Dina Johnson

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since Jun 21, 2016
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food preservation forest garden greening the desert
We have 10 very neglected acres of high mountain desert. We have a Mammoth jennet, mini jennet, two meat goats that are just annoying pets, several barnyard geese that was suggested were Cottonpatch geese, and a barnyard mix of chickens as well as a few dogs and cats. We are empty nesters trying to get ourselves set up for retirement while creating an example for others to aspire to and follow with regenerative permaculture food forest.
Butte County Idaho zone 4 but more like zone 3 Lots of wind and average of 8-9 inches ann. precip.
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Recent posts by Dina Johnson

I so wish I was able to 'wrap my head' around all this!!!

I have 20 geese blessing our pantry... and looking high and low for 'how to do this' from live bird to meal... I am NOT wanting any of this in my fridge nor tiny freezer.. so was looking at canning them...

3 months ago

Olga Booker wrote:Hi James,

With a large surplus of birds, my personal choice would be to can it.  In fact, here in confit land, most of it is canned these days, simply because it lasts longer and it is safer.  With many birds, you'd need a very large fridge or a rodent free cool cellar to keep your open crocks.   It is true that depending on conditions, it will keep for a few months without spoiling, but eventually, if you have large quantities and can't eat it fast enough, the fat gets rancid and even mouldy.  Wes is right that the birds would be slaughtered when plump and fat.

What I do with my birds is this.

Remove all the fat from the birds, melt the fat with a small amount of water on gentle heat, when fat is melted, add legs, wings and neck if you like it, a few peppercorns, bay leaves and salt and gently simmer, 30-60 minutes until meat is tender and no water runs out when poked with a knife.  Immediately put into jars and cover with the fat leaving a 2cm gap, close lid and pressure can for 2 hours, I use 15 pounds pressure but I am at 2 500 feet altitude so you'd have to check for yourself what you need.  I have sometimes used a bit of pork fat to top up the jar when the birds were a bit on the lean side.  Some people also put nutmeg, rosemary, thyme or other herbs but I prefer things simple - your choice..

I live in Cassoulet country and while making it the traditional way is a long winded process, every housewife used to have her own recipe.  I make a very simple version that would make my grandmother turn in her grave if she knew!  Basically, I fry the wings, legs and neck in a bit of duck fat and some onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  When browned, I add some home made tomato sauce or some fresh cut tomatoes (tin is OK), a clove or two of garlic depending on taste and size of pot, and simmer for 10 minutes or so.  I then add some previously cooked large white kidney beans and simmer for another half hour.  Here we use what is called Tarbais beans, the name comes from the fact that it used to grow around a town called Tarbes.  I guess a white navy bean would do.  For some reason, white beans seem to lend themselves better to the taste of duck, go figure!  Anyway, while still hot, fill up the jars leaving a 2cm gap at the top, close the lid and pressure can for 2 hours (same as above).  That way you have a ready meal you can just warm up when you don't feel like cooking and you then can render the fat for other purposes.  Roasted potatoes in duck fat are wonderful.  A bit of fat added to soups and stews gives a certain richness, and no it is not bad for your health.  I also use duck fat to oil some garden tools and waterproof leather boots and canvas or leather hats.

Some of the bird's breasts, after a couple of days at least of "resting", are  eaten on the BBQ thinly filleted called "aiguillettes" here, or as kebabs on a stick, or plain fried .  Some are added in small chunks in the above mentioned stew, and some I salt for a day and hang up to dry.  The dried ones won't last very long and it is best to eat fairly soon, but it is delicious cut thinly in a salad or a few chunks in a soup or stew.  It gets drier and harder as time goes by.

The carcass with some meat left on it is boiled in a fair amount of water for several hours (sometimes all night on the edge of the range), again with a few peppercorns, bay leaves and salt, until the meat falls off the bones. While still hot, put into jars (without the bones), lid on and pressure can as above.  It makes a clear soup with bits of meat in it that lends itself to all sorts of preparations.  I open a jar, warm it up, and add some vermicelli pasta and fresh chopped parsley at the last minute.  Or on a winter's day, open a jar or two, add leeks, carrots, celery, potatoes, barley, herbs, whatever you have at hand  and make a very hearty stew.

I have 20 geese that needs butchered... I sure wish you lived near and would be willing to help... my husband is squeamish and so this falls on my shoulders... I am done raising geese and this is the only time that I will be butchering and canning, we live in a very small home and there is no room for extra freezer... and I have not found anybody interested in the birds... I don't feel comfortable selling the birds butchered because I am new to this...

but your recipes sound amazing!  
3 months ago
And I never did get around to butchering those 5 geese and I now have 20 that need to be butchered!!!
What have I done?!?!
I ended up buying a turkey fryer and it has set in the box...

I am thinking that with 20 large geese I will need to figure something creative... there is NO WAY I will be able to get that many birds in my freezer...

So anybody know the best way to pressure can goose?

Maybe this needs to be moved to another thread?

I did find this old article... so many resources that have so many similar but differing directions to butcher and plucking...

FOA chapter 13

Anybody near me interested in helping in exchange for taking some of them home??
3 months ago

thomas rubino wrote:Sounds to me Dina, that you have caught the BUG!!!  OH NO, No hope for you ....  Now you will have to build a RMH!!  
Looks like your down in the Salmon area.  To get up to where we are, its a long haul up US 93 . You would be passing numerous RMH's some with greenhouses , including the Wheaton ranch. We are 2 hrs NW of Missoula.
Our greenhouse is actually an artists studio now with nothing edible growing (unless you count the coffee & lemon tree... err bushes.)  
We did start out as a working greenhouse but my wife is now more interested in her art than a year round garden.
Visitor's who want to talk rocket science are always welcome.  

