Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whole grain breads baked at home by Richard Blunt Issue #112

Whole grain breads baked at home by Richard Blunt Issue #112

I am going to be starting up some starters for sour dough here directly. This is a great resource to learn from thus far.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Some humor needed

Never one to be bored around here, I thought I'd share a little humor. If I don't I may very well go mad.

I have 5 dogs. 4 German Shepherds and one Chihuahua. Formal introductions are Cheyenne, Diego, Wolfgang and Sasha the Shepherds and Steve...the little guy. The one that seems like it's a real dog...only smaller.

Anyway I digress (and will never stop it seems)

We have to prepare this bedding material for our specialized composting worms. As I stated earlier we are starting up a worm farm with Red Wigglers and European Night crawlers. We probably have about 25-30 pounds of them and they all needed bedding. The bedding consists mostly of shredded cardboard, newspaper and peat moss. It is murder on your hands and wrists to sit and shred cardboard. No matter how good the movie is, one cannot sit and shred too much cardboard at night without damaging body parts.

So I thought, "Hey! Too bad we couldn't give these to the dogs to do for us!" They destroy everything else, like brand new water buckets. Not the one that is already chewed to smithereens but still hold water. No. The brand new one. Only this time it is toast, no more, nadda. Enough to piss off the pope I tell you. (another moment of digression)

So I think I'm positively clever in my thought here. Give the dogs all the card board they can abuse for toys and we get the benefits. Works great in theory. Probably why most theories sort of stay as theories. Right after the picture below was rained. And our card board turned to muddy muck. So next time I shall have to stay out there with them and play instead of think I can get several things done at once and run off and space out my cardboard. Humph.

Here are some of the results of our experiment.

This is Steve, my fearless Chihuahua...thinking he really wants to get into the action of tearing up cardboard too. "See how great a job I can do Momma!? I can tear toys up with the best of them! Just not out there WITH them, I might get stepped on."

Yes, his tail is wagging to beat the band. And no, there was not enough left of the toy for a decent burial. Not really. If I'm in the mood to pick up a bunch of card board from the floor I may very well give this little boy a try. Better than gooey muck I guess.

My doggone dogs!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Smoked rabbit meat

We smoked 7 rabbits last weekend and it was the most amazing thing I've ever had. The smoked rabbit was so amazing that it will be what I will be doing with at least half of every litter on upcoming butcher day. We experimented with making jerky and it was positively divine. Not quite jerky, but small and portable to take to the beach or picnics quite nicely. I'm very happy with the turn out.

A lovely day to smoke rabbit right? Though it looks a bit ominous, it was surprisingly warm. California is getting all the awful weather we normally get.

In process, about an hour or so into it.

One of the bowls from the smoker, fully cooked and lovely.

Plated up smoked rabbit. Mmmm, mmm the best!

Our home brewed Mead. I used some of this in the brine I prepared for the rabbit meat. Out of this world delicious.

Little do they know! But they hung around with us anyway. :-)

Bones and stock bubbling for the dogs.

This is the meat from the carcasses that would not come of nicely for cutting up to smoke. So I gently bubbled it with onions and home canned applesauce to slip beautifully off the bone and give me some fantastic stock! The bones afterward went into a mixture for the dogs. We pressure cook or crock pot the bones down to pure softness and incorporate that into the dogs food. They also get all the guts and heads. Spoiled dogs no?

Here is the beast in action. Not at all pretty, but was free right? And it holds a lot.

I sat down today and figured out that I can run enough rabbit over the course of this next year with doe's we now have to breeding age. We have 10 does and 3 bucks. The bucks only because I'm going to try a genetic run of black furs as all my others are tan, red and various mixtures of white and such.

Anyway. With this herd I should be able to start having a run of production to go once a week. With an average of 7 kits (due to attrition, blah blah...figures from 2009) and the 10 does I should have around 1400 lbs of meat by the end of the year.

