Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Zero degree day

As I passed the thermometer on my way to do chores this morning, it read a solid zero degrees. In a few months that will feel warm to us, but today it feels pretty chilly, chilly as in if I hadn't kept a brisk pace through my tossing hay, opening doors routine, I'd have needed to come back to the house and put a jacket on over my sweater and Carhartt bibs. There are certain things you just can't get away with when it is zero outside; such as setting jars of milk out the front door for a few hours, leaving eggs on the front porch for a day or two until I get around to taking them inside to the fridge, leaving any liquids outside whether that is bottles of water in the car or a tank of water in the back of the truck, and as I learned this weekend, if you leave a freshly butchered pig in the back of the pickup, not only will it freeze solid (as I expected), but it will also freeze to the truck bed (I had meant to take a tarp or sheet with me but forgot). Now said frozen pig is hanging on our front porch until author's brother has time to break it down.

On Saturday I stood around at a friend's and at least helped with the planning of how to kill their pigs, who were free range around the property pigs that were not pen -able, (gotta love that - and a word from my own dictionary), without losing the remaining pigs in the woods. There were a couple flawed plans at first that we managed to nix, such as having three men with three guns each shoot a pig at the exact same moment - yeah, recipe for hilarious chaos I'm sure. Finally we just distracted the pigs with scraps and the two remaining didn't blink an eye with their companion was shot and gutted nearby. These pigs were much smaller than our last pig that we helped butcher, I think a third or at least half as big. This pig is maybe in the hundred and twenty pound range. A nice, manageable size. I'm planning on brining and smoking the belly for bacon and the hams. I've already scraped and cleaned the upper intestines for stuffing with sausage. And I pulled the head in to thaw to make headcheese, ahem, pork terrine. I think I'm going to try my first attempt at salami, something I've never been up for since I don't want to use nitrates, but we'll see how it goes.

On Sunday we butchered our last two geese, after taking their mother to a friend's house so she can live another year in the company of other Tolouse Geese. In exchange, hopefully I'll receive a dozen fertile geese eggs in the spring. I put one in the freezer for Christmas and the other I think we'll eat this weekend. I've got a bag of organs and fat in the fridge to deal with still, I'm thinking stock for the necks, hearts, feet and gizzards. Not sure about the liver, pate? Usually I'd cook it with rice for dog food.

Lately I'm not sure which I look forward to more, weekdays or weekends, as the weekends are filled with chores that need to get done, but aren't very enjoyable. The weekdays have become very routine. And I'll have to write about what the kids and I have been doing another day as it is past time to wake up the kids and get us going before we get behind on our day. In a few words here are our weekdays; fire starting, breakfast, candle lighting, song time. math, break, lunch, reading and writing, possible craft or kitchen project - whew - down time, then dinner time. whew!


Ashling said...

One has to laugh at zero degrees being chilly. Your days are so full and challenging, but I enjoy reading about them so much!

Christine Carole said...

Hi Emily,
I moved up here just last year. Your posts make me laugh now because I'm having some of the same experiences. It was sort of a snap freeze this year! - it was nice shirtsleeve weather then the next day it's 10 below.
We really wanted to raise a pig but my other half didn't think he would be able to get himself to shoot it. He hunts every year but he felt like he would kind of "get to know" the pig.
Yeah, no cooling thing down on the porch now - unless you want it frozen!

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily - I'm just interested to know about the pig you have hanging up - will it be thawed out before your brother starts the cutting up? I love reading your blog as you describe a life and environment which is so different to mine (in Tasmania, Australia). We kill our own meat also - mostly beef and lamb - and need to hang it in a special coolroom in order to keep it cold enough while it is 'maturing'. When it's processed we put it in a big freezer - would you even need a freezer???

Emily said...

As far as frozen pig goes, yes. We have plans to get the pig to my folks a few days before we cut it up. they have a garage which stays in the fifties, so it should be thawed out by the time we go to cut it up. I'm planning on brining, smoking and grinding before we re-freeze those cuts, everything else will get wrapped then froze in the freezer for consistent temperature.

Plickety Cat said...

Emily - we're already in the negs down here in the valley, so we're watching all the freezables here as well... and put on a jacket and beanie! Most people don't understand that we put things in coolers and inside the car/truck that we DON'T want to freeze on the way home ROFL. Our 5 gallon water jugs in the back of the truck start freezing up in the 15 miles between the community well and our homestead.

Good luck with breaking down that hog. We've given up trying to get any meat hung outside to be partially thawed for processing, and just part out the frozen carcasses with a meat saw, sharp knives and a bit of elbow grease! At least we have a free big-as-you-need "freezer" for at least 4 months a year :)

If you have a bunch of organs and bits left from the goose, you could always try preserving the meat in its fat confit style. I've also made "poultry terrine" by rendering down the stock from beak/feet/carcass until it becomes gelatinous.

Wayne Jones said...

Just ran into your blog by some small accident. As I live in the deep south much of the hurdles you face are vastly different than ours but I enjoyed reading about them nonetheless. Well written and makes me thank God I can go feed the hens in a t-shirt. Keep up the fine work and I'll follow from afar.