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Monthly Archives: March 2011

ScoutGuard Auto Shots or Winter Time Lapse

..some over the winter shots from my KeepGuard/ScoutGuard Trail camera..the dates are off by a day or 2. Moved it around over the course of a couple of weeks. Nothing really out of the ordinary but it gives you some idea as to the snow over the winter..also you can see A* working on the trim in one of the pictures from a previous post…and now that I look at these shots more..you can also see that near the beginning of March we had a storm with high winds..sheared off one of the blades of the 2 windmills so there is only 1 remaining..and also the wind was so strong that it blew over one of the birdfeeders..it is still in the shots but hanging over the platform it usually sits on.

With this many images it is hard to get a good layout..

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in security

 

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Old bow

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What is old is new again..just bought a new Bear recurve..its new to me but it is rally from the 60’s. It is the shorter of the 2, it’s a Bear Magnum 52 inch with a #48. I have had bows sinch childhood and this new bow has more power than the longer Browning Prep 62,#30..which is only for targets and beginners…now I just need some more yat bails to finish setting up my shooting range and get some practice in!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in fun

 

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Heritage Seeds

..oops..I think I meant heirloom seeds..just noticed it. WHen I say ‘heritage’ you think ‘heirloom’

We are changing some things up this year with regard to the garden..we got some heritage seeds so hopefully we will be able to keep some of the produce and have some seeds for next year. We will be growing our usual veggies and augmenting with these. We said we would not start any indoors this year but it looks like that may change!

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..man..I posted this online last night with a mobile app and a couple of things went wrong..it double posted then it did not upload the picture of the front of thee seed packs..which actually say what they are specifically..they are all fairly normal with the exception of a blue tomato..The guys selling them had pictures of the actual produce and it looked really neat so I wanted to give it a try myself!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Gardening, produce

 

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Chicken Survivor or Nearly Butchering Chicken Butchering

as I mentioned the other day, the hens have been restless..the roosters were treating every day like the last day on earth and the poor hens were suffering for it..one of the hens had bald spots on her back and head so A* and I knew there was nothing else to do but to do away with some roosters. On wednesday we made the choices about who was going to stay or leave the off-grid island but we would not have enough time to butcher until Sunday so to give the chickens some more space to get away from each other we opened the pen door and let them roam once again..most of the snow is gone so they have room to explore. Sunday arrived and we prepped..both the tools for the jobs and our heads..not a huge deal but the first one there is some over-thinking going on! We have never done anything like this before so I looked up the topic in some books I have as well as online…I needed:

  • sharp small knife – detail cuts
  • long heay knife – bones/joints
  • hatchet – the neck cutting variety
  • cutting block with 2 nails and 2 elastics
  • twine for legs
  • bucket – blood collection
  • patience
  • water at 145 degrees to scald bird to remove feathers
  • cutting board
  • setup area
  • beer
  • water/outdoor shower for washing
  • ice water for finishing
  • another bucket for guts
  • bleach

..setup was important for us..In a previous life I was a cook and I hated working with raw chicken as it contaminates area so I wanted to think of everything and have it ready to go when I needed it so we would not need to go inside. We stayed outside the house with all of this so we would not get raw chicken everywhere and  setup the area in the portable garage. We rigged up 2 sawhorses with an old countertop and a portable pump shower unit that we heated up beforehand so we could rinse and even warm our hands up as it was only 4c at the time.

Step 1: catch the chickens that you want to process.

Step 2: grab a chicken and tie its legs together and bring to the chopping block

Step 3: Place chicken head between 2 nails on chopping block and secure with elastics. Once secure pull head so body is taunt against the nails.

Step 4: lower axe in quick motion pretending that you are not about to cut off a chicken head while you are cutting off the chicken head.

Step 5: take former chicken and hold by feet and let drip into blood bucket

Step 6: calm down because you eat chicken wings all the time and they all are dead unless there are wingless chickens living somewhere. Have a beer and wait for the blood to drain.

Step 7: water should be at 145degrees. 145 is best to dip in repeatedly ( 6-7 times with the chicken immersed for 1 second..pull on a feather and it should come out easily )..our water is at 110..

Step 8: use the 4 plucking agents currently at hand to do job over 1 hour. yes, our hands with no dipping. Repeat until featherless.

Step 9: remove their poor little feet…get a grip on things and cut off the feet.

Step 9.5: forgot this. Cut off the oil sac on the top part of the tail..You can see it easily once you know what it looks like..under the skin it is bright yellow and has a distinct duct and bulge on the top of the tail. top of the tail as in if the bird were still walking around.

Step 10:  With the small knife slice into the neck and remove the feed sack in its neck. If it has had food recently it will be easy to find as it has all the food in it. Once you cut all of the ataching muscle away give it a good pull and it rips off. Once that is done remove the neck too..this where you use the big knife. Slide it forward and cut off as far as you can.

