Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy who?

Ok, first let me start by saying that I hope that any of my blogging friends in Sandy's huge path have weathered the storm without much damage.  And if you have, I pray you are able to get back to normal quickly.

Being so far inland, we haven't had seen a single drop of rain nor much more than a slight rustling of the leaves.  The nighttime temperatures have been in the low thirties for the past few days, but our daytime highs are supposed to be in the mid to upper 60's.  I actually wish Sandy would have graced us with some of that moisture as we are technically still in a drought situation.

But what I'd really like to rant about is the news.  I'll be the first to admit to taking advantage of modern-day weather forecasting advances.....I'm an internet radar junkie.  But "Frankenstorm", "Superstorm", "Storm Crisis"......"We're ALL going to DIE" headlines?  Once again, please don't take it that I'm undermining those that have suffered from the storm, but come on.  The conspiracy half of me says that this is just a wonderful opportunity for the news outlets to distract us from the upcoming train wreck election.  Not that I mind a break in the political crap and I haven't even watched any of the debates online or anything!  But even around our little town, there are "Romney" and "Obama" signs everywhere, not to mention the local political hacks littering the roadsides with their garbage.

It's as if every neighbor is trying to outdo their neighbor by the size and number of "their" candidate's political junk.  My stepfather and the neighbor directly across from them each put up a small sign in their yard professing their loyalty.  Then about a week later, the neighbor two doors down put up a HUGE sign, probably 4' high x 12' long stating where her loyalty lies (pun most definitely intended).....the other candidate of course.

I'm sure there are many, many heated arguments occurring between good friends regarding as to why their choice is best for the country.  But what disappoints me most is the blind, unwavering trust that a person has for their candidate.  You know, the Republican or the Democrat.  Because that guy is going to turn things around.  My candidate truly cares for me.  And if the other guy wins, the country will go down the toilet.  Do you really think your political champion has one iota of compassion for you, personally?  How about doing some real research on the candidates people??

I'd bet my best milking doe that not a quarter of the people who are the most vocal about the election have actually done a lick of research into the candidates.  Their "knowledge" of the politician is whatever they glean from the vicious political ads and what the talking heads have to say on CNN.

What is their voting record?  Have they kept to promises made in the campaigns?  Are there illegal things that candidate has admittedly done, yet hasn't been held accountable for?  And most importantly, are they UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION?

Wake up people.  The country has been going down the toilet for years now.  It doesn't matter one lick if a Democrat or a Republican wins this election; they are two sides of the same coin.  And quit telling people that they are wasting their vote if they decide to vote for someone other than the D or R guy.  Why settle for something you don't believe in, just to spite the other candidate? If you haven't yet noticed that it makes very little difference who's in the White House then you need to do a little more research and think about our elected civil servants more than every four years.

And, for those of you who may be into posting signs in your yard, here's one I created myself (with help from graphic-artist seester, of course!).  Feel free to copy it and litter your yard with them.  Or slap them over your neighbor's poster.  But I didn't say that.

So there's my last political rant for this year.  Well, maybe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Farmish Nuances

Hey honey, would you mind passing me that bucket of chicken?

So.  Did images of a cardboard tub filled with fried chicken pop into your head?
Or did you envision something more along the lines of this?

How about putting on your boots to go out?  Do you think of these:

.....with the intention of going into town for dinner, a movie and some dancing?

Or these:

.....because you don't want to ruin the only semi-good pair of shoes you have with runny chicken crap?

How about going into town to pick up chicks?  This:

Or this:

Can you imagine if you (a farmgal/guy) were overheard talking to another farmgal/guy at a city restaurant about having to slaughter the kids over the weekend because you didn't want to deal with them anymore?  Or the shocked looks you'd get from city-menfolk when you were discussing castrating the bull calves?

Have you ever had any misunderstandings caused by the misinterpretation of farmish lingo?  If so, please share so we can all enjoy your story!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Meat Week - Overview and Thoughts

If I haven't totally alienated my vegetarian or kind'a-vegetarian followers this past week, I'd be surprised.  You'd have to admit, it was a pretty grueling raw-flank-steak-slap-in-your-face kind'a week.  And if you've made it through without thinking I'm a murderous, heartless, bambi-killing fiend, I'd be doubly-surprised.
Hey!  Here comes a nice lady, maybe she'll
give me something to  ***SPLAMO!!!***
But if you've stayed with me through this all, I'd like to say "Thanks!"  And I hope that you've found it either amusing, entertaining or even a little bit informative.

I think I've taken you through quite the meat gauntlet lately; squirrel, deer, chicken, goat and pork.  I guess I could have put in an honorable mention for "Fish", but according to a certain someone I know, fish don't think so they are not considered meat :)  Oh, and speaking of fish, I saw a billboard recently for Long John Silvers and it has a picture of one of their fish meals with the caption "Fish don't have feelings".  I'm not sure how I was supposed to take that bit of mega-sized advertisment, but  I'm a bit confused.  Was it a joke or do they really think that fish don't have feelings?  Admittedly, I'm the last person you'd think would be offended by an ad for fried fish, but it did seem kind of brash to assume that fish don't feel.  I mean, now do they know?  Do they speak "fish"?  And I'm not even one of those freaky save-the-sardines-tofu-eating kind'a gal.

Anyhow....where was I.  Oh yeah.  I have to admit that after all this meat-talk I'm craving some pasta and broccoli smothered in a garlic cream sauce alongside a salad bursting with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and some parmesan bread sticks.  Not a lick of meat in that anywhere and totally guilt free.  Unless of course you think that tomatoes have feelings.

Paul and I have been talking about our somewhat backwards and maybe even slightly artery-clogging way of stocking our pantry.  As self-proclaimed wanna-be homesteaders, it would seem that growing vegetables as the main part of our diet and pantry would be healthier and cheaper.  Goodness knows that we don't need to include a slab of flesh at every meal.  But when I do occasionally make a vegetarian supper, Paul is always a little disappointed, even if he doesn't say anything.  He's a meat and potatoes kind'a guy.  Not that I blame him.

Raising meat is more expensive than growing vegetables and requires us to become less self-sufficient.  With the exception of the wild game, every chicken dinner, pork chop and goat tenderloin requires us to purchase grain and hay to feed those animals.  And as anyone without their head under a very large rock knows, the price of grain and hay has increased every single year, this year being the worst because of the far reaching drought here in the US.  In a perfect homestead, we would be able to free range our chickens, goats, pigs, rabbits, etc. on pasture and the bountiful wild fruits and nuts of the forest.  But alas, we don't have the fencing for that yet.  And honestly, we'd probably still need to provide them with supplemental grain and hay in the winter.

