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˜‚

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
(after the last week, I sure could use coffee!!)
πŸ™‚

Apple Wine

A few weeks ago, I put out the call looking for locals who had apple trees with apples that they weren’t going to use.
Said we’d happily come out and pick the trees, take away the apples and return with a few bottles of apple wine.
Got a few nibbles, but mostly it was people who wanted me to make them an entire 5 gallon batch, plus pick their tree…one woman told me I could have all the half rotten ones on the ground if I picked the good apples for her.
πŸ™„

And then, I got a message from a friend of friends, a local horse woman, who had an apple tree, and hankerin’ for a few bottle of wine.
Well, with a little back and forth, we set a date, met up and I came away with a bag of roughly 50lbs of apples.
Gorgeous, sweet, crunchy eating apples…perfect for a batch of wine.
After I ate a couple. πŸ˜‰

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Way back when we were in the city, our tree there was producing 250-300lbs of apples a year.
We could only eat so many, so I started making and canning juice.
But I got tired of the old cook it on the stove top, strain it through cheesecloth method of making juice, and went to my parents and stole (with permission) my Dad’s juicer.
Now?
I make juice by running the apples through the juicer.

Big bowl of sliced apples, ready to be run through the juicer.

Once the juicing is done, the mush that comes out the other side is put into a mesh bag.
That goes into the primary fermenting pail, with the juice itself.
I want aaaaaaalllllllll the apple-y goodness going into my wine. πŸ˜‰

Cores get cooked down and strained for juice…nothing gets wasted here!

Once the cores have given up everything they had, those get tossed to the pigs.
Pigs ❀ love ❀ apples!
The juice is then added with the other juice and the mush to the primary fermenter.

From there I add sugar, pectic enzyme (if I have it on hand…with the cooked juice, the wine finishes with a creamy mouth feel with out the pectic enzyme. Some people don’t care for it, but I don’t mind it, so I don’t get frantic if I don’t have the pectic enzyme to add), k-meta and water to 6 gallons.
I let it sit for 24ish hours, then pitch the yeast and add some yeast nutrient.

That’s all there is to it.
Over the next week, I stir the pail a few times a day, and squeeze the bag of mush.
After a week or so, I pull out the bag of mush…that goes to the pigs…and depending on the specific gravity reading, I’ll either give it a few more days in the pail or rack it off to a carboy.
Once it’s on the carboy, sealed with an air lock, I let time do it’s work.
Anywhere from 2-5 months.
Honestly, I put it in a corner and forget about it.

After a while, I’ll come back to it, rack it off the stuff at the bottom (the lees), stabilize it and usually I’ll sweeten it.
Typically with some raspberry syrup…because apple raspberry wine is fan-effing-tastic!
And then, into bottles for a few more months.

All told, it’ll take anywhere from 4-12 months before it’s in the bottle and ready to drink.
Trust me though, it’s worth the wait!

Linking up with September Days at The Hearth and Soul link party hosted by April J Harris.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Buy Me A Coffee

I’m sure y’all have seen this at the end of the last few posts…
“If you like this post, feel free to buy me a coffee”

Buy Me A Coffee is a website where people can choose to say thanks to an artist, be they a writer, a photographer, a graphic artist, or what-have-you, with a monetary donation.

I’ve heard it a million times…
“You should write a book!”
Well, maybe, but that takes time.
Time I don’t necessarily have…without cloning myself. πŸ˜‰
Y’all *know* how busy things get here!
And honestly, I’m not as interested in writing a book as I thought I might be.
I much prefer the bites and bits of the blog.
This way, I don’t have to have continuous unity throughout so many pages.
I can write about topics as they come up, pop into my head, or as you Dear Readers request.
Plus I can randomly insert pictures of the animals any where in any post.
Far more fun than a book!
πŸ˜‰

Then I thought about ways to monetize the blog.
Because who doesn’t want to get paid for doing what they love, right??
This became a challenge…I’ve encountered a few blogs that I loved where they’ve monetized and now only post small tidbits of info/their life. To get anything of substance, you have to pay a monthly fee for access.
I sure don’t want to do that here.
I don’t, in my opinion, think that’s fair…to build a blog that people come to on the daily, then tell them they can only have access if they pay.
And I’m not saying it’s the wrong way for those folks to go…I’m saying it’s not the right way for *me* to go.

