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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

 

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Legoland

Almost without fail my long term plans change. Gasp! I know that phenomena comes as a complete shock and that it is an extraordinary occurrence only ever happening to me! [end sarcasm]. Back in January I looked at my blank calendar for the year and was content, nay excited, that it would be a non-traveling year. No big trips or excursions, just hanging out on the farm doing farmy stuff. Maybe even use the husband’s time off for a stay-cation to do even more farmy stuff! But then my sister-in-law invited us to an incredible beach house and the price of admission was playing with cousins. And then my grandparents invited us to an incredible resort down in Orlando and the price of admission was a few home-cooked dinners with stuff from the garden and pantry. Needless to say we did indeed travel to the Sunshine State and it was totally worth it. Now, Orlando is the the mecca of all epic vacation plans. As my husband had to stay home (he does still have a job and we do still have a lactating bovine tenant) I wasn’t about to tackle Disney anything. But Legoland…that I could manage. Not to mention their promotion for 1 kid free per adult ticket purchased made it financially feasible (we’ll go ahead and start saving now for the eventual Disney trip…I’m looking into the going rate for kidneys. Hey, I only need one, right?) Plus the more I read, the more I realized that my kids are the perfect ages for Legoland. Soon they’ll be ready for more (they’ll always be die hard Lego-ers but young adults do need more than duplo stations at somepoint). However, right now? This was just right. Few thoughts and lessons learned: Naomi is a roller-coaster, thrill-seeking fiend. Garyn needs more robotics in his life. I get why people think my little girls are twins. Lunch in air-conditioning is divine. Trading mini-figures actually was really fun. And last but not least, if they say on every sign possible on the ride that you will get wet…you will probably leave the ride drenched. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the eleventy billion that I took.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Big Apple Firsts

At the beginning of the month I whisked myself away to experience New York City. Whisking allowed me to see the city as an adult, not as a mom with 4 precious children in tow. It wasn’t better, per se, just very very different. I think I needed both to really begin to start to think about possibly maybe someday understanding such a place. It was a trip filled with firsts. Most of them were small and mundane but it was an amazing adventure. First off: first canceled flight of my life.

Me and my boots waiting and then eating and then calling my husband and kids to turn around and re-drive an hour to pick me up after my flight was canceled due to weather. First time eating Five Guys fries. All. By. Myself. I’ve had them before but its a whole new level of bliss to not have to share even one.

Me and my boots on our very first Amtrak train bound for a destination more than an hour away. I’d ridden the train with my Dad (We went to San Juan Capistrano and saw “Zorro.” Could not have been more perfect atmosphere) but this was 11 hours of pure uninterrupted reading time. I finished the two books (Homeschooling books, of course) that I’d brought. They changed my life and that right there was worth the canceled flight drama. Naomi was gracious enough to loan me her lunch box.

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Saying goodbye to Mommy, take two. For the record, I married an amazing man. He single handedly took over the farm and the homeschooling and the bathing and the hair brushing and not only merely survived, but out did himself as a dad. He’s my favorite.

The rest of the trip will be related in three parts, Food, Art, My Mom and Sisters.  Things I can not possibly love any more than I do. Ahem.

My Mom and my sisters are locals now and they knew the places to go. We did Colombian, and Mexican, and Thai. I got to ruin bacon for my sisters…store bought will never live up to my homegrown cured and smoked stuff. We hit up the commercial bakery down the street from my mom’s that has tasty and dirt cheap baked goods…chocolate swirl cheesecake with a healthy dollop of apple butter and a side of madeleines (another first). There is a bakery in Manhattan called “Magnolias.” Their chocolate banana pudding made me seriously consider licking the inside of the cup (dignity and class be danged) and I need their lemon bars in my life daily. Huzzah for good food!

Art must be seen in person. Full stop. No other way to really “get it.” For the first time I had a chance to really see these iconic masterpieces. Did you know that One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock has places where the paint is shiny??? Did you know that there are places on the canvas where the paint was absorbed at different rates creating a whole new level of depth and complexity??? Turns out Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory is super tiny…what?! and I saw the real Starry Night. People. There are maroon strokes in that cypress tree that I have never really seen because I’ve only seen glossy reproductions. I saw the edge of the paining, where Van Gogh decided to stop painting. I saw paintings from an artist I studied in high school and loved but forgot about. Art. I loves it. I also got to experience other forms of art. Daffodils in the middle of the city, stone steps on an early morning walk by myself just because I could, and a cold frosty sunrise because spring hadn’t totally started up north. Sigh.

