Every year here I have found that I get a little bit better and learn a little more on how best to serve our little farm and us. Some lessons are obvious ones but still took time, like how often and how efficiently to clean our hardwood floors and how much toilet paper I need to order with my Amazon pantry purchase to coincide with how many paper towels to buy at the same time so that they run out at about the same time etc. Life really is a learning experience and I don’t doubt that every year adjustments will need to be made and more lessons to be learned for the rest of our lives.
It is no secret that Joe and I do not support the commercial beef industry. We hunt all of our red meat and butcher it ourselves every year come deer season and, every year, Joe and I get it closer and closer to an efficient science. We also support our deer population by feeding and giving them all the land we have as shelter etc. We truly are nature conversationalists and I remain eternally grateful that we have the opportunity (and the ability) the harvest all of the red meat we need every year. It saves a lot of money but, honestly, it is so much more then that: ” … deer are leaner and wilder animals than cattle. Venison … has less fat than beef does. Three ounces of lean beef contains 247 calories and 15 grams of total fat. Three ounces of venison contains 134 calories and only 3 grams of total fat. Most importantly, venison contains about one sixth the amount of saturated fat that beef does. Venison has more protein: 26 grams to 23 grams in beef … ” (Reference from outdoorlife.com check out the article – so much great information!)
But with the ability to harvest deer also comes with it the responsibility to the animal to do it as right as we possibly can. Last year we added in a vacuum packer (purchased on Amazon) that actually added a little more time to the process but keeps the meat so much better there really is no going back to the good ol’ days of freezer paper and tape. Joe and I can butcher a deer now and have it packed and in the freezer in less then two hours minus grinding the meat into hamburger the next day. Which brings me to my newest lesson: I didn’t make enough burger last hunting season, we only have six packages left…
This shouldn’t surprise me as I can literally hear myself thinking, “That’s too beautiful a roast to grind up into burger…” Yeah, well, it might have been a beautiful roast but its easier to thaw out a pound of ground venison and make it for dinner then it is to cook a roast all damn day. Another reason I didn’t make more ground venison is because it is a lot more labor intensive! I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with a grinding attachment and it takes me a good hour to grind up and pack just a few pounds of venison burger. So much easier just to freeze the roast instead 😉 So, I went through my freezer this last weekend, figured out how many roasts we have left, how much back strap (steaks) we have left and set out a few roasts destined to become burger someday soon. Another lesson learned and another job for another day and it was also a good excuse to go through our freezers!
It has always pained me just how much of the animal it still seems like we throw away. (Of course nothing gets really thrown away here, our deer carcasses go to the local predator population, nothing goes to waste.) But I always felt there were two parts of every deer that I never utilized properly: The ribs and the fat. I just found an article on how to create tallow from venison suet, next year I’m going to try it and, hopefully, not have to buy cooking oil! Every little bit of savings helps! The ribs on deer are spindly things compared to what most people are used to off of pigs or cows. Every hunter I know has tried to salvage them and then declared that the little bit of meat just wasn’t worth the effort. I’m going to try to keep the ribs come this next hunting season but I’m not going to cook them like a “rack of ribs” Instead I’m going to boil them all day and make venison stock and then freeze it for stews etc. (Just like I do with poultry carcasses now.) Those will both be new lessons for me next year 🙂
With my becoming my grandma I, of course, now save every last bit of bacon grease on the rare times I think we can afford the splurge for a weeknight breakfast supper or on the weekends. So, I have a jar of bacon grease that I have been using now pretty much in place of cooking oil when I can whether I’m making eggs or sauteing up green beans. Another great use for it we have found now is when we make popcorn on top of the stove! OMG, it is the very best popcorn I have ever eaten! Two tablespoons of bacon grease, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup of popcorn all popped up together in a glorious heaven filled pot. We top it with salt and gorge ourselves and, yes, I am aware that this is why my butt keeps getting wider… This last weekend I managed to remember to take off our shower head and clean it (I mentioned in our last post about how often that has to be done because of our hard water) so annoying. I also cleaned out my car and gave her a bath! I had a list of pictures to take for future blog posts and, by some kind of miracle, I got most of those taken too and another batch of my homemade perfume made (will be sharing that recipe soon!) I also went to a book and art fair on Saturday afternoon and got to hang with a few family members before a date with Joe on Saturday night 🙂
Another lesson learned this last year was how badly we needed to get a gutter up over our flower bed at the front of the house. In all of its 102 years this old farm house has never had gutters (or ever needed them) but our poor flower bed just kept getting hammered so, lesson learned, we put up some gutters! I also cleaned them up this weekend and took the after photos so I can show you guys all about how we did it because, of course, they are not at all conventional but very DIY. I mentioned my Grandma’s old shepherds hook carousal to Joe and how we really need to start utilizing it and he grabbed that bull by the horns, made it taller and had it up in our back yard before I was even done with my first cup of coffee Saturday morning. Yay, less bird poop on the deck and now all of our own hooks are open around the deck for other things like flowers! And, maybe some of those DIY citronella “candles” made out of wine bottles?
My mom, my aunt and I are currently furnishing the little house with whatever we don’t need (and it does) out of our own garages and houses. That toaster oven I’ll never use but won’t throw away, those spoons I hate but also, won’t throw away. It is amazing how many pots and pans I had that I wouldn’t throw away but would never use. The little house will see its first resident in the form of my Mom’s cousin who is coming for a week to visit at the end of July. There’s a big part of me that feels like I should go spend a day and a night there, make a meal, take a shower, test the bed etc. just to make sure it all works and nothing leaks! We snagged a great living room chair and a dining table so far (only $16 for both at a yard sale) next we still need four dining room chairs, a dresser and maybe a love seat too.
The 2017 spring/summer to-do list Joe and I began with remains a little full to my liking but it is slowly getting hacked away at. Joe still wants to finish the sofits etc. on our garage, I still want to finish the railings on the deck but if there is one lesson I learned about this place and us: It will get done eventually. This spring we built and planted our garden (and it is beginning to flourish), we expanded our horse pasture and Joe did a tremendous amount of work with a bob cat in our yard and we got those gutters up on the house. Not to mention Joe got a whole bunch of wood cut up and split for next winter (I even helped a little) and he also fixed our lawn mower and has the yard looking just amazing. We still need to fix the roof on Joe’s shed and put new siding on it and on my own shed before this winter.
As far as I can tell the to-do list will never end but I have also now learned that I never want it to. Every home has a list and to have a home is a truly wonderful thing.