Sunday, December 27, 2009

Old Mc Brian had a farm E-I-E-I-O My!

...and on his farm he had some pigs. Lots of pigs.

We now have what I call families of pigs. I guess the proper term would be "breeding groups", but that sounds sort of cold and sterile. Besides they are families. Each piggy family has a Daddy (Boar) and several mommies (sows) with their babies (piglets).

Each family has it's own pasture and it's own house. We give the pigs leaves and hay to build a nest in their house. When the nights are cold the adult hogs lay down so that they form a warm "wall" around the piglets who all pile up in the middle.

On a frosty morning you can actually see the steam rising off of the pig pile.

These are our Red Wattle families:

Boar:                        Sows:

Arthur                      Gertrude, Petunia and Babe

Atlas                        Jewel & Gilta

Trailblazer                Muddy Dove & Morning Star

Homer                     Jenna, Joyce, Slim

Right now Grass Dancer is with Homer's family but she doesn't too happy there so she will be moving to Atlas's family soon.

We also have one pasture with all the weaner pigs in it.

As soon as the barn is completed all of the sows will move to the barn until spring.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We've brought the hens up close to the house in their chicken tractor. They are enjoying cleaning up the garden. I'm enjoying watching them. :)

Brown Season

It's that in between time of year. "Brown Season" is what I call it. Not colorful like earlier in the fall and not really winter. It's not very beautiful, but I like it. It has it own charms. Stealy grey skys that melt into firey sunsets. Frosty mornings with the pasture covered in frost diamonds and the winter birds have started to come to the bird feeders outside the kitchen windows.

Nosy pigs! :)

  I went out to the pastures today with the camera. I was trying to get some pics of Jenna's babies. The only problem was every time I stood still for more than a minute the piglets where under my feet, licking my boots and rubbing up against my boots. It was too funny!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

bad habit

Peaches has discovered that if she crawls on her belly she can just fit under the south fence. Then she goes over to the neighbors for a little visit. The one neighbor has 2 dogs in a kennel. She goes over to see them then stays to see if the people will come out and pet her. We've hauled her home and patched her excape holes so many times I've stopped counting.

Yesterday we got a call from our other neighbor on the same fence line. Peaches was in his yard. We jumped in the truck and went after our wayward girl.

She new she was in trouble when we got out of the truck. I called her and she crawled over to me on her belly. Brian had to help me lift her into the truck. She's gotten really heavy.

Back at the house we moved her dog house and food closer to the yard, but still in the field. Then we took the advice of other Pyrennees owners and cabled a car tire to her collar. She's so big she can drag it all around the field. We've even seen her flip the tire up and push her head through it. Then she walks around with a tire necklace.

The tire hasn't stopped her attempts to go under the fence yet but it has made it harder to get under the fence and impossible to negotiate the woods on the other side of the fence. Brian has had to go stuff her under the fence back into the pasture several times. We're hoping that by keeping her from the neighbors houses she will learn that there is no reward to going under the fence.

We'll see.

Monday, December 14, 2009


It's never a good thing when you husband calls you at work and starts the conversation with "Now, honey, don't freak out"

"What did you do?" It turns out the DH got his chainsaw caught while felling a tree. It kicked back when it came free and caught him just below the knee cap.

He tried to reassure me with "It's not bad. I didn't really notice the blood until I felt the wind blowing under the skin."

"Just get in the car and go to the emergency room. I'll meet you there."

Forty minutes in a Colts induced traffic jam and 40 minutes travel time and I arrived at Columbus Regional Hospital to find my DH stitched and bandaged.

"You know your power tool priveleges are going to be revoked. And I'm tellng Santa you've been very bad!" I kissed him and the nurses smiled.

After we got home the whole story unraveled. We had lost some pine trees in a storm last summer. After assessing the damage and the other trees in that grove we decided we'd cut them to use for siding for our new barn. They are mature pines and prone to being blown over.

Brian took into his head to go out and start cutting this afternoon. What he didn't do was take his cell phone or tell anyone where he was going. He was lucky this time. He just keeps repeating "it was a freak accident."

I assure you he got a piece of my mind, a lecture from my mother, an email about chainsaw safety from my brother and disapproving looks from various other members of our family.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First impressions

We finally got to meet DS, Anders' girlfriend, Emily. She and her little one drove up from her home in Kentucky to spend the weekend.

First impression: she's pretty quiet and that's the happiest baby I've seen in quite a while.

Monday morning, I was getting ready to cook breakfast. Emily was sitting at the table and we were chatting.

I asked, " How are your cooking skills?"

Emily pulled a face and said, " I'd like to learn."

So we cooked biscuits and gravy. We talked about ratios of flour to bakind powder, why you cut the butter into the biscuit flour, how to roll dough with a light touch. Why I never make gravy with just our hot sausage. IT'S HOT! And how to add flour and milk to make gravy that doesn't clump and lump.

