Monday, November 27, 2017

Turtle soup for Thanksgiving

What a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend we had.  Three days of gathering with family and friends, counting our blessings and yes, feasting. 

Thursday was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at our house.  My dad came over as well as my in-laws.  For once everything was done on schedule with no stress because cooking started three days earlier.  Lots of great food and conversation. 

Friday we had friends over to celebrate a birthday and stayed up way too late.  The little man was up eating chocolate cake at 10:00 p.m.  He had just had gone to dinner with his cousins and had ice cream over at Papa's house, so I'm pretty sure he couldn't believe his luck.

Saturday was Thanksgiving at my dad's house with my sister at her family.  There were children and dogs everywhere and it was wonderful.  Instead of a traditional meal my dad set up the fryer out in the driveway.  Into the fryer went a homegrown chicken and home caught perch and catfish.  I made turtle soup from a snapping turtle my dad and I caught.  

I froze all the turtle in batches, under ice, so it's still holding up fine in the freezer.  The last batch of turtle soup I made was kind of heavy on the bacon and no one liked it.  This one was basically a cream based clam chowder.  It was a big hit so I want to remember what I did:

Turtle soup:

Put a turtle appendage in a pot on the stove.  Barely cover it with water.  Add celery, sage, bay and thyme.  Simmer gently until it's falling off the bone; about 2 hours.  SAVE THE LIQUID because you just made your turtle stock.

Pick the meat off the bones while wondering it you're dealing with a neck or a leg or what.  Because you were to lazy to label it when it all went into the freezer and the anatomy is so odd that now you can't tell.  Chop meat into bite sized pieces and feed cartilage to the cats circling your feet.

Saute half a red onion, maybe 4 stalks celery and 3 potatoes (1/4 inch pieces) in olive oil/butter until soft.   Stir in about 2 Tbsps flour.  Add turtle stock and meat back to the pan and simmer until the potatoes are well done.  Add some chicken stock if it looks like it needs it.  Take the pan off the burner and when it's cooled quite a bit add about a 1/4 cup of half and half.  Season with salt and pepper.

Eat and enjoy with family.  Mentally plan next year's turtle hunt.

This seems like a good place to mention that I preserved the shell and it's on display in our dining room.  If you look on the internet for advice you'll find that there's no great way to do this.  What I did, after completely giving up on trying to clean the thing, was just to bury it in salt.  For six months.  It took forever but it worked. 

The opening day of deer season is tomorrow and for reasons beyond my control I will be staying home.  There was no sadder sound to my ears this afternoon than that of the neighbors sighting in their deer rifle.  *cries a little* 

Oh holidays, we need a day of rest to recover.  Even Bee is about to fall asleep in her coffee.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tally of poultry sold/butchered in 2017

The yard has been mostly cleared of extra birds by this point.  It's time for the post where, for my records and to justify my hobby, I tally up the body count / birds sold for 2017.

Some homegrown birds: half Ranger half Brahma. Cute and yum in one package.

Chickens put in the freezer and on the table:
6 Cornish Cross
mean rooster
3 Red Ranger roosters
8 Ranger hens
4 home grown roosters
6 mini roos
28 chickens total. My dad also raised an additional 10 for us at his place. Some I butchered here, some I had the local place do because I skin birds and they will kill and pluck them beautifully for $3.50. I still have 4 "extra" roos running around the yard but probably won't get them done for another month or two.

A Ranger hen and a Brahma roo.

This year has been a nice mix of Cornish Cross/Ranger types and home bred birds.  It's been a wonderful learning experience.  Honestly I don't think I'll buy Ranger types next year because the home hatched chicks (with baby daddy Nigel the Brahma) ended up getting just as large as quickly. In fact, I kept back one of his daughters and she's been bigger than him for months. Which is huge.   It feels great to be breeding an acceptable table bird here and save buying them in.  Side note: Remember when we brought home Nigel?  I love that guy.  And he gets the job done; Here we remember the Epic Peep Hatch.

Sorry buddy, you're gonna be delicious.
1 Embden, sex unknown
1 lousy at his job Pekin drake. 
The local place processed these both because I wanted them plucked, and Sturgen's will do it for $4.75 ( I tipped the woman mightily for doing the goose for me)   Remember that morning when my ducks got massacred?  Next year will be better.

Quail in the freezer/on the grill:
23 from the first batch
23 from second batch
46 quail total

The quail were such a nice surprise. We LOVE cooking them and raising them. The plan is to fire up the incubator as soon as they start laying in the spring. It's my understanding that no one else local has a breeding group so I'm hoping to have a market for day-old chicks.  You can learn about the costs of raising quail and how to butcher them here.

My numbers to over-winter:
Out in the yard I am down to:
7 hens and Nigel
3 geese (1 gander and 2 geese)
3 ducks (1 drake, 2 hens)
8 quail ( 1 roo, 7 hens)
Also the little group of free-livin' mostly feral chickens (1 bantam roo & 3 hens that I'll keep, along with 4 mini roos to butcher at some point) I don't really count these. Of course they're fed and watered but they also live in a tree for Pete's sake.

