The August harvest

So, here we are, limping along, almost meeting our goal of getting 20.12% of our calories first-hand in 2012, and Jen, of Milkweed & Teasel, swans in with her tally.

Forty percent. Forty percent! Do you have any idea how hard it is to grow, hunt, or gather forty percent of your caloric needs? But she and her husband, Mike, do it in their spare time, as they work full time to maintain a professional pheasant shoot at an English estate.

Like me, Jen finds that it’s the protein that runs up the score.

With our hunting and livestock, we have a high protein diet; the lambs, hoggets, and eggs combined account for almost half of our total calories. If we were vegetarians, we would have starved to death by April 15th (a great opportunity to skip out on paying our taxes but a fairly final solution).

And she doesn’t even fish!

I’ll admit that I had to look up ‘hogget,’ and found that no, it isn’t a young hog. It’s a young sheep. Called a ‘hogget,’ presumably, to make the non-farmer look like an idiot when she assumes it’s a young hog.

I’m going to add an aside here. I know a lot of you read Jen, and I’m going to encourage those of you who don’t, yet, to go over to M&T and see what she’s up to. She does lots of interesting things we don’t do — she raises sheep, she trains dogs, she shoots deer, and she and Mike hatch a bazillion pheasants — and she writes about all of it with charm and good humor. She also has actual, genuine skills, and is in search of more of them. If you like me (and I’m very glad some of you do), it’s hard to imagine you won’t like Jen.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled post.

This month is like every other in that seafood and eggs are the primary contributors to our tally, such as it is.

30 lbs. bluefish filets @550 = 16,500
1 sea bass, about 1.5 pounds filets = 600
10 dozen eggs @ 800 = 8000
4 c. chopped clams @200 = 800
250 oysters @10 = 2500
4 cups black trumpet mushrooms = 80
30 pounds tomatoes @80 = 2400
10 pounds eggplant @100 = 1000
20 very large slicing cucumbers @50 = 1000
20 smaller pickling cucumbers @20 = 400
herbs, a few cherry peppers, and 7 wild blueberries = 100

That’s a total of 33,380, which reaches our goal (30,000 per month) with ten percent to spare.

We’re still just a little behind on the year, but we’ve got four fruitful months left, and we hope to make it up.

The black trumpets, although they didn’t contribute many calories, were the highlight of the month.

12 people are having a conversation about “The August harvest

  1. “If we were vegetarians, we would have starved to death by April 15th.” Can you explain what Jen meant by this? Is it literal?

    Also, are you keeping track of the time expended per calorie? When you use your boat to go fishing, do you keep track of the fuel expended? Thanks.

    • Daniel, it isn’t literal. She’s just saying they don’t grow nearly enough vegetables to sustain them.

      And, no, we’re not keeping track of time, or any other kind of expense. We know this is not an efficient or cheap way to produce food. We do it because we find it interesting and satisfying. Also, sometimes, fun. If we ever added up all the money we spend on gardening supplies, boating equipment, and hunting gear, I’m sure we’d give it all up and move back to Manhattan.

    • OMG….Kevin taught me how to actually shuck an oyster at the party last night – how easy… with his method. Did it today on the dozen he sent us home with – THANK YOU! My husband says I now have a new job at dinner parties – fine by me. Also, the viniagrette type sauce you made was out of this world with the Oysters – realy brought the taste of the oyster out, instead of hiding it with the cocktail type sauce usually served with oysters. You should write about the correct/easy way to shuck an oyster – with pics or video, cause seeing him do it was the key for me. Also, put out your recipe for the viniagrette – Loved it……You realy are an inspiration – You go girl!

  2. Well, gosh…I know who I’m going to hire to do my marketing and promotion in future.

    I can’t wait to see what your totals look like when the pork investment comes due. At what weight will you send them for butchering?

    The reasons we eat hogget instead of lamb are 1) they get to live longer, and we recoup more meat (and some fat too) from primarily mom’s milk and grass, which are cheap feed sources 2) the taste is more developed than lamb but not as strong as mutton, and 3) I’m so disorganised and hate sending them to ice camp so I procrastinate until they become unruly teenagers – then I remember to book them in.

    • Jen, they should be about 220-250 at slaughter, so that should give our tally a significant boost. I haven’t worked out how many calories there are in a pig, but it’s a lot.

      As for the hoggets, I’d love to be able to get them here. I like the lambiness of lamb, and I suspect I might prefer the more developed taste.

      As for PR, I figure it’s the people who discover you I’m doing the favor for.

  3. Margaret Vaughn says:

    In one of my favorite films, “Babe”, the farmer is named “Mr. Hoggett”! I never got the humor until today. Thx, Tamar.

  4. Tamar, I am surprised you do not add boletus to your August tally.

    They are literally everywhere after the rain you do not even have to drive to Truro. We found that almost every meal we go to that jar of fried mushrooms to garnish potatoes or pasta. Sometimes I even sneak a spoon when I open the fridge just because.

    Cape Cod is one of the best places for king and other boletus like slippery jacks.

    Also, I would like to say that I am a long time reader of your and Jen’s blogs. It is a window into my fantasy world 🙂
    Unfortunately, back to the city in two days, back to the real world 🙁

  5. Accidental Mick says:

    Hi Tamar,
    When you posted about estimating pig weight Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain farm mentioned in an aside that he, who grew the pigs, always estimated the weight “on the hoof” whilst his wife, who organised the pigs final destiny, always thought in terms of “hanging weight”. He also suggested an approximate ratio between the two.

    I, being pig-ignorant (sorry), had never even thought about this and am now reading up on it even though I have no practical need for the learning: I am just incurably nosy.

    So, which weight are you thinking of?

    • We’re thinking of on the hoof. Right now, it’s the only kind of weight we have any experience with, and the guideline of 240 pounds, give or take, is for live weight.

      We’re only marginally less pignorant than you, and we have pigs in our backyard!

  6. Cutty, I do find boletes, but not many of the good ones. Most of the ones I find (painted suillus are plentiful around here) are slimy or bitter. When I found the black trumpets, I also found a ton of Old Man of the Wood, which are just not worth it. I have yet to find a king — but if you have a secret spot you want to pass along to me …

    • Tamar, we manage to find king even on the school field near townhall in South YArmouth.

      We picked a lot of slippery jacks near the golf course in Dennis for several years. Lat year there were non, this year we found 4 all of them wormy. We are going to check on them later in September when we will be back for a long weekend.

      But the best area is always a NAtional Seashore. You are allowed up to 5 gallons per person which is plenty. We picked kings and others from the same family near Marcony area, around the pond near the tourist center (more two-colored there then others), other side like Griffins Island ( right around the parking lot and picnic area)…

      We never went all the way to Provincetown where the best places are ( according to the russian speaking community). This year is not as good as 3 years ago for the mushrooms but much better then last year. Last year we picked enough just to eat. This year we already have a stash of fried and frozen for the winter and we have a September and October the best months ahead.

      Also I wanted to mention that the right way to pick is to cut mushroom just above the ground, not to pull because it is believed by generations that it could destroy the colony. Somehow when I look at american photos of mushroom hunting the mushroom is always pulled with bottom still attached which make me cringe.

      I do not know if it is supported by science but we continue to practice the safe way of picking as we were taught when we were kids.

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