Blessed Samhain

Light the fires
Burn them bright
Open up the night
Dance once more
With loved ones lost
Hold them close
Until they must go
Bid them farewell
For another year
Wish them Peace
Remember them still
See the Veil close
And know
They’re there
Waiting
Loving
Remembering

 

Blessed Samhain to those who believe.
Happy Hallowe’en to all.

Lemon Chicken

Around here, all the animals have jobs.
If you’re a hen, you lay eggs…or you hatch eggs layed by others.
Ducks, same thing.
Eggs, either for eating or hatching.

Horses…well, they don’t do much other than eat, shit and be pretty, so modeling is their biggest job.
When Food Lady says it’s time to work for the camera, they darn well better work for the camera.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Yesterday, The Kid and I made Lemon Chicken work for the camera.
She’s just back into laying after molting and to make up for her lacking egg production the past few weeks, we put her in a pumpkin for Hallowe’en.

Hey whoa, whatchoo doing to me???

Yeah okay, I can sit here…

lol wut?
My pumpkin now, bitches.

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Deleting Old Posts

That’s what I did yesterday.
After much searching, I found a website that takes posts and turns them into a .pdf.
I did that a while back with a couple years worth of old posts.
Now, I’m working on deleting the posts and images (which means there might be a broken image here and there, if I reused one in a newer post).
This way, I have space for new images to go in new posts.
Because I refuse to go to a pay-to-blog platform.
It’s just not gonna happen…and I didn’t want to move to a whole new blog while trying to encourage followers to come along.
Naw.
Easier to save and delete.
Well, as easy as something so darn tedious can be.
πŸ˜‰

The positive part though, is new images…and they are *much* faster to upload with space!
Which is good, because I managed to get out with the camera Saturday morning, and a bit yesterday too.

Sable

Funny thing is…I’ve been waiting for a Saturday morning sunrise like this for a few weeks now.
I’ve an idea in my head I want to shoot, but need this light and Hubby.
Where was he Saturday when the light looked like this??!?
In a tree stand, hunting deer.
πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„
Fingers crossed we can get another chance before the snow flies and stays.


Then yesterday, knowing that below zero overnight temps. were coming, Hubby cleaned out the maceration tubs.
What is a maceration tub, you ask?
Well, it’s a bin that holds whatever skulls and bones we want cleaned and a whole lot of water.
That’s it.
Nothing high tech or fancy.
Just bins/barrels/tubs of bones and water.

We had Cookie’s skull and bones finishing cleaning…because our warm weather doesn’t last long, it can take a little longer here to clean a skull.
I *should* invest in a fish tank heater to speed thing up a bit, but we don’t keep the tubs anywhere near an electricity source.
If you’ve ever smelt a working maceration tub, you’d understand why they aren’t real close to the house.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Anyway, Hubby pulled Cookie’s parts out and we had a bit of a surprise…

😍😍😍

We were a bit surprised, to say the least. lol
So after I grabbed the camera, I hit the skull cleaning forums on FB.
And it turns out this is nothing to panic about.
It likely happened because I didn’t change the water enough…though a deer leg in with her *didn’t* go black like this.
πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

She may stay darkened like that.
She may not.
She’s ready to go onto degreasing – which is exactly what it sounds like.
Bones hold fats in them, and after maceration, they go into a water/dish soap combo to soak, which draws out the grease.
If this isn’t done, your bones could get stinky (prolly will) and might start to break down as the fats get gross.

If the colour holds through degreasing, then she’ll be left like that.
I could put her into peroxide for whitening, but I love the way she looks dark, so if it stays, it stays.

Hubby also pulled out the giant tarp and tossed it into the garden.
It was too windy to spread, so there’s still that to do.
Hopefully we’ll have a day this week to get that done.
Honestly, I’m ready for spring, seed catalogs and planting the new garden.
lol
I know, I know.
The land needs to sleep first.
I do know that.
I just don’t want to deal with winter.
I will…but I don’t want to.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Back Again

Well, that was a long 7 days.
A lot of work was done.
Freezers are nicely filled…with some room yet for a deer. πŸ˜‰

We put down the 3 pigs all at once.
We didn’t have much choice, because the second the first one went down, the other 2 were on her, trying to eat her.
Pigs is assholes.

So the other 2 were shot right there.
Because it wouldn’t have been safe to go into the yard to try and take out the first one, and we didn’t raise them for 2 to eat one.

From there, it’s been a bit of a blur of butchering, dishes, showering, laundry, sleeping and getting up early to do it all over again.
It was a crazy lot of work.
Today I’m finishing up with canning pork soup.

The final break down looks like this…

George weighed a whopping 265lbs live weight.
For a 7 month old pig, that’s amazing.
I can only imagine how big he might have gotten if he’d gone over the year mark!

Jinger was 181lbs live weight.
Sophie was 176lbs live weight.

Biggest pigs we’ve ever raised.
Weights were determined using the heart girth/length measurements, so they are, of course estimates.
Only way to know 100% what they weighed is to scale them.
We didn’t have that option, so weights are within 5%, based on the online calculator I used.

