Butchering A Cow


Brisket - soon to be butchered grass fed beef

“Butchering a Cow” might sound like a step-by-step tutorial, but I really just want to share with you how we butchered our steer Brisket (while encouraging you to also branch out beyond your comfort zone).

We purchased Brisket when he was a few days old from a local dairy (and steer-ified him soon thereafter). As his name implies, we considered him not as a pet but  future meat for our table. Last week, that happened – Brisket was re-located to our freezer.

Now, before I go to far, I want you to know that I took lots of photos and had trouble deciding which ones to show you! Those selected will hopefully help you get an idea of the actual process we went through. The described event is not something we dream about nor relish, but our farm life has become very practical, very real and a million miles away from the Douglas’s and Green Acres. We have taught our children to realize that not all animals are pets and there is a cost for everything. They know that most cows are raised for milk and meat – hamburger tastes delicious, but it is because the cow is no more! It is important to be reminded, in our society of instant gratification, that there is more to our food than the sanitized, FDA approved packages on the shelf at the local grocery store.

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Building with ICF – Phase 2


digging with the backhoe

Finally!

I really can’t believe we have started!

Yes, this week John began digging out the dirt to expand the basement walls of our home which overlooks the vineyard! If you have been following our adventure of starting the vineyard and building our own home, you know that we are now living in what will eventually be the basement – we finished phase 1 at the end of 2011.

As you might imagine, we have saved a lot of money by building ourselves and had a lot of fun in the process! But, like everything it takes time and patience. Building the house must fit around vineyard work which pays the bills! So, our primary time to work on the expansion is now, after harvest and before pruning which will begin in late January.

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No More Milk!


Emme 11-7-13

It is sad.

Then again, it is good.

First, the sad part:

We are no longer milking Emme, our family milk cow. Needless to say, we are really missing the fresh raw milk… and cheese… and yogurt… But most of all – the ice cream!

That’s right, no more ice cream for dinner – I mean literally, dinner consisted of ice cream many nights. If you remember, we had many flavors of ice cream like Blueberry, Coffee and of course, Vanilla, for dinner on hot summer nights through the end of September. We have reverted to our time living in Switzerland and adopted the European tradition of having our biggest meal midday and a light dinner in the evening which, after all, ice cream is! It was especially refreshing after working in the vineyard heat all day.

Now for the good news:[Continue Reading]

Emme


Emme 10-13

I thought I would give you a break this week on Family Friday’s from the vineyard work/harvest and update you on our family milk cow, Emme.

Well, almost.

Let me just say before moving on to our escapades with a family milk cow, our last harvest is scheduled for tomorrow. We will be harvesting all of our Italian reds, Aglianico and Montepulciano, at one time. They will be harvested separately but since the crop load is so much smaller than normal (thanks to the late freeze) it is just not cost efficient for the winery to send an 18 wheeler twice. Plus, they are both ready to harvest.

Now, moving on to life outside the vineyard and yes, we do have one   ;)

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Unrest in the Barnyard


Buttercup

If you follow Cultured Palate on Facebook, you already know that last week we sold Buttercup, one of our family milk cows. It was definitely a more emotional experience than I was expecting.

I cried.

Some of the children cried.

And, the other cows cried.

Really!

Brisket and Emme moooo’d off and on all night and even the next day!

It definitely caused unrest in the barnyard!

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EIFS on Basement Complete!


EIFS on basement finished

Hopefully, we are done with water leaks in the house! It will be so nice to enjoy a rainy day without worrying about mopping up puddles as the rain comes under the walls!

I am now in Georgia visiting my mother and sister but before I left, the EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) on the exterior house walls was completed!

Since we are living in what will eventually be the basement of our home overlooking the vineyard, we wanted to wait to complete the exterior of the basement walls until the upstairs was finished. But, we got tired of puddles! So, what started as an effort to use up the EIFS materials that were left over from  building the barn, ended with completely finishing the walls of the house!

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Stormy Days and Water Leaks


storm is coming

One thing we do not see much of here in west Texas is rain. In fact just a few tenths of an inch are exciting! We do after all, live in a semi-dessert climate. It has definitely been hot with temperatures in the 100 – 108F range. And, since the first of the year, we had had a whopping 3 inches of rain.

This week, though, we have had rain – 2 1/2 inches! That brings the total for the year up to 5 1/2 inches!

We had water puddles!

We had beautiful storm clouds!

When I saw the scene in the photo below, I felt as though I was in an episode of Star Trek – the Enterprise was hovering in the clouds above and Captain Kirk was just beyond the barn saying, “Beam me up, Scottie”!  [Continue Reading]

Healthy Homemade Snacks


healthy homemade snacks

I have found that healthy homemade snacks are a must have!

Having children at home, it seems as if someone is always wanting something to eat!

Oh, they eat very well at meals but, I think because we work outside so much in the hot weather, they are always hungry! I just can not seem to keep them full. Or, maybe it is because there are several teenage boys. But, then again, we have 2 girls still at home – one a teenager and one not.

Anyway, I guess the reason really doesn’t matter. The fact is, I am always in need of healthy snacks! In fact, we will often have a light supper since we have our main meal at midday and I will even use some of the following suggestions as a suppertime meal.

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Frugality Through Cultured Foods


Frugality Through Cultured Foods

How many time have you heard the saying, “waste not, want not”?

Our family saying is, “use it up, wear it out, make do or do without”.

Actually, it is my husband’s saying!

I am the one who loves to shop – for bargains of course!

But, I do hold to the basic idea of being good stewards and not wasting.

Some people are frugal because they have to be. Some are frugal because it is their nature. Others don’t like to waste but want to make the most of what they have.

Whatever your motivation, culturing foods can help you in a frugal simple lifestyle in several ways:

  • Most cultured foods are actually higher in nutrients than the original food.
  • Culturing  prevent food waste by extending the shelf life
  • Culturing your own yogurt and cheese can save you lots of money
  • Culturing garden produce is a great way to put up your harvest without the effort of canning and/or freezing.

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The Barn Completed – EIFS and All!


ICF barn with EIFS completed

Yippee! The EIFS on our ICF barn is now compete!

It looks as though I am speaking in code doesn’t it with all the acronyms!

Here is the code:

  • EIFS = exterior insulation finishing system – It is like a synthetic stucco only more durable.
  • ICF = insulated concrete forms – They snap together like big legos and are used for their insulation value.

When I shared weekly the updates on the ICF filter house and the ICF greenhouse, each week was a progression of steps. So, I thought for the barn, I would just post pictures that had been taken throughout the process.

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