There is also a lot of expensive infrastructure involved with raising animals like housing and fencing.  Veterinarian care, medicine, supplements and overall daily care, feeding and watering of those animals.  Vacations are basically non-existent when livestock is involved.  And of course, there's the taking of a life.  Not a particularly fun thing to do.  Unless it's the pecker-headed rooster.  Then it's fun.

So maybe we need to shift our focus to the gardens this fall and winter.  Things like improving the garden soil, increasing the size of the gardens, fencing the new areas and making some sort of irrigation system to make watering less time consuming.  Because even though I hate weeding, I hate watering even more.

Even if we managed to get a kick-butt garden going, I don't know if I'd ever go vegetarian.  I like bacon way too much.  

And I admit I'd rather spend time mucking out animal stalls than picking squash bugs off the zucchini plants.  I can sit and watch the chickens and goats all day.  And although I frequently gaze at the beauty of a squash blossom or the inhale the wonderful smell the fresh basil, it just isn't the same as working with the critters.

But I know that I have to up the ante on our fruit and vegetable production.  And I have to thank some of my blogging buddies for the gardening inspiration (Mama Pea, SciFiChick, ErinJane and Erica to name just a few).  I guess this realization comes at a perfect time in the year.  Most of the garden area we do have has already been put to bed for the season so I can focus on new garden areas, building up soil and putting up fence when it's not a million degrees outside.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meat Week - Goat

We have been raising dairy goats for six years now.  In order to continue getting milk from our dairy herd, the does have to be bred every fall for spring kidding.  Female kids are either kept with us for future milkers or sold as pets or milkers.  The males have one of three fates; sold as a pet wether (castrated male), sold as an intact buckling for a future herd-sire, or put into the freezer.

The first two years Nettie gave us doelings, but the third year she kidded with Annette (whom we still have) and a male kid.  I had been prepping myself for the possibility of having to butcher any of the unwanted kids so it really wasn't a shock.

Since the male dairy kids are so scrawny, it doesn't really make much sense to keep them very long for the freezer; it just takes too much time to get them large enough to go through the butchering.  I've heard that some people just kill the male kids at birth and dress them out like a rabbit, but I haven't had the heart to do that.  Yeah, I know, I end up killing it anyhow, but the cuteness factor is just too strong.  By the time the males are several months old, I can't wait to get rid of them, be it by a sale or by putting him in the freezer.

Once I tasted goat meat, I was hooked.  Goat ribs being my favorite.  Well second favorite I guess.  Nothing beats a tenderloin sauteed with garlic, butter and onions.

Since the male dairy kids were not really economical and I still wanted goat meat in the freezer, I went and started our own little Boer Goat herd this summer.  I brought home Pickles, the orphaned bottle baby Boer doeling this August and just last month bought Herman and Lily.  Since they are still young, we won't have any meaty-goat meat for over a year.  I don't plan on breeding Pickles or Lily for several more months, and their kids wont be born until five months after that.  And if the kids are of keeping quality, they will become part of our breeding -  not eating - stock.   But you got to start somewhere and sometime.

Technically, there's a pretty good chance that either Nettie or Annette will have a male kid next Spring.  And if we can't find homes for them, scrawny dairy kid or not, goat ribs will be back on the menu.

And here's some useful nutritional information comparing goat meat to other "normal" meats:
See, Christine?  You'd be better off eating goat meat since you always seem to be on a diet!  I'll even slap the meat on one of those styrofoam meat trays and wrap it in plastic for you!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Meat Week - Italian Sausage

Yup.  Another installation of Meat Week and another sausage tutorial.

Unlike the breakfast sausage we made earlier in the week, we wanted to have the Italian sausage in links.  So in order to have links, one must procure casings for the ground sausage.  I love the "snap" from a natural casing, so we went that route, but you could also use the collagen-based casings although I'm not sure if the prep for those casings are different.  You'll have to do your own homework on that one.

During the week I went to the butcher shop in one of our little grocery stores in town to get the casings (be damned, NSO!!).  The man behind the counter handed Paul a little package that looked pretty much like skinny and dry tapeworms. Sorry for the grotesque image, but that's exactly what it looked like.  I rinsed them in cold water to remove the salt, put 'em in a bowl of clean, cold water then stuck it in the fridge overnight.

This morning was sausage-making day.  I cut up the frozen fatback into small chunks and put it through the grinder:
Chopping frozen fatback.  Watch out for flying chunks!
You weren't thinking of putting that back into the sausage, were you?
After the fatback went through the grinder, I put the previously ground (but not seasoned) venison through the grinder again with the fatback:
We then used the bowl on the Kitchen Aid to mix the sausage, fatback and spices up.  Don't know why I didn't think of using the mixer when we made breakfast sausage.  Duh.
Since this recipe is a hodge-podge of what I found online, it was time to taste-test the Italian sausage:
The recipe is a keeper!  On with the sausage stuffing.
Now that we had our bulk Italian Sausage ready for stuffing, the grinder attachment was taken off and the sausage stuffer parts put on the Kitchen Aid. Paul then took the casings out of the water, rinsed them off in the sink and cut off a length about ten feet long.
You lube up the sausage tube with a little bit of lard, then slide the casings over it and scrunch it up at the end, kind'a like you're putting pantie hose on the tube (Or a male prophylactic.  Come on, I can't be the only one thinking that).
Once the length of casing is on the tube, tie a knot in the end of it (easier said than done) and pull it tight against the end of the tube.  Then poke a tiny hole in the end to let air out.  At this point the picture-taking is paused because as Paul is cramming the bulk sausage through the stuffer, I'm catching the sausage-filled cases, pinching them off at about 6" in length and twisting the sausage around as to make a new sausage in the line.

Four pounds of sausage yielded sixteen 6" long links and we used approximately 10' of casings with extra to spare for tying off.  

The sausage texture ended up being a bit too fine.  I "forgot" that the venison was already ground up when we started so we should have just ground the fatback alone then mixed the fat, spices and already-ground meat up without putting it through the grinder again.  I think the finer textured sausage would have been perfect for smaller breakfast links, but the larger Italian sausages should have had a coarser texture.  Not that that's going to prevent us from eating them.  

