, let me say that I didn't expect to see so many versatile egg recipes.  This is awesome, given the number of eggs I have in my fridge.

Second, most of the recipes aren't weird, despite the "around the world" flavor and the fact that this was written by someone "across the pond."  Yes, I know that good food is good food, but what Americans think is tasty can be different from other nationalities, despite our melting pot.  So, seeing food that wasn't weird was good (this is coming from a woman who eats venison and chevon).

So, what looked good?  The Bahamas French toast (with banana rum sauce!), the Australian cinnamon porridge, the Belgium morning mushrooms, the purple corn (with pineapple and spices!), the Cuba eggplant fritatta, the Croatian baked sandwich, the ...

Almost all of them are winners.  There are some odd foods that I wouldn't care for such as the Egyptian mashed fava beans, and some ingredients such as black pudding in the English breakfast that I'm not that sure about, but some ingredients can be skipped or substituted if too odd or simply not available.

For 99 cents on Amazon, it's hard to beat.  You can purchase it here: Elevenses from Around the World

Monday, August 6, 2012

Goat's Milk, Flathead Cherries, Bartering, and Canning

12:44 PM
Annie's Progress

First, some good news on Annie the Goat.  Saturday she let me milk her until I got a quart of milk from her.  This is huge, considering that she used to not let me milk her at all, and sometimes all I'd get is about a cup of milk before she threw a hissy fit.  She's getting more comfortable with me touching her udders and petting her in general. Most of the time now she gives about a pint of milk a day.

I don't know exactly how much human contact she had in her other home, but she is getting better with me.

Eggs for Cherries

One of the farmers who grows cherries had put up a post on Craigslist asking to trade cherries for something else of value, including eggs.  Well, considering my chickens are laying like crazy, I took them up on the offer.  They gave me over 20 lbs of cherries for 8 dozen chicken eggs and 1 dozen quail eggs.  They saw my eggs and started pouring part of another lug into my cooler.  I guess having really unique chicken eggs (blue, green, chocolate, terracotta, pink, olive, and brown) wows people.  So this left me with the conundrum of what to do with that many cherries.

The obvious answer is to can them and make jam from them.  But that required me to get a water canner and learning how to can.

An Idiot Learns to Can

Back when I was growing up, my mom used paraffin to make jams.  According to the USDA or FDA, this is risky, but I've eaten jams from hundreds of jars and never got sick.  My mom never canned with the seals because she thought it was too difficult or complex.  But that's the way the government says you should can, so I took the step to can the fruit.

The first thing I did was can cherries.  This is remarkably easy with a water canner, but tedious as I wanted my cherries pitted.  I guess you can put them in jars with the pits, but if you're going to eat or cook with them later, what's the point?

The plus to water canning is that it's pretty easy to tell if the canning makes a seal.  The canning process makes a vacuum and pushes the lid down.  You unscrew the rings that attach the lid and try to remove the lid without using force to break the seal.  If the lid comes off easily the canning process didn't work for that one.  So far, I haven't had any real problems with them.

Canning cherries was simple.  Add a light sugar syrup and pack clean raw cherries in.  Can in a waterbath for 35 minutes (I needed to add 10 minutes for altitude).

In a Jam

Yesterday, I tried making cherry jam.   Tried is an operative word.  I think it's runny because I didn't account for high altitude in cooking the jam.  But the jam can take up to two weeks to take a set, so I'm going to wait before recooking the recipe.  (The good news is that you can get a "do over" with jam if it doesn't set.

