…but it almost did!
Extreme conditions require extreme measures.
So this is me prepared to go feed the chickens! Now this is where I have to confess. My intention was that I would be out there every morning no matter what the weather to take care of the chickens but when you are inside on a cold day and someone says…”I can take care of the chickens, I’m going out for the cattle anyway”, it’s pretty hard to say, “no thanks, I want to spend 15 minutes dressing and go out in the -26 degree temperatures”. So hubby has made it pretty easy for me since it got super wintery, and I appreciate it, and also feel guilty over it. In my defense, I will say that often while he does this I am getting the fire going, getting coffee going and in the case of the super cold days I’ve had a hot breakfast waiting for him when he comes in, so it’s us in our somewhat unspoken divisional labor mode and it works.
We have been enjoying the pork we raised very much and have gifted some as well. The reviews are all raves and we have already been asked by two families if they can pre-purchase their meat next year so that they can reserve the cuts they want for the freezer that year. We also know 2 other families that feel the same way and other people have mentioned interest as well. So my pondering about a very small meat CSA continues and I have been crunching a lot of numbers with the pigs related to feed costs and how we can reduce them. Hubby and I have been talking about how to make more room for more pigs. Actually mostly me trying to convince him we could do it. Ideally I’d like to have 5 feeder pigs and sell three by the cut out of the freezer and 2 by halves where people purchase their half and pay for their processing when they pick it up at the locker. A CSA model wouldn’t be right for us at 5 hogs, but if we continue to increase the amount of growers we raise we could consider that as an option.
So…over the last couple of weeks we have been enjoying trying different cuts of pork. OK here is your warning.
Warning: Vegetarians and non pork eaters may wish to shield their eyes.
Ribs! Rubbed with homemade mustard, followed by a mix of many spices and seasonings to make a rub, and then baked in the oven. Just before they were done, I covered them in the BBQ sauce I made last summer. They were delicious! We will try them on the grill next time and compare notes.
Ham steak and collards! The collards cooking in with the smokey ham? Yep, damn good!
This also goes on the list of amazing flavors! Split pea soup with cured ham hocks. Simply said, “a treat”!
In the meantime, when I am not eating pork, I am thinking about reducing the cost of chicken feed, how to bring the new flock and the old flock together or not at all, chicken tractors, and how to keep the chickens on clean grass by moving them around and of course garden thoughts as well. PS – A chicken tractor is actually a fenced run with a netted top, and shaded area that can be moved to fresh grass regularly by moving it around. Most designs are overkill to our number of birds, it’s got to be light enough for me to move it myself, so I’m leaning to PVC but hubby would prefer conduit or something heavier. I repeat, I need to be able to move it. We have time though to think about ways to do it. So more winter pondering.
I’m also learning about cuts of beef and have been talking to the butcher that processed the hogs, about beef cuts. There really is plenty for me to learn and since our first steer will go to the locker in June it’s not too soon to be learning this stuff. We also have to review in our readings about “finishing” this guy before he goes in, and making sure we have the high quality grass he will need, and IF our bull succeeded in his job we will have some new mamas at that time and the high quality grass will be good for them too. (If you saw our ‘lil bull you’d know why I say IF.)
All that being said, tomorrow is a baking day. I’ve been listening to podcasts from a farmer in Iowa who raises heritage breed animals and his podcast shows are great! So while I get three batches of granola baked and packaged tomorrow, I will be listening to him and learning, learning, learning! The next day is a solid day of deliveries so the day after I will finish the book keeping from deliveries the day before and then earn myself some Spring planning time. It’s about time to get in touch with our neighbor who said he knew where to get more spiles and buckets for this Spring. We both want to increase our collection of Box Elder Syrup. Looking forward to way more Elder syrup this year. I have been enjoying using it in many ways. Since it does not have a Maple flavor it is perfect for using as a sweetener in most anything that needs it. Yesterday the seed catalogs started arriving…hard to believe the farm will get it’s green back again, it will be exciting to see!