Winter is Coming

And I’m already tired.

The nights have been cooler.
The days, when not raining, well, not so much.
But the nights are cooler, and there is a definite scent of Fall in the air.

I’m not ready.
There is so much work to do before we can settle in and say we’re ready for Winter.
The good news?
I have the hay money all set aside for a full delivery of hay, not a month to month purchase like last year.
Thank Epona for that!! Just have to get that arranged…

But before winter comes we have so much other stuff to do…
I have to start 2nd cut on my hay.
Now it’s going to be just the front, around the fruit trees.
Hubby used the mower on the tractor to cut the back yard because we had people come out for our Anniversary party.
The grass wasn’t quite long enough for hay yet, and we needed to not sit in mosquio-ized grass.

There’s this guy…

Meat chicken…

And 48 of his friends (we lost one last weekend to a “piling” incident) to get ready for their Freezer Camp session…

As well as this guy…

Andy Piggie

And 5 of his pals to do the same with.
Plus, once the pig processing starts, I’m hoping to run the smoker for a few days and get some hams and bacon done as well.
Last year I didn’t get bacon done before winter, and um, I was sad.
LOL!
Having home smoked bacon for the winter months will be wonderful…but pigs don’t start the Freezer Camp journey until into October, and the weather can be unpredictable then.
Of course, now that Hubby’s garage is cleaned up, I can run it in there in cases of inclement weather.
So, that’s a huge bonus!

I’m also working on getting this one…

Used to wearing a blanket.
It’s been a slow and steady process, and neither one of us have died yet.
That’s good. 😉
I figure with the way the weather has effected her the past couple rough seasons, being able to toss a blanket on her (and Sable as well) will go a long way towards my sanity through the long cold months.
Normally, I don’t worry about blankets for the Girls, but the 2 Old Ladies sometimes just need a little extra help.
And it’s my responsibility to make sure they get it.

And then there’s these 2…

Quack quack quack

Ducks are new to me.
I’ve never wintered ducks before.
This is a learning experience, and again, it’s my responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

Oh, and there’s the garden to put to bed, once things are done there.
That should be done before pigs go to Camp, so that the pigs can eat some of the left overs…pea plants, bean plants, carrot tops…that sorta thing.
Sadly, can’t give ’em potato plants or tomato plants, because nightshade family, so those will be burned.
Then we can cover in manure, pull the tarp and stake it down.
All so we can be ready for next spring, when the plan/hope is to get the whole of the garden planted.

We’re also hoping to set the fence posts for the next pasture.
I know, said that last summer/fall, but yeah, I really want either a milk cow or a couple steers next year to round out the meat freezers. Another pasture is a need, to be able to do either one.

At the end of the day, I know all will be well.
The Kid will miss a few weekends of riding lessons while the work gets done, we’ll work until we’re so tired we can’t think…then go do some more, and all will get done.
Why?
Because, it has to be done.
That’s the simple answer.

So, if you start seeing one picture posts, or no posts for a little while, it’s all good.
We’re just getting ready for the inevitable.
Winter is coming.

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Freezer Camp!

Don’t flinch, my loyal vegetarian readers!
I’m not going to show you graphic photos of animals being sent to freezer camp. Not today.
Oh, we’re talking about it, just today, it’s carrots. 🙂

I am not adverse to buying large amounts of produce when I can a. get great quality, and b. get it at a great price.
Before Yule, through the stable my Kid takes lessons at, we had the chance to purchase 20lb bags of carrots.
A quick inquiry to make sure these were good for humans as well as horses (and chickens 😉 ) and then, I asked for 2 bags.

Now, that sounds like a lot of carrots. 40lbs.
But, my Kid doesn’t eat candy. She eats veggies.
It’s not that I tell her she can’t have candy (that would be ridiculous, since I have a crazy sweet tooth!), she just doesn’t like it.
Ahh, but veggies!
I can’t keep her in peas, green beans, carrots, corn…
You get the picture.

So, 40lbs of carrots.
Yeah, gotta have!
We ate a lot of carroty yumminess…but yesterday, I thought I should put some in the freezer. Especially since we have a bunch of other produce to eat right now. And there’s more winter ahead of us.
Normally, I’d pressure can them, but I’ve been lazy on that front…that’s going to change with summer’s garden, and fall meat animal harvests.

