Archive | 2008

What does Kuzzin eat?

24 Oct

You might wonder–if she’s killing geese with her bare hands, what does their cuddly gray cat, Kuzzin, eat? Mostly he loves the cheapest cat food we can buy. I once bought the expensive, free-range stuff. He refused to eat it. It was back to Friskies. He was once an alley cat and lived outside. Bill and I used to think he was evil (his eyes are sort of strange). After our cat Sparkles died, though, Kuzzin somehow squirmed his way into our hearts and we adopted him. Like all cats, he spends most days sleeping.

But lately it’s gotten pretty exciting for Kuz, as I bought an amazing mouse trap that catches the mice that he can’t (he’s too busy sleeping). When he first moved in, he used to catch the mice skittering around our house and garden. But lately he’s slowed down–maybe the plentiful cheap ass cat food has made him soft and weak. I was forced to take on our home’s rodent control into my own hands. There’s something….satisfying about setting a mousetrap. It’s kind of like being a French Canadian fur trapper. You set the trap, then come back–and ah! a prize! But there’s also something…terrifying about trying to get the thing set without snapping your own fingers into the trap. That’s why the best trap ever is made by D-con and features a little lever to trigger the trap. You just press a button and it’s good to go. You can also use it over and over again. Sorry, I’m starting to sound like a spokesperson for D-Con. Sheesh. Unlike being a French Canadian fur trapper, I’m not in it for a mouse fur (though I’m sure that’s nice), just for the trapping. But, of course, someone in the house *loves* mice. So now I tip the mouse trap over Kuzzin’s food dish and in he pounces. He eats a mouse in about 2 minutes flat. Beginning with the head. The noise of his clashing jaws and mouse flesh is surprisingly loud. The other day, maybe with the taste of a young mouse in his memory, Kuzzin went hunting again. He got a bird. I know–that’s terrible! It was one of those ubiquitous sparrows that hang out on the deck with the rabbits. Kuzzin ate its head first too. There were tiny gray feathers all over my kitchen. And that’s what Kuzzin the urban farm cat eats.

Reminder: Oct 19

18 Oct

Hey! Remember about the farm tour Sunday Oct 19, starting at noon. We’ll be extracting honey at 1pm with some awesome Biofuel Oasis customers, if you want to stick around for that. I had a little lady stop by today thinking the tour was on Saturday. Bummer. She got to see a praying mantis and feed the goats even though it was the wrong day. Tomorrow will be more exciting.
If you want to help extract, bring a long-sleeved shirt and a hat (just in case a bee wants to sting you). It should take about an hour.

Farm Tour

9 Oct

Pant, pant. Lord, just saw the cover of my book, coming out in June. Purdy cute. But top secret.

So, how does October 19th work for you farm tour people? We’re going to do a honey extraction. High noon. Be here: 665 28th Street, at MLK and 28th. We’re the lot next door. We’ll do a tour then extract (weather willing). Bring seeds to swap if you’ve got a favorite. I’ve got some good Speckles lettuce…

Oh, and article in SFgate.com this week by moi.

The old switcheroo

4 Oct

Ok, okay, I’m like a rat on the internet, scurrying here and there, nibbling on domain names, grabbing new wordpress blogs. But here’s the deal: I’m switching fully back to wordpress (thanks heather!) to the following: https://ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com/. Until we’re booted off the squat lot (subprime meltdown willing), this is the name of the blog.

Cook your goose

22 Sep

As promised, I unearthed the goose from the freezer…and killed the two living ones to boot.
My downstairs neighbors finally complained about the incessant honking of the geese, and like a true country bumpkin, I slaughtered them the minute after the complaint was lodged. Good relations with neighbors are more important than two slightly more fat geese come X-mas time. But I wonder if I could ask them to make their dogs shut the hell up with their infernal barking? I don’t think they’d return the favor, somehow.

