Category Archives: Animals

meat birds

When one embarks on a new hobby, one very quickly becomes immersed in a brand new subculture. And what is culture if not a collection of disagreements on how things should be done? Well, in the “raising my own meat chickens” community there is the conundrum of efficiency vs. quality.

On the side of efficiency you have the Cornish Cross. If you buy chicken of any sort at the store you are buying a Cornish Cross, a veritable miracle of breeding for purpose. These things get to market weight in 8 weeks or sooner and they produce tons of white meat on much less feed in the shortest amount of time possible. Less feathers and large body cavities make for very easy processing. The trade off: If you let them grow too big, their legs break under them. They can have heart attacks. People contend they taste awful or at least not as good as other breeds. They are gross and don’t move around a lot, except to feed frenzy their food.

On the side of Quality you have the Red/Freedom/etc. Ranger. These are a heritage meat bird that can get up to market weight in 12 weeks, but still retain the ability to lay eggs and mate naturally (the Cornish cross can’t do either). They are smarter and don’t face the health problems if allowed to grow beyond a certain age. People say they taste better as a result of being more active and they are prettier running around the yard.

We figured we’d do our own comparison to see which we liked better and had decided to start with the darling of hippie homesteaders everywhere: the much more natural Red Ranger. However, the feed store told us their hatchery had a break out of avian flu and lost all those chicks for the year so if we wanted chicken to eat it was the Cornish Cross for us. In perusing forum threads and blogs, I ran across some advice about managing these frankenbirds. The guy’s point was that one had to be aware of the nature that has been bred into them and work with that. These things are eating machines, therefore giving them free choice feed (like you would do with any other chicken, meat or layer) is a recipe for the above ickiness.  Our birds got fed twice a day and we found that while kind of pathetic and without grace, beauty or charm…these critters weren’t too bad to raise. Also I’m new to home raised chicken, so naturally these guys taste better than store bought to me and until my palette becomes more refined, I have no complaints.

*****Pictures of dead chickens: no blood, no guts, kid friendly*****

Here’s how it went down. We had 16 to process plus two roosters from last year. [Those two gentleman are still pecking about with our laying hens because after 4 hours of work in the hot and humid for both of us, we were done. Some day though, those boys are destined for the stock pot.] YouTube, the internet and books gave us the general idea, plus we did a few in Vegas. The killing cone was new and it worked well. Funny thing about chickens. When you hold them upside down they struggle and flap, but then they go limp and it’s like they just find their zen. This is convenient because then they slip right into the cone which confines them (theoretically) through the death throes. I say theoretically because one managed to flip itself out of the cone and around the shed for a solid minute sans head!

DSCN3220

Next the scald pot at 150 degrees with some dish soap in the water. This helps feathers loosen, cuts down smell and presents much less manure to be dealt with while plucking. And yes, I do most everything on the farm in my flipflops.

DSCN3228

And my sexy overalls. They do all the farm chores too.

Handmade plucker. It’s not fantastic but did get the areas I especially did not want to touch. It was fine for the amount we needed to do but any more birds and I’d want something more robust. They have motorized drums that can pluck multiple birds in a minute or two. A girl can dream, right?

What’s up? Chicken Butt. [Inner 12 year-old boy back in the box] The husband man and I settled into a fairly good system of killing (him), scalding and plucking (me), gutting (him), final cleaning and weighing (me). Pretty sure he got the short end of that stick.

DSCN3227

Not bad for a first try.

After hanging out in the fridge for a few days to chill and relax it was time to wrap them for the freezer. Nifty shrink wrap bags made this part so nice. Bag the bird, dunk in hot water, zip tie. Done.

It still boggles my mind when ever I grow or raise something that looks and tastes even better than store bought. These bird are so tasty and make spectacular stock (once I threw in the feet and necks). One and a half birds turned in to 7 quarts chicken pot pie filling, and another three got pressure canned (canned chicken makes amazing chicken salad).  I still think I prefer rabbit for the overall experience, but chicken will be in the rotation every year. At least one flock (15-20) of them…I mean from chicks to this it was only nine weeks, which is a very easy time commitment. We averaged about 5 lbs and $2.28 per lb. all said and done. We could bring the feed cost down if we were better about moving them to new grass and going with cheaper feed, not to mention a more efficient feeder with less waste potential. I bought the good stuff and it was still very reasonable. New meat source…Check! Next up in November, Turkeys! (We’ll definitely need a bigger cone.)