Today, if I have enough canning supplies, I'm going to try making spiced cherry jam.  Sounds good, doesn't it?
12:55 AM

DNA Traces Cattle Back To Ancient Times (via redOrbit)
A new genetic study confirms that modern domesticated cattle are descended from 80 domesticated wild oxen in the Near East over 10,500 years ago. Scientists from CNRS, the National Museum of Natural History in France, the University of Mainz in Germany, and University College London (UCL) in the UK…

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Using Diatomaceous Earth To Control Garden Pests

10:07 PM

Using Diatomaceous Earth To Control Garden Pests (via Web Gardening Tips)
Balancing your garden’s needs with the humans who want to consume its bounty can be difficult. On one hand, you don’t want to contaminate future food with pesticides and on the other hand you don’t want pests to infest and consume the fruits of your labour. There are many different types of green…

Goats aplenty

7:29 PM
Note: if you can't see these pictures, go to my blog, Eating Wild Montana and check them out.

I decided to take some pictures of the goats and Sid in their outside pen.  I've noticed that Sid and Oreo have become really good friends and Oreo tries to play with Sid.  The little goat must think Sid is a weird goat or Sid thinks Oreo is a small llama.  Anyway, check out the critters.
Sid and Oreo

Sid and Oreo

Oreo is done with the grain


Heidi, Belle and Annie

Kids' Voices Remain Etched In Mother Goats' Memories

12:42 AM

Kids’ Voices Remain Etched In Mother Goats’ Memories (via redOrbit)
Even after their babies have been weaned and they have been separated for more than a year, mother goats continue to recognize the sounds of their offspring’s voices, reports a new study published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. According to a Tuesday statement from Queen…

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Goats, Chevon, and Goat Milk

12:28 AM
It took a long time in coming when my husband was willing to get goats.  It started with our first taste of pronghorn, which is very much like goat.  It was yummy and much like beef.

Getting One's Goat

So, I went and looked for two does.  Contrary to popular belief, the term for a female goat is a doe, not a nanny; the term for an intact male is a buck, not a billy.  Wether is the term for a castrated male.

A friend of mine who helped get me into chickens had two does.  No, I didn't know she was selling them, I found them on Craigslist.  She emailed me.  "Oh, it's you..."

So, I came home with two LaMancha does that I named Heidi and Belle.

Goat Crazy

Next, I was looking on Craigslist and found two wethers.  They were free and were going into a  freezer.  It just depended whose, I suppose.  I got them and delivered them to the butcher the next day.  Goat meat tastes a lot like beef, moreso than lamb.  (I've heard people suggest it tastes like lamb, but honestly, it tastes like beef).

Craigslist is a dangerous place for me.  I was looking around and saw a free buckling.  I thought about Heidi and Belle and wondered if perhaps he'd be good for them.  At the same time, I saw a LaMancha buckling for sale for $50 and a doe in milk to barter for chickens.

I sent a bunch of emails out.  After thinking long and hard about the free buckling (who had horns), I found out he went to a nice home.  The woman with the doe wanted to sell the doe's kid, and I had no desire to buy it.  My friend who sold me Heidi and Belle sent me an email asking if we were the only two people in the entire five valleys because she was the one with the LaMancha buckling.  We made plans on transferring the little guy the next Saturday.

At 9 pm I got a phone call from the woman who had the doe wanting to trade the doe for chickens.  Seems the doe got out and ate her garden.  (Goats do that)  We negotiated 4 chickens for the doe.

So, I came home with Annie and Oreo.

An Idiot Milks a Goat

Now, for those who might wonder, no I''d never milked a goat before, let alone milked anything.  Annie on the other hand, had never been milked.  This past week has been interesting.  What I mean by "interesting" is that Annie would nearly strangle herself in the ropes while stuffing a foot in the bucket, thus leading to the chickens getting goat's milk.

The chickens were loving it.  Annie and I, not so much.

That was until the day before yesterday.  I got it figured out that without a milk stand, I had to rely on Annie's patience.  I gave her grain, held onto her side and milked her.  Her patience wears out after about a pint of milk.  Not an incredible amount, but she is a Pygmy crossed with either an Alpine or a Nigerian Dwarf.  Milking a small goat is problematic at best. 

