Monday, October 1, 2012

Drying Scallions

What a long weekend fraught with good and bad. Friday night I received a phone call asking me to try and rescue a just born piglet. How very tiny Mary Margret was. She woke me every hour and a half as she squealed softly in the cat carrier by my bed where she lay on a towel wrapped around a plastic encased heating pad to keep her tiny body warm. A few sucks of milk and she was fast asleep once more. Her tiny tummy unable to hold much more.
Saturday day, she began shutting down, refusing to eat and it was a force feed situation with me wishing I had a way to tube her like you do calves, pouring milk directly into her stomach. I used every trick in my feeding orphans book, gently stroked her throat to get her to swallow (no way), rubbed the nipple in and out of the tip of her mouth (nope), and squirting tiny amounts into her throat to just watch them drool back out. Despite my efforts every couple hours, I didn't get much down her.
It was made more difficult as we had her in tow in the backseat of the truck as we drove to Buffalo to pick up a Corriente steer I'd bargained for on Friday. I'll get some pictures of Cory for you tonight. He is ex- roping steer and after being chased by cowboys for a year, he's going to rest, and get fat with all the feed he can eat before being divided up into little packages for the freezer. 
With meat and dairy prices on the rise and the ag economy looking pretty hairy scary, we decided to scramble up some meat for the freezer. Next month we have a sow coming that didn't make the grade and will also find her way into our freezer.   
The trip in the truck didn't help the already complicated feeding process but I did my best and Saturday night I awoke to feed her every couple hours she not playing the part of alarm clock. Toward morning her tummy looked pretty good and I gave my chronic fatigue body a break stretching the feedings to three hours. 
Then my hopes lifted at four Sunday morning. She gave four weak sucks and swallowed the tiny amounts I continued to place in her mouth. An hour later, she was dead.  
It is pretty touch and go with ones so... little as to whether they will make it or not. I give them three days to sway me before I let my hopes get too high. Usually by then I have a pretty good idea how big a fighter they are. Without a huge will to live, I don't have prayer no matter what I do. I've had some far worse off than Mary Margret pull out of it and some much better off give up. You just wish you could slap them in the face and say, "Fight, you little beggar!!" but though I've actually gotten angry enough one time at the amount of effort I was expelling in comparison to that being put forth from a early arriving foal that I did just that. It didn't do any good.
 While I struggled with Mary Margret, scallions were drying in the dehydrator.  Where did these scallions come from. Okay, smart alicks, yes, from the garden. But besides that, they were part of my two year onion experiment. The one where onions went to seed in my garden and the next year I took those seeds and planted them. Onion seeds only last one year so yes, I've saved some this year also.
For those of you wanting to save your own seeds, you have to plant a onion bulb from the year before and let it go to seed or mulch one still in the ground and hope it winters over.
I've tried starting onion seeds under the grow lights twice and I get spindly wimpy sprouts. In the garden, they ended up being almost all stem. Not sure if it was the hot summer or if I should of cut them off early in the year. Books leave out so many details grr....
Anyway, I knew unless I had a greenhouse to transplant these scallions into, they weren't going to make nice size onions this year. We are expecting a killing frost in a day or two. So what or what to do with them.
I decided on drying the tiny onion bulbs and stems to mix into noodles, biscuits, soups, breading mixes, meatloaf etc. because when I suggested drying the stems and pickling the tiny pearl onions Kirk said, " No thank you!" . Well, okay, drying the whole thing it is. 
This is a batch I dried in my old way, just chop and dry.
But open to new methods, I hit the Internet and it said to blanch the scallions first.
Then dry. They look pretty ugly when done.
Maybe the onion's nutrients might be higher due to blanching they look groedy. A trip through the blender and they don't look as bad. So which is better, the none blanched or the blanched. I think I'll use the non blanched first since the nutrients will be lost first and then the blanched.
Do you dry onions and scallions? And what tips have you for my sorry attempts at growing my own onion starts? Too much light? Too warm a temperatures? I'm not sure what to do. 

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