Tag Archives: dogs

Defrosting Meat

It’s a topic that many people ask about and I must admit I can do it well or not. I know people that defrost using the old method, i.e. get the meat out of the freezer and put it in the fridge overnight or a couple of days (depending upon size). I’m the modern housewife,  I have so many more things to do with my time, I dislike housework so I grab out of the fridge and freezer  daily to cook and I (most times) incorporate leftovers from the night before in the next main meal.

I am talking about red meat here, chicken is another set of rules altogether. I’ll do a post on that tomorrow (if we have power). Living in a rural area with poor electrical infrastructure and in stormy weather we can lose power so fingers crossed we don’t.

Thawing Meat

Thaw meat and other foods in the bottom of the fridge whenever possible (as hot air rises so every time the door is opened the warmth coming in goes to the top shelves). The safest method is to place the frozen meat in the refrigerator for a day or two ahead of time. Larger items such as roasts may take longer, about one day for every 5 pounds of meat. Thawing meat slowly in the refrigerator minimizes damage from ice crystals, which helps maintain the food’s quality.

If you need to thaw food immediately, this is best done in the microwave. If you use a microwave to thaw meat, cook it immediately afterward as some parts of the meat may have already started to cook. All microwaves have a defrost button or setting, some like you to weigh it and others like you to tell it what meat type it is. All these have different settings so stick with the manufacturers settings and rules to minimize cooking whilst defrosting (my trick) if on too high or to long or under defrosting, done on the outside but still frozen in the centre.

Thaw under cool running water (with the food wrapped or packaged). Place meat in a leak-proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, changing the water at least every 30 minutes to keep it cold.

It is advised that you do not leave frozen food to thaw on a bench at room temperature. This will allow the outside of the food to warm above 5ºC which will allow food poisoning bacteria to grow.

Make sure food is defrosted all the way through before cooking to ensure it reaches hot enough temperatures through to the centre.

Freezing food is a convenient method of preservation, yet it can cause the quality of the food to deteriorate. However, losing taste and texture is not the biggest danger of thawing and refreezing meat. If performed in an unsafe manner, bacteria may develop in the meat, which could cause severe illness. To ensure that your meat is free from trichinella and other parasites, always cook meat thoroughly. (Australia has had NO reported Cases of Trichinella due to our clean premium grass fed meat.) But always cook meat as soon as practical after bringing home from a butcher or defrosting.

Warning

Freezing microbes suspends their life cycle, but it does not kill them. When you thaw meat, the microbes can become active and multiply at the same rate as in fresh meat. Under the right conditions, they can multiply enough to cause illness. Freeze leftovers within three to four days, and don’t refreeze any food left out of refrigerator for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 28 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If meat develops or has an odour, discard it.

Do not feed off meat to dogs or cats is can make them as sick as it does humans. next blog will be on this practice, something we do not do at the farm.

defrosting-meat

picture by rodalesorganiclife.com

 

Farming is really is an Art

Farming is not for the faint of heart, the vegan or anyone with cruel intentions. It is an art, a business, a passion and much like Nurses it really is a calling. My husband has it, I openly admit I do not, I married into it with little understanding and as I say he would have forgotten more about farming than I would ever learn. As a career I chose nursing and for as long as I can remember it was my ‘go to costume’ dress up, I wanted to work in a big hospital and save lives, I am lucky this is what I have done. Here I am at 4.5yrs with my twin sister – she was a chef

My husband on the other hand can not remember anything but farming, he lives where he grew up, he has walked miles and miles around the property that his parents worked and saved to purchase what he now owns. He loves it and when asked he has no plans to leave, we look like having a retirement plan which will be different than most, as I plan not to be here.