I would love a road trip with many stops along the way! I am located in Arco Idaho...

I just got back from a dog rescue run to Dillon Montana on Monday and had a lovely experience with a flat tire on a back mountain road on my way home. I was able to see a lot of elk bedded down while finding my 'center' and strength to break the lug nuts loose and change the tire to an old donut and drive ever so slowly BACK to Dillon (I only managed 'slow' on the gravel but once the pavement was under the rubber, desperation kicked in to get to a tire shop before they closed) I was unfamiliar with that area between Grant Montana and Leadore Idaho... I am ready to take that road again with my new tires! Maybe I can get a critter sitter for a long weekend so the husband can tag along, maybe mid October. We need to get our chicken coop winter ready and our high tunnel finished before it cools off too much...

Would ya happen to know anybody in my area willing to help out with building the end walls and draping the double plastic over the 24Wx88L ribs??
5 months ago

thomas rubino wrote:Hi Dina;  Possibly the book you are referring to is the original Rocket mass heater book by Ianto Evans  & Linda Jackson. For years this was the RMH book of choice. Its still a good choice for backround.
There is now a newer option called the RMH Builders guide by Ernie & Erica Wisner.  This book is now the RMH go to book for accomplished builders and first timers.
My green house in northern montana has an 8" J tube and uses less than 5 cords all winter to keep it 40-70 all day and all night with NO FIRE from 10 pm -6 am .... pretty neat huh.
If you are just learning about RMH's be prepared to get the bug ... you'll be up half the night reading ... and soon .... you'll want to become a rocket scientist yourself!

Awesome! Thank you! I would LOVE a visit to see how you have things set up and operating! There is so much to read and so many different ways to 'skin this proverbial cat' depending on materials on hand and location on the planet and all that changes with that pinpoint that my head doesn't seem to stop spinning!
5 months ago
Holy moly there is a LOT of items to read thru... I am guessing keeping on the most recent end will be the best option?
In the beginning there was mention of a certain book being the only thing in print, that was 5 years ago... is that still true or is there something more recent and what is the best for my area in Idaho?

5 months ago
Is this what you are referring to?
per the comments there is a lot to do with making this with resources I don't have... like a place to burn anything because we are on a very strict burn ban right now...

a trash fence would need to be incredibly sturdy! We can get sustained winds of 20-30mph with gust upwards of 60mph with a storm that lasts a couple days. and then we also get random 'bursts' of wind that can destroy your day with no warnings... we are fortunate with our placement as we have a cemetery with large trees bordering our west boundary line but they are not enough to keep down heavy winds that cause damage and dry up our freshly watered items quickly.

we had a heavy snow year a couple years back as well and the rabbits were eating the side of our evergreen trees up... I had no idea they would do that... and the majority of our trees are only 2-3 feet tall to begin with as that was affordable... but I suppose in the end, if they all need to be replaced it was a huge expense of time, water and money...

I am struggling with where to even begin and create zone 1... without having a 'bigger picture' how do I know where I will need water accessible?

Currently our well is located in the house... it is a pain in the a**!!! It is not keeping up giving water needed to water the yard area even after getting a newer and bigger pressure tank... the perforations may need blowed out BUT it is in the house and getting said tools in to do that, impossible!

I have a friend trying to give me her 4 Merriam turkey hens... but I am not in a place to safely give them a home... she says they lay every single day for 9 months out of the year... but again... I have no way of providing them with a safe home right now as our plate of things that needs to be dealth with before winter is overwhelmingly long... ya know, you make plans with expectations of things happening to throw you off a bit... but we are MONTHS off target even after making said plans with 'forgiveness'...

6 months ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:To follow up, here's where some swales might be placed (the white lines).

The yellow line is drawn from the highest point on the property to the lowest, The graph below the satellite image shows an elevation profile for that yellow line. Average slope is 2%.

What map are you using to see this? This would be very beneficial for sure to have this info... I am not really understanding how the white line works in the west field... and when will you be arriving to help??
6 months ago

Xisca Nicolas wrote:In the dryland website, i pointed to a pic that showed "flat swales" and you can locate this where it does not bother.

Children need to learn things about nature, and even to look and be careful, so if you locate your nopal not too near the house and get some mesh.... be careful also that animals love eating them! They are wonderful food, both nopal and fruits, and good source of compost.

Use mesh on the ground for unabling the dog to dig! All around the trees...

When is a good time to harvest nopals from the desert and transplant in my yard?

Mesh would be an added expense that we need to avoid... maybe planting the nopals around the base of my trees to create a barrier that the dog would be reluctant to dig in... hmmm...
6 months ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I observe goji berries growing feral in the deep desert in Nevada. I observe serviceberries, currents, and chokecherry growing in very dry areas. Nopales and or cactus tunas might grow well in Arco.

I have serviceberries planted last year and they are struggling... I have read that they do best in moist loamy soil and I don't have that in any way... but I am doing my best to keep them watered often (not my goal to have things growing that require so much water but hoping it is temporary)

I am not familiar with nopales and cactus tunas and not sure I want something that is low lying and prickly as I have grandchildren that roam here freely. I do know where to get some locally grown currants and gooseberries... I haven't seen chokecherry growing feral but I am not sure I would know it if I had...

When is a good time to take cuttings/suckers to transplant?
6 months ago