Wes Hunter

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since Dec 04, 2013
Missouri Ozarks
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Recent posts by Wes Hunter

When my oldest son was 6 or so, I went into the bathroom immediately after him and found pee all over the seat.

"Son, how in the world did you manage to pee ALL OVER THE SEAT?"
"I was scratching my ear."
"Well, then, you scratch with one hand and hold on with the other."
"But both ears were itchy."
2 days ago

Travis Johnson wrote:My question is, am I the only one that sees this kind of nonsense and spends wayyyyyyyyyy too much time thinking about it?

I spend a lot of time thinking about these sorts of things, but mostly just as a reliable source of self-amusement.  I do get moderately incensed about certain things of this ilk, but that too serves as a sort of self-amusement.

One example: walking by a freezer case at Wal-Mart (I'm sorry) a while back, I noticed bags of chicken wings that said in big, bold letters "Smoked* Chicken Wings," written in a quaint hand-lettered farmers-market-esque chalkboard style.  Following that asterisk, I learned that these were chicken wings to which "smoke flavor" had been added.  I was at first quite angry, because there is, to my mind, a clear linguistic and qualitative difference between something that has been smoked and something to which smoke flavor has been added, and because our corporate-bedfellow government is too lily-livered to stand up and disallow such blatant lies.  Then I despaired a bit, wondering how on earth as small-scale, conscientious food producers we can compete against such a stacked deck.  But then I turned that into motivation to better connect with my existing customers and develop relationships that subvert such tactics.  And finally I found myself amused at the obviously desperate attempts of corporate America (or wherever) to capitalize on something that it cannot understand and with which it cannot truly compete.

So, yeah, I think about such things a bit, too.
3 months ago
Look up the Pearson's Square method of calculating for feed, then just add in enough high-protein feed (e.g. soybean meal or fish meal) to get whatever total protein content you want.
9 months ago
I am an optimistic seed buyer.  What seems entirely easy and reasonable in December and January often turns onerous come planting time.  (My saving grace is often the fact that seeds keep--there's always next year.)

So one of this year's optimistic purchases was asparagus seed.  Now that I've remembered that I bought it and ought to do something with it, I've found that the recommendation is to start the seeds 10-12 weeks before the last frost, which as it happens would have been 10-12 weeks ago.

My question, therefore, is what to do from here.  Do I go ahead and start the seeds, knowing they will be 'delayed, by 10-12 weeks going into the fall/winter, or just wait until next year and get on it earlier?  (I can, of course, do both: start some seeds now and see what happens, and save some to start next year, but I'd prefer to learn from someone else's similar mistake if that's an option.)
11 months ago
I dislike the fruit pickers, having found them to cause more trouble than they solve.  I've got a couple tall pear trees that I pick by climbing and picking.  But there are some fruits that are too high up to reach by climbing, and my method there is to get as high up as I can and shake the tree, causing the ripe fruits to fall.  There's usually a little damage to the fruits, but they're still perfectly usable.
11 months ago

C├ęcile Stelzer Johnson wrote:Do you have any solutions?

The long and short of it is he needs to be put in his place.  You need to establish that you're at the top of the pecking order.  If he attacks, you ought to be able to get in a good kick and send him on his way.  You need to do it hard enough to send a message, but gentle enough not to hurt him, which is really quite easy in practice.  You might also carry a long-ish stick, say four to six feet, and give him a healthy whack each and every time you're close enough to do so.  He'll learn soon enough to keep his distance, though you should be prepared for his periodic retesting of the pecking order.
1 year ago
For a different take on an old bird, skip wet-cooking altogether.  I've found that a dry-roasted spent hen can be plenty tasty and still chewable when put in the oven at about 325F for two hours or so.  You're definitely cooking it to well-done and then some, but the extra time seems to break down the muscle fibers to make them chewable, more or less like braising does.  The meat will be firm, certainly, but it ought not be tough.

Coq au vin is a classic, but for a rather different dish that utilizes the same basic technique you could make cock-a-leekie soup.

I've never tried it, but I had a customer tell me that using alcohol is another method of rendering an old bird palatable.  I don't recall the specifics, but I think he was brining the birds in whiskey.  I imagine an herb-flavored vodka might be interesting too.  He may have even used the alcohol as his cooking liquid, or part of it, but again I don't recall.
1 year ago
I'm probably repeating much that has already been said--I just quickly skimmed the replies--but there were many ways.

Supermarkets are relatively new, but don't let that lead you to believe that food markets are new.  The supermarket is in essence just an amalgamation of the more focused food marketing avenues: greengrocer (fruits and vegetables), butcher (meat), baker (bread and flour), general store (dry goods), etc.

I don't know of any books that deal with food distribution generally, but if you read old texts on specific food production there will be sections on marketing.

For starters, the subsistence farm was the rule rather than the exception.  For those entering "commercial" farming (if we want to call it that), access to markets was a major consideration.  When your only or primary transportation is via train, you're probably not going to get into a business endeavor that requires you to ship by train if you don't live near enough to a station.

The countryside was quite different.  Many more small general stores, more grist mills, more communities generally.  Farmers who raised a crop of, say, wheat would take that crop to their local mill.  The miller would take a percentage of the crop as payment for the milling, and local folks could then go to the mill to purchase their flour.  Thus the farmer's grain crop entered "the market."

Laying hens were kept in moderate numbers, as were milk cows.  It seems fluid milk consumption was uncommon enough, but there was a time when the farm wife (typically) could make butter and take it, along with surplus eggs, to the nearby general store.  I believe this was often bartered for other goods, though surely cash payment was given as well.  In either case, those things were now in "the market."  Plenty of communities had local creameries, too, where the farmers could sell their milk and/or cream.

Poultry was typically, it seems, killed and (mostly) plucked, then packed in barrels with ice to be shipped to distributors, who marketed the birds to butchers and such.  On a smaller scale, a handful of birds might be offered to the local general store as well.

"Cattle drives" aren't some quaint Western notion; that was how beef made it from the farm/ranch to the larger population centers.
1 year ago
I am intrigued to learn that I have been unwittingly practicing a dumbed-down version of this for a while now.  

Around the beginning of each year I will purchase a large (8.5 x 11-ish) planner, with each week laid out as a two-page spread and large spaces dedicated to each day.  I will typically start a list of the things I need/want to get done that week, then start assigning them to specific days, and even specific times of day if necessary.  Things that don't require being done at any particular time are shoehorned in wherever they'll fit, or may just remain on the 'master list,' being copied into the next week, until they get done.  It's interesting to look back on occasion at the things that I 'needed' to get done that never actually got done because, as it turned out, they weren't that important after all.

My even more dumbed-down version, which usually I practice for the first couple weeks (or months) of the year, before things really get busy and I convince myself that purchasing a planner would make a difference, is to take a simple legal pad, write "Week of ____" across the top, and spill my brain onto the lines below.  Just writing it down helps a great deal, by freeing up my brain from the necessity of remembering everything.  Then I'll go down the list and put a letter next to the most pressing tasks, to indicate the day of the week they would best be done on.

It is immensely gratifying and motivating to look at a page with all sorts of tasks with a line through them because they have been completed.  And if I happen to do something significant that wasn't on my list, I'll write it down and immediately cross it out.  I want credit for it!

I have also found it useful to break tasks down into sub-tasks (or "sprints") as mentioned above.  Rather than write, say, "Plant 10 apple trees," I try to make a point of breaking it down as far as is reasonable: "Purchase 10 apple trees," "Prepare planting holes for trees," "Transplant apple trees."  Those are distinct tasks, which can be completed at different times, so breaking them down as such makes completing the 'big' task look less daunting.
1 year ago
Skip the pressure canning and make a big batch of confit with the legs, and turn the breasts into dry-cured prosciutto.  The breasts can be confited as well, but prosciutto at least gives you some variety.  The prosciutto will keep at room temp for rather a while--I've got some that have been hanging in my pantry for nearly a year now.  A big crock of confit will need cooler temps--cool enough for the preserving fat to remain solid--but doesn't need to be refrigerated.  Keeping time depends on how heavily salted the meat is, but you could probably expect a good two to three months at a minimum.
1 year ago