Chickens

Had to relocate my chicken tractor today and dust my chickens. They are quite the bunch of egg layers. 

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Pruning

New Beginnings

This is the time of year that I spend many hours outside pruning my fruit trees and berries getting them ready for the upcoming spring.  I can still hear my grandpa talking to me about his amazement of how the old hard wood of a fruit tree could bring forth such a delicate bud that would form into a flower.

John 15  Talks about pruning, in verse 2 Jesus say’s, “every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.”

There are several verses in John 15 that talk about the “True Vine”.  At the moment I find the parallels of John 15:2 with being out in my orchard.  I do infact take off the branches that don’t bear fruit, or the ones that are diseased.  The limbs that I call suckers, that add no profit to my trees.  I look at branches that I have dealt with for a few years giving a chance to bear fruit, but have continued to fail me.  There are also branches that make the tree out of balance.  It is amazing for me to think of such a simple thing, yet when I really come to think of it, there are many reasons that I will come to ultimately cut off a branch.  Sometimes I even have to resort to a saw instead of hand pruner because of how large a branch has become.  I like to give all the branches a fighting chance, but ultimately there is a choice.  Are you bearing fruit or not?  Are you a benefit to this tree and orchard or not?

I also cut off branches that do bear fruit!  What?!  Most fruit bearing branches I also cut.  I cut off the buds that I don’t want.  If I have too many buds on the same branch and they all bear fruit, I may loose that whole branch from the weight of the fruit later in the season.  I want to develop the shape I want in the tree, I want to develop strong limbs that bear fruit.  I want healthy large fruit, not just fruit for the sake of growing fruit, but to have fruit in the end that I want to eat!  Even in the growing season after the fruit is all set, I again thin, or prune out so that each set of buds only has a certain amount of fruit so that it develops fully.

The one thing that I forget to mention now that most of my trees are well established, I usually cut all the fruit off the first year or two just to put the strength into the roots!  That’s another whole thought!

Man, there is a lot that goes through my brain as I ponder what I do out in my orchard on a winter day pruning.  These are the times that I feel closer to God than any other.  I am a hands on/practical person.  When I have the tools in hand making the decisions and feeling the cold air envisioning the coming spring.  That is the moment I see God in all His magnificence.

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Bacon, Ham, Pancetta

It’s all in the Smoke House!  48hrs and these pigs will be done!  Can’t wait to experience the end product on Sunday.

As I see it, it will either be awful, Incredible, or everyone who eat’s it will die!  “I am a Black and White kind of guy”.

Even did an old fashion batch of “Salt Pork”.  Of course that’s not in the smoker.

 

Bacon & Ham almost ready for the cold smoker

The word for the day at the Smolko family lately has been, what’s for dinner? “Pork”.

I just finished the cure process of the Bacon, the Hams will be done tomorrow.  Then 24 hours in the smoke house!  Cant wait to give this a whirl.

Charcuterie ?

I love to experiment with food.  Yesterday was homemade Bratwurst rolled in to Meatballs and cooked with potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, Homemade Sauerkraut and a bottle of Beer.  It turned out exceptional.  Best of all, made with PORK!

 

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Smoking… and pigs.

     Today I finished butchering two pigs and fired up the new smoker for the first time!  Ive alway’s wanted to make cured meats.  Now I have the perfect tool to do just that!  I finished my “Cold Smoker”.  it is a small one, just like everything I build.  4 x 4 feet wide with about 6′ to the top of the box.  Adjustable racks and way’s to hang things.  The first things to go in will be bacon and ham that I am curing.  I guess Ham is the staple for Christmas this year!  Smoked cheeses, mushrooms, and jerky for future backpack trips.  let me know if you want to plan to smoke anything.