Leeky Stew with Nackerjack

This was a recipe sent to me by Paul Couchman, the Regency Cook.  It is a recipe for hard times out of Devon.  Apparently nackerjack is a savory dumpling while natterjack is a toad.  His recipe is not available publicly, but there is one from a blog post which is similar.  Here is my leeks, chopped bacon and potatoes in our chicken broth after baking for one hour.  I was little suspicious as the bacon had not been fried first.

I made the dumplings using our suet.  You are supposed to make a toad shaped dumpling.  I didn’t think I was up for that.  Here is my attempts at frogs using my molds.

I didn’t think there were very good frogs so I decided to try ducks.

The dough was lumpy with the suet so that affected the shaping.  But they all went into the stew for more baking.

And here it is after cooking.

I was still little skeptical, but it was actually quite good.  There was not much stew left as the dumplings absorbed most of it plus the flavors.  It was a nice dinner this evening.  I will try to get a nice toad mold for the next time I make it.

As an aside, here are Bambam and Harlen in the sun this morning, waiting for their food.

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Fire Response

So…our pellet stove overheated badly his evening. The fan stated rattling something horrible. Tom unplugged the stove and then smoke started filling the room. Then we could see flames coming from the back of the stove.  I grabbed the fire extinguisher but was not sure where to point it.  Tom called 911, and the fire department was alerted.

There was a lot of smoke coming from the chimney but thankfully no flames.

Alger Fire District 14 arrived quite quickly.

We secured the dogs, and they came in and sprayed water in the fire box and monitored the temperature of the chimney pipe.

It dropped from 300 degrees to 150 degrees fairly quickly.  They monitored the temperature of the rest of the chimney, and it all was good.

They sprayed the fire pot a few more times, and the pipe temperature dropped to 130 degrees.  That is when they packed up and left.  They were amazing.  I cannot thank them enough for their prompt and professional actions.

Needless to say, we will not be using out pellet stove anymore and will be relying on electric heat.  All four of us (two people and two dogs) are amped up after the excitement.  I thought about having leftovers for dinner but decided I would be better served focusing on cooking the Mince and Tatties I had planned for dinner.  It is described as comfort food, and that is what we need right now.  I used the Scottish Oat flour I have plus the Maggi Seasoning I bought for it and a malty beer.

I decided not to peel the potatoes.  I wasn’t up for it.  But here is our dinner.  And I must say, it is very tasty and comforting on a challenging evening.

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It’s Always Something and Farm Olympics

Today’s plans went awry.

Tom checked the alleyway fence, and its posts are mostly broken by Rory rather than just displaced.  So Tom took the tractor out to move the street sweeper brush.  The hope is that Rory will use this to scratch his neck rather than our fences.

Tom said that this should be an event in the Farming Olympics.  He had to throw the chain through the tube in the middle of the brush in order to move it.  He got it on the second attempt.

I had opened up the rabbit hutches yesterday and placed bedding in them in them in hopes that the turkeys would use them to lay their eggs.  They have been laying them on top of the hutches which is not a viable location, and their eggs have gone missing.  But today some chickens were trapped in the hutch when the door shut on them.  One thing I have learned about farming is that you use what you have around you to solve problems.  So I used a block to keep the door open so they will not be trapped again.

And there was a turkey egg in one of the hutches so maybe my plan may be working.

But I also found one of our young Araucana hens limping.  I realized that her leg band had migrated and was digging into her foot.

I removed the band, but you can see the foot is quite swollen and painful.

Hopefully she recovers OK.

It is cold out so I have been using my new Zippo hand warmers I received for Christmas.  But yesterday and today the catalytic burner came off while I was using it, and it stopped working.  Since it is inside my glove there is a lot of movement, and it becomes dislodged.  I think I need to try to secure it better.  It is a learning curve.

My plan for the afternoon was to clean the wine carboys before they froze solid.  But they had already frozen in their necks.  So Tom chiseled out the necks, and I was able to drain them.  Then I had to move them into the house to thaw further before I could clean them.

And I continue to try to feed the pigs without breaking the bank.  I noticed when I made the carrot cake that our whole wheat flour and powdered sugar are expired.  So I dug around to see what else was expired and found a few types of flour, more powdered sugar, dehydrated eggs, dry coconut and peanut oil.

So I googled around to see what I could make with these ingredients.  I came up with two options; a whole wheat sponge cake and Lemon, Rosemary and Olive Oil Shortbread (where I was going to skip the lemon and rosemary).  I decided that cake was easier than shortbread so I spent the afternoon making 7 cakes with the assembled ingredients (but skipped the arrowroot and xanthan gum).  I only ended up using baking powder and salt.  Here is one of the cakes.

They don’t look like much, but they taste OK. Hopefully the pigs will like them.  As the cakes were baking the carboys thawed so I was able to wash them afterwards,  So mission accomplished, but some obstacles were overcome.

After Tom’s comment in the morning, I kept thinking about Farm Olympics.  I believe rodeos were created with this general idea but doesn’t really encompass the physical talents that we use farming.  So I started looking into the topic.

