My chickens, raised in the Victorian way - get out there and free range ladies!
Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn take on the challenge of living and working on period appropriate farms in these two, seems pretty darn real, series. The series are in 10 minute or so sections on youtube to its easy to watch a couple at a time. I watched the Victorian series up until they had Christmas dinner. I'll be finishing up today.
Of course I was very interested in Ruth Goodman's projects centered around cooking, poultry keeping, and house keeping. She has an interesting site here talking about some classes she teaches. Since it hasn't been updated I'm guessing she is working on another series - or sold out and moved to Hollywood. In one of the early episodes Dr Nicola Verdon joins in for some of the housekeeping duties. She has several published works and I'll be checking out some of those also.
They mentioned The book of the farm (published in 1844) by the extraordinary Henry Stephens. I found it online for free here. But I'm probably going to order it from Amazon here in paperbook or wait around until the hardcover is released. The book is an amazing resource for all things old timey - the real McCoy here. I love the tender way he explains overwintering a late season clutch of chicks.
The farm team uses Stephens work as a guide to their work thru the seasons. One of the reasons I like this old timey way of doing things - aside that it works - is that the folks in those days were hard working, thrifty, and resourceful. They couldn't just go on down and get a bag of superduperdeluxe sheep chow and call it a day. They had to figure out and develop their own resources.
They talk about growing and harvesting mangle beets (they called them Mangelwurzels -ha! what a great word!) for their livestock. These highly nutritious, easy to grow beets were over wintered in a big heap on the ground covered deeply with straw. My pal Bourbon Red uses this method for this mangles and turnips - it works! For the price of a sack of mangles from Shumway you can grow a field of beets and have a winter's worth of supplemental feed for your stock. Even on a small scale these kinds of 'grow it yourself' strategies play to our cheap way of doing things here on our farm.
As I was watched a couple things reached out and grabbed me...
Ruth talked about the importance of light and how your day was set by how much daylight was available. Just the other day I was saying this to The Big Man. Its so hard to get a project started when the days ae so short! And when our power was off last winter for several days we quickly discovered why the biggest meal was usually at mid day - so you could see to prepare it!
And watching her go thru a four day clothes washing routine made me extremely grateful for my big old washer. Altho I wondered why the team didn't have "outside" and "inside" clothes like I do here to keep down on laundry. Just so's ya know.. my clothes would have been yellow, not blued, and not ironed. Yikes!
I don't know about you but I'm just not convinced that the turkey cooked with that bottle jack, turney thing....
The whole pig strategy thing was a bit puzzling but maybe it will all come together later one. If they got pigs in winter then they will be ready in summer to butcher... but without refrigeration, how they heck are they gonna chill the carcasses? And I'm sure D over at Spring Hill Farms noted that the pigs were Tamworths! And yep, these are the best bacon pigs we've ever had. While I admire the determination, I don't know if I would have built the stone "hog huts" I think I would have found other accommodations for them.
Chai Chai, Kenleigh, and other sheeple probably cringed with me when the guys were chasing the ewes trying to get the ram separated from the flock. Hey buddies! Stop chasing them sheep like that! And big ol' Fred the Ram kinda put the fear into them boys.. ain't that right?
On a related note I was wondering what those guys were doing without a hard working farm dog... and no barncats to speak of. Maybe they will be featured later.
As I said to Mr, H.. this is my kind of 'reality tv' and is much better than watching a bunch of half naked 20-somethings, shamefully strutting around, being snarky, lazy, and hooking up to win the title of Biggest Realworld Jackass Bachelor Millionaire Housewives.
Happy viewing everyone!