We are sub-zero all weekend. The coldest weather we have had since 2014, so we haven’t had to factor that into duck care since they arrived. I fortified their coop, installed a thermometer, and read up on how best to shelter them in frigid temps.
Everything I read reassured me they would be fine, their downy little bodies with a good layer of shredded wood chips and straw would stay toasty. And I always add a gallon jug of hot water each night during the winter.
Uh-huh. I lasted one night with that – we hadn’t even reached sub-zero yet – their coop stayed in the low 20s. I just didn’t think I could sleep once we were at three days of sub-zero temps if they stayed outside.
So inside they came. I’ve always had a backup plan for blizzards – they could stay in the Dane crate in the garage. But that would assume warmer temps and a shorter duration (until we got the coop dugout and then they could go back out there and be toasty in a snow fort).
Ducks are messy and I just couldn’t imagine what havoc three days in a crate in the garage would cause and how difficult it would be to clean.
How messy are ducks? Picture giving a toddler a bowl of spaghetti sauce and a sippy cup with a loose lid. Worse than that.
And I expected them to be stressed, they hate change – stressed ducks really need water – throw a stressed duck in a pool or bathtub and they calm right down. No way to do that in a frigid garage.
So the solution seemed to be the bathroom. The mess could be contained – there is nothing in there that can’t be thrown in the washing machine or washed down with bleach once confinement is over. And they could float around in the bathtub all day and sleep in the crate at night.
Also, I could regulate the temperature in there easily by opening the window as needed. The ducks are all decked out in their winter feathers, down and fat, and could overheat easily.
Not how I expected to spend Valentine’s weekend, but they are safe, happy and adorable, so we’ll cope.
BTW, between the pig last weekend and the ducks this weekend, I am definitely team, “some animals need to live outside.”
Cranberries are on sale now, so it seemed a good time to re-up this recipe. You can use sirloin steak, or ribeye or NY strip. Works well on chicken breasts, too.
My love of cranberries has been well documented here. So no wonder this is one of my favorite dinners. The potatoes are very creamy – you can make them more calorie friendly by reducing the amount of butter, you probably won’t miss it with the creamy dressing.
- Cranberry Pepper Steak
- Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes
- Sliced Carrots
Cranberry Pepper Steak
- 1/2 cup canned whole cranberries*
- ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 lb sirloin steak
- ½ tsp crushed garlic
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
saucepan, broiler pan
In saucepan, combine cranberries, pepper flakes, & vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, cook until thickened and reduced by half. Rub sirloin on both sides with garlic, chili, salt & pepper (use more of each if desired). Cut into 4 pieces, broil (or grill) 5 minutes on each side for rare. Spoon sauce over cooked steaks & serve.
Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes
- 4 large russet potatoes
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ cup blue cheese dressing
Wash and cube potatoes (peeling optional – I never peel mine, just scrub really, really well), add to saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes). Drain well. Add butter, salt, pepper and dressing. Mash potatoes until fluffy (I find a hand mixer works best)
*I keep fresh cranberries in the freezer. If you want to use fresh, add 1/4 cup of sugar and dash of orange juice as a substitute for canned.
Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep? Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.
Winter Squash Soup
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, quartered
- 1 celery stalk, quartered
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried sage
- Salt and pepper to taste
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