Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 16, 2010

November 16, 2010.  The first snowfall of the season, just enough to whet our appetites and send us scrambling for our snowboots.  I had the day off today, and after sleeping in fashionably late I decided to have a nice, quiet, putz-around-the-house kind of day.  So, I did.

Hubby made me a cup of tea and I set down to finish sorting the pumpkin seeds.  These are from my Jarrahdale pumpkins.  Hubby baked the two largest yesterday and saved the innards for me.  He put the baked flesh into freezer bags and into the freezer, for future pies, breads and muffins.

My middlest boy was home sick with an ear infection and cough.  With one hand in the pumpkin goop and the other firing torpedos, I played a game of Battleship with him.  Don't worry, this photo was taken after the game -- I didn't use the camera as a pretense to get him to show me his board.  Besides, he won anyway.

I had started two large pots of stock simmering the day before yesterday, so today was the day to strain the bones and meat and other bits from the lovely liquid.  I made both chicken stock and beef stock.

I make stock every other month or so, when I've saved up enough chicken or beef bits in the freezer.  I use my Joy of Cooking recipes for the stock, but I simmer it for much longer than the three hours they recommend.  Gotta get all the goodness out of those bones.

These are pint containers, showing five pints of beef stock on the lower left, and fourteen pints of chicken stock in the remaining cartons.  The beef stock ended up fairly light.  If I had planned ahead, I would have thawed the beef bits first, then roasted them in the oven for a few minutes to brown.  That would have given me a darker broth.  The cartons of stock were put into the freezer for future use.

When I finished putting away the stock, I sat down to separate the meat from the bones.  I put a good amount of meat scraps on a plate and fed it to the outdoor cats.  They devoured it in mere seconds, growling at eachother the whole time.  They remind me more of piranhas than of cats.  They have developed the nasty habit of swarming us whenever we open the deck door, hoping for food.  In the hopes of discouraging this, I have started feeding them from our unused front door.  Yes, I know I could solve the problem by just stopping the gravy train, but I don't want to do that.  Not yet.  They do a great job keeping the mice and gopher numbers down.  That, plus they are furry and cute.

After feeding the stock scraps to the cats, I brought the pumpkin guts out to the chickens.  The cats followed me out to the chicken pen and when I dumped the pumpkin over the fence, they dove in after it.  Who knew that cats liked raw pumpkin? 

But the chickens managed to get their share.  The hen in the center of this photo is one of my blue-laced red Wyandottes.  She has beautiful markings.

And here is one of my three silkies.  I have a white silkie hen, a white silkie roo, and a black silkie roo.  Benjamin has given all of them names.  It is the same name -- they are all 'Mr. Hairy.'  Benjamin says hello to all the Mr. Hairy's whenever we visit the chickens.

After watching the chickens for much longer than necessary (people who own chickens will understand how this happens), I went out to the garden and pulled up a few barrow loads of broccoli plants.  Would you believe they were still alive?  Barely, maybe, but still green and frost-free.  And still bearing a few small florets.

I hauled the broccoli over to the goat pen, and threw them over the fence.  The goats were in goaty heaven.

Five eggs from the hens today.  Not all of the young birds are laying yet, obviously.  I've got twenty-five hens and ten roosters.  Four of the hens are a few years old, and probably aren't laying much anymore.  Come December, when all of the hens are laying and the molt is finished, I should be getting about twice this many eggs.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on other small things: putting together my UNFI food club order, playing Old Maid and Crazy Eights with the boys, doing dishes, putzing about on the computer for a bit.  Before I knew it, it was six o'clock and I hadn't even started supper.  So we ended up with a quick (and very non-local) supper of spaghetti, meat sauce and peas.  Not very glamorous, but you can't be good all the time.

To assuage my cooking guilt, after supper we made cookies.  The boys helped.  Graham is getting very good at cracking eggs and measuring dry ingredients.  Benjamin's favorite job is to stir.  Owen's favorite job is to taste-test the results.

Pan cookies are much easier and quicker to make than drop cookies, so that's what we usually make.  I have already eaten three of them (three cookies, not three pans).  Self-control is not one of my stronger attributes.

So, there you have it, the total run-down of my day.  Pretty exciting, aye?  Nope, not at all.  Which is just the way I like it.  A nice, quiet, putz-around-the-house kind of day.


Erin said...

It is exciting! Great minds must think alike (snort!), I am making chicken stock today and also bought that game for the kids for Christmas! I too, will cook it much longer, saw that Mama Pea cooks hers all day, so that's what I'll do too, I'm a newbie at making stock! Amazing that the cats and chickens are in there together! And love that your broccoli greens get eaten up - don't know what my problem is, I love the broccoli, but I swear I have to hold my nose when harvesting the stuff as I can't stand the smell of the leaves LOL! Looks like a wonderfully productive day for your home.

Mama Pea said...

Sounds like a very busy putz-around-the-house day to me! You got A LOT done. Our chickens, geese and ducks got squash innards today just as yours got those from the pumpkin. (No cats here though.) I used the last of my beef broth in soup yesterday but still have chicken broth in the freezer. 'Tis so important to simmer that broth for a long time so we get all the nutrients out of dem bones! Thanks for sharing your day.

Karen said...

Holy crap, girl! You got ALOT done on your putz-around-the-house day!! I'm wayyy impressed! While I so appreciate the end result, I just can't work up enough enthusiasm to do any of it myself! Even when we move to our 15 acres home/farm, I doubt I'll do anything on your list except feed the chickens (if our neighbor's rottweilers don't kill 'em) and cats (which we will have to catch and deliver from your house!). Of course, I saw a gorgeous 18.2 hand percheron (dapple grey!) on Craig's List that I now covet!!!

Susan said...

If that's putzing, I must be sleepwalking! You sure get a lot done when you putz. And you take pictures, too! It's a great post - I love the cats in with the chickens. And you're right, I can watch them for hours.

Mr. H. said...

I had to look at your cat and chicken picture twice. I have never seen anything like that before.:)

Jo said...

Hey Erin -- Yes, great minds must think alike! And I learned to cook stock longer from Mama Pea, too -- it certainly is a small world. :)

Hello Mama Pea! I've noticed a difference since I started simmering the stock longer - more richness, and a deeper color to the stock. Thanks for the good advice!

Hey big sis! As soon as you move out to the country, I'm ordering you a gross of canning jars and freezer containers, so you'll be obligated to fill them up. I'll even show you how to butcher a chicken! Aren't you lucky you have a sister like me?!

Howdy Susan -- Thanks! I don't always take pictures of everything I do every day ;). I just did it that day! It was kinda in response to the blog meme, from another blogger friend, to document your typical day. Hard to do when no day is typical!

Hello Mr. H -- I suppose it is unusual, but our cats have never been aggressive to our chickens. Of course I don't tempt them with having baby chicks in the coop, the new chicks stay on the porch in the brooder until they're six weeks old. I guess we're just lucky! The kittens learn from their mamas that the chickens are off limits.

Leigh said...

Gosh, you had a fantastically productive day for must putzing.

Cats not only like pumpkin, but it's good for them and an excellent remedy for cat (& dog) constipation and diarrhea. I learned that when our Rascal had feline lymphoma.