Heads, feet and offal went to a friend of Hubby’s.
He was very happy with getting those parts.
We were very happy to give them.
They’re parts I don’t use.
Normally they would be dog treats, but, I’d rather give them to people who would use them instead. So when Hubby told me he knew someone who would use them, I was happy to let them go. πŸ™‚

All trimmings went to the chickens and ducks.
After the pigs ate as many chickens as they did, we figured turnabout was fair play.
And poultry ain’t vegetarians, no matter what the marketing hype might try to tell us.

Fat was saved for a local soap maker.
I would have kept it for myself, but I still have lard from other years that I haven’t gotten to using.
Plus I have deer tallow from last year for whenever I get my ass into gear and make soap. lol

Fat, trimmings, feet etc. are not included in the final tallies.

Final tallies look like this…

Total take home weight of meat put into the freezer was 304.32 lbs.
A whopping 66.46 lbs was bellies! That translates into a whole lot of bacon…once I get to brining and smoking.
52.36 lbs of ground. Some of that will become sausages. Some will be made into yummy spring rolls. Most will stay as burger…because we enjoy ground meats.
28.74 lbs of boneless loin chops.
47.51 lbs of chops, both bone in a boneless…can you say “hello bbq!”
Then there were the tenderloins, various roasts/hams, stew chunks (which I canned yesterday for using as quick pulled pork) and soup pieces.

Not included in the final weight were bones used for soup stock/bone broth.
That was another 8ish lbs.

We paid $270 for the 3 piglets.
We used $558 worth of barley/wheat feed.
Plus they ate garden scraps, excess milk/left over coffee, wine making fruit scraps, weeds, grasses, hay, straw and rooted around their entire yard.
The hay and straw were left overs from last year’s horse supply. Things that could not be given to The Merry Mares, but made pigs oh so very happy.
The cost of the barley/wheat feed is high.
But, we feed the same feed to the chickens, and instead of (properly) tracking how much went to the bird bin and how much went to the pig bin, I just kept track of the total amount purchased.
Lesson for next time, track how much feed goes in what bins. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So, expenses wise (not including the chickens they ate…assholes) was $828.
We brought them home May 27th.
They went to Freezer Camp 18th.
9 days shy of being here 5 full months.
Our total cost per pound of meat in the freezer is $2.72/lb.
Not too shabby.

Now for next year?
No pigs.
I’m in need of a year off of them, like I said before.
Next year we’re hoping to do a steer.
And I’ll be pushing my poultry growing program.
Probably invest in a 2nd incubator, and I’m looking for a new drake for my duck hens.
Donald seems to be infertile.
Out of 2 nests sat on, and an incubator full of eggs, *nothing* hatched.
Muscovies are supposed to be very prolific breeders, and hens excellent mothers.
Welp, the girls tried, but the eggs all rotted.
I figure that means my boy is the issue.
So, we’ll replace him…hopefully before the snow flies to stay, so that in the spring the new guy can get right to work.
And the pig yard from this year will be turned into the duck yard for next year…and likely beyond.
For the next time we have pigs, we plan to build a different yard, with a new set up.
Something that shouldn’t allow chickens, ducks or cats to go into the yard.

In a month or so I’ll make the bacon. And the sausages.
But for now, with soup almost done, I’m taking a few days off of winter food prep.
Still have to tarp the garden for the winter.
And have to get hay home for The Merry Mares.
Then, deer season.
Once that’s done, we have to cull roosters for winter.
And finally, I can rest.
For a minute or 2 before the next thing comes along.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
(after the last week, I sure could use coffee!!)
πŸ™‚

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry for the silence.
It’s been a busy few days.

Pigs are done.
It’s all over but the cut and wrap.
That’s my task for the next day or so, plus canning up some of the meat, making bone broth, prepping and brining bellies for bacon and getting the winter cat food made.
So, Ima be scarce for the next week.
But when I’m back, I’ll post the final numbers…from what we put into the pigs money wise, to our cost per pound.
And our plan for next year.

Until then, here’s a lovely picture of our sweet CinderBella having an early morning nap as the sun rises…

The prettiest Palomino on the prairies.
❀

Well That Was Fun…

Except for it wasn’t.
😦

We weathered the storm.
It was a mighty one, to be sure.
We lost power Friday morning, after losing internet a few hours before that.
I crocheted a whole lot.
Got a blanket about 1/3rd done for The Kid.
We sat under blankets to stay warm.
Had buckets of water for the necessities.
Watered animals with water from the rain barrels.
Poultry stayed locked in their coop.
Horses ate a whole lot of hay…and beet pulp and oats and alfalfa cubes.
Plus Tums for Sable, to keep her tummy happy.

When all was said and done, we had power back on by Friday evening, though there were a few blips and outages for another day or so.
We had a lot of snow.
Way more than a 1st snow storm should drop.
But, by the time we were able to get out to assess any damages, it was already melting.
And melting fast!

Pawing through the melting snow…

I don’t actually know how much snow we got, because of all the winds.
Holy. Moly.
It was windy like crazy, and the snow was wet and heavy.
I do know in the pic above, it had melted down by a 1/3rd (or more) already when I took that.