I still have 4 more litters right now working their way into production. I'm excited this is working out so far. Some hiccups and fits and starts but not bad. And by using every single part of the rabbit there is no waste at all. Will be looking at ways to get my furs tanned and prepared and get the feet and tails cleaned up for production too. We throw nothing away.

Next time I'll share a bit on our worms and how that is going!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Butcher Day

Well, we had a group that needed to be moved through yesterday and we finally found a reasonable way to do so many of them at once. Though we have been doing this for a year, we are still relatively new at it. We have only butchered about 75 rabbits or so over the course of this last year, 2009. It's never easy. We make sure not to make friends with them, we make sure not to give any extra attention outside feeding and watering. But it's STILL tough.

We always say a prayer for each rabbit on butcher day. It's the least we can do. 

But, I have to say yesterday was by far the easiest. My husband does the dispatching of each rabbit. This time he did them all one at a time and put them straight into a large cooler. After seven necks were broken we moved the coolor up to the dressing area (an old swing set, works great!) We used to do say, two or three at a time. From dispatching up to dressing out completely and that was just too hard on my husband. That is by far the hardest part for us. I can't even watch. Sheesh.

Butchering rabbits is much tougher than working chickens. Chickens, no biggy at all. Rabbits and perhaps later in the year, goats...much harder. Even harder with the goats. We may have a friend who has hunted all his life come over and do the goats. Goats are so much more hands on it's hard not to love them. Except for maybe my Amelia. I'll get into her later as I start chatting about goats. That damn goat...

Anyway, I'm just sort of musing my way along...thinking out loud.

We did get the butchering done and our dogs are quite happy with it. :-) Our little buddy Steve (the Chihuahua) can barely stand staying in his skin when we have a rabbit day. He LOVES the scraps we are throwing down. The big dogs (who do not get to be there while we do this) get to have the heads raw. The rest we put into the freezer for rabbit popsicles for a treat later. We cook up the good guts and other things for everyone and this is usually what it looks like before it goes in the oven. This is a pot with guts, potatoes and zuchini from our garden and eggs from the chickens. Not a bad deal all in all. With seven rabbits I get two large pots this size. 

This is the pot with just the goodies

And this is the pot with the added vegies.

Sometimes I will make a nice strata for the dogs. This will entail adding some crumbled bread and mixing in a mixture of eggs and milk to cook in. With 4 large German Shepherds, I need to find ways to keep them fed on good quality food. So here we go. They love it!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A beginning with a little of this and a little of that

I figured I might as well start up another blog. I have so many different things I'm doing it just made sense not to overwhelm my poor art blog - Heather Sky Studio, with all my other stuff. So this is the blog for the other stuff.

That stuff is all about small homesteading. Small because we only have one acre. Homesteading because that is really sort of what this is all about. How to get back to the basics, how to take care of ourselves on this one acre. We chose not to live in the suburbs. In fact, we live way far away from any thing that even resembles suburbs. We are about as far away from that sort of thing as you can get and still not be in Alaska. Hee hee...I couldn't resist that one. I always joke around with my friends back in Colorado that one practically needs a bush plane to get out to where I live. Almost.

Until I can get some new stuff up and get my other site nice and revamped, you can see a little of what I mean and where I live here "Why I Live Here" It should do in the meantime. Actually, it may well do for good as I may never even get back to it LOL

Any way! I shall be sharing a little of this and a little of that as I go along with my endeavors on our little place. We have recently started up raising worms. Red worms and European Nightcrawlers. Both excellent composting worms. We have a whole lotta rabbit poo that needs to be worked through and thought why not!?

Here is a break down initially of our projects:

1. Vermicomposting
2. Rabbits for Meat, Furs, and Raw food for Carnivores (dogs and cats)
3. Chickens
4. Gardening in the Rainy Rainy Rainy Northwest Rainforests
5. Goats - Meat and Dairy
6. Everything else - German Shepherd Dogs, Cats and one Chihuahua named Steve. We are nuts and no one is around to tell us no (LOL)

More musings to come!