So when I was introduced to Buy Me A Coffee, I thought “ahhh, *that’s* the way to go!”
I love coffee.
Like seriously, can’t live without it, it’s the lifeblood of the universe, love coffee.
What better way to let folks know, if they choose, they can offer a thanks by, metaphorically, buying me coffee.
*grins*

At the same time, this means more good things for you readers.
It means more content!
YAY!!
We’re in a bit of a lull between the gardening season and butchering season, so I’m stockpiling posts so that you don’t go weeks and weeks without hearing from me.
I think if I’m going be asking y’all to buy me coffee, I need to pony up way more content than a post every 2 weeks or so.
Let’s be honest, it ain’t fair for me to not work and still ask for patronage.

So I hope everyone likes what they’ll be seeing.
And if you like this post, or any others, feel free to buy me a coffee.
All you have to do is click the link and follow the easy peasy instructions on my b.m.a.c page.
πŸ™‚

When I am an Old Horse Woman Redux

WHEN I AM AN OLD HORSE WOMAN

When I am an old horsewoman
I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.

❀

I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.

❀

I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to all
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.

❀

-By Patty Barnhart
Originally published in The Arabian Horse World magazine in 1992

❀

Today felt like a great day for a repost of this much loved poem.

If you like this post, feel free to buy me a coffee. πŸ™‚

6 Years

Not a long post, but a sweet post.
As of 9:00am, Midnight Calico Farm has been in existence for 6 years.

Some folks have been with us from the very beginning.
Some folks have joined us in the later years.

We’re happy all of you follow us.
Many of you are like family.

Thanks for being here.
Hope you stick with us as we continue to grow.
πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

“I be rollin’
My back is itchy…oooooh, feels soooo good!!”
~ Sable

47

Yesterday was a day just like any other day.
Hay was cut.
Weeds were pulled.
Pigs ate the weeds.
Chickens did too.
There were eggs collected.
Beet pulp given to horses.

Oh, and a 4’x5′ mirror was taken out to the pasture for a little photography fun.

I had a certain *something* in mind…and I got that done, but not before the Mares had to find out who these interloper horses were…

“I can see you…you are very pretty. ❀
Want to be friends?
You do smell a bit odd though…”
~Sable

“Who. Are. You.
*snort*
I. Don’t. Like. You.
*snort*”
~Astrid

Watching the 2 of them was absolutely hilarious.
Makes me want to find a safer way to put the mirror out there for more photo fun.
This wasn’t the best because it was just leaned up on Cookie’s Tree, and Hubby had to hold it. Astrid kept giving it hard nudges, while snorting, telling that “Other Horse” to piss off out of her pasture.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
And yet Ruby didn’t even care about it…which is why I’d love to set it up again, to see if she’d take an interest without us people around.

Anyways, once Hubby and The Kid backed the 2 fools up, I got to do what I was there to do…

Self portrait

Not too shabby a shot for my 47th birthday.
πŸ™‚

Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

Chickies!!

I originally set 24 eggs in the incubator…

(phone pic)

At day 7 I candled and found 3 not fertilized, which left me with 21 eggs.
And then the pipping started on day 20 (I forgot to candle again at day 14).
It took everything I had to *not* open the incubator until day 22…

On the morning of day 22 we prepped the brooder, got a bin ready to transfer from incubator to brooder, and opened her up…

18!!

Of my 21 eggs, 18 hatched.
So we whisked them off to the brooder and I closed up the incubator for another 24 hours…in case those eggs were just slower to hatch.
Turns out they weren’t fertile.
So they went to the piggies.
πŸ™‚

And now, here some sneak peek pics of the ones who hatched:

Look at them!!
πŸ™‚

Interesting mix…
Our rooster’s sire is (I’m told) pure Ameraucana, hen an easter egger…so him with our easter eggers and our Browns and Columbian Rock Xs made some interesting mixes.
Whether or not I get more coloured egg layers from any of the hens (if there are any lol) we’ll just have to see.

Little cheepers…

What a funny little spot on this one’s head!
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So now we feed ’em and watch ’em grow.
Hens will stay on as layers, roosters will go on to become fajitas.

And round 2 of eggs, 24 again, is in the incubator.
After that hatch, I’ll put it away ’til spring.
I’d love to keep hatching, but we have to be sure whatever pullets we get are big enough come the cool/cold season so they can be in the coop with the older hens safely.

So after this round, I won’t set any more eggs until mid-March.
But I’ll be on the look out for other egg varieties…turkeys, ducks, guineas…just because I can.
πŸ™‚

There’ll be more pics in a bit…we’re busy getting ready for The Kid’s grad this weekend. Once that’s done, and we’ve recovered, The Kid and I have a specific photoshoot in mind for these balls of feathery cuteness.