“Become dust - & they will throw thee in the air; Become stone - & they will throw thee on glass." Muhammad Iqbal *Beyond the bushes, boiling with dust, is 4Shoes West boundary road.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Barrier FAIL #2

How Mr Shoes viewed the security level of his new & improved barrier.
*highly unimpressed*
 "Surely you jest, Mr Shoes? Well okay then... Game ON!" 
"Hey, Mr Shoes, this is more what I envision as Nirvana in my mind..."
"But, in the meantime, I can totes work with this...
Hey now, don't go away mad, right?
*waggly eyebrows*
Just go away. That's right mister, back to your drawing board."
heh heh heh heh heh heh
*Don't you hate it when the little WiseAsses flat out snicker?*

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Barrier FAIL

Pretend this spotted guy is a 4Shoes horse. That's a pretty impressive barrier that Mr Shoes set up between the horse's pasture & the barnyard where the calves have been spending the winter. The barrier is just high enough for the miniature Hereford calves to pass under it. As far as the horses are concerned, the barnyard is the land of milk & honey. 

Notice how agile giraffes my horses can be? 
There is a cradle full of hay in the barnyard; horses are served their 4 feedings a day in their own feeders. Notice I said that they get fed multiple times a day... yet SOMEpony (maybe all the ponies) was determined to free-feed like a couple of fat calves. It took them nearly 5 months to figure out how to defeat the barrier, but they did... essentially, they giraffed out & squiggled under the barrier. They were pretty sneaky about it, but they were able to take advantage of their ingenuity for 2 whole days; I can just imagine their glee. A little metal work, a little welding, & Mr Shoes now has a new (surely impossible, right?) barrier system in place.
"Puny Human, you win for now, but we have 24/7/365 to think about it; this shall not be the last of our brilliant plots to overthrow the management. Now, be a good girl & get out the breakfast, please."

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Stewed Hopper & Biscuits

Start off with 2 rabbit* ribcage sections & 2 cups of (the very cheapest white wine) + 1 cup chicken, vegetable, or pork stock, salt & pepper, a bay leaf, & 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Cover pan & simmer 30 minutes or until meat is very tender.
substitute chicken for the squeamish (chicken may require 15 minutes addition cook time to be as tender as rabbit.)
The meat should be tender, but not falling from the bones. Cool the meat before handling.
With your hands, strip all the meat from the bones & set aside (obviously, you can discard the bones). Reserve the stock at this point.
Rough chop a selection of vegetables; if adding a strong flavour (such as turnip), err on the side of less is more.

Heat your choice of shortening in which to saute your veg; I used lard just because I have it on hand. 

Saute your veg lightly... til about 1/2 done.

Add the rabbit meat to the pan & mix together.

Make a slurry of 1/4 cup of cold stock (that you had set aside) with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch & stir until there are no lumps. Add the slurry mix & the rest of the stock to your meat & veg.

If you have it, add in a tablespoon or 2 of bone jelly for extra flavour; I used pork jelly* because I have it from recently cooking down bones. Cook over medium heat, stirring 2 or 3 times, until liquid has tightened up to a little bit thicker than sauce, but not quite gravy (the gravy will continue to thicken in the oven). *Bone jelly does 2 things: it helps the sauce thicken, & it adds a richness of flavour. Whether you have bone jelly or not, TASTE your food & add more seasoning accordingly. Be brave! If you think a bit of grainy mustard would be the 'zing' your family likes, add some to YOUR stew!

Pour the pan of meat, veg, & sauce into a 9x11 baking dish.

Cover with foil & bake @ 350* for 30 minutes.
Before you start the biscuits, remember to take off your rings!!
Don't ask me how I know this...
Into a deep bowl put 2 cups of flour + 1 teaspoon of salt + 1 tablespoon of baking powder & stir together well. Add 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.
I also added 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley (frozen from last years' garden) & mixed together til crumbly. Add 3/4 cup milk & stir until biscuit dough just comes together; overworking the dough will make tough biscuits. Drop dough free form on parchment & bake @ 400* for 12 minutes. 

