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.
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?
I’m feeling frantic with the “end of the summer”. I want to have a tour and do a seed swap (newly inspired by Heather Flores and her event last night for slowfood). I’m thinking late September. Who’s into it? Which Saturday?
Also, I heard CUESA is putting on an urban farm tour! September 12. They’re going to Alemany and a farm in East Palo Alto. Here’s the ticket info.
Um. No time to talk, I’m in the middle of a perfect storm of barnyard fun: baby rabbits, Bebe the goat in heat, introducing some new chickens to the flock. It’s mania. I have a lot to report but no time–more soon.
In the meantime, here’s an article I wrote for Saveur.com about the Slow Food Victory Garden in SF.
You’d think I wouldn’t have enough milk to make cheese. But the little bit I get each day from Bebe adds up and then I have to make something. I’ll toss a tablespoon of yogurt into a quart of milk, warm it up–and voila! a quart of yogurt.
Or, the other day, my postal carrier told me about something called cajeta. He often drops off the mail and then we talk about food–spit-roasted rabbits, steamed pumpkin drizzled with honey and mashed up with goat milk. Cajeta was goat milk slowly cooked with sugar until it became a caramel-y goo. The way he was drooling, I knew it had to be good. I had two cups of milk, so I decided to go for it. I had to stir the milk and sugar for an hour. Luckily, Bill was in an expansive mood so we talked and I stirred. The result was a gloppy goo–dulce de leche, great straight out of the jar.
I also made an order through Caprine Supply. Got a hobble, udder wipes, an iodine dip, and cheese molds. I tried making my own out of plastic containers drilled with holes, but they kind of sucked. Armed with these new molds, I hoarded milk and made cheese.
The fresh, triangular stuff turned out nicely. Creamy and light.
Because I had hopes to make aged cheese, I ordered some penicillin culture too. After the cheese firmed up, I started spritzing it with the white mold culture. It formed a rind after a few days left out (but covered to prevent flies).
After 10 days, Bill and I had a tasting. I secretly hoped it would taste like boucheron. Um, no. It wasn’t creamy in the middle, just firm. It kind of reminded me of the cheeses I tried in Portugal. Sturdy, nothing fancy. Definitely edible.
Sorry for those of you who missed the last farm tour. It was nice to meet some new folks and see old friends. I’ve got a gun to my head to finish a writing project, so there won’t be a tour in August. Plan on a Friday in early September.
In the meantime, here’s the farm report.
The bees I caught last year are doing really well. There seems to be lot of activity, though I was worried about the queen’s laying pattern last time I did an inspection (which was awhile ago–I hate bothering them). The swarm caught this spring in Alameda has died out. The queen never started laying and it all went to hell. I partially blame myself because I had this really jankity brood box with very funky frames.
The garden is in that awkward mid-summer phase where the greens are done but the tomatoes aren’t quite ripe yet. Luckily there is something to eat because it’s summer apple season. One of our neighbors comes in and picks them, which pisses Bill off, but I’m resigned–and even a little supportive–of the lot pillagers. Times are tight in the ghetto and the more fresh food I grow, the healthier the people around here will be. In a nod to my hippiedom, I’m growing corn and sunflowers, crops I usually don’t pursue. However, I have a reason! I do like sweet corn. And, the goats will very gladly eat the corn stalks. So it’s a multi-use plant. Similarly, goats like sunflower leaves and seeds.
The chickens on the deck are getting big, and I’m almost ready to set them loose outside with the big girls. They’ll get their asses kicked, but after a day or so all will be well. They’ve been flying off the deck and into the street, which is no good, so I’m getting motivated. The big white fella is Edith’s soon to be boyfriend. By the way he’s been puffing up lately, I’m fairly sure he’s a male.
Finally, the deck rabbits are getting plump from eating the windblown apples. They’re approaching their 3 month old birthday, which means it’ll be time for rabbit rillettes soon.