The week ahead looks nice though.
Thank goodness.
Because the date is set for porcine Freezer Camp.
I’ll be happy when it’s over and done with.
This round of pigs, while growing amazingly well, have had their challenges.
So much so that we’re thinking of taking a year off of raising pigs.

We have an opportunity to put a yearling steer into a pasture with a couple others and it won’t cost us anything for feed.
It means we can grow out a beef for the cost of the steer only. And because we do our own processing, we won’t have to pay those fees either.
We’re thinking of doing that next year.
And I’ll put all my other time into the poultry.
Meat chickens, and incubating eggs.
So we’ll still be able to fill the freezer very well.
I just need a year without pigs.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Storm’s a Comin’

That’s the big news this week in weather.
There’s a storm coming.
Rain?
Snow?
Both?

Either way, we’ve had yesterday and today to prepare and get a few things done before it hits.
Yesterday I finally cleaned out the tomato cages from the garden.
I had just left them after the rains drowned anything that hadn’t burned up in the drought.
Kinda just gave up, I guess.
But, in order to get the garden fully put to bed and prepped for next year, they had to come out.
So, done.

Today I weeded around the strawberries.
Can you believe the damn things are blooming??!?
I was stunned.
But with all the rain, and with the thick mulch around them, they’ve been happy little plants.
I pulled out all the weeds, and fed those to the pigs.
Under the mulch…oh my…*swoons*…there is this gorgeous black, rich soil, with so. many. earth worms.
*This* is what I was trying to create.
Every where I mulched heavily is the same.
So about half the garden.
No till, just dig, plant, mulch.
And the weeds that did come up, came out easy peasy.
So even though I was frustrated with my garden, and we really didn’t get anything from it, the no till route *did* work.
Which means I’ll expand it next year.

Then came this…

😍😍😍

It’s only 53 cloves.
My budget was teeny for seed garlic this year, so I had to be sure that I found a variety that will grow well in the climate, and be a tasty delight.
This was what I found.
10 bulbs gave me 53 cloves.
And now all 53 cloves have been planted.
Into that gorgeous rich soil.
I am hopeful for a bountiful garlic crop come spring.
Which, of course, will expand next Fall.
53 heads (assuming they all grow) is just not enough.
πŸ˜‰

Finally, I spread a good layer of mulch over both garlic and strawberries.
It’s not quite as much as I’d like, they’ll need more before winter truly sets in.
But when I get my hay delivery, I’ll get a few small squares of straw…for mulching the berries/garlic and for the brooders come spring chick season.

Tonight we’ll pull out the tarp for the garden, move some straw to the pig yard, fill all the feed bins, and transfer the feed we keep in the horse trailer to the Little Red Shed.
It is, after all, meant to be our feed building.
And then, I think we’ll be as ready as we can be for this storm.
Next week it’ll all melt and we’ll continue on with winter preps.
Because that’s just how the weather works here.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Dreaming

It’s been another wet few days.
Feeling like I need to build an ark.
Or put up a sign that says “send dry weather…and more beer” at the end of the driveway.

All this rain has left me plenty of time to dream about plans for the Farm though.
My biggest 2 wants are:

  1. a couple of water totes ~ and I’m hoping to make that happen in the spring.
    If we get another dry, dry, dry summer like the past 2, I really want as big of a water collection system that I can manage. While at the same time, we’ll continue working on building our soil to be able to hold water as much as possible.
    On that line, I’m reading The Drought Resilient Farm by Dale Strickler…it’s an interesting read and I’m quite enjoying it.
  2. a greenhouse.
    I can’t tell you how long I’ve wished for a greenhouse.
    For as long as I’ve been a gardener for sure!
    Found some interesting and fairly simple plans here: The Seed Guy pallet greenhouse.
    😍😍😍

So I’ve put some feelers out, looking for the cattle panels used in the greenhouse, and looking for a good source for food safe water totes. There are a ton of the totes out there, but not all are safe for water for gardens or drinking.
We use rain water to water the majority of the animals (only the horses’ trough is fed from the well) so it’s incredibly important that the totes can be used for potable water.

And that greenhouse…
Hubby and I talked about making one side of the garden (which is currently 26’x40′) the greenhouse part. So taking 9ish feet off the 26′ side, and then making the greenhouse as long as we possible can.
Then I could have a whole bunch of space for tomatoes and beans (likely just pole beans, but maybe some bush ones too), leaving the outsideΒ  roughly 16’x42′ for things like carrots, beets, onions and garlic. As well as some other assorted things like squashes and pumpkins. πŸ™‚
And probably bush beans too…because even if they’re in the greenhouse, there’s never enough beans in our world.
LOL!!

Plus, Hubby and I just talked about adding extra smaller greenhouses like this in different spots of the yard.
We have a spot between the house and the pasture gate that, right now, is a catch all spot for building materials. It’s kinda ugly looking and I don’t like it.
But it’s a great spot to put up a couple 9’x12’ish greenhouses to grow food in.

That’s what I’m thinking about today, in between rounds of rain.
Making this Farm grow more and more food for us…and then, hopefully, having enough to sell.
❀

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