Saturday, May 26, 2012

This will out my location some, but what the hell.

Looks like we may be in for a bit of fun. I doubt anything will come of Subtropical storm Beryl where I live other than a bit of wind and some rain but I’m using it as a practice run for the kids. (I can hope that it takes out the butt-ugly leyland cypress my husband won’t let me cut down though, right?) We’re filling our (extra) water reservoirs, cooking entirely from the preps, going through and making sure the BOB’s are in order and packing them in the car, getting out the non-electric entertainment and baking bread since the storm is sucking up all the humidity that normally screws it up in the summer. I am not turning off the electricity because I’m not willing to go without ac if it’s available, I’ve been canning all day and the house would be miserable if it was shut off. If the husband was home he would probably insist on it so we can’t cheat and turn on the tv or computer, but he’s on nights this week and besides, he wouldn’t be here during an emergency anyway. During any sort of “event” he has to go in to work and lock down the facility as his privately owned company has an on-site power plant that provides juice for the power grid, among other places. They’re usually there for 36 hours for small hurricanes. Yup, that means I get to run the show in case of emergency. He keeps talking like the hurricane plan is for the kids and I to bug out and head for family 400 miles away. I keep telling him the house is inland so it won’t be caught in a storm surge, it was built with hurricane straps that have held the roof on through 4 hurricanes, including one Cat 4, it has hurricane glass and shutters on the windows and it’s safer for us to stay home playing yahtzee and canning everything in the freezer than trapped in the car being detoured all over creation. If it were a Cape Verde-type hurricane I’d probably be more interested in leaving but Beryl will have to eat everyone’s Wheaties to make it to a cat 1 before it falls apart.

*edited to add* I was feeling more than a bit housebound tonight so I hopped in the car, grabbed a bag of grease and headed on over to my husband's place of work. I called him and he met me in one of their yards. I explained to him that I wouldn't be comfortable leaving and why, he explained to me that he wouldn't be able to concentrate on his job if he didn't know we were safe. We struck a deal that involves the origins of the hurricane, the direction it has to travel to get to us, and the category level when it's approaching, and then made out for a while to seal the deal. Oh don't look at me like that, it's not like you haven't snuck away for a little private lip time. And if you haven't, for heavens sake go find someone and try it, I'm pretty sure you'll like it.


Last night the dogs and I sat on my porch while watching the older set in our ex-retirement bungalow neighborhood gather for their weekly tipple, I mean card game. Hag survived his surgery, and has put on 14 ounces since, so hopefully he’ll be better than ever, but it wasn’t a cheap experience and he still has a way to go before the vet will be satisfied that he’ll be fine. He’s positive that he’s fine and is not pleased with his enforced inactivity or his carefully metered smooshy bland diet and is being an ungrateful pain in the ass. I mostly ignored it. I’m worried about money, about Hag, about what else can go wrong, so I’m going to talk about something else.

Miss E is our across the street neighbor. I like Miss E. The card game was on her porch last night and the rule is if you’re visiting you bring a bottle to share. The other oldsters gathered, bringing their bottles tucked inside of purses and bags. When it’s Miss E’s turn to buy she sails down the street with her bottle of Tanqueray tucked into the crook of her arm, no apologies and no embarrassment. I like that.

A widow, Miss E has gentlemen callers too. The first few weeks we lived here the other residents would drop by and wrangle the conversation around to the who’s, when’s and how longs of her visitors. I told them that Miss E was probably the person to ask about that, I had two toddlers and too much on my plate to pay attention to her comings and goings. She started cutting us flowers for our table not too long after that. We had problems with one of the neighbors over our impossible to mow by hand drainage ditch, so Miss E started having her lawn guy hit our ditch with his big tractor mower when the natives get pissy, and jars of homemade pickles began appearing in her mailbox. We aren’t the bbq with the neighbors type but we get along.

Miss E was the head lunch lady for our school district for four decades, she’s been retired for about ten years now and she still has the ability to command instant respect, even from across the street. Last week my teenager was outside grudgingly cutting down some bushes that were encroaching upon my blueberries and Miss E stepped out, looked around, saw him and called “Tim, you come over here and do something for me.” He put down the saw, said “yes ma’am” and went to fuss with her smoke alarm battery for her. He came back and had the rest of those shrubs cleaned out in no time, then crossed back over for a sandwich and sweet tea on her front porch. I chuckled. By the time he came home he had changed some light bulbs, fixed the string on her attic stairs, changed the heat pump filter, and hefted some furniture for her vacuum. He came home with a big grin, a quarter for his change jar, and a pocket full of cookies. Silly Eggplant.

I have just been instructed that she would appreciate some cuttings from the oak leaf hydrangea bushes behind my house (the ones I’ve been trying to kill for years) and that she’s looking forward to the watermelon pickles I have simmering on my stove. I’d better get a move on since I like quarters and cookies too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hag’s sick.

