A Girl and her Horse

High school and college football near completion, and the last of the garden harvest at Cairn Hill Farms continues (We ended up with more butternut squash than expected. Despite giving away much of it, we still have enough to dominate dinners for the next six months!!).

In addition, harvesting brussel sprouts over the past few days reminds me of my experience making pies from scratch, not worth the time! Since the garden is Chad’s “baby,” I hope he rethinks next year’s planting line-up.

MK also continues work with her Haflinger, Larken. This stout and sassy 13 year old mare was not ridden for the previous 18 months before joining our farm, so MK and her trainer, Jenn, developed a training regimen.

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While horses were an important part of my life, watching MKs journey into training, observing, and interacting with equine behavior has been a learning experience. The past year provided many positive adventures. Witnessing her passionate pursuit even inspired a bit of micro poetry:

Four legs,
Long face,
Beginning smile,
Saving grace.

As fall enters its final act, take the time to enjoy the vibrant colors, crisp days, and tastes of the harvest. Thanks for reading!

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(My elderly pony, Goldy)

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Chevon: The Other Red Meat

My adventure with goats started through a unique set of events. I made the decision to sell my dad’s 1957 DeSoto because we lacked the proper space to store and protect her. I wanted half of the money from the sale to go to the kids’ college fund, but I wanted the other half for something special, an adventure for me. I decided to hire the local high school building and trades to construct a 24 x 24 barn. I wanted to raise goats (and other farm animals)!

mk and goats

Two goats and two lambs joined our farm in the spring of 2014. One of the goats and both lambs were processed for our freezer. Darryl, the freebie goat, ended up becoming my daughter’s pet. Unfortunately, he thinks he’s human and hops the fence and climbs our back deck to look in our slider, wanting company (hubby wants to shoot him). Back to the reason for this post, we now have a goat or two per year for our freezer. When I mention that we eat our goats, or chevon, most people are grossed out.

mk and d

I will admit in my current foodie status, chevon is still in the beginning phases. However, this meat source is a healthy, low-fat option (similar to venison), and I question why more families do not try chevon. While a few dishes are not worth repeating, the following were worth our time. Here are a few options added to our family menu:

Chevon is ideal low-fat option to add to meatballs, spaghetti sauce, and chili.
My daughter, who wishes to be a vegetarian, loves this dish!

Goat Italiano:

1 lb. ground chevon
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced onion
5 shakes hot sauce (or more if desired)
Salt and ground pepper

Form in patties, coat in bread crumbs.
Heat oil on skillet. Cook until medium.
Add a slice of provolone or mozzarella for last few minutes of cooking.
Heat up one cup marinara. Coat top of each burger. Coat each plate and set burger on top.

Roasted Leg o’ Goat:
This recipe tasted even better as left overs!

Whole Leg o’ Goat:

Mix the following and coat leg:
Fresh Rosemary, minced
Minced garlic
Olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees

Place the following in covered cooking dish:
3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
Place veggies on bottom of dish
2 1/2 cups white wine
Coated goat leg

Place cooking dish in oven and cook covered for 30 min.

Then, reduce heat to 300 degrees and cook covered for 3 1/2 hours.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading! I hope you give goat a chance!

Down on the Farm

Farm pasture

 

We have added some new farm animals and had some new adventures here at Cairn Hill Farms. In addition to our flock of chickens and Heritage Turkeys, we purchased two goats and two lambs. They are settled in, but not without some challenge. The large goat (named Darryl by the high school building and trades) gave us a great deal of grief. He is a one year old 1/2 Alpine 1/2 Boer and thinks he’s human. Refusing to remain in the barn or pasture, Darryl wanted to be in the house with us, as he would frequently try to accomplish by jumping the fence, climbing our porch, and looking at us through the window. Luckily for Darryl’s sake, he agreed to stay in the pasture after the installation of an electric fence.

 

Farm Darryl

 

Farm lambs

 

We also had five Heritage turkey poults. We lost the first one because he was alone and refused to eat, another fell out of the nest, and a third was the victim of the local nocturnal population. The two that remain are an 8 week old who thinks she’s a parrot and one that hatched yesterday.

 

Farm parrot

 

The poult that arrived yesterday reminds me of the power of life. Its mother and the other 11 eggs were destroyed last week. I found the single egg in a pile of feathers and my daughter put it in her room, under a heat lamp. While I assumed the endeavor to be a lost cause, these hardy birds keep proving that “life goes on.”

My daughter and I are also running a stand at our local Farmers’ Markets. We have ten products under development over the past nine months. Two are ready for sale, all natural room sprays! I started making these for our kitchen and bathrooms because I found the chemical sprays smelly and bad to breathe. We hope to add items throughout the summer as they are ready for use. Stop by and see us!

 

Farm Product

A Fowl Lesson

a duck

(Washing one of our ducks after it ran under a car and was covered with grease)

We have been loving the peace and quiet of country life and learning along the way. Adding farm animals has been a slow process, beginning with the purchase of ducklings while we were still living in town. We knew some of them would be used for meat, some layers, and hopefully some new ducklings. When we purchased the ducklings, we had a long talk with the kids, discussing why they should know the process of field to fridge and the importance of humanely raising and slaughtering animals in our care. As the ducks reached the age for market, I called around for local processing options. We were disappointed to discover nothing local. The closest shop was 90 minutes away, and the cost was more than twice that of a chicken. Chad decided on another option; we would butcher the ducks ourselves. After all, a few years before, we had processed two older chickens to prepare authentic Coq au Vin. Preparing chickens was fairly manageable. Why couldn’t we process ducks as well?

We started our adventure last Sunday morning. I insisted that they have a last meal, so they were happy ducks on the way to slaughter. After feeding, we wanted to put them in their pen, so they could be in a familiar place and be calm. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. I usually take a broom and slowly move them in the direction of their pen. With a few soft words and nudge of the broom, I rarely have problems. I didn’t consider that all the kids and a few friends were outside and joined in something similar to a cattle stampede. The ducks scattered in all directions, some hiding under cars, some running behind the garage, and none heading toward the pen!

The ducks eventually reached the safety of the duck house while Chad began preparing for step one, what I refer to as the “cone of death.” He attached a cone to a tree, and I brought out the first duck. I swear the duck was staring at me the entire time with a sad look on its face as it quietly, without protest approached the cone. I couldn’t watch “step one,” and Chad later agreed it was an entirely different experience butchering an animal that you raised.

Then my son, George, his friend, Zach, and I began the next step, immersing the ducks in a soapy hot water bath and plucking feathers. This did NOT go as planned. The feathers started coming off fine, smelling something close to wet dog. Then I started to remove the pin feathers. Pin feathers are more firmly attached and usually must be pulled individually. To my rolling stomach, I noticed each feather included a squirt of oil from the duck’s oil gland. At first I tried to ignore it and quickly pull as many as I could. Soon, I was fighting the urge to dry heave. The pin feathers seemed to multiply every time I turned the bird over! Thank goodness Chad stepped in and helped finish. Even writing this makes me sick to my stomach!

Chad finished the processing, which we now know was much more labor intensive compared to the chicken experience. Learning this lesson the hard way, we understand why ducks cost so much more to prepare. While we are still willing to prepare larger animals (like a whitetail from the fall harvest), Readers, learn from our experience, some products are better purchased at the grocery store!