Consecration Acres

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy."


Leave a comment

Dealing With Meat

In last week’s episode…

When I first saw this I was extremely impressed by his deltoid strength...the cords around its ankles kind of blend in with the overhang.

When I first saw this I was extremely impressed by his deltoid strength…the cords around its ankles kind of blend in with the overhang.

My husband accidentally attended a turkey butchering session and came home with 36 lbs of turkey and his first meat-making experience.  We were also invited to come the next day when they were slaughtering a steer.

We took them up on their offer.  The girls decided that maybe they’d rather swing–which was probably for the best–but my husband, Elijah, Isaiah, Joseph and I all watched the whole thing from the bullet to the cooler.  The steer kept kicking a LONG time and there was a lot of blood initially, but it was amazing how quickly the butcher could turn it from steer to beef.  As he went along he asked our neighbor what he wanted to keep and then he would offer it to us if our neighbor said no.  In this way we got a whole beef liver, kidneys and oxtail.  He offered us the feet with a little bit of a guffaw at the beginning.  If I’d realized he was serious and that those were the marrow and soup bones, I would have taken them, and if I’d realized that all that blood was just going to have been poured out and washed away I would have brought a bucket for that as well.  Have you priced blood meal lately?  It’s nearly $10/lb out here.  The boys really wanted to take a big piece of hide to try their leathermaking hands on.  We compromised on a small strip which they keep disappearing this week to go work on.  Also, as I watched I tried to imagine trying to do the job without an power tools…

Nothing in life is truly free and fresh beef innards are no exception–processing the stuff is no laughing matter.  I read the next morning that organ meats (especially kidneys) are highly perishable and started to worry that I was already a little late in dealing with them 16 hours later.  The very few instructions I could find (does everyone in the world already know how to do this except me?) said that the “white core” needed to be removed from the kidneys, the membranes removed from the liver and that odd flavors could be minimized by soaking in salt water.  I decided to go ahead and dice and soak the kidneys to minimize thawing and processing times on the other end of the freezer.  It was a little challenging because I was so clueless, but I soon figured out that it worked best to cut the kidney off the core instead of the core out of the kidney and that crosscutting just resulted in getting kidney stones and gravel in the meat.  I am reasonably certain that there are techniques I could have used that would have made it all go more smoothly but, all-in-all, I feel like it went pretty well, if rather slowly.  Elijah has offered to tackle Steak and Kidney Pie this week, so we will see how that all goes.

Next came the liver.  Livers are enormous.  I ended up with about 8 lbs of VERY generously trimmed liver–apparently enough for about four meals for us.  The membrane I was so blithely instructed to remove, not only covers the entire surface of the giant, quivering thing, but also branches throughout, lining the bile ducts.  The suggested slicing thickness was 1/2″-1/4″ for ease of cooking.  My thickness was typically in that range, but I would hit one of those ducts and all bets were off.  It was one of the more difficult projects I have tackled and the difficulty was compounded by the fact that Joseph would not go down for a nap that day and became increasingly hysterical even as I became increasingly exhausted.  I was SO glad to finally tuck the last of it into the freezer, wash the congealed blood off my wrists and put that project, Joseph and myself to bed…in that order.

Elijah cooked some of it for dinner that night.  I grew up eating liver, but it was never like this.  It was mild-flavored and so tender that it reminded me of veal.  It was still livery-tasting (some recipes suggest soaking it in buttermilk–we’ll have to try that now that we have milk and liver to experiment with) and different for my kids, but I just had to keep telling them how wonderful it was.  I guess I should stop being surprised by how much better everything is when it’s home-grown, but it always shocks me.

The oxtail went into the freezer, too–awaiting cooler days to become oxtail stew.

Wednesday I was still tired and tried to lay low, knowing that the following day was the day I needed to prepare the turkey.  I got to bed later than I wanted to, unfortunately, just in time for Joseph to wake up.  Since we were awake, I started looking at what it was going to take to cook a 36 lb bird and after I did I was sort of glad I was up.  The timetables all said that it was going to take 12-18 hours to cook!  Fortunately, Joseph as in an ok mood.  I put together the spice rub with him on my hip and then pulled down my giant roaster pan, put him in his chair and hauled out that ENORMOUS bird.  I’d seen it sitting there in the fridge all week and knew that it was big, but until I started trying to deal with it, I really  had no  idea.  In my still-weakened state I could barely heft the thing onto the counter and from there into the roaster.  Its ankles felt as big around as Grace’s wrists and I could barely wedge it into the pan.  On its back, its legs stuck way up into the air, so I decided it needed to be roasted breast down or risk having the legs remain raw.  Even breast down I could not get the lid on and Joseph was now deciding he was tired and done being in his chair.  I wrapped the top of the pan in aluminum foil as well as I could and hoped for the best.  Joseph’s crying had awakened my husband and he was concerned enough about the roasting set-up that he decided to sleep on the couch just to keep an eye on things.  It was about 2:30 when I started it.

