Yesterday was butcher day for our three pigs. We co-own them with a friend who fed and watered them every day for us since they were about 16 weeks old. We bought them and kept them on our tiny farm until they started getting noisy at feeding times. We didn’t want to disturb our neighbors so our sweet friend Colette cared for them up until yesterday. Yesterday I borrowed my dads trailer and Colette and I attached boards to the top, front and sides of the trailer to form a wind break in this frigid weather. We stuffed a bale of hay in the trailer and put some fermented grains and leftover raw milk in a bucket in the trailer and backed it up to their pen. After two hours of coaxing and cajoling, we were half frozen and feeling defeated. The biggest pig would step her front two feet in the trailer and then back out. Or worse, she would have three feet in and when the second biggest pig started to follow her, she would blast backwards out of the trailer. We were growing frustrated when finally they both went in and I slammed the doors of the trailer shut. I looked back at Priscilla and granted her a reprieve: a 24 hour reprieve.
The butcher shop had called and told us that since the roads were so bad from the snow and ice, if we couldn’t make it by 2:00 Sunday, we could come Monday.
When Priscilla realized that she was the only pig left in the pen, she began to panic. She ran in circles inside the pen and began squealing. It was heartbreaking to see her panic until you remembered that her partners were going to be butchered!
Fast forward to 8:00 am Monday morning. Priscilla has not eaten in 24 hours. Her food is in a bucket with some warm, fresh milk. We have closed the door to her shelter. The trailer has cozy hay piled inside. The wind is whipping and the temperature is precariously near frostbite danger. Any idiot would race into that trailer! Not Priscilla. Colette called and hand fed and lured her front two feet inside the trailer….and that’s as far as she would go.
Colette decides that she needs something yummy and stinky to lure her with and runs inside the house to find something. And that’s why we fed our pig smoked salmon for her last meal.
| Tags: pigs
We have decided not to sell our house. That means buying a farm is on hold. For a minimum of 5 years. Our furnace and air conditioners were over 15 years old so we replaced them with a new geothermal heating and cooling system. It will take us about 5 years to pay it off. I am settling in here for the long haul. Dear husband and I have been discussing perimeter fencing our tiny 3 acres so we can get sheep. We doubled our bee hives and bought a pressure canner. We fenced our garden and put in a few tomato plants and comfrey starts. Next year I should have enough comfrey to surround each of our fruit trees.
I can be happy here. I am helping out several other small dairy farms and enjoying working with their cows. I will be content while I am here.
We have found a new church and I am enjoying a women’s bible study group there. It is well with my soul.
One of the (few) advantages to not having our own farm yet is that we are not burdened down with a ton of morning chores. Some friends of our recently experienced “a wind event”. I’m pretty sure this is just a fancy way of saying “we can’t confirm it was a tornado, but some pretty serious winds went through and created tons of damage”. Any ways, this so called wind event ravaged their trees, tossed their tool shed over top of their house and into the tree line on the other side of their property and left them without power or water for themselves or their animals. Because we have mad milking skills, we hopped in the truck and milked their cow for the last two days. We also came home with 2 1/2 gallons of golden yellow milk! I think I’ll make butter.
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What’s in your store bought OJ? One of my favorite food bloggers, FoodRenegade, wrote an excellent article on this topic that you can read here. http://www.foodrenegade.com/secret-ingredient-your-orange-juice/
I was thoroughly disgusted and swore off of store bought orange juice for nearly a year. Ya know what? None of us died of the flu or scurvy!
But then I joined an organic produce co-op. We began eating fruits and vegetables in VAST quantities. It feels wonderful to have such an abundance of healthy foods. We are quite literally surrounded with food the first few days. I find myself urging the kids to “Eat those pears! They are at the peak of ripeness today!” I have turned into my mom in that I tuck oranges into peoples palms as they leave my house, urging them to take more.
But weekends! Weekends were MADE for making fresh squeezed orange juice. Joe is Pancake Dad. Every weekend he makes pancakes for me and the children. Usually we drift out to the kitchen after he has started and we smell the pancakes. Today however, I awakened the children with the call to come help me squeeze the oranges.
Zip! Boom! Bang!
Three kids ages 6, 12 and 15 were happily rolling oranges, chatting it up with slices wedged between lips and gums and using my lemon juicer to make their own glass of juice.
It doesn’t look like the stuff in the cardboard box. It really didn’t smell like it either. But, GOLLY! It sure tastes good!
This is the first year my comfrey has bloomed. I harvested a few roots last fall to use for medicinal purposes, but wanted to see how much I could grow for animal feed. I am pleased with how large it’s grown so far this spring.
I recently ran into a woman in Ann Arbor who breeds and trains and shows Weimaraner dogs. Turns out, she lives just down the road a bit from us! She had two litters of puppies that she was just beginning to socialize and she invited our family out to visit. The mama dogs were appropriately protective, but allowed us to handle her precious little pups. Everyone left feeling warm and fuzzy inside….and wanting a new puppy. Maybe next year.
Our pigs are getting big! As the ground thaws, they are really enjoying doing what pigs do: digging with their cute, little snouts. Well, not so little. And when they are covered with dirt, not so cute. My garden will be tilled without the use of a gas powered machine this spring.
It was 47* F yesterday. The bees were not happy, but they were moving. They have to get out of their hive to evacuate their digestive system. Earlier this spring when we had a warm day, the snow in front of their hives looked like someone had sprayed tobacco juice. Kinda gross to think about bee poop, but as Perry would say, “Everybody poops!”.
We hadn’t put entrance reducers on our hives last fall and only realized this when we went to confirm survival rates. Most of our bees either froze or starved, so I’m doing everything I can to keep these two remaining hives alive. A snack of sugar water while the temperature is nearly 50 can only help. So I tromped through foot high snow with sugar water and entrance reducers. It is Michigan, so of course, they are predicting 20- temps tonight.
I was promptly earned my badge of honor- my first bee sting of the year.
| Tags: Honeybees
The cold killed many honeybees this year. Some directly. Others starved because it was too cold to move from their cluster in the center of the hive to reach the honey in the edges.
We made the trek out to our hives this afternoon in knee deep snow and bright sunshine.
Only two of our five hives have bees as of March. We are very happy to have the two that made it through this cold.
| Tags: Honeybees