05 February 2011

Play dough dreams of spring

Even though I expect more snow and ice, it feels like we've made it through the worst of winter and that the promise of spring is close at hand. During the winter, we don't clean the chicken coop like we do throughout the rest of the year. Instead, I add a weekly layer of sweet clean hay, golden straw or pine shavings to build up the organic mass in the coop. Besides keeping the chickens warmer, it creates excellent compost come spring time and to my nose smells sweet, pungent, and earthy, not unpleasant. I actually look forward to this gardening smell on my daily visits to the chicken coop to check on the girls. Our matriarch, Scarlet, has the first few white feathers peeking through on top of her auburn head, a testament to all the hawks and dogs she's dodged. All the chickens are more grateful of receiving pats and food scraps in winter to keep their days more interesting.

In the house our worms are hard at work creating their own compost. In the spring as they start to multiply, I plan to scoop handfuls of red wigglers into the raised beds to help ensure the success of those crops. The soil they live in smells rich and loamy and Savannah can't help but open the lids and dig around inside.

We're growing our fourth batch of bulbs indoors; this time crocuses, spring's smallest but bravest and earliest bloomers. Seeing the delicate green buds everyday does wonders when there are snowbanks outside taller than I am. And to stave off the winter blues, we've been making play dough, something made pliable by the warmth of our hands and wanting to be stretched and molded into whatever we can imagine it to be.

Busy at play with a batch of homemade play dough. I use the oilcloth to spare my table from the rough housing.
Alligators and little girls.

The play dough recipe that really works:

In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups water, and 3 Tb vegetable oil, (food coloring, if desired), (vanilla or other scented oil, if desired).

Add to it 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cups salt, 3 Tb cream of tartar and stir until the lumps are gone.

Bake in a  9x9 or 9x13 glass pan at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove from dish, when cool enough and knead. Store in a plastic lidded container or bag to keep it fresh for many weeks.

1 comment:

Susannah Davidson Pfalzer said...

What a fun project! Love the elephant-bat. Great idea about adding vanilla to the play-dough recipe to make it smell, well, less play-doughy.