Ending October

It’s been a busy one.
Canning, butchering, more canning…
The tomato shelf looks amazing, with jars and jars of sauce.
All the white turkeys have gone to Freezer Camp.
And I put a bunch of them into jars too for quick meals.
Today I’m finishing up ducks and duck stock.
We’re now at our winter numbers for birds.
Have to say, I’m glad bird butchering is done, and we didn’t do anywhere near what we’ve done the past few years.
But tomorrow is the big butchering day.
Tomorrow we get our pig.
This year all we’re doing for “fancy” or retail cuts is loin chops, the tenderloin, bacon (because why have pig if no bacon??), and ground.
No roasts, no stew, just grind the rest.
And bone broth.
Because I love me some bone broth, so I’ll be making can canning much pork bone broth.
Might make sausages, but truthfully, we tend to eat a lot of crockpot meals with ground meats throughout the winter, so ground is going to be better for us. Especially with all the tomato sauce I have jarred. 😉

And the duck coop/greenhouse will be finished today.
Hubby and The Kid are putting the roof sheathing and metal on today, and then, the birds can move in…
Then it’s just a deep clean of the chicken coop, move Lenny and Karl’s coop to the garage (after we get our hay delivery, because 6 bales go straight in for spring/next year) and get next year’s garlic planted.
We heard from our Hay Guy yesterday and have delivery set up in a couple weeks…mares are still nommin on long pasture, and I have a line on a few round bales, so if we get short before our Guy can get to us, I’ll grab a couple rounds and put one out.
Got straw home for the birds, with a chance for another dozen small bales for winter.
Tomorrow I’ll make arrangements for rounds of straw for the mares, since we get rounds from the same farm as we get our piggie.
And that’s where we’re at…
Busy, getting ready as we can for stupid winter.
But, here’s a cute picture of Lenny and Karl (our incubator ducklings) for ya:

Karl has the dark beak, Lenny the pink one…think “Lenny and Karl” from The Simpsons…

Pickled Beets

I plant a lot of beets.
One of our favorite things in winter is pickled beets.
Well, last Fall I pulled everything from the garden right before the first of the winter storms hit us…the carrots and radishes got dealt with, but somehow, I forgot about the beets.
So the bin of beets sat in front of the (drafty af) front door all winter.
Turns out that was a good thing, since it acted like a root cellar and damned if them beets weren’t just fine when I found them today.
😂😂😂

So knowing I was out of beets on the shelf (my last few jars were given to my Uncle who has been an incredible help when we’ve needed it) I filled the pot, cooked them beets up and got them into the brine.

Once again I am reminded why I hate water bath canning.
It’s moist and uncomfortable.
But I got 4 jars of beets done and now we have some more.
Of course they won’t last long, but that’s okay.
Gardening season is right around the corner and I bought a lot of beet seeds, knowing that there was more than one house that was going to be eating them.
🙂

And for the record, I do safe canning only here, so no need to talk about skipping the processing (water bath) part…I ain’t going through all the work of planting, growing, weeding, harvesting and such to risk botulism in the putting up stage.
Not when for a bit more work I can put things in jars safely and know I ain’t making anyone sick.
You want to do different?
Good for you.
Your kitchen, you do what you please.
‘Round here we do it right.

Tomatogeddon

Way back in June, on the Summer Solstice, we had frost.
I had planted my tomatoes about a week or so earlier.
Peppers too.
And then BOOM!!
Killing frost on the first day of summer.
*sigh*

Well, as it turns out, not every tomato plant died, some have bounced back, but no where near in time to get a decent crop off them.
I will have some nice green ones though, so that’s okay too.
But in the meantime, the shelves are looking very bare of tomato products and we cannot have that.

