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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: Natural

We dine on a wide variety of foods in our household. As the focus of the main course, tofu makes an appearance on our table often, along with lots of veggies and fruit. Yet, we do enjoy and eat meat.

The current set of livestock on our farmette produces dairy items only. So, where do we get our meat? Mostly we get it from a grocery store, just like most people in the United States do. But, last year, a friend was happy to deer hunt on our land in exchange for 1/2 the venison acquired.

You can use venison just like any other meat. This piece has been cleaned and then soaked in salt and lemon juice.

You can use venison just like any other meat. This piece has been cleaned – then soaked in salt and lemon juice (our version of brine solution).

Wild grown meat tastes much better than that produced by factory farming. If cooked in a short and sweet manner, it is also melt-in-your-mouth tender. Our new experience with venison was like being taken to the Dark Side in Star Wars. Fresh deer meat has the potential of creating a Neanderthal out of a Vegetarian.

Filling up the freezer with clean, natural meat was enough to activate the somewhat dormant hunting instinct in me. I have felt it when fishing – quietly sitting and imagining a potential seafood meal. But pulling an animal up on a string to die out of water and using a gun to kill one are quite different. I thought about it for a while.

One year later, I am on my way out to the woods for my first try at the sport of hunting.


I look like a terrorist. Yikes! Hopefully the deer won’t see me and be scared out of our county. PS: Don’t try this at home – without a hunter education class. It is required here in North Carolina and hopefully everywhere else.

While attending a class, it became clear to me why you can’t purchase a hunting license without having had the safety class. Hunting was a much more dangerous sport before this requirement. The accident stories are more than enough to keep me honest (following the rules).

The classes are designed to produce a responsible, knowledgeable and involved hunter. There are not only safety, but ethical guidelines to follow too – from not offending the anti-hunting advocates to conserving wildlife for future generations.

FYI: Many conservation efforts are financed by a special hunting gear tax. This, along with hunting limits, has brought back wild turkey in North Carolina, along with many species of wildlife across the country. 

Class also = Free Cool Patch

Class also = Free Patch = Super Cool

Although some are super-focused with their eye on the trophy prize, most hunters enjoy feeding themselves and their family with a successful kill. Both are accepted as long as species are not depleted and meat not wasted (many food banks have hunter/processor donors).

I cannot deny that it would be exciting to get a giant set of antlers as an added bonus. But, for me, it is a good way to live off the land without eating the livestock (I often think of them as pets).

If I actually bag a deer, I’ll be bringing home the bacon. And you’ll be the first to know when I am successful (well, maybe second)!

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If you happen to be a vegetarian and are so as to save animals from death by grocery stores and hunters, you may want to stop here. Some people stay away from meat for health reasons. I was a vegetarian for a while as a young adult for both. But, the human animal is omnivorous. At this point in my life, I choose to go with what nature intended for us rather than fight this tendency towards meat eating.

Having said all this, the subject of this blog is deer hunting. A few years back when we still lived in DE, I was at a car wash watching the vehicles move along the conveyor along with 3 men in the waiting room. Two were hunters all dressed in camouflage and one was uncomfortable with the idea of hunting down and killing a deer. He admitted that he did eat beef – obviously from cows. There was some discussion about how ranches raise and butcher them. One of the hunters said “At least they have a chance” (referring to the deer he hunts). This changed my perspective. If you are going to eat meat, it makes sense to have an animal live its life free and not even know what hit them when they are taken for their meat.

So far, my husband and I do not hunt (although we do love fishing and crabbing) and use our livestock for dairy products. But, we have a stretch of woods on our property and offered a friend hunting privileges. Our very experienced, hunter friend is not one that would shoot anything that moved. He spent a day in a tree stand out back watching does and young ones wander by before taking a buck not long before sun down. It was gutted of all organs in the woods, leaving a feast for raccoons, possums, etc.

