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Chris Sims

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since Dec 07, 2012
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Recent posts by Chris Sims

Thanks for the help so far!  What I meant about the fridge stinking is it had almost a rotten meat smell, but not quite.  I had not smelled that while butchering the meat out in the greenhouse, so I checked the rest of the fridge for surprises.  I did find one rotten carrot, but that didn't account for the smell.  I think it might have been more of an old blood smell, actually.  Obviously, the carcass didn't get a chance to bleed out right away, as I'm used to doing when we slaughter our lambs or poultry.

Thanks to forum advice, I took that chunk that had been in the fridge back out to the greenhouse to hang it.  Outside, it did not have a bad odor, so it's likely that letting it cure will make it quite nice.  

After I initially brought the meat inside, my husband rinsed it all and set it to drain.  If there'd been something wrong with it then, he'd have been sure to let me know.  I guess putting the meat in an enclosed space made the blood/adrenaline or whatever get concentrated.  The deer was a doe, by the way.  I'm still hoping to eat some ourselves, probably as a slow-cooked stew.  Thanks for the suggestion of soaking it, too.  
2 years ago
I just got my first deer!  I need some advice on safety, though.  My son was out for a run and found a deer in a ditch that wasn't there the day before.  It looked pretty good and fresh, and the weather here has been in the 20-37 range for the last 48 hours.   Both hind legs were broken.  Eyes were clear, there was little blood, skin was pliable, it wasn't bloated, and there was some stiffness in the muscles.  So, I went home and called the Game Warden.  In Vermont, we have to call the Game Warden, who gives a salvage tag over the phone after taking down some details about the roadkill, and you're free to go get your meat.  Upon skinning the deer, I saw a discoloration on the belly and figured the guts were blown.  Therefore, I didn't even bother opening the abdominal cavity.  I took the back strap meat, both forelegs, and as much of the hind legs as wasn't damaged.  It ended up being quite a lot of meat.  I froze most, but put some in the fridge in a sealed package.  Today, the whole fridge stank.  Question is, could the odor be from adrenaline stuck in the meat?  Is an entire gut-blown carcass unusable or just the parts touching the abdominal cavity?  If there's an off odor to the meat, is it still safe to feed to dogs if it's cooked well?
2 years ago
To get mulch, find a livestock farmer and offer to muck out the barn.  You may need to compost the materials before using them.  Many farmers have way more manure than they need for their own use.  Hilsen!
2 years ago
We have tapped our box elder trees for many years. You can't kill a box elder no matter how hard you try (other than using poison, which we don't), so you might as well get something out of them. Therefore, we don't worry about tapping young trees much smaller than the 10" diameter recommended for sugar maples. The ratio is about 60:1 sap to syrup, and the syrup tends to crystallize quickly, so we don't take it all the way to syrup but can it as "liquid sweetener." By putting pots full of sap on the woodstove, the sap steams off gently, using no energy we wouldn't be using to heat the house anyway.

Other than that, we take advantage of the rapid growth of box elders to use them as forage for our sheep. They love the leaves and nibble at the bark. The branches burn reasonably well, not the greatest, but not the worst, either. The new-growth branches are supple and good for weaving into fences, etc. We also use branches for chipping or hugelkulture. At the moment, we have a box elder branch with a nice curve to it that might just make a pretty good snath for my scythe.
5 years ago
Thanks, everyone, for some great food for thought! Within the next couple of weeks, we'll be down to about half a dozen chickens for the winter. Most of our birds are three and a half years old, and it's time for stew. It's in the overlap years when we have new chicks plus elderly hens that our population rises to 30. Currently, the minimum order for chicks is 25, but we're looking to find a local source rather than getting the little peeps through the mail or hardware stores. We're too close to neighbors to keep a rooster, ourselves.

I'd never heard of fermenting grains, but I'll try it forthwith!

Chris
6 years ago
We usually have about 12-30 heavy breed laying hens around the place. Their summer coop straddles two chicken runs, about 75 x 20' each. I alternate sides every three weeks or so to let whatever wants to grow there recover from being scratched to death. I liked the idea of laying down chicken wire to prevent them turning both places into bare mud. It's not practical for the whole run, though. One side has a small pond, lots of berries, goldenrod, brown-eyed Susans and a wide variety of other plants. The other side includes our compost area. After turning the compost, we often let the chickens harvest worms for a couple hours before we close it up again. (We have four bins made of pallets for turning, aging, etc.) Squashes and tomatoes usually volunteer around the edges of the compost piles, so we try to protect that from the chickens to give them a good snack when everything's ripe (or overripe!) All summer, the chickens get various weeds pulled from the garden, as well as food scraps from the kitchen.

In the fall, I turned them loose into about half of our 2000+ square feet of garden. They did a great job tilling the soil. Not deep enough to disrupt the mycelial highway we have going there, but they got every last weed out of the gardens and went to town on leftover veggie stalks.

In the winter, they scratch around in the hay the sheep reject. Plenty of seeds in there. Seems like they actually eat the hay, itself, too. Recently, we entered into a deal with a local, high-end coffee shop to get their food scraps. There's a nice mix of breads, potatoes, and veggies in there, with a bit of meat, too. The chickens love meat! Throw them the bone from a nice roast, and they'll clean it bare in a few hours. The only meat we don't feed them is chicken.

So, we're already supplementing their store-bought feed quite a bit. I'd like to get off store-bought feed entirely. I'd love to hear from someone who has accomplished that. (We're in Zone 4.)
6 years ago
I've already converted a lot of our 0.3 acre lawn to garden. Now I want to grow chicken feed. Buying organic feed makes the eggs too expensive for many of our neighbors, but it's the only way to avoid GMOs. We still have more lawn than I really want to mow, so there's room. Have tried sunflowers, but a 5 x 5' patch only feeds the girls for a few days. They do pretty well all summer, but I need something I can store for them over the winter.
6 years ago