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˜‚

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(after the last week, I sure could use coffee!!)
πŸ™‚

Holy Moly

What’s with all the spambots lately??
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
I’m gone for a bit and my spam filter catches 239 spam comments.
WOW!!
Kinda crazy…

It’s been chilly and rainy here.
And rainy too.
Did I mention the rain?
lol

Well, it seems we’ve gotten a couple seasons worth of rain in the past week or two.
I mean, we could use the moisture in the ground going into Fall, and my haying spots look amazing…I may even, if it stops raining for longer than an hour, get another cut before a hard frost sets in.
Fingers crossed!!

While the rains have been coming down, we’ve still been busy.
Ducks are laying eggs like crazy in the garden, and every day we have to search for them.
And every so slowly, they’re getting the weeds taken down there too…they’re not as good at it as I thought they would be, but still…they’re doing some of the work for me. πŸ™‚

With the sloppy muddiness of the pig yard, we’ve managed to use up almost all of the moldy hay that’s been sitting around.
Y’see, when we have hay that we can’t feed to The Merry Mares, we set it aside for the spring pigs.
We’ve had a couple years worth accumulate (sound like a lot, but it’s not really…our Hay Guy is awesome about having a high quality product…sometimes though, we get lazy about tarping in the wet seasons, and the bales suffer) and these pigs are loving it!
We toss it into the shelter and they roll around in it, bury themselves, happily eat any moldy parts…pigs love eating gross things. lol And if there’s mushrooms growing, even better!! No joke, pigs super ❀ mushrooms.

And then there was that sale on carrots…

I’ve been looking for carrots to put up ever since my crop died.
Finally, a local mega mart had a smokin’ deal on local grown carrots.
50 lbs later, I’m filling jars with carrot coins, and diced carrots.
Pressure canned and ready for winter eating.
Plus 10 lbs sitting in the basement fridge for soup…canning soup will be coming in the next couple of weeks and carrots store nicely in the fridge.

My shelves are getting full, I’m running seriously low on jars and it’s a good thing.
This makes me a happy FarmHer for sure.
πŸ™‚

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πŸ™‚

Thanks to all of you who’ve bought me coffee!
Your generosity has been greatly appreciated.

Ducks in the Garden

I know, I know…

I kept saying I was going to stick the ducks in the garden when it was all done.
I said it last year.
I said it in the spring, thinking they’d help with early, pre-planting weeding.

But, it never got done.
Until now!!

Behold…ducks in my garden!

There were a little put out by this move…

Brown duck is accusatory duck. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

But then, they discovered the seeds on the long grass and started eating…

‘Kay, maybe not so bad…

They have 3 places for shelter…the 2 compost bins, which are empty, with the doors off. And a crate that they’ll all fit into if they choose to cuddle together.

Donald…yeah, well, my Hubby named him.
He’s a handsome duck.
And he likes having 5 wives. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And then, the girls found the pool…because ducks have to have a pool!

Oh the excitement!!

Splashy splashy…

So they’ll stay in the garden for a month or so, eating weeds, bugs, and fertilizing.
Then we’ll move them back to the coop when the weather turns towards colder.

Sharing with the Simple Homestead bloghop hosted by Oak Hill Homestead.

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πŸ™‚

Blessed Lammas

Mid summer already.
Holy smokes, this year…after the slowest passing winter, this summer seems to be flying by us.

Things are kicking into high gear here.
Meat chickens are graduating to freezer camp…the first 10 went last weekend.
The rest go this weekend.
The freezers are being cleaned out of last year’s meats and turned into sausages.
Yeah, I’m really on this kick of making sausages.
The roosters from last year were so flavorful, but not good eating on the bbq. They were just too tough.
We bbq a lot.
But cooked low and slow, they were amazing!
So I figure I’ll take what’s left, grind with some bacon and seasonings and make sausage.
I also have some of last year’s pork left that I’ll do the same with.

We found some bags of chopped green tomatoes in there too.
So the next round of green tomato wine starts this weekend.
As well as a grapefruit one…we got a fantastic deal on MinuteMaid frozen concentrates. I wanna say it was 3 for $1.
Since my lime wine turned out pretty decent (still have to bottle that one) I figured I’d try grapefruit.
And then, I have my dandelion petals ready to start a small batch of Odhinn’s Mead.

I’m still fighting weeds in the garden.
I think I will forever and ever.
That’s just the nature of gardening.
But, my beans are in full flower, the tomatoes are too, and I don’t have any clue what’s in there for carrots.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weeds sheltered the teeny seeds enough to let them get a good hold on growing, but I’m not really expecting anything.

