Bacon Bacon Bacon Rabbits

I always scroll back a little when I get on here to post just in case I’m repeating myself too often. Then I promptly forget and go ahead and post whatever. I’m a free form poster.

I think I mentioned starting some bacon. If not, I started some bacon. Today was smoking day! Woo-hoo! But wait… no journey worth taking is not without challenges right?

Wavy lines swish across your screen as your author has a flashback…

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It all started with this Costco pork belly. (I knew I had mentioned this!)

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Add equal parts salt and brown sugar and weird, miraculous stuff starts to happen. This gross, bloody, juice being one of them. If you dump the juice and replace the rub for a few days though the juice eventually stops.

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This is after 10 days. Truthfully, that was probably too long but I am so scared of poisoning us that I erred on the side of caution. The change is amazing. That floppy thing in the first picture turned into solid hunks of meat that you could pick up by one corner.

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Rinse the cure off and let dry for 24 hours, more or less, and it’s ready to cold smoke. What? You don’t have a cold smoker? Just one of those little Brinkmann bullet looking thingys? It’s time for REDNECK ENGINEERING! (My favorite.)

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It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a shipping crate and a dryer hose. πŸ™‚ The crate looks more important that it really is. The top of my smoker is basically just a big tube with a Β lid. Its purpose is just to capture smoke. I didn’t want to drill a hole into the side of my smoker so I cut a hole in the side and bottom (top) of the crate. The smoke travels from the little grill through the dryer hose and up into the smoker. I was stunned that this crap actually worked! And it worked well too.

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This photo doesn’t really do it justice. It was puffing like a Tommy Chong devotee. After four hours I pulled it out.

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It didn’t pick up a lot of color – I think that maybe I let it dry too long before smoking – but it smells like Hickory heaven. It’ll go into the fridge tonight and get sliced and frozen tomorrow. We could if we wanted just hang it and it would be fine but Don doesn’t want meat hanging in the house. I just don’t understand that.

But what about the rabbits in the title you ask?

Well, while I was out in the barn making sure it didn’t burn down I thought I might as well do something productive. So I worked on the rabbit hutch. I might have mentioned, or maybe not, converting these shipping crates into a rabbit hutch.

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I’m pretty sure I did since the picture has already been uploaded. I’ve been working on it every time I get a chance since then. The only thing I have left to do is build some poop trays.

 

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The hardware and the wire are new, everything else was repurposed from the woodlot at work. It should not have taken me so long to build except I was figuring it out as I went. Regardless, it is all but done and not a moment too soon. The rabbits will arrive next Saturday!

I wonder what smoked rabbit would taste like…

Was that in poor taste?

Be well my friends.

Just A Weekend

One of the perks of working where I do is the “woodlot”. The parts we build and the parts we ship are pretty big. Consequently the shipping material that comes into the plant is pretty big as well. We get first shot at almost everything before the wood recycler takes it.

I take full advantage of the benefit.

Friday I had Don bring schlep-truck to the plant and I loaded up this:

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Saturday I spent a few hours pulling nails and got this:

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That’s fourteen 14′ 2X6s, two 12′ 2X6s, and about thirty 8′ & 10′ ones as well. It was just seriously awesome! I certainly don’t mind trading my time for bounty, plus the wood gets more use instead of becoming pulp. I tell myself that anyway.

Today I used another shipping crate from there to make a bigger brooder. The 19 chicks we hatched were just getting too large for our original contraption.

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Just two more weeks until they move to their new home but for now they think they’re living in the Taj Mahal.

As I’m typing this the second presidential debate is on the television. I have purposely avoided politics on this blog because that’s not the point of this blog. But I just gotta say, “Thank goodness I bottled hard cider today cause I think it’s gonna come in handy!”

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Be well.

Realization

My friends, my friends it’s fall! Time to wrap things up, wind things down, and settle into the autumn.

In my line of work we talk alot about “realization rates”. Realization rates are a measure of goal achievement. If I say I can build a plane in 200 hours and it takes me 400 hours I have a realization rate of 2. If I build it in 100 hours I have a realization rate of 0.5. The ultimate realization rate is 1. That means you set a realistic goal and achieved it. The 0.5 means your goal was too easy. The 2 means your goal was too hard or your effort was too small.

I would put myself at about 1.7 right now. I don’t think my goals are unreasonable nor do I believe that my effort has been too small – although I will admit to probably taking more sabbaths than I should. πŸ™‚ But I’ve begun to realize that my plan may have been too spontaneous and chaotic. And… maybe non-existent in certain areas.

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Our first ever batch of hard cider. It’s bubbling away on a top shelf.

I like to end these posts on a positive note so let’s talk first about where I missed.

My biggest failure was not getting the house painted. It was Don’s most important goal and I just couldn’t find the motivation when the days were sunny. I wanted to be out in the barn or clearing the woods or anything other than painting. Painting is so not farming, except that it is. Realization finally dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that farming as a lifestyle is wholistic – land, house, animals, garden, family, friends, even off-farm employment – it’s all one life. This one is due to lack of effort.

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At breakfast I realized that the eggs, tomato, honey, apple juice, and blackberry jelly were all produced right here!! πŸ™‚

I didn’t get fence up (although I started) nor did I get a real garden in (although we did have the small potato/tomato patch) nor did I get the barn totally repaired. But it wasn’t due to lack of effort or unreasonable goals. I didn’t have a plan and by that I mean a realistic, thought out, written down with dates plan. I was also missing my overall farm philosophy.

It’s philosophy that drives action and provides boundaries for decision making. A smallholder, which I may begin calling myself, farms to fill her or his larder whereas a “Farmer” farms for income. I realized as I walked onto the back porch the other day that we had created a larder. In addition to the shelves of canned food from the grocery store, there are jars of home canned apple juice, buckets of apples, buckets of potatoes, boxes of onions, and even a big bag of our own walnuts.

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Not our pig (yet) but we’re still makin’ bacon!

It felt good, this realization. If I am really honest I farm for the satisfaction of a full larder. I am not entrepreneurial nor a good businessman. I’m okay with that. I am however a good provider. I think mostly because it’s the thing that gives me the most joy. A smallholder with a full larder, yes, I can live with that!

I’m considering those goals realized.

Other things we’ve accomplished are our first batch of hard cider, pressing our own juice, CHICKENS and hatching chickens. The bees made it to the end of the season and we have something akin to honey. Our first try at bacon is in the refrigerator in the barn curing away. And in a couple of weeks we’ll have meat rabbits. All longtime goals that I never

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Two scavenged shipping crates on their way to being a rabbit hutch.

really thought we’d achieve and yet, here we are.

We’ve been here one year and two months. It’s been chaos, bewilderment, bedazzlement, be-damned wonderful.

I realize that.

 

 

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I think all that introspection deserves a nice, pickled egg.