(you can see the shower pump for washing down things in the background..not high tech but works well for small jobs like this ( comes with a base and propane heater and has a temperature gauge on the side)..great, great portable shower unit..we used it for 8 months for  spot showers before propane was installed..I need to do a post on that. )

Step 11: Cut into chest cavity a couple of inches below the breastplate. Patience is need on this step to avoid cutting the bowels..if you do ( which I didn’t ) you need to rinse it off and the work area immediately to avoid contaminated with fecal matter..do it with a bleach/water mix for the work area and rinse ). Once cut is big enough open the area with your fingers. Don’t worry, the chicken can’t feel it. Once the hole is big enough to fit your hand in:

Step 12: Slide fingers in along the bottom of the ribs. From the inside..until you basically reach where the neck is. Start scooping it all out gently but firmly. Pull it out until it is hanging by its fecal ejector.

Step 13: cut the area around the anus and the bird is ready. Rinse it off well and scoop out anything you think should not be there.

gross

Step 14: put into ice water to chill.

Step 15: double check for any feathers and then clean accordingly..it is now ready for freezing, keeping for a couple of days in the fridge then cooking or freezing.

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We actually plucked the first one, partially dunked the second and had the water hot enough for the third that the feathers came right off. Sort of good since we got to see that you don’t need hot water to pluck but it makes the work 10x faster. The actually cutting/gutting/ processing took me 30 minutes the first time, 15 the second and under 10 the third. Its was actually way easier than I thought it would have been.  While I do not enjoy killing animals I like the fact that I was able to raise these chickens, get eggs and now poultry/meat and do most of it by ourselves..not something I want to do everyday on the other side but it is there if we need it. Now, onto replacing the roosters with hens and eventually take 1 more rooster..Out-wit, out-smart and out (not)CockADoodleDooing, on some future post. groan, sorry. cheesy.

Also, as a note: make sure everything gets a good water/bleachdown if you are bringing it back to the house. One thing I was missing was a bib/apron but everything I had one went into a garbage bag for washing just to be on the safe side.  Some other things I would do different..get a big enough pot to scald the bird so water does not come out also the small thing of getting the water HOT ENOUGH. Also, next time I want to have a pack of smokes around so I can offer a cigarette to the roosters before the processing begins.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Fowl, todo

 

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Just a post

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Just like the olden days. Just another test post showing the remaining chickens…just got the pics so that should be up in a day. Not that anybody is waiting!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Construction

 

Chicken Out of Coop Experience

..my laptop is having issues and I cannot get the middle part of the story up..but here is the end product:

overcooked by 25% to imperfection!

yes..post is coming but we did away with 3 of the roosters..the hens were getting too much attention..to the point they would not even come outside when I put out seed.

A* stirring the pot again!

Not too bad..1 become a roast the other became a soup…the roast was overcooked so it was not as good as it could have been..even though these guys were roosters they still had lots of meat on them..I would say that each bird was around 5 lbs after butchering. A* and I were also at the local farmers market this weekend and they were selling free-range chicken at $3.50/lb ..wow..our birds would be worth quite a bit if we put them on the market!..not that we will! Anyway..from chick to rooster to a roast and soup..chicken, the bird that keeps on giving! We still have 1 bird to cook before the weekend too..maybe fajitas!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Construction

 

Garden Mini-Greenhouse (ish)

Last year and the year before A* and I started much of the garden indoors..it took up room, we had to constantly move the seedlings and they were prone to die..many of them made it and we planted them after 2-3 weeks inside. When we put them in the ground we also planted seeds outside..A month later and you could not tell the difference between the ones we started indoors and the ones we planted outdoors..so this year we said we were not going to start indoors. One thing that we did want to do was to at least make a mini-greenhouse from one of the raised beds so tonight with the longer nights I spent an hour experimenting with the boxes.image

Over the winter I covered the ground with some straw to keep it semi-insulated to keep the compost active..In this shot I just uncovered the box that I am going to build a coldframe with.image

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The beginnings of the frame..I used some pieces of wood that I had around the yard and scrap from when I did the flooring back in Nov. Around the frame I secured some vapor barrier that had been used to keep wood dry..the wood was gone so I cut some into sizes that I needed. I secured the barrier between 2 scraps of wood at the top.image

the back opens up to allow air to escape and the front flips up so I can get more air in if I need it. This was another one of those projects where I could have spent 4 hours coming up with ‘the best plan’ but instead I thought about it for 5 minutes, experimented for 10 then spend 45 constructing..better to have something done then perfect…plus there is the fact that it will be coming off in a month anyway when the weather warms up.image

On the rest of the boxes I left some empty of straw, some with only straw ( as it was ) and covered a couple of more with vapor barrier so I could see which method would be best for the future..I am only attempting to warm the soil up for planing in a week or 2..well..almost..image

I could not resist putting some lettuce in the mini-greenhouse..it is still below 0 on many nights but the days are much warmer..which reminds me..I need to get out and tap some maple trees this weekend..perfect weather for sap to make a small batch of maple syrup!

..Also..

..quite a difference to a month and a half ago!
 
 

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