One of our surprise piggies punctured his mouth and split his lip. It is almost like he gave himself a clef palette. We took him to the vet when we realized how deep the puncture was and that there was internal soft tissue damage.
The vet is amazing! Im grateful that we have a large animal farm vet that has a heart for the animals. She sedated the piggie and sutured his mouth. The puncture went almost into his eye socket. It was very deep. Luckily, he had not developed an infection and we caught it early. Eight sutures later our little Scar Face boy is back together.
This is the number one reason our farm will never be organic. On an organic farm I would have had to kill this piggie or let him suffer. We got him the care he needed. This care includes an antibiotic. An organic farm can not give an animal an antibiotic.
We are back home now and my little Scar Face is not allowed to go back out with Mom for 24 hours. We are allowed to take him to nurse from her in the morning. Tonight he will stay with me, he still has too much of the sedation in his system. He does not like the idea of being away from Mom. So he screams. Non-stop screaming. I force fed him some goats milk by syringe and eventually by bottle. He took some but most drained out his cut mouth. Im praying he is going to be able to nurse! The milk has calmed him down some. He is almost asleep.
I hope, I will be able to transfer him to a dog crate soon so I can get some rest. Caring for this baby reminds me of the poem, So God Made A Farmer.
It is one of my favorite poems. Enjoy! Farm On and God Bless!
On Sunday, when we were sorting pigs, preparing to load them for butcher, we noticed that one looked like her belly was hanging lower to the ground. It almost looked like she was bagging up getting ready to have babies. We kept her back and decided not to send her to butcher. Every year we butcher one hog for ourselves and then we sell off the others. We knew that keeping her from going to butcher meant that we were going to loose our family’s hog for the year. We were willing to make that sacrific and not abort these babies IF she was pregnant. God blessed us with very large hogs this year and there would be enough. He always provides.
It is difficult to pregnancy check a pig. If they are a really tame animal you can ultrasound them towards the beginning of the pregnancy, but other than that it is pretty much a wait and see game. We had no way to know 100% if this pig was pregnant or not. We just knew she did not look right. We are fairly new to having pigs born on the farm. Normally, we buy babies from another farmer and raise them out till butcher weight. We are very inexperienced when it comes to breeding pigs. We have a boar on the farm and we had been trying to get our dear sweet sow Elsa pregnant for years. Turns out it was not in God’s plan for Elsa to have any more babies. The boar works just fine!
Going back a couple months, we had two times where the pigs busted through the gate to get in with the boar. Unsure if they became pregnant or not, we scheduled our butcher date late enough in the year that we would be able to wait and see. We had a sow deliver in October as the result of one of theses midnight rendezvous with the boar. Well, turns out the girls got in one other time that we did not know about.
The pigs were sent to be butchered on Tuesday. It is Thursday and we found six babies.
Momma choose to have babies in a huge pile of leaves. It was the best she could do on her own, but we stepped in to help her keep the babies warm. Using the insulation of the leaves we made what my daughter calls “ham in a can”. We put a metal port-a-hut on top of the pile of leaves and mixed in a bale of straw. We took more leaves and covered the whole hut like a hobbit house.
Over the door my husband built a tunnel to keep the wind out. When I crawled in the hut to check on the babies this morning my glasses fogged up. It was warm and toasty inside even though there was frost on the ground. What a blessing! I am worried we are not out of the woods yet. These little piggies are going to need extra care, being born in the winter is not easy. Praise God for blessings and the wisdom to not send her to butcher.
This last picture is just for a size reference! That is a baby piggie next to my cell phone.
Farm On! God Bless!
The past two week have been very emotionally draining. We are a working farm. We produce our own food. In order for me to have bacon, I have to butcher a pig.
I write a post like this every year. If you have been around for a while, it would not offend me if you skip this post. I think it is therapy for me to write it. Part of farm life is butchering animals. It never gets any easier. Our family does not become numb to it. It is always difficult. This year we butchered a sow that had been on our farm for several years. We loved her. She was a 700 pound pet. Her name was Elsa. Elsa came when she was called. She loved apples, belly rubs and to “watered” with the hose on warm days. She acted more like a giant Golden Retriever then a pig. Elsa was getting up there in age and she was not able to have babies anymore. She was also slowing down. It was time. She was not sick, we think she was just tired. We had to choose to butcher her or probably end up composting her. We felt like butchering her was a better way to respect her life. Still did not make it easy. We cried. The night after she was butcher I was an emotional mess. I missed my princess girl! That was when I saw this article.