During the remains of the night I kept waking up and smelling it roasting.  It didn’t smell very good to me, but I was too tired to care.  Around seven I go up and checked on it, added some  more water, told the older kids that I needed them to hold down the fort while I got a little more sleep and went back to bed until Joseph woke up.  By about lunchtime it was starting to smell good, finally, and I should have checked it then.  When I finally checked it around 2:00 it was up around 200F!  I basted it thoroughly and set the pan to keep warm until dinner.

It was a little dry but, again, flavor like I’d never tasted before.  The dark meat was as dark as beef in some places.  The kids and I pulled the meat off the carcass after dinner and just kept gawking at the size of the bones.  I added enough water to cover them all (except for the breastbone which stuck up just a little too far above the rest) and started the roaster on low for stock-making.

On Friday the kids and I all headed up into the mountains to buy fruit (2 large boxes nectarines, 1 large box pears, 1 medium box pluots, 2 small boxes peaches, 1 small box each apples, red bartletts and plums and 2 cartons of truly fabulous figs–around 150 lbs of fruit), pick up our bulk food order and have a picnic.  We were having a hard time finding anywhere we could picnic.  Most of the farms up there were not open yet (many are just apple orchards) and we didn’t feel good about plunking ourselves down on the grass underneath their CLOSED signs.  We prayed a lot as we drove and finally pulled in somewhere where a woman was working to get things ready for opening in a couple of weeks.  She said that we could use their picnic area as long as we didn’t leave any trash behind.  It was a great spot, tiny, but perfect for one family.  We spread out our food on the table and a sheet on the grass, we enjoyed our awesome turkey sandwiches, pluots and most of the figs, as well as an apple cake that Bethel had made the night before.  We read scriptures and a chapter of the book we just started and had a great time.  It has been so long since I’ve done anything like that with the kids.  Our last six months in Oregon were one long house project after another as we got ready to sell, I was sick pregnant or sick recovering during most of our brief sojourn in Georgia, our first year here was hectic trying to get all the shelters built for the animals and then this last year and a half we’ve dealt with sick kids and then sick pregnant again.  I think it was time.  We all needed the break and we will do it again soon.

I bought three new books: one on mastering artisan cheesemaking (nothing on buttermaking, unfortunately), one on small-scale grain-growing and one on top-bar beekeeping.  Beginning to read all of them, I am reminded of how little I know and how much I have to learn and how glad I am that this is the case.  How rotten if we truly could have figured out all the mysteries of the world by the time we “finished our education” as young adults!  The cheesemaking book is full of ahas and mindblowing details alike.  At once I am more fascinated and repulsed by the process.  For instance, cheese mites.  Also, apparently, goats’ milk lacks certain compounds that certain cheeses require.  I am not terribly, terribly sad about this.  I will really be happy if I can come up with some type of aged hard cheese that I can eat (I get migraines from store-bought cheese) and know enough to troubleshoot and somewhat control the outcome rather than being at the mercy of my own ignorance and inexperience.  Mastering artisan cheesemaking is probably not a good activity to pursue at this point in my life…rather incompatible with four-month-old babies…it probably mentions that somewhere in the book: “Step 4) Keep the milk at 80F for an hour and a half while stirring constantly.  Step 5) Put all of your minor children up for adoption.  Step 6)  Dissolve rennet in 1/2 cup cold water.”    I’ve barely dipped into the beekeeping book.  More ahas (years of experimentation led him to discover that the best-suited hive shape was, of all things, a half hexagon) and mindblowings (did you know that drone bees develop from unfertilized eggs?).  And so far I’ve read only the cover of the grain-growing book.  Lots to read!

