Making Simple Jerky

A couple of days after I butchered the goat last week, I made my first ever jerky. Chevron jerky. This wether was about two and a half years old, and should have been butchered a while back. The only meat I left whole were the two back legs. I baked one while I was grinding the rest, and it came out very tough. We chewed on some of it for a few meals, then I froze the rest. It can go into a jar the next time I can some stock or soup. From this same leg, before I cooked it, I cut out a big chunk of meat with the idea of trying some jerky. This is a task I have wanted to try for quite some time.

A while back, I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not, someone out there told me in a comment that very simple jerky could be made with sliced meat, salt and pepper. That is exactly what I was looking for. I don’t want to buy an extruder and have to grind the meat, mix it with whatever, then squirt it out on a sheet of something that won’t let it fall through the cracks. I know some folks make excellent jerky this way, but I wanted something very simple. I stored the meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator until I was ready to make jerky. You know, that place on the top shelf that will make boiled eggs freeze solid? Right there. It was good and cold when I got it out and started slicing, which made it pretty easy.

I wasn’t sure how much salt and pepper to use, so this time I only sprinkled it on one side, pressed it in and placed the meat on my standard dehydrator trays.

The directions in this book said to dry at about 180* for four hours, turn it over, then dry for another six to eight hours. The problem with that is that eight hours later was about 1:30 am, and I knew I wouldn’t be up then, so I figured a little extra drying time wouldn’t hurt. The baby chicks were in the room I normally use for dehydrating, so we moved next door into the pantry. There isn’t room in the kitchen, so the dehydrator lives elsewhere in the house. Here is the jerky at four hours. It looked very good to me.


I turned off the dehydrator at 6:00 the next morning. Needless to say, the meat was dry, probably too dry. You can’t bite off a piece, you kind of have to chew it off. The four tray Excalibur dehydrator we use is very simple, with a knob that controls the temperature. It doesn’t have an on/off switch, so we plug it into a power strip that does.


What did we think? Frank’s seal of approval is still out for deliberation. Me? I think it’s great! I am very pleased with the process, the ingredients and the taste. Now I have to learn how to store it so it doesn’t go rancid or mold or something. I know I can keep it in the freezer, but what if we don’t have electricity one day?

One of the reasons I am interested in jerky to begin with, is that it is another way to store meat besides canning. Canned meat is very nutritious, but it is one of my least favorite ways to eat meat as far as flavor goes. Fresh cooked meat is great, but if you’re in TEOTWAWKI stage of life, the day of butchering will be one of the only days that fresh meat will be available. Jerky is also a great way to store protein and salt in an easy to transport package. If times get really lean, it will also give your mouth something to do for a while in times of hunger. All of these things come to mind when I think of making jerky from our chevron, or goat meat. I’ll try the same thing when we butcher our first pig. Meat from American Guinea Hogs is more of a red than pinkish white meat you see from many pigs.

The goal in learning simple, efficient ways to grow, cook and store food will hopefully make a difference when survival is the name of the game. Packing nutrition into every item in a meal, instead of empty calories void of nutrients, will be an absolute necessity if we’re going to make it. The shear volume of work required to live in a collapse, grid down, do everything yourself or you won’t make it situation, will require adequate nutrition, or will soon turn into an impossibility. Think about it. Seriously. Think long and hard, discuss it with your friends and family that are on board. Come up with solutions that will fit your situation and implement them. Now.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 13

Life on the homestead continues unabated, sometimes it’s like running full steam and sometimes it’s more like a walk in the park. Lately we have been surrounded with steam. Here’s a look at what’s been happening.

Isn’t this a beautiful ditch? You’re probably thinking I’ve been in the ‘steam’ too long, right? Well, the ditch itself may not beautiful, but what it represents is very exciting. Emmet has returned to barter more labor, for radios this time, a few evenings after he gets off of work. Weekends are devoted to his family, which is as it should be. Emmet found many, many more rocks in this ditch than any of us were planning on, so it will take longer to accomplish this task that we first thought. This ditch will hold the conduit, that will hold two strands of wire, which will connect this building to the house. Why is that exciting? Because these wires will soon connect our radio shack and house, to a battery bank and solar panels. We’re not sure just how soon, but sometime in the not so distant future.

Yesterday while Frank and Henry installed storm doors on the house, which are great, I butchered a goat. Frank dispatched him for me and brought him down to the garage in the bucket of the tractor. I have to tell you, though, I did not take one picture yesterday. It was a long, long busy day. The goat provided us with about 45 pounds of meat, 10 pounds of dog food and some soup stock.

Dressing out an animal really doesn’t take that long. Processing the meat does. We only kept two partial hind legs as roast. The rest of the meat was deboned, ground and frozen. I wrapped the ground meat in one to one and half pound packages and got them in the freezer at about 7:45 pm, just a few minutes before our second Survival Radio Relay Net. After the digging, Emmet stayed for a cup of coffee, and to see how Frank ran the net.

As I removed the meat from the bones, I kept looking at all the meat left on the bones. In the past, I have always just thrown these bones away. The longer I looked at them, the more I knew I needed to boil them and make some soup stock. So I did. I cooked them for several hours as I worked on processing the meat.

The net went very well with most people from the previous net returning and some new additions. Not long after the net we received a phone call from a man that joined for the first time. I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes when life is really busy and we wonder why in the world we are ‘putting ourselves out there’ and possibly increasing our danger factor, we get a phone call or a comment that lets us know we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. This phone call was one of those. I almost cried. Not because of the content of the phone call, but because of the unmistakable message that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. So, I guess I’ll keep writing here for the foreseeable future.

We finally had supper at 10:00 pm in the midst of a very messy kitchen. I actually left this tub of dog scraps and many, many dirty dishes overnight. I had totally run out of steam for the day, and 6:00am would come very soon for the start of another day. I also forgot to bake the bread I had made this morning. I just shook my head and hoped it would taste good when I baked in in the morning. It did. Frank thought it was some of the best sourdough bread we have had so far. It sat for 24 hours after I made the dough and before it was baked. Interesting.

 

This morning it took me a couple of hours to clean up the kitchen. I returned the pots of stock to boiling, made rolls from the bread dough and left them to rise while I fed and milked the animals. Frank and Henry got to work early on the framing for the outdoor kitchen floor. Here it is today, but tomorrow these forms will hold a new concrete floor for the kitchen. We will keep you updated.

Frank worked over the lid and top edge of the All American Canner that wouldn’t seal well enough to reach adequate pressure and we tried it again. It still doesn’t work so we will be sending it in to see if the company can fix it at our expense.

 

It’s now 6:00 pm and there are two canners of soup stock on the stove with more left in the pot to go. So far we have 21 quarts of stock and we will put what’s left in pints. It looks like the last one won’t be finished until about 10:00 pm. Update. It’s now 8:00 pm. The last seven quarts will be ready to take out of the canner around 9:00 pm. I just put the pressure weight on the canner with 13 pints, and it has to come to 10 pounds pressure and stay there for 90 minutes. We won’t be finished by 10:00 pm, but we’re happy with the amount of soup stock we’ll have to put on the shelf.

 

We have one more incubator full of eggs hatching as we speak. At first I took this picture to share with you, but before I could finish writing and publishing this article, they started hatching. That means I need to butcher and can the last 12 or 13 chickens out there from our last hatch. They are a too old for fryers, and we wanted some chicken meat on the shelf anyway. Looks like that’s a job for Friday because tomorrow is mozzarella. The refrigerator is over run with milk again.


There have been several questions and comments about the greenhouse since we put this picture up on the header. It still doesn’t seem quite real that we finally have a greenhouse, and we have already decided it’s not big enough. 

 

We were asked if these barrels hold a back up water supply. The answer is yes. We don’t plan to use the water very often unless it is needed. We hope to have other sources of water connected and ready to use before long. But since we do want this water to remain potable, we treated it with bleach as we filled the barrels. We did a search on recommended amounts of bleach and came up with 5 teaspoons per 50 gallons of water. Five teaspoons is approximately one ounce, which is easier to measure when you’re trying to pour it out of a new gallon jug.

