Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wind Dancer Ranch

I've been waiting to write this entry because I wanted to give it the time and attention it deserved. I need to get to it, before I forget everything that happened.

A few weeks ago, I went up to Wind Dancer Ranch in Yolo County, to "cut and wrap" my portion of a pig. I split the hog with two other people from the Bay Area Meat CSA. One person took half, the other half was split between me and one other person.

This was such an incredible experience! I feel bad, because I don't have the pictures I wanted. This is my fault - I've got to learn to be better about that. But I didn't get any pictures of the farm itself, despite the fact that the owners, Lisa and Jim, took us on a grand tour.

These two people are amazing - working regular jobs in addition to fixing up and running this old, abandoned farm. We could see how much they've accomplished, and how much they still have to do! But they just jump in work until its done. These are the real heroes of American life.

Wind Dancer has several animals: the pigs, of course, and chickens, turkeys, sheep, rabbits, horses... I had one of their turkeys for Thanksgiving last year, and it was wonderful.

They also have a garden, of course, but don't grow crops to sell. They do grow feed for the animals.

It was a hot day, which made it difficult for the weak city dwellers to concentrate. I brought my 14-year old grandson with me, and he was very impressed. He'd never been exposed to this kind of thing, but he loved it. He even asked if he could come work with them next summer! He couldn't do it this year, because he has a broken arm.

The highlight of the day, was learning to cut the hog. They had already cut it into quarters, so we dealt with the front and hind quarters of our half. We all gathered in Lisa's kitchen, where she has a marvelous wooden table.

She supplied us with cutting boards and knives, and with Jim helping, we proceeded to trim away the rough, pinkish remainder of skin from the fat areas. This was a very thin layer - you can sort of see it along the edge of the fat in this picture.

Jim gave us lots of direction as we sliced, and helped quite a bit with the hard parts. Strength-wise, I'm a wash.

We made sausage with a lot of the meat, using spices we brought from home. Lisa contributed any extras we needed.

This was an incredible experience. Lisa and Jim are working on a real "butchering room" which will have tables, large sinks, commercial refrigerators, and all the huge equipment this job requires. Including, hopefully, a commercial-grade food wrap machine. The little one we used kept stalling, and stretched things out far longer than we'd planned on. But they're talking about having classes for butchering or canning... whole weekends when people can stay in a guest house at the farm and spend time with others who want to learn these important skills. Or who just want to have fun with others while they work!

I had such a great time up there, and I hope I get back. It will take us a while to use all the meat we got. But I do need variety - some lamb, perhaps, or a rabbit or two. Maybe chickens. Another turkey, for sure! But thank you, Jim and Lisa, for all your hard work and help. Good luck to both of you!

No comments: