Saturday, July 09, 2011


In late May I ordered a 2 gallon stoneware crock with the intention of making sauerkraut. I figured that even if the kraut didn't work, cabbage was cheap and I could use the crock for some decorative purpose.

Well the crock arrived (including wooden "lid") and I sliced up my organic cabbages as thinly as I could and recruited Ken to help me pound it a bit as we layered it into the crock and sprinkled with sea salt. Moisture from the cabbages came out, just as promised. I topped it off with an extra cup of salt water just to be safe. We put the wooden lid in which is supposed to work like a press and push the cabbage down and keep it under the brine. On top of that I put a gallon plastic bag filled with water and put the whole thing on the floor under the air conditioner (the coolest spot we could find). To keep the kittens out of it (and flies) I laid a wooden cutting board over the whole thing.

In about three days, the kraut started to bubble. It bubbled so much, in fact, that it spilled out of the crock! I cleaned up that mess and then put the crock on top of some old paper grocery bags. About every three days for the next two weeks, it would bubble over. The third week there appeared to be no bubbling and I opened the crock and pulled out a little kraut.

Well, I say "I opened the crock"... lesson learned here... the wooden lid expanded in the brine. So much so, it took Ken some good force and ingenuity to get the lid out. But he did manage to remove it.

It was good! Really good. But I wanted it to be really, really done.

Ken refused to taste it raw (his loss), but we sealed it all up again for another week.

Finally, I could not wait anymore and reopened the crock. We filled five sterile quart jars with kraut and I had a little left over for me to eat on a turkey reuben that night. Yummy! I hot water processed (with some reluctance because I know that the canning kills the beneficial bacteria) for 10 minutes. This sealed the jars and we left them out on the counter for a week to make sure the fermentation was, in fact, complete.

Sadly, we also discovered that the wooden "lid" had expanded so much that it cracked my two gallon crock! Damn! So, today I ordered a new one.

The cracked one will do well for one gallon batches of things like dill pickles or other ferments larger than a quart but smaller than a gallon.

We will skip using the wooden "lid".

Saturday, July 02, 2011

How not to spend other people's money...

I have dreams. I have not lost those yet. But I'm very frustrated at my lack of forward progress in securing the land I want where i want it. I may have to make some significant compromises or learn to be more flexible in my thinking, but for now, the farm project is on hold.

In the Spring, my dad told me he would loan me money against my inheritance to purchase land provided I paid interest to him on the money he would have been making from that money. Okay. I did the math and since he was giving me an excellent interest rate, I knew I could do this. Once my current house is paid off, I could then turn that mortgage money back to him to start paying off the principle.

As noted in the previous post, I THOUGHT I had found the property I wanted and we were looking at acquiring 16.92 acres with about 11 acres in open land. It had access to electricity with a minimal of distance from existing lines at the neighbors, so it would not take too much money to have the line extended by the electric company. Since there were houses nearby, I was sure we would also find water not out of reach by well. The wooded area was pretty, but consisted of primarily wooded ravines. Some areas were possible for camping and ritual and so I wasn't too worried about finding a good use for it.

BUT after a very, very long time waiting for the survey, we learned that it was, in fact, 28.9 acres and only 5 acres was open. The prime open area the Realtor showed me was not even owned by the lady who was selling! And the woman who owned that was not interested in selling! I have to wonder how much land woman #1 sold off that did not belong to her as it is her relatives currently living in one acre houses on woman #2s land! How freaky is that! But that is not my worry.

We opted not to bite on the 28+ acres of woodland.

So the Realtor showed me 18 acres that is actually pretty perfect in dimension and layout, but it's 3 miles away. It's also in a rather rotten neighborhood and I'm not convinced my animals would be safe there. He also showed me a dreadfully overgrown 10 acre parcel about 5 miles away, also not in the best area.

I was leaning hard toward the 18 acres and my brain was bumping along how to overcome obstructions like winter snow keeping us locked in at home and unable to care for the animals, neighbors who get drunk and think a sheep might make a good barbecue... those sorts of issues; when I learned that my dad was tired of waiting for me to spend his money and thinking that since the deal on the original piece had died, I was not looking anymore; spent the money on something else. Letting that much money sit in the bank doing nothing is not good business and I respect that. But I need to learn to communicate better with my financier.

I also asked my Realtor to talk to the owner of the land that is immediately adjacent to my dad's property. I told him very specifically not to mention my father's name or relation as this neighbor really, really HATES my dad and will not sell to him. Unfortunately, my Realtor let his father handle the call and he blew it. So that property, while never formally on the table, was just soundly removed to the closet. Perhaps when that owner dies I will get a shot with his son.

So, here I am, still without a place to put my cattle, milk cow and sheep. Thank goodness I did not agree to buy the pretty little Jersey heifer yet.

Mom told me I cannot put sheep in her front yard (she has three acres there), but maybe she would be willing to let me put a cow there soon? I doubt it.

I keep eying my front yard and thinking that I could put in a little run in shed for the cow and just feed hay year round... but, wow, what a lot of work that would be! I'm not there yet.

I think I just REALLY need to find a cow share!