 

After we filled the barrels and got everything placed where we wanted it, Frank added some brackets to the back of the ‘table tops’ to hold them in place. We brought them an inch and a half away from the studs to allow room to place two trays side by side. This will allow us to use the space more efficiently. The bus tubs, there was a question about them, are the same ones that restaurants use to clean or ‘bus’ tables. Sam’s Club has them with the restaurant supplies. They have been great, but the sun just kills them and makes them very brittle. We will build our own before long and fit them to the trays. I hope they hold up better in the sunlight than the bus tubs did, we’ll have to wait and see about that.

The purpose of the water is for thermal mass. We are hoping it will help even out the temperature in the greenhouse. On sunny days when the outside temperature is in the 80’s, it quickly rises to 100*+ inside. The first day we moved the seedlings off of the porch and into the greenhouse was before we added water to the barrels. I didn’t water them enough, and in the afternoon, a few of them cooked, even with the fan Frank had installed. Since then, I have tried to make sure the tubs are watered very regularly, and we do think the water in the barrels makes a difference. Even if the thermometer is registering 100*, the plants don’t seem to suffer for it. I plan to dig up some strawberries and comfrey and bring them in for the winter and see how they do. That will be interesting. I also have kept the mandarin orange and lemon tree idea in the back of my head that someone mentioned a while back. 

I brought these two black peppercorn vines, piper nigrum, in to the greenhouse. They have been growing on the porch all summer. I also brought in a preying mantis with them. I hope it sticks around and helps with the bugs that may show up.

 

I planted more seeds in more tubs, but there’s not much to show for now. There are carrots, turnips, muskmelon, squash, lettuce and spinach coming up. I also planted some onion sets that I bought in the spring and never planted. Maybe we will have a few onions to eat this winter.

Tomorrow is another busy day, cheese and concrete. If you’re interested in radio communications, stay tuned. We will have new antenna towers going up soon. This will increase our ability to reach the folks in our area which is critical. The solar panel project will also help insure our ability to communicate. The radio shack will be the first thing to go ‘on line’ once we have the 12 volt system connected and functional. We really look forward to that day. Meanwhile the water storage tanks at the barn are still on the docket for completion. We need a few more supplies and some more ditches dug before we can proceed.


There are days that it would be easy to quit, days that we’re tired and worn out. There are some days that we just don’t want to get out of bed and tackle the day. But we do. There is much to complete and time is short. Our pace seems to quicken a bit more each day. When we get out of bed, we pour a cup of coffee and check out the news of the day including the blog. There is usually another comment telling us what you’re doing to prepare, full of encouragement, and we know we’re heading in the right direction. Make sure you are too.

Until next time – Fern

Meet Patch, And More Goat Lore

We had a very pleasant surprise yesterday! One Stripe had lively, healthy twins. We had a little concern, since according to my records 150 days of her gestation would fall on Tuesday, February 9th. Most goat books I have read indicate that kidding before the 150th day can mean there is a problem, unless the doe has triplets or quadruplets. As I posted before, One Stripe had attained her classic waddle, but remained very healthy and active, to the point of still trying to trot, she was too big to run, in from the pasture when I showed up at the barn.

Friday night when we went up to feed, everything was normal. One Stripe came into the barn and got up on the milk stand to eat. Saturday morning, she came into the barn, put her front feet up on the blocks to get on the milk stand, then just stopped and looked at me. She obviously wanted to eat, but wouldn’t attempt to go any further. After a little coaxing, I realized something was up, but I figured she was just getting too heavy, so I put her feed in a bowl on the floor and she ate just fine. But, after I turned her out I realized her walk had changed. She didn’t go far before stopping and it appeared that one of the babies had moved back to the point One Stripe almost had to swing her back legs out and around the baby just to take a step. It now took her much longer just to go out to the pasture, with many stops, and she no longer kept up with the herd. I hoped this wasn’t an indication of pre-delivery problems.