I love this woman and these weirdos. This was the first time we had a chance to start to get to know each other as adults. Usually I’m in full out mom mode while they are working magic in aunt mode. Doesn’t leave lots of time for deep conversation. Laughing and fun, of course, but not deep “who are you really under all that” discussion. They make me so happy. And I’m pretty sure my mom is the coolest mom out there. True story.

Mom said this kind of sister/mom trip needs to be an annual thing. Not just because I came home with my proverbial batteries fully charged and ready to turn life upside down (in a good way) but because we all need to get to know the many sides of the people we love. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is a unique, autonomous person under all the hats we wear. Sigh. I might just learn to love New York after all.

 

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It’s alive!

That’s the great thing about spring. It’s dynamism, it’s force, it’s awake-ness. There has to be a compendium of all the trite spring clichés somewhere on the internets, but I get them now…and why there are so many. This is our second spring in this land of things that actually grow and because I’m no longer in the throes of setting up house and banishing cardboard from my life, I’ve been able to stop and look at it more. The thing about the aliveness of spring is that it’s stealthy. Lying in wait, quietly, patiently, it ambushes you and smacks you in the head with copious green on the oak tree that wasn’t there yesterday. Or the trees turning white overnight with popcorn blossoms. It’s beautiful and even more so because it’s a beauty that surprises you. Now, don’t misunderstand. Spring is still a wild animal in my opinion. Something to be marveled at and appreciated, but never, under any circumstances to be trusted or counted on. I don’t love Spring, because I’m too much “The Planner” and “The Writer of Lists” and “The Checker of Boxes.” Spring doesn’t allow for too much of that, not unless you buy white out. And lots of it.

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First Daddy Daughter Dance. Oh. My. The Cuteness. Our church put on a dance for the girls 11 and younger and their dads, and my girls were over the moon. [like that cliché? I’ve got more!] Layna was a mite perturbed that her Dad had two other ladies to dance with, but I was told that cupcakes went a long way to assuaging any lingering jealousy.

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Strawberry Season is officially open! Having four able-bodied berry pickers this year instead of two pickers plus two berry eating liabilities is a revelation. The four gallons we brought home are already spoken for and I haven’t even started thinking about jam. This will be a weekly event for the next 5 weeks. Then we might have enough. Maybe.

Cleaning out the closet that doubles as a chick brooder, I found our incubator. The husband guy said, “hey why don’t we hatch some of our eggs? They should hatch on St. Patrick’s Day!” I was sold and we got to watch two babies for the full hatching process. Lucky (on the left) was born the day before St. Pat’s and Shamrin (on the right) was born on the day itself. [Aside: Farm kids are no different that normal kids in their desire to name all the things. They also are no different in the bizarre and random names that they insist are the right names and will defend those names to the death! All kids do this. Farm kids just have more critters to christen. We needed St. Pat’s Themed unisex names since we won’t know gender for a few weeks yet. I thought Lucky and Shamrock. Naomi insisted on Shannon and so Shamrin was the compromise.]

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As you might have noticed our incubator can only hatch three eggs at a go. That complicates things if you want, say, 25 chicks. So a week prior to our eggs hatching, we went to the feed store and got 10 buff orpingtons, 5 australorps, 5 black silver laced wyandottes, and 5 cuckoo marans. We should have a beautiful and bountiful egg situation around August. Luckily, we will have pigs to help with the surplus.

They are all settled in the tractor outside, and Lucky and Shamrin are doing wonderfully despite being a week smaller. It’s a good thing too. I need the brooding closet for the 5 turkey poults that are coming home tomorrow! More on that new endeavor later.

To the untrained eye, or the imaginationally challenged these look like twigs in trash bags.  But I see bushels of apples and pears and ridiculous amounts of elder berries.