I haven’t even given thought to staying, I want to go back to the city, living on the land is hard and it is an art form. Even to work out the measurements of feed stuffs for animals including milk replacer is an art, one needs to judge weights, how old they may be, if they have had colostrum from Mum before being orphaned. This is for all animals that my husband rescues, there is never a good or bad time for death and births on farming, though the farmer plans breeding times so that he can be here when it occurs so that they have assistance – especially the cattle.

he will get up and check them 3 times per day, move them into paddocks with better feed quality. when some cows give birth they hide their young in trees and shelters so that they can grow in the first few weeks so we re conscious of the fact that there needs to be little traffic, by way of people, dogs, utes and motorbikes until the mum brings them out from their hiding places.

Occasionally there can be a separation or if there is a twin birth, one can be left behind. the farmer has a method for this also. He catches the calf puts a dog collar on it and collects it and drives it around the mobs to see if it will mother up. I have watched while some cows will kick away the calf that isn’t their own and I know of farmers who will bring a cow whose calf has died and calf who’s mother has died into the cattle yards rub deodorant onto each of their noses for a couple of days until the cow accepts the calf as it’s own. Apparently this can work. Amazing what farmers will do to save their animals.

Farming is an Art, one that I am learning quickly and work hard to save our animals? It is not my passion but I have oodles of compassion and will do all I can to look after the land and the animals? What’s your passion? Are you and your partner compatible in work and ideals? we are not polar opposites but we have opposite ideas and discuss these often.

Today is brought to you by 3am and 4am slaughter hour

The farmer is an animal lover and as such has cats, dogs, cattle, sheep and anything else that comes along. One day he sent me a photo of two baby foxes he saw living in our cattle yards and I banned him from bringing them home. We have a property that has kangaroos and he won’t go out and kill them because they eat minimal crops, he will occasionally shoot predatory birds that peck at baby animals that are being born so other than that most animals are welcomed into our home. I am currently hand rearing 2 calves Rosie & Delila and a Lamb – Josie who now live in my vegetable garden

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We also have the 3 lovely shed cats (called this because he found them in the shed and they now don’t live there) rescued from a freezing winter in 2009, Gatsby (a ginger cat)was rescued 2 years ago this month. All of them are desexed as I didn’t want excess of litters all over the farm and in the cold months of winter (and the hot days of summer) they live inside.

Many a night we have had parades of mice: alive and dead, rabbits: alive and dead birds alive and dead, bats 99% alive, gecko’s mainly alive that we have put outside and frill neck Lizards alive that leave alive as the cats have not worked out how to get through their tough exterior and frill when they protest. Our motto is that if we catch any of these things alive we lock the cats inside and let the animals go free outside.

Many a night I have woken to the sound of crunching and am so none fussed about it now I roll over and go back to sleep. If we hear noises we will get out of bed to try to chase the cats outside with the animal intact. Other times there is a “look at me, look at me” flinging and rolling with the animal (dead) in the spa bath. Where the cat shows us the prey and then eventually the creature is left intact and we are left to clean up the mess.

We have watched as these cats over-estimate their abilities and their prey – the farmer has seen Frankie stalking a kangaroo (as if she was ever going to catch it) we have seen Gatsby jumping in the air to catch swooping birds as if they were going to fly into his mouth, Matilda has on a few occasions stalked the chooks when we use to let them out, the chooks are confined to their pen as the working dogs try to round them up and chase them till they die.

I don’t mind it during the day but in the middle of the night I could do with out it, you know when you have to get up early, you set your alarm and you wake almost hourly hoping you don’t miss it? That was last nigh t and I was back into sleeping when I could hear a growling, at first I asked the farmer to roll over as I thought he was snoring  loudly so he did but the noise got louder and I realized it was coming from his wardrobe.

