Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas preparations and home raised meat for the table

I'm still chasing my tail but my head is just above water and I'm happy as Larry.  Whoever he is.


So this weekend started off with a frost on Saturday morning.  It always makes me want to stop and get a photo as frost makes everything look so pretty.
The frost mean the sheep had a bucket of hay between them which they happily munched on. 
My Mum came over and had some of my homemade jam (the few that didn't turn mouldy!) with a wholemeal breadbun.  She sadly has a, let's say condition for ease, where she is restricted on what she can eat.  So homemade jam is one she can have, which makes us both happy.  It is her 67th birthday today (20th), Happy Birthday Mum xxx. (I am a day late with actually publishing this post!)
I noticed my garlic and onions are starting to come through, you can just spy them in this bed poking through the soil.  The Purple Sprouting Broccoli is also in the same bed which I planted as an experiment to tell me if it's worth doing on a bigger scale for this year.
I finally got round to making some fudge.  I've never made it before and followed a recipe from bbcgoodfood for white chocolate fudge.  Now I don't like fudge myself, but Jack loves this one.  I am going to try and get another flavour made and hand them out as Christmas gifts to people when they visit or as they leave after Christmas dinner.

Yesterday I put a ham in the slow cooker and we had some for tea with pasta and a garlic sauce.  It was really nice and different to what we've been having, so a refreshing change.  Now I confess, I always say to myself I must do something with the stock that's left.  Then I don't and I wash it away, so last night, I sent Dawn a message and she told me to freeze it on ice cube trays for use another time, so I have done just that.  Why I haven't done that before, I don't know.  Thanks Dawn.  We got loads of lovely shredded ham off it.

I've been wrapping gifts as often as I can.  I'm using brown paper and decorating with my own items.  I love this look.
Here is a rare photo of me and the 2 girls.  I don't often post about the horses specifically but they offer the smallholding bountiful amounts of super manure (I was going to use a double S there but I restrained) which in turn feeds the land, which feeds us.  So they have earned the right to a photo ;)  They can be my sanity at times when I feel like I could scream.
Finally to the Christmas meat, please do not scroll down if you're offended by the sight of birds being prepared for the table.  As you will know by now, this is our lifestyle that we're aiming towards, so I make no apologies for it, but will always give you fair warning if there are photos as I understand that we're not all the same.
On Sunday we dispatched a goose and a duck ready for Christmas Day.  We did 2 chickens in the summer and they were a pain to pluck, so we hung them up after dispatch, covered their heads to keep things tidy and plucked them hanging from the small barn roof.  It made the job a lot easier, though it still took a long time.  I can totally understand why hand plucked birds cost so much and doing it makes you realise even more about respecting the process and the end result.  We're doing both birds for Christmas lunch.  The goose will be done in the Aga as per Mary Berry's instructions and I need to look up how long to cook the duck for - I have an alternate oven which I may use for that, as I will need space in the roasting over for the veggies.


Both kids helped with plucking of the goose, they soon got bored to be fair, but I am pleased they were involved.  I do try my hardest to ensure they respect the animals and are not squeamish about being able to provide for themselves. I am really pleased with the end result.


It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  How about for you?

18 comments:

  1. Hey chic. Great post. Everything about your smallholding in one go; poultry, horses, veg growing, homemade jam and bread - soon you will have your own ham in the slow cooker - and Christmas, too!!!! I freeze stock when we have roast chicken and add it to soups and things. If packing presents for adults I'm a big fan of brown paper, too. I love dressing it up with different bits and pieces. Thanks for the chat yesterday.xx

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    1. I can't wait to see what the meat is like for Christmas Day. It's a really big test for me (in a good way) and will hopefully make me feel like it is worth it for next year. Thanks for the stock tip. Speak soon x

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  2. Hi,
    I always cook duck ford the same amount of time as chicken 15 min/lb plus 15 mins and Ialso cook them breast down so the fat runs through the breast. Delicious
    Chris

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    1. Thank you for this, it is good to know the timings per weight for the regular oven which is where I will be doing the duck. I'll weight it Friday when I get it out to defrost.

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  3. Your birds look great and a nice clean pluck, the ham looks good to, it looks like you are going to have some great feasts over christmas :-)

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    1. The ham went down well and there isn't much left already - it was for lunches this week. Ste is bringing another one home from work for us to have over Christmas for people who drop in or if you just want a snack with some crackers and things. Thanks for the comments re birds, I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

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  4. Great job, love the way the whole family are getting involved. Congratulations on all you have achieved and I hope next year brings you everything you're hoping for.

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    1. How lovely of you to say so, thank you. I can't believe we will be entering into year 2 on our smallholding shortly. Amazing.

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  5. With your shredded ham ( or Turkey and cranberry),add Apple sauce and mix in o enproof dish, put stuffing on top as the crust, bake, brliant use for left overs.

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    1. What a great idea, thank you Marlene.

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  6. my gran used to be in charge of of the jam jar tongs. She would hold a bird in them and plunge them into boiling water outside. We the kids had to pluck them. it made it really easy to get the feathers out.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uuLoZqVKt4

    kind of like this but a deeper pot. I think it may have even been an old washer pot for boil washing clothes. The feathers she gave to a woman down the road. I have no idea what she did with them, but I would ride them down the lane to the next farm and leave them on the peg outside. My Gran was scared that the badgers would come so we couldnt put the feathers in the compost bin.

    You must be super proud that you have your own birds. I would be.

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    1. I love stories from years gone by like this. How fabulous. Thank you for the link.

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  7. It sounds like you are ahead of the game now you have your birds plucked and dressed. They should taste wonderful, having lived the good life and had fresh air and good food.

    Thanks for including a picture of your horses - they look grand. I know what you mean about them keeping you sane - I certainly felt that way when my mum was so poorly. I would go out for a ride on Fahly and forget all my troubles.

    Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thank you for commenting on the horses, I do love having them. Hope you had a lovely Christmas.

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  8. Hope I don't offend anyone with the question but do you mind me asking how you did the dispatching of the goose? I dislocate the necks of our chickens and ducks. I'm thinking of adding geese to our place this spring but I worry about how to kill them cleanly because I don't think I'm physically strong enough to do a goose. Also, I've read that the remaining geese will mourn, have you found this to be true?

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    1. Hiya - ours haven't mourned at all. We had a larger flock and sold, the rest were fine. When we dispatched this one, they were the same. Hopefully we still have 2 girls and a boy (we're pretty sure we have!) so that we can start the process again next year.
      There needs to be 2 people for a goose we have found. We remove the head fully to ensure that is that. You will need someone to hold the body (we put it in a feed bag with the corner cut off and the head through the corner, to ensure the wings are held tight as they are very strong. Then the person t the head end hold the head and uses an axe. It's over very quickly and is the humanist way we have found. Thanks for asking :)

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  9. It's a few years ago I last plucked a duck...they took ages...should have dunked them in wax apparently...never done a goose as the fox beat us to it! x

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    1. Sorry to hear the fox bet you to it! Yes the ducks have a few layers of feathers it seems, some up to 3 I have read. Steven did the duck thank god.

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