May 11th to May 17th
One of our efforts to build a food forest is the installation of brambles. In our area, there are a couple of good choices for brambles, primarily Blackberry and Dewberry. At the moment, our brambles are pretty wild. I had originally planted one plant just outside the garden gate, but it didn’t seem to do very well. I later planted a dozen plants in a line around the east side of the garden fence, but this planting was devastated by an opportunistic armadillo (I still adore the little creepy creatures). Only two of the original dozen plants survived and have yet to thrive. That very first plant, however, has been quite a surprise as it seems to have rooted, seeded, and spread its seed in the last two seasons without quite hitting my radar until this year.
We had a very nice tasty harvest from the plant and its offspring this year, but we will be looking to improve our yields with proper pruning and trellising techniques. Brambles may even be a natural answer to deer problems, as we may be able to build living fences to keep the animals away from some of our trees and other plantings. They won’t be 100%, and in times of drought, the deer will make the extra effort, but it could help a great deal. I will need to install a trellising system for them, but in the meantime, I have got a small hillside full of the prickly ‘weed’ and some beautiful fruit to show for it.
We had some serious thunderstorms over the last several days and one of those storms must have scared this poor little guy from his home. We found him when he came sniffing around our front door. As soon as he saw me, he was all about getting some love and comfort. We are not equipped to care for a dog at this stage in development, so I called our local service WAG Animal Rescue. WAG is a wonderful volunteer led non-profit which fosters and finds new homes for lost pets. This fellow was a real sweetheart, and he sat quietly in the back seat of my car as I drove him to our vet, where they checked him out and handed him over to the WAG volunteers.
Unfortunately, although I posted signs in my neighborhood and on social media, and WAG used its resources to try to find the original owner, no one ever came forward to claim this guy. Its not an unhappy ending, however, as the newly named Alaska has already been adopted into a new forever home.
Wild Hog Sausage
It was finally time for us to put Hogzilla to rest. Hogzilla was a wild hog that one of our friends hunted at a ranch in west Texas. This enormous fellow, which we had pleasure of taking a portion of, has brought us many tasty meals. The last bit left in our freezer was about a 30 pound front leg (the whole animal was somewhere over 600 lbs!).
We had a sausage making party with the hunter to turn the hunk of leg into nice prepacked portions. After thawing, the meat was butchered to remove the meat from the leg bones and remove the silver skin. Once we had clean portions of meat, we sent it through our grinder, hand mixed in our chosen seasonings, and stuffed it into natural casings. We made three different styles of sausage, but by far my favorite was the Greek style called Loukaniko. This was a light and delicately flavored sausage featuring fennel and orange zest paired perfectly with a Greek cucumber salad and some hummus.