SCALE HOUSE: Scales Tell the Tale
Scales Tell the Tale
They play an essential role in life on the farm, informing the eye as to when animals are ready to be processed. Weights are important, because if an animal is harvested too soon, when too light, not enough fat resides in the meat, so it doesn't cook right, which results in a dissatisfied customer. An animal being too heavy is less of an issue in direct marketing, except for the extra carrying cost. The weights of sheep are hard to "eyeball", for some reason, so a scale is invaluable.
We started out weighing sheep with the electronic scale on the right. That proved to be increasingly aggravating, as it would periodically break down, forcing us to defer to the unreliable eye. We would try to fix this critical tool, by studying directions, which had been translated from Chinese into English, and made little, if any, sense, no matter how many times they were reread. So, we would then call the manufacturer's representative, and be sent to a call center in the Philippines to speak to an engineer with a very thick accent, who would ask us to go to the scale to reset commands and push buttons, per his instructions. The problem with that solution was the scale was in the sheep-shed and our cell phones didn't work out there or anywhere on the farm. Amid mounting frustration, we finally concluded this costly, high-technology scale was the wrong tool for our need.
So, we sourced a tried-n-true mechanical scale freshly built in 1950, as depicted on the left. We balance it with a 50-lb bag of salt, and it has not skipped a beat since the first day of arrival. We have never had to read obscure directions, call a stranger for instruction, or use the grid to supply power to it. Gates in front and behind hold the animal in place, and are counter-balanced by cement blocks hanging in the air. Archimedes would approve. Why is "simple" so hard to achieve?!
We strive for liveweights of: 90 lbs. for lambs, 300 lbs. for hogs, and 1,000 lbs. for beeves.
Until a year ago, we harbored an unused "scale-house" on the farm, once employed for weighing groups of hogs, as depicted on the left below. It was nearly 100 years old, and was underlain with massive carved sandstones, on which beams of wood were laid to support the scale. We tore it down when renovating and expanding the adjoining apartment.
In the legal world, Susan wrestles with unpredictable "scales of justice". Those on the farm are far less complicated fortunately.
Last, the scale in the house can be quite complicated. Over the past winter we had some problems with ours reporting "heavy". I repeatedly asked Susan to call the engineer in the Philippines to see how to reset the darn thing. She finally and kindly explained she had talked to the man, and he diagnosed the problem with our scale being: those irresistible homemade chocolate chip cookies that come out of the oven on a periodic basis... The nerve of him to presume that semi-sweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips mixed with walnuts, organic flour, and bourbon vanilla could have such a long finger! It goes to show, yet again, that an engineer in far off lands can't possibly understand what is happening on the farm and in the home. Well, maybe he can somewhat..., perhaps a little..., okay he was right, it was the cookies.
So, that is the problem and virtue with scales - they tell the truth.
Now that we are cutting up whole chickens, we have backs with which to make chicken stock. So, we have begun doing so, and will have it available for you this weekend.
We are also coming to closure on Tar-Heel Pulled Pork and Rio-Grande Barbacoa, which will be available by opening of the summer market, at the latest.
The meal below consisted of: pan-fried trout, complemented with Woodlot Bacon, spinach and raisins poached in white wine, braised endives, and pan-fried potatoes - another unusually soulful meal out of Susan's kitchen.
We will see you this coming Sunday April 3 at Clark Montessori.
In humility before scales that tell the tale,
Drausin & Susan
On-line ordering for delivery April 13 is available by going here.