Hot and Sweaty

July.
Amirite??
😂😂😂

So it’s hot.
Hotter than normal.
But one of the side effects of hotter than normal, is that we’ve had some good downpours.
YAY.
We sure did need them!

So this week I’m back to cutting hay.
Not ’til Friday though, because we have a couple more days of rain in the forecast for mid-week.
My small hay “fields” look good though…I’ll know more once I get cutting, but I think we’ll do okay with my work this year.
*fingers crossed*
I still have 2 bales put up from last year for the Merry Mares, and I made sure our Hay Guy knew with our last delivery last year…”Let’s just get this out of the way now…yup, I’m gonna need hay next year.”
LOL!!
But there’ll be no horse shopping for me this year…I don’t anticipate any extra hay over what I typically order, because so far the year hasn’t been great.
I had been hoping to bring my herd back up to 4, even if it was only a mini, but that’s just not in the cards for this year.
Oh, there’s plenty of equines out there to be had, but I ain’t taking on another if I can’t feed ’em.
That’s just how it is.

As for the rest of the Farm…

Garden has been loving the rain.
Weeds are huge.
In among the weeds my beans are starting to flower.
I found some strawberry plants on sale at the local grocery store.
$1.94 each and they were huge already!

Holy cheap berries to add to the garden!!

I seriously couldn’t pass them up, it was too good of a deal.
So since my asshole chickens 😉 got to the others, I snapped up 4 of them. Planted them ASAP, mulched heavily, and so far, so good.
They’re inside the garden fence, so chickens can’t get to ’em.

Added a new apple tree to the Farm, in honour of a good friend who lost her last battle with cancer over the winter.
She was an avid gardener, so a tree just seemed right.

Also bought 2 black currant bushes on sale…
We love the end of season clear out on fruit trees/bushes, I tell ya!!
🙂

My honeyberry cuttings!!
We. Have. Roots!

Loooooook!!!
Roots!

Okay, so only 2 cuttings of the 15 I took ended up rooting…but that’s okay! 2 is better than none, and they’re good strong rootings.
Since berries are done for the season, I popped out and cut another 1/2 dozen. We’ll see if I can get any of those to take.
Any that do will spend the winter inside being babied, until the spring thaw, when they’ll go out to expand the Food Forest.

And finally, we’re into the home stretch with the meat chickens.
Whew!
In the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at sending them to Freezer Camp. That’ll take 43 beaks off the feed bill.
And it will add a whole lot of meals to the freezer/shelves for winter.
Then in the Fall all we’ll have for poultry is whatever roosters I hatched out.

So, in short…
Life is busy.
Hot.
Sweaty.
But we’re getting things done, and it all looks like things are going according to plan (may it stay so…).
🙂

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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. 🙂
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. 😉

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.
🙂

Bacon Seeds

The bacon seeds have arrived!!

Just about 6 weeks later than last year.
But, life happens.
We were getting close to drought conditions right around when we normally would get piglets, and I was concerned about bringing more livestock onto the Farm without being 100% sure I could keep everyone watered and healthy on the well.

So, we waited.
Then we got amazing rainfalls (that took out my garden a time or two) and now we’ve had good, regular rains (which have been helping my garden…and the weeds in it!).
That eased my worries about water.
Then, we just had to wait for schedules to align to go pick these guys up…that was yesterday.

Behold, our cute little bacon makers!

Bums!

We brought home 6 little baconettes to grow for as long as possible before winter hits.
🙂

And Then There Were 2…

We’ve been working on sending the pigs to Freezer Camp.
So far, 4 have gone to Camp, with 2 left to take care of this weekend.
We’re down to AndyPiggie(picture) and CharlottePiggie.

First to go to Camp were:

1. LitaPiggie, who was the biter and meanest pig of the 6…she was also the one who kept climbing onto the pig shelter and trying to make the leap into the chicken yard.

I won’t miss that miserable b***h at all.

2. ImeldaPiggie, so named because she loved shoes. My crocs the most…she also enjoyed a good back scratch and a belly rub. Of all the pigs this year, she was the sweetest girl.

3. MaryPiggie. The runt of the 6, and the toughest. This girl fought for food every darn day, even with 3 feeding stations. She just wanted all the food, all the time. Healthy and happy otherwise, just hated sharing food with her piggie sibs.

4. GeorgePiggie. Our smallest boy, who turned out to be quite the chunk. Had he not been castrated before coming to us, he likely would have made quite the boar for a small farmer like us. George rivaled Imelda for friendliness.

We’re getting into weather that is not conducive to pink piggies doing well outside. Cold like we have now (a record of -21*C this morning!!) means pink piggies start to lose body condition, and can actually freeze to death.
Certainly not what we want for these guys.
Pinkies are not meant for outdoor 24/7/365, that’s for sure!
So, to make sure they’re still happy and healthy until their date with the Freezer Camp director, they get ample straw bedding in their shelter, to snuggle down into and stay warm.
They also get 5-6 hot meals a day.
Smaller than when there was 6 of them, and just enough that they can finish it each time.

I use a mixture of hot water, left over coffee (hey, it happens sometimes! 😉 ), and a pint of milk poured over their grains for each meal. And, the past week they’ve been getting a 1/2 cup of yogurt too, just to make sure tummies are working well and processing the food.

Seems like a lot of work for pigs we’re just going to kill, right?
It is.
But, the rule here is Happy Food Tastes Better and the best way to keep pigs happy is with a full belly and warmth.
Just because we’re going to butcher them, doesn’t mean that they deserve a lesser quality of life.

As far as we’re concerned, they get the same standard of care as any other animal here.

Hot mashes for horses?
Yup.
Hot mashes for chickens and ducks?
Yup.
Hot mashes for piggies?
Yup.
Really, what’s one more hot mash to make up, to keep the animals that will feed us for the winter happy and healthy?
That, to me, is time well spent.

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.

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.