After watching her for a bit, I radioed Frank to tell him we needed to get the birthing pens set up and ready, that we might be having babies today (Saturday) instead of Tuesday like predicted. So, we got in gear, cleaned out the barn and got everything set up. We put hay in the back of the pens, so the does wouldn’t stick their heads through to eat it, washed out the water buckets and checked the tote with the birthing supplies one more time. Then I went out in the pasture to bring in the girls. It took One Stripe about 10 minutes, with many stops, to walk the distance she usually covers in less than a minute. She didn’t appear to be sick or stressed accept that she didn’t take too many steps before pausing for a break, some longer than others.

When we got to the barn and I opened the gate to her birthing pen, she just walked right in, right at home. This has been her routine for the last six years, so she knows what is going on and is very comfortable there. That is very nice. No stress for her, no having to make her go in, no hollering for the other goats, just peaceful readiness for babies. By the way, the other does that fought tooth and nail against going in and bellowed from the time they were put in, have gone on to other pastures. That is part of the way we maintain a calm, peaceful, easy-to-handle herd. It is part of breeding in the characteristics of what we want in a goat, or cat, or dog, or chicken. We only keep those animals that meet our requirements, and One Stripe is an excellent example of a great goat.

 
Saturday night came and went with no babies, which was good. That would be day number 147 in my books, and just too early. Then came Sunday, day number 148. After her breakfast, I let One Stripe out of the pen for a bit, and pulled up a chair. She didn’t go far at all, just across the barn and back. I could tell by how hollow her hips and tailbone were, along with a very small amount of discharge, that this would be the day for babies. But since it was only day number 148, I wondered if she would have triplets. It also occurred to me that if I had caught her breeding activity at the end of her 24 hour standing heat cycle, that my estimation could be about 24 hours off, which would put her at 149 days, but still a day early. The other factor is One Stripe’s age. She will be seven in May, which is older for a breeding, producing doe. Most folks would have already sold her off as an older doe. But, for those of you that haven’t read about my plans for One Stripe already, she will be staying here all the days of her life. She is one of those special goats that is calm and gentle, a great mom, a good milker, and has stole my heart. I can’t claim that with any of the others, but I can with her. So, here she stays, all of her days.


One Stripe was nice enough to have her babies in the middle of the afternoon, on a sunny, 75* February day. It was short sleeve weather with no worries about cold babies, a picture perfect day. We have two friends that are interested in goats and the birthing process that I contacted when I knew for sure we had babies coming. Faith [a pseudonym] arrived in time to see the second baby born. She is hoping to buy Penny after her kids are born and I train her to milk, so she is wanting all the firsthand experiences she can get under her belt before she takes her first goat home. After the kids were born Grace [another pseudonym] and her husband came over to see them. So we ended up with a barn full of talking a laughter. Another plus on this fine February day. Plus, Frank and I got to share some of our experience and knowledge which we always enjoy. One Stripe had no difficulty birthing at all. Just like always. She started ‘talking’ to her stomach after a while, like she was telling the babies to hurry up and come out. That made me laugh.

Patch was born first in the classic, front feet, nose, head position. In less than two hours, Patch was trying to jump around, like baby goats do. But then she would fall over, making me laugh. That is when Grace told me that Frank and I have a great life. She is right. It is a great life, and we are very blessed. Patch is a very active, vigorous baby girl, with beautiful dark brown ears, which Frank likes. We may just have to keep her.


Breakfast, yes, we named her brother breakfast because that is what he will be, was born back feet first. When the amniotic sack appeared and stayed unbroken, I thought something looked odd and kept trying to see if the head was following the feet. It didn’t take long for him to be born, and my only concern was that final push or two when most of his body was out, but his head was not. I wanted to make sure he was out and able to breathe well. But he came out fine and all was well.