Now all I have to do is find some fresh green peppers, make some Italian bread and we're set for supper!

Venison Italian Sausage*
3 pounds venison
1 pound pork fatback
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. marjoram

*Every single venison sausage recipe I found called for fatty pork or pork shoulders or part ground pork and part fatback.  Although we have a ton of pork products in the freezer, I didn't have any plain ground pork (it was already made into breakfast sausage) nor did I want to defrost pork chops in order to grind them up to use in a recipe.  So I crossed my fingers and hoped that a 3:1 venison to plain fatback would be good enough.

*I also noticed that I forgot to add the obligatory 1/2 to 1 cup of ice water that is mentioned in every sausage recipe I've ever seen.  But nothing bad has happened.  Yet.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meat Week - Cornish Cross Meat Birds

First of all, I'd like to thank whichever blogger buddy of mine (OFG, possibly??) coined the term "Creepy Meats", as I now use it almost exclusively.

And the term is very fitting.  Those cute little white fuzzballs rapidly turn into eating, crapping, increasing-in-size-before-your-very-eyes vicious blobs of meat.  Well, maybe not exactly vicious, but definitely very food aggressive.  I hate going into the Creepy Meat's kennel.  Every morning they come at me like crazy-insane I'd-peck-your-eye-out-if-only-I-could-flap-my-feathered-mass-up-to-your-head avian monsters.  As if they haven't had food in weeks.  And they get fed mass quantities of commercial chicken feed, grain mixes, fresh vegetable scraps and even raw meat.  Two, sometimes three times a day.

And they really do grow that fast.  In just eight weeks, you can have a dressed-out chicken weighing in at four, even five pounds (a bit longer).  Oh, and a lot of smelly poop.  Which is why we put them outdoors as soon as they are feathered out and no longer require supplemental heating.  The live the rest of their existence in a large chain link dog kennel or our homemade chicken tractor.  When the area underneath their living quarters get too sloppy, the house is moved to a new spot.  This also gives them something fresh and green to eat (and crap on) and spreads the fresh fertilizer around a bit.

The first two years we got fifty chicks in the spring and butchered in early summer.  One of those first years the summer was dreadfully hot right around butchering time and we had one keel over from heat exhaustion.  And even though we butchered in the early morning, it was really still too warm to do so.

So the past three years we've raised the Creepy Meats in the fall for butchering the first week or so of November.  This timing not only makes for much cooler butchering weather, but it also provides a rare opportunity for us to get a bunch of free food for the chickens.  The volunteer fire department that Paul and I are members of have an annual Pork Roast the first week of every October.  And when it comes time to pulling all the fat and gristle off those pork butts to get ready for the hungry masses, we put the scraps in heavy duty garbage bags and take all that pork-goodness home for the meat birds (ok, some goes to the dog & cats).  They go through about fifty pounds of smoked pork scraps in a week.  And this year they also got the scraps from butchering the deer.  Got to love free chicken feed!

If you're really interested in our chicken processing efforts, click HERE for last year's batch as this year's Creepy Meats still have another week or so until it's "time".  Normally we just put the whole processed chicken in plastic wrap and stuff them into the freezer but since freezer space is at a premium this year I may end up quartering them, canning the breast meat and then freezing the legs, thighs and wings.

Oh, and does anybody have a totally foolproof recipe for fried chicken?  I tried making it last year and it was, well, edible, but not fried chicken'y like at all.  It just drives me completely bonkers that I can't make fried chicken.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meat Week - Canning Venison

Another installation of Meat Week, brought to you today by the generous people at PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals).

As if it weren't hot enough outside, I figured I may as well try to get the temperature inside the house a cozy 80 plus degrees.  What better way to accomplish this than to start canning!

Got the water in the pressure canner and another pot of water going on the stove, then washed my jars, bands, lids and got out the funnel thingy and jar lifter.

In each quart jar, I put a single beef bullion cube and a clove of garlic.  The last time I canned venison I only put in a clove of garlic, but a friend said this is how she did it so I figured I'd try it this way.  Since there's a bullion cube in the jar, it makes a stronger broth and you can make a gravy using that broth and corn starch or a roux.

Once the water started boiling, I added the chunks of venison to the quart jars and poured in boiling water (from the other pot, not the canner) to an inch of the top of the jars.

Once the jars were filled, I poked around in each jar using a chopstick to release any trapped air bubbles in the jar.  Wiped the jar rims, put the lids and bands on and tightened them up.

Into the pressure canner they went and I put the lid on and locked it on.

Once the lid is on, it takes a little while for the pressure to build up in the canner.  If I had to guess, I'd say it took about ten minutes or more to get to 11 pounds of pressure.  Once the canner hit 11 pounds, I set the timer for an hour and thirty minutes (pint jars would only need 1 hour and fifteen minutes).  During that time, I set another timer in five or ten minute increments so that I could check on the pressure.  It can quickly go from 11 pounds to 15 pounds or down to 5 pounds, so although you don't have to sit there staring at the canner, you want to make sure you check on it often to adjust the heat in order to keep it at the required pressure.

And since I was just milling about the kitchen anyhow, it seemed like a good time to make some cookies.  Multitasking, you know.

Once the hour and a half was up, I moved the canner off the burner and let it vent until all the pressure was out.  I actually don't know how long it took as I left the house for a while, but I'm assuming it's close to a half hour.  When I got home, the canner had cooled down and the pressure had vented.  I lifted the jars out and let them cool on the counter top:
Hmmmm.  Only four quarts of canned meat.  And I was hoping
to stock the shelves instead of the freezer this year.  Guess I have
a lot more canning to do.
I was pretty disappointed that all I got was four quarts of stew meat.  When Paul and I got our hunting licenses for this year, I was pretty determined to make an effort to can most of the meat.  The freezer is almost full now, and I'd like to get at least one more deer this year.  Oh, and we have twenty-four  Cornish creepy meats that will be butchered in the next week or so and I was hoping to have most of them in the freezer too.  Where am I gonn'a cram all this new meat?  Well, besides in my maw.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meat Week - Breakfast Sausage

Although the consuming of sausage in various forms happens frequently around here, the actual making of sausage has never before been attempted.  Until this week.

We had about twenty pounds of ground venison, so just under a quarter of it was made into breakfast sausage.