So, prepping for the freezer…
First the chop:

big bowl o carrots

big bowl o carrots

I forgot to mention…these carrots are huge. Not woody, really tasty, but huge. Like, cannot give a whole one to the horses, because, well, I already had to go in Astrid’s mouth to pull out the chunk she tried to swallow because she couldn’t chew it.
Wheee!! Fun!
Said no one ever who has had to shove a hand into a horse’s mouth.

That’s a 14″ diameter stainless steel bowl…I have a bigger one too. It’s 18″ across. I call them my perogy making bowls. One for filling, one for dough.

Next, blanching (submerge in boiling water for 3 minutes, cool in ice water bath to stop cooking):

cooling the carrots in ice water

cooling the carrots in ice water

Oh, tops and tips?
They go in the fridge as horse treats:

6 cup bowl of pony nom nom noms

6 cup bowl of pony nom nom noms

That’ll last about 3 weeks for our mares.
By that I mean, it’ll take me 3 weeks to dole that out. If it was up to them, it wouldn’t last 3 seconds.

Finally, I weighed out the amount I wanted in each bag, and vacuum sealed them for the journey to Freezer Camp:

get in the freezer!

get in the freezer!

7 bags of 600 grams, and 1 900 gram bag.
8 meals in total.
Gotta like that.
🙂

Monday Morning

With a busy week ahead.
This coming weekend, we are sending the first of our 3 piggies to freezer camp. Like the Peepers, we’ll do this ourselves.
While I’ll be sad to see them die, I am looking forward to having more home-grown meat in the freezer.

3 piggie bums...

3 piggie bums…

Once the pigs are all butchered, we’ll spread some cover crop seeds in there, so that when the piglets arrive next spring, there will be some delicious greens growing for them. 🙂

Getting a thoughtful look from Anthony...

Getting a thoughtful look from Anthony…

I also have some sewing repairs that I have to get done before winter…ugh. I put off the zipper replacements too long. Didn’t want to do them while it was blistering hot and now, we’re looking at needing some of the in-between jackets…which, of course, are the ones needing fixing. Surprise!

But, I also want to get a start on getting some fresh pasta noodles in the freezer. At least a couple of bags, before the piggies get in there…I don’t know what kind of room I’m going to have, once the pigs are done. And, there’s fat to render for lard!
I was given some by a couple other friends when they got their pigs done. Mmmmm, lard!
Makes me look forward to bannock and chili in the winter. Nothing better than coming in from freezing your ass off working outside and smelling chili in the crock pot and bannock in the oven.
*drools*

This guy likes bannock and chili too!

This guy likes bannock and chili too!

The outdoor cats will be very happy with the butchering too…like the Peepers, there will be no waste, because what we don’t eat, the cats will. Some we’ll let them binge on, other parts will be ground and frozen in pre-portioned amounts for winter feeding.
That, to me, is a bonus…not only is the Farm feeding the humans, but, we can make raw cat food as well.

Oh you silly hennys!

Oh you silly hennys!

Mondays are “toss a bit more straw down in the coop” day…and then the hennys notice and get all mad at me.
“The hell, Food Lady! You wrecked our home, we must redecorate!”
Keeps them entertained. 😉

And then, there’s the Girls…

Interesting sleeping position...

Interesting sleeping position…

Sable sleeps in the oddest ways.
She stayed like that for a good 10 minutes. I don’t know how it was comfortable. Funny Girl.

Astrid looking lovely as her winter woolies grow in...

Astrid looking lovely as her winter woolies grow in…

Ignore the poop piles in the background. I haven’t had a chance to get out with the wheelbarrow and pick them up yet.
It’s on the list for this week.

And finally…my helper as I lay in the grass taking pictures of the others…

"Hey Mom. Whatcha doing?" ~ Ruby

“Hey Mom. Whatcha doing?” ~ Ruby

Have the very best day y’all can manage, my friends.
I know it’s Monday, and that ain’t always easy.

