Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Riding and Celebrations

12:18 AM
Last night it snowed again.  So this morning, we had an extra few inches of snow on top of the snowfall we already received. Husband and I planned on taking the horses for a ride.  We had been debating riding them, given the snow, but when he came home envious to see someone who lived on the flats riding their horse in the snow, we decided to see how our horses would fare if we rode them on snow.

We walked them on snow and noticed that their feet act a bit like suction cups (they aren't shod), so we walked them to the back trail and mounted up.

The blue sky contrasted with the white all around, making it look bluer than a sapphire. The air held a bite and steam rolled off the horses' flanks.  Rocket was bouncy the entire time, wanting to trot everywhere--if not outright gallop.  She balked several times, and just for good measure when I turned her to go back home, she decided to buck.  I think she probably would've taken off if I hadn't held her on a tight rein.

What this tells me is that a month off is too long for this horse.  She needs to be ridden at least weekly, if not several times a week.  She went back to old bad habits, which suggests she got away with them sometime before I got her. So, I insisted going at my pace, not the one she wanted.

Taking the road back down to the house, she started slipping, so we dismounted and walked our horses down.  No sense getting an injury over iffy footing.

We got home in time for me to pop the ham in the oven.  I decided to try to make the ham into a honey ham, and boy am I glad I did! You can spruce up any ham by heating 1 stick of butter, 2 tbsp of flour, and 2 cups of honey on the stove until thick.  Baste the ham with the honey-butter mixture while cooking until done.  Yum!

After making a  pretty serious Thanksgiving dinner, a dinner for my Mother-In-Law's birthday (mid-December), and a Christmas Eve dinner, I was looking for simplicity.  The fact that I had a mound of dishes to wash had something to do with that.

I served honey-glazed ham, wild-rice pilaf, cinnamon pears, cranberry chutney, and store-bought carrot cake for dessert. The cinnamon pears and cranberry chutney I canned this fall.  The rice pilaf was simple.  Make 1 cup white/brown rice mixed with 1/4 cup wild rice.  Add 1 tsp of garam marsala spice, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 4 tbsp butter, and 2 cups frozen peas.  The garam marsala makes it flavorful.

Maybe I cheated with the store-bought desserts and the canned fruit, but at some point, you've got to decide where you want to put your time. I remember my mom going through a huge production with tons of food.  Don't get me wrong, it was all amazing, but I recall her stressed out and exhausted. I vowed to not get that way.  So if I have to cheat a bit to have a good dinner, that's okay.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Midnight Turkey Wrangling and Interesting Life

12:00 AM
When old friends who haven't connected with me in eons find out what I've been doing, they always remark how interesting my life is.  Come to think about it, people who know me still make that remark, making me wonder if my life is a twist on the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Okay, yes, I have raced sled dogs and once chased a Pomeranian through his backyard.  Yes, I've lost a bout with a llama.  Yes, I own nine goats.  Doesn't everybody?

The other night around midnight I discovered my turkey pen in the barn was open.

Usually this is a cause for concern because, contrary to WKRP, my turkeys can fly, being from heritage breed stock and not the broad-breasted variety.

I spied a turkey hen in the rafters of my barn.

So, I did what any insane person would do at midnight.  I grabbed an ice chopper and tried to get her to carefully land so I could put her back in her pen.

Well, that didn't work.  Instead, she flew to a higher place.  Lovely.  So, I took out the feed and tossed some at the birds.  She watched with interest, but decided it was far better to hang out on her new perch.

So, I tried again.  This time, I got her to sort of crash land in the Tom turkey pen and grasped her.  The only thing I could grab while she was taking off was tail feathers--which promptly came off in my hands.  I managed to grab a wing, all the time sending up clouds of asphyxiating dust, no doubt filled with hantavirus-ladened  mouse poop.  Another grab, and I managed a talon.

So, I grabbed the other talon and she was upside-down.  It appears that turkeys don't struggle upside-down because they're trying to get their heads rightside-up. Each time I tried to get her turned upright, she beat me about the face with her wings.  I carried her back to her pen and got her rightside up by hugging her to my body and turning her up.  Surprisingly I manage to do this without getting turkey poop on me.  Amazing.

So, when people say I live an interesting life, I simply think about midnight turkey wrangling and wonder what in the hell is wrong with me.

This article is published on eatingwildmontana.blogspot.com.  If you can't see the photos or video, go there and check it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

End of Hunting Season, Upland Bird, and Quail

3:47 PM
Hunting season ended the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which brought no elk.  I suppose we should be thankful having deer in the freezer, but an elk would've been better.  But elk numbers are declining in the area largely because of the wolves, so not seeing elk was rather discouraging.

Although it is technically the end of general hunting season (elk and deer), we can still hunt for turkey, grouse, and wolf.  Other small game, such as rabbit and coyote, you don't need a license for if you're a resident, so we're looking to take those too.  So, the weekend won't be quite as frantic. 

The other day I got tired of keeping and feeding the male quail in a cage and butchered them.  Slaughtering them is quick and requires nothing more than a pair of sharp shears.  You whack their heads to stun them and then cut their heads off.  Much easier than chickens and turkeys.

Butchering quail is easy, compared to bigger birds.  Their skins are too thin to pluck and keep them on, so you just tear the skin off, chop the wings and the feet off, and gut them.  I can process four birds in less than a half hour.  (Turkeys take an hour and chickens can be just as long).  Small birds mean less mess too, but then, you don't get as much meat. 

I'm tired from hunting season too.  Six weeks is a fair amount of time.  But we'll be working toward getting grouse and other food, which is way cool.

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