Don't ask me why haven't made it up until now.  Maybe because we never really had enough ground meat just sitting around.  The hog we got earlier this year yielded sixty or so pounds of breakfast sausage (made by the butcher), so we didn't make a big batch of the venison version.  And besides, I was saving most of it for Italian sausage.

Anyhow, I looked up venison breakfast sausage recipes online and found a plethora of information.  But almost all of them had basically the same ingredients; sage, garlic, black pepper and red pepper.  The amount of venison to pork or pork fat varied from 4:1 to 3:1.  So I took something from here and another thing from there and came up with our own recipe.

Kind'a Spicy Maple Venison Breakfast Sausage
4 pounds ground venison
1 pound pork fatback
2 tsp. sage
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. each thyme, marjoram & black pepper
1/2 cup ice water
1/2 cup maple syrup

First off, it is much easier to grind semi-frozen chunks of meat.  So either chunk up your meat and then freeze it or freeze the meat and then cut hunks off with a big honk'n knife.  You'll also want your fatback frozen or darn near frozen.

Combine all the spices in a small bowl.  Set up your grinder and put the larger plate setting on it.  Have a large bowl under your grinder and run alternating hunks of venison and fatback through it.  Mix up a bit with your hands (or a spoon if you're a big sissy, but you'll eventually have to get your hands into it so just do it now and get it over with), then evenly distribute the seasoning mixture and smoosh around again with your hands.  Pour in the ice water and maple syrup....and smoosh some more.

If the venison/fat/spice mixture is getting warm and overly mushy, which it probably is by now, put it in the freezer for a while to firm up again.

This time, run the cooled mixture through the fine setting on your grinder:
Most definitely a hands-on experience.
If you want a really fine textured sausage, you could run it through the grinder again.  We didn't have any sausage casings yet, so we just packaged the sausage in quart-sized zippy bags and put them in the freezer.  After sampling a few patties, of course.  If I were to make them into breakfast links, I would have probably sent it through the grinder again for a smoother texture.  We thought it was good enough that I would transfer the ingredients and proportions from the back of the feed store receipt to an actual recipe card and I placed it in my recipe box.

Thank goodness I actually wrote down what we did this time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

N.S.O., Week 3 and the Week of Meat

Another week of No Spend October ended up being a bomb.  Granted, not as horribly expensive as last week's expenditures, but technically worse as it wasn't really mandatory stuff like vehicle repairs.

Went to the store to get Rhiannon some jeans and socks.  I've been scrounging the thrift stores lately, but just can't find any jeans in her size.  So I broke down and got her several pairs of new jeans, although still on clearance so I didn't feel that badly.  And since I was at the store anyways, I bought some other already-forgotten things.  All I remember is that I spent fifty-eight bucks there.  For "just" jeans and sock.  Ugh.  Then since we were out, I went to the grocery store where I bought apples, potatoes, grapes and some other also-forgotten stuff.  Twenty more bucks.  Double-ugh.

Just ten more days to go.  Wonder how much I'll spend come November 1st?


If you've read my last two posts, you know that Paul got a deer this weekend.  So we spent most of Saturday and almost all day Sunday processing the deer.  Processing sounds much nicer than killing, gutting, skinning, butchering, cutting and grinding, doesn't it?  But that's exactly what we did.

This photo, although cute, really has nothing to do with today's post.
But since people get freaked about seeing bloody meat as the first
thing on their "Followed Blogs" list, I figured this would be nicer.
Ok, here's the meat picture.  And actually, it's pretty PG-13'ish as this was at the beginning.
Buckets o' Meat, chilling in ice water & ready to be cut up.
If anyone were to have come over for a visit on Saturday, they would have run back to their vehicle and slung gravel the entire way out of our driveway.  Both Paul & I were either covered in blood or handling large pieces of flesh.  There were pools of blood on the counter tops, blood splatters on the floor, walls, refrigerator.  I had tiny bits of dried up meat on my shirt, in my fingernails, and in my hair.  Sinew and slimy bits of connective tissue littering the garbage can (and within five feet of the garbage can).  The entire house smelled like raw and bloody flesh the entire weekend.  At first it's kind'a yummy smelling (well, at least to me because it means food!) but it gets old after a while.  And no, incense will not cover that smell up.  What you get is a Raw-Meat-Patchouli smell.

I don't remember it taking this long.  But we did more than just quarter the deer and stuff it in the freezer.  We cooked some of it, sliced some of it into steaks, chopped some into stew meat, ground up a bunch of it for sausages.  I even weighed the meat this time just so I could brag had an idea about how much we got from one deer.

There was just under (by like ounces) fifty pounds of meat; the only bones in that calculation were in the ribs.  There was also close to twenty pounds of scraps that was ground up and fed to the Creepy Meats.  Which they devoured in two days, I kid you not.

Some of that meat has already been consumed or "experimented" with.  Last night we had more tenderloin medallions sauteed with red onions and garlic and a side of fried eggplant:

We also made a pretty darned good breakfast sausage out of some of the ground meat (I'll post the recipe sometime during Meat Week).  We've never made sausage.  Don't ask me why.  But we figured we may as well start as there are plans of having even more ground venison once I get my deer.

The kitchen is finally back to "normal".  Actually, it's cleaner than normal.  The counter, sink and backsplash get a good scrubbing and wipe-down with bleach after butchering.  And I'm totally sick of washing pans, tubs, cutting boards and knives.  But I'll be doing it several more times as I still need to make Italian sausage and have to can up the stew pieces in the pressure canner.

Stay tuned for "More Meat" tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I was informed  by Paul that it is called "Muzzle Loader" and not "Black Powder" season. 

Oh, and exactly what season?  Technically, there are several critters on the Open Season list, but this is what he got yesterday:

Rhiannon made it clear that we were going to eat him with a side of french fries.  Hey, why not?  Although we're still not at that point yet.  It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to process this bugger.  No processing photos though.  Again, you're welcome, Mom & Christine.

Once cut away and cleaned up, the front legs were rubbed with seasoning, wrapped in aluminum foil and put in the oven for several hours to slow-cook.  Tenderloins and backstraps carefully removed, cut into manageable hunks and all but one tenderloin put into the freezer.  I boned the back legs, got the hams free, cut up ribs, neck and all the other stew/burger meat, then packed almost everything into the freezer.  We were exhausted by the end of the day.  Paul had to keep from nodding off during our traditional "First Taste" of tenderloin medallions sauteed in olive oil, garlic and salt.  Wow, was that good.

