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.
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November

Here we are, first week into November.
Hard to believe we’re there already.
I feel like getting ready to hibernate for Winter, and yet, there’s still so much to do.
Like, right now, I’m writing, but I should be out cleaning and re-bedding the chicken coop. That’s my plan for this afternoon.

But, for now, a chance to catch y’all up on things here…

We’ve finally finished putting the meat chickens in the freezer.
In running the numbers, it was definitely worth doing more chickens, than last years small amount. It was, however, too late in the season to start 50 chicks. Next year, we’ll start them earlier.
I plan on getting eggie chicks, so doing meaties early won’t be a big deal…we’ll do them together.

Since there’s only 3 of us to do the butchering, we can’t do all 50 in one day.
I wish!!
But no, we’re not fast enough for that. So we broke it up into 3 different days. Which, truth be told, worked out well, because we took out all the biggest ones in the first round, which gave the others a chance to grow. Second round, same thing.

Of the 50 chicks we ordered, we lost 3.
1 to a piling incident.
1 to the mean nasty bitch hennys.
1 to a heart attack…which is an unfortunate possibility with Cornish Cross birds.

Turns out we had gotten 51 from the hatchery, because my finished numbers show we processed 48 birds.
9 stayed whole as roasters.
39 were parted into breast, legs/thighs and wings, with backs and necks saved for soup fixings.
Feet were fed to the dog…who ate soooooo many feet. And feathers. I swear, that dog is going to sprout wings, she ate so many feathers. Weirdo.
Livers were saved for friends who enjoy them.
Hearts, gizzards and trim bits were bagged and frozen for winter cat food.

In total, we got 141.1 pounds of meat for our freezer.
Factoring in initial cost of chicks and feed, not including time, infrastructure or butchering supplies, our winter chickens cost us $1.24/pound.
So, really, not too bad.

Next up, comes the pigs.
That starts this weekend.

I think the ducks will be happy to no long have the pigs as neighbours.
And, to be brutally honest, I’ll be happy to no longer have to care for pigs.
Pigs are cute and fun when they’re little.
Once they get this big (they’re around the 200-250lbs mark) they’re butts.
Oh, they have their moments, like with the straw…but man, I’m just tired.
I had thought of wintering some, some year, but I don’t think so.
By November, I’m just done.
LOL!

And then there’s this duck:

Indignant Duck is indignant…and wants me to know it!!

Y’see, we’ve run out of time to get the duck house installed before hard-core winter hits. There’s other things that have to be done before and there is only 3 of us…
So, the ducks have been bunking with the hennys in the insulated coop.
Now that the meaties are gone, we moved the other poultry in there.
Which is why I’m supposed to be cleaning it… 😉

Ducks are not happy about change.
Rain especially.
He’s been rather insistent that he shouldn’t have to sleep with “those stupid girls”. We won’t discuss that the hens have been bunking in the temp. duck house anyways. Still…he doesn’t want to be in the coop with them.
So nightly “put the birds to bed” has been even more fun, with the ducks running away and refusing to go in the coop.

And then…

Last night, Hubby picked Rain up and put him in the coop.
Oh. My. Duck.
The world was ending, Scary Guy Walking touched him, Rain was Going. To. Die. He was so traumatized.
The next morning when I let everyone out, he chased me around the poultry yard, trying to bite and peck me, quacking his fool head off…he went from playing “trauma duck” to being full on rage-y “Indignant Duck”.
Ducks are incredibly expressive.
It did not help at all that I was laughing at him.
😀

Check out my “hard keeper”…

Remember I said I was happy with Sable’s condition this year?
Just look at the picture…

Holy fat Palomino!

Yay!
Fat, sassy, and happy as can be!
Yeah, she looks pregnant in this shot. lol
But seriously, she’s doing really well, and I am so happy for it.

Basking in the Fall sunshine…

Astrid’s back to 98% health.
I’m still liniment-ing and stretching her daily, just to be sure. She’s been trotting and playing, so that’s one less worry for me.

Ghost and Gabrielle

This ^^^ is my poultry helper crew.
They’re sitting in a sandbox that was the ducks’ pool for a while, but is actually The Kid’s flowerbed that never got set up when we got out here.
Now, it’s the feline viewing gallery.
Feline cheering section?
That Ghost is so adorable…and so flippin’ fat now!
I’ve been calling him FatGhost.
I love him dearly, though. ❤

Finally, a lovely shot of our Ruby, dozing in the sunshine…

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.

Piggie in a Pan

Nothing to see here…
Just a cute picture of Andy Piggie sitting in the water pan.

And they wonder why they don’t have clean water to drink!!
Silly piggies. 😉

Been a bit busy the last week here…after the great garage clean up, we’ve been working on a few other things, including some repairs to our deck.
And, I’ve got a photo shoot to do tomorrow morning with a Certain Girl.

So, it’s not that I’m ignoring y’all…
We haven’t fallen in the pig pen and not been able to get up… 😉
Just busy.
More posts coming.
I promise!

Using What You Have

I’m a firm believer in using what you have.
Whether it’s re-purposing something, or fixing it, I believe that throwing money at things is not always the best plan.
In fact, in Farm life, throwing money at things is the fastest way to become a broke FarmHer.

Take my pig and chicken yards…

All re-purposed materials, except for the main henny coop and fence posts.
The posts we bought the first year here, when the plan was fence the entire 80 acres.
We haven’t got that far yet, and so we used some of the posts for the food animal yards.

Chicken yard is a mixture of found-at-the-dump stucco wire (I found a 3/4 roll in the metal pile and fished it out right quick!) and chain link fencing that was from my Mom’s place in the city.

Pig yard is primarily pallets, which are, thankfully, free.