 

1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Food stuffs

RTDM

As you are no doubt aware, the military has a fascination with acronyms. ASAP, TDY, BHA, it goes on and on. However, you may not be aware that those in the software industry share this particular penchant for strings of seemingly random letters. The similarities between these groups doesn’t end there. As a general rule, with a few notable exceptions (My hubby), most members of these groups tend to favor colorful language not suitable for mixed company. Thus the above acronym. Read the Dang Manual. I’ve made the necessary modifications to write it on my kid friendly blog…in fact have a kid reading over my shoulder as I type.  Point being, so many problems and misinformation could be circumvented if people would just RTDM. Keep this in mind, I’ll be coming back to it.

Last week the husband man was back in Las Vegas for work. We knew that the earliest our cow could calve would be May 20 and that would be if the bull had got right down to business the first day she was available. But there are some things that can theoretically increase the chances of early calving. We figured that the best way to get her to come early would be to have Neil leave town. It’s how life tends to roll for us. Given this possibility my handsome lumberjack built me a stanchion before he left so I could start getting Mei used to the idea.

It’s a thing of beauty. Truly. Mei is getting good at it and it has been a lifesaver for this woefully out of practice hand milker.

Well he left on Monday morning, and Thursday evening I went down to feed Mei her evening Chaffhaye.

I screamed and almost hyperventilated when I realized there were more legs than there should have been. Squeaking into the phone, I told Neil that the baby was here and that I had to run but I’d call him back oh my gosh she had her baby oh my gosh!

This was the best case scenario as it meant Mei was able to deliver a perfectly healthy baby with no outside assistance at all. Carefully we introduced ourselves, and I made sure little one had figured out nursing. It took some time before I could get up close and personal enough to ascertain gender, but we confirmed that it was a girl. Naomi (resident animal namer) christened her “Star” and since everyone promptly agreed (hallelujah) it was official. Baby cows are dreamy. Silky smooth, adorable and so feisty. We are old hands at goat kids (who have the small thing working for them) but I’m pretty sure we are sticking with cows for a while…everyone fell in love. Not that there hasn’t been a learning curve.

With in the first hour we found out the electric fence does not contain our particular baby cow. So we’ve been lucky enough to play several rounds of “find the calf” over the last 8 days. Luckily she gets tired and just hunkers down when she realizes she’s lost. We are surrounded by woods and understanding neighbors, so it’s not a terrible ordeal.

IMG_5086

The first few days, when I was on my own, I could bear-hug her like the above picture and just haul her back to her mama. But a few days ago she out grew my strength, making me grateful once again for this guy.

Now back to RTDM rant. Dehorning her was what we decided long ago for a lot of reasons, just like we did for our goat kids. Goat kids got disbudded with a disbudding iron  and that is probably the best option for goats. To the internets we went and after much reading, we opted to go with caustic paste. We read a ton and went to  YouTube and watched it done and it seemed like an excellent option for calves. Once we got the paste we read the instructions and we quickly realized why people hate caustic paste. It’s because they do everything the instructions say NOT to do especially with goat kids. People, a goat kid is an entirely different creature than a cow calf. RTDM!!!

Well we followed our own advice and after reading we got it done. Best way to dehorn.

One key is to do this early. She was three days old when we did it. First, shave the horn buds.

Next, apply petroleum jelly in a ring around the horn bud to contain the caustic paste. Now to back up a minute, when I say caustic paste I’m talking lye, and some other nasty highly basic chemicals. It reacts with everything and ultimately eats away everything including the horn bud. Not something you want to touch with bare hands. It will literally burn you away. Seems mean, right? Many, many people think so and naturally studies have been done to see just how mean this is. Turns out young calves (like days old) show slightly fewer signs of discomfort with this method compared to a disbudding iron where the skin and horn bud are burned off, with no anesthetic. Older calves are usually given some sort of pain treatment. It is quick and one of the most humane ways to do it.  [I can’t find the study because I found it on my phone not on the computer I’m currently on. If you absolutely need the research and links I will happily oblige, but right now a certain almost 4 year old is demanding my attention.]

Paste is applied with a Popsicle stick. We applied the amount specified in the instructions. If you apply too much it will keep reacting, eating down further into the skull. People who apply too much, naturally will have some issues. RTDM.