He had emergency surgery today to resolve an intussusception. Basically his intestines telescoped inside of each other and then tried to exit. I’ll tell you about how much fun that was later. They were able to put things back where they are supposed to be but he’s not quite out of the woods yet. I’d appreciate prayers, thoughts, positive energy, whatever your belief system supports, sent his way. Thank you.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Got Pork?

I don’t know how to alter the template to make a cut and this post may bother some of the more tender hearted animal lovers, so I’m going to warn you now. You may prefer to skip my post today and go here instead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you and don’t complain if you didn’t listen. Thanks.

40 pounds of free pork?

Yes, Please!
Okay, it’s a young wild hog, but still, free! And mighty tasty, the bitty ones usually are.
I have divested him of his unnecessary inner bits and am taking a break while my teenager gives him a rinse. For some reason my dealer hunter friend always manages to catch them right across the diaphragm. *shrug* What we can’t eat the dogs will so none of the meat will go to waste, although this guy is small enough I’m thinking about splitting him and putting him on the grill.
Some tips if you get a wild hare (or hog, whichever) and decide to butcher it at home. I’m by no means an expert, but these are things that helped me, or stuff I wish I’d known from the start.
Boar hogs much over 100 pounds just aren’t worth it in my opinion. They’re not too tough but they stink to high heaven and it permeates everything. Sows don’t stink and I’ve butchered them up to 220 pounds with good results, but if the sow was in heat when she was shot she’ll likely reek like boar. Still very usable, just scrub her down well before you handle her.
Sharpen your knives. Keep sharpening your knives. No, really, sharpen them some more.
Keep paper towel at hand even if you’re working outside. Gloves are a good thing, and if you have an apron that’s a good thing too. I don’t, I have crappy clothes that I save for messy stuff.
The innards are good for your dogs. We have parasites where I live, tape worm is one that springs to mind, so I don’t feed them to my dogs. I suppose if you washed them out or cooked them they’d be fine but I’m not interested in doing that. Other bits are fine though, the liver and heart are already digesting, and my pups think esophagus is a crunchy treat. Also, make sure the pets have anti-tick medication on them.
Unless you are a) familiar with scalding and scraping and b) have a proper set up to do so, skin the hog. It’s much easier. Remember, after the initial nicks to get started, stick the knife in under the skin and cut the skin from the hog side out or your meat will be covered with prickly little cut hairs. They’re almost impossible to completely wash off, and cutting the hair will dull your knives faster. You really want sharp knives. *edited to add* don't pull the skin off the hog. They don't let loose like deer and rabbits do, and their hair goes through most of their skin so it's possible that you'll pull the skin off and leave the hair attached to the tissue. My husband found this out the hard way, and then had fun using pliers to pull the hairs off. Also, cut closer to the meat than to the skin, those same pesky hairs that will pull through can also be cut though, then you'll have prickles all over and pretty much nothing to grab on to to get rid of them.
While tanning the skin sounds like a really cool and fun project, it’s not. Hog skin is loaded with fat so it’s difficult to flesh properly and it’s super thick and becomes difficult to handle as it attains room temperature. You can try it, and you may be able to do it, but I haven’t managed it and I’m no longer interested in trying. Save your fun for deer, rabbit, and other furry critters.
Don’t squeeze the urethra on a boar while you’re cutting around it. Just trust me on this one.
If you have a boar, soak the meat in milk for 24 hours, and then marinate for another 24. I tend to do the milk bath and marinating before I freeze the hog. I have frozen some that I soaked and will have to marinate when it’s thawed, but I haven’t gotten into that batch yet. I just marinate sows.
Hog skulls are interesting, so I do suggest that you bury one in the yard for a few months to let the bugs clean it for you. I prefer to let it go for almost a full year because I’m really not interested in the process, just the clean skull. I also suggest laying a stretch of fencing or something dog proof over top of it, even if you don’t have dogs.
Butchering game is, in a nut shell, gross. The animals aren’t clean like pets are, they’re not even clean like farm animals. They’re covered in ticks, lice, eggs, poo, blood, and yuck. But, you can do this. I dislike the squishy part, but once the insides are out and the outsides are off it’s not much different than dealing with meat from the grocery store.
Back to the grind stone. Seriously, sharpen your knives.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Yesterday the monster girl and I went to a gathering at the range in our local national park. It’s a nice range in a lovely area, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. She took her little pink .22 and I took my 1911, LC9, my husband’s ar-410 and my mosin. I had hoped to bring our pre-ban Calico m100 carbine, but it’s still in the shop having a feed ramp smoothed into the top of the chamber to hopefully resolve some minor feed issues. It’s a hundred rounds of happiness right in your hands.

