Please note this week the value of the shares are larger because of a mix up from last week when the values were a little under what we wanted them to be. We will be back to normal next week.
As I dropped Nathan off to do chores on Saturday, Josh had just been by with a bin of apples for the pigs and cattle, and they were chowing down very happily. I couldn't help but snap a picture of them all sharing the space together.
Tales from the barnyard:
This morning when Nathan arrived at the barn, he was delighted to find that Orena and Blackie had both farrowed (gave birth) just a few hours earlier. We now have 24 piglets who seem to be doing very well. The piglets have a heat lamp to go under for extra warmth, when they are not nursing.
The whole chicken in the full monty meat share is a stewing hen. These hens need a slow and low approach to cooking them, if you do this you will be rewarded with the most flavourful and tender meat. Great for stews, soups, pot pies, coq au vin (see recipe below), etc.
Coq au vin, is a recipe for an older rooster (coq) or hen, who since they have used their muscles so much more have gotten tough and need a longer cooking time to make those muscles tender.
We took a beef in on Monday to the butcher. It will hang, or dry aged, for two weeks before it cut up. Hanging has a few different purposes; it allows the natural enzymes to break down the tissue making it more tender and it drys out the meat concentrating the flavor.
One of the concerns we had before we installed the water lines was how to keep the water lines from freezing. So far this winter we have only had the lines freeze once. That was on a particularly cold and windy night and some of the doors were inadvertently left open. However, once the doors were closed, it only took a couple hours for the lines to thaw again. It is amazing how much heat farm animals produce. Most of time the barn stays between 4-8 degrees celsius, even when it is -15 degrees outside. We have found that as long as we are attentive at opening the doors in the morning and closing them at night then we can keep the barn above the freezing point. (The doors being the openings for the pigs, hens, and cattle to go through to have access to the out doors.)
Chicken wings or ham steak or deli ham or bacon $9-12 value
($17.50- $20.50 value)
Monty Meat Share:
Bone-in Chicken Breast $9/lb average weight 2.46lbs ($22.14 value)
Tails from the barnyard:
We got a new poop shovel! The old one was just too worn out, all the scraping on the floor of a pen really takes a toll on a shovel. With the new shovel the pens can be cleaned out with greater ease and speed.
We brought 13 pigs into the butcher in the last two weeks, and there are about 6 more that will be ready soon. You can look forward to more pork in your shares from now on.
I hope you had a lovely holiday spent with family and friends. Even though we slowed down over the holiday, a lot happened over the month of December, and I am excited to share it with you.
I contacted a local spinner who was keen to try his hand at spinning linen, so I sent him a sample of our long line flax fibres and some short line flax roving. (Roving is made from the short fibres (2-4") that remain in the hackles after processing the long line fibres. It is easy to spin and commonly used in knitting and weaving.) When he was finished spinning the sample fibres, I met with him to discuss how the fibres were to work with. (Good!) It is exciting to see interest in linen fibres growing.
We have heard back from several businesses and organizations that we contacted in the fall about the TapRoot Fibre Lab. The folks who responded were excited to hear from us and to learn what we are working toward. Also in December, we were contacted by Trusted Clothes--a group of volunteers who are linking people, organizations, and brands who are ethically and environmentally friendly. They have asked us to guest write a series of blogs for their website. We will write three blogs for them, discussing our ongoing process of designing and biulding our machinery, why we have chosen to work with flax and linen, and where we want to see the TapRoot Fibre Lab in the future. We're really looking forward working with an organization like Trusted Clothes. Check them out: http://www.trustedclothes.com/
We are making good progress on the machinery. Testing of the breaking machine continues and the results are looking promising. Mike anticipates that the scutching machine prototype will be ready for testing by the middle of this month. The design is complete for the fourth machine--the hackler. This machine will remove any last bits of straw remaining and comb the scutched flax into long, clean fibres that are ready to spin. I took some of the flax straw that Mike put through the breaker to the lab and I finished processing the fibres by hand. (These were the samples that we sent to our spinner.) It is a little chilly in the lab right now! Luckily, we have a space heater to keep things warm.
From the whole TapRoot Fibre Lab team, we wish you all the best in 2016