Monday, 19 October 2015

One happy chimney, two happy chimneys.....

One happy chimney........
......two happy chimneys.
The little one is not quite as happy as the taller one though.
Because the taller one is feeling nice and warm now,
partly because of the sun shining on it and making it sparkle when this photo was taken,
but mostly because it has lovely warm smokey heat coming up from its bottom end,
which is where the Rayburn is.
Yes, it is true! The Rayburn has finally been lit, and is now fulfilling the task for which it was bought, and that is to keep us warm, providing, of course, that it is kept fed with wood, but not tonight because the weather has turned very mild so the Rayburn has being given the night off.

First pot heating on the stove, but not a clue as to how to use the ovens. In fact I have not even looked inside them yet, but I did glance through the manual and I did search out my Rayburn cook books for when the time is right to venture forth into the land of Rayburn cooking.
Why have I been slow in investigating the cooking abilities of the Rayburn? Because, truthfully, although I hoped that the Rayburn would be working this winter I never really thought it would be.

And another eight jars of meat for the larder, all from two legs of pork.
As usual I slow cooked the meat first, then roasted it to firm it up, then into the canning jars after first making two dinners from it, plus it fed the dogs for three days and gave them bones to chew on.
Three of the jars contain the 'near to the bone' meat, which I minced first,
and the other five are full of sliced pork roast.
We have already had one of the jars for Sunday lunch, and although it was not quite as good as freshly roasted pork, it was quite acceptable as DIY fast food.
And another surprise harvest. which is from four self seeded squash plants. I did plant 'proper' squash seeds but they didn't produce anything at all, so we are going to keep some of these seeds for next year. And we are just starting to pull the leeks up, although they would be quite happy to spend another few weeks in the ground. But the trouble is that I tend to not want to go out into the veg plot to dig up or pick vegetables when it is cold, wet, and muddy, so it is best to get the produce harvested and stored. In the case of the leeks, I shall be dehydrating them. Apparently it is quite easy...just give them a good wash, cut off the greener leaves, then slice the stem. I shall dehydrate both the leaves and the stem but separately so I can grind the leaves down into powder to use as seasoning.
I was given a large tray of quince recently, so did research on the Internet and came up with the info that I should leave the quince to ripen indoors, upon which they would start scenting the kitchen with a delightfully sweet aroma which would tell me that it was time to process them. Hah! No aroma have they given off and most of them are now rotting. Ah well, saves me the job of having to get them into jars, and the pigs will love them of that I am sure.
We have also just been given a wheelbarrow full of late ripe and unripe tomatoes, but to the pigs they are going. I did momentarily think that I might do something with them so they could be stored in the larder,  but no, that thought was quickly pushed out of my head before it could take hold and give me another food project to do. I still have a lot of meat to get out of the freezers and canned because of the amount of space that is needed in the freezers if we are going to reduce the number of sheep we have, and plus we have one pig left who also needs to go into the freezer.
Apart from that, it has been lovely weather here for the last few days, and a walk round 'the estate' this afternoon with Lester and the dogs reminded me of how lucky we are to live here, thoughts which I tried to keep in my head as we went through a very tricky milking experience with Bonny and Lissie, our two cows.
What happened?
Well the cows are holding their milk up in their udders which makes milking them difficult and much reduces the milk yield. It is a bit disheartening when there is only a dribble of milk in the bottom of the bucket, but still lots in the udders. Of course they are right to want to save the milk for their calves, but we are a smallholding and everyone has to pull their weight, which means that we need at least half to three quarters of the milk to make the keeping of the cows worthwhile.
So..... a plan: milk the cows taking as much of the milk as they will allow us to have, then
 put the calves in with their mums for a quick slurp of milk which should encourage the cows to release the rest of their milk, then shoo the calves back to their own pen and milk the rest of the milk out. One of the calves is now almost weaned anyway, and the other should be in a couple of weeks, so they still get milk but not as much as when they were younger.
Well it worked, although it was a bit tricky putting the plan into action. Normally Lester would milk on his own and I would get on with doing other things, but tonight I was Lester's wingman, ready to leap into the pens to help him out if the cows got themselves into too much of a bad mood and messed about with him. They are big cows. They have big horns. There are bigger cows with bigger horns, but to us trainee smallholders our cows do look quite big and fearsome to us.
Off to bed now, got a busy day tomorrow..... two shoulders of pork to be cooked and canned, a tray full of leeks to prep for dehydrating, bread to be made, a Rayburn to be admired and cuddled up to should the weather suddenly get chilly, plus oodles of other things to do...some of which I shall manage to get done, others will just have to sit on the 'will do at some point in the future' list.
Bye for now


Vintage Maison said...

