Winter has its problems, but so does spring.
During the cold months of snow, I'm often inside, so finding time to write my column is easy. Today it is beautiful outside - about 70 degrees and sunny. Do I want to be inside writing? 'No."
I want to be outside soaking up sunshine, trying to make up for all that I missed during the winter.
I'm not the only one who is seeking outside time. My husband has been moving soybeans out of our storage bins and taking them by the wagon load to town.
Bob would rather be working in one of our fields, but ours are too wet to work. Hopefully, soon Bob will be putting seeds into the ground - otherwise I'll be living with one crabby farmer.
There's one more here who wants to get out of the house more. Our dog Sunny just came up to me, pestering for a walk. I can't say no to my big baby, so I'm going to take a 30-minute break from writing and head outside - it's for the dog's benefit after all….
Okay, I'm back from outside - sorry I was gone so long.
After taking Sunny for his romp, I noticed some iris rhizomes needing transplanting. I didn't take time to search for my gardening gloves, because I hadn't planned on working in my flower bed. Before I realized it, I was up to my elbows in soil, having a grand old time.
Of course, it took a bit longer to clean up. I had to get out my nail brush to scrub away the garden residue - well, it wasn't exactly a nail brush. I used an old toothbrush kept for problem cleanups like today.
Oh, no. I forgot about the chickens. I have to go back outside again. Sorry. . . Now that didn't take long. Those poor birds needed to get outside, too. It only took me a few minutes to walk out and open the chicken house door and set them free.
I wasn't exactly too quick getting back here. A bag of feed needed to be removed from my car. Yes, I know there wasn't a big hurry to get that job done, but as long as I was out there it was only right to get it put away, too. . . .
Now back to the subject of this column. Wait a minute. Bob just came in. He said he's taking the cart for a drive down the lane. There are branches needing picking up along the fence line. I volunteered to join him, so I'm off again. . . .
Okay, this time I'm going to chain myself to my desk and write my column. No more going outside until it's finished - I actually have something to share with you today. I learned how to make yogurt without the use of a store-bought yogurt maker.
During the winter, when I had time on my hands, I made a batch of yogurt by setting quart jars in a warm water bath using a lunch cooler. The jars were filled with skimmed milk and about 2 tablespoons of yogurt starter (My easy-starter was store-bought yogurt with live culture).
That batch I watched all day, changing the water now and then to keep the jars warm. It worked, too, but I learned an even better way.
Instead of setting the filled jars in warm water, I nested them on a heating pad inside the same small cooler. I set the heating pad on low, covered everything with a towel, and left it alone. By the end of the day, I had homemade yogurt.
This idea came to me via the Internet and I'm so happy to have found it. Now I can share it with you, but if you're going to make yogurt yourself, I recommend finding a real recipe. Mine is kind of slap-dash.
My homemade yogurt is good plain or flavored with fruit. To make it thicker, I took a paper coffee filter, set it in a strainer and put the yogurt inside to drain. This turned into a kind of yogurt cheese, which I put on toast with jelly.
I didn't toss the drained water either. Well, I did toss the water from the first straining. The second batch went into my homemade bread recipe. I'm so proud of my ingenuity.
Next week, I'll post the winner of my Route 2, Box 12 book give-away. Now back to my outside projects. Happy Spring, everyone.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.