Friday, June 8, 2012

Life never stops does it?  No matter how badly you want to stop things and be able to savor a moment, halt a moment or be able to complete a project before a deadline, time never seems to cooperate.  *sigh*  Life at the Arndt farm continues on, with some additions to the roster.  2 broody hens have hatched out 4 chicks (1 and 3) another broody is setting on 6 eggs and our Bronze hen is setting on 11 (hopefully fertile) eggs.  Daisy had her second calf, a bull that is still nameless a month after birth.  I do not intend to name him as he is being sold in October to a family that will eat him next year so really, what's the point?  We have new piggies that are impatiently waiting for us to get their pasture fenced so they can get to work.  The family that I work for had a new baby on February 2nd, the same day that a dear friend of mine miscarried her 3rd baby at 8 weeks.  They have 2 sons and got pregnant again on her next cycle but still I went back to my dark place.  I am feeling better and my hopes to become an Affiliate Photographer for the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation are still alive and well.  I simply need a better camera and some practice with portrait lighting.   *double-sigh*  Okay, so on with the pictures. :-)

 Daisy's new baby when he was about an hour old.  That's not a trick, he really was silver. O_o
 Because Sweet Pea is still in the corral, she took the opportunity to steal a snack while Daisy was in labor and ended up stripping skin off all 4 of Daisy's teats.  I was livid but found out that Orajel really works as a temporary anesthetic so I could milk without getting kicked.
Daisy's calf at a month old.  He's Cody's first calf and is taking on a bit of papa's red coloring.
 Claire and two of her babies.  She has 3 but the third one is behind her.
 Brothers.  The 2 year old following his 3 year old brother at my workplace.  They were hunting for worms.
Neffy, the Egyptian Fayoumi and her interesting baby.  If it's a boy he will be my third rooster but I'm kind of hoping for a hen.  
 Two female Gold Stars that I bought to keep a chick company.  Unfortunately, the chick died a couple days later but I still have two guaranteed layers.
A nest of turkey eggs.  She laid 14 originally but I opened one to check fertility, and two were broken so she's got 11.  I hope they are all fertile and she manages to raise them all to weaning age.  She has one tom in with her and the other four are separated into their grow-out pen.

 My sweet Bonnie, due with calf #3 in a couple weeks.

Cody boy, 2 years old. 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Making Food (Part 2)

Okay, it's time for the next steps in the processing of our pigs. I'm going to concentrate on the final processing steps to render a carcass into food.

This man really gets into his butchering!

We used the last of our shrink bags on the hams. We froze them fresh and I process them into ham as I use them. Our Thanksgiving ham was brined for 4 days and roasted. It was FANTASTIC!!!

Charlie was grinding the second pig. Because we use so much ground meat we went ahead and ground most of the smaller pig. We ended up with ribs and about 50 lbs of burger. We didn't find anything wrong that we could point to to explain the unthriftiness but he's good eatin' nonetheless.

Making Bacon

Here is the Wikipedia artle about bacon

Bellies and the ingredients for the brine. I did not use any nitrate sources, just salt, sugar and spices as our forefathers did it.

I boiled 3 gallons of water and poured it over everything. It took about 3 hours for the water to cool and I put the bellies in it, suspended from a rack.

It cured for about a week and then we smoked it for a day. Dad built a smoker a few years ago and it's so great to have!

This is the set-up. These are all smoked and ready for slicing.

The bacon doesn't taste like store bacon and for that I am glad. It just cemented it more clearly in my mind that all the commercial flavor is from questionable ingredients. I prefer home-made bacon thank you!

I don't remember where we got the slicer but I sure am glad that we have it.

Making Head Cheese

Here is the Wikipedia article about headcheese. I had been looking forward to creating this incredibly nutrient-dense food for many, many months. I think I wanted to name one of the pigs Head Cheese, in fact! Now that I have done it, I look forward to creating it with a steer head too! Beware, there are pictures of pig eyes and tongues and teeth. I made no attempt to disguise the appearance of the heads.

The heads waited so patiently to be processed.

This is the bigger pig, skinned and ready to go in the pot. I even brushed the teeth and rinsed them with vinegar.

I put celery, carrots and onions in with the head and boiled it for about 4 hours.

I picked the meat off the head, including the tongue and pulled out the brain. Everything except eyeballs, went into the head cheese.

This is my 3 gallon stock pot, that was nearly when I pulled out the head. I boiled down the liquid until I was maybe 3 cups. It took on a very silken appearance and was thicker than cornstarch gravy.

I looked up a recipe and it said to roughly chop the meat, so I did. come to find out, most people mince it finely so it has more of a potted meat texture. Oh well, next time I'll do better. :P

While the first cheese was setting up I skinned the second head and got it boiling.

Each head filled a regular bread pan to the top. I was amazed that it worked out so perfectly! I poured the reduced stock over the meat and set it aside.

The first cheese, gloriously gelled!

I roasted all the bones and boiled them up into bone broth. I reduced 24 quarts of broth to half a gallon and froze it. Whenever I have need of some I just take the tub out of the freezer for 10 minutes, scoop out a spoonful and put the tub back in the freezer. It takes up much less space and is so much easier than trying to deal with all that regular broth.

I hope you enjoyed my journey into making food. I continue to experiment and create my own food and I thoroughly enjoy it. Due to dietary restrictions, I will be making butter, buttermilk, yogurt, cream cheese and cottage cheese for the next few months. I will be taking many pictures and posting those processes as well so stay tuned!


About Me

We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

For Jaime

Comment from a SMART President

" The government that is big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."

Thomas Jefferson President 1801-1809
Died on JULY 4th, 1826



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