Five Feline Farm

A Central Illinois Hobby Farm

Winter Preppers

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Yes we are prepping.

Not the kind of long term stockpiling that most people think of as prepping. Not building bunkers anticipating a nuclear holocaust.

We are prepping for winter.

There are things that you must consider living in the country. Each year we learn another lesson. We may or may not have power. The road to town may be impassable. So, we need to be prepared. That’s what prepping is after all. A state of preparedness for whatever life or the elements may throw at you.

Photo Nov 16, 2 38 33 PM

Winter 2015 Prep List

1. Power

At Five Feline Farm we have upgraded a few things to help us through the winter. First and foremost was installing a whole house generator. Winter storms taught us that power is a critical element. It has been frightfully cold when the power has been out for hours or days at a time.

We have no plans to go off grid, but we do now have a back up plan for power outages. Even though the generator and 500 gallon propane tank should keep things fully functional for a week, we will still go into conservation mode. A few lights. The refrigerator and freezers. Water heater. Lower the thermostat. Doing all of this will extend the tank of propane for as long as possible. The supplier states they can get us a refill within two days of calling, but if the road is drifted shut, that may be an optimistic estimate.

2. Food

Summer’s bounty plus a few items from the store are stocked. The pantry is loaded with canned goods. The freezers are packed with meat and vegetables. We may need to get creative with meals, but we could easily manage a month or more of keeping body and soul united.

3. Outside Chores

Set up the Christmas decorations. Yes, you read correctly. It is much nicer to set up the outside decorations in early November before the weather gets brutal. There is no need to turn everything on, but at least it is ready at the flip of a switch. This isn’t rushing the season. It is being planful.

Winterize the camper. Bring in the pond pumps. Drain the water hoses. Mow down the garden. Put the snowplow on the Mule. These are just a few of the outside tasks that need to be completed before a freeze.

At this writing, the first flakes of winter snow are falling. It is good to have the winter prepping completed. We can sit back and enjoy the beauty of winter without worry.

What winter prepping have you done? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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Toasted Almond Honey Ice Cream

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Five Feline Farm is a blend of old and new. We maintain a respect for history and the skills of our ancestors, but definitely appreciate the new approaches.

For example, ice cream.

People have been making ice cream since 200 B.C. with fruit, cream, nuts and various sweeteners frozen together. There is ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurt and sherbet just to name a few. No matter the name, all required some method of freezing ingredients into a refreshing dessert treat.

Most families recall hot summer days with a hand cranked churn, layers of salt and ice around the center urn of sweet flavored cream. People took turns cranking the handle until the mixture was frozen stiff and could no longer be moved. A few hours packed in a fresh bed of salted ice, then out came the spoons.

Eventually someone invented an electric ice cream churn to eliminate the hard work of turning the crank.

Even better came the invention of a counter top, electric compressor small batch ice cream maker. In just about an hour, with minimal preparation, a quart of ice cream is ready to eat.

We’ve come a long way.

Now here on the Farm we experiment with flavors. An hour and a quart is a perfect match to try out new flavor combinations. The latest favorite is Toasted Almond Honey. Simple straightforward ingredients. Cream, milk, honey, sliced almonds, a pinch of salt. No preservatives. Nothing included that can’t be pronounced.

Toasted Almond Honey Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup raw honey
pinch salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Stir together cream, milk, honey and salt until thoroughly blended. Add to 1 quart tabletop ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer directions. Toast almonds in small skillet over low heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned and fragrant. Add almonds during the last 15 minutes of freezing or when machine indicates additional ingredients can be added.

Yes this is a high fat dessert. It is a treat to be enjoyed in moderation and well worth the calories.

If this type of experimenting in the kitchen suits you, stay tuned. There is more to come from the Five Feline Farm kitchen.

Sugar Cane in Illinois?

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Do you remember the old commercial for C&H sugar?

C&H. Pure cane sugar. From Hawaii. Growing in the sun.

Did you know you can grow sugar cane in Illinois too?

Ok, maybe not as a cash crop or in the quantities needed to process granulated sugar. But you can grow it.

This past summer, on Five Feline Farm, Tohono O’odham “Sugar Cane” was one of the experimental crops. Tall slender canes topped with a red seed head. The cane looks similar to bamboo although not as fast growing and not quite as tough.

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Sugar cane is different from sorghum which is a much more common plant in this area. Sorghum looks like its cousin sugar cane, but the sap of the sorghum plant boils down into a thick dark syrup with a distinctly different flavor. Sorghum molasses is an acquired taste, but full of healthy minerals. Sugar cane is filled with a sweet juice that when grown commercially is processed and refined into granulated sugar.

Shaving off the hard outer layer without cutting into the sweet heart of the cane is an art. Most of the time I had a nice section skinned and the next cut went completely through the sweet center. There was enough though to sample. Chewing on the middle of the cane gives a burst of sweetness and a desire for more. It was more than just that short experience. It was a rocket ride down memory lane to Hawaii. Roadside vendors in Hawaii sell short sections of peeled sugar cane ready to chew. Warm sweet cane juice washes through your mouth as you watch tropical waves spill over the beach. There’s a reason the place is referred to as paradise.

Back to Illinois.

Sugar cane will never be a commercial crop in Illinois but it is a fun plant to grow. After chewing a sweet sample, the extra canes will be used like bamboo and seeds saved for next year.

A renewable source of fun.