Friday, 2 October 2015

Dotty, Flora, but.....goats? Never! But then......

We used to keep goats, but then we didn't. The reason? Because the behaviour of the goats stretched Lester's patience beyond a point where he could no longer cope with them.
 All the other animals 'fit' here so are part of the team.
Yes, they do have their 'off' days, but we do as well.

But those goats!!!! They were never on anyone's team except their own individual ones.
It was the fighting for dominance which was worst, which made being around them not a good experience. 'Never again', Lester said, ' we are never going to keep goats again!'
That was at the beginning of the year.
But I felt that we were not done with goats, but did kept quiet about saying so.
I thought that if we had a couple of young goats, and then trained them up to our ways of doing things, that perhaps we would not have so much trouble with them.
That the goats that we had were all mature animals, set in their ways so less willing to be part of our team, that if they were trained from very young that they would fit in more here.
We have two calves. They will have to be separated from Bonny and Lissie soon otherwise there is no point in keeping cows because the calves will be milking their mum's udders dry, leaving no milk for us. At the moment Lester is milking Lissie, but only getting a couple of litres of milk from her per day. While this keeps us going in the kitchen, this is not enough to make cheese or butter with.
Last time we had a calf, we had the goats as well, so the goats kept the calf company during the day, sleeping in a pen beside his mum at night.
He has tried to put the older calf out in the side field for the day, but it was not a good feeling seeing her run around by herself, so she is now staying with the others for the day.
Which is why Lester muttered something about having a go at keeping goats again.
Just two, plus of course a male, which makes three.
I think that perhaps this will happen.
- we shall have goat milk again which means I can make goat cheese
- they will keep the fields clear of thistles, and eat the brambles away from the fences
- they will keep any future calves company when they have to spend time away from their mums
Next year, then, .....perhaps......

Meanwhile Lester has ploughed up a section of veg plot number 1 which had succumbed to a heavy load of weeds........he hopes to plough it so we can put some green manure in, such as mustard or clover, which will grow over winter to be then ploughed back into the earth next spring.
Veg plot number 2 will be ploughed up by the two adult Tamworth pigs once the self sown butternut squashes have been harvested.
Not done much myself out in the veg plots, as things have got busy indoors, notably the break down of the food preservation conveyor belt, the problem being that we are tiling the middle hallway, which is the space in between the back kitchen and the front kitchen,
this is what has broken the production line!
The meat I got out of the freezer and was supposed to be canning, hasn't been...
(I mentioned this in the last blog)

but it did get to being roasted, but then it went into the fridge, and then day by day  it went into our tummies, thus providing us with our meals for the week, which was a blessing because otherwise it would have been cheese sandwiches all week.
As I have said, the food production line is at a halt.
So no canning jars of pork from these two pieces of meat!
As for the bacon I started,

...this had a thick layer of fat, like the bacon I made a couple of weeks ago. Although the cure went right through all of the meat, I did think that there was too much fat on each slice of bacon, so this time I have taken the thickest parts of the fat off. That will be turned into lard.

So this is the piece of meat, and I used the same cure as I did last time, which was 500grams of salt, 500grams of brown sugar, 25 grams of black peppercorns, and a few bay leaves. But this time I ground the peppercorns and bay leaves in my spice mill before adding them to the salt and sugar. It is likely that I shall stay with this recipe in the future, because the last lot of bacon I made with the recipe turned out wonderfully well.
And the smell of peppercorns, bay leaf, sugar and, but it was nice.
This is the last day of the cure now, so the meat will be washed tomorrow and then left to sit in the fridge for five days before I slice it into rashers which will then be frozen.
I suppose bits of the production line are still operational!
At the beginning of the week I was given some bags of rhubarb...

out of which I have canned eight jars, with some left to make a crumble. Didn't want to put them into the freezer because I am supposed to be getting the freezers emptied out, and at least now they are canned they are also cooked.
I have also just about managed to get all of the tomatoes stored now, mostly through dehydrating them. I should have also had at least five canned jars of crushed tomatoes for the larder, but alack and alas, I was tardy with getting this done even though I had prepped the tomato juice ready for canning. But the stop light was on this part of the food production line, so the pigs ate the juice (cooked with pasta) instead.

....Bonny waiting for her calf to be led out of the barn by Lester....

Dotty on the left, and Flora on the right, both getting ready to chase the chicken out of the field, but waiting until I disappear, because standing beside me as I take this photo are the two big black dogs which they are most reluctant to have anything to do with.
I have managed to be reasonably productive these last few days, although not as productive as I normally am. This will continue until the end of next week, or until I can walk through the middle kitchen to get to the back kitchen.  To have to go out through the half barn doors, and then walk across the courtyard to get into the back door when it is dry and sunny is alright, but when it is raining and I have three dogs trailing behind me who are all damp and muddy, well, it is a bit wearing on the nerves. Not to worry, it is only for a few days more and then the production line can be up to full speed again.
Went down to Tarbes today to get the radiators for the Rayburn Wood Stove looks possible that we might be having that working this winter.
Bye for now,



PioneerPreppy said...

have you ever thought about sheep? They are much more team oriented than goats. Of course there is then the whole shearing problem.

Vera said...

PIONEER PREPPY, we do have a flock of sheep, eighteen in total (mostly Jacobs), which we are trying to reduce to seven, which is why I am trying to get the freezers emptied out. It is the wool from our sheep that I spin. I agree with you about them being more orientated,..... the smallholding would not be the same without sheep. We don't name them though because we have too many, but when the flock is reduced we might. Thanks.

Cro Magnon said...

A friend wanted to give me a pair of goats. I was just about to say 'yes', when I found the wretched things on top of my car. I declined her offer.

