When we butchered our half-pig, we planned to do some preservation. Since the internet terrified me into not attempting a cured ham at this time of year (too hot! and the words “Bone Rot”), we brined it instead.
Of course, one should never leave the meaty part out of the brine, and we weighed the ham down with glass jars and left it in the coolest part of the house for a few days.
Several days later, we hauled it out, coated it in a mix of brown sugar, mustard powder, and diluted jam, and cooked it.
Is this the Meat Of Our Doom? Our handling of the meat was careful, but not exactly foodsafe, and I’m sure that leaving meat in salty water for a few days is not Recommended Practice for germophobic sorts.
I’d feel a little more comfortable if we were doing this in the late fall, with our own pig. All my Italian ancestors rejoice in the preservation of meat, however, and this delicious ham feels wonderfully completing in my belly.
We ordered half a pig, and had the option to have it come to us completely un-cut-up. Since Jeremy had, most astutely, taken a course on butchery from Farmstead Meatsmith, we thought we could take this project on.
Over the next eight hours, we butchered this lovely pig. Parts went into a seasoned salt mix for bacon, and the ham went into a tub of brine. We ate the pork chops the next evening, and they were roundly declared the best, juiciest, most tender pork chops in the entire history of food. We borrowed a meat grinder and sausage stuffer (thanks, Streetbank!), and made sausages the next day.
Making sausages did not at all enable the proliferation of jokes about anatomy, because as adults we are past all that adolescent nonsense.
Home butchery filled our freezer without completely draining our pocketbook, and the work felt good and soul-nourishing. We will definitely do this again.
(though next time, we’ll make sure to have a smoker, and even perhaps one of our own pigs.)
The wonderful thing about having lots of people is that when a project is started, it can move ahead very quickly. The tricky thing about having lots of people is that there is a lot of talking, considering, and (necessary) faffing about to do before projects are started. From this vantage point, I know that we’ve been doing a lot of work, but it’s mostly been the talking sort of work that, as of yet, has little to show for it.
Here’s some things that have happened, though: we have a small RV on site, so that kids have a place to play and so that we have a locking place to store tools. We have done more of the cleaning necessary to make the two existing structures more useful. We’ve determined where our shipping containers are going to go. We’ve built a fire pit and had a number of fires. An hugelkultur earth berm has been started, both to absorb some rotting lumber and to make a nice privacy border on one side. We’ve had a lot of meetings with Interested People to help us determine some next steps. We’ve started a fort for the kids, using living alder trees. More things, I’m sure, but that’s what comes to mind.
All good stuff, and all leading in the direction we want to go. Decisions happen slowly, but that way we know that they’re good decisions. Our whole is more than the sum of its parts, and we do good work together. We’re all looking forward to doing some camping this summer and really sinking our teeth into all the things that we want to get done.
I love slugs. I had pet slugs as a kid, and I still remember holding my finger still to see what would happen as a slug delicately rasped at my finger with its radula.
We have a large number of slugs, both at the proto-farm and at our plot in the community garden, and they have been much on my mind. Permaculture teaches that “The problem is the solution”, but it’s up to me to figure out how to apply the solution.
Do all slugs do the same kind of damage to seedlings? Do some focus on breaking down dead plant matter, while others focus on tender lettuces? What if we allowed slugs to do our thinning for us (or planted twice as much), instead of composting all those tiny little extra plants? What if slug poop is some kind of magical substance that helps soil to glow with life?
I’m going to be watching slugs, this year. I’m going to see what they take out (all my cucumbers!), and what they leave. I may do a trial bed next year, with heavy slug control on one side and light control on the other, to see if slug poop is a miracle fertilizer.
Anyone have any ways that slugs have helped them in the garden, besides being duck-food?