This is Sassy, a blonde cocker spaniel that has as you can see never missed a meal.
With a full coat and she loves the snow!! We have her sheared three or four times a year.
We’re trying to cut back on her food a little and I will honestly tell you she eats what we eat. One of the benefits of having our own farm is being able to hunt on our own land. We do love venison and use it in so many way but that’s another post. The reason for this post is to tell you that one of the most nutritious and weight conscious things we feed Sassy is our own homemade deer jerky with no seasoning or additives.
Finished jerky! We freeze it as soon as it’s completely dry and pull out what we need for a week of treats.
Hubby will take a shoulder of a deer and partially freeze it and then thinly slice it on his meat saw. I then layer it in our dehydrator at 155* for about 6-7 hours until very dry and then pack it in ziploc freezer bags and pop it in the freezer. Depending on the size of the deer, we usually get three gallon bags of dried jerky from each shoulder.
Our dehydrator is very easy to use and so easy to cleanup.
The drawers are deep and easy to fill. Half a shoulder will fill it up.
Packaged and ready for the freezer or be eaten.
My daughter takes three or four deer hams and has a jerky spice recipe she uses for their own use, not for the dog.
Sassy is a pretty lucky and spoiled cocker spaniel!! We love her to death!
Sassy get a slice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacktime, and bedtime, well, she wishes she got it that much but she does love it.
That wonderful venison that we enjoy all year round is starting to tease a little. This year will be the last year that my granddaughter can enjoy the early youth season and she’s getting a little of the buck fever that we’ve all had. Here’s some photos of those starting to graze the pastures and clean up the falling apples in the orchards.
These are nice young deer and will be beauties if left to grow a few more years. With the size of the youngsters, the young does will work fine when it comes to filling the freezer and the canning jars. Sassy should hopefully have plenty of jerky to last her through the winter months too. That dog loves her venison jerky! We have two and a half months to wait until bow season comes in and in the meantime we’ll put out the trail cams and watch the fields and orchards. We even have a few surprises for the poachers this year!!
We’ve been so busy the last few weeks and it seems like months since I last blogged and I’m trying to make up for lost time tonight. Bear with me and I promise you’ll understand before this weekend is over.
We have three apple orchards on our farm and all used to be full of old timey apples. Time, neglect and the weather have really been hard on the trees. Each fall we try to have a Sunday Cider Fest and decided if we didn’t do something about replenishing the trees that have died or been uprooted by the wind that we would have to start buying apples to continue the tradition.
We’ve replaced about 10 trees in the last two years and I’ve been trying my hand at grafting with not much success. I think the problem was trying to graft to trees that were not in the ground and established. Two years ago I started taking classes offered by the county extension office to learn how to graft. At each class I’ve obtained 10-15 apple root stocks for semi-dwarf trees.
Since I haven’t had much luck with the grafting, Hubby and I decided I need to make sure the root stock was going to live. When I got the root stock it was bare root and it was too much stress on the grafts competing with the trees trying to get established. We put all of the stock in large pots with fertilized soil and made sure they got plenty of water throughout the summer. We did this for two summers and during the winter took the trees (30 trees) into the mansion basement to keep the winter wind from beating them out of the pots.
Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.
Last month we started bringing them out for some daily sun and acclimating them to the cooler weather. Last weekend we planted the first 15 in the orchard at the west barn.
Hubby used the post hole digger on the tractor to drill the holes and then we had some heavy rains which was great for getting the water to settle the holes and get the water down where the roots would need them.
We set out thirteen more yesterday afternoon and now we wait. Our biggest challenge will be the deer!! The trees that we set out last weekend have already felt the damage of deer. Each one of the trees lower limbs had been eaten off. To keep them from completing the damage we will have to make woven wire cages to go about two feet around and out from each tree. We tried the plastic pipe around them last year and the mice did the damage then. Apparently they thought the pipe was a good place to set up housekeeping and chewed the bark off at the base of the tree and killed them. So MICE and DEER are on my hit list at the moment!!
On the 29th of September, Virginia had it annual Youth Hunting Day for deer. This was my granddaughters second year, I think, participating and she went with her grandfather to her mother’s deer stand. She likes hunting in the afternoon like her Nana and this year she waited about two hours before the opportunity showed itself. Two bucks came out of the woods into the clearing in front of her stand. One was very small and the other looked like a monster to her. She put up her gun and whispered to Papa that she could here her heart beating. She sighted in and click . . . the gun didn’t fire. Apparently when they got to the stand, Papa loaded the gun but did it gently and quietly so as not to scare anything off or alert the game to their location. The gun apparently didn’t load completely and therefore would not go off. He quickly took it from her and reloaded, the deer looked in their direction but didn’t run because they were well hidden. Victoria took the gun, sighted in again and shot. The big buck fell immediately and the smaller ran off, safe for another day. She and Papa sat quietly for about five minutes, put the gun on safety and exited the stand. They started walking up the hill toward the direction the deer fell.
