4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Rant/GiveAway

Earlier today I sent a birthday package to Slipper via Puralator Courier... & boy, if I'd been able to take a minute to write about it then, it would be a much different rant... no doubt filled with cursing & unfocused cannon balls of anger.
I've had some time to cool off.... clearly.
I got up early specifically to package this gift & get it to the depot before the pick-up time. We live in the boonies, remember, so I had called the toll-free # to find out where I could send this without having to drive all the way into the city & back (a trip that takes about 3 hours). 
I was connected (FINALLY) to someone in the Philippines. 
With a heavy accent. 
The kind of accent so thick that it is almost impossible to understand what the f* he was saying.
Gotdangit. Why? Why do these companies outsource to places that hire people who cannot speak English clearly... to speak to people who speak (wait for it) English. 
I can only imagine WTH one of these folks sounds like when they attempt French. As in, French Canadian. Because we have 2 official languages in Canada.
OutsourceMan told me to go to a business in a town 30 miles away....... she is NOT a depot, just a customer with an account... and no courier service scheduled this week. Dammit. By the time I tried somewhere else, asked around, got more shitty non-information, went home (I don't carry a cellphone) & called Purolator again (Glory hallelujah! This time a REAL person answered!) & sorted out where I could go (in a whole DIFFERENT town), went there & back, the entire morning was gone. Poof. 
They said it would be delivered Monday; I have little to no faith at this point that it will be so. 
A similar experience in 2015 when attempting to make a catalogue purchase from Sears CANADA... The gentleman exclaimed how I was making my purchase just in time for Thanksgiving! I asked him where he was in the world; he was in the Philippines... Of course he was. 
I explained to him that I was calling from Canada (as in, Sears.ca), & we celebrate Thanksgiving in October.
Dead silence from the other end. 
"If you can be patient in one moment of anger, you will escape 100 days of sorrow." ~Chinese proverb
I've repeated that in my head about 80 times today; evidently I need to make it my mantra until Slipper has her gift in hand.
Whenever that is.


*Porky Goodness Give-Away*
The Prize Package!! 
Assorted pig-related treasures including: 
#1. Adorable little pile o' piggies 
#2. Set of Happy Piggie oven mitts

#3. Piggie Adult Colouring Book
#4. When Pigs Fly duck tape
             
How to Enter:


Any talking about WITWIK counts!
  • On your blog somehow, even just
    mentioning WITWIK counts
  • Facebook
  • twitter
  • ANY social media share counts as an entry; multiple shares = multiple entries.
  • Even if you share only one time(!), that still counts as a Porky Goodness Give-Away entry.
  • Once shared, please let me know in the comments
    or by email (4shoesfarm at the gmail dot com) 
  • Every separate share is an additional contest entry.
  • Entry closing date 01/20/17; Winner announced 01/21/17
(*Extended entry deadline January 22!)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Pork# Tally Give-Away

I thought that some of you may be interested in the final tasks & pound count in our hog butchering adventure, plus I've also added another super-fantastic pig-related prize to The Porky Goodness Give-Away! If you just want to enter the give-away, scroll way down past all this tallying business. 
This afternoon I am going to the house of our frutcher (friend-butcher, & now, suddenly, 'frutcher' is a word), where we will retrieve our bacon from his smokehouse, cut it into slices & wrap it into 1lb packages. 
I have turned the hams in the brine a final time & tonight I will water them off. You don't know what this means, to water them off? Neither did I before this experience. The brining process takes a lot of time & patience - to cure properly, the salt must penetrate each piece of meat all the way to its' core. If the salt does not get all the way through the meat, then when you slice into the pinkness of your lovely baked ham, there will be a grey-brown circle in the middle where the brine never reached. 
The brining process is what makes the difference between a ham & an ordinary cut of pork roast (also between bacon & ordinary fried pork. Trust me, this I know firsthand, courtesy of last year's 'professionals').
Back to watering off... Once the brine has penetrated completely, the meat will be too salty. 
"WTH?", you may be thinking, "you just put that salt IN there!" 
Balance is the objective, & that balance is achieved by now leaching the excess salt back out of the brined meat
Tonight I will transfer the hams out of the brine solution into a clean plastic tray & set the whole works into the bathtub, where it will be filled with cold water so that the hams stay submerged. I'll then set the tap to run a constant little stream into the tray, which will cause an exchange of cold water, essentially 'rinsing' some of the salt back out of the brined meat & (fingers crossed) striking that proper balance before the hams go into the smokehouse tomorrow morning.
Once the hams have been smoked, we will retrieve & wrap them up & the job of butchering the hogs of 2016 will finally be done.
Now for the final tallys:
88lbs hams & bacon
47lbs ground pork
26lbs hocks 
21lbs ribs
40lbs chops
9lbs stew meat
36lbs butt roasts
9lbs shoulder roasts
21lbs sirloin roasts
Totalling: 297lbs of MEAT!!!! (*happy, HAPPY dance*)
Costs 2016:
$70 purchase price of weaner pigs
$220 feed 
$200 frutcher fee
$490 total outlay 
price per pound... 
$1.65
But wait! I haven't even talked about the extras that we were able to keep that saved us even more money (the 'professionals' claimed that regulations prevented any of these bits from being returned to us at all). So how much was all of that worth? 
Let's see:

