Sunday, December 28, 2008

The new stove in action

We are processing our turkies today (and yesterday). After the turkey is dead, we skin it, take out the insides, take off the head, and clean it. Then it gets tossed in a pot of seasoned water and vegetables to boil until it is fully cooked. We then pull out the meat and bones and separate the breast meat for sandwiches and the dark meat for soups and other things. We add another turkey to the pot and cook that one as well. The front right pot will hold about 35 pounds of fresh turkey (10 gal pot). The two back ones will hold 25 pounds. In all, we can do 4 turkies at a time. After they are all done cooking, we separate the fat out, cool it to get even more fat out, and cook the broth down till it is fairly concentrated. We then freeze the broth for soups and gravies. Our old stove (standard 30") could only handle 2 of the large pots at a time. It was very difficult to work because the pots were touching each other and not completely under the burners. It would also take 2 hours for water to boil in the 10 gallon pot. With this stove, water is boiling in under 20 minutes in each of the pots. The turkies cook faster and production moves right along. Our whole house smells like turkey soup.

This is working so well I can hardly wait until canning time.

Turkey lungs

For the scientists out there, this is a picture of a turkey lung. It has a spongy feel to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pot Holder

Here are 2 pictures of the pot holder I finished yesterday. You can slide your hand inside it and use it like a mit (it might be too thin for that, though).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brand New Ram Lamb

Yesterday Button had her lamb. He is an adorable little guy. So far all we did is strip her teats (get milk to flow from them), watch to see he is getting milk (they wiggle their tails when they are drinking), and iodine his navel. In a couple of days we will take care of the other things.

Sorry about the lighting in this video. The heat lamp makes it look odd.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Coats

To make the coats for sheep, I first take a nice sturdy cotton material like canvas or denim. I measure my sheep (not each time, but the first time). I take their back (neck to rump)measurement and I measure how big around they are from one side to the other. I add a little bit (about 2") to that measurment so their fleece has room to grow. I take a neck measurment and add quite a bit to it so I can get the coat over their head. I transfer all of my measurments to the canvas and commence cutting the rectangle, don't forget to make it longer so you can sew X and X together to make a hole for the neck. You can take the neck cut-out, trim it down, and use it for the tail flap. I use binding on all of the edges so they do not unravel and I sew (tack) triangles into all of the inside corners and tripple sew the neck area (any place where there may be a lot of stress).

I know this sounds complicated, but it really is not. It is just a rectangle with an oval cut out of one end and moved to the other end.

After I am done with that, I sew thick elastic to the two rear corners about 3" from each side. I make sure I set them into the rectangle at least 2 inches and sew them down good. They will be pulled on quite a bit. Do not make the elastic too long or it will slip, don't make it too short or it will pull on the sheep all of the time. Slip your arm in the hole up to your bicept and it should fit slightly loose.
Ram coats are a little different if they have horns. I add at least 1 foot to the lenghth of the neck flaps and then I sew D rings on and a nylon strap so I can put the coat on the ram and then close the neck area. It is like a wrap in front.
You can also purchase coats from Powell Sheep Company (760) 789-1758. They will be nicer than this design, but they both work well. It would be a good idea to get one (torn and used is fine) and use it for a pattern like I did. I bought a terribly used one at a wool show for $4.
Good luck!
For those who wonder why I and many others coat their sheep, it is to keep the wool clean. Studies have shown that not only is the wool cleaner, it also gets slightly longer. The coats do not make the sheep hot, unless you are wrapping them in something that does not breathe. If they get wet, they keep the wool drier and they dry faster than the wool would dry. Coated fleeces cost more money because of the extra labor involved (they need to be changed every so often), but they are much easier to process. There have been reports that coated sheep do not suffer as many attacks from predators as uncoated sheep, perhaps the sound of the material or the look of it diverts the predators to more "normal" looking prey.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Up Top in the Barn

This picture really does not do the hay loft any justice. There are 100+ bales of corn stalks, 30 bales of straw, 7 "bales" of pine shavings, and 300 bales of hay. The heat lamps are on the right ready for use. The beach towel has 2 fleece lamb coats in it just in case I need them. We also have a bag of egg layer feed and cracked corn behind me. I love looking up there and seeing the orderly stacks of bales. I do not understand, however, why in the world people think a roll in the hay or sleeping in the hay loft is romantic. It would not be, it is very itchy and dusty.