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Its a good thing that’s what I see, because a few days after we brought home our orchard (11 trees and two elderberry bushes to add to the 12 blueberries, 2 figs, 2 paw paw, and 1 lemon tree) it snowed. SEE?! This is what spring does! It’s a beast. A beautiful beast, but a beast nonetheless.

All the trees are positioned and 4 are in the ground.

Currently we are facing one of the hardest things about homesteading. All the decisions and the trade-offs they embody. When the apple trees woke up the leaves started coming in curled. Same with the lemon tree. This says a pest problem. We can spray for pests (as our nursery expert recommends) but that would mean giving up the rosy, if nebulous, ideal of “organic” and “all-natural” and “Healthier trees and fruit.” It’s the same reason people pay $50 instead of $12 for a bag of non-GMO, organic, soy and corn free chicken/pig feed. Honestly, I’m torn. With the animal feed, I’m pretty sure cutting sugar out of our diets would have way more health benefits than the super expensive feed that makes our eggs and pork (especially since a huge part of those animals’ diets are high quality kitchen scraps and greens and bugs and all the things they forage for). With the trees, I can have more fruit and much prettier fruit with much less headache and difficulty if I spray. But then I’m already looking at 20-30 bushels (thats 960-1440 lbs) of apples on a good year when they are mature, 10-20 bushels of pears. Even if I lose some to bugs and birds, I think I’ll manage (read: drown in appley, pearful goodness) And reputable sources say that non-sprayed trees can be stronger and more resilient. I need to look into natural orchard keeping methods and see if I can find a way forward that feels good to me. Sigh.

Bottom line though: Spring makes me happy. It feels good to get the garden planted, even if I messed up my timing and got things outside way too early. It feels good to be watching my cows udder bulk up with promise of butter and feta cheese. It feels good, and I don’t mind keeping my eyes on Spring, just in case.

 

 

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a secret.

Can I tell you a secret? I’m a terrible Down Syndrome mom. Stop shaking your head and formulating all the things you are thinking to make me feel better. First, let me explain why I am a terrible Down Syndrome mom. In the first few days after Layna was born I had a few people point me to this blog. Before you misunderstand, I actually love this blog and the woman who fuels it. She inspires me and I like her…I do go in and out of following her blog, but overall it’s good stuff. This, my friends, is the standard for Down Syndrome moms everywhere, and frankly I don’t measure up. There are no groups, social events, or community anything that we belong to. I haven’t raised money for anything. There was one out of six years I called attention to March 21, National Down Syndrome Awareness Day on social media. Abysmal. To be honest, most of the time I completely forget that she has a syndrome at all and sometimes that’s not a good thing. Not to say that I don’t have my moments where I hate how much I struggle to understand her because of what that extra chromosome did to her expressive speech development, or that I don’t have times where I wish desperately that she was not going have the “Down Syndrome look.” And can we just talk about stubborn streaks? Oi. Vey.

I’m a terrible Down Syndrome mom because I can’t bring myself to treat Miss Thang any different than her siblings or change our life to include something that is as basic to her makeup as her eye color (Hazel eyes of the world unite!) But Alas for her, she is mine and I am hers. While I may be a terrible Down Syndrome mom in general…I’m hoping that killer birthday cakes, daily water coloring and play-doh, and the occasional “If you don’t get back in your bed I’m going to come up there and PUT you back in bed!” will somehow help her create whatever life she decides is meant for her. Oh and rabbit water bottles. She will always be allowed to poach drinks from the rabbit water bottles.

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This year was her first friend birthday party and I was grateful she didn’t have strong opinions on the theme. Goodness knows she has strong opinions on other things (looking at you, “brushing my own hair”), but I’ve been intrigued by the giant cupcake cake pan for a long time and was excited for an excuse to buy one. That and it was cheap so absolutely no hang ups at all. Overall it creates an epic cake consumption experience, and I hope I can be creative enough to sneak it into all the birthday themes this year.

First we had a birthday dinner at my grandparents house. Once again, so grateful they up and followed us across the country. I would be missing them something fierce right now. Also, the husband and I realized that it’s a pretty unique and rare thing for our kids to be so close to their great grandparents. Neil had one set he would visit every couple of years and I only was close to one great grandma. So glad my kids have them.

