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Posts Tagged ‘pastured pork’

seedlingsAfter a hiatus, I have agreed to resume writing for The American Preppers Network.  I feel very honored to have been asked to participate in this project.  Please do watch for my articles there.  I sent in my first (in a long while) submission this morning.  I called it “Sourcing Seeds, Saving Seeds and Walking the Tightrope, It’s All a Matter of Balance.

I’ll be submitting one article a week for them.  Geez, people, I can hear you laughing from here.  I know, I don’t even manage to submit an article HERE every week.  What can I say?  Even my wife calls me a Wingnut.  Ah, love, sweet love.

Besides that, the only other news to report is that the garden is coming along well, just a little behind because of my post surgical limitations.  I’m starting to catch up now.  Also, the aquaponics systems should be back online next week.  I’ll take some pics of that for your dining pleasure.  We have a litter of American Chinchilla bunnies to go with all the baby pigs and baby goats.  Spring is such a wonderful time on the Homestead.

Brittan has been busy with her flower and kitchen gardens as well as mowing the grass and a little auto maintenance, among other things. Her chiropractor is regularly amazed at her strength and muscle tone. We chuckle about it, but she really is S T R O N G!  And she is a dead shot.  I pity the fool who messes with my woman!

Finally, I’ve coined a new word for where we live.  Technically, we’re somewhere between the suburbs and rural America now.  So I call this neighborhood, ‘Sub Rural’.  I am not changing the name of the blog, though. No way.  No How.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

 

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goatsSo much for ‘a long winter’s nap’.  Spring is upon us in all its busy glory.  Where did the peaceful winter go?  Yikes.

First, kidding season has begun and is nearly over.  We have 10 baby goats on the ground and only one more doe left to kid.

In a related matter, Brittan has begun milking.  She’s doing things a bit differently this year and leaving the kids with their mothers and only milking once a day until weaning.  As a result, we’re not going to have much milk available for customers until around the end of April, but I’ll be having my chocolate milk nightcap on a regular basis.  I can’t figure out why I don’t lose any weight…..

The greenhouse is up and operational.  It’s far from finished, but at least it’s functional.  I’m so happy about that and so grateful to everyone who pitched in on weekends to make it happen.  We have a seedlingsfew things growing in it already.  The strawberries are looking good as are some herbs and a couple of early tomato plants.  I have several seedling trays going and have more to start.  I’m way behind getting beds ready for planting, but still have plenty of time to catch up…if I get my wide side in gear and get going, that is.

We move the aquaponics unit into the greenhouse this weekend and should have some lettuces and herbs going in it very soon. I’ve decided to focus on the Tilapia business this year and wait until next greenhousespring to do the crawfish.  I am very good at putting too many irons in the fire and getting burned, so just this one time, I’m going to focus on one fish project only.  That means, I’ll be ordering this year’s Tilapia and my breeding colony within the month.  Watch this space for pre ordering fish that will be ready to harvest this fall.  My plan right now, is to do this just like we used to do with chickens and take reservations.  I know that we’ve had loads of requests for them already, so it will be first come, first serve.

Since we were surprised by baby pigs, our pork project is way off schedule.  We should have had two in the freezer and instead we have 5 babies being fed by one of the sows and the other one is looking pretty pregnant to me.  It will be at least May now before we have any pork.  On the other hand, we have this year’s feeder pigs already on the ground, so the glass really is half full.  Watch for details of pastured pork being available this autumn.

We are out of the beef business.  For space and financial reasons, and because of my health, we had to find new homes for our cows.  It was an extremely difficult and emotional decision, but the right one.  We are comfortable with our decision.

We have eggs.  Yay!  The girls are laying well, as one would expect this time of year, and we are collecting quite a few.  Unfortunately, the pigs are collecting their fair share, too.  As a result, we’re going to have to build a pen to feed the pigs in and to put them in at night so we can actually gather eggs before they do.  We love having our porkers ranging, but since we can’t keep them from stealing, they’re going to have to spend some time in their cell, and we’ll let them out on a work release program.  We have them in our worst pasture so they can root it up and allow us to replant. If they get their fill of eggs, though, they will never get the plowing done.shadows

We do hope to have a few rabbits born this spring, as well.  The only kindle so far, had two in it and they were born outside the nest and died.  It happens to first time rabbit mothers sometimes.  Hopefully, two more are pregnant right now.  We’ll know in a few weeks.

I think that catches you all up for now.  I will try and be more diligent about taking photos.  I’m really terrible about remembering to capture images.  Please have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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sausagesOne of the words in every farmer’s vocabulary is, ‘flexible’.  We don’t always like the word, we sometimes wish we didn’t have to embrace it, but if we are anything, it is, flexible.

Even this blog post was originally going to be about my surgery and how Brittan has become even more of a superwoman than ever, but that post now has to wait.  I need to be flexible.

We made all these plans about butchering beef and pork in November.  Keep them on grass and hay all summer, then butcher in the autumn. Everything about the plan was solid.  We had a processor.  We had customers, including deposits. We had the animals. What could possibly go wrong?  Let’s go with….everything.

First, my neck went out.  Five bulging discs and pinched nerves put a real hamper in my ability to wrangle animals.  Heck, it messed with my ability to do pretty much anything except hurt.

As the weeks passed and my insurance company delayed approval for surgery, the processing time slipped to December, then January then February.  Besides frustrated customers and empty freezers, the delay meant extra feed bills.  Oh, well, we’re flexible.

I eventually gave up on surgery ever happening and booked a date in February to get the cows and pigs to the processor.  Then, out of the blue, my insurance company relented and my much needed surgery was scheduled.  You guessed it, 5 days before the animals were to go in.

