We made an extra trip into town to pick up another freezer. There was no one to milk for me as I have weaned Sushi, for all intents and purposes, so it had to be a quick trip in order for us to get home at night in time to milk EmmaLouMoo. That is an interesting undertaking when 8 hours of the day will be spent just driving to town and back. Still, we managed to get all errands completed, picking up the freezer, livestock feed, a couple of food items we had missed previously, and even made a run to the bank in town to close out an account we haven’t used for several years. It’s pretty inconvenient when its a 4 hour trip one way to the bank.
While loading supplies in the horse trailer, which comes with us every trip, Randyman stepped back, tripped over a spare tire (actually, it was several spare tires. He hoards them) and fell on his keister. I have often accused him of having “Dick Clark Syndrome”. This is a condition in which a person remains ageless for about 90 years, as did the star of the famous American Bandstand of yesteryear. (The problem with this condition is that, eventually, all in one day, the affected person ages rapidly about 50 years, going from zero to old.)
I was concerned, of course, to see him fall, but when he got back up, looked out the trailer door and asked me what the fender on a pickup truck parked down the way said...and he was trying to sound out the letters....I knew DCS was at work here. There were no letters. It was a 4x4 pick up truck that said “4x4”.
I am no longer alone, feeling like a solitary, feeble minded, old wind bag. Misery loves company.
We spent more money than I wanted to in town...in fact, our entire monthly paycheck...on the first of the month. The good news is, this is February so we only have to wait another 27 days to get paid again.
Please note the obligatory “we” and “our” as in “our boss”, “our money” etc. (I think it is only fair to mention that it is he who makes the distinction of it being “my” horse, “my sheep”, and so on and so forth, but let me be on record, that I am more than willing to share the workload with him and allow him to help take care of them. Especially on those cold, windy days.)
We did pick up pretty much all things that we need for now. One more shelter has to be built for SushiMoo as she does NOT like being out in the weather, much like her mother and grandmother. Being 1/2 beefer, I didn’t think she would mind so much, but she is a princess, if ever there was one. Poor “Hurry-Up Chuck” (the mystery steer we are feeding out) has to eat quickly, because Sushi has decided that the nicest, warmest, driest bed should be for her, which is of course, the feeder. If he isn’t done eating, she doesn’t care, she climbs in and flops down for a nap anyway, taking up every square millimeter. I’m a little surprised she doesn’t demand that he give her a pedicure while she is resting. She has that kind of
snotty regal attitude.
Miss EmmaLouMoo is nothing, if not sweet and nice. As long as I remember to close the head-catch while she is in the milk room, all goes well. I managed to get the sheeples to follow me into the small area where the dogs eat and vaccinate them while they were in the midst of a feeding frenzy over a rare bucket of grain. They were so busy snarfing up food they hardly noticed when I hit them with the vaccine gun. The timing should be excellent as I see Rosemary and Salty are beginning to make little bags and should be lambing in about a month, while little Annie is becoming quite buxom for such a little goat.
Randy rearranged the two older freezers, so we now have 3 large upright freezers AND the milk fridge crammed in the tiny entry room. Now we will eat more beef. The boss has always supplied beef for the ranch, but it was all in a common location and their family is so large I never felt right using anything but some hamburger and small packages of stew or roasts now and then, in case I left them short on something. We have pretty much lived on chicken and lamb and venison. He had a steer cut and wrapped just for us this year so we bought a third freezer. Our boss is awesome. I love our ranch family.
The freezer is in and I am slowly dragging the meat over and putting it away a basket at a time. I can only handle about 30 lb, so it works out well. I am just using Cider’s old toy basket. Meantime, I got the tallow rendered this morning and the first of 3 batches of lard is on the stove. I rendered some deer tallow a couple of years ago in a very small crockpot and it was no big deal, but I hadn’t done tallow and lard before. The kidney fat from the steer wasn’t a whole lot, surprisingly. I only got about a gallon or so from the suet from one steer and just a couple handfuls of solids. The lard was a lot different. It looked like there was going to be a LOT of rendered lard, but at the end, out of that whole huge stockpot full, only 1 qt was lard and the rest was ‘cracklin’s’. I’ve yet to try the ‘cracklin’s’ but I hear they are pretty tasty. The entire process is pretty easy. We cut the lard up into strips and I run them through the meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid. Then it all goes into a heavy bottom pot and on the stove to simmer for several hours on the very lowest heat. When it all separates the solids from the liquid I strain the solids out well, package them then pour the remaining liquid lard through cheesecloth into a container or several, and leave it out to cool. By morning it is beautiful, creamy white. If there is a local butcher in your area, the chances are, you can buy some leaf or kidney fat off of them pretty cheap as a lot of folks these days have no idea they can do this stuff themselves at great savings for a superior product and don't ask for it back when they have their animals processed.
At the same time, I threw meat and soup bones into a pot with extra veggies for beef bone broth, which simmers for a couple of days. I deboned 2 big 7-bone roasts and put them in the crock pot to make meat for beef dip sandwiches, which I will can later. Randyman cut up a chunk of the lard so I ran that through the grinder and have it rendering on the back burner. I need a bigger stove. It’s almost impossible to put anything else on if there is a large pot and TWO large pots is just not very workable. Another item for the “Covet-budget”. While everything melts down except me, I work on clearing ‘stuff’ off the table and other flat surfaces where things like magazines, tools, bills and gloves all seem to gather. Finding a way to organize here has been my greatest challenge. It’s a small house with no closets, cupboards or shelves and my outside storage is pretty much unaccessible to me, as I can’t open the door to the container, so I’m dependent on Randy to find time to haul stuff out there for me.
While all that was on the stove, I grabbed a gallon and a half of heavy cream I had cultured and dumped it into the churn. The result is several pounds of incredibly delicious butter along with 3 qts of amazing cultured buttermilk which is thick and awesome to make bread or biscuits with, not to mention how good it is for marinating things like chicken in.
I found that my new, inexpensive, large water bath canner fits 5 gallons of milk so it has become my new and favorite cheese pot. I will just add hot water to the sink to bring the temps up and it should work better than my old roaster did. I was never really satisfied with the way that thing worked. My biggest problem at the moment is a decent thermometer.
As I was about to finish up my 4 lb. batch of jack cheese, I received the call from my brother that our father had passed away in the night. Although he was 92 and had not been feeling well, it didn’t seem possible that he could be gone from my life here forever. Reeling from the news, I staggered through the remaining chores and sat down to process it all, knowing Dad would have us continue on with our lives, not wasting any time on grief. It is just the way he was. Childlike in his joy and appreciation of all things, he was also extremely pragmatic and aware that life is short. To know him, was to know his own 92 years passed much too quickly to suit him, but I am confident he waits for us and I eagerly look forward to seeing him and other lost loved ones in the future.
I will spend the next week staying as busy as possible, trying not to focus on our inconceivable loss, while the Polarbears suffer more clinging from me than is usual. I don’t think they will really mind much. They are probably too tired to notice.