Apr. 6th, 2017

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Well, I don’t think you need my permission to read Natasha as bi. I’m not a big OTP person and I like Natasha with a lot of different characters. Some of them are women. I’d be pretty excited for canon Sharon/Nat.

But I also think being in a relationship with a man isn’t the same thing as Natasha “subordinating herself” to a man. A huge part of what I appreciate about Natasha’s character is that she is brave enough, sometimes, to pursue romantic relationships and pursue them wholly, even though it would be easier to push everyone away, even though every love she’s known has been doomed. That’s strength, not subordination.
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more animal husbandry on the farm, warnings for discussion of livestock as meat and such, but not in any great detail and I’ll spare y’all the pictures for now. i might crosspost one from instagram later when i’ve got more time to look at the photos i took, but i’ll avoid any gross ones. just meat. i try to tag, but insta doesn’t always work, with tags, so, apologies if you find it super gross. I have the feeling people who were real grossed-out by it have long since unfollowed, but I don’t like to be gratuitously icky about stuff I know might take people that way. (Do I succeed at this? lol no. But I try to try, for whatever that’s worth.)

they had about a dozen pigs processed in a USDA slaughterhouse this week so they could sell the meat at retail, in parts– selling whole animals is a loophole of NYS law, and so can be processed cheaper; also the local USDA joints usually fill up way in advance, and so b-i-l had managed to get himself on the waiting list in a timely fashion, so the timing worked out. Now they can sell pork at the farmer’s market by the piece, or on the farm from the farmstand the way they sell chickens. Much easier than must-prearrange-to-buy-50-to-100-lbs-of-meat, which has been what they’ve done before. 

They got one of the pigs back, though, just killed, scalded, and split in half. To their surprise, the slaughterhouse left the head on, and just split it straight down the middle. One half of the pig was 111 pounds, the other 109. It still had the feet on, but the hooves had been peeled off. 

A pig’s brain is tiny. I mean, in an animal that was probably 360 pounds on the hoof, its brain was smaller than my fist. I know, because the skull had been split straight in half, and the entire spinal column was visible for the entire length of the animal. (The tail had been pulled to one side, and so was attached to one half.) 

Scalded meant the hair was off, which meant it had flesh exactly the color and texture of a dead white person. Seriously, it was the same shade of pink, and pallid. Given the size as well, it was unnerving. 

They’d stamped the skin in several places with a tattoo of ink that had the USDA logo on it and I think the serial number of the slaughterhouse. 

We saved the skin, this time– some of the roasts, we left it on, and others we peeled it off. Apparently having the skin on a roast helps it stay moist and imparts it with a deeper flavor, or so some cookbooks say. The skin itself is most often prepared as pork rinds, which I’m cautiously willing to attempt to make. 

When we cut up a pig we’d slaughtered on-site, without access to a large enough scalding tank, we couldn’t get the bristles or the hooves off, so we discarded the head, feet, and all of the skin. Prepared this way, there was almost no waste from the entire animal; we even carved out the jowl bacon, and then the assistant livestock manager took both halves of the skull home to attempt to make head cheese, which is a traditional foodstuff made by brining, then boiling, then mashing up everything from the head (minus eyes, tongue, and brain), and then fishing out the bones, and pouring the resulting gelatinous mass into a mold, and then you slice from it like luncheon meat. I’ve seen this before but have not eaten it, but I know it’s very German. 

It was kind of nice, though, to clean up afterward and have basically nothing for the compost. Now, the large bones will wind up in the compost in a couple of days, but we’re going to boil them for stock first. The stock from pork bones is stinky but so good. 

My sister had a brainwave and sent the KitchenAid with meat grinder out with us, so while the other two were cutting, I made sausage and got it over with. Last time after a whole day of work, dead on my feet, I was left with the task of grinding 20 pounds of meat and packaging it up before I could stop to rest, because otherwise it’d go off. So being able to take care of it was great, if the process of sanitizing a seven-year-old KitchenAid was a bit daunting. (That thing looks like it did the day my sister got married, now, after all my scrubbing and bleaching. You never notice how grungy something is until you get it out in an all-stainless-steel meat processing room that you’ve just bleached the bejesus out of.)

