Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | March 13, 2013 | 2 Comments

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things about the farm is that it doesn’t just talk about reduce, reuse, and recycle.  It lives reduce, reuse, and recycle.  It breathes it.  It sleeps it.  It reduces, reuses, and recycles everything.  Everything.

For example, take a simple dinner recipe.  Because we wanted some pork kabobs last week, I took out a pack of Papa Noel pork from the freezer.  I didn’t want to cut up one of the roasts or tenderloins so I grabbed a package labeled “Sausage??”  The question marks didn’t mean I wasn’t sure what was in the package.  I knew it was chunks of pork that also had large bits of fat attached to or marbled in the meat.  Originally, we planned for those cuts to be ground up and used for sausage.  The question marks referred to the fact that I had some doubts.  I wondered if once we had frozen the meat, were we really going to thaw it, then break out the meat grinder (which is not electric, but is manpowered by The Other Half), then grind it into sausage, then use some of the sausage, clean and put away the grinder, then get out the vacuum sealer, reseal the rest of the sausage into 1 or 2 lb packages, then clean and put away the sealer?

Since the package was still in the freezer 8 months after we butchered Papa Noel, I think we now know the answer to that question.

In any case, those big slabs of fatty pork had plenty of meat for pork kabobs.   With a bit of time and a nice knife I created 3 piles of meat—-an overflowing plate of chunks for kabobs, some tiny fatty pieces for our version of scrapple, and some fat chunks for the dogs.

The kabobs were delicious.

The scraps were fried up and seasoned with garlic salt. The we wilted some spinach and wrapped it all up in whole wheat tortillas.  So we could pretend it was healthy.

And if the smell of that frying pork was intoxicating, the taste of the grease from the pan was so delicious that Luna couldn’t let go of the pan.  She just held onto it.  Hoping it would refill with luscious grease and teeny bits of crunchy pork that stuck to the pan.  Kind of like a Strega Nona pot of pork scraps for dogs.  Good thing we still had a baggie of fat chunks to be distributed to the dogs over the next few days.  I don’t think I could have gotten my pan back without offering those yummy treats.

Now you might think it was a waste when the fridge malfunctioned the next day.  Oh, we managed to salvage the major items and stick them into the farm fridge.  But the veggie drawer, filled with leftover veggies from the kabobs, dropped into freezing temperatures and then stopped working altogether.  That meant the veggies were frozen into rock hard blocks and then thawed into squishy mush.

Please.  The biodynamic nature of the farm cannot be beaten by equipment failure.  Some of the veggies were cut up, sauteed, and used as toppings on a lovely, thin crust, veggie pizza.

Some of the veggies were chopped and mixed in with ground beef to make a pan of Mexican meatloaf.

And whatever was just too slimy to be used in the kitchen went to you-know-who.

The pigs also got the husks of the roasted spaghetti squash that we served as a side dish to the meatloaf.  Because nothing gets wasted when you have a garbage disposal on hooves in the garden.

And the pigs got the banana peels, too.  You know, from the bananas that you throw in the freezer when they start to get too brown for the lunch boxes.  You probably use yours to make banana bread.  We do, too, but when the freezer went out and those bananas were melting, we decided to make cookies with them instead.  ‘Cause after emptying and cleaning out a broken fridge and freezer we felt like we deserved cookies instead of banana bread.  Yep, a couple mashed bananas, a cup of oats, and a cup of chocolate chips….

….makes a pretty decent batch of cookies.

But not all of the reduce, reuse, recycle goes on in the kitchen.

CC is happy to eat some of the greens in the garden that don’t meet our standards.  Particularly, last fall’s remaining radishes, that are on the mealy side, are her favorites.

Any dirty eggs, or eggs that are of unknown age because they are discovered in a hidden nest,….

….get smashed and go right back to the hens.

The chickens love the eggs—-it is excellent protein for them and the shells give them the calcium they need so I don’t have to buy oyster shell.  Since we crush the eggs first, I haven’t had a hen that eats eggs right out of the nest box for years and years.  Although, now I’ll probably find one doing it tomorrow.

Plants enjoy calcium, too.  Every few days when I rinse out the milk bucket, I pour that milky water into the house plants.  And once the tomato plants are in the ground, that calcium-rich mixture will be used in the garden to prevent blossom end rot.

The hay never gets wasted either.  Oh, sure, the animals tend to pull long strips of hay out of the rolls and leave it on the ground.  But any clean hay gets forked right back into the hay racks for eating.

The rest is used for bedding in the sleeping rooms….

or in the nest boxes.

Well, whatever hay the sheep aren’t wearing anyway.

When the hay is too dirty for the barn, it goes to the chicken pasture where the chickens compost it for us and then, eventually, it goes down to the garden where it makes even more garden goodies for us and the critters.

The hay doesn’t just contribute compost, though.  Hay rolls provide a never-ending supply of twine.

And that twine is used all over the farm for purposes where I would have needed to purchase hardware or use zip ties.

Sometimes I think our entire farm is held together with twine.

For real, people.

Who would’ve thought there was such a thin line between reuse and co-dependence??

The farm reduces, reuses, and recycles so much that pretty much everyone get in on the act.

This annoying finch throws bird seed on the ground until he gets to his favorite seeds.  I suppose his insistence on the best is why he has his summer colors so early.

But he wouldn’t win any nature badges for being green if it wasn’t for his little friends.  Well, big friends.  The mourning doves hang out under the feeder and finish off what he tosses out.

Even Little has been seen preventing waste.  We had the animal cookies out to give treats to the goats after hoof trims and CD&T shots.  Little was quite happy to eat the cookies that were leftover.  The old, stale, stored-in-the-barn-year-round, cookies.  Which I think shows dedication and commitment to the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Vixen disagreed.  She doesn’t actually talk (go figure) but I think in this picture she is saying, “Hey!  I was going to eat that!”

I know because it is similar to the look on my kids’ faces when they come home from school and see me eating the last Tootsie Roll out of the treat jar.  Apparently there is also a thin line between reducing waste and stealing.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a bit more complicated than the greenies make it out to be, isn’t it?


2 Responses to “Wasted.”

  1. Practical Parsimony
    March 13th, 2013 @ 11:31 am

    I laughed at the child eating old cookies. So did my friend to whom I read the post.

  2. Lisa D
    March 14th, 2013 @ 7:42 am

    Now you know if you packed those cookies in kids lunches they would report you to CPS! Unpredictable, those kids 🙂

    Again, you make me tired. When our fridge broke and we cleaned it out we just ate out because I was too lazy to sort and salvage. But it stayed nice and clean and empty for a while 🙂

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