Pig house, and meat chicken house are built from skids and scrap wood that Hubby was getting free from work.
So, aside from hauling it home, the only cost into the shelters that have housed food animals for 2 years is maybe $20 in screws.
Pretty darn good, if you ask me.

This year’s pigs have an extra added bonus to their fence…
Bacon Makers…

For the past couple of years, we’ve been given medium square straw bales by a friend…they’re dirty bales he can’t use, and would have to burn, but, so long as we haul them away, we can have them.
This is what we’ve been building the shelter extension for the horses with, which makes winters so much easy on our Sable.
Come spring though, we have to figure out what to do with them…

This year? We put them around the pig yard. And it’s been perfect. Gives the piggies extra shade, Daphne uses them to (safely) watch the pigs, and it’s also something that the pigs can reach through the fencing to chew on.
It’s a winning situation all the way around.
And, next year, when they’ve broken down a little more, we’ll replace them with new ones, and turn these bales into smudges for the horses…and you’ve seen how popular smudges are around here. 😉

And then, this past winter, when Hubby hit a hard poo lump with the tractor, and ended up cutting a hole in the trough, I showed y’all my simple fix, that made it safe to still use for hay feeding.
Once the heat hit, we had to figure out some other fix, or we’d be looking at a new stock tank…which, if any one’s interested, runs about $300. If we could fix it, that’s $300 we didn’t have to spend.

One day, Hubby’s grocery shopping, and he sees a can on the clearance rack. It’s for a flexible spray rubber product.
Well, for $5, he takes a chance and buys it.
And then, using a cut open beer can, he made a patch to cover the biggest part of the hole…so, $5.10 later, we have a fully functional, safe water trough that give the Girls an extra 250 gallons of water.
Yup, totally worth it.

Oh, and the left over part of the can?
He used to fix the chicken waterers that had rusted out on the bottom.
Yeah, so, we didn’t have to pony up another $50 each for those this year either. Which was kinda nice. 😉

But, my real pride and joy for re-use, re-purpose, re-create ideas is this:

Putting Hubby to work…again.

That’s an old pressure tank that some one threw away at the dump.
I said to Hubby “You could cut that in half and we’d have 2 pig feeders”
He says “Yup I could. Shall I load it into the truck?”

And into the truck it went.
It’s been cut, and now we have to spray paint the inside with a metal paint (hello Rustoleum 😉 ) and he has to smooth the edges so that no piggies hurt them selves.
We will then have 2 good-sized feeders for piggies.
With little cost, just some elbow grease.

At the end of the day, I think we can approach this whole Farm/Homesteading thing 3 ways…

  1. the “throw money at it until it sticks” method (which, quite frankly, is what we do with the horses, because horses are money eaters)
  2. the “use it ’til it dies, and then fix it one more time” method (of which I am a huge supporter and practice myself 😉 )
  3. or a mixture of the 2 methods.

The real key is, to know when it’s time to use each method.
Either way, you gotta get your hands dirty…a little soil under the nails…or it’s not going to work at all.
That’s what helps make a successful Farm.
🙂

Garden 2017

Y’all remember how last year my garden, due to circumstances beyond our control, became a giant plot of weeds?
Not that we wasted anything, those weeds fed pigs for the summer, but still, it was hard on the ol’ FarmHer spirit to not have a garden going.
In the fall, with the last cutting of pig feed, we started covering the area with old plywood. Stuff we had lying around, but wasn’t good enough for building with…well we discovered that the soil underneath the wood was lovely. Still a bit of grass and weeds, but nowhere near as bad as last year.
Problem was, we didn’t have enough to cover the whole garden…takes a lot of wood to cover a 24×40 foot garden!

Ahhh…but we are nothing if not adaptable to the situation. 😉

The yellow/brown grass is where the wood was…

You can see though, that there is some really good grass growth on the side…*sigh*

So, the space that was covered by wood is about 12 feet wide, and the full 40 foot length of the garden. Even our powerful little tiller was having a rough time with the full grassy area…and so, what we’re going to do is this…

I’m going to plant everything I can in the 12×40 foot space, mulch it heavily with straw, and be happy with a space that is 3 time the size of any garden I had in the city…

Then, while the one side grows, we’re going to use our ever renewing composting manure pile to cover the other side, and then, we have a huge hay tarp we bought…back when I had visions of actually tarping our hay…but that never happened because, seriously, more trouble than it’s worth. You want hard on a marriage?!? Try tarping hay together…I wish I was kidding about that. :/

We’ve had this tarp sitting, and we figured now we’ll put it to good use. It can cover the side that’s too weedy right now, and then, once the growing season is done in the fall, it’s big enough to cover the entire garden.
We’ll start fresh for the entire space next spring. 🙂

See?
Adapt, overcome, move forward.

Tilling my soon to be garden space…

Sable looks on with interest…

As he was tilling, Hubby had to stop periodically to untangle roots from the tines of the tiller…he’d toss them off to the side, and our (definitely not) starving Sable had to try to reach them so she could eat them…

“I am wasting away here, Dad….
I am but a shell of my former gloriousness as a beautiful horse…
Soooooo hungry…
Can I has those roots please??”
~ Sable

While Hubby used the tiller, I put the scythe back to work, and cut the entirety of the rest of the garden, in prep for adding compost and covering.
Like last year, those greens did not go to waste…

The Kid forking green food to piglets…

As usual, when yard work is happening, Daphne ran around like a maniac…nothing this dog does is at low speed. She just runs until she flops down, dog tired.

Having a rest in the long grass…

When we were finally done, and I walked into the house, this is what I found:

Daisy Mae and Odhinn

He’s always complaining about Daisy bothering him…she’s not even 2, he’s an old man at 15. But that doesn’t stop the snuggles when cats need naps. 😉

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.