I’m so tired now, though. So tired. I didn’t drink enough water and I’ll be congested until I die, but we’ve defeated the beast.

We were talking about butchers in popular culture and i mentioned that I wanted to write a novel that included chicken processing and I didn’t have the guts to explain that in fact I had done so already. I can’t talk about the Internet in RL, guys. I just can’t. Why am i like this.

I thought I’d be more squeamish about this. The last one, I wasn’t, because the head came off right away. This one, I was a little grossed-out because in cross-section its teeth looked weird, and I was a little unnerved by the eyes, but I mostly wasn’t squeamish. 

I was a little sad because this group of pigs was so cute the whole time they were alive. They were very curious and sweet and good-natured and playful. Even in death and cut in half, this pig’s snout was super cute, and we had a moment, thinking about how cute and wiggly all their snouts always are when they’re alive. 

But they exist to be eaten, and this is the animal’s noble purpose, so you either get very sentimental about it and do other things with your life, or you learn how to cut it up so you don’t waste anything. 

This is why only the breeding stock have names. You don’t name meat. some of the egg chickens have names. None of the meat chickens do. You can’t, because you have to look them in the face. 

About ten of that batch of piggies are still alive, still cute and wiggly-snooty and all. They’re going to the other processor next week for the non-USDA processing as whole animals. The loophole is that if you raise livestock for someone, it’s legal to have it processed on their behalf, so that’s why they sell them as whole, half, or quarter animals for pickup only, by prior arrangement– I think you technically have to have put a deposit down on the animal before its processing, so that technically it’s yours. But that’s how state law goes– it’s not shady to buy meat this way, it’s just a lot less convenient than picking up a single pork chop today to eat tomorrow. 
via http://ift.tt/2o0E5dz:theforceisstronginthegirl replied to your post “more animal husbandry on the farm, warnings for discussion of…”

heyyyy thats pretty cool! I raise beef cows! granted i dont process them myself i send them off to UGA but still.. when i was in high school i did learn how to do it tho my ag teacher was real old school like that so we had to learn how to do literally everything if we wanted to show cows also i think he just wanted someone else to learn how to de-horn so he didnt have too and the rest just followed… i definitely named the steers i ate back then too lol

Yeah, cattle require kind of specialized equipment because of their sheer size, so it’s not something you’re gonna do on your own unless you can sell the result. Processing a pig on the farm is something we only do so far for personal use, although they’re considering looking into what it would take to get licensing etcetera, because it’s something the two livestock peeps are interested in doing. (The farm has grown in staff enough to have two livestock people full-time– B-I-L and the Assistant Livestock Manager, who’s only full-time in the summer so far– and two plant people, my sister, who focuses on the flowers, and the Vegetable Manager, who is full-time year-round and lives in the tiny house attached to the big house.) 

no gross stuff behind cut particularly, just more nattering on about farming

There used to be cows on this farm, but my sister and her husband couldn’t afford to buy the herd when they bought the farm, so there aren’t now. Maybe someday, but cows are a ton of work. And since Farmsister and her husband’s main livestock experience had come from both of them working for a commercial-organic hog farmer back in IL, they went with pigs instead, as a much lower barrier-to-entry kind of animal. And of course, kept the meat and egg chickens that had been on the farm, because chickens are easy. So that’s why there’s an all-stainless clean room on the farm– there’s a 5A-certified slaughterhouse facility (NY state, meaning whole poultry [and rabbits, we’re not sure if we’re really considering that] can be sold at retail and wholesale including to restaurants, and parts can be sold at retail) in the barn, with a separate kill and clean room as per state code. And the inspector told us we’re legally allowed to use that clean room for anything we want as long as we clean it– we were worried we had to keep it single-purpose, but he said nah, that’s the reason every single surface has to be washable. So long as you wash it, it doesn’t matter what you did. So we wash eggs in it, and sometimes process other animals. 

