We burn all of our paper trash here at High Prairie Acres. We save a paper feed sack after we empty its contents into a galvanized trashcan placed out by the chicken coop and it sits in our kitchen and gets filled with junk mail, official mail, catalogs, notes – you name it. If it has writing on it, it goes in the burn bag. We do this for OPSEC reasons - I don’t want our “identity stolen” or any other trouble that could come from ne’er-do-wells reading my old mail. We also burn the cardboard boxes we get in the mail and so on.
Today was a nice day so I decided to burn some trash. We have a round deal we fashioned out of field fencing and then wrapped in chicken wire into which we toss our burnables and then we cover it with a similar lid and fire that baby up – it keeps errant embers from lighting the woods on fire. As I was burning the trash I noticed that there were several unburned catalogs and magazines in the bottom of our burn cage. They were charred on the outside but because the pages are so close together, they don’t burn well. These had been covered in snow and really didn’t burn well. I stirred them up but they still didn’t burn so when most of the fire was down, I removed the cage and added some firewood figuring I’d get a hot little campfire going and that would take care of the wet, charred magazines. It did.
While my little fire was happily burning away I thought, “What can I do so I don’t waste this fire and wood?” Can’t cook on it – well I could, I just don’t want to cook over a trash fire. Hmmmm then I remembered the fat.
We recently butchered a few deer and this year, as I sliced the fat off the belly and back I tossed it all into a cauldron thinking I would render it later for tallow. I’ve never done this before but today ended up being The Day. The pot was about 1/3 full of mostly pure white fat but there were some bits of meat and gristle in there as well.
I suspended the pot over the fire and waited. Sure enough, it was like cooking bacon – the smell was similar, the sounds were similar and soon I had reduced all the stuff to just liquid and chunks – I reckon those are cracklin’s but I don’t know.
I think I may have cooked it too long or perhaps on too high of a heat. I stopped when the bits turned very dark brown. There was a good deal of liquid in there and I used a slotted spoon to get the larger bits out and then I poured the remainder through a sieve into a metal coffee can.
The liquid is dark. I’m hoping it will clarify a bit and solidify as it gets cooler. The chickens got the cracklin’s or whatever the cooked solids are called.
What am I going to do with it you might ask? I’m going to try and make candles or tapers. Beyond that, I’ll probably do some Internet research and hopefully some of you will write me with some other good ideas.
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe
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