IMG_5136

I must state that at this point our calf was just cranky at being held down. She was making no sounds and was not even really struggling. Compared to our goat kids who screamed and fought through the whole disbudding process, this felt so much better. Calmer and much less dramatic. Didn’t even smell singed hair.

Picture on the left is 24 hours-ish afterwards. Picture on the right is about 4 days after the fact. There was no blood, so no fly problems and after about 6 hours of keeping her tied so she couldn’t rub it onto herself or her mama, she was good to go. I could touch it and she didn’t notice a thing.

IMG_5149

I highly recommend this method for dehorning calves if you can do it early enough that there isn’t any pain (can be within the first 2 days). Not that you can tell by Miss Sassy Pant’s expression, but she does actually like us and is settling in nicely. Now that we are separating her at night so that I can milk in the morning, our only real issue is my hand strength. It is a race to get as much as I can before Mei finishes the bucket of yumminess I bring her in the morning. My hands are doing ok, I’m just terribly inefficient. Sigh. To be fair, Meushi has been an angel and even stood patiently for me to keep milking this morning even after she had finished breakfast.

IMG_5168[1]

This mornings efforts. That is a gallon jar, and the goal is to get at least one of these every morning. Hopefully, we will both get better at this game and Neil can fill in for me with his huge lumberjack hands if my forearms fall off.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Food stuffs, life the universe and everything

how we arrived at boudin noir

So boudin noir is the French take on the German blutwurst which is the corollary of the Spanish morcilla, but in England it’s pronounced blood pudding. Kind of. Something like that. No matter the ethnic nuance you start with, it’s basically pigs’ blood mixed with some spices and some other stuff then cooked and eaten. I also think it has the greatest ick factor of all the weird things I’ve done in the past two weeks. Bottom line, though? It’s tasty. Just like head cheese and fried kidneys are tasty. It’s commonly agreed upon that Pork as a food group is good eating, but these other things that our culture has left behind take eating pork to a whole new level. The catch, of course, is that it’s kind of vital to have crazy fresh and super clean ingredients and that, well, means raising and slaughtering and butchering the pig yourself. Or trading your first born to someone who did raise the pig. As I like our son, we chose the first option. I would like to share with you one of the coolest things I’ve done thus far as a homesteader.

***Graphic pictures ahead, because…well…the pig had to die to make a transition. He went from pushy, greedy garbage disposal (who also enjoyed basking in the sun, letting me scratch his ears, and snooting up the ground with his snout) into food for my family. I liked him and knew his personality. There is loss but it’s loss with a purpose, so there you go. Blood and cutting is part of that transition. You’ve been warned***

I’d love to write a whole post just on our experience at a Pig to Plate workshop we attended two weeks ago in Ohio. Realistically, with Christmas in 3 days I’m impressed I’m getting this post done. To condense: best money we’ve spent on educating ourselves and regaining a connection with our most complicated dietary aspect…meat. Quinn and Bill Veon of Reformation Acres hosted, Andy and Doug from Hand Hewn Farm taught. It was truly life changing and I’ll be forever grateful for that change. They will be hosting more workshops and if you are ever remotely interested in home hog production…get thee to a workshop!

It really doesn’t matter if someone warns you about leaving the hose out the night before you need it. Most likely it will be left out and you will be grateful that as the guys at the workshop related their personal experiences with such an oversight…they also joked about a solution. Hence we ended up with about 120 feet of garden hose in our bathtub at 9 am. Stranger things have happened.

I got back from dropping off kids to hang out with grandma for the afternoon. This wasn’t because I was worried about them seeing the process, but because I knew I needed to be able to work hard without chasing munchkins. Eventually (probably next year) they will stick around. Anyways, we went into the yard and the pig stood still and just stared at Neil. Big Man (you can’t feed something twice a day for 7 months and not give them some sort of name) was shot and down and bleeding out…and it went crazy fast. It’s weird how the mind messes with time perception in high adrenaline situations. We realized later that we didn’t get a great bleed, but even with that, the shot was good and our boy died quickly and peacefully. Well. To an outside observer it wouldn’t actually look peaceful. When an animal dies their body has an awful lot of energy still running through it and so most will thrash around for a bit and with a big animal it can seem pretty violent. (Although the first rooster we killed, scared us so much with how much he thrashed, we nearly second guessed this whole farm thing all together) Death Throes are a real thing.