When the kids are born, if I get to be there, I swipe the mucous from their mouths so they can start coughing and breathing well. Depending on the temperature, I may dry them off some with a towel. Since the weather was so nice yesterday, I didn’t dry them, but left them to their mother’s attention. Another huge benefit of having tame, easy to handle animals is that they don’t mind having you in the birthing pen with them when the time comes. We have had does that ran to the back of the pen like cornered animals, or does that tried to ram and run out of the gate when I went in, especially first fresheners. We did not keep them. It makes it much harder to help the kids if they need it or make sure they are nursing. It also makes for wilder kids that are difficult to handle as well.


It wasn’t long before both kids were dry and fed. We clipped their umbilical cords and applied a strong 7% iodine to cauterize and sterilize them. While all of this was going on, Faith described markings on the first baby, a girl, and said something like, “That white square looks like a patch. That would make a good name.” And it stuck. So, meet Patch.


Upon discovering the second kid was a boy, Frank said to Faith, “His name is Breakfast.” We have a running joke that all bucks born here have the name of Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. Some folks think that’s funny and some don’t, but all males born here are destined to be meat for our table, unless by chance, someone comes by that needs a new billy goat. But that doesn’t happen very often. We had chevron patties for supper last night, but it wasn’t Breakfast. It tastes great.

Faith and Patch

I milked out about a quart of colostrum from One Stripe last night. It makes it easier for the babies to nurse, and begins the stimulation for One Stripe to produce more milk. This morning I brought her in on the milk stand to eat. It gives her some movement, lets her eat in a normal location, and makes it much easier for me to milk her, sitting in a chair instead of kneeling in a crowded birthing pen.
 

Copper with her ears out


It was a great day. Easy birth, great weather, good company and beautiful babies. It doesn’t always go that way, and since One Stripe aborted last year, she had many prayers for a successful pregnancy this year. Now, to wait a few more days for Copper to kid. Yesterday afternoon as she lay out in the corral, I noticed her ears were out. That is usually a sign of listening, but at this stage, it is also a sign of discomfort. According to my records she will reach 150 days on Wednesday, two days from now. But we watched her closely because we have had does go into labor right after another one gave birth. Something about the sight, sounds and smells of birth can bring on labor in another animal that is close to her due date. For the farmer it can mean turning around to help another goat for a few hours, just when you thought you were finished for the day. We had that happen once about 10:30 at night. Just finishing up and making sure babies and mother were all settled and doing well, only to realize the goat in the next pen was laying down pushing. That was a long night indeed.

One Stripe is doing great this morning.


This morning Copper hasn’t shown any signs of birthing. But the day is young, we will see what it brings. Today is forecast to be sunny, 65* and light winds. Another great day to have more baby goats. But then, for me, just about any day is another great day to have baby goats.

Good morning, Breakfast.

Good morning, Patch.


We look forward to having some fresh milk in a few days. We will wait until Friday to start keeping the milk for ourselves. In the meantime, I will be milking One Stripe, and Copper after she kids, twice a day. This milk will go to the chickens, cats and dog. Later on when Cricket, Lady Bug and Penny birth and I am training them to be milkers, we hope to have some pigs that can benefit from some extra milk as well. By then the garden will be half planted and spring will be well on the way. The seasons change, and this time of year brings new life on the homestead and blessings to our lives.

Until next time – Fern

Great Homegrown Nachos

We had all of the ingredients handy for making nachos, and it sounded like a great evening meal. The more I thought about it, the more interesting it sounded. Here is the way we made them.

The ingredients we used include:

Some of the jalapeno peppers that were left over when we canned up six pints last night.




A few of the onions we grew this summer. Growing onions has never been successful in our garden. This is about as big as they get. We’ll try again next year and see if we can master growing that vegetable to normal size.

Some of our salsa we put up in August. We grew the tomatoes and peppers for this salsa. We had to buy the onions (see above) and cilantro. This is the first time we have tried our canned salsa this year. We have been able to keep a fresh quart in the frig most of the summer.



Chevron roast from a wether we butchered last fall. This was a nice hind quarters we cooked up last month. I like to freeze up the extra meat in quart size freezer bags to use later in meals like this.
 

