Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back to Butchering

I am going to be a bit sad when our pigs Ham and Bacon are butchered, because they seem more like pets. I forgot to mention in my last blog entry about our friend Lori Kenney's encounter with our pigs.
Jim took Lori and I back from where the Kenneys were staying so we could make supper. Jim parked the station wagon right by the door to the basement, and as we got out, we were greeted by our pigs, Ham and Bacon! They were so happy to see us, and one of them promptly ran up to Lori and planted her very muddy snout on the front of Lori's denim skirt. Lori didn't even flinch, but starting patting the pig on the head! The pigs love our dog, and it looked so funny to see the three of them running to greet us. Jim used a bucket of food to entice them back to their pen, and they happily followed him down the hill.I thought we would have a nice quiet afternoon, but Jonathan decided it would be a good day to butcher our 4 remaining Bourbon Red turkeys. They were a year old last May, and we didn't think we could keep them over another winter since they didn't have the greatest pen for our cold conditions. The first fall they were around I thought they were pretty neat, since they would come up to me while I was hanging clothes outside and watched everything I did. Well, last winter they were a lot of trouble, since the males liked to show me who was boss and bullied me every time I wore my purple winter jacket. I guess they must not be color blind, but hated the color purple! They even followed me down the quarter mile to the mailbox, trying to dominate me. I finally had enough and chased them away. This spring one of the females had 17 babies (as you can tell, I can't remember the proper names for the turkeys), and it was fun to watch them follow their mama. Unfortunately, the next day they had all disappeared. So much for trying to raise more turkeys!
The guys set up shop between the house and the hoop house, and got to work.
Peter did a good job of gutting the turkeys! I was amazed at how much bigger the 2 males were compared to the 2 females.
Jim did a good job of keeping the fire burning under the garbage can that was used to scald the turkeys.
And here is the finished product! I have one turkey roasting in my big roaster, and another cooking on the stove. We are running short of freezer space, so the less bones to store the better.

We used the workbenches that Jim built for the basement and garage of our house in the city to create counter tops in our temporary living quarters in our basement. I used sticky Contact Paper to cover the chipboard surfaces. We have had to change it once so far in the 3 years we have lived this way. The shelf below the counter contains Rubbermaid containers to store my kitchen equipment.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Check Out Peter's Blog

Thought you might be interested in seeing/hearing Peter's new way of making music! Check out his video.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More of the Week's Activities

Last Sunday the former Turtle Mountain Boys (we have to change the name since we discovered there is another group by that name in the area) played at Bottineau's nursing home. They did a very good job of mingling with the crowd, and enjoyed talking with a lady that spoke Norwegian, a man from whom we purchased canning jars, and others.
David (8) was our resident photographer and sat on the nursing home's piano bench, so we had kind of a side view of the concert. We are still trying to convince David to join the band, but he would rather be a groupie with me. Our time of doing nothing during concerts will soon come to an end, as our small sound system should arrive in time for the revival meeting they were asked to play for next weekend.
The Kenneys arrived the next day, and the fun began! The garden tractor and trailer was given to Andrew, and he has been able to fix it up enough to use it. However, at this point the thing died and had to be towed back to the yard.
Grandpa Bartlett's potato cannon was a big hit with the Kenney kids, and it was now time to show the dads how well it worked. Those potatoes sure could fly!No matter what was going on, Samson (our dog) was never far behind.
Lori Kenney and I had time to sample some great coffee at Metigoshe Ministries. This is where their family stayed while visiting, and where we stayed for a couple of months when we were working on our basement.
We miss you, Kenneys! Thanks for blessing us with your presence! We had wonderful fellowship in the Lord. Hopefully the next time you come our way we'll have room for you to stay with us!

Activities of the Past Week

It's been another busy week, full of lots of interesting things. Deer hunting season was upon us, and Jonathan managed to shoot a good sized doe as well as a four by four buck within two days of each other! We were all so proud of him, and very thankful for all the meat we were about to process. I don't think my brothers ever went deer hunting, so this was all new to me when we moved up to the north country.

Jonathan made sure the buck was hoisted a bit higher than the doe was. We tied our German Shepherd at night to make sure he left the deer alone, but in the morning in between going to the barn to "help" Peter with milking and the rest of the chores he managed to chew the nose off from the doe!
There certainly was a lot of venison to process. A couple of years ago my parents gave us an electric meat grinder as a Christmas present, and it sure came in handy! If we hadn't had it we'd still be grinding by hand. (Yes, we are still in the basement, and this is our temporary kitchen.)
Our family was preparing for the arrival of our friends the Kenneys, and I was a bit frustrated at trying to organize things in the bedroom area. I mentioned to Andrew (11) that he should make a bunk for his brother David, since we were using a trundle bed for him to sleep on. We no longer could store the trundle under Andrew's daybed since it was now full of my 2007 canned produce, and it was in the middle of the walking area. Andrew went right to work, and created this wonderful bed for his brother. He also framed in his daybed, and it looks great!
Now we have 2 sets of bunkbeds! We are using the mattress from the trundle bed for David, and stored the actual trundle frame upstairs in our yet to be finished main floor.
Here is our house last Sunday, on a very snowy day. The flakes actually looked like snowballs! The main and 2nd floors are unfinished and eaves still open to the elements, but Jim is working diligently to install the electrical wiring. After it's inspected we will do some insulation and block the eaves. We moved quite a bit of our belongings into the 2nd floor from the semi trailer we were using. Jim hopes to turn the semi trailer into a wood shop when the main floor is ready for occupancy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winter Has Arrived

Wind Advisory in effect until 6 PM CST this afternoon...
Rest of Today
Cloudy with isolated snow showers. Windy... colder. Highs in the lower 30s. Near steady temperature in the lower 30s. Northwest winds 25 to 40 mph. Chance of snow 20 percent.
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the lower 20s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.