This is an article about the largest hog operation ever that is being built in China. The company will raise millions of animals a year, in a multi-level factory setting. Those hogs will have no quality of life! Never touch grass. Never feel the sun. Never eat an apple or have belly rubs. In an instant I remembered why we do what we do. It is difficult, but I know that the animal had to best possible life. After reading the article I was able to take a breath and have peace. This is why we do what we do.
Our hogs are not raised on concrete. They are raised in a field, with grass, mud and sunshine. Our animals are fed extra veggies from our garden, whey from cheesemaking and extra eggs from the chickens. The grain that they eat is locally grown and made from real grain, not by products or chemicals. If they are sick, they see the vet. We care for them the best we can. We are still learning. I pray we never stop learning and improving. At the end of the day, they are happy pigs. I can feel good about eating happy pigs.
What are you eating? Know your farmer! Grow on! God Bless!
I am so excited to announce what our family will be starting in 2021. After much prayer and a crazy 2020, we have desided to simlify our life. We have been building up to this point, so we are not totally unprepared for this. Okay, let me step back and explain.
We are a family that believes in the local food movement. We believe that food that comes from more than a couple hundred of miles away should be a treat not a regular part of our diet. We also want our daily living and buying habits to reflect our belief of respecting the planet that God gave us. As a family, we were motivated by the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. The book is the story of her family eating only food that came from within 100 miles of their house. We want to take it a step further; reduce our energy useage, our buying habits, get out of debt, reduced single use plastics and grow the food ourselves. Adding to that, our persute of a simplier life and to go back in time to before industrialization of America and the disposable society that we are surrounded by. Please dont get me wrong, there are a lot of modern inventions that I am very grateful for. We do not want to discredit any of that, as I sit and type on a computer, we just want to make things last longer. Not buy every new thing on the market and practice living with less. I dont want to say minimalism because running a homestead is anything but minimalisitic. We are simplifiying and working on being less materialistic.
What will this mean specifically? We will only be purchasing things like grain items, some oils, raw ingredients I can not make myself, like baking soda for example. We are going to drastially reduce our processed food consumption. I will be making almost everything from scratch, sandwich bread and corn tortillas will be the exception. There are a few things that are in our diet because of health needs, but we will source them as locally and environmently friendly as possible. Overall, we will be buying anything we do not produce as local as possible or we will be doing without. Any food that I can not get locally, I will be getting from Imperfect Foods, to help reduce food waste as much as possible.
This will go for clothing, bathroom products, cleaner and house hold goods. As much as we can, we will make our own or use what we have. We already make soap and have just started making vinegar. If it is something we do not make, we will try to buy used first. Then if we have to buy new we will buy local and/or no plastic if possible. Significally reducing any single use plastic products or packaging.
As far as energy, we have removed our dryer from the laundry room, all clothes will be hung on a drying rack or the line. We heat our house with wood, we have sold our tractor and well be trying to use the animals more effectly on the farm. I am sure we will be doing more posts about that in the future.
Our goal is to do this for a year. Document it, share what we are learning and the challenges we encounter. It is not going to be perfect, it will be a learning process. I would love for this to be a life long change for our family and it would be amazing to help others make the change as well.
So here it goes, the start of this amazing journey! We appreciate your support, your prayers, your comments and your questions. Lastly, we hope you enjoy learning about our adventure.
FAll is finally upon us. The garden has slowed down the bulk of our harvest season is over. Our freezer is full, the cellar is full, we are ready for winter.
During the winter months we still try very hard to eat seasonally. We do not buy a lot of produce from the grocery store. We use the fruit and vegetables that I have frozen or canned during the summer. This makes menu planning so much easier. During the warm months, my menu is 100% based on what is coming out of the garden. If we have a huge cucumber harvest, we will be eating cucumbers for lunch and dinner. When the watermelon and cantaloupe start coming in, that is a huge part of our diet for the weeks when we are harvesting them fresh from the garden. We try very hard to eat, fresh, local and to eat what is in season at that time. As a result of this, I make our menu based on what is coming out of the garden or what is in season. Now that fall is here, I know what is in my freezer and I can make a menu for months at a time. It is so liberating to not have to think about dinner for months at a time! So… this is how I do it.