So when the local mega mart put their cases of roma tomatoes on sale, guess who asked her Hubby to bring some out to the Farm?
Yeah, that’d be me, because I’m stupid and didn’t have enough food going into jars.
😂😂😂

But tomatoes are something we love here, and we go through a lot of tomato sauce and pizza sauce…because we live where pizza delivery isn’t an option and we like pizza. 😉

100lbs came home.
So my days have been filled with roasting the tomatoes, running them through the food mill, making the sauce, canning the sauce…

In case anyone cares, 100lbs of tomatoes makes roughly 10 gallons of tomato sauce.
With about 3 gallons of the juice left over after roasting.
That doesn’t get wasted.
After all, it’s tomato juice.
So I drink it.
Some years I freeze it for later on when I make the green tomato wine, but this year the freezers are already short of space, so that’s not an option.
So I’ve been enjoying beer and tomato juice at the end of the long canning days.

I have a 5 gallon pail of sauce left to put in jars.
That’s tomorrow.
Today we’re working on the greenhouse.
Being September long weekend already, we’ve got to get our butts in gear and get it up.

I’ll finish tomatogeddon tomorrow…
And then we’ll be back at Rooster Rehab until all the roosters (and turkeys) are done.

Monday Morning Roundup ~ August 31st

Since my last post, the beans have exploded.
I’ve been (hahaha) picking and canning and picking and canning.
Today I’m picking again, since we’ve had 2 days of rain, and I can SEE the damn beans from the gate, mocking me, telling me that they’re growing bigger and bigger by the second and I’d better get in there and get them picked before it’s too late!
😂😂😂

I might be tired and a bit weird this morning.

One of my pails of beans from last week

I bought yellow bean seeds during the lockdown.
In a fit of irrational rage…because some friends in the US had posted in their local stores, seeds and gardening supplies were roped off and not allowed to be purchased because they weren’t “essential”.
So when I saw seeds in our small town grocery store, I bought them.
Even though there was no sign saying I couldn’t.
No one telling me they were off limits.
I was simply irrationally angry for those who *couldn’t* make that purchase.
I ended up buying a lot of seeds…and mailing a whole bunch of them out to people because fuck anyone who says a garden and growing food isn’t essential.
👿👿👿

Anyways, I still had a good amount of yellows to plant, so I did.
And the green beans are pinto beans we got as feed for our chickens last Fall.
I planted a few in pots in the house to see if they could be used for fresh eating, and yup, tasty as steamed beans when young.
So I planted a whole lot of the them too.
Plus I have a 50ish lb sack of them for the next few years.
😂😂😂
It’s a good thing we really like beans.
But, free food is free food, right?
I mean, the beans were given to feed the chickens.
Well, I fed chickens cooked beans all winter and *still* had enough to grow for us.
And still have more to grow for us.
No complaints from me, I tell ya!

This past weekend we started putting meat chickens in the freezer.
We had, earlier in the summer, an incident…
A coyote decided we were growing some mighty fine looking meaties and decided to help themslves to our birds.
*sigh*
It happens, sometimes.
This was our first huge loss.
As in, all the birds ear marked for sale were now gone, and most of our personal eating birds too.
Fucker didn’t even eat much of ’em.
Just killed them for fun.
😥
But that’s nature, and now we have to re-do the meat chicken house so it doesn’t happen again.

I was lucky enough to find someone getting rid of some meat birds she raised though.
The abattoirs are busy, and she couldn’t get a slot booked and didn’t want to butcher them herself…so she sold them.
I snapped up 20 of them.
I would have loved to have taken the entire flock of 80, but the money just wasn’t there.
Ah well.
20 to go with the 15 I had left made it so that I could get some in my freezer and fulfill my promised birds.
Left me nothing for sale, but at least the people I promised birds to got theirs.

Next up, another round of roosters.
Plus I have several older hens who are ready to go into the soup pot.
And then there’s those ducklings I bought, who are growing like freaking mad!
So we’re gonna be okay this winter, just not as flush as we had thought.

Last week we had this young lady traipse through the Farm…

😍 So pretty! 😍

Lucky girl that hunting season hasn’t opened yet…otherwise she’d have been going to Freezer Camp.
😂😂😂

And then, while we were doing chicken butchering on Saturday, Hubby got a call asking if we wanted some wheat for the chickens.
Um, yeah!!
So we got the back of our truck filled to over flowing with freshly combined red wheat.
And now I’m searching for a grain mill, because I feel like making wheat beer, whiskey and wine are gonna be necessary…and after malting, I have to crack the grains to do it.
So that’s my next purchase…because homemade booze is a good thing.
🙂

Now We’re Getting Busy!

