Monday, February 28, 2011

End of February Update

As expected, February flew by in a flash. The snow is starting to retreat and we no longer allow the kids on the pond ... sure signs that spring is coming.

Beyond the obvious signs of spring, I've come up with a few more signs that will give you hope that warmer days are ahead.

1) The chicken's water pail hasn't been frozen over, in the mornings, for about 4 days now.

Those of you that have chickens in a cold climate know that it's a blessing not to have to change the water pail first thing every morning :D. I'm glad those days are coming to an end.

2) I tapped the maple tree to start our maple syrup tradition for 2011.

I just opened my last jar of maple syrup from last spring so the timing seems perfect to start the next batch. We just need a nice sunny day to get the sap flowing.

3) I've filled out my day old chick order form for our local hatchery.

I'm going to let the girls hatch out some of their own eggs but I wanted to get some more white egg laying hens (Leghorns). I'm also going to get some meat chickens this year. We've had them once before. The chickens get huge ..... quickly. I butchered 19 by hand that year. It put an end to the idea of me ever doing that again.

Since I get them processed now it isn't an issue. I really should have had the meat chickens for the 100 meter diet. It would have made my meals stretch much further. I've had a few decent roosters this year but most of them have been rather small. So the bigger the better.

4) We're counting the days until the start of May.

That's when morel mushrooms make their appearance around our part of the world. If you're addicted to morels, as our family is, then you know the anticipation that builds when morel season approaches. They are one of the first treats of spring. I hope we have a good crop this year because I have a few recipes that I'd love to try!

Those are some of the signs of spring around our homestead. What are your signs of spring?

P.S. My weight at the end of February is 158 pounds. Down one pound from last month. When I do step on the scales it's usually 158 that I see. I think that's my new weight. Well, at least my weight on the 100 meter diet.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A family effort on Family Day

This past weekend was the Family Day long weekend in Ontario. Since we didn't have any plans for the holiday Monday I asked the family if they would spend the day making food with me.

I get much more done when I have a few extra helping hands but the biggest help is just having company in the kitchen. Everyone pitched in and kept me moving.

Our goal was to fill our kitchen table with food and we met that goal with a lot of hard work. It was a long day!

Some of the food was made a day or two earlier but the bulk of it was made yesterday.

Here's a complete list of what's on the table:

3 loaves of bread
A pot of chicken noodle soup
2 angel food cakes
A batch of red currant muffins
3 batches of egg noodles
A batch of goat milk pancakes
Alfalfa sprouts
6 jars of goat milk yogurt
2 mini meat loaves
One roasted butternut squash
2 zucchini loaves
35 goat meat raviolis (with dandelions, chives and tomatoes)

Amazingly the kitchen wasn't a total disaster at the end of the day.

The kids were great helpers ... cutting, kneading and cleaning whenever I needed them. It was truly a family effort and it was the perfect way to spend Family Day!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yearning for fresh goat milk ...

It's been just over 3 weeks since I stopped milking Lucy and I'm missing her fresh goat milk very much.

Instead of counting down the days until the end of my 100 meter diet, I find that I'm looking out slightly further and counting down the days until I have fresh milk again. That's a clear indication that I'm not ready to end the diet.

I figure that Lucy will kid sometime between the last week of March to the third week of April. If I follow the same weaning schedule as last year that will put fresh milk in my glass by the end of June, at the latest.

Funny, I started this diet on June 2, 2010 without knowing if I would even like goat milk and now I find it a struggle to survive without it.

If I carefully ration the milk that I have in the freezer I can make it last until June ... just barely. But that means that I only have enough to make 6 jars of yogurt or a small batch of cheese each week.

Why, oh why, didn't I freeze more milk while I had the chance?! Live and learn.

I suppose these learnings are part of the journey and I'll get better at maintaining my food supplies as I go. But for now I'll continue to yearn for fresh goat milk while I patiently watch Lucy's belly grow. I know it's worth the wait.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tanning a Goat Hide - Part II

Why I ever decided to tan a goat hide is beyond me but now that everything is done I'm very happy that I gave it a try. I can see myself doing this again someday.

I'm especially proud to be able to give my kids a wonderful keepsake to remember my mid life crisis (a.k.a. The 100 meter diet). I'm sure they would have preferred a vintage red convertible but that just isn't my style.

Originally I thought that I could hand stretch the hides as they dried but I soon realized that they really needed to be nailed to a large board and allowed to dry. That meant that I had to repeat the washing and hand stretching steps again.

So after the hides were completely dry I sanded the hides softly with fine sand paper and then shampooed and rinsed them thoroughly before leaving them to soak for about 30 minutes in the bath tub.

Next I hung hides over a rod to dry out for a few hours (hair side out). Once the hair was drier, but still moist, I hand stretched the hide in every direction to get it ready to be nailed to the board.

I used small finishing nails and spaced them about 1 inch apart all the way around the hide (very near the edge of the hide).

I gently stretched the hide as I placed each nail. When you're done the hide should be smooth and tight.

Once the hide was securely nailed I applied a liberal amount of Neatsfoot oil with an old cloth. The hide should absorb the oil quite easily. I left the hide on the board for 5 days to fully dry out before removing the nails.

After I removed the nails I carefully trimmed out the nail holes to remove any rough edges. I then worked the hide by hand to soften up the leather side.

It' a good bit of work but it's worth it because the end result is two beautiful goat skin rugs!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wii Fit ... Before and After

Michael had the urge to play Wii Fit this weekend and he suggested that I 'jump on' and see how much I've changed since the last time I played. It turns out that I haven't stepped foot on the Wii board for about 2.5 years. Yikes!

There was a time when we played Wii Fit as a family activity but that stopped once the batteries in the Wii board died. Sad but true.

After going through a few quick measurements the Wii told me I had lost about 36 pounds and that my BMI had dropped from 27.68 (over weight) to a respectable 22.72 (normal weight). Not bad .... I'll take it.

Since it was Super Bowl Sunday I thought it would be good to celebrate the BMI reduction with a goat chili pita taco with bean sprouts.

I admit, this looks like diet food but man was it tasty. I followed the following simple recipe:

1 pound ground goat
1 medium onion
1.5 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp oregano
4 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tsp white flour

The flour makes the chili a little creamier ... more like taco meat.

Like I said .. it's very good.