Jim T. and his buck

I did not choose this pic to be gruesome, but to show what excellent aim Jim has. His estimate is 6 seconds to death when a deer is hit in the heart and lung area. There is no long-term suffering or waiting in line to die. And they get to live free instead of being crowded into pens with nothing to do but eat and sleep.

Our pony helped drag the carcass out of the woods. This only lasted about half way since the rope came loose and the pony bolted ahead on the trail to the yummy grass in the back yard. Jim dragged it the rest of the way and left it hanging to cool.

It didn’t seem like a deer to me anymore. There was no movement at all and its spirit was gone. It was now similar to a fish getting ready for the frying pan. I was unexpectedly calm and curious.

Dead Buck & Live Goats

Our pygmy goats were curious too. Our goats are not a meat breed. There are quite a few people that raise goats to eat. The most popular for meat is a Boer goat. They are really large and yield more than a deer. I don’t think that we will raise them to kill, at least anytime soon, since our livestock animals quickly become pets. 

8 point antlers

Jim removed the horns with two 45 degree saw cuts. My son Dorian and I watched on in amazement and listened to the explanations and stories of the hunting/butchering process. The tools were a knife, a saw, plastic bags and a tarp. We got to see the brain and all the choice cuts of meat. Dorian got the tail to salt and dry. Jim generously brought the antlers back for our him, along with packs of meat for our family. 

Tail - from the white tailed male deer

You honestly can’t beat deer venison in flavor and freshness. I was quickly altered to a new level of carnivorous satisfaction. My husband and I just looked at eat other wide-eyed when we tasted grilled back strap meat, and even wider with the tenderloin skewers. Our response to having Jim hunt out back – ANYTIME (It is still hunting season)!

Frozen venison roast

The leftovers of the deer were dragged back to the woods. This time it was a feast for coyotes, foxes and vultures… Nothing gets wasted. Apparently even mice get nutrition from the remains of the hunt, particularly calcium from the bones.

Hopefully, Jim will get more deer in his hunts. A big doe would be good, since the ratio of males to females is far outweighed by the girls.

To our vegetarian friends – we greatly respect your choices. We hope that you are able to accept ours.

Also, many thanx to Jim T. for everything!

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Every time I decide to buy a hive and bees, I hesitate. There is never enough money for even the top priorities on our project list. So, as usual, that project gets pushed down the list. Sometimes, out of the blue, I get the urge to resurrect a project and search until I find a way to get it done – very low cost or nearly free. For every project that needs to get done, I also have to overcome nerve pain from my damaged neck. So, contrary to my normal way of approaching building, I am not only looking for CHEAP, but EASY.

Here is the magically, wonderful reference site that I was thrilled enough with to share ASAP; Easy Beekeeping (re-titled). I really began to focus on the article at the “So what are top bar hives?” paragraph. And I was ecstatic about “So where do you get bees from?” You can buy them or catch them, or if you are lucky, they will adopt you! And for those faint of heart (so far, bee stings just make me cuss) “Will I get stung?”.

I had to get used to the lengths of wood concept of building when we started the mini farm. Before that , plywood seemed the solution for everything. But building in pieces gives you a lot more flexibility and usually, better and/or reclaimed wood choices.



The best part of the Barefoot (Easy) Beekeeping site is the FREE, downloadable PDF file for How To Build A Top Bar Hive. The only part that I found confusing was the section on Top Bars. Just so you know, Top Bars are just long pieces of wood (17” x 1 3/8” x ¾”). They are very important since this is where the bees make their honey.

