Friday, June 26, 2015

Chicken spa

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It is hot out here and supposed to get up to 103 degrees this afternoon. To keep our broilers cool and comfortable during the heat wave we set up a chicken sprinkler for the birds. So close to processing the broilers are very susceptible to heat stress. Playing in the sprinklers all day may make them wet and muddy but it keeps the metal boxes from becoming an oven on an already hot and miserable day.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A bevy of bacons

Oh the deliciousness! Here's a primer on the bacon varieties we distribute in our monthly Meat CSA.

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Clockwise from top right: cottage bacon, jowl bacon, belly bacon, sow bacon, bacon ends and pieces and loin bacon.

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Ahh good old fashion "belly bacon" or what most Americans would just call "bacon". This ubiquitous bacon comes from the belly of the hog and is ribboned with thick striations of fat that render down and bathe the meat in deliciousness while frying.

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Here is another example of belly bacon, this time from a sow (mature female hog). When harvested from an older animal, the bacon is larger (just look at the size of the strips compared to the other belly bacon), contains a higher percentage of fat and has a deeper pork flavor to the meat. In our CSA, we sell this bacon a la carte and call it "cooking bacon". This bacon really shines when cooked in something rather than served alone though it is perfectly serviceable for frying up for breakfast, the fat to meat ratio is just higher than normal belly bacon.

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"Jowl bacon" - These short, squat slices are made from the pork cheeks and closely resemble belly bacon.

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From the pork butt or shoulder of the hog comes "cottage bacon" or "shoulder bacon" or sometimes "buck board bacon". Cottage bacon is a bit of a mix between belly bacon and ham. It makes a killer BLT!

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Next we have "loin bacon" or "back bacon" or sometimes "peameal bacon". More common abroad than here in the US, this bacon is is made from the loin of the hog (where pork chops come from) and is nice and lean.

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Finally, we come to the bacon ends and pieces. These delightful bits are what is left over when the cured meat slab gets too small or oddly shaped to make nice slices. In the context of our CSA, most often the bacon ends come from belly bacon but may also come from cottage or loin bacon.

We made bacon from the cheeks, the shoulder, the back and the belly of the hog. What do we call "pork leg bacon"?


 Ham :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Branding 2015

A big thanks to our crew this year - Larry, Rob, Jan, Joey, Kira, Kathy and Melanie.

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Starting the day off with sorting.

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Herding calves - more difficult than one would think.

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"Monocle" and "Dusky" get into a scuffle.

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All penned up.

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This little calf was born yesterday. She laid down and slept the whole time until it was her turn.

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Stoking the fires.

Hanging out.

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Some new fancy jewelry.

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Joey's having a great time!

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The band.

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The brand.

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Family reunion. The twins meet up with mama "Black White Tail" who is standing next to her mama, "Red White Tail" and her calf.

 Off to pasture and time for a lunch break for the crew.

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Time for round two at the barn. We have nine calves of first time heifers at the barn. In lieu of walking the small herd over to the hayshed to meet up with the main branding, we opt to keep them at the barn and do a smaller branding at the house. We haven't done this before but it sounded easier...

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How many guys does it take to keep a 100-120lb calf still enough to be able to safely work on it?

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Apparently all of them :)

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Or just Larry who here demonstrates how he snuggles the calf to the ground.

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 And the mad scramble to secure the calf's legs before it beats the tar out of Larry.

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 A quick vaccine.

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And the final brand.

Thanks again to all that chipped in to help. While we did finally find a good groove about calf 8 or 9 at the house, next year we'll just take that walk to the haysheds. We're not cowboy enough for this rodeo thing at the barn :)

Thanks much to Kira for taking photos of the day's events.