Friday, November 28, 2014

How I Cooked the 43 Pound Turkey

The turkey was a success. The hard part of cooking the turkey was finally deciding on the exact method.  I looked at cooking it overnight at 250 degrees, but then I read it wasn't a good idea if the turkey was over 20 pounds. So I ended up with the tried and true 325 degrees method, with a twist.
But first the turkey was brined overnight in a citrus/cider brine.
We woke up at 5AM on Thanksgiving morning and brought the turkey inside (it was too heavy for even my husband to carry in by himself.) I rinsed the brine off the turkey and got it ready in the pan while the oven preheated. My roasting pan was almost big enough. Cheap disposable aluminum trays made extended sides to catch the drippings and keep the drippings from getting onto the bottom of the oven. The oven was just big enough.

The turkey went into a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes then 5 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. I checked his temperature at noon and he was more than done! That's only 6 hours to cook a 43 pound turkey. He probably would have been fine with even less time. He was a bit overcooked, but he still was delicious.
We had 13 people for Thanksgiving dinner, gave away quite a bit of turkey as leftovers and still got a big mixing bowl and a small bowl filled with meat today

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lambs in Jackets

I've been worried that the one new lamb was cold so my daughters made lamb jackets.
They seem to like the jackets and he seems perkier this morning. I found the directions to make the jackets on this great blog losing sleep counting sheep. So many things to learn about sheep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


We are building our sheep flock! Yesterday I took delivery of four ewes (one of whom just had two ram lambs.) We went from one sheep to seven in an afternoon.
The other three ewes should all be pregnant. One of the ewes is huge but I don't know when she might go into labor. Maybe she'll have triplets!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Firewood Prep

We need to get going on our firewood prep for winter, even though the high temperature today is predicted to be 79 degrees. Five days ago our high temp was 31 degrees.  Alan wants to have a large pile on the patio so when the worst part of winter hits we don't have to depend on the trailer to get firewood to the house. We need to get this pile...
to look like this...

So little time!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Front Bed

The previous owners had a short wire fence in front of the flower bed bordering the road. Every fall they would put burlap over it to keep the cinders from the road out of the flower bed.  They told me they put up the burlap on Thanksgiving weekend, but we are supposed to get snow the day before Thanksgiving. The township boys probably won't need to put down cinders and plow, but just in case, I put up the burlap today.
Of course that wasn't exactly what had to happen. This spring I took out all the old wire fencing and posts. They had seen better days and needed to come out when we took out the huge mat of Lily of the Valley. I didn't really want to put the old fencing back so now everything is new. I think it looks nice and tidy.
This project just about finishes up the front yard in the winter preparations.  Now on to stacking firewood!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Do You Cook a 43 Pound Turkey?

Over the weekend we worked on getting the turkeys ready for their trip to Iceland. Alan worked on a different transport cage  because we thought the door to the cage I used last year isn't big enough to get the Tom in and out. So Alan added a wire door to an old dog house. Of course the Tom was too wide to fit through this door too! Luckily the top comes off as well.
I thought it would be too hard to carry the cage with the three turkeys inside so we loaded two of the turkeys, put the cage in the back of the Subaru, then put in the last turkey.Luckily our butcher helped carry the cage once we got to the farm. It took all three of us to carry it!
And the turkeys had no clue. Here they are enjoying some cauliflower leaves in their last days.
The packaging was a little more difficult this year as the turkeys were bigger. Our Tom dressed out at approximately 43 pounds and the two hens dressed out around 25 pounds each. Now I just have to figure out how to cook a 43 pound turkey!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter Fig Care

It's time for the fig trees to move to their winter quarters, the barn.
Fig trees can be winter hardy, with a little protection, not too far south from us. But I would just kill them if I kept them outside in our winters. So they will have a cozy spot in the back corner of the barn until it's time to get them started again in the spring.

This pretty simple article on fig tree care in winter recommends watering the fig trees once a month. The hard part will be remembering to do that!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More Gardening in November

We had a bit of snow on Thursday, but the garden is holding its own. And the temperatures are finally down into the fall range instead of the 60s we had earlier this week.
The radishes, in the foreground, and beets are doing well after the snow.
The chard is a little droopy but still going strong.
I have kale outside and also in the greenhouse.
All the kale is doing well and the baby spinach and lettuce in the greenhouse (to the left) will probably just be dormant for most of the winter. Then when the late winter sun starts heating up the greenhouse they should take off and we will be eating our own lettuce and spinach in early April.

I gave up on the cauliflower and pulled it all up today.  The heads of cauliflower were about the size of a nickel.  So the chickens, turkeys, goats and sheep all got to enjoy munching on a bit of green.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Radish Cover Crop

The daikon radishes planted for a cover crop are doing very well, even though they are covered in a little snow now. Some of the radishes are getting to be quite large. Once the frigid winter hit those roots they will break down and are going to definitely add a good bit of organic matter to the soil.
And I guess if we were really craving radishes we could eat some too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Harvesting Saffron

I actually harvested three stigma from my one blooming crocus.
The stigma are the tiny reddish orange thread-like objects hanging below the flower.

After drying, they can be stored then used in cooking. The Pennsylvania Germans considered saffron a must have ingredient in some soup recipes. A 1/4 tsp is going to take a lot more stigma!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Beautiful Day in November

Today was an absolutely beautiful day for November 10th. The high was around 60 degrees and the sky was clear. And no breeze; a perfect day to rake leaves. Alan surprised me by taking a half day at work and we raked up the leaves that have fallen so far. There are still a few trees holding on to their leaves but the bulk of the leaves have fallen. Today I was reminded again how wonderful our yard vac is.

With all the shredded leaves available I was able to mulch the garlic. First I built up a little fence around the garlic bed to hold the leaves.
Then I had to barrow in the leaves.  Now they are snug in their bed and ready for the cold winter.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The First Barn Inhabitants

Saturday morning we found the turkey that had been living with the goats had been attacked and was headless. We weren't exactly sure what had killed her though.
Saturday night I heard some strange barking noises outside. When I went out to listen more closely I heard coyote yipping and yowling. Since our other three turkeys are a week and a half away from their date with destiny I didn't want to lose them to coyotes! So we moved them into the new barn stall. The whole time we were moving the turkeys we could hear the coyotes on the ridge to the south east.

The turkeys would not walk on the concrete! We had to carry them into the barn and into their new temporary home. They are better with walking on the hay, but are still shuffling around a lot. Sorry turkeys, only nine days left.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saffron Crocus

I didn't think the saffron crocus bulbs I planted far too late would do anything; however, they all came up and now one is blooming!
I don't think I'll get any actual saffron this year, but it is nice to have something blooming in early November.