The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Fresh Ham

January 28th, 2015 by Ed Bruske

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We weren’t crazy about the processed ham we got from an earlier pig we purchased from our friend Mike, so this time we decided to skip that part and just take the ham fresh. Wow, are we glad we did. We ordered the hams cut into roasts, and have been cooking them lately with delicious results. Maybe it’s the local, lovingly raised Berkshire pig that’s so unctuous and full of flavor. Whatever–we are sold on fresh ham.

This one was rubbed with North African spices–cumin, cinnamon, garlic–along with some cardamom and of course salt and pepper. After roasting it in a 350-degree oven to an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit, I smothered the roast with a mustard-maple syrup glaze and finished it under the broiler.

I reheated some for breakfast next to a horseradish-cheddar omelet made with our own, fresh eggs. The ham goes extremely well with sweet pickled green tomatoes. I canned these from our garden in D.C. four years ago. They’re still fabulous–better than ever, in fact.

Next time you think to make ham for dinner, think fresh.

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Chickens on Ice

January 21st, 2015 by Ed Bruske

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About the worst thing that can happen in the depths of January is a two-day thaw accompanied by heavy rains. As sure as day follows night, all that lovely snow will be melted away only to turn into a sheet of ice when temperatures return to sub-freezing normal.

With the right gear, I manage to carry on. With metal cleats strapped to the bottom of my boots, I deliver food and water to the animals. With the miracle of studded tires, I can easily get up and down the driveway in the pickup.

I tread carefully over the gleaming surface of the farm, looking for areas of texture in the ice because even metal cleats have difficulty gaining purchase. Believe it or not, the livestock are just as bedeviled as we humans. Cow and sheep slip and slide on their way from paddock to feeding stations. Emily, the pregnant heifer, normally skips and runs when sees her bucket of grain coming. These days she picks her way on tip-toes ever so carefully.

I’ve found a new guilty pleasure watching the chickens emerge from their coop in the morning. Unsuspecting, they take wing toward their feeder, only find no traction when they land. They fall on their butts and slide, scrambling on cartoon legs to get erect again.

With so much winter still ahead of us, there’s no telling how long we’ll be stuck in this position. Just remember these images next time the mercury reads -15 and you find yourself yearning for warmer days: careful what you wish for.

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