Elijah finally finished up the mozzarella that I started on Monday night.  Stretching can be put off for a bit, and put it off I did.  It seems to have turned out well.  I made ricotta as well and the whey turned out nice and clear.  I think my milky whey of a couple of weeks ago was insufficiently acidic.  My one complaint is that the mozzarella is not salty enough.  The only salt in my recipe is only in the heating water prior to stretching.  I need to poke around and see about adding it to the curd.

The mystery birds are laying well.  They are very small eggs still, but consistent and tasty.  It is funny to have white eggs in the basket as we never have before, but I like the variety.  Apparently, one of our barred rocks also likes them.  She’s been rather broody lately and Isaiah brought in eight one morning that he had chased her off of!  White eggs only, despite the fact that barred rocks lay brown.

This was the hay sale weekend.  We have filled our shelter and then some.  We need another shelter or we need to figure out how to roof the entire stall where we store the hay.

The goats are holding steady at 1.25 gallons daily between the two of them.  Most of that is Penny, but Ella’s making a pretty good show for a first freshener.  Hopefully, next year we will be doing this the right way–weighing and keeping daily milk records.  I have dreams of being organized and thorough.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Week 5 with Chicks…etcetera

Sometimes giving posts meaningful titles is easy.  Sometimes I stare at the blank page and wonder if anything significant was accomplished during the week.  I remember this from other post-baby periods…when making dinner, getting laundry done and put away, keeping the floors and kitchen counters partially visible is all monumental.  I know it won’t always be like this.  I managed to strap Joseph on and do some kitchen work earlier this week and I did not feel like I was going to die afterwards.  I am making progress…bodies are just so slow and the build-up of work is SO immense. I am trying not to indulge in impatience.

Speaking of work build-up, my husband and kids have been out working on the garage to try and make it usable again.  We need to clear space for another freezer if we are going to try to put up meat for this many people.  If my calculations are correct, we could probably get by with what we’ve got for this batch of chickens if we ate down the contents of the smaller freezer, but we’d be out of luck the next month when we got close to Thanksgiving and wanted to stock turkey and cranberries.  I’m also considering whether it might be a good idea to grab a free broken freezer and stuff it with goat and chicken feeds.  We’ve been storing our feeds in plastic trash cans, but they are far from airtight even when people remember to put the lids on and the meal moths are starting to take over.  I also don’t like being month to month on anything, and the trash cans’ size and shape makes storing extra really difficult.  I’d had high hopes for these when I bought one a couple of years ago–visions of an orderly (and matching!), wall of stacked feed bins where I could tell how many months we had at the flip of a lid, but as reviewers have since noted, they do not keep bugs out.  If they do not exclude vermin, why exactly would you need one?

We’ve begun watching the goats for signs of heat and the boys think that last Sunday was the day.  If they are consistent (and average) then they’ll be back in heat October 12 and have kids March 11.  Ha!  I will just be happy if we can pick up on a definite pattern.  We never figured it out last year and I am dreading the possibility of having to either drive them around a lot, board them for a MONTH like we did last time, dry them up prematurely, or any of those other not-exciting things.  It seems that, like people, they should be fairly consistent in their own cycle lengths, etc.  If it were not for the commandment to pray over our flocks and fields, I’m sure I would never have the gall to pray for  the things I often pray for these days–eyes to see and understand even this…

We are wondering if perhaps we should just breed Ella this year and milk Penny through.  Better nutrition has improved Penny’s milk curve and eight goats (supposing Penny had triplets again) would somewhat strain our stall space.  At the same time, the break during the holidays and the wettest months is not such a terrible thing and I have to think that first milk is all the sweeter for the anticipation.  We have a few weeks before we have to decide for sure.

I am continuing to study hay and pastures.  I used this government-provided tool to discover that our land is pretty much useless, including for building on!  Who knew?  Our house must be a figment…  Anyhow, I will assume that they are wrong about everything else as well, although I’ll continue to project low yields and a lot of work to make it all happen as this is always safest way to project.  I’m enjoying the books and articles, but our climate is so vastly different here from the normal Winter-Spring-Summer-Fall places I am reading about that is it hard to know whether anything I’m reading will apply here or not.  It would be nice to stumble across a “Guide to Growing Dairy Goat Pastures in Zone 8 or Maybe 9 During a Record-Breaking Drought” as it would save us a lot of time, but I have the feeling we are going to have to write our own.  I am considering just ordering a couple of pounds of seed in each of the varieties I think should grow well here and sowing some test plots next month.  Hay needs at least six weeks before the first frost to get established, so that should give us sufficient time.  Aaaaand my preferred storage method for all of my fantasy hay this week is this one.  Each holds a TON of hay…at these prices that is at least $400, probably closer to $550.  Amazing.