One thing I've learned is not to force the issue.  Even though she carries more milk than the milkman, she is a young goat and gets bored.  Any fidgeting is a sure sign she's done, regardless of whether you think she's done.  Ignore the fidget, and the next step is a foot in the milk pail and a bunch of happy chickens.

Mmm, Milk...

So, after pasteurizing the milk on the stove and cooling it, I tasted the milk.  Goat milk tastes like cream.  Sweetened cream.  Not a hint of goaty flavor.  I hear that commercial goats' milk tastes awful.  This stuff doesn't.  Probably the closest tasting thing is fresh whole milk or half-and-half.

Good stuff!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Ideas

8:00 AM
Be safe this 4th of July, and remember why we celebrate it.

4th of July Ideas (via Old Fashioned Homemaking)
4th of July Ideas is a post from: Old Fashioned Homemaking 4th of July Ideas is a post from: Old Fashioned Homemaking Here are some 4th of July ideas for picnics or cook-outs, outdoor games to play with family and friends, and decorations for your home. Picnics and Cook-outs Purchase red, … Continue…

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bison Recipe

11:58 PM



       Want to build lean muscle but tired of eating the same old same old.  No more plain chicken breast and broccolli here! Bison is actually lower calories per gram than beef and even lower cholesterol.  In addition, you get more protein and higher iron.    Makes 4 Servings Ingredients- -1 Tbsp od…



Sunday, July 1, 2012

1:24 AM

4th of July Recipes (via Old Fashioned Homemaking)
4th of July Recipes is a post from: Old Fashioned Homemaking 4th of July Recipes is a post from: Old Fashioned Homemaking Here are a few recipes for your 4th of July celebration. They include Flag Cake, Patriotic Peppermint Brownies, Festive 4th of July Gelatin, and Patriotic Star Pastries. You can…

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bison reach Montana as part of relocation plan

11:51 PM
Bison reach Montana as part of relocation plan (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Sixty-four bison from Yellowstone National Park were shipped almost 500 miles to northeast Montana's Fort Peck Reservation on Monday, under a long-stalled relocation initiative meant to repopulate parts of the West with the iconic animals. The transfer — anticipated for months — came in the middle…

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bowhunter's Safety

12:43 AM
My husband and I decided that this would be the year we got certified in bowhunter safety.  Montana is one of the few states that requires bowhunters to pass a test and go through several days of classes, including some field classes.  But once you get certified, you're allowed to bowhunt, which extends the hunting season from September 1 through almost the end of November.

Now, you must understand why I hunt.  I hunt for food.  Many folks who live in Montana hunt for food as well.  Many people rely on hunting to feed their families.  I've read in the paper that several folks said without hunting they wouldn't have meat to eat.  We're not that desperate, but it makes a substantial difference to have five or more months of meat taken care of because of venison. 

I'm not a bad shot with a bow, but I could probably get better with practice.  I'm looking into testing out some longbows for my husband's magazine, so I'm considering trying those out as well.  I also have a rather ancient compound bow that is still very functional, that I will probably use. 

Anyway, the class ran two days; the first was on Saturday and was eight hours of classroom stuff.  The second on Sunday was four hours of field work.  The classroom work was basic, but there were many folks there who had never hunted or hadn't picked up a bow.  Then, there were experienced folks like my husband and me who either hadn't hunted with a bow or took it as a refresher course. 

Despite it being basic, we learned some things.  My husband learned that the fins (plastic feathers) on his arrows were better to be replaced by fletchings (natural feathers).  We learned some other eccentricities of recurve and longbows.  And I lusted after a longbow.  The test was fairly easy and I got a 100 on it.

Sunday proved to be interesting.  The instructors made a "blood trail" with corn syrup and red food coloring to simulate blood and made a trail for us to track to a pair of antlers.  It was tougher than you would think because a few drops here and there in a sea of green is tough to see.  We then learned about tree stand safety which included how to adjust your harness so if you fall, you don't kill yourself.  I really don't like the idea of using tree stands, so I think it is better for the young.  Lastly, was distance estimation and shooting, if you brought your bow.  My husband and I were pretty close on estimating the distance and we didn't bring our bows, so we didn't shoot.

