Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slow Season is Busy Season!

Well, we processed most of the turkeys and there's not a lot of weeding or anything going on, so you would think that I'd have more time to update the blog.  The first part is true - I do have more time.  The second part, however, is not true - I don't have more time to update the blog because .... I'm .... planning a dang farm here!

I've been picking up the phone each day and have getting as much advice and counsel as I can get.  I'm also reading every book I can grab (along with reading for school) to try and really get a grasp of my situation.  Here's what it looks like:


There's plenty that could be produced here on the land that is not being produced.  It needs to be.  Soon.  So, I'm planning it out.  Bees, plants, hogs, and - - -COWS.  I really want some stinkin' cows.  I visited a guy doing intensive grazing the other day (a method of moving livestock each day into small paddocks as opposed to letting them go and eat whatever they want), and he was very helpful.  In fact, everyone I talk to encourages grass-fed beef production first and foremost.  The problem is, it requires up front capital and the profit is very delayed.  I don't mind the delay, but the upfront is tough when you have nothing.  I think I'll be able to work a deal with a few friends and family that would basically be a buy two calves, I'll grow them, and then at the end of the season you get your meat for free and I sell off mine. 

Another project is a newspaper for Catholic Land Movement aficionados.  Sound cool?  Would you subscribe?  Do tell...  I have some great contributors eager to get on board.  

Another very exciting project has been a paper on the development of the villages of the Middle Ages.  How they got there, what we can learn, etc.  I think I'll share most of it here, but it might be a bit dry for the whims of a blog.   Maybe not.  Its all very interesting.  Basic thesis: if you want an agrarian village life, stop trying to buy land first.  In fact, you might never buy it!  Oh and you will still be all like totally distributist and stuff still - without property!   Yeah, its crazy. 

In the meantime, check this out:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Country Spiders

Just a reminder of certain realities to urbanites eager to move to the land...

I was all like.... spiders are good.  We need to let things live so that we can have a balanced, sustainable eco-farm..

Then I was like...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Workmen of Merrie England

“It is easy to understand that workman would be profoundly merry at heart [in Merrie England], when they had the consciousness of accomplishing such good work.  Men must have almost tardily quitted their labor in the evening while they hoped and strove to accomplish something that would be worthy of the magnificent building in which so many of their fellow workman were achieving triumphs of handcraftsmanship.  Each went home to rest for the night, but also to dream over what he might be able to do and awoke in the morning with the though that possibly to-day would see some noteworthy result.  This represents the ideal of the workman’s life.  He has an interest quite apart from the mere making of money.  The picture of the modern workman by contrast looks vain and sordid.  The vast majority of our workmen labor merely because they must make enough money to-day, in order that they may be able to buy food enough so as to get strength for work to-morrow.  Of interest there is very little.  Day after day there is the task of providing for self and others.  Only this and nothing more.  Is it any wonder that there should be social unrest and discontentment?  How can workmen be merry unless with the artificial stimulus of strong drink, when there is nothing for them to look forward to except days and weeks and years of labor succeeding one another remorselessly, and with not surcease until Nature puts in her effective demand for rest, or the inevitable comes.” - From The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries by James J. Walsh

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Process a Turkey - From Farm to Fork - Turkey to Table in 12 Steps

We did a complete practice run for thanksgiving last week.  Not a "dry" run, but a juicy one, a real deal.

Step 1.  Catch Turkey.  While diving for them and grabbing their feet is satisfying, a hook is more effective with 25 of them.  Transport them to processing site the night before to keep them from being overly agitated and stressed.

Step 2. Kill Turkey.  There's a vein on both sides of the neck.  Put them through the killing cones (or buckets with a hole at the bottom) and cut those veins.  Do not make eye contact at this point.  You don't want to cut the breathing tube because then they sort of gurgle to death and suffocate.  I'm sure the cut doesn't feel great, but bleeding out makes them just slowly go to sleep as the heart pumps the blood out.  Catch the blood in a pile of leaves and compost later.

Step 3.  Scald the turkey at 150 degrees.  Dunk and swirl.  Dunk and swirl.  Make sure all feathers get under the water.  After roughly 30 seconds of this, test a wing feather - if it comes out relatively easy, its ready.  If it doesn't, dunk again, but don't do it too much or at too long of intervals, because it cooks the skin.  Not enough dunking and the feathers don't come out.  At this point you realize that scratching your nose with your hand is not going to happen (blood, feathers, etc. coat the hand).  Its ok, use forearm of tree trunk.  Spouses can help too, if they're not plucking or taking pictures.

Step 4.  Pluck.  This can be done in a commercial plucker, which is like a spinning washing machine with rubber fingers all pointing in.  Turkeys are a little big for it, so there's a lot more handwork.

Step 5.  Cut the feet off, place in feet bucket.  Make into broth later for soups and winter-warm-ups.

Step 6.  Cut/twist head off, place in head bucket.  Dogs like the heads, but its best to limit them to 3 heads each or they'll spoil - the dogs not the heads.

Step 7.  Get guts gone. You cut the skin between their vent and ribs to make a hole for your hand (its still warm at this point which is very nice when its cold out).  Reach your hand inside and sort of spoon around the edge of the cavity and separate all parts from the cavity.  Its a bit flimsy, so if you can get aholt ("a hold") of the gizzard, its a good solid and connected part that can help pull the rest out.  Don't break things, it can get nasty if you do.  If you find an egg inside, hold it up and say "wow, that's so cool!"

Step 8.  Do a final cleaning of the whole thing.  Cut another slit above the one for gutting to make a sort of strap to tuck the legs in.  Tuck legs in.

Step 9.  Place on ice.

Step 10 option a.  Freeze.

Step 10 option b.  Cook and eat.

Step 11.  Lean back as a satisfied man.  Don't shave for a month in honor of the turkey.

Step 12.  Write blog post to round out steps to 12.  12 steps to turkey delight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Request of Geeky Catholics

Dear Geeky Catholic Reader,

I'm very interested in the question of property and distributism.  I'm thinking its a flaw in an American context because it may not be nearly as necessary as it seems and the means of getting it into smaller hands may be problematic for other reasons.  If you have any essays or thoughts on this topic, drop me a line.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Field of Dreams

We have big plans for this field.  Tucked in behind some hills, right on a river... Its a dream.  Is anyone farming it?  Nope.  Do they want someone to?  Yep.

To get there, you take a path that opens up to it like so:

Some thoughts for those who want to move to the land.  Stop looking for land to buy.  There's tons of land out there ready to be farmed.  Read any "how to" farm book and that's some of the FIRST advice you get.  Don't invest in what you know nothing of.  Start slow and build slow.  Be creative.  Just stop googling for land for sale.  This is a lesson I'm still learning.

For Some, Today was Election Day

For some it was election day, but since I'm a royalist, I was more focused on turkeys (yes I voted, but early).  Some revel in the noise of election season and then are relieved, with a bit remorse since some meaningful action ocured in life, when the noise is over.  I feel the same way about the turkeys.  They're loud and scratchy, small brained yet funny, ya know, a lot like politics these days.  But, like election day, processing day eventually comes. 

Today, with the help of 20 high schoolers (I'll tell about that in another post), we processed 25 turkeys and 3 gangly roosters whose bloodline was simply not worthy of the dignified hens that pick grubs from the lawn.  Here's a pictorial review:

First, you catch 'em.

 When caught, victory elevation.

Transfer to crate.

 Or bag.

Then teach high schoolers to do the work.

 And daughter.

Due to popular demand, I'll be posting a detailed pictorial of the actual processing, but just look at my girl plucking those feathers!  This is the life.