Index cards! I bought a pack of index cards and harassed my family. I asked every family member to list their favorite meal. If they gave me just a side dish, I pressured them to give me a main course to go with it. After I got tacos and pizza 50 times, then I looked through my recipes and recent Pintrest pins. What are meals I have made in the past that were hits and what worked? I just wrote the name of the meal on an index card. Think about soups, breakfast for dinner, 100% vegetarian meals, beef, pork, seafood, chicken and favorite birthday meals of the past. Write them all down, one meal on each card.
I then went through my index cards and wrote whether it was a beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian, pasta and Sunday/crock-pot meal. Here are some of my index cards in their categories.
BEEF: Sloppy Joe, tacos, meatloaf, hamburgers, steak, beef and broccoli stir fry, stuffed peppers, meatball sub, shepherds pie, and fajitas.
CHICKEN: Wings, popcorn chicken, chicken wraps, grilled chicken on salad, garlic basil chicken, fried chicken, BBQ chicken, chicken stir fry, Hawaiian chicken kebabs, and chicken enchiladas.
PASTA: Mac and cheese, baked ziti, ravioli, chicken mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes, lasagna, cal zones, pizza, Alfredo, spaghetti, and hamburger helper.
PORK: Open egg-roll, pulled BBQ pork, ginger garlic pork tenderloin, ham, egg and cheese sandwich, pork chops, ribs, ham steaks, pork fried rice, sausage gravy, BLT’s.
VEGETARIAN: broccoli cheese soup, potato soup, grilled cheese and tomato soup, salmon, tilapia, pancakes and eggs, baked potato and salad, quiche, mix veg stir fry over rice, beans and rice.
CROCK-POT: Turkey breast, tortilla soup, chili, pork roast, beef roast, chicken pot pie, roasted chicken, and kids pick.
Now, I just pick a card from each category. There are 6 groups, 6 meals a week and one night of left-overs or kid pick. On average I have 10 meals in a group, so that it 10 weeks worth of meals. Done! I fill everything into the calendar and if I need to buy something I add it to my grocery list for that week.
That easy! This system allows for you to plan two and a half months of meals at a time!
Next post we will talk about Lunch planning!
God is good! The garden is producing and the goats are producing. We are doing the best we can just to keep up! This is what we have been up to…
Peaches: We are trying to capture this summer gold for winter sunshine! We have canned 12 quarts of sliced peaches and 24 small lunchbox size jars. I am so grateful for my mothers help with this. It is so true that many hands make light work. Everyone had a job and we were a well oiled machine.
Tomatoes: This week we are putting up diced tomatoes in their own juices. This is an easy job, thankful for the break. We were able to chop and process 18 pints of diced tomatoes. I put chopped hot peppers in 9 of those jars so that it would be ready for Queso.
Peppers: Peppers are still producing like crazy. We shared some peppers with a friend and we froze a gallon chopped. Last year we did not freeze any peppers so we are thankful for the bounty.
Dairy Processing: We are almost out of yogurt so I made a gallon of that. I am doing an taste test experiment, to see if we like cultures from our yogurt in the fridge or powder cultures. I will drain at least half a gallon of this for greek yogurt. I prefer greek yogurt for breakfast and regular yogurt for smoothies.
I made a batch of cheese. It is a farm cheese, kind of a mix between a cheddar and a provolone. It is great in eggs and melted on garlic bread. We use it like you would a cheddar cheese.
We also broke down an cheese wheel that I made 3 weeks ago. This way it would keep better in the fridge. This cheese should have aged longer, but it is still good.
With the whey I made two batches of bread dough. I will turn one batch into bread for the week and the other I will make pizza dough for a quick pizza night.
The Herb Garden: I harvested basil which is in the dehydrator for cooking with this winter. I also harvest lemon balm. This is being air dried for hot tea in front of the fire! Tomorrow I jar up all the dried herbs that I harvested last week. I think we will have plenty of everything for the winter except dill. I replanted dill and cilantro. There is nothing like fresh cilantro on tacos and dill in salad dressing!