Yes, impending hayseed-sowing weather means that our heat has finally begun to break.  Our afternoon highs are still pretty warm, but it’s less persistent and night and less pushy in the morning as well.  I always feel so hopeful when this happens (a holdover from my years in the Phoenix valley?), this growing sense that I am not about to be destroyed and that lovely things lie ahead.  Baking, roasting and stewing (food, finally and not me)! Rain! Working in the cool!  Fires in the woodstove and sleeping under blankets!  Sweater-wearing!  And, of course, sourdough and kefir this year!  Winter is the reward for a Summer well-lived.

I started my second ever batch of sauerkraut.  My success is making me consider other vegetables with a fermenting eye…

I also made a good batch of chicken stock.  It gelled up beautifully and it tastes wonderful.  Elijah made the whole roasted chickens whose remains were used, so the only credit I can take for the favor is that I did not overcook it like I usually do.  I will, I will, I will figure this whole stock-making thing out.

And I will get another shot at it soon.  This evening Elijah went out to pick some tomatoes for dinner and spotted smoke to the South of us.  It looked close (it was about 2 miles away…the whole spontaneously combusting countryside thing leaves much to be desired) and my husband thought it might be on the land of some friends of ours, so he headed out to make sure they were ok.  When he got there, he found them unconcernedly slaughtering turkeys.  He asked if he could watch/help and they said that he could take one home if he did it start to finish.  “Why don’t you take that big one over there?” and they pointed to the biggest, angriest-looking (this according to my husband) tom.  So he did it–caught, beheaded, dunked, plucked and eviscerated and we have a 35-lb turkey cooling in our fridge.  He now says that chickens will be easy.  That thing was probably close to 50 lbs live weight if my conversion chart is correct!  I’m so, so glad that he got some hands-on.  He was the only one who didn’t help out with the chicken-butchering we attended two years ago and I would be foolish to think that I will be doing the bulk of the work come October.  A six-month-old is still a baby…  Our friends also told him that they believe our feed-store owning neighbors have a tub-style chicken plucker!  Another huge load off my mind if they will allow us to rent it from them.

BTW, the fire was contained in less than hour and only burned about 12 acres.

Upcoming this week: I need to finally commit to a battery.  Our electric poultry netting arrived and is sitting in its box on our floor not doing anything to protect our rapidly growing chicks.  Silliness.  Again, I need to accept the potential for blowing it the first time around and having to chalk it up to experience–just part of Raising Meat Birds School.

Also, the same turkey-slaughtering neighbors are slaughtering a steer this week.  My husband is going to try to be there.  I will try to be as well…Joseph willing.

I am afraid that peach/nectarine season is going to end and we will only have peach butter to show for it.  I need to be a bit more ambitious and get some into the dehydrator and into some jars as well.  Freestone nectarines are so easy to can, I really don’t have much of an excuse to skip it.  And you see how easily I can talk myself into canning…

Joseph looks at me like I am the most wonderful person in the whole world.  It is nice to have a little one.


Leave a comment

Good fences make good neighbors

…and mediocre fences lead to issues.