  • 25lbs raw fat rendered down to 16lbs  of lard: grocery price $2.50/lb = $40,  
  • + Idontknowhowmanylbs of bones which I cooked off & reduced down to 12 litres of rich, concentrated stock: grocery price $3./lt = $36, 
  • + dog treats of feet, ears, tails: petstore price for tails & ears $3/per = $18, grocery store price $4.25/foot = $34. 
  • We'll just forget about the 6ish lbs of heart that the Saint ate fresh, & probably still beating.... Sorry, but this shit is real life, & not always pretty.
  • Total: $128.
$490 outlay, subtract
$128 saved on extras  
$362 divided by 297lbs  
pork of 2016, final price per pound...
$1.22 BaBAMM!!

For contrast purposes, & perhaps someone else may save themselves trouble by my admission of the following abuse of our bank account... 
Costs 2015:
$340 purchase price of young pigs (older than weaners) 
$80 gas 
$220 feed
$80 gas 
$850 'professional' fees 
$1570 total outlay (for 200 total lbs meat picked up)
pork of 2015, final price per pound...
$7.85  (OMFG!
No. I'm bloody gobsmacked here. Really. O.M.F.G.
Holy shite y'alls, I legit near about had a heart attack, just now, from the 2015 numbers, which I purposely did not tally up before because I already knew damn well that I might  seriously consider green-lighting those f*ing so-called 'professionals'... 

But, asshole-fees aside, we made other expensive mistakes our first time around:
  • We relied on advice from the wrong people.
  • We paid way too much for pigs initially (because we didn't have a proper source connection).
  • We incurred $160 gas fees (pigs were 1+ hours SE, 'professionals' were 1+ hours SW. Total travel time = 6+ hours).
Even adjusting the initial price of pigs to the same as what we paid this year ($1.69/lb live weight), & leaving gas out of the equation altogether, 2015 costs still work out to a staggering $5.70 per pound. 
Extrapolating any further would be straight-up risking a stroke or what's left of my sanity....
Suffice to say, while we did make costly mistakes, in the end we gained priceless experience. Most important, we made valuable connections & learned new skills that accomplish the original goal of raising our own stock & enjoying a better quality product for an economical price. 
And that price is $1.22 a pound. (*drop mic)



*Porky Goodness Give-Away*

The Prize Package!! 
Assorted pig-related treasures including: 
#1. Adorable little pile o' piggies. 
#2. Set of Happy Piggie oven mitts.
#3. Keeping you guessing!



             How to Enter:

Any talking about WITWIK counts!
  • On your blog somehow, even just mentioning WITWIK counts
  • Facebook
  • twitter
  • ANY social media share counts as an entry; multiple shares = multiple entries.
  • Even if you share only one time(!), that still counts as a Porky Goodness Give-Away entry.
  • Once shared, please let me know in the comments or by email (4shoesfarm at the gmail dot com) 
  • Every separate share is an additional contest entry.
  • Entry closing date 01/20/17; Winner announced 01/21/17
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Friday, 13 January 2017

Crackles Give-Away

In low-German, we call this 'grievel' or 'grieven'; in English we say 'crackles'.
Mr Shoes was brought up a Mennonite; in the family home they grew up speaking low-German (high-German language was reserved for formalities, solemn occasions, & for keeping secrets from nosey children). Over the years, the family moved from one place to the other, & often they were the only Mennonite family in an area. English started creeping into the family vernacular &, by the time I came onto the scene, even Mr Shoes' Mama spoke English in the home (liberally peppered with low-German, of course, or high when it was something she wanted to say only to Papa). 

