Secluded  Wood  Alpacas

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Welcome to Secluded Wood Alpacas blog.

This part of our website is a chronicle of setting up and running our new alpaca farm in Sooke, BC.    We started with a house on 4 acres of forested land and needed to end up with a property suitable for raising alpacas and assorted other critters.

This is our journey.


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Kenya, 2014

Posted on October 26, 2014 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Our Adventure to Kenya and South Africa was AMAZING !

 

O.K., we have not been posting to our blog as often as we thought we would. The realities of working full time and running a working farm are that time is very precious and sometime hard to come by, so posting has taken a back seat. We are, however, we are  posting photos onto our farm facebook page and you can check out the pictures that we have posted so far.


"Where's My Hasenpfeffer?!"

Posted on July 6, 2014 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Rabbit Stew & Dumplings

 

 



As a kid, the "Shishkabugs" episode, where Yosemite Sam attempts to turn Bugs into the kings favorite dish, "Hasenpfeffer", was one of my favorites.

Little did I know how good rabbit stew really was until I tried it for myself, 40 years later.


If you are anything like me, that cartoon was the closest thing you ever came to thinking of rabbit as an actual food source.


We forget that long before the beef lobby, rabbit was, if not a staple, then at least an occasional part of the North American diet.


Don't believe me. Just ask you parents... or maybe your grandparents, if they ever ate rabbit. You may be surprised by the answer. I certainly was.


I was shocked to hear my mother say she ate rabbit when she was younger. She never cooked it or even mentioned rabbit when I was growing up. If it wasn't beef, chicken, pork or fish... I didn't know what it was.


What happened? If rabbit was so widely eaten in my mother's time, then why did the tradition all but die with her generation?


As more and more working poor were raised to the middle class, suddenly rabbit was seen as a "lesser" food. If you had money, you could afford beef. Ahhh, the power of the beef lobby.


Why eat rabbit?


If you are environmentally conscious, compared to beef, rabbit leave almost no environmental footprint.


And forget about the fact that rabbit is one of, if not the, most healthy meats you can eat.


It has fewer calories and less fat & cholesterol than chicken, turkey, beef, pork or lamb. It also has the lowest sodium content and is high, (second only to turkey), in protein.


The real clincher is that rabbit is one of the sweetest, most delicious meats you will ever eat.


O.K. you have to be willing to deal with the bones. Rabbit are fairly small and have a bit of fiddly little bones. A dressed rabbit may only be 2 - 4 pounds, and there are not large chunks of meat for a filet. Don't get me wrong, it's not like eating a bony fish, but more bones than chicken, beef or pork.


Hasenpfeffer,referred to by Yosemite Sam, is a traditional German stew made with braised rabbit and onions and a marinade of wine and vinegar.


Our rabbit stew recipe is likely more French in influence. It started with a basic rabbit stew recipe I found on-line and evolved into our own recipe.


I like to take advantage of what we have growing in abundance in the garden, so chives, and rosemary play a heavy role.


The rabbit is braised with onion, mushrooms and rosemary, stewed in a chicken stock and mushroom infused broth that is swimming with chucks of meaty bacon, and topped with chive dumplings.


This is NOT a heart healthy meal. Rabbit meat on its own is very healthy, however, we load this stew up with bacon, so bye, bye health consciousness and "Bon appetite".


Remember the mantra: "Everything is better with bacon".


You can cut down on, or even eliminate the bacon for a healthier meal, but then you would be missing the point. It's not like you are going to eat like this every day. Indulge!


If you plan on making this meal, you have to commit. You are going to be in the kitchen for a while. So grab yourself a glass of wine and settle in.


The dumplings can be made ahead of time and keep in the fridge until needed.


Rabbit Stew & Dumplings


INGREDIENTS:

1 3-5 lb rabbit

3¼ cups self rising flour

¾ cup butter, chilled and cut into tablespoon pats +

1 Tblsp butter

1 bunch chives

1½ tsp salt

1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

¾ cup milk

1 cup chopped dried mushrooms

We use a great gormet mix from Costco with porcini, shitake, yellow boletes and oyster mushrooms.

2 Tblsp oil

5 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch strips

Here is a secret; PC brand old fashion - naturally smoked bacon is amazing!  Thick and meaty and yum. "Everything is better with bacon".

2 med onions, quartered

3 large sprigs of rosemary

1 cup red wine

2 cups chicken stock

salt & pepper - to taste


Advance prep:

If not already done, cut rabbit into pieces, rinse in cool water and pat dry. Sprinkle liberally with salt and set aside.

Here is a helpful link to how to cut up a rabbit:


Rehydrate mushrooms: In a medium sauce pan, add:

4 cups hot water

1 cup chopped dried mushrooms

Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat but keep boiling for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain, reserving liquid. Set both aside.


 

DUMPLINGS

In a food processor, pulse together until they resemble corn meal:

3¼ cups self rising flour

¾ cup butter, chilled and cut into tablespoon pats

Transfer to mixing bowl. Using dough hook mix in:

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

1½ tsp salt

slowly add in, just until a dough is formed:

¾ - 1 cup milk

( Actual amount may vary depending on humidity etc. Add milk slowly and only enough to form a dough.)

Turn mixer down and knead until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Divide dough into 16 equal portions, form into balls and chill in the refrigerator until needed.


 

RABBIT STEW

In a large stock pot, heat on medium-high heat:

2 Tblsp oil

1 Tblsp butter

When oil is HOT, dredge rabbit pieces in flour and sear, in batches, until golden brown on all sides. Remove rabbit from pot and set aside. Add to the hot pan:

5 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch strips

cook just until bacon starts to colour, about 5 minutes. Then add:

2 med onions, quartered

Rehydrated Mushrooms

3 large sprigs of rosemary

Sauté until onion begins to go translucent. Deglaze pan with:

1 cup red wine

We make our wine at Village Wine Works.


Add:

3 cups reserved mushroom liquid

2 cups chicken stock

salt & pepper - to taste


Return cooked rabbit pieces to the pot, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.


Take your dumpling out of the refrigerator to start to come to room temperature.


Preheat oven to 350° F


Once the 30 minutes of simmering is up, remove pot from heat and drop dumplings into the pot, drizzle with olive oil an d bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy !

 

Welcome to the Family Jill !

Posted on July 5, 2014 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (0)

There is always room for one more. Jill is a local rescue dog. Part great pyr... crossed with something?  We are not quite sure, but she has huskey eyes. 


She started a little shy around the alpacas. She was going out of her way to not make direct eye contact with them, but there was no aggression on her part, rather quite the opposite. But the curiosity of the alpacas is relentless as they attempted to get to know the new family member.  Jill is still feeling her way around the alpaca.


 

It's not all fun and games.

 

Not only have Jacques and Jill become BFF's, they are also becoming a livestock security system to be reckoned with, working in tandem to keep the critters safe.


Check out more photos and stories on our facebook page.


Spring !

Posted on April 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)



I love this time of year. I marvel how bare ground can give way to new life sprouting from below. The dull and drab grays and browns of winter giving way to the crimsons and blues of spring. 


Spring on the farm often includes new life of the animal variety.  This spring baby chicks and rabbits are a reminder of the natural renewal of life that happens around us, signifying the beginning of a new season.


Spring has long been linked to ideas of rebirth and renewal, so it is no wonder that many of the worlds cultures and religions mark significant events in spring.


Christians celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus, giving new hope and new life to mankind.


Passover commemorates the rebirth of the Jewish people, from years of slavery imposed by the Pharaohs of Egypt.


Each spring Hindu's observe Holi,  and ancient Hindu festival with many purposes, however, it is primarily a celebration of springs bounty and colour, and a delightful way to say goodbye to winter.


So whether you celebrate Easter, commemorate Passover, observe Holi, or simply marvel at the wonders of nature, have a Blessed Spring.

 


Cougar Watch !

Posted on April 13, 2014 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)


It's that time of year again. Southern Vancouver Island, and specifically the area our farm is in, is often frequented by cougars, who despite abundant wild pray, occasionally stock and kill domestic livestock and pets. Last April conservation officers unfortunately had to put down 3 cougars, a mother and 2 one year old kitttens, who were killing livestock in our neighborhood.


READ MORE




Luckily for us Jacques was on the job, and none of our alpaca were taken.  



While cougars are a particular threat in our area, actually;

Off leash neighborhood dogs are the biggest threat to alpacas!


Dogs too small to outright attack the alpaca will often chase them until the alpaca dies of exhaustion.  More alpacas are killed by dogs than are killed by other predators.


Last year, a roaming neighborhood dog was on our property with this baby fawn in its jaws. Jacques and Matt had to rescue it before it was killed. It just as easily could have been one of our baby alpaca !  You can see in the photos below that the fawn is just about the same size as our day old cria (baby alpaca).

             

Troy with Jewel,  Matt with the fawn, and Matt with Eleven.




Thanks to Jacques, those roaming neighborhood dogs may come onto our property, but they wouldn't think of coming past the fence line and into our pasture. A strong herd guardian is essential and nothing gets past Jacques!


READ MORE about our herd guardian.


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