Remember how I was complaining that we were in the “hurry up and wait” holding pattern?
Yeah, we’re out of that and working our butts off to get things going for growing.

We picked up the last of the garden seeds I needed to get for planting.
Now we’re at the “pull wire ’round the garden” stage…Hubby already put in the posts around the garden, and we were right on track to pull the wire fencing…until we discovered that we were out off cable ties.
I know, it’s crazy to think that anyone on a farm would run out of cable ties, but it happened, and we stalled.
Hubby stopped and picked up a hundred of them, and we’re ready to pull fencing…that’s going to happen this weekend, so that I can start planting things like carrots and peas and beets…because until the fence is up, I can’t plant anything because of asshole-not-supposed-to-be-free-ranging chickens. 😉

Lemon chicken…she does what she wants.

Once the fencing is up, we’re good to go.
Plus, I have to build a gate, but we can use temporary measures for a day or two until that’s done.

The meat chickens are 2 weeks old now…and eating like crazy.
Between them and the replacement eggies, they’re going through pounds of feed a day.
We’ve had very little losses too this year. 5 meaties and 1 eggie.
After last year’s fiasco, we made sure to change things so that everyone did better this year, and so far, so good!
We have a huge brooder that came with the garage when we bought the place. It has it’s failings (it’s 5 feet tall and the door is too small for any normal sized human to climb through), but those can be fixed later on. Right now Hubby climbs in, morning and night, to refill feeders and waterers. Once this batch of chicks moves off to the poultry yard, we’ll change the design of the brooder and install a bigger door for ease of getting into.

We’re also hoping to build another brooder in our Little Red Shed.
Oh!
Have I not shared about the Little Red Shed??

Our new feed shed…

Hubby made a deal for the shed, but the catch was we had to move it roughly 5 miles.
To do that, a friend of Hubby’s from work came out with a crew, loaded it up and brought it home to us.
Sounds easy, but it took some work, and it was pretty amazing seeing this building being hauled down our road!

So now, Hubby and I are discussing turning 1/2 of that shed into a chick brooder with different sections for different ages and breeds.
Why?
Because for Mother’s Day…
I GOT AN INCUBATOR!!!

Now I’m just waiting for it to arrive, so I can take a bunch of our Easter Egger eggs and try to hatch them out.
Of the 18 EE chicks I bought last year, 5 were hens.
LOL!!
Not that having a whole bunch of roosters to grow out is a huge deal, because they simply go to Freezer Camp.
We kept one, and he’s been diligently fertilizing eggs every chance he gets. So, since none of my hens are showing interest in hatching eggs (and I was so hopeful after the one in the Fall decided she was going to!) I began looking for a cost effective incubator.
When I found what I wanted Hubby said “Ok. Go ahead and buy it. Happy Mother’s Day.”
😀

Also on the list of things to get done for growing season…

~ Clean up around the fruit trees/bushes.
My currants and honeyberries are poppin’!!
Huge growth so far on both, but I need to clean up the grasses underneath and around them, and put down a mulch to keep the weeds down. And add some rotted manure for fertilizer.
Apples and pears are a little slower, but still doing well…maybe this might be the year to get some fruit? I’m hopeful!

~ Give the horse shelter a deep cleaning.
Hasn’t been done since February and we’re now at that stage where it needs to be cleaned out to the dirt and have fresh straw tossed in for the summer.
Besides, I’ll need the rotted manure compost for the Fall to add to the garden.

~ Time to prep the straw bales for the straw bale gardens.
I’ve got the 5 big bales to grow in, so I’m going to do that. But they have to be “seasoned” first and that takes about 2 weeks of watering and fertilizing.

~ Get the piggies!
This weekend, hopefully, we’ll go on a drive to pick up 3 little piggies who will grow into our winter bacon/hams/chops/stew.

