Saturday, December 06, 2008

Winter Days

Yesterday a squirrel came out for some sunshine. We also have bluejays all over the place this year, especially when the boys set out corn on the bird feeder.
The boys are practicing their instruments as I write this post. These long winter evenings are perfect for catching up on activities that are placed on the shelf during the other three seasons. Peter usually goes to the barn to milk the goats about 5:30, and then we have supper. That gives us plenty of time afterward to relax and read a good book -- or play music.

I am still plugging away at dehydrating our onions and cooking up pumpkins for freezing. We had good crops of both this year, and I am thankful for that. A couple of days ago one of the boys came in to tell me that someone had left the extension ladder up to the 2nd floor from the main floor; this meant that all the cold air from the top floor had free access to the main floor where the pumpkins, potatoes and onions were being stored. During cooler weather we keep insulation boards as a covering between floors to keep out the cold air that comes in from the still open soffit area by the roof. The extension ladder is kept down unless someone needs to get into the next level. The boys hauled in the onions and we discovered our white onions had probably gotten too cold somewhere along the line and were mostly mushy, but thankfully the yellow onions were still okay. We got busy and filled the dehydrator with another load of chopped onions, and have yet more to go. We have quite the scent of onion when we start the drying process! The dehydrator sits on a table in the living room area.

This afternoon while I was baking bread the guys butchered two of our four pigs. They decided to take the bossy one first; she was also the largest. When they went into the pen to get her body, the other one they planned to butcher managed to escape from the fence. All that is needed to catch a pig is the bucket used to feed them scraps! Ours happened to be empty, so placing a pumpkin in the bucket was all that was needed to catch her. Their bodies are hanging in the woods near the house, and tomorrow afternoon we will probably begin processing the meat. I feel like I'm still recovering from processing venison, but we'll sure be thankful for the meat in the freezer.
Butchering animals has never been -- and probably will never be -- my favorite event on the farm. The gun shot brought tears to my eyes, but I rise to the occasion when the meat is brought in and we get started in the process. Our pigs have always seemed like dogs: friendly and curious animals. It is important to put their lives into perspective, and be thankful for how their life provides life for ours.
This is JP, one of our barn cats.


Anonymous said...

HI Lynn

Enjoy reading your blogs.

Pork chops sound good to me.

How about pork burgers, or is it "Ham"-burgers?

Nothing like a good snowstorm to slow things down a little.

Gp B

Marci said...

Lynn, it is hard to put down an animal for processing, yet, I know that it has to happen. We treat the animals as kindly as we can while they are alive.

I love to hear about all you accomplish on your homestead. What all do you make with your pumpkin?

Do you think it is easier to dehydrate the onions in pieces? I may try that. I always just slice them and dehydrate them. Then I run the dried slices through the blender or food processor. I love to eat dehydrated onions, especially if they are Vidalias. :) Also, is there anyway you can run the dehydrator up in the unfinished part of the house? I stick mine on the back enclosed porch to keep the tears down in the house. :)

Keep up the good work.

BonnieJ said...

Cute pictures :)

Lynn Bartlett said...

Hi GpB: You will have to bring Grammy over for some pork chops!

Marci: I make everything I can think of out of pumpkin! Let's see, so far it's been soup, muffins, bread, cookies, breads.

As far as onions, I did cut mine into small pieces as compared to dehydrating rings. I told a friend of mine how you do yours, and we'll see how it goes for her. I figured as long as I was cutting them up I might as well finish the job at the same time. We tried chopping them up with my chopper, but they were too juicy and took longer to dry. We dehydrate in the house because it's still about 40 degrees on the main floor, and I can't keep track of them without going outside and around the house to get into the upstairs. I've never tasted vidalia onions!

And Bonnie: Welcome home from Germany! Hope you will blog about your travels soon.

Anonymous said...


I did an onion reduction with some excess onions - basically chopped them up, add a bit of water and cook them waaaaayyyyy down. When they were reduced I salted them and added some olive oil. I ended up with a sweet and carmelized goo. I'm not sure what I'll use it in, but it preserved a bunch of onions in a small space. I wonder if the mushy onions might work in something like this.

Judy at Tabletop Homestead

Lynn Bartlett said...

Hi Judy,
The mushy onions were too far gone to do anything with them. Your idea is a good one, and I'll keep that one on the back burner in case it happens again. Hopefully it won't!

Thanks for visiting.