Poo on the carpet, what a lovely surprise!

For whatever reason, some of Ezra’s diapers have not been very absorbent lately.  Probably just means I need to strip them again.  A few days ago, this happened and Ez started crying because he felt pee rolling down his legs.  I got him into the bath and then my phone went off and it was a question about an eBay item!  Not one to lose out on a potential sale, I asked Ezra if he’d be ok for a few minutes and he indicated that he would be.

I don’t like leaving him alone in the bath for any length of time (we’ve all seen the videos on what can happen to an unattended child in water) so I ran downstairs, rattled off an answer to the eBay question, then ran back upstairs.  Ezra was not in the bathtub, and the upstairs was suddenly smelling very flowery.  I found him in the soap room, where we keep all the finished soap along with all the raw materials.  He had found some fragrance oil bottles and dumped them together into a cup as well as spilled some on the floor.  He had also shat on the carpet.  How the heck did he have the time to do all that?!  I tell you, I was not gone more than a couple minutes, if that!  And usually I can hear him when he gets out of the tub.  This kid is getting sneaky!  The poo on the carpet didn’t bother me that much because it was solid and didn’t leave a mess, but the fragrance oils?  That stuff is expensive!  And not only had he poured them out, he had mixed them together!  Luckily he had chosen two scents that worked well together, but still!  I made him get back in the bath and I tried cleaning things up, but you really cannot get oil out of carpet and the washcloth I used still smells like fragrance oils.  I was a mad mama that day.

We have since purchased some of those doorknob child locks and will putting them to use once Amazon drops them off.

We’ve also decided to make Ezra’s room more Ezra friendly.  Right now there is a bunch of items in there that I don’t want him getting into, like some body butters and other soap stuff, along with my dresser.  We’re going to have to move the dresser into the downstairs living room I think, because it definitely won’t fit in our room.  We’re also thinking of breaking down the crib and just putting the mattress on the floor, because Ez has climbed out/fallen out of his crib a time or two, so it’s probably that time.  He’s getting so big!  It’s amazing to see how much he changes and picks up day by day.  It’s also extremely frustrating at times, because mama just needs some time to herself!  And I’m sure daddy does, too.  And we want to do this again eventually?!

The chickens are all doing well.  They like that the snow has been melting and freeing up more foraging ground. The other day Mister had caught a mouse but didn’t appear to be eating it any time soon, so I caught our black chicken and brought her over to where the mouse was.  Took her awhile to figure out what I was pointing at, but once she saw the mouse she picked it up and pecked at it until it was dead.  The other girls figured out she had something tasty and chased her around for awhile but eventually she got away and ate the mouse all up.  I’m trying to teach them to be good hunters.  It helps us out by decreasing rodent population and it helps them out by increasing their protein here and there.

The rabbit kits are growing, though not as fast as I would like.  One of the kits has a gunky eye, so we are cleaning it off and putting antibiotics on it.  I think it’s just “nest box eye” that they sometimes get.  Usually is not indicative of anything more suspicious.

We were planning on keeping on of the female kits to bring our breeders back up to three females, but now I’m thinking maybe we will just stay with the two breeders.  We’ll still have to see about that one.  I know most folks who breed rabbit may eventually switch out all chicken in favor of rabbit, but I don’t know we’ll want to do that yet.  I also worry about being overrun with rabbit meat.  While there are many ways to prepare it, I guess I get worried that we’ll get tired of it but still have a couple hundred pounds of it in the freezer.

My ginger bug failed.  I noticed mold on it last night so had to toss it.  To be fair, I wasn’t taking great care of it.  I’ll need to start another one soon and try again.  On another note, our fermented garlic is coming along nicely!  The last couple nights we’ve been eating one clove apiece, just for general good health.  Also, Jesse is getting over a cold and garlic is great for colds.  As we were eating our garlic cloves, Ezra decided he wanted one, too, so I opened my mouth and breathed on his face.  He quickly ducked his head into my shoulder and decided he didn’t want one, after all.  I’m thinking I will start another batch of fermented garlic soon, because they take a few months to come to fruition.  Also, I may try a batch of honey fermented garlic, where you just put peeled garlic cloves into raw honey and let it do it’s work. The honey thins out from the garlic juices and microbes and apparently is very tasty in marinades and dressings.  Fermenting food is fun!