The food cellar is filling up, the freezers are filling up, we feel so blessed. It has been a great summer so far, thankful for the blessings we have been given. We are getting closer and closer to raising all of our food, with a couple exceptions!
Thanks for catching up, keep growing!
We are really working hard to become as food independent as possible. We know that we will still need to buy grain products; flour, rice and chips. As well as, baking products, like baking powder and chocolate.
Here is an update on what we are doing this week to get closer to that goal.
The tomatoes and peppers are producing great which mean salsa! We have put up several batches of salsa. As of today we have 28 jars. My boys love salsa so I am estimating that we will need 48 quart jars for the year. This will be made up of 24 jars of HOT salsa and 24 jars of mild- medium salsa.
So far we have canned 7 jars of beets. This is no where near enough. We are praying for a strong fall beet harvest. We need at least 15-20 jars of beets for the year.
Peaches are in season. We work with a local family owned orchard for all the fruit we do not grow on the farm, or we do not grow enough of. We will have to plant several more blueberry plants to not have to buy those. Peaches, back to peaches, free stone, yellow peaches are the only way to go. They are amazing. The only problem is while I am canning I believe I ate at least 5 peaches one slice at a time. We canned 7 jars of peaches with two can in the fridge to get us through the week till we go to the farm again. I see a peach coffee cake in my future! We also froze blackberries. Can you say ice cream and smoothies!
Our onions did not do well so we had to get a bushel of onions. I have been using them for salsa as well as freezing chopped onions for the winter. I have frozen 12 pounds of chopped onions.
Peppers have been doing so well that I have been freeing them as well as adding them to salsa. We have frozen 5 gallons of chopped green peppers. These are great in the winter for chili, omelets, sloppy joes, and pizza. We easily can go through 10 gallons in the winter.
Okra! This is a new one to freeze for me. I put away 2 gallons of chopped okra. I am hoping to use it in stews, soups and sloppy joes for the winter.
There are at least 4 months that we do not milk the goats. So we freeze milk during the summer. Whole milk for winter yogurt. As well as spun milk for drinking. The cream from the spun milk gets turned into butter. I have frozen several pounds of butter.
The summer squash is slowing down. So I am freezing some yellow squash for winter muffins. I will freeze about 8 cups, which is four batches of muffins. I already froze zucchini for bread. I may try to freeze zucchini noodles, but I am worried that they will be mushy. I also froze some zucchini tortillas for tacos.
Alright, back to chopping! Happy Harvesting!
Thank you to all our Front Line Workers!
Soup Sunday: We had a very lazy day and I made a big pot of soup. We had not electronics, other than church online and a book on tape while we played cards as a family. A pot of soup seemed fitting.
Monday: Burgers. The rest of the week it looks like we are going to have rain, so we had a fun night of burgers and fries.
Tuesday: Cinco De Mayo falls on Taco Tuesday!!!! We will be doing a taco feast! Tons of extra veggies, like carrots and radishes, to add to the tacos just to take them to the next level. Homemade chips!! It will be wonderful! I can taste the lime and cilantro already!
Wednesday: This is suppose to be a cold day. Turkey and gravy over rice with pan fried radishes and kale salad. If you have never had pan fried radishes you have to try them. Just a little butter melted in the pan. Half all your radishes or cut them up however you would like. Top with pepper, garlic and onion powder. Just let them cook in that heaven till they are soft and slightly brown. It is really just heaven. One of my favorite things from the garden.
Thursday: My daughters night to cook! I think she is planing something with steak! I told her to work in a ton of veggies. If I had to guess, I would say she is going to do hobo packets on the grill with cabbage, potatoes and steak.
Friday: Breakfast for dinner. Sausage, kale, onion and cheese quiche. I make this recipe with kale or chard. Goat cheese or cheddar. This is such a flexible meal. It takes the pieces that I have in the fridge and turns it into an amazing dinner. I will probably make baked apples to go with this. Just a simple farm dinner.
Saturday: Fried Chicken. We save all the drum sticks when we butcher the chickens and we put them to the side. We use them sparingly throughout the year to make them last. Fried chicken is such a treat. We only eat it every couple of months. We savor every bite! I am going to break tradition and make Brussels spouts instead of cabbage, might even make sweet potato fries. I’m hungry!