I was watching the entire scene from our front porch and about 500 – 600 yards away with the field glasses. When the deer fell it went in a small dip in the landscape and while they were walking up the hill they could not see it and Victoria was getting nervous. She thought the deer had got up and ran off which would mean tracking. Once they got within 10 feet of the kill location they could see the horns sticking up and everyone was very happy. Papa went to get the truck while she guarded her trophy and calmed down. When he got back to the kill sight, Victoria got up in the truck to hoist the head and horns while Papa lifted the main weight of the deer. Papa says Victoria needs to work on her upper body and arm strength because she almost came out of the truck but they finally got it loaded and headed for the house.
I met them at the truck and here are some photos we took once they got it home:
Very excited young lady!!
She was very anxious to get to church the next day to show the pictures to her pastor and all of her male friends that hunt. She was a little put out when they shunned her and didn’t want to talk about how their hunts went. We told her not to worry about them and to be very thankful that she was able to help fill the freezer. I’ve also attached some photos that her Mom and I took the next day in the bright sunshine with her proud Papa.
Nine-point success story – Grandpa and Victoria
There is some funny parts I can’t leave out of this post. When I was taking pictures of her at the truck when they first bought the deer in Victoria realized that what she and Papa thought was an 8-pointer turned out to be a nine-pointer which made her unbelievably happy. The other funny part is, Mom has banned her from her stand and told her if she can do that well she can hunt on another acre of the farm. Now in order to be able to live with this 14 year old, going on 15, we all must hunt harder and better!! Victoria is a very competitive hunter as you may have read in some of my spring posts when she was turkey hunting with Papa.
The cellar shelves are full, it’s almost time to dig the potatoes and fill the potato bin and the freezers have been organized to determine how much venison and turkey we will need for the winter months. This all leads up to the hunting season in our area. We, my husband, myself, daughter, and granddaughter are all avid hunters. My son and son-in-law love the meat from our hunts but don’t like the hunt itself. By the end of November, the freezers will be full of all cuts of venison and turkey. We will have cubed steak, burger, chunks, tenderloin, roasts, and hams and all so healthy for us.
Back to the hunt! We each have our favorite hunting spots on the farm and hubby is our counselor, tracker and processor! We’ve spotted so many large bucks on the farm already and the turkeys are showing up sporadically. I won’t have much vacation this year to hunt but Saturdays are always open and I’ll have a late bow season during our Christmas break.
Our daughter and granddaughter are evening hunters and working half days are ideal for her hunting quests and our granddaughter gets home from school between 3:30 and 4:00 which gives her time to get to her stand as well.
We normally have a few friends join us during the hunting season but have decided this year to keep it strictly family hunting. We have some new neighbors and not knowing their where-a-bouts tends to make us a little skiddish and for safety purposes and liability. Our county is 60%+ National Forest and we think other hunters would be better in those woods than ours. In the past we have told all non-family hunters where to go and asked them to stay in their area to prevent any hunting accidents. These instructions aren’t always followed and that makes us liable for their safety when they move into an area that we may not know is safe from trespassers or others that aren’t staying where they need to be. Hunting safety is a VERY BIG issue with us!
Don’t get me wrong, we love the sport but we also like to eat and venison is a healthy choice not only for our diet but our pocketbooks. We want everyone on the farm to be safe and come in with a good hunting harvest and do it safely!!
It’s been coming and I didn’t even realize it!! The woods and fields are alive with new wildlife and new visions of what’s to come. During our evenings on the farm and the chores are done and supper is over we venture to our swing and chairs on the front porch overlooking almost one half of the farm. It’s quiet as we rarely have much traffic on our country road. We listen to the birds, cows calling for their young to come for supper, birds singing, rooster putting everyone to roost and the frogs croaking in the pond but mostly we listen to the quiet of our blissful life.
Yesterday evening just after sundown we were sitting and listening and looking. While watching the cattle on the mountain pasture we saw several mama deer nursing their twins in different side of the hayfield’s below the pasture. We saw five bucks browsing the pasture aside the cattle and you could tell they were bucks because their velveted black horns show up quite well now. Hubby had seen two different snapping turtles laying eggs in the grass along one of the streams that goes through the farm. We didn’t see but we heard a turkey hen in the tall grass in another pasture field to the right of the house. The pond in front of the house if full of baby bass and perch that have just hatched and the lawn is full of blue, yellow, white and black butterflies seeking nectar from the flowers in the yard. We heard a fox squirrel fussing at the dogs that are housed to close to his den tree which should be full of baby squirrels. We have two wild rabbits that are dutifully watching over their new nests of hairless babes covered with Mom’s pulled fur near the garden. The hummingbird population is growing and the honeybees are had at work.
The cherries are getting ripe. The blackberries and raspberries are full of bloom. The quince tree is full of tiny fruit as is the blueberry bushes. The asparagus and rhubarb continue to flourish. The apple trees were full of bloom earlier but the last freeze got most of that crop but we will persevere. The garden is filling with future winter stores. The asparagus just keeps producing. Life is good and we love the farm and living in the country.
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, llamas, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.