Ducks have resumed laying eggs.


Which is good because the last nest the one hen sat on was all rotten eggs.
We’ve seen the drake doing his job, so I’m collecting a dozen eggs and firing up the incubator.
I didn’t want to run it again ’til spring, but this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.
I’ll be watching out for a sale on 2nd one too…that way in spring, once the ducks pick up laying after their winter break, I can run batches of chickens and ducks at the same time.

Haying is moving right along.
I’m putting up as much as I can, while I can.
I had the opportunity to purchase a 2nd scythe. One with a longer blade. Oh how nice it glides through the grasses!!
It’s given me the chance to cut an extra area that I couldn’t do with the shorter ditch blade…so I’m a happy girl!

Plus, the longer blade makes 2nd cut here go so much more smooth!
The short blade isn’t meant for those later in the season softer grasses, so it tends to rip instead of cut. No matter how sharp it is.
I do have to fix the tip of the new-to-me one, but aside from that, I’m even making the snath (which is just a hair too short for me) work with a change of posture.

So that’s where we’re at here.
Working, working working.
Prepping for winter.
Thinking about plans for next year already.
I feel like this is all stuff I’ve shared before, but really, day to day right now is a lot of “more of the same” with only small changes.
Feel free to ask anything though, if there’s something y’all are curious about.

Ruby enjoying a nap in the sunshine…

The Garden So Far…

It’s been a busy weekend.
We have finally gotten the fencing up around the garden!
YAY!!
Now I’m working on planting without the help of asshole chickens-who-are-not-supposed-to-be-free-range-but-do-whatever-the-hell-they-want.

Yesterday I pulled out the biggest weeds from the first quarter of the garden, then planted a 20 ft row of beets, 5 20 ft rows of carrots (yes, we like carrots! between soups/stews, canned carrots for winter and fresh eating, there is never enough of them)

Then, I did a couple short rows of onions.
Today I plan to, if it doesn’t rain, get my leafy greens in…spinach, lettuce and radishes (I love the peppery flavour of radish greens πŸ™‚ ).

After that, it’s beans…hundreds of bean seeds, because like carrots, we love beans.
In soups/stews, in jars and fresh eating.
I could honestly plant my entire garden with beans and carrots and not have enough for the 3 of us.
One day, we’ll expand the garden even more and dedicate a larger area to both.

I’ve also been conditioning my straw bales for planting.
That should be this weekend.
I have 6 full medium square bales (average 400ish lbs) plus a 1/3rd of a bale that I just retied the string on.
That’s where my cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins and squashes will get planted.
I may also take one to plant sunflowers.
Ever since our first year here, I’ve been wanting to do a photo shoot with Sable eating sunflowers…because The Kid’s first garden was next to the pasture and that CinderBella ate every damn sunflower that bloomed…and did so with a huge equine grin on her face.
LOL!!
So I want to plant a bunch of them to give her a bouquet to nibble while I take pictures. πŸ˜‰

And then there’s the tomatoes to get in, and my grape plant.
Strawberries were planted, but attacked by chickens before the fence went up, so I’m watering and hoping they bounce back from those feathered assholes.

Once the tomatoes are in, and the seeds start coming up, I’ll be heavily mulching with straw.
I’m working towards the garden becoming no till.
I dislike running the rototiller just to mix up the soil and expose the good microbes to the sun…and it really does encourage weed seeds to grow.
So, I’m going no-till.
Lots of mulch, pulling weeds as needed and in the fall, with the fence in, the ducks will go there to finish any weeding before the winter hits.
My garden has great soil already, I just want to keep it that way. πŸ™‚
In the fall, we’ll add more rotted manure (because I have 3 poop factories working 24/7) and whatever straw bales from my bale gardening that are too decomposed to be grown in next year.

The chicks have been growing like crazy.
We cleaned up the old duck house, and the meat chicken house and both are ready for the meaties to make the transition to outdoor living.
Pretty sure that’s going to happen this coming weekend.
Then, if my incubator ever arrives…oy, the problems I’ve been having with Purolator!! That’s a whole different, expletive laden post, let me tell you…one the incubator arrives, I’ll fill it with eggs, and then we’ll have 3ish weeks to get the brooder cleaned out for the next round of chicks.
Home hatched chicks.
Eeeeee!! The excitement. πŸ˜€

Piglets will be arriving in about a week.
They’re ready to be off mama on the 27th. They’ll be 8 weeks by then, so should have a really good start.
We changed up the breed this year…thus far we’ve raised pinkies. But, they’re not bred for outdoor living like we like our pigs to live. It takes them time to adjust, time that should be spent growing. And while we’ve, for the most part, been happy with our end products, I feel we could do better with a heritage breed that’s bred for outdoor life.
So, with the help of a neighbour, we found 3 berkshire piglets.
I’m looking forward to seeing how our feed management and raising techniques work on these guys in comparison.

