Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Pit Roast

The community up here on the mountain has only a few full-time residents.  But during the Summer months, when the holidays come around, many of the property owners come up to enjoy the outdoors.  To kickoff this year, at the annual Memorial Day get-together here on the mountain, we supplied two of our goats for the fire pit.

 Stirring the coals.

It was nice this year because it was more of a community effort, many pitched in to lend a hand.  It's a bit involved and the more the help the more rewarding it all is!  I don't have pictures yet of the butchering process because I'm usually the one who takes all the pictures, so maybe I'll just spare you the details of dressing and cutting the meat into good sections!  You hunters and private meat producers out there wouldn't see anything you haven't already seen anyway!

Soaking the burlap to wrap around the meat.

Foil-wrapped meat now being wrapped in burlap.

Wire wrapped around meat...

...form a handle...

...and now ready for the pit!

On a side note, John found this rattler on Thursday, and I guess he'll be mounting the skin on a board for his indoor decor.  We rarely see these lighter colored snakes around here.

My son makes his face making his feelings known concerning what he sees...

...but the next moment enthralled by the process!

 Back to the pit, adding prickly pear pads to the top of the coals.  It adds moisture and keeps the burlap wrapped meat directly off the coals.

Time to make the mud!  The meat is in the pit, with the larger pieces at the bottom.

Lining the edges...

...closing it up...

 ...tamping it down...

...more mud to seal around the edges...

...and more mud...

The object is to fill in and seal all edges by making sure no smoke is escaping.  If smoke is allowed to come out, it means it's not air tight, which means the meat could burn up in flames!  Sealing it up creates an oven and if cooked long enough, the meat is soft, juicy and literally falls off the bone!  Yum!  But you don't really know how effective all the effort was until the next morning.

So, until then, all that's left to do is catch up on pictures from the evening so far!

The meat went in last night at around 8pm.  This is what we saw at 10am.

The moment of truth!

It's so tender it's falling off the bone!

After all the meat is out and pulled apart...

...we all gather around the buffet-style table.

A good time was had by all!
Nothing like a community effort in good food preparation and enjoyment.

Hope you all had a safe and enjoyable weekend.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you value your freedom, thank a vet.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This Month in Pictures

Boy, let me just say how busy we all are this Spring!  I was glancing through my photos of the month and it reminds me why I've been away from blogging for what seems like an eternity.  I've been doing the typical Spring rituals of getting things cleaned up and set up, still doing what needs to be done on a daily basis, such as school, meal planning, cooking, watering, extra activities relating to anything including school, etc...

Here's an extra-curricular activity we did at the beginning of the month, model volcanoes!

 You can see the darker spots are where the 'lava' went down from the top of their mountain...

And this one had his dinosaurs out for more exciting effects.

After studying a little about Pompeii, there was no way we weren't going to build model volcanoes!  This was May 4th.

Then, May 7th, the kids and I got to enjoy the local terrain of the Diamond Bar while waiting for hubby to finish up his blade work...

And the kids enjoyed that wonderful swing, the highlight of their day.

 May 10th I fretted about my newly transplanted tomatoes.

The hail came down for a while, and I'm thinking those tomatoes I bought two days prior couldn't be liking this kind of treatment!  But the storm soon ended and all was well with the tomatoes!

I don't know how long the broody hens have been sitting, but they're dedicated!

May 12th, I had to make a second run to Lake Havasu to pick up a customer's batteries for their solar system.  It was approximately 85 miles one way to Havasu.  I took a short cut through the desert which was about 50 miles of dirt road, one way.  I love the stark terrain in the Havasu area.  Shame on me, I know, for taking shots out my window while driving, but it was more point and shoot and hope I got something nice!

I loved this view.  Here I stopped to double check the load of batteries to make sure they were ready for the 50 miles of dirt road.

This is the beginning of our dirt road journey.  See those mountains in the distance?  I had to go over them, down into the Big Sandy valley beyond, and then up the face of the next mountain range, the Aquarius Mountains, where we live.  Pure heaven, because it sure beats highway/interstate traffic!

Halfway along the way I found this view with the Ocotillo blooming in front of this cute mesa.