And soon it’ll be haying season, because I will continue to cut hay every chance I get. Those small bales I put up have come in handy soooooo many times!
And, there is still talk about getting a calf to grow out for meat.
I had a chance to do so this year, but just ran out of finances…
Sometimes, no matter how much you want something, you have to weigh what would, in the end, be the better investment for the farm.
This year I had the choice of adding an incubator, chicken plucker, and a high quality pair of hoof nippers for Hubby, or a calf.
Yeah, I had to go with the 3 investments in self sustainability this year. :/

And, of course, once the garden produces, canning season ramps back up.
*sigh*
This is the stuff I love.
This is what I dream about all winter.
Getting things growing and getting things stored and put up on the shelves and in the freezer for the next winter.

In between it all, I sneak out at sunrise to take pictures of the Merry Mares…because sunrise is always going to be my favorite time of day to take their pictures.

Ruby

Sable…with Astrid behind her.

Here’s to busy summer days…and rain as needed.

Day After Thanksgiving

For us Canadian folks, that is.
Today we go back to work…when you work from home, do you ever not work?
It feels like I’m always on duty.
Well, until I pour a glass of wine.
😉

Busy weekend:
A run to the city for beet pulp for the Nags. And groceries. And a trip to the bank. And the Dollarama…it was a whole day of errands.
Wine maintenance…bottled my green tomato, stabilized my apple, and it’ll get sweetened and bottled next weekend. Then I’ll start a concord grape batch, as well as another green tomato.
Washing the 10 million carrots from the garden…yes, it does take forever to scrub all the dirt off the ones going into jars!
Washing, blanching and freezing beet tops.
Kicking at the sewing repair pile…oh, goodness!
So.
Many.
Repairs!
But, the pile is a little smaller today than it was yesterday, so that’s a good thing.

And today?
Today I’m roasting chicken backs and necks to make a few batches of soup to can tomorrow.
While canning carrots today.
And prepping pork bones for soup on Thursday.
And then I get to take it all down to the shelves in the basement and put the jars in some semblance of order.
It’s a lot of work.
But, it’s so worth doing!

We have no nearby restaurant to order “convenience” foods when I don’t want to cook after a long day.
If I don’t have quick and easy foods on hand, then I have to do something more involved.
That’s fine when work is done before dark and we’re just the normal level of tired…but, winter is coming.
That means long hours moving snow, and taking care of animals.
That means a fast and easy heat up of a jar or two of soup, thickened into stew, with a chunk of bannock or cornbread makes everyone feel better.
So, as much as it’s a pain right now to get all the jars done, it will be worth it later on, when I’m dog tired and just gotta reheat something.

I have to admit, I love having the canner going again.
I hate water bath canning with a passion.
Ugh.
I did 14 quarts of pickled beets this year, and vowed to plant the beets sooner next year, pull them out sooner and pickle sooner, so that I can do the processing in the yard with the turkey fryer.
Water bath canning in the house is just gross.
But, the pressure canner?

😍😍😍
I refuse to do tomatoes any other way.
Yes, they can be waterbathed, but why??
So much faster with the p/c, so much less boiling water, so much easier!
Plus, the p/c gives the option of being able to do low acid foods.
IMO, it’s a Farmer/Homesteader must have tool.
Plus, there’s the joy of being able to can up your own chickpeas and kidney beans (if you like them). Personally, I love opening a jar of chickpeas and just eating them…or adding them to a hot bowl of rice, or an omelet…and you can never go wrong with tossing kidney beans into any tomato based sauce or soup!
Yum!
Canning your own is so much cheaper too.
I buy a 4 lb bag of dried beans/chickpeas for under $5 and get a guaranteed 16 pint jars (equal to 1 store-bought can), often more.
Yes, there’s the time and energy put into doing them, but still comes out to far less per jar than if I was buying cans.
And, I know exactly what’s in my jars.
🙂
So, even if I did pay more to can the beans, that itself would be worth it to me.
With that, I’m heading back to work, coffee in hand, because the canner is ready for the next load.
Full steam ahead!
edited to add: there’ll be more photos soon…for those who only come to see pictures of the animals 😉
check out the instagram feeds in the sidebar too, both the Farm and Photography page are there!