Merry Christmas from the Farm

Today we woke up to a white Christmas. It was beautiful. It was exactly what our oldest son had been hoping for, our animals? Not so much.

We had a great morning watching the magic of Christmas unfold for our 3 crazy monkeys (our children), but then had to brave the cold and the snow to go out and take care of the morning animal chores. One thing about this lifestyle is you don’t get a day off just because it’s a holiday. In fact the holidays often add extra responsibilities if you are also taking care of others’ homesteads while they are away for the holidays. Right now our 7 year old is being tasked with caring for our neighbors’ animals in trade for his piano lessons he takes from her.

Chores aside, there are some special things on Christmas that come from this lifestyle. Here are a few we enjoyed this year.

Home made gifts! The favorite gift found under the tree this morning for each of our children was a hand crafted treasure box Dave and I made for each of them in the wood shop.

We have also been enjoying our early Christmas present! We got a new arrival last week with the birth of our first calf. Our Dexter cow, Sequoia gave birth to a beautiful bull. Since he is red the boys have taken to calling him “Mario.”

Lastly we have been enjoying a favorite Christmas treat, Reindeer Jerky! And now we share the recipe with you!

To begin take a nice roast of whatever meat you prefer. This year I used a few elk roasts from last year’s harvest and defrosted them.

Cut the meat into strips approximately a quarter inch thick. Using a mixing bowl or baking pan layer the strips of meat and coat well with salt, pepper and any other seasoning you choose. For us this year we used Lawry’s Season All salt.

When covering each layer with salt it is best to use non iodized salt and shake enough on the meat that you can just begin to see the salt. It is important to get enough salt in the brine to cure the meat, but at the same time don’t add so much that it becomes too salty!

When your layering is complete, cover the container with plastic wrap and allow it to cure in the fridge for 4 or 5 days.

At this point you have two options for drying. You can string up the jerky to air dry for a week or so, or use a dehydrator and leave it to dry for approximately 18 hours.

Growing up we used to string the meat on bailing wire and hang it in the basement. Last year I received a Presto dehydrator for Christmas and we enjoy using it to have jerky without the wait time.

The kids love the “reindeer” jerky! It also makes for a great gag gift for white elephant parties and a great gift for someone who already has everything!

Merry Christmas from the Riggs and all the animals on the farm!

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