Venison Summer Sausage

One of the most popular things people make with venison (wild game meat) is summer sausage.  It is also one of the most expensive items to have made by your butcher/processor.  If you are like me and you enjoy it, but find it hard to justify the cost, you may want to try making some yourself.  It isn’t very hard to make and there are a few different ways to cook it, if you don’t have a smoker and some of the other sausage making equipment.

Ingredients (per pound of meat)

1 lb Ground Venison/Meat
1 tbsp Morton® Tender Quick (or similar cure)
½ tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Liquid Smoke
½ tbsp Sugar
½ cup Finely Cheddar Cheese (Optional)
½ cup Finely Diced Jalapeño Peppers (Optional)

Preparing the Meat

The first step requires more time, so do this the day before you plan to prepare your summer sausage.

Combine the meat, cure (TenderQuick), spices, liquid smoke, and sugar in a bowl.  Mix well by hand to make sure you get an even distribution of the ingredients.  (You can mix and knead it on the counter if that is easier for you.)

I add the cheese and jalapeño peppers right before a make my rolls and cook them.

Option #1 – Rolling in Parchment Paper

If you don’t have any fibrous casings, you can make rolls and wrap them in parchment paper.  This will help hold the shape while you kook them.  I tied off the ends with string to hold in the juices to keep it from drying out the meat.

Then you can cook them in the oven for about 2 hours at 220°F or until it reaches an internal temp of 150°F.  You can smoke them the entire time.  I was making bacon at the same time, so I unwrapped them and placed them in the grill I was using for smoking, just to give it a smoke finish.

This method just used a Weber kettle style grill with the fire and wood chips on the side to give it indirect heat and smoke.

Option #2 – Hand Stuffing Fibrous Casing

If you want a little better looking sausage and a little easier to make, use fibrous casings.  I got mine at Rural King, but they are available at outdoor stores (Gander Outdoors) or on Amazon.  They cost about $8 for a pack of 10 casings.  When I watched a video online about filling the casings, they were sing a sausage press that costs about $300.  No way I could justify that kind of expense for making a few sausages.

Instead, I used a canning funnel (the smaller size) that you use to pour stuff in your Mason canning jars.  I just rolled the casing down a little, poked a couple of pin holes in the far end of the casing to let trapped air escape.  Then I put it around the funnel, held it tight with my hand, and pushed the meat into the casing.  I used the pusher tool from the food processor to make it easier to pack the casing.

Once it was filled, I folded about a half-inch into the casing, and fan folded it to close the top. I also made a small snip in the folded edge to let the air out while I tied it.  (This is easier to do if you can get someone to pinch the folded end and hold it while you tie it off with a string.)  I also pinched and tied it in the middle, so it is easier to divide later. (optional)

Finally, I put them in the smoker for a few hours until I reached an internal temp of 150ºF.  (It is better if you hang them straight, but I was trying to smoke some pork at the same time, so I hung them like a hammock.)

(Yes, Cooper approved of the smell.  It seemed to keep his attention all day.)

Thanks!

Roll-away Egg Nesting Boxes

Background

If you have laying chickens and have been frustrated by chickens that are eating their eggs, this may work for you.  I have tried the different techniques and read the articles about nutrition and such, but nothing seems to stop them from eating the eggs except moving the eggs away form the chickens.  I’ve even seen the chickens hovering over one that is laying, so they can get the egg as soon as she is up. (So frustrating.)  I enjoy them and the fresh eggs, but it is getting far too expensive to fill their belly with feed and then have them eat the eggs, too.

The Solution

I have 16 hens and this plan makes a 6 nest assembly.  The hens lay the egg in the carpeted area, and when they get up, the egg rolls forward into a holding area.  The holding area is easily opened and easy to clean. Total project time is about 4 hours.

Download Free Plans [PDF]

Materials

1 – 4′ x 8′ x 5/8″ Plywood/CDX (OSB is not recommended)

1 – 4′ x 8′ x 3/8″ Plywood/CDX (OSB is not recommended)

4 – 1″ x 4″ x 8′  No. 2 Common Board

4 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′  Furring Strips

4 – 4″ Gate Hinge/ T-Hinge

12 sq. ft. Outdoor Carpet / Thin Door Mats (with a smooth surface for rolling)

1/2″ pipe foam insulation (bumper material)

Let’s build!

Start by cutting the 4 dividers and notch them for the furring strips that will be “let-into” the edges.  It is quicker to clamp the four pieces, making sure that the corners are aligned, then cutting the roof angle and notches in all 4 panels at the same time.

Cut the furring strips and nail them into the notches.  (I used an air nail gun, with 2” long, 18 gauge nails.  These long thin nails minimize the risk of splitting the panels.)  I did this with the panels laying on the back instead of standing. Attach the end panels first, then the center panels.  Measure and mark the furring strips or accurate placement and easier fastening of the panels.  I used the corner scraps to add more stiffness to the open frame, but it is not necessary, because the back panel will do the same.


Next, cut the back panel and attach it to the outer panels and the furring strips that run across the back.  Note: Don’t nail the center panels yet, to allow for some flex/float to align with the laying tray notches in a later step.

Cut the Inner and Outer tray supports per details A & B in the plans.  Measure and mark points on the inside of the back panel for the tops of all the tray supports.  Next mark the edges of the divider panels for the bottom of the tray supports.  Tack a strip in place to easy assembly and alignment of the tray supports.  Position the tray supports and nail/screw them into divider panels, with shorter fasteners.  Pay attention to the location of the tray supports, making sure that the longer tray supports (2) are on the outside, while the shorter tray supports (4) are on the center divider panels.  Remove the alignment strip after fastening the tray supports.

Cut and notch the nesting tray bases (2) per the dimension in detail D of the plans.  It is best to have the notches a fraction wider and deeper to minimize interference and easier alignment during assemble.  If it is too tight, you may need to go back a trim/adjust.  Assemble the upper deck laying tray base first, to have better access when fastening from the bottom of the tray base into the tray supports.  Next, install the lower deck laying tray base, and attach the base kickboard.  (The kickboard will prevent dirt from filling up underneath, and avoid nesting by mice/pests.)

Next, make the two tray covers, per detail C in the plans.  To set the angle between top and front, cut a bevel on the top of the front board, the fasten the cover panel with fasteners, making sure to center the front with the top panel.  Add the top furring strip to the tray cover, which will act as a stiffener.  Attach the cover to the laying trays with the T-hinges, then mark the inside of the cover to position the shorter blocks between the tray supports. Then add the roof panel, which prevents the chickens from roosting above the nesting boxes. (If you do not put the unit against the wall, you may need to put something on the top ridge.  Bird anti-perching devices will work.)

Cut and fit the carpet/mats for the laying trays.  Attach pieces of foam to the cover front board to stop the eggs at the end of the roll.  To avoid the eggs from rolling out when the cover is opened, add a wedge to the front of the mat.  (I attached them to the mat, so I could pull them out and have a smooth surface to easily brush out any dirt that gets into the nest box, without a lip or edge to stop the dirt.)

To add more protection to the eggs, I added a curtain that is slit into strips.  This is an old feed bag and is used to hide the eggs that are down the ramp, which discourages the chickens for reaching under the cover to crack/eat the eggs that hit the sides and don’t roll all the way to the bottom.  (See pictures below, including the “eggs-eye” view.)

Installation

When you place the unit in your coop, fasten it to the wall through the back panel, to avoid the unit from tipping.  If you do not want to fasten it then you will need to add legs that extend forward by attaching them to side panels.

I have had good success with this design.  I hope you do too! Blessings!