I’ve got a boatload of stuff to get done this morning!

The inspector who is in charge of issuing meat handler’s licenses is coming to the house this morning at 10:30.  Before she gets here, I have to get the goats and Gwen milked, get the milk put up, then clean the front part of the house.  It is not to terribly dirty, but I need to run the vacuum cleaner and mop over it.  Then I have to clean the table where I feed the cats (actually, I should probably clean that table first!).  I told the cats they’d need to wait until she left before they get fed.  I have some of the last of the venison scraps to feed them and that will be a mess.

I processed the three Roaster Rabbits yesterday afternoon.  Never again will we put off processing rabbits so long.  They were sexually mature and smelled musty.  Also, we caught them for processing at a bad time.  We had just set up the new tractor next to them and the three of them started running around mounting each other.  We should have let them settle down before processing them.

I’ve been wanting to try making rabbit sausage and I think now is the time to do it.  I have not processed rabbits since the beginning of January and I’m out of practice.  I think some of the problems I experienced was because the rabbits were so large.  I did not weigh them, but I’ll bet they weigh about five pounds processed.  That’s twice the size the should be.  The rabbits in the tractor are about three to four weeks away from processing weight.  Wally is able to dispatch them so quickly, I’ll probably get him to do them before he goes to work in the morning and then I’ll process them before it gets too warm.

Late yesterday afternoon, Wally and I went to pick up a bale of organic hay.  On the way home, we stopped at a small grocery store so I could grab something to cook for supper.  I had ground chicken in my mind so I could make taco salad.  I took some ground beef out, but it hadn’t defrosted much.  As we walked by the deli, Wally saw smoked Boston Butt on sale.  He’s been wanting Boston Butt for several weeks now so I agreed to get it.  We got some coleslaw and baked beans to go with it.  I was actually happy to not have to cook, we were really busy all day and I was tired and hungry.  When we got home, Wally pulled the meat off the Boston Butt and served it so I didn’t see what the cut looked like.  The taste was okay … I was hungry, but I was not too happy eating factory-farmed meat.  This morning, I took the leftovers out to make a sandwich for Wally.  I was amazed at the thick layer of fat on the meat.  Yuck!

I’m really out of it this morning and forgot to put Wally’s breakfast in his lunch box.  I called him to tell him and that’s when he told me he was suffering from eating the pork. {VERY BIG SMILE} He said it was like eating McDonald’s: it tastes good going down, but you pay for it afterwards.  We can’t afford to buy pork from other sustainable farmers.  Boston Butt from Rock House Farm is $8.50 a pound, I’m not saying it is not worth it, it is, but it’s more expensive than we can afford.  Keep in mind, we are both living on a very, very limited income.  Granted, we could eat less meat, and that really isn’t a problem, but even though I said we were not going to do it, I think we are going to raise a couple of pigs.  We won’t do it until the beginning of June when there’s plenty of garden food to feed them.  We will need to get down into the clearing where we planned to put them and get some panels put in place before it gets too grown up.  I’m afraid to spend $40 on a Boston Butt and screw up cooking it!

I’d like to not raise any more chickens.  They are dirty creatures!  The Cornish X are the worst.  They are back in the tractor vacated by the Roaster Rabbits and that’s where they’ll stay.  They were running loose, but the were constantly under foot begging for food.  They are always frantic to eat!  I don’t think we can get away from it now though.  Visions of factory farms go through my mind whenever I eat grocery-store chicken.  We usually buy Springer Mountain chicken, and the flavor is good, but they are still factory-farmed.

Some of the dual purpose birds in the other tractor are not doing well.  The Barred Rocks are the worst.  I guess you get what you pay for.  It’s still too early to tell, but as expected, I believe a good number of them are roosters.  The Buff Orphington and Americanas are doing the best.  We’ve probably lost about a third of them.  We got them a bit too early in the year.  See my note below on the deep bedding brooder.

I best get my butt in gear and get out and get it done.  Wally and I need to re-think the current arrangement for bringing the goats in to milk.  They pile up at the gate and it’s a struggle and extremely frustrating to get just two of them through at a time.  We may need to make some sort of chute to bring them through.  Also, we did not get the hay house moved.  We had to finish the rabbit tractor and there was a basketball game on that Wally really wanted to watch.  We’ll hopefully get it moved next week.  We are going to let the rabbits live in the current tractor for a while to see how they do before making another one.  I think we have some ideas to make the next one even better.  The current one is much lighter than the last one Wally made.  The one we bought is heavy as hell and I think it’s going to be turned into a deep-bedding brooder once the dual purpose birds are moved out of it.  I think if we had used it as a deep bedding brooder with the dual purpose birds, they would have done better.  Lessons learned.

Until later …