Which brings me to the birds sold:
12 chicks from the epic peep hatch = $30
3 laying age quail $20
Extras from my Metzer's order:
2 runner drakes $30
2 Swedish ducklings $15
1 pr quail wings $5 ( I had dried a pair in borax to try it, it worked wonderfully)

I want to give a special thank you to Sturgin Poultry in Sandy Lake.  They're a family owned place that operates seasonally.  Wonderful to deal with, super nice people and they do a fantastic job with birds.  Also a thank you to my dad for letting me use the mini van for some of the larger runs.  There's only so many birds you can stuff into the back of a Honda.

Next up:  it's time to update the seed inventory - the first catalog came last week!  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More fabrics for sale

I'm going through my bins of vintage textiles and adding more listings.  Pressing fabric at night and getting photos during nap time.  This is a niche that has been good to me over the years.  If you sell on Ebay or Etsy, please drop your seller name in the comments and tell me what you're selling, I love to look at other people's stuff!  My next post will be back to our regularly scheduled programming.  There's been a lot going on.  Here are some lots up now:

Here are some groups that I've sold this week:

Friday, November 10, 2017

First snow

Was just flurries, but still. The expected high today was 28. It should be reasonable again by Monday. Which is about the time that the winter coat I hastily ordered the little man via Amazon Prime is scheduled to arrive.


We made a fresh batch of playdough:
1 C flour
1 C water
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 C salt
1 tbsp oilve oil

And hung out in our pajamas. Still feeling crappy with colds.

From the dining room window we could see the feral chickens hunkered down behind the asparagus after spending the night in a pine tree. They had breakfast and fresh water waiting in that little coop, not 15 feet away. They knew this. It still took them all morning to work up the gumption. 

Brought a little bowl of snow inside for us to play with.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tubers lifted, check that off the list

Those are laundry baskets.  Oh my goodness. That's a lot.

I finally got around to lifting the canna and dahlia tubers yesterday.  I clipped the foliage back, dug the root systems up and flipped them upside down in the garden.  Then  left them there because we got a hefty storm that night, and hey, why not let nature do part of the work for me. Today was super cold so I put on my work jacket, brush pants and boots and gloves and got out the hose.  It was cold, muddy work.  All of the root masses were sprayed free of dirt and divided.  Any that were accidentally cut with the shovel got tossed.  Even so, there are SO many and I didn't even dig all of the cannas honestly - at a certain point I just gave up.  I don't think I've purchased cannas in about four years, and all of these have multiplied from an original handful bought in a little bag at Lowe's. 

As always, I had help.  Here the geese are root pruning.

And generally mucking about with the ducks.

After we were done they all celebrated with a drink.

The baskets got hauled down to our basement.  I'll give them a couple of days to dry and them store them.... somehow.  Usually I use metal garbage cans and pack them in sawdust but there are just too many for that.  Maybe the biggest and best will get saved that way and the rest tossed, I don't know.  It's not like we're farming cannas here and need ALL of them.

I also brought in all of the squash that were being stored on / decorating the porch.  We've eaten a couple of the butternuts and I can feel a pie coming on.  It's going to get dang cold here tonight, down to 27 degrees.  I know it's November but it still seems like the cold came on fast.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Halloween, quail & a nice walk

I feel like it's been forever since I last posted, or had a chance to catch up with everyone else's blogs.  It's been so cold here and has rained so much over this last week that it's hard not to fall into kind of a slump where you fall into a depression and want to do nothing but lie on the couch under a blanket. That's not practical is it?  So you bootstrap yourself up and proceed on.

The whole wide world has looked like this. Plus damn cold.

So... last weekend was a Halloween here but it was 40 degrees and raining so we were forced to pass.  It was sad.  Luckily the next day there was a party at a community center where my sister lives.  There are local businesses that set up booths along with some "mighty machines" (fire truck, school bus, recycling truck) and the kiddos trick or treat from station to station.  There was a bus handing out pumpkins and squash.  It was really nice and everyone had a good time.

That's my little dinosaur on the right, with his cousins.  He was really proud of that costume and wore it all week.  "Mama, I wear!"  It was really fun to make too; just felt hand sewn onto a long-sleeved shirt.

Of course, dinosaurs can't help but get into trouble when unattended for all of 5 minutes.  Here he is pilling all of his possessions onto his bed while I was selfishly washing my hair.  The. Whole. Room.

Oh, what else.  Not much, honestly, it's been so yucky out.  I did move the breeding group of quail out of the quail tractor and into winter quarters in the fancied up rabbit hutch.

They're pretty happy there with some pieces of hollow logs to play on and straw to burrow under. I think they like to be up higher and see the world too.

I had a lot of help with this.

Bee caught a mouse and we watched her eat it.  "Crunchy like potato chippies".  Is that weird?  Oh, well.  Bee was enjoying her locally grown, free range, delicious dinner.  

Today was actually nice and we took a walk at Pymatuning Lake with my dad.


On the way home we stopped at the bait shop for ice cream sandwiches, beef jerky and a full sized duck decoy for the little man to take in the bath. Man, that is a rural sentance.

So, moving forward.  Now that the cannas and dahlias have all been killed back by hard frost they can be lifted. Seeds need to be inventoried because the catalogs should start coming any day now.  And I need to call the butcher for one last chicken run.  Just some small things to wrap up the season.