Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Canning season is upon us (and jerky making)

The family has spent the last week or so berry picking. We've got a few nice patches on our property and we found a few nice patches elsewhere.

This weekend I dusted off one of the pressure canners and got busy.  But first, I got a new kitchen gadget.  An OXO food mill.  I couldn't wait to try it out. I kept the blackberries and raspberries in the fridge and kept my fingers crossed that the food mill would arrive on Saturday. Thankfully it did because I'm not sure the berries would have lasted much longer. 

Long story short, I really like the food mill.  I can't believe I waited as long as I did get to get one.

Anywho, I had two VERY FULL gallon-sized buckets of berries in the fridge and I got to work on them.  

iPod photo of before-milled and after-milled blackberries.
Canning jam was a bit of an adventure this year.  For whatever reason my jam wasn't setting up at all.  The jam looked like I hadn't added any pectin to it.  But a rebatching (or two) took care of the problem.  My Tattler lids really saved the day since I could just rewash them and use them again.  I use a mixture of Tattlers and single use lids.


My son counted all the jars that had processed and the final number of all the jars of jam I've done this year was in the 70s.   I have never made that much jam in one season.  I think I got a little crazy with the "free berries".  This picture doesn't have all the jars showing.

 Isn't it pretty?  I just love the jewel tones that jam has.

In other news.  I talked to my husband about making beef jerky.  He was intrigued by the idea and started doing a bit of research online.

We have a smoker (or two, ... maybe three. Okay at one time, it was four) and he put seasoned meat on the smoker for one or two hours, to get that wonderful, yummy, delicious *drool* smoked flavor and he finished it off by drying it out on the grill.

For making jerky for the first time, he hit a home run with the flavoring.  Oh! It is wonderful. He already got a request from someone to make more.

There is a local place that has a meat counter that includes smoked foods.  Their jerky is nothing compared to what my DH made this weekend. 

This weekend after the jerky was made my son ended up eating about 1.5 lbs of it. Which is amazing to me.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Berry picking!

Last night we went blackberry picking for the first time. Um, wow.  There were so many berries

Just look!  And this was just the first wave of berries.  We found an area that is just thick with blackberries.  I'm surprised -- we were the first ones to pick.  Though when we first got there we thought all the berries had been picked.

So many ripe berries on the canes that they were practically on the ground. You could pick all the berries you saw, then lift up the bush and there would be that many berries just hanging below the leaves.

Here's my son with half of what was picked in about 1.5 hours. You can't see it, but his legs got scratched up quite a bit. But the thorns and pickers really didn't stop him from charging into the brambles.

We ended up with more than 4 pounds of blackberries.  The bright red berries are raspberries that we picked while on our way home. The berries were SO ripe. You just had to look at them and they fell off the bush. 

Tonight there is plans to make some jam. It will be my first time making blackberry jam. I just may have to make some bread to go with it.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We lost another one :-(

Saturday DH noticed that our wee-est baby chick wasn't looking so great.  One of her wings was hanging low and she looked sad.

We got her back into the house and set her up in a space where she could be alone while we monitored her. 

Crappy ipod photo of Junior
She exhibited symptoms that were very similar to Little Red before she left our homestead.

I contacted some online friends and they offered ideas.  We ran to town and got some antibiotics to put in the water for ALL the chickens.  Just to be safe.

Saturday night all Junior was doing was sleeping.  She feel asleep on the plastic lid that had food for her.  She had no interest in drinking.  But we were determined to give her a chance to pull through.

Before going to bed I had my son hold her and he whispered endearments to her.  But 10 p.m. she was barely moving.  I didn't expect her to last through the night.

Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, our sweet little junior, with her punk rocker hair, went to heaven to be with Little Red.

I handled this one much better than the other farewells.  It still stinks though.   My DS thought Junior was back in the coop until last night.  You could see his heart break as it sunk in. 

I told my DH this weekend that I didn't think I ever want to purchase chickens from a private party again. Not only do we have this unknown (to us) illness that could potentially kill all the babies, but I do worry that it's something that could somehow get to the big girls.  The two groups really haven't been together.