Art of Proprietation

Friday, February 29, 2008

It's coming, but it's not here yet

The other day I was brimming with optimism and hope. I haven't lost entirely, but let's just say my cup is no longer running over.

We went through a spate of warm weather, temps as high as 32. The snow was melting, the walks were clear. Some days we didn't even bother to light a fire in the kitchen. This week, weather came back with a vengence. We got a a pretty good storm that dropped heavy thick snow. Folks were stuck in the driveway, I delayed travel. This morning it was negative 17 outside the kitchen window.

There was a lot of shoveling to be done. Here's a shot of the aftermath of roof slough comeing down on a freshly shoveled path out the back door. More shoveling to be down. Luckily, I had already shoveled last nights slough. Otherwise there would have been easily three times as much snow to clear.

That's where it falls from, hence all the snow dust in the air...

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

A sunny day in the snow

Have I talked about our cattle panel goat shelter? (CPS) I generally call it the goat cave. It consits of several 16' sections of cattle panel fence bent over lengthwise to form an arch. We use bail ties as internal stays to keep the arch in shape and support any snow load. For the summer, it has a tarp canopy to keep the rain off.

But in the winter, we get a little more elaborate. The outer shell over the goat half is the silver polly tarp. Under that is a layer of translucent plastic. On the north side the inner layer is a canvas tarp that can also cover the open south end in foul weather. The canvas helps buffer condensation and keeps things more confortable for the goats. On a nice day like today, we roll up the outer poly tarp on the southeast side to let the warm sun in. That's the point of today's post.

When we woke up this morning temps were about ten degrees. They had risen to about 32 when I took pictures. In that same time period, the goat cave had risen to almost seventy degrees. Passive solar gain in action.

It's not like the Goat Cave can hold anything like that over night. The South end of the shelter is generally at least half open, so fresh air is always breezing in. This helps prevent moisture and ammonia from building up. But inspite of that open door, the bedding in the goat side never freezes.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Iced in

It's not an unusual condition here, but there is a pretty thick coating of ice outside. Some thing we deal with. It weighs down limbs and wires and tools. It coats winshields. Somtimes it is pretty, sometimes damaging but always cold.

I had to pull my wife's car out of the driveway the other day. We hadn't driven it in a week or more and the snow built up under it and around it to the point that it couldn't claw it's way out. Same thing happened to the van but over a longer period. To get it out I jacked up each of the drive wheels and put a length of 2X6 under the tires. It bridged the pocket in the ice that the tires where trapped in and gave me enough traction to muscle my way out. It was actually a pretty simple solution and was quick. I'll have to file that on away.

There were deep depressions left behind in the ice, perfect molds of the tire tread. The van can get stuck on a flat if it is icy, just the nature of no weight in the back...


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pig in a bucket

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the pig we bought. A pig in parts, so to speak. We've cooked some of the chops but this is the first ham from this pig.

This is the way it started. The butcher did a nice job cryopacking it. It's vacum packed in heavy plastic. Very nice.

We do a brine cure. Basically its a solution of sugar and salt with spices. I have used maple syrup and other sugars. This one is molasses. I like cloves, black pepper and whatever else I decide on at the time. I am still working on our own personal recipe.

The bucket is a food grade bucket. I give it a good cleaning with hot soap and water first then sterilize with bleach. It's important to do a good cleaning because the meat is going to be in there a while. I generally brine for 6 or 7 days.

This is my brine cooler. This time of year we could probably do it without the cooler. We have a room between the house and the barn that stays right around 36 this time of year. It's our walk-in. But the cooler helps with keeping the temperature stable. And in the summer, the cooler is necessary. I put a couple of ice blocks in top of the bucket. Inside the cooler it does a good job of chilling. I keep a refrigerator thermometer in there to make sure I am below 42. But too cold slows down the bringing.

Going into the oven....

Sliced on the table

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