My teenager packed the ammo for us, but unfortunately he’s had issues and managed to pack the wrong ammo for the .410 (it needs the shells designed for the pistols otherwise the shells won’t fit in the magazine, he sent the stuff for my youngest child’s break action that’ll eat anything) and he packed up the frangible rounds for the .45 acp rather than the ball ammo, so there wasn’t any firing of those weapons. That left me with the LC9 and the mosin, unfortunately I had issues and forgot the LC9 in the car and didn’t feel like fetching it. So I shot other people’s guns and shouldered my mosin for the first time. It was a lot of fun, although today my body is protesting.

My mosin is a 1930 hex receiver with all matching parts, I’m told it was made in Tula, and that it’s an ex-dragoon. I don’t really know much about that. Some of the people interested in mosins liked it and it had a good run there among the guys because “it’s so smooth and hardly kicks.” Hardly kicks, my rosy red behind! If they thought that was easy I should have brought the Garand, they’d have had a field day. I didn’t though, because right now I only have hunting rounds in 30-06 and I don’t want to risk the op rod. I need to get off my duff and load some to milspec. Or buy some.

I did have a problem with the mosin, at first I couldn’t figure out where the rounds were going. I usually use the dust clouds off of the berm to know if I am too high, left etc but I couldn’t get it dialed in with the mosin. It took asking the guy next to me if he’d scope for me and his telling me “they’re all going into the black” before I figured out why the dust clouds were looking weird. I’d heard that mosins are accurate, but that was embarrassing. I suppose an 82 year old rifle knows how to plug a target, even if it’s operator doesn’t. As for grouping, I have no idea. He didn’t say and the target was gone by the time the range went cold an hour or two later.

I fired mostly from a sitting or standing position, I think if I can figure out some recoil protection or maybe fire from a prone position that it’ll make a fine hunting rifle for me when I get a license and half a clue what I’m doing out there. A friend supplied us with four deer and two hogs last year, and has already started in on the hog resupply for this year. Judging by the animals his network provided I’d say it’s powerful enough for the hogs, and it’s more than enough fire power for the large white-tailed dogs deer they grow here. Seriously, the first doe we got, I was turning her over looking for her spots. The internet told me that her teeth put her in the 4 year range but she weighed less than 90 pounds on the hoof. Where I grew up it wasn’t uncommon to see does weighing twice that. We got three deer later, two of them were in the 100-110 pound range, but the third was a yearling and she was only 40 pounds!

My daughter had a great time. Besides running half a brick through her single shot cricket she got to fire a little tip up Beretta pistol, an old cowboy style revolver that you had to load by opening a door on the side, a 10/22 with an awesome scope on it, a boxy little 10 round semi-automatic pistol that looked a bit like a cross between a mini-uzi and a HiPoint that I can’t remember anything else about, a Kel-Tec PMR30, and she said good-bye to a gun she fell in love with at the first gathering she attended, an ATI GSG 5-22 with a red dot scope. Fortunately it was traded to another person in our group so there’s a good chance she’ll get to fire it again once the new-gun smell wears off. Then we had lunch, the best hot dogs ever, baked beans, chili, chips, I brought coconut cupcakes and my daughter brought chocolate chip cookies, the very first batch she’d ever made, and I looked the other way when the boss chef snuck her a second soda. One is a rare treat, two is practically unheard of.

After lunch I had a rest in the shade while she watched the other shooters with a trusted friend of mine. There were several full auto’s there and she was disappointed that she couldn’t fire them, but she was the first to admit she’s not ready. We were both a little disappointed that one of our members couldn’t make it down with his antique full auto chromed tommy gun. And here I will admit that we both decided we weren’t going to examine too closely which one we missed more, our friend or his blingy tommy gun. I consoled myself by firing another friends collection of kimbers, from the tiny solo all the way up to his pride and joy limited edition from the custom shop. He keeps telling me he’s taking that one to the grave with him, I keep telling him don’t get too comfy cause I’m following it with a shovel.

When most everyone had cleared out we took the broom and swept up the brass and took it home. We scored an absolute boat load of 9mm, .223, 5.56, a couple of handfuls of .40 s&w and .45 acp, some boxer primed British .303 that the hubby was thrilled to get, some 7.62x25mm tokarev that is neat to look at, 9x17mm and .380 auto (aren’t they the same?), 9x18mm makarov, some yet to be identified rifle casings and a lone 10mm casing. It’s always interesting to see what oddball brass you pick up at a range like that. I dutifully picked up all my 7.62x54, but it was all berdan primed. I think I’ll make a pretty red wind chime out of it, although I may have to go shoot a couple more boxes to have enough raw materials at hand. Ouch.

All in all it was a great way to spend the day with my girl, and I’m looking forward to the next one in a few months. Hopefully by then I’ll have recovered from the lung crap and the sinus infection from Hell that started it all so I won’t get knocked on my keister and can attend the private swap meet after words instead of going home and crawling into bed. It was great to see that we managed to increase the female attendance rate, I think renting a port-o-let helped with that a lot. Ours was purple. Take note guys, girls are more likely to spend the day out shooting in the middle of the woods if they have facilities at hand, cold drinks in the cooler and the opportunity to eat.