Fortunately for us, the processor was able to move the date one more month into March.  It’s inconvenient because we had to feed animals all winter which is expensive. Life happens.

Wait, we’re not through yet. Speaking of life happening; three days ago, as I’m resting under the influence of my post op medications, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head,  my text message alert goes off, waking me reluctantly from my slumber.  The text is from Brittan saying, “We have baby pigs.”

As fate would have it, our runaway potbelly boar, managed to impregnate at least one of our Large Black Hogs before his demise.  For all we know, we may have more in a few days.  At any rate, we have 4 little half breed girl piggies and one little boy.  The bad news is, mamma won’t be going to become ham anytime soon.  It also means a pig pen needs to be built at our new farm.  And since I’m laid up for several more weeks, guess who all the work falls on?

The good news is, we know where our 2013 feeder pigs are coming from.  That will save us a few bucks.  If the other sow is drops young uns in the next month, we will have other issues to consider.  But….we’re flexible.

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Here I go again violating my ‘no blogging on the weekend’ policy.  Ok, I’m a hypocrite. I’ll just have to live with it.

Yesterday, during a stressful meeting at the other job, I got a phone call saying we had a cow on the loose.  Not really good news, especially when you’re at least 40 minutes away.  If you know our location you know how busy the main road is.  Loose bovine on the Dallas Acworth Highway, cannot possibly end well.

Fortunately, B also got the call and is considerably closer.  By the time I arrived, she had retrieved the wandering rump roast and had already started mending the fence.  Have I mentioned lately what an incredible wife I have?

Anyway, together we finished making a patch and I headed back to the office while Brittan toured the farm to see what other potential crises were at hand.

Sometime during the morning, she heard screaming coming from the pig pasture.  As she investigated, she discovered that our female, Patty, is in standing heat. The gestation period for pigs is three months, three weeks and three days. Mark your calendars.

This weekend holds a marathon manure move and setting up three aquariums for the fingerling Tilapia and the Giant Red Claw Crawfish. Can you tell I’m excited about it?  I only talk about it, oh, like, constantly.

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Summer has faded, fall colors are past their peak and winter looms.  Its a relief to have the work load lightened, but it’s sad to see the garden bare and pastures losing their green.  We’ve decided to make a few changes in our emphasis for the coming year.

First, we are not planning on doing broiler chickens in 2012.  We actually lost money on them this year.  Between rising feed costs and predation, we lost quite a bit.  We are, however, going to increase our number of laying hens.  We intend to offer CSA shares this coming summer and will include an egg option in the package. We may make the occasional stewing hen available at the end of a season.  Older chickens make great chicken and dumplings as well as chicken noodle soup.  We’re not sure about that option yet.

We are going to increase the number of turkeys we raise.  We like them a lot. There is certainly a market.  What I find unfortunate is that they are only thought of as Holiday bird.  Sure, they’re larger than chickens and cost considerably more, but when you think of all the meals you can make from a single turkey, they are a real bargain.  I’ll do a ‘turkey versatility’ article sometime.

We’re selling the sheep.  We like them, but they just don’t fit our model.  We’ll miss them, for sure.

We won’t be doing beef.  Chuck and Diane go to the processor on the 30th of this month.  That will leave only Butter.  We will keep her for dairy and if she has a heifer calf, we’ll keep it for dairy.  Dexters don’t produce a lot of milk, but it will be good quality and they do well on less than lush pasture.

We are increasing the number of Alpine goats.  We love the quality of milk as do those who get it from us. We will sell the males as wethers for weed control or for BBQ.

We will hold steady on Nigerian Dwarf goats.  They don’t produce as much milk as the Alpines, but we are crazy about them.

Pig numbers are on the increase.  We brought home a young sow yesterday.  Her name is Patty.  She will be a wife for Link. The pigs have been an awesome addition to the farm. The eat the garden scraps and all the surplus milk and whey. Apart from certain ethnic communities, most people love pork, so the market for sausage, ham and bacon is there. Besides, pork is our favorite meat here.

Finally, we are adding the Tilapia and Giant Red Claw Crayfish.  The only thing holding us back is the cash to build the greenhouses.  Since we don’t do debt, we have to wait until we have the money saved up.

As regards veggies for 2012, we are planning to offer a few all season CSA shares, featuring potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, herbs, beets, turnips, greens, bell peppers and jalapenos.  There will be a little broccoli and cauliflower. A lucky few might even talk me out of some habanero and jolokia peppers.  But you’ll have to be really good talkers. 🙂

Lest I forget, we still have rabbits. We will continue to breed our meat rabbits, but have added American Chinchilla rabbits for the pet market and for those who want to start breeding rabbits. They are a rare breed and have awesome personalities.

I think that should get you up to date on our forward look.  Please stay in touch.  It’s not too early to let us know if you’re interested in a CSA share.  Also, drop us a line and tell us if you have interest in a CSA share that includes meat, dairy, eggs and fish.  We are looking at a package that we call “The Omnivore’s Delight”.

Have a great week.

 

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Yesterday was the piglets first day of free ranging.  And what a day it was.  For the first month we had them, we kept them in an old chicken tractor so they could get used to us and for protection from predators.  We decided they were ready so B let them out first thing in the morning and they went immediately to eating weeds.  Gotta love that!

Along the way, the little porkers found a chicken that had died and they devoured it, bones, feathers and all.  That’s what pigs (and chickens) do.  They clean pastures.  By the time night chores came around, the piggies had eaten themselves into a drunken stupor, but they waddled into their pen for an evening treat and a good night’s sleep.

These pigs are so cute it’s not fair.  With their grunts, wagging tails and twitching noses, they bring us much amusement.  Eventually, they will also bring us much sausage.

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