The first time I asked for a translation, Papa's ears turned red & he chuckled... As I had walked away I had heard him say to Mr Shoes, "Schmuachabein", which translates to, "Nice legs". Then my ears turned red...

As someone who grew up with absolutely no teaching about group culture or family heritage, I really didn't have an identity other than simply 'white Canadian'. I was curious & willing to learn their ways, to say nothing of being a young woman eager to be accepted & loved by her in-law family. Without any particular discussion or decision to do so, we incorporated many of the Mennonite ways & traditions into our family. I'm very glad that we did, because I think it's been a gift to our children to know their family background & the richness of the history that is their birthright. 

Grievel, or crackles, is a Mennonite tradition & a fond breakfast treat, though one that a person either likes or dislikes (that's me, standing here by myself in the dislike category). Grievel is, essentially, the little bits of meat & meat jelly that are the by-products of rendering raw fat. 

The other day, after rendering for many hours, I strained the liquid fat through a fine wire sieve (but you could use cheesecloth), & then pressed the crackles firmly to give up as much liquid as possible (which solidifies into precious, snowy white lard). Whatever solids are left after pressing the oil is the crackles. 

The crackles themselves still have a fair amount of fat per serving, "but not enough to make a guy's heart explode, so get on with it, Woman!", (as said by Mr Shoes). 

For this next part, a small wire sieve is a handy serving tool... 
Scoop out approximately 1/2 a cup of grievel into a small saucepan & heat gently until the lard turns back to fat & the crackles are hot through. Using your little wire sieve, scoop up the crackles, then press the back of a spoon firmly into the scoop to press off as much liquid fat as desired. 
A usual serving would be 2 pressed scoops of crackles served alongside 1-2 slices of hardy grain bread (such as rye or pumpernickle). Spoon the crackles onto bites of bread, then use the crust to mop up any leavings. This is important in Mennonite culture... masters of 'the clean plate club*'.

Personally, I never developed a taste for grievel - just too greasy for me to enjoy. Mr Shoes & Boot though? They were back & forth from my kitchen, ensuring that I would indeed be saving the crackles for them. And they're welcome to them, family tradition & all.  
*Obviously, incorporating Mennonite family traditions is important to Mr Shoes & I, & we (again, obvious) do care about the old ways & values such as using the resources we have (gardens & livestock), & not being wasteful of them. But, I checked out of the 'clean plate club' mentality a long time ago... because I believe that such  ridiculous pressure leads to people growing up to have all kinds of 'food issues'. 
We chose to raise our children to adhere only to 'food rules'  dictated by their own bodies; that is not to say that they ate a ton of candy & ice cream, but rather, that I offered an equal alternative if there was something they did not like (don't like beans? How about some mashed potatoes?) I'm happy to say that both of our grown children are good-looking, healthy, & fit, & (thankfully) free from any food or bullshit body image issues. 
And still never a bite need go to waste, though occasionally diverted to feed for pigs or for compost... & so the circle goes. 
This is what we chose. That said, I am not offering my opinion as parenting advice (today. Check back another day, you never know when I might be feeling more 'preachy'). 

Now, for the
*Porky Goodness Give-Away*
(*as I'm now calling it...)
The Prize Package!! 
Assorted pig-related treasures including: 
#1. Adorable little pile o' piggies. 
#2. ? Come back again & find out more.

How to Enter the Give-Away:

Any talking about WITWIK counts!
  • On your blog somehow
  • Facebook
  • twitter
  • ANY social media share counts as an entry; multiple shares = multiple entries.
  • Even if you share only one time(!), that still counts as a Porky Goodness Give-Away entry.
  • Once shared, please let me know in the comments or by email (4shoesfarm at the gmail dot com) 
  • Every separate share is an additional contest entry.
  • Entry closing date 01/20/17; Winner announced 01/21/17
That's all there is to it folks, just help to spread the word about a little 2 year old Canadian girl who was abducted from Vancouver Island on May 8, 2016
Why do I care so much about WITWIK

I'll tell you why... 
Because, if Kaydance was my child (or my niece, or my grandchild, or even just the daughter of friends) I would hope to hell that I could somehow convince people to give a damn(!) for just the moment that it would take them to help share the word. 
I'm not advocating for anyone other than little Kaydance, who deserves better than a life of running & hiding, & she deserves better than having one temperamental parent rewrite the history of her little life to erase her other Mum & extended family who love her. 
A child can never have too many people who love them.
That's why I care about WITWIK.

Will you spare a moment to care about poor little Kaydance too?
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