We had some guys from church come to help and we got the pig on a tarp to carry a few yards to our set up for scalding and scraping.

img_3318

Getting an accurate weight was important to me so I can keep track year to year, and also to know our dress-out ratios.

Ok here’s what happens once you get the hog hooked onto the gambrel (back legs in the barrel first so you only have to flip once): it is dunked into warm water, 149ish degrees to be precise. This temperature allows the outermost layer of skin to loosen and the hair to start to loosen as well. It only takes a few minutes. Longer time or hotter temperature can actually set the hair, making scraping nearly impossible. I have it on good authority that shaving the whole carcass takes about 11 years.

After the proper dunk time you grab some back hair and see if it comes out easily. If it does, you hoist the pig out and start scraping. On our way home from Ohio we stopped at  Lehmans, a store that actually carries tools for this scraping. They are called Bell Scrapers or Hog Scrapers.  Unfortunately, they serve a large Amish community and it’s that time of year…they were out. We improvised with a coconut shell-er thing and a thing that was once a part of a lamp (I think) and it actually went really well. One advantage to our warmer southern winter…the dense winter hair hadn’t come in yet. The head and front trotters didn’t scald well so we didn’t use the trotters and Neil, being awesome, later poured boiling water over the head and cleaned it so that I could still use it. He is good stuff. Once the hair is scraped, you shave what ever is left, then blowtorch anything after that. Yeah, a working blowtorch would have been great…last minute Christmas gift to my husband?

Next is evisceration. Things to save and use/eat: small intestines (and large if you are feeling brave and masochistic), heart, liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys, and caul fat. Wait! What’s that? All that sounded familiar except the caul fat?

IMG_3228.JPG

This, my friends, is caul fat and it’s culinary potential is nigh unlimited.

After you save the good bits and bury the bad bits, you remove the head and split the carcass with a bone saw so it can thoroughly chill. The weather could not have been more perfect for us. It took us about 3 hours from shot to getting ready to split so I had to run and rescue grandma. The kids were equal parts fascinated and disgusted. They were so disappointed that while I did save the bladder to blow up like a ball…I didn’t put it in its own container and it ended up covered in bile. Ain’t nobody touching nothing that smells that weird! And there we called it a night.

Day #2: Break it down now. Leaf lard came out first (top left). This is the stuff pie crust dreams are made out of and so it is treated with respect. Then we cut one half into primals outside. A hog is divided into 4 quarters or primal cuts. Then each of these is broken down further. At the workshop we got to practice this process on someone else’s pig, which made doing it on our own sooooooo much easier. Not saying we couldn’t have YouTube-ed it…it just would have been a horrific mess if we had. We brought in one quarter at a time. Our babies helped for a while and then peacefully destroyed the house while the adults kept at it. This day was long, but we managed…and it feels so great to have a freezer full of beautiful white packages.

img_3356

Our work was not finished with all the fresh cuts being done…oh no.

Stock was made, lard was rendered, small intestines were turned into sausage casings which were in turn made into blood sausage (which i love, by the way).

During the next few days the madness continued.

Scrapple, Headcheese, Christmas Eve Ham put into brine, fried kidneys. And it all tastes so delicious.  Offal is my new favorite ingredient…I must have some sort of mineral imbalance. 20161219_090648

Nearly 40 lbs. of bacon is a strong argument for raising your own pork. We finished packing the ground pork today, it still will be turned into various typed of stuffed sausages. 20161221_081603

I’ll be happily  nibbling headcheese and rillettes for the next two weeks while we celebrate the holidays.

Final counts and thoughts:

  • Live weight – 365 lbs.
  • Hung weight – 281 lbs.
  • 124 lbs. fresh cuts including ribs
  • 38 lbs. bacon
  • 45 lbs. ground pork
  • 9.5 quarts lard
  • 4 gallons stock
  • 11 lbs. scrapple
  • 4-5 lbs. head cheese
  • 5 half pints rillettes
  • lots of lbs. of liver, kidneys, heart, and spleen. (all of which have been used)
  • 60 feet of sausage casings and caul fat (going to become Crepinettes on Christmas Eve and roast rabbit once I have rabbits in the freezer)
  • skin (not finished with this so don’t have a total. Doesn’t matter, we have enough to make cinnamon sugar pork rinds and change the world one mouth at a time)