Today we'll take the burger/stew meat out of the freezer this to defrost it a bit then run it through the meat grinder; it's easier to do it when it's semi-frozen.  

Paul is currently picking apart the cooked front legs.  It will be chopped up and put it into the freezer for quick meals (like BBQ sandwiches, oh yum!) and the ground meat will go back into the freezer also.  I'm going to can the stew pieces and maybe cook the hams to run through the meat slicer for sandwich meat.

Got to get back to the kitchen!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Take a picture, it'll last longer

I figured I'd better, because in about a half-hour or so it will be a total disaster.

Today was the opening day for Black Powder, and Paul got one!

The only times my counter tops are this clean and uncluttered are when we've got a butchering job ahead of us.

See you tomorrow.  We'll be busy the rest of the day :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Four fewer Sciurus carolinensis

When my sister and I lived at Dad's house back in the 'burbs, we had a pet squirrel.  It didn't live in the house with us (well, except for that one time when it snuck in when Christine was leaving for school and Dad found it sitting on the living room couch), but it would visit us and even come when called.  We fed it all kinds of goodies, including Frango Mints (understandably, Dad was horrified when he found out we were raiding his stash of gourmet chocolate mints to give it to the squirrel).

One day we found her dead by the side of the street.  We were obviously upset.  She had a full funeral and I buried her in the backyard in a Frango Mint box.  Then the next day we found an orphaned squirrel baby and figured it was her offspring.  Christine named him Mr. Bigglesworth.  So we nursed and cared for it, then eventually set it free to roam the backyards of our neighborhood.
A much younger Me, with Mr. Bigglesworth.
Fast forward almost fifteen years.

Although I still have fond memories of our pet squirrels, my attitude towards their kind in general has been severely tarnished since moving to the country.

They eat the logs of our home.  They chew through plastic buckets and eat the livestock grain.  They chew wires and gnaw on the barn door.  There are probably another half-dozen annoying little habits they have that I just can't recall at this time.  But at this particular moment the thing that is driving me nuts is the massive defoliating of the oak trees.

Every morning it looks like some giant came through and shook the occasional oak tree until half it's green leaves fell to the ground.  Instead of taking a few acorns off the branches and bringing them down, the squirrels are chewing off the branches of the oak trees so the bundle of leaves and attached acorns fall down.  After they've dropped about a half dozen branches, they go to the ground and harvest their prize.  Lazy or inventive?  Either way, it's pissing me off.  Technically I'm not sure if it's really harming the trees, and I am taking advantage of the fallen greenery to gather and give to the goats as treats.  Regardless.

For whatever reason I didn't do much, if any, hunting earlier this year and I remember there being a plethora of squirrels this spring.  Probably due to the fact that we had a very mild winter last year. I don't even think they went in to hibernation as I don't recall there being any winter month without them running around the yard.  Mild winter + lots of food (chicken food being their favorite) = unchecked and intolerable number of tree rats.

So after Paul heard me cussing under my breath "stupid #$^%* squirrels" for the umpteenth time, he finally just shoved the rifle in my hands and told me to do something about it.

Moonshine, Squirrel Picker-upper Extraordinaire
It didn't take very long to get four of them skinned, gutted and soaking in salted ice water.  I usually just plop them all in the pressure cooker with some seasoning then pull the cooked meat and serve it over dumplings and gravy, but Paul asked for something different.

So I quartered the four squirrels, dipped them in homemade baking mix (like bisquick) seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fried them up until just golden brown.  Put the pieces in a 270 degree oven for about an hour and a half and served it with my favorite canned green bean recipe and homemade onion parmesan biscuits.
Don't let the picture fool you.  I ate more than was on my plate.  Actually, I ate an entire squirrel.  And it was G.O.O.D.!  Don't believe me?  Ask Rhiannon:
Stop taking pictures and let me eat, Momma!
Christine & Mom: Please take note that I did not post the actual skinning, gutting & cutting up of the squirrel carcasses.  You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WHY is that buzzer going off?!?!

It's sad that I have to set the buzzer on the stove or crank the wind-up kitchen timer or set my cell phone alarm to make sure I don't forget things.  Like the goats are out on the leads to graze.   Or I need to blow out the candles before I leave the house.  Or remember to take my vitamin, take the clothes out of the washer, call the doctor's office before they close, take the milk out of the freezer, etc..

But it's really sad when, for the life of me, I can't remember why the hell I set the timer in the first place......... to check on the bread rising in the oven.  From like over six hours ago. 

I'm convinced that Mama Pea jinxed me.

Farm fatalities

Things die all the time around here, usually to fill our freezer and stomachs.  Death, ironically, is just a fact of life.  But it's a big ol' bummer when it's not a planned or natural death.

About a week and a half ago, I went into the chick pen to feed & water the creepy meats (Cornish crosses) and homegrown chicks and found one of the homegrown hens in a corner smooshed flatter than a pancake.  I knew it was past time to get the Cornish meat birds in their own pen but as usual, I delayed it because I'm just plain lazy.  The Cornish chickens were at least four times larger than the homegrown hens and they all cram themselves into a corner of the pen at night.  I'm assuming the pancake chicken was just smothered to death overnight and then just got flattened from the sheer weight of her larger and heavier coop-mates.  I got the Cornish into the outdoor kennel just a few days ago.

Then this morning I went to water & feed the Cornish and found one of them floating in a bucket half-filled with water.  I bring water to the birds in 5-gallon buckets and fill their waterers from that.  Problem is, I didn't remember to bring the bucket back out with me after filling up their water.  What would tempt a fat, chunky, can't-even-fly chicken to flap it's plump mass up and into a bucket, I'll never know.  But the end result was chicken that drowned from my carelessness.  That cost two bucks plus the cost of feed it ate.  That I spent the last five weeks caring for.  That will now not be filling up our freezer or stomachs.  What a waste.

And last, but not least, I'm waiting on the death of another potential farm animal.  I say "potential" because I'm still not sure if something is actually going to die or not.  Lily, the Boer doeling that I bought last month, hasn't gone into heat since we got her (or at least not that I could tell).  I assumed then that she was pregnant as her previous owner let the bucks run with her since birth (big no-no).  Being so young, I didn't want her to give birth yet so I went to my local vet and got this:

I actually got this over a week ago, but was still waiting and hoping that she would go into heat.  There are two very active and very smelly bucks at our place (separated from the does), so if that didn't get her into estrus in the past month, nothing would.

