November 8, 2010
This morning started out like most mornings. The thermometer read 20 degrees this morning, so the first chore of the day was to stoke up the fire. We have been leaving the chickens in the coop until about ten o’clock so they will lay their eggs in the nesting boxes. All six of our hens are laying now.
My cousin is out of town for a few days so I had to go over to his farm and feed up the donkeys, goats, and barn cats. I can’t forget Sandy their fat Lab. She will be waiting impatiently for her breakfast. I always take Ruby with me so they can have a visit and a little playtime.
Nothing else was on the agenda today, so I thought I would can up one of those Cushaw pumpkins Vickie gave us. I got all my canning supplies ready and sharpened my knives. Apparently I sharpened them too well because I ended up slicing my thumb. I got the bleeding under control and put a bandaid on. Tough to do one handed. It still wanted to bleed, probably because I have to take an aspirin a day and it thins the blood. My pumpkin lay there on the table cut open with seeds spilling out. I had to finish the job or it would spoil and go to waste. The best thing I could think of to do was put on a plastic glove and finish canning the pumpkin. It worked great.
I canned ten pints. I’m usually very careful, but today was just one of those days. I went to take a lid off of a pot, without pot holders ( idiot) and the steam burned my fingers on my right hand. So, now both hands are bunged up. I hurried up and cut a leaf from my aloe plant to put on my burning fingers. It immediately soothed them. They burned most of the afternoon, but I kept applying the aloe and now they feel fine.
Later on I noticed one of my hens was not hanging with the rest of the flock. Went to check her out and noticed that she was limping and had a tear in the skin on her back near her wing. A chickens skin is very thin. I’m not sure what caused it, but I suspect it could be from the Roosters jumping on her back. The poor thing looked pitiful.
I was able to catch her by throwing a towel over her. It was hard to tell the extent of the injury while trying to hold her covered in a towel. Mind you my hands were not in good working order, but I was able to clean the wound with warm soapy water and peroxide. She will have to be separated from the flock or they will begin to peck at her if she shows illness. I put straw in our large dog crate and gave her some water. That’s the best I can do for her. I will be surprised if she makes it. Chickens are susceptible to shock and infection. Most injuries are fatal. We can only hope that she will recover.
It’s painful to see my animals hurt, but that’s part of farm life. Injuries are bound to happen and out here and you have to be able to take care of them yourself. After the events of today, hopefully I make it to bed without stubbing my toe or having to bandage a bloody dog paw.
October 29, 2010
Tuesday I got a call from Vicki asking if I wanted some freshly ground pork sausage. She and Ronald had a hog slaughtered for their winter store of pork and there was more than enough sausage to go around. They usually sell the excess to their friends for $2.00 a pound and it is already seasoned with spices. Of course I wanted in on that deal and headed right over to get some.
Vickie greeted me at the door with a metal spatula in her hand. The smell of frying sausage filled the small kitchen and she quickly bustled back over to the stove where sausage patties were frying in two large iron skillets. Rows of pint canning jars sat next to the stove, some already filled with cooked patties. I watched the master at work as she flipped the patties until they were perfectly browned and then placed them into the jars. She poured grease into the jars about a third of the way giving me instructions as she went along. Canning meat was new to me and I knew this was something I wanted to try.
She gave me a sample of a sausage patty to make sure it was to my liking. When I took a bite I could taste the freshness and the flavor was mild. This was definitely good and I knew Sonny would like it too. I left with eight pounds of sausage and of course a jar of elderberry jelly that she made this Spring and a jar of sausage patties. You rarely leave Vickie’s empty handed and its hard to give anything back because there isn’t a thing they need. But I will figure out something.
The rest of the day I canned sausage patties, but since I didn’t have a lot of fat I added a few cups of water to the drippings and boiled them. Then I poured it in the jars to about a third. Next you pressure cook them for 75 minutes at 10psi. I followed Vickie’s instructions, but I also followed some of the instructions I got from the internet. I made eight pints, but unfortunately two jars did not seal. I put them in the fridge and we will eat them this weekend. The lids were new and I followed the canning instructions so I think they may have been a couple of bad lids. Sometimes that happens. You just have to make sure to refrigerate those jars and use them within a week.
The root cellar is starting to look like a root cellar with all the pretty jars on the shelves. When my sister visited I asked her to bring me some more apples. Sonny likes the apple sauce we canned on her first visit, so we canned up some more.
This time I made it slightly chunky instead of smooth. We haven’t tried it yet so we’ll see which one he likes better.
October 19, 2010
Carol called me Sunday morning and asked if I wanted any pears. I gave her an emphatic affirmative. Are you kidding? Pears! In this neck of the woods you don’t pass up anything that can be put up in your pantry. Ronald and Vicki had picked pears at a friends farm and had a load of them. She worked up (canned) all that she needed and asked if Carol and I wanted what was left. So Carol and I rode over to Vickie’s to pick them up. She had two or more five gallon buckets filled to the brim with golden pears. They were ripening up pretty fast since they were picked the week before.
Watch those fingers
Vickie also had two large Cushaw pumpkins for me. She said she had enough canned to last them for two years and didn’t care if she saw any more pumpkins until then. I was glad to take them off her hands and appreciate being able to put more pumpkin in our root cellar.
Carol and I decided to work up our pears yesterday and Vickie said she would be glad to help. With that many pears to peel and cut up an extra pair of hands are always welcome. We didn’t get started on them until afternoon because I had to take the forty pound propane tank for the generator to be exchanged in town. Of course a trip to town takes all morning, but I hurried as fast as I could.
Cooking them down
We girls had a great time while we peeled and cut. Vicki kept us entertained with conversation. John went to visit his friend Gary who lives down the road a piece. I guess he wanted to get away from the cackling hens. Carol has a nice area in her basement with everything needed to do canning. It helps to have an extra stove and all the large pots. We worked at my grandmother’s old aqua colored Formica table from the early 1950’s. I have many fond memories of sitting at that old kitchen table with my grandparents.
Future Pear Sauce
We decided to make pear sauce (which is like apple sauce) because the pears were so ripe. We had three pots of pears cooking down on the stove. I think we added a bit more water than needed and it took longer than expected to boil them down. We actually strained out some of the liquid to save time. The sauce was pretty tart so we added some sugar to sweeten it. We put up about sixteen pints of sauce and Carol made pear butter (something like apple butter) from the liquid we strained off.
Nothing from the pears was wasted. The chickens enjoyed a pan of scraps and the rest went into the compost. When I open a jar of pear sauce, I’ll have warm memories of time spent with good friends. As I open the lid the sound of tinkling voices, laughter and the sight of smiling faces as our hands busily worked will come to mind. That’s something you can’t get from a factory packed tin can.
Pear sauce and Pear Butter