It was an incredible experience and I wish I could write more. Oh wait I can! We are doing this whole thing again in a few months when we process our girl! There are big plans for her given our success this time round and I will probably write all about how my life and the life of my family has been changed forever by doing this. That sounds melodramatic, I know. But seriously, now that I’ve started to take more control over what I eat and had a taste of the satisfaction it brings…I’m not sure I could ever not being doing this. Don’t know that I have a choice anymore and that makes me happier than I can say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Food stuffs, Holidays, life the universe and everything

summer

People tried to prepare me for the southern summer kicking my trash. They said, “No No! Humdity is different! It’s worse!” I call shenanigans. Yes, it’s humid. Yes, I’ve discovered that while some women glisten, I sweat big, ugly farmer drops of sweat straight down the tip of my nose. However, I’m still waiting for the inevitable trash kicking people said was coming my way. I’m pretty sure my garden growing out of control makes up for any extra sweat I’m exuding this summer.

I find myself more and more looking forward to December. Not as a respite from heat, but as a respite from busy-ness. Don’t get me wrong, I love what life is dishing out right now. 2+ hours of outside work a day, plus homeschool, and birthdays, a big church project and and and. It’s a pace that actually really suits me. But it also makes taking a month off of all of it, something I’m wistfully looking forward too. In December, the garden will be asleep for the winter. Canning should be done, pigs processed, Mei bred but not in milk yet, and chickens settled into a routine. It will be a time to rest. And for now, in the midst of the crazy it is a happy thing to look forward to.

IMG_1093Speaking of chickens…look who’s laying eggs a month and a half earlier than expected! Huzzah the Fowl! Oh and I have a fun story for you about our delightfuly precious poultry. So we have been working their tractors slowly back to Mei’s yard where we decided they will take up residence. A new coop is being prepared (More on that later! It is a tale of trees and chain saws) and after going back and forth we think it will be better for them. After our success with Mei and electric fencing we researched and were told that a few lower strands of hot wire (electrified wire) would keep chickens in a yard. Awesome we said. Perfect we said. And the extra strands were installed and lit up. The day came and we moved the heavy tractors into the yard and cut off a panel of chicken wire to let them out. They were thrilled! And Mei was beside herself with curiosity and new creatures to investigate. Then the first brave bird approached the fence. We giggled a little because no matter how mature and compassionate you are, the thought a chicken being lightly zapped is kind of funny. Um NO! They didn’t even notice the wire on their bellies! Neil tested it to make sure it was still hot (it definitely was) and turns out our chickens are just immune. It’s darkish by this point so we hope they will just go inside their tractor coops and go to sleep and we’d deal with them in the morning. Nope. They followed us up the path. We gave up and went in the house to check on kids. Neil went back out and 20 min later I found myself in a hummid North Carolina forest, drowning in bugs, chasing chickens. Some of them fell asleep where they stood so we just had to track them down in the brush and put them back on the roosts. Oh. My. Gosh. Well we manged to get all but one (thank you cell phone flashlights!) and get them secure at least for the night (we also had to move the tractors back out of the yard because Mei kept messing with the makeshift cardboard panels. Dumb cow). So the current state of our chickens is that they are secured but in Mei’s yard. We will be letting them go free tomorrow night and we will see what happens. Theoretically they should stay close to their food, water, and nest boxes, but we shall see. In the mean time, Eggs!

IMG_0869

Our first 4th of July was a low key affair but it was perfect. I canned, we grilled, there were sparkles.

Expert corn shucker and grill master in training.

Pretty sure if they were casting “Expecto Petronum” this is exactly what they would both look like, respectively.

If you have to move across the country and are the type to miss your family, the best thing to do is just talk them into moving with you. It worked for us! Grandparents are moved in, my mom is settled in New York, and my dad will be here as soon as he retires (can. not. wait.) But before mom headed north she took the greatest family pictures…here are just a few:

DSCN2650

DSCN2678

Have I mentioned how much I love living here? here’s a list of what to expect (hopefully soon) here on comfyposy: 10th birthday party, pig/chicken shelter from our own trees, harvest summary and fall garden plans, and 3rd birthday party, and possibly blueberries and fig trees!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Animals, Garden, Holidays, life the universe and everything

Spirit Animals

It’s a thing now to declare a person or an animal or an object even to be your spirit animal if it has qualities your either have or would like to have. I’ve decided that between my cow, my pigs, my garden and the honeybees I’m hoping to get someday I’d have the perfect spirit animal. Can I declare my burgeoning farm to be my spirit animal? Is that even allowed?