Bloody Cats fighting in the wardrobe, so I spring out of bed, turn on the lounge room light so as not to blind myself or the farmer but to shine light on the area, open the door and see nothing, I move clothes around to see if I can catch them hiding but I see nothing, so I shut the doors, stoke the fire and as I go to turn off the light I see 3 cats casually walking around the lounge room, squinting at the light with the innocent look of no it wasn’t me, I glare at them as I go to back to bed, it’s 3am. I’m back sleeping when the slow and loud growling starts up again, this time I’m cross I jump out of bed, step on the remote control, stub my toe on a laundry basket I have left in the way, go out to the fire, pick up the poker and come back to the wardrobe and one by one open the doors and thrash it about (hoping I can collect one of these cats as I do it). I look to see Gatsby’s tail disappear out of the wardrobe and run around the corner to get away and Rita slowly slink out heading towards the door. I shut the wardrobe put the poker on the floor and go back to bed, I note it’s now 4am.

Gatsby the only male

Gatsby the only male

Both of these cats go outside and as I drift back to sleep I become aware Gatsby is back in, he has jumped on my foot, shaken himself off as he is as wet as anything and flops down on my bed at my feet. When I do get up at 5am I note Matilda is standing by the wardrobe door, sniffing and I begin to think perhaps the other two were fighting over a late night slaughter. I didn’t have time to check before I left the house and I bet whatever it is will still be there when I get home this evening.

We have a spot I call slaughter corner, where some mornings we can wake up to find no evidence of the animal except a blood stained wall. We occasionally have a kidney or the bottom half of a mouse, if it’s a rabbit sometimes I get the entire gastrointestinal tract with pooh intact. Feathers of a bird are common and is the foot or tail of a rabbit. These can also be found out by the cat flap if they can’t carry it in or in the spa bath if we don’t hear them. Anything and everything is foul and I wish they would stop, once I asked the farmer “what’s with the green feathers in the corner?” without missing a beat he said “I didn’t like that grass parrot anyway!”

I occasionally say to birds, “You all need to live 1km away from the house as these cats will get you if you are closer. I feel exhausted before I even left the farm, getting home tonight will be a bit of a struggle, it is about 220km’s away.

3 cats on the car

3 cats on the car Rita on roof, Matilda in front of steering wheel & Frankie other side

Retiring Old Dogs

I come back to my blog after a long absence, I did not stop writing because I didn’t have anything to say, I left because I didn’t know how to express the last couple of months in writing. The last of the summer months were hard on the farm and upon me, losing my beautiful old Pete has been upsetting, his presence has provided 16 yrs + of comfort and assurance without him it was difficult. My mother in law did a painting of him and laminated an old shot which is now on the fridge and every time I open it I give it a pat.

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Moving into the drought and into winter certainly has us all feeling a little bit of relief and I openly (much to the farmers dislike) declare I won’t go through another drought. In fact I told a couple of friends in the supermarket on Saturday, I will move back to my house in the city. He didn’t comment till over 4 hours later and stated I shouldn’t be telling people as they will think I’m going to leave him … news is I will be for the summer. It’s a tough battle mentally watching the farmer and the farm going through drought, nothing looks fresh or green, we are lucky we have had more rain than some people we know.

With Pete gone, it has allowed us to take a breather from things, re-evaluate business and draw up another plan moving forward. I have always talked about moving to retire off the farm. It is something that we both need to agree on, I can see country communities are not great places for the elderly, especially if their families have moved away, the time to stop traveling or driving leaves many isolated and that is not how I want to be nor is here the place I wish to retire in.

I find it amazing when we talk about a plan with others, I get this comment “what will the farmer do if you retire or sell?” it offends me, when I gave up a career I loved, moved away from my daughter, friends etc  these same people never said to me “what will you do living on a farm, 50+kms away from anything, not knowing anybody” not one so as we come to moving our plan forward  I understand how difficult it may be for him, but he too can adjust like I had too.

