Archive for March, 2009

A spot of Autumn pruning

March 19, 2009

We got the trees behind the house cut down yesterday. This is what it looked like before (although the 7 easy ones were cut down ages ago) All of the 6 remaining trees leaned towards the building and really wanted to fall on top of it so we did not dare to cut them down ourselves. 

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A local (Rod, whose mother was a Howe) came to help and they climbed up a tall ladder and tied a chain as high up on the trunk as they could reach. They connected the chain to a big long steel rope that was run through a pulley mounted at the base of a tree a good distance away and then attached to the back of Rod’s ute which he had weighed down with an anvil and tractor bucket amongst other things. That meant that they were not pulling the tree towards the vehicle. 

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Then they made the standard cuts in each of the trees to be felled, taking a wedge out on the side that they wanted it to fall towards and making a higher cut from the other side. Finally they would pull them down with the ute. This is a photo of one of them going down.

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Quite a few of them bounced which was kinda interesting to see.  It worked a treat and we now have no threatening trees overhanging the house. 

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And we have just a few logs to cut into rounds and chop up for firewood.

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Ham it up

March 16, 2009

We butchered the little pig with the broken leg last week and decided that we were going to attempt to cure our own ham this time. Caleb researched various methods and determined that we would make a Suffolk ham this time around. It is the strangest thing, in a lifetime of living with fridges and freezers, to make a ham the old fashioned way. Somehow it seems like you should not be able to keep meat for so long without it being kept refrigerated. I thought I would share the process with you.

The first step is to rub sea salt crystals into the fresh meat. In our case the meat was really fresh, having been slaughtered the day before.

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Then you leave the meat sitting smothered in salt for one week. During this week the salt draws the water out of the meat and salt penetrates into the meat at the same time.  It really worked and after a week the meat was sitting in a pool of salty water. The meat had changed to a more greyish colour. I tentatively sniffed it and it smelt just fine despite sitting at room temperature for a week.

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 The ham was then ready for the pickling stage of the Suffolk ham recipe. The pickling ingredients are treacle, brown sugar and stout beer. 

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All mixed together in the pot it made a black gooey mess with a lovely frothy yellow head. 🙂 

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And in goes the ham. The ham gets weighed down so it is covered by the liquid. The recipe suggested using a rock but we used a container filled with rice instead. 

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Now the ham gets turned over in it’s black potion once a week for 6 weeks. Suffolk ham is said to have a black rind when it is done. I am not surprised! 

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After pickling for 6 weeks the ham is hung up to dry and then it can be eaten. That will be an experience! I can’t wait to see if it works well and what it smells and tastes like. If I suddenly stop corresponding 6 weeks from now you will know that we have all died from food poisoning and that making your own hams is an idea to be avoided!

This particular type of ham does not need to be smoked. It also does not have saltpetre in the recipe, and since we haven’t located any saltpetre yet that was a good thing. Apparently saltpetre keeps the meat more of a pink colour.

We will let you know how it turns out.

Caravan part 2

March 3, 2009

Well, the caravan annexe arrived yesterday.  It arrived on the back of a trailer and we fell in love with the tractor that unloaded it.  We had to remind ourselves not to covet our neighbours ox.  🙂

It still needs more levelling and sealing up but it is actually here and in place.  What a blessing!

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