Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring has sprung

Well, it's sprung alright.  Technically today is what I consider our last freeze date here in the greater Portland area.  But we have had 2 hail storms in the past week and just a few days ago it was well below freezing (about 27 degrees).  Last year we had a miserable spring and summer, and I am rather concerned we are headed in the same direction.



Up at the property, we had several inches of snow a few days ago.  And it has been warmer up there then down in the valley.  Typical crazy spring.  I've come to the conclusion that if we have any hopes of growing successful crops we will need substantial greenhouse setups.  I'll get Woody right on that!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gelatinous goo

AKA chicken stock.  A really good stock should gel up when chilled like this one:


video


Sometimes I get it right, sometimes not so much.  But I keep striving for goo.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Canned Vacation

A couple weeks ago, the husband and I had plans to go up to the property and work on the cabin.  Our plans were thwarted.  The neighbor's dog decided that he wanted to play with chickens, and no coop was going to stop him.  Apparently, the neighbor wasn't going to stop him either, as I had warned him several times about the dog being on our property and told him that if I found the dog in my coop again, I would shoot it* (maybe not so bluntly, but I was holding a BB gun and the owner was asking me not to shoot his dog, so I think he understood what could happen).  Three days before our planned trip, the dog got into the coop AGAIN – this time we had missing chickens.  As responsible animal owners, we didn't feel safe leaving the chickens alone with a ravenous beast on the loose.  (We do have someone check on the chickens when we are gone, but she only comes by a couple times a day, so it wouldn't be a constant presence.)  So our trip was cancelled.  Ah, but what to do with all that extra time?  Sleeping in wasn't an option, since we had to be up at daybreak to watch for the inbred mongrel to come and try to forage our livestock.   (OMG - Really?  The dog comes over every day for a month, but when we cancel our frigging vacation, the owner finally puts him in lock down and he didn't come over once.  Aaaaggggg!)  Well, since we are up, and at least half awake, let's can something! 

*(Per animal control, we have every right to defend our livestock, including putting down the offending animal.  So if this offends you [hell, it offends me], yell at my neighbor, not me.)

But what do you can in the winter/spring, before all the good summer produce comes on?  Stuff in the freezer!  Part of our self sufficiency goals include decreasing our dependence on the freezer for food storage.  While we eventually plan to have solar and wind power at the property that will power appliances, the freezer is still a big energy drain, and we would just prefer to minimize the need.  In the spirit of living more self-sufficiently, even while on the grid, we are cleaning out our big freezers. 


Vital component of stock

Our canning projects over our vacation include jam (from berries frozen last summer), ground beef (from grass fed cows, bought on sale!!), lard (this is a new food preserving experience), beef stock (from the half-cow we bought from Woody's buddy's parents – he helped dispatch the animals, therefore decreasing their butcher costs, so we got a great deal!), and chicken stock (from our boy chickens that should have been girl chickens).




Cammie helping
Wow, that was hard work.  So much for a relaxing vacation!  Here are the results:

Chicken Stock: 15 Quarts, 20 Pints
Beef Stock:  7 Quarts, 22 Pints
Dog Food:  Various quirky sized jars.  21 jars total equaling 208 ounces, or 13 pints.
Ground Beef in Broth:  14 Pints
Ground Beef in Tomato:  13 Pints
Lard:  2 - 12 ounce jars Pie Lard plus 12 ounces Savory Lard
Marionberry Jam:  9 ½ Half Pints
Blackberry Jam:  9 ½ Half Pints
Blueberry Jelly:  6 Half Pints
Blackberry/Marionberry Mix Jam:  6 - 12 ounce jars plus 1/2 half pint.



There is still a lot more to do.  We have strawberries that are destined for a special "Essence De Provence" jam, beef stew meat for beef stew, and I think some extra venison that would make a great stew, too.  We'll get that done next time the neighbor's dog runs free!

I eventually will be posting instructional posts for various food preservation techniques (probably starting with lard in the next couple of weeks), but for now a list of completed projects will have to suffice!  Also, I will be keeping a running tally of preserved food on the Food Stores page.



Simmering for hours

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Take Off!

I love that it is nice and breezy in Bickleton.  I think Cammie likes it, too..

Cammie, ready for take off