Little Margo was attacked and bitten by the neighbor’s two big, livestock-terrorizing dogs this Tuesday.  She was out in our pasture with Penny and Ella when the dogs came onto the property.  At some point she squeezed through a gap in the fence and headed for the stall–I imagine seeking safety, poor thing–and at some point was attacked.  Bethel was the one who looked out, saw what was happening and yelled to my husband, Elijah and Isaiah.  They went out, ran the dogs off and found Margo, huddled in the back of the shelter, bleeding and unable to stand.  We cleaned her up as well as we could, smeared some ointment on her wounds to try to keep the flies off them and I called the vet while my husband went to tell the neighbor that his dogs were out and what had occurred.  The neighbor insisted that his dogs were chained up in the back yard, but when he went back he found that  they were not.  He apologized and said that he was going to have to put the dogs down as he couldn’t keep them under control.  I hope that he makes good on his word.  Another neighbor has already confronted him over lambs killed by his dogs and, unfortunately, I do not know him to be a man of honor (he was the one that illegally pumped our pond nearly dry last year). For the foreseeable future, the goats are cooped up in their stall.  It all makes me feel rather sick to my stomach–the near-loss of our first doeling, the irresponsible behavior of the dogs’ owner, the fact that we cannot use our land for our animals because of that irresponsibility, the apparent necessity of refencing the entire perimeter of the property (including across the pond as that is where we have seen them come through in the past–we have actually considered putting in a berm to divide the pond along the fence line since he does not respect the legal agreement to leave the water for fire protection), the whole idea of adults who are kept in check only by fear of punishment and not by morality.  It is a good reminder to teach my children well about responsibility, stewardship and virtue.  Anyhow, the vet came out, gave Margo a tetanus shot and a painkiller, taught Isaiah how to give her her three-day course of antibiotic injections (he’s got one life skill up on me now–I’ve never given an injection) and gave us a couple of things to watch for.  She seems to be recovering.  She still limps a little, but her wounds are healing well and she’s got her appetite back.  We are very grateful that Bethel looked out when she did.  This is the second time she’s saved an animal by feeling that she should check on it.  This part of this talk comes to my mind.  “I am led to believe that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that the things that are important to us become important to Him, just because He loves us.”  I believe so as well.  I am so grateful that He who is over all inspired a little girl to look outside and save a little goat this week.

The chicks are OUT of the water tank and merrily cheeping away in the converted grazing pen.  Their appetites are becoming noticeable (the bulk of an entire bag of feed this week (!) and I am glad that their time here will be relatively short as keeping up with their needs becomes more challenging.  We got our first eggs from the mystery chicks this week–on the just-barely end of 16 weeks–and so they have been integrated into the remains of our laying flock.  Seven layers, seven mystery hens and a rooster makes for snug quarters in the henhouse.  We need to decide whether we sell the mysteries, stew the old layers as a practice run for putting the meat flock in the freezer, or….I don’t know what else we’d do…add on to the henhouse?  I am inclining a bit toward stewing the old layers.  We lost our last green egg layer to a predator and I’m now less attached to the flock since we’re getting so few eggs (and they’re all brown…yes, I am shallow enough that that is a consideration…it has even been a hang-up when I consider whether we should switch to all Delawares at some point.  Heat tolerance! Meat production!  Egg laying!  Mother hens raise their babies!  Samey egg basket……bummer….maybe we could keep some Ameracaunas as well just to liven things up?) so it might make sense just to call it quits with the old layers when the female chicks mature.

In other chicken news, it appears that our rooster, who the kids have named “Rudy” is rumpless.  I will need to confirm it by examining him, but he appears to have no tail.  This is a concern as he likely lacks the oil gland which would help waterproof his feathers.  For most of the year this is not a big deal but, if we get the rain that we are praying for, winter could be a problem.  I need to do some more research to see how people who raise rumpless breeds handle wet weather.  I also don’t know what this means for determining his breed.  The characteristic is consistent in a few breeds and occasional in others.  He could be part Araucana or just a rumpless Rhode Island Red.  The mystery chicks remain mysterious.

We now have a hand pump on our well.  The one we had installed will pump directly into our pressure tank so that we can have water in the house despite our electricity status.  The pumping is not difficult but, as each pump only produces around a cup of water, I imagine my childrens’ thrill over hand-pumping water would rapidly wane if we had to rely on it.  We also had some issues with the new safety switch that he installed, that are giving us some concern over the status of our well.  We still need to store water and we still need to pray mightily for rain.

In the garden: first peppers!

In the orchard: first ripe fig!  Certain anxious family members kept bringing me unripe figs with big smiles of anticipation on their faces, only to be disappointed, but this last one was actually ready.  I was remembering our plum tree in Oregon that the children invariably picked clean before a single plum had ripened every year.  I’m glad we didn’t re-enact that.

In the kitchen: pluot preserves!  The first batch was very nice, although some of the family thought they were a bit tart.  I have another batch in the slow cooker right now (no burning and a broad canning window) that I think I’m going to try with cardamom.