And finally, we have 1 duck and 1 chicken hen gone broody on a nest of chicken and duck eggs.
That started around the beginning of the month, so hopefully we’ll be seeing chicks from them soon.
They have this odd co-parenting thing going on, and I’m just letting them do their thing.
It’s either going to work or it’s not.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
πŸ™‚

gratuitous horse picture, because every post should have a picture of one of the Merry Mares. πŸ˜‰

Our Muscovy Flock

I’ve wanted ducks for a looooong time.
I never quite convinced Hubby that we needed ducks until a friend mentioned her work had a pair that needed a winter home…
And then we got ducks. πŸ™‚
That’s how Jazzy and Rain got here.

This was taken on their first day here…

And then over the winter, our Jazzy ended up with a respiratory infection that he couldn’t beat, no matter how much treatment I gave him, and we lost him.
It was only a few months without his partner-in-crime before Rain followed Jazzy into the great duck unknown.

We would have been duckless, but last fall, a local woman was selling off some of her extra stock…turns out muscovy hens really like to lay eggs. And hatch them.
So when the woman posted a blowout sale where hens were selling for $2 each (normally upwards of $20-35!) I jumped at the chance to buy 5 ladies.
And then we worked out a deal for drakes for both our freezers…but out of the drakes we got for our freezer, Hubby and I decided that 1 might have to stay.
Duck eggs are grand, but bbq’d duck is better!
One thing we learned this winter, after putting a bunch of ducks into the freezers of 2 homes, is that we really enjoy muscovy duck meat.
So having our own little flock of laying/hatching/duckling raising birds is no bad thing.
1 step closer to self-sufficiency, I says!

This handsome fellow is the drake we kept…and the brown face of one of the ladies. πŸ˜‰

And here he is with 4 of the ladies…the 5th is just out of frame.

Now that we have ducks eggs being layed, hopefully one (or more) of the ladies will go broody and sit to hatch some.
And then y’all will get to see duckling pictures.
πŸ™‚

Hardy Prairie Womanβ„’

This life…

Lemme tell ya, this life ain’t for the faint of heart, the princesses, the women scared of getting their hands dirty.
Aww hell no.

Yes, I chose it.
Yes, I’d choose it again.
And again.
And again.
And again.

But holy sonuvafuck…
This life can be *hard*.

I ain’t whining. Did that already. πŸ˜‰
I ain’t looking for sympathy. Got that already. πŸ˜‰
I’m just sharing a day in the life of a Hardy Prairie Womanβ„’.

We had a crazy cold snap.
And the septic stopped working.
So Hubby called the septic fellow, who couldn’t get to us until the next day…it’s always in the cold snaps that things decide not to work, amirite?
Next day, he comes out and, in seconds, gets it working…seems there was some ice in the hose that goes to the line to pump out the grey water…or something.
It’s worked ever since.
Fingers crossed it keeps working, since we’re back into another f**king cold snap.
The great thing about our system is when grey water is pumped out, it comes out above ground, so we can *see* when it’s working properly. Thank goodness!!

And now it’s sooooo cold, and with only 3 horses, the waterer has been freezing over on those crazy windy nights.
Ugh.
I wasn’t smart enough to bring out a hammer or screwdriver to punch through the ice, so my hand is black and blue from…punching through the ice.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
But you do what you have to do to get things going, right?
I mean, 3 thirsty over sized toddlers wanted water **NOW** not when I could get back with something to bash out ice.
And I couldn’t chance Sable trying to break the ice with her hoof.
So, I just have to get through this cold snap, and then I can open it up and see what’s going on…

We’ll just keep on keepin’ on.
It’s what we have to do in this weather…
Though I will admit to having a bit of a breakdown (I seriously considered turning in my “Hardy Prairie Womanβ„’ card) with the septic issue…I mean, this is our 6th winter here, can we not have at least 1 where all works without trouble???
But, it’s getting better, the fixes easier, and nothing backed up into the house this time.
There is that.
At least I had the chance to bottle 2 batches of wine.
Pretty sure I’m going to need them over the next week or so.
πŸ˜‰

Yesterday, our Jazzy, Sir JazzyHands McDuck died.
Our weather has been bouncing all over the place, and he came down with a respiratory illness.
Quarantine and treatment, unfortunately, did not help.
Our Good Duck has gone on to the other side.