Serve Hooper Stew alongside warm cheesy biscuits! Hopper Stew freezes well & can be thawed on the counter top on a busy day, then topped with a crust of your choice & baked up as a fresh Hopper Pot Pie.

Whether you try this recipe with rabbit or with chicken, I would really, truly love to hear what other spices you added, or how you did something differently, that made your version impress your family. I am always in favour of trying something new & of using what you have to hand.
Happy Cooking!

~Simple Saturdays bloghop~

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Sweet Valentine

On this day set aside for Lovers, Mr Shoes & I joyfully celebrate the 29th time that we choose each other as Valentines, & look forward to another 29. Here's hoping You have someone Special who makes your heart beat faster! 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Not Exactly Spring Cleaning

There is no DOUBT that Mother Nature is just f*ing with us (because, here at least, Winter is far from over yet), but it's 8*C (46*F) here today. We've just gone through another cold snap, & so pee & poo & straw & shavings were all frozen into a solid mass. All you can do when it's that cold is to just add more shavings & straw to bury the mess til it warms up. Today everything has softened enough in the Rabbit Shack to give the hutches a really good clean out. I love clean hutches! It's also warm enough to bring the buns outside for a while, which they LOVE!!
Water bottles tend to freeze solid here, so the buns eat snow for water in the winter time (just like wild bunnies do) which is served in old  loaf pans. I needed new loaf pans anyways. 
This might look like garbage to you, but I see gold! Bunny poop is considered a cold fertilizer (as is chicken poop), so you can add it straight into your garden. All the bits of straw & shavings help to loosen the soil, & they break down over time. There's 2 cans today but, since there's a never ending supply, this is actually going out to the compost heap. When the garden boxes are actually visible again, then I'll dump some bunny gold in along with some already composted material to refresh my dirt before planting time. 
Because no post that has anything at all to do with rabbits would be complete without an actual bunny picture, this is my newest doe, Red. When I named her, she was more red than brown, but you'll have to take my word for it. If I'd known how she'd shed out, I would have named her Sable. Red joins Siggy & MJ in Floki's little harem. 2016 saw 40 growers put up in the freezer with just the 2 does; adding Red into the rotation means I should be able to put up at least 60 growers this year.
Rabbit is the #1 heart healthy meat, leaner than pork OR chicken, & absolutely delicious! Plus, bunnises are so nice to raise (& easy for Mr Shoes to process) that I've abandoned any thought of meat birds altogether. To hell with The Borg Chicken Collective!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Snow Garden

4Shoes Gardens of Sadness Snow
Yesterday I was visiting Taylor Made Homestead, only to see that Tammy's place already has early flowers blooming! Not gonna lie, I felt a little pang of ... anticipation. Also maybe a pinch of envy. 
Tiny Orchid on kitchen table

Spring flowers were about the last thing I was thinking as I fed the cattle & put the horses up in their stalls; it got down to -38* (-36.4*F). Even the barn cats are crabby about the deep freeze, which has been made worse by a series of dramatic rises & dips in temperature. When it gets cold & stays cold, everyone & everything just hunkers down & accepts that winter is in the house - can I get a wootWOOT?! 
No. No damn wootWOOTs for winter right now when I have flower envy, dammit. 
New stalk of buds last week
This winter, Mother Nature has been a benovolent lady & a wicked nasty crone, depending on the day. She has been as mercurial as a toddler; some days turning her back on us completely to leave us shivering even inside the house, then other days smiling upon us as her most favoured & up jumps the mercury to -2*C (28.4*F). 

Listen Lady, thanks for the thought & all, but that 40 degree loop is totally boning us. 

Here Mother Nature, have a beautiful flower! Maybe this will sweeten your sour days & get you in the mood for Springtime in Canada? 

