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August 2011

Kraut-the German way

Arlis wanted kraut.  Being part German, he grew up with a lot of German food.  Some of which I had never had.  Mix that with true Appalachian culture and you really have an interesting menu!  So, hating kraut, I went along with it all anyway and looked up how to make it…the German way.  (Hey, if you don’t like it anyway, why not make a nice project out of it all and learn something new?)

The Germans don’t do anything the easy way.

Step #!-Grow your own cabbage.  Trust me on this one.  Homegrown actually has flavor, and good flavor at that.  Grow your own.  

Step #2-Slice it up into slivers like for slaw.

Step#3-Put it in a crock and salt it well between layers of cabbage.

Step#4-Wash your feet thoroughly. 

Step#5-Dance.

You want to crush the cabbage GOOD.  The heavier you are, the better.  The point is to break it all up and the water will come out and mingle with the salt.

Put a plate on it and weigh it down so that the brine covers the plate.  Let it ferment for several days to a few weeks.  It was so hot here that it took a week or less.  Skim all the nasty off the top of the brine, and pull off the weighted plate.  The brine protects the kraut. 

You’re not making beer, you’re making lactic acid.  It’s not that kind of fermentation.  If you choose, you can freeze or can at this time.  Use the juice if you can!  I ate a good deal of it and I had always hated kraut.  (I’m not dead yet either, and I never once got sick!!)  You tube has great tutorials if you wish to make your own.  This is the one we followed:

There are three parts I believe.
Ours tasted much better after we refrigerated it a few days.

Enjoy authentic kraut that is also good for your flora!

Why Scotsmen cuss

Why do Scotsmen curse so much?  Why do they have such odd words for things?  Other than that their lineage is as mixed up as Americans (first their Celts, then they’re almost Roman, then Angles and Saxons, then Vikings….), they grow sheep.  Lots and lots of sheep.  It’s fall, and it’s time to dag and crutch the sheep.

WHAT??  (I’ll explain, just keep reading)

The days are getting shorter again.  School has started back in the house.  The blankets are coming out some nights.  All the summer chores are done.  I canned the last of the beans I’m going to harvest (35 pints!!).  All that’s left is collecting seed, digging up spuds as we need them or just before the first frost, and taking down the garden.  That’s fall chores, getting ready for winter.  You think it’s going to be easier, but it isn’t.  The projects are bigger and sometimes more crucial.  One of those chores is preparing the livestock.

We haven’t had to trim the sheep’s feet in a while as it hasn’t rained here in 3 weeks.  But that’s perfect for them to be cut, as their wool is all dry and stuff.  Dagging and crutching are one of my least favorites. dag-to remove dags, and crutch-to shave the crutch.
The crutch is the crotch and the dags are…um…dingle-berries.  There’s a reason.  The crotch collects manure like dags, and creates a haven for blowflies.  Remember Momma and the maggots?  We don’t want that again, so we crutched and dagged the sheep.  It also helps during lambing, and we think we have 2-3 pregnant ewes.  Here is a pic I found online:

Our sheep are Shetland, so their legs are VERY woolly.  I had to shear their legs too-just whatever was nasty really.  I didn’t want to risk the camera out there-trust me-it’s not pretty, so you’ll just have to make do with the above.  Sorry about that.  We’ve decided to do this every fall and every spring about two weeks before they get sheared in the spring. This will be healthy in the fall, and help the good wool stay good in the spring, and make the shearing go better.

I also learned a lot this time.  I’m more experienced with the shears, and allow me to inform you that taking the blades off and washing them is BAD, VERY bad.  Do take them off, but just use a paper towel or rag or something and “floss” the blades with it.  That little brush that comes with it gets more out than you would think.  Then put it back together and oil it down and turn it on to coat.  Store OILED.  Clean them THAT DAY.  If you don’t, all the dirt and such dries and turns into something solid that can only be surpassed by a hairsprayed hairdo from the 80’s.  So I did much better with the blade maintenance, and that’s a good thing.

OK, SO…  I told Marcus to stay inside so he didn’t hear me inform Arlis in my best Scottish imitation how I felt about the current situation.  (I can’t get started.  Once I’m started, it’s not a problem, I’ll go all day)  Here I am, as though asking what we got in the mail, “Turn him over so I can get his anus.  Put your finger on the pizzle so I don’t cut it.” (actual sheep terminology)  I made one ewe bleed, even though I don’t remember touching her there, but it appeared to be VERY minor (one drop only), so I didn’t feel bad.  I also had to trim two rams…you know…the part that drags the ground?  Yeah, Arlis got a big kick out of me trying to convince myself to pick it up and shave it.  I still wake up screaming at night about it.  But I made it through telling myself how I would feel if I didn’t and they got blowflies there.  Arlis got a treat though.  While straddling one ram, I hear, “Why is….awwwww!  Nice!  Thank you so much!”  A ewe peed, not on, IN his shoe.  ROFL!!!

He didn’t find it funny.

He’s still sleeping in the living room…

I’m still laughing.

I’ll never can again-pant, pant!

Of course I don’t mean that!  But I almost felt that way.  Although we far exceeded last year (our first year), we still didn’t have enough for the rest of the year in tomatoes.  We’ll grow twice as many plants next year, and no more Mr Stripy’s.  They did awful!  (They were rotten before they were ripe)  Our Roma’s did great, as did our Lemon Boy’s.  I love the yellow breeds!  We use them for spaghetti and pizza sauces.

So, Arlis went to Knoxville for a day, and dad took him to Rutledge to get tomatoes at $10 for 25 pounds.  You can’t beat that.  You really can’t.  So, for $37, we got 56 pounds of tomatoes, and 35 pounds of peaches.  Most of the peaches were molded, but only a few tomatoes were bad. 