Sunday: Mother’s Day! I am the Mother and my favorite food is pizza! Or kale soup.. it will depend on the weather.
In the kitchen: Made Greek Yogurt, make cheese, churn butter, freeze butter milk and feed whey to pigs. Freeze kale for future soup. Yogurt starter. Kale chips.
Garden: In the garden we are harvesting kale and radishes. Last week we planted potatoes. We have planted the tomatoes and peppers outside under plastic. The seeds we have sown so far in the ground outside are: beets, radishes, lettuce, carrots, peas, chard, kale, and onions. In the high tunnel we have started carrots, beets, radishes, peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and kohlrabi. Please feel free to jump in where we are! Go out and plant the things we have planted outside!!!! There is still frost to be careful of, know when the last frost is in your area and plan around that. We are a zone 6. We could still get frost for another 2 weeks.
In the Barn: We have 9 bottle baby goats. They are all little cute jumping beans and keeping us very busy. The vet visited today, took care of the goats and drew blood. It was a routine visit. We have 10 turkeys doing well in their new outside turkey yard and house. We have 28 sustainable meat bird chicks in the brooding pen. These are meat birds that will hopefully be able to provide our family with meat for a very long time into the future. The chickens are not liking being locked out of the garden and they have stopped laying. The ducks do not currently like the goat roommates. We still do not have piglets but we keep hoping for a miracle.
Today has been a crazy day. I am thankful for the moment to sit at the computer and type out my menu plan for the week. I also plan daily to-do lists, cleaning plans, (I follow FlyLady) and any farm projects. I am a box checker, just in case you did not pick up on that yet. Friday, I made a grand check list of everything I wanted to get done all day, went out to do farm chores and found a goat in labor, whole day took a different turn. I like checking boxes better than “hello emergency!” but farm life does not always work that way.
Sunday: Roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and beets. Don’t judge me, we all have our thing, mine is turkey, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. They have to be made together. It was fabulous. I stuffed the bird with apples and onions. It will be lunch meat for the next two weeks and I will get three more meals out of this bird this week. I have no idea how big it was, maybe 15ish pounds.
Once I finish cleaning and picking the bird, I will put carrots, onions, celery, water and the bones into the crock pot. I cook this down for at least 24 hours, adding more water if needed. I can or freeze the turkey stock when it is done, I get about 4 quarts.
Monday: Turkey sandwiches, chips or turkey on salad. I cooked all day yesterday. Today I am keeping it easy.
Tuesday: Tacos. When we make tacos we cook dry beans in the InstaPot. Rice in the rice cooker, saute onion and hot peppers and cut up lettuce and tomatoes. We also fry our own corn chips. It makes the night extra special. This is also a night the kids cook and clean up.
Wednesday: Pork Loin in the InstaPot, roasted acorn squash and Brussels sprouts. The pork loin is a complete cheat. This I got on sale, it is not from our farm! Gasp! However, it is an easy night. The loin is fully seasoned and it goes in the InstaPot for 15 mins. I cut up the acorn squash in slices and half the sprouts. Roast 350 for about 10-15 mins. The squash depends on how thick I cut it. Easy prepare and easy clean up.
Thursday: Turkey enchiladas. I take more of the leftover turkey from Sunday, cut it up really small and mix it diced onions, bean, shredded cheese and a little salsa. Wrap in a gluten free wrap and lay the wraps into a baking dish. Cover the wraps with a spicy white sauce and salsa. Bake 350 for about 25-30 mins. Serve over rice or quinoa.
Friday: My daughter is cooking, it is going to be a surprise she said. Wants to make up a complete menu and present it to me tomorrow. It will have beef on it, that is the only hint I was given.
Saturday: Turkey drop biscuits soup with sweet potato gravy. This is like chicken and dumplings or chicken pot pie but with whatever veggies I have around, and the left over pieces of turkey. I will cook a sweet potato in the InstaPot to make a nice thick gravy that has that something special.
This week I will bake something with apples in it for breakfast or a treat after dinner. I have a feeling the kids are just going to want the baked apples, like the filling of an apple pie with no crust. It goes great on yogurt with almonds for breakfast!