We have blizzard like conditions today, and the boys sure are happy about it! Jonathan got his deer the day before yesterday, and we will spend the day processing the meat.

Photos will follow after the troops are done with chores.

Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Cooling Down

Andrew took some photos for me to share with you. Last spring we were given some ducks and geese when we bought goats, and they have been roaming freely all summer. In this photo, they are walking on the ice that formed on the lake in the past couple of days. They did manage to make a hole in the ice, and still have their own place to get wet.
We had a dilemma when the chicken coop area in half the goat barn was too small for all of our chickens. All of the chickens the boys purchased this spring are capable of laying eggs for us, so we hated to butcher the extras that were still living in a portable chicken pen. The boys decided to utilize our hoop house for a temporary shelter for them for the winter. We purchased a very durable tarp, and Jonathan and Peter devised a chicken coop with one half of the hoop house.
The area is lined with straw bales, and the ground is also covered with straw.
The chickens seem nice and toasty warm in there.
The little building to the right has become our garden shed; it was originally the outhouse that Grandpa Bartlett built for me when they were visiting the first fall we lived up here. In the next photo in the background you will see what our house looks like for the winter. Hopefully next year we will be able to get some siding on that house wrap. The windows are temporary ones that were given to us, and provide us with light so we can see what we are doing in there! Jim is working on the wiring, but the only electricity we have up there is through the use of extension cords.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Day to Catch Up (Or At Least Try)

Today was a good day to catch up on a few things, such as baking bread. With 4 boys, there's always a need to fill in at meal times, so we go through a lot of bread. I managed to make 8 loaves and 2 large batches of whole wheat buns. That should help get us through to later in the week. Jim went upstairs to check on the state of our potatoes and carrots, and discovered they were rotting.

Early in the growing season we were talking about constructing a root cellar of one sort or another, but never got it going. The boys had all they could do to hand dig out our goat shed, which is located on the side of the hill, and we just didn't have time to dig out a cellar for storing our produce. Jim thought he would try building an insulated box above the wood stove, and cut a hole through the floor to allow a bit of heat to keep the box from freezing. It seemed to be working. However, last night they discovered the box was hovering at close to 60 degrees, which meant there was too much heat for the vegetables. Unfortunately, we lost all of the carrots stored up there, and some of the potatoes. Jim had the boys peel potatoes that still had good parts to them, and we made a big pot of mashed potatoes. Guess I better find a lot of recipes that call for potatoes! We want to use them up before anything else happens. All the remaining potatoes are now in the basement with us instead of up where they were.

Yesterday our neighbors stopped by to see if we would be interested in trading hay for beef. You bet! This neighbor was the one who initially did all the haying, and we still had extra bales after we were given our share. They raised this steer over at their farm, so we know how it was taken care of. What a blessing to have beef in our freezer! And to think deer season is just around the corner as well!

Jonathan has been getting ready for trapping, and this morning came home with his first raccoon. I was proud of how well he did on the skinning. Hopefully he will make money this year from the sale of his pelts.

Later in the day, Jim and the boys headed over to help some friends with their TV antenna. Apparently there was a channel that would not come in, so they needed someone to change the direction of the antenna. I was glad I wasn't over there watching, since the antenna is located at the top of what used to be a windmill -- and a very large one. I can't remember how tall the boys said it was, but I saw the photos they took and Jim and Jonathan were quite a ways up in the air. You can see a couple of photos at Peter's blog. We are supposed to be hit tomorrow with a blast of arctic air, and with winds going over 45 mph, I'm sure glad the deed was done today. While over there the boys were thrilled to see a bald eagle and 2 moose.

I just finished with getting our honey squared away. While the boys and I were on our trip to Minnesota, Jim used his homemade extractor to take the honey from our hives. He placed the honey in large containers, so today I softened it and separated it into smaller jars. We probably got about 3 gallons from 2 hives. I don't know if that is very good or not, but since it was our first year of working with the bees, we count any amount a real blessing. The bread items I baked today were made with our goat milk and honey, and that is quite an accomplishment, considering just a little over 3 years ago we moved up to this land that had nothing on it but a lake, trees, fields, and hills, and little knowledge (but a lot of enthusiasm!) in how to get started.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Think Winter is Coming

Sunday Night
Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow showers. Breezy. Lows in the lower 30s.

Partly sunny with a 20 percent chance of snow. Breezy. Highs in the lower 30s.
Monday Night
Mostly clear. Lows 15 to 20.

Tuesday and Tuesday Night
Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 30s. Lows 15 to 20.

Partly sunny. Highs in the upper 30s.
Wednesday Night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 20s.

Just in time for deer hunting season!