The pictures shown in the PDF are diagrammed as if you looking at them from the end (1 3/8” x ¾”). I’d like to try the author’s favorite, half-round section. This involves adding rather than subtracting – which I would prefer too. We just bought quarter round molding for floor trimming in our son’s room. I wonder if they have half circle somewhere at the supply store? Or maybe I can figure out how to split a dowel down the middle…

The DIY store sells half round molding. It is almost $5 for 1 long piece, so I bought two – enough to make nearly half of the top bars this way. The rest will be concave strips filled with bees wax. The approximately 1″ x 2″ by 8′ pine boards were found in the construction section for less than $1 each which makes quite a few top bars for not a lot of money.

top bars - with half round to be attached

Honey bees will just start building their hexagon-structured, Frisbee-shaped combs hanging from the strips of wood, but the shapes act as a guide. When coated with bees wax, these “top bars” will attract the bees and train them.

And the rest of the hive goes on. It reminds me of a coffin. I figure if someone asks me what it is, that is what I will tell them…

coming together

and so on

Legs and the roof (which does not have a bottom since it merely rests on the hive legs) were equally big parts of the project, after mesh was put in the bottom of the main compartment. I splurged on the roofing material for $20, but there is more than half leftover. There is ventilation on the far side of the roof made with some of the mesh material from the bottom of the main section. And let’s not forget the separators (for the long 3 section version at 48″) and the “top bars” themselves…

made mine hit or miss - this is likely a better way to make a separator - stolen pic #1

stolen pic #2 - main section with two separators

And then there was painting, the fun part in comparison to the gathering of supplies and building.

final - with bee decoration

in the landscape with a newly planted flower under the end

The pony water trough is on the other side of those weeds in the gully. A water source and bright sunlight are essential parts of bee hive placement.

Now, we’ll see what happens…

PS: Please refer to that free pdf and barefoot beekeeper site. This guy did a great job.

And don’t forget the 1″ diameter holes drilled for the bees to enter the hive sections!

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Attempting to be “One with the Horse” has always made a lot of sense. The “Big Man” Dakota is the horse that truly inspired me to give Natural Horsemanship a try.

In 2008, I purchased my first horse. She was a big beautiful sorrel quarter horse with a lovely band of white down the front of her face. This horse was also hot under the saddle. I am an advanced rider and was happy to take on the challenge of a speedy mare.

But, there is a big different between an advanced rider and an experienced owner. I did not realize that our starter Farmette was not the place for a horse with a cribbing issue. I was told that she was a cribber when I bought her, but I had no idea what an obsessive drug-addiction-like habit it was. A horse that cribs heavily needs an extra large pasture, constant workouts and careful feed management.

Also, this horse was hard to hold back. As my neck problem reached a point where my arms lost some power, our short partnership as a riding team came to an end. As much as I hated to pass her on to another owner, she needed more than we could give her. My first horse went to live on 30 acres of pasture with an able rider.

So, my horse energy now focused on our blind boy, Big Man (originally adopted to keep my riding horse company). He needed a lot of work just to get him calmed down. For several months, it actually took two people to handle him safely.

At the beginning of this year, 2010, I took my first ride on Big Man. As our bond became stronger, I realized just how gentle of a personality he really had. The jumpiness was purely fear from the blindness and nothing more.

He is so easy going when you get on him, that a big saddle with a strong bridle seemed like overkill. I tried him out bareback and realized that worked well. We sold off the heavy duty Western Saddle set and bought a well-made bareback saddle. This gives you a handle if need be and stirrups for better balance.

"Big Man" wearing a bareback saddle

He is less than fond of a bridle and bit, so I started with a jointed snaffle bit. This is easier on a horses mouth. Big Man still protested almost every time I put it on, so alternatives were looked into. I have a bitless bridle in mind, but have not gotten it yet. So, this week’s ride was with a field halter and reins.

I was surprised at how well you can control a good-natured horse without all the complicated equipment. You do have to be able to trust the horse and vise versa. This much I know now. As I gather more information and try new techniques, I will add supplementary blogs on this subject.

Big Man is learning leg, balance and voice commands very quickly. If the only thing we ever do is meander around the Farmette, I’ll be happy. But, I expect him to improve a lot with time. And, only time will tell how far we can get with our natural horseback riding partnership.