I just love the desert.
I never thought I'd love it after growing up on the Mohave Desert.  
But, after living in the Seattle, Washington area for four years, I realized my affinity for the dry, sparse landscapes was not only a more healthy place for me and my sinuses, but that it was a deep abiding love.

Another Ocotillo in all its glory!

Then on May 19th, Miracle Worker brought home 6 Guinea Fowl.

One was nearly DOA and didn't make it to the third hour of being home.  Some chicks just don't make it for some reason.  We bought the Guineas for snake protection.  They are legendary at insect/pest control.  But more interestingly, they'll even attack snakes that encroach on their territory.  At the very least, if they don't kill the rattlesnakes, then they can be counted upon to give an obvious warning call.  This side of the mountain has more than its fair share of Mohave Green rattlesnakes.  They have no anti venom serum for Mohave Greens because their venom is a neurotoxin instead of a hemotoxin.  We figure it would be quite helpful having these birds close to the house with our children.

My first-born lost his second front tooth two days ago!  He'll be seven at the end of June!!!  Where does the time go?

A beautiful shot of a prickly pear!

 After constant sitting, one of the hens was out and about yesterday with three of her Ameraucana chicks.

The second broody hen is still sitting.  Nothing can budge her.  I don't know how many more they'll hatch, but it's exciting to wait and find out!

What a busy month!  Every single week day was filled with school, household chores, garden and barn chores, and researching homeschool curriculums.  On top of that, I've been doing my own Bible studies as well.  No wonder I'm tired!  It's the good life!

So this Memorial Day weekend, let's remember those who gave their lives to make our daily lives in freedom possible!

I love my country!

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
Thomas Jefferson

We homesteaders and independent types can relate to these quotes.  I believe it's because we don't take our freedom for granted and we don't expect the government to do what it was never designed to do in the first place, which is playing "daddy" to its citizens.  We'll live our lives in peace by virtue of a properly limited government, while we take responsibility for our failures and our successes, thank you very much!

May God Bless each and every one in their lives, and may God truly Bless this nation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Your Thoughts Please?

Living in the wilderness provides some very interesting living.  It requires creativity, know-how and a willingness to work on anything.  Making a living is very subjective to each and every individual and situation.  But here, we live 60 miles from a mediocre town.  It's the closest one, and it's lucky to have a Wal-Mart (if you call that lucky), a Safeway, several restaurants, and several gas stations.  It's an overgrown truck stop.  Literally.

However, living off-grid by necessity, makes life wonderful, difficult, and different.  To help make our land work for us in more ways than one, our not-so-long-term plan is to have visitors to our place who would spend the night in their own bunkhouse/cottage/cabin/or canvas tent.  These accommodations would uniquely have their own solar power.  Therefore, visitors would get to experience off-grid power (with NO chance whatsoever for cheating by hooking up to the power grid since it's 17 miles away).  Visitors would also get a taste for rural living by enjoying massive amounts of raw, untouched wilderness surrounding my future orchards and gardens.

Here's my question to you.  What, if anything else, would draw people out to a remote sight, 60 miles from the nearest town, 12 miles of highway (after getting off the interstate), 17 miles of pretty well maintained dirt roads, and no fuel unless you go to the nearest gas station, 29 miles away?

I'm imagining things like cowboy cabins, rustic in style, yet plush and cozy inside.  I'm imagining lovely gardens, animals, and the wilderness.  What else can you tell me that would either be essential, or desirable to make such a trek?

We figure keeping it simple and rugged, with a healthy but simple dash of comfort, would complement the fact that we are in one of Arizona's high mountain deserts.  It is rugged, beautiful, quiet, and remote.

Our brainstorming is at an impasse.  I would love to hear what you think people would like to experience, do, or find if they came out.  Would this be an ideal situation where visitors would actually be encouraged to do nearly nothing unless they wanted to help in the garden, or go for a hike, or sit under a shade tree reading a book?

What do you think?

Can't wait to hear your thoughts!!!

Thanks to all you blog-hoppers!  And a special thanks goes to the Dandelion House and Verde Farms for making this more fun than ever!