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Wes Hunter

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

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.
8 hours 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.
2 months 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.
2 months 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.
3 months 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.
3 months 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.
5 months ago

Marco Banks wrote:Joel Salatin's approach is to avoid pure-bred birds and go with a big mutt mix of a little bit of everything.  Down through the years, he's brought in a variety of different roosters to bring genetic diversity to his flock.  He grows thousands of meat birds a year, and as they pasture them, he keeps an eye out for birds that look good, gain weight quickly, and are healthy.  If a bird passes the eye test, he pulls it out and keeps it as a member of his breeding stock flock.  

His birds are loved for their flavor, size and health.  No antibiotics, no hormones, just goodness.  

Do you have a source for this?  I'm not entirely up to date on Salatin's methods, but I'm fairly sure his broiler program is almost entirely based on purchased Cornish-Cross.
7 months ago
Check JM Hatchery for their New Hampshire Reds and Delawares.  The breeding stock isn't pastured as far as I'm aware, but they have been selected for meat characteristics, which you will not find from any other commercial hatchery.
7 months ago
We also use egg flats, which I've found to be much more manageable than cartons.  Once one flat is filled, another is placed on top.  Regardless of how many flats are stacked, the one on the bottom is always the oldest.  So we'll remove the bottom flat, set it on the counter next to the stove, and eat from it.  When that one's empty, repeat.

We eat enough eggs that we don't worry about the order of individual eggs in the flat.  They'll all be used within a couple days, typically, so exact age is unimportant.

When we sell excess eggs, we'll work in reverse and draw from the top flat down, so we're always selling the best.
7 months ago
I can't stand t-shirts in hot, humid weather.  They stick too much, especially along my upper arms, and the closed neck keeps too much body heat in.  For me, it's a cotton button-down, usually long sleeved.  (I roll the sleeves to my elbows or higher 90% of the time, but long sleeves at least give the option of wearing them down.)  I'll keep at least the top two buttons undone for airflow.  A light weight cotton is preferred (Indian madras is fantastic if you can find it, but if you're paying retail it'll hurt), though even a relatively hefty Oxford cloth is usually fine.

For bottoms I'll typically wear canvas pants from the farm store.  Something lighter weight would be nice, but I make use of the pockets on the carpenter-style pants and those aren't, to my knowledge, readily available on lighter weight pants.  I'm also quite hard on pants, so a durable fabric is a plus.  Occasionally I'll wear shorts, but only if I know I'm only going to be working in the garden for the time being.

Silly as it may be, I prefer the look of a tucked in shirt, but they usually come untucked rather quickly, and untucked is certainly cooler.

Except for during morning chores, when I just throw on muck boots, my footwear consists of wool socks and leather boots.  I'm surprised how many people think cotton would be cooler, but wool wicks moisture, keeping one's feet dry and comfortable, and by whatever mystery of the universe doesn't make for hot feet.  I do tend to put on fresh socks midday for comfort.
8 months ago