As I didn't notice any signs of heat from her, that probably means that she is pregnant.  And I'm not even sure how far along she is.  I did some online research on Lutalyse (Lute, for short) and decided that I would rather have her abort the possible fetus than have a kidding at such a young age.  Yes, plenty of goats give birth at an early age, but I didn't want to risk her life to find out.  So in order to save her from a potentially deadly labor and birth, I had to kill her unborn kid(s).

If she's not pregnant, the Lute will just cause her to go into heat.  If she's not far along in her pregnancy, her body will just reabsorb the fetus.  If she's further along, she'll go into labor and have a premature birth.  I'll have to "dispose" of the fetus and give Lily normal post-natal care.  We gave her the shot Sunday morning, so theoretically she'll abort today or tomorrow.  I've been keeping a sharp eye on her.  Hopefully I'll be able to tell if something is amiss and be there to help if she needs any.

Unicorns and ice cream cones, farm life is always not.

Wow, that sounded quite Yoda'ish, didn't it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kind'a Apple Cider'ish Recipe'ish

Ok, I'm guilty.  I make things and just go with the flow.  Some say that it's a good thing, others will say that's no way to cook.  And I have to admit, I used to be one of those people who would curse at someone who would admit to not using a recipe, not knowing the recipe or just gave directions like "a pinch of this", "season to taste", "a dash of that", and "some of the other thing".

And guess what I do now.

Anyhow, here's what I think I did to make the Apple Cider'ish Jelly:

I had two gallon-sized zippy bags plus a small zippy bag of frozen apple cores, skins, pieces, parts, etc. and dumped them into a large pot.  To this I added approximately 14 cups of water.  And I only know this because everywhere else I read about making apple juice is that you really don't get much juice out of the actual apples, just the "goodness" that gets cooked into the water you put in the pot.  And I ended up with just under 14 cups of juice.

You don't want to drown your apples in water though because then it will taste like, well, watered-down apple juice.  I figure it's better to be more apple-y at the beginning and then add water as needed.  Honestly, I think my juice could have been more concentrated, but I didn't have any more apples to put in the pot.  I guess I could have just boiled down the juice a bit, but I'm lazy.

I let my apples and water cook on the stove on medium/low for about a half hour, then at that point decided I wanted to make it taste like cider, so that's when I added the spices.  How much spice you ask?  If I had to guess, I'd say about one teaspoon of the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and maybe about a half teaspoon of the ground cloves.  I used my nose to sniff out the proper amounts.

I let it simmer on low for about another half hour and during the simmering time I'd occasionally use my potato masher on the concoction to mush out all the apple goodness.  After I figured I milked those apple cores for all they were worth, I strained everything through a sieve and smooshed that too.  The resulting juice was a bit cloudy and filled with tiny apple bits.  Normally, I would have just said "good enough", but I was planning on giving some of the jelly as gifts so I went ahead and strained the juice through some milk filters (you could use coffee filters or good cheesecloth).  But be warned; you will have to rinse out the filters many times because it will clog up with all those apple bits.

Once you have your juice strained, put it in a container or jars in the fridge and make jelly tomorrow. Oh wait, that's what I did.  If you're not lazy like me, you can continue right on with your jelly-making.

Take six cups of juice and put it in a large (not stock pot large, but not a small pot either) pot.  Turn on the stove and add 8 tablespoons of pectin and stir.  Yeah, I know, I know, pectin comes in little pre-measured 1.75 ounce boxes.  But I don't have those boxes, I buy it in bulk.  So you're just going to have to measure.  Or go online and find a more helpful and user-friendly recipe.  I never said my recipes were easy to use!


Once the pectin is completely dissolved, keep stirring once in a while and watch for a boil.  Once the juice is boiling, dump in all 6 2/3 cups (yes, that much!) of sugar and stir until dissolved.  Keep the stove on high, keep stirring until it boils then keep it at a hard boil while stirring for one minute.  Once the minute is up, ladle the boiling-hot, oh-my-gawd-I-think-I'm-going-to-need-a-bandage-for-that-splatter, molten liquid jelly into your clean, hot/warm 1/2 pint or pint jars, wipe rims, apply clean/warm lids/bands and process in your already-boiling water canner for ten minutes.

Oh, and I found a great website for jelly making.  This link HERE gives you measurements for the sugar and pectin required for just about any fruit/juice.

So if my kind'a sort'a directions completely turned you off from making apple cider jelly, go to that website and read some actual cohesive jelly-making directions.  You could also skip the whole cider-making part and just buy a gallon of apple cider and then follow the jelly directions in the link above.

Good luck!

Apple Cider'ish Jelly

Rhiannon loves apples.  I'd bet she eats at least one every day.  Since we go through so many apples, the chickens get a lot of apple cores.  And even though I feel giving the "waste" to our chickens isn't a waste at all, I still felt like I should somehow utilize those cores for something other than chicken snacks.

Then I read someplace that you can save the cores and skins in the freezer until you have enough to make jelly with them (now why didn't I think of that???).  So since before the beginning of Summer, I've been cutting up Rhiannon's apples for her so I could put the un-chewed and un-toddler-slobbered cores in a bag in the freezer.

This weekend I figured I had enough for making a decent batch of jelly:

I cooked the apple cores down with some water and was thinking I'd just make apple jelly.  But the smell reminded me of apple cider, so I threw in some cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves to make it more "festive".  After everything cooked for a while, I strained and smooshed the apple "stew" through a fine sieve then strained it through several milk filters into jars:
Almost a gallon of apple cider'ish juice.
It was getting late so I just put the jars into the fridge and would make jelly the following day.  The remaining apple pulp went to the very grateful chickens.  And you though I just screwed my biddies out of their apple snacks.  Now they had apple cider snacks.

The next day I took the apple cider'ish juice out of the fridge and started the jelly making process.

The end result:
This is what you get when your toddler "helps" you set up what
was supposed to be a professional looking shot of the cider jelly.
Heavenly Autumn smelling apple cider jelly!  (No dinosaurs were harmed in the making of this jelly.)

I think we're up to over twenty-nine pints and twenty-two 1/2 pints of blackberry, grape, and apple cider jam/jelly in the pantry.  Guess we're set for PB&J's for at least a year now!

Monday, October 15, 2012

N.S.O., Week 2

Well, the second week of No Spend October was a total bomb.