In the end, we got our certification.  Despite using up a whole weekend, we felt it was worth it to have that certification so we can legally use our bows when the season comes by.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rocket Launch

2:51 PM
We decided to take the horses riding up the main trail into the public lands on March 30th (at least I think it was March 30th). Rocket and Scarlet did such a good job on the last rides, that we figured getting them up the BLM road would be easy.  It would take them away from barking dogs and other possible problems.

Well, that wasn't necessarily a good idea, in retrospect, but I did learn something about my horse.  I had been riding with a fairly loose rein because I figured the horse was advanced enough to not need constant input.  This burned me as you will soon see.

Our ride was typical with the usual balks at certain places.  I managed to get Rocket going again by doubling her around.  That's a move where you turn the horse sharply around  in a circle to keep her feet moving and get her to go forward again.  Doubling is a simple move and easy to do.

We got to a place where we had stopped one time before.  Rocket balked.  I doubled her. She balked and backed up.  I doubled her and backed her up.  She started tossing her head and prancing.  I started a double when she bolted.  Not just anywhere, but up a 20 foot embankment. 

I regained control and started her down the cut/game trail.  She wanted to go into a tight clump of trees neither of us could fit, thereby violating Newton's laws of mass.  We had a game trail that led back down to the main road which would've gotten us safely down, but she started freaking out over the footing.  After several attempts to get her back down the trail, she pitched and nearly fell off the ledge of the embankment.  I, unfortunately, got thrown from the saddle.

The roll I did was perhaps not pretty, but ninja nonetheless.  I rolled over my shoulders and then as the horse's hooves came near me, rolled down the hill some 15 feet or so.  I remember closing my eyes and counting how many times my helmet hit rocks, trees or stumps.  I ended up on the side of the road face down, wondering if I broke anything.  In retrospect, I should've tucked my legs (husband said it wasn't pretty but effective) and I felt like I had hit them on something pretty solid.  Even so, I got up and we managed to get Rocket back, who was fretting about stepping on her reins and freaking out more.  Our training with horse treats came in handy and she came right to us.

I walked her to a place where I could remount her and then we rode forward.  Only when I got to where we were going to turn around, did I turn her around.  We rode back, me being sore and bruised, but none the worse for wear.

After our ride I thought about what happened.  I learned a few things from her previous owner as we picked up hay.  Rocket had been primarily an arena horse and only rode trails on a particular ranch.  Furthermore, she only got ridden a few times a year.

After checking with some horse folks, I decided that keeping a loose rein with this horse wasn't right.  I replaced my nylon reins with longer leather split reins (more control), and started working her on the ground with "the Friendly Game."  After about a week, I got back in the saddle and have ridden her three more times now. 

I decided to keep her on our road until I had full compliance and trust.  That means no balking, no backing, and no acting up.  Our land doesn't facilitate a round pen, so our road will have to do.  Those three rides have shown improvement along with the new reins and the new contact.  Although she's a western horse, it appears she may have been trained in English, which means a much tighter rein.  She also has no idea of Western reining.

So, I feel as though the fault was mine.  I failed to understand the needs and fears of this horse.  Rocket bolted because she was terrified of going to a new part of the trail and felt I had no control over her because of the loose rein.  Since I tightened the rein, she's suddenly become a very different horse.  Responsive.  In-tune.  

I'm still sore.  My shoulder and back hurt where I landed and I have a massive bruise on my thigh where I was launched into the saddle horn when I got pitched off.  Funny, I don't remember that happening, but it must have.  I've gotten a replacement helmet and am thankful that I had the good sense to wear a helmet when many people don't.  I have a nasty feeling I would've ended up with a concussion and being stitched up for scalp lacerations if I hadn't had the helmet. 