Ooh, enjoy your Rayburn! We first had a Rayburn in 1988, and I love them! This house is a bit big for a Rayburn, so we've got a Bosky now - efficient but not as comforting. We sold our Wedgwood blue Rayburn to a young guy who was growing grapes down south and part exchange was for some boxes of his wine. I can see from your pipes you've got hot water too - in our house in England, sometimes the water got a bit too hot and we had to run some off in the bath. Happy days!

PioneerPreppy said...

That's some excellent news!!! Congrats!!!

Looks like you have many things coming together now AND a newly installed wood cook stove too.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, when I lived on the farm we took the calves away from the cows so they would not do the holding back. We milked the cows then fed the milk to the calves by bucket therefore saving ourselves a lot of headache. The cows can get mastitis if they hold back to much milk. This also makes the calves a little more dependent on humans and easier to handle later on when they get older. I had a one year old Holstein heffer come to me when called, which was really wonderful.

minwks said...

I like to imagine you in the evening - relaxed in the room where your Raybourn is keeping you both cozy. Your eyes will be heavy and your evening will close early as you will succomb to the unaccustomed comfort warmth! You deserve it!
regards Janine

Cro Magnon said...

We shan't be lighting our wood-fired oven for a while yet; it makes the kitchen too hot. Ours is a deVille, with quite a small oven. Great for bread and slow cooked casseroles. I was thinking of making a ham again this year, but all the legs I've seen recently are SO HUGE. Maybe I'll just do bacon.

The Broad said...

I must admit that there is nothing cosier than a Rayburn when it's cold outside, but the idea of getting to grips with using the ovens is beyond me! I have a very close girlfriend, however, who had no difficulty and could bake anything successfully. So I am sure you will get the hang of it in no time. Watched another friend dehydrating leeks this past summer. It looks quite time consuming but she said the results are well worth the effort. Anyway, good luck with your new ventures.

Vera said...

VINTAGE MAISON, my friend has got a red coloured Rayburn but we went for the cream coloured one....but wedgewood blue! Now that must have looked quite stunning! Not sure what a Bosky is, but will have a look on the internet for more info.

PIONEERPREPPY.....I was thinking the same thing when I was dog walking this evening..that things are finally starting to come together after having lived seven years in complete and utter chaos.¬

HORST, thankyou for the info. We had already decided to get the next calves we have away from their mums at an earlier age so we can be a bit more in control of the milk yield. Getting used to the dairy side of our smallholding life is one hell of a steep learning curve at the moment!, I did just that the other evening!

CRO MAGNON, I am already finding the kitchen quite warm when the Rayburn is on, but we don't get it lit until late afternoon at the moment because the outside temperatures are still quite warm during the day, but it takes the chill off the over night temperatures in the house. As for making ham...I still have not got around to finding out how to make a ham, but I should because we are soon going to slaughter the last of our young Tamworths. Any hints about making ham would be gratefully received.

THE BROAD, dehydrating leeks does take time but much better to get them pulled up from the veg patch now while it is still good weather rather than having to go outside in the cold, wet, windy and generally not nice winter weather!

Cro Magnon said...

We lay wood ash in the bottom of a large-ish wooden box, lay a large sheet of muslin on top, put in about 2 inches of sugar salt mix, then the leg, then more mix, then tie up the muslin so that the leg is totally surrounded. This is left for a month, then brushed off and hung up for a min of 3 months.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yay the Rayburn!!!!! i'm excited to see how it goes. yay!

Kerry said...

We've just put a wood burner in the kitchen, so I know how excited you must have been when you fired up the Rayburn. There's like being warm and toasty x

Carry Scanlon said...

Where I live, in the city, chimneys are few and far between. I personally don't have one and none of my friends do either. I never had one growing up, but simply from reading your article I am very interested. Very interesting and honestly amusing. After reading I now have a sudden craving for wood cooked food. Very good post, thank you.

Carry Scanlon @ Chim Chimney