Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving on the Farm

So we had a very eventful Thanksgiving. Matt woke up early and went to the pasture to enjoy the sunrise. Pretty quickly he realized that a ewe was missing. Really missing. She wasn't in the pasture. After some hunting he found her holed up on a sandy bar in the creek about 100 yards down stream of our property. On the other side of the same bend in the creek was our neighbor's hound mutt... normally a sweet dog but very agitated. The bank was very steep and neither animal could get out and neither animal wanted to get back in the water.

Matt fetched me out of bed and we started trying to coax her up the bank. It is at this point that I realized that all the old stories and adages are completely true. Given the chance, a sheep will decide to sit down and die. She was no help at all. She wouldn't even stand. With great difficulty we wrapped a wide strap around her behind the shoulders and puller her up the bank.

We got her back to the house and looked her over. There were many lacerations to her udder. Either she was bitten or she did it running through briars. Either way, one in particular was a little alarming, about two inches long and directly next to a teat.

Needless to say we couldn't get a large animal vet Thanksgiving morning. We did a Google search and then it was off to Walmart for Betadine and superglue... that's right superglue. As of now, our rustic chemical sutures appear to be holding pretty well. All of the superficial cuts are knit. The largest gash has opened a couple of times and been re-glued but we figure the draining is good for it. So far no discoloration and no fever.

What an adventure! It made for great Thanksgiving table talk.

If you're wondering, we saved the dog too and returned him to a contrite neighbor. Truly, he's not a trouble dog and his owner normally keeps him confined respectfully. There are a few problem dogs in the area and he probably broke loose and was running with them. Needless to say, I won't be nearly so forgiving if I ever get one of them in a cage. I've got animal control on speed dial.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings Pt 2

The chicken harvest went pretty well. I do not recommend processing a bird in molt. I didn't have a choice. The new feather casings are a lot like fish scales and made a big mess. Skinning wasn't particularly easy. Next time I'm going to pluck. I didn't do any documenting but I found this Paul Wheaton video VERY helpful! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_S3P0eU0lE&feature=relmfu
I wasn't as sad as I thought I might be. It wasn't violent and I was pretty focused on doing a good job. I did get a little weepy when it was all done but I feel good about the experience. After all, all meat is flesh and I know this bird lived a good life and came to a respectful end.

The meat was tough as was expected but a long simmer made for really good soup.

Chicken and Dumplings pt 1

Tomorrow is the day. Chicken and Dumplings from beginning to end.

Butchering is always a mixed bag of emotions. I'm quite sad because the hen has been with us for a long time but she's not laying and she's not getting around very well either. I'm also kind of excited to take the reins and put some meat on the table all by myself. I've asked Matt to leave me to my own. If I pull it off I'll be pretty proud. There is also a feeling of curiosity. Despite the sadness, the biology lesson is fascinating. I no longer find it at all gruesome.

Wish me luck.

Fall Garden

Roots and Leaves

This year we've put a lot more effort into the fall garden and its paid off wonderfully. Kale, peas, lettuce, turnip greens, beets, carrots, and broccoli are all doing well and really extend the fresh vegetable flavors at the table. I've had a little green caterpillar working on the greens, broccoli, and cabbage but only the cabbage appears to be really suffering for it. Picking the devils off by hand is surprisingly quick and is keeping them under some semblance of control. The boys are perfecting their "caterpillar stomp".

The seasonal mulch collection has begun again as well. Can't get enough organic material!