Meushi. It means female cow in Japanese. We call her Mei (pronounced “May”) and I love her. I liked goats a lot, they were fun and educational to the max, but my dairy cow is a whole ‘nother thing entirely. And she is mine…I share her with the kids, but she kind of doesn’t like the husband guy. Crazy strong milking hands are in my future I think.

IMG_0469

Cows. We’ve never done that before. The internet never disappoints, however, and we are over two weeks in and she is doing great. We have a routine, banana peels are her drug of choice, and come August or September she will be ready for a date with a great little angus bull. That means this time next year(ish) we will have a baby calf running around and hopefully we will be drowning in milk. That baby will go into the freezer about 18 months later. Dude, farming is a long term proposition.

Like I said, she lets me share her with the kids and on occasion she will tolerate Neil. Mei is so docile and sweet; the girls get all up in her business and she just swishes her tail.

IMG_0473

This lady is “chill” incarnate and I want to be more like that. Not to say that she doesn’t like to (quite literally) kick up her heels and go dashing around her yard (she hates the wheel barrow and demonstrates it by running madly around). But nothing says serene like a big dairy cow picking at stuff here and there and mostly just being.

Next to more immediate freezer fodder…sorry. I know some take issue with that and don’t get how I can simultaneously adore my new piglets and be poring over pork recipes and butchering options. I don’t know how either but it’s happening my friends, in my head, as we speak.

Rewind a few years to the purchase of our brand spanking new van. We promised each other, the husband and me, nay…we vowed that this expensive shiny vehicle would never be used for farm stuff. At all. Ever. Yeah, we were adorable.

Since the truck couldn’t make the move with us, our van has hauled muddy t-posts, ply wood, all kinds of feed, and now livestock. Yeah, we were adorable.

Fun facts about feeder pigs:

  • You buy them between 6-12 weeks old for about $30-60 and 20-60 lbs.
  • over the next 5 months or so depending on breed and living conditions, they will get up to a market weight of 250 lbs.
  • From that 250 lbs about 140-170 will make it back to you in consumable awesomeness.
  • They can eat everything from grass clippings to chickens (they are the ultimate omnivore) but won’t in fact eat themselves to death as some think.
  • They are clean (kind of) and given the chance will not be as disgusting as most people think (although they do love them some water splashing and mud).

We always knew we wanted to try raising pigs. There was the perfect porcine playground built here before we moved. However, we always figured we’d wait until later. But then we went to a local farm stand and a lady was there selling her homegrown pork. It was obscenely expensive and we said, “Forget that noise, we’ll do it ourselves!” and so we did and we are. As per family vote, they are named “Pig1” and “Pig2” (think Thing1 and Thing2 from The Cat in the Hat) I wanted to name the boy “York” and the girl “Shire” because their breed is Yorkshire, but I was voted down. Mostly I call them “Pig”. They are so much fun! I love their grunty pig noises and you need to go write down on your list of things to experience at some point — have pig snout pushed in the palm of my hand. Trust me.

The best thing about pigs is that they are veritable machines for taking what life gives them and efficiently processing it into something far better. Lessons for me all over the place with that.

IMG_0566Did you know tomorrow is Mother’s Day? My husband does! He is rocking it this year. He took the kids to run errands in town this morning and I had 2 whole hours to just work outside! Without screams for my immediate assistance or the dreaded quiet of a toddler thrashing a bedroom! I mucked out Mei’s pasture and started on building the soil in the future blackberry patch with the goodness I procured. I got more bricks for the garden paths from the abandoned building behind our property. And don’t even let me start on what I got done in the garden! It was a beautiful thing, and I’m grateful for him. Rumor has it he’s even taking over meals tomorrow and there is a large something wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper on the counter that I think is for me…Oh and those beauties? wild flowers that he and the kids picked for me. Winning. My husband is winning Mother’s Day.

I’m actually going to do a separate post on the Mom’s I’m grateful for in a few days, because they don’t need to share with pigs and cows. It might be late, but I sure do love those great women.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Garden, Holidays, life the universe and everything

Rear Tine Tiller

You know those license plate frames or bumper stickers that say, “My other car is a…” (Nimbus 2000 for Harry Potter fans, fishing boat for anglers, etc)? I need one that says, “My other vehicle is a rear tine tiller.”