On to the party! Balloons and lots of them are my favorite munchkin party game. Naomi’s 4th birthday was Rapunzel and we had balloons to be beaten with frying pans. Her 6th party (Halloween themed) had bat balloons. [I’d link to pictures but the party happened during my blogging hiatus. Sorry.] I loves them. Then we played “pin the cherry on the cupcake” which was awesome. Can I also say how grateful I am for my software architect who just picked up graphic design and made all my cupcake dreams come true? Yeah. He’s such good stuff.

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No one better than Daddy when you’ve had too much party.

Then we painted pictures of cupcakes. Through a devoted and rigorous daily practice, Layna’s style is really beginning to coalesce into a bold and well-rounded advancement of the medium. She is currently in her black period.

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Frosting and cake are a win. Full Stop. But when you let kids be the boss of those things? Magic happens.

Some for me. Some for the cake.

One of my favorite things about her is that she always says “thank you.” She doesn’t need prompting and it’s always loud and heartfelt. It also sounds like, “Wank you!” which, I think, ups the awesome quotient by at least 47%.

Even though I’m still negotiating the new dimension that this one tacked onto my Motherhood calling 6 years ago, I wouldn’t change it. The potty training fiascoes, the delays, the therapies, the everything has given me such a deeper awareness and appreciation for the silver linings that are everywhere. Layna is wonderfully forgiving and patient with me and I’m honored to be her mom. Here’s to many more happy returns for my snuggling, travel-sized-for-my-convenience, house elf!

 

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Harvesting

Because the garden currently looks like this:

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And my cow had icicles on her fur and ears:

And because I devoured The Intelligent Gardner and Teaming With Microbes in 6 days. And because I can’t stop thinking and scheming about this year’s garden and my massive garden expansion plan. I realized it would be a good idea to take this downtime (between hog butcherings, chick acquisition, indoor seed starting, etc.) to finally get out a recap of our first gardening experience on our new homestead. [As a quick meandering tangent (oxymoronic, no?)…I’ve decided that the moniker “homestead” is indeed the most fitting for what we are building. Farm is too big and we aren’t (currently) selling anything, Garden doesn’t cover what a large part animals play in this thing. Farmstead would be an option but I prefer homestead and all that it implies. We have settled on an actual name too! That will be reveled later, but for now? Glad we got that sorted.]

Rather than drone on and on about the minutiae that doesn’t really interest anyone but me (even my husband is kindly polite when I get going on all things garden), I’m just going to show you some of my favorite pictures from the season. While there was a bit of a learning curve (Fungal disease from too much moisture was not something that happened in the desert. Ever.), growing stuff here is amazing. It gave me a glimpse into a world where I really could produce superior food for my family and make a substantial dent in our food bill. My previous successes were limited to “Hey, something grew! And it almost looks normal!”  No more, friends. We can garden for reals now.

Quick note: Morning Glories are weeds here. We had to work hard to grow some for Naomi in Vegas and even then only got a few. Best. Move. Ever.

The spider’s name is Quatro.

We probably got 20 lbs of pecans from our pecan tree that we didn’t even know we had until a few months ago. And there are still about 5 pounds on the ground because holidays commandeered my pecan harvesting time. I think only homemade bacon from my own pig has rivaled the joy and pride from serving pecan pie made from my own pecans on Thanksgiving Day.

I love canning. Do you love canning? If no, Can I can for you? Because I love it. I have an entire attic space that is now an attic pantry full to bursting with everything from bread and butter pickles to wild black berry jam to chicken pot pie filling. Happiness radiates, nay…exudes, out of there from under the door. Seriously, it looks like puffs of yellow glitter.

Final counts:

  • 44.5 lbs summer squash
  • 22 cantaloupes (averaging 4 lbs each)
  • 58 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 112.5 lbs cucumbers
  • 105 cups wild blackberries from our woods
  • 157 lbs. tomatoes
  • 6 lbs. peppers
  • 25 ears of corn
  • 6 watermelons
  • 5 big pumpkins
  •  9 lbs. green beans
  • a few small cabbages and cauliflowers
  • a ridiculous amount of arugula
  • 2 large acorn squashes
  • handful of small random squashes

 

 

 

 

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