There is a Farming Olympics in the U.K.  It includes Round Bale Rolling, Bale Stacking, Moving Tyres, Welly Wanging, Tractor Pulling,Tug of War, Wheel Barrow Racing, Egg Hunt Roulette, Egg Catching, Sheep Carrying, and Log carry.

There used to be 4-H Farm Olympics at the Henry County Fair in Indiana in 2002.  It involved:  1. Get Dressed for Work Here, contestants must run to the closet (a chair in the center of the arena) and put on bib overalls, a coat, hat, gloves, and boots. Once dressed in the intentionally oversized clothing, they must run to the “barn,” or finish line. All clothes have to cross the line with the contestant. If anything falls off, it has to be picked up and put back on before finishing. 2. Feed the Hogs In this event, contestants grab a bucket, run to a water tank filled with shelled corn and fill it up. Then they run to a gate, open the gate and go through, then close the gate so hogs don’t get out and dump their bucket of corn into a trough (another bucket). If they don’t manage to get to the trough with enough corn to fill it, they have to go back to the water tank for more corn. “One bucketful of corn is enough to fill the trough bucket, if they fill the bucket full and don’t spill any getting to the trough,” Yanos says. 3. Gather the Eggs This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Five eggs have to be picked up and carried in a small basket over the finish line. There is a 5-second penalty added to times for each broken egg. 4. Fix Machinery If you’ve ever hunted frantically through a can or bucket of odd sized bolts and nuts for the right ones to put something back together in a hurry, you’ll understand this event. A container holds the right bolts to fit several holes in a steel plate, mixed in with a little bit of everything else. 5. Feed the Cows In this event, contestants have to pick up a small square bale, carry it across the “barnyard” and throw it over a gate. They then have to proceed through the gate, closing it so the cows can’t get out, and then place the bale in a “bunk” (a square marked on the floor). With the hay “fed”, they then have to go back through the gate, closing it completely and finally, race back to the finish line. 6. Wheelbarrow Race While one contestant rides, another pushes the wheelbarrow around an obstacle course. While no penalties are given for spilling the load, just the act of uprighting the wheelbarrow and reloading adds time.7. Round Bale Roll The entire team rolls a big round bale across the arena and back. “We used freshly baled and wrapped straw. Bales are tight and even so they roll straight IF they are pushed straight,” Yanos says.

There is a Farm Olympics at the The Colorado River Fair Grounds which involves Field Loader, Hay Squeeze, Potato Race, Hay Stealing and Boom Hay Loading.

There was a Farmer Olympics at the Farmer2Farmer event in December in Omaha.  It involved Farmers carry, Push-ups, farmer squats, deadlift, tire flips and FBN box stacking for speed.

There was a Farmer’s Olympics at the Whitley County Fair in Indiana last year which involved participants crawling through a mud pit, then proceeded to a wheelbarrow race through an obstacle course. Next was a ring toss featuring toilet seats, followed by filling up a barrel with buckets of water. The unique event finished with the teams of four participants pushing rolled bales of hay toward the finish line.

There were Farmer Olympics at the Woodbridge fall fair in Ontario Canada last year which involved ROLL AWAY – Move a round hay bale 75 feet, TWIST AND TURN – Put together a set of 12 nuts and bolts, GET WET – Transfer water, using provided container, to fill another container, SCRAMBLE – Gather a dozen eggs from a pile of loose straw, HANG ON – Hang a basket of wet clothes on the clothes line, SO TIRED – Move 3 tires 75 feet, and WELLY WANGING – Each member throws a rubber boot over a specific line.

There was a Farmer Olympics in Pittsfield, Mass which included a “moo juice squeeze challenge,” (how much milk you can get from a cow by hand), a wheelbarrow race, a gourd toss, stacking 40-pound hay bales and a grain bag throw akin to the shot put (50-, 35- and 20-pound bags for men, women and kids, respectively), and “the pig lure,” inside the round barn. Pigs don’t like to be chased, Conklin said, something he’s learned from experience. Instead, the challenge will be to entice a pig to step foot in each quadrant of the barn.

I recently read one of my favorite farm blogs, and he mentioned that dead batteries and flat tires are a huge issue with farming.  So from my perspective, Farm Olympics should involve tractor repair (including dealing with a dead battery) and fixing a flat tire, but also fencing, mucking out barns, stacking hay bales, catching an injured pig and chicken and attending its wounds, loading bags of feed into the shed , accomplishing the street sweeper brush chain throw, blowing out a hose to prevent freezing, hauling buckets of water without spilling, catching a wily sheep, stacking sand bags for flooding, butchering a chicken, shearing sheep, trimming a wild goat’s hooves, catching and holding a donkey for the farrier, pulling a stuck calf with a come along, pulling barb wire off a bull, shooting a predator, breaking ice from a water container, pulling a heavy farm cart through deep mud, and building a shelter from recycled items.  What do you think should be included in Farm Olympics?


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