Usually I ruminate about blog posts for a while and in the whirlwind of my current life there has been no end of material to write about. A very clever post about projects starting (complete with pictures of all the projects) was almost done, just waiting for an early kid bedtime for me to type it up. That is until a guy from our church loaned us a tiller and we got to work on what will be my 1300 square foot garden and a berry patch almost that big.

IMG_0224 (2)

Doesn’t look like much, but I’m in love. It may sound weird, but I love vacuuming. It is far and away my favorite household chore, and tilling with this bad boy is even better. We had so much fun trying to not die and cut up the dirt at the same time (the husband guy did manage to figure out how to move forward with the wheels actually on the ground and that was much easier) and my little man is very put out that he isn’t big enough to work this thing.

We have made good progress and I can’t even tell you how excited I am that this is happening. All of it, the whole farm thing is real and it’s happening. The other day I was reflecting and I got choked up because it feels so good to be here doing all the things that we are doing.

IMG_0232

And Converse are totally legit foot wear for operating heavy duty blades inches from your feet. At least I didn’t wear flip flops like some sexy men I know…ahem.

Other things that were going to be in the project post that got hijacked by a tiller:

We got 30 chicks (down to 28 because two didn’t make it) and they are breeds we’ve never owned. Some of them will be absolutely beautiful. Whatever, chickens can totally be beautiful. Discussing the merits of various coop designs is how me and my hubby spend our evenings. We’re exciting like that.

So. Rural south. If you wanted to have a yard sale and you put your stuff in your front yard it would be an epic fail because very few people would drive by your place and buy said stuff. People here are smart and figured all that out. What they do is set up shop on some cleared land at the major cross roads between towns. Today me and the kids were on the way to the post office (By to the way, I’m a huge fan of small towns but especially small town post offices!) and a guy had two porch swings set out. The swing that was supposed to be on our porch when we moved in was not, so I have been looking for one. Online was quite a bit pricier than what this guy was asking plus impulse buying it today saved me shipping time! Supporting local craftsmen for the win! Just needed to paint it white…

My men have been busy. Neil is going to be building all sorts of stuff (shed, chicken coop, greenhouse) but he’s the most excited about his new work desk made out of iron pipe and a cut down door. Picture of the finished product to follow. And little man bought himself a corn snake. Originally it was named “Slinky” but then his dad told him that if you say “Keeslin” over and over again you end up saying “slinky” (try it!) and so he changed the snakes name to “Keeslin,” or how ever we are spelling it.

These two have been hanging out on the porch on the couch that is destined for a thrift store (we just need a way to get it there) and helping me stomp leaves for my future compost pile. Turns out, perfecting the art of rotting trash and mixing poop for my garden is another favorite pastime of mine. I’m classy, what can I say.

My oldest little girl has been busy loving on her popcorn trees. These trees in our front yard make me giddy, and they’ve only just started into spring.

I love it here.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, crafts, Garden, life the universe and everything

I am resolved

Here are my resolutions:

DSCN0558 DSCN0438

1) learn to make the same face as Naomi in this picture and make it. All. The. Time.

2) Get a post up about our holidays sometime before the end of January. Or February.

DSCN0595 DSCN0706

3) Never ever make another fairy doll. But I will show you pictures of the one that I did manage to make.

4) Have a lot more baby mani/pedi dates.

DSCN0688 DSCN0692

5) Kiss this guy more. Not sure if that’s possible without getting ourselves kicked out of most of our social circles, but it’s going to be fun trying!

6) Enjoy baby morning breath even more than I already do. Oh wait, that one is definitely not possible. I’m pretty sure her beautiful sleeping face and sweet baby breath is the only thing that makes late nights/early mornings bearable.

DSCN0714

7) Laugh at the hilarity of life three times more than I already do. Because farm life gives us a front row seat to that like nothing else can. For starters, Little man named our rooster “Mr. McPompous” and is still trying to figure out how to kick him across the coop when he (the rooster) decides to be a jerk. Anything mating is inherently hilarious. Whatever, you know its true. And when you spill lots of milk because you were being dumb, you have to laugh because crying would be cliché. (Side note: the goats are really enjoying our Christmas Tree. Gives them extra vitamin C and stuff. Who knew, Right?)

 

2 Comments

Filed under Animals, Holidays, life the universe and everything