"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The milk bar is open!

The milk bar is open. It all goes silent apart from some satisfied grunts and the occasional slurp.
 After a big feed they all enjoy a snooze in the sun to digest.
This is how I believe pigs should be kept. They can dig and eat what they find, sleep in the sun and have plenty of room to run about in. No stress or overcrowding and they are only fed on whole natural foods. So what if they grow a little slower than their factory raised counterparts? I know my pigs are happier, tastier and better for you!
All the livestock is raised in a free range environment. Here my free range child is about to get a big lick up the face from the free range cow.

Winter is here

We have just come out of four weeks of absolutely horrible weather, mud and cold constant drizzle. It was a very unseasonal rain. Probably making up for the almost non existent wet season this year. Finally it is dry and our beautiful blue sky weather has returned. Not as cold as most years. Certainly no danger at all of frost yet, we expect a dozen or so frosts most years.
We have been busy on the Cloud farm. We killed Boris the steer a fortnight ago. As I still don't have the frame up so I can hoist a carcasse, I had a mobile butcher come out to do the slaughter. When dealing with this much valuable meat it pays to do it properly.
Butchering in the mud. The hoist on his truck allows the carcasse to be lifted.
I aged the quarters in the cold room at four degrees for a fortnight. It is customary in this country to only age for a week but I prefer the European method of a longer hanging time for a much more tender meat. We began cutting the meat into the various cuts yesterday. The beef is rich and even grained with a small amount of marbling throughout. I cooked a small rump roast last night and I can safely say it was the most tender and flavourful roast I have ever eaten. Today I will cut up the front quarters and mince the scrap pieces. We will then have a freezer full of prime beef that should last us for the next year.
We have also emptied out the poultry from the fatteners pen. Five Pekin ducks, three roosters and one turkey. I finally got to try out the tub plucker I made and it performed very well indeed.

Having said that I will put a larger motor on it before future use. It is modelled on the Whizbang chicken plucker. The plucker takes the drudgery out of killing large numbers of birds in one go. To use it you simply dunk your killed bird into scalding water until the feathers are loosened and then drop it into the spinning plucker. The bottom plate spins and the feathers are essentially wiped off by the rubber fingers. In about fifteen seconds you will have a completely naked bird. What I really like is that it removed all of the downy under layer on ducks which previously I had to burn off. I think our Most-wonderful-and-long-suffering-neighbours were once again disturbed by my maniacal mad-scientist laughter and cries of "It works, It works, Hahahahaaaaaaa".
Ahem, anyway, Now to get in an order of fifty meat chicks and really put some poultry in the freezer.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

We've got piggies!

A few days ago I found a happy Mum and a litter of nine piglets. For a first time Mum, not bad at all. Unfortunately she rolled on one a couple of nights after so we now have eight remaining but they are all in rude health and are doing well.
It is still a bit muddy after the rain. We have had a rather unseasonal bout of rain in the time of year when it should be drying off. A good thing the young feller and I shovelled a load of gravel into the pen recently or these piglets would be swimming. Oh I long for the opportunity to cement this pen!
 Sausage is eating like she means it! She has to produce a never ending flow of milk for the youngsters and this means she is always hungry. For a first time mother she is doing very well. She is very protective of her young and I have had to seriously watch my step if I try to enter the pen. Despite this I think it is a good trait for a mother to have.
 Today we have finally had clear weather and blue skies. I spotted this Grey Goshawk perched high up on a dead tree branch. They are usually a very shy bird and I was surprised I was able to get this close.
I also had a visit from a young King parrot. He perched in the elder over the pig pen and had a cackled conversation with us. There has been a great congregation of Kings about today. I counted eighteen of them in one tree over the orchard this afternoon. Odd as I was under the impression they were a very solitary bird and lived in small family groups only.
I am working at a great pace in the workshop, especially when the rain is sheeting down. I have been getting the cold room completely finished in preparation for killing a steer on Tuesday- installing meat hanging rails and general sealing. I repaired and sheathed a power cable against rats for the freezer. We found they had chewed through the last one and the freezer was undergoing a rat-defrost cycle. I have also made a brass dipstick for the milk bucket. We were tired of counting each milking out, one litre at a time, and so I measured the increments in the milking bucket and etched them onto a brass strip. I have also repaired six second hand chairs for use outdoors and cut new followers for the baskets in the cheese press.
It is good to be busy and I am enjoying my energy. Work has been very hard lately and I find keeping busy at home is an excellent way to banish the demons and regenerate before the next round.