Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Natural Cycle of Things

Today I’m making beef stock from the beef leg bones. It means I’ll just boil up a huge pot of bones in water with some salt and cider vinegar for a whole day and then strain out the chunky bits and freeze the stock in ice cube containers and jars. I will use these handy grab thingies for soups, shepherd’s pie, stews, meat pie etc. It can make gravy or be used to add flavour and nutrients to whatever you use it in. Beef stock is rich in gelatin and glucosamine (helps with arthritis or joint pain) as well as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. The broth apparently can also aid digestion and support the immune system.

As is often the case for food that is made from basic ingredients, the nutrients are not only more abundant but more readily absorbed by the body. We often try to trick our body by eating over-processed or simulated foods with added nutrients but I really don’t believe the body is that stupid. It seems to differentiate between the real deal and the artificial source. The great thing about homemade stock is that you can be sure there is no MSG or other hidden nasty ingredients in there. Not to mention the money you can save in comparison to the high-priced ‘organic’ options out there.

The funny thing is that you can get bones for free from a butcher or a farmer and boiling up the bones (with a few carrot, potato and onion peels for flavour) takes nothing more than time (12 hours at a minimum) and a big pot. The dogs also appreciated the fat as I scooped it off little by little from the top.

I have also done my last milking of our cow this morning for this round. After I filled my jars with fresh milk from the pail, I turned to her as I always do and gave her a nice scratch on the head and told her how thankful I was. This time she turned to me and butted me on the hip as hard as she could, nearly lifting me into the air. That’s my Bonnie – always getting the last word. We’re not quite sure if she is pregnant again. If she is, she is due in the fall and we will be back in milk. There is also a small possibility that our other Jersey (who we seem to have around as company because she hasn’t been able to get pregnant) may be ready to calf in the spring. But we’re not counting on it.

Until then, I have stockpiled 100L in my overstuffed freezer to use for yogurt, cheese-making and baking. Between the beef coming home and the milk, every last inch of my 3 freezers are full.

So ends the beef and dairy chapters on our farm for the short term. Our seed orders have been placed and in a week or two we will be planting the first onion and leek seeds inside under grow lights.

As with all things on a farm, the cycles go around, the seasons change, the animals give birth, calves are raised on milk for up to a year and some leave and come back in packages for our freezer. Cows fill their udders, feed their young, then feed us, then dry up again.

Around and around it goes and where it ends, nobody knows.

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