Friday, December 15, 2006

No more supermarket meat!

It's hunting season here. Ken headed out one frosty morning a couple of weeks ago about 0700. At 09:30 he called me on the radio to say he was about to start field dressing a nice doe! She was nice too! It was a perfect shot, right through the heart, so she died within seconds - which makes me feel better!

He was quite a ways from the house so I went up and helped sling her to a pole and we made our way precariously down the mountain with the pole on our shoulders. It took us about 45 minutes to bring her out of the woods -and 3 days to get the crick out of my shoulder! Then the real work began! Skinning, cutting, processing and bagging the meat for the freezer. This is only the second deer Ken's dressed out so I think the next one will go a lot faster. He's very meticulous and tries not to waste anything.

The steaks and stew meat from this deer will last us most of the year. He's hoping to get one more before the season ends in January. Most of the meat from that one will be ground for hamburgers, sausage ect. A lot of the old timers around here can or bottle -for those in England- the meat. They put it in the pressure cooker. The guys at the fire station told Ken how to do it. I was always a bit worried about canning meat but our neighbor Ann cans anything that'll stand still long enough and she's healthy as a horse. She offered to lend us her pressure cooker and come and show us how she does it.

Between the deer, our rabbits and the garden we're getting more and more independent of the supermarket. Hopefully the goats will have kids in the spring then I won't need to buy milk for a while. I need to give them their shots and find out if they need extra selenium before breeding them.

One thing I like about the deer, I don't have to worm it , I don't have to give it shots, I don't have to trim it's hooves and I don't have to buy hay and grain and feed it! Well I guess that's more than one thing. But you know what I mean. And they look beautiful grazing on the lawn ( but not in the garden!)

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This is where Ken got our deer. It's way back up in what we call the 'other holler'.

For Susan and David who've been here, it's over the other side of the mountain that's on the other side of the steam!

Gosh, we need to come up with some names for the different areas of our property! Posted by Picasa

She doesn't look all that big here but she must have weighed about 200lbs. Here she is still with the pole we slung her from to carry her down off the mountain. Posted by Picasa
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Dressing the deer

The pine tree by the driveway turned out to be a good place to hang the deer for dressing. We got a couple of pullies and hoisted it up there. Posted by Picasa

Ken cutting up the meat. Posted by Picasa


Mmmm...Tourtiere! or French Canadian meat pie.

My ex-husband was French Canadian and this meat pie was always the traditional holiday faire at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My ex mother -in -law would bake about 14 of these in one go!

You can make it with regular ground beef but it's usually made with half ground deer meat and half ground pork. I just used straight ground deer for this one and it was wonderful! It also only has a pastry top - I'm trying to help our waist lines!

Here's the very basic recipe for what it's worth. I don't measure anything so it tends to come out a little different every time. Sometimes I add other things like a bit of carrot. It depends what's lurking in the fridge!

Boil and mash 3 or 4 potatoes (we're still using our home grown! Woo Hoo! all that digging paid off)

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. I chop and saute an onion and add that to it.

Season the beef with salt , pepper and about 2 tsp of Alspice. I throw in some onion powder and garlic powder too.

Mix the meat mixture and the mashed potatoes in a bowl then put it in a pie shell with a top and put it in the oven.

Now, someone get the smelling salts for my mum please. She's probably passed out over her keyboard after seeing her totally clueless in the kitchen daughter post a recipe! Posted by Picasa

Moonshine WAS here...

...for a very short time!

Here he is arriving in the cow limo.

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Here he is 3 minutes before he went right through an un-electrified spot in the fence and headed for the hills!

What a time we had! Six hours we spent scouring three mountains and the hollows between them trying to find the little devil. Up and down, around and around, slipping and sliding and getting tore up by the long thorny tendrils of 'Wait A Minute Vine'. All over our 34 acres and the neighbor's next door.

Ken would call me on the walkie talkie to say he could see him 'down by the apple tree in the "other 'holler' or up near 'the big rock formation' Thank goodness he's white or we would have had no clue where he was. At one point I was trudging down our dirt road talking to Ken on the radio when a pick-up truck came slowly around the bend and pulled up next to me. A man I'd never set eyes on before leaned over and asked in a slow drawl : " did ya faand yer bool? Ah'd help ya but I got heart problems."

That was very nice of him but how did he know I'd lost my "bool"??

Now, don't ask me how we did it but with Joshua's help we actually managed to round the cow up and corral him again just as darkness fell. The hole in the fence had been blocked so we thought we had him good this time. He ate some hay and had a drink then what do you know, he lifted his head, decided enough was enough and walked right through the electic fence! Two hot wires! We stood in amazement. He'd been zapped by the fence a few times and jumped back. So we never imagined he'd go through it.

By this time it was too dark to try to find him so we had to just let him go and hope for the best. The next morning Ken was up bright and early and went back out to look for him. There was no sign of him anywhere so he continued up and over the ridge on the off chance that Moonshine had made his way back home. And there he was. Back on his own land standing by the barn with his little herd!

Based on the advice of a couple of experienced ox drovers we've decidied that he's going to have to be kept tied in a stall in the barn for a while until he's fully broken. So, all last week we were busy building a good sturdy and draft free stall for him.