Second impression: Smart, inquisitive, observant. So far so good.

After breakfast the guys went outside and we cleared up the kitchen. Emily fed the baby. I told her we were going to castrate pigs.

She offered to help. A few minutes later I noticed she was thumbing through one of Anders' farming books. She was definitely looking for something.

"What are you looking for?"

"How to castrate pigs," she said.

I pulled Brian's favorite pig book off the shelf and flipped it open to the illustrated instructions. She dived right in to study the pictures and instructions.

When we headed out to the hog lot, Emily was the designated "Surgeon's Assistant". She held the syringe and the antiseptic. She makes a great assistant.

After we finished making the 9 boar piglets into barrows. We headed back toward the house. Brian quipped, "Anders you better not mess up."

Emily never missed a beat. "That's right. I have the tools and I've read the directions!"

We all laughed - even Anders.

Impression #3: Good sense of humor, pretty unflappable, willing to tackle even the farm work that isn't fun.

As we were going into the house Emily asked me "Do think your mom would mind watching Joel just a little longer? I want to help Anders feed and water all his animals."

"Go ask her," I said. "I'm sure she won't mind."

I laughed as Emily scampered into the house and slid down the hall in her socks with a big smile on her face.

Impression #5: She is definitely a keeper. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The joys of having a dinner table

Last night after battening down everything that might blow away, everyone settled down around the kitchen table while Anders, DS, and I cooked dinner.

We talked about the beef we were about to eat as I rubbed three pepper rub on each piece. Wondering how the sirloins from the HIghland beef would taste.

We talked about the weather and the cold wave. And the need to haul in more firewood this weekend. I washed, cut and put butternut squash into the oven to bake.

We talked about the unfortunate turn of events that has left my DSIL out of work and my daughter very stressed and how we had gone to their house this evening and stocked their freezer with meat and milk. We speculated on DSIL's chances of finding another job in his field without the necessity of them moving.

As we talked Anders peeled and cored apples with his new hand cranked peeler/corer. I arranged the apples in a baking dish and stuffed each one with raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar. They followed the potatoes into the oven.

With the sirloins resting and the other food in the oven, we sat around the table with seed catalogs and talked about next year's garden. About high tunnels and the best way to raise beds. About Brian's "GIANT" garden. He wants to raise only varieties that are known to get really really big. About where to put the 3-sisters garden (corn, beans, squash).

Soon it was time to cook the steaks. And we talked about my nieces and nephews and how they are doing in school. How we miss having Lilly and Heather around after school since their daddy is laid off for the winter. We wondered how Eli and his girlfriend Naomi are doing at Rose Hulman.

And dinner was ready so we settled around the table to fill our bodies with good food locally grown. And we talked....

I do believe this world would be a much better place if we all gathered around the dinner table for good food and conversation.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ode to liver & onions

Ok so I don't really write poetry to food, but I do like liver and onions. I know most of you are going - EWWWWW Grosss!!! right now.

I remember liver and onions as a special dinner at our house when I was a kid. We only butchered a beef once a year and there is only one liver. So the nights we had liver & onions were few. Besides my Mom is the best liver cooker in 5 states. Never over or underdone - just perfect. Each slice topped with a heaping pile of carmelized onions. Yummy!

I haven't eaten liver in years. Why? I won't eat liver from a commercially raised animal. I just won't eat liver from an animal that I am not sure how it was raised. And the only way to be absolutely sure what went into the cow is to raise it yourself.

So we did. Two years of feeding and waiting for the calf to grow up. 12 days waiting for the beef to be ready to pick up from the processor. Brian laughed at me when I said I wanted liver and onions. My son wrinkled his nose at the idea. I just smiled and thawed a nice big package of liver.

For dinner tonight we had: sauteed liver with carmelized onions, brussel sprouts and baked sweet potatoes with lemon cheesecake for dessert.

Everybody else said the cheesecake was the best part. I disagree - it was the liver and onions!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Red Wattle Inn and B & B

Brian and our friend Arthur have been working on our barn! It's far from done but it is taking shape. It looks like we'll need to have about 1/2 of the trees that blew over this summer sawed into boards for siding. I like the idea that we will be putting "waste" to good use.

Brian and I will keep working on the barn this week. We're hoping to get 1/2 of it under roof. When we designed the barn we made sure the design would let us put up the south section first - to get the RW O.B. ward set up. We're hoping to have most of it done this week.

Then we'll do the North section. This will have the horse stalls and storage.

Last we will put up the middle section to join it all together.

Ok, I reread that and it is confusing to me and I helped design the barn! Sooo... I'll scan my plan this week and post it here.