Rocket has been eying paths that go up hills.  You can bet I'm telling her no on those.

The original post is from

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Goose Whisperer

1:40 AM
Okay, this is too funny.

Emden Geese from
I found a woman who was giving away her Emden Geese because the geese were, well, geese.  Geese tend to be noisy, obnoxious, and aggressive to those who act fearful.  They can actually be pretty cool birds, but they are often misunderstood.  In other words, geese aren't for everyone.

I warned my husband when we went into town that we'd be picking up geese.  The lady who owned them, showed me that they were loose.  One of the geese came running up to me hissing and then ran away.  I said I was ready to get them, so while my husband got the crate, I walked slowly up to one of geese and quietly grasped it, stuck it under my arm, and popped it in the crate.  The other one wasn't as easy to catch as she went running off.  My husband cornered her and we caught her and put her in the crate.

The woman's young son asked me what company I was with.  I was confused as I hadn't told them I had a company.  I told him Sky Warrior Books.  He looked at me oddly.  No, not that company.  What ANIMAL training company was I with.

The woman quickly explained that her son had been watching Animal Planet about various animal trainers and assumed that I was something of a goose whisperer.

Goose Whisperer--who'd have thunk it?

We left with the two Emdens.  I also found out that a store I go to provides free organic food scraps for animals.  We picked up two boxes of fresh vegetable scraps and fed them to the birds when we got home.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fresh Mozzarella

9:02 PM
One thing I've tried and not succeeded at is making fresh mozzarella.  Mozzarella is one of those awesome cheeses you can make at home if you don't mind a little work.  Actually, it's simple-stupid if you have a kit. has a really good kit that gives you practically everything you need to make cheese.  I bought the kit at a local organic store.

The simple way to make cheese is to use one gallon of whole milk.  Don't use ultra-pasteurized milk, 2% milk or skim milk, although pasteurized milk works fine.  Ultra-pasteurized milk won't form curds.

You use rennet, preferably in a tablet, but you can use liquid rennet too.  You need cheesemaking citric acid, which I've been told is different than other types of citric acid.  I tried the regular citric acid from the organic foods store and it doesn't work.  That was my first failed attempt at cheesemaking,  So, there you go.

You mix 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid into 1 cup of cold water.  You also mix the appropriate amount of rennet in a 1/4 cup of water.  Put the citric acid mix in a pot and pour the gallon of whole milk in.  Heat to 90F and stir vigorously.

You remove the milk from your heat source and slowly stir in the rennet for about 30 seconds.  Don't overstir like I did.  That was my second failure, but I ended up making ricotta cheese out of the failed attempt.  It was pretty tasty.

You then cover the pot and leave for 5 minutes or so.  The curd forms on top and the whey sinks below.  Seems odd, but that's how it is.  After 5 minutes, you need to cut the curd and heat the whole thing to 105F while slowly stirring.  The curd looks like cottage cheese if you've done it right and the whey is yellowish.

When the curds reach 105F, take it off the burner and continue stirring.  The longer you stir, the harder the cheese.

Now, at this point, I gave up trying to get the curds separated from the whey and put a cheesecloth into a colander and poured the mixture through.  I put a bowl under the colander to catch the whey.  I saved the whey for other recipes, such as liquid to use in bread. 

You then take the curds and put them in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the curds for a minute, drain off the whey and add salt if you wish, and then microwave it again for 30 seconds or more.  You'll use your hands (gloved or clean) to pull and stretch the cheese out.  They said in the recipe it's just like pulling taffy and the longer you work it, the firmer the cheese.  I rolled my cheese into a log and cut pieces off of it.

OMG.  Heaven!  It's awesome.  My husband tried it and said "it's mozzarella."  So, that is great.  I put the whey in three one-quart containers and froze them for later use.

