Saturday 3 July, 2004
Our pigs are booked into the abattoir for Tuesday 13th July. As before we're borrowing a trailer from a friend - we couldn't justify the expense of a livestock trailer of our own at the moment. The butcher is also sorted, with instructions for what is to happen to which pig.
The largest pig we will keep half of and sell half of, and the belly will remain intact for bacon-making. I'm planning on building a smoker in the next couple of weeks so we can produce smoked bacon and ham, and experiment with cheese, eggs and fish. The smoker will probably be based on HFW's description in his first book - basically 2 inverted metal dustbins, the top one slighter smaller than the bottom one, on top of a heat source (I'm hoping to find a gas burner or an electric hot plate which will do the job rather than a bbq or similar), on top of which sits a tray with the wood chips. Progress (success or disaster!) will be reported here.
Saturday 3 July, 2004
I've added a new section to the articles section of the site for recipes. We do make a lot of stuff, using recipes we've found on the web or in books, or made up ourselves over time, so will add the best to the site as and when we use them. Today it was pickled eggs, this afternoon it's going to be mange-tout soup.
We'll only post recipes we've used ourselves, but if anyone wants to send us recipes we'll be happy to try them, add them to the site and credit the source.
Saturday 3 July, 2004
In honour of Wimbledon Fortnight, Homer and Copper have developed a new game. It's called "Cat Flap Tennis". I'm not really sure what the objective of the game is or how a player wins or loses, but it involves two cats, one on either side of the cat flap. Cat 1 slaps the flap with his / her paw. Cat 2 slaps it back. Really skilled cats like Homer catch the flap with their paw as it opens towards them. Maybe the object is not to get biffed on the nose(?).
It's quite a noisy game especially when played in the quiet of the wee, small hours of the night. Cass, of course, doesn't get involved. Or maybe he's not invited...
Tuesday 6 July, 2004
Things keep growing, whether we're ready for them or not.
Tonight I harvested another 1 1/2 pounds of raspberries, straight into the freezer for winter crumbles and pies. I also lifted all the garlic, 30-odd heads, which has reached a good size and will keep us going for a year. Just in time too I think, since 4 were damaged by some kind of mould or rot. They were disposed of, the rest are now in the garage to dry thoroughly.
Tuesday 13 July, 2004
This morning as planned we took the pigs to the abattoir in Dunblane. Everything went extremely smoothly, thanks to some help with loading up from our friend Brian, and the benefit of experience having done this once already last year.
Rosemary shed a few tears, but to me they've been dead since the day they arrived - we looked after them and kept them safe but their fate was sealed back in March. It is kind of quiet around the place now without them, but there'll be more next year no doubt.
Friday 16 July, 2004
Yesterday we had an unexpectedly early telephone call from our butcher to tell us that the largest pig had been prepared and was ready to go, some 36 hours before we had expected. Last night saw some feverish activity preparing the basic brine to make bacon with the belly pork, and finding a suitable vessel in which to do the curing. After a moment's panic a rummage through the cupboard revealed a cool box which should be just the thing.
This morning at 7.30am I popped up the street to collect the pork, and delivered half (60lb) of it to friends near Saline, who kindly supplied us with saltpetre (since Rosemary had 'tidied' ours away...). A gift of some raspberries in return kept us all square!
Monday 19 July, 2004
We had a 'To Do' weekend this weekend, something I missed off of the long list of things needing done was work on this site - I've got a load of gallery images and recipes to add and there's been plenty happening which should have been logged here (if only for our own reference). It just seems to be a time of year when there's so much to do outside.
Anyway, I'm taking the time now over lunch for a quick update.
First up the belly pork which has been in brine for the past 72 hours was rinsed this morning and left in fresh, clean cold water where it will stay for 24 hours. Then it'll be hung to dry for 24 hours, then hopefully smoked for the same period. Then it'll hopefully be bacon :O)
Wednesday 21 July, 2004
Well, the pigs have gone. It's very quiet without them and I haven't yet got out of the habit of looking at tired bread or cooked pasta and thinking "oh, the pigs will eat it".
People ask "do you get upset when the pigs are killed?" The roughty toughty answer is "not at all". But the truth is "yes, I do".
The process of loading the pigs was very smooth - they would happily follow a feed bucket. At the abbatoir, they happily followed the bucket into the holding area. They weren't going to be there long. When I got back into the Landrover, I bawled my eyes out, muttering incoherently about "just pay me in 30 pieces of silver".
Saturday 24 July, 2004
Yesterday I got the last pieces of the jigsaw that is our home-built smoker - a length of tubing for the propane gas bottle and a couple of retaining clips to keep it firmly connected to the boiling ring and the bottle. So last night we assembled it, set about discovering its nuances and put one of our Wiltshire cured hams in as a first try.
During the night I made adjustments to the gas ring every 3 hours and added sawdust as required. The temperature ranged from 20-40 degrees centigrade, at first, but settled at a perfect 30 degrees once I'd got the hang of it.