November 2012


Back in 2008 I, along with a lot of the rest of the world, watched in horror as it looked for a bit as though the world’s financial institutions were going to implode, leaving us all a whole lot poorer and uncertain of just what lay ahead. At about the same time I learned about Peak Oil and it’s implications for an energy constrained future. I reacted as did many others. I began to stockpile the things I thought I would need to see my family through a prolonged period of economic dislocation. We bought more land and put in gardens and greenhouses, an orchard and an apiary. We began to think of investment tools as actual tools rather than sketchy business dealings we were not at all sure met our requirement for ethical investment. We enlarged our circle of friends to include people who believed what we did and together we laid the foundation for a new, resilient community.

Well, it’s 2012. The world’s financial institutions have not all imploded although a good number of them are still pretty shaky. A lot of people are a lot poorer and still don’t know exactly what their future holds. But it isn’t Armageddon. At least not in the financial sense. I can still put gas in my car although it costs a good deal more to do so. I am still hearing mumblings that solar or wind or shale or nat gas or off-shore drilling is going to turn us into the next Saudi Arabia. That’s nonsense of course. Anyone with a calculator and a modicum of common sense can tell you that the energy invested over energy returned models point to less fuel to run a road and oil dependent transportation fleet at still higher prices. There is talk about having enough oil under us in America to be energy independent by 2020. But that the oil will belong to international oil companies who will sell it to the highest bidder and not necessarily to us.

Here’s the big change for this evolved prepper. I don’t care about it any more. Don’t get me wrong. I still think we are in big trouble in terms of economics and energy. I just think that worrying about them is like worrying about that scratchy throat while somebody cuts you off at the knees. And that something is climate change.

Because of my firm belief in the science of climate change I am making some changes to my writing and blogging. I will be wrapping up here in the next few months and concentrating my energy on my web site, http://www.preservingabundance.com. The website will give me the ability to post more and better videos, more recipes and even include some serialized novel-writing. It will include some advertising (a girl needs to pay the bills) but I will be totally responsible for what is put up there. I so appreciate Storey for giving me a blogging home here for the last few years. They are the best publishers in the world. If I could have books from only one publisher to see me through the coming hard times they would all be Storey books. I won’t miss them as we will still have a relationship through Just In Case and I may bother them with a manuscript from time to time. But I do think it’s time to move on and put my energy into permaculture education (I’m a learner, not a teacher on this subject), food preservation, seed saving, herbal health care, and community building. I hope you will join me there. I’m looking for lots of input and lots of information. This may be a slow process. I’m taking a workshop on how to make this work in early December and hope to be really cooking right after the first of the year. Far any readers who don’t follow me (come on-you know you want to) I leave you with gratitude for walking down the road with me.

Fondly, Kathy

This is the time of year when many people are culling their chickens. It makes no sense to feed chickens all winter when are not laying eggs. The upside is that the chickens will provide with high-quality, free-range meat for nothing more than the cost of the butcher. Around here that’s $3.00 a bird. The downside is that you have to dispatch of birds that, believe or not, you have become fond of. It’s your duty to any creature you’re responsible for to ensure that they are well-cared for while alive and that their passing is as painless and stress-free as possible.
We had 30 birds to can up. They are old layers and way to tough to roast. I tried to cook one overnight in the crock pot but it was still mighty chewy the next day. The ones I pressure canned were a lot more tender and the many jars of stock were fabulous. I do have some advice for canning up an old bird that may prevent some issues down the road.

I first simmered the birds for about an hour. This made getting the meat off the bone a lot easier. I removed much of the skin from each bird before simmering to reduce the fat in the stock. I added a lot of parsley, onion, leeks, carrots and celery to the broth. This made for a more flavorful product. It’s important to have a system set up to deal with the skin and bones you’re left with. If they sit around they will smell terrible and attract predators. I froze my scraps until DH had time to deal with them. I didn’t bother canning all the meat. I stuck with the breast meat for the most part as the legs and wings were so small. I took the wings, legs, back and breast bones and make a good, meaty stock with them. I ran two canners at a time which was all I could handle alone. I have a vision that, in the apocalypse, I’ll single handily can all the meat in my freeze. Well. Maybe not. This much canning is better done in a group. I am able to can at 10 pounds of pressure at my altitude but I went with 15 pounds for these tough old birds.

I used wide-mouth jars for any meaty stock and narrow-mouth for plain stock. I used some Tattlers and some disposable lids. I find that the Tattlers are pretty fussy about exhausting times. You need a full ten minutes of full steam to get all the air out and end up with a good, tight seal. I wipe each rim with vinegar to make sure no fatty deposit will affect the seal. It’s important to let the canner come to zero pressure before removing the weight. Let the canner sit another 2 minutes, then remove the lid with it pointing away from your face. Remove the jars and place them on a towel to finish cooling a seal. With the Tattlers, you have to tighten the lids right away and you’ll need gloves for this. Don’t let the jars cool in a draft. I find the biggest problem with siphoning (losing liquid) and with failed seals comes from to rapid a change in pressure and temperature. Thanks to my many canning friends (Lisa and Sally- Yes, I mean you) for such good information and support around all this. I rarely have a failed seal.

When all has cooled and you check the seals, label your jars and put them in storage. The don’t forget to eat the dang food. I know so many people who do all the work and then they’re afraid to eat it. Let me repeat. If the food was good and the equipment appropriate, if you follow the directions and get a good seal, if the food looks fine and smells fine and the lid is hard to remove then the food is good. Eat and enjoy. Such food is an act of prayer and revolution.

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