Archive for the 'Hobbies' Category

In or Out

May 8th, 2014

Using the outdoor kitchen/shower area.

Oh, look! Van pictures.

That’s dinner cooking in the outdoor kitchen/shower. To turn it into an indoor kitchen, just close the door. Indoor showers are not suggested.

The propane fired stove (Coleman PowerPack 1-Burner Stove) is attached to a board which folds down when not in use. We’d been talking about doing this before we even got the van. It is just as cool as we thought it was going to be.

Ninja Shower

The shower (Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater and Outdoor Shower) is also propane fired so the insulated wall behind it is covered in aluminum for fire protection. Between the shower and a 31 gallon water tank sits a water pump (Flojet 03526 144A Triplex Diaphragm 3526 Series Automatic Water System Pump).

Open the door, throw up a tarp, turn on the water pump, get naked and fire up the shower. It’s soooo much nicer than a solar shower.

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

October 14th, 2012

No sir, it is not. As of tonight, we are no longer using the freezer or the fridge in the camper. We killed it and turned off the propane tanks a couple of days ago. One tank is empty, and we have been using the other to cook with in the van until we get one of these 1 gallon cylinders. The last item in the freezer was finally thawed today and we ate it for dinner. It was a big, thick, juicy strip steak. It was a nice end to a our life of “fridging it”.

We are talking about getting one of these WAECO CoolFreeze compressor fridge/freezer and running it via our solar and battery bank. I want to put it off though to see what it would be like to live without refrigeration and/or a cooler for at least a couple of months. We are either going to be eating super fresh, super canned, or grains and legumes. Those who know me know that I like my dairy, meat and produce and that we make almost everything from scratch. It’s going to be a big, interesting change. It should be fun.

In other news, we had a nice day. We went to a swap meet in town, drove the van around on BLM land and chilled at the lake.


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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.

This is so embarrassing…

January 24th, 2012

About six months back, I lost my wallet and since I still don’t have a replacement debit card, access to physical cash has been spotty. We’ve been chipping away at the cash on hand. Most of the people I want to do business with in Quartzsite only accept cash.

Good Times - Blythe Bluegrass Festival 2012

Brian gives the BBGF two thumbs up!

None of this entered my head almost two weeks ago when our friend, Brian, asked if we wanted to go to the Blythe Bluegrass Festival during RTR. The day of the event though, I discovered we were only able to afford a single ticket to the event as it was cash only.

Not to be deterred, I packed a bag full of juggling gear and set out anyway along with a big cardboard sign reading “Can’t afford a ticket”. I figured that the worst case scenario was Jenn getting to see a show she was interested in and I’d be able to get some juggling practice in while listening from the parking lot.

Jenn was not quite so optimistic. She was working under the impression that the cops would toss me in jail within minutes of arrival. In case of such an unlikely event, she sat outside crocheting a funny hat while our friends went inside.

Over the next hour, I impressed tens of people… we arrived late and there was not the giant crowd I had been hoping for; most of them were already inside the event. I did manage to make several bucks and was only three dollars away from having the price of admission when a couple of guys in a golf cart rolled up.

  Make Your Own Fire Poi

They were with the chamber of commerce… which runs the bluegrass festival. They were very polite, but also very insistent. They were more than happy to let Jenn and I into the show (a $30 value!) if I would quit juggling knives in front of the entrance. In essence, they paid me to quit!

Their timing could have been better. Five minutes earlier, our friends had come back out to see how I was doing. Three witnesses… I count Jenn as an accessory!

Our band photo - Blythe Bluegrass Festival 2012

Our band photo

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