Monthly Archives: October 2014

Pork glorious pork

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We picked up our half hog today.  It’s over 100lbs of meat.  Sausage in the back is hot Italian and the packs in the front are ground pork.  A few roasts, two page is of ribs, a tenderloin, which I think will become like Oogies tenderloins, jowls and fat on the left front.  That should take care of a third of our dinners for a year.

As always, thanks to Brent and Anna for what they do at Bramble Hollow Farm.  A few times this past summer I was jonesing for Italian sausage.  It would be on a Monday, no farmers market, and I would just breakdown and get some from the store.  And after a couple years of only eating local, it tasted fake and rubbery.  I compare it to bank tellers who are so familar to the feeling of real money that a counterfeit is obvious because it feels off and wrong.  We are spoiled.  We know what chicken and pork should taste like when raised on pasture, with good non gmo feed, with room to move and scratch and root around.

If you need me, you can find me here

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Not sure if this is a Halloween costume or just a Cosplay costume, either way it’s a costume for Madigan.  I am thankful that I was given this sewing machine (Thanks again Granny Lou!) and my mother taught me how to use it.

I passed!

The moment we left the farm last Sunday after chicken day my focus became passing my pharmacy test.  When I started my new job in a March, I knew I had to pass this test to keep my job.  6 months flew by and I decided I would just take it, ready or not.

Boomer and Madigan were on their own for food.  I had chili and spaghetti sauce in the freezer, pizza crust were baked so when I got home at night, I would have time to study.  After giving everyone a hug, I would really just study.  No tv, maybe 5 min of Facebook.  I lived on jalapeño cheese bread and baloney sandwiches.

Yesterday I took my test and passed, Thankfully!  I felt good about my answers, but knew I had missed about 8 answers out of 50.  I work in a retail pharmacy so flow rates, or which ventilation hood, vertical or horizontal, do you use to mix chemo drugs are not things I know.   Once I hit finish, I knew my fate was sealed…I either have to study two more weeks or I have passed and I get to keep my job.

i could have kissed the woman who told me I passed. So how does one celebrate?  If you are me spend the day in the kitchen making a ham dinner!

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Processing firsts

WARNING This post goes into detail about processing, no pictures but does have graphic details about cleaning chickens.

I have been helping out on the table on chicken days this year.  The evisceration process is fairly routine after you get the hang of it.  Take off the scent gland, loosen the windpipe, make a few cuts, loosen every thing up, grab what you can and pull.  Since you are working blind, not being able to see the inside of the bird before it is cleaned, there is a lot of gazing off and letting you hand do all interpreting of what’s going on.  You get a feel for what’s what.  After somewhere between 50 and 100 birds I have done, there is a degree of comfort in knowing what you are going to feel and what this experience is going to be.  This last week I had two surprises.

I am a jumpy person anyway, but when you put your hand into a chicken and feel something that isn’t supposed to be there, or is not normal, if you are me, you jump back and act like someone just jump out of a closet to scare you.  The first one was a fully formed egg in the chicken.  I am familiar with the size and hardness of the gizzard, but the egg, still in the bird freaked me out when I touched it.  Not that I didn’t know eggs come from chickens, but I hadn’t experienced it for that side.  Anna came over and showed us the egg still in the oviduct, and all the other future eggs.  After the egg was half a dozen yolks in varying sizes, then smaller little future eggs, getting progressively smaller.  It looked a little like an octopus arm with the tentacles getting smaller and smaller and smaller still.  I knew they had all the eggs they could ever lay in them when they are hatched, I had just never seen it before.  It was very interesting, and of course I didn’t have my camera handy.

The second, was when I got kicked by a dead turkey.  After Boomer and I worked as a team taking the neck and feet off, I got to work on all the steps to cleaning this bird.  Again, staring off into space feeling my around the inside of the bird, making sure I get the crop.  And as I was sweeping the cavity, I hit a tendon, and the daggone thing kicked.  I jumped, even though this bird was clearly dead, it didn’t make sense to my brain that it could kick.  It’s a fairly common, but it was just my first time experiencing it.  It happened a few more times, Anna even had one that was kicking as she was spraying out the inside.

Lesson learned, there is always something new to learn at the farm.  Next year I will be prepared!

 

One month till pork

 

We budget our money, saving for our chicken and pork needs.  Most of the year we save save save for chicken, but we are splurging and getting half a hog in November.

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We have been taking these pigs tomatoes and acorns.  If I can swing making a batch of apple butter and applesauce on Saturday, they will get apple cores on Sunday.  Looking forward to the variety of meat we will get from our investment in good food.

chicken for the winter

We picked up our 15 chickens on Sunday

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We let them “rest” for a day or two in the fridge, making it easier to cut up. IMG_6296

I leave some whole.

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Mom got me an early christmas present, a food saver, which has made the process easier.  I am confidant that the birds will be free of freezer burn.  They could last a year or more in there, but we eat them up before that happens.  Nice to know we have food for the winter.  We have been doing this for a couple years now, and have it worked out that we are usually on our last bird end of May, which is around the time of the first chicken day.

I know people think it’s weird that we choose to spend our Sunday processing chicken.  Even more odd is how kind of bummed I get after the last chicken day.  We started going out to the farm to get more connected to our food and now we have these great friends.  I look forward to seeing everyone, talking and laughing while wrist deep in chicken guts.  Sharing a meal with folks who believe like we do in real food, humanely raised meat and supporting local farmers/business.  I am glad that I met Anna at the Grandin Market in 2011, she was the only vendor selling chicken at the market at the time.  I had done a search to find local chicken and Bramble Hollow seemed to be one of the only farms doing it at the time.  If you go saturday, there are a handful of folks selling birds, maybe you can find a farm that will let you take a tour of the farm, and eventually let you start bagging, and when someone who usually helps out on the table goes off and has a baby, you might be one of the people they ask to help you do this.  Brent and Anna are always so grateful and appreciative of us coming out to help with the work, but we talk about it every drive home away from the farm how we feel like the lucky ones!