What does the fox say?

Two days ago I was preparing food in the kitchen.  I heated up some oil in a pan to sear off a pork roast, and had put the roast in the pot (fat side down, of course).  Washing my hands after, I happened to look out our kitchen window that overlooks the backyard and I saw an plump orange kitty coming over the train tracks behind our fence.  At least, I thought it was an orange cat from the neighborhood, but it just didn’t look right.  Really staring at it showed that it was not, in fact, a well-fed orange kitty but instead a well-fed fox!  It was so pretty and I never see foxes that close so I took a minute to watch it but then it dawned on me that our chickens were out of the coop and the fox was now skulking our fence line!  Honestly, I don’t know if foxes can scale fences or if it even saw our chickens, but I tell you I probably looked kind of foolish in my kitchen for a moment because here’s what happened:

– Shit!  I need to get the chickens in the coop!
– Shit!  I just put the pork roast on!  Should I take it off the heat or can I do this fast enough to get back up here so it doesn’t burn?
– Shit!  Why am I taking so long to decide what to do?  That fox is probably in our backyard eating my chickens by now!

This was accompanied by me running a couple steps in each direction while I tried to figure out what to do.  Eventually I decided to take the roast off the heat and ran downstairs, threw on my boots, and headed outside.

I hate herding chickens.  While most of them were happy to see me because they thought I may have food for them, they did not want to go into the coop.  I wrangled five of them inside but meanwhile two of them had run the other way and any time I got close they just kept going.  I finally had to circle around them far enough ahead to get them to go back to the coop.  Next the trick was opening the coop door to let the two in while preventing the other five from escaping.  Good times were had by all, I tell you.  In the end all seven were shut up safely in the coop, although unhappy about having their foraging time cut short.  I did not see the fox again but we decided to keep the birds locked up the next day as well, just as a precaution.

Makes me think, once again, about getting a dog.  Of course, if we lived on a farm situation we’d probably have these run-ins more often.  But again, we’d probably have a dog to do a perimeter line and keep the predators in check.

It also makes me wish I had the ability to take photos with my eyes, because I see a bunch of neat things that are typically gone by the time I’m able to get a camera set up.  not that I want to go full cyborg, but an eye photo cam could be cool.  Or, you know, a contact lense could work as well.

I remade the leftover rabbit meat into a taco soup yesterday.  Turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.  I added a quart of homemade chicken stock for the base, added in the rabbit meat, frozen corn, black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, and then the taco seasoning and let it simmer for awhile.  I sprinkle some shredded cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream and it’s perfect!  Of course, typically you’d eat it with a side of tortilla chips but usually I just eat the soup on its own.

I started another ginger bug and am hoping these results will be better than last time.  Someone on a forum told me I should have combined the ginger bug starter with the juice and then let it breath for a day or so instead of bottling immediately, so I will give that a go in a couple days when the starter is ready.

The kombucha is always rolling along.  I ordered a different variety of black tea this time and I don’t like it as well.  The leaves are more finely cut and therefore harder to strain when it comes time to pour the tea liquid into the sugar to create the sweet tea portion of the process.  I will most definitely try a different variety next time.

I’m a bit nervous to try our sauerkraut.  I’m pretty sure I could eat it now, but I kind of worry that I’m going to kill myself because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  Usually I just throw stuff together and I’m not sure if that’s all right with fermenting or if it is a precise process like baking.  Maybe I will try it later tonight and if I’m still alive in a couple days I’ll post to let you all know how it went.

Rabbit soup – so good!

We ate our first rabbit last night.  Well, to be clear, we ate *some* of our first rabbit last night.  I say some because it was a large rabbit and we didn’t need to use all the meat.  We may have used about a half of the meat.  First I pressure cooked the rabbit.  I put in water, salt, whole black peppercorns, carrots, garlic, onions, celery, and the rabbit.  We weren’t sure how long to cook it, but everything I read said to base it off chicken cook times so I set it for 15 minutes and then checked it.  The meat wasn’t fall-off-the-bone tender, so I put it back on for another 20.

pressure cooked rabbit and stock

pressure cooked rabbit and stock

After it was falling off the bone, I gave it a try.  Totally tasted like chicken!  It was crazy good, and had I not known it was rabbit I would have thought it was some kind of poultry.  In the meantime I had popped a couple acorn squash in the oven and they still had about a half hour to go.  I decided to make a soup similar to chicken and vegetables.  I started with carrots and potatoes and Jesse helped me pour the majority of the stock into the new pan.  Because this rabbit was pretty fat and I had been unable to remove all the fat, there was a good layer of oil on the stock.  We ended up using one of those fat/gravy strainers though and removed most of the fat.