The wood splitter (the mechanical one, not Paul) threw a belt so that was twenty bucks.  And when Paul was fixing that he found a problem with the carburetor so that was another twenty.

Then when driving the truck, Paul noticed a plastic burning kind'a smell.  Some switch in the dashboard that controls the lights was melting. We knew exactly what it was because the same thing happened a few years ago........although I don't recall it costing close to a hundred bucks for the little piece of plastic.

As if a hundred dollar molded piece of plastic wasn't an expensive enough outlay for the truck, one of the inside back tires got a flat.  Normally Paul will patch a flat if it's a clean puncture, but unfortunately it was in the sidewall.  Meaning it's not fixable.  Off to the tire store for two new tires.  At a hundred and eighty bucks per tire!  And we didn't even get the really expensive ones.  Technically it would be best if we got all six tires (it's a dually), but the others still have a bit of life in them and I just couldn't cough up eleven hundred bucks right now.

After shelling out all this cash for stuff, I got a bit depressed.  So Paul took us out for Little Caesar's pizza.  Yes, I understand the irony of curing a money-spending depression with spending more money.  At five bucks a pizza it's not a bank buster, but I still felt like I cheated because it really wasn't necessary.  But I didn't feel as guilty once we were were all chowing down. :)

Oh, and I picked up a bunch of apples for Rhiannon.  We were out and I couldn't say "No".  Try explaining to your toddler that she can't have any apples, not because they are unavailable or unaffordable, but because Mommy is trying to stick to a self-imposed budget of almost nothing just so she can prove something to herself and post about it on her blog.

So yeah, I bough the apples.

And here is my horribly spendy No Spend tally for NOS Week 2:

Truck light switch thingy, $96.90
Two tires for the truck, $359.10
Wood splitter parts, $40-something*
Pizza out, $10.60
Apples, $8-something*

Total $514-something*

Oh well.  There's always next week, right?

*The "somethings" refer to the fact that I tossed the receipts in the trash before I wrote it down and didn't feel like digging through squirrel guts to get to them.  Explanation of the rodent innards to follow shortly.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Bit O'Canning (and complaining)

My kitchen counter tops have been a disaster this past week, much to my Mom's dismay. (She's a neat freak.  Yes, you are Mom, just deal with it).

Anyways, with the last of the garden pickings piled up on one counter, pickling spices, large containers of sugar and salt, canning jars, lids, bands and boxes cluttering the other remaining counters and huge pots of boiling water or liquid fruit sugar on the stove, to say that my kitchen was a complete mess would be a gross understatement.  My socks would stick to the kitchen floor from various syrups dripped from stove to sink.  I'm afraid if one of the cats came through there they would be relieved of the skin on their paw pads.

And I didn't even do more than three half-days of canning.  Our garden was a flop this year so there were no red tomatoes to can.  No strawberries, raspberries or blueberries to make into jam.  What I did can was lots and lots of green tomatoes:
Ginormous Bowl number One of Four, filled with green tomatoes,
cabbage & onions.
I got a recipe from Hoosier Girl over at Blessed Little Homestead Life for Chow Chow.  I kind'a followed it.  I didn't put in the green peppers as I already cut them into strips and froze them (saving them for Italian sausage sandwiches) nor did I use jalapeno peppers ('cause I'm a wimp and don't like spicy stuff).  I tasted the Chow Chow just as it was ready to be put into the jars and decided that I wanted it a little sweeter so I dumped another cup of sugar into the pot.

I also made a batch of pickled green tomatoes with onion.  Which then put my green tomato relish count in at six quarts and 11 pints.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it all.  I mean, how many side dishes do we eat a week that would require the addition of a green tomato relish?  I'd love to have it with fish, but we don't eat fish much at all.  Yes, we have a 70,000 acre (give or take) lake just 3 miles away.  But apparently I don't give Paul enough time away from the homestead work for him to go out and catch a walleye or two.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the mess.

I admit, this shot of the counter top mess was after I had already started cleaning up.  And I didn't have time to take a picture of the stove top after the apple jelly boiled over the pot as I was too busy trying to wipe the burning liquid sugar off the heating elements without catching the towel aflame and fanning the smoke away from the eardrum splitting noise of fire alarm.  Paul came home from work that day and immediately asked why the house smelled like burned caramel apples.

The chickens have been enjoying the spoils of canning.  Apple mush left over from jelly making.  Cores and icky parts of tomatoes.  Seeds, peelings, parts and pieces.  If it weren't for the voracious appetites of the Cornish meat birds, I don't know what we'd do with all the leftovers from the garden.  But the Creepy Meats (who do I give credit to for coining that phrase???) are only going to be around (i.e., alive) for another three weeks.

Well, we could get a baby pig to raise for the freezer.  We are running out of bacon in the freezer.

Paul's Take
No, no, NO!  We are NOT raising a pig.  I mean it.
And if I wasn't busy making pasture, cutting timber, screwing with fence and putting up with your homesteading projects, I would be on the lake.  You know, the lake that brought us down here in the first place.  The lake that I've only been on a dozen times since we've moved years ago.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unsupervised Goats

Hay.  We feed the goats hay.  Like 12 months out of the year.  Because we have no fenced pasture.

So, what does one do to cut down, if even a little bit, the hay bill when there is grass and green-goat-munchies all around but no way to keep the goats from 1) eating the garden and fruit trees 2) jumping on top of the car 3) eating all the chicken scratch and 4) wandering the countryside?

I've been putting them out on long leads to graze.  Where they will wind themselves around any stick, twig or rock sticking up more than 2" out of the ground.  In like thirty-four seconds.

Paul will occasionally make four cattle panels into a small enclosure and put them in there for the day.  We even tried putting up a small electric paddock, but Nettie just walked right through it.  Getting zapped is just something some goats will suffer through if it means being able to get to the "better" grass on the other side of the electric fence.

A few weeks ago, I started doing something irresponsible.  I've been letting them out, walking them to a particularly nice and yummy looking patch of greenery....and leaving them to roam "free".  Well, not for long.  And I do tie one of them up.  It seems that as long as one goat is semi-stationary, the others tend to hang around.

I've been setting a timer in the house for twenty minutes and will pop out there to make sure no one has wandered too far.  Or to make sure that no one has decided to bulldoze through the garden fence:
Yes, that's a goat in the garden.  Luckily she only managed to
defoliate the green bean plants and didn't find the blueberries.
I haven't let the new Boer kids out though as I don't trust them to hang around.  Not to mention the fact that I have to keep the male Boer kid separated from everyone else as he is most interested in the females.