Now I know what I'll be doing with all that goat's milk when my girls finally start producing.  Mmmm, good!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eggs and a Second Ride

12:40 AM
Since my ducks and geese have been busy laying eggs, I gathered up the eggs and stuck them in the incubator.  I figure, rightly or wrongly, that since I have plenty of drakes and a one to one ratio for geese, the eggs are probably fertile and okay for hatching.  (The birds have been plenty noisy, suggesting that they're busy trying to make little geese and ducks).  I also added some Barnevelder eggs and some turkey eggs to the mix.  So I have:

  1. Brinsea incubator: 4 Barnevelder eggs and 3 Easter Egger Eggs.  Of those, I believe 1 Barnevelder and 1 EE are duds.
  2. Hovabator incubator: 4 Barnevelder eggs, 7 Sweetgrass turkey eggs, 9 duck eggs and 3 goose eggs.  I'm having trouble with keeping the temperature high enough on the Hovabator, but I think it will be okay.
The day before yesterday, we loaded a ton of hay and stacked it in the barn.

Today we took a ride on the horses and went a bit longer.  I discovered that Rocket, my mount, is a big weenie.  She was terrified over a rock on the side of the road.  The dogs that were barking nearby almost set her into a panic.  Still, I insisted that we leave the area at a walk and stopped her to investigate the rock and also to show her that the area wasn't really all that scary.  (Jury is out on that).

I've learned that it takes a while for a horse to really trust you.  When we rode our mares in October, they were sullen, barn-sour critters.  Now, they still play games, but I've learned to work through the problems.  One was balking and backing up.  I have learned to double the horse or continue the backing up until the horse is tired of doing it and is ready to go forward.

It's pretty amazing the difference in behavior we've had this week.  Both our horses are looking to us for rides now, which makes it pretty cool.  They come to us and look on us with respectful eyes.  There's even some trust bring the girls down the road with the steep hill and the neighbors' dogs barking.

Tonight I am sore.  It's either because of the hay or because of the riding.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cranes, First Rides and a Surprise

11:40 PM
Several days ago, my husband came back in from his walk and told me to go outside.  Puzzled, I did and heard an odd noise, sort of like a bad version of coyote howls and yips combined with an odd "whoop, whoop." 

"What is that?"  I asked.

"Cranes--hundreds of them," he told me. 

It appears that the cranes are heading back to a region north of us known as "the Flathead."  Most of it is reservation and tribal lands, but there are also wetland preserves and Flathead lake there.  I suspect the cranes stopped by here before heading up to Nine Pipes or Flathead lake.  It looks like spring really is around the corner.

Rocket and Scarlet
Friday, we took the horses on our first ride of the season.  Nothing too long--just a chance to get us working with them again.  Now, at the risk of jinxing our good luck, let me say the horses were delighted to get going.  Most of the problems we experienced in October seemed more or less gone.  It's not that they didn't try anything, we just knew how to counter them quickly.  For example, Rocket will balk and start going backwards.  I double her around and have her continue to go backwards, but backward the way I want to go.  She took my cue and turned back around and I had no more problems.

Today, I had a pleasant surprise.  I hadn't checked the duck/goose houses for a few days and found 3 clutches of eggs-- 8 duck and 2 goose eggs in all.  I packed them all up and am getting ready to put them in an incubator.  In a month, I'll have ducklings and goslings for sale.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chickens, Goats, and General Insanity

12:51 AM
Winter has been annoying.  Part of the reason has to do with the piles of snow and ice that have turned to mud.  The horses have been kind enough to churn that up, making the corral an unholy mess.  To make matters worse, the snow has dammed up in the back, causing mud where Sid and the ducks are.  So I have a messy llama and messy ducks.  No matter how much hay or straw I put down, it ends up mud.  Lovely.

