Archive for May, 2012

Bleeding Edge

May 31st, 2012

So, for some reason I was pretty lax about shaving my legs for the last XX days. When I finally did it I killed razor after razor(3.5!). I tried resharpening them with the denim method. That’s where you rub the razor (opposite direction of shaving) down the leg of a pair of jeans about 20 times  and then rub them up the leg another 20 times. I wasn’t happy with the results. I am also not happy with the price of razors. What’s even worse is the temptation to purchase disposable razors instead of just the blade, because they are cheaper that way. Oh, the horror of tossing all those razors in the trash when they are used up. Once again, I contemplated just getting a straight razor and learning how to use it. But only dudes use those right? I decided to do some research.

People are still using straight razors. Even chicks. They are relativity inexpensive ranging from just a couple of dollars for a low end one to over $300 for a top of the line one. Considering how much many of us spend on disposable razors and blades, as a straight razor(with proper to stropping and honing) will provide a life time of shaves, even the high end ones are a bargain. As a starter straight razor, most people suggest the Dovo Shavette @ $24. But, I didn’t research it very much. Once I ran across the double edge safety razor, I stopped looking at straight ones.

Gillette safety razor patent drawingThe double edge safety razor (DESR) is what our parents and their parents used. As their name implies, they are a lot safer than a straight razor. Though a straight razor might have more uses. The DESR is reusable, but its blades are disposable. How are they different from the ones most of us buy now? Well for starters, only the single sharp, thin sheet of metal gets replaced, not the whole head. Also, the blade replacements are only $0.05 – $0.40 each. With less waste, it’s the green choice. In some places, given the proper disposal container, you can even recycle the blades. I haven’t tried one yet, but word on the street is that they give a closer than the disposable 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and yes even 5 bladed (now with batteries! sham-wow)* razors. No clogging; one blade doesn’t get clogged with hair and lubricant. Less razor burn too! There’s also less packaging for the DESR blades. You can get a cardboard box of 100 for less than $10. The double edged safety razor wont have RFIDs in it.

I can’t say much more as I have never actually used a straight razor nor the DESR. However, I am pretty much sold and will be keeping my eye out for them (as well as carbide lanterns, dutch ovens, and the Ovenette) in antique stores. I will get one online if I don’t find one before our next amazon order.

*The same company that owns Gillette owns Duracell.

Chicken Pluckin’

May 5th, 2012

Disclaimer: This post is graphic. It talks about killing and processing animals. Pictures are included. If that offends you or makes you sick, you might want to skip this post. I eat meat and would rather know what I am eating and how it was processed when given the opportunity.

Two happy cluckers
Lots of room to roam.

Our friend Robert's chickens have tons of room to run at Taranchulla Flats

We spent November in southeastern Colorado on our dear friend Robert’s property. From there, we drove up to Pueblo where we met up with some more wonderful friends – Jeremy, Stephanie and their two boys. We joined them at A Wren’s Nest Farm to partake in the CSA’s chicken harvest. We had only met them once before, at a mutual friend’s multi-day birthday party. That was almost three years ago. We had been communicating on facebook ever since. Once we were in there area of Colorado, we knew we had to meet up. The only problem was where? A chicken harvest at their CSA, duh! I can’t think of a better place.

I had recently harvested a chicken who had died due to misadventure. It met its demise during transport to my friend’s property. My friend was going to bury it, because he didn’t feel it was suitable for consumption. After some reading, I mostly agreed. The drive was only 1hr in near freezing temperatures and the bird was kept cold over night. However, the was bird was never bled and sat overnight full of blood. Not something that humans are accustomed to eating. At that point, I believed that it was still suitable for the dogs…. and I wanted to try my hand at harvesting. So after a couple of hours, it was plucked, gutted and butchered. I did it but knew that there had to be a faster way.  Unfortunately, no one on the property had ever owned or processed a chicken before and there were thirty more of them that would eventually need to be. That’s why I was so excited when we got the offer to attend the harvest at A Wren’s Nest Farm.

Processing Chickens involves a few simple but messy steps.

Step One: Raise said chicken. The folks at The Wren’s Nest did an excellent job of that – happy, healthy chickens!

Hen and Chicks at a Wren's Nest Farm

Hen and Chicks at a Wren's Nest Farm - Photographer: Paul Alhadef

Paul Alhadef: Photographer and farmer -Artisic and Quirky Photos- Take a look. You’ll love them!

Step Two: Kill the chickens. Our method of attack required one person to hold the chicken across a stump and the other to lop its head off with an axe. Both of these positions required a plastic apron or old, dark clothes. The axe-person had to swing sure and true. The holder had to control the chicken afterwards so that it wouldn’t break it’s wings during its final death throws and hold it upside down to drain it of blood.

Step Three: Dunk and pluck. If you scald them in hot water (~130F), it makes plucking a whole lot easier.

Chicken Harvest at A Wren's Nest Farm

Stephanie gets as OCD about plucking as I do - Photos by: A Wren's Nest Farm

Step Four: Gut and cut. The bolt cutters worked a lot better than my little ol’ knife. The feet make great ear rings. Gutting isn’t too bad. There is a technique to it that I haven’t quite mastered. I just make sure to get it all out without breaking anything.

Jeremy and Tammy cut'n and gut'n

Tammy and Jeremy really get into their work

Now there’s nothing left to do except cook and enjoy the bird. Jeremy and Stephanie unexpectedly gave up part of their share so that we could have a bird of our own. Too nice of them! We were just happy to hang with them and to be able to partake in the experience. Thanks to them, we were able to enjoy the bounty as well. We don’t have an oven, so even though this beautiful chicken would have been an awesome roast, we ended up boiling it. I didn’t take any pictures of the dumplings that we made with it so a picture of Rain enjoying a raw wing off of it will have to do.

Cooking and eating the chicken we harvested

Cook and enjoy - Rain Likes hers raw

If you are ever passing through Pueblo, CO, you just have to stop in and visit their farm. You may remember me mentioning it on facebook. It’s where I got my wool and learned to spin with a drop spindle. The farm has many farm fresh and homemade products for sale. It is also run by some of the nicest people we have ever met. So stop by and see a beautiful, sustainable farm in an unexpected place.

A Wren's Nest Farm

The Morel of the Story

May 2nd, 2012

My first morels!

My first Morels. They are Black Morels… at least I think they are. I wasn’t actually looking for them. I was traipsing through the brush, looking for a spring on an old topographical map. When bam, they just happen to pop up in my path. I had never seen one in person before today, but somehow I immediately recognized it from the two or three pictures I had seen last year. I have spent the last couple of hours trying to find lookalikes. Seems there are four main groups: Gyromitra esculenta, Verpa, Hellvella, and Disciotis. These are definitely NOT them. Still, I have cut them all open, am soaking them in salt water over night and will only cook a quarter of one to have a couple of nibbles off tomorrow. This is all new to me as we don’t have them in south Florida. I guess I was wrong when I said I would NEVER collect mushrooms and eat them for dinner.