Tuesday, 11 October 2016


One of the three turkey poults - they are doing well.
Today sees us roughly in the middle of that Liz "Dentist Hell" of which I spoke in the last post - easily the most painful day but also the 'bottom' of this particular helter skelter ride. From now on, in theory, it is all mend, repair, getting better, recovery and the like. Just to add salt to the wound, this would have been the day she should have flown to Spain, off on a lovely sunny, relaxing, food-rich, sociable (long) weekend with a group of Internet chums including our good friends Mazy-Lou and Airy Fox.

Dustbin Lady and Crate Lady out on the front drive with the
Yes. As we were driving to the dentist, Liz should have been on the bus from Ballaghaderreen to Dublin Airport, checking in for Bilbao. Then this dental thing loomed up with rubbish timing and Liz decided that exploring the foods of Spain was not really practical for now, so she dropped out.

A lovely gift of acorns from Tara. Genuine Irish Oaks.
So, off we toddled to Balla-D and Liz's date with Destiny and as we turned out of our lane at the crossroads in the village I spotted, sitting on the kerb, a lady runner in jogging shorts and a bright pink top. Thinking she was just resting, I recognised her and said to Liz, "Hey, isn't that your friend from The Play?" It was and Liz had already spotted that both her knees were bleeding from nasty grazes.

All quiet in the pig pen - just a million footprints
Obviously we stopped, did a quick U-Turn and scooped her up. She was feeling very foolish as she had just fallen for no reason she could see, but was also in a lot of pain and shock. Ouch! We drove her home (she'd already run about 2.5 km outbound so was a way off, especially on bleeding knees) and all agreed that now that we are 'grown ups', to fall and graze knees takes you right back to school days where the teacher would gather you up and pass you to the School Nurse who would wipe your cuts down with horribly stinging antiseptic stuff. The days of stretchy pink cloth sticky plasters.

A good vet could get them back on their feet? These ladies went
down to Castlerea in a trailer but came home in the car. 
That, though, is surely enough pain and hurt for one blog. Mine is only the mental 'anguish' of finishing my lovely Oxford Sandy 'n' Black piggies, Somerville and Ross. It hardly compares and especially now that we are through it and able to enjoy the 'product' end of the process - getting our meat back and butchering it up into joints and cuts. The whole job has gone seamlessly. I always worry that something will go awry - we'll fail to load the pigs or we'll have a break down or puncture. So far it has gone well with us (pre-dentistry!) working well as a team, loading, hauling, talking to the butcher, then collecting the split carcasses (he even split the heads for the brawn), butchering them up and finally stowing them in the freezer(s).

All you need to cut up a pig - Scott Rea's excellent videos on
YouTube.... oh and maybe his 25 years experience!
This year we discovered a series of videos on YouTube by a butcher from the UK, Scott Rea. Scott videos himself with a camera over the shoulder as he does master classes in the various aspects of butchery. They include making salt beef, making brawn (or "head cheese") and so on but most importantly today, in how to cut up a pig.

With the ribs removed, these lovely sheets of front "belly"
will become string tied, rolled rib roasts. 
He has 25 years experience and shows and explains the process really well, so I found myself watching a chunk of video, then pausing the tape while I did THAT to my carcasses, then looking at more. Respect, Scott. You are now my go-to butchery mentor! I learned some new cuts this year which I had not seen or done before this year; a (string-tied) rolled rib roast, for example, steaks from one of the big muscle blocks in the leg and boned out loin-chops. Also a new way of doing rib-chops.

The Dining Room Table gets a bit of abuse.
All that lovely meat is now cut up, bagged, labelled and (amazingly) squeezed into the freezer. We had been going a bit mad using up thawed portions of frozen left overs; the shopping list dry-wipe board says "BUY NO MEAT OR FISH" in big letters at the top. We had also been turfing out stuff that had a lower priority than our new 'harvest' and might survive long enough in the fridge to get used up safely.

All bagged and labelled ready for onward shipment to the
Utility Room freezers
I can also tell you that the pork is GORGEOUS. Tonight (fairly late after all the butchery and other normal jobs) I cooked a couple of the boneless loin chops, deliberately very simply so that I could get the full flavour; just veg oil and heat. I served these with mash and broccoli. It pains me to say that Liz missed out on this too, restricted as she is to soup today. She said it smelled and looked lovely. Finally on pork, we have salted down 2 of the whole legs to try our version of 'Parma' or 'Serrano' ham. These lads get a dry cure of mixed salt, sugar, star anise, bay, peppercorns, coriander seed and dried chillies (Thank you the Strawbridge father and son team) patted and massaged into them daily for 21 days (and the brine which gets sucked out of the meat by the salt layer, drained off). They then get air dried for about 8 months hanging in our spare room. Last year it worked a treat, hence we have gone for 2 legs this year. It's an expensive cut if it goes all smelly and maggotty but so far we have not had that happen.

K-Dub rollers down the first layer of mix and the matting on
our newly buit roof sheeting. 
Meanwhile, the kitchen project moves on another stage. K-Dub spots a dry day and zooms over here so that we can sheet over the roof frame and apply the fibre-glass weather proofing. I am told that "no-one uses torch-down bitumen felt" any more; the stuff we used so dramatically on our Utility Room roof (flames, smoke, coughing, worries that the whole place would go up in flames). There is now a good product spawned out of the boat industry, a modern (non itchy!) version of fibre-glass which comes in rolls that you can just tear to shape. overlap, squidge round corners and mouldings and then cover with a 2nd, pigmented layer of the same mix (softener and catalyst) as a top coat (or 2).

The pigmented topcoat
It is quite new still so no-one really knows what the life will be on roofs but all indications are that it will go longer than bitumen felt and is certainly less easy to damage by walking around on it. The building industry has adopted it whole-heartedly and the fire-regs boys also prefer it. K-Dub (and colleagues in Dublin) have done some huge roofs in the city with it and they love it. It is also a nice, trustworthy, solid GREY. It LOOKS like it will last. Inevitably it is more costly than torch-down felt but hey, you have the added bonus of getting high on the fumes! I was talking about falling over whisking you right back to school days; well those fumes had me right back to building fibreglass canoes at school, too.

Well, I suspect that this is enough for this post. I hope that by the time I write again, I will be able to report Liz well on the mend and with at least one pork supper to her name (and the fallen lady jogger fully recovered). Good luck now.

No comments: