Monday, December 8, 2014

(Dec 8) Peaceful Times Between Cuttings

I had the day off yesterday and went out to the property. This is the time of year that I first saw the property 2 years ago. The leaves have pretty much all fallen. The green of the cedar trees really sticks out amidst the brown landscape. It was cool (in the 50s) with a slight breeze. Great weather for working outdoors. I stopped and bought a new chain for our chain saw and wanted to try it out. I forget in-between new chains how they cut like a knife through butter. This at least confirmed my suspicion that the chains that I had "sharpened" were worthless. $6 vs $16 for a new one and not worth that! I'll try another source for sharpening but after that stick to buying new chains. I'm not bored, patient or poor enough to justify the time it takes to sharpen my own. Anyway, I made 50+ cuts and only had to stop to tighten the chain once.

Between cuttings sessions, the wildlife was overjoyed to see me. Well, at least the feed that I put out. Within minutes, the feeders were swarming with birds and one very chubby squirrel. Our normal fare of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Brown-Headed Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Red Headed Woodpecker and Cardinals. A Red Tailed Hawk flew overhead but didn't stop to eat. We also had a lone finch spend the day with us. Unusual to see them here this late in the year and even more unusual to see them alone. Typically see a flock of 30+ around here through the summer.

The Brown-Headed Nuthatch gave me a treat. I was sitting in a my lounge chair about 20' from the feeder when I heard him land right behind me a start pecking around a pile of freshly cut wood. I sat still and the next thing I knew, he had hopped up on the arm of the chair and was pecking and tugging at my shirt sleeve. I watched him, laughing, for a bit. He finally flew over to another wood pile when I asked what he was doing. I have no doubt he would have eaten out of my lap if I'd had some worms. I usually have a bag of dried meal worms I put put out for the birds that are not very excited over the sunflower seeds or peanuts but was out today. The Woodpeckers prefer suet but had no problem eating peanuts through the morning. The squirrel was busy eating anything that the birds knocked out of the feeder. He finally got bored and scurried up the pole and sat in the bowl of peanuts. They would all scatter as I got rested and fired up the chain saw again but would quickly return when I sat to rest. The peace and quiet offered a therapy I can find nowhere else.

I also used my mitre saw to cut about 150 pieces of smaller material - up to about 4" thick to use in the new smoker. Cutting with a good rip blade is a dream. Quick and easy. I wish I had thought about it earlier but I got the idea from watching a YouTube video of Aaron Franklin (Franklin BBQ in Austin) cooking at home. He's a force of nature in this part of the country. Some of the best BBQ you'll ever eat.

 I smoked some baby back ribs this weekend that came out pretty good. I used 10 lbs of charcoal and 2 pieces of Oak that were about 3" in diameter. I put all 10 lbs in my firebox with only a handful lit and threw the Oak on top. I got lots of heat (300°-350°) for about 6 hours. I really had to keep it choked off to keep the heat down. I ended up closing off the exhaust pipe and the air intake. It was still sucking enough air from the leaks to keep the coals working. The Oak put off smoke for about an hour and a half. Plenty for 2 racks of ribs.

Here's a couple of pics from our Thanksgiving weekend in Rockport, TX. We got mom and dad a new smoker/grill and had to try it out. :)

Pork Shoulder Roast with grilled Pineapple & Red Peppers, Gulf Coast Shrimp and Sugar Snap Peas. Wish we had taken some pics of the homemade Apple Pie! It was stunning!

Threw a chicken on the gas grill to remind it I still cared! 1 ½ hours on grill and it was falling off the bone tender and juicy! Some of the best we've had all year. 

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