He's set to return next week on the 21st. Keep your fingers crossed!Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Riding Shady

Shady's previous owners came over on Saturday and we saddled up Shady for a ride. It's the first time I've ridden her since we moved her here two weeks ago. I'm glad they were here and they rode her first because she started out being very stubborn about being ridden out in the back pasture. She would go just so far and then act up and try to turn around to come back to the barn. T. and M. had to really lay the law down and work to get her to go beyond the lumber pile. The problem was she didn't want to leave Crystal! - Crystal who steals her food, chases her around the paddock and generally hasn't made her feel particularly welcome!

Mmm, I'm watching T. handle this little temper tantrum, complete with a few bucks and a couple of half hearted little rears and being a novice rider I wasn't feeling at all confident about getting up there myself!! But, thanks to lots of encouragement from our new friends I did it!

Shady still wanted to go back to the barn but we made her work a while way at the top end of the pasture and I was feeling much braver by the time we finished. Anyway, here are some pictures after we came back to the area around the barn. She was acting very nicely here because she could see Crystal in the corral!

My plan is to ride her here in the paddock with the back gate open and work on going out of the gate and getting her to go farther and farther away. I remember reading an interview with the horse trainer John Lyons. He said something to the effect of whatever problem your having with your horse, turn it into a project.

So, I guess I got me a project!
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Building a Jackleg Fence

I'm going to have a cow!

Yes, a real cow. Actually, he's a Texas Longhorn steer and he's soon going to be in training as an ox.

Our 'next door' neighbor, about 3/4 of a mile away up on the ridge, called about a month ago to see if we were still interested in this 7 month old calf. We'd helped them search for him back in April when as a newborn he'd spooked and taken off into the woods. We hiked all over the mountain looking for this tiny white calf but to no avail. Later that afternoon the owner's stopped by to let us know that they'd found him. He'd gone in the opposite direction completely but he was back home safe and sound. We chatted for a while and I told them I might be interested in buying the calf once he was weaned to train as an ox. Well, now he's weaned and we are busy fencing a paddock for him.

To save money ( and to avoid having to dig yet MORE post holes!) we decided to use our own natural resources and build what's known as a "Jackleg" or "Buck and Rail" fence. They're more common out west but would work well here because of the steep rocky terrain.

What an undertaking! There are plenty of leaning trees that need to be cut but getting to them involves climbing up almost vertical mountainsides on all fours hanging on to roots and branches. Then of course we have to cut the tree into the right lengths needed and drag it all back down the mountain! It's a lot of backbraking work but fun. I love being up in the woods! There are some nice trails up there. I think some of them are old logging roads from many years ago. Wide enough for a team of horses. We took the metal detector on one and found some old chain and a horse shoe so I'm pretty sure they must have hauled logs out of there at one time. None of them lead to our fence building site so we can't use them to get our fence posts and rails out.

Anyway, here are some pictures to show our progress.

Moonshine, our future ox!
He's tame but not halter broke yet. That will be the first hurdle. He's going to grow HUGE and have extremely long horns so it's imperative that we establish who's the boss right away!Posted by Picasa

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In order to form a tight fit, the logs that make the X must each be notched out at a 60 degree angle. They're then nailed with a six inch spike. The logs are 5 ft. long and the diagonal notch starts at about 12 inches from the top.
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Chiseling out the kerf cuts. Posted by Picasa

Ken making the diagonal cut-out. Posted by Picasa

This is the fence so far.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

And here she is...


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Crystal is NOT impressed. If looks could kill! Posted by Picasa

Awe, come on Crystal, I'm not that bad! Posted by Picasa

Well, I think they're standing a little closer to each other now. However, there's Crystal with her kicking leg primed and ready! I don't know if she's Welsh/Arab or plain ole mule! Shady was more interested in watching Ken who was chopping wood in the barn. Posted by Picasa


We don't seem to have stopped this past couple of weeks. There's so much to get finished before the snow and ice arrive. Ken got the roof on the horses run in shed and we started hanging the board siding. The back and one side is done. It's going to be board and batten but we just have the boards up at the moment.

Then, our friends called to arrange a date for us to go pick up Shady the horse. We decided on November 5th which at the time seemed plenty long enough to get the electric fence up and a new wider gate built for the small corral. Well, as usually happens what we thought would be a quick job turned into a race against time. We were still finishing the fence when we should have been on the road with the trailer! Those metal T - posts just didn't want to go into that rocky ground! We pryed up some huge boulders you would never know were under there. We managed to erect just enough of a padock sized area to give the horses room to get out of each other's way while they established who was going to be the boss. This next week we'll be taking the fence out further behind the barn.

Since the barn is now within the fence and we need to go in there a lot we decided to incorporate an English style Kissing Gate. This lets us go in and out without having to keep latching and unlatching a regular gate and yet the horses can't get out. It's functional but not quite finished yet. I'll take a picture of it when it's done. It's worked great. It's even easy to go through while carrying buckets of water from the creek.

The weather turned bitterly cold for a few days making the work not so pleasant. Ken made a big fire in the burn barrel so that we could stop to warm our hands now and then.

It was my birthday last week. Let's just say, I've reached 'that' age..where I really don't care what I look like! Especially when I'm cold. Posted by Picasa

New Horse Corral

The new horse corral. The smoke is coming from the burn barrel. Once the sun had gone behind the mountain it was freezing out there! Posted by Picasa

The new larger gate to Crystal's corral. Posted by Picasa

The Kissing Gate

Hanging the kissing gate. Posted by Picasa