Thursday, February 25, 2021

Finally Defrosted

The entire Universe seemed to have a particulary cold spell last week (or was it the week before? I don't recall, I think my brain is still defrosting) and caused havoc for lots of people. It hit especially hard for those in areas where we are not used to sub-sub-sub-zero temperatures. For those of my readers who live, and even enjoy, the Arctic weather, I tip my hat to you. You truly are survivors (and possibly a bit cray-cray).

Our temperatures dipped to the negative two or three days during the night and didn't venture above single digits during the day. So when do you expect our goats decided to give birth? Yep. Twelve kids popped out during this time. Our older does had enough sense in their little noggins to go into the lean-to, but two others just plopped out their kids in the middle of the field. In the freezing cold snow.

We've dealt with hypothermic goats before, so (un)fortunately we pretty much know what to do. If the kids are somewhat coherent, we just bring them into the house and warm them up with a dryer. When their internal body temp is back up (around 101 degrees) they can be fed warm milk. It is imparative that their body temperature is normal before they are fed; it they have milk introduced into their stomach before this, they are unable to digest and end up dying. We found this out with our first hypothermic kid several years ago.

These years of (in)experience have given us the proper protocol for dealing with frozen goat kids. The two this year were found unresponsive and immediately brought in to warm up. The first doeling was able to warm up with just the hair dryer treatment, but the second buckling was well beyond that and he had to be submerged into a bucket of warm water for about an hour. It took almost all day to get his temperature up to even think of getting some warm milk into him. He was still kind'a out of it, but he needed nourishment as soon as possible so we tube-fed him until he was able to take the bottle.

Both hypothermic goats are now being pampered by my daughter, along with a third buckling who we pulled from the dam as she doesn't seem interested in him (she's on the "sell" list, btw). So we have goats in the kitchen. I wish I could say that this is an unusual occurance; alas, it is not.

The other goats and Ms. Melman seemed to get through the cold spell without any harm. The chickens did not care for the snow at all and would not come out of their coop until Paul shoveled a path for them. The ducks didn't seem to mind the snow and would just bulldoze (duckdoze??) through the soft snowdrifts looking for a snack or a pail of warm water to muck up. Kai wasn't bothered much by the cold, but he did come in at night. The cats would venture outside for like fifteen seconds then loudly request to be let back inside, cursing me for being such a horrible cat-mom and demanding that I change the weather to the 80's. Penelope stayed tucked away in her little polar fleece lined burror for two days straight, but is already back to her at-dusk feeding schedule.

The wild birds flocked to our suet feeders and trays of warm water. There was quite a menagerie of feathered friends; bluebirds, tit mice (mouses??), juncos, cardinals, wrens, sparrows, downy woodpeckers, sapsuckers and nuthatches! I've never seen such a variety of birds at the feeders at one time!

Our weather outlook for the next ten days looks to be in the mid-50's and nothing lower than 32 at night so I think we're back to normal. I'm hoping to get out in the gardens this weekend and play in the dirt a little. I've already started some herbs inside and have to stick some tomato and pepper seeds into pots. Spring is coming in just twenty-three days! I just hope that Winter is done being a pissy-bitch and leaves quietly.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Little of This, Some of That

One thing always leads to another. This particular "one thing" started about three years ago.

During one of my "I can make that into jam / jelly" fits, I had started saving apple cores and some skins from the copious amounts of apples consumed by my daughter. (BTW, I cored them BEFORE she started chewing on them) They were saved in large zippy bags in the freezer until I had enough to make apple cider jelly. Unfortunately, several of the jars didn't jell up properly so we had a half dozen Apple Cider "Syrups" sitting in the pantry for the last two canning seasons. My daughter has been watching a lot of baking shows lately and loves to come up with new desserts. Her favorite concoction has been Apple Tacos, which are basically little fried pies, but baked. We had apples, and we had apple cider syrup, so away she went to making her dessert. It started with the apple cider syrup, fresh apple chunks and some oatmeal thrown in for good measure. That goo was then used for the Apple Taco filling. And filling, they were. But the filling-to-pie crust ratio was off and there was over a cup of the filling goo left. Not being one to let anything go to waste, I saved it from the chicken bucket and put in aside for "something" later. Yes, the frugal person of Polish heritage strikes again.