I use corn tortillas that we fry up. We use olive oil for anything requiring oil when we cook. 


Cheddar cheese. This was the wheel that stuck in the cheese press when we made it. I wondered how it would come out.

It had some spots of mold here and there and the general surface was a little bumpy. I decided to cut off a thin layer of the entire surface.

It won’t go to waste. Pearl, our Great Pyrenees, loves cheese. The cheese is a very nice mild flavored cheddar that has aged for five months. 

After I fried the chips, I diced the onions and roast for the first layer.





Then I added some peppers and salsa…..





And topped it with shredded cheddar.





These nachos were some of the best we have ever had. No, really, they were! Part of the reason is that we raised the goats that gave us the milk that made the cheese. Another part is growing the tomatoes, peppers and little onions. Then there was that wether that was born here that we butchered and cooked, he tasted really good. It always amazes us that we can harvest and eat from the work of our hands. And it tastes good to boot!

Until next time – Fern

Making Pizza

We learned to make pizza from scratch when we lived in bush Alaska. There are times when you have a hankering for something that is not easy to get when you live way out in a remote area, and if you really want something, you have to make it yourself. So we did.

The pizza dough recipe came from a friend of ours that got it off of a flour sack. I still wrote it down as ‘Bob’s Pizza Dough’ because that is where I learned to make it. I start off with the dough so it can bake for a few minutes before I add the toppings.

 2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2+ tbsp. olive oil
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. yeast
Add flour, salt, oil & 1/2 c. water to bowl. With the remaining 1/2 c. water, add sugar & yeast, let sit.

We buy everything we can in bulk to save money. Most things we buy from a warehouse market.

The spices I buy in bulk and refill my smaller spice containers. 

We grind peppercorns in this small coffee grinder.

I really hope to can my own tomato sauce this summer. We will see how that goes.

While the yeast is softening and starting to bubble I carefully measure the spices and add them to the tomato sauce. I add this much seasoning salt….

 this much pepper……

this much oregano……

this much parsley…… 
(Frank said, “Isn’t that a lot?”)

this much basil…….

and this much dried minced garlic.

All precisely measured by hand. I couldn’t tell you how much of anything there is….I have never had a recipe. This was another instance of making it up as you go along. I tend to do that with many things. So add whatever tastes good to you and your family. In my opinion,

the sauce makes the pizza – not enough spices and the pizza will be bland, but too much and it will be overwhelming. 

Stir up the sauce and spices and let it sit while you get everything else going.

This is ground chevron or goat meat. We butchered some of our wethers last fall.



 

Brown the meat, add salt and pepper to taste. Of course, you can use any meat – sausage is good too.


 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Now that the sauce and meat are going, add the yeast to the flour and stir it up. 

Turn out the dough onto the counter that is sprinkled with flour and knead until smooth. The dough should be a little sticky but not so much that it will stick to your finger when you poke it.

Note the date on the shortening can? It is July 2010, three years old and in excellent condition. Coat the pan you are going to use with shortening. I use a large cookie sheet. This batch will probably make two pizzas if you are using a traditional pizza pan.  

I tried rolling out the dough and transferring it to the pan once. It didn’t work very well, so I just put it on the pan and work it around by hand.



Now I bake the crust for about six to eight minutes before I add the toppings. 


The meat should be about ready by now, so it is time to shred the cheese and chop the vegetables.

This is the mozzarella we made a few days ago, along with an onion from a neighbors garden, a few of our anaheim peppers and a few black olives.

Okay, the crust is ready.

 
Add the 

sauce……

Add the meat and veges……..

Did I say we like onions and peppers? Mmmm……..

Add the cheese…….. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees.

I have learned to lift up the pizza with a spatula and look at the bottom of the crust to make sure it is done.

This was one of the best pizzas I have made! No, really. The crust was just right, not too many spices in the sauce, fresh vegetables and fresh mozzarella cheese. It doesn’t always turn out this way. And we have leftovers to eat for the next few days while we work in the garden. Life is good.

Until next time – Fern