The chickens haven't quite gone on strike, but the egg output is still marginal.  I get about 2 dozen a week instead of 5-7 dozen I should get with this many hens.  You figure I have about 20 hens and they should be putting out an average of 4 to 5 eggs a week.  That's 80 to 100 eggs, which sadly, they aren't doing the math right now.  So, I'm worming the main group right now so that when they go into production, I'll have that over with and won't have to throw out the eggs when they ramp up.

Belle and Heidi
My latest acquisitions are dairy goats.  These are two doelings of about 7 months old.   They're sisters.  We got them from a friend who had goats.  These silly little girls are called LaMancha goats.  They're a type of Spanish Alpine goat that came to the US by way of Mexico.  We named the black one Belle and the Wheaten one Heidi.  When they're old enough we'll breed them for milk and kids to either sell or butcher.

It's amazing how personable these little girls are.  They're friendly and sweet -- Belle gives me kisses all the time. 

Scarlet watching the goats
When we got them, the horses freaked out.  Now, Scarlet the mare has fallen in love with them.  She loves watching them and they seem to have a calming influence on her.

I'm glad because I'd love to have the goats in the horses' pen so that they can get exercise and socialize with them.  The barn is for the night and not a 24/7 place for the goats.

I've been reading how versatile goats are.  You can housetrain them like a dog, you can teach them to carry a pack on trails, and you can bring them to hospitals for therapy.   They provide milk, meat and kids, and are very green when compared to a cow.  One goat will produce 1 to 2 gallons of milk a day.  That's amazing!

The tough part about goats is that they're clever and escape artists.  I've put them in my barn in a pen so that they can get used to living here.  Eventually, they'll be on weed patrol, which will take care of the knapweed and other weeds without chemicals.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowpocalypse Now!

1:43 AM
Horses in the snow
Living in rural Montana means having the ability to hole up for several days due to the weather and still be able to survive.  We got our first big snowstorm of the season, and boy was it a doozy.  The forecasters were warning us how big it was going to be.  I picked up extra food for the beasts and prepared to be snowbound.

Snow pile with Kira next to it
The snow that came dumped more than 2 feet on us.  I'm thinking it was close to 2 1/2 feet when it finally stopped, but the snow compressed over time, so it ended up looking like less.  All I know was when I was plowing, I was plowing over the same area with 4-6 inches of new snow two or three times a day.  Over three days, that made it really tiring.

The main concern was getting to the woodpile to get wood for the woodstove, getting to the barn to care for critters, and maintaining a path I could walk.  What I discovered was all the work I did required me to walk through lots of snow that was above my knee, thus soaking my clothes.  I rotated between three pairs of gloves and two pairs of boots because they were constantly getting soaked.

I'd like to say that I was good at plowing, but the truth be known, the snow kicked my butt.  I dug through a two foot path more than once and then dug through the backyard to get to the woodshed.  I then had to dig out the barn because my neighbor plowed it in with a 5 foot berm.  I, too, plowed, though it took nearly two hours to clear what little I could from the driveway and road.  I was running out of room to push the snow, which can be very disconcerting.

You may be looking at the pictures and saying, "well, it doesn't look bad."  The picture of Thor is level, not looking down.  Thor is a huge dog -- 31 inches at the shoulder and his head comes up to my chest.  He looks dwarfed by this snow.

The other photo above with the jumble of snow is with Kira, who is about 25 inches at the shoulder.  The snow pile next to her is at least 5 feet tall.  If you take a good look at the first picture of the barn, you'll note that the fence around the horses was 5 feet tall.  The pile of snow next to the horses from the roof is taller than the horses!

Mishka getting wood
I brought Mishka along while I got firewood and snapped these photos as well.  She's my smallest Malamute at some 22 inches tall.  She wasn't in the mood to bound into the snow in this photo. The last photo is the roof of my woodshed.  Yep, we got a lot.

The forecasters say that this is the 7th snowiest dump ever recorded in the area since 1893.  While I'm used to snow, seeing this much in one dump is still pretty amazing.

Update: it's now 45F and raining.  Lovely.