Monday, 27 October 2014

Another Project, Another Mentor

Brawn boil up. No pots big enough, so I invented these
foil cone 'hats' to keep the heat in for the 6 hours
Over in Darkest Kent, Liz and Mazy are doing Sterling service, I know, helping Diamond's partner John to go through her stuff (a lot of it is clothes so, like me, John would have been lost in all the instructions describing 'Windsmoor' suits, cashmere cardigans and 'posh' handbags). They are sorting out the known bequests and following Diamond's instructions re charity shops and getting money to the Friends of Kent and Canterbury Hospital, The Pilgrim Hospice and so on. I think the fierce need to be practical and the mountain of physical work are just what they need right now.

Rather gruesome brawn mid-point. Best not to ask.
Back here I have managed to catch a whiff of Liz's cold just as she was leaving, so I am dosing myself up on Lemsip and keeping indoors out of the wind and showers except when the needs of livestock and dogs dictate. I went ahead with converting the relevant bits of pig into brawn which is an amazingly faffy, messy job. Up to now Liz has done all this - the cutting, the 6 hour boil, the stripping out cheek-meat and other muscle, the reducing of stock, the assembly in a mould and the pressing down while refrigerating.

Product. Note fancy 'top' made by arranging sliced tongue
in the bottom of the mould. 
Having had a go this time, I do solemnly swear that I will not ask her again - what a pallaver! The washing up and general kitchen devastation, the gribbly bits, the fat and skin! If Liz volunteers, though, I will not be complaining as the product is just superb and delicious, a slice of that sprinkled with a little salt, wedged between 2 slices of good bread is just superb. It gets a little spiced up with bay leaves, juniper berries and peppercorns in the boil so I couldn't swear that outdoor-reared (in this case Tamworth) brawn is different from 'commercial' but it is certainly as good as any I can remember.

Threadbare in heavy moult. One of
last year's Hubbard hens
Meanwhile we chug along happily into Autumn and the clocks change to bring us early mornings and long, long, dark evenings. The shortening days put the brakes on egg laying and the chooks all come into moult to varying degrees. From 9 hens we get two or maybe three eggs a day if we are lucky - often it is just the one or none. John Deere Bob still shows up regularly for his eggs and we don't disappoint him but, unbeknownst to him he is often clearing us out, taking our last 6! The days of glut and making pickled eggs with the surplus seem a long way away just now.

12 young Buff-Orps. We think, 4 roo's and 8 hens. 
The young Buff Orpingtons (the "Baker's Dozen", as was) continue to thrive. Being still a bit smaller than the adults they tend to get bullied off any food or corn thrown down 'centrally' but I have started to distract the grown ups in one part of the yard, and then sneak round to where the Buffs are hanging around and feed them out of sight/earshot of the adults. Happy youngsters.

Empty pig run. 
All quiet now in the pig department, of course. They didn't actually do as much rootling and clearing as we expected them to do, probably because there was enough space and variety of herbage for them to be choosy. They seem to have cleared dock, ground elder and some bramble, but have only done the edges of grass and nothing very deep. They messed around at the bottoms of fences but were successfully deterred by my bottom strand of high-tensile barbed wire and never looked like tunneling out except down in the ditch, where I have described my preventative measures in a previous post.

A little pig-damage to re-seed. 
Out in the open by the orchard they have stripped some of the turf and then chopped the soil into mush with their sharp little feet, so we have re-seeded that area; we hope the weather is still warm enough to get that seed going.

In the sheep department, as you know, we need to obtain some more freezer space before we dare get the sheep slaughtered and butchered. I am waiting for the 'Catering Manager' to come back and decide what we do about that. All in good time. There's no rush. The existing sheep are big enough but only just.

Shepherd's Pie and black (Tuscan) kale
We are now going to try buying in-lamb ewes which we will look after through the winter and then, we hope, see some new baby lambs out of in Spring. In this we have had an excellent result. We have found, via Carolyn and Charlotte of the Mini Horses, a lady in Mayo who is a friend of theirs, a small scale sheep farmer (about 30 ewes, I think) who is willing to let us visit and ask all manner of silly questions while she shows us around their set-up, but can also sell us ewes of various ages and crosses (including Liz's belov├ęd Jacobs). She is also willing to hold 'our' ewes back till she puts them to one of her tups (rams) in about 6 weeks. This will suit us perfectly as it will give us a chance to get a freezer and move the existing 4 sheep on.

Some of the 'O'Hara' craft beer range from Carlow Brewing Co.
Finally, I was delighted to find our local supermarket, SuperValu in Ballaghaderreen, selling a relatively new (since 1996) Irish craft beer, 'O'Hara' from the Carlow Brewing Company. They do a good range through from pale coloured beers to stout and I can now vouch for three of them, anyway. I raised my glass in the direction of Darkest Kent on Saturday, Diamond's Birthday. Rest in Peace, Di.

1 comment:

Matt Care said...

Huge 'Ooops!'. Got into hot water for using the boss's good baking tin for my shepherd's pie. Lesson learned.