I can’t tell you how great it is to have an entirely washable room, though. I wish I had one in my house. I’ve gotten to the point where hosing and scrubbing and bleaching it down is very soothing and satisfying to me. Yesterday, even exhausted, I was still motivated to hunt down a little piece of stainless steel and burnish a couple of rust spots that turned up over the winter. That gleaming expanse is important to me.

I forgot the whole punchline I forgot to put in last night, which is that my business cards now, because of the meat grinding, are going to have my old title and my new title on them, both– “Eviscerator, Grinder” because I think that sounds badass. (For honesty I suppose I should probably write “Eviscerator, Grinder, Flower Arranger” because that’s mostly what I do here.)

And re: naming meat: well, the child names the meat sometimes, because she’s three. So far, being three, she does things like name the collective 180 meat chicks “flopsy, flopsy, flopsy, flopsy, and flooey!” but she has given other animals names that stuck. So far that’s been ill-fated, she named a boar Earl and he died of mysterious causes not long after (lungworms? who knows! we got more aggressive about parasite control after that!) but her mother has been enforcing an old family rule we grew up with, which was no Christian names for animals. So the pig breeding stock are named Cookies (because she looks like Cookies N Cream ice cream), Big Red (guess what she looks like), Rocky Road (Cookies’ daughter, similar but with brown spots too), and the boar is Peanut Butter for no particular reason but that it’s hilarious to call a 450-pound creature with tusks “Peanut”. Despite his size, though, he’s actually a very sweet and agreeable creature, and his offspring have been, surprisingly, a cheerful and good-natured bunch, so even though he didn’t seem particularly promising when he turned up, he wound up being a good investment. He really is very sweet, and despite pigs having no parenting instincts, last year when the newborn piglets discovered they could get into his enclosure, he actually didn’t hurt any of them, and even seemed to enjoy their company, and willingly shared his food which is a lot to ask of a hog. 

Of the egg hens, they’re all commercial Red sex-link crosses, so they all have identical appearances, but the roosters are a wild mix of castoffs and hatched school experiments, so there are some pretty ones mixed in. (Roosters are useful for free-ranging chickens, because they do actually defend against predators to an extent.) The only named one of the egg chickens is the only one really distinct enough, and he’s the top rooster of the whole bunch, an enormous golden creature of uncertain ancestry named Fabio. 
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tardygrading:

Liked on YouTube: After Stonehenge: 3,000-year old English settlement - Secrets of the Dead Documentary 2016 https://youtu.be/JCFoRCtuBIQ

This is a fascinating documentary on excavations of a burned British village preserved in silt. 
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meadowslark:

rjzimmerman:

Kim Hummer, a researcher for the USDA, looks for wild strawberries on the Oregon coast.

Excerpt:

Across the globe, botanists are working to identify what scientists call “crop wild relatives"—the weedy cousins of our staple foods. Researchers have understood for more than a century that preserving the wild progenitors of domesticated crops is essential for sustaining the genetic resilience of global agriculture. But the current effort is fueled by a particular urgency, and much of the work to identify and preserve crop wild relatives has been undertaken since roughly 2010.

The threat from climate change to food production is at the center of this new urgency. As droughts, extreme rainstorms, and other erratic weather patterns intensify, farmers will need crops that can cope with such stresses. And plants that are wild or weedy—proven survivors—have the traits to meet those challenges. “With global climate change, people are coming to realize that having a broad germplasm collection is a matter of food security,” Hummer says, referring to the genetic material in seeds and plant tissues. “And all of that comes from the wild. Our mission is to preserve this material for all people for all time.“ 

Click here to continue reading….
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This year we sure are learning a lot about how a pig becomes pork. From the pasture to the table is a long and profound transformation.
I picked this photo because the foot end was way less creepy than the face end, you’re welcome. #animalhusbandry (at Laughing Earth)

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