Probably not; but if I stare at this Orchid long enough, it'll eventually happen.
~Joining up with Happiness is Homemade bloghop~ 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Pumpkin Puree

Cut a whole pumpkin into manageable pieces. Pare the skin from the flesh with a sharp knife -OR- bake with skin on & remove after baking. Put pumpkin sections into a roasting pan, add 1/4 cup of water, cover & bake @ 350* for about an hour. Test pumpkin flesh for tenderness & adjust cooking time accordingly. 
Once completely baked, pour off the water* & pay attention only to the flesh. Baked pumpkin flesh is very tender, but has strings throughout (as do other squashes). Blitz the flesh in your food processor to get the smoothest puree. *If you are particularly frugal, save the juice & use it up in a soup or a stew later on. I will sometimes claim to pretty much have a deathgrip on my purse, yet I opted to pour the pumpkin water overtop the dogfood (the Saint & Manic approved). 

One of my handiest kitchen appliances; I have been using this Braun for at least 25 years!

I use plain old ziplock sandwich bags; get them out & roll down the edges to keep the zip tracks clear.

Portion out the puree into batches; I put 2 cups of puree into each bag because my recipe calls for 1 cup increments of pumpkin. Squeeze out all the air from the bags before sealing them up, then lay them out flat for easier storage.
 Who ever makes just ONE pumpkin loaf anyway, amiright?!? At the 4Shoes, that'd be grounds for an uprising (the menfolk do like their baked goods).

Hint: Slide your flattened baggies of puree into another, larger freezer ziplock bag & seal that up for double protection of your afternoons' labour.

As a general rule, I prefer to clean up as I go along rather than do a big wash up at the end. I do have a dishwasher, but usually only fill it once every 3 or 4 days; washing up big or odd-shaped pieces saves a bit on time & electricity.

Lay the big freezer bag full of baggies on a flat surface in the deep freeze to maximize storage.  Shhh, pretend you don't notice that I labelled some of the meat we put down last month 2016 instead of 2017; purely accidental.... several times. But the point is, I know it's the 2017 meat because all the 2016 is.... gone. Mostly eaten, but the last of that tough stuff went to the dogs once we had the new meat finished. True story. Also, I know that you are right now staring at my smoked bacon & salivating...... & you should be, it's beyond delicious.

And this is why I always make at least 2 loaves when I bake.... this first loaf wasn't even cooled down before the menfolk were on it hard

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Lookin' for Lovin'

❤ Looking for Love in the MB Interlake Region❤
"Hello My Lovelies...
My name is Crispin. Crispin Carver that is, but you can just call me Darlin', because I will answer to you no matter what name you call me. Mmmmm, mmmm yes.
I'm a handsome, virile Bull, now two years old (my birth weight was 42.5lbs) & I'm more than ready to make some strapping babies with your sweet, sweet LadyCows.
Bring your gals over here to my crib where we'll have cool water & hay appetizers before I charm each one of them into begging me to love them back. Deeply. 
Or, invite me to your sorority room Girls, & I'll be happy to come visit you until you are. Completely. Satisfied. 
Um MMmm... You all know you want it, you know you do. 
Don't worry Girls, there's plenty enough of this young bucko to go around! I will honour you over & over again, until each of you have a tiny little calf-bun in your hot little ovens. 
I do this purely out of love for all the beautiful LadyCows looking to adore their own wee 2018 calf. No bullshit, I'd make one great Baby-Daddy!
I'm just waiting on You, Girls❣"

Crispin is a 2 yr old reg'd. Miniature Hereford bull ready for his first stud season. He is a handsome & sturdy young bull with a calm & gentle demeanor. Plus he's hot, & he's horny... as you clearly can see.
He's also available on a free lease (*within the MB Interlake area*) for the 2017 breeding season. 
You may breed him to as many cows as you like; the breed of cows make no difference to us. 
Or to Crispin, I am quite certain. 
You may bring your cows to Crispin, or you may invite Crispin to visit your cows at your location. 
Free bred cows. Where are you ever going to find a better deal than that?
Shoot us an email to 4shoesfarm @ the gmail.com if you'd like to discuss taking us up on Crispin's offer of free loving stud service.