And speaking of the new Boer kids, my Mom named the female Lily (since she was born on Easter) and when I told my sister,  she said that I should name the male "Herman" then.  She waited for a reply from me, but I just said, "Uh hugh."  I didn't get it.  She eventually told me her reasoning.

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who didn't get why Christine picked "Herman".  Please.

Monday, October 8, 2012

N.S.O., Week 1

Well, let me think for a minute.  I was going to say that the first week of No Spend October (NSO) went swimmingly, but I did end up make a few purchases.

$4 on a winter jacket for Rhiannon
$2.19 for ingredients for a cake (for a fellow firefighter who's retiring)
$4.50 on books at the library book sale (beekeeping & homeschooling)
$10.50 on a goat medication

$21.19 for the week.  Not bad.  Not really a "no" spend week though either.

I'm also going to have to spend some $$ on garlic today.  I've got a fridge full of already-cut-up green tomatoes and one of the recipes I want to make includes garlic, which I have none of.  So we're only six hours into the second week of NSO and I'm already planning on spending money.

It was a busy weekend.  We had the annual Pig Roast for the fire department so both Friday and Saturday were pretty much filled with off the homestead work.  But I made up for it on Sunday.

Not only did I cut up all three overflowing bags of green tomatoes (which are sitting in the fridge, staring at me every time I open the door), but I made a batch of yogurt - which DID set up! - started making jelly, successfully make a batch of mozzarella cheese, cleaned out the chicken pen and I'm almost finished putting the berry garden to bed for the winter.

Today is going to be spent in the kitchen canning something with green tomatoes in it and finishing up the jelly.  And maybe a loaf of bred.  Or soup.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's wrong with this picture?

Now if you said to yourself, "Myself, why is there a watermelon on top of the wood stove?"  You wouldn't really be the only one wondering that.

I too wondered at the oddity of eating a watermelon (picked from the vine not three hours ago) while it's cold enough in the house to justify starting up the wood stove.

We're expected to get down to 32 degrees tonight, so I did a last-minute walk through the gardens and pulled anything that I didn't want frozen:

The watermelon (no, it did not stay on top of the stove) wasn't really totally ripe, but Rhiannon and I ate some anyhow.  The melons went in late this year, then the heat must have cooked all the flowers (there were tons of them on the vines) so we only got three watermelons and three cantaloupe.  And if it wasn't going to get down to freezing tonight, I would have kept them on the vine hoping for some more ripening time.  Oh well.

So now I have a crapload bunch of green tomatoes that I have no idea what to do with and a bag full of hot peppers that I have to do something with.  I made green tomato chutney last year, but Paul didn't care for it (and I still have three small jelly jars of them sitting in the pantry).

Anybody have any recipes for green tomatoes?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Goat Breeding Basics, FAIL

Let me be the first to tell you that I am not a goat expert.  Nor did I do exceptionally well in my high school biology classes.  But there are a few things that I think everyone should know before getting into goats (or any type of livestock or domestic critter).

I've been debating on doing this post because it makes me feel like an uneducated and unsavvy livestock owner.  But I promised myself that this blog wouldn't focus solely on the "Fuzzy and Cute" aspects of homesteading.  And I have to get it out.  So here goes:

The wonderful gentleman I bought the brother & sister Boer kids from was very nice.  He has a beautiful clean home, a secure and well equipped area for his goats, a well behaved Great Pyrenees livestock guardian.  The goats looked to be in good health.  The goats I was going to look at for purchase were already in a small holding pen for me to see.

We traded cash for goats, I put them in the back of the truck in separate cages and off we went.  When I got home, they both went into a large kennel until I could put the doeling in the larger goat pen and put the male in with Pan, our other buck goat.

The short time that they were in the kennel together, the male kid attempted to mount the female.  There wasn't any connection, but I wasn't supervising them the entire time.  We got them into separate quarters ASAP.

Boy goats are capable of breeding at a very, VERY young age.  Just because you think they are too "young" to be doing such things, does not mean that they aren't doing it.  A male kid that is intact (i.e. still has his package) can try, and may even succeed, breeding as young as eight weeks of age.  And if his eight week old sister happens to be in heat and in the same pen as him, he will try to breed her.

The concept of incest or statutory rape is of no concern to them.  They don't carry around little packages of caprine condoms.  And they don't even require permission from the female goat (although it does make things go much more smoothly if she's a willing participant).

But here's where I feel like a fool.  I emailed the man back for some more information and asked if he let the male kids (both intact, by the way) run with the entire herd.  His answer was, "Yes, but I haven't seen either of them try to breed the females."  So basically he was letting his six month old intact male goat kids run with the herd.  A herd that included two other females that were also only six months old.

Once again, I'm no expert, but if you've read even one stinking book on raising goats, or read one online article on goat keeping, there is something that is mentioned again and again.   And that's the fact that all intact male goats must be separated from the does by eight weeks of age.....not six months.

So, what are the chances that I now have a six month old doeling that is pregnant?  I honestly don't know.  But I do know that she is too young to be pregnant.  Yes, there are probably lots & lots of kids born to young does, but it's really not in the best interest of the doeling.  She should be putting her energy into growing herself, not a kid.  And if her kid is a large one, there could be potentially fatal results in birthing, for her and her kid.

As for her being bred by her brother?  Well, that doesn't bother me as much as being bred so young.  I can get over the inbreeding, but the young pregnancy is something that has me worried.  I'm pretty sure at her age she's already gone through a heat cycle.  Pickles, who is only just over three months old, just went into heat a few days ago.  But I'm not worried about Pickles being pregnant because unlike the previous doeling's owner, I don't let my bucks run with young females.  I don't know if I'm more disappointed in myself for not being more diligent in asking questions, or in the man I bought them from (i.e., was he really ignorant of the fact, or did he not want me to know that she might be pregnant?).

I know that there is a pregnancy blood test available, but I've never drawn blood before.  I could have the vet draw the blood & do the test (cha-ching).  Then if she is pregnant, there is a shot that can be given to abort the fetus.

Oh fellow keepers of goats, do you have any suggestions or first hand experience you'd like to share with me?  Am I being paranoid?  Should I just figure nature will take it's course?  I'd be most appreciative for your replies.