With Pete gone we have also had time to re-evaluate our working dogs and have noticed Mandy our eldest one needs to retire, she limps on her front foot and looks sore in her back legs, many years ago she jumped in the sheep yards and dislocated her hips – we nursed her back to health and now that she is moving into being 14 or 15 it is time for her to become a house dog. I am sure it’s arthritis setting in and when she looks pained we give her medication to assist. She is transitioning to be an inside dog quite well, she comes in at night jumps on the couch and slept there quite happily for a while till she found her way into our bedroom and on the floor at night scratching for a blanket. This noise woke me up as I was worried she would be too cold and uncomfortable on the carpet, then in Bordertown I found this dog bed and purchased it. As of today Mandy is now the retired dog and today the farmer said she would have to stop traveling with him, it’s stressful  to have her sliding around the front of the Ute if he has to chase cattle, so she is now the inside dog.

Mandy in her bed

Mandy in her bed

Do we identify ourselves when it is time to retire, will we be able to look and see that retirement needs to be an option whilst we are fit, well and young enough to enjoy it? or will we be like Mandy – have that moment where you jump out of the Ute, get put inside and told that’s it, she doesn’t know she’s retired as she still wants to be with him, travel in the Ute and play the vital roll of a working dog.

Welcome to the office floor Mandy, I know I’ll enjoy your company and you can enjoy your retirement.

The Chooks are Finally Laying

Its taken a while this time, we rescue chooks from caged farms and bring them to our farm to get a better life and to lay eggs for us, normally they arrive here we put them in the coop and they within a matter of 5 days start laying. It is funny to watch a new chook come to their new home as they find walking on the sand and dirt and grass a funny sensation on their feet, they walk and pick one foot up at a time until they get use to it.

Once the are happy they start laying beautiful farm fresh eggs, this time it has been a bit different, we look after my in-laws chooks whist they travel for a few months of the year and when they come to get them it upsets the balance in the hen-house. There is such a thing as a pecking order and I have come across them (many years ago) they had pecked a fellow hen to death and continued to eat her – it was quite horrific, I found the wing span left, apparently they do this to injured or sick hens, hence the pecking order.

We love our farm freshly laid eggs they are very different to the caged ones and even look different in colour. Their yolk is almost orange / golden where as caged hens, who are fed grain it is yellow, once you have eaten a real farm fresh non grain fed egg you will be able to see the difference.

We let our chooks roam free on the property as they love to wander and scratch and they get themselves back home to their coup come night-time. We have to do a head count before we shut and lock the coup door so that foxes and feral cats don’t get in to help themselves to an organic free range chicken. lately we have had to leave them in their great big coup as our working dogs love to try to round them up, we don’t encourage this as sometimes the excitement of the flapping of wings, bites will occur and deaths may be the end result.

If you can afford it buy fresh non caged eggs, they are great to eat and cook with. Chooks are also good pets for children, if they are held at the yellow fluffy chick stage they will always allow children to pick them up and cuddle them. They will eat house hold left overs and keep the bugs down in you yard as well as produce eggs. Our cats sometimes will follow us up to the coup and Frankie has been known to sleep in their to catch the mice and the chooks don’t seem to be bothered by her.

One of my friends has started a fabulous chooks in a van business here in SA, so if you see this label about the place, jump in and buy them. totally Natural & free range, tastes very much like our own, I purchase them when our chooks forget to give us our breakfast rations. Hoods Earth Produce

 

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Today is brought to you by the Letter B

I had a great reaction to the Letter A post and thanks for all the input, it seems the Auger brought out many responses and most similar to those with which I described. I am not a professional farmer by any means so my blog is light-hearted and I hope will bring many a laugh, if I offend (don’t read me)

“Warning this blog contains words that may offend and make your ears bleed (if you could hear it) and make you laugh out loud. That can’t be helped as it would mean you would have worked out the word and the code associated with it or can envisage the action”

Today is brought to you by the Letter B

At every farm door they are there, they stand waiting for the opportunity to be tripped over, they can be covered in mud, all different sorts of pooh, dog, sheep & cattle but are the backbone of farming life. They stay where they are left, be it at the back door or the front door, it is custom that they are removed from feet when entering farm houses to save the farmers wives from continually having to clean and wash the floors.