(we got two of the above boxes of tomatoes)
This farm sells to Krogers.  Now, for the unaware, grocery stores do not accept food that is (get this)
Too large
Too small
The wrong “shape”
etc
(Look for these farms for great end of season deals for your canning!)
Do those tomatoes look wrong to you?  Me neither.
So, our pantry looked like this

The jars are three deep.  Tons of beans, little tomatoes, a few potatoes, kraut, and empty quart and jelly jars.
We bought 24 more jars.  They only had small mouth, so I had to settle for those.
There was much canning

 He was a GREAT helper!

We finished around 7pm or so last night.  Now, our pantry looks like this:

Ah!  That looks much better!  Anyone want any beans?  Seriously, I harvest 3 pints every other day-it’s getting ridiculous.  I’m about to the point of just letting it grow and not harvest any.  (the chickens don’t seem interested).  I’ve got a basket full in there now needing to be canned and well….

Puss…..in baskets

My collection of Knight in baskets.  These were all 100% candid over time.
Most of these were taken while he had the worst of the conjunctivitis.
Don’t forget you can click on any picture to see a bigger one.

In this one you can see where Priscilla lives behind/under the mattress.headboard.

 Good grief!

Ah…Sweet Poetic Justice

 That would be a chicken eating off of the dead raccoon.

How to (finally) catch a raccoon

WARNING: If you don’t like to hear about innocent vegetables being mutilated, don’t read the following.  You might also want to stay clear if you don’t want to know about the cute fuzzy animals doing the mutilating that get shot.

We had a lot of damage.

At first we thought it was deer.  Last year we had a lot of deer trouble.  They would come in and eat a tip, half, or the whole ear of corn.  The husks would be pulled back, and they would just chomp off their choice.  This year we assumed it was also deer trouble.  After calling wardens and state officials in order to get a deer nuisance license, we wound up having to leave a message and just hope.  When we weren’t getting a call back, we found some pics to look at and discovered that raccoons are also a problem.

Hmm…we only saw deer tracks once.  After that, the corn was left in a path and shucked and eaten like a human, not bitten in half.  Raccoon made sense.  We set out the hunt!!

We stayed up night after night to catch the stupid raccoons only to have conversations like this:

Frwump Frwump…

“Did you hear that?”

“What?”

“That sounded like a deer jumping the fence.”

“Yeah it did.”

(Much waiting in the silence occurred)

At this point we threw the light on high beam and panned the area.  Nothing.  Sigh.  We sat back down and waited some more.

“Haaaaw hee haw hee haw hee hawwwwww”  Our neighbor’s donkey was apparently bored as well.  Every day we picked strawberries, he would talk to the other donkey on our other side.  They would talk for half an hour or more just braying back and forth.

“Did you hear that?”

“No.”

This went on for several hours a night, for several nights.  We would leave the dog out every night when we came back in to detour anything. We finally bought a live trap. I didn’t want to spend that much on a trap, and I couldn’t shoot the thing in a cage, it just seemed unfair, but we got one anyway.  The first night, we set it out early so as to let our pets learn to stay away from it.  Boy was first.  He never went near it again.  Then Mya.  She has avoided it as well.  Knight never looked at it, so we just left it there with some leftover sloppy joe and went to bed.  I just knew I’d wake up to another attack.

In the meantime, we got a call back from the state.  They said to PLEASE kill the coon and not let it go somewhere else.  They’re a real problem. The last thing I want to do is drive around with the blasted thing and find somewhere to let it go.

The next morning, it had caught something.  I was going to have to admit I was wrong, and that it did catch a coon, only it didn’t.  It was a stray grey tabby I had never seen before.  There was much laughing and jeering from me.  No attack.  We assume the cat screams scared them away.  We let it loose and set it again with some ground beef that went bad and a bad ear of corn.  We caught Knight.  He hasn’t been back either, but Mya did manage to eat the left over sloppy joe by moving the trap and licking what fell out.

Another attack one night led to these early morning pictures:

Suede was displeased with the flash

So, his mother Marigold came to investigate:

And got a bit of a treat.

(I think my chickens and cows may be in league with the coons as they seems to be the only ones benefiting from all of this)

Night after night of this crap.  We caught that stupid tabby again, got another attack on the other end of the corn that definitely looked like deer.  That was yesterday morning.  Last night, I insured the trap was set with cooked ground beef.  This morning, it was sprung.  It was grey, I assumed it was that stupid tabby again, so I set about my morning chores of bugging and harvesting hoping that leaving it in there a good bit would discourage future stupidity..

It was a beautiful fog morning, already warm and humid.  I was trying to get photos of the chickens practically running me over flying out of the coop, and video of my new pet bantam rooster, Bluefoot, crowing.  I discovered this:  (to see their full beauty, click on each picture to see an enlarged version.)

Then I heard it.  That unforgettable noise that has woken me up at 1AM many mornings.  That high purr/squeal thing raccoons do.

Arlis was sleeping in today, and Marcus wasn’t due up yet, but I dropped my bug jar and basket and ran into the house.  Arlis woke up-amazing in itself-and came out.  I woke Marcus up as he wanted to see it, and he ran out in his undies and barely any shoes.  I warned him.  I told him they were cute and he didn’t want to see this.  It was a baby.  It was a vicious, mean, horrible baby creature.

 At first I thought it was cute.  Then I saw this:

Arlis put his gun in and it attacked it like you wouldn’t believe.  Then he shot him. Had to three times, and the stupid gun is awful.  You have to load it every bullet.  Not one cry or noise, so it wasn’t that bad, but I’m glad I didn’t have to do it.  One down, the rest of his wretched family to go.  We did get one good ear out of all of this.

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