Tag Archives: farm

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

 

No time like the present

If you farm you know how much time it takes up in your daily work life, from the minute you get up and get out of the house there is always something to do. We are not dairy farmers so there is no getting up at the crack of dawn unless insomnia has set in. Sometimes I am aware he is up and reading at this time and due to many different reasons. I see him worry in winter and summer about his animals, which is why he creates shelter belts, plants natives every year and checks every paddock for animals, water in trough and anyone who needs assistance with birthing.

He checks the weather on internet every morning and plans his day accordingly, there is normally a comment based on the weather map, some days it’s how can the BOM Bureau of Meterology get the weather so wrong, he comments like this when it’s summer and they predict rain and we don’t get any when we need it. He loves to show me the map, which I look at sometimes with dread, I never took note of weather until I became entangled with the farmer, now I appreciate it’s place in our daily lives. It’s like the naughty child, argumentative one day dark rain clouds threatening, positively bursting with excitement the next sunshine bursting through clouds, to the rainbow like a child sleeping and then rain happiness when you least expect it.

When I work off farm, I can leave before dawn and back after dark I can ask him what he did for the day and he’ll tell me not much , like yesterday. I wasn’t off farm working I was nursing a sore back which is better today. He spent a good part of 4 hours emptying one of the septic tanks, he discovered our pump was not working so he took it to the shed, and came back with another pump set it all up and then spent the next 3 hours digging up the outlet pipes and making sure it was ok before moving on to the next job. I watched him for a while and as he parked his Ute next to the animal nursery I could see him leaning in and patting the calves and the lamb. They of course thought he was bringing them milk but they are tame now, it warms my heart to see his gentle side.

Then he finishes that and off he goes into the paddocks and returns when he has finished. He comes in late afternoon and is doing stretches and I ask if he’s ok, he tells me he was out checking cattle when he saw a cow with a calf that appeared stuck partially out so he (on foot) chased it down and grabbed a leg (of the baby) and as the cow was walking away he managed to get a rope around it and get it’s head out, cleared the sack from the calves mouth and continued to pull until the calf was half out and the cow was still trying to run away and as the calf hit the ground – the cow ran and the calf started breathing. He then had to get into the Ute and turn the cow around so she would go back to bond with her calf, he got her within a couple of feet of the calf and she sniffed and identified immediately it was hers. He then said that the calf had attempted to get up a couple of times and he drove off, as he said he didn’t have time to hang around and assist. I don’t know what he calls that but that is impressive.

For a farmer to tell you he hasn’t done much is like saying the Doctor only saw 15 patients today instead of the 30 or more he probably did. I go back to a saying I have read many times on face book where they show a fantastic picture of a farm and small child leaning on a fence and it says “what’s a day off? I don’t know we’re farmers” which is true there really is not much opportunity to rest. As he says to me “weekends and public holidays are for the general public not farmers” .

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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.

Today is brought to you by New Years First Day

It’s the beginning of the New Year for 2015 in Australia and we are going into the New Year, I am sitting at the beautiful home-made Kitchen table – made by my husband and an older friend of his (before my time) in my exercise gear (as I plan on doing a 5 km walk) now that my partially ruptured Achilles is better and thought I need to start the year committed to my farming blog. I’ll get to my walk later.

I sit in the kitchen often as that is where we get good internet, living rurally you have to sometimes chase the signal in order to get to use it. Mobiles are worse since they shut down the analogue system. The NBN satellite really isn’t as good as it should be, all that money for rural people who need it the most to get an inferior service despite having to pay as much as those that get fast speed broadband in the city.

It can drop out on a windy day as can satellite TV, I know sounds crazy doesn’t it, in fast speed times people who need it are the ones that have to put up with inferior service. When we had the fire last year, we lost our land line for over 6 weeks, we weren’t a priority I was told despite the fact we still had fire burning around us. It is nearly a year since that event and we are hoping it is not going to happen this year.

Kitchens in most farm houses are the main rooms, as they are in most family homes, it’s where you all eat together, share a coffee with stock agents, and generally entertain those that come to your home. My ‘new kitchen is now 4 years old and I still love it as compared to the 70’s style with open feet that the mice use to get in and out of. This is lovely though white doors need washing down lots do to spills and dirty finger prints.

From my kitchen I can see out side where one of working dogs is sleeping under his Ute, waiting for him to come back out and jump into it. Pete the dog is sleeping on the sliding door, as that is where I put him after he made a smell that indicated there was going to be poop that followed (as he is arthritic he can not get up quick enough to go outside these days) one of the other working dogs is sleeping under the grape-vine facing the Ute & the other is out the back sleeping in the sand in the car port.

It’s a quiet day at the farm, he has gone around and checked everything, it is warming up and maintaining troughs, water, food and stock is a full-time job. he takes his breaks when he can and watches either the cricket or news channel. He has finalized his rain records for the year and we hope this year the rain falls a lot more than last year. He has records that go back over 50 years for this area, created first by his father and continued on by him, I will be printing them up later.

We wish for all of  you is good rains, great  crops, increased stock sales, no fires and all the joys of a successful year. Here are some Christmas biscuits I made with Australian Made Cutters, bought at a field day, no gingerbread men in our house, cattle, rabbits, kangaroos, Koalas and of course the Golden Retriever.

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