Leave a comment

Heat

We’ve been in the triple digits most of this week. Despite the hot, dry conditions, the firefighters managed to get our massive wildfire 95% contained by Thursday.  In the end, they ended up losing 20 homes and a lot of outbuildings (one of the kids kept referring to them as “outhouses”), but it could have been SO much worse than that. We are very grateful for the work of the firefighters and the blessings of God on their labors. We are still praying for the elusive 100% containment, but there is now an even more massive fire in another county that is requiring whatever resources can be spared. We pray for their success and safety there as well.

We have gotten to the point in the dairy year when the phrase “no use crying over spilled milk” was likely coined. The initial excitement and enthusiasm over fresh milk has waned a bit and, now that we’ve filled all the available freezer space and eaten custard about a dozen times, we must wage battle with the steady flow (1.25 gallons daily, give or take) a bit more creatively. I swore I would not make cheese this year as it is too involved for a baby year, but I think that’s where we’re going to have to go unless we just start feeding milk to the chickens. I made a simple cheese this week (heat, vinegar, strain, hang) which was fine, except that it set up much firmer than I expected so I couldn’t add the salt at the end so it’s a little bland. I also made my first batch of butter ever, which I oversalted and which might possibly still contain an unacceptable amount of buttermilk. I think that the house was really too warm for butter-making, as it got stiff, started to separate and clump but then went soft again. I really need to read a good book to understand both the vocabulary and the science behind all this. It appears that owning goats is going to mean making cheese and butter and I currently feel like I’m shooting in the dark. I don’t mind failing sometimes, it seems to hand-in-hand with all this, but I don’t even know enough to figure out what I’m supposed to learn from my mistakes. Thus, it is time to find a good book….

I have been pouring our excess whey on the blueberry bushes and they have started to grow again, even in this ridiculous heat! I figured the acidity would be a good match and they are also conveniently located on the front porch so I can do it myself without having to grab someone to watch Joseph.  They got the cheesy whey, the bland stuff that came off the “Au Revoir” and half of the gallon I had left after I made the vinegar-precipitated cheese and had unsuccessfully tried to make ricotta from the whey.  It was still really milky, but I couldn’t get the last of it out (despite more heat and more vinegar), so I gave up, diluted half of it to give to my much-more-lively blueberries and tried to come up with something we could drink out of the rest of it.  We started making whey “lemonade” from yogurt whey last year. Adding a little sweetener makes it taste very similar to lemonade, even if the smell took a little getting used to, and it’s grown on everyone.  This whey was not very tangy, but was great once I added a little vanilla.  The kids thought “Milky Whey” had a nice ring to it.

I vastly underestimated how much space this many birds would need at this point in their lives.   They can still walk around a bit, but they sure don’t have much space. Elijah is still working on getting the grazing pen set up as a brooder and I am hoping that will work well and protect them as they need to be at this point. We are still so short on man-hours around here. I am trying to do as much as I can in the kitchen—barely keeping up with the parallel floods of fruit and milk that we have been blessed with, while trying to hack away at the last year’s build-up of mess and disorder—but I am hugely limited by a baby that doesn’t nap well and my persistent flimsiness. Sometimes we will talk over things we’d like to grow, raise, or try out but we always have to reality-check. I listened to a homesteading/farming podcast recently in which the interviewee advised a couple of times “do less, but do it better”. There’s something to be said for that from multiple angles, not the least of which is the emotional wear and tear of seeing one’s work not being all that it could be. It is hard sometimes determining the appropriate balance of being anxiously engaged in a good cause and not running faster than one has strength. Anyhow, I am hoping that the chicks survive ok until we can get them a truly adequate shelter and that future generations of meat birds will recognize the sacrifices and deprivations of their pioneer fore-chickens.  And on the positive side, we are pleased with their speedy growth rate and hope it portends well for their use as a dual-purpose bird.

A couple more things:

It looks like we should be able to grow sugarcane here!  I’ll have to look into what the processing is like, but that might be one approach to coming up with a homegrown sweetener.  Plants are ridiculously expensive, but, apparently, if you get a relatively fresh piece of sugarcane, you can sprout it.  Maybe we could try it out as a potted plant?

Carob trees are quick-growing and fire-resistant.  Perhaps we could plant some along with the citrus on the South side of the house and get shade a little quicker.  Citrus are notoriously slow growers.

I need unbreakable clothespins…

This video was pretty nifty.  At his rate all our haying work minus the cutting and baling should only take us about 20 minutes!  Oh, if only.

 

UPDATE: Now that I am finally getting around to finishing and posting this, they have gotten the fire 100% contained!