The last two nights have been graced with farm meals. Last night, we cooked our late rooster for some out-of-town friends that were staying with us. I was concerned that he would be too tough to eat because I had a lot of trouble processing him. He was a tough old bird.
However, the master chef in the house worked her magic and found a recipe for coq au vin online. With slight modifications, we were treated to our first "flavorful" chicken. And boy, I had no idea what I had been missing all this time.
As the rooster was quartered, prior to cooking in wine, I noticed that his "dark" meat was as full colored as goat or dark pork. I was told that as a chicken exercises, their meat turns darks. The young industrialized chickens at the grocery store with white meat legs have never seen an exercise yard. Our rooster, who had free-ranged his entire life, was dark. The finished product tasted a lot like well-cooked goat as well, in both consistency and flavor. Not tough, but textured. He was very, very tasty and I would have been surprised to learn that this was chicken, if I didn't know any better. There was so much FLAVOR.
My friends and I discussed that it was amazing how our mental image of chicken is completely dominated by caged, seven-week-old cornish crosses: mushy and bland.
After the meal, we cooked down the remaining chicken for stock. The wonderful smell of cooking filled the house for over a day.
Tonight, we had a vegetarian meal. I harvested more fingerling potatoes today. We also had peas, broccoli and three large turnips I had long given up on. The potatoes were out of this world, and I believe that this is the first time I have eaten potatoes straight out of the ground. Usually, they are hardened for storage.
As if eating an old rooster was not strange enough for this former-suburbanite...
Three nights ago, I went to do night check on the horses at 9 pm. As I walked in front of the garage, I noticed a little tan body scurrying against the closed garage door. We have mice in the barn, but this was larger and had a very tiny tail. It was a hamster!! I gave chase, calling out "A hamster! Someone's hamster! We have to save it!" There was no way a hamster would survive the night around here.
The little hamster ran under a parked car and after much scraping of knees and feats of agility I didn't know I could muster, it was safely in a pail. We brought it in and determined it was an older female and she was tame, although thin and hungry. We put her in a five gallon bucket with bedding for the night, complete with oats, barley, sunflower seeds, etc. She devoured everything.
The next day I bought her a proper hamster cage and introduced her to fresh produce from the garden. She loves peas and broccoli, carrots and salad greens. She also likes a bit of cheese and milk. Overall, she's slowly getting acclimated and more social, although she sleeps a lot. I did some research and hamsters can travel up to 3 km a night, so I have no idea where she could be from or how she ended up on my five acres, surrounded as it is by dense, predator-rich forest. Her journey is fairly miraculous.
I have named her Hobbit.