Here’s what I did to the geese. After killing and some plucking, I ended up just skinning them. Getting all the feathers out requires a rubber fingered plucking machine. Those rule. But I don’t have one. So, skinning. I know–the fat? It went with the skin (into a shallow grave). There was some internal fat, though. Plus, I have pig fat.

After a day of resting in a salt brine, I deboned the geese. The meat was red and looked like beef, a bit. With the carcasses–carcassi?–made tons of stock, which eventually became gumbo and a tomato ragu (but that’s another story). Then I put the chunks in the freezer to get very cold. Meanwhile, I cubed up some pig back fat (oh, the decadence).
Then all of that went into the meat grinder. It’s called a waring “professional” meat grinder, but it sucks. Someone said a Kitchen Aid grinder works well, but I wonder. I bought casings at Taylor Sausage in Old Oakland–nice guys, lots of casings for $12.
Then I mixed everything up–the meat, the fat, herbs, wine. And fed the meat into the stuffing attachment of my wanky grinder. I think the meat and fat did something Michael Ruhlman calls “breaking”, which he says in his book Charcuterie, makes the sausage taste like paper maiche. Oh lord! They did look kind of smeary and weird. After a night in the fridge, I pulled them out for Sunday pancakes. As the sausages fried, a full-on geyser of liquid fat came streaming out of the crackling skillet-bound sausage.

As for the taste–yes, a little dry, but with maple syrup and cornmeal hotcakes, they were nothing to feed to the dogs.

Old lurking things

16 Sep

The end of summer makes me want to clean out my freezer. If you can believe it, we *still* have pork left from last year’s pigs. My friend Zach was in town so I roasted some in his honor. Even after a year in the deep freeze, it’s still delicious.

While I was rooting around the freezer to find the last pork shoulder, I found some crazy stuff. Two pigs feet, neatly wrapped. Pig kidneys (glad I labeled that!). Assorted goose parts. Two rabbits in Ziplock bags. Lots of chicken and turkey feet. An entire pork belly. A ham. A rack of pork loin. Since it’s been in there for a year, I really need to get that stuff cooked and eaten! So, for the next few posts, I’m going to have some, um, closure, with the meat in the freezer. I’m planning to make goose sausage, a rabbit and pork back fat terrine (from Jane Grigson), kidney pie, made some bacon (that crisp Fall wind is starting to blow here…)

And once the temps finally drop, I absolutely must take care of those many, many rabbit pelts. That will be quite unappetizing.

Goat estrus

7 Sep

Ok. Here’s the story. About 10 days ago, I was puttering around the house–feeding the rabbits, washing the dishes, putting grain in Bebe’s milk stand so I could milk her–when I heard Bebe yelling. I ran downstairs because this was an odd sound. I thought maybe the turkey had attacked her. At the gate, Bebe lunged. Bilbo seemed especially concerned. So I let them out, and Bebe raced up and down the stairs like a crazy goat. Then, I hate to report: Bilbo mounted her, made this unbelievably clownish face and stuck his tongue out like the devil. Sick. It didn’t last long. Meanwhile, Orla was making horrible bleating noises. This went on all day, and then for a few more days. My poor neighbors. Bilbo is just so in love.

Most dairy goats go into estrus at the end of summer through early winter, every 18-21 days. If they’re bred, they’ll carry for 5 months and give birth in the spring. With Dwarf Nigerians like Bebe, they actually can breed all year ’round. This most recent cycle must have been her first since having Orla. I’m hoping to breed her in December for a May arrival of babies. So it’ll be a little loud around here every three weeks, I guess.

A few days after all this noise, I was down in the chicken house trying to convince the new chickens to roost there when I heard some goat noises again. I looked up on the stairs and the goats were looking West. Our neighbor two doors down, a young Vietnamese mom, was yelling, “Baaahhh,” and laughing her ass off. The goats returned her call. Neither the goats nor the lady knew I could see them–so I waited in the henhouse until they were done talking. Have I mentioned how much I love my neighborhood?