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The only thing that we have canned so far is a unique Italian Red Pasta Sauce. We are hoping to get enough tomatoes from the garden this Summer to make some from scratch.

My husband always says that he married me for my sauce. There is a reason why there are very few people that he could have wooed in order to have this particular aroma of Italy fill the house with rich, spicy goodness.

First, they would have to be Italian. Second, they would have to be from the region of Calabria (unluckily, this inherently makes you stubborn). Third, you would need to be from the town of Mida. And lastly, your last name would be Melograna.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no Melogranas left in Italy. I think they are all in Argentina and the United States.

Poverty was wide spread in Italy in the early 1900’s and America offered unskilled labor jobs. Although my Grandfather was a Tailor and Musician, when he immigrated, his papers said Peasant. Despite this, he was able to work in his skilled trades. His family survived meagerly, but together, until the Stock Market crashed and his wife was taken by the Flu Epidemic.

My father was born in 1923 to this family that became a group of 11 total. His mother died when he was 8 years old. He was placed in an orphanage during the Great Depression. I inherited the rare name, Melograna, a family meatball recipe and a heritage sauce recipe.

Making the red sauce is a refined art that takes years to master. I will give you the ingredients and let you experiment. You can create you own special version of a homemade Old World pasta sauce.

Italian Red Pasta Sauce

Basic Recipe – Old World Red Pasta Sauce:

• Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes (use a blender to mash)
• Canned Tomato Sauce
• Canned Tomato Paste (made from Roma/Plum tomatoes)
• Olive Oil
• Garlic
• Oregano
• Basil
• Crushed Red Pepper

I discovered, by pure laziness, that this recipe worked well in a crock pot. Instead of the whole peeled tomatoes, we use crushed and diced cans of tomatoes. Normally, you fry the tomato paste in olive oil before adding it to the big sauce pan on the stove. But, after filling the crock pot up with the tomato medley, I float the olive oil on top along with the spices. It all cooks for at least half a day before getting stirred together.

This version works well. The color gets dark and the house smells edible for a few days. It is nothing like any of the sugar-laced grocery store sauces. You must like thick, heavy pasta sauce to enjoy this. If so, please give it a try. And if you are single and would like to attract a fellow sauce lover, just crack the window.

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I have two vertebrae smashed together in my neck. This has debilitated me quite a bit this past year. A wonderful chiropractic/physical therapy combination office has allowed me to bypass surgery and avoid pain pills. Having finally found the right direction to go in order to address this issue, I can function enough to do some of the activities that I really enjoy. Gardening is one of the great loves of my life.

After deciding to move the garden, we only had digging to look forward to and therefore procrastinated. This is positively not the fun part. We finally set up to start working this past weekend and the weather decided to mimic a sauna.

So, the area was staged and a sprinkler set up to soften that area. Then it rained the next day. Yesterday, I tested the waters (thick red clay soil) and was absolutely amazed at how easy it was to dig when moist.

Starting the Garden

The surge of my home office graphics work is over for now, so I’ll take advantage of this morning and work outside. The tiller gets too clogged if you try to start with that, so digging and de-weeding is the first thing to do.

This was not the best idea. I am still making a mental list of the parts to my favorite activities I must ban. One third of the garden is dug and now void of plant life, but the digging part is too much for my neck. I must have my husband do that part before I de-weed.

1/3 long garden turned

Lettuce, spinach and other cool weather vegetables (Spring crop) will have to be skipped, but there is plenty of growing time left. Our summer choices for the garden will be covered in our next blog.

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A quick note ending the normal work week (our work continues over the weekend). Posts resume on Monday.

Manure is great natural fertilizer for your garden. This is good news to us, since when we have enough for our own garden, a craigslist follower gets free growth enhancement and we get free farm help. Nothing like a “Free”  Farm and Garden Ad to clear out the pasture. BYOPF – Bring your own pitch fork!

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