Solar granola

We’ve been making a steady supply of granola in the wonderful Sun Oven.

This stems from a compound realization:  1. We both like granola.  A lot.  We eat it very often.  In spite of the risk of being called granolas.  2. It’s bloody expensive!  Analyzing monthly expenditures turned up an alarming number on bulk granola.  Oh, but it’s so good!  Can’t stop! (see #1).   3.  Rolled oats- not so much.  Very cheap, or relatively so for these days. Really, it beggars belief how much the price for an oat can inflate if you drip some sugar on it and toast it.

We can make it ourselves!

So we’ve been mixing up big batches of granola and toasting by the panful on sunny days, which have arrived in abundance in April.

Our granola kicks a** on the granola we used to buy, and HW even muses that what makes it really special is he can “taste the sun in it”.  We won’t be going back.  Making enough to last through the winter might be a challenge…hmmm.

Our recipe:

(we usu do twice this much at a time, and amounts are approximate, but this is the basic)

  • 3 cups oats
  • Cinnamon, and often the usual pumpkin pie culprits- nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
  • Dash of salt
  • Optional 1/2 cup of some deluxe optional additions, like sliced almonds, pecan pieces, hazelnuts, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds; finely chopped dried pineapple, or candied ginger, or dried strawberries.  This is what adds the wow!

These are the dry ingredients.  Stir ’em up.

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • Splash of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsps brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp vanilla

These are the liquids.  Heat them, together, and drizzle them over the dry while rapidly tumbling the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.

Bake.  Normally this might say 15 min at 350F? or some such.  It’s about twenty minutes in the sun oven, and then stir it up and leave it another 10-15.  Watch the oven!  If it gets to dark brown, it could be just fine with milk, but there might be too much sun in it.

 

 

When the rooster didn’t crow

HW just happened to remind me “remember when the rooster didn’t crow?  Because he was a beta rooster?”.  He’s right!  The big rooster learned to crow after he arrived here, when he suddenly had to “man up” to his promotion to big cock on the block.

Now, he is deafening!  He puts his whole considerable body into it, and throws his voice like a shotput.  When he hops up on top of the coop, perfectly ear level to me, and delivers a cannon while I’m in the greenhouse, oh it makes my head ring!  I can’t imagine sitting in a small, echoing box with him firing off multiple volleys, every morning.  Maybe all the hens are hearing impaired.

Actually, he was probably a  delta rooster, very low in his flock of origin, voiceless.  I’m a big fan of secondary roosters, and promoting them.  They’re so nice, appropriately frightened of people, and so appreciative of the job, it seems.  They take it seriously and do it well.

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I was commenting on the cocks of both flocks being both so good, it’s a shame they are aging and will soon need to be replaced.  The red rooster lost all his accent feathers from his tail last year and they haven’t come back.  Aging.  And rooster choosing is dicey.  A bad rooster can be a real dick.  We are blessed with good rooster fortune on both sides of the haybales at the moment.

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HW said “No… roosters can be really old and still be good roosters.  You know, like in Chicken Run, the rooster’s a beat up old veteran.”

Me: That’s an animated feature!  You can’t base your livestock knowledge on a cartoon!

HW:  Yeah, but it’s a cartoon based in truth!

This may have gone on a bit longer.  It is a very good movie.

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This pic is overexpsed but it's so funny with the hen peeking out from behind his tail.
This pic is overexposed but it’s so funny with the hen peeking out from behind his tail.

 

Squirrel Wars

The squirrel is winning.

First there were skirmishes.   I tried a string to the bird feeder to yank on and eject the thieving squirrel.  The squirrel chewed its way into the bird seed bucket.

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I would jam a steel bucket upside down on top of this compromised bucket in order to keep them out. I mean jam it on, squeeze it down, not just rest it on.

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images.oheadpressSomehow, I don’t know how, but the squirrel would lift or pry that steel bucket off of the prize.  I like to imagine a little squirrel overhead press, lifting the bucket off with Olympian effort.

I’d be in the house and hear -CLANG!- and know that the squirrel conquered the bucket again.  Then I’d give him some minutes to enjoy it after all that work before I went out and put the bucket back on top.

Then one day:

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HW came inside with the bucket, and a squirrel still inside- worried and holding still.

These pictures are shot through the hole in the lid.

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But I’m so cute!
But I'm so cute!
Aren’t I cute?

…………….

Then for a little while I didn’t notice the squirrel so much.  I’d slowed down on feeding the birds, since it was warm. I figured he’d moved on along with the birds to the usual burgeoning springtime wildcrafted buffet.

I hadn’t refilled the seed bucket in the wood”shed”.  Little did I know, HW had.

So one day, I find this:

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In case you can’t tell, that’s about an inch of empty husks.

So that’s where the squirrel’s been.  Feasting and cavorting like a kid in a ball pit.

Oh yeah, squirrel?

I put a bucket full of dirt on top of the seed bucket.  That’ll fix ’em.

A few hours later….

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That’s what I get for using a plastic bucket.

I gave the remaining seed to the birds and gave up for this year.

Pollen baskets!

The bees were coming home loaded today with pollen baskets.  A soft snot-green colour- I wonder what is the source.  Bees at the end of their workday were zooming in every few seconds with payloads, as the sun ran out.

They are still in winter wraps, but are very lively with this warm early spring we’re having, already polishing off bottles of syrup within a week and thoroughly exploring, sometimes a little too adventurously.

I do a fair amount of bee rescue, returning bees who have got themselves in trouble to the hive.  I find them in buckets, or frantically lost in the house, raging at the windows.  Half drowned, half froze, half exhausted-  I run them back to the hive, transfer them from my finger to the doorstep, and watch as they wearily drag themselves back in the door, or are helped.

Today I had my face quite close watching a sodden bee (who could at first only wave one antenna to let me know she lived), pull herself back inside when a small black flying insect landed on the bee porch for a rest- just a little gnat.  A guard bee dashed out, snatched the insect up with her bee forelegs, and then seemed to throw it.  It flew away with alacrity, lucky to escape.  A beat after she chucked it she zoomed at me.  Hey git out of here!  You’re too close for comfort too.