I have made bacon too, but without removing the skin. I left mine in the cure (much the same) for 4 days, then hung it up to dry for a further 2 weeks. How would putting it in the fridge help it to dry out, or doesn't that matter? I'm just about to do some more, so would appreciate your advice. Mine was 'quite' good.

Vera said...

CRO MAGNON, goats are naughty, that we have also learnt!

I removed the skin from the bacon because the depth of fat was very deep, and in two layers....a harder fat which was beneath the skin, and then a layer of softer fat, and this I kept on the bacon. I am not sure if all pigs have this double layer of fat, but our Tamworths do, perhaps because they are raised outdoors.

My first efforts at making bacon were disappointing because of the saltiness of the meat, so I did not try again until recently after buying the River Cottage handbook about preserving meat. Their cure mix is 500g salt (I use the preserving salt from Intermarche supermarket), 500g brown sugar, 25g black peppercorns (I grind these), and some bay leaves (which I also ground). This is for a 2kg piece of belly of pork.
- A handful of the cure goes into a dish big enough to hold the slab of meat. The meat is put into this mix skin side down, then another handful of cure is put over the top of the meat, getting into any crevasses, but you do not need to rub the cure in. I put the curing meat into the fridge, which is the coldest place here.
- Day 2, drain the meat tray of the juices. Put another handful of cure in the bottom of the tray, then put the meat on top, then another handful of cure on top of the meat. Repeat until Day 5.
- Wash the meat, and dry. Then into a cool place for another 5 days.

I put the meat into the fridge because it is away from flies and dogs, (and rats and mice up until recently). The fridge is a dry environment so the bacon does dry, but maybe the actual taste of the bacon is not quite as excellent as it might be because we keep the fridge quite cold because it also houses the jars of milk from our cows. I am thinking that perhaps the taste of the cure is not quite as strong as it might because the cold of the fridge might slow down the curing process.

Saying that, I do not have an option to keep the bacon anywhere else, and the bacon was sooooooo divine using this recipe, with the taste exploding in the mouth the longer the bacon was chewed on!

Thankyou for asking this question, and am looking forward to reading about you got on with making your bacon. Vx

Cro Magnon said...

Thanks for that Vera. The process sounds exactly the same as mine, except for the fridge bit. I wonder if my recipe was from River Cottage too. I'll probably do another cure next week.

LaPré DelaForge said...

"Which is why Lester muttered something about having a go at keeping goats again".....
Why not get a couple of Alpacas as companion animals...
they are long lived and will provide a different type of wool....

On the curing front...
you can get curing bags from Bricomarché and, in season, the supermarkets...
you hang the cured meat up inside the bag...
if you need to keep the bag away from the meat...
make a couple of willow hoops to shape the bag....
wire them in position.

You really must make that "cheese room"...
you hang the cured meats to dry in the same place.

DUTA said...

The explanation to the last picture made me smile. So, Dotty and Flora are waiting for you and the dogs to dissappear so that they could chase the poor little chicken. Clever girls!

The photo of Lester surrounded by weeds and flowers is beautiful; you could enlarge it and frame it.

You use the phrase 'line of production' like you were some big food industry; it sounds good.

Vera said...

CRO MAGNON, looking forward to reading about your bacon making project! Mine is now out of the cure and resting, but this time I have wrapped it in muslin and put it in the back kitchen instead of in the fridge. It is cooler now so less flies are about, and the room should now be sealed from rats and mice.

TIM,....well the trouble about keeping alpacas is that you can't milk them although I would love to spin the fleece! Perhaps I should try and work my womanly ways on Lester so he is encouraged to go for alpacas rather than goats, but between you and me....I don't think there is much chance of that!

Good idea about curing bags...I have seen in the supermarkets, so will get a couple when next out shopping just so I have them here if I need them.

Ah, the cheese room. Our under the stairs cupboard was going to be turned in to a cheese room but it was suggested by a concerned friend that perhaps the electricity box, which is also under the stairs, may not like the humidity required for a cheese room. So looks like we shall have to get a wine storage unit to convert into a cheese storage area. But we do have the ideal drying place for cured meats, and that is the middle barn, which is beside the back kitchen. There is a lovely draft goes through there which would dry hams and bacons very well. Trouble is that the rats would also climb over the drying meat even if they were well covered. Of course we could get one of those wire mesh cupboard things and hang the meat in that's a good idea, might try to convince Lester about getting one of them! Or he could make one, bless him.........!!!

DUTA, Dotty and Flora are very watchful when the dogs are about. They are also watchful of me because they know that wherever I am the dogs are sure to be close by!

As for the food production line I have going here....well, it is, in truth, a very small production line, but it sometimes feels as if it is on a industrial scale sometimes! Of course it isn't, but when I am tired it feels like it is!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

goats!??!?!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! ha! i've just about convinced myself to rid myself of that pestilence... we'll see what happens. gosh, you've been busy. great work! and I agree with DUTA - that pic is just perfect.

Kirsty Udall said...

You make me laugh when you say reasonably productive, you never stop! I can't believe how much you've done.

Vera said...

OHIOFARMGIRL, plenty of time to think about getting a couple of goats! I remember the battles we both had when we last kept goats, so.......maybe or maybe not!

KIRSTY, I must admit to feeling frustrated at the moment because of not being able to move between the two kitchens without having to go outside and walk round to the back of the house, which is really slowing me down! Might be a good thing though..... perhaps I needed a few days of being slower!

Rhodesia said...

You are always on the go, I am not surprised that some things do not get done as planned! Looking forward to next years stories about the goats again :-))))) Hope your week is a good one Diane

Vera said...

Diane, ....well the goat project may or may not happen again here, but for sure that there will be plenty of other goings on to write about!

Kerry said...

Wow, that meat looks amazing, I need a scratch and sniff laptop :) x