Wednesday, August 28, 2019

So Long Best LGD Ever.

 Fannie, our best livestock guardian dog ever, died a couple weeks ago and we've all had a hard time adjusting to her absence. She had been with us several years on the old farm and moved with us here in 2014. But old age and bad hips caught up with her. Prior to that she was the star in livestock protection. Roaming the property's boundaries, she kept coyotes at bay during the night and warded off piglet and chick seeking hawks that circled overhead, in the day time. As ferocious as she was towards predators she was extremely meek, mild and gentle with all our gks. The younger they were the closer she stayed by their side.

The photo below is Fannie with our oldest grandson Wesley, now 11. He's known her since infancy. The two of them had a thing for hanging out under trees watching squirrels. 

She was the Alpha dog here in our pack of two. Ashland, our 1/4 German Shepard, 3/4 Husky was always more timid than she and he didn't eat, lie down, or venture forth unless Fannie gave permission. Five years younger than her, he was the annoying puppy she had to train. He, however, never minded his role as number two dog.  In fact, I could lay an entire raw roast beef at his feet and he would not even sniff it until Fannie had her fill and gave him permission to imbibe. 

They were good buddies but there was a pecking order to be followed. Now that she is gone, when I feed Ashland he still looks up and about waiting for her to come around the corner and give him directions. The first few days after she died he didn't eat at all. He just laid in front of his bowl, looking side to side for his buddy. "She's gone" I'd tell him. "She's not coming back." Still though he waited. Eventually he felt better, as we all will. 

This is the last picture I took of my girl, the one who would meet me at the car and allow to me to grab the scruff of her neck to steady myself while walking through snow and ice on the way up to the house. It was a hot day when I took this and she was resting in the shade by the swing all the gk's love to use. I knew then her time left on this farm was limited; I think she knew it too. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Chicken Dinners Coming Soon to a Homestead Near You

In about three weeks Keith and I will venture south to Central Illinois Poultry Processing in Arthur Illinois with our fifty broilers we've been raising on pasture. Last year was the first time we used their services and we were extremely happy with the results. The facility was clean and efficient, the staff was friendly, and the price of $ 3.20 per bird (whole) or $3.80 (cut up) was fantastic value.

We used to butcher our own, did it for twenty-four years, but last year we wanted to raise more birds with less hassle,  so we caved to hiring someone else to do it. So happy we did. No more freezer burnt birds because my package sealing didn't take. No more huge feathery/offal mess in the yard. No more horrible fresh bird in hot water smell,  AND...we got to hang out in the cute little shops in Arthur, Land of the Amish , while our birds were processed. Oh how I love a good "Date Day".

The big bonus for me, besides a clean yard and tidy kitchen, is the whole horse and buggy scene. My most favorite animal in the whole stinkin' world is the horse.

Grandson Wesley (then age 8) with my horse Ennis.

Our birds this year are the same as other years, The Freedom Ranger Chicken. We buy them for $1.70 each, feed them certified organic feed, raise them outdoors on pasture with plenty of grass, weeds, and bugs. They grow so well. No huge leg deformity problems like the common white Cornish Chickens. I also love their pretty red color and their meat is moist and tender even when the broilers get over the five pound finished size. The carcass is dense, and ordinarily it takes about two hours at 325 degrees to bake them to perfection. Low and slow is my manta,

unless I am frying them, then it is quick and hot in our own pig lard, then finished in the oven.  Coated with flour, copious amounts of hymalayan salt, and pepper (after soaking in our own raw milk for an hour). The results are fabulous. I am now thawing our last chicken from the 2018 crop for tomorrow's lunch, which means we will have a three week dry period between chicken dinners.

Therefore, our first meal from our 2019 chicken crop, will taste that much better. Absence makes the heart, and the stomach, grow fonder.