A Slice of My Life

Yesterday was a break in the constant rain. Yeah, I know, shouldn’t complain about rain when others aren’t getting. Really though, we’re soggy. Parts of my pasture are still under water. Oh, we have darn good growth out there. Some of it too much-which sounds crazy, with 4 giant grass eaters, but they, like most horses, are picky. Once the grass gets too long, it’s not as palatable to them, so they don’t eat it. That’s when we mow it…but if it’s to wet to get out there with the mower…well, you can see where that might be a problem.

Anyways, with yesterday’s break we worked on weeding some of the garden spaces. Sadly, nothing has been planted, because weeds got away on us in the non stop rain. I mean, seriously got away on us…

That's my garden...

That’s my garden…

It’s overgrown with grass, thistles, stinging nettle, wild canola and clover.
*sigh*
Same with my 9 smaller raised beds. Yesterday, though, we cleaned out 6 of the 9 and I planted some of the starts I had in the basement…I have no expectations from them. After forgetting my first rounds of tomatoes and peppers (they died without water) being busy with Sable’s hoof issues over spring, I replanted things. Well, surprise! I forgot about them again. *facepalm*
And so, if you know me at all, you have an idea of how hard on me this has been, no garden.
The past 3 summers have been like this, while I’m adjusting to planting out here, compared to the city. I’ll get it yet, but it’s been a hard learning curve…one that’s left me a little bruised and battered feeling.

My half dead cukes...they did perk up with watering, so I'm cautiously hopeful.

My half dead cukes…they did perk up with watering, so I’m cautiously hopeful.

Sad peppers...:( Including 3 Thai Chili Peppers.  Fingers crossed?

Sad peppers… 😦
Including 3 Thai Chili Peppers.
Fingers crossed?

Chocolate mint...in a bag wrapped tomato cage, to protect it from the hoard of cats...at least until it gets firmly established.

Chocolate mint…in a bag wrapped tomato cage, to protect it from the hoard of cats…at least until it gets firmly established.

The other boxes I put in some bush bean seeds. Bush beans are fast growers, and hopefully, we can get some from them. And, well, as I clear more of the big bed, I’m putting more bean seeds in there. Beans is definitely something we love to eat here. 🙂

And, underneath all the frustrations from not having the garden planted, there is the knowledge that all those weeds, as I pull them out, are still contributing to the winter food supply. How’s that, you ask?
Well, all the weeds get tossed to the piggies.

Anthony Piggie sleeping in a pile of weeds.

Anthony Piggie sleeping in a pile of weeds.

The girlies LOVE weeds. Thistles are their faves-both purple and sow-with the canola and stinging nettle easy seconds. And grass? Oh yeah! So, even with not being able to produce plants for us, the garden weeds are still not just being burned or wasted.

A little Piggie side eye...hoping for more nummies. ;)

A little Piggie side eye…hoping for more nummies. 😉

Besides, it’s not like we’re not producing any food for us…
There’s the piggies, who will go to Freezer Camp in October, there’s the hennys, giving us eggs…and how pretty is this sight?

Three hennys sit in the same spot just about every day to give us three eggs.

Three hennys sit in the same spot just about every day to give us three eggs.

And, we just added these guys (and gals):

Peepers!!

Peepers!!

We got 15 Cornish cross day old chicks last Thursday. Oh my gosh, they’re just so cute! lol
And in 8-12 weeks time, they’ll be going to Freezer Camp as well.

That's a peeper with some attitude!

That’s a peeper with some attitude!

One thing the rain *has* been great for is the fruit trees.

Pear

Pear

That pear tree was only about 12″ tall when I uncovered it…the pears have been very slow growing. :/ But now, with the rain, and a ring of rotted horse manure around the base, it’s more than doubled in height and thickened up beautifully!

All the fruit trees have been the same…except one apple that didn’t make it through the winter. But it didn’t stand a chance against Daphne, the stick chewing dog, who doesn’t know the difference between a stick in the snow and a tree. D’Oh!

Apple tree...up 8", and several new branches.

Apple tree…up 8″, and several new branches.

So, really, things may not be going to plan 100%, but, we’re adapting and over coming. We’re getting things done, and we’re learning.
Next year, we’ll try again to make the garden work. I know we can do it, we’ll just have to persevere.

One final photo…

Gabrielle

Gabrielle

Our wilding kitty Gabrielle…Anna and Banana’s mama.
And now, a spayed kitty, who can focus on her real job here…hunting.