They are the boots of the workers and people who reside within the dwelling, and I can guarantee you no matter which door you take your boots off at they will be at the wrong door when you need to put them on again to go outside. There is no organization of these boots and you can guarantee that you will at some stage trip over them, kick them out-of-the-way in frustration and anger and the trick is to ensure you empty them out before you put you foot into them. They become home to millipedes, the odd mouse, moths, beetles, bugs and anything else that may climb in there to get away from cats or light.

They have been known to have been kicked and sworn at in the same motion. They are bastards amongst other things. the trouble with kicking them away is that at some point they need to be retrieved, to be worn. The farmer here loves to occasionally clean them or rub them down with beef fat (think the fat from vertical and grills. Yes it puts a shine on them but as soon as the dogs smell them they lick them (yuck) He also puts beeswax on them should we have some in the house.

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.At times in the country getting contractors in is a necessity, as farming machinery is so expensive unless you are using it for more than 2 months of the year it is an asset parked in a building lying idle.  Getting contractors in to do work is important as it helps to continue the daily running of the farm, most of the time they are friends and neighbours which can be a little difficult. (Please take this all in jest as we appreciate what you do – just not having to pay for it )

One of the necessary items that a farm can require is a baler (we do not have one of these) we get contractors in to do this work, It is a skill raking and bailing hay and is environmentally controlled – too hot and it can catch fire so they stop, too cold and once baled with too much moisture the bale can spontaneously erupt. Think about some of those hay shed fires that appear randomly in the news it may have been incorrect baling of hay that may have caused it. This is a machine that rakes and collects the hay and strings it up in either round or square bales which will get fed out to the animals when feed is less on the ground. This could have belonged to yesterdays blog when for when the bill arrives for this there can be the word a**hole bastards or worse. (yes, you knew it was coming).

Despite the fact that all the working black / tan dogs on the farm are bitches, they have been called Bastards, loudly and often, most times when they are working and get over enthusiastic and won’t “SIT DOWN, GET OVER, COME HERE, GET UP HERE” (all said in capitals as he is yelling), it is here they become a bunch of bastards.

Black Angus cattle is what we produce here, they are beautiful animals for sure and with the limited amount of people who come here our ‘beasts’ (what else do you call a 500Kilo + animal? ) are fairly quiet. I sometimes look at him when we are together doing ‘jobs’ there are lots of items and movement that need the encouragement of the B word.  “COME ON YOU BASTARD” is commonplace when “we” can’t start engines, when “we” can’t dislodge items from equipment, when “we” are demonstrating how to get out of being bogged by deliberately getting bogged and then one gets bogged and realizes they do not have the equipment on the Ute they need to use to show you how to get out and to get themselves out. Oh the irony, here and one must remember not to change facial features (smile or laugh) for fear of the death stare or worse being sworn at.

One of my first trips out with him to see the property he stated “I shouldn’t drive through here as I always get bogged” I said “well don’t then” to which he did and by the time he finished trying to get out of it the mud was up to the foot guard of the Ute, it took over an hour to get me out as he left me in said vehicle with the dogs and walked back to the property approx. 5 km’s get a tractor and pull us out, this has not been an isolated incident.

One of the other things farmers do is going to clearing sales where they purchase other people’s goods. “We” like to buy books on farming amongst other things, now these items are things that are not wanted by other farmers who are moving off properties yet they seem to find their way in my home, we have a bookshelf of books that can be “thrown away” except for the farming books – note to self – that is all that is in the bookshelf.

Sometimes I feel this farming game may be the bloody death of me or at the least lack of expansion of my vocabulary. Please feel free to add any farm implement starting with B that gets the farmers blood boiling. One of the necessary B items the farm has on hand is booze and after some days you can’t drink enough to be rid of the sights and sounds of the country.