Horsing around

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January 26, 2016

I spent most of today at my buddy Marvin’s farm. We were working on a new sap sled for me. It is a new style for us, but tried and true on several farms. It has a long tail. It is designed so as to take the big dips out of the woodland floor. Well, it doesn’t take the dips out, but rather floats over them without digging the dips deeper.

The long runners displace the weight of the sled and make for a smooth ride like a long wheel base on a truck or car. Us guys who gather sap from tree to tree throughout the woods, use the same paths over and over. Once a short sled goes down in a depression, it makes the hole deeper every time we go through it. It isn’t very long and what was a nice ride resembles a bucking bronco.

These deep holes fill with water and wash out even deeper as the sled drops into them. The long tailed sled, has a bob sled front end and a very long set of runners behind. The bob goes down slightly, but it takes awhile before the back runners come to the hole. The middle part of the long runner holds the load up and runs smoothly along the ground. No more gouging, digging or wrecking the forest floor. It also saves the wear and tear on an old man’s back!

So, I spent the day doing some carpentry work, learning about new things, sipping coffee and enjoying the sights and sounds of my friends Amish farm. It was a great day to have off. I am looking forward to using the sled in the upcoming maple syrup season. I wasn’t really horsing around…I was getting something done :o)

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The sap tank sets on the platform. The man stands behind the handrail. The horses hitch to the front. Exciting times ahead, as I strive to continue to be a good steward to my land.

What’s a Guy To Do?
January 22, 2016, 3:28 pm
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January 22, 2016

It’s cold and snowy outside. I have my chores done. I have been a bit cooped up these last few days. Yes, there is plenty to do, but I am enjoying being forced inside a little bit. I caught up on some reading. I got ahead on a few writing projects. I am keeping up with our family’s butchering projects and I am catching up on some rest.

I am about to start a shelf building project in the sugarhouse. I need them for a little more organization, since changing out the old storage tanks. The new tank has a spot of its own, but I lost a little bit of room for supplies. The new shelves should help with that problem. Cardboard boxes filled with new syrup containers take up a lot of room. I also like them in a clean, steam free, place. So, I hope my idea works out as well as I think it will.

I am gathering a list of supplies for the upcoming maple season. I need to run errands, but want to be sure that I remember everything. Filters, pre-filters, different sized containers, new spiles, sap bags and extra lids are items to start the list. A little ambition would help too, but right now I am enjoying the rest that comes with a big snow… What’s a guy to do? 🙂


Homemade Ham
January 18, 2016, 5:24 pm
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January 18, 2016

Winter is whooping our butts right now. The snow is over my boots on the flat and up past my hips where it has drifted. Not bad for a storm that rolled in yesterday afternoon…when the ground was bare! Last week we got a day or two of winter too. I spent that time working in the slaughterhouse. We cut some of our pork for family. This load of smoked meat is from the efforts of that day.

The meat was all smoked with apple wood. It imparts a light smoke with great flavor. I prefer hickory with pork, but one of my family members likes it lighter. I accomplished this with apple wood and everyone has been happy. The bacon and hams taste great. The color was the only thing effected by the lighter smoke.

I cured these hams and bacons with “Morton’s Tender Quick ” and “Morton’s Sugar Cure”. I rub the bacons liberally with the sugar cure. I also de-bone the hams and rub them inside and out. Next I make a liquid, by following the directions on the Tender Quick bag. This liquid I inject into the thick meat on the shoulder ends of the bacons. I also inject the hams in each piece every two or three inches. I use a brine needle also known as a marinate needle and syringe.

Once the meat has been rubbed and injected, I place it in a plastic container and cover it with the remainder of the liquid Tender Quick. I next mix up a little more liquid using Sugar Cure and water, enough to cover the meat. I place a loose lid on the container and leave it cure for seven days.

After the week has passed, I rinse the meat with cold water. I then hang it on my racks and smoke and cook it. The bacon gets smoked and cooked to an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. The hams, the beef tongue you see and the lunch meat chunks of ham all get smoked and cooked to an internal temperature of 155 degrees F

Having the ability to do this at home is an awesome thing. I enjoy doing it and many of our farm’s guest enjoy eating the “fruits” of my labor. Home made ham with fresh eggs is a great breakfast. A slice of our bacon on top of a grass fed cheeseburger…yum! I love my country life 🙂

Dreaming on the Inside
January 2, 2016, 4:47 pm
Filed under: January 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

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January 2, 2015

This morning I butchered a beef for some farmstead friends of mine. It was a great day for butchering, cold but not brutal. The beef fell quickly and was treated humanely right to the very end of his life. It now hangs cooling, waiting to be transformed into steaks, roasts and ground beef.

I have chores done and I am looking through the new seed catalogs. It will soon be time to order for the 2016 gardening season. It is fun to sit inside, on a cold day, and dream of warm soil and growing plants. I guess a day for dreaming on the inside is just what I needed.

The basket above was a sample from our garden. It is a wonderful thing to eat fresh, home grown vegetables. Add them to home raised meat and it is food fit for a king. If a man is the king of his castle, then I am eating just what I should be. I can say this; farm raised food cooked by my wife, is better than any that I can buy!

So, I will warm my body and my soul today, as I dream about garden vegetables, a juicy steak and a slice of apple pie. It doesn’t hurt one bit to dream on the inside 🙂