As I was drinking my second (or thriteenth, don't judge me) cup of hot tea, it occured to me that a scone would go wonderfully with my beverage. Hmmmm....what flavor scones could I make? Enter the extra apple filling.

I took the filling and added a duck egg, a bit of vegetable oil, milk, whole wheat and white flour and a big pinch of baking soda. Mixed it up until it looked good then slapped the scone'ish mass onto a greased baking sheet, scored it and popped it into the oven.

Please dont's ask me for the recipe, as I have no idea what I did. I have found out that after years of cooking (and burning, and ruining, and giving mistakes to the critters), that I have become "that woman" who just bakes and cooks without a recipe. In my younger years, it drove me totally bonkers when people would say "a pinch of this" or "until it looks good" or "season to taste". I would have seethed at me if I knew the older me when I was the younger me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

"Butt" it was on SALE!

I tend to go overboard when it comes to stocking our larder. To me, there's nothing more satisfying than to see a pantry or freezer full of food for my family. I don't know where I got this habbit; I didn't live during The Depression, I didn't have a horrible childhood, nor was I ever deprived of food.

I guess I just have a "problem", albeit not too horrible of a problem when compared to the multitude of real-life problems many are having now. I just have no more room in the freezer.

Pork shoulders / butts were on sale last week. So I bought some. Like 100 lbs. "some". And as I've just mentioned, I did this knowing that there is like zero freezer space.....but it was on SALE!!! Gawd, I'm so weak willed.

But I did have a CAN!

We've canned plenty of venison, goat, and even chicken legs (ick, don't let me do that again), but I've never canned a "prepared" meat like sausage. I just thought it seemed strange to have a jar of canned sausage on the shelf; but why not?? We do adore breakfast sausage patties, and Italian sausage links, but I also use sausage crumbles in other dishes like lasagna, spaghetti sauce, pizza topping, etc. And when I make my breakfast, I occasionally crumble up the sausage to put in omelettes and mix up with my egg burritos so what's the difference if it comes from a jar or if I cook it into crumbles from fresh stuff?

This weekend was filled with boning, chunking, slicing, grinding, mixing, browning and canning. Lots and lots of it. My hands hurt when I gripped the steering wheel of the car this morning to drive to work. But at least I was at the office and not cutting up meat.
Out of the 100 or so pounds of pork, we've made 25 pounds of breakfast sausage and 50 pounds of Italian sausage. There was juuuuuuust enough room in the freezer to put most of the breakfast sausage in there. Twelve quart jars of Italian Sausage are now lining the pantry shelves and several quart bags were stuffed into my Dad's freezer. The only things left to do are to stuff the remaining twenty pounds of Italian Sausage into casings and to cure about 20 pounds of buckboard bacon. I WILL find room in the freezer for bacon, even if I have to remove some items (like, say, the peaches I never canned last year. Ugh) to make it fit.

What is buckboard bacon, you ask? Well, it's basically BACON, but not from the pork belly; it's from the shoulder. And this is what my buckboard bacon looks like.....

Technically, I could have just taken the bone out of the shoulders and made the entire thing into buckboard bacon, but I still wanted sausage. So I just took the fatty top and some meat underneath off the shoulders and that was closer to what "normal" bacon is like (i.e. more fatty). Those slabs of buckboard will be rubbed with a curing salt / seasoning then left to age in the refrigerator for about two weeks, massaging them every day (sexy, huh??). Once the curing process is over, they can be sliced and put into the freezer or smoked (for more flavor) THEN sliced and put into the freezer. It's a wonderful thing.