I stripped off half of the rabbit and threw that in the pot along with some dehydrated onions and some more salt and pepper.  Near the end I put in some frozen corn and peas and let it simmer for another 15 minutes or so.  The acorn squash was ready by then, so we had our feast!

baked acorn squash

baked acorn squash

rabbit soup

rabbit soup

We have so much left over, I’m not sure what we will make with it.  I know a lot of folks make shredded rabbit tacos or BBQ sandwiches, may have to try that.

leftover rabbit meat and stock

leftover rabbit meat and stock

I was so happy with the way our rabbit turned out.  I told Jesse that I feel like it validates our decision to jump into this, especially as we weren’t sure we’d even like the meat.  But it seems like this is something we can do and I foresee many great meals for our family in the future.  Also, we may be open to selling/bartering the rabbits after they have been processed, so if you live around here let me know if you’d be interested in that!

On another note, we had a lot of ham over the holidays and Jesse likes to make ham bean soups, but usually he freezes the leftovers.  This takes up space in our freezer and is irritating because if you have a sudden hankering for beans you have to wait for them to thaw and by then maybe you don’t want them anymore because you’ve already eaten something else in the meantime and now the beans are taking up space in the fridge and you don’t get around to eating them and then they go bad.  *Ahem*  This time it was decided he would pressure can the bean soup.  That way it’s ready to go and doesn’t use up my precious Tupperware containers.  I don’t eat his bean soups because I don’t care for beans, but I think he was pretty pleased with the results.

Jesse's ham beans

Jesse’s ham beans


Ducks and rabbits

On Sunday, one of my coworkers texted to ask if we still wanted ducks.  He had been hunting and a few months ago I’d told him that I would take his birds because he never ate them and I thought it was a waste.  He brought us six ducks, and thus started our first experience in duck plucking.  We did a dry-pluck method based on this video:

Hank makes it look so easy!  In reality, it took us probably 2.5 hours for all six ducks, including the cleaning process.  We have no garage, so we did it in our kitchen after Ezra was down for the night.  The ducks had a surprisingly earthy scent to them.  I was not a fan.  They had been shot with a shotgun so most of them had several holes.  Two birds we finally decided we too holy so we threw them out, and one of them had rice breast disease which while not infecting to humans still grossed me out and we wouldn’t have eaten it.  And then there were three.

ducks 003 ducks 001 ducks 004

rice breast disease

rice breast disease

I hadn’t really watched any cleaning videos so just winged it.  I split open two of the birds and left the last one whole.  The birds were pretty small when all was said and done and if we do it again, we will definitely do the wax method of removing feathers.

I cooked the three birds today and within the second bite I had to spit it out because I had chomped down on a buckshot piece.  Not awesome.  We threw all the birds out because we didn’t want to have to worry about eating lead.  (And also I had massively overcooked them.)  I told my coworker thanks but no thanks on future ducks he’s hunting.  However, I did like the flavor of the duck; it was kind of rich.  Maybe in the future we will have ducks when we have more space, but we’ll just wring their necks or something and not have to worry about what other things we could break our teeth on.

Today we bred the mellow white doe and the blue rex doe again.  We bred the blue to the cali buck and the white doe to the chocolate rex again.  I had planned on breeding both with the cali but changed my mind.  Now I’m wishing I had in fact bred them both to the cali because if he can stud them both then we wouldn’t need the rex male and I could maybe sell him back to the original owner.  We need the cage space and if the cali can get the job done so much the better.  He has a better personality than the rex; he always comes to the front of the cage when I open it, wanting to be scratched, whereas the rex runs to the back of the cage and apparently hates to be touched.

That being said, we do need another cage, and soon, because the kits are getting bigger and bigger, and I wanted to give mama a chance to have some time to herself, especially if the breeding from this afternoon took.  I looked at the crazy white doe and told her her time was up.  Jesse had a short day of classes today, so when he came home, we processed our first rabbit.

process rabbit 010 process rabbit 011 process rabbit 012 process rabbit 020

this doe had WAY to much fat

this doe had WAY to much fat

process rabbit 041

She ended up weighing six lbs. all dressed out.  As you can see from the fat photo, even if she had been willing to breed she may not have been able to get pregnant because the fat can basically strangle the ovaries and tubes.  On a healthy rabbit you should see very little fat on it (which is why you can literally starve if all you are eating is rabbit). Obviously I was over-feeding her.  Fingers crossed this is not happening to the other does.

As of now we are “resting” the meat in the fridge for a couple days.  Apparently the aging process makes for a more tender and flavorful rabbit, although because she was almost a year she will be tough so we will be crock potting her anyway.

The whole experience was a good one, I think.  I also think doing the ducks earlier in the week kind of gave us a good starting place even though they were such vastly different animals.  Neither one of us freaked out and though it took probably a half hour to an hour, we will get faster with practice.  I don’t think the rabbit suffered in the killing, I feel it was done humanely all things considered.  I feared it would be a scary and messy procedure this first time out, but I’m glad to say that I can see us doing this as a matter of course, and I’m happy to know where our food is coming from and how it was treated.  We are meat eaters and I think having this connection to our food is a responsible decision.

Now I need to move the kits to their new cage and hunt down a good rabbit recipe!

Holiday treats are hard to let go

Sometimes during the year, I feel like I’m on top of things when it comes to treats.  I don’t make them, don’t buy them, so we don’t eat them.  And then a holiday will come around and I’ll think, oh, I’ll just make a little bit.  And then suddenly it’s three months later and I’m chowing down on cookie dough.  Granted, it’s homemade chocolate chip cookies with homemade toffee bits, but still.  Not awesome for my health.  That being said, here are some shots of the treats we made for New Year’s eve.

boiling toffee

boiling toffee

toffee bits

toffee bits

sledding 014 sledding 015

chocolate-toffee cookies

chocolate-toffee cookies

pouring the caramel

pouring the caramel

cut-up caramels

cut-up caramels

This was our first time making caramels and we’ve decided that while they are tasty, they may be better with more browning.  Something to think about for next time.

We had a delightful New Year’s celebration.  We had friends and family over that night and we all brought snacks.  I don’t think I’ve eaten that much processed food in quite some time.  Well, not since our Christmas celebration, at least.  Jill brought over these bacon-wrapped lil’ smokies.  Oh. Good. Heavens.  They were amazing!  And again, nothing says healthy like pork products swimming in bacon fat and brown sugar.  They were so good!

We put Ezra to bed early, but everyone else made it to the midnight mark.  We saw the ball drop and then, I kid you not, everyone was packed and out of the house within 10 minutes.  It was crazy how quickly we had the house to ourselves again.  We cleaned up a little and then went to bed.  It was nice having people over; we may get something started like a once-a-month game night.

A couple days ago, we decided to go up to Big Cottonwood Canyon and go sledding for a bit.

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Fun was had by all, but Ezra and Kate seemed to tire of it pretty fast.  Later that night I found I had torn a bit of skin on my belly.  Drat you thin-skinned stretch marks!  I guess that’s what I get for taking those runs on my stomach on the saucer sled.

Still no baby bunnies.  I was looking at my blue doe and she seems to be getting fat.  At least, her skin is starting to look pretty bunchy, but I’m not sure if that if something that is normal for Rex breeds.  I’ll have to investigate.  For the last month or so I’ve been free feeding because it’s cold out and they need the extra calories, but fat bunnies can’t get pregnant as easily or have as many kits, so I might need to restrict feed for her.

I’ve been making kombucha pretty regularly and am enjoying taking bottles in to work so I can drink it with lunch.  The only thing is they look like homemade beer bottles, so it totally looks like I’m a lush.  Oh well.

Will be starting an exercise